Image Credit: Tamara Alvarez
Facial Hair: None
Build: Slender to skinny.
Skin Tone: Very Pale
Voice: A bit childish, soprano
Body Markings: Though her clothing choices disguise it well, she’s heavily tattooed, all of the markings runic in nature and directly connected to her abilities.
Scar Tissue: None
Unique Body Features: None
Alice Rei Cross
Bisexual officially, but mostly oblivious.
Alice isn’t intimidating. She’s not mysterious, and she certainly does not qualify as dark or brooding or particularly driven by anything. She harbors only one secret, her powers, and one major issue: her complete lack of anything resembling self-confidence. To most people, she’s the shy, bookish, friendly, entirely forgettable sort of person who you might encounter one day and then promptly dismiss in favor of someone more interesting.
She’s used to it. Mostly, Alice just smiles, nods, and tries not to trip over her words- or her own two feet. She’s extremely book-smart, but not the most practical of people, and she can come off as a bit dumb, actually, or at the very least spacey. And that’s probably the best word for it; between the staring off into space and the self-directed mumbling, she’s often seen as that harmless kind of mildly crazy that only gets annoying if you have to constantly deal with it.
Some people actually find her endearing, but she remains unaware of this. In fact, she’s pretty bad with reading people generally, and mostly avoids them from a deep-seated fear of rejection. She’s the University Library’s quiet little worker-mouse, and as far as she’s concerned, that’s good enough. A few of the students and teachers have figured out that she’s essentially a general-reference book on her own, and so she does occasionally talk to people other than her aunt, but not too often.
If someone does get her to speak on anything that isn't purely informational, they'll discover that she's quite sweet, in the bumbling sort of way that people with good intentions but no social skills sometimes have. She's capable of sarcasm, and her internal monologue actually swings this way pretty frequently, but she wouldn't dream of using it on another person for fear of being misunderstood or disliked for it. She values the opinions of others far too much, and lacks faith in anything of her own creation or imagination. She's an excellent listener, though, and believes in people, having an intrinsic way of making the person speaking to her feel as though they are being listened to thoroughly, without judgement, and that their thoughts are given serious consideration. Her advice when given is surprisingly insightful and sound, but laced with self deprecation.
Maybe it's a good thing most people don't know this. She'd end up as an unpaid therapist.
S-s-sorry?: When Alice is especially nervous, she'll try not to say anything at all- because if she does, the words come out in a horribly mangled stutter, and not at all with her usual level of intelligence.
"Now if I just...": When alone and working (or sometimes when unknowingly in the company of others) Alice will keep a running commentary under her breath if she has nothing to write on. This actually does serve a purpose, since her memory is perfect for sensory information, she will remember everything she says at a later date, though she might not remember a mere thought. This is often done in foreign languages.
Cordon Bleu: If there's a kitchen around, Alice gravitates towards it. She loves to cook and to eat, which might be a surprise for one so thin. Truthfully, processing the massive amounts of energy that she does takes its toll, and she greatly enjoys both eating and sleep, especially after prolonged periods of exertion. Her aunt is a hopeless cook, so Alice has become quite good at it. Tangentially, she also enjoys cooking shows.
Alice has a generally-fearful personality, but usually manages it okay. Notable stumbling blocks include the following:
Human Herd: She's a small person, and, mutant strength aside, she fears getting lost in large crowds, or swept up and unable to move of her own will.
Who, me?: Alice has trouble with social interaction, specifically with strangers. Once she's gotten used to a person, she can open up to them and interact a little more easily. She still has difficulty stringing together more than a few sentences on non-academic topics, though, and doesn't much like to talk about herself. Small talk is completely beyond her at all times.
Nobody Special: Alice is both a mutant and a witch. It's hard to find two words with more combined negative social stigma attached to them, and for the obvious reasons she'd really rather she not be found out. From an early age, she's been encouraged to keep her head down and her nose to the grindstone.
As of right now? Survive. Hopefully, she’ll also figure out what the heck is going on at some point, but survival is good.
Nose in a Book: Reading and knowledge are her passions, and she has a deep appreciation for the magic of the written word. Often literally.
Paint Her a Picture: She's no Van Gogh, but she appreciates art on an aesthetic level, and frequents museums.
Ghandi's Girl: Alice would really rather not fight you. She'd love it if you could talk out your differences and part amicably. She doesn't prejudge, and honestly wants to make an effort at coming to an accord rather than to a fight.
Please Don't Hit Me: The idea of doing harm to something is difficult for the gentle young woman to swallow. The thought of killing something has never crossed her mind. She's a vegetarian, for goodness' sake!
What's Going On, Anyway?: Knowledge is power, and few people know that better than she does. Having someone intentionally deny her this is extremely frustrating for her. She doesn't pry into people's personal lives, but if there comes a time when someone's personal life is relevant, she would unquestionably believe it necessary for that person to divulge.
Not as Dumb as You Think: She dislikes being mocked, looked down on, or condescended to. It's happened enough times for her to develop a serious aversion to it. As a child, it was her stutter. As an adult, it's her bookishness and lack of social graces. It doesn't help that she expects this to happen by default, to the point of being actively surprised when someone doesn't.
Ask Me Anything: Alice is basically a walking encyclopedia, and a quick learner to boot. Like any good nerd, she is also more than happy to offer overly-long and complex explanations of the things she knows, when prompted.
Fire at the Fingertips: Alice is a witch, and a pretty impressive one, though she has no way of knowing that, having never actually met more than one other witch before. Her ability is not impressive for being too advanced- she’s only just out of her apprenticeship- but more for the celerity with which she can pick up new things.
Patience of a Saint: She might be clumsy, and sometimes she comes off as ridiculously clueless about the things that matter, but Alice has all the patience in the world, and the ability to tolerate just about anyone, no matter how abrasive or cruel they are to her. She has never been known to get angry, even in the most heated of situations, though it is possible to upset her.
Rabbit Hearted: She really is afraid of or at least nervous around most people and/or large creatures. It’s something of a problem.
Do I Look Like Bruce Lee?: Are you kidding? Alice is a librarian, not some kind of kung-fu master from the jungles of badassery. Her best option in any close-quarters situation is to run away, and quickly. It should be noted that as a mutant, her body has enhanced capabilities, but she doesn't have any idea how to take advantage of this, and so is still useless in such a situation, except perhaps as a human shield.
How Does This Thing Work?: Again, librarian. She’s never touched a gun in her life, and she has no desire to, thank you very much. The only knives she knows anything about are the ones that belong in kitchens.
Glasses, square and black-rimmed.
Nothing more protective than a run-of-the-mill shirt. Always with sleeves. Occasionally a dark grey trench coat.
Likely a belt, probably made of synthetic materials.
Jeans most of the time.
Converse or practical shoes.
Hand-to-hand: Alice is a mutant and thus stronger than the average human, but she has no formal training for this, and so honestly would be just as likely to hurt herself or an ally in a close-quarters situation.
Armed combat: No skills at all. The only thing even remotely close to a weapon that Alice can use is a kitchen knife. Swords, guns; she’s equally pitiful with all of it.
Melee Combat: It would be a poor idea to ask Alice to participate in a situation like this. She needs to be able to stand back and concentrate.
Magical Combat: The “combat” part is quite new, but Alice is good with her magic, mostly at long range.
Mutant Memory: Alice never forgets anything she has read or seen. Her ability to learn and reproduce information is exact and extraordinary. She uses it for nothing more exciting than memorizing the locations of books in the library she works at.
Speaking in Tongues: Through a combination of her memory and her powers, Alice knows at least some of almost every language there is, especially and including the dead ones.
Superfreak: Alice’s status as a mutant has granted her all-around improved physical capacities, especially in the area of physical strength and agility. She’s still not extremely resilient, though.
Stasis: Alice’s unique brand of witchcraft has actually essentially frozen her in time. Her cells do not weaken or age, and she is theoretically immortal because of this. However, she also will not regenerate injured cells unless she consciously engages this process with magic, so while for example her blood still clots, all wounds will have to be closed by magic and conventional stitches will do nothing to aid in healing. Her hair and fingernails do not grow on their own, either.
Witchcraft: Alice was trained by her aunt in a witch’s basic skills, such as potion-making and verbal spellcasting.
The Pulse of the Universe: This is the ability unique to Alice’s hereditary bloodline, and the one from which her primary combat method is spawned. She is able to see and sense the latent potential and kinetic energies in anything, essentially the energy that they may or may not be using at any given time. This gives her a unique concept of the interconnectedness of all things, but on its own, the sight isn’t good for much.
Runecasting: Through extensive research into ancient and modern languages and the way in which language structures the mind and thought, Alice and her family have managed to find a way to make use of all the extra energy that never gets exploited. Essentially, they shape these forces to their will through the use of runes or language, which structure the form in which the caster wishes the energy to manifest. The uses are varied and sundry, limited by nothing more than language and imagination. It does, however, require a great deal of focus, something which Alice has yet to perfect.
Runecraft: Through the inscribing of runes into or upon a surface, Alice can harness the latent power in the world and create various effects. Runecasting is broadly classed in three categories of effect: Destruction, Alteration, and Enhancement/Debilitation. It's all the same thing, and done in the same way, but can be used for a wide variety of tasks.
Tier 1- The Pen Is Mightier: Destructively, basic runes are used to create small-scale effects. A Norse rune for “fire” might produce a jet of flames or perhaps enough of a localized combustion to blow open a door. A rune for “wind” may cause a gust to knock someone off balance, perhaps. Not much of anything stronger than an ordinary spoken spell. In terms of less direct alteration, metals might be changed to other metals, or water to another liquid. Essentially the basic reorganization of elemental structures, but not into completely dissimilar substances or molecules. Enhancement runes can be used to boost speed, reflexes, or strength in biological organisms, with debilitation causing the opposite (assuming she can get close enough to write a rune on the intended target!). A gun might be inscribed with a series of runes to prevent jamming or increase accuracy a hair. Effects are usually small, but not negligible. Overall, a versatile but not devastating art that requires intense concentration and some degree of time-delay.
*Tier 2- Pulitzer Powerhouse:An increased understanding of the Pulse of the Universe means that the same runes produce better, longer-lasting effects, assuming they weren’t permanent to begin with. Larger-scale castings are possible. The same explosion that would have taken a door off its hinges, for example, could be adjusted to take out something as large as a large storage shed. Alice’s project at the end of her apprenticeship was the design of a series of runes that enable her to fly. Runic healing, the knitting together of flesh and bone, is possible. Tier 1 castings require less time and focus.
Tier 3- Scripted Story: Alice is able to chain together her runes for multiple effects from the same casting, including times blasts of energy or complex healings. Runes can be left places and activated from anywhere, making seeing far-away locations a possibility. Such a chained rune could raze a large building, or do something as subtle as guarantee that a gun never misfires. Alteration from one form of matter to another becomes possible.
Tier 4- Let's Do the Time Warp, Yeah? Alice has been at this so long that runes flow like water from her hands. She takes much less time to charge them, and they can be used for things as complicated as teleportation, assuming that another rune was set up at the desired destination. In battle, she's a heavy-duty cannon, able to manipulate energy in its purest forms with nothing more than simple sketches in the dirt at her feet.
Tier 5- The Unity of All: A full understanding of the Pulse of the Universe means that Alice no longer has to write her runes in anything. In all but the most complicated cases, merely calling them to mind is enough to produce the desired effect, though it gets tiring much more quickly. Her alterations can selectively ignore some of the laws of physics, but only with sufficient time and focus. Buffing spells on allies last until she dismisses them, and she's strong enough to lay magical waste to a square mile with fifteen minutes of preparation, by just about any method you'd like.
Speechcraft: Spoken spells, generally of less diversity than rune castings, but more along the lines of conventional witchcraft.
Tier 1- Words Can Always Hurt You: Low-level spells typical of young witches: fist-sized fireballs, basic scrying etc. Nothing powerful enough to kill a person singularly.
*Tier 2- Linguistic Lance: Alice is capable of higher-level spells, including the manipulation of existing elements (fire, water, etc.) into the forms and purposes she wishes, and more concentrated scrying, present and occasionally into the past as well.
Tier 3- Dolittle Does Much: All of Alice's spells are stronger and require less energy. Additionally, she gains the power to communicate with animals of higher intelligence, and to force their obedience if necessary. Her scrying of the past has become solid, and she can attempt to scry the future with the assistance of a psychic, acting as a focus to their abilities.
Tier 4- Give Me the Meter, I'll Take a Mile: By adding a little cadence to her cantrips, Alice is able to drastically increase their effects. A wide range of spells are now available to her, and many of them can kill without difficulty.
Tier 5- Motormouth: By keeping up a continuous string of words, Alice can get several spells running at once. Her power is great enough to warp the reality within a certain short distance of her, causing bullets that were there to vanish, or new things to appear, all according to the demands of her words.
Itemcraft: Like all witches, Alice has some knowledge of flora and fauna, poultice and potion.
Tier 1- I Know That Plant: The rudiments of crafting and wilderness survival, including the ability to produce poultices and painkillers, in addition to a thorough knowledge of plants and some experience with poison.
*Tier 2- She Blinded Me With Science: Alice has learned to produce various potions for storage in breakable containers. These include corrosive acids that activate with a word, poisons to create effects like temporary blindness, and flash-bombs. They're mostly best-off in the hands of her allies, but can buy her time if an enemy gets too close. Low-level antitoxins are feasible also.
Tier 3- Nurse Cross, Not a Cross Nurse: Al is able to isolate toxins and produce antivenin on demand, even in the most immediate of situations. Her poisons and acids are more advanced, and she can now produce smoke bombs and longer-range debilitating chemicals, which do not require direct contact with the skin.
Tier 4- Deadly Chemistry: Through extensive study of the immune systems of beings both mundane and supernatural, Alice knows it all. She's given herself a passive immunity to her own poisons, and can thus ingest them in amounts large enough to make her blood, saliva, and even sweat toxic. She keeps the antidotes handy, of course, and can also clean her system of all these things if she needs to.
Tier 5- Eco-Terrorist: Alice, in addition to being quite literally poisonous herself, has reached a level of understanding in nature that actively allows her to commune with plants, and discover if anyone has been within a certain radius, for example. She can also direct vines or tree branches to ensnare someone. Her skill with biological weapons is just about unsurpassed, and even the mildest of toxins can be mixed into a deadly cocktail if handled correctly.
Messenger bag: Contains two notebooks, a reference on Old Norse, three pens (black, blue, and purple), two sticks of plain white chalk, one sharpie marker, a cell phone, and a wallet (with driver’s license and exactly $23.06 in cash, Red Cross donor card, University staff ID, debit card).
Agnostic, but likes to believe that there’s a god or two out there somewhere.
Mother and Father, deceased (car accident)
Marilyn Cross, Paternal Aunt, age 42, lives with Alice (witch).
Alice was born in Okinawa, Japan, but at the age of eleven, moved to Chicago, Illinois, to live with her aunt.
The First Time
Alice woke with a start, straightening abruptly and looking around. From the looks of things, she’d fallen asleep in the library again. Peeling her hands off the pages they’d become adhered to, she sighed and closed all the individual books arrayed in front of her. Old Norse was proving to be a most fruitful and interesting avenue of study, but sometimes she wondered why she bothered. It wasn’t like her powers had any practical use- Aunt Marilyn had gone her entire life without ever once using any of them in anything except practice and the occasional magical experiment.
Some of the print had transferred onto the palm of her left hand and she smiled a bit to herself, rubbing at the tiny block letters and shaking her head. “Just look at yourself, Allie. You fall asleep here every night, nose buried in stacks of books, and for what?” Goodness knew she should probably find a better hobby.
Even as she thought this, an acrid smell drifted to her nose, and she frowned. Smoke? Who in their right mind would smoke around this many books? Hang on… the library was closed! It was midnight, for Heaven’s sake! Alice whipped around, only to find that there was a man sitting, casually as you please, smoking like a chimney in her library, apparently waiting for her to notice him.
Her reaction was, naturally, to shriek and jump three feet in the air. Thank goodness her agility rune wasn’t yet activated for the jog home, because she might have hit the ceiling otherwise. “Wh-who are y-y-you?” she stuttered, inwardly berating herself for the inability to hold a rational discussion with the invader. The extremely creepy, very scary-looking invader. Properly, she should scold him or something, but frankly she was scared witless at the moment, because she had just noticed the gun on the table in front of him.
“I am Asher Faust,” the man replied as though completely nonplussed by both her obvious nervousness and also inability to form a coherent sentence.
“Oh.” She wasn’t really certain how to respond to that. Had he really just told her his name? Didn’t creepy stalker-types not usually reveal that kind of thing? She might have been imagining the ghost of a smirk that appeared on his shadowed face, as though he knew exactly what she was thinking and was amused by it.
“You know, usually the response is to return the introduction. But you needn’t bother. I know who you are already, Alice Cross. I know what you are.” He sounded so completely certain that it never crossed her mind to second-guess these assertions. She might have mentioned that she was wearing a nametag, and the rest of it could just be fishing for information- but oh no. This man knew. There was no doubt about that.
“Fear not- I don’t plan on giving up your secret. You aren’t the only one who has one, after all. I, for example, am what you might call a demon slayer.”
Alice blinked. “D-demons?” Of course, things like that tended to come up when you researched the arcane, and she had always figured there was some kind of chance they existed, but she’d never so much as seen one. Why she was taking his words at face value, she wasn’t sure. Frankly, she should be trying to figure the quickest way out of here, or scribbling a paralytic rune onto a nearby surface and casting it at him, then running away.
“Indeed,” he replied with perfect nonchalance, taking a long draw from the cigarette in his hand. “You’re not alone, Alice. There are other people like you and I- an entire world of them that you have likely barely thought to guess at. A world that, as it turns out, needs your help.”
Alice had a fairly innocuous childhood, all things considered. Her parents were both academics, and encouraged her love of reading from an early age. Growing up, she was never particularly paid attention to by the people around her; she seemed pretty average all around, save for her bookish intelligence. This tendency made her on occasion the favored target of her peers, and in middle and early high school it was bad enough that she closed herself off from much of the rest of the world nearly completely, which goes a long way to explaining her fearfulness and stuttering.
In some senses, she never got over it, but in others, she matured considerably. After the death of her parents in a car accident, she was sent to live with her aunt, a witch, in the United States. It was there, at around the age of eleven, that she began learning the fundaments of her craft.
Her tattoos are the result of much research into runes, and they essentially make her a blank slate, capable of directing potential energy to any number of ends. Of course, the combative applications of being able to give herself enhanced strength or speed never really occurred to the meek mouse of a girl, and instead she learned to use them to aid in heavy lifting, or eliminate the need for transport via vehicle. She can even fly with the assistance of runes, though for obvious reasons of notability she does not often utilize this capacity.
She went to college and got a degree in Linguistics, and a master’s in Library Science, something that just seemed to be a natural extension of her abilities. She’s studying for her PhD. mostly just because she can; languages are naturally of import to someone who focuses power through letters. Despite her abilities, nothing extraordinary has ever really happened to her, and she remains blissfully ignorant of shadowy organizations, demons, and the like.
Though she has yet to discover it, her connection to the world’s energy has had a strange effect on her body; she actually stopped aging at around twenty-three. It seems that the sheer amount of energy and life-force that she channels has meant that her cells don’t wear out normally. She has noticed, though, that her fingernails and hair don’t grow, and the latter does not retain dye. In actuality, her form is frozen in a sort of stasis. If it is damaged by outside means, such as injury, though, she will have to use magic to heal it, since she will not heal on her own for the same reasons she will not age.