Alystrakos

Names, Appearance, Reputations
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Wyvern
Prismatic Pangolin
Posts: 2219
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 8:50 pm

Alystrakos

Post by Wyvern » Sat Mar 01, 2014 4:52 pm

Lady Alystrakos Obsidia Sybaris is a solidly built woman with dark skin, shoulder-length white hair, and green cat-like eyes. Not exceptionally attractive in a still image, but she moves with the grace of a dancer - or rather, as those with at least chaos rank warfare would recognise - the grace of a master warrior who always has enough balance to turn and parry an unexpected attack.

While Alys has no qualms about dressing up in a variety of fancy styles, it's a safe bet that anything that would actually limit her movement is either easily removable or not actually as constraining as it looks. Or, more likely, both.
For casual clothing, she favors a set of red sashes, anchored to golden jewelry (torc, bracelets, belt, etc). It's not exactly armor - for one thing, it's far too skimpy - but the materials used are notably more durable than conventional cloth or actual gold would be. She often adds a heavy cloak, especially if she expects to be outdoors at all; it's easily removable, can be used as a makeshift shield, and keeps the cold out and the rain off.

Trump Card: Nine of Coins.
Alystrakos is depicted walking through the gardens of Fort Ht'gon, clothed in a tightly-fitting sheath dress and a few bits of golden jewelry. She has one hand on a particularly fruitful plant, with eight coin-like fruits, but she is looking away from it, at her other hand, where she holds a large gold coin stamped with a stylized dragon crest. The ground looks scorched, and marred by small claw-marks.
Alys' dress is a mix of shiny satin-y black and fiery reds and yellows; the top of the dress is dominated by black in almost armor-plate-shaped segments, shrinking to small scale-shaped patches around her hips, and fading entirely into the background flame patterns about a foot above the hemline. Her jewelry consists of a golden torc coiled around her left arm, and a necklace set with nine cat's-eye emeralds on a background of slightly-offset disks, such that it could be interpreted as showing the stages of an eclipse. Her outfit does not include shoes, and, even more out of character for her, she does not appear to be carrying any weapons.
One last oddity: Alystrakos looks much prettier on the card than she does in real life; Dworkin's artwork shows her with a lighter build, along the lines of Classical Beauty, rather than the heavier almost body-builder look she actually has.

Also in her deck (though she's shown it only to a very few people) is one extra card: "The Tower", also labeled "Mor'Draes-Yev", which depicts a shattered stone tower floating against a striped sky - as if someone had turned Jupiter inside out and placed it as the entirety of the heavens. It's clear that gravity in the scene is not a single direction, and that geometry is less reliable than in an escher painting. Indeed, some of the disjoint nature of the place appears to have been deliberately designed; while it's clearly heavily damaged, that damage does not account for all of the oddities.

Stats:
Psyche: Unknown, but probably not very high - or at least, not high enough to maintain both a trump call and total combat superiority against the most dangerous rose Darnell could find in 20 minutes.
Strength: At least Mid Ranked - she's demonstrated this a few times, perhaps most notably during her clash with The Redcap.
Endurance: At least Amber Rank; by game start she's been active for over 24 hours with no signs of fatigue.
Warfare: Dangerously competent, if you at all know what sorts of tells to look for. (At least Mid Ranked.)

Powers:
Some sort of apparently sensory Power, the exact details of which have, as yet, defied further analysis. Also good at setting things on fire.
She claims (at least in private) that both of the above are aspects of her shapeshifting ability. In public, she simply does what she does, and lets others make assumptions.

Minions:
Tinder, hell-hound. A large black dog with streaks of red around his muzzle and paws; has a tendency to curl up and nap in fires. Generally seems quite good-natured and friendly. Basic build is similar to this, and tends towards vocalisations like those of a basenji. (Seriously, go youtube "basenji"; they are... distinctive.)

Talents:
  • To start fires - even stone or water can burn if you know what you're doing.
  • To make actions look easy or graceful - Alystrakos moves with all the grace of a hunting cat, and makes about as much noise as one, too.
  • To see the unseen - to the less perceptive, this might seem like a quirk when Alys occasionally stares off at nothing visible. But there's always something there, even if it might be just an abstract construct of non-corporeal energies.
  • To act like royalty - sometimes this counts as a talent: she's very good at remembering names, faces, and political affiliations; tends to command instant obedience from servants, courtiers, and officials; and so on and so forth.
Quirks:
  • Acts like royalty - and sometimes this counts as a quirk: she tends to stand out in a crowd of commoners, is polite even to people who'd take that as a sign of weakness, can be excessively condescending, etc.
  • Green cat-like eyes - the one feature that marks her as not exactly human. Those who have seen the Unicorn (and paid really close attention) may note some similarity. This is also a shapeshifting tell; she won't change her eyes without a very good reason.
  • Dislikes water - given the choice, she'll stay out of rain, snow, swimming pools, fords, etc.
  • Obviously dangerous - unless she puts serious effort into suppressing it, she moves like the aforementioned hunting cat - which tends to put normal people on edge, even if they don't have enough warfare to consciously recognize the danger signs.
  • Passive-Agressive Paranoia: It's not that Alys assumes the world is out to get her... she just assumes it could be. Sure, the man that bumps into her in a crowded market might be just a clumsy merchant instead of a master pickpocket. And odds are that the exotic dancers are just performers, not assassins. But sooner or later you will run into the exceptions, and if you make the mistake of assuming that your closest allies won't suddenly sprout spines and try to kill you... well, it may take centuries for that mistake to catch up to you. But when you're immortal, mere centuries is kinda pocket change. Trust... but verify.
    This counts as a talent (anticipating conspiracies, reacting to the pickpocket before he even sticks his hand into the bear trap that's in your backpack, etc.), and as a quirk (spending time searching for conspiracies that aren't actually there, annoy the honest merchant by detaining him long enough to verify that he isn't actually a thief, having a bear trap in your backpack in the first place, etc.) - though even in the latter case, Alys is quick enough to note that, why yes she is paranoid, and no, she's not actually expecting to find that you're trying to summon dark gods in your basement... but that certainly doesn't stop her from checking.
Alternate Forms:
Alys currently has three primary non-human forms.

Chaos form (Alys regards this as a social form, despite its combat utility) is a humanoid dragon-y critter, black scales, white hair, and the same green eyes. The best reference image I've found for this form is this, though it's obviously the wrong gender (yes, yes, lizards and boobs - but Alys is, even in her non-human forms, morphologically mammalian), has the wrong color eyes, and has fins as head decoration instead of hair.
Also worth noting: in this form, Alys' proportions match those depicted on her trump card - the reason her human form is bulkier is simply that, well, changing mass is prohibitively finicky, and there's only so much room to muck around with density before you start having problems there too, and, as a result, folding wings + tail into your body just doesn't lend itself to svelte lines.

Avatar form (or, as Alys would put it True Form) is almost identical to her chaos form. The difference is that, instead of mere black scales, you're looking at obsidian plates encasing a form of living flame, with white fire for hair. Her eyes are almost the same, though in this form they look more like green catseye gems than anything made of flesh and blood.

And an alternate draconic form that she put together after discovering that her bloodline might still be being hunted. The basic build is similar to her chaos form - half the point of this is to still be as much herself as is safe - but with enough differences to not match up to any historical descriptions of House Sybaris. Thus: dark, wine-red scales, white spines instead of hair, a more lizard-like facial structure, and no raptor-claws on her feet. And, of course, she's keeping her eyes and obviously mammalian morphology, both of which are already departures from the classic House Sybaris look.
Last edited by Wyvern on Sat Apr 04, 2015 10:53 am, edited 10 times in total.

Wyvern
Prismatic Pangolin
Posts: 2219
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 8:50 pm

Alystrakos' Rooms

Post by Wyvern » Mon Apr 04, 2016 8:42 pm

Alys' quarters are somewhere underneath Ht'gon, primarily accessible through a large-ish (~15' ceiling) tunnel carved to resemble a lava tube; much of the passage is unlit, but a cluster of magical lights set into the floor provide a dim orange glow just outside her door. The door itself is a heavy steel disk, inlaid with gold and gems to form an image of a starry night sky dominated by nine cat's-eye moons in various phases (similar to the necklace depicted on her trump card); there's also a series of unobtrusive ruby "stars" forming a constellation matching her dragon sigil - with the door's keyhole hidden behind the star that forms the dragon's eye. When unlocked, the door slides easily to one side, its mass balanced against a set of counterweights hidden in the wall.
Or, of course, there's the servants' entrance, which is a rough-hewn and completely utilitarian path leading up to a small staging area. The final entrances to Alys' rooms (a footpath and a dumbwaiter) are kept locked unless Alys expects them to see use, and she has not granted any of the servants a key. In general, she keeps her own quarters clean, leaves outfits and linens in the staging room when they require more time-consuming attentions or repairs, and also uses the staging room as a delivery location for anything she wants brought to her rooms when she's not around to unlock the doors. (On which note: the staging room does have its own, separate, lock, which the servants do have keys for. It's a good lock, but - unlike the ones leading to her actual chambers - not one that would offer any real challenge for an Amberite's warfare.)
Then there are five different secret passages. Unlike the servants' entrance, these feature both locked doors and traps - though nothing of any particular lethality can be found without bypassing at least one lock. In addition, all of these paths feature heavy doors that do not have balanced counterweights, requiring ranked strength or time and tools even once the locks and traps have been dealt with. Four of these passages connect to as-yet-undeclared locations; the fifth extends more or less straight up until it reaches a fork. One direction leads (via well-concealed exit) to a seemingly-natural outcropping in the cliff above the fort. The other leads (through a slightly less inconvenient but no less locked path) to Lyra's quarters.
Last and (arguably) least, are a series of highly inaccessible utility tunnels that provide such useful things as running water and air circulation. These aren't really intended as entrances or exits at all, but a sufficiently narrow creature (such as a small snake or a shapeshifter) could attempt to make use of them anyway. Assuming, of course, that it could get past all the traps - the first trap on each such approach / exit is a non-lethal warning shot, but everything after that offers no second chances.

The main room continues the volcano theme, featuring an almost rock-garden-like placement of black paving stones between rivulets of translucent red-orange gravel, and rough walls that slope inwards towards a circular opening about seven feet across. Faint magical lights hidden in the floor provide a constant dim illumination, dozens of candles set into nooks and crannies in the walls provide a warm firelight (when they're lit, at least), and the room's main illumination comes from an enchanted chandelier in the room above. Towards the back of the room a set of red couches are recessed into the floor, surrounding a circular table of gold and smoky glass. The room is otherwise devoid of furnishings, though the walls are rough enough to offer plenty of opportunities for climbing or perching, and are (somewhat sparsely) decorated with a mix of red silk draperies, obsidian mirrors, and other bits of mostly-abstract art.

Taking a left from the entrance leads down about half a flight of stairs to a small armory - still styled like a lava-carved cave, but floored with dark wood and filled with chests and shelves that are... actually mostly empty. The only thing that's really on display per se is a ridiculously oversized two-handed sword, made of dark metal patterned with faint screaming faces.

The back exit of the main room leads through a jagged doorway covered in translucent red silk drapes into the suite's washroom - appropriate indoor plumbing is off to one side (and concealed by another drape), with the room's main focus being set of tiered pools fed by water drawn up from Ht'gon's hot springs; the uppermost pool is superheated and covered in a thin layer of clinging steam, while the lower ones feature temperatures that are more tolerable for normal people. Glowing crystalline formations encrust the walls like ivy, particularly around the upper pool, and the ceiling is a flat vanta black that hides one of the suite's secret passages in plain sight. (The passage in question simply opens up, then hooks to one side; since vanta black completely conceals contours, it's effectively invisible from below unless you're using sonar or otherwise cheating.)

And to the right of the main room, a poorly lit staircase spirals upwards, curving around the main room (and offering a concealed view through one of those obsidian mirrors), before opening up into the upper floor. The servant's entrance connects near the base of the staircase.
The upper floor vaguely resembles the interior of an ancient Greek temple; a circular room framed by nine red marble pillars; both pillars and lintels feature patches of gold leaf, picking out patterns of scales or claws or teeth or red-gold eyes that don't quite resolve into any specific creature. The gaps between the pillars, as well as the room's domed ceiling, are again decorated with vanta black - this time with the addition of numerous tiny gemstones, creating an effect reminiscent of a starry night sky. Careful observation reveals that some of those gems are set well into the black, and most must be hanging from strings; the room extends about eight feet past its apparent boundaries. The domed ceiling also contains a enchanted globe that illuminates the room like a miniature sun; there is no off switch per se, but concealed lever causes a sequence of petal-like panels to fold down around it, allowing illumination ranging from almost-daylight, to a sunset red-gold, to a near-pitch black lit only by the faint glow coming up from below. (Speaking of which: that hole in the floor? There's no guard-rail at all.)
The majority of the (visible portion of the) room is occupied by a thickly cushioned dais that serves as Alys' bed; behind it are a set of three ornate wooden cabinets and dressers, and next to it is a matching desk.

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