The Matchmaker of Sembia

III: The Real Tempestra, Part III

By Ed Greenwood

Hansible Orsombar's love for his Anthea reached its height one moonlit night on a meadow of one of his farms in backcountry Sembia. So ardent was his passion that Hansible drowned in his own fishpond -- though in truth Anthea's arms were shaking from the effort of holding his wrapped-in-her-underthings head under water until the bubbles finally stopped rising.

By then, she was skilled at forging Hansible's signature and had his seal, all his documents, and everything else she needed. Wisely, she transferred only a dozen of his lowest-valued properties to herself, leaving the rest for creditors to fight over as she resold "what was hers" on her grieving departure from Sembia.

The yield was enough to make her very rich -- rich enough to "disappear" in Sembian cities for a decade while she carefully bought and sold properties, taking advantage of the misfortunes of others to make her wealth slowly grow. She used cosmetics to disguise herself as a servant from a distant land and she hired herself out to clean great house after great house in the wake of feasts and revels, scrubbing and brooming. There she listened to news and gossip and how nobles sounded as they talked.

She was almost ready to become a matchmaker and get paid for attending revels and indulging in skullduggery on behalf of others while she hunted for a rich (and ailing) husband for herself. She toiled patiently, growing older as all who work hard do, building contacts in shadier streets and filling her brain with nobles' doings, until she deemed the moment right -- and Hansible's lone unsold, "lost" coat of arms saw the light of society again, with a new name attached. She would be . . . Falconfeather . . . Glimmerfeather. She would be the best.

All Anthea had to do was act like it, and she knew very well how to do that.

Tempestra Glimmerfeather: Female human Expert 3; CR 2; Medium humanoid; HD 3d6; hp 10; Init +0; Spd 30 ft.; AC 10, touch 10, flat-footed 10; Base Atk +2; Grp +3; Atk +3 melee (1d4+1/19-20, dagger), or +2 ranged (1d4/19-20, dagger); Full Atk +3 melee (1d4+1/19-20, dagger), or +2 ranged (1d4/19-20, dagger); AL CE; SV Fort +1, Ref +1, Will +5; Str 12, Dex 10, Con 10, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 16.

Skills and Feats: Appraise +11, Bluff +9, Climb +5, Diplomacy +18, Disguise +5, Escape Artist +6, Forgery +10, Intimidate +5, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +8, Open Lock +4, Sense Motive +8, Spot +6; Deceitful, Skill Focus (Appraise), Skill Focus (Diplomacy).

Languages: Common, Chondathan, Damaran.

Possessions: Dagger, large wardrobe of stylish female clothing, 88,000 gp (well hidden around her residences), 11 properties in Ordulin, Yhaunn, Selgaunt, and Saerloon worth over 20,000 gp each (nine rented out for an average monthly income of 4,000 gp), other assets worth over 160,000 gp.

Tempestra has known failures, but she has seen far more successes. Her prices (never advertised, of course) are now 5,000 gp for the poorest clients, and up to five times that for the wealthiest (most successful matches earn her about 25,000 gp; if she fails, she charges only 1,000 gp for her time and discretion). Her secrets include understanding people's thoughts and desires, and she shrewdly judges everyone she meets. She can be utterly ruthless (arranging murders if need be), but prefers to keep this side of herself hidden as much as possible. As she grows older and her body begins to fail, Tempestra is actively looking for her own "right match."

She has very much enjoyed the feasts, revels, and ridiculous pretensions and manners of Sembian "flame society" (as it now prefers to call itself), and she can pass on many points of etiquette to those desiring to climb its rungs. Here's one:

Suitable Sembian "grandsirs" always issue invitations to "ladies" by means of a grandly uniformed servant, who personally presents the lady with a sealed written invitation. It's best if there's an audience to this wordless presentation, and it's in bad taste to send any sort of gift. The invitation is always extended to her and her kin (if any) or escort (if she has one), and is to some sport or diversion -- flying falcons, or stallion races, for example -- never merely to dine or meet with the grandsir.

A suitable lady inviting a grandsir, on the other hand, does so by written invitation handed from her servant to his, preferably not in his presence, and is always a personal request for his presence at such-and-such a time and place.

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