Lady Gemma of Atkinshire is considered to be one of the most radiant beauties of the Free City of Nimz. She is originally of mixed heritage, her mother being an Ankaran Princess and her father a Midlander Knight. As such she is tall as most men but there is no lack of femininity to her. To futher accentuate her well curved and supple form, she has a dusky coffee complexion and pale brown hair that gives her a flair of the familiar as well as a healthy dose of the exotic. Her eyes are Ankaran gray, and most of the poets who sing to her cannot help but add a line or verse for her perfect rosebud lips.
She has a peculiar accent, having grown up in Ankara and then later learning the common tongue of the Midlands. As such, she speaks a touch more slowly but has very crisp enunciation. A few make the mistake of thinking her daft for this, but they quickly realize that rather than being slow in the head, she has not only learned the Midlander language, but speaks it more correctly and understandably than many Midlanders do.
Finally she has a great love for the color yellow, the more vital and vibrant, the better. Most of her dresses and gowns are yellow and they tend to be loose in the skirt, but very tight through the bodice. Most of her clothing is yellow silk, often brocaded with gold thread and set with citrines, topaz and canary diamonds. The local clergy would like to object to the mode of her dress, but as she is both a supporter of the church and one of the anointed Daughters of the Ivory See, they bite their tongues.
Gemma’s mother was born the third daughter of nine, life looked to be a comfortable, if timid, future of languishing in the harem of some Ankaran lord. Yet fate stepped in when her betrothed lord found himself greatly indebted to an outlander warrior, a man clad in steel armor, a Midlander. to the vigorous people of Ankara, the only thing more repulsive and annoying than the Midlanders were the pale skinned Ozian merchants from Falhath. Yet the lord was pressed by tradition and as such presented the Knight to choose from his harem of untouched brides whom he would take. The Knight, Palladoc of Atkinshire, chose Penel and took her away along with a healthy gift of gold and silver coins.
Gemma was born not long after, having been conceived on the trip back to Atkinshire. The two were wed before the birth, and with his newfound wealth Palladoc was able to secure a small piece of land within Atkinshire and made his home and manor there. Gemma grew up into a proud woman of her Ankaran ancestry, but grew into the tempered refinement of the Midlander nobility. Graceful, generous, and sublime, she was quickly accepted by the ranks of the low and middle nobility. It was with great pomp that she was wed to Lord Baltan, Duke of Atkinshire.
The Duchess Gemma
Lord Baltan was very pleased with his exotic and svelte bride, as pleased with her as he was with his newest Calcobrinan stallion, or his kennel of Hyloidian Ridgeback hounds. Though not an evil or wicked man, Baltan was a man’s man. More interested in hunting abroad, drinking, planning and riding in campaign, his wife was expected to stay home, keep her mouth shut, run the estate, and to submit to her husband whenever he should so desire her.
Gemma did much of what she was expected. She ran the estates of the Dukedom with uncanny skill, a mix of pragmaticism and her personal charisma as much as outstanding knowledge of the economic system. She also made Baltan and herself patrons of the arts, providing grants to artists, sculptors, poets and painters. She also bore Baltan four children, three sons and a daughter.
Yet Gemma was not given to let her life trickle away in the great halls of Hollyoak Castle. Aside from her duties as Duchess and patron, she took a great many trips while Lord Baltan rode against orcs and ogres, revolting peasants, and the like. She became a frequent visitor to Nimz, Suisaidh, and half a dozen other cities known for their centers of art and learning. It was on these trips that she found a new excitement.
The Older Woman
It was not hard for Gemma to find handsome young men in these cities, and she found their attentions to be invigorating. In truth she had craved affection and attention not given by her husband or her now distant parents. In their stead she carefully selected young men to be her temporary lovers, all of whom were picked by their appearance, intelligence as well as having a good sense of humor. Those young men who found their way into her silken sheets were to receive the better part of her favor, in terms of grants and letters of recommendation and the like.
It wasn’t until a decade later that Lord Baltan discovered his wife during one of her trysts, with a Nimzian named Vee Keykold. The rogue escaped from the furious lord, was expelled from the Nimz school, and barely evaded a number of Baltan’s men intent on reclaiming the honor of the Duchess as well as seeing him hang in a mockery of a trial. Boiling with rage, only the edicts of the Faith prevented Baltan from ending their marriage. Instead the couple was induced to seek council from the Bishop of Atkinshire.
The Bishop had long been a secret admirer of Lady Gemma, never one of her pillow conquests, he was more impressed with her natural eloquence, and her attention to church and charity. As such, the counseling tended to weigh in her favor and the bishop extolled Baltan to spend more time abed than abroad. This lasted for a time, but Baltan could no more deny the call of the sword, and the road than Gemma could deny her hunger for attention.
And thus, the Lady doth play, while her Lord is away.
The Couerl Stone - this thumb sized topaz is remarkable for its clarity and quality despite its large size. The gem was later enchanted and now grants a significant degree of magical protection, and it flashes purple in the presence of poisons and electric blue when subjected to a magic spell.
The Love Song of Night and Day - This epic was created by the Bard Davvel after consuming the Merchant’s Potion and is considered to be one of the best long poems dealing with love outside of marriage and desire for things denied. Gemma keeps the tome close to her, though her husband has not read it and has no idea of it’s contents.
The Song of Blood - Commissioned for her husband, this epic poem extolls the virtues of the fighting man and his prowess of war. The work had a dual purpose, one being an obvious gift, the second being that Gemma hoped that reading the poem would give him some racy ideas for the bedroom and encourage her lord to come home more often. Unfortunately Baltan only read the work in a cursory fashion and took it as license to go campaign whenever the mood struck him.
Gemma is the ‘older woman’ from the pages of pulp erotica, she is older, educated, and experienced and left alone and bored by her busy husband. While such a sexual overtone might be inappropriate for many games, Gemma can still be used as a patron for PCs, though they may never realize the motive behind their backer’s support. While technically a cheating adulteress, Gemma is still a supporter of the church as well as giving generously to charities that need support as well as grants for artists, writers, and students of higher learning. This was all being done before her escapades, so it is not done out of a sense of balancing her wrongs for cheating. There is a catch, however, for the PCs to attract her attention at least one of the PCs needs to have an outstanding charisma/appearance score. Gemma certainly is interested in intelligence and capability, but she searches for those abilities from the ranks of the good looking and charismatic.
In Need - The PC party is in a tough spot and need some help in the form of a noble backer. Rather than the usual lord so-and-so, they find a backer in Lady Gemma. She can alternately provide assistance in the form of rewards for deeds done, but her position as a Duchess for an absentee Duke allows her to set missions for PCs and make important state decisions.
On the Sly - For some rogue PCs, Lord Baltan has hired them to shadow his wife and see what she is up to on her latest trip. Instead of getting to spend their time on their mission, the PCs discover an attempt to kidnap or assassinate Lady Gemma.