In life, Eye and Seven Despairs was a prodigy who died before his time. In death, he was feckless and capricious. When he put his mind to anything, he was potentially the most intelligent of all Deathlords - with startling innovations in necromancy and necrosurgery. Yet he squandered his prodigal gift and instead devoted himself to a hollow revenge he never earned in life.
Exalting at an unusually young age, he found himself thrust into a circle of much older, more powerful and jaded Solars who found the newly Exalted Twilight Caste a poor replacement for his 3,000-year-old predesscor. Bored with his naïveté and annoyed at his immaturity and inexperience, his circle-mates cruelly reduced him to suicidal despair seven times through extreme measures. The last torment was when they gifted him his mortal father’s left eye in a jeweled case, plucked from the old man’s head. No more than 10 years past Exaltation, he took his own life - seeing it as the only means to escape centuries of entrapment with his fate-appointed "boon companions".
Six months later, the Usurpation came and delivered his circle-mates to the underworld. Yet, freed from the Great Curse post-mortem and repentant of their Sins, these Solars quickly entered Lethe - depriving the vengeful ghost a chance for revenge even in the afterlife.
His bitterness over the circumstances of his demise blossomed into a psychotic hatred of all life. He was one of the first to swear allegiance to the Neverborn. Sometimes he even claims he was the first to seek out the Abhorrence of Life and give the Neverborn the idea to anoint other Solar ghosts as Deathlords.
Eye and Seven Despairs became a stalwart supporter of the Neverborn goal, although a somewhat ineffective one. He had the same potential for raw power as the others, and amazing natural talent at medicine and sorcery, but lacks their centuries of experience. Eye and Seven Despairs twice allied himself with the First and Forsaken Lion, although he looked to the other Deathlords less like an ally and more like a toadying sycophant. When the Neverborn provided the Deathlords with the capacity to steal and corrupt Solar Essences, the effectiveness of Eye and Seven Despairs ended almost completely.
While the other Deathlords set themselves (with varying degrees of success) to determining how best to integrate Abyssal Exalted into their forces, Eye and Seven Despairs obsessed over only one thing: acquire the Exaltations of his former circlemates and torment them for eternity.
As it happened, three of his four targets came into hand. He gave these to three Abyssals: Blood Scavenger, Chorus at Midnight and Scar of Uproar - all whom he chose primarily for how much they resemble their predecessors physically and in temperament. He then enslaved one of the most beautiful courtesans in the South, whom he renamed Star of Dirt and Doubt, and set her to seduce his Abyssals and turn them against each other. In time this jealousy took hold and the Knights sought ways to hurt and humiliate their peers to earn her favor.
Yet in time the Abyssals grew wise. Realizing it had all been an orchistrated game by their own master, the rivals formed a temporary circle, battled, and cast their Deathlord into the Mouth of the Void - obliterating him from existence.
The fourth member eluded him, which infuriates the Deathlord immeasurably. Concentrating his ire on the three Abyssals in his service, Eye and Seven Despairs set in motion a complex plan for revenge. He enslaved one of the most beautiful courtesans in the South, whom he renamed Star of Dirt and Doubt, and set her to seduce each of his Abyssals in turn. In time, they all turned on one another in jealousy before forging a pact to slay their Deathlord master and seize Star of Dirt and Doubt for themselves.
The was actually the Deathlord’s own idea. Eye and Seven Despairs switched places with Star of Dirt and Doubt, with the end result being his three Abyssals unwittingly murdered the object of their joint affections by hurling her into the Mouth of the Void. Ever since, the Deathlord has enjoyed the sexual favors of each of his deathknights while wearing Star of Dirt and Doubt’s form.
“she” whispers both encouragements and doubts to the deathknights, turning them against one another and driving them to acts of self-destruction.
Eventually, Blood Scavenger deduced the truth of the Deathlord’s deception and confronted Star of Dirt and Doubt. He was later found dead at the gates of the Deathlord’s fortress, impaled with dozens of spears, his eyes burst and his entrails hanging lewdly from his mouth. Star of Dirt and Doubt led Scar of Uproar and Chorus at Midnight each to believe that the other is responsible. Blood Scavenger’s Black Exaltation soon returned to its Monstrance, but Eye and Seven Despairs has not yet found a mortal host who resembles its First Age possessor enough to bestow it on another victim.
Needless to say, the Deathlords who know of Eye and Seven Despairs’ conduct consider him an utter fool. The Deathlords have only 100 Abyssal Exaltations between them. Perpetually tormenting three for some centuries-old revenge is not only an absurd waste of resources but also suggests a connection to one’s past life that is completely unbefitting a Deathlord. The Neverborn seem to agree. Eye and Seven Despairs receives dreams and whispered threats to bestow his Monstrances on some other Deathlord—perhaps the Mask of Winters. The other Deathlords also hear these dream-sendings.
In response, Eye and Seven Despairs has grudgingly begun other activities, though halfheartedly in comparison to his peers. In addition to Cold House, his manse within the Bonetree shadowland to the east of Harborhead, the Deathlord opened up a “second front” in the Field of Bloodied Bulls shadowland 200 miles south of Kirighast.
He created another false identity for himself as the Prioress of Bloody Sands. This strange insistence on creating elaborate fake identities (and female ones at that) does not reassure the other Deathlords to Eye and Seven Despairs’ fitness to serve among their number, particularly since his efforts in Harborhead thus far look unfocused and ineffectual. Red Famine, the Deathlord’s fourth deathknight (and the only one who stays busy subverting communities, conducting massacres and otherwise extending his master’s power), frequently considers defecting to join the Mask of Winters.
Eye and Seven Despairs’ distraction has He forgot his latest necro-medical experiment and allowed it to be stolen before he could test, perfect and deploy it against Creation.
Eye and Seven Despairs’ “true” form is a desiccated corpse with sunken eyes and a cavity where his nose once was. He lost an arm at some point during his sojourn in the Underworld and replaced it with a necrotech gauntlet pretentiously called the Fatal Arbalest of Quietus and Eclipses.
In the form of Star of Dirt and Dust, he appears as a pale woman of exceptional beauty, usually draped in the flowing veils of a concubine.
As the Prioress of Bloody Sands, he takes the shape of an emaciated old woman, bald-headed and wearing the bloodstained robes of an itinerant monk.
EYE AND SEVEN DESPAIRS’ DOMAIN Edit
Eye and Seven Despairs maintains two separate territories, though one is much smaller than the other—more an outpost than a citadel. The tiny shadowland called the Field of Bloodied Bulls formed RY 422 on the site of the last battle in the Realm’s conquest of Harborhead. Here the Dragon-Blooded slew Blood on the Horn, a God-Blooded rebel and daughter of the god Ahlat. The Deathlord enjoys some success in persuading superstitious locals that his Prioress identity is actually the ghost of that national hero. Unfortunately, his shadowland has no nearby manses. His facilities there consist of a single military bunker commanded by Red Famine.
The Deathlord’s true home is the great fortress of Cold House in Bonetree. The shadowland is named for its horticulture. Its forests of Bonetree are moliated skeletons that perpetually weep blood from pale, red blossoms. Bonetree itself is barely five miles across.
Less than 100 miles away stretches the Bayou of Endless Regret. At over 100,000 square miles, the Bayou is one of Creation’s largest shadowlands. Its plants and animals also produce hundreds of eldritch drugs and poisons. Eye and Seven Despairs claims both shadowlands as his, which would come as news to the elusive ghosts of the Bayou. What’s more, the Mask of Winters regularly and brazenly sends expeditionary forces into the Bayou’s northeastern quadrant. Eye and Seven Despairs does little to consolidate his hold over the Bayou’s great expanse. Then again, his rival Deathlord sees little greater success in subjugating the Bayou.
Cold House looks like a great stone manor house, three stories tall and occupying just over an acre. As its name implies, the manse radiates cold, as well as a palpable sense of unease. Once a visitor enters Cold House, however, his disquiet is replaced by an odd sense of finality and peace, as if all of life’s sorrows were at an end. Spectral valets show guests to lushly, if gloomily, appointed bedchambers. After spending a single night in Cold House, most guests lose all desire to depart.
Explorers find Cold House a maddening experience, for they find the house even bigger on the inside than it appears from the outside. Its dank corridors abruptly dead end or even circle back on themselves in impossible ways. Explorers often spend hours searching for an exit from Cold House, only to find that they have been going in circles the whole time. The visitor’s own room is never far away, though, no matter how long she searches. If a visitor feels hungry or thirsty, she can easily find a sumptuous feast or ribald party around the next corner, complete with festive party-goers in lewd masques—echoes of happier times long ago extinguished.
The secret of Cold House shows just how deeply its master wastes his talents. Cold House does not actually exist in either Creation or the Underworld. Through a trick of manse-building artifice and Neverborn metaphysics, its interior is really part of the Labyrinth. Anyone who wants to find anything in Cold House—beyond what Eye and Seven Despairs permits—must use the same techniques that ghosts or mortals use to navigate the ever-changing Labyrinth.
Thousands of ghosts prowl the halls of Cold House, endlessly searching for some lost item or hidden treasure, or simply for a way out that remains forever out of reach.
If lost treasures exist here, they most probably lie in the upper levels of the manse, which hold the chambers of the two surviving deathknights and their beloved concubine (as well as the private suite of Eye and Seven Despairs himself). Chorus at Midnight and Scar of Uproar sealed the Deathlord’s chambers at the quiet insistence of Star of Dirt and Doubt. Only she enters them, though her lovers do not know it. The entire top floor of Cold House cannot be reached from the lower levels save by magical means. Even those methods do not grant entrance to the Deathlord’s personal chambers unless Star of Dirt and Doubt so wishes.
Other than the Deathlord’s Monstrances, the Abyssals have no idea what treasures wait in their former master’s rooms, nor do they care to find out.
Anyone who searches Cold House not for exit or treasure is most likely looking for the Heart Room instead, whether they realize it or not. The spiritual core of the manse is a large chamber in the lowest sub-basement of the manse. Those who find this Heart Room (not hearthroom—that’s elsewhere) are met with an ornate balcony of basalt and soulsteel overlooking the very Mouth of the Void itself. The supernatural qualities of Cold House, including its quiet insistence that its visitors never depart, all derive from this room. The dead who find this place are ensnared by it. Once they see the Mouth of the Void, such ghosts are irrevocably broken. Thereafter, they do nothing but sit in silent contemplation of the majesty of nothingness—for days, for years, for centuries—until finally, all doubts silenced and all questions answered, they hurl themselves into the Void.
The living cannot ever find the Heart Room. Only the dead are so attuned to the urgent Whispers of Oblivion that they can trace it to this place. Eye and Seven Despairs visits the Heart Room regularly, both to feed on the ghosts who linger in prostrate submission to Oblivion and to prostrate himself.
EYE AND SEVEN DESPAIRS’ PANOPLY Edit
Eye and Seven Despairs’ subject territories, magical arsenal, mundane wealth and supply of minions surpass most mortal nations but remain inferior to those of most other Deathlords. His peculiar obsessions also prevented him from wisely allocating the resources he does possess.
The Deathlord’s chief personal weapon is his mechanical gauntlet, the Fatal Arbalest of Quietus and Eclipses. The “hand” of the Arbalest consists of a series of claws that move on a sophisticated pulley system. True to its name, the Arbalest also functions as a magical crossbow but only in his primary form.
While the other Deathlords occasionally gift weapons to their favored deathknights for special battles, Eye and Seven Despair’s gauntlet is permanently attached to his body. He could never loan it out, even in the unlikely event he wanted to do so.
EYE AND SEVEN DESPAIRS’ COMBAT TACTICS Edit
Eye and Seven Despairs overestimates his own power and durability, (though in his defense, it is true that he cannot be killed through any conventional means). He also does not know much about personal combat, so his tactics seldom show much cunning.
In any case, the Deathlord’s main strategy is simply to stay out of combat. Few beings other than his fellow Deathlords know he still exists. As Star of Dirt andDoubt, however, he excels at misdirection, obfuscation and appeals to the chivalry of any high-Compassion heroes who threaten his schemes.
If he must engage in direct combat, Eye and Seven Despairs relies almost exclusively on the Fatal Arbalest of Quietus and Eclipses and his preternatural skill at dodging.
SERVANTS OF EYE AND SEVEN DESPAIRS Edit
The first two Abyssals who received Exaltation from Eye and Seven Despairs are the Day Caste Chorus at Midnight and the Dusk Caste Scar of Uproar. Both feel an obsessive love for their joint concubine, Star of Dirt and Doubt, a love subtly augmented by the Deathlord’s powerful mindaltering Charms. Each Abyssal is paranoid and suspicious of the other, and each of them believes that the other one murdered their co-conspirator, Blood Scavenger. Despite their mutual hostility, they continue to work together in the misguided belief that they can prove themselves to the Neverborn as better and more loyal servants of Oblivion than their former master was. They have no idea that their “former master” oversees every aspect of their plans, improving or undermining them according to his insane whims.
- Chorus at Midnight follows a long-term plan to establish a ghostly spy network across the Southeast, stretching from Kirighast to Thorns. She knows about a new Deathlord called the Prioress of Bloody Sands and seeks more information about this new rival. Flush with her success in destroying Eye and Seven Despairs, Chorus at Midnight wants to feel the forbidden thrill of hurling another Deathlord into the Void. They don’t seem so tough!
- Scar of Uproar’s plans are direct, almost comically so. He wants to march his forces into Harborhead’s capital, kill everyone, then take over once a new shadowland forms. Oblivious to just how powerful the Realm remains (even in its current disarray) Scar believes he can simply sack Kirighast just as the Mask of Winters did with Thorns. Unfortunately, he has a fraction of the Mask’s forces and none of his necromantic skill or tactical genius.
- Red Famine is actually Eye and Seven Despairs’ most important deathknight. The Prioress of Bloody Sands bound him into service, but Famine quickly realized his mistress was the supposedly deceased lord of Cold House. Eye and Seven Despairs then bound him to keep silent about his secondary identity. After just a few short years, Red Famine now brims with contempt toward his master/mistress, who leaves him virtually unattended while shuttling between Cold House and the Field of Bloodied Bulls. The deathknight now enacts his own plan to destroy Kirighast. For the last year, he has used bribery and blackmail to recruit mortal spies among both the satrap’s administration and the Brides of Ahlat. He doesn’t seek tactical information but simply identifies the persons who seem most likely to favor diplomacy and negotiation over militancy. Those individuals then meet with fatal accidents or illnesses. As a result, the Realm forces grow increasingly reactionary while the dominant resistance group becomes ever more violent. Red Famine anticipates that open warfare will erupt either in Kirighast itself or near the jade mines at Bent Creek. Either site would make an attractive shadowland. Privately, Red Famine hopes that he can somehow supplant Eye and Seven Despairs and trade his newly created shadowland to either Mask of Winters or the First and Forsaken Lion for a suitably high position in their organizations.