Postfest III: Seruse
Date: Sat, December 11, 2004
Topic: Rogue's Gallery
Seruse - Wheels within wheels. Seruse is a poisonous villain with many secrets, not the least of which is his multi-layered identity. He is several times over not at all what he may seem to be. His secrets conceal secrets. Before the truth may be revealed, one must survive more than one surprise.
POSTFEST - Seruse
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
by Glenn Vincent Dammerung (GVDammerung)
In the courts of Furyondy glides a figure all in white with skin and hair of snow and eyes of blue glacial ice. Unmistakable, Seruse is a courtier well known as a patron of artists, poets and musicians, a connoisseur of fine wines, fine victuals and fine women and as splendid a companion and conversationalist as one might hope to pass a few hours with or have on a hunt for fox or game. A lithe six feet and four inches of tapered muscle and sinew, he moves with a dancer's grace and the crisp step of the professional soldier upon a parade field. His gaze is at once commanding and yet subtly inviting, as if offering exclusive entry into secrets only he might impart. Elegantly attired, perfectly polite, Seruse carries himself with a practiced nonchalance that reveals in calculating fashion a flashing energy that hints of sudden passion or violence. His eyes are bright but calculating, his lips drawn up into a laughing, not quite mocking, smile.
By profession a dealer in antiquities, Seruse is known to derive his income as a purveyor of rare wines, spices and other items of luxury. His chief offices are in Willip but he owns houses in Libernen and Chendl and rents space in Littleberg and Caronis. Travels see him regularly in Dyvers and Verbononc and more rarely in the City of Greyhawk. Business must be good for Seruse never appears in want of funds. Generous to a fault, Seruse is quick of offer a loan or to assist in any endeavor where those of his acquaintance might need help. There is a swashbuckling elan to the man which has proven more than mere affect, as to his adventures and prowess many will attest.
As much a rarity as any item ever seen for sale, he likes to joke, Seruse is an albino elf. As he likes to tell the tale, he is a snow elf from the far north. Captured by orcs and traded south as a slave, his fate was to be as a special sacrifice to Gruumsh, for even the orcs recognized his odd coloration as being unusual and thought him fit for special sacrifice. But fate would play a role that would deny the orcs their prize. A group of adventurers, more mercenaries really, happened upon his captors and set to. Seruse was freed in the ensuing melee and, having given a good account of himself in the fight, was welcomed to his liberatorsí company. The rest, as they say, is history, as Seruse began his travels and developed any eye for valuables.
Seruse is an accomplished and smoothly polished liar. Few know the truth about him. None have survived to reveal that truth.
By trade, Seruse is a poisoner. As a warrior might carry a sword, a dagger and a spear, Seruse carries poisons. Though he is quite competent with a blade, he prefers poison with which to kill. At any time, even if appearing to be unarmed, Seruse will be in possession of at least two dozen lethal and non-lethal poisons upon his person that he can deliver with the flick of a finger, the nick of a nail or an exhalation of breath. Most of these will be undetectable to casual or even professional inspection. Possessed of a brilliant mind, Seruse is no less an alchemist and his poisons are not of the common sort. To Seruse, poison and poisoning are an art form and he fancies himself the foremost practitioner of his art. Each of his poisons is a unique creation. Each poisoning a unique expression of death as art.
While Seruse does deal in antiquities, his income is principally derived from two other sources.
As a side benefit to his working with poisons, Seruse is an expert on drugs and addiction. Dealing in drugs, whether of natural derivation or specially concocted, provides Seruse with a steady and significant income. Those visiting his well appointed home in Willip will note that he maintains an extensive arboretum and greenhouse in which many tropical trees, plants and flowers grow in wild profusion, including numerous varieties of lotus, orchids and lianas. What he explains as a love of greenery, so unusual in his childhood in the frozen north, is actually a vast repository of the ingredients for untold drugs and poisons. Wandering alone amidst the exotic plants is not advisable and potentially lethal.
The other source of income that Seruse enjoys comes in regular payments from the Countess Kyaren Rhavelle of the Gold County. Seruse is the Countess' chief agent in Furyondy outside her home provinces. Seruse regularly reports information that he gathers in the various courts of Furyondy that he visits and carries out particular assignments or missions that the Countess may request. These assignments include poisonings to lethal and non-lethal affect. There is no faster way to raise Seruse's ire, however, than to call him as assassin or say that he carries out assassinations. Seruse is not an assassin and does not see lethal poisonings as assassinations. The assassin uses poison like an amateur, fumbling and clumsy, if crudely effective. Seruse is a professional and an artist. Seruse holds assassins in high disdain, will not knowingly work with or employ them, and has been known to track and eliminate assassins who too obviously use poisons, eliminating them with toxins that kill surely but slowly and with excruciating pain. Seruse and the assassin Lassiviren are know to share a mutual loathing, dating to latter's time in Molag.
How Seruse came into the Countess Rhavelle's employ is cloaked in mystery but Seruse's past holds many greater secrets.
Perhaps a half dozen in the entirety of the Flanaess know that Seruse is no albino snow elf. He is an albino drow of abnormal stature, capable of passing as any sort of elf because of his lack of tell-tale, dark pigmentation. The snow elf story is simply the most convenient cover to explain his height and skin white like snow. In truth, Seruse was born in Erelhei-Cinlu and by his sex, by his size and by virtue of being an albino, he was immediately outcast, condemned to the farthest fringes of drow society, never known for kindness even to those considered normal. His life was filled with the worst sort of cruelty and privation and upon reaching adulthood, he was sent from Erelhei-Cinlu to an isolated outpost of that subterranean realm and relegated to the meanest of labors. There, in fact, he was delivered by adventurers. Mistaken for a snow elf, or some type of elf other than a drow, he was "rescued." For a time, he adventured with his new companions before striking off on his own, they none the wiser. To this day, Theodain Eriason remains one of the few Seruse can genuinely call friend.
Because of the treatment he received at such an early age, Seruse has no love of the drow and scarcely considers himself of that race. Seeing the dark elves as a potential threat to his clandestine existence, Seruse is quick to take up arms should any in Furyondy be threatened by the appearance of drow. This, and his hatred of assassins, has won him many friends in Furyondy. It has also seen him cross paths with the dark elven ambassador to Iuz' realm. Joining a foray to carry the fight to Iuz in his own domain, Seruse came into opposition with Eclavdra. The exact details of what occurred are unknown but for a time Seruse was thought lost in the fight before he appeared again in Furyondy. He has said little of what transpired but an odd look and turn of phrase when the subject comes up suggest that something more may have passed between the albino and Lolth's priestess than has been revealed.
Seruse is a cold blooded villain. He does not kill cleanly but prefers poisons, the more inventive the better. He traffics in the human misery of drug addiction and works to advance the Countess Rhavelee's agenda, which is her own good, not that of Furyondy. That he is well-groomed, well-mannered, has many friends, travels in the best circles and may even be counted upon to stand against assassins and the drow does not change his essential character. He is poisonous and will not scruple to betray, kill or destroy anyone in his path.
Seruse's chief interest is his own prosperity. He is not a villain out to conquer the world. His villainy is personal, even casual. Although he does not look it, he is a drow and his attitudes reflect this, even if camouflaged well. PCs are most likely to run afoul of Seruse if they appear to stand in the way of his or Countess Rhavelle's plans, if Seruse has targeted someone near or important to the PCs or if Seruse's drug dealing involves someone the PCs know. Baring an immediate conflict of interests, Seruse could well become the PCs' friend, patron or adventuring companion or sponsor. Of course, the adventures Seruse might suggest to the PCs could well have ulterior motives, the seeking or delivering of exotic drugs or poisons, perhaps.
Because Seruse is well-known and well-liked in Furyondy, for none know the truth, striking at him will not be easy. In this way, Seruse can be a different sort of long running villain. While his goals and methods are more mundane than epic, he has the protections and survivability of an epic villain. His ability to complicate PCs lives, particularly at an intimate level, should not be underestimated.
Seruse - Male (Albino) Drow, Thief 5th/Fighter 7th/Bard 10th