Gertrud von Drachenfels
Wife of Prinz Jaggar von Drachenfels of Aalban
Secret Leader of the Free Anachronic Society of Aalban
Air Elementalist of the Second Circle
"We all dream of marrying a Prince someday. Who would have thought that the fairy tale would be such a nightmare?"
The striking young Alphatian sorceress that once captivated the heart of a future Prince of Glantri has waned into a faded beauty. Frau Gertrud's once flawless snow-whites skin is now pallid and pale, marked with lines of worry and sorrow. Her jet-black hair is highlighted with gray, revealing years of agony and suffering. Only the glitter of her sky-blue eyes remains—although this is likely to be brought about by welling tears or the occasional zzonga-induced haze.
Frau Gertrud has long given up keeping abreast with the ever-changing fashions that Glantrians love so much. Though her clothes are exquisite and magically preserved—mostly brightly colored robes of Alphatian spider-silk—they are of the styles before the turn of the Thyatian Millennium, and she wears them with little joy. She has retained the habit of magically wafting into a room, like a carefree waif or a restless wraith, depending on her mood.
Personality & Quirks
Once a vibrant maiden, as spirited as a wind and as free as a summer cloud, Gertrud greatly enjoyed every pleasure from music, fashion, theater, gossip, banquets, and dances—particularly the Alphatian ones, where the dancers are levitating, their feet never touching the ground. She was also a consummate wizardess, who took pleasure is practicing her sorcery, creating new spells, and working magic into the mundane everyday world. But Gertrud has been burdened and beaten down by the oppression and the troubles of House Ritterburg, and these fateful trials have taken their toll on her soul.
Gertrud has been unloved for so long that she is desperate to make friends to most anyone who shows her any sympathy, so much so that she has become blind to the ulterior motives of her so-called allies. Over the years, she has learned to be helpless, and would sooner seek assistance from some rescuer than put up a fight herself. She also has frequent bouts of depression, ranging from an apathetic numbness to all things around her to uncontrollable fits of silent weeping.
Frau Gertrud von Drachenfels was born in AC 957 to the Krema family of Aalban, a wealthy family of good station and reputation, save perhaps their strong Alphatian bloodlines (a matter quite objectionable to the Thyatian factions of Aalbanese society). Gertrud's father was Herr Gerhard Krema, a distinguished military wizard, and her mother was Lady Halzema Krema, an Alphatian wizardess of renowned power but unfortunately of weak constitution; she died of the consumption when Gertrud was twelve.
Herr Gerhard took on a highbred Hattian widow, Frau Edeltraud von Schröderburg, as a second wife, mainly to smoothen his family's relations with the Thyatians of Aalban. Frau Edeltraud had three young daughters of her own, all raised in the proper Hattian manner, and she expected that Gertrud would be raised similarly. But Gertrud was a free-spirited child, whose brilliant intelligence, natural curiosity, and creative imagination were not meant to be restrained by strict Hattian discipline. In Frau Edeltraud's officious eyes, Gertrud was a disruptive problematic wench who would never amount to anything and deserved nothing better that to be locked up in the highest towers of Krema manor. Ironically, it was those times of solitude in those towers—which were once her mother's laboratories for air magic—where Gertrud felt truly free to learn her sorcery and explore her true potentials as an Alphatian wizardess.
In AC 982, Frau Hildegarde von Drachenfels, the matriarch of the ruling family of Aalban, approached her fellow compatriot Frau Edeltraud for the purpose of arranging a marriage for the her son and heir to House Ritterburg, Herr Jaggar von Drachenfels, with one of Frau Edeltraud's very suitable and very Hattian daughters. Of course, Herr Jaggar resented his mother's manipulative interfering, and by some loopholes in the agreements, Jaggar chose to marry Frau Edeltraud's disfavored yet uniquely independent stepdaughter Gertrud Krema. His marriage to the Alphatian heiress of the Krema fortune was primarily a political move to strengthen the Hattian and Alphatian ties of House Ritterburg, within the Drachenfels family itself and with other Aalbanese nobles. It was also a personal accomplishment of Jaggar to prove to his domineering mother that she does not rule him. Sadly, Gertrud was lead to believe that love was one of Jaggar's motivations.
So in the spring of AC 983, Gertrud Krema became Frau Gertrud von Drachenfels, wife of the future Prinz Jaggar von Drachenfels of Aalban. Yet, Gertrud quickly discovered there was little comfort in her unemotional militaristic prince charming. Her wedding bed was still not cold when Jaggar launched a four-year campaign against the orc tribes besieging Fort Ylourgne and its environs, in which time she only saw Jaggar thrice. She also found herself besieged by the machinations of the racist Frau Hildegarde, who found every reason to despise everything about Gertrud.
When her first child and Jaggar's heir apparent, Sigmund von Drachenfels, grew up a weakling in body and spirit—and therefore totally unsuited to continue the proud military tradition of the Drachenfels family—Frau Gertrud and her loose Alphatian ways were at fault. And when Gertrud's second son, Roderick von Drachenfels, turned out to be incapable of spellcasting, Gertrud was held solely and entirely blameworthy.
Frau Hildegarde spared no spite nor hurt for Gertrud. And Prinz Jaggar himself found it easier to defend the principle of the Alphatian-Hattian alliance, rather than the woman who was his wife. Gertrud only found sympathy and solace in her sister-in-law, Frau Helgar, who tried her best to ease Gertrud's personal suffering.
It was during one personal crisis that Frau Gertrud was approached by certain traditionalist wizards of Aalban. These wizards, mostly Alphatian in sensibilities and persuasion, feared the progress of machinery and technology would hinder the ways of magic. Thus, Frau Gertrud became involved with the Free Anachronic Society of Aalban. Though Frau Gertrud did not fully espouse the cause of the Anachronics, she joined the Society to have some respite from her domestic distress. Because of her rank in Aalbanese society, the Anachronics handed her the leadership of the Society
Through the Anachronic Society, Gertrud came to know Lady Serena Aendyr, a fellow Alphatian noblewoman and the unfulfilled wife of the cold and heartless Sir Volospin Aendyr, the Prince of Blackhill. In Serena, Gertrud found a trusted friend and a kindred spirit, and most importantly, the strength to stand up to her husband and against her mother-in-law. Gertrud demanded that Jaggar send Frau Hildegarde away to an old wizard's convent, under the threat of leaving him—with an offer of asylum in Silverston from Serena. Eventually, nothing came out of these demands and threats, save to widen the chasm between Gertrud, Jaggar, and Frau Hildegarde.
After a recent trip to the Alphatian continent, Lady Serena maliciously introduced Frau Gertrud to zzonga, the notorious mind-numbing drug that is the scourge of Alphatian society. But although Gertrud has used the zzonga on occasion, she still finds her troubles to painful to bear and has not fully taken up the habit.
During the Wrath of the Immortals War, Prinz Jaggar was constantly away at the battlefields, but this could hurt Gertrud and their marriage no further. In AC 1006, Gertrud was deeply saddened by the death of Lady Serena Aendyr, the one true friend who understood her, with the destruction of Blackhill by the Great Meteor. After the war, Jaggar never returned to her bed, And in AC 1010, Gertrud suddenly passed away.
There were persistent rumors that Frau Gertrud was murdered. Suspects included her husband Prinz Jaggar, who quickly turned to a new lover, Princess Dolores Hillsbury of Fenswick; her odd and peculiar lady-in-waiting, Frau Viktoria von Drachenfels, who was later suspected of theft and connivance with the Free Anachronic Society of Aalban; and even a visiting nobleman, Signor Innocenti di Malapietra, the former Prince of Caurenze and a notorious expert of poisons. But by far, the foremost suspect of Frau Gertrud's murder is Frau Hildegarde von Drachenfels, who up to this day takes no pains to hide her hatred of her daughter-in-law. Ironically, suicide was never considered, no matter how miserably sad Frau Gertrud's life was.
Web of Intrigue
When she had just married Jaggar, Gertrud was the toast of the Aalbanese nobility, most importantly of the estranged Drachenfels of the Alphatian faction of the family—most of whom were powerful wizards whose support Jaggar wanted as Prince of Aalban. Soon after, however, Frau Gertrud earned the inevitable ire of the Drachenfels matriarch Frau Hildegarde, whose legendary hatred of her Alphatian daughter-in-law was only thinly-veiled as political power mongering.
Frau Gertrud is a loving mother to her children, the eccentric Sigmund and the mundaner Roderick, but more so the latter, since she has begun to believe that she is to blame for his lack of magical talent. Gertrud has found a sympathetic soul in her sister-in-law, Frau Helgar von Drachenfels, not that she is powerful enough to matter in the power plays of House Ritterburg. Gertrud also had a confidante in her lady-in-waiting, Viktoria von Drachenfels, who came to know about the operations of the Free Anachronic Society of Aalban.
Frau Gertrud is the leader of the Anachronic Society, but her commitment is little more than nominal. (Actual management of their activities remained in the hands of the more zealous Anachronics). Still, her involvement in the Society did come to the attention of the rival Prince Volospin Aendyr of Blackhill. Prince Volospin ordered his wife and most trusted agent, Lady Serena Aendyr, to join the Anachronics, befriend Frau Gertrud, and exploit the Alphatian-Hattian rift of the Drachenfels family to undermine their political power.
What Frau Gertrud (and even Lady Serena) never knew was that Anachronic Society was secretly controlled and orchestrated by two of the most magically powerful and politically influential wizardesses from the highest echelons of Flaemish nobility. Lady Sinaria Verlien, Countess of High Sonden, and Lady Wilhelmine Vlaardoen, wife of the Prince of Bergdhoven, have kept an ancient Flaemish tradition of preventing the advance of science and technology lest it interfere with the progress of magic—or much worse, uncover the technological origins of the Radiance. With developments in machinery, gadgetry, and even technomancy, by the Aalbanese (mostly of the Hattian faction), the two Flaemish traditionalists fabricated the Free Anachronic Society of Aalban to oppose such advancements. The fact that these technology-fearing wizards would be their own countrymen's undoing was a calculated bonus for the racist Flaems.
Style of Magic & Combat
Statistics: 12th-level mage, Air Elementalist of the 2nd Circle; Str 10, Int 18, Wis 16, Dex 16, Con 10, Cha 14; AL C (D&D), CG (AD&D).
Languages: Thyatian (Aalbanese and Glantrian dialects), Alphatian (Blackhill dialect).
Weapon Proficiencies: knife, dagger.
Skills: dancing, etiquette, local history (Aalban), reading/writing, spellcraft, spellflash.
Frau Gertrud was schooled in the Alphatian style of sorcery by her mother, but also learned enough about the Aalbanese traditions from her Hattian stepmother—not that she used any of it. Gertrud was a consummate Alphatian air wizard, mastering the magic of elemental air, even before she was sponsored into the Secret Craft of Air Elementalism by Lady Serena Aendyr.
Frau Gertrud's mother Lady Halzena was herself an Air Elementalist, and had left behind many magical spells and treasures to her daughter. Frau Gertrud also inherited the creative flair of crafting new spells and magical items, and had a sizeable collection of air-based magic. However, in one terrible fit of depression, she had all her scrolls and treasures blown away in a furious whirlwind. She had tried to recover them afterwards, but they were regrettably lost for always.
The only article she had left where the shoes on her feet, a pair of magical slippers of the dancing zephyrs for dancing those Alphatian air dances that she used to love so much.
"Ironic isn't it, how the wife of a Prince and the most powerful wizard in all of Glantri, can be so ineffectual and so easily to manipulate?"
(Lady Sinaria Verlien to Lady Wilhelmine Vlaardoen, referring to their unwitting puppet, the leader of the Free Anachronic Society of Aalban)
History of House Ritterburg
Spells of the Secret Craft of Air Elementalism
An Aalbanese Tale
Author: Kit Navarro