Of Smoke and Mirrors
[Barrowynd Manor] Lord Brownlow Cecil
Lord Burghley, The Ninth Marque of Exeter, Bearer of the Keys of the Hermetic Guild of London
For an Eldren aged eight and sixty Brownlow Cecil looks startlingly old, perhaps partly announced for by his less then ascetic features. Though of a subspecies lauded for their eternal youth and perfect appearance it seems Lord Cecil is the exception that proves the rule as he is a large man well over one meter eighty with a girth developed by a fondness for the finer things in life. One would perhaps not go as far as calling him fat, though plump would certainly be a fitting description for his barrel-like chest, strong arms and heavy face. His cheeks are heavy, almost a little saggy, and over the years he has developed a noticeable double chin under an otherwise strong looking clefted chin. His nose is long and marked, though a tad bit reddish which reflects in his generally ruddy complexion, quite unlike the fair porcelain skin so associated with Eldren. While not perhaps beautiful per say most would agree that Lord Cecil’s face is a kind one, with soft faintly wrinkled lines and a pair of almost sad looking and very expressionate eyes a tone of hazy grey under a pair of heavy bushy brows. His hair too has some of the beauty so associated with his kin, being a shade of silken black now faintly streaked by silvered tones.
Lately however many of those who have meet the man have noted how his features have grown weary and tired, as if he carried a great weight both day and night. The eyes previously shining with intelligence and kindness now seem dimmed by distant clouds and the lines on his wide brow growing seemingly with every night of restless sleep. Indeed, the past month has seen him loose several pounds and some of the warm, ruddy lustre of his skin seems drained away. But perhaps most startling of all is the spark of mania which at times seems to radiate from his features, a restless and maddening energy much out of place with the rest of his appearance.
Though perhaps never the most beautiful man Lord Burghley has always been a well-dressed one, with an outfit for literally every occasion as is only right and proper for a nobleman. Unlike many eldren he has always had an interest in keeping up with the current trends and as such he is rarely seen in anything that could be called outdated, except perhaps the odd tweed jacket he seems to favour when in private. As far as colours go he is fairly modest, favouring deep and warm colours such as dark red and dark blue, shying away from the more flamboyant colours often so in the vague with the younger generations. Finally, he is rarely seen without a truly ancient looking locket seemingly in pure gold and a long, thin staff in carved oakwood which doubles as his wand and which as been in his families possession since the days of their storied forbearer, Lord William Cecil.
Much like his appearance would suggest Lord Brownlow Cecil is a kind and careful man, known rather as pleasant company than the centre of attention. That is not to say he is particularly dull, for if asked he can hold his own in most topics and debates whether on politics or the latest magical theories, but rather he is the kind who prefer to weigh his every word and take his time. Indeed, in matters of the Guild he is considered something of an authority with a sharp wit and a wide range of knowledge spanning from magic to history and into the budding field of science. Yet rather than settling down in the heart of the academic debate he prefers to work from his secluded manor, keeping for the most part to himself and his work. Few if any can really recall seeing him angry, though he holds a distinct distaste both for those who fail to acknowledge their own station and the vulgarities of the commoner. In many ways he is the quintessential country-squire with impeccable manners, a kind if somewhat reserved demeanour and a heart for everything tradition and family.
Lord Cecil is not the kind of man to make a great name for himself and as such his history is nothing out of the ordinary. Born in 1787 as the first son of the eight lord Burghley he was from an early age treated like a little prince and indulged in most every way a little child can desire. Growing up during the turbulent years of the French Revolutionary Wars and later the Napoleonic Wars he knew little of sadness and hardship until his grandfather passed away under mysterious circumstances in 1802 and shortly after his own father died in the Battle of Finisterre in 1805 which left the eighteen year old Brownlow as Lord Burghley. These two deaths seems to have affected the young man deeply, nourishing in him a latent fatalism which would later flourish.
At the time however he seemed to recover quickly, enrolling at the University of Cambridge and completing his Doctorate of Thaumaturgy with excellent marks. From then on he dedicated much of his time to the Hermetic Guild, rising to become one of its most prominent members and carrying the ceremonial title “Bearer of the Keys”.
As far as personal and family life Lord Cecil has not been as fortunate. His first marriage, to Lady Annabella Woodsworth in 1819 ended with her dead during childbirth in 1821. His second marriage to Lady Margarethe Windsor took place in 1824 though it scarcely brought him more happiness as their two first children arrived either stillborn (the first) or died within their first year. It wasn’t until Lady Margarethe gave birth to a girl named Elisabeth in 1834 that Lord Cecil received his first and only child to live into adulthood. This seems to have brought him great joy and his daughter seems to be everything he had ever wished for.
Recently however Lord Cecil has taken ill, and seems to be steadily getting worse until finally his daughter asked our intrepid adventurers to investigate the matter.