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Baron of Mariksen
1st Circle Dream Master
by Michael Berry
"I am proud to be a Boldavian, what people need to see is Morphail does not represent us"
Sergei Wutyla is not the most handsome noble in Glantri. You would be hard pressed to find a noble who could care less, or put less effort into making himself attractive. Sergei is of average height and weight and has the dark features typical of Boldavians. He prefers loose fitting garments of blue or white. What attractiveness the Baron has is seemingly always overshadowed by the scowl on his unsmiling face. Sergei's face is a constant mask of determination, no matter the situation or the place. Few ever see the Baron smile or let his hair down, in public or private.
II. Personality & Quirks
The Baron of Mariksen behind that dour mask is a man driven, passionate, and possessed. Intense and brooding are the words often used to describe the Baron has made upon those he has met for the first time. Driven and humorless are the words often used to describe the Baron by those that know him. He is consumed by hatred for the Prince of Boldavia, Prince Morphail Gorevitch-Woszlany. Sergei has forgotten any of the mundane joys of living, if he ever really had any, and obsesses constantly about Morphail and the state of Boldavia. Sergei could be considered a radical revolutionary. He has decided his mission in life is to rid Boldavia and Glantri of Morphail's evil. The only person he feels true affection for is his lover Erega, and their two children Anya and Stanislav
III. History & Background
Sergei was the youngest child of Krill Mihailov and Nikolaevna Wutyla-Mihailov (918-979), the younger sister of Lajos Wutyla. Sergei was born in 950 in Rymskigrad, four years after his brother Laszlo. The brothers lived with their parents in Rymskigrad for the first few years of Sergei's childhood then moved to Glantri City when Kirill, a merchant in a broker house was promoted to the Glantri City office. Those years in Glantri City, living in the cityís West Side Quarter with its predominant Boldavian population, were happy years for Sergei. He had a large circle of friends which made up for the less than healthy relationship he had with his older brother who always bullied him and ran with a bad crowd, skipping school, stealing kisses from the local wenches and even smoking tobacco. Being born into a noble family meant both brothers were tested early for magical ability and Laszlo and Sergei tested positive even though both of their parents were without magical ability. Laszlo left for the Great School when Sergei was 8 years old sponsored by his uncle Bela, now the Baron of Mariksen, whom the children had never met. Their parents always seemed to be busy, or have important engagements that could not be broken, when invitations came from 'Uncle Bela', inviting them all to spend the weekend at the Barony. Just before Sergei was set to enroll in the Great School himself, 'tragedy' truck the family when dear old 'Uncle Bela' was found murdered in his Barony, a party of Ethengarians that had been tracked entering the region was blamed. The murder was never solved though as the suspects, the Ethengarians were never caught. The family did go to Mariksen this time for the funeral, and what the 11 year old Sergei saw set the future course of his life. Have lived in the relative comfort of the West Side Quarter, young Sergei was shocked to see the conditions of the people on the journey through the eastern reaches of Glantri towards Mariksen. The people lived in relative horrid conditions and were far from the happy and joyous Boldavians that Sergei had known in Glantri City. Sergei would occasionally escape his parentís firm grasp and overhear things that he was not supposed to hear. The very things his parents were shielding their young son from; whispered stories of murders, warnings about creatures of the night, and the dangers of being outside at night. The young, impressionable, and sheltered Sergei soaked it all in like a sponge. While in Mariksen they met the new Baron of Mariksen, Matthias Wutyla, who was Nikolaevna's uncle and was heir to Mariksen as Bela had no children so as the only wizard in the family, the Barony was left for Matthias. Sergei's overprotective mother kept Sergei away from Matthias, much as she had from her brother Bela.
Not long after returning to Glantri City. Sergei was enrolled in the Great School. He had no great talent for magic, as neither was his brother, but each was competent enough to progress through the curriculum. Sergei immediately took an interest in history, specifically the history of the Boldavians. Laszlo soon graduated the Great School, and that same year their father died of a heart attack while in Corrunglain on a trade mission. Laszlo left Glantri City soon after graduating and moved to Mariksen, against his motherís wishes, after receiving an invitation to continue his studies under Matthias who had achieved some scholarly notoriety for a paper he had presented at the Great School on some research he had done out some Outer Plane. Sergei had continued his interest in history and late in his years at the Great School developed a love of politics. Sergei never forgot what he saw on that trip to Mariksen and he joined a group of Boldavian firebrands that gave speeches to try to draw attention to the plight of the Boldavian worker and the conditions they live under. Their plan worked, but not in the way they wanted it to. The group was soon disbanded after the Grand Master called the leaders of the group into his study and told them that their studies must not be rigorous enough if they have time to take such causes. It was rumored that the Prince of Boldavia, Morphail himself had heard these speeches and he did not like them and asked that they be stopped.
Sergei himself graduated the Great School in 969 and took a minor teaching position at the Great School, teaching history to the young students enrolled there. His life for the next 10 years consisted of having pencils polymorphed into frogs by the hoodlums posing as students in his classes mixed with the occasional student that wanted to be there and had a real interest in history. In 979 Sergei's beloved mother died after falling down a flight of stairs at the family home while Sergei was teaching a class at the Great School. Sergei was devastated and took a leave of absence from the school. After some time drowning his sorrows in wine and women Sergei decided to do something different with his life and decided to try his hand at adventuring and see the world a bit. Sergei travelled through Thyatis, Karameikos, and the Northern Reaches. He was not a particularly successful adventurer and he would often work between adventures as a lecturer to earn enough to satisfy his thirst to see the world.
Sergei was doing just that in 990, as a lecturer of history in Thyatis City when a messenger arrived with a message for him. It was from his brother Laszlo, telling him that their uncle Mattias had died on an adventure in the outer planes and that Laszlo was the next in line to become the Baron of Mariksen which made Sergei the next in line after Laszlo. The telegram also was an invitation to Sergei to come to Mariksen and help him run the Barony. Sergei considered the invitation for some time and after coming to the conclusion that this might be an opportunity to do some good and be an instrument for change in Boldavia, he accepted. Sergei came to Mariksen full of ideas and vigor ready to try to make the life of the common Boldavian better. Sergei worked with his brother for three years but never seemed to make any progress. The Barony was poor, not giving Sergei much to work with to try to improve the quality of the peopleís lives. The substantial subsidies that the government did give to the Barony were needed for the militia and for services and food for the regular troops station there, which was to fulfill the mission required of it, to protect and expand the Glantrian frontier. Depression hit Sergei at his inability to change things, he began to drink quite heavily and he started to miss things going on around him. He had never been close to his brother, but they did manage to work together at least. However Laszlo seemed to sleep more than he used to, especially during the day which he never did. An upswing of murders gripped the Barony and surrounding areas. All of this failed to register with Sergei...his depression got worse and worse. Till one night in 999 when Sergei's life and future finally found a purpose. One night Sergei received a summons to see Laszlo in the Baron's chambers. Upon going in and closing the door, Sergei was attacked by Laszlo who had become a vampire. Sergei was barely able to hold him off with his magic and just plain good luck, when Laszlo tripped over a book lying on the floor, giving Sergei a chance to Dimension Door out of the Tower. He fled the Barony and heading into Ethengar where he hoped he might be safe, from those pursuing him at least. There he would meet the woman who would save him and an outlet for all that progressive energy he had inside him.
Not long after entering Ethengar he was surrounded and captured by a Yugatai patrol. Taken back to their camp he expected to be executed as a spy. However he was interrogated by the chieftain who discovered his reasons for entering Ethengar, as well as just who Sergei was, and was intrigued by him. Sergei was surprised to find he was not to be executed but even more surprised to find he was going to be put into the care of a cleric, named Erega. Erega and Sergei despite their different cultures immediately found something in each other. Erega saw Sergei not as a possible tool to be used to weaken an enemy from within, as the Chieftain saw the possibilities of, but as a man and having a noble heart. Sergei for the first time felt a strong attraction and honest feelings for a woman. They clicked almost from the first meeting and became inseparable. Erega and Sergei had long talks and Sergei learned firsthand of the problems the Ethengarians had over the years with undead coming out of Boldavia. Sergei came to believe that everything that was ill and evil about Boldavia radiated from Morphail and that Boldavia would never truly be free from evil or oppression till Morphail was removed. Soon a love affair blossomed between the two and Erega gave Sergei a son and a daughter in 1002. The next years were happily spent living among the Ethengar, raising their children, and discussing ways that they might take down the evil in Boldavia. Sergei admitted to himself what Erega always knew, but knew Sergei had to come to the conclusion himself that clerical help would be needed to deal with this great evil. Over the course of several years Erega and Sergei made contacts among those who fought the undead and evil and asked advice, and even recruited those who expressed an interest in being involved in this venture. As one might suspect in Ethengar, after several hundred years of problems with undead out of Glantri, there was no shortage of volunteers. During these years raids into Ethengar, especially from the Mariksen area of the border increased, which gave Sergei, Erega and their merry band of undead hunters plenty of practice.
Meanwhile back in Mariksen. Laszlo never stopped looking for his brother, he was unable to locate him using mundane or magical means, so he turned his frustration to dark ends and started crossing the line of Morphail's Vampire Law and created scores of commoner Vampires loyal to Laszlo which he often sent on raids into Ethengar and points east. Always the mission was to spread death and fear, but always were instructions to look for his brother. Finally in 1012 Sergei felt they were ready to move past just talking and start to clean Boldavia, starting with Mariksen. Which opened new strategic possibilities because once Laszlo was disposed of; Sergei would be the new Baron of Mariksen. In the spring of 1012 led by Sergei, Erega, and five volunteer undead hunters they slipped across the border into Mariksen and made a daylight raid into Laszlo's tower, overcoming his guardians. Within the depths of the dungeon underneath the tower Sergei drove a stake through his brother's heart and ended the career of evil of his brother. The night of Laszlo's death however saw the first real crack in Sergei and Erega's marriage. For years they had talked about 'what next' after Laszlo had been removed. Sergei knew that once he made a personal enemy of Morphail, and that would not be long, that Erega and their children would be targets to Morphail and forbid her from staying with him in Mariksen. Of course Erega thought that was exactly why she should be there with him. Who better to protect him than an experienced Cleric? The night of Laszlo's death finally brought the long running impasse to a head and Sergei threatened to have her physically removed from Glantri if she did not listen to him on this matter. Though furious with him, she offered a compromise, she would leave for Ethengar and remain a secret to Morphail but in return Sergei would take any volunteers from their cadre of undead hunters as his personal bodyguard. Men used to dealing with the undead. Sergei accepted and the next morning they kissed goodbye, not knowing when or if they would see each other again. Before leaving though, Erega gave her true love a gift, saying that if she could not protect him in person that she could with this gift. Telling him never to take this necklace off, she gave him a magical pendent with a finely crafted gold chain. As he asked what it was, she just smiled and walked away into the fine Mariksen dawn heading south.
After several days of behind the scenes preparation it was announced publicly that Laszlo was killed by a vampire and in turn killed by Sergei and that Sergei claimed the title of Baron of Mariksen. Confirmation by the Council of Princes went quickly and smoothly and Sergei was confirmed as the fifth Baron of Mariksen. Not more than two weeks later, as Sergei was putting into motion his plan to take down Morphail by exposing him and destroying his reputation, he received an invitation from Morphail for the new Baron to visit Morphail at his tower so they could affirm the traditional allegiance between Igorov and Mariksen. Sergei sent a politely worded reply back to Morphail telling him that while he appreciated the invitation he was too busy with pressing matters in Mariksen trying to implement policies that would improve his Barony and benefit the people of his Barony. Needless to say the Prince of Darkness, the reigning Prince of Undeath was not exactly used to nor pleased to be snubbed like that. So in true Morphail fashion, he made a visit to Mariksen himself, uninvited of course, with the goal of reaffirming that allegiance to Igorov himself. Using a raid of nasty undead creatures he summoned as cover to keep the guards busy, Morphail slipped into the tower and met Sergei one on one. Not being a creature of subtlety Morphail didn't make small talk and immediately incapacitated Sergei with his formidable magic. As Morphail leaned in to give Sergei the kiss of undeath he suddenly screamed in pain as the pendant glowed bright red and flames suddenly spouted from Morphail. After vowing to make Sergei regret the day he ever lived in between screams of pain the Master of Undeath teleported away. The truth behind Morphail, though Sergei of course had always suspected, had been revealed.
The next week at Parliament a measure came to vote regarding a rescinding of the law which made clerics legal in Glantri (with restrictions of course). The vote was tight, as expected Morphail was strongly for the law being rescinded. Also as expected the representatives of Padlova, Kutchevski, Palatinsk, and Vladimirov all voted with Morphail. Being the newest of Glantrian nobles, Sergei's representative voted last. When he voted, gasps and then silence descended upon the normally chaotic halls of Parliament. Mariksen voted against Morphail and broke with Igorov on this important issue. Scholars went running for their records to try to find the last time a noble of the Igorov House broke ranks with Morphail (it had never happened). Sergei went further after voting to announce Mariksen was independent and no longer aligned with the House of Igorov.
The following years were marked by a low level war between Igorov and Mariksen. Undead raids now targeted Mariksen and posters were found plastered on walls in the capital and Rymskigrad questioning just how effective Morphail is as a leader and would the people not do better if there was not another Prince to lead them, one that actually cared about their welfare. This low level war between them was cemented in 1014 when Mariksen formally allied with the House of Krinagar
IV. Web of Intrigue
Sergei is definitely dancing with the devil in his choice of foes. He has survived multiple assassination attempts and his barony has been hit with some savage assaults by undead of all sorts. Sergei's bodyguards have saved the Baron's life on more than one occasion. Over the last couple of years, under the cover of having immigrants from Bramyra come to his Barony, he has brought more undead hunters which have covertly settled in with Bramyian immigrants and also further expanded his bodyguard.
Sergei has established a warm relationship with the Prince of Bramya, Urmahid Krinagar. The Prince has introduced him to the Secret Craft of Dream Magic and has subtly encouraged settlement to Mariksen from Bramya. Sergei has had little interaction with any of the other Princes of Glantri but he has earned admiration from many who have suspected or known what Morphail was. Few of the lesser nobles have approached Sergei, some out of lack of interest on the affairs of the eastern hinterlands of Glantri, and still others for not wanting to attract attention from Prince Morphail himself
Relations with the other nobles of Boldavian are pretty much non-existent and hostile as one might suspect. Though one noble is thinking of making contact with Sergei and see if a merging their mutual interests might be of benefit. The relationship between Sergei and the Ethengarians is a complex one, and one that is a dangerous one. What kind of position might Sergei be put in, or what might he asked to do, if the age old enemies should go to war?
Egra remains in Ethengar raising their two children but often slips across the border to spend time with Sergei. As their children get older the two parents will have to decide the education and upbringing of their children. Neither of the children has been tested for magical ability and if either child were, they would need to be sent to, and graduate from, the Great School of Magic to be a legal heir to Mariksen. At this point neither thinks it is worth the significant risk to put the children where Morpahil or his minions could strike so easily at them. Sergei is resigned at this point and time to not worry about passing on Mariksen to his children, unless he was first able to eliminate the threat Morphail posed to his family.
In spite of the undead attacks upon his Barony, Sergei is immensely popular among those in his dominion. In between strategizing on how to take down Morphail he tries to improve the quality of life for those in his Barony. While the results have been slow to come due to the lack of resources, they have seen he cares, and is trying. With the new discovery of the deposits of silver in the mountains the people can finally see that better time might be coming and thank the Baron for giving them hope.
V. Statistic & Style of Magic
Statistics: 10th level mage; Str 12, Dex 13, Con 12, Int 16, Wis 13, Cha 14; AL- Lawful
Languages: Thyatian (Glantrian dialect), Traladaran (Boldavian dialect), Ethengarian, Alphatian
Weapon Proficiencies: staff (expert). An ashen staff +3, with one end sharpened to a point
Skills: ancient history (Boldavia), Glantrian History, Knowledge of Ethengar, tracking, vampire lore, Knowledge of Glantrian Politics, Persuasion, Alertness
"He's a madman, even by Boldavian standards, but very interesting all the same."