|Sister Serata MacDermott|
Sera, Sister, Creepy Bitch, BIRDS!
Lawful Neutral (leaning Lawful Evil)
Mother of Shadows
A shadowy figure of a priestess, her facial features indistinct, stands next to a tombstone on which a pair of ravens rest. Three or four more seem to be circling. As you approach, she inclines her head and speaks. Her voice seems to be a chorus, even though there's only one of her.
"Welcome to Brill, child. Please, make yourself comfortable," she intones as she looks to you directly with piercing red eyes and leans on her staff - a staff that looks as incorporeal as she is. "I am glad you survived the resurrection with your wits intact. Shadow willing, you will come out of the next few days much stronger than you were before your unforunate end."
"I am Sister Serata, a priestess of the Forgotten Shadow. I am here to guide you into your new life within the Shadow and offer you its comforts," one of the birds with her caws loudly, as if he's laughing. The priestess doesn't seem to care about the sudden noise, instead electing to advance on you and brush her shadowy, gloved hand against your face. She cups your cheek gently, like a mother would cradle her child's face. Her touch is insubstantial; the hand sinks into your face a little and chills you to the bone. "You see, the Light you once loved cares no more for you. It has left you in undeath. It burns your nerves and your mind, it seeks to put you in the ground when you seek nothing more than to live. You are one of us now, a child of the Shadow, and it loves you so, offers you power and protection like the Light never did," the bird continues. Shadowy tendrils pour from the priestess' fingertips and heal some of the minor damages to your face.
"Come, walk with me. We will talk of the Shadow and the Nexus..." she beckons and turns to walk, not waiting for you to respond. A raven who looks as shadowy as she is flits after her, cawing at you as it passes by. She'll probably just keep walking if you don't follow her... maybe.
Who is She?
Standing a modest 5'6" and weighing a literal next to nothing (thanks to being made of Shadow-stuff), the hunched little priestess is not much for physical intimidation at all.
Since reaching Ascendancy, she's permanently a purple and black colored shadow,an indistinct and wavering version of her formerly solid self - a small woman wearing what are still identifiable as clerical robes of the Forgotten Shadow, if said clerical robes were made of inky shadow-stuff instead of cloth.
She avoids overly bright places and daylight, sticking to night work and shadowed locations if she can manage it. Her feet don't touch the ground at all when she moves, and she's all but ignoring other people's bulk while she hovers around - she sometimes partly passes right through them as if she's insubstantial. She has no shadow of her own anymore regardless of light source, and makes no sound when she moves unless she wants to.
When glimpses of her face are caught, nothing can really be seen with any accuracy except for sunken cheeks and a pair of piercing, completely red eyes beneath her hood. Her facial features seem to shift and fade at random intervals, making her a little hard to look in the eye for any length of time. If she speaks, it sounds like a chorus of raspy, hollow female voices instead of just one.
She has no smell whatsoever, though the air around her is appreciably more chilly than it should be, to the point of making the living somewhat uncomfortable if they spend too much time in her sphere of influence. For some reason, she's almost always followed by at least one raven, if not an entire flock of them. One of the ravens is also made of shadow-stuff and possesses the same glowing red eyes Serata herself has.
She refers to them all as Bertram.
When she was initially risen, Serata had little to no personality of her own due to the massive head trauma she suffered at her first and second deaths. She was instead an effective personality mirror and psychic blank until she managed to figure out shadow healing magic and mend her own brain.
Since that time, she has proven very much a mother bear personality despite her now insubstantial physique - she sees the followers of the Cult of Forgotten Shadows, and the Forsaken at large, as her children. As such, they are worthy of her protection, succor and guidance more than any other beings on Azeroth and will be afforded the best care and training she can provide them or direct them to. If that training should fail and someone or something else should threaten their well-being, she will swing into action and come out raging with the full force of her formidable shadow talents. Under normal circumstances she is level-headed; when provoked, all bets are off.
While the above is the case for Forsaken, she will come off as a bit stand-offish and strange to other Horde races. She knows she has no provenance over the living and tends to be curt (though polite) with them on a good day as a result. She does maintain as many cordial diplomatic ties as possible, recognizing that the Forsaken have enough enemies as is and that in order to spread her will to the universe, it is better to have friends than detractors. She is generally hostile towards, though will not attack unless provoked by, the Alliance. This is mainly a result of their predisposition towards putting her clergy back in the ground.
She is a devout follower of the Cult of the Forgotten Shadow's tenets of faith, believing that the Shadow saved her from a life of being mindless and lost, that it protects her, and that her personal will can lead to the betterment of the universe for herself - and the Forsaken at large. She puts the thriving of their species as paramount, and preaches tenacity and will-to-power to her flock as their primary virtues of choice.
Skills and Abilities
Shadow Magic: Serata is a veritable master of shadow magic, channeling the dark energy of the Forgotten Shadow as if it were simple breathing thanks to her devotion and zeal. She has manifested priestly abilities including, but not limited to: mental domination, shadow healing, creation of shadow-tendrils and creatures with physical bulk, draining the life-force from one creature and giving it to another, and creation of violent fears in an enemy's mind.
Incorporeal: Since Ascending, Serata has shunted off her former physical body. As such, she is virtually incorporeal - what little physical substance she has left is inky, wispy and barely contactable by those with physical form at all. This has made her much harder to hit with physical attacks of any sort.
Shadow Teleport: Thanks to her learning the connected nature of all shadows, Serata can use any shadow (aside from her own) as a sort of teleport spell, stepping into one shadow and out another. Range limits are currently unknown, but this has become her favored method of closing distances.
Shadow Familiar: Serata's own shadow has disappeared, and has instead been animated as a familiar of sorts. It is now in the form of a shadow version of her favoured raven, complete with the same red eyes she has. It can manifest several lesser version of her Shadow magic powers and is capable of more intelligent decisions than her regular ravens.
Raven Control: As a specialized subset of her shadow-based mind control combined with good old fashioned bird training, Serata maintains a working relationship with a parliament of nondescript Gilnean ravens. Aside from using her magic to speak through them and occasionally see through their eyes or rifle their thoughts for things they've seen, she also uses them as spies and messengers.
Charisma: Despite her somewhat off-putting looks and non-corporeal form, Serata is a very good public speaker and writer, and has a powerful presence when engaged in Cult activity. She is capable of manifesting an aura of command, and is very good at whipping people into a frenzy - especially if those people are her fellow Forsaken. She is also tremendously diplomatic, and will attempt to twist situations to the Cult's favor whenever given the chance.
A Life in Light..
Born a little before the Second War outside Andorhal to poor farmers who didn't even own the land they farmed, Serata Baird grew up always wanting for more. A scrawny but speedy girl, she learned early that she could dodge the slow swings of her mother's broom and escape the clutches of her angered father with ease. She spent a lot of her youth getting herself in over her head, until one night in her tenth year.
That night, she packed up her family's few valuable items and left for Lordaeron's Capital City to 'seek her fortune' while they were asleep. She wound up cold and hungry within days of her arrival, but she had too much pride to go home. A pack of street children, mostly orphans from the First War, took her in and trained her as a distraction and pickpocket. One night, she managed to slip past the guards and make it into the cathedral to lift a pair of silver candlesticks. A priest caught her on her way out the door and she was given two options: move into the Lordaeron Orphan House (as she refused to give her name) or submit to a life of service to the people as penance for her misdeeds.
She elected the second option and begun training as a cleric of the Church of Light. She showed promise, being of quick mind and deft hands, and her love of reading paid off immensely - it allowed her to pour through tomes of lore much faster than her classmates. When she was fourteen and barely a novice priest of the Light, she witnessed the outbreak of the Second War in earnest. Forced alongside her classmates and the rest of the Church to aid in the battlefield healing and first aid, she witnessed many atrocities and a lot of death, and suffered severe PTSD afterward - PTSD she self-medicated with heavy drinking in her later teens and early twenties.
Her faith wavered a bit and she wound up settling outside Stratholme, becoming the sole priest of a small village in the woods near the city. Over time, she managed to make some small amends to her family - she sent whatever of her small stipend that wasn't spent on booze to them - and was almost happy for awhile. Then it all came crashing down on her.
The Third War hit the area hard, and the night of the Culling she was in the city proper trying to aid the wounded. She was bludgeoned in the head by a rampaging zombie while she was tending to a fallen knight and died for the first time.
It didn't last long.
...To Rampaging Undead...
When the remaining fighters cleared out, the Cult of the Damned moved in. Among the corpses raised by their necromancers was the former priestess, who became a mindless servant of the Lich King and helped ransack the Lordaeron countryside.
The very same time Sylvanas Windrunner was freed from the necromantic grasp of the Lich King, Serata's zombified self was fighting a group of Paladins which included the former commander of her unit in the Second War. He recognized her at a distance even in her state of decay, and singled her out to be put down "for her own good sake". The combat between the two was heated, neither giving way and both swinging wildly to destroy the other. As she finally pulled the man from his horse, he swung down and bludgeoned her in the head a second time, partly caving it in and knocking her to the floor. The other zombies around her killed her quarry and Serata was left bleeding ichor onto the flagstones of the Capital itself.
Again, this was not to be her end.
...To Forsaken Priestess
She awoke a short time later, entirely without memory of her life or her time in the clutches of the Lich King, at a tomb in the Deathknell graveyard marked MacDermott. She took it to be her own name and no one corrected the assumption, even though by that point the old family crypt was little more than a mass grave. Stumbling forth, she identified herself as a priest to Dark Cleric Deusten, who immediately put the addled woman to work as a copy artist for Cult propaganda and texts. The mind-blinded and personality mirror of a priestess had no idea she was being used as a tool, and didn't care much.
During her time at Deathknell, Serata also began befriending ravens by the score. Initially, they just followed her because they knew that where she went there was food - she was frequently tasked with putting down the mindless undead that roamed the hills nearby - but she eventually began feeding them bits of her own skin and training them to come when she called to them. When asked the birds' names, she would always reply "Bertram", regardless of which - or how many - of the birds were being asked about. Many other locals in the small religious town found her habits a little weird and gross, but let her keep the birds because they seemed to help keep her focused.
She excelled at her work for the Cult for several years, until word of the Undercity Nexus reached her ears. Seeking to better herself in the service of the Cult and the Lady, she set out with Deusten's 'good wishes' (he laughed as she left, certain she'd be dead by the end of the road) to find her new life with them.
Since joining the Nexus, she's made significant progress in restoring her mind to a fully functioning baseline, though she still lacks any memory of her personal history or actual last name. Her skills with the Shadow have increased exponentially since she acquired a flock to preach to, leading to her actual Shadow Ascendancy in the Draenor campaign. She credits the Cult's teachings with her comeback, and spreads their doctrine with zeal while watching over her new 'children' as only a mother can.
Other stories and small tidbits of information are available in Serata's tag at wow-such-squirrels.tumblr.com.
Enemies and Allies
As per the norm for most Horde members, Serata considers the Alliance as a whole her enemies. In recent months due to their affronts to her people and direct attacks on her faith and the kidnapping of her clerics, she has declared personal vendettas against the Order of the Horse and the Silver Hand Chapter. She wants both groups dismantled and their peoples' faith shaken as they've done to hers. Additionally, she has a particular hate for the Council of Bishops, who sent her (though not directly) the gift of an ashed follower of the Forgotten Shadow recently.
Serata considers all Forsaken to be her allies by default, but those of the Nexus hold a special place in her heart. She considers the members of the group who wear the Bones to be her personal charges, and has an extreme distaste for anything bad happening to them. She seems to have special soft spots for the elderly priest Nadaleus Longpath and the Deathstalker Katipo. She tends to dote on these particular Forsaken more than the others, Katipo to the point of having the girl specially trained as a Lightslayer, secreting the girl away from most mundane conflicts and prying eyes.