1539 - Alyssen was born and raised in Gyr Abania, growing up in the rocky, rural highlands as the daughter of livestock farmers. She was a bright but rebellious child, and had a reputation among her peers as a loud-mouthed braggart. She got in her share of fist-fights with the local boys, though you could never be sure if she started them or just finished them.
1557 - She was sheltered enough from the conflicts Ala Mhigo seemed constantly involved in, with news about 'the war' only ever something the older folks gossiped about at the trader's shop. So when the Garlean Empire rolled through Ala Mhigo like a gilded carpet had been laid out for them, Alyssen refused to accept her family's complacence with their new governance, which they saw as a welcome change to the tyrant King Theodoric. At 18, she joined the fledgling Resistance fighters.
1558 - She fought with the Resistance for a year or so, but a bungled mission lead to her capture by Garlean authorities. She and six other rebels were sent to a prison camp in Ilsabard, where they were used for years as magitek guinea-pigs in unscrupulous, torturous experiments. Most of their memories of these experiments were systematically scrambled or re-written, to prevent calling any attention to the truth of what was going on behind the curtain.
1568 - At the end of her 10 year sentence, Alyssen was released and returned to Ala Mhigo. She knew trying to fight the Empire from within Ala Mhigo was a fool's errand; the Resistance was weak and the city-state's people too comfortable under their Garlean yoke. She harbored a smoldering contempt for not only the Empire, but also for her cowed countrymen. She resolved that the only way to gain any measure of revenge against Garlemald was to leave Ala Mhigo behind. Using her Resistance connections, she carefully smuggled herself out of the city-state and headed for Ul'dah.
1572 - The Calamity. While fighting with Eorzean forces against Garlean troops, Alyssen was badly injured in the chaos. During her recovery, her mangled memory started to put itself back together, and she retired from the battlefield for good. The pain--both physical and emotional-- and guilt that hung over her caused her to withdraw into self-medicating with drink. She no longer had a taste for revenge, overwhelmed by the destruction of the Calamity and the losses of warfare. She became a drifter, mostly finding work as a farmhand tending chocobos and livestock in exchange for a bed and a little coin.
1577 to present - The Gold Saucer offers sanctioned chocobo races, which provide Alyssen with the escapism she seeks and a way to make a living doing it. Granted, it's a hard living, but it's the only kind she's ever known.
APPEARANCE & PERSONALITY
If it weren't for the considerable signs of weathering harrying her features, Alyssen might be called handsome, if not outright pretty. Her short straw-blonde hair is straight and seems to do whatever it wants, cowlicked and windblown (and usually not the cleanest) from days on the racetrack. Unkempt and unruly, it flops like a mane across her green eyes, which are shadowed by lack of sleep, sometimes bloodshot, and creased at the edges with crow's feet. Her nose shows evidence of being broken more than once, though it appears to have been set each time by skilled doctors. Her expression is usually devoid of much emotion-- generally, it has been described as 'hard' and 'unfriendly looking,' but unless you've got a reason for her to be ticked off at you, it's probably just the way her face looks. She bears scars all over her body, some faint, some less so. The most recent are from racing and scuffs she's ended up fighting her way out of. Some of them, the oldest, have a very distinct look that those who have fought the Empire's magitek nightmares will recognize all too easily.
Alyssen is noticeably short for your typical Highlander, a fact she had to contend with often growing up among the robust farmboys in her little village. She quickly learned to make up for her limited stature by doubling up on toughness. Though she was known as a hot-headed brawler in her youth, time and maturity have tempered her somewhat. Nowadays, she'll probably only throw a punch at you if you really deserve it.
She has a drinking habit; she's irritable and quick to bristle when she's hung over, quiet and straight-forward when she's sober, and moody and closed-up like a clamshell when she's good and drunk. She makes a point to keep her hard drinking a private affair, and seldom has more than a pint or two in public. She has a reputation as a jockey to uphold, and her excessively stubborn pride doesn't allow such displays of weakness to be aired in the open.
Despite her outward demeanor, if you manage to skirt the defenses she's artfully crafted, you'll find an impossibly dry but generous sense of humor, wry half-smiles, and a lingering spark of love for life that hasn't yet been snuffed out entirely by the years. Alyssen's loyalty to those she calls friend is unwavering and she goes to great lengths to put her few friends' needs and emotions before her own, often at the expense of her own coin-purse and well-being. She is deep and complex, but if you can brave her somewhat unpredictable moods, she'll gladly share what warmth she has left under all the pointy places.
■ Chocobos. They're better company than people, if you can deal with the smell. She has an innate ability to relate to them, and they seem to respond to her better than most under saddle.
■ Gambling. With money or otherwise, she's hard-pressed to turn down a wager she thinks could work in her favor.
■ Work. Needs to stay busy, and appreciates the value of good, physically demanding labor.
■ Mountains. She might have forsaken her countrymen, but she hasn't forgotten the land itself. A ride through the hills is the quickest way to put an honest-to-gods smile on her face.
■ Darkness. Not quite a phobia, but being in dark places for too long makes her anxious and uncomfortable.
■ Cruelty. Unnecessary meanness, physical or verbal, particularly to children or animals. ESPECIALLY animals.
■ Crowds. Noise and pushing and shoving, too many people in too small a space is definitely not her thing.
■ Losing. If you're not winning, you're not making money, and if you're not making money, you're not eating.
■ Escapism. Alyssen would rather run from her problems, both past and present, than deal with them, thank you very much.
■ Notoriety. If you have a reputation as the toughest, meanest cur this side of Drybone, it keeps people from wanting to get too close to you. A useful self-protection method... Also helps get mounts for the races.
■ Guilt. She hasn't forgiven herself for the mistakes that lead to her capture and the terrible things done to her and the six others imprisoned with her, or for lives lost under her watch during the war that followed.
■ Absolution. Even though she's given up the fight, there's a part of her that will never stop looking for whatever way she can to pay back the Empire in kind-- not only for her homeland's freedom, but to bring some peace to herself at last (see above).
■ Pragmatic. Straight-forward and possessed of uncommon common sense. Not one to needlessly complicate things that aren't all that complicated.
■ Driven. Competitive and focused in any task she undertakes, relentless in pursuing a goal to its end.
■ Strength. Literal physical strength; despite her small stature, she is incredibly fit, agile, and much stronger than she looks at first glance.
■ Battle-hardened. Due to her been-there, done-that history, Alyssen doesn't easily panic or fluster. She rolls with the punches, figuratively and literally, and makes due with what she's got to work with in any given situation.
■ Stubborn. Prideful to a fault; when she digs her heels in, she is downright unmovable. She is slow to bend to compromises.
■ Claustrophobe. Small spaces, especially small dark spaces, are extremely difficult for Alyssen to tolerate for more than very short periods of time.
■ Trauma. Exactly what it says on the tin. Alyssen bears physical scars from her past, but the emotional ones run so much more raw and deep.
■ Short-Tempered. Though she's learned to control her outbursts with age, she can be explosive if the wrong buttons are pushed too persistently. Usually, it's her fists that do the talking first in such a case.
■ Alcoholic. Not only does she suffer the psychological effects of alcoholism, but the physical side effects are hard on her when she's not drinking, too-- crippling migraines and tremors, violent mood swings, anxiety, fevers and insomnia.
Some of these rumors are untrue or are greatly exaggerated. Please feel free to add your own rumors under PC!