Although the Duke was not favored by the King, he grew rich by building up Velisyana's flour industry. He contained the river to stop flooding his lands and commissioned a giant waterwheel for the flour mill.
His daughter Yeva was born so beautiful that her midwife and nursemaids kept trying to steal her away, so the Duke hired a blind old woman to care for her. When Yeva was twelve, the Duke had a portrait artist from Os Alta come to paint Yeva's portrait to use as advertisement for Velisyana. The artist tried to kidnap Yeva, but the Duke found them in Arkesk. After a riot, the Duke confined Yeva to the palace to limit the chaos her beauty incited among the people.
On Yeva's sixteenth birthday, the second wealthiest man in Velisyana came to the Duke to barter a marriage between his son and Yeva. Uri Levkin and his son began to fight for Yeva's hand and the constable soon joined them, leading the Duke to send Yeva to her room to stop the madness. The constable told the Duke to choose a husband for Yeva before the town was torn apart.
The Duke orchestrated a task: whoever could clear the forest and make the biggest pile of lumber would win Yeva's hand in marriage. He expected the Prince to win the contest thanks to his money, but Semyon the Ragged emerged victorious. Distressed at the thought of his daughter marrying a poor Grisha but unable to break the promise he had made so publicly, the Duke added a second task to win Yeva's hand: obtain a mirror from the Fabrikator Baba Anezka. Again Semyon won the contest, and the Duke began to consider that Semyon's magic powers might be more useful than the Prince's status. He welcomed Semyon to the palace and set a final task: retrieve the ancient magic coin buried somewhere beneath Ravka.
Semyon returned to the palace, claiming to have found the magic coin. The Duke brought Yeva and a priest down to Semyon's river to receive the coin and marry Yeva to Semyon. When the river showed the coin, the Duke reached for it, but the river became a giant column that terrified the people. It told Yeva that it, not Semyon, had completed the Duke's tasks, and asked Yeva to become its bride. While the Duke stood stunned, Yeva jumped into the river and it carried her away.
Without the river, the mill could not produce flour, and the Duke lost his fortune. He begged the King for relief, but the Prince suggested that the King set three tasks for the Duke and behead him if he failed. The Duke left the capital in disgrace but with his head still on his shoulders. He returned to his crumbling palace in the abandoned Velisyana, where he gazed out from Yeva's window onto Suitors' Square, waiting for the water to return.
Personality and traits
The Duke was greedy for money and power and enjoyed the attention his beautiful daughter garnered. He used her beauty to sell more flour and exploited her suitors into performing tasks that benefited him. Rather than ask his daughter what she wanted, he cared only about his own gain. He did not answer his daughter's questions, preferring to emphasize the monetary gain she would receive by going along with his tasks for the suitors.
According to the folktale, the Duke was not much to look at.