About Alastríona Eichmann
Appearance:[Quick Reference Image]
Even if it wasn't for the tail and weird patchwork-cloak-looking garment draped over her shoulders that closer inspection reveals to be a pair of ragged, nonfunctional wings, Alastríona (Al-as-TREE-na, or Trina for short) would clearly be recognizable as something inhuman, tainted, and wrong. Her skin is an eerie shade of blue-white, like the mottled skin of a drowned man, and alternates seemingly at random between the slime-slick skin of an amphibian and the scaly hide of a reptile. Worse, it seems to move, as if something beneath her skin writhes and squirms, searching for a place to burst free. Small grimaces and twinges of expression constantly betray that this bizarre movement is not without pain.
From beneath her ice-white hair emerge two protrusions that begin as horns but quickly lose their rigidity, resolving into a pair of twitching tendrils or tentacles that drape down her back along with her hair; unlike her tail, she seems to have no control over these, and they twitch and quiver seemingly at random, sometimes coiling up under her hair to hide and other times lashing out with blind abandon. Their undersides are peppered with tiny, cephalopodian eyes, which likewise Trina cannot obtain any kind of access or perception from, and seem to be controlled by whatever proto-intelligence animates the tendrils and determines their desires and actions. Her own eyes are colorless and semitransparent, resembling nothing more than frosted glass, and the pupils seem to frequently change shape, expanding and contracting without regard to light or emotion or other external stimuli, more like the mouth of some prehistoric proto-creature than a human eye.
Her tail is studded with strange, unevenly-placed protrusions that resemble both fins and fronds, as if taken from some alien fish-fern, clearly the extremity of some kind of otherworldly aquatic creature, despite Trina's own lack of gills or any other amphibious traits.
She dresses to conceal, wearing clothing or armor with a heavy cloak and hood, though often her head-tendrils will shove any covering off after a time and no garment is sufficient to hide her tail. Nothing below her neck is visible while in public; even her hands are constantly gloved, though that cannot conceal the fact each has an extra thumb opposite the normal one. On a rusty chain around her neck hangs a diamond-shaped silver holy symbol of Shelyn, heavily tarnished and in need of polishing but still - mostly - identifiable on sight. A well-worn, weather-ragged glaive is not often far from hand, or strapped to her back while she travels; if not in combat, she generally leans heavily on an intricately hand-carved wooden cane, covered in etchings of ivy, ferns, and flowers... and, unless only recently acquired, the beginnings of a bizarrely-rapid rot and mold.
Should she be seen without, however, the rest of her body is no less disturbing. The writhing, undulating alien musculature under her skin is all over her body, moving in ways that no normal physique should be able to imitate, as if something beneath her is attempting rebellion against any vestige of humanoid nature. Strange ribbons of darker colors - dark blue, sea green, violet, and black - jut across her skin at random intervals, and can (if not hidden, or if they migrate to her neck or face) be visibly observed moving across her skin like some sort of living thing. Her gloves are specially made to fit to her six-fingered hands - what they do conceal are the small collection of tiny lamprey-like mouths that dot her palms and fingers. Her legs are covered in octopus-like suckers, her feet a bizarre cross of masses of tentacles and twined roots, which if left untended might attempt to burrow into fertile ground and take hold.
Trina's life should have been unremarkable. Her parents were of no special social status, no lofty rank nor the dreges of the poor, but simply common folk with little desire other than happiness and comfort and the health of their soon-to-be-born child. Her father had hoped for a son, but had things gone as planned with only the gender of the child not matching his expectations, he would have been satisfied with a daughter and raised her lovingly. Unfortunately, somewhere deep back within the depths of his wife's ancestry, something dreadfully wrong lurked. Something unholy, alien, and anathema to all life. Something that would, after eons of silence and waiting, finally burst forth in all its wretched glory on the unwitting form of his unborn daughter.
Though so far removed from the ancient progenitors as to have never even heard of much less associated herself with them, Trina was through her mother's tree descended from a long-abolished cult-family of madmen who had opened themselves to the corruption and influence of the maddening qlippoth of the deepest recesses of the Abyss. The taint had filled their heritage for several generations until one, a surprisingly mildly-touched individual, finally found the strength and opportunity to cast aside the family madness and flee to saner civilization. Through the ages, the bloodline had become more and more diluted, and the fiendish taint had receded so as to become an almost-absent strain, leaving no mark upon generation after generation. Only with Trina's birth did it swell back in full force, resulting in terror and death.
The pregnancy was difficult even from the start, but her parents were willing to endure despite the troubles for the sake of having a child. They solicited the aid of a local midwife, a halfling priestess of Shelyn named Beverly Applegate, to see to the aid of the suffering woman and ensure both mother and child survived and maintained good health. Though the pains and troubles intensified as the day grew near, and in the later months her mother became tormented by strange nightmares, hallucinations, and phantom phobias, the priestess nevertheless managed to keep her safe, relatively healthy, and in good spirits, and all believed that the troubles would pass once the child was born.
Which was true, but not in the way they believed.
Shortly before the expected day of birth, Trina's mother woke screaming in the dead of night, in more pain than she had ever experienced before. The last coherent words her husband or the priestess managed to get out of her were, "It's eating my baby"; everything after was incoherent rambling and screams until she at last mercifully died. What she could have never understood was that her baby was the one doing the eating, and it was her body that had become its feast. Moments before she at last passed, her body tore open to reveal the twisted, blood-soaked mass of fangs and tentacles that was her unborn daughter.
Mad with grief, fury, and fear, her father grabbed a nearby wooden bar, intending to smash in the monstrous child's head, but Beverly seized the twisted child and fled, pursued out of the city by the raging father, leaving a trail of blood and viscera in her wake and ignoring the gnawing of the newborn monstrosity on her own clothes and arms. She could do nothing to save the mother, and the father was too far gone in his sorrow and disgust to convince to keep the warped infant, so she decided to raise the child herself. She left that village and all she had once held there behind, with only the carnivorous, spiteful child and the coin in her pouches to her name. As a single last rememberance, she gave the child her parents' surname, Eichmann; she later named her Alastríona, meaning "defender", though Trina quickly became a commonly-used nickname.
The next few years were rough for both of them. Trina was nearly self-sufficient almost immediately after birth, and would tear apart and devour small birds, rodents, snakes, and other creatures if she could catch them or if her caretaker brought them alive for her to kill; she would not, however, eat anything she didn't kill herself for many years. As she grew, though, the halfling's tender care and gentle example softened her bestial impulses. She watched for years as they traveled, becoming itinerant healers and merchants to survive, and how Beverly would enter a town, do what she could to help asking little more than a warm bed and some food as payment, and would always leave some piece of art - a painting, a carving, a sculpture, something beautiful of her own design - behind when she left. Some towns reacted with hostility, especially if Trina was spotted, but Beverly always quelched any impulses to strike back and pushed them back onto the road with every intent of leaving peacefully. When she was ten - and already taller than her "mother" - Trina finally dared to ask why: why they endured the abuse, why they never struck back, why they lived this wandering, vagrant life.
The halfling explained as simply as she could how that sometimes people were too blind or too afraid to see beauty in the things that they did not understand. To them, Trina was nothing but a monster, an alien, unnatural thing that should be left to die if not destroyed outright. And that Beverly would travel willingly with her meant, in their eyes, that either she was the master of this monstrosity or had otherwise condoned its existence, and meant naught but ill to them. She had attempted, in every town, to prove her goodwill through her actions, and in some places it had worked and in others it had not. But, she urged over all, regardless of people's reactions and acceptance she would always wish them well, grant them her healing and her art, and hold no grudges. Such was her goddess's way, she said. Shelyn, she claimed, saw beauty in all things - no matter how hideous or terrifying mortals think they might be. That was why she had saved Trina at her birth: despite the horrific nature of her origin, her mutated and warped appearance, her feral hunger, or her fiendish ancestry, all Beverly cared about was a lone, motherless newborn who was innocent of all but following an inborn instinct, and had done nothing deserving of death.
It was at that moment, that conversation in a small glade off the side of the well-worn trade road, hidden behind the treeline and huddled in a tiny tent to shelter them from the midsummer rain, that Trina first understood what it meant to follow Shelyn's will, and where she first ceased to think of the halfling as nothing more than a defender when she needed it and an obstacle (and possibly potential food) when she did not. And with that newfound understanding and appreciation for her caretaker, she began the road toward taking her place in the Eternal Rose's service herself.
Beverly began training Trina not only in healing and artistry but also combat and magic, preparing her for the day that would eventually come where she would be expected to travel her own road and, in her own way, see the beauty in all things around the world. She showed a talent for sculpture while her abilities in other fields were mediocre at best, though Beverly often referred to her attempts at painting as "abstract chaos", as usually Trina only attempted paintings when frustrated or upset and the results were more random splatters, strokes, and shapes than any cohesive image. She also expressed a curiosity in engineering, an interest Beverly herself didn't see much appeal in, and was somewhat disdainful of until Trina pointed out that those "piles of scrap metal" were as intricate and precisely constructed as any sculpture or carving - all the pieces in the right place, not too much or too little, and perfectly fitted so everything worked together to complete the product.
It was shortly after this that they parted ways: the halfling had no more to teach the tiefling, and it was obvious she'd grown to be able to both fend after herself and to seek her own way. With a parting gift of a new silver holy symbol forged by Beverly - among her other oddities, holy symbols in Trina's possessions seemed to mold (if wood) or rust (if iron) after a few weeks, requiring frequent replacement; the silver symbol has resisted rusting in the years since, but tarnishes disturbingly swiftly and requires regular polishing - and a glaive of her own with which to defend herself, Trina traveled alone into the world, continuing her adopted parent's methods of moving from town to town, offering aid, help, healing, and gifts of art and a helping hand wherever she was welcomed, and leaving in peaceful silence where if her secret was revealed her appearance and heritage made her hated. Yet the feral rage and wordless hatred of her youth has never truly faded, and every day is a struggle to maintain her chosen road and resist the temptations that her blood and her abberant nature whisper in the back of her mind. She finds the more good she does, the more she fights, the longer the voices will go quiet; thus she searches constantly for wherever she can offer aid and assistance, seeking as much for her own peace as for whatever help she can give to others.