Shadow Stories Diaries
Physical Description:

      Human Form -- Croix's most common human form is that a smaller girl/woman of perhaps 16 years of age.  Pale unblemished skin lays softly over rounded curves, giving a faint hint of childishness though Croix's figure is definitely that of a woman.  Large emerald eyes sparkle out of a heart shaped face.  Black, crudely cut hair drapes in an artistic tangle over her shoulders and down her back.
        Croix tends to 'junk gothic' style clothing.  Torn fishnet stockings, black short skirts and tank tops, battered and decorated leather jackets.  Lots of jewelry made from industrial materials.  High heels alternate with biker boots.  While she doesn't actually wear makeup, she constantly has the appearance of eyeliners and eyeshadows, blushes and lipstick -- all carefully rendered with shapeshift.
      Demon Form -- "Toxic Angel"  Croix's most common combat form is a sleek and poisonous killing automaton.  A resistant white film covers her entire body, the faint rainbow of poisonous oil slicks flowing along her silhouette.  Two powerful wings, tough and membranous, grow from her shoulder blades -- deadly in battering contests, and capable of spreading fast growing mold spores with each sweep.  Round hypodermic like claws on finger and toe-tips can deliver a variety of venoms (or antivenoms, should Croix wish it.)
      Avatar Form -- "The Blob"  Croix's avatar form is a undifferentiated collection of slime -- white, mucous, faintly pulsing and smelling of the chemical processes that carry on her bodily functions.  While Blobbed Croix is still capable of movement -- granted slow movement in some cases -- through a variety of environments.  She can also form pseudopods to use as crude manipulators.  In addition, the chemical factory of her internal structure kicks into high gear, allowing her to manufacture a variety of substances within her own body.


        Croix's first memories are of running, scuttling through constricted and foul tunnels.  Running from something horrible, running toward something important.  But her way was blocked.  She turned back, tried to go around, and became lost in the labyrinthine, garbage filled, festering darkness.  Meanwhile a growing sense of urgency was driving her frantic.  Then -- a sudden sense of loss so great that it nearly tore her apart.
        Consciousness and self-awareness came back slowly after that.  Croix didn't know where or what she was.  Her memories of this time are fragmented and not at all reliable.  She thinks she might have had a run-in with what she later would know as a rogue maker-mass.  She's pretty sure that she lost a few pieces of herself along the way.  And definitely sure that she made a few bad shape choices that were detrimental to her developing consciousness.
        Constantly fighting, being injured, being sick, being poisoned, starving, healing herself, eating... eventually Croix began to put on weight and grow in size.  She slowly adapted to the toxic world that she found herself in -- the underworld of Bat'alzer.  The shapeshifter mimicked those around her, the insects, the lizards and the occasional mammal, and grew intimate enough with their abilities that soon she could mix and match physical traits to suit herself.
        After an unknown number of years, Croix turned curious eyes up the length of the great threads that hung down from the sky.  The trek up the nearly vertical cable was harrowing, but Croix was determined and eventually made it.
        There a whole new world opened up to her, a world of language, intelligence and intrigue.  At first it was difficult for Croix to maintain the shape of a Kalri'i for long -- and she was still small for an adult.  But the caution and cunning of the underworld paid off, and shortly Croix was mingling with a civilized species for the first time in her memory.
        For the next several decades, Croix first explored, then experimented, then grew expert with the power games of civilization.  Though a poisoner non-parallel, Croix also made allies and a position for herself as a healer.  Her ability to understand and replicate even the most bizarre of biological processes, gave her an intuitive understanding of how to repair the damage that those processes might inflect.
        After a number of years, Croix eventually moved into the circles of the maker-mass technicians.  The incredibly complex interactions and cellular structures of maker-mass defied her ability to reproduce for a long time.  Indeed, Croix tired of the attempt before she had learned much more than the basics of biological production of non-organic structures.
        Eventually, Croix gave in to a growing restlessness and returned to the more simple and more savage lands of the underworld.  Shortly after Croix had carved herself out a comfortable and reasonably safe niche in the ruins of a fallen city, strange storms swept through the normally mild weathered shadow of Bat'alzer.  Horrible twisting storms that wracked everything they touched.
        Several of the Kalri'i cities fell victim to the winds.  Cables snapped and whole cities were blown into one another or merely swept away.  Wreckage, whole or in part, rained down from the sky.  Mountains of debris were turned into wind-driven missiles.  Poisons, pollutions, molds, and all manner of uncertain substances were sprayed through the atmosphere.
        And worse, Croix would loose control of herself during the storms.  Her shape shifted uncontrollably, violently, rapidly -- in directions that Croix had no knowledge of and couldn't stop.  After the storms, Croix would always feel ill.  Not an ill she was familiar with.  Not poisoned, or sickened or starving... just wrong.  And it's been getting worse.

Background Addendum (written by GM):

        Sometime shortly before making your assent to the floating cities, you were rudely awakened one day by the feeling of strong invisible bands grasping you tightly.  You felt a rush of air and suddenly the world and many others flew past your sight.  This ride made you very queasy and disoriented.  Soon you were dumped into a rough stone circle a man at the outside.  A wild shock of platinum blond hair, black velvet clothing, and three small silver spheres circling around his right shoulder.
        "I am Mandor.  I have summoned you, for you alone are chosen for the deed at hand.  I offer you a bargain.  I shall give you knowledge of shapeshifting beyond your wildest dreams, in exchange you shall be my blood angel, the fist of my fury."
        He held a small baby up for you to see.  "This is my step brother Merlin. You shall be the hand of justice should an ill fate befall him.  Should he remain unharmed for his lifetime, your services shall not be needed, and the knowledge is yours to keep.  Is it a deal?"
        Knowing that saying no more than likely meant your death, you readily agreed.  He then performed the magic of a geas upon you.  You felt a small thread connect you to the infant, but this feeling was soon overwhelmed by a rush of knowledge you never dreamed possible -- shapechanging into others to gain their powers, altering your blood to create servants, and transforming yourself into a creature of power.
        After this was done you were once again sent along the thread back to your home shadow.  Over the years you never forgot this meeting, as you felt the small thread tug at you now and again.

The present --

        You awake screaming one night, your chaos form flowing over you at a moment's notice.  Your heart feels wrenched from your breast as you scream a death dirge for the murdered Merlin.  Soon after you are once again wrenched through shadow to stand before Mandor.
        "Your time has come, my dark angel.  Merlin has met a fate most foul, you shall see to his vengeance."
        "Use stealth and cunning my Angel, and do not fail."  He gives you a Trump of himself in case you need to reach him.
        Handing you a small scroll sealed with wax, he tells you to travel to the eternal city of Amber and present yourself at Merlin's funeral as the representative of House Sawall.  A demon escort leads you to the city and along the way fills you in on what Amber and the Courts are.  This is just general overview stuff and the only name you are given is Random, King of Amber.
        You arrive at Amber, meet the King,  and attend the funeral.  The wake afterwards is where you get your first taste of Amber politics in action...

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