He was presumably a Dragonlord of great honor and loyalty, since Pepperfield was a very strategically important fief, and was granted specifically by Imperial patent, not inherited directly. His duties would have included defense of the Empire from attack by Easterners, and he would have had certain privileges as well.
He had the misfortune of criticizing a painting by Kathana e'Marish'Chala, as she was waiting to present this painting to her patron at the time, Rollondar e'Drien. The Marquis' comments so infuriated her that she struck off his head without the formality of challenging him to a duel.
This event, and presumably the political complexities that were in consequence to it, convinced then-Empress Cherova III that the Cycle had changed from the Athyra to the Phoenix, causing her to resign and transfer the Orb to Tortaalik, the Phoenix Heir at that time.
His son, Uttrik e'Lanya, naturally wished to avenge his father's death.