Lost: The Edge of Everything
Duke of Spring, Grand Duke of the Holycross Duchy, Bon Vivant
“Welcome to the party, old sport. Have all the larks you like.”
For every hundred men who charged over the trench walls, a handful came back. Sergeant Will Hartigan led his squad out into No-Man’s Land in December of 1917 and he never came back, and nobody thought him anything but KIA. Accounting for artillery fire, you never looked twice for a body.
But Hartigan had left the trench to find himself charging through knee-deep snow, white as bone and clean as a fresh-washed corpse. He ran and ran and soon enough he ran on all fours through a winter wasteland, drawn on by the scent of the Honeysuckle Dauphine like a hook in his nostrils.
There were others in the wood seeking the Dauphine, men no better than beasts, who would slake their animal lusts upon her. He slew them with his antlers, and when he knelt on his forelegs to the Dauphine she licked the dripping gore from those spearpoints. The snow melted away when he rutted her, and she wound the first flowers of spring between his points.
That day they spent together, loving and running. She grew gravid and birthed herself that evening as a blast of winter wind, her discarded body rotting eyes-first to freeze beneath the sudden snow. And then it was winter again, and winter lasted until one of the beasts of the tundra found the Dauphine again, her scent in every nose like a fishhook.
For a hundred winters he ran and fought and loved and grieved and ran again. Sometimes he would reach the Dauphine first, sometimes he lay torn apart by the others until someone else found her and loved her and all was renewed in the spring.
Then one day, he won the race and she saw the first white hairs upon his muzzle. “Now wicked winter has you, my Stag, my Hart, so you never shall have me.” She tore his throat open and he fell into the pool his blood had made, and fell and fell until he burst naked and screaming from someone’s pot of venison stew in 1979.
Half-feral his first few years, he found the local freehold and pledged himself at once to Spring. Then he used Pledgecraft to make a fortune, and moved at once to the California coast, where the snows never fell.
Taking the name Winslow Staggart — Staghart to the Lost — he became a fixture of the Santa Cruz Spring Court, setting himself up like the Lost Generation dandy he could’ve been if he’d come back from Europe. His parties were the cat’s meow, and he found himself always the paramour of at least one of the three Duchesses.
This suited Staghart fine until the Second Depression, when he announced his wedding to all three of Duchesses, and that Spring would co-rule each season, adding a tint of joy and merriment throughout the year.
Winslow Staggart is a tall and handsome athletic man in his very early forties, with tawny blonde hair just slightly graying — at the temples, of course — and a sun-dappled tan just slightly lighter at the smile lines. He wears modern takes on natty 1920s fashion, expensive antique watches, and a tiepin of cold iron crowned with a stag’s head.
Duke Staghart is roughly half a foot taller than Winslow Staggart, with a magnificent 24-point spread of antlers rising from his brow. His lower legs are digitigrade like those of a deer, and end in sharp, glossy black hooves. He gets his pants tailored to fit, and cuts his fast-growing hair once a week.
The most noticeable thing about Staghart is his scent, a pleasing virile musk described poetically as “panty repellent.” It makes people want to mate, usually with Staghart, but whoever is to hand will do. His floral Mantle as Duke of Spring masks the scent somewhat, but he can turn this down at will to make himself very distracting company indeed.