“Zere was once much bad blood between us. She had turned her back on us, we thought, but only so much time lazer did I understand - she had realized ze crimes we had commited before ze rest of us. I exiled her from her own home, yet I found her again, vith a life of her own. A self-made woman, she is, and a daughzer I am most proud of.”
Countess Dragostea Dalverat-Bertonius, otherwise known as Madam Bertonius, Mistress Dragostea, and the Red Countess, is one of the original Pureblood vampires and the firstborn daughter of Hamoins Dalverat with Count Varelos von Dalverat, alongside a prominent noble in the far northeast. A rather sophisticated and kind individual, Dragostea was once an exile of the Nightshade Clan due to familial tensions that arose from her empathy for mortalkind, choosing to preserve and defend the lives of the innocent and oppressed rather than exploit them as slaves and a source of nutrition. A masterful adept of dark and ice magic, Dragostea lacks the cold, self-driven nature of her mother and is instead charitable and selfless, and although she has since rekindled her loyalty to the Clan, she considers the protection of mortal lives from greater, darker powers as her main priority and has dedicated her life to rectifying the mistakes of her family and keeping watch over the north and its peoples.
An intellectual and occasionally cynical figure, Dragostea's outward demeanour towards a majority of people is direct, cold, and pessimistic in order to shield her more sensitive, far warmer feelings and to persuade herself to not be swayed or manipulated by others. She reigns over her estate and establishment in the north with a benevolent and lenient rule, serving as shelter for those in need, and she holds no true qualms towards any race, species, or sex, for in her own eyes, it is her responsibility to protect them no matter how diverse or different they may be from herself. Accumulating vast wealth, influence, and reputation, Dragostea is regarded as an almost mythical figure by various northern cultures while keeping her true nature as a vampire an ambiguous detail to the public eye, and is also assisted in her goals by an inherent affinity towards dark magic; she has trained in the practice of a sorceress for several millennia, coming to acquire and utilise a vast array of spells, hexes, and curses to grant her an advantage over others alongside her other natural abilities as a firstborn succubus.
Dragostea Dalverat is the third eldest among the firstborn daughters of the Count of the Nightshade Clan, having been born near the start of the Old Age like her other siblings, including her elder brother; the Vurdalak firstborn known as Viscardi, both of whom were born to the Alpha Succubus Hamoins Dalverat. Despite only being the third eldest, with Aurora being the first, and the imposing nature of her elder sibling Kareena, Dragostea was noted to have been a notable influence on her sisters and often contested with the latter succubus as she lacked the rather carefree nature of Aurora and the softness of Otravaena. She trained as a sorceress of dark and ice magics beneath her mother while her brother, with whom she shared a close, intimate bond, opted for more physical means of combat in preparation for the genocide of the Derevar, within which she served as a skilled and adaptive lieutenant to the forces of the Clan, although in spite of her part in the massacre she had always held a distaste for the more heinous and sadistic acts committed by her underlings and companions.
After a century or so of commanding the vampiric legions upon the lands of the Derevar, Dragostea eventually came to admire her opposition and grew increasingly disheartened with the genocide, until she eventually fell in love with a Derevar vampire-hunter known as the Bane of Fangs, Istvan Barnaszaroth - a great ancestor to the infamous Bertonius Clan -, who taught her of the oppression faced by his kind and their tragic history as slaves to the Adamantine Elves. Succumbing to her disillusionment of the war, Dragostea would intentionally sabotage her own missions, leading her forces to low-population areas and minimising the number of lives they took; she outright prohibited the slaughtering of civilians and would allow enemy forces to retreat, acts which did not go unnoticed by the other members of her Clan, which in turn led to her authority being reduced and her having to be escorted and accompanied by personal servants of the Count himself.
In a cruel twist of fate, it would be Istvan and his forces who would be forced to eventually terminate Viscardi and Kareena's own Vurdalak brother, Molvark, when they had attempted to push into the heartlands of Derevar territory - an assault that Dragostea had attempted to dissuade her brother from undergoing in fear of losing either of her loved ones. In a retaliatory act of grief, Count Varelos himself would personally seek out Istvan, members of his family, and his closest associates and have them brought to his estate to be brutally tortured and executed before what was left of their remains were sent back to the Derevar lands; Dragostea had pleaded for her lover's life and after a climactic encounter with Aurora, who had been sent to discipline her on behalf of her father, which concluded in the latter of the succubi being overpowered and almost killed, Dragostea was outright banished from the Clan on the threat of death, leading her to flee to the far northeast after having lost practically everything she had ever loved as a cost for her empathy and pity towards mortalkind, although not before taking a considerable amount of gold and treasure from the Clan's vaults.
Discovering an ancient, worn fortress that had once been maintained by the Adamantine Elves, Dragostea made herself at home and converted it from a military installation into a shelter, deciding to live in isolation from the rest of Koldenwelti civilisation while her demeanour grew cold and detached; in the millennia that came afterwards, Dragostea became known as the Red Countess across the northeastern lands and used her home, rebuilt and expanded upon, to serve as shelter for those in need, such as orphans, the homeless, refugees, and lost wanderers, among others, with the succubus maintaining responsibility over their lives in order to defend them and other northern folk. The Sanguine Estate, as it had become known, soon found itself in possession of its own private legion, immense wealth, and a prosperous reputation, although one aspect of it, a brothel affectionately known as Petit Mort, has become infamous even beyond the stretches of the northlands. Dragostea grew estranged from the Clan, receiving and sending no contact from or to them, and eventually abandoned the use of the "Dalverat" name so as to dissociate herself with the atrocities her family had committed.
In the Spring of 32 BNA, Dragostea would become reunited with her father when Varelos was deposed of his position over the Clan by the patron deity of vampirekind, Zran Kar, who placed Clothovera Moirai as its new Countess; travelling across the north in a severely weakened state, Varelos would eventually be taken in at the Sanguine Estate and nursed back to some semblance of health by his daughter before accompanying an adventuring group consisting of Alfgund Stonesoul, Alhazred, Hachi, Kanna, Javina Desertsun, and the Sea Witch in order to reclaim Castle Nightshade, eventually travelling alongside Yurthez Bertonius, the great descendant of the Bane of Fangs, and Aurora, who had set up her own cult of warrior-dancers in the Sea of Sand and had remained outside of the global mind control set upon the vampires of the world by their god.
After travelling for several weeks, Dragostea would eventually be involved in retaking Castle Nightshade from the Countess, and was involved in several battles with her aunts, Anian and Alles, and her mother, Hamoins, in which Dragostea was severely injured. She would later bare witness to Hachi purifying Clothovera of Zran Kar's control through the intimate power of love and, following the end of the war when Hachi, Yurthez, Alhazred, and Clothovera returned from the realm of the Sanguine Hill, rekindled her relationship with the Clan as she had reunited with her family and contributed a major part in restoring her father to the throne once the Countess had been defeated. Sometime after her return to the Sanguine Estate, Dragostea found her premises under assault from vampires loyal to a rival count under the name of Drenar Mellowsun and proceeded to anonymously contact the Fangbane organisation of the Sovereignty of Dryada in order to request Yurthez' assistance, later discovering that her sister Otravaena had been disguised and serving as an administrator at the organisation.
In the time that Yurthez and Dragostea would spend together, she would begin to fall for him and eventually come to love him, all the while having to defend the Sanguine Estate from the rebel forces of Count Mellowsun and, later, a rogue force of Fangbane operatives led under the authority of Lieutenant-Commander Liderithis Morcegais. Following the death of Mellowsun, who had earlier stolen the Coronaira Whip from Yurthez following a devastating assault on the Petit Mort, and Otravaena, in the form of a Fangbane administrator, officially branding Liderithis as a war criminal, Yurthez would retire from service to Fangbane and remain with Dragostea in order to spend their lives together in marriage as a result of their significant infatuation with one another - Dragostea would undergo Redemption and receive her father's blessing, alongside being recognised as a diplomat for the Clan, although she and Yurthez would come to agree that the likelihood of children between them would be impossible in spite of her own wishes to carry on her lineage.
Dragostea appears as a tall, elegant succubus of immense, almost unnatural beauty as a result of her innate magical prowess and her direct heritage to Hamoins Dalverat, who is often considered to be bewitchingly attractive and the most beautiful of all succubi; like most succubi, Dragostea inherits pale skin, a lithe and generous figure, a flat stomach, a pair of great batlike wings, and a set of curved, twisting dark horns, alongside an affinity for red that comes from her father rather than her mother, with burgundy hair, red eyes, and a devilishly tempting face with perfectly symmetrical features. She is claimed to possess a figure to rival her mother, with a bust and curves to drive women envious while she stands taller than most deiwos men in her true form.
The Red Countess adorns herself almost entirely with enchanted silver jewellery and clothing combinations of red and black, with crimson dresses, corsets, and outfits being worn atop black undergarments while usually wearing dark makeup around her eyes and upon her nails and lips so as to appear intimidating, dominating, and contrasting to the blue worn by her dreaded mother. While considered to be divinely attractive, Dragostea is not absent of imperfections, as a faint scar runs from her lower lip to her chin as a result of her fateful battle with her sister Aurora and her left horn is marginally shorter than the right due to the very same conflict. Upon the back of her left hand resides a branded mark of the sigil of the Barnaszaroth Clan as a means of remembrance for her beloved Istvan, while a mark of the sigil of the Nightshade Clan resides in the same spot on the right hand in memory of her deceased siblings.
The Red Countess notably differs from her brethren in regards to her behaviour, as while she possessed an inherent craving and love for sexual activity and being known as a bisexual, she had learned to temper her lust throughout her isolation from the world and refused to actively search for individuals to fill her needs. She speaks in an eloquent, polite manner typical of elven and human nobility and takes great care for her image, dignity, and reputation. Due to her exile from the Nightshade Clan and the loss of both her brothers, Viscardi and Molvark, and her first true beloved, Istvan Barnaszaroth, she had grown cold and detached from intimate relationships with people and maintained a particularly cynical perception of the world verging on nihilism, although her empathy and pity towards mortalkind, a rare trait exemplified by the Dalverat lineage in its early centuries, remained deep within her and ultimately influenced her to build and manage the Sanguine Estate in the northeastern Polar Lands to serve as a shelter and home to those in need. Due to her sympathy for the mortal races, Dragostea only accepts feasting from the blood of animals - a practice that is often considered extremely difficult for most vampires to endure, due to its unsatisfactory nature compared to the blood of sapients, although she has since adapted to this diet even if she occasionally craves mortal blood.
She has a preference for monogamous relationships and often discouraged potential partners from loving her, as she knew that none would be capable of filling the hole left in her heart by Istvan's death and felt little to nothing for her previous consorts until courting Yurthez Bertonius, the last of the Bertonius Clan and a distant descendant of the Barnaszaroth Clan. Dragostea once masked her sympathy and kind nature with a cold, emotionless exterior so as to dissuade any impressions of weakness and maintain an aura of authority and superiority about her person, although she has opened up somewhat since her marriage to the aforementioned Derevar Elf and has allowed her more maternal nature to come to surface, while also actively cooperating in rebuilding the bridges that were burnt between her and the Nightshade Clan, even if her relations with her mother and several of her sisters remain somewhat strained and distant.
As a succubus and a member of the Count's firstborn daughters, the Red Countess is one of the most powerful of her kin and is a potent sorceress, attuned to and trained in the schools of umbramancy and cryomancy equally as a result of her dark heritage while also demonstrating an extent of control for arcanomancy. Capable of rivalling her mother's own spellcasting mastery and many of the more potent mages across the world, Dragostea's abilities as a sorceress are further amplified by the presence of an advanced familiar known as Nevermore; a giant, ethereal raven known to speak in rhyme and display a love for afflicting pain and misery unto others with its great power, contrasting with the Countess' empathy thus causing her to keep it dormant within her soul until she feels it necessary to call upon it. Her illusory magic allows her to assume the forms of various deiwos species and disguise herself as other individuals, as well letting her seemingly create "life" from nothing and enhance her own natural succubus abilities of temptation and seduction.
Dragostea is also potent in melee combat as a result of her status as an elder succubus, demonstrating a natural skill for swordplay as well as unarmed combat with her claws, which are thought to be capable of cutting through diamond as well as most materials used for armour as if it were mere paper, although she considers the latter means of combat to be unsophisticated and barbaric even if she does exemplify great physical strength and endurance. Due to wearing silver accessories, she has become somewhat resistant to its effects and can heal from it faster than her brethren with her enhanced regenerative abilities, although she retains an aversion to garlic and a deathly vulnerability to sunlight and, to a lesser extent, light magic and materials enchanted by it.
- Yurthez Bertonius - “After so long, my beloved has at last returned into my arms, so I shall be sure to never again let him go.”
- Varelos von Dalverat - “Almost all has been forgiven, father. Almost.”
- Anian Dalverat - “I know now where I get my pride and confidence from.”
- Alles Dalverat - “You served an inspiration to me more than my mother ever did.”
- Hys Dalverat - “Not only has my estranged love been returned to me, but so too an aunt I thought cursed to never be seen again.”
- Kareena - “I hoped that after so many millennia, you too would try to make something of your life and leave behind the old ways.”
- Otravaena - “You are far too pure and innocent to have to be thrown into the toil and bloodshed of our dark world.”
- Hachi - “A brave young man, if only your libido were not so easy for my family to toy with.”
- Clothovera Moirai - “To think that I would be so blessed as to meet the legacy of the Mother of Witchcraft.”
- Alhazred - “For your service, Old Wielder, I would see to it that I find a way to restore you to what you once were.”
- Sea Witch - “I've heard tales of the Mad Witch of the South. She is far kindlier than what I had in mind, despite her intolerable attitude.”
- Khadya - “My aunt speaks favourably of you. With a form like that, it comes as little surprise.”
- Kanna - “Do not let your mask become your true face. There is a purpose for you beyond the bloodshed.”
- Javina Desertsun - “I know how it feels to deny yourself of emotion. There is still time for you to accept your true feelings.”
- Mortium - “I ask of you, please, be kind.”
- Riad - “You and I share much in common, as do our peoples.”
- Mhor - “For a great, terrifying predator of the northern lands, you are oddly welcoming. ... Suppose you could say the same of myself.”
- Esulus - “Tell me of the ocean and its mysteries.”
- Norrigan of Aynach - “How odd that you would exemplify both the best and worst parts of humanity.”
- Big Beard Clamak - “Perhaps, when we put thought it, do we not all "wheel and deal" through life, awaiting for that wheel to stop?”
- Hamoins Dalverat - “Give it time, mother, and perhaps we will come to love each other once again. ... Lots of time.”
- Aurora - “Why be so upset for a lost eye when you have always acted ever so blindly stupid and dense?”
- Tereza von Dragan - “Know that once I find you, the world shall watch a queen fall before a countess.”
- Praenuntius - “You would make for a grand piece within my aunt's gardens were it not the case that I would see you shattered.”
- Zran Kar - “A god standing against all mortalkind; with the champions I know of, I fancy our chances.”
“You are disgusting. You are a libidinous swine. You are a lesser being. You are the one who will be dominated.”
“What a libertinous madam. Truly no dignified Arkenholdt gentleman would ever consort with the likes of her - save for the progeny of clan Nimh, of course.”
“Hey. Mikko likes you! How about I pay for him?”
“I have heard that the rogue mages of the Karacay Academy have devised an incantation to bind vampires and other dark creatures to do the caster's bidding. The opportunities...”
“You are still no daughter of mine... okay, perhaps only a little.”
“It brings me such joy zhat not only you are back to us, but zhat you are now making efforts to make vampirekind bezher seen in ze eyes of ozhers. I could not be anymore proud.”
“... My parents would kill me if he found out I'm dating a Succubus.”
“Immensely entertaining experiences.”
- - Zran Kar
“I have no shame in admitting, every time I see her I'm quite thankful a Paladin's vows do not include one of chastity.”
- - Bastion
“I'd pay a visit to the Petit Mort sometime, although I heard the trek is a bit of a hard one. ...What language is Petit Mort even in, anyway?”
“She's sweet of heart, that much I understand of her. It's ironic that a creation of a loveless god can feel love all the same.”
- - Riad