Other Names: She Who Must Be Obeyed
When she was alive, the Lover pursued every form of pleasure a decadent Solar could devise. She learned secret spells and words of power to make a man die for her love, and even ventured into the Labyrinth before any other future Deathlord knew what it was.
Eventually, she realized that pleasure bore diminishing returns in time. The hedonist becomes so jaded that the continued pursuit of pleasure becomes pointless. With this epiphany, the Solar realized the futility of her own millennia-long existence and even contemplated suicide. Inevitably the Dragon-Blooded did her the favor of ending her life instead.
During the Contagion there was an isolated monastery dedicated to a Shogunate-era precursor to the Immaculate Order. These monks practiced rigorous celibacy as well as other ascetic disciplines, and their remarkable faith and piety somehow gave the monks and the people of the tiny nation an exceptional immunity to the Great Contagion, much to the Deathlords’ surprise.
Finding this unacceptable, the Lover personally traveled to the monastery in the guise of a beautiful (and seemingly virginal) young refugee seeking shelter for the night. Once inside, she seduced every monk in the monastery, male and female. As the sun rose over the monastery’s walls, the first symptoms of the Great Contagion appeared among the fallen monks and the people they protected. The Lover remained even after the monks had all died - amusing herself by first stirring all their ghosts into a frenzy of magically induced sexual excitement, then severing all of their arms at the shoulder and watched their fumbling attempts to couple.
After the debacle of the Contagion and the Fair Folk Invasion, the Lover returned to the Vale. She built her citadel, the Fortress of Crimson Ice, on the ruins of the old monastery. Over time, the living of Gradafesi returned as well, rebuilding the towns near the fortress and swearing allegiance to the Lover. The Kingdom of Gradafes consists of cold steppes, but the strange, unwholesome animals and plants indigenous to the Underworld flourished in the Lover’s domain. In the Contagion’s aftermath, even such unappealing fare was better than starvation. Besides, while the Lover’s domain was cold and frightening, the Deathlord herself had a beauty that haunted the souls of the living.
The Lover soon subjugated the entire nation without a single armed conflict.
The Lover is the ONLY Deathlord who does not seek revenge on Creation. Quite contrary, she feels grateful the Dragon-Blooded ended her banal excuse for a life, and hopes to honor their heroism by returning the favor. Convinced of the utter pointlessness of human existence, the Lover spreads ultimate pleasure among her followers because she knows from bitter experience that when pleasure ends, nothing of any value remains. A surfeit of pleasure leads inevitably to despair, and the only answer to despair is Oblivion.
Now and then, she trifles at destroying a petty kingdom or a legion on the march. Her critics wonder whether she will ever do anything important to further the Neverborn’s goals.
The sheer absurdity of suggestions that joy can be found in duty, helping others or other sacrifices of self drives her into a killing rage.
In nearly all forms, the Lover is a woman of sensual beauty. She has developed an improved version of the Mutable Form power intrinsic to all Deathlords and can intuitively assume a form that represents a particular onlooker’s ideal sexual partner. She can even use this in the presence of multiple people, with each onlooker seeing her in an ideal form.
THE LOVER’S DOMAIN Edit
The Lover resides her citadel, the Fortress of Crimson Ice, in the Vale of Dust and Shadows - a small shadowland located in Gradafes about 600 miles southeast of Crystal. From a distance, the Fortress appears as a pale miasma of red and purple, growing more distinct as the visitor approaches. Eventually, it coalesces into a series of red-crystal parapets and fortifications around a turreted central tower. Translucent ghosts float around the fortress as if begging entrance. As one finally grows near, the sounds of never-ending festivals and orgies seep from the fortress. Thousands of servants, living and dead, reside within the Fortress of Crimson Ice. The Lover binds them to two commandments:
- obey the Lover in all things
- when you have no orders, engage in any and every form of hedonistic decadence they can imagine.
Most of her servants are broken things, burnt out by decades (even centuries) of sex, gluttony, drugs and perversion. No longer able to experience any true pleasure, they perform orgiastic rites by rote, hoping for some new instruction from their mistress to break the monotony. Failing that, they pray for Oblivion. Those servants who have not yet experienced such transcendent ecstasy alternate between mindless gibbering at the sensations they endure and growing dread at the possibility of becoming like their jaded fellows. A few of the fortress’s denizens have gone utterly mad from their existence. Some now emulate their mistress (even dressing like her, regardless of gender), while others find that they can still experience the pleasure of a brutal kill well executed.
Some of the armless ghost-monks still remain. They continue their orgy as best they can. Sometimes they beg visitors to help them. Over the centuries, the Lover has added other ghosts she trapped in perpetual lust and maimed in various ways, producing a pathetically pornographic freak show as an adjunct to her court.
Now farmers and goat-herders provide meat and foodstuffs to the Lover’s court (for the benefit of her living visitors) in exchange for protection from barbarians and other outside enemies - the most prominent being the region’s Tear Eater barbarian tribes who posed a perennial threat to Gradafes until the Lover met their tribal leaders and won them to her cause.
These tribes now worship their ancestors, many of whom continue on as the freeze-dried Greater Dead who oversee Tear Eaters society. They in turn worship the Deathlord who taught them how to rule beyond death.
The Lover carefully crafts her illusion of inconsequentiality. In her citadel, the Fortress of Crimson Ice, her subjects while away their time in carnal delights. The most skilled lovers (living or dead) earn the supreme reward of pleasuring their mistress. While her lovers include the living and the dead, only dead leave her chambers, for the Deathlord is an… exuberant lovemaker.
THE LOVER’S PANOPLY Edit
The Lover carries a soulsteel blade called the Siren in Avern - a thin, translucent rapier. It does no damage when it hits a target, but rather drains their will to resist mental influence. Its main enchantment comes from its defense - successfully parrying an attack with this rapier causes the attacker to feel intense sympathy for the wielder. Some have even felt such remorse they become mindlessly infatuated for a year and a day. Only those of low compassion can ignore this enchantment.
The Lover also possesses the Mirror of Darkness and Lightning, a one-foot-wide, 11-sided mirror of polished obsidian and soulsteel that floats obediently at the Lover’s side. A demon sorcerer forged the Mirror long ago but was overcome by his own creation and trapped within for all eternity. Those who look into the Mirror without the Lover’s permission suffer the same fate. Eleven arms of black lightning snatch them up and pull them in, and the ever-hungry demon devours them in seconds. Those whom the Lover permits to look into the Mirror can resist being imprisoned and devoured. Characters whose succeed completely replenish their Essence pools and regain any spent Willpower.
The Lover also owns many other artifacts and devices. Her flirtatious and vapid exterior conceals a superb command of magic and arcane science. She is second only to the Dowager in necromancy, and follows close behind the Walker in Darkness and the First and Forsaken Lion in magitech and necrotech application. Even in those areas, however, the Lover favors misdirection. She has produced only one warstrider so far, a soulsteel noble warstrider known as the Hateful Devourer of Love. Her rivals laughed to learn a clumsy deathknight allowed Lookshy to capture it. Yet the Lover allowed the prize to fall into Lookshy’s hand, for it carries the doom of that nation within its coils and pulleys.
THE LOVER’S COMBAT TACTICS Edit
The Lover utterly eschews combat, believing any who can resist her charms deserves the honor of killing her. Thus far she has never met anyone strongwilled enough to even draw a sword against her.
Misdirection and obfuscation are her true weapons. Already, she has laid the foundation of Lookshy’s destruction without anyone knowing about it. Her deathknights move silently among the Tear Eaters, reinforcing the barbarians’ loyalty to her. They use Hardened Killer Training Style to transform them into ruthless killing machines that will soon become a match for the Bull of the North and his pitiful Icewalkers.
Even when she does enter combat, she does so only for the purpose of using the Siren in Avern to make her attackers fall in love with her.
The Lover Clad in the Raiment of Tears is far from helpless in a fight, though. During her living days, she mastered the Snake Style and Ebon Shadow Style of supernatural martial arts. She oversaw the creation of Laughing Wounds Style as well, which enables its practitioner to draw strength from both the pain he receives and the pain he inflicts.
SERVANTS OF THE LOVER Edit
The Lover Clad in the Raiment of Tears has many Abyssal followers. Indeed, she was the first Deathlord to Exalt an Abyssal.
- Exalted into the Midnight Caste, the Martyr to the Last Rest (sometimes known as the Shadow of the Ash Arrow) remains high among her favorites and serves as her chief emissary to the Tear Eaters tribes.
- The cunning Day Caste Exquisite Pain, having successfully placed a viper near the heart of Lookshy, now turns his attention to the Linowan Nation and its great shadowland, the Fields of Woe. He was the one who came up with the idea of creating a powerful but cursed artifact for the sole purpose of allowing a rival nation to capture it and destroy themselves.
- The Lover’s most beloved servant is the mysterious Melkin Fool in Red who oversees the Circus Moribund, a macabre traveling carnival that wanders the Northeast introducing innocent villagers to the wonders of forbidden pleasure and the majesty of death.The Lover’s reach extends far from the Northeast, though.
- The pious and chaste Knight of Ghosts and Shadows who recently swore allegiance to the Bodhisattva is a deception, a false personality inserted into one of her most loyal servants. Without knowing his own reasons for acting, the Knight now seeks instruction from the Bodhisattva into the deeper mysteries of necromancy, while regularly reporting his discoveries in his dreams.
- The Prince of Shadows dwells in Kirighast, disguised as a humble mortal savant. From that perch, he spies on the Lover’s enemies even as he seduces Solar Exalted and others to his mistress’s cause.
Unlike many of her peers, the Lover does not favor one caste over another or even have preferred roles for the different castes. An individualist herself, the Lover looks for strong-willed and passionate individuals and lets the Black Exaltation simply augment what is already there. In addition to her deathknights, the Lover is also served by several Solar and Dragon-Blooded Exalted who have fallen before her beauty and libido and sworn their devotion to her. Some she even allows to live, withholding the final bliss she grants many others.
SERIES IDEAS Edit
More than any other Deathlord, the Lover seeks a political means to destroy Creation—guiding humanity to exterminate itself. Her deathknights all love her to an obsessive degree. Each believes that he can win her favor if only he can devise a sufficiently elegant way to kill large numbers of people.
Although the Lover regularly sends out entire circles, as diplomatic envoys or as subversives and saboteurs, she finds that Abyssal circles often stymie themselves with infighting, as each Exalt wants to claim all the glory… and her love. Accordingly, the Lover uses the Sworn Brothers’ Oath spell to bind groups of Abyssals into temporary loyalty to one another. She also dispels this artificial oathbond immediately before debriefing the circle so that they will be more forthright and honest about each other’s failures.
Some of her deathknights infiltrate the Scarlet Empire, where they fan the flames of discontent among the Great Houses and push them toward civil war.