Duke Hector the Usurper: The bastard son of Lord Mihkel and the nephew of Duke Peter of Masov, Hector grew to adulthood in the service of Duke Peter. Since his father died in a hunting accident shortly before his birth, Duke Peter took wardship of him, though he maintained a distant relationship with his nephew and rarely, if ever, spoke to him directly. Hector spent much of his early years in military training of one form or another, often under the Duke’s Hound or other military figures such as the Baron of Nine Peaks.
Hector learned from a harsh school and his mother, herself the illegitimate offspring of the Baron of Longhaven, often drove him to prove himself. In his late teens, he was sent to the northern coast as a junior officer in the Duke’s Army. There he spent time fighting the Armen raiders who often plagued those lands.
Upon his return to Castle Ember, he was introduced to Tiara, the daughter of Solak Armen Warlord Djann Kenobus, sent south as a hostage. Driven by anger at the atrocities he had seen in Longhaven and other northern lands, Hector barely restrained himself from physically attacking her. After some time, however, a mixture of her sharp wit and beauty won him over, just as his physical prowess and martial abilities won her over.
Hector fell in love with her and they were secretly married. Hector resigned his commission the same day, determined to start a family and leave that part of his life behind.
Duke Peter recieved his resignation with surprise, for his advisers had told him of Hector’s military ambition and drive. Still, he accepted it and granted Hector a small parcel of land. Throughout the next cycle, Hector and his new wife established their farm and Tiara gave birth to their child, Cyryl, a son. Little is known about what happened after that, save that whatever happened in the following spring, it left Tiara dead and Hector and Cyryl gravely wounded and with a renewed hatred of Armen.
Hector returned to Duke Peter’s service, utterly dedicated to eradicating any threats to the Duchy of Masov, particularly those from the Armen. He trained his son to be a spy and infiltrator among the Armen, even as he sent him to more and more grueling training including a stint in the Marovingian Legions and mercenary service in the Duchy of Asador. Meanwhile, Hector gained greater and greater responsibilities, until most assumed that he would take the mantle of the Duke’s Hound, the position of investigator, judge, and executioner of the Duke’s Justice.
In his final assignment, however, Hector came into conflict with his cousin, the new Baron of Longhaven. Lord Estrel had allowed his house troops and city militia to wither and had relied upon heavier and heavier bribes to keep Armen raiders at bay. Hector saw that the collapse of the Barony was inevitable and became convinced that Lord Estrel had undercut his authority with the Duke. Hector then murdered his cousin and seized power in Longhaven.
Duke Peter, worried that this was just the first move in a bid to supplant himself and his children, ordered the Duke’s Hound to arrest Hector. When news of this reached him, Hector turned to new allies, mercenaries from the Vendakar, to preempt those orders and kill Duke Peter and his son and daughter. Left with the possibility of civil war, he seized power, buying off those nobles who wouldn’t be bullied into silence.
In the cycles since his bloody rise to power, Duke Hector the Usurper has focused all of his attention upon the Armen and the threat they pose to his lands. Driven by a desire to end that threat, he has marshaled a sizable mercenary army and recaptured lands long lost to the northern barbarians. Yet in his homeland, there is general unrest. The heavy burden of his wars have fallen most harshly upon the common people and while he succeeded in murdering Duke Peter and his son, Hector’s assassins failed to kill Duke Peter’s daughter, Katarina, who escaped into exile in the Duchy of Marovingia.
In a bid to bring peace, or at least avoid outright war, Hector has invited Katarina back to the Duchy of Masov, in order to work out some kind of reconciliation.