Portrait of a Warrior Picture

This is Sky-Marshal Morrigan Merryweather, one of the main characters in a piece of Steampunk-themed collaborative writing I'm currently working on. She commands the entirety of the Inexorable Air Fleet, a formidable fleet of magnificently constructed airships engineered purely for war. The ship she travels on is called the Alistair Williamson, named after her superior officer and beloved mentor. Morrigan is quite renowned for her ferocity, physical strength, unwavering resolve and steely countenance; uncommon traits for a female of this particular day and age. She often comes across as stubborn and volatile, but is undoubtedly loyal to those few she loves, and is actually rather eloquent when she puts her mind to it. She's a fairly excellent hand-to-hand combatant, and is quick with a rapier blade. She's never seen without an ornate revolver hanging at her hip; the weapon holds particular sentimental value for her as it was built specifically for her by the love of her life. Atham appears to have stolen a heart she never even thought she had!
Morrigan's past is somewhat shrouded in mystery; Morrigan Merryweather isn't even her real name. She took the name 'Morrigan' from Gaelic mythology (Morrigan being the Goddess of War, Death and Prophecy), and 'Merryweather' was the maiden name of her Grandmother, the only member of her family she ever felt remotely close to. She never knew her father as he left her and her mother when Morrigan was a young child. Her mother was always somewhat overprotective yet contemptuous of her daughter, enforcing strict behavioural codes and feminine behaviour onto Morrigan, much to the spirited young girl's disdain (although of course, her mother only taught her the importance of traditional gender roles to ensure her own survival within the harsh, oppressive society of this particular Steampunk universe). Morrigan grew up watching her mother bring various men home; many of which she found insufferable. After her mother finally married a particularly conservative, emotionally abusive and insufferable man, Morrigan ran away from home in order to join the military, so that she might find a cause to fight for. All she ever wanted to do was learn how to snap a man's neck, and this seemed like the safest means in which to do so. It was during military training that she met Sky-Admiral Alistair Williamson, who became a guiding light and father figure for Morrigan. He was often quite harsh with disciplining his young protegé, but merely because he sensed her potential. It was him who secured her a position as one of the few females serving in the Aether Force.
She is one of the only women in history to hold a commanding position.

This damn thing took me somewhere around fourteen hours in Paint Tool Sai.

The following bit of text was written to accompany this portrait:

The knife sliced seamlessly through the air with a soft whistling sound, embedding itself straight into the neck of the woman in the portrait. Morrigan crowed triumphantly, striding across the room, her boots clunking heavily against the wooden floorboards. She yanked the knife out, leaving a small hole in the canvas and re-assumed her position, ready to toss the blade again. It was a strange thing, that throwing blades at a painting of which she herself was the subject would bring her comfort, but it did, likely because it was cathartic to release her hate upon the face she held in such contempt. In truth, she really did loathe that picture, but she kept it around simply because Alistair had it commissioned for her. She’d protested vehemently, but the Sky-Admiral had insisted that all esteemed military officers should be immortalised in a portrait. Alistair was the one person she didn’t have the resolve to defy, and in fairness, very few people ever did, unless they happened to be Drathira.
It had been difficult, forcing herself to remain still long enough to have the portrait painted, as keeping completely stationary for long periods of time was something Morrigan had struggled with ever since she were a young girl. She had kept wanting to re-arrange her hair, or duck her face away from the light. She found it difficult to face bright lights directly; something about them felt indecently exposing. Even so, the portrait was still quite the accurate likeness, although it hadn’t been that way initially.

When Morrigan had asked to see the result of her two hour long struggle to remain frozen in position, the sight sickened her.
“I have a scar on my right cheek. My eyes are a duller brown that that, my jaw is wider, my cheekbones less defined.” she had growled at the artist, scowling disdainfully. He was about to voice his defence, but she interjected. “Look, I know you’re used to painting beautiful girls, or battleworn military men who want to look twenty-two again, and ugly women who want to use your work for an ego trip, but please, don’t do me that dishonour. “ She sighed, showing little remorse for her abrasively blunt manner.
“Admiral Williamson said I am to immortalise you.” The artist replied blankly.
“Then do so, but as I am. I don’t want them to look back on my career as one of the few female officers in the Aether Force and have them say ‘it was all right, she got by because she was pretty. Probably got on her knees for the right men to get to where she was’.” The painter raised his eyebrows, but Morrigan continued. “No, I want my very existence to offend them, because you and I both know that ugly women are not supposed to be successful, despite the fact that most of the powerful men commanding fleets these days look like they were shoved through a meat grinder.” She snorts derisively. “I want them to see that I fought for what I have tooth and nail; I want you to show that in my face. That means you need to paint the dark circles around my eyes, every split end of my hair, the dry texture of my skin, the lump in the bridge of my nose from where it was broken… every single damned flaw.”
The painter grimaced with uncertainty as Morrigan sat back down behind the canvas, but the cold look in her eyes suggested he’d be better off complying with her wishes.
“Might I ask how you acquired such a scar?” his words were slightly hesitant, as if he were voicing his question carefully. Morrigan smirked as she traced her fingertips along the thick, prominent scar which cut a conspicuous diagonal path across her cheek.
“I’ve had it for quite some time, must be about… six or seven years ago, now. I wasn’t as quick with my blade then as I am now. As was typical of our luck, the ship I was stationed on was the smallest and most bloody unstable of the entire fleet. Still, when we inevitably got overrun by enemy forces, I was more than willing to defend the bucket of scrap with my life, as the Captain was a man I still, to this day, love as I would my own brother, and this was his ship. He was, at this point, bleeding out on the flight deck; the medics had to stitch him back up right there and then and it fell to me to keep the bastards at bay. The spiteful little cunt I was fighting made a stab for my eye, and I mistimed a parry.”
The artist blinked slightly at her coarse phrasing. It was something Alistair had tried and failed to drill out of her for years.
“I’m not particularly fast on my feet, so it was a miracle I managed to swerve out of the way; otherwise I’d be one eye less and my depth perception would be buggered.” She laughed fondly at the memory.
“Oh, and do me a favour? If you’re intending on painting any lower than my neck, please don’t paint me slender. I’ve long since come to terms with the fact that I have no collarbones and ungainly shoulders, so it wouldn’t come as much of a shock.” Her tone was light-spirited, but her eyes were mirthless.

Morrigan snapped herself out of her reverie to toss the knife once more. It hit its mark near perfectly, albeit slightly off of the centre of her forehead. She always did like the way he’d painted that scar; it was the only feature of herself she’d ever come to actually admire, as she felt it had been earned. She’d long passed the point of wasting energy on placing importance on what other people thought of her, except perhaps-…
She cast that particular thought out of her mind immediately, crushing it before it were even fully formed. It was not something she could even afford to consider, especially not while she had a battle to be preparing for. He wouldn’t be interested, anyway…would he?
‘Of course not. What would a woman like you have that a man like the Professor could possibly want?’ she mentally scolded herself, cursing her own weakness, all the while hating him for eliciting such dangerous feelings from her. His sheer brilliance was entirely unignorable; his compassionate yet undauntedly intellectual nature alike none which Morrigan had ever seen in a man. Ever since that first night when she had visited his workshop to test some of the weaponry Alistair had proposed be implemented on the ship, Atham had just seemed to understand. He didn’t look at her as though she were some sort of affront to nature like most of her other acquaintances had the tendency towards doing. Still, she knew full well that kind smile she had come to crave so unwillingly would never be hers to wake up to, and it was for the best to have it kept that way. Those sorts of attachments were unstable at best; she needed nothing other than the brotherly comradeship she and her Captain, Percy shared, or the fatherly affection she had come to receive from Alistair. Those things were solid; those bonds could not be broken.
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