- Andrew M. Trauger
Nine years ago, shortly after the Wars of Attrition had finally settled in most nations, Vincent Schumann, already a wizened old man, settled in Westmeade as the new caretaker of Rillis Blus' mansion to the north. As an accomplished arcanist in his own right, it made sense for the Trithemius member to secure the services of a skilled spellslinger. Many thought the aged Schumann would simply retire to the country estate and live out the rest of his day in relative seclusion and peace. Surprisingly, he put forth his name in the election of ruling noble for Tussex District. And with his seating, a relatively unknown man was now helping guide the town's affairs.
Genteel and kind, thoughtful and wise, Vincent Schumann quickly filled the position of "most admired" noble. Many in the town considered him to be the epitome of Kedethian ways--steeped in tradition, connected to his past, quick witted but slow to speak, a gentleman, a scholar. "Like the grandfather I never had" was an oft-cited phrase. His humor was light, he office always open, and his supply of sweets for the children never-ending.
The nine years he has served as ruling noble has given both the town and the Council ample opportunity to evaluate his ability to lead, as well as his skill with the arcane. He has proven capable in both areas, showing himself to be shrewd in political affairs and strategic with his arcanist talents. Despite his tottering frame and apparent frailty, Schumann rarely falls behind his younger--much younger--noble fellows. Physically, he is fully able to keep up; metaphorically, he always seems one step ahead.
Many have tried to guess Schumann's age. Even Lady Tarnistorel seems nonplussed by his years. He claims to be ninety-two, but several factors argue against this claim. For one, over his nine years on the Council, he has not aged a day--a noteworthy accomplishment for an octogenarian. His apparent ability to "shuffle along" without falling behind (previously noted) has perplexed many. Finally, the memories of many people recall that his claimed age hasn't actually changed over time. Though none can corroborate these seeming inconsistencies, it does leave many scratching their heads. When pressed for an explanation, his answer was quick, concise, and entirely plausible: philters of youth.
With that mystery answered, folks are content to let Schumann be the grandfatherly teller of old tales, keeper of Kedethian purity, and sage adviser to the High Ruler, Sir Anthony Prisido. As one of the most beloved nobles in recent history, coupled with his connection to Rillis Blus, the citizens of Westmeade are happy with his leadership. They especially appreciate the balance he brings to the firebrands that Sir Reginald Hunt and Prisido can be, acting as a voice of reason where hotter heads might have prevailed otherwise.
But Hunt, the famed Prosecutor, has begun to suspect that gentle old Schumann may be up to some old tricks or casting a web of intrigue over the town that would not be easily untangled.