Edrea is a tall woman of about forty. She has dark hair going gray pinned up in a sensible fashion, and usually wears utilitarian clothes in neutral tones. She tends to radiate competence and complete mastery of her situation.
Edrea Solon always possessed a natural talent for the magical arts, and trained in it extensively when she was younger. However, rather than confine herself to the commonly accepted disciplines, she developed a fascination for the darker sides of magic. Few things seemed more promising to her than the forbidden art of necromancy.
Of course, she did not allow this to become common knowledge. She carefully maintained a perfectly respectable facade, eventually marrying a wealthy man. She displayed the expected mourning when her husband unexpectedly passed away, and no one even had a thought that his widow had something to do with the matter.
Edrea was not slow in applying her inherited wealth to her studies; she bought an isolated and abandoned manor house where she could experiment in peace. However, she was more intelligent than many of her fellow necromancers. She knew that body snatchings from local cemetaries and disappearances of people in the vicinity, no matter how well concealed, were eventually bound to attract notice.
She hit upon a plan as elegantly simple as it was twisted. She knew from raising her own son that children were easy enough to control. There were many children in the world with no one to miss them, and no one would think twice about orphans regularly disappearing from an orphanage; people would simply assume they had been adopted. And small bodies were easier to get rid of than large ones, should something go wrong.
She established the Taikan Solon Memorial Orphanage, maintaining her appearance of a kindly matron. She looked and sounded utterly reliable, and local authorities were only too glad to send orphans to her. To adult eyes, she was perfect, just the sort of woman who would excel at raising several parentless children.
That is only in public, however. Once she is safely in private, her truly depraved nature comes into sharp focus. She maintains an iron grip on the children in her care, keeping them terrified into obedience. She is mentally and emotionally abusive, and capable of almost unthinkable cruelty.
If someone doesn’t follow orders, or tries to attract unwanted notice, they are punished harshly. However, she never actually hurts the one she’s punishing; she hurts what they care about, be it a pet, a friend, or a relative. If it’s a person that she’s harming as a punishment, she makes sure that they know who’s to blame. She will and does go so far as to kill as a punishment.
She treats the children as slave labor generally speaking; they manufacture some resources and equipment needed for her experiments, and grow most of their food on the orphanage’s poor soil. Some are sold to real slavers, although not many, and Edrea is very careful to only deal with the slavers through third parties. A very few are legitimately adopted out to various influential contacts in order to maintain the charade.
Those who don’t have any useful abilities, or who aren’t capable of keeping up with the heavy pace Edrea demands become raw materials for her brutal necromantic experiments. If they’re lucky, she kills them first.
Punishments and experiments aside, Edrea is rarely physically abusive. She leaves that to her son Kailan, who acts as her enforcer and delivers savage beatings as he sees fit (often).
In public, she is the very model of a sensible, responsible matron. She will promise the best care for those under her care, and usually has "proof" in case someone gets curious. This is just a very good front, however, and if she is caught off guard, that will be evident.
If she realizes her cover is blown, she will quicky turn nasty, either calling Kailan to attack, or summoning various undead abominations (zombie children, mostly, although there are some more… inventive creations). Unless they are prepared for such an invent, those who are too curious for their own good quickly become subjects for the next experiment.
She is sociopathic, extremely abusive, and not just a little power-hungry. She tries to make as many influential contacts as she can, and provides under the table aid for many important people. (You’d be surprised how much an army of the undead is worth.) She is not above blackmail, but prefers more direct methods. Her money and connections mean there are often a lot of blind eyes turned to any suspicious acts on her part.
She rarely, if ever, displays visible emotion. She is not demonstrative by nature, and is very cold and calm.
If someone manages to cause enough problems for Edrea that stories get around about her activities, but don’t kill her, she will pack up and move to an area she’s not known and start over. She will make sure all evidence is destroyed, and that all expendable witnesses are dead and buried. Then she will rebuild her operation and plan an extremely nasty revenge.