Valerian "Ironside" MagnusTitle:
The Selician EmpireAge:
51 yearsSexual Orientation:
"My enemies are many, my equals are none. In the shadow of mighty castles old in honor they said Manneheim could never be conquered. In the land of brine and sand they said the merchant-kings of Valens could never be humbled. In the realm of forest and snow they said Krasnosk could never be tamed. Now they say nothing. They fear me, like a force of nature, a dealer in steel and death. I say I am Valerian. I am Emperor."Goal:
Valerian's goal is no less absolute than the total annexation of the Free Duchies, the dissolution of Sahal and the complete cessation of hostilities within the Empire. Valerian believes himself more than capable to achieve these goals through martial prowess, but for the time being he's willing to entertain the prospect of such aspirations being fulfilled at a peace summit. If neither of those goals seem feasible, he's willing to bide his time and acquire what "lost land" he can through swords, words or (given his status as a widower) the marriage bed.Personality:
Valerian has a mind of steel and stratagems, war and courtly intrigue. A life devoted to controlling an Empire steeped in conflict has made the Ironside a harsh, pragmatic and ultimately humorless man, his cold and calculating demeanor only exacerbated by the death of his wife during childbirth. Indeed, it is difficult to get the Emperor to smile at all, even amongst friends and family. Although Valerian could be described as a just and honorable man, he is ultimately willing to "do what needs to be done" in the name of aiding the Empire and her citizens.
Beneath his icy exterior however is a man that could best be described as tired.
Paradoxically, the mastermind that has brought the Empire to victory again and again is tired of war and the ruin it causes, so much so that Valerian sees himself as a necessary evil; a monster created from the shortcomings of his forefathers that ultimately does not have a place in the world he is making ("An Emperor of Steel has no place in a Dominion of Silver.
") Of course, such an internal opinion has rarely been brought up to others, especially in the presence of courtiers; amongst the nobility Valerian practically exudes an aura of power and control, granted to him both by the enormity of his title as well as the prestige brought upon by his extensive military conquests.Appearance:
Blessed with a powerful physique and hardy constitution, Valerian looks every bit the part of an Emperor-General. Broad-shouldered, tall and finely proportioned, Valerian is unmistakable on the battlefield as a figure almost larger than life, especially when bedecked in his imperial raiment
and escorted by his retinue. The ravages of time have left naught but a few wrinkles upon The Ironside's visage, although the sharp bite of steel tells a different tale; beyond a few nicks and cuts upon his face, Valerian's body is littered with the scars of a dozen blows, some more seemingly mortal than others.
Beyond his considerable physical attributes, Valerian is deceptively handsome for a man of his personality and station. With expressive gray-blue eyes and a finely weathered face dominated by a strong, square jaw covered in salt-and-pepper stubble (the same color as the stuff growing atop his head,) the Emperor has been described as looking like "some little girl's favorite grandfather," a stark contrast to his otherwise iron demeanor.Biography:
Born as the second son to Emperor Octavius, Valerian's early life was dominated by the specter of war and failure set by his predecessors. The sins of their forefathers weren't just a fact, they were a birthright; something Valerian experienced year after year as he saw his father head out for campaign, or look over ways to rebuild what remains following the inevitable cease-fire. It was because of the latter that Octavius was eventually known as "the Conciliator," but it was his failure at the former that made his penchant for politics a mere triviality and ultimately add nothing to the Empire's sphere.
This hypocrisy between the efficacy of diplomacy compared to military might was not lost on the young Valerian. Already showing a knack for command, Valerian's realization that martial skill was the only true means to end this endless conflict drove him further into his studies, learning from the great military commanders of the past and incorporating their tactics and strategies into his own.
By his 16th birthday, Valerian was given command of his own personal retinue for use in the Eastern front against the Free Duchies. It was there he cut his teeth as a general, earning a reputation for natural leadership and an innate understanding of warfare. As Valerian's prestige grew, murmurs of disposing Octavius's eldest son began, until eventually a plot was hatched to assassinate Valerian's brother to make him next in line for the throne. Although it's still difficult to say the extent of Valerian's involvement in this plot was, the effects were felt throughout the Empire; Valerian's brother was killed in a "tragic" hunting accident in the Imperial Woods near the capital, and upon hearing of the news Octavius had a heart attack.
With the Emperor indisposed and the line of succession in temporary disarray, the enemies of the Empire saw their chance to strike; Sahali hordes and Free Duchy hosts pushed into the Imperial borders a mere month after hearing of the hierarchical woes. Historians would later call this the "Imperial Campaign," but for Valerian it would be the tribulation that would earn him the moniker "Ironsides." After a year of brutal slaughter, Valerian (with the notable aid of his second-in-command, Hellatius) and his staggered forces remained standing, having broken the wills of his enemies and smote ruin upon many a Ducal/Bandit noble. During the fighting Octavius had passed away, making Valerian the new Emperor of Selicia, although the title at that point was only a formality; Selicians lowborn and high had seen him as the true leader of the Empire ever since his first string of victories.
The peace terms were generous, with the Empire regaining ancient Manneheim as tribute. To Valerian, it was not enough; the decades that followed the Imperial Campaign would be known as a Selician Resurgence, the Emperor seeking out independent countries unassociated with either the Sahal or Duchies and conquering them, although not all were won on the battlefield; the Republic of Valens was won through Valerian gaining a bride. Although the marriage was initially loveless, Valerian eventually grew fond of the woman, and through her he sired three sons... Although the last had cost Valerian his wife. Valerian eventually remarried (and had but a single daughter before that wife was lost to Slow Fever) but he had never been able to quite forgive his youngest son, Aurelius, for his role in his wife's death. Disgusted with the young man, Valerian eventually sent him away on an expedition to rid himself of the troublesome son.
It was in the campaign to retake Krasnosk that Valerian heard of Aurelius's return. Disappointed yet ultimately unsurprised at his son's luck in surviving his mission, Valerian elevated the young man to a notable position in the navy, giving honor where honor was due. The decades rolled on, and with them more wars; no matter how many Valerian won, the cycle of conflict continued; after all, for all his skill he was only one man. Even the death of the Duchies leader, Archduke Hamilton, in one of his campaigns did little to end the conflict, his position instead being given to the man's daughter. War became a routine, and as with all routines, Valerian grew tired of it... So when the chance for a proper peace summit held by an independent nation reached the Palace, Valerian was willing to entertain it's possibility of peace.