From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
|Real Name:||Melissa Dems is the only name she knows|
|Known Aliases:||The Prism, Pythia, Seer|
|Eye Color:||Ice Blue|
|Hair Color:||Honey Blonde|
|Place of Birth:||Confidential|
|Base of Operations:||Confidential|
|Known Relatives:||Ewain Dems (foster father), Angharad Dems (foster mother), Birth parents unknown.|
|Her most powerful attacks are either ice- or lightning-based. However, she is also adept at using Glamour to confuse senses and to attack with.|
|Mel is a Seer, and tends to have visions whenever she's touched.|
|Amulet of the Pythia (An amulet made to help her control her abilities), a brooch made by Atrum which can occasionally block visions provoked by touch.|
|See article Jaime Synge for a more thorough description of what a Radiant is.|
Melissa Dems has many titles she claims, including "Prism", "Pythia", and "Fate's Call Girl". She seems to be a genuine Seer, but the jury is out on how insane that gift has driven her over time. For the most part, she appears to be quite lucid. For the most part.
Mel's physical appearance tends to change depending on whether she's using Glamour or not. When not using glamour, she has honey blonde hair with darker streaks, ice blue eyes, and glasses. Four parallel blue lines streak her cheek, as if someone ran their fingers down it. Her usual outfit consists of a battered leather jacket, jeans, and a tank top. Other outfits she's been seen in include a suit of armor, an outfit completely made of vines, and other more mundane glamoured clothing. While she can change other aspects such as her hair and eye color, or even her facial features, she usually chooses not to do so.
In any form she takes, it is difficult for her to remove the pointed ears she gained on her first "Loonie Day".
The Many Faces of Melissa Dems:
Melissa also has a former incarnation which tends to make an appearance whenever he wishes, and calls himself Gwydion fab Dôn.
At first, Mel seems abrasive and rough around the edges, but after a while most tend to realize that it is mostly a facade to keep others at an arm's length. Most of the time, Melissa is cheerful and wryly humorous. However, her desire to keep others at an arm's length, figuratively and literally, stems from the fact that her visions are often triggered by physical touch.
She is also in love with stories, whether they're sung or spoken. Rarely does she have to be cajoled to spin a tale or even a rhyme. Her photographic memory helps in this regard, as it allows her to remember any story she's ever read. Her favorite tales to tell are ancient myths from various cultures around the world.
Abandoned at birth, Mel was taken in by a young, rather mundane couple in County Dorset, a region of Wales near near Salisbury, England. For the first few years, they doted on the cute baby, then the cute toddler. However, eventually babies grow up, as Mel did. As she got older and began to go to school, her foster parents found they were rapidly approaching Mel's teenage years and didn't know how to deal with her. The doting became confusion, then drifted into benign neglect, leaving Mel to practically raise herself, unless she got in trouble.
Unfortunately, Mel's powers began to emerge slowly, beginning with the gift of Seeing and Prophesy. She found she knew things she shouldn't possibly know; that the mayor was having an affair with his accountant...that her father's friend was embezzling from him...that someone was about to die... It unnerved her family and those who knew her. Thinking perhaps her foreknowledge came from insanity and not genuine precognition, her foster parents made arrangements for her to be imprisoned in a mental institution for the violently insane. Forewarned, Melissa packed a backpack and ran away.
Her developing powers guided her to the streets of London's East End, where she barely managed to avoid starvation for two years, sleeping in back alleys and homeless shelters. She was seventeen when she met Josh, a handsome twenty-something who occasionally cooked for one of the homeless shelters Mel visited. Their relationship blossomed, and she soon moved in with him. However, here she learned a harsh lesson in ignoring instincts. Josh turned out to be abusive when intoxicated. This came to a head when Mel found out she was pregnant and told him. The resulting beating caused Mel to lose the child and flee for her life, once again turning to living on the streets.
She avoided homeless shelters, but a white witch who owned an "occult" bookstore catering to the would-be occultists in London's posher neighborhoods took her in, in exchange for working the counter in the store. Things seemed to be looking up, until a strange man showed up in the store one day...
Mel encountered the strange man after her shift, heading out to find food. For a moment as they stared at each other, the busy London street seemed to blip out and in again. Suddenly, the cars were in different positions, and shops that had been there a moment before had vanished, to be replaced with other stores or "for rent" signs. The man was holding an envelope out to Mel, telling her that her life was about to change, and she would find her answers in the Etoile Isles. Then he crossed the street and vanished as a bus passed between them.
Bemused, Mel continued on her errand, but one thing was soon clear: a lot of things were different. After an hour of wandering, she caught a glimpse of the date on a paper...and realized two years had passed in the space of a moment. The White Witch's shop was gone, and once again Mel was alone in the world. Lacking anything else to do, Mel opened the envelope and found a large sum of money and a one-way plane ticket to the Isles...
Moving to the Isles
Upon arriving in the Isles, Mel found herself at loose ends, having no clue where she was supposed to go. Within the hour, she was accosted by a woman calling herself a "Fang Widow", and then was dragged around the Isles in a terrifying whirlwind tour of death and destruction. She was eventually left, beaten within an inch of her life, in an alley where she was found by the leader of Inevitable Revolution, Run Riot.
Melissa spent several weeks in the care of Inevitable Evolution, coping with her newly blossomed gifts and trying to come to terms with her new state of being. There she met a man named Jaime Synge, who proved his gift was from the same source as Mel's. Their relationship was tempestuous, coming to blows on several occasions. She also met several others, including Clint Sanders (Unleashed Force).
When Clint decided to form a more proactive group called Phoenix Insurrection, Melissa followed him. It was in the cavern of Phoenix Insurrection she grew to know Shock Sight, who got her over her lingering fear of intimacy. Shock's support, and that of a newly arrived member named Erica (Earthdark), gave her the stability to combat the increasing force of her Sight. It was through her efforts to turn the curse of her Sight into a blessing that she earned the rank of Flame, which gave her even more excuse to indulge in her role as Guide.
Recently, Mel has received more information on where she was the two years she can't remember; participating in a war in the Fae Realms. Only time will tell what new twists the past will bring to the present, and future.
Relationship with Fae
Melissa occupies a unique role in Fae society, acting in turns as mediator, weapon, entertainer, or whatever other role needs to be filled at the time. She is grudgingly welcomed in all Fae Courts, one of the only mortals to have that gift of hospitality, and "The Prism" is known to be off-limits to any answering to the Queens. She doesn't take pains to hide this relationship, sometimes joking she's the only one who can talk back to the Queens and not die, but she's also careful not to get caught bending the rules. She knows there is a reason for this, having to do with her role as "The Prism", but is wary of prying too much into what her past incarnations were up to in Fae.
~ Mel As A Seer: There is very little that Mel can't See. The problem for Mel lies in differentiating what she can see from what normal people can see. People appear as multi-layered conglomerations of past, present, and future selves. She can also see things like magic, electricity, heat and cold. Her other senses are also enhanced, but not to the level of her sight. For instance, she can hear radio waves, and feel changes in air pressure. The drawback to her power is that she exists in a state of near-constant sensory overload. She is also subject to visions that appear in two different ways: Touch-triggered and need-triggered. On almost any occasion when she's physically touched, she's forced to see an event from the person's past, present, or future. Sometimes the visions are disguised as metaphors, others she lives their experiences either as they did or as a floating observer to the scene. The need-triggered visions don't require physical touch, but seem to relate to either information Mel needs to relay or things she needs to do. She also has a tendency to spout prophesy. ((See Prophesies of Melissa Dems)) With effort, she also has the capability of projecting these visions to others, as a form of Glamour-aided Sight.
~ Glamour: Due to her connection with the Fae Realms, Mel has access to Glamour, which she uses to fool the senses. She can create illusions so real they are practically indistinguishable from the real thing by the ordinary five senses, though often she uses a physical object as a "seed" for the illusion. This object need not have any relation to the final product. An apple created through Glamour will look, smell, and taste like an ordinary apple. However, anything she creates through Glamour will fade at sunrise or sunset, returning to whatever substance it was originally. Thus the apple made of Glamour is only as substantial as whatever it was created from. She can also use Glamour to change her own clothing or even body, to the point where she is able to look like whatever she wishes, regardless of gender. During these transformations, she allows her own senses to be tricked, even though a part of her will always be able to see through her own creations to the genuine substance underneath.
~ Energy Channeling: Mel can tap into primeval energy, the raw energy of creation, to power a variety of effects, including allowing her Glamour to affect senses more profoundly, restore cells to a pristine state, or offer a bit of a temporary boost to an exhausted ally.
~ Healing: Mel has learned how to create a matrix of Glamour to pour primeval energy into, in order to restore cells to a less injured state. Unfortunately, this is far from a complete healing, and tends to only lessen the injury by a category or two: broken bones become partly healed, gashes become scrapes, and bruises disappear.
~ Offensive Abilities: Ice and electricity are by far the easiest for Mel to create and maintain. The ice she creates by drawing together moisture in the air and super-cooling it in an instant. The less humidity there is around her, the more fragile her creations are. However, the addition of primeval energies can compensate to a certain degree for a lack of humidity. Mel can create anything from a squishy snowball to a rock-hard ice sculpture. Electricity, on the other hand, is far easier to create in dry air than humid. However, the most complicated feat Melissa has managed with electricy is to be able to create a cage for a brief moment, imprisoning her foes.
~ Defensive Abilities: Melissa is able to draw a cloud of fog around her at will, allowing it to conceal her or confuse her enemies. She is also able to cloak herself in Glamour so as to be practically invisible.
~ Magical Allies: Melissa has collected a few magical allies over the years. The oldest is an ice golem named Lennie. Another is a Will'O'Wisp she rescued from a Legacy Chain member she calls Sparky. Both of these allies accompany her on nearly every expedition where there is going to be fighting. Other beings that may occasionally be seen around her are a piskie named Acorncap, and a Redcap named Ricky. The piskie and Redcap both have their own reasons for following Melissa, and she grudgingly tolerates their presence. Melissa can also create semi-sentient golems out of pure Glamour, but it is difficult to maintain that level of Glamour for long.
Melissa's biggest weakness is that she is utterly helpless when in the thrall of a vision, oblivious to the outside world. She has even predicted this vulnerability will be the cause of her death in a bit more than a decade. Even a casual touch has the potential to throw her into a vision, unless the person touching her has caused a vision in the past 6 hours.
She is also, physically, human. Despite her powers, she has no special resistance to damage other than being able to heal herself slightly, given a moment to concentrate. In addition, she reacts to Cold Iron in a way similar to true Fae, though she can suppress the allergy for brief periods of time if she is able to focus.
Four times a year (Imbolc, Midsummer, Samhain, Midwinter), Mel's powers overload, fountaining uncontrollably from her and driving her insane. During that time she is sometimes literally not herself, and also is quite unpredictable and dangerous; prone to acting out of caprice, whimsy, or spite. She is unable to remember what happens during these incidents, but is usually filled in on the chaos after the fact, after taking a week or two to recover from the physical and mental exhaustion the episodes create.
Shock Sight - A technological wizard and fellow shape-shifter, Shock (aka James or Samantha, depending on current gender) enjoys keeping Melissa on her toes. The two make rash bets to each other, or hold playful competitions, the winner chosing the loser's forfeit. Shock credits Melissa for keeping him on the side of angels, but Melissa often credits Shock for keeping her sane despite her gift. Both have had hints that they may have spent previous incarnations together as well. Shock Sight proposed to Mel in the Spring of 2011, but they haven't set a date yet.
Earthdark (aka Erica) - Mel's previous incarnation knew (and loved) Erica's previous draconic incarnation millenia ago. Fate seems to have thrown them together once again, and Melissa often manages to drag Erica into some crazy scheme or other. Erica, for her own part, doesn't seem to object too often.
Atrum Ensis (aka. Adam Krios) - At first Mel was wary of Atrum, seeing him for what he is. However, his sense of humor and wry comments quickly won her over. The fact he's marrying Erica definitely helps...
Kinneas - Mel isn't quite sure what to make of Kinneas, and realizes he's likely manipulating her. However, he's one of the few who can touch her without instantly causing a vision. That wins him brownie points.
Clint Sanders (Unleashed Force) - The leader of the Phoenix Insurrection, Mel enjoys tweaking Clint's tail on occasion, "just to keep the bugger 'umble". Still, she counts him as a friend and someone she can count on to watch her back.
Tumultuous Jade - Mel's relationship with Jade is a rocky one, especially since Mel knows far, far too much about Jade's hidden past for either of them to be comfortable in the other's presence.
Jaime Synge - "Tempestuous" is a mild term when referring to Melissa and Jaime's relationship - a relationship which has come to blows on several occasions. Still, Mel likes the Salacious Sorcerer in the times when they do get along. Then again...who gets along with their siblings all the time?
Ariel Project - Mel doesn't quite understand what drives Ariel, but they get along well enough. Both recognize the baggage each other carries, and Mel respects Ariel's talents. Unfortunately, they have grown apart since Ariel left the Phoenix Insurrection.
Mirey - One of the few Mel trusts implicitly, Mel was the force that brought Mirey into the Insurrection. As Mirey's Shadowling half has a long history with Mel's previous incarnations, they have a deeper friendship than Mel shares with most others.
Kinematik (aka Jules) - Jules and Mel enjoy joking around quite a bit, but if the surfing speedster ever needed help, Mel wouldn't hesitate to back him to the hilt. This is added to the fact that he's dating one of her closest friends, Mirey.
Alphonse von Locke - Mel's friendship with Alphonse started with her rescuing him from a Crey retrieval team and taking him on a wild trip through Fae. It's gotten less rocky from there, with Mel finding Alphonse easy to joke with (and with as dirty a mind as Mel has).
Opinions from those who've worked alongside her
"Oh, Mel's a great friend. So she sometimes blurts things out that might be better off hidden, but she can't really help it. ...To tell the truth, I pity her. It's not easy at all, being what she is. Some people... -coughClintcough-... are sort of treating her like their Magic 8 Ball, and that irks me. If they were in her place, they'd probably be begging for the visions to stop. ...Or maybe I'm just getting overprotective. Don't know why I do that. Maybe it's because we've known each other so long. Maybe she needs protecting...maybe she doesn't, but I'd take a bullet for her either way." --Earthdark
"Melissa has saved my life more times than I can relate in so short a blurb as this should be. She is one of the the most heroic people I know, having taken her situation and turned it into an opportunity to save or protect countless people, often at a great personal cost. There are few instances in which I would consider myself to be personally uplifted by being in association with another person, but I am truly proud to count Mel as a friend." --Alphonse von Locke
Matchbox 20 - "Unwell"
Queen - "Save Me"
Splashdown - "Karma Slave"
Mel: " ...My arse is getting used to being fucked on such a routine basis. I swear every bloody mystical force on the Isles wants a turn on the Mellie-Go-'Round!"
Synge: "You should carry more lube around."
Mel: "You just wont a chance to lube me up!"
Synge: "Fuck yeah!"
Melissa Dems, to Synge: "I owe you one, Synge." *pause* "That doesn't mean I owe you sex!"
Melissa Dems oddly...seems to peer at Sylriah's chest for a moment, frowning. ((*peering at a hidden magic item*))
Scially Shadowspire looks to Mel a smirk crossing her lips "Normally its polite to buy her a drink..."
Melissa Dems: Huh? Oh...wosn't looking at 'er chest, wos looking at the thing under 'er shirt.
Mel, after having a vision that included Chelsea spitting Daniel's blood back at him rather than drinking it and becoming a ghoul...
"Well...I guess we know now whether Chel swallows or spits."
(Scene after Ssalassar had been rescued from his time being tortured by Rikti, and was recovering. Mel's talking about the visions she'd had of his captivity.)
Morgan Serif: Sal's asleep...
Melissa Dems: Damn. I wos going to kick 'is arse when I got done 'ere, if I wos still standing...
Morgan Serif: Mel... after what he's gone through... If I were you, I'd keep a 10 foot bubble of personal space...
TumuItuous-Jade trots back in with a file folder.
Morgan Serif: Poor guy lost his kidney...
Melissa Dems: Morgan...shut it. I -lived- it wotching over 'im. -All- the possibilities, and trust me...you don't -wont- to know all the bad shite 'e avoided. You're lucky you got 'im back the way 'e is.
Morgan Serif: ...Ah... Well... At least let him recover before you do any kicking...
TumuItuous-Jade riffles through the file, finds the right document, and puts it on the bar. She slides it over to Mel.
Melissa Dems: ...Speaking of living bad shite...I'm going to see if I can be a ghoul. Cheerio. *picks up the file and heads to the arcane room*
Melissa Dems: Glamour...so...usefullessness! There! I invented a new word!
Melissa Dems: ...I'm smashificating, too. It's like ponti...if...pontificating...only with less coherency. *is starting to look tipsy*
Chaos ensues when a drunken Salazar hugs Melissa after talking about sleeping with his girlfriend...
Melissa Dems: ...Sal...you're a bloody good friend...but I do -not- need to see that shite.
Ssalassar starts to turn a little red, "Uh........did ya ssssssee, uh........whad I wassssss talkin' 'boud, earlier?"
Melissa Dems: ...Don't ask.
Ssalassar: Wassssss ah good?
Ariel Project: ... so not helping.
Melissa Dems: ...Sal...no comment. I'm debating whether to get mind bleach or take notes.
Ariel Project: Oh. One of *those* visions.
(Atrum, talking about the chaos on Imbolc)
Atrum Ensis: You prophesized.
Melissa Pythia: Color me shocked. I'd say I 'ope it wos good shite, but I 'aven't said, "You may 'ave won a billion dollars" yet to anyone. Ever.
Atrum Ensis: Mm. Warned of the death of someone for the sins of another, because the wisdom of Rob's prophecy was ignored.
Mindbreaker Kinneas chuckles, nodding to Melissa. "You know, you -could- tell someone that if you so liked."
Atrum Ensis: 'cept you said it a touch more cryptically and in verse.
Mindbreaker Kinneas: And a bit more as well.
Melissa Pythia winces. "Oh...'ell. I 'ate me when I'm cryptic."
((Here's an amusing one from Imbolc))
Gwydion: "Ah, Lady-Mine...ever defender of my virtue."
Earthdark smirks a bit. "...What virtue?"
Gwydion feigns hurt, a hand over his heart. "Oh! I am cut to the quick! The defender of my virtue is questioning it! Woe!"
Attilio Centofanti glances to Melissa. " I must say, your control over the primal forces about us is ....very impressive. "
Melissa Dems shrugs at Attilio. "I totally fake shite like that."
Attilio Centofanti smiles " We both know otherwise. "
Melissa Dems snorts. "No, I pretty much wos pulling shite out of my arse roight there, and 'oping I didn't blow the bloody thing up or melt it all over my 'ands."
Earthdark: She's serious. Though, she's -really good- at ad-libbing it.
Melissa Dems laughs. "...I'm a Bard."
((On pranking rules and body-switching:))
Melissa Dems: We're creative people. Aside from that...variations on a theme are allowed.
Shock Sight: God help our enemies. For they will never see us comming.
Melissa Dems: Nah. They'll see us coming, and go "...Whot the fock?"