Mask of Winters is one of the Deathlords, dead Solar Exalted who made a pact with the Neverborn to destroy all Creation. His conquest of Thorns shocked the living and upset the balance of power among the dead.
The Mask of Winters was once a Twilight Caste named Larquen Quen who survived the Usurpation. Larquen fled along with a group of other Solars led by the ancient and illustrious Kal Bax. Master Bax had constructed an ingeniously hidden manse—an Invisible Fortress that even the Loom of Fate could not find. He and his protégés fled there to wait out the Usurpation. Their wait became long indeed. In time, each of the Solars died of old age, suicide… or murder by one of their fellows.
When Larquen Quen died and fell into the Underworld, the Neverborn sent an emissary to meet him, the Walker in Darkness. To Larquen’s astonishment, that Deathlord was actually one of his former compatriots from Bax’s Invisible Fortress. The Walker, however, remembered nothing of his mortal life—which was good since Larquen Quen had murdered him. Larquen concealed his recognition of the Neverborn’s emissary, followed the Walker into the Labyrinth and sold his name to the Abyss for the power of a Deathlord.
Servants and Allies
The Mask of Winters may have more Abyssal servants than any other Deathlord, though this may also be a ruse. The Mask seems not to care about the caste of his Abyssals, but he uses all of them efficiently and inventively. He seems unwilling to integrate his Abyssals into his command structure, however—not even his Dusk Caste servants into his military officer core. He prefers instead to keep administrative authority in the hands of war ghosts whose loyalties he can secure through necromancy. The Midnight Caste Apostate in Tatters, the Day Caste called Typhon and the Dusk Caste alternately known as the Prince Resplendent in the Ruin of Ages or simply as Crumbling Pillar are some of his better-known Abyssal Exalted.
In addition to his many Abyssal servants, the Mask of Winters has one exceptionally rare prize in his arsenal. Long before the Usurpation, Larquen Quen made the acquaintance of a beautiful and mysterious Sidereal Exalt called the Green Lady. After a night of passionate lovemaking, she first told Larquen of the destiny of greatness he would achieve when the time was right. The Green Lady so impressed the Twilight Caste that even his own death in the Invisible Fortress did not shake his confidence. When the Mask of Winters first made his presence felt in Creation, the Bureau of Destiny sent the Green Lady to learn his secrets. The Sidereals did not know of the prior relationship between the two, and they do not know today that the Green Lady is a loyal servant—and, once more, the lover—of the Mask of Winters. When the Sidereal does not haunt the Mask’s bedchambers, she feeds disinformation to the Sidereal Exalted or spies on the Mask’s rival Deathlords under false identities. At the Mask’s direction, she seduced his colleague (and former victim), the Walker in Darkness and prepares to deliver him to her lover.
The Mask of Winters typically appears as a towering figure standing more than seven feet tall and wrapped in undulating black funeral robes. Beneath the robes, he wears soulsteel superheavy plate that whimpers in pain when struck with the voices of newborn children. The Deathlord wears a helm with two mask-like faces, one on the front and one on the back. One is a face of sublime beauty, while the other is so horrific that it causes mortals to flee in terror. The Mask of Winters has learned to use of these visages to disturbing effect. He can see out of both masks, so no one can surprise him from behind. If attacked from behind, he uses his Mutable Form to reverse his joints and turn his entire body back to front and vice versa at a cost of one mote. Alternatively, if he wishes to discomfit others, he can turn his neck 180 degrees to look at them with his other face.