The first thing that others notice when looking at Hippomenes are his queer eyes. Singular these eyes are, colored as pale as milk or mist, and being very discomforting to look upon, though he rarely meets one’s gaze. His hair is feathery and raven black. His face is pale and thin, almost gaunt, with high cheekbones and a blade-narrow hooked nose. His sharp chin bears a small goatee. He is a small man in stature, 5’2", and thin. He wears tunics and togas in the colors which he styles his own, red and black and gray. He never carries weapons.
Hippomenes has a spidery voice, feathery and airy. He speaks so softly that he cannot be heard when others are speaking in a normal volume, but strangely, when he speaks the world seems to quiet to hear him.
He only drinks hippocras (mulled spice wine) or water, and never wakes after sunrise. He has a bad habit of drawing the back of his hand across his lips, which has resulted in their being very cracked and dry.
Somewhere in the boggy lowlands of the Imperial province of Colistia there was born a boy. He was in most respects a normal child, though small for his age, and having more of the Licurian look to him than Arcturan, and having queer pale eyes. He played as his peers played, learned as they did, but, curiously, all the other children feared him, and obeyed him like shaven-headed slaves.
The adults of the thorp of his upbringing thought this strange indeed. He was, after all, a runt among them, and very soft-voiced at that, and there were the eyes. He almost never spoke, and when he did, others had to quiet to hear him. He was not a bully. He was not particularly violent or forceful. Yet he was undoubtedly the master.
When the child was about 13 or 14, he was seized by a fancy for a village girl. Though he was leader among the children, he was shy and awkward about the girls among them, and he would not speak with her, but only watch her, wherefore he began to frequent the village well when she went to get water for her family.
From then on, every night, this certain girl would awake screaming. She was seized by horrible nightmares that even a priest from the nearby provincial capitol could not dispel, and refused to go near to the well.
When the boy was 16, his father, who had always wanted him to be a priest, wished to send him away to the provincial capitol, that he might live within the cloister there.
However, the boy had not intention of living like a priest, and a series of loud quarrels began. Soon afterward, the boy’s father, as well, was struck by awful nightmares, and claimed that it was his son who had done it, that his son had worked some foul sorcery upon him.
Once again, a priest was summoned. It was determined, after a trial, that the boy had worked some sorcery.
Upon the village center-field where he was judged, the boy snarled bitterly, and with his queer misty eyes, he glared into the eyes of all the people of the thorp.
Seven months later, an Imperial official came to determine why all tribute and produce of this certain thorp had ceased, as well as investigating the disappearance of a well-like priest.
What he found was an empty village, falling into disrepair, with a trampled center-field. In that center-field there was a single discarded cloak.
Fourteen years have passed since then, and the province of Colistia, always a minor province in the best of times, has not seen an Imperial official, save a tax collector, for many years. It is a place where men live in fear, fear of one man: Hippomenes the Fearful, the bandit-king of Colistia.
This man, a thin, small man with pale eyes and a soft voice, has reared a dark citadel in the boggy lowlands and subjugated the peasantry with an army of bandits, as well as, it is said, more shadowy things.
He dwells in relative loneliness in his dark castle upon the moors, and dispatches his warriors to collect what tribute they can from the villages of the area, and from traveling merchants and Imperial tax collectors.
Men often wonder, why do the Colistians not rise up against him? Simply, because of his eyes.
These queer orbs, strange in appearance, have an awful power.
Any who gaze into those strange, misty eyes of Hippomenes’ are struck by horrible fear, a terror so deep and overwhelming that some go insane of it.
Hippomenes reserves this gaze for his direst enemies and most disobedient servants. He believes that the gods have given him this power, that he might make himself ruler of all the Empire, or even the Armorican Lands themselves.
Guests in Hippomenes’ fearful castle find that he is polite, reserved, and very quiet. He is courteous to guests, but when he wants something, he wants it much, and will use almost whatever means necessary to get it.
As of yet, Hippomenes has avoided Imperial justice. Adventurers and revolutionaries often say that this is because Hippomenes is in some sort of pact with the Imperial government, though most find this theory highly suspect. Others believe that it is simply Colistia’ relative isolation and wildness that prevent the notice of Hippomenes the Fearful.
He is quiet, soft-spoken, courteous, and unassuming. Heroes who are guests in his castle may believe him not to be the bandit lord, of whom they have no doubt been told fearsome tales. They may think him to be the castle steward or something like that.