Princess Dema-Cepha Laelia Cygna is a character in Shadowskin and its upcoming sequels. She is the daughter of Dema Coryla Polaris and Cephas Darius Cygnus. She is the twin sister of King Cephas Elianus Cygnus and the older half-sister of Princess Venta Aurora Cygna. She assists Pomona by giving her shelter when she is disguised as the governor of Seneca.
Laelia is tall, thin, and pale. Her eyes are light blue and narrow, and she can manage an intimidating gaze when she pleases. Her face is narrow and has always been somewhat pinched, a feature now enhanced by her advancing age. Her most notable physical trait is her hair, which is textured in tight spiral curls that explode from her head and cascade down over her shoulders. It is brown in color with some red highlights. Laelia was never considered pretty, especially not when compared with her fraternal twin, Elianus. It took her a long time to accept this and move forward, and now she is quite content with her appearance.
Laelia is an intensely curious person. This is probably her dominating trait. Part of his comes from her ability to see the past and present that she inherited from her mother. Her isolated childhood gave her a special interest in books, but she also took pleasure in taking small adventures around her childhood home. Laelia is stubborn, and she firmly believes in what she thinks is true. It is very difficult to convince her that she is wrong, and this has caused several of her relationships to splinter. She is not very skilled in tact, and will tell people exactly what she thinks even if it's not the best idea. Her brief time in the courts of Vallonia cemented her suspicion that she didn't belong among most people and encouraged her to continue spending time on her own. She is not a homebody, however; she is perfectly willing to travel and often spends years in a new place under a new identity for the sake of whatever it is she is studying. She is incredibly committed to intellectual pursuits, but she is not very affectionate (except for with her younger sister). She was also never that interested in romance after she realized that she would not be a very good half of a pair. Laelia is genderfluid, meaning that the gender she feels herself to be changes regularly. She makes use of a male version as well as a neutral version of her name for days when her gender changes. She does not mind female pronouns for regular use, but if she is in a male gender for an extended period she prefers male pronouns. According to the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, Laelia is an INTJ.
Laelia was born in Gothel, Vallonia to Princess Dema Coryla Polaris, who had been in a cursed sleep for centuries. Her father was King Cephas Darius Cygnus, who had discovered Coryla's sleeping form in Dardania and taken advantage of it, impregnating Coryla and abandoning her. Coryla gave birth to Elianus and Laelia; for the first few months, their grandmother Princess Capia Callisto Arquitena helped Coryla take care of the twin infants. Coryla could not leave the castle where she had woken up, so Callisto helped mostly by bringing food for the young family. When Laelia and her brother grew older, they learned how to climb down their mother's hair to explore outside the castle, and they began to scavenge for food as well. Because of their isolation, Laelia never felt pressure to assume all the trappings of either gender, switching between them when it suited her. When they were four years old, their castle was visited by Darius's younger adopted brother, Prince Ventus Leander Cygnus. He was much kinder than Darius and took an interest in Coryla because of her fortitude and personality, and not because of her appearance. He visited regularly for two years, and the young family came to trust him.
Laelia and Elianus were fond of Leander, too, but he was soon called away to fight in the Second War of Vallonia. While he was away, Laelia and Elianus went further than usual into the forest and came upon the trap of Queen Tenebraria Angerona Cygna, the lawful wife of King Darius who not only was jealous that the king had children by another woman but was aware that they were descendants of Queen Dema Cinera Polaris, an enemy of the Tenebrari. Angerona held them captive and attempted to kill them, but Laelia tricked her long enough for her and her brother to escape. Angerona followed them back to Dardania and tried to kill them again along with their mother. As she was attacking them, Prince Leander arrived and distracted the queen long enough for Coryla to stab her and Laelia to push her into the roaring fire. This memory of killing the queen would haunt Laelia for years to come and would be a secret that she would share with no one.
Later that year, Leander and Coryla marry, despite the fact that Coryla still couldn't leave Dardania. They soon had a daughter, whom they named Aurora. Elianus and Laelia are both very protective of their younger sister and are committed to keeping her safe. As Aurora grew, Leander believed that it would be best to take the children to court at least for a little while. Laelia went along briefly but the trip did not go well. It was here that Laelia first understood that people did not switch genders like she did, and people were aggressive toward her when one day he was Laelius instead of Laelia. He was taunted, and he understood that would not be accepted at court. Laelius returned to Dardania while Elianus and Aurora stayed behind. Elianus would later inherit the throne of his father, who was killed in the Caledonia Campaign. Laelia spent her years with her mother; her rare visits to the castle usually result in humiliation because of her genderfluidity, lack of grace, and impatience with ritual, and this would also cause tension between her and her brother.
Coryla had always taught her children the danger of Tenebrari, and Laelia never doubted her mother's claims about being born before the Torrent and the Tenebrari's responsibility for her sleeping curse. She adhered to the faith of the High King and was devout. Elianus, on the other hand, had mostly been skeptical, and when he moved to court he became dismissive of his mother's claims and wrote them off as childhood stories. Laelia began to study the history that was sealed up in Dardania, and she realized that her visions would help bring down the Tenebrari. She mused over her grandmother's prophecy about who would be involved and became determined to track them down. At about the age of twenty-four she began searching and soon found two girls of Solharian heritage, Silvana Nix Ruber and Jovana Rosa Ruber. She disguised herself as a peddlar woman in Seneca and watched the girls for a couple of years. They soon proved not to be the ones from the prophecy, but once Laelia determined this she returned home to Dardania.
At this time she heard that Elianus was including Tenebrari in his court. Outraged, she went and confronted him on the matter. It resulted in a massive fight and ended the close relationship the two had once had. Though Laelia would sometimes communicate with Aurora after that point, she would not speak to Elianus again for more than twenty years. She fled Vallonia again and took on a few various identities as she tried to sort out her grandmother's prophecy and feeling free to be herself (or himself) whenever she needed to be. Every so often she would return to Dardania to visit her mother, but otherwise she kept moving every couple of years.
Adulthood and Shadowskin (spoilers)Edit
Near the time when Laelia was turning fifty, she realized that her niece, Princess Nelia Divalia Cygna was one of the people who would help fulfill the prophecy. She also had heard that the Tenebrari had cursed her nephews to take the form of swans and that Divalia was the only one who could save them. To prevent her from being cursed as well, Laelia stole Divalia away in the night and took her to Dardania, when they explained what must be done. Divalia would have to sew her magic into shirts made of nettles, but it would require so much magic that she would be unable to speak until it was complete. Divalia agreed to do it. She stayed with Coryla while Laelia once again went off to search for another person from the prophecy.
She disguised herself as Governor Selene Magna of Seneca, thinking that she might find a girl fitting that description there again. She was surprised when a trip to the capital in Artorius introduced her to [Leviana-Silvana Pomona Decus]. She kept an eye on Pomona and was certain to offer her shelter in Clymene when she ran into the forest to rescue Princess Nevea. She told Pomona all about the Tenebrari and helped equip her to defend against them. After an attempt on the princess's life, Laelia traveled back to Artorius with Pomona to destroy the cursed gold that the Tenebrari were using to kill off the rulers of Norarchland. Pomona escaped ahead of her, but Laelia was confronted by Queen Demetra. Laelia refused to say where Pomona was, but assured the queen that her daughter was safe. Laelia then returned to Clymene. Pomona revealed that she had the Speculum Presentis, an artifact which Laelia knew had been created by her grandmother and was sure to signify Pomona's importance. She withheld a lot of information from Pomona, believing that she would have time to share it all later. Unfortunately, the Tenebrari learned of her location and her involvement with Pomona and set fire to Clymene. Laelia escaped and journeyed back to Gothel, unable to reconnect with Pomona beforehand.
- Princess Capia Callisto Arquitena (great-grandmother)
- King Bernas Evander Polaris (great-grandfather)
- King Bernas Loren Polaris (grandfather)
- Lady Dema Alexandra Bastian (great-grandmother)
- Tenebrarius Jacobus Lycas (great-grandfather)
- Queen Dema-Tenebraria Cinera [Bastian] Polaris (grandmother)
- Prince Bernas Arcadius Polaris (uncle)
- Princess Dema Coryla Polaris (mother)
- King Cephas Darius Cygnus (father)
- Prince Ventus Leander Cygnus (stepfather)
- King Cephas Elianus Cygnus (brother)
- Queen Nelia Sana Borea (sister-in-law)
- Princes Cephas Crispus, Cyrus, Alpheus, Albanus, Lysander, and Lucas Cygnus (nephews)
- Princess Nelia Divalia Cygna (niece)
- Princess Venta Aurora [Cygna] Anema (half-sister)
- General Ventus Astraeus Anemas (brother-in-law)
- Princesses Venta Aquila, Anatola, Favonia, Austeria, Cecilia, Olympia, Aella, Circia, Vega, Liboria, Solana, and Evangelina Anema (nieces)