Larquen Quen was a Twilight Caste who fled the Usurpation at its onset with a group of other Solars led by the ancient and illustrious Kal Bax. Master Bax had constructed an ingeniously hidden manse — an Invisible Fortress that even the Loom of Fate could not find. He and his protégés fled there to wait out the Usurpation.
Their wait became long indeed.
In time, each Solar died of suicide or murder by one of their fellows. When Quen died, the Neverborn sent an emissary to meet him, the Walker in Darkness. To Larquen’s astonishment, that Deathlord was actually one of his former compatriots from Bax’s Invisible Fortress who remembered nothing of his mortal life (which was good since Larquen Quen had murdered him using a powerful artifact that slew the memories of its victims as well as their bodies). Larquen concealed his recognition of the emissary, followed the Walker into the Labyrinth and sold his name to the Abyss for the power of a Deathlord.
The Mask left the other Deathlords slackjawed when he brazenly attacked and subjugated the Realm satrapy of Thorns, and incidentally made himself the most (in)famous Deathlord in all Creation. For centuries, the Deathlords held a tacit agreement that they would move subtly against Creation, lest they suffer as the Black Heron does or give the living an enemy against whom to unite. Such subtlety became impossible once the Mask seized Thorns.
Since then, other Deathlords have scrambled to match his accomplishment—some more capably than others.
The Mask of Winters shows little interest in expansion and instead consolidates his hold over Thorns and stamps out all resistance. He seems to enjoy worming his way into the politics and diplomacy of the Confederation of Rivers, forcing the heads of other states to accept him as a power with whom they must negotiate.
His other great interest is destroying his fellow Deathlords. At any given time, nearly half his deathknights operates abroad in elaborate machinations to undermine his rivals. As usual for the Neverborn, the Deathlord’s masters take their time in registering an opinion. Perhaps they tolerate his perfidy because they think the Mask cannot destroy all his rivals without fatally wounding Creation in the process.
Perhaps they’re giving him rope with which to hang himself.
Perhaps their dreaming minds have not noticed. The Mask of Winters believes their silence constitutes an endorsement of his pursuit of his great destiny.
The Mask of Winters typically appears as a towering figure standing more than seven feet tall and wrapped in undulating black funeral robes. Beneath the robes, he wears soulsteel superheavy plate that whimpers in pain when struck with the voices of newborn children. The Deathlord wears a helm with two mask-like faces, one on the front and one on the back.
One is a face of sublime beauty, while the other is so horrific that it causes mortals to flee in terror. The Mask of Winters has learned to use of these visages to disturbing effect. He can see out of both masks, and If attacked from behind, he uses his Mutable Form to reverse his joints and turn his entire body back to front and vice versa. Alternatively, if he wishes to discomfit others, he can turn his neck 180 degrees to look at them with his other face.
The Mask of Winters chose the site of his first foray into Creation well. When the Deathlord arrived in R.Y. 758, Thorns had decimated its military forces in a disastrous campaign against the Confederation of Rivers. Its hereditary autocrat retained his throne solely due to the support of his Dragon-Blooded handlers. The war created a number of small shadowlands around Thorns. The Mask of Winters marched several legions of undead troops out of those shadowlands. The Dynasts in residence rallied Thorns’ own forces and might have held the city against the ghosts and zombies, had the Deathlord not sent in his Abyssal Exalted.
The deathknights’ efforts caused two small shadowlands to merge into a single one big enough for Juggernaut to crawl through. The deathknights and the corpse-behemoth made short work of the city’s Dragon-Blooded defenders. Within a few days, shadowlands covered most of Thorns.
Thorns remains an occupied city, its people terrified, unable to leave and barely able to survive on the city’s dwindling food supplies. Squads of shambling dead commanded by nemissary captains patrol the streets, looking for any signs of dissent or resistance. There is a resistance movement in Thorns, but its members are so desperate that they even parlay with Solar and Lunar Anathema. For his part, having seized a beachhead in Creation, the Mask of Winters now makes a show of consolidating his holdings, even as his spies across Creation monitor the other Deathlords and look for ways to undermine their dark schemes.
THE MASK OF WINTERS’ PANOPLY Edit
See Exalted, p. 321 for descriptions of the Mask of Winters’ principle weapons and armor. The Deathlord’s most powerful weapon is undoubtedly the great behemoth called Juggernaut. The great undead monstrosity would be one mile tall if it stood upright.
Currently, it crawls about ponderously on its hands and knees. Its master placed towers of basalt and ebony on its back to serve as a command center.
THE MASK OF WINTERS’ COMBAT TACTICS Edit
The Mask of Winters relies heavily on his sorcerous and necromantic powers in combat. It is a canny enemy who can engage him without also battling scores of zombies, nemissaries and even more macabre minions. If forced to defend himself through conventional means, the Mask knows several high-Essence Charms:
It is possible that the Mask of Winters has the most Abyssal servants of any Deathlord. It is equally possible he merely pretends to do so, directing his deathknights to change their names and identities in order to confound his enemies.
He seems to not care about the caste of his Abyssals, and uses all of them efficiently and inventively But seems unwilling to integrate his Abyssals into his command structure. He prefers instead to keep administrative authority in the hands of war ghosts whose loyalties he can secure through necromancy.
- The Midnight Caste Apostate in Tatters was the Mask’s first Abyssal servant, and something of a disappointment. Mad before Exaltation, the Apostate wanders the streets of Nexus, Lookshy and other Scavenger Lands cities, effortlessly evading the local guards to preach his frightening and apocalyptic sermons to a terrified populace.
- The Day Caste called Typhon serves the Mask throughout the Scavenger Lands as his emissary to the Confederation of Rivers and, sometimes, his assassin.
- The Dusk Caste alternately known as the Prince Resplendent in the Ruin of Ages or simply as Crumbling Pillar is the Mask’s chief warrior. The Deathlord dispatches him to confront those who are too powerful to assassinate and too cunning to fall before treachery.
In addition to his many Abyssal servants, the Mask of Winters has one exceptionally rare prize in his arsenal. Long before the Usurpation, Larquen Quen made the acquaintance of a beautiful and mysterious Sidereal Exalt called the Green Lady. After a night of passionate lovemaking, she first told Larquen of the destiny of greatness he would achieve when the time was right. Even his own death in the Invisible Fortress did not shake his confidence in her predicition.
When the Mask of Winters first made his presence felt in Creation, the Bureau of Destiny sent the Green Lady to learn his secrets. The Sidereals did not know of the prior relationship between the two, and they do not know today that the Green Lady is a loyal servant—and, once more, the lover—of the Mask of Winters. When the Sidereal does not haunt the Mask’s bedchambers, she feeds disinformation to the Sidereal Exalted or spies on the Mask’s rival Deathlords under false identities. At the Mask’s direction, she has seduced the Walker in Darkness and prepares to deliver him to her lover.