Duchess of Fenswick
Air Elementalist of the Third Circle
"Did you understand or do I need to repeat myself!?"
Margaret Hillsbury is a strong-willed lady in her mid-forties. She considers herself an important woman in an important place, so she dresses accordingly. She is very fond of big pearls and diamonds, but people are wont to say that her dresses are a lot more beautiful than she is. Lady Margaret is not exactly ugly, but her attitude makes her lack of beauty far worse. She seldom smiles, luckily, for when she does, her smile sends shivers down the spine of whoever is watching.
Lady Margaret is worried about her age, which she tries to cover with makeup. Her makeup is very delicate, as she spends good money to hire expert makeup-artists. She never leaves her home in Fenswick or in Glantri City without makeup.
Lady Margaret never uses magic to enhance her looks, as she considers that as an admission of her lack of beauty. Prince Volospin Aendyr, however, occasionally casts some beauty-enhancement spell on her without her ever noticing.
It is rumored that the most of her jewelry is magical, given to her by Prince Volospin of Blackhill. This is probably true, as she is never seen carrying any other magical items.
Personality & Quirks
Duchess Margaret Hillsbury is one of the most conservative nobles in Glantri. She prefers to do everything the way it has been done before. She is a strong supporter of magocracy and the Order of the Radiance. Also, she always supports Prince Volospin, who has similar ideas as she does.
Lady Margaret is a bitter woman. She never admits her frustration, but she is upset of her aging. Even though Prince Volospin has provided her some magic in making her younger and slowing her aging, she is still an old woman who has never attracted attention from men. Nowadays, she is offended by every male who does not show any interest in her, although she would never openly admit it.
Lady Margaret is also bitter for another reason. She is fairly intelligent and wise, but she has never been a good wizard. Given the effort she has put to her magic during the last few decades, she should be much more powerful than she is.
As she is not a good wizard, Lady Margaret has specialized herself in politics and intrigue. She is one of the very few nobles who actually understands how the Glantrian bureaucracy works.
Lady Margaret is a proficient small-talker and can be seen in the high society. She is overtly polite to everyone, so no one knows whether she means anything or is it just highly-refined sarcasm. Not understanding her sarcasm and missing out on her irony are both good ways to earn her hatred.
Because of all the bitterness in her life, the Duchess rarely smiles. But when she does smile, it is usually a smile of victory, a smile of hypocrisy, or a smile of hatred. The first smile she gives to those whom she has defeated and used to boost her ego. The second smile she gives when politely saying something she does not mean at all. The third smile she gives to those superior to her, whom she tries to face boldly and on even grounds. All the three types of smile remind people of a smiling lizard or dragon, which is what probably earned her the nickname of "The Old Dragon of Fenswick."
Lady Margaret has a fourth smile, reserved only for the one person she does not envy nor despise—Prince Volospin.
Lady Margaret Hillsbury was the youngest child of Duke Edward Hillsbury and his Darokinian wife, Darela Hillsbury. Her father was one of the more significant mages of the Principalities, who fought himself from the bottom to the Dukedom after his graduation from the Great School of Magic in AC 912 to his death in AC 970. Duke Edward's wife was a Darokinian non-spellcaster, who was the heiress of a great fortune and over 15 years younger than the Duke.
Lady Margaret was born AC 959 as the third child. Duke Edward was desperate as none of Darela's children showed any talent in magic. Even Lady Margaret only showed first signs of her talent when she was 20, very late by Glantrian standards. Duke Edward, however, understood that Margaret was his only hope of leaving his Duchy to his family, so Margaret was enrolled at the Great School of Magic, and the Duke used fortunes to hire extra tutors for his daughter.
After a very hard, long and painful eight years, Margaret graduated with very bad points in AC 969. Her father, however, was relieved and happy for her success.
Duke Edward had learned of the Radiance many years earlier. But until he had an heir, he had refrained from taking risks with the mysterious force, in case his experiments proved to be fatal. They did. Only one year after Margaret graduated, Duke Edward put all his effort into his research of the Radiance, and he blew himself up, with his laboratories and books, in AC 970.
After this, Lady Margaret succeeded him, at the age of 29. She knew she had never been a beauty, and after her graduation, she knew the men that were circling her only wanted to marry the heiress of Fenswick. Her haughtiness eventually drove them away, and she reigned alone for five years. During that time, the suitors and would-be spouses saw the Duchess Margaret and her high-handed methods of ruling, and there was no more offers nor contests for her hand. Ever.
Now she is far beyond her middle-age years. Although her secret love Prince Volospin Aendyr has somewhat slowed her aging, she is still very much alone.
Web of Intrigue
Lady Margaret has a lot of invisible power in the Principalities. As her moves are not watched as closely as those of the Princes, she has managed to gather for herself a lot of contacts from all sectors of Glantrian politics.
The most important of her allies are in the House of Silverston. Her secret love, Prince Volospin Aendyr, has earned Margaret's trust, friendship, and even love, over the years, and they have been allies politically for at least 30 years. Alas, the Prince had to marry a pure Alphatian, so they can never be together romantically. Still, the eternal friendship of the Chancellor of the Princes makes her a far worse opponent than one might presume.
Lady Margaret is also on very good terms with Viscountess Arbana Jerbat of Redstone and Count Emeth Urbaal of Wylon. She and Lady Arbana are kindred spirits, and they have not crossed each other—so far.
Lady Margaret inherited a Darokinian fortune in addition to her Glantrian Duchy. She keeps her riches hidden, but the business in Darokin makes her the wealthiest noble in Glantri, after the Princes. She uses her fortune to sponsor other noblemen who need the money for their research, in exchange for loyalty or particular favors. Viscountess Rowena Krollnar of Bergen, Baron Malachie du Marais of Morlay and Signor Agostino di Malapietra owe her considerable favors. Malachie, of course, does not use the funding to research but to fund his own Principality.
The last aces in her hole are the Glantrian bureaucrats. As she is a stern supporter of the Glantrian political system, she has made many friends in high places. With her considerable clout in the Hall of Magistrates, the Ambassadors and Ministers Solidarity, the Scribes Association, and the Spokesmen's Guild, her political propagandas are generally executed without a hitch!
Surprisingly, the Duchess has few enemies. Only the Vlaardoens want her head, as they consider her an ally of Volospin. For the same reason, Prince Innocenti of Caurenze suspects her of being an Alphatian agent. Duke John Beaumarys-Moorkroft of Hightower is her constant adversary, as they both know that Harald of Haaskinz, Archduke of Westheath will probably find a Principality soon enough, and the both have decided to get rid of the other before they have to duel for the position of Archduke.
The worst weakness of Lady Margaret is her lack of magical power. Despite her efforts, she is still an average-strength wizard, and this is a secret she sorely tries to hide, more so than the fact that she is barren.
It is important to note that Prince Volospin is a married man and a gentleman. Even if Lady Margaret were not infertile, she and Prince Volospin have never consummated their love, and therefore could never have children. Of course, only the worst of the Glantrian paparazzi would inspect this up close, and even so, they are the first to spread the false rumors of their relationship.
Style of Magic & Combat
Statistics: 14th-level mage, Air Elementalist of the 3rd Circle; Str 16, Int 15, Wis 15, Dex 10, Con 14, Cha 9; AL N (D&D).
Languages: Fenswick, Alphatian (Blackhill dialect), Thyatian (Glantrian dialect), Darokinian, Sylaire and Elvish (Erewan dialect).
Skills: appraising, bureaucracy (Glantrian, +1), etiquette, heraldry, politics (+1), reading/writing, spellcraft.
Weapon Proficiencies: dagger, knife.
Lady Margaret's problem is that although she is an intelligent woman, magic does not flow strong in her veins. By now, she should already be a dangerous master of magic. But as it was trying, even painful, for her to graduate from the Great School of Magic, so has it been painful to advance even further in magic.
Her spells include mostly the commonly known spells of destruction, like fireball. Her own spells, which she took years to craft, are spells of mental domination, such as Margaret's stern command and Margaret's aura of awe. Other spells, she bought spells from the more able mages, such as Agostino's watchful eyes. In addition to this, Prince Volospin gave her a few spells to use as her, like Volospin's crushing stare.
Lady Margaret knows of the existence of the Radiance. As her father Duke Edward died because of the Radiance, she knows its dangers very well, and thus she does not want to use it herself. She has never let Prince Volospin know that she knows, as she fears that he would want to read some of Duke Edward's remaining journals, and she does not want to lose him the way she lost her father.
Lady Margaret's jewelry is indeed magical. Volospin has protected her from scrying and mind-reading with jewels, but these jewels still do not protect her from his spying. She always carries a gem that creates a prismatic sphere around her if she is injured, and another that instantly teleports her to Volospin upon a command word.
"Iron hand in a velvet glove, madam guillotine, iron maiden—which way ever you want to put it."
(Lady Serena Aendyr, who never understood her husband, to Sir Uthar Aendyr)
References: Spells of House Hillsbury
Author: Markus Olavi Montola