TOTEH Characters: Paymaster Stenstrom

July 7, 2011

"Lord Stenstrom of Belmont" by Eve Ventrue

LORD STENSTROM OF BELMONT serves Captain Davage aboard his grand Fleet warship, the New Faith. Stenstrom is a civilian aboard the ship and performs the role of Paymaster, a clerk overseeing and observing the ship’s pays and outlaying of money.

Stenstrom isn’t the normal sort of modest, unathletic fellow occupying the role of Paymaster. At 6’7 he is a towering man, taller even than Captain Davage. He is the son of the famed Fleet captain Lord Stenstrom the Older who commands the warship Caroline. He carries the traditional LosCapricos weapons of his House, the NTHs, a pair of pistols said to be capable of slaying virtually anything with a single shot. He also wears a long dark green coat once worn by the defunct Hoban Royal Navy–Stenstrom is rarely seen without his HRN. As a final odd note, Stenstrom wears a small mask covering his eyes.

He hails from the House of Belmont, an old Zenon House on his father’s side and the House of Tyrol on his mother’s. The House of Tyrol are an odd, silver-haired lot living on the eastern coast of Esther, and consider themselves a tribe apart, through no official recognition has been given to them as such. Stenstrom’s mother, Lady Jubilee of Tyrol, is a notorious socialite and suspected witch. Her indomitable personality is well-known–she was under Public Wergild for over twenty years, meaning someone had formally posted a vendetta against her. She bore Stenstrom’s father 29 daughters ahead of him as a result of an oath she took. She feared for the life of her husband as he spanned the stars in his Fleet ship and swore he would have no sons until his boots were firmly planted on the ground for good; thus twenty-nine Belmont daughters. It has been said that Stenstrom the Older had to resort to sorcerous methods of his own to gain a son, purchasing a questionable tincture on Bazz said to ensure the birth of a son, and thus Stenstrom the Younger was finally born.

Private Taara de la Anderson is one of Paymaster Stenstrom's closest friends (painting by Eve Ventrue)

The Blood Oath
His mother was said to be enraged upon his birth and swore to murder him in his crib, though she quickly came to love and adore her handsome son. Seeing the younger Stenstrom clamoring to follow his father to the stars, Lady Jubilee took steps … extreme steps to prevent him from joining the Fleet. Stenstrom has hinted she put him to an obscure ritual known as the Tyrol Blood Oath. Plunging a red-hot dagger into his heart, she made him swear he’d never join the Fleet as either a crewman or officer, least his wound burst open. She updated the Blood Oath over the years, adding the Astro Merchants, Billings and Merchant Marines to it. She was convinced the stars were no longer in his future.

A Tyrol Sorcerer
Paymaster Stenstrom is well-known for his ability to perform a number of feats considered to be Tyrol Sorcery taught to him by his mother. Though he has no Gifts of the Mind, he can fade into the shadows and pass unseen. He can also make small to medium-sized items appear and disappear with just a wave of his hand.

Flight From Bern
As a youth, Stenstrom went off to school at the University of Bern studying accounting (a pre-approved course of study). A disinterested student, his fiancée, Lady Lillian of Gamboa whispered in his ear and told him of a way to get around his mother’s curse. His oaths had made no mention of joining the Fleet as a civilian and she hit him upon the notion of becoming a Fleet Paymaster. The requirements of the position demanded he be an attorney or an accountant of vast tenure. Having no tenure, Stenstrom fled Bern upon his graduation and went into hiding in Calvert, accumulating his tenure at the barrel of a gun. Soon he secured a job as Paymaster aboard the Sandwich, a rusting Fleet frigate, which was illegally running Kanan grain spirits to the Xaphans. Due to his House standing and his fortune, he was not well-liked aboard the Sandwich and was widely shunned.

Lt. Gwendolyn, Lady of Prentess, threatened to knock Stenstrom's teeth out (painting by Eve Ventrue)

The Captain of the ship, a Lt. Dunkster of Carew, was caught red-handed trying to sell counterfeit spirits to the Xaphans and was forced to put out a call to the Fleet for help. The Fleet ship New Faith answered the call and ran the Xaphans off. When questioned, Stenstrom willingly took the blame for the spirit-running operation and allowed himself to be incarcerated. Captain Davage of the New Faith, had an extensive dossier on Lt. Dunkster and knew Stenstrom was covering for him. He was impressed by his loyalty and courage and was intrigued by his HRN and his mask. Davage released him from the brig and invited him to join the New Faith crew, replacing the retiring Paymaster, Lord Milke.

Stenstrom’s Mask
Along with his HRN coat and his NTHs, Paymaster Stenstrom is known for wearing a black mask at all times. The mask was a source of constant speculation until he revealed the mask contains several magical pieces of metal folded up in the cloth called “hermelins” which prevent his soul from being torn apart by demons sent by his mother. Without his mask, he’ll perish in short order.

Paymaster Stenstrom is introduced in Book IV as Captain Davage’s Paymaster aboard the New Faith. He will become the Main Character in the League of Elder Second Series starting with Book VII, The Sands of the Solar Empire, coming soon.

Copyright 2011, Ren Garcia and Eve Ventrue

2 Responses to “TOTEH Characters: Paymaster Stenstrom”

  1. Sleight-of-hand, magical mask, Lord Stenstrom of Belmont sounds like an amazing character! I couldn’t help cracking up over Lt. Dunkster selling counterfeit spirits! Bottles filled with water or something! Great post–I am going to enjoy reading about this character in books to come!

  2. theleagueofelder said

    Thanks, Chris!! “Bel” is a fun dude and I love Book VII–it’s one of my favorites. It’s been completed for about a year now, I think. The bad thing it’s right around 200,000 words, so I know I’m going to have to break it into two smaller works at some point, thought it doesn’t have a natural break anywhere to create the separation.

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