- "Yes, of course I can get you into the Geheimnistag Ball, my dear, but whether it's as servant or guest depends on the quantity and nature of the favours that you're prepared do for me."
- —Sjef Gerritse, Chamberlain of the New Palace Ballroom[1a]
Slightly under medium height, Sjef's thinning sandy hair is hidden under a powdered periwig. Watery grey eyes peer disdainfully from behind a monocle when dealing with a social inferior, but are humbly lowered in the presence of Marienburg's elite. His skin, though treated with the finest cosmetics, is showing his middle age and the effects of his dissolute lifestyle.[1a]
Greed and cynicism are the guiding lights in Sjef's life. Starting as a kitchen servant, through a creative combination of gossip, backstabbing, flattery and pandering he has risen to be the arbiter of who gets accepted to Court social life, and who is left outside. A born petty tyrant, few make that final leap to high society without paying his toll. A well-placed rumour from Sjef can make or break any social climber's season.[1a]
Gerritse is secretly an extreme human chauvinist, and his dislike of non-humans has lead him to co-operate with the Knights of Purity, in spite of their dedication to the tenets of Solkan. He has used his influence to cover their trail after the recent assaults and arsons in Elfsgemeente, even to the extent of letting them use portions of the New Palace as a safe house. The damage to relations between Marienburg and the Exarchate would be enormous if it were ever discovered.[1a]
Sjef Gerritse knows the staff of the New Palace thoroughly - and he despises them as much as they hate him. Agents seeking access to the Palace's social functions know to drop him a few guilders if they want admittance. This makes him unusually knowledgeable about who's who in Marienburg's espionage community. While he has few true friends, he avidly cultivates relationships with the Ten and other power figures in Marienburg, such as Speaker Gyngrijk. At the same time, many among Marienburg's would-be elite seek his favour to advance their own standing. When he ventures out of the Palace just to relax, he can be found at the Gull and Trident, at his private table.[1a]
Gerritse is well liked and trusted by the Staadtholder. Playing on this, Sjef is manoeuvring to become the Staadtholder's permanent secretary coveting the unofficial power of the position. However he has no idea of the current holder's true position as head of the Fog Walkers, a blind-spot likely to be fatal to his plans.[1a]