A certain gentleman who possesses both the impeccable taste in RPGs and a formidable artistic talent has noticed that AoD is lacking in the portrait department and decided to do something about it.
Lord Antidas was the current and most likely the last Lord of House Daratan. It was prophesied that he would be the leader to restore Daratan to its original glory, and unwavering in his faith in the prophecy, Antidas undertook many a daring attack against Daratan's enemies. Unfortunately for both Antidas and his House, the prophecy failed to live up to its end of the bargain with disastrous consequences for House Daratan. With the loss of a fort and two entire legions, Antidas' domain was reduced to a crumbling, insignificant town and a small regiment of guards, while the prospects of glory slowly faded away.
Lord Gaelius, named after his glorious ancestor, was the 27th Lord of House Aurelian. The glorious ancestor had enough foresight to pull out his legions from the war when the Empire started crumbling and take over several cities, establishing a new dominion. This foresight was never properly appreciated by other Houses, and House Aurelian had to spend considerable resources to keep its enemies at bay. When Gaelius took the reigns, the House no longer had enough troops to fight aggressive wars on several fronts, which left him with only one weapon - diplomacy. In two decades Gaelius restored the weakened balance of power by masterfully playing his enemies against each other, preventing them from combining their efforts to topple his House.
Lord Meru was a man of faith. His faith, discovered in the depths of Castle Ganezzar, changed Meru completely. Meru had lost interest in the power struggles and focused on the spiritual state of the world, calling for worship and restoration of the gods. Some said it was a weakness born out of fear to lead. Others said it was the wisdom to see what nobody else could. After Meru crucified many of the local doubters, his wisdom was no longer questioned.
It was said Nabupolassar, the great sage and prophet, was visited by the Divine in his humble mountain abode and commanded to answer Lord Meru's prayers for divine guidance and act as a conduit between House Crassus and the divine plane. The great sage left his abode without delay and soon appeared before Lord Meru. Guards tried to block his way, but the Divine will couldn't be denied. The guards burst into flames and the great sage spoke with a voice of thunder, which caused the earth to shake. Lord Meru welcomed Nabupolassar with open arms and the great sage then blessed House Crassus and its holy mission.
If Lord Serenas the Victorious, the only son of Lord Gaelius' sister, had any good qualities, he managed to hide them well. Spoiled by his mother, despised by his uncle, manipulated by his uncle's enemies, and loved by whores, who gave him the title, Serenas never had a chance to become the man his "friends" convinced him he was. He lacked ambition and willpower, which made him useless to Gaelius, but very useful to everyone who would have preferred to see a puppet on the Aurelian throne.
Linos the Skull owed his nickname to his appearance and his appearance to the decades of service to the merchants guild, which changed the enthusiastic youth with blue eyes and wavy auburn hair into a dispassionate old man with a bald head and cold, almost colorless eyes sitting deep within the dark sockets. Business to Linos was a boardgame. He moved pieces and executed strategies, without taking any "human element" into account. Good opportunities shouldn't be missed just because some people happened to be in the way.
Feng's exact age was indeterminable. He could only be described as old, usually followed by "bastard". It was commonly believed that Feng had tried and mastered all sins, improving quite a few, but greed was definitely his favourite. Master Feng talked his way out of two assassination attempts, which gave him a supernatural aura and somehow improved his credibility as a loremaster.
Neleos, the guildmaster of Teron's assassins, always smiled. He smiled when he talked to people, as if he was just told a good joke, and he smiled when he had to kill, which, in his mind, was a joke life played on his victims. Since the dead are good at keeping secrets, few people thought of Neleos as an assassin, and the general consensus was that Neleos was strictly an administrator of the guild, rather than someone who killed for a living.
Dellar looked like a tired, old scribe, proving that appearances are often misleading. At seventeen he signed up as a caravan guard. It took him three years to realize that his father was wrong about honest work. Dellar switched sides and started raiding the same caravans he guarded yesterday. Four years later the Merchants Guild finally paid the Imperial Guards a king's ransom, which quickly solved the "raiders problem". Hundreds of dead raiders were nailed to Maadoran walls and a few lucky survivors were sent to the mines to work off their debt to the guild. For almost a decade Dellar mined iron ore, fighting for food scraps and his life, until he managed to escape to Teron, where Antidas took him under his wing.
It was rumored that Darista, the guildmaster of Maadoran assassins, was once beautiful and even shared Gaelius’s bed once or twice. These days her beauty was well hidden behind several scars, a broken nose, and a mercenary tattoo on her cheek, displaying campaigns she fought in. Darista wasn’t the first female guildmaster, but she was the first who made assassinations a preferred choice for solving disputes and conflicts. As a result, business in the Maadoran guild was booming, and the number of satisfied customers was growing daily.
Cado has been a thief ever since he could remember. Unlike many people who thought that stealing was a quick and easy way to make money, Cado believed that stealing was a job, and like any job it required a lot of time and efforts, rewarding hard work and dedication. Running a thieves guild in a small town was a difficult and dangerous occupation, and the guild was hit hard several times in the not so recent past. A few years ago the guildmaster was nailed to the guild's door, and Cado, who was next in line, has reluctantly accepted the duties and carefully navigated the local waters without attracting too much attention to the guild ever since.
Lady Lorenza Calani of House Calani was married five times. All five husbands had died in unfortunate accidents, adding their wealth and power to House Calani. Lorenza blamed assassins and other Houses. House Aurelian blamed Lorenza's lust for power and claimed, as a warning to others, that the "cold and calculating bitch" will never be satisfied with being a husband's wife. Neither the warning nor the popular opinion, suggesting that one explanation doesn't necessarily exclude the other, had any effect on the prominent suitors who seemed to surround Lorenza at all times.
Born in a small village, Dalia was determined not to die there. She learned early that beauty was nothing but a commodity to be traded. It could be offered to a farmer with calloused hands and traded for a life of back-breaking work, or it could be traded for money, shiny baubles, or something far more valuable - introductions, influence, power. A merchant named Gracius took her to Maadoran and taught her everything there was to know about trading. Eight years later Dalia was the favorite odalisque of Lord Gaelius, which made her indispensable to anyone seeking favors and elevated her into a position of much desired influence.
Old Azra lived a long life and was called many names. She had seen men rise and fall. Once, when she was young and still had fire in her eyes, she fell in love with a man who was destined to rise. She was called the Witch in those days, but she was a different woman then and didn't know that those who are destined to rise are also destined to fall. Now she was called the Mother, although she showed the villagers no affection. She treated them as her garden - healing them when they were sick, protecting them from outsiders, and removing bad seeds when necessary.
Commander Marcus Carrinas learned his trade in numerous battles with barbarians and renegade Houses. His tactics lacked finesse, but showed strength and willingness to fight no matter the odds, giving Carrinas nickname the Bull. The last battle rewarded his efforts with the rank of Legatus Legionis and a deep shoulder wound that didn't heal properly. Despite his protests, Carrinas was sent to Teron to "prevent Antidas from doing anything stupid". Since the Bull had always preferred permanent solutions to problems, he started training new recruits without delay.
Old Hamza was a man of few words. He'd never had much of a need for them in his life. You get a job, you get it done, you get paid. If you do a good job, there will be more jobs. What's there to talk about? Hamza joined the Boatmen when he was fourteen. It was a family thing. Hamza could trace his lineage back to the early days of the guild, when things were simple. These days everything was changing too fast and it didn't sit well with him. The Boatmen had never bowed to nobody and that was a good thing. Made Hamza proud. These days... These days the business was good, but the guild was practically eating out of Gaelius' hand and Hamza wasn't sure he liked where things were going.
Torghul, the Khan of the Ordu, carried a heavy burden. For countless generations the endless plains and open sky were the Ordu's home. The life was never easy, but it made the tribe stronger. But that was then. The plains were different now. The sky-father was angry and dark, sending the Ordu one trial after another. The tribe had diminished in numbers and the future looked bleak. Accepting Great Khan Gaelius' offer meant life, but it also meant death, for the future generations wouldn't know the way of the plains. Refusing the offer, however, meant a more imminent death, as Torghul doubted that the tribe would survive another winter on the plains.
Belgutai, one of the Khan's bondsmen, was of that hot-blooded age when one thinks one has all the answers and prefers to learn all lessons the hard way - the Warrior's Way. Doubts were for old men and womenfolk, and Belgutai hadn't become the best swordsman of the Ordu by doubting himself, by doubting the Ordu way of life. Without hesitation he had reached for his sword when the messenger dog spoke his honeyed words, insulting the Khan and the Ordu with his offer. But the Khan had unexpectedly stopped Belgutai from beheading the stranger on the spot. The Khan's carefully worded response to the messenger had surprised him even further. Surprised him and, for the first time in his life, caused him to hesitate, to consider his next action.
You see a stone statue of a demon reading a book. The demon is carved with great precision, and his pose reflects deep thoughts and tranquility. As you approach, the statue closes the book in one fluid motion and lifts up its head, studying you with interest:
"I do believe we have a visitor. Unfortunately, it appears that we are closed at the moment, and I've been instructed to dispose of all visitors. Therefore, we have a dilemma."
Faelan the Thrice Blessed owed everything he had - including his life - to Lord Gaelius, who saved him from the gallows. Born a slave, Faelan made his life a lot harder by refusing to keep his eyes down. He was always staring at people, staring with such an intensity that it made even hardened Imperial Guardsmen uncomfortable. It was that staring as much as his refusal to work that earned him the beatings. When the Guardsmen had finally had enough of his resistance and came to make an example of him, witnesses say he did nothing to defend himself. He simply stared at the soldiers, and smiled that twisted smile. And, one by one, they took out their daggers and slit their own throats.
Terrifying though this display of power was, the Imperial Guard were veterans of many battles. Quickly recovering from their shock, the remaining Guards overwhelmed Faelan with their numbers, beating him unconscious. His execution would have followed swiftly if word of his deed hadn't reached the ears of Lord Gaelius. Such power would be a shame to waste. And so Faelan the slave became Faelan the Thrice Blessed, High Magus of House Aurelian, a position of near unlimited wealth and influence.
Unknown gentleman of questionable moral qualities.