If we were the tall silver mirror of Celeste Lynn Argent, we could examine the tall slender figure and admire her obvious breeding, chiseled features, vivid expressive eyes, natural grace and self-confidence, natural platinum hair and youthful body. We'd see her massage crÃ¨mes of unicorn milk and virgin tears into her almost unnaturally flawless skin, and admire its gradual progression into the gleaming armor that seems to grow from it, alabaster fading into mithral silver. Then, she'd speak in her deep, entrancing voice to us of defiance and determination, of a not so distant day where her heart's desire would come true.
Young lady Argent was born into a noble house of old and pure blood, and all soon knew that she was blessed - perfection of flesh accompanied by a bright and talented spirit, she was more than suited to rule the duchy.
On her twenty-first birthday, her aging father passed the reigns of power to her, knowing that shed run the lands wisely and efficiently. So it was - her cunning and leadership kept the neighbors respectful or conquered, the savages and criminals fearful and few, even the dark forces let her holdings as they were after Akhazereth the Blade tried to possess the duchess, yet was shattered and subdued by her iron will, his power taken.
Fate had in mind to set a weak and foolish monarch upon the throne, one Amantius the history books would come to call the Fop, the Feeble or even Worthless. Still, this excuse for a king wished to take what was not his, and looked none further than the prosperous lands of Argent. As surely as one and one tend to add up to two, there was a civil war, one in which young Celeste would have bested the whole of the royal host, if it only did not outnumber her forces twenty to one.
A gallows was raised to make her an example to other would-be dissenters, yet her bonds were found cut to pieces, and the guards likewise.
Lady Argent found herself amongst brigands, again striving for a place in the sunlight, for the throne. Her shadowy organization spread far, and infiltrated crucial posts yet, in the night where the king was to die and Celeste, enchanted to appear as the queen, was to replace her as the grieving widow and monarch-to-be, a bribed official in a crucial position had displeased the king, and an unimaginative, yet loyal successor took up his post. Like a house of cards, the conspiracy collapsed, its members slinking back into the shadows. Lady Argent followed the saying that discretion is the better part of valor, and vanished into the night.
A third attempt she made, returning with a host of outlanders from the Mage-Blight, a changed people whom she promised good land, pure nature, and most important of all, respect. With they array of strange powers and Celeste's leadership, they marched upon the capitol, and laid siege. Not even the wisest of astrologers predicted the strange alignment of stars that robbed the realm of all magic for one day yet that was enough for Celestes army to fall. Beaten, she escaped once again.
Cursing her fortune, she did not trust her own devices enough to try to ascent again at the time, and thus, the first time in her life, she stooped to serve, to ride the coattails of another to a better position, first serving as a lieutenant for Achzannar the Red, then for the vampire count vanTassel, then for the Master of the Seventh Gate. Her masters change, yet her goal is the same - to assume a position she deserves, for she is more suited than most. There has to be a bright destiny for Celeste Argent, why else would the gods grant her the insight and charisma to lead? What other purpose is there for her talent and the will to power?
Special Equipment, Skills and Talents
Lady Celeste has many talents indeed, even if fate decides to mock her frequently. She's educated and cunning, ready to outwit an enemy and turn his strength against him. Having studied statesmanship and read works of great generals, she is a competent administrator and leader. Smooth and eloquent, she's at home in festive halls and council chambers alike; many a patron (employer, overlord, master) uses her as a messenger, face and voice (given the fact that quite a few of her employers had an appearance sufficiently horrific to scare an average wall, this comes as no surprise).
Her many exploits have made lady Argent an accomplished fencer and accurate archer, her skill at riding a horse or a wyvern are also nothing to be ashamed of. Naturally graceful and dexterous, she can outrun most two-legged opponents; her many escapes left her with ample experience in subterfuge.
While no mage, the powers of the demon she absorbed left her with an assortment of supernatural tricks. Being infused with infernal metal, the armor she sports, skin-tight yet strong, is an extension of her self, growing and repairing defects, and shedding aged pieces. These are one of Celeste's major concerns, for being a piece of her self, they might be used by mages against her; thus, she takes utmost care to collect any shred that falls off her carapace. Still, a hefty blow is all it takes to send an older piece flying, and if she flees in the heat of combat, one might be left behind. Consciously, she can absorb it and reform it later, though its natural state is to be formed.
Celeste can absorb metal into herself, several pounds a day; her carapaces nature is influenced by this, reverting back to steel when she has gone long without any metal.
Being a smart girl, she soon found out that the armor was but the most obvious of her gifts. She learnt to shape her metal into various tools, keys, claws, or even a grapnel with a chain, a solid steel support to hold up a collapsing arch, false coins to fool a merchant, or caltrops to deter pursuit. Once, she shaped wings of thin metal and glided to safety when her pursuers had her backed up to a sheer cliff face. What she has to take care about is her metal supply, for it can run empty pretty fast if she does not re-absorb what she creates.
Yes, this ability can be used against metal weapons striking her, if she is prepared to receive the blow.
Since the encounter with the demon, she found that she has aged little if at all whether her youth will be lasting remains to be seen. So far, her vitality shows in swift, flawless healing; while it is not fast enough to aid her in the midst of a battle, she will be on her feet within a week after all but the most grievous wounds, with no scars to tell of her injury.
One more useful gift does lady Argent have: curses and malign spells affecting her seem to wear off several times faster than they usually do, much to the surprise of any wizard trying his trade on her; even a supposedly permanent curse of petrifaction has fallen off her after a week.
A few of Celeste's skills go wasted in the life she leads - she's able to cook up exquisite cuisine, play the piano, and her needlecraft is fine and precise.
Celeste takes care to have a few emergency tricks on hand, such as elixirs of invisibility or flight, a healing or love potion
She carries a brooch capable of covering her with one of a few pre-set illusion disguises - the images of a servant maid, a townswoman and a foreign noble are amongst them.
Indeed, she prefers to be seen as a mage, using wands and magic rings to that effect.
A family heirloom, the blade Thurisaz has seen two thousand years of battle in the hands of the ruling noble of Argent. Made of a bluish metal, it was brought over the sea when Celeste's people first arrived in the realm. It is well-balanced and extremely sharp. While not originally enchanted, it has become so over the years, having taken so many lives. What it excels at is piercing various kinds of protection, especially magical ones: most defensive enchantments will have a flaw the blade exploits, it seems just silver enough to harm a werewolf, and magical armors will often lose their spell for a few seconds when struck by it.
Celeste has another highly prized possession, and that is her wyvern Angor. Night blue and sleek, it has the build of a race horse, and is bred and trained for speed and maneuverability. Used to its mistress, the beast treats strangers with suspicion. What it likes most is hunting with lady Argent, and fresh sea fish.
Celeste is meant to be a recurring secondary antagonist, trying to profit from various less savory causes with her history, she has little hope of receiving a position in any official cause of the Empire. From a safe distance, many would call her a mercenary.
Certainly egocentric, lady Argent believes herself to be superior, and does not take insults lightly. Her primary motivation is her own benefit; she does support a cause only as long as she believes that it has a future. When a band of heroes overruns the last line of a villain's defense, they certainly will not find Celeste assisting him in his last stand.
She is essentially fearless, weighing only risks against gains; no-one ever sees lady Argent fleeing, for she retreats. Her keen insight and broad education allow her to plan and prepare contingencies; she always has another hidden cache, another trick up her sleeve.
As for morals, Celeste is flexible, valuing the ends more than the means. Not actively malevolent, she will choose the method promising the least complications and negative side effects (for her of course, problems caused to others are their thing to solve).
Some might call Celeste cold certainly, her passions run slow and stable. Still, she intensely enjoys good books, a founded discussion on a wide variety of topics, and rarely can resist a challenge. Relationships are not high on this ladys list of priorities - she has liaisons here and there, people she respects, with whom she spends a night when she is in the vicinity. It is entirely possible that she comes to respect a PC, crossing blades when she supports a cause the hero opposes, and appearing at his (her) celebration after the villain is defeated and nothing stands between them anymore.
Unbeknown to most she has one long-lasting relationship: to her daughter. Young Stella is unaware of her heritage, and lives at a boarding school, studying magic, tactics, and other things a young lady should know. Celeste shows up rarely, though she does make sure that anyone wishing harm to Stella suffers; she also purchases the best textbooks and wizardly paraphernalia for her child. Needless to say, lady Argent does not advertise the fact that there is a young lass who easily could be used to blackmail her.
As for dislikes, she is no fan of explaining herself, especially to morons who would not understand anyway. What she hates is being exposed and vulnerable; she actively weaves an air of mystery, obscures her motives and covers her tracks. This may actually become an anti-trademark of sorts: when something strange happens and no clues point to an explanation, there is a possibility she might be behind it.
(Expanded from 10 - Lynn Argent in 30 Villains and Fiends)
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? Responses (8)
Compliments on the completeness of the expansion.
A bit of a loose end with respect to "the demon she absorbed" part as I see it but doesn't detract from the quality of this piece. In fact, I much prefer the current length.
Yes, a very good expansion indeed! The reference to the demon she absorbed is there - but it is not obvious as first. Perhaps in the original reference to Akhazereth the Blade you could elaborate on the fact he was a demon. Demons do not have a monopoly on possession.
Apology to the author for making the unsubstantiated comment on the demon part, I wasn't reading things probably. I thought the sentence read "Akhazareth the Blade (AB) tried to possess the duchy" so thought AB is a person. Didn't realise that until valadaar pointed it out.
Heh heh heh, her mercenary character reminds me of the character Nobby from Discworld. During his career in the armies of the world, generals on either side could tell how the battle was going based on what uniform Nobby was wearing at the time. So, in that sense, she's like Nobby- except with a sense of decency.
I dont't have much to add to this, except that it has the echo flair and is all in all a good submission.
Very nice expansion Echo, I approve!
Congratulations to you for this second place winning submission in Expand-a-30 Quest!!