Female human ari 3: CR 2; Medium humanoid (human); Hit Dice 3d8; 17 hp; Init +5; Spd 30 ft. (6 squares); AC 12, touch 12, flat-footed 11; BAB/Grapple +2/+1; Atk +4 melee (1d6-1/18-20, masterwork rapier); Full atk +4 melee (1d6-1/18-20, masterwork rapier); SA –; SQ—; AL LE; SV Fort +1, Reflex +2, Will +5; Abilities Str 8, Dex 12, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 15, Cha 14.
Skills and Feats: Bluff +9, Diplomacy +13, Handle Animal +7, Intimidate +7, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +6, Listen +4, Ride +7, Sense Motive +7, Speak Language (Common, Dwarven, Elven, Orc), Spot +4; Improved Initiative, Persuasive, Weapon Finesse.
Possessions: 20 gp, jewelry (worth 80-100 gp), masterwork rapier, masterwork studded leather armor, noble’s outfit, potion of cure light wounds (x2), ring of protection +1, signet ring.
Short but willowy for a human woman, with golden-blonde hair and green eyes, Lady Belda of House Grimilon is a byword among the fashionable but traditionalist circles of the Enterian nobility, influenced as they are by the ideals of elven beauty. Her habitual clothing is in shades of rose or sea green, calculated to take advantage of her pale coloring. Her usual bearing is imperious, not a little haughty, and her face often wears a studied expression of boredom.
Starting Attitude: Indifferent.
Modifiers: The PCs have an established reputation as affiliates of a bleak banyan cartel (-4), the PCs lack sponsorship amongst the nobility of Enteria (-2), the PCs have an established reputation as opponents of the bleak banyan cartels (+2), the one or more PCs are noted artists, musicians, or authors (+4).
If Hostile: Sends guards to arrest the PCs. Has them imprisoned on trumped-up charges indefinitely, possibly authorizing torture and other methods of coercion if given reason to suspect involvement in the activities of a bleak banyan cartel.
If Unfriendly: Orders the PCs placed under observation. Encourages harassment by her guards and other government officials under her authority. May spread defamatory rumors about the PCs, and/or commission embarrassing songs, poems or artwork featuring them.
If Indifferent: Ignores the PCs unless they are members of the nobility or exhibit clear artistic talent of some description. Otherwise, makes idle discussion on art and literature—mostly consisting of a presentation of her artistic preferences as the standard for excellence in the arts.
If Friendly: Invites the PCs to make an appearance in her salon of up-and-coming writers, musicians and artists, either as performers or as guests. Provides introductions between the PCs and other attendees at the salon.
If Helpful: Takes on artistically-inclined PCs as her clients, commissioning works of art, music or literature. Grants favorable trade terms in her fiefdom, dismisses charges for crimes against commoners in her fiefdom. May offer “special commissions” for PCs who could serve her interests through violence or espionage.
As the Marchioness of Zeno, Lady Belda commands a sizable fortune drawn from the wealth of her lands and the ability to command tolls for passage upriver to the capitol at Entera. She uses these riches to patronize a coterie of artists, musicians, writers and scholars whose works add to the prestige of her house. As a result of her weekly salons, invitations to the seat of House Grimilon at the river town of Zeno are much desired during the “off season” when the prime movers of the kingdom’s social calendar, the royal family, are not holding court.
The reputation of House Grimilon is for loyalty to the crown, patriotism and courage. Belda does a fine job maintaining this reputation, not as a warrior but by seeing to it that crown loyalists have a nucleus of ideological and aesthetic leadership. Her ability to throw lavish parties on the grounds of her country estate, her house’s fabulous wealth, even her beauty and luxuriant wardrobe . . . all are metaphorical carrots dangled before the loyalist nobility as a promise of what could result from steadfast loyalty to the crown.
Underneath the patina of loyalty and complacent satisfaction, Lady Belda is like any other high noblewoman in Enteria: ambitious, unsatisfied with her portion of feudal largesse, and always scheming to get additional lands, honors and rights. Given the opportunity, she would take the throne for herself. Her current husband, Comor, is an ineffectual man from one of the minor houses that owes fealty to House Grimilon; now that he has done his part in providing an heir, he’s entirely disposable in Belda’s eyes. For the moment it’s convenient for her to keep him alive, and to content herself with lovers drawn from her stable of artists. But if an opportunity arose for her to make a dynastic marriage, she would be in her bridal gown before Comor’s body had cooled.