Cristina, also known as Rel or Aurelia Apprita, is a Nibenese mercenary and mage-hunter. In theory a member of the Mages' Guild (although truly neither here nor there thanks to her past), she is entirely unattached to any side of any conflict and is simply trying to get by in the world, her only ambitions being to retain her current lifestyle despite anything and harbour her dislike for her parents as long as she can.
Race: Imperial (Nibenese)
Birthsign: The Atronach
Physical Description: It is quite clear after observing her for even a short time that Cristina is no frail flower (even if she does smell faintly of lavenders). While her build might not be particularly threatening and standing at only slightly taller than six feet, she might be presumed to be less of a warrior than some Orcs or Nords, the Nibenese possesses a wiry strength to surprise, augmented by her equipment and made all the more potent by the fact that she knows how to best use it. This experience will be evident to anyone who knows what to look for in the way a person carries themselves – the mage hunter walks with confidence and a sort of grace that could be expected of a fighter.
A Nibenay-born, her heritage is quite clear without asking. A stylized tree is tattooed in black on her left cheek, along with two crescents – representing the twin moons – off to the right from her right eye and what is quite clearly the sun on the left side of her brow, right above the eyebrow. The sun is almost always partially obscured by her light brown hair, which Cristina tries to keep tied in a tail, but it is generally unresponsive to attempts of taming and several strands inevitably fall on her face, much to her annoyance. Oddly enough, her tattoos are perhaps not the most notable thing about her face, as many tend to note her almost disturbingly bright blue eyes that sit below her slightly arched, thin eyebrows and distract nicely from a small burn mark that’s on her chin, touching on the lower of her thin lips. Eyes do tend to wander much more easily to another similar burn mark that sits smack dab in the middle of her face, covering some of the right part of her slightly snub nose and extending right below her eye.
Weapons: While Cristina sells herself on her skill at preventing mages from casting spells, she’s not much of a mage beyond that, having never bothered to learn how to conjure up little more than a harmless flare. Instead, she prefers more mundane tools of war, in the way of which she has several. Two throwing daggers etched with runes are always at her side, enchanted to disintegrate armour to some extent, although they are more of a fallback plan – her main weapon is a bastard sword invariably seen slung over her back in a plain sheath. While she alternates between wielding it in one or two hands, the sword isn’t actually as heavy as it is supposed to be, having a feather enchantment. While the hilt of the sword is made of a worn leather strap, bloodied in several places, the blade itself is well kept, with a silvered edge and a core of steel. Right above the hilt, a small narrow gem has been crafted into the blade, having the rather unique enchantment of glowing to the wielder (through the use of a targeted Illusion spell), the glow not being so bright as to distract her in normal circumstances but bright enough that she rarely finds herself wishing for a torch.
Armour/Clothing: Cristina’s outfit does not really stand out among other mercenaries; it’s been almost a decade since she last dressed to impress, and it shows. Her long sleeved blouse once used to be light blue, but the colour has since faded except on the lower part of the sleeves, which are almost invariably curled up a bit above the elbows, and the dresses she wore as a noble have been replaced by simple dark brown pants, somewhat baggy on her. The almost knee-high black leather boots, elevated very slightly on a flat heel, seem similarly worn to the rest of her clothes, though they serve a purpose beyond simple footwear, being enchanted for walking on water.
While the mage-hunter’s primary targets are usually not big on direct attacks, this does not mean she neglects defence from more mundane offensives. It is very rare to see Cristina without her armour, which consists of a very short sleeved chainmail shirt, reaching to mid thighs on the legs, and a steel breastplate (she judged a full cuirass too restrictive and expensive for her needs). There’s also a simple steel plate over her right shoulder, acting as a sort of a pauldron, and she also wears a steel collar to protect her neck, which has a narrow gem crafted into it on the right side – to make it capable of holding more impressive enchantments, already put to use as the collar has a light dispel, meaning that she doesn’t have to worry about weaker spells, hostile or otherwise (the ones that make it through her natural resistance anyway). A simple, quite narrow leather belt is worn over the chainmail shirt, holding a number of items – a silver locket, tied to it with a chain of the same material, her two throwing daggers and a small canteen. In the way of other armour, there’s a steel gauntlet on Cristina’s right arm, with a gem in it identical to the ones on her collar and sword; the gauntlet’s enchanted to augment her physical strength. The fingerless glove on her other hand isn’t enchanted, though she’s on the lookout for ideas to replace it with something that could be of use to her.
Misc. Items: -A small backpack in which are several things: a handful of potions for both diseases and restoring magicka, a small flask of Nibenese lavender oil, a tiny book that combines as a log of sorts and a source of paper (as evident from the amount of pages torn out) and two small, narrow green gems – things valued because of their enchantment potential. Along with those already in use, Cristina stole these from her parents when she left.
-A small silver locket that she usually carries not on her neck but tied to her belt, inside which is a portrait of her brother when he was about fifteen. He’s the only family Cristina hasn’t entirely cut off ties with, although the locket is slightly cracked in one place – it was thrown to the wall once or twice when the image brought back memories of how her brother’s achievements were always shoved in her face as something she had to live up to.
“Well if you insist, Rel it is. But don’t even think of getting all formal on me with the full name or, Magnus forbid, the family name.”
“Oh, don’t worry, I know the ‘old friend’ status is easily revoked as far as you’re concerned if I so much as steer towards that.” -Cristina and Varo
Cristina wasn't predestined to a life as a sellsword and mage-hunter. In fact, she was born into luxury, her family being one of the prominent noble bloodlines of Leyawiin. Well-known for their close ties to the arcane, the Appritus family could claim to be able to trace their line back to the pre-Alessian times, being the descendants of battlemage aristocrats that were the rulers of a small town on the eastern bank of the Niben. Her parents were known benefactors of the Mages' Guild, taking extreme pride in their own skill and willing to accept nothing less of their two children, Remus and Aurelia, than excellence. The eldest, Remus, seemed to be the embodiment of their hopes - a natural at the arts of Alteration, this allowed him to get away with laziness and his carefree nature both.
When it came to Aurelia, however, pride was hard to come by - from the beginning of her life, the odds seemed to be stacked against her. Born under the sign of the Atronach, the heavens did not leave her unmarked as her parents had hoped they would; quite the contrary, the 'curse of the Atronach', as her father called it, manifested strongly in her. The door to the flows of magicka all around her seemed shut, but from the moment that became obvious, Aurelia's parents vowed to force them open - even if it meant the everlasting enmity of their daughter.
Both Remus and Aurelia were entered into the Mages' Guild at a very young age, at the same time too in spite of the two year gap between them - Remus began studies when he was eight, while Aurelia, who had to best her 'curse' before she could begin to do their family proud, was only six. If asked now, however, Cristina would say that she was treated as though she was sixty. Every little failure that her tutors would allow to slip by, her mother would not. Every time she said she felt worn out from arcane practices, her father would point at Remus. Despite being excellent mages - or perhaps because of that - her parents were not good at raising a child that did not meet their expectations. Her brother told her again and again that they did love her, they merely weren't good at showing it, but she found it remarkably hard to believe when he himself was showered with praise and displayed before other nobles as the future of the Appritus house. She, on the other hand, was relegated to making nice with Imperial Navy captains and curtsying before minor nobles, despite not being that bad on what she'd call now 'fancy occasions'; better than Remus, at any rate, but ettiquette didn't matter so long as she couldn't overcome something that she had no way to.
Unlike what could be expected given their entirely different situations, however, the two siblings remained close. Remus seemed to love his sister more than her parents loved her; there were definitely times when he defended Aurelia before their parents or put in a good word for her, as well as trying to look after her. When she needed looking after, anyway - unable to put up with her parents for longer than ten minutes, she was a quite independent person. And she did find a reprieve in the Guild itself, since most of the tutors weren't as bent on pushing her onwards as her parents. And, of course, the tutors weren't the only people there; one to stand out in particular was a young mage named Varo. Five years older than her, hailing from a lower-middle class family, not dissimilar to her brother in personality if somewhat more cautious and responsible, this same Varo was to be Aurelia's first love - something that she never admitted to either him or herself, allowing the feeling to fade without ever acting on it. Partially, that was because he was one of her better friends, making the feeling quite awkward then and extremely so whenever she remembers it now.
It is unclear how things would've went from there, had a fourteen year old Aurelia not taken an avid interest for the strange school of Mysticism. The fact that it was the most ill-defined school of all meant that it had been for ages shunned by the Appritus family; the stance on it was that a mystic was a byword for an indecisive mage. Aurelia, however, was perfectly decisive - she was completely taken by the idea of preventing others from casting spells or making their effects useless. This appealed to her to the extent that she neglected all other aspects of magical study. Eventually, it became too much for her parents - after a bit more than two years of such 'inappropriate behaviour', Aurelia woke up to being asked to confirm that she leaves the Mages' Guild. Her parents were pulling her from it and they would hear nothing against it - if she was going to just waste time, they were already arranging a marriage with a promising young officer from the navy who had become quite enamoured of her.
That day was the end of Aurelia Apprita. After a very heated conversation which mostly consisted of a lot of yelling, she told her parents she wanted nothing to do with this crazy family (a statement accompanied with some choice words she'd gathered about them over the years) and that she would sooner become a sailor herself than marry. Her parents didn't pay much heed to such threats; however, they underestimated how much their daughter was like them. More willing to cut out her tongue than take anything back, Aurelia briefly mentioned to Varo that she was leaving; this was as she frantically packed some things to help her last until Bravil. Unable to dissuade her, her older friend grudgingly decided to go with her, since, while she possessed the education of a noble and wasn't extremely pampered, the fact of the matter was that Aurelia knew very little about everyday life of the lower class, a life she was now volunteering for. Comming from a poorer background, Varo hoped to help her survive - and eventually, bring her back, something he hastily promised to her parents after informing them their daughter had left Leyawiin. Upon catching up with the future mage hunter again, he could bring her a firsthand account of how her family had just disowned her, which she took gleefully and remarked that it made her glad she'd decided to take some things from the Appritus vault without their permission.
"Ye'll be wantin' that girl then. All sorts a' strange drawins on 'er face, sits in a ta'ern 'n drinks like a Colovian."
"And them eyes."
"Aye, the brightest eyes ye'll e'er see. And smells o' flowers a bit." -A pair of dock-workers describing Cristina
Setting out with Varo, Cristina didn't begin introducing herself as such for a while yet. At first, she called herself simply 'Rel', which was how she was referred to by most people in the Guild. It was thus that she presented herself as to her first employer in Bravil - when Varo made note of the fact their supplies were dwindling and they needed some sort of way to make coin, she got it into her head that, with what she'd learned in Leyawiin, she was better suited than anyone to take down mages that someone needed done in. Her very first contract was from the Imperial Cult, to get rid of a suspected necromancer who was 'befouling the area with his presence'. After varying levels of success in looking for him and almost getting herself killed, Rel did, eventually, find the necromancer and neutralize him - with a lot of help from Varo. While the pay was good, more than anything the experience was valuable because of what it made her realize - first, she needed to train if she wished to do this for a living. Second, as she excitedly informed her companion, this was much better than her past life.
Bravil was only a stepping stone, but it was a good stepping stone. Courtesy of Varo's aid, Rel managed to complete a handful of other similar contracts, allowing her enough money to be trained in the use of a sword. The training room style was quickly tempered by certain 'flourishes' one can pick up in the back alleys and taverns of a place like Bravil; quite soon, she found herself able to double as a more conventional mercenary, taking well enough to the blade to make her bread this way. It was in the same Bravil that she began assembling her arsenal of enchanted equipment, acquiring a very useful gauntlet that augmented her physical strength - courtesy of the Mages' Guild there, who were willing to pay for a job by forging a precious gem she'd stolen from her parents into the gauntlet to augment its enchantment value and then apply the needed enchantments. Since then, she started accepting payment not only by coin, but also by souls, though she always makes a point of clearly stating she doesn't mess with Black Soul Gems - while Rel isn't much of an enchanter, she does know the dangers of that. Then there's the fact she's uncomfortable with the idea of carrying around another person's soul on a piece of apparel.
Relatively kind though Bravil was to her, she wasn't intending to stay there forever, and she got just the perfect chance to leave - Rel and Varo were approached by a rich merchant who wanted them to take out a ring of bandit mages who were troubling his caravans in northern Elsweyr. The resulting journey took them almost a year, with quite a bit more contracts picked up along the way as the mages led them on a merry chase across the province before eventually being pinned down near the border with Colovia. To date, this is the grandest adventure the mage-hunter would say she's been part of, as well as one of the most profitable as the Nibenese merchant was very happy with the succesful (if lengthy) conclusion to his troubles. Things took a sharp turn for the worse for Rel, however, when Varo informed her that they should head back to Leyawiin and return to their respective responsibilities, as he had made a promise to her parents (who didn't much care for it at the time, furious with their daughter as they were) to bring her back to them. And if she didn't agree with that, then it was time for them to part ways - she was more than capable of surviving on her own between her educations and the skills picked up over the past two years, while he wasn't very happy with a life of endless wandering.
So part ways they did, Varo setting off back to Leyawiin, and Rel heading the opposite direction, choosing to put as many miles between herself and her previous family as she could without leaving Cyrodiil. From the Imperial City, where the pair turned their separate ways, she headed west, ending up in Anvil, where she first introduced herself as Cristina, sticking by that name ever since. There, she would (sort of) befriend a group of Legionnaires stationed in the city, including battlemage and centurion Marius Lepidus, the man responsible for teaching her to drink Colovian firewater (or vodka, as it is sometimes called) 'the way it bloody well should be drank, not like you sissy Nibens do it'. The Legionnaires and the mage-hunter would part ways with the comming of the Oblivion Crisis, when the soldiers were restationed to the Summerset Isles, while Cristina went on to have what she now considers to have been the most profitable time of her life. With the Order of the Black Worm waging war against the Mages' Guild (of which she was only technically a member - she had never signed the leaving form that was presented to her courtesy of her parents, but it was still there in the Guild's bureaucracy somewhere), the need for a woman of her skills spiked.
It was while she was working for the Arcane University that she received the first contact from her family since leaving Leyawiin - a letter from her brother, Remus. While her initial intention was to just throw it away, eventually she not only read it, but also wrote back, mentioning she'd be in or around Chorrol soon. Since then, she has stayed in touch with her brother, always making a point of stating where she hopes to be next so that he can write to her. In her last letter, Cristina informed him she was heading for Taneth, where she finds herself now.
"So you're saying Rel now carries around five hundred knives and enough enchanted equipment to outfit a century..? Sounds like my sister." -Remus
The most surprising things Cristina knows are those that she learned first. Looking at her today, it would be hard to guess this is a woman who knows fairly well how to carry herself in a count's court, speaks not only Nibenese and common Cyrodiilic but also Bretic and common Yoku and can pretty accurately recall the history of Tamriel. Before she learned how to walk like a fighter, she walked like a lady, after all. Despite adapting to life as a mercenary, she still retains some characteristics from her past - her manner of speech, the way she eats and the fact she regularly bathes, which is obvious in that unlike many of her colleagues, she doesn't smell strongly of alcohol and sweat, but instead faintly of Cyrodiilic lavenders.
Useful though all that may sometimes be, she thrives off her other skills. Given that she stepped into the world from the lower end of Bravil, her fighting style is nothing fancy - however, it is effective in a fight. The mage-hunter never looks for a fair fight. What she can't do through her own skill alone, she tries to make up for with enchanted equipment and not so fair fighting. Kicking up or throwing dust, distractions, kicks below the belt, none of that is below her. And while her style might look terribly utilitarian compared to some fighters, that doesn't make her any less formidable in a fight, especially considering her weapon of choice - a bastard sword of quite fine make indeed, enchanted not only to light her way without need for a torch, but also to be light enough for her to comfortably wield in a single hand. Though not as skilled as she is with the sword, she's also pretty good with her throwing knives, at least enough so to be able to hit a person without cutting her own hand off. An interesting point to make is that Cristina is ambidextrous from birth, giving her something of an edge since she can alternate between left and right hands when fighting.
While formidable with her weapons, the mage-hunter's main skill on which she sells herself is her capability to neutralise mages. Instead of simply silencing them, something that a skilled, willful mage can resist, she exploits her 'curse' from birth - more often than not, spells fail to do much harm to Cristina, the majority of the energy behind them being absorbed. This does, however, have a drawback - the results of absorbing too much enery could be fatal and it is taxing on her even when smaller amounts are taken in. This means she needs to discharge all that energy as soon as she can, which is luckily part of her style of combating mages - all that is absorbed is thrown back out as raw magicka, temporarily wreaking havoc on the natural flows of magicka in the area, which makes it nigh impossible for spellcasters to tune to them and cast that way, as well as proving very distracting indeed for anyone with a heightened sense of the flows from Aetherius - which happens to be most spellcasters.