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Queen's Legionsby Alex Benson
Arturos is in fact Illyana's father, and Arteris's sister. Little info is given on Arturo except that he was an adventuring buddy of Stefan's. No mention is given about who Arteris's mother was. This could be a perfect opportunity to flesh out Arturos's past as well as the adventuring days of Stefan.
Arturos and this woman were part of Stefan's adventuring band....I'll call her Morganna for ease of reading. Back then, Arturos was a firebrand...a loose canon of sorts...seemingly revelling in the joys of battle. Only Morganna and Stefan could reason with him. Nature took its course and Arty and Morganna hooked up as a couple. His passion for battle found a replacement, as Morganna bore three children Illyana, Arteris and then finally young Calvyn (name optional).
With a family, Arturos seemed to settle down a bit, creating a home somewhere and assumes a somewhat normal life. Life was hard at times, but it was good Stefan sold his birthright for Traldara and called upon his friends to aid him. This included Arturos and his family, who moved to the Duchy. Arturos immediately proved his worth, showing himself to be a capable and calm man.
During the Marlinev Rebellion, Arturos's quarters drew attention. His son, Calvyn was slain in the raid. Morganna demanded retribution for the loss of their son. Given Arturos's past temper, it was a great surprise when he limited his response to Stefan's orders of putting down the rebellion. Stefan, wary of a civil war, limited his forces response. Morganna was infuriated, storming out of their home with young Illyana. Rumour spread that Morganna and the child had perished up to the north of the duchy, possibly at the hands of Marlinev agents or humanoids.
Focusing on what he had as opposed to what he had lost, Arturos focused his attentions on his work and to his daughter. Arteris was her father's daughter, many of his hot temper attributes are clearly seen. However, he instilled within her a deep sense of friendship and loyalty.
Morganna and young Illyana had not perished. Filled with a desire for revenge and blaming Arturos for putting Stefan's kingdom above his own family, she fled the Duchy taking up residence somewhere else. Her feelings drew the attentions of Orcus, who fed upon her hatred. Orcus provided them with food and shelter, initially to relish upon Morganna's hatred. Morganna served Orcus, using her sword on his behalf against those he felt deserved attention. In exchange, Orcus spun illusions of each victim taking upon the appearance of those that had struck down her son and destroyed her life.
Young Illyana was mostly sheltered from all of this. No matter how cruel Morganna had become, Illyana was still her blessed daughter and wanted for little. Never known for subtlety, Orcus had left Illyana alone, focusing attention upon the immediate acts of Morganna. As Illyana matured, a cleric of Orcus tried something with Illyana. Morganna slew the cleric and all that moved to intervene.
With a portion of his clergy dead, Orcus was forced to exact punishment. While he had relished the carnage that Morganna had unleashed, he could not risk further weakening of his following by turning a blind eye. Orcus gave Morganna to the clerics to kill. This left Illyana, whom many of the clerics wanted to share her mother's fate.
In a surprise display of planning, Orcus forbade them from killing her. For Illyana had the potential to replace her mother as his favoured source of hatred. However, the girl had been sheltered and knew little of true heritage. It was this heritage and the lost possibilities that he would use to spur her to aggression and hate.
Assuming a mortal guise, Orcus visited the young woman revealing to her heritage. He summoned for images of her father and sister living happily in Penhaligon, rising in prominence and in power. Illyana's response was not hate born of vengeance, but hate based on what could have been; jealousy. She had been denied a father, siblings, and normal home. Orcus made a bargain with her, if she served his cause he would continue sponsorship.
With her mother's loss fresh upon her mind, she eagerly accepted. Orcus lived up to his word, providing the funds and tutelage to craft her into the NPC seen in Queen's Harvest. Illyana served him dutifully, however she kept a secret. She knew that her mother had died at Orcus's order. She would use Orcus to gain strength and power before rejoining her estranged family in Penhaligon.
Note: I am unsure of the events and timeline for Queen's Harvest so I apologise for any discrepancies. In truth, I remember little about this adventure module. I am assuming the adventure took place around the Gaz era around the time of Arturos's death.
Illyana grew bitter upon hearing of her father's death, yet another loss to her sense of a normal life. She also began rebelling against Orcus. Things came to a turning point with the death of Arturos. Rightfully or wrongly, Illyana blamed Arturos's death upon Orcus, driving a further rift between her and the Immortal. The final straw was the events of Queen's Harvest. Illyana abandoned Orcus and his following.
She made her way to Penhaligon only to find her sister wedded to one of the adventurers that had opposed her in Queen's Harvest. With her father gone and only a wedded sister that she did not know remaining, things did not look good for Illyana, at least in her eyes. She assumed that her sister would not accept her, both due to recognition from her husband and based on a potential rival to rulership of Penhaligon. She may join the adventurers to get a better idea of what her sister is and how she will be received.
Illyana announces herself and is either rebuked by rebuked or excepted by Arteris. This could entail a series of adventures sponsored by Arteris and hubby to validate Illyana's claim. This could be done through talks with surviving old friends of Arturos (including Stefan) to establish Morganna, the children, and her fleeing. Additional investigation to see positive links that Illyana is the child of Morganna and Arturos. Perhaps an adventure discovers Arturos's old journal, where the wife and child are mentioned. Of course, validation will see confirmation, somehow, from Orcus's following, possibly a journal left by Morganna.
After validation, a lot depends upon Arteris's reception of her sister. A sense of distance is not unexpected as they are essentially strangers and have little in common. Plus, she has a hostile history with her brother in law. I'd make her gradually gain a sense of acceptance, either through deeds or through personality. After all, Illyana can partake in adventures whereas Arteris has to serve as ruler. Given her zest seen in battle, it is possible that Arteris sees a sense of freedom outside of the Countess role.
A lot depends upon how you want to play it, but the previous history with the PC husband is a definite aspect to exploit. Perhaps, Arteris excepts Illyana wholeheartedly, but her husband views her suspiciously and with hostility.
Orcus, infuriated by Illyana's betrayal, shows up. He basically makes the situation worse by giving the husband added cause to be suspicious of Illyana. Being not so subtle or cunning, the plots are uncovered and Illyana is typically cleared. However, the fact that trouble seems to follow her does not rest well with the Count.
Eventually, Illyana's desire for the rulership comes into play. I would suggest an event happen where Illyana become very angry at her sister and sees her as being unworthy of rulership. Then begins her bid for power. All of this is being orchestrated, not by Orcus, but by Thanatos, manipulating both mortal and Immortal to his plan.
Conversely, you could have Arteris coldly receive Illyana, accepting her as her sister after it is proved beyond a doubt. She accepts her out of respect to her father and her family blood. Ironically, Illyana gains support from the Count, seeing her as being redeemed. You'd have to insert some events to reinforce this belief in redemption. This will also require the DM to bring the Count PC into the plot as a participant.
Arteris begins to be openly critical of Illyana, suspecting that she and her husband are up to something. Whatever the reasons, founded or unfounded, the rift between sisters grows. It eventually escalates to Illyana trying to usurp Arteris.
What this does is present two sisters, both being brought up under two different environments. Both are products of their environments. Both, in some regards, desire what the other has. What they need is each other, but that is something that is easier said than done. Added influences do not help.
However the adventure continues is up to the DM. What fate awaits the NPCs is dependant, as always, by the actions of the PCs. In this case, there is an added degree of influence as one of the PCs is married to one of the focal NPCs.
Additionally, the adventure will bring forth lore from the early days of Stefan's days as an adventurer as well as his rule. Little is given on Arturos, so that void can be filled.
As mentioned, I do not remember much about Queen's Harvest. This includes Illyana's race, age, and class. Also there was mention in the original post about fiendish seduction. If a fiendish heritage is a factor, this would carry over into Arteris. A simple explanation is that Morganna's mother was a cleric of Thanatos, seduced into bearing a mortal child. That union as well as the fate of the resulting descendants were part of manipulations engineered, not by Orcus, but of Thanatos. This means he used Orcus as much as he used Morganna, Morganna's mother, Arturos, Arteris, Illyana, etc.
Thanatos's influences is also the means to prevent any further retribution from Orcus. Orcus discovering Thanatos's involvement, as well as his own tendency to act on impulse, should turn his attentions away from Penhaligon. If anything, Orcus will not want to interfere with any plans his former master may have going.
Also note that this is very rough and would require reworking to fit the times and dates. Also, certain events occurring within your own campaign would need to be taken into account. Sorry for the length.