Echoes and Shadows
Baron Jarrus Zheit IX
The dynamic and active ruler of the barony, who has but limited patience for affairs of state.
Jarrus VIII’s weak heart failed when he was still a relatively young man, leaving his son to take up the throne at the vulnerable age of seventeen. The new baron’s first test of leadership came quickly, as the neighboring duchy of Olix sought to take advantage of the perceived weakness of the new ruler with ancestral claims of territory and military incursions into the lands along Zheit’s borders. Jarrus IX surprised both Olix and Zheit alike by personally and effectively leading his armies in a series of small but decisive skirmishes that had the Olixians running back home in short order. In this first test, Jarrus IX performed admirably. As a result of this clash, Jarrus was given Bryony of Olix in marriage by way of a peace offering, and relations between the two territories have subsequently been stable.
In the sixteen years since he first wore the baronial crown upon his brow, Jarrus IX has shown himself to be an energetic and dynamic ruler. He frequently organizes and participates in hunts for troublesome monsters. His habit of riding the borders of the barony, personally inspecting the outlying communities and troops under his command and ensuring the viability of the Break, has endeared him to his people. Under his direction, the barony’s annual summer tournaments and athletic contests have flourished, until the games have become a month-long affair that attract participants and spectators from distant corners of the kingdom. To his considerable credit, Jarrus IX drained the Festar Swamp along the River Jol. He approached this daunting engineering challenge as he had approached the military campaigns of his youth, inspiring the people to great feats with little more than his own personal magnetism, with the result that the swamp, which had been a source of disease and bullywug threats for generations, was dried out and converted into fertile farmland. Jarrus founded the town of Endeavor on the still-damp soil. Endeavor is now the barony’s third-largest city, boasting over two thousand inhabitants.
For all his successes, Jarrus has nevertheless shown himself to be a man with pronounced limits. As happy as he might be drilling a corps of guardsmen or going toe-to-toe with the barony’s best wrestlers, he shows little patience or discipline in more subdued matters of state. Civil affairs bore him. This is not to say that he cannot arbitrate a legal dispute or listen to his counselors as they talk about tariffs and barley harvests, but his enthusiasm is often forced in such matters, and he is inclined to spells of rage or depression when compelled to sit too long upon the throne. He much prefers to be moving and doing instead of sitting and thinking. Jarrus is not a cruel and selfish ruler; he is willing to admit his mistakes, and is not above apologizing even to commoners after a fit of frustrated rage. He acknowledges his lack of temperance with a pronounced regret, but rather than try to change himself he prefers to leave the maintenance of the barony to Head Minister Achile and Baroness Bryony. Of late, his black moods have grown more pronounced, and it is not uncommon for him to leave the barony in the care of his ministers for weeks at a time. Even his closest advisors and the baroness herself are unaware of where he goes during these periods.
Jarrus is still very much a man in the flush of youth. He has an athlete’s build, better suited to sitting astride a saddle than lounging on velvet cushions, and he seems more comfortable in plate mail armor than in silks and robes of office. He is quick to smile, though many have remarked that something secret and sad hides behind the Baron’s smile. While not remarkably so, he is as handsome as any young strong man is wont to be, and many women, high born or low, begrudge his oft-tested fidelity to Bryony. He wears his brown hair short, and maintains a precise beard.