Baron of Oxhill
Member of the Followers of the Fire
Fire Elementalist of the Third Circle
"A foe of mine is a foe to be dealt with soon. A foe of the Flaems is a foe to be dealt with immediately."
Pieter Vandehaar appears as a sturdy man in his mid-sixties, 5'8" tall, with copper skin and light blue eyes. His hair is gray with few red streaks, while his beard is reddish with gray along the sides. Both his hair and beard are cut short. The deep wrinkles on the forehead and his long and slightly twisted nose enhance his severe expression. The tone of his voice is usually low and clear.
His hands appears to belong to a man some twenty years younger, with fingers very tapered, due to his ring of the ever-supple touch. He also wears a Spokesman's Ring on the opposite hand. He always carries his medallion of mind-shielding, hidden under his dress, his flame-shaped Brooch of Impenetrable Thoughts, fully displayed over his heart, and his ivory and wooden walking stick of everywhere. He always wears his blue-hue robe during private meetings. Pieter dresses very elegantly and dark blue is his favorite color. On the rare occasion that he wants to appear less serious, he dresses in lighter tones.
Personality & Quirks
A master-schemer Pieter judges himself a better noble than the others because of his profound knowledge of politics and diplomacy. To him politics and diplomacy are more powerful than magic. He is very proud and ambitious, and prefers to deal personally with political matters.
He is a widower, who claims to have never felt the urge to marry again, wishing to show he's still in love with his late beloved wife. He always flaunts his great respect of Glantrian laws, of traditions of family and etiquette, and he strongly believes in the need of a severe education. He has only recently started using potions of longevity with the aim to keep his elderly appearance. To him, his countenance of an old wizened man helps in dealing with others, and it also mocks those mages who are afraid of their old age. Also, he never shows off his magical skills, making people think he is more powerful that he really isagain, in mockery of those mages publicly display their magical prowess every day in Glantri City.
He is not the kind of mage to attend a party only for enjoyment. He will be found instead wherever he feels he can gain some political advantage. He likes Flaemish paintings and art, and has a large collection from his many inheritances from the unfortunate tragedies that killed many of his extended family, mostly wealthy in-laws. Upon reaching baronial status, he has also since come patron to several Bergdhovese painters. These works adorn the walls of his tower in Oxhill, his houses in Kopstar, and his city mansion in Glantri City. Pieter also loves lavish furniture, made in Bergdhoven, of course.
Pieter was born in AC 923, the son of Vincent Vandehaar, the Vandehaar black sheep who had no political ambitions, and Seelen Handjeer of the wealthy Handjeer merchants. At an early age, Pieter was quickly removed from his parent's "negative influence" and raised by his grandfather Maas Vandehaar, the Guildmaster of the Spokesmen's Guild. Pieter barely knew who his parents were.
Pieter's education at the Great School of Magic took a long time, as he was also studying politics and diplomacy under Piero Recioto, a trusted friend of his grandfather. With the death of Maestro Recioto, Pieter continued his education under Maas, and learned how practice can differ from theory.
Being pragmatic and strong-willed, Pieter became one of the more skilled politicians of the Principalities, but purposely never entered the Spokesmen's Guild. He wanted to work by himself and for himself. Pieter stayed in Bergdhoven, where he gained alliances and respectability among the Flaems. Pieter also learned of the existence of the Followers of the Fire, and became a member, after accomplishing a very dangerous mission. He has been working diligently for the Followers of the Fire ever since.
In AC 972, Pieter married Rhonda Vandeeker, the only daughter of one of the richest family of gem cutters in Kopstar. The next year brought tragedy as well as fortune; the Handjeer family all disappeared mysteriously at a banquet, together with Vincent Vandehaar and Seelen, Pieter's parents. Pieter found himself sole heir to his father's isolated tower in far-away Oxhill (which became his base of operations), as well as the Handjeer fortune from his mother.
Another misfortune is Pieter's life was that he had no child to continue the Vandehaar legacy. Pieter's wife Rhonda had already had two miscarriages and one near-fatal pregnancy, which ended in a sickly daughter named Seelen, who died four months after birth. AC 974 brought with it a strange turn of events, beginning with the arrival of Leena Tijlen, a Flaemish courtesan with whom Pieter had had an affair. Leena came to Oxhill bringing with her a child, Pieter-Eeuwke, she claimed to be his. At this time, Pieter declared his wife Rhonda was pregnant, but kept her in Oxhill for her health and safety.
Months later, Pieter declared that Rhonda died at childbirth, and invited her relatives to visit the newborn. Unfortunately, en route to Oxhill, the whole Vandeeker family was massacred by some bandits plaguing the Sablestone area. With the help of his grandfather Maas, Pieter was able to convince the Council of Princes to investigate the bandit situation in Sablestone, rather than delve (too) deeply into his personal tragedies. For a while, Pieter understandable excused himself from showing his child in public. When the time was right, Pieter presented Pieter-Eeuwke publicly, his child with Rhonda. Pieter was also always accompanied by the child's wet-nurse, Leena Tijlen.
Pieter has since recovered the lost Vandeeker secrets in gem cutting, including a large portion of the Vandeeker jewelry. Most of these he presented to various Bergdhovese merchants and nobles, again gaining him more Flaemish support. Part of this recently acquired wealth he used to establish a money-lending business in Kopstar, a move that outwardly improved Bergdhovese economy.
During the next fifteen years, Pieter worked indirectly through his allies in Parliament, strongly urging for a stronger presence of the law in the area of Sablestone, Egorn, and Oxhill. The havoc among various heir-claimants to the Barony of Egorn (of which Pieter claimed having no knowledge) and the deaths of several would-be nobles for the Sablestone area (of which Pieter also denied involvement in) merely justified Pieter's petitions. In the end, the Council voted for a new Barony of Oxhill and appointed Pieter as Baron.
The next step in Pieter's ambition plan was to extend his power to Egorn and Sablestone. However, over the last decade, his plans have been thwarted by several events. First, the two mayors of Estin and Kern, formerly Flaemish allies, were replaced by two Caurenzan ones. Second, the feuding in Egorn ended with Doņa Isabella de Montebello, a popular Belcadizan noblewoman, consolidating her power in the region and became the Baroness. Lastly, and most importantly, the unexpected rise of Harald of Haaskinz into the political scenes greatly compromised Pieter's chances of gaining power in Sablestone.
Web of Intrigue
The strongest ally of the Baron of Oxhill is the House Linden. Prince Vanserie Vlaardoen XI of Bergdhoven supports Pieter in his baronial claim, his political projects, and his promotion of in all things Flaemish. Pieter has also been instrumental in protecting the secrecy of the Followers of the Fire. But where Prince Vanserie's support for him is strong, the support of Lady Wilhelmine Vlaardoen, Prince Vanserie's wife, is even stronger. She shares in Pieter's love of Bergdhovese paintings and lavish furniture.
Pieter is in good terms with another Flaemish noble, Sinaria Verlien. She is aware of Pieter's importance to the Flaemish cause, and often agrees to participate in his schemes, but only if she is sure they do not hinder her own. While Sinaria knows Vandehaar to be an important and skilled ruler, she always reminds him who is the stronger of the too. She always refers to him as Baron, with a subtle nuance of superiority, even when they are discussing things in private. Pieter has learnt to ignore this, and sincerely believes that only she is worthier than him in making a claim for a Principality. Also, Pieter shares Sinaria suspicions about Anton Vlaardoen, and his influence on the Vanserie's heiress, Lady Juliana.
Pieter is well-respected by most other Flaemish families, especially those of merchants and artists. The only Bergdhovese noble who does not trust him is Rowena Krollnar, Viscountess of Bergen, who was a good friend of the Vandeeker family. Still, she remains civil to him socially, and neutral to him politically.
Pieter entered the Secret Craft of Fire Elementalism through his son's patronage. He gained entry to the Craft, not to obtain magical power, but only to obtains of the alliances through them. He has worked on fire elementalism to the minimum, letting his son do most of the research for him.
Outside of Bergdhoven, Pieter has enemies that would go to the Pits and back to see him removed from Glantri. These include the enemies of House Linden, the petty nobles of Egorn, Estin, Kern, and Sablestone. Isabella de Montebello and Harald of Haaskinz are aware of their dangerous position as Pieter's political rivals, and remain cautious of him, despite appearing cordial in public.
Much less can be said of the present mayors of Estin and Kern. The Mayor of Estin, Trillo d'Ascioti, is being blackmailed by Pieter for his regular patronage of the Sisters of the Private Houses in Oreggiano where Leena used to work. The mayor of Kern suspects Pieter of being behind attempts at his life, and has since been sowing discontent among the mundaners of Oxhill. These actions against the two mayors have earned the attention of Principe Innocenti di Malapietra of Caurenze.
Pieter is a good friend of the present Guildmaster of the Spokesmen's Guild. He also has several ties with the Unseen Hand and connections with a guild of assassins based in Sind. Recently, Pieter discovered the operations of the Followers of the Claymore in his area, which connects to Mary McGregor, who he is planning to blackmail.
Style of Magic & Combat
Statistics: 11th-level mage, Fire Elementalist of the 3rd Circle; Str 14, Int 15, Wis 14, Dex 11, Con 16, Cha 9 (18 with the ring); AL C (D&D), CE (AD&D).
Weapons Proficiencies: staff.
Skills: bribery, flattery, etiquette, laws (Glantrian), oratory, persuasion, politics +2 (Glantrian).
Languages: Thyatian (Glantrian, Aalbanese, and Caurenzan dialects), Flaemish.
Pieter relies only on defensive spells, as he usually avoids combat by teleporting to safety or by having someone else fight for him. Pieter's abilities as a Fire Elementalist are less powerful than they should be, mainly because he does not do the research himself. He manipulates others, mainly his son, to research them for him. All his elementalist abilities have their percentage of successes and their duration halved. Moreover, the spells he would have gained as free are to be studied like normal spells.
Pieter has a good collection of personal magical items, mostly not made by him. He has a medallion of mind shielding (which acts as the ring), and possesses The Brooch of Impenetrable Thoughts, one of The Seven Legendary Brooches of the Flaem.
"The title is the only thing that makes him noble. There are more deaths around that man than in a battlefield."
(Doņa Isabella de Montebello, Baronesa del Egorn)
History of House Vandehaar
The Magic of House Vandehaar
The Magic of the Secret Craft of Fire Elementalism
Spells of the Followers of the Fire
Author: Giovanni Porpora