Duchess Belladonna Pravus
Swords are all well and good, but smiles can be sharper and words far more dangerous. It's a more subtle game, and requires all the more finesse- after all, at least most duelists realize when they've been cut.
Description: Undeniably beautiful, with her long flaxen locks, intensely sapphire eyes, and sharply gorgeous features, Belladonna combines her striking looks and sultry sensuality with a vibrant life in her to devastating effect. Her winsome features are those that will seem young, even when her hair has greyed, lightened by the challenging fire and daring sparkle that infests her eyes. Her lush lips are quick to smile, both in sympathy and understanding, and in a smirk of satisfaction that only seeing her enemies crushed before her can evoke. Her form is lithe and sinuous, slight of frame, but her infectious laugh and vibrancy makes her seem larger than she is. Many noblewomen tend toward fair skin, of those too important to endure the harsh suns, but Belladonna's richly tanned, smokey skin, common in the city-state of Setarco, sets her apart and lends her an exotic air.
Personality: Belladonna knows how easily it would be for her to be a truly wicked woman. Many of the city-states in the Lyceum tend toward cruel and insidious plots, sacrificing anything and everything for power. Belladonna is every bit as capable to play the same cutthroat games, and play them well, but has come to fear just how much she enjoys them. She loved her father, and his good heart very much, even as she saw how it destroyed him. It makes her determined, shrewd, and extremely capable of manipulative intrigue but she is well aware that ruthless maneuvers undermines her father's legacy and the hopes he cherished that she would follow him as an honorable, kindhearted ruler. For her enemies, she represents a contradiction of a dangerously charming woman that can be a deadly, conniving adversary yet remains capable of confounding acts of generosity and compassion that leaves opponents bemused on what could possibly be her hidden motive. It's more simple than that, really. She wants to be a good woman, strong and powerful, but she will stop at nothing to avoid the mistakes of her father.
Background: The Lyceum has a reputation as a den of machiavellian scheming at best of times, but Belladonna is well aware that in her home city-state of Setarco it is more deserved than most. Her family House Pravus, has ruled Setarco, the city famous for its influence over the silk trade, since the time of the Reckoning nearly a thousand years ago. And yet it seemed that in the past generation that nearly everything they have held dear was lost. Belladonna's famous uncle Duke Niccolo was the one groomed to rule and lead House Pravus to glory once more, but passed on the burden of rulership so he might follow his heart and marry his future liege, the Duchess Carlotta Velenosa. This very unfortunately forced the mantle of Duke of Setarco onto Piero, Niccolo's younger brother and Belladonna's father.
Belladonna's father was a kind, generous man, soft-hearted and wishing more than anything simply to be loved. Belladonna now knows that few personalities are as ill-suited to rule the snakepit of competiting Lyceum families as one such as he father's. She watched as her father tolerated much and more, small slights as other lesser vassals tested her lord father to see precisely how much they could get away with, outright ignoring orders and making House Pravus a laughingstock. What's worse, her father never saw the danger in this. Instead of winning their love, it emboldened the most ambitious and won only scorn and contempt for her father's weakness. And as her father's eldest daughter, she was caught right in the middle of the plots of the vassals who had lost all respect for her lord father.
She tried at first to be good, she really did. She warned her father, she tried reason to make it clear how much his good heart was costing House Pravus, how none of these men were in any way his friends and that trying to win their love was only destroying her family. He just wouldn't listen, it was simply too easy to turn a blind eye to the men and women walking all over the Duke of Setarco. But as her lord father ignored slight after slight, and she watched arrogant vassals 'jest' they would marry her and take Setarco away from House Pravus for good and all to make things right again, she knew she could wait no longer. She quickly discovered that most of the arrogant men trying to undermine her father were not half as clever as they thought they were, and the proper word into the perfect ear, the right amount of charm to the right person, and a bit of sly manipulation could be wielded to a more devastating effect than all the soldiers under her father's control.
Her enemies never quite guessed how much guile lurked behind the eyes of the very young noblewoman, as she used grace, beauty and charm to set her enemies against one another. Her one regret was she waited so late to act, since she had no idea that one of her father's most powerful vassals had already decided it was time to lead an uprising and replace him. She discovered the plot in time to crush the rebellion in its infancy, House Pravus soldiers catching the ringleaders in a meeting that resulted in more than a few executions for treason... but she did not know about the plot to assassinate her father, and returned home to Setarco to find the city in mourning and her as the newest Duchess of Setarco and head of House Pravus.
The lovely young woman has been hardened by events, and possesses a wisdom far exceeding her years in the ruthless politics of the Lyceum. With wit, charm and ruthless determination she fully intends to restore House Pravus to its glory and will harbor few regrets about using any means necessary to accomplish her goals.