After the Storm
Grand Baroness Etelka von Toppenheimer
The Grand Baroness is the ruler of Pfeildorf, whose history is ancient as the former capital of Sölland, saved from the greenskin WAAAGH! that devastated that province by divine intervention (according to Wissenlander folklore).
Many see the Grand Baroness as a mirror of the Elector Countess. Both are powerful unmarried women in their late 30’s. However, that is where the parallel ends.
Where the Elector Countess focuses on making Nuln the centre of the Old World’s cultural life and throwing the best parties, the Grand Baroness focuses on strengthening her control over the rest of the province – by all accounts with the full knowledge and approval of the Elector Countess.
The Grand Baroness was born in 2485.
In 2499, at the age of 14, Etelka entered an arranged marriage to 34 year old Emmerich von Mecklenburg, Johann’s younger brother (also a distant cousin to Etelka). In 2502, when she was 17 and while 7 months pregnant with her daughter Christa, she defended her husband’s interests against attempts to have most of the families’ trading wealth destroyed in a plague scare (burned as contaminated). Emmerich was then leading a scourging of greenskins in the Black Mountains from which he did not return.
In 2506, she married the handsome Alexei von Bernau, a minor noble without lands. This is widely seen as Etelka’s only weak choice in life. The marriage lasted two years, producing her second child, her son Ludwig. In 2508 her second husband was murdered. It is widely believed the frequency of his relatives being given plum appointments angered rivals. At 23, she was twice a widow.
In 2509, Etelka suffered another misfortune when both of her infant children were kidnapped by a Nuln-based crime family. Something went wrong in negotiations for their release and her children were killed.
Etelka’s vengeance for this action is retold throughout the Empire – to the admiration of some and the dismay of others. By means judicial and extra-judicial, without a care to the latter being known, every single person even suspected of involvement in this crime was killed and their remains burned (despite views of the extremity of cremation). It is rumoured that in some cases, even the children of those she held responsible were also killed in her vengeance. An entire tenement district in Nuln where the crime family in question was based also burned to the ground in a fire that started around the district and went inward, allowing virtually no one to escape it.
The next year, at the young age of 25, Etelka succeeded her cousin Grand Baron Johann von Mecklenburg as ruler of Pfeildorf and de facto ruler of Wissenland beyond Nuln. This was when he abdicated, after having already been outside the province for several years. Etelka has actually been effectively governing the province since 2505.
She named Otto von Sektliebe her heir before officially becoming Grand Baroness, to make succession clear as she has no direct heirs and was not married at that time, nor is she now. Baron Olaf von Sektliebe is a Knight of the Broken Sword and a distant cousin who has no claim except the Baroness’s blessing.
Johann’s 2510 abdication is whispered to have been forced upon him by Countess Emmanuelle von Leibwitz as punishment for failing to prevent her beloved brother Leos’ death in a mutant murder-spree that the Grand Baron had taken responsibility to investigate. Leos, a noted duelist, put an end to the matter by killing the mutant but at the cost of his own life in 2509.
From an early age, Etelka distinguished herself by her bold and impetuous actions taken to safeguard her possessions from possible usurpers, and to defend her holdings, and her astuteness in political intrigues. She has been well-educated from her earliest years. She loves hunting and dancing and is interested in the sciences of alchemy and astrology.
Etelka is connected to the Averland Leitdorf family via Sabine von Toppenheimer’s (2438-2468) marriage to Marius von Leitdorf (father of Marius, grandfather of Kastor, Leopold etc.). Sabine was younger sister to Gerhardt von Toppenheimer, grandfather to Etelka von Toppenheimer.