The Lady Alia duBois appears, at first, the perfect daughter of nobility. Tall for a girl of sixteen, she rises easily above the peasant stock, though her luminously golden eyes are demurely downcast. Hair as black as the raven’s wing tumbles softly past the pale skin of her face and shoulders, a delicate ceramic doll made by the hand of some unknown master. In motion, too, she is graceful, both her touch and step light and soon passing. So too, has she learned the lesson to be seen, and not heard, never speaking without being called upon. Perhaps the only flaw in her is a tendency towards dozing off lightly, sprawled out across the extra-wide windowsill in her room in the bright sunlight. But with such an otherwise perfect daughter, how can Count duBois complain?
It is at night, however, that the rest of Alia, the part that she herself has come to believe the truth, becomes visible. As the Baron and his servant retire for the night, she rises from her own evening doze to greet the moon, her golden eyes slit against its silvery glow. Flimsy bedclothes are discarded in favor of soft, supple leather, deliciously tight against her lithely flexible frame. Her grace as she makes the soundless leap to the ground nigh thirty feet below her window is greatly changed, the not-woman not-child flows with the smooth motion of a stalking predator, her feral grin gleaming silverly white as she jumps the house wall, to disappear into the night…
Alia duBois is, indeed, the daughter of the Count duBois. No fae attended her birth, and no changlings quietly replaced her in her cradle. Why would they want to? The Count, after all, while rich, is not all that terribly powerful in the scheme of things. Despite trying his best, he’s also failed to produce a legitimate son on his wife, which means he’s going to have to sell off his daughter to some second son of a noble to keep his estate from reverting to the crown… and he hates his king.
And so, neither money nor the switch has been spared in Alia’s ‘education’, the best of tutors and the slightly more than infrequent beating used to mold her into the ‘perfect’ daughter. And so she grew, a creature of broken spirit and shattered soul, following her instructions to perfection, only to weep herself to sleep at night with silent tears that she could give to no other.
It was on the night of her twelvth birthday, beneath the cloudless blackness of the new moon that she was first visited. The cat, black as the night sky, stood upon her window ledge as she raised her weeping eyes, then cocked his head as if to beckon her. It was not, at first, her thought to follow him, as he turned and lept from the window, yet she did. The fall was long, long enough for a second thought to flash before her eyes, yet somehow she knew to gather her arms and legs beneath her, to use them to greatly extend the time of her landing. Stunned, it was several long seconds before she looked up again, straight into the smiling golden eyes of the tom… and smiled back. It felt so easy, so right to slip the manor’s guards, and disappear into the night. Never would she remember the actual events of the night, not when she found herself awakening in her bed at home, unsure if the night had been reality or a dream, but forever would she remember the electric joy of stalking, of the pounce, of her dagger drawing blood… or was it her claws? She couldn’t remember.
So began her second tutlage, one of the spirit Voonsai’s first students. Though she would never come to know his name, she swiftly came to know her new master’s thoughts, thoughts which were soon as much her own as the teachers. Still, it was deceptively easy to hide these thoughts, these changes from those who hounded her in the day, for she knew her very life depended on it.
In the night, however, it was not long before she first began to meet the others. Each of them, like her, had been visited, and like her, each knew well the feral joy of the night. Now, feral man, innately, is a pack animal like the wolf, and he desires companionship. It was this instict, as well as the prodding of their teacher, that brought these creatures, no longer children, yet hardly adults, together, as much as the prodding of their spiritual mentor. Yet to Alia, these too were confining, for she was not the wolf that the other wyldlings had become, but a great, hunting cat. However, even a cougar can form bonds with those who care for it, and so it became her habit to give the rewards of her hunts to the other wyldlings. After all, if she were to take them to her lair, she would likely to be slain.
It was the alpha male of the wyldlings, the once-urchin named Gorom that showed her the change, but a few short months ago. Her yellow eyes became the slashed gold of the cat, her fingers hard, ripping claws, her teeth long and tearlingly sharp, her skin the tawny gold fur. Though still human in sillouhette at least, she was undeniably puma… And it was shortly after that she first felt the urge. It was time for her to hunt, and this time, not for prey.
Though she suffers daily through the routine of the noble daughter, Alia is currently looking to make a permanent escape from her gilded cage, and will do so by any viable means. She hopes to simply disappear from the manor one night, and never go back. Before she can do that, though, she has to ensure that she won’t simply be hunted down, and her father does have enough money to hire an awful lot of men. Perhaps adventurers can aid her in this, for her mind becomes more and more feline as time passes.
Meanwhile, she fills her nights with the joys of the feral wyldlings. She is a stealthy, efficient predator, stealing and even occasionally hunting and killing for the sheer exctasy of the act. Alia feels no guilt and no remorse for these acts, for she is a predator, and the vast herd of human cattle about her are her prey. Only her fellow Wyldlings, whom she keeps at arms length by her feline nature, and the sheer professionality of the local assassin’s guild holds her respect, for they too are predators, culling the herd about them for their own survival. It is all too likely that she will run across a group of adventurers after something in the city, or even set as guardians over something or someone. The act of defeating them would give her great joy. Posessing the stealth and agility of the puma, she is capable of silence and stillness so far beyond the capabilities of a normal person that they border on superhuman, only to explode silently into impossibly swift and agile motion. Alia has become the epitome of the solitary, nocturnal hunter, and if only they knew, there are quite a few organizations that would be more than happy to make use of her talents.
The desires and urges of a predator are vastly stronger than those of a domesticated herd animal, and Alia is now fighting with them, even as she seeks a suitable mate at night. Disappointingly for her, the prime contender seems to be Gorom, and Gorom is a wolf at heart. Now, wolves mate for life, yet the puma does not, and for this, she is very wary of the boy’s advances.
In combat, Alia will almost never choose to confront a foe directly, greatly preferring to skulk and stalk, striking viciously for the head and neck from behind whenever possible. She is capable of closing tremendous distances in the blink of an eye, maintaining an eerie, inhuman silence as she does so. While she’s certainly stronger than a sixteen year old girl should be, her stealth and agility are her strongest attributes by far.
Her transformation is her only supernatural ability, though she also possesses a cat’s sensory abilities in terms of sight, hearing, and scent.
Given the choice, her diet is almost entirely carnivorous, preferring beef and venison to other meats. Don’t even try to make her eat her vegetables, she won’t.
In all, Alia is as much a big cat as she is a human girl, and largely should behave as such.
Thanks, EchoMirage, for sparking this idea with Voonsai.