Raised in the fringes of Baldur during the Second Era, Henrik Strauss found his trade as a logger and laborer in order to support his sickly sister Mina. Life in the fringe colonies was hard, for even the forest would often hide in it deadlier perils than the poverty and disease that would strike the towns that eroded them. Often Strauss would hear of entire logging camps going missing, chalked up to a haunting spirit the local elves knew as Gwynevel, though it wasn’t until Henrik’s fifth summer as a logger that he learnt the truth.
A night lit well by Glanbeli saw the loggers working later than usual, and it was under this moonlight that Henrik and his colleagues were set upon by ravenous beasts: vampires having fled from Draksborne during the midst of the Belfrie Rebellion. As his colleagues were slaughtered like cattle around him, Henrik took up his axe and a torch, managing to slay one of the lesser thralls that tried for his throat. This was an act that left the leader of the group most impressed, and as he sunk his teeth into a helpless Henrik he imparted his gift with the dying man, bringing him back as a spawn of his own.
Henrik rejected his master, breaking free through the power of his own will and returning to his village after several nights to find his sister in the dying days of her illness. He imparted to her the same curse he had received, bringing her to life from the brink of death and ensuring he would no longer be alone in his trial. The two formed a small coven far from their village on the opposite ends of the fringes of the kingdom. There they slowly grew their group until it eventually caught the eye of the local parishes. Erdrydion’s Hunters stormed their coven, slaughtering all within. Strauss escaped, wounded and near permanent death. He traveled as far north as possible to escape Baldur and its clergy, finding comfort in a small logging town in Greypeak called Strassen. Though the stormy and bleak weather was a far cry from what he was accustomed to at home, it reminded him much of his life before the curse, driving him to settle there.
Here he hatched an idea, using his vampiric charms to have the childless, elderly Duke of Strassen sign over Strauss as the heir to his fiefdom. It wasn’t long before he passed that Strauss’ plan came into action, taking the seat of the Duke. He ruled over his duchy justly and with great compassion and mercy, none suspected his true nature until after many years people begun questioning how he had not aged. Thus he called an assembly of the town, informing them of the truth. Shock and outrage came to most, though a vocal minority stood for Duke Strauss and the prosperity he had brought them, for them maintaining his secret and providing him nourishment was a small price to pay for the protection and stability he offered.
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