Here follow capsule summaries of the key staff assigned to the castle by its present owner (2001- 2002 ADR), Sir Qerlak Barleybane. These persons appear in “The Plane of Dreams” as well as “The Test of Fire”.
Lord: Sir Qerlak Barleybane, Elven Pious Warrior of Argens Hopeforger
Qerlak is the third son of the Barleybane noble family, whose father is presently Greatknight in the Inmark, the most settled portion of the Empire. The family has had a respectable and long, though largely undistinguished lineage, and Qerlak’s career as an adventurer was the most infamous event in its history. His father was remarkably indulgent of the decision by his youngest, in part driven by the fact that there could be no significant opportunity for Qerlak in the incredibly-crowded social nobility of the Inmark- having given up all hope of his youngest retaining noble rank, he was satisfied to think Qerlak was displaying courage at least. He is now overjoyed to find that against all odds, his youngest has bought his way back into rank.
Qerlak’s previous career brought him moderate fame, and was only a disability among his noble peers (who sneer at the treasure-hunting and rumor mongering of the adventuring sect). His early retirement was generally seen by them as an opportunistic move to purchase the position he did not earn by birth; since his foef is so remote and poor he is seen as barely legitimate among most other knights. Quite different, however, is his reputation among the poorer classes and particularly among his own peasantry. Qerlak has consistently demonstrated a willingness to do justice for his people- as only one example, his trip into the deep swamp (accompanied by a bevy of exotic and powerful adventuring companions) resulted in the slaying of an adult dragon and freedom for descendants of several score peasants which the beast had held captive, and who were returned to Mon-Crulbagh in safety to be settled in vacant lands. They spread tales of Qerlak’s courage and resolution, which have remained rather stubbornly local and lower-class in circulation. Every move and feature of Qerlak’s career continues to display this split in his reputation dependent on rank in the class-conscious Argensian Empire. He does not at present ride a horse well or use a lance- the nobles take this as further sign of his unworthiness to stand as a true knight, whereas the peasants celebrate their lord’s unorthodox approach to martial virtue (for undeniably Qerlak is a doughty warrior on foot in heavy mail with his lethal battle-axe and hammer). It is well known that he can discern lies from truth and that he has access to miraculous powers from Argens- the extent of these know no limits among the rumors of the poor, and are correspondingly never mentioned by the noble classes.
Qerlak has at present no family or heir.
Castellan: Elias Fennet, Elven Hero Adventurer
Once Castellan for a knighthood in Dargor, Elias was poorly treated by his liege and left service abruptly (though under honorable terms). Fennet is well into middle-age (appears to be in his 40s) and has amassed a number of useful skills, including mastery of the Troll language (which he began to study on his arrival). He fights with net and trident when occasion demands. Elias has become a dedicated follower of Qerlak and his loyalty is beyond question at this time. He has a wife, Chara, and no children.
Captain of the Outer Marches: Seldom Chased, Human Pious Warrior of Dagnaluviran
Seldom is the only surviving son of a long-standing family of the lower nobility, always fluctuating between holding a foef and knight-errantcy. The Chased line prides itself on illiteracy, and Seldom proudly announces his name with an emphasis on both its possible meanings. He is in many ways the classic rollicking knight-errant, and has the skills and proclivities you would expect. On encountering Qerlak and company, Seldom was enthralled by the fire he encountered and has declared his loyalty to the new knight, becoming his sworn man and functioning as a loyal follower. Qerlak has given him the title which Fennet found from the foef’s past, which essentially places Seldom in charge of the foef’s military forces and gives him authority over battle second only to Qerlak’s. Seldom is fearless and possessed of a tremendous thirst for all of life’s pleasures. He holds no grudges and forgives imagined wrongs with a huge laugh, but is quite capable of fighting to the death for justice. His imagination knows few bounds and he is certainly prone to recklessness.
Captain of the Guard: Spezh, Elven Mercenary Warrior
Spezh is a commoner of Social Level 4 who came through the recent wars of Yula the Usurper having briefly fought with mercenary companies on both sides (each of which lost). He drifted south in search of employment and has no objection to the relatively easy work of training feudal recruits and guarding the foef. He commands the peasant foot soldiers of the castle, and his authority is second to Seldom Chased as well as Qerlak’s. Spezh is indifferent honest, a rough soldier, with little imagination but just as little true malice in him. With a coarser lord, he could easily become a bully, but as it is he is a steady soldier. Spezh has no family, nor any interest in one.
Retainer: Hitaelseran, Elven Noble Warrior of Mon-Crulbagh via Pritaelseran
The fourth son of Mon-Crulbagh’s neighbor and feuding rival, the lord Pritaelseran of the Barony of Dargor, Hitaelseran is a young knight in his late teens. Sent by his father to raid Mon-Crulbagh and test the new lord in the spring of 2002, Hitaelseran’s larger and better armed force was surprised and routed by Qerlak’s foot levy and unusual tactics (particularly the mystic power of the castle mage Galethiel). Hitaelseran was taken prisoner and confined in the keep’s donjon for several days, facing ransom and disgrace. But Qerlak gave him the freedom of the castle and treated him as an honored guest, and this impressed the young man strongly. Matters peaked when Hitaelseran volunteered his services in a case of justice affecting Seldom Chased, and the former enemy saved his captor from substantial embarrassment with his opinion. Immediately attacked by an assassin from Pritaelseran who had been sent to spy on Qerlak and free him, Hitaelseran fell under a poisoned blade and seemed doomed. But Qerlak and his retinue exerted their magic powers to the utmost and saved the young knight’s life, whereupon he instantly swore fealty to the lord of Mon-Crulbagh. Now Hitaelseran serves Qerlak as a mounted retainer and is an expatriate from his homeland.
Lord’s Guard: Cecil Disarmle, Elven Warrior
The Disarmle family hails from the Barony of Misb, and Cecil, like Qerlak, is a younger son. He fell in with his present employer quite by chance, as he happened to be fostering at Barleybane when Qerlak visited just before purchasing his foef, to seek his father’s advice. Struck to the core by the incredible tale of adventures he heard from his foster-father’s son, and hoping for a chance to see great things himself, he leaped at the chance to become a personal squire (Social Level 5) and assistant for Qerlak. Fortuitously, Cecil is already versed in the Pole Weapon skill, and is diligently training to become strong enough to handle the Pike (which he now uses only at the -4 DX penalty). Qerlak has set Cecil in charge of the peasant pike levy (the single unit which trains year-round in place of its lord labor to form the backbone of the peasant levy), and he has done well in spite of his youth and inexperience with the commoners under his command. At other times, Cecil waits on his lord’s pleasure as a squire and butler, and is a devoted follower.
Castle Mage: Galethiel Nomenbrow, Dreamseer, Flametress, Human Wizard
Known to most as Qerlak’s oldest adventuring companion, the quiet but impressive Galethiel is rumored to have accompanied him to this foef in search of a quiet place from which to pursue her researches. Qerlak was quite delighted at this turn of events, and has set aside a tower in the foef completely for her use. Much is rumored of Galethiel, and her fame is actually quite widespread- due in part to the remarkable progress she has made in certain arcane areas of her research, in part again to the wondrous items of lore she has gained from distant and dangerous parts unknown and in no small part from her sheer appearance (as a red-haired human and quite tall in a land of Elves). The local peasants regard her with a kind of awe, and though she sets aside a day each week to hear their needs, many do not dare approach. It has evidently been many years since a lord of Mon-Crulbagh was able to attract a wizard to the keep, and it augurs well for Qerlak’s reputation that Galethiel has taken up residence.
Apprentice: Garr Mhehmee, of Mon-Crulbagh
The son of peasants with an unusually large family (four children), Garr was in the habit of doing lord labor in place of his father around the foef when he first fell under Galethiel’s gaze. He seemed earnest, fairly bright, and, not least, sufficiently adroit, and so she bespoke him about becoming an apprentice. His family, completely unable to understand the idea that their son might learn to cast magic one day, asked only if she would agree to teach him to read and write: Galethiel laughingly assented and the deal was sealed. Garr attends on Galethiel as lab assistant, researcher and butler and has shown some promise (though he can find his mind wandering as any young man, and he appears afraid of martial magics).
Engineer: Shah Topp Ondaii, Sunslit Isles
A rare wanderer from the very distant Sunslit Isles to the far south, Shah Topp has skills in architecture and building. Unlike most of his countrymen who are known as ferocious warriors with honor-codes not unlike those of the Argensian knights, Shah Topp is from common stock, though literate and learned, and cares only for manufacture and problems of the mind. He is quiet in the extreme and seems to display no interests outside of his lord’s projects. In the matter of courtesy he is quite the equal of the warriors of his land, and has never given the slightest offence to anyone (despite some severe ribbing from some of the staff such as Spezh). Shah Topp has a private room and is usually found there unless working in the courtyard or summoned by his lord.
Court Physician: Drace, of Colign
A physicker with basic surgical and medicinal skills, Drace was hired by letter in response to an ad placed by Elias Fennet in his first days as castellan for Qerlak. Agreeing to move to the remote foef with his wife, Elayne, Drace has certainly seen more unusual wounds and illnesses than he bargained for. He has no taste for adventure and would not of his own free will set foot outside the castle. Drace cannot cast healing spells and works through mundane medical arts alone, though he is somewhat versed with the use of antidotes and healing potions. He is at this time the best Chess player in the castle.
Cook: Skeggs O’Ganglion, of Mon-Crulbagh
Quite simply, the cook of the castle as he had been for the lord before Qerlak. Skeggs’s father served the previous three lords of the castle, to hear his son tell the tale. Skeggs is quite familiar with the local cuisine, growing season, many of the farmers and hunters of the area, and all for the purpose of putting good food on the table. Skeggs is completely heedless of rank or etiquette, and would address the Emperor as nothing more than the next customer for his meals unless carefully schooled otherwise. He is married and has two children, all who live in the castle and assist in the kitchen.