swiftdawn: (fighting 'til the war's won)
Ambassador Alexia Swiftdawn ([personal profile] swiftdawn) wrote2013-07-22 11:21 am

throne of shadows app

1. Player Information
Name: Carly
Username: yaysunshine@gmail/plurk/dw
Current characters in ToS: n/a
Reserve: here

2. Canon Character Information

3. Original Character Information
If your character is a canon character, skip this and move on to the fourth section.
Name: Alexia Swiftdawn
PB: A combination of original artwork and photoshopped panels of Cynthia from Claymore
Journal: [personal profile] swiftdawn
Age: 30; she looks more like she's in her mid-to-early twenties, and will look that way for quite some time.
Appearance: Alexia is taller than an average human, at just over six feet; she's not even quite done growing. She has black hair with a slight wave to it that falls to a little past her shoulders, generally worn down or in loose braids, and is trim and athletic in figure. Of note are her really long ears that stick straight up and the fact that her eyes glow a sort of acidic bright green. She has a fair amount of light scarring from wounds that weren't taken to a healer quite quickly enough, and looks perpetually tired—she hasn't gotten a good sleep in nearly seven years.

She only rarely fully armors up these days; her usual mode of dress is a sort of high fantasy-business casual that allows her a decent amount of freedom of movement and places to store explosives. (Sadly, that is business as usual when you're in politics on Azeroth.) She is, however, still the kind of person who looks uncomfortable without a weapon within arm's reach.

In general, she tends to favor greens, browns and golds for clothing, although she often dresses in the colors of her current employer when she's on the job.

Home World: Azeroth! See wowpedia. If I haven't adequately explained something in the history section below, search the term and it'll probably turn up; otherwise feel free to ask me about it. It's kind of... expansive.

History: Alexia Swiftdawn was once a budding elven mage, training at the academy in the mage city of Dalaran to follow in the footsteps of her parents, who were professors there. In her childhood they had taken her with the while they traveled all over the world, but with the birth of their second child, Ysolda ("Izzy"), they decided it was time to settle down. Alexia quickly proved herself as precocious and talented, which made her choice of friends all the more odd; she befriended a much older student named Maegwin, another elf, who had, despite her age and formidable academics, failed to advance past beginners' classes due to what seemed to be an inborn lack of talent for magic.

Over time Maegwin (who Alexia quickly nicknamed "Maggie"; she nicknames nearly everyone) became an honorary third daughter to the Swiftdawn family, as she lived on her own in the mages' city. Her own family lived in Silvermoon City in the elven homeland of Quel'thalas, and rarely showed any interest in her beyond whether she'd actually progressed in her studies. It was Alexia, who one day idly suggested that Maegwin's true calling might not be magery, pointing out that she was far better at martial arts and healing magic than Alexia, but neither thought much of it at the time.

After the Scourge's attack on Silvermoon City and the subsequent near-destruction of Dalaran, Maegwin became an orphan—her entire extended family had lived in those two cities and had been killed by the Scourge. However, since they'd never been on such great terms, it was actually somewhat freeing for Maggie, in that she could live her life the way she wanted from then on. The Swiftdawn family unofficially adopted her; she came around often to help play with Izzy and do things around the house while Lord and Lady Swiftdawn were helping in the rebuilding efforts.

As many elves did in those days, though, Lord and Lady Swiftdawn eventually started to succumb to withdrawal from the magic of the Sunwell, the source of the elves' magic power, which had been corrupted by the Scourge in their attack. Rather than risk turning into mutated Wretched, they quietly made the decision to self-terminate together, so as to preserve their dignity and keep their very young daughters safe from them, should they decide they made a good mana snack once they lost their mental faculties.

Well-intentioned as it was, the loss of her parents sent Alexia into a deep depression; she was, after all, only barely into her twenties at the time, which is very young for elves and still pretty young by human standards. She stopped going out or doing nearly anything, interacting mostly only with Yssi, and Maggie, who came around to keep an eye on the two of them and do the household chores that Alexia couldn't keep up with. She was this way for the better part of a year, until one day Maegwin stopped by to tell her that she was going to have to leave.

Maegwin had been training on her own, and had been accepted into the Blood Knights, the blood elves' elite order of paladins. Alexia was really pleased to hear this, enough to actually get excited about something—Maggie had finally found her calling! However, Maegwin had other news—she couldn't stay. The Blood Knights, despite their claim to the title of paladin, did not draw their power from the Holy Light, as most other paladin orders did, but from a strange, luminous being that their prince had captured and brought back from a world beyond, and Maegwin found using the creature for this purpose... unsettling. She had heard about the formation of the Argent Dawn, an organization formed from the remains of the Silver Hand, another order of paladins dedicated to fighting the Scourge, and was going to find them in the Plaguelands and ask if they would train her as a Paladin of the Holy Light.

Alexia was distraught at first at the thought of her friend leaving—and furthermore, at the thought of her friend in deadly danger—but she also realized in that moment that Maegwin had found what she really wanted to do with her life. She'd always had a certain amount of dedication to the Holy Light and helping others, and if that's what she felt was her calling... well, then, damn it, Alexia would wish her all the luck she could. They bid a tearful goodbye, and Alexia started to think about what she wanted to do with her life.

Magery was out of the question at this point. After what had happened to their parents, she had no desire to go the same way, and feared that beginning to practice magic again would leave her susceptible. She found that, somewhat thankfully, being in a semi-fugue state for most of a year had helped decrease her dependence on magical energy quite a lot, and set about learning to do things the hard way. She took up archery and athletics again, and found that she trained back up above her previous skill level quite easily.

Practicing at the archery range, she often saw members of the ranger corps, the Farstriders, training; it turned out that archery, which she had practiced at some in her youth, came back to her easily, and she started to earn compliments from them. One day one of them—likely not knowing her age or background—asked if she'd be interested in joining. After a few days of very careful thought, she turned up in their headquarters and asked to sign up.

She got her affairs in order and had Izzy's education and care arranged for, as she could no longer send her sister back to Dalaran, which had been destroyed by the demon Archimonde shortly after the Scourge invasion of Quel'thalas. And so she shipped out to the "Ghostlands"—what they were now calling the southern part of Quel'thalas that had been overtaken by the Scourge and the Amani trolls.

It was not an easy duty; the officer in charge of her training was killed in action early on, and there were far too little personnel and supplies due to the lion's share going to the expedition to the broken world of Outland, where their Prince Kael'thas planned to make them a new, magic-rich home. However, despite the casualties and the possibility that they were fighting a losing battle against superior numbers, there was a certain determination among the joint sindorei and Forsaken forces in Tranquilien that Alexia admired. And shefound something that was truly a challenge for the first time—and resolved to work through it regardless.

There were a lot of obstacles, especially considering her already fragile mental health. Due to the constant darkness and an increasing interest in not wanting to sleep ever due to terrible nightmares, Alexia developed an extreme addiction to bad goblin coffee and an aversion to stopping doing anything for long enough to actually get a decent night's rest.

However, at the same time, it turned out that she was really good at being a ranger and being a fighter—something she hadn't really expected. And even more surprisingly, she was getting to be pretty good at being a leader. Alexia soon found herself an officer and actually in a position to lead others after the completion of her first year and pulling off some impressive feats with few men. Alexia, a perfectionist at heart, had problems adjusting to the idea that losing people did not necessarily mean that a mission had been a failure, but while she never became entirely comfortable with it, eventually adjusted to the burdens of leadership. The Ghostlands forged her raw talent into honed skill and sharpened her wits to a razor's edge.

When the sindorei joined the Horde officially, Alexia was among the delegates sent to meet Warchief Thrall in Orgrimmar. Having been impressed by the story of the orcs' triumph over their addiction to demon blood and seeing parallels to her own people's struggles as well as feeling indebted to the Horde for their assistance in her people's time of need, Alexia decided to join the expedition to Outland with the Horde's forces.

While there was plenty of fighting to be done against the forces of the demonic Burning Legion as well as Outland's more hostile native peoples, there was plenty of other work to be done, and Alexia found that her ability to speak most of the Alliance's languages as well as most of the Horde's made her well-suited for analyzing intelligence reports. She also did a fair bit of scouting herself, after convincing the mercenary goblin engineers on-site to show her how their flying machines worked.

Her scouting and curiosity brought her into contact with parts of Outland's native population, including the peaceful, mushroom-like Sporelings and the orcs' long-lost relatives, the Mag'har. What she'd picked up from her travels with her parents served her well, and she found that she actually had a bit of a knack for diplomacy. She made a number of friends--both for herself and for the Horde. For her work, she received an official commendation from the Warchief as well as an invitation to help form the Horde's diplomatic corps, which she graciously accepted.

Returning from Outland, Alexia immediately looked for letters from Maegwin, as she had been unable to receive or send post for some time and wanted to know how her friend was doing as well as tell her all about her adventures. However, she found that the last letter Maegwin had sent was dated several months ago, and she rarely skipped more than two weeks, even if they were relatively uneventful. However, even after sending messages along regarding her return from Outland, there was no response, and no one else had heard from her, either. And there was still that bit of concern in the back of her mind that she'd had when Maegwin first left that said that they were never going to see each other again...

Maegwin's last letter had said that she was in the northeast part of what used to be Lordaeron, at a place called Light's Hope Chapel. Having a few weeks left of accumulated leave and a bit of a break before the Horde forces would be ready to ship out to Northrend to go fight the Lich King and his Scourge on their home turf, Alexia decided to go take an impromptu road trip. She set out for the Plaguelands at the next dawn.

Road maps of Lordaeron were still semi-accurate, but obviously didn't mark the new... hazards. After having to run from nests of Scourge and getting completely lost, she had the good fortune to run into an Argent Dawn patrol. They were, naturally, suspicious of a lone wanderer in the Plaguelands of all places; a number of them were also part of the Alliance and hence also suspicious of her race as a whole. They were pretty much ready to skewer her until she mentioned she was looking for Maegwin.

It turned out that not only was Maegwin well-known in the Argent Dawn but well-mourned; she had disappeared with her patrol group about a month before Alexia had returned from Outland and was presumed dead. After a bit of awkward conversation, they offered to take her to Light's Hope, where hopefully she could arrange for transport back home without having to go back the way she'd come. For her part, she recovered gracefully while still grieving, making light conversation and trying to get to know her new companions better.

Traveling together through hostile territory brought them together somewhat; Alexia was not hesitant to step in and take watches and fight any Scourge they ran into, and soon acquired a certain amount of respect among her companions. That, and her perky was starting to get to people. There's only so much you can resist someone who really wants to be friends with you and is watching your back. By the time they were starting to get close to Light's Hope, the human patrol captain, Michael, was the only real holdout.

They were all united in looking forward to some rest and safety at Light's Hope. However, they had to take a few detours to avoid enemies they couldn't handle and, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, ended up getting piled on by a group of Scarlet Crusaders just a little south of their destination. The Crusade, who shared the Argent Dawn's zeal for fighting evil but with a certain extreme xenophobia and paranoia, killed the Forsaken members of the party and took the rest into custody.

The Crusade, however, was a bit busy to pay them much individual attention right away, and more or less unceremoniously dumped them in their prison—which was really a repurposed house. Alexia hoped that Maegwin might be alive and among the prisoners, but the ones that could speak hadn't seen her. Meanwhile, some of the Crusade's officers came looking for information about what was going on outside their isolated town, and demanded to see their group's leader for interrogation.

Michael was the patrol leader, and had taken the worst beating of all of them aside from the Forsaken members of the group, who had been largely torn to pieces. Alexia also realized at this point, that, without his armor, he looked like he might even be younger than she was, and knowing that with the Crusade "interrogation" was a polite word for "torture," felt wrong leaving him to it. So she cut in and told them that she was the leader.

She was never really sure how long she spent with the Scarlet Crusade's head torturer, LeCraft, since she didn't get a good sense of how time was passing. At least she didn't actually have any information to worry about protecting—not that he really seemed that interested in the information. Mostly she made things up that sounded (at least to her) vaguely sensical and hoped they'd believe it.

Eventually they threw her back in the building in the others, with her not knowing how long it would be until they returned for her. In the time she had, Alexia worked furiously to leave a record of her presence in her journal in case she never got back home; she also worked with the other survivors on an escape plan. The Scarlets had been sloppy—something was dividing their attention, perhaps—and they hadn't been quite as meticulous in confiscating their supplies as they could have been, likely owing to the fact that they had other things on their plate.

But then the Scarlet Crusade... disappeared. Occasionally a glimpse of someone in red livery would be seen, running by, but for all intents and purposes the prisoners were forgotten. Something was clearly going on. They were still locked in, though, and (mostly) shackled; however, they started to think they might have a shot at making their escape plans a reality.

One day, though, there was a series of shouts out in front, and the clear sound of fighting. They thought at first that it might be the Argent Dawn, come to rescue them, but those hopes were dashed who broke open the door but one of the Lich King's Death Knight commanders, who looked pleased to see them in a way that didn't seem particularly good for their health.

And none of them were prepared for who arrived next. It was Maegwin, newly-undead and made one of the Lich King's servants. She had, apparently, been given orders to finish off the remaining prisoners; however, seeing Alexia along with her former comrades, the spirit that remained in her partially re-awoke, though not before she cut a nasty gash on Alexia's side. Confused and horrified when she came to her senses, Maegwin offered to hold off the other death knights as they made their escape, but Alexia hadn't come this far to lose her best friend, or for that matter, to die, and, luckily, had a plan that was crazy enough to work. And, thanks to the lack of attention paid to them recently, she also had just enough explosives.

They made it look like the Scarlet Crusade had set a trap in the building, rigging half of it to explode; Maegwin staggered out of the building, singed but still standing, and Alexia and the other prisoners headed the other way, off into the shrubbery, and made their escape. Alexia used the first magic she had in years to cauterize her wounds long enough to survive the journey. They staggered into Light's Hope with just enough time for Alexia to rattle off most of the intel that they had learned and collapse.

She slept through the actual battle that ensued, in the cellar of the chapel, along with most of her comrades, none of whom were in fighting shape after their weeks-long captivity. It was only afterwards that she found out the person she'd fainted on was the legendary paladin Tirion Fordring and that the death knights, including Maegwin, had been freed from the Lich King's control, and found a new purpose in taking down the evil that had enslaved them at all costs, forming the order of the Knights of the Ebon Blade.

After waking up to find that both she and Maegwin still lived, Alexia volunteered to give the death knights that wished to return to the Horde an escort and a re-introduction to the Warchief; Tirion Fordring contributed a letter explaining things, and, after saying farewell to her new friends for the moment (and promising to write—and in Michael's case, giving him her number, since she'd kind of taken a shine to him), they took a portal to Orgrimmar. Warchief Thrall was... surprised, to say the least, but after reading Fordring's letter, he welcomed them into the Horde, knowing that Fordring was a good judge of character.

Maegwin, for her part, quietly disappeared to Northrend, traveling alone and never staying in one place long. She was theoretically a part of the Ebon Blade, but even they didn't see much of her.

As that development happened, the war in Northrend was already moving forward; Warsong Hold had been established as a base of operations in the Borean Tundra, and Vengeance Landing in Howling Fjord. There were a lot of forces to coordinate—as well as coordination with the Alliance, as parts of both the Alliance and the Horde were starting to realize the value of allies in the face of a threat such as the Lich King. Other independent but interested parties such as the Dragonflights, the Taunka, and, to Alexia's delight, the Kirin Tor, who had moved the rebuilt Dalaran to Crystalsong Forest.

She saw a fair share of fighting herself; while she was not there specifically in the capacity of a soldier, she was never hesitant to help fend off attacks wherever she happened to be and took on several missions herself when she found that forces were shorthanded against the various enemies that Northrend had to throw at them. There was a lot of time spent visiting the Argent Crusade's camps, also, once she found out that Michael was part of their forces. (He did end up calling.) She was busy—but she found that it had evolved from something she did merely to keep her mind off things to something she genuinely enjoyed. And all the while she kept an eye out for Maegwin and left her care packages with the local Ebon Blade outposts.

Having the embassy in Dalaran established with the assistance of Archmage Aethas Sunreaver, Alexia finally had a base of operations and a convenient place to work with their Alliance counterparts on neutral ground. Returning to Dalaran, she found a number of old friends who at least remembered her parents' name fondly, if not her, which worked in her favor. Meanwhile, she was often flying out to the region of Dragonblight and the fortifications near the Wrathgate, the southern entrance to the Lich King's seat of power, to work with the joint forces there. However, as much as she would have liked to be able to be everywhere, she couldn't, which was why she only heard about the disaster at the Wrathgate as chaos broke out on the streets of the city.

Both Alliance and Horde forces had been decimated—not by the Lich King, but by a rebel faction of the Royal Apothecary Society of Undercity, led by Grand Apothecary Putress and a newly-engineered plague. Not only that, but Undercity was no longer under Horde control, the Forsaken Queen Sylvanas was incommunicado, and King Varian Wrynn of Stormwind was planning on declaring war. She made a hasty call to the human mage Jaina Proudmoore, ruler of Theramore, who had also historically been a moderate and one to call for peace between the Horde and Alliance, and both of them tried to work on smoothing things over, emphasizing that the attackers were not working on the orders of the Horde and that both groups had been equally injured—but there had been damage done that could not be undone.

For the moment, though, there was Undercity to be retaken. Alexia volunteered to join Horde forces in retaking the city from Putress and Varimathras. All her careful work, getting the Alliance and the Horde to work together! This could make it all for naught. She acquitted herself admirably during the battle, and Varimathras and Putress were slain—but not without casualties, the first of which was the tentative truce between the Alliance and Horde, which erupted in some places into outright hostility. Alexia did not escape entirely unscathed, either; while she had been protected against the full effects of the plague, she has a bit of permanent exercise-induced asthma due to damage to her lungs, which largely took her off the front lines.

Not that she would stand to be uninvolved while the free world—and especially Maegwin, who had been selected for the elite strike force—went up against the Lich King; she volunteered for duty on the Orgrim's Hammer as part of their support crew on the final assault on Icecrown Citadel, where they saw the end of Arthas Menethil as Lich King once and for all.

With the war against the Scourge over with Bolvar Fordragon's assumption of the mantle of Lich King, Alexia hoped for peacetime and time off to spend with friends and family—particularly Maegwin, who had thankfully returned safe and mostly-sound from Northrend. Ha ha. Tensions, unfortunately, were still high after the betrayal of the Royal Apothecary Society, and the outbreaks of violence between the two factions that followed, which kept her busy bandaging hurt feelings and working to get more supporters in their corner.

As the elements began to act in distressing, unnatural ways, Thrall thought it time to step down and become more in touch with his shamanic abilities, making the less experienced and more aggressive Garrosh Hellscream Warchief in his place. She had... doubts. Still, though, she stuck with it, since Thrall said that he needed guidance on things that weren't his areas of expertise, and because she is nothing if not an optimist.

She initiated talks with the Goblin trade cartel that would eventually join the Horde and was part of the coordination of a lot of the joint efforts between the Alliance and the Horde to defeat the rogue Aspect of Earth, Deathwing, and his minions. Despite Thrall's insistence that Garrosh needed advisors like her to shore up his weaknesses, though, she was very close to walking out numerous times due to his tendency to aggressively ignore her advice.

She finally did ragequit after the defeat of Deathwing, when Garrosh didn't even invite her to the meeting where he announced his plans to invade the Alliance-controlled Northwatch Keep as well as Theramore, the territory of Jaina Proudmoore, who Alexia greatly respected.

Furthermore, Garrosh made it clear that dissent would not be tolerated, and that anyone who thought to speak against him or leave would be... dealt with. After a near-miss assassination attempt coinciding with her decision to leave, she sent a message to the Horde Diplomatic Corps communications tree that it was likely that they were no longer welcome in Orgrimmar. A large percentage of them sent in their resignations and returned to their home territories.

Alexia herself went to Dalaran, where her family was fondly remembered, and managed to wrangle herself a position in public relations and intelligence; after all, her information network was still largely intact. When Jaina Proudmoore came to the Kirin Tor asking for assistance in defending her city against a Horde attack, Alexia was a strong proponent of supporting her, and even volunteered to assist in the defense.

Surviving the initial assault, she ended up pursing the escaped traitor Thalen Songweaver; Vereesa Windrunner had already volunteered to hunt him down, but Alexia was well aware of Vereesa's hatred of those she had once called her people, and decided to set off on her own to see if she could catch him first to prove that he was not representative of all of the sin'dorei. This, fortunately, placed her outside of the blast radius of the mana bomb powered by the powerful magical artifact known as the Focusing Lens that Garrosh was about to drop on Theramore.

Of course, surviving that had consequences. On one hand, she was happier than ever that she'd left the Horde, but on the other hand—Jaina Proudmoore came out the other side of the Theramore bombing with a burning hatred of the Horde—and a side of paranoia—and what friendship there had been between them dissolved into suspicion. It wouldn't have been as much of a problem, though, but for the fact that because of Archmage Rhonin's death in Theramore, Jaina became the head of the Kirin Tor.

Leaving the Horde had perks, of course; she had more time to see Michael, whose family lived in Stormwind, and Dalaran was home, after all. But she'd quit her last job in order to get away from a hostile work environment, and while Jaina said that she would accept blood elves so long as their allegiance was to the Kirin Tor first and foremost, she didn't like the way she looked when she said it. Alexia started making contingency plans.

She arrived on the newly-rediscovered continent of Pandaria not long after forces of the Horde and Alliance crashed there as the Kirin Tor's representative, and set about doing what she did best, which was making friends and influencing people, accompanied by a handful of her closest friends. Pandaria was a calm, peaceful place—usually. When Alliance and Horde forces arrived on its shores, their fighting awakened creatures drawn out of the land by negative emotions—the Sha. Furthermore, enemies long dormant in the continent that had been hidden for thousands of years were now returning to cause havoc, which left her plenty to do.

Traveling all over the continent, she often ran into Horde and Alliance forces still fighting each other even as other menaces lurked on the horizon. While traveling through the mountains of Kun-Lai, she was unknowingly affected by energies from the escaped Sha of Anger, which took all her bottled-up frustration at the needless conflict that plagued the world and nearly used it to take her over and turn her anger against both the Horde and the Alliance. It was only Maegwin's timely intervention that saved her, though she still carries lingering difficulty controlling her temper.

It was also during her travels there that she encountered Chen Stormstout, who later called her when his longtime friend Vol'jin, the leader of the Darkspear trolls, turned up on death's doorstep, the victim of an attempted assassination by Garrosh's agents. At Vol'jin's behest, she contacted former-Warchief Thrall to help secure the safety of his people back in Durotar while he recovered.

Not long later, she was also contacted by Lor'themar Theron, the Lord Regent of her people after the passing of Prince Kael'thas, who was also having misgivings about Garrosh's leadership and was interested in negotiating a return to the Alliance and was looking for someone with the right connections and appropriate discretion. She called Michael, who called Prince Anduin, who told his dad, and meetings were set up.

Unfortunately, before she could seal the deal with King Varian and Prince Anduin, Horde agents were caught using Dalaran's portal network to sneak into Darnassus trying to steal an artifact of power called the Divine Bell for Garrosh. Furious, Jaina ordered all blood elves in Dalaran captured or killed—even the ones not affiliated explicitly with the Horde, like Alexia. However, due to the timely intervention of Lor'themar Theron and his forces, she escaped, along with her family and a fair number of their people. Lor'themar offered her a consultant position on the assault on the mogu empire on the Isle of Thunders he would soon be leading, and she accepted.

In the meantime, Vol'jin regained his health, and returned to his people's homeland to lead his people in rebellion against Garrosh Hellscream, and was looking for allies. Alexia secured the support of her own people for the rebellion, and has, after the toppling of the mogu Thunder King, been spending more time supporting the Darkspear Rebellion's operations, using her information network and skill with strategy and tactics to destroy the so-called "True Horde's" supplies and morale. It's only a matter of time before they can march on Orgrimmar, and she's pretty sure Garrosh's days are numbered, no matter how many horrifying superweapons he's managed to amass. Still, though, it's frustrating that it's come to this, and that more good people will die to see this through. Some days she feels like she doesn't want to live on this planet anymore.

Too bad someone's about to take that literally.

Powers/Talents: Alexia was once a fairly brilliant young mage, but only rarely uses any magic—the only magic she's used in years was to cauterize her own wounds so that she could survive to get to Light's Hope Chapel, and she nearly couldn't do it, because she's terrified of succumbing to magic addiction like her parents did. As a result, she only ever uses the tiniest bits of magic, and only when there's no other choice and it's down to life or death. She is, however, fairly well-educated on occult matters.

In the years since giving up magic, she's developed her marksmanship skills to be truly terrifying with most ranged weapons; she can also build a fair number of different snares and traps, hunts and fishes like a pro, is good with animals, and has a lot of experience in engineering—mostly of things that explode. Having spent some time in the military, she's also good with strategy, tactics and survival, and is also a decent hand-to-hand combatant.

She speaks a large number of languages—nearly all of the more common tongues of her home world, and a few others besides—and is a practiced diplomat and student of other cultures. And she's become quite adept at convincing people that it's in their best interests to do what she wants. She also makes friends easily, which has helped her build a truly terrifying, world-spanning information network.

Personality: Alexia's formative years were spent traveling around the wide, weird world that is Azeroth due to her parents' interests. She learned a lot about other cultures and locales, and, due to that and the lessons that her parents drummed into her, tends to seek to understand where others are coming from when they disagree. Her parents tried to teach through doing that a little kindness and understanding go a long way, and that lesson has served her well. It's her strong opinion that it's something most of the rest of the world could stand to learn, which is why she takes her diplomatic work very seriously. (Though she is starting to wonder if she is going to need to insert it into their heads with something pointy.)

A born optimist, she tends to look on the bright side of life; while she has had her low points, she's always managed to recover from them, and she thinks that's important. There is always hope to her, no matter how bad things get. The troubles she's encountered so far in life have only managed to forge her optimism into a fierce determination to make things turn out the way she wants. If something isn't working, her default reaction is to think that she just needs to work harder—during her early days with the Farstriders, for example, when she realized that she was well behind her peers in ability, she spent every waking moment practicing or reading up on things she thought could help her improve.

She tends to rank the needs of others before her own; it's largely the fact that she really likes to help other people, but also the fact that it's far easier to deal with other peoples' problems rather than confronting her own lingering issues. Following her parents' deaths and the horrors she faced in the Ghostlands, she tried to keep herself as busy as possible so as not to be able to dwell on things, which has evolved into habit. She rarely if ever sleeps a decent number of hours—even when she tries, she often has bad nightmares, so she's stopped trying—and has been known to ignore illnesses or wounds if they might interfere with her ability to keep working.

She also has an intense loyalty to the people and institutions she cares about—she followed Maegwin around Northrend for a year making sure she knew she had a home and a family to come back to if she wanted, and one of the reasons she's amassed such a large number of allies is that they all know she would take a hit for them. She still feels a great debt to the Horde despite having more or less left it because they were there for her people when they needed help, as well as a strong desire to see her people safe, which is why she secretly gave aid to Lor'themar Theron and Vol'jin even before leaving the Kirin Tor's service.

As a soldier, she's no stranger to killing, although admittedly the larger part of her kills have been undead or demonic due to the kinds of things that the world has been fighting in recent years. While she strongly prefers to solve conflict through discussion rather than violence—especially because negotiating is so much harder when you have opposite-faction kills—such is the way of her world that sometimes you just can't get around it. Like when someone's trying to shove an axe blade into your skull, for example. As a trained sniper, she's also not particularly troubled by taking enemies down at a distance before they even know she's there. To her, there's no dishonor in preventing a prolonged fight that could cost even more lives by doing so. That said, she does not celebrate death or particularly enjoy fighting—she's seen well more death than she ever wanted to, and thinks that taking non-evil sentient life unnecessarily is a shameful waste.

Despite her optimism and compassion, though, she also has a great deal of pent-up frustration at the world and its failure to listen—to her, yes, but also to each other. The fact that she works so hard for so little gain—and, in some cases, with actual losses—is really annoying to her, and she's had to keep a lot of it pent up because she has to be polite to people for purposes of her professional integrity. It makes her good at what she does, but she's become increasingly cynical about whether her goals are actually possible.

After an accident while traveling through Kun-Lai in Pandaria, she was briefly infected by energies from the escaped Sha of Anger, and let out all her bottled-up anger at—well, everything and everyone that wasn't cooperating. While she was eventually freed from its influence before it could cause any permanent damage, she still has lingering problems with managing her anger. She's started to add meditation and breathing exercises to her daily routine to combat it, in her usual way of better living through hard work and determination.

Why would your character be chosen? Alexia is clever, and a skilled diplomat who knows her politics (she speaks more than fifteen languages, and knows how to say "I'm sorry you feel that way" in all of them); she's also strongly principled and, furthermore, impossible to keep down. She's also highly resilient, having survived a lot of hardship, and extremely determined when it comes to achieving her goals.

How much does your character know about nonhumans? Well, she sure isn't a human, and neither are a lot of people she knows. As a child she traveled the world with her parents, and met a great deal of unusual people and lived with and learned from them. The Horde is composed entirely of non- and former-humans, and as a diplomat for them she's negotiated with a wide variety of peoples both on Azeroth and on faraway Outland, and did the same on behalf of the Kirin Tor in Pandaria.

She was educated at the foremost school for mages in the world, and as something of a prodigy read her way through most of the library. As such, she has a wide-ranging knowledge of the unusual and the occult.

Why this character: I've written a lot about Alexia (she was the subject of last year's winning NaNoWriMo and I wrote another 30k+ about her this summer) and enjoy it a lot—she's got a lot of grit and determination, but she pairs it with smarts, and I like that kind of character. She's also very friendly and interested in other cultures and people, and has a lot of interesting stories, so she's rarely at a loss for conversational topics.

And also she's sassy and I find that fun to write.

4. Samples
[ Now that she's done berating the greeters for information: ]

Well, I did say "I don't want to live on this planet anymore," so serves me right, I suppose, even if it was only rhetorical. And, really I could do with a bit of time out of the daily grind, you know, though I unfortunately will not be able to marry Prince Tristan due to prior personal commitments. Ambassador Alexia Swiftdawn of the Horde; I'll be looking forward to becoming familiar with all of you during our time here.

[ The title is perhaps a little presumptuous, but it'll totally be correct again after they win the civil war, and it's only a matter of time, of course. (And she already confirmed with the welcome wagon that there's no one here to call her on it.) Really, there's not so much to fuss about, right? Staying calm. She'll be returned when and where she came from, so really all this does is give her more time to catch up on all the intelligence reports she needs to read... and, well, some sleep. People keep telling her she ought to do that. ]

In any case, though, I don't idle well, so I'm looking for something to keep myself sharp in my free time. Copies of my resumé are available to all interested parties, although if anyone requires the services of a sniper, you'll have to get me my rifle back first.

Oh, and I forgot to ask one of the blond fellows—could someone direct me to where one obtains coffee or something similar? Tea'll do in a pinch, but it's been a long day, as one might imagine.

She let herself in via the window, and gently let herself drop to the floor with only the slightest scuff of her boots on the ground. So far so good. At least for now, anyway.

Maggie had said she'd have to be an idiot to try breaking into the headquarters at Domination Point, but she was going to have to get an adequate view of the troop movements somehow, and Lor'themar was pretty sure they weren't giving him everything. Not that they'd have been right to do so—Alexia had been trying to help him negotiate rejoining the Alliance, after all—but still. Where was the trust these days? Was there a Sha of Needless Obstructionism, too?

The office was, predictably, spartan. The base was new and the Horde was not really keen on offices altogether, perhaps with the exception of her own people and the Forsaken. Still, though, one occasionally had to write something down in the service of the war, and—aha! The sheaf of papers she was rifling through looked more than promising. She detached a device from her belt—the gnome who'd sold it to her had guaranteed that it would make a reliable copy of any image. Time to put that to a field test.

Time to be quick about it, though. She could feel the chill through the wall that meant Maggie was getting impatient. She'd told her friend that she'd be fine alone—well, really, she hadn't wanted to put Maggie in danger, and Maggie hadn't wanted to put her in danger, so here they both were. Which was for the best, anyway. If there was anything to face, they'd face it together, just like they'd always done.

She wasn't quite through with the papers when she heard the sound of footsteps echoing down the hall. One good thing about the artless metal building style Garrosh was so fond of: you could hear someone coming a mile away. Alexia crouched down behind the desk and, after a moment's hesitation, drew her hand crossbow... just in case.

Third Sample:
"How's the leg?"

Her companion winced. "Broken," she said, blearily, leaning back against the pillows propped up at the end of the cot. "Some fellow dressed it, but they don' have any heals to spare. Forsaken, y'know, not real big on that." Her speech was uncharacteristically slurred, a side-effect of what Alexia personally thought was a slightly inadvisable number of numbing potions consumed over the course of their slog back to the encampment near Andorhal. "Took a potion to speed it along, but it'll still be a while before I can take another hit f'r you."

"Yeah, sorry about that..." Alexia grimaced, and rubbed her temples. "I suppose I'll just have to go on my own," she said. "I hate not being able to keep appointments, and keeping up a good relationship with the Argent Crusade is important if we actually want to be able to keep the hold we've got in Lordaeron. If Tirion Fordring decides that Sylvanas is worth moving against, it'll be a nightmare."

The other woman coughed. "An' you won't be able to see y'r boyfriend."

Alexia rolled her eyes. "Oh, hush. Get some rest, Adaia. I'm sure I'll be fine."

"You always say that right b'fore you come back with some horrible inj'ry. Make them loan you someone to take with you f'r a bodyguard, at least. Do that thing you do where you smile f'r too long an' they feel compelled t' give you anything to make you go 'way."

"...well, yes," said Alexia, not bothering to deny it. "I'll do my best to keep safe so long as you don't menace anyone more than a hundred and ten percent of what they menace you and make sure to rest up. And don't you die."

"Don't think I'm the one in danger of that, boss."

"Sass is not resting, Adaia."