This character belongs to Kitty, do not use without permission.
In an efficient slaughterhouse like the SkyWing arena, no dragon really likes to think about what happens to the bodies of those who weren't so thrilling. But someone's got to do it, right? Someone's got to take out the trash.
Meet Bella, the little SeaWing undertaker - with a dark secret.
The arena - a killing ground, filled with death and violence and grief. Fresh bodies, angry ghosts. The perfect place... for a young necromancer to learn her art.
Rippling black shadows hide in the folds of a long, hooded black cloak, drawn and clasped at the neck with a simple brass pin. Too-large are her slitted eyes, which glow copper and catlike in the darkness like twin lanterns, set in a sharp-boned face. Her build is small, skinny and frail - it is evident that she rarely gets enough to eat. Mortal needs, like hunger, are hard to satiate in the depths of the Necropolis. When venturing down into the catacombs she often carries an oil lantern with her. She doesn't need it - as a SeaWing, she can navigate in near-total darkness, guided only by her night vision and the light of her photophores. The lantern is to dispel the ghosts of the dead - thousands upon thousands of them - that congregate down in the depths of the Necropolis.
Her scales are the deepest blue of the sky at midnight, the soft glow of her photophores like the shimmer of starlight across the blackness. Her wings and her underbelly are a lighter shade of blue - the twilit colors of pale blue and deep gray, the death of the sun captured across living skin.
Her photophores form unusual patterns - the stripes on her legs look almost like rows of eyes, flickering and blinking eerily in the dusky twilight. Her wings are entirely bare of illumination. The Freshwater SeaWings believe that a dragon's entire life, from birth to death, is written out in their stripes - but if that is true, what kind of story does Bella's stripes tell?
Bella is gifted - or cursed, as one might argue - with a particularly powerful and deadly kind of animus magic. Due to the highly unusual and macabre circumstances of her birth (detailed below), her natural animus gift has corrupted into the necromantic powers that she currently possesses.
She can see and converse with the spirits of the dead, and has been able to do so since birth. During her dragonet years she had trouble differentiating between the living and the dead, and would often appear to be talking to empty space. She largely keeps the company of the ghosts of the SkyWing Necropolis, and wherever she goes, spirits seem drawn to her like moths to a light.
Most terrifyingly of all, she can use her animus powers to raise the bodies of the dead; an extension of an animus's power over inanimate things. Much in the same way that a natural animus can enchant stone and gold to move, Bella's brand of magic specializes in making lifeless flesh and bone move. She cannot bring the dead back to life - that is beyond the power of any animus - but she can give the power of movement, for a few minutes up to a few weeks at a time. Her power is not permanent, and lasts only as long as she can sustain the magic or until the corpse falls apart. Reanimating corpses is very taxing to her, both physically and mentally, as she is literally giving up a portion of her own life force to bring the bodies to unlife. However, she is getting better the more she practices. She finds that fresh carcasses are easier - and the SkyWing arena provides her with no shortage of those.
Sometimes, in certain cases, she can reanimate a body to be possessed by an existing ghost. This is how she supports her mentor, Tenebrous - every week or so she reanimates a new carcass for Tenebrous to inhabit. In return, Tenebrous teaches her how to control and harness her powers.
Taking a leaf out of Stonemover's book, Tenebrous has taught Bella to turn her own magic against herself. Instead of gradually losing her soul as she expended her animus powers, with each magical effort she instead loses a small bit of her physical body. Starting at the tip of her tail, her flesh has begun to wither and die, leaving nothing but a ghostly pale silhouette behind. As Bella uses her powers, she is slowly dying and turning into a ghost herself.
Living in the crypts, every day Bella has to interact with the thousands of ghosts that inhabit or are passing through the SkyWing Necropolis - usually victims of the arena fights. She usually makes an effort to hear them out, and tries her best to help them pass on into the everafter. Sometimes she can help resolve their unfinished business, but a lot of the time they make demands that she just can't help with - death to Scarlet! is a common one.
Bella also knows how to perform exorcisms. Though she isn't in the habit of just getting rid of the ghosts that have become her world, sometimes she's forced to do it when confronted with a particularly malevolent one.
Bella has lost her sense of smell - which is perhaps fortunate in her line of work. Though she is entirely unaware of it, she leaves a faint whiff of incense behind wherever she goes.
Bella is actually surprisingly sane. Which is remarkable, because animus magic and living in a ghost-filled crypt isn't a great recipe for stellar mental health. Perhaps she's not entirely sane - or not sane as we perceive it. What kind of dragon would would willingly spend her days in a silent crypt, amongst thousands of interred bodies and thousands of ghosts? Any other dragon on Pyrrhia would be terrified. Disgusted. Driven mad with fear. But Bella doesn't see things quite the same way.
The dead can't hurt her, or even touch her. Bella has received nothing but cruelty inflicted by the dragons above - they've whipped her, chained her, starved her, tormented her, sold her like an animal. Now, she prefers to retreat down into the depths of the stone mausoleums, away from the realm of the living and away from the source of her pain. The tombs, the quiet halls beneath the earth - they are the only place where she can be safe.
She doesn't fear death, or the dead in the slightest. The sight of bones or bodies holds no terror for her - she has seen so many of them, and she knows they cannot hurt her. She actively prefers the company of ghosts over the company of the living. The dead are her people, the crypts, her home.
All in all, Bella is actually quite a serene and cheerful young dragoness. Which is bizarre, considering her painful past and her present circumstances. It also leads to others thinking that she's downright insane - not often do you see a dragon skipping through the rows of the catacombs, swinging her lantern and saying good morning! to all of the friendly ghosts. But Bella is a young dragoness with an irrepressably bright spirit, who never quite developed the same inhibitions as other dragons. She's struck up friendships with a lot of the ghosts down in the Necropolis, and they're all she has. They have become all the friends and family she'll ever need.
The ghosts have become her protectors, keeping most live dragons from venturing too far into the underground and finding her. In return, Bella feels a sense of responsibility for the ghosts of the Necropolis, and often finds herself filling the role of a counselor of sorts. For new ghosts who have been recently slain in the arena, she tries to make them feel welcome and help them come to terms with their deaths. She also helps - or tries to help - the ghosts find their peace, so that they can finally pass out of this world and into the next. Despite her youth and her cheerful demeanor, she is wise beyond her years.
Bella is also the only dragon who has bothered to keep records of the dragons who die in the arena. Each time a corpse is brought in she takes down their name - or sometimes, when a name isn't known, a detailed description. She does this on the off chance that some day, somehow, some remaining kin would come to visit.
Of course, no one ever comes. But even so, she keeps her ever-growing list of names - because those dragons do not deserve to be forgotten.
Bella and her clutch-sister Ariadne are Freshwater SeaWings, a clan of SeaWing dragons who had broken off from their kind in the ocean and had been living peacefully in the Diamond Spray River and its tributaries for many generations. However, the Freshwater SeaWings' peace was shattered at the outbreak of the War of the Sisters. The SkyWings and the SeaWings pledged themselves on opposite sides of the war. And inevitably, one fateful night, the SkyWings flew to war on the Freshwater SeaWing village.
The entire village burned - only a few SeaWings managed to escape into the water. At that time, Ariadne and Bella were only new-laid eggs, and their mother died defending them. Ariadne's egg was found by the SkyWings and taken away, to be sold into slavery. However, Bella's egg was hidden beneath her dead mother's wings, and escaped the same fate. The SkyWings left, the village in ruins, the last trace of life held in Bella's single egg. The fetal SeaWing matured alone, egg still clasped tight in her mother's rotting claws. By the time she hatched, her mother was no more than a skeleton with bare wings still mantled protectively over her.
And by that time, the little animus dragonet was beyond saving. Born into carnage, growing in an egg surrounded by so much death, Bella's animus magic had corrupted, completely and irreparably. Instead of holding power over objects like a natural animus, she was now Deathtouched - with power over the dead.
The infant Bella wandered the ruins of the village for days, nearly starving to death. Fortunately for her, she was found by SkyWings. Instead of killing the young dragonet, they brought her to the palace, to be sent into the arena when she was old enough to put up a fight.
Bella spent the first few years of her life growing up as a slave in the Palace of Sky, mistrusted by even her fellow condemned. Another Freshwater SeaWing, who had been captured years before, tried to strangle her - recognizing the curse written in her odd stripes. Bella only barely managed to claw her way free.
She survived her first few years, and slowly, inevitably, the ghosts began to come to her at nights, drawn by her then-dormant power. It started as one or two at a time, but eventually dozens began to congregate by moonlight, whispering, frightening the guards and other slaves out of their wits. But somehow, Bella never feared the ghosts. They were like her. They welcomed her.
One night, the ghost of Tenebrous came, possessing a guard and manipulating him into freeing her. Seizing her chance, Bella ran. She ran to the only place she could, following her insticts, guided by the ghosts to the only place where she knew the guards would not dare follow her. Down into the depths of the earth below the arena, into the crypts, into the Necropolis. She vanished into the darkness, and the SkyWings did not chase her further.
Since then, Bella has been residing in the depths of the Necropolis under the arena, interring the bodies of the arena's victims, tending to her family of ghosts, and following Tenebrous's tutelage. She ventures out only sporadically, to steal food from the kitchens and such. She and the SkyWings have come to something of an unspoken agreement - she deals with the bodies, and they leave her alone. As the years pass, she's become a bit of a myth to the SkyWings and the arena prisoners. They call her Ghost Whisperer.
Among the Dead
Tenebrous: Tenebrous the NightWing, though only a ghost now, is currently mentoring Bella and teaching her how to fully harness her magic. He was also a Deathtouched animus from centuries ago, and Bella reanimates new bodies for him to inhabit. He is also one of the most powerful ghosts currently in existance, and is even capable of exerting some influence over the mortal world. Although Bella is grateful to him for securing her freedom, sometimes even she questions Tenebrous's motives. He is pushing her hard to raise more bodies and gather more ghosts. What does he truly want from her? Gill: Gill the SeaWing is something of a father figure to Bella. He was one of the first ghosts to visit her while she was a Palace slave, and has since become one of her most trusted friends. Wise and benevolent, Gill is something of a leader amongst the other spirits, and Bella often goes to him for his advice and guidance. She often urges him to seek out Tsunami and Coral and make his peace with them, so he can move on - but Gill has not done so yet. Secretly, Bella is glad. She would miss him dearly if he left.
Orca: Although Orca was not killed in the arena (she prefers to haunt the SeaWing Palaces), she is an occasional visitor to the Necropolis. She likes to check up on how Bella is doing in her training, and sometimes offers pointers - enchanting dead bodies isn't so different from enchanting statues. Bella doesn't really know what to make of Orca, and doesn't fully trust her either - she is too dark, too powerful, with too much hatred in her soul.
Among the Living
Nightingale: Princess Nightingale is one of the few living SkyWings who has gleaned the truth of Bella's existance. Although like most of her tribe Nightingale hasn't dared to actively seek Bella out, the princess makes Bella uneasy. It seems like Nightingale would be just the kind of dragon to turn Bella into some of kind of secret weapon and force her to raise an army - if Tenebrous doesn't try first.
Faithless: Faithless the venom-born SandWing champion alone has sent more corpses into the catacombs than any other dragon. Bella has only heard of her, having never met her in person. She doesn't wish to either - and yet she knows of the SandWing's inner torment. Bella knows that Faithless will not last - one of these days she is going to end up as another ghost down in the Necropolis.
Ariadne: Bella has only recently found out that she has a sister, hearing the news from some visiting ghosts. Bella has since become obsessed with the idea of finding her - annoying Tenebrous, who wishes her to focus on her training. Ariadne is also Deathtouched, but to a much lesser extent than Bella, and does not know of Bella's existance.