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Bernie

Bernie

Apostate
Apostate
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Maleficar
Posts
11
#1
Name: Bernadette “Bernie” Il Rossa

Race: Human

Gender: Female

Date of Birth: 5 Drakonis, 8:95

Occupation: Tavern Keeper, Head of the Mages' Collective in Denerim, Occasional Assassin

Companion(s): N/A


Bernie is 5'9” with a statuesque build and long, flaming red hair that she generally wears upswept into elegant arrangements. Her eyes are a deep blue, with the first hints of crows-feet at the corners. Her facial features are handsome, rather than beautiful, and give every indication that they will continue to age well. Her skin is fair, with the faintest smattering of freckles across her nose and shoulders.

On most occasions, she favors dresses in silks, satins and brocades of rich colors, cut to flatter her figure. When she desires to stand out less, she dons a tunic and trews and dims her fiery tresses with walnut or henna dyes. And when she is on the hunt, she wears a set of hooded silks in mottled greys that allow her to melt into the shadows. Regardless of what she wears, the ring finger on her right hand always bears a gold and lapiz ring; the stone is engraved with an intertwined C & G, in memory of her sisters, and flips up on a concealed hinge to reveal a very small but very sharp blade, well suited to drawing blood from a finger or hand.



Class: Mage
Specialization: Blood Mage (Expert)

Weapons & Armor: A pair of steel daggers kept razor sharp

Languages: Common & Antivan (Both spoken & written)

Non-Combat Skills:
Master: Coercion, Stamina, Stealth
Expert: Alchemy, Contacts, Lock Picking, Poison Lore
Intermediate: Arcane Lore, Bargaining, Climbing, Cryptography, Cultural Lore (Antiva, Ferelden), Dancing, Disguise, Drinking, Etiquette (Antiva, Ferelden), Evaluation, Gambling, Heraldry (Antiva, Ferelden), Research, Riding, Streetwise
Novice: Cooking, Brewing

Combat Skills:
Master: Dual Weapons (Daggers)
Expert: Blood Magic (Blood Slave)
Intermediate: Blood Magic (Hemorrhage); Entropy (Paralyze, Horror); Unarmed
Novice: Blood Magic (Blood Wound); Entropy (Disorient); Creation (Heal)


The proprietress of The Dragon's Flagon is equal parts astute businesswoman and den mother, welcoming guests warmly while bargaining shrewdly with the vendors who keep her supplied. Any guest under her roof comes under her protection, and she takes good care of those who work for her. Brassy and bawdy, she will trade lewd jokes, share drinks and play cards with her patrons, then see that the drunkest ones make it home or to a bed upstairs at the end of the night.

The Mages' Collective agent is cautious and shrewd, making deals with anyone who can help her take care of the apostates that depend upon her for secrecy and protection. She has little patience for anyone who threatens the security of the Collective, and an apostate who refuses to temper their magic will find themselves facing her wrath.

The former Crow is meticulous, patient and canny, observing her marks for extended periods before moving against them. She has scruples and adheres to them; she absolutely refuses to kill children, and will seldom even take a job where they are in the house.

The woman who had those that she loved the most ripped away from her is determined that it will never happen again, and is utterly ruthless when those that she cares about or considers under her protection are at risk. The Collective and the Flagon have replaced the family that she lost, and she guards them fiercely, though few are allowed to see beneath the masks that she wears.


Bernie was born Bernadette Diamante, eldest daughter of Niccolo and Gitana Diamante, in Antiva City. Niccolo was a minor but ambitious merchant prince who adored his family, and when his wife gave him two more daughters after Bernadette, instead of planning marriages for them all, he began training Bernadette up as his heir.

Responsible and focused from an early age, Bernadette willingly shouldered the responsibilities of being the eldest, including caring for her younger sisters, Cara and Gina, as her mother remained largely bedridden after the birth of her youngest child. She was fiercely protective of her family, and when a cousin pushed four year old Cara down and made her cry, Bernadette, then seven, stamped a tiny foot in anger and glared at him. He wet himself and ran away crying.

The onlooking family joked about the little strega (witch), but an elderly family servant drew Niccolo aside and warned him: his daughter had used magic. Losing her to the Circle was never an option in his mind, and the old woman had a solution: her own daughter was an apostate and blood mage who could teach Bernadette to ensnare the minds of men, giving House Diamante a hidden edge in the cutthroat world of Antivan politics.

Niccolo agreed, and Bernadette began learning magic along with lessons in etiquette, dancing and business. Her tutor, Cosima, taught her to use increasingly small amounts of her own blood to fuel her magic, working with beggars in the market to hone her ability to manipulate the thoughts and actions of others. Niccolo was caught between pride and concern, worried about opening his daughter to the risk of possession. His wife's sister had recently sent her own youngest daughter, Sofia, to the Circle when she showed magic and used their wealth to maintain a level of contact with her. He knew that path was closed to him now, but still he delayed using her skills to aid his business endeavors, relying instead on his own considerable acumen.

He was successful enough to attract the wrong attention, and in Bernadette's fifteenth year, a rival house sent Shadow Blade assassins to eliminate him and his family. Bernadette was awakened by her mother's screams and the surging power of more blood spilled than she had ever encountered in her life. Fueled by terror and rage, she took control of the assassin that came into her room, sending him against his fellows, then unleashed the rest of her power in a storm of confusion, pain and fear that left the assassins dead to a man, though not before they had slaughtered every other soul in the house: Niccolo, Gitana, Cara and little Gina … even the servants.

Cosima found her amidst the carnage, trying vainly to heal her dead sisters, and spirited her away (along with what gold and jewelry she could hurriedly gather up) minutes ahead of Templars drawn by the wildly surging magic. The blood magic was blamed on the assassins and Bernadette presumed dead. Safe with Cosima, when the paralyzing grief wore off, Bernadette's response was typically Antivan: the ones responsible must pay with their lives. Cosima shared her feelings; her own mother had been murdered in the attack, after all. She had one secret that she had not yet shared with her student: she was a member of the Antivan Crows. Burning with the need for vengeance, Bernadette followed Cosima to the Crow leadership and boldly proposed a trade: her services in return for the training she would need to exact her own vengeance.

Well acquainted with the advantages a blood mage could offer an assassins' guild, they accepted, and the next decade was spent in rigorous training: learning to fight with blades as well as magic, to blend into the shadows, gain access to a mark, and kill with poisons and daggers. As her skills grew, Cosima taught her how to use her blood magic to complement them: a mark that needed to be killed discreetly could be made to hang themselves or step off of a roof. One simply needing to be disgraced could be made to commit a crime or a very public indiscretion. She learned also to control the surge of her magic, reducing the risk of detection by Templars. And while she was learning, she was also searching: seeking the one who had sent the assassins, then assuring herself of his guilt beyond any doubt.

At twenty-five, Bernadette's training was complete, and she paid his house a visit in the night, immobilizing him with curare and forcing him to watch as she killed each member of his house in turn, keeping them silent with her magic. She faltered when she came to the three children and left them sleeping in their beds, but every adult was slaughtered. Last of all, she stabbed him in the gut and held him silent as he died in agony. Her revenge was complete, but she felt no satisfaction. What she wanted the most was what she could never have: her family alive again.

She continued her work for the Crows for five more years as final payment for her training, but her heart was never truly in it. During this time, Cosima also introduced her to the Mages' Collective: an underground network of apostates, and aiding them did appeal to her. The Crows were not pleased when she announced her intention to retire at the age of thirty, but they had no wish to grasp this tiger's tail, and when she agreed to make herself available for special jobs, they consented to the parting of ways.

Still, she thought it best to put some space between herself and Antiva. At Cosima's suggestion, she traveled to Ferelden, taking the surname Il Rossa from a sobriquet that had been used by the Crows to describe both her hair and her magic. In Denerim, she stayed at The Dragon's Flagon and found herself drawn to the welcoming atmosphere, the way that good drink, good food and good company could wipe the weary care from faces for a time. It reminded her of the family dinners of her childhood. The owner, an elderly man named George, had no heirs and readily accepted her offer to purchase the place. She spent a year with him learning how to run a tavern before he retired.

Since then, the Flagon has become a mainstay watering hole and gathering place for folk of all stripes, while the basement, in addition to a wine cellar, has several hidden rooms that shelter apostates being aided by the Collective, while Bernie (as she is now affectionately called by her patrons) has risen to the chief Collective agent in Denerim. She kept the place intact – barely – during the siege of Denerim, and in the chaos of the battle, no one noticed the use of her magic. She has fulfilled a handful of special jobs for the Crows, though she outright refused a commission during the Blight to kill the two Grey Wardens and the rogue Crow who aided them, and flatly told the Crows that they were fools to try to try to kill the only ones capable of ending the Blight.
 
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