Countess Alcydia von Dönnerwetter
Age: She's middle-aged, but don't tell her to her face if you value your own.
Alcydia is a member of the Undercity Royal Family, cousin and rival of Duchess Guðrún of Dungill Fens. Being well versed in the blackest of the dark arts and having a penchant for outre costumes, rather bizarre instruments of torture, hideously infernal infernal machines and generally being mad as a hatter, Alcydia has time and again served as Queen Elspeth's hatchet-woman on an on-and-off basis. The "off" periods occur every other year when she is banished from the realm on grounds of eruptions of her pathological obsession, to Become Witch Queen Instead of the Witch Queen.
Tamlin's gang have had one run-in with Alcydia, when they went to Iceland to rescue the missing Duchess Guðrún. Thorough investigation and Tamlin's nose for ale revealed that Guðrún had been kidnapped by Alcydia, who planned to swap brains with her cousin so she could secretly infiltrate the Undercity and Become Witch Queen Instead of the Witch Queen. In the ensuing battle Alcydia's castle Rimur (a picturesque family residence originally built by her ancestor Countess Amoralia) was destroyed, and the brain transfer failed. (Although Alcydia rather noisily claimed otherwise all through her later audience with Queen Elspeth, holding forth that the transfer had worked and she was indeed Guðrún caught in Alcydia's body. The Queen would hear nothing of it, nor would anybody else. But to his day, wagging tongues wag that the Duke and Duchess have of late given hints of acquiring new and rather more refined tastes. We, of course, set no stake in wagging tongues. We leave such exercises to certified demon hunters.)
After Alcydia's capture, Guðrún, Atra and Krakatoa went back once to Castle Rimur to use the magical Oven of Ungdomma secreted there by Alcydia's ancestress Countess Antigeria. Even later Guðrún, Krakatoa, Kel and little Fay returned on a mission of mercy to free the tortured fire-elf Alcydia had been keeping in chains. Alcydia's spies in Iceland have heard rumours of both events. Although their reports were garbled Alcydia has her suspicions and is working to confirm them. She is NOT pleased.
Queen Elspeth stripped Alcydia of her magical powers and banished her (again). Since the Queen clearly has a purpose in sparing Alcydia from the pyre, few at Court doubt that the mad countess will eventually be back and restored to power. Indeed, she has already been admitted back once for the annual Court Sabbath. If Queen Elspeth was testing her, Alcydia did not do too well. She had a most humiliating run-in with Duchess Guðrún, Krakatoa and Kel. Krakatoa's name was already on Alcydia's To-Do-In list because of her role in the Icelandic debacle. Now Kel is keeping her company.
Whiling away her years in exile Alcydia has moved to another of the Dönnerwetter residences, Castle Blotrov in Transsylvania, built by her great-grandmother Countess Anemica. Here she's bought out the local trolls and has set about modernizing the princess kidnapping industry.
Alcydia lives alone, surrounded only by her trusty and much-tested wolfmen servants. Being a career woman through and through she has never had time or patience for kids and family, but lately she's been thinking seriously about the continuation of the Dönnerwetter family line. If she died childless and the family properties reverted to the Crown or - much worse - were given over her cousin's family she'd never find contentness in the afterlife. Perhaps as a result of these musings, she's lately been seeing more of Baron von Fieffelfalsfaffel, the Court's greatest schmuck, who has long been wooing the countess. Fieffelfalsfaffel is dumb as a hollow coconut, but a disgustingly healthy beefcake and handy with a sword. As a prospective husband and father, he'd be sure to be absent most of the time. He's the sort of bastard who'd gladly leave the burden of running the estates to his wife while himself tourneying, hunting, drinking, waylaying serving maidens in the cellars and chasing peasant girls in the fields. All of which sounds absolutely perfect, once Alcydia got to see it from the right angle.
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