Vernon Haskill, Lord Winter

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Vernon Haskill, Lord Winter

Post by IamLEAM1983 »

Name: Vernon Haskill
Age: 238 years old
Gender: male
Species: Winter Fae

Strengths: like any other Fae, Vernon is able to shoulder – and channel – a Mantle. Mantles are the supernatural representation of a Fae's social or political standing, and are reinforced or weakened depending on the Fae's actions and deeds. Descending from a long-line of English Yule Kings, Vernon possesses the Mantle of House Christmas, a temporary boon of increased strength, agility and resilience – along with deeper urges and limited control over local atmospheric patterns.

On an average day, the Lord is as agile and sturdy as a fiftysomething man with a few extra pounds around the waist and the old remnants of an athletic physique. Threaten him and his charges, however – along with the rest of Hope and Evergloam – and you'll suddenly find him to be capable of feats most Olympic athletes could only dream of accomplishing. Add fencing skills and his ever-present umbrella's iron tip, and you end up with a polished old fop that hides devastating strikes, parries and feints behind appearances of harmlessness.

House Christmas having always been close to Oberon and the Hearth, these abilities are the effective manifestation of a sudden surge of joyous, all-encompassing and mildly frightening life; the kind of joie-de-vivre that manifests either as a supernatural resistance to excessively-enjoyed buffets or wine racks; or the ability to suddenly push past debilitating injuries and charge foes with wild abandon, the sagging features of near-death replaced with a reveler's slightly unhinged grin.

Considering, his family has worked hard to minimize any outward signs of this boon. His initial bureaucrat's frost consequently hides a fairly large heart, political efficiency and empathy being balanced on metaphorical platters. He reaches Hope and Evergloam alike with tales of his ruthlessness and political savvy preceding him, but knows all-too-well that he'll only need a few weeks to fall in love with both cities and populations.
Weaknesses: if he uses an iron umbrella tip, you can be sure that Lord Haskill's enemies will use iron-forged bullets or knives. His sensitivity to the Bane is unavoidable, even if his Mantle would allow him to temporarily work through the pain. Still, even this would turn into a weakness in short order, as House Christmas' lust for life can lead to recklessness, if the Mantle is allowed to run unchecked and to more or less subsume his normal life-preserving instincts.

This, however, shouldn't suggest that he suffers from a split-personality case. The reserved socialite and politician and the enthusiastic adrenaline junkie are one and the same, normal circumstances allowing Vernon to fish from both sides of his personality at will. When the Mantle is channelled, he simply ends up leaning more towards one side than the other.

That said, most of his enemies and exploitable weaknesses are social and political in nature. A foreigner to Hope and America, Vernon has spent the last several generations within London-Upon-Faerie, only catching glimpses of modern progress in its social and technological forms. Like it or not, the local Fae have formed their own culture and can't be expected to behave like the old constitutents Vernon is used to. The fabled raucousness of the Tir Na Nog natives faded away into social acceptance decades ago across the Atlantic, while Irish pride and cultural codification have allowed Old Hope's Elvish populace to remain as fractious and facetious as they were on the day of their immigration. Mab's contingent also barely has any traction across Albion, whereas the New World provided her belligerent supporters with a fresh start – and claims to make. Haskill has to face a particularly defensive group – one that is known for its relative disregard for mortal laws. His terse pleases and thank yous will need adjustments over the years – or he may need to exhibit his Mantle often enough to forcefully command respect out of the immortal ruffians in the population's midst.

In any case, he's only really worried about outright attacks. Posturing is something he believes he can get used to, despite the fact that his Mantle was barely anything more than a formality, in England. That comes with a flipside, as he's never really needed to explore the depths of his Id, so to speak. Comparing him to Bruce Banner would be a decent approach, with the notable exception of his transformation not so much involving destructive rage as it does sudden blitheness and all-encompassing appetites. He usually manages to rein himself in to avoid completely obliterating social conventions, but alcohol consumption, excessive food intake and fatigue can have his best efforts fail – especially after tense battles or intense displays of his weather-control abilities.

Appearance: at six feet sharp and close to two hundred pounds, Hope's new Winter Lord looks to be mostly average, if not for the presence of a slight paunch at his waist. Otherwise laden with lean features, he presents a long face and proud Roman nose, his English pedigree relegating his chin to a vague suggestion below thin, if wide lips, with a bit of loose flesh adding phlegm to his cheeks. With his neat crown of short black hair and his flaring pinna, he tends to look like Charles Dickens' idea of a Vulcan, if he'd thought of Star Trek two hundred years before Gene Roddenberry. With arched eyebrows and eyes that usually display a pale shade of gray, he appears deceptively bloodless to persons perhaps more used to the late Gawain Machae's presented exuberence. His looking like Choosing froze him in his mid-fifties initially does him no favors with the eternally youthful crowd. His haberdashery doesn't, either, what with his cravats and waistcoats that are maybe a few weeks short of being tailored by the same man who takes Archie and Gubbin's measurements...

Shades of purple tend to make up his wardrobe, with occasional flecks of blue and white – a glacial palette designed to complement the effects of the Mantle on his person. When he does channel it, his eyes turn a vibrant blue, while his eyebrows and hair spontaneously frost over, crystals of ice forming on whatever clothes he happens to be wearing at the time. His nearly ubiquitous purple scarf while outside might be a concession to this, as Vernon seems unable to find comfort in summer wear. A cold snap he seems to be the only one to even feel perpetually follows him, relegating him to year-long bedrobes, slippers and crackling fireplaces when not out and about. Perhaps as an effect of his family's heritage, however, he finds this cold comforting and familiar – having difficulty understanding or relating to even the rare sight of the local spy in striped bathing wear and the occasional straw boater's hat. If you were to force Vernon in summer wear or, God forbid, in modern bermudas and tee-shirts, you'd end up with a pathetic mass of shivering limbs, and even a bluish lip or two.

Some people like to joke about how certain seasons don't fit them. In Lord Haskill's case, nothing works quite as well as autumn and winter. Nothing at all, honestly... This fashion-related weakness has an interesting opposite, however, in that the Haskill residence carries a peculiar kind of light on a year-long basis. The feeling is pervasive and inviting all at once, and it usually takes a few visits to realize that the Winter Lord's residence is frozen in the eternal snapshot of a bright winter morning – even if it's late August outside. His idea of a cologne usually evokes pease pudding or fruitcake, or the scent of burning maple wood.

Of course, this paints a quaint picture of what can honestly turn fearsome if threatened. Once the Mantle is channelled, Vernon displays a kind of liquid grace and lightning-quick reflexes, his eyes lit up with wild and fierce joy. The usually sedate fencer leans in at every opportunity, the polite nosher attacks heavily-laden tables with inhuman gusto, and the teetotaller suddenly gains the ability to drink the local Black dragon under the table. Similarly, the carefully-worded care for his subjects becomes sheer dedication towards the locals – and anything he verbalized politely or in subdued terms might come out again – this time more crudely than before. Something pressing is usually needed to bring him out of the Mantle's sway or, at the very least, the presence of someone he respects enough to try and moderate himself as much as possible.

So far, House Christmas has only ever needed to display the full breadth and depth of its powers three times across all of England's known history. Each time, sleet blasted the countryside or blizzards buffeted the coastlines for days on end. Every time, Mab's forces were pushed back by the sheer fierceness and joy of the House's trained soldiers, as well as the Yule King's.

A Haskill has always stood to watch over London, if not England. Now, one is watching over Hope.

Behavior: on most days, Vernon displays something close to Archie's phlegmatic attitude, if perhaps diluted with the passing years' exposure to various cultures and trends. Victorian mortificiation fell out of fashion ages ago, tolerance became a lynchpin of political discourse in all spheres of society – and Vernon, ever the politician and spokesman, adapted. If anything, his Dickensian attire tends to be approached as a badge of competence and of prior experiences: he's not afraid to “wear” his age, more or less. Whereas Eirean McHale feels compelled to affect middle-aged youthfulness laced with American entrepreneurship, the new Winter Lord operates more in-line with the classical definition of a Fae aristocrat. His job is to listen to his people's demands and to try and find equitable means to make the local Winter contingent's expectations line up with the law and accepted social mores. He also has to act as the defacto face of Winter to Hope's mundane population, and to exemplify the standards he feels his subjects should adhere to. Considering the damage done by Gawain Machae and the poor job done by the interim administrators, he's well aware he has a serious plate of issues to contend with.

Most Winter Fae can be counted on to understand the need to win back the locals' trust after Gawain's defection to Mab's Court – but for some, that's asking too much. Oberon's ilk is seen as too gentle, if not too gentile, to be proper Winter stock. Those with a foot in Darkest Winter are well acquainted with that other norm, the idea that the Winter Fae ought to be unruly, carefree, unpredictable and mercurial creatures of sheer passion. They forget how closely Oberon's Hearth sticks to this principle, while still adding the notions of empathy and companionship to the mix. House Christmas' Mantle exemplifies the Haskill family's formal designation, as Vernon was born and bred to champion inclusiveness, protectiveness, compassion – and the sometimes murderous lengths at which some might be forced to go to protect and uphold these values. Looking at him at face value, you'd swear he's never smiled a day in his life. Land a good joke or a spirited comment, however, and the seemingly dour lines in his face are pulled apart with earnest grins and the sudden appearance of laugh lines in the corners of his eyes. On the other hand, a Haskill's polite handshakes have to be understood to sometimes be code for something deeper – like growing trust or burgeoning friendship.

Similarly, Vernon's idea of conferencing usually involves long and placid walks shared with friends and colleagues. He might not always give obvious signs of caring about your personal life, but the fact is that he usually does. Deliver some good personal news and he'll gently lighten up, your happiness bringing him a quiet and earnest kind of satisfaction. The more he cares, the more he tends to react to his friends' and allies' personal success with a smidgen of personal pride – his chest swelling slightly and a private smile lingering on his face for a while – as if he had a bit of a part to play in those successes. If, on the other hand, things aren't going well, he's the type to drop everything and to literally perk his ears, giving you a focused look while his mind tries to work through the variables and propose a solution. In extreme cases, his Mantle seems to drive others to confide in him, and he feels driven to offer comfort however possible. As in the old feudal and Celtic customs, he's sometimes taken the head of bereaved Commoners on his shoulders for a few moments, doing his best to offer immediate comfort and the promise of greater assistance. This kind of acute empathy gives rise to a number of small gestures most people don't immediately recognize for what they are – like personally opening his office's door to you when he's been told you're distraught or angry, or reaching out to touch you if you're in need of physical comfort.

Understandably, that makes House Christmas a bit of an outlier in Winter's greater social structure. Outliers, yes – but also pillars of the Court that most other aristocrats conveniently forget. While power games are stirring the shadows, the Haskills are usually one of the few Fae families trying to steer what sometimes becomes a fairly rudderless ship.

All of this implies normal social interactions, of course, but the unfortunate truth is that Hope houses more fractious sorts than the Kilkenny boys alone – as well as Commoners who heavily identified with Gawain Machae's laissez-faire governance. Sometimes, your subjects don't need a listening ear, so much as they deserve an equitably apportioned punishment. This is where the more active elements of House Christmas' Mantle come in.

An excessively tolerant and old-fashioned soul, Lord Haskill is the type to fail to flinch in front of punches, and to let idiots take their frustrations out on him – as long as no-one else suffers for them. Being well aware that he doesn't look like much, he plays the Bureaucrat card as much as possible. This draws out bullies and idiots – at which point the gloves might be metaphorically dropped. Insult him as much as you'd like, he won't care. Don't insult his charge, however, much less his post. If that ever happens, you'll realize this slightly paunchy and scrawny fellow suddenly delivered a front kick strong enough to send you sprawling. If you're a Fae, chances are the next thing you'll feel is the agony of the Lord's iron umbrella tip gently pressing down on your throat's soft spot. A mortal wouldn't feel much of anything, but your Fae blood and your very soul will both scream out in agony upon touching the Bane. He'll bear down on you, eyes ablaze, the contempt of the just and righteous searing into you.

He'll then probably thank you for giving him a bit of exercise.

There's a reason as to why the Haskills are only ever sent to govern problematic areas for the Winter Court, and that's because they're equipped to go on full-scale assaults against whatever thugs or hooligans may have co-opted the settlement's rule for their own ends. Vernon's pride is a tough thing to attack, but his empathy is like a loyal mastiff: he'll bring you comfort and protection until his dying day if he has to, but will also fight anyone who so much as dares to attack you. Luckily, this Haskill believes in protecting not only his inherited domain, but also all dependencies. This includes Hope, to a level that goes beyond basic administrative or political assistance. More than Gawain ever did, Vernon fully intends to bring himself to care about Hope – which means taking in the sights and sounds, the people and local prides and joys.

A common saying in detractors of these Court-appointed family of mediators is that Haskills are glorified ticks: once they're dug in, they're in for good. Vernon has a few stories about a Guildford uncle being dispatched to an Irish community and so completely integrating it he'd acquired the local brogue a mere few months later. No Haskill has ever been sent to America until now, so Vernon is setting a precedent that leaves Oberon and his immediate entourage more than a little curious. As far as the man himself knows, he's likely to eventually start exhibiting American linguistic patterns while under the full influence of his Mantle. Expect the usual linguistic restraint in normal circumstances, followed by a kind of gleefully-embraced loosening-up when the straits become suitably dire.

When said straits do escalate and the Mantle is called upon, Vernon's normally quiet appreciation of the simpler things turns into a roaring display of gusto, mild sadism at the thought of hurting his or his allies' enemies mingling with a sudden and almost childlike relish in the fact of sharing the battlefield with friends. Exhilaration might course through every artery, vein and capillary of his body for a few hours, perhaps leaving him with the sort of appetite worthy of a dragon once the fighting stops, or with the desire to dance or drink his victories away. Thankfully, he isn't a Jekyll and Hyde analogue to speak of: the same man is in control of both states, and rational decisions are never entirely obfuscated. That desire to party hard might be verbalized in the conditional tense, for instance – as he would understand the place or time might not call for this.

Still, if the winds of Winter are ever called to blow upon Hope, Vernon's Mantle will keep him in a state of constant exultation, at least until the threat is dealt with. Lust might not enter the fray, but the Lord at his most subsumed in his arcane seat of power can be understood to be a less carnal hedonist than, say, Tom Magnus. If asked to describe his Mantle, he'd say it's something akin to being suspended in an exact instant of holiday cheer during a family celebration, his body and mind swelling with joyous adrenaline discharges, the edges of his hearing threaded through with ghostly fiddles, foot stomps and disembodied laughter.

According to his experiences with his own father, Vernon believes that the largest of all possible displays – his essentially exercising his inherited powers as Hope's Yule King to exact seasonal justice – could end either with a body-preserving temporary bout of gluttonous hunger, or a kind of deep slumber resembling a vampire's restorative torpor. Thankfully, that kind of display comes with a required trigger: the issuing of a Bean – a small arcane token standing in for the blood-soaked summons of yesteryear. The Bean is to Winter Lords and Ladies as the Black Spot is to Hollywood pirates, and that comes with an even heavier burden to bear than normal administrative functions.

Goals: Vernon the politician and spokesman wants nothing more than to give to Hope the Winter Fae it believes the city deserves. These would be hard-working, passionate, dedicated and proud individuals, wholly representative of the Court's points of pride while still being mindful of their mundane neighbours. The parts of his personality that fall under the Mantle's sway, however, wish to introduce the law-abiding and morally just to the carefree merriment which is curled in the corners of his heart and mind – and punish the lawbreakers for spoiling everyone else's fun.

Oberon has always fathered and supported ribald and friendly types, but the cheer the Olfather brings and offers for his subjects to carry can be every bit as savage and bloodthirsty as Mab's darkest of servants. Brightest Winter is the party that never ends, to an extent – and that vehemently refuses to end. It's a party where you'll always be treated with some degree of kindness, from the Malks' cold, but considerate distance to Mister Kramp's relaxed crassness in your presence; but still a party you'd hope to never crash. As socially acceptable, or even faultless, as Vernon may be, he'll defend you against all odds – as well as an emphatic appreciation for the trouble you happen to find yourself in...

With that in mind, his thanking agitators and violent dissenters for giving him the chance to stretch his legs makes an adequately chilling amount of sense.

History: born in London-Upon-Faerie in 1787, Vernon Upton Haskill is the only child of Lord Phineas Haskill, London's current Winter Lord. Like all other Haskills and a few ancillary family units around the globe, he is part of House Christmas, a group of related Fae aristocrats sharing both blood as well as a special relationship with power. Phineas and his wife were particularly active in the tail ends of the Enlightenment, working to bring about London's all-inclusive and prosperous nature from within. Not that the history books consider them, but their influence in bringing about the more positive aspects of the Victorian era is considerable. Entrepreneurs and politicians, philanthropists and Humanist Fae alike, they've always been guided by the desire to give back to the mortal populaces that so generously shelter them. Considering, Vernon's upbringing was kind and passionate all at once, both reinforcing the demands of the city's gentry while introducing the young incumbent Lord to the true hardships experienced by those living in the mortal plane. The city's streets served as his extracurricular classroom, Phineas and a small retinue of guards patrolling the city to introduce the whelp to every aspect of the human condition. That made Vernon's idea of friendship more malleable than the other Winter folk were used to, as he played both with other sons and daughters of the Sidhe gentry as well as with the serving girls' children.

Notably, however, Vernon's puberty came and went without his Choosing. He'd certainly begun to feel the call, to sense the nature of his difference from others; but Haskills had never been known to Choose lightly. Following the family tradition, it was ruled that Vernon would live as much of a full life as possible before being asked to deliver his decision to his father.

By 1817, Vernon had established himself as a solicitor operating out of Eastcheap and was beginning to display a financial and social administrator's savvy. Managing a few families' mortgages and keeping financially precarious individuals on the proverbial tightrope seemed to be his preferred skillset, in ways that belied how perceptive and empathetic he'd become at thirty years old. He kept close tabs on his clients, routinely cabling or telegraphing them whenever his calendar reminded him that someone on his docket was celebrating a birthday or an anniversary. In most ways, his life had the kind of period-appropriate bloodlessness that spoke of a clear conscience. 1820 saw him marry Josephine Wickham, a human he'd employed as his secretary; in a union that caused some uproar in the more traditionalist sectors of the Fae aristocracy while still meeting with wideapread approval from House Christmas members. The Haskills, ever the progressives, weren't in the habit of spurning women of character, and would strongly push for equal rights between the mid eighteen-hundreds and the late nineteen-twenties. 1832's Reform Act did cause a political schism between the Haskills and the leading Fae gentry, however, as the bulk of the population still adhered to the antiquated notion of women being prone to senseless acts or outright histrionics.

Unfortunately, no amount of moxie could save Josephine and Vernon's young daughter, Emma, from 1848's cholera epidemic. Grieving, but still burdened with considerable financial and social success, and sensing his advancing years press down on him, Vernon finally Chose, subsuming his human heritage and now considered as more than Phineas Haskill's mere biological issue. Now a full-blooded Fae, he first entered the Court's peerage as Phineas Haskill's next-in-line. As is and was typical of the Sidhe, his early years in the Court were fraught with confusion, as Vernon looked demonstrably older than his own father.

Having Chosen, his education was resumed. He was a functional adult on all levels, of course, but now needed to be taught in the ways of Mab and Morgana, in the hidden secrets of Faerie and the forbidden expanses lying beyond. The true purpose of House Christmas was revealed to him – to legislate and protect the unruly Winter contingent living within the family's dependencies, and to accept all summons from the King, should he need a long-term political emissary in distant lands. He was aided in the task of rediscovering his rejuvenated body's new limits and capabilities, and exposed to the finer points of being of Brightest Winter. His exposure to Phineas' Mantle, however, wouldn't come until 1888, a bout of righteous indignation when faced with the latest of the Ripper's victims driving both the King and Lord Haskill to conduct a Wild Hunt within the city's limits.

Officially, Jack the Ripper was never caught. Officiously, however, Phineas and Oberon managed to lead a slew of enthralled Fae and somnambulist mortals on a rampage throughout the Whitechapel district on Christmas Eve, terrorizing the local criminal contingent into submission for several months. The press would never learn of the Ripper's capture, an enthralled Winter Fae with sworn allegiances to Mab and Amaxi who took to solitary surgical rituals and sacrifices in order to appease the Dead Goddess. Followed an especially bitter winter, Phineas' Mantle leaving him irascible and hot-blooded for several weeks, at the end of which Vernon would finally learn of the Yule King's gruesome responsibilities and the inescapable nature of the Bean. So all wasn't pleasantries and compassion in the family, as it turned out – and he himself would later be forced to shoulder this terrible burden...

The weeks that followed were spent with Vernon stepping in his father's shoes while the elder Lord recovered from his deployment of his Mantle. Phineas had melted like an icicle in the sun, and now did barely more than eat and sleep. With the sheer glee of the Yule King's charge no longer protecting him, Phineas' state was chalked up as both a disease of the nerves and a failed attempt to recover from the exertion. What the local ruler had seen was finally getting to him, the family's ensuring darker years coincidentally allowing Vernon to take a more active stance within Britain's supernatural community. Named as the interim Winter Lord, he handled all administrative duties while his father still maintained all protocol-mandated functions.

Vernon's first partial Lordship was a successful one, as he continued House Christmas' progressive traditions and brought charges against all supernatural shop or factory bosses that pushed minors or elderly citizens through dangerous tasks or workloads. Pushing further than 1847's Ten Hours Bill was perhaps asking too much of a society still caught up in the frenzy of industrialization, but the amount of Fae bosses employing underage children had dropped significantly across the planar barriers. By 1891, Vernon had failed to further influence the House of Lords, while still managing to restructure London-Upon-Faerie as an oasis of sorts. 1892's Fae Incursions involved the mysterious abduction of dozens of orphans across England, their later re-emergence as Fae perhaps serving as inspiration for J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. Considering, modern conspiracy theorists like to believe that Oberon and Vernon are both complicit in what is sometimes called the Neverland Conspiracy. It stipulates that Oberon would have used direct exposure to the Hearth as a means to change or mutate these small humans and anthros into young Changelings. Between 1909 and 1920, however, a recorded “Fae Boom” has led theorists to believe that there is more at work than a simple rise in fertility rates or the Winter King's fabled weakness for the fairer sex...

In any case, Vernon followed along through the years. Eventually, his father began to show signs of recovery, particularly thanks to the advent of early psychoanalysis and the increasing reliance of the Fae on modern medical technologies. The traumatized senior forever stuck in a fortysomething body reclaimed an increasing share of the workload, which led Vernon to momentarily fall into a lull that's familiar to many a Fae aristocrat's family. Being bumped off more or less introduced him to several decades of near-complete idleness, both World Wars and the Edwardian Era's end seeing him act as a loose regional commander of a handful of Fae Commoner soldiers. Otherwise, he'd need the fifties and the first Karthian emigration waves to be roused out of every overstuffed aging Victorian gentleman's dreams for retirement. Long walks and longer naps soon gave way to the need for a particular brand of Winter Fae; someone with enough of a Cartesian mindset to safeguard appearances in front of these purple-skinned humanoids who so easily deduced their way through the best Veils on offer...

The best way he'd found to keep the Sidhe's existence a secret was to let some of these bright alien pennies in on it. So, with assistance from Oberon and his father, along with more Haskills across the globe, Vernon founded the Royal Alien Exchange in 1952; a secret society focused on finding means to render the Karthians sensitive to via, or to at least be able to understand it on a theoretical level. Conversely, his alien partners agreed to allow goblin tinkerers to observe some of their preserved – if inactive – cloaking devices to obtain a better grasp on the physics of total concealment. Mortal attachés to the Exchange would eventually join Matthias d'Aubignier's research team in France, participating in the vampire and scientist's public reveal to the outside world. What Vernon ignores, however, is that the Exchange was also infiltrated by members of the Rothchild family, who had orders to protect the independence of d'Aubignier's research team. One of the Exchange's Fae researchers, Nathan Wells, was subsequently pulled out of cover as a Void Weaver – and appropriately disposed of. As far as Vernon is aware of, Nathan Wells died in a car crash. The Karthian survivor of the incident, however, would go on to re-emerge as Hope's Doctor Cerebro. Only the Rothchilds know that one of Seraph's oldest nemeses could very well have been affected by exposure to the Black Speech, which could certainly explain his mental state as well as any exposure to the Crimson Spirit.

In fact, to keep the world safe in a blanket of ignorance, the unconscious but addled Karthian was exposed to the Crimson Spirit by Rothchild agents in order to cover for his preexisting insanity...

Vernon never pierced the extent of these spy games, however, and never suspected as much. The Royal Alien Exchange was disbanded in 1976 by Oberon's decree, as Elysium's threat left little room for theoretical research. Applied study of the enemy's capabilities suddenly mattered far, far more. Phineas refused the Bean when London's immediate defense mattered, Oberon choosing to avoid sanctions and to instead impose the Yule King's mantle on Lord Haskill's son. Vernon then took the Bean for the first, and to date, only time, and also led a Wild Hunt across the British Isles. Ground-based cyclonic systems plunged England into a microscopic Ice Age, sending several of the Chimeras' drop pods to crash in the Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. As had been the case with his father, he led enthralled locals and magically conscripted Fae into a killing frenzy. While the Battle of Hope is one of the pivotal events of the alien invasion, Britain's Second Blitzkrieg all but routed Gregory Rendell's British forces. What Vernon and his Wild Hunt didn't butcher or decimate, the Army and Royal Air Force shot down or quarantined.

Once the dust cleared, most assumed Oberon would depose the aging Phineas and place Vernon in his stead – but that would have underestimated the Winter King's capacity for empathy. Phineas Haskill was left in-office, but recommended for close psychological evaluation. He was honorably discharged of all regional martial commands, Vernon becoming something unheard-of in the Fae peerage system – Oberon's personal Military and Social advisor. He'd be partially responsible for the exodus of a few hundred Winter Fae from London and their establishment in America; those contingents who swore fealty to Mab feeling ostracized and excluded. His policies never included outright exclusion, of course, but all pleas for moderation were construed by members of Darkest Winter as a disavowal. Those who stayed often had solid criminal stakes and agendas they couldn't renounce, those who left missed the post-Elysium days of tenuous law enforcement.

The decades passed, civil unrest died down, other Haskills were sent to various corners of the globe as per their custom, and Oberon's need for Vernon eventually lapsed. While still in the Royal Court's payroll, Vernon was living in what essentially was a second retirement by the early 2000s. Long naps and long walks started to include long trips, as well, Vernon feeling the need to see the world. He first came to Hope in 2003 as a tourist, and instantly fell in love with the city's culture. Its problems beckoned him as well, but he was in no position to beg for a new assignment. As per tradition, he stayed in Gawain Machae's Hall as a guest, growing to be seriously miffed by the local Lord's lack of serious dedication. Even then, the early signs of a suggestible and irrational temper bothered him. On the other hand, his first meeting Sophia and Eirean McHale during a short luncheon delighted him immensely. Their exact natures have since faded away into a kind of pleasant haze – for now.

Finally, the events leading to the Quigley Road Massacre took place, Gawain Machae being recognized as criminally responsible on a postmortem basis. Initially, he did little more than send laconic letters of support and condolences to Gubbin and the Lord's old staff, but soon realized this didn't sit well with him – especially in the wake of the incumbent Winter Lord's shiftlessness and general incompetence. Arthur Langtry wouldn't have survived his first year as a Winter Lord carrying a royal Mantle, and odds were Hope would have paid a hefty price. Unwilling to let that happen, Vernon asked for a hearing from Oberon and presented his case in favor of his own claim for a Haskill's first-ever American Lordship.

Oberon accepted Vernon's offer in early November 2025, dubbing him Lord Winter of Evergloam. Of course, some of the Darkest Winter Fae that he'd extradited under royal summons have heard of his arrival and of his claimed post, and now intend to claim their revenge on a man they foolishly believe to be largely bloodless. These malcontents would provide interesting opportunities for cultists and other infiltrators.

Where Eirean can largely afford to sleep soundly thanks to Evergloam's lack of any affliations to Morgana, Vernon intends to keep his umbrella close, and his wits closer.

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