With a flash and a sensation of falling you feel beneath your feet the cold, hard surface of cobblestones. Wherever you are it is dark, but lit by softly flickering lanterns and you find yourselves standing in front of a tall, slender man with a long dark cloak and a pallid, haunting complexion.
In the darkness his eyes flicker momentarily like sunlight glinting off of blood red wine, before they fade in the shadows. He extends a hand towards you; long nails almost like claws upon his hand and he gives you a small, bemused smile.
“Welcome… I have been expecting you. I am Duke Victor Cromwell.”
DC 10 Knowledge: Nobility
Duke Victor Cromwell is a monster! He’s called the Iron Duke because he’s a ruthless war lord in the disguise of aristocracy and has found the secret of immortality through dark magic.
DC 15 Knowledge: Nobility
Known as the Iron Duke, Victor Cromwell is a member of the ruling aristocracy in Ustalav and commands one of the mightiest military forces. His success in military campaigns is legendary, especially against supernatural foes. In addition he is also a sorcerer of considerable power.
DC 20 Knowledge: Nobility
There has been some speculation as to Victor’s heritage over the many, many years he has been in power, having seen four generations of royalty come and go throughout the kingdom. How he has attained his longevity is a topic of conversation that is best left in gossip, and should never be asked directly.
DC 25 Knowledge: Nobility
About thirty five years ago there was a small uprising in a village under Duke Cromwell’s control. Before dissident anarchists could take control of the area, Victor commanded that his forces not only eliminate those present in the settlement, but that the village and surrounding farm lands be burned to the ground. According to rumors, only the children were spared, though what is truly the case is only known by those in the upper echelons of power.
DC 30 Knowledge: Nobility
There have been investigations into Duke Cromwell that have yielded some disturbing news, though the stories are sketchy and outlandish at best. These stories all swear by the fact that he is indeed a Dhampir, but more disturbingly is degenerating into something else entirely… though how or why is unknown. Some say he is becoming a demon, others a lich, and some say he is in fact a true vampire… though how that could possibly be true when he walks in the light of day is a mystery to all.
Letting loose a soft laugh that washes over you like black silk, cold and smooth, he steps forward and takes Serafina by the hand, bowing his head ever so slightly as he kisses the back of her fingers. Gracefully he releases it, and looks around at the rest of you.
“I am certain you are wondering where you are, and why I sent the Enchantress to collect you.”
The woman in the crown of steel thorns returns to stand by her master’s side, her face masked by an expressionless affect as she listens silently. With much the same look in their eyes stand four other women remain silently behind him, each one dressed in the attire of a different kind of adventurer.
The Enchantress, whom you had met previously, wears her steel crown of thorny spires that rise and curl back from her head like the horns of a dragon over flowing black robes made of silk and raven feathers. Her peridot eyes are outlined in heavy black and red paint, and her full lips are touched ever so slightly by the same. Her pale skin is somewhat ashen, yet otherwise she seems to be in the prime of health, and her eyes possess a keen glint as she looks you over.
Beside her in a figure whose face is entirely masked in the shadows of a white hood and mask, which almost appears to be made of solid wood or ivory. Every garment she wears is white in fact and not a single inch of skin is shown on her body. A long, white, billowing cape flows behind her and a quiver of white fletched arrows hangs on her back. In her hand a powerful compound bow rests, its arms tipped with silver that glimmers in the moonlight. In her belt another silver weapon lies, a dagger, and around her waist is a sort of kilt that is sown from the pelts of white and grey wolves… or so it seems.
The third is a woman in garments that almost seem to be made of stretched muscle or flesh, yet gleam with the clean shimmer of oiled leather; an illusion you see designed perhaps to make her seem more fearsome. Yet by these same clothes her face is half concealed; obscuring her eyes completely beneath the stretched material. Her voluptuous bosom is only barely contained by her dress, which hugs almost unnaturally tight to her body before it coils around her feet and follows her in tendrils.
Fourth is a dark skinned beauty with eyes shadowed in black and purple, and dressed in barely anything at all save for an iron ribbed corset, collar and wrist cuffs, and at her side she carries an enormous mace nearly half again as tall as she. Her long nails are tapered like claws, and her hair is streaked with a single line of silver up one side that is lost among her many, heavy curls.
Finally, there is a woman with flawlessly fair skin and long, dark hair that falls across her bare shoulders and down across her cupped breasts held tightly by a blood red corset. Every article of her clothing is both sensual, yet deadly in appearance and at her waist hang two wickedly looking blades in black sheaths. Her blue eyes sparkle deviously even behind her neutral expression, and every so often her eyes will fall upon you and watch you with a hypnotic gaze that makes it difficult to listen to her master.
“The answer to that is… well, a little complicated. I’d intended to spirit you away upon the road, however my adviser could not resist the chance to see what you were made of. She is an excellent judge of character.”
The Enchantress speaks softly, bowing her head in Lord Cromwell’s direction.
“After their performance at Harrowstone… It was almost assured they would succeed… almost.”
Lord Cromwell turns his eyes back upon you after looking back at the Enchantress, and offers you the barest hint of a smile.
“It would have been a terrible shame if you had failed… but come, enough talk of this. There is a glorious feast that has been prepared within at the behest of Lord Moulot. I would hate for it to go to waste. Come.”
And with a flair of his cloak Lord Cromwell turns, and leads you all inside.