vor: (Bloody peasants)
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vor: (Oh. It's Ivan.)
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vor: (Emperor Therapist)
 All comments are screened.  If you have any helpful critique when it comes to playing Gregor or playing in general, I will love you for ever.
vor: (The Imperial "We")
OOC INFORMATION

Name: Tori
Contact Information: toriangeli on Plurk
Personal Journal: [personal profile] tori_angeli
Age: 29
Characters Played: N/A


IN-CHARACTER INFORMATION

Name: Gregor Vorbarra
Fandom: The Vorkosigan Saga
Age: 33
Canon Point: Between Mirror Dance and Memory
Original Universe or Alternate Universe? Original
Personality: Gregor’s apparent Imperial sternness hid an almost painful personal shyness.
-Komarr


Gregor is an interesting study in the effects of both nature and nurture on a person’s development. He has, for example, much of his mother’s disposition and temperament. There can be little doubt that he’s a depressive, even depressed, man, both from his upbringing and from his family tendency toward mental illness on his father’s side. Many of his mannerisms, figures of speech, and what I like to call “Emperor Therapist” ways, however, come directly from his foster-parents. Lord and Lady Vorkosigan were his legal guardians since Princess Kareen’s death, and Miles Vorkosigan periodically comments on gestures Gregor “inherited” from Cordelia in particular. Gregor’s catch phrase, “Let’s see what happens,” is one he picked up from Cordelia.

Gregor is a personally warm, unobtrusive person easily overlooked when he wants to be. There’s no inextricable Imperial Presence, no conditioned grandeur, to distinguish him beyond a certain dignified poise, although Admiral Oser in The Vor Game doesn’t buy his cover as Miles’ batman. “He doesn’t look like a batman. He looks like an officer.”

Still, Gregor is often described as assuming casual positions in casual company. He slumps (“compressed by the minute-by-minute box of his schedule,” notes the narrative), slings a leg over a chair arm, sits on the edge of a desk swinging one leg, you get the idea. He doesn’t buy into any sense of inborn regality, or the shiny splendor of his life (or the throne/camp stool meant to receive the “Imperial ass,” as he puts it). He’s very self-contained, and his expressions are subtle—a Vorish trait very much seen in his mother in Barrayar, not found at all in his father in Shards of Honor. It’s not just the Vorish upbringing, though. Even Gregor’s Vor cousins remark on Gregor’s subtle expressions. In A Civil Campaign, Ivan warns By Vorrutyer that he does not want to see Gregor when he’s angry. By asks what Gregor looks like when he’s angry, and Ivan tells him he looks exactly the same as he looks any other time, and that’s the scary part.

A telling scene comes in Memory, in which Miles and Laisa compare impressions of Gregor. Miles, having grown up with his Emperor, dispels a few misunderstandings the off-worlder Laisa has about him. She tells him Gregor always looks strict in vids. Miles says it may look that way on camera, but really, he’s just glum, not strict. Laisa laughs when Miles tells her Gregor would be shy, but isn’t allowed. He’s not joking.

Even as a child, Gregor was very quiet. In Barrayar, the only book in which we see him as a child, he speaks seldom and when he does, he sticks to the point. He has never been prone to long ramblings, but rather internal conflict and speculation, something those closest to him can sometimes read in him when he looks thoughtful. This quietude shouldn’t be mistaken for stiffness, though it commonly is. Gregor has a gift for stating things very succinctly while still being diplomatic.

His depressive tendencies are evident even from the wide-eyed and melancholy Child Emperor we meet in Barrayar, although it’s very possible those tendencies wouldn’t have become so full-blown if his life had been less tragic. In just over a year, little Gregor had lit funeral offerings for both parents and his grandfather, then spent his life under security so strict that Cordelia had to argue with the head of ImpSec just to let the kid spend fifteen minutes at a wedding reception held in his own home. Miles periodically assigns nicknames, in his own head, such as Glum Gregor or Gregor the Lugubrious. Ky Tung describes him as “neurasthenic.” Miles is not surprised by Gregor’s suicide attempt in the slightest, but he is surprised later in the series when Gregor makes Laisa Toscane laugh at a party. This gloomy temperament doesn’t seem to be the result of low self-esteem so much as a lack of self-identity and personal freedom (when Miles is detained by ImpSec and asks for a favor, Gregor retorts, “What, are you asking one prisoner of ImpSec to rescue another?”), and very possibly nature as well, considering his family history of mental illness. Gregor’s entire story in The Vor Game is a result of his search for who he might be on his own merit, without having his life built for him (“I think I could be replaced at half my functions by a life-sized plastic model, and no one would notice”). Self-esteem might be the improper word anyway. Personal honor is a closer concern. Gregor isn’t devoid of pride, after all—when they are on the verge of being put out the airlock, Miles bitterly comments that he didn’t think Gregor would protest so much, after having a half-hearted suicide attempt earlier in the novel. Gregor points out the difference, still fighting the guards leading them. “At my own hand, not at the whim of a bunch of…bloody peasants.” It’s the only time in the series he uses the P-word to describe anyone. Otherwise, he’s quite egalitarian. Still, in a moment of stress, it pops out, tellingly revealing that it’s impossible to be raised an Emperor and not have it stick to you.

There is a streak of an odd naivety in him—not in a sense that he doesn’t know about all the awful things in the universe, but that he’s never personally experienced many of them. Despite being in the military for a few years, he never saw combat except at Vervain. “Pretend patrols, surrounded by Security shuttles. It got to be painful after a while, all the pretending. Pretending I was an officer, pretending I was doing a job instead of making everyone else’s job harder just by being there.” At one point, he gasps when hit by a shock-stick, then once the alarm passes off, notes that it wasn’t as bad as he was expecting. After choking a man to escape a predicament, he looks sick. “I’ve never choked a man before. I…felt something strange, under my hand. I’m afraid I might have broken his neck.” The man was still breathing when they left him, so clearly Gregor doesn’t know what he felt. Even his escape from his own security was expected to be short-lived—he was sure from the beginning he wouldn’t get far before they caught up with him. If they had, The Vor Game would be a terribly short book.

Gregor is intelligent to the point of being wily. He draws the line at military strategy—Miles always beat him at tacti-go—but he’s a master of diplomatic thinking. When captured by Metzov, a Barrayaran, he performs a bit of weaseling even Miles admires. Metzov asks for his parole. “A parole is a promise given between honorable enemies,” Gregor tells him. “Your honor I am willing to assume. But are you thus declaring yourself Our enemy?” As the novel continues, it turns out that all of Miles’ scheming to rescue his Emperor is relatively pointless. While at first Miles doubted and wondered if Gregor had been swayed by the honeyed words of manipulator Cavilo, Gregor shrugged off those doubts. “She had the same hungry smile Vordrozda used to get. And a dozen lesser cannibals, since. I can smell a power-hungry flatterer at a thousand meters, now.”

“Do you know that you rescued yourself?” Miles asked him.

It doesn’t stop Gregor from wishing the beautiful, charming Cavilo had been “real.” But when confronted with his former captor, he says tiredly, “Commander Cavilo, both my parents died violently in political intrigue before I was six years old. A fact you might have researched. Did you think you were dealing with an amateur?

Hand-in-hand with his natural intelligence is his uncanny ability to work with people. The fact that, in Mirror Dance, he puts Mark Vorkosigan, professional paranoid, at ease enough to open up, counts as an extreme example. Another is the end of The Vor Game, in which he becomes extremely popular on the planet of Vervain. Count Vorkosigan says, “He’s being feted in their capital even as we speak, I believe. They’ve gone wild over him.” It is strongly hinted that Gregor gets this ability from Cordelia Vorkosigan, whose Betan upbringing and understanding of the people around her makes her a better psychotherapist than a lot of psychotherapists. In Mirror Dance, when Mark meets Cordelia and hears her psychoanalyzing several people he knows, he wonders who “shaves the barber.” Later, he witnesses a conversation between Gregor and Cordelia. To his surprise, Gregor makes note that Cordelia’s psychoanalyzing is her own way of coping with a stressful situation, and Mark gets his answer to his question. Gregor is considerably less talkative than Cordelia, but this is clearly not a new ability of his. It’s his understanding of people that makes him so good at his job.

“I know flattery sends you straight up a wall,” says Miles in The Vor Game, “but dammit, you’re actually good at your job. You have to know that, on some level inside, after the Vervain talks. Stay on it, huh?”

Gregor is a man with many self-doubts, most of them revolving around his genetics. “Try it alone in bed at midnight, wondering when your genes are going to start generating monsters in your mind. Like Great Uncle Mad Yuri. Or Prince Serg.” In this quote, he reveals to Miles that he has learned that his father, Serg, was a mad, cruel, sadistic man whose death was one of the best things that happened to Barrayar, although his madness was hidden from his people and especially his son. Miles realizes that this “had been the trigger of the depressive Gregor’s first real suicide attempt.” Gregor’s shattered illusions about a man he doesn’t really remember aren’t at all the point, and don’t seem to upset him. “I’m afraid I might enjoy it. The hurting. Like him.”

“Rubbish,” replies Miles. “I watched my grandfather try and get you to enjoy hunting for years. You got good, I suppose because you thought it was your Vorish duty, but you damn near threw up every time you half-missed and we had to chase down some wounded beastie.”

This doesn’t convince Gregor. “What I’ve read…and heard, is so horribly fascinating. I can’t help thinking about it. Can’t put it out of my mind.”

“Your head is full of horrors because the world is full of horrors,” Miles points out. Then, later, “Gregor, I’m sorry, but I just don’t think Mad Emperor Gregor is in the cards. It’s your advisors who are going to go crazy.”

“I suppose it would disturb the guards if I tried to shove a cream torte up your nose,” sighs Gregor.

We can see in later installments of the series that Gregor’s paranoia about his bloodline doesn’t get better with time, and never will. Too afraid to marry a Vor lady and further compound the inbreeding, he has the fortune to later fall deeply in love with an off-world woman whose looks are the exact opposite of your typical dark-haired, tall, willowy Vor woman. This taste in women is shown at another canon point as well, with his attraction to the petite, slightly thick blonde Cavilo. Lady Alys Vorpatril’s attempts to find him a wife among Vor women are met with as much indifference as if Gregor wasn’t attracted to women at all, to the point where someone suggests she start trying men (which “wouldn’t solve the heir problem”). Clearly, Gregor never explains things to her in order to make things easier on them both—she eventually has to figure out on her own that he will never fall in love with a Vor woman.

Gregor is not a naturally selfish person. The Vor Game is the exception, not the rule. The only other time canon shows him being selfish is with his politically questionable courtship of Laisa, when he tells Miles that she’s not for the Imperium or even for the Emperor, but for himself. Gregor allows himself few things that make him happy, having been raised to believe the Imperium is greater than its Emperor. He is a slave to it. But even his ill-advised attempt to run away is met with horror even by himself, as he knows it’s a bad idea even before the hangover sets in. Miles and Elena chat at length to each other about the chaos that will strike Barrayar—civil war, at the least—if anything should happen to Gregor, until Gregor tells them, “Stop it!” Elena’s cool reply is, “I thought that was your job.” Even then, when she jokes about offering him a job with the fleet she is in, he revels in the fantasy of being a mercenary for a moment. With moments like this, it’s hard to blame him for his desire to have something for himself, or for his impulsive escape. He’s someone without a life of his own, who feels very keenly the enforced sacrifice of his own self for the sake of his entire society. He can’t change it, and he can’t resent those who brought him up to be a good Emperor, but his longing, his hunger for his own identity is there throughout the entire series. Relief is found only when he exercises the freedom to choose his family life, later in the series when he marries and has children.

But he has decided, at least, that he likes being Emperor, and that will not change just because he is in a different location.  The Imperium is people, not geography, after all.

Is this character immune? Yes.

Background: Commander Cavilo, both my parents died violently in political intrigue before I was six years old. A fact you might have researched. Did you think you were dealing with an amateur?
-Gregor Vorbarra, The Vor Game

To make things a little easier for the uninitiated, the Vor of the planet Barrayar are a military caste serving essentially as a feudal aristocracy. Barrayar's government is feudal, more or less, with no written constitution.

Gregor was born to Prince Serg and Princess Kareen Vorbarra. At the time, his grandfather Ezar was Emperor. There is little to say about Gregor’s childhood until the death of his father in the Escobaran War, a conflict secretly engineered by Ezar solely to place his own son among the casualties. Serg, like much of the family, was a product of generations of Vor inbreeding, but worse than usual. He was a psychopathic and sadistic monster even the rest of his screwed-up family was relieved to be rid of, lest he inherit the throne (in which case he might have been worse than the infamous Mad Emperor Yuri, who attempted to slaughter all his cousins to preserve his reign). Old Ezar passed away in his sleep, establishing Lord Aral Vorkosigan as his regent until Gregor should come of age. Shortly after came the War of Vordarian’s Pretendership, during which Gregor survived his first-ever assassination attempt. He went into hiding under the protection of Lord Aral and Lady Cordelia Vorkosigan. His mother, Princess Kareen, was told he was dead, and quietly submitted to allowing Vordarian’s usurpation not only of her son’s future power but of herself. Only when Cordelia presented Kareen with one of Gregor’s shoes as proof that he was alive did Kareen resist, and in doing so, died attempting to assassinate the man who tried to kill her son. Cordelia herself ordered the beheading of the Pretender, clearing the way for Gregor’s inheritance.

He was five years old.

There being questionable wisdom in granting the reign over an entire planet to small child, Aral Vorkosigan continued as Regent throughout Gregor’s childhood. Moreover, he and Cordelia raised Gregor alongside their own son, Miles. Aral groomed him to be a wise Emperor. Cordelia groomed him to be a good man, and hopefully a happy one as well. Still, they couldn’t do anything about the intense security following the child Emperor around everywhere, watching his every move, crouched in anticipation of attempts to dispose of the last Vorbarra. He grew up hearing of his parents only as near-mythical figures, his father Barrayar’s greatest hero, his mother a martyr. No one spoke a word to him of Serg’s disastrous and violent mental illnesses that caused his own father to plot his death.

He grew up a preternaturally quiet and melancholy child. His playmates (Miles, Miles’ cousin Ivan Vorpatril, and Elena Bothari) were all at least five years younger than he, and Miles later recalled him tolerating the play he had outgrown simply because there wasn’t anything else to do. He was, nevertheless, very close to his foster parents and foster brother, and later to one of the younger Counts, Henri Vorvolk, who might be considered the closest thing Gregor has to a best friend.

He entered the military college at age seventeen or so and, after graduating, was assigned to station duty in orbit around Barrayar. He didn’t feel like it counted as a real risk. When he reached the age of twenty, the Regency was cast aside and Gregor became Emperor of Barrayar (and, consequently, ruler of Komarr and Sergyar as well) in deed as well as in name. Aral Vorkosigan remained as his Prime Minister, one of the few men in all the world he could trust. His only moment of doubt in the Vorkosigans came during the events of the book The Warrior’s Apprentice, when at the impressionable age of twenty-two he heard whispers of a conspiracy against him when Miles accidentally acquired a large fleet of mercenaries, thus violating the law against a Vor lord having a private army (by one particular bloodline, the Vorkosigans could very much be considered the next in line to the Imperial throne). Remembering Miles always beat him at strategy games, Gregor pondered this, but ultimately cast aside his doubts when Miles returned home and offered to sign the mercenaries over to the Emperor. He hasn’t doubted Miles’ loyalty since.

Three years passed, Gregor performing the motions of attending social functions, signing things, kissing babies, etc., but never feeling like anything more than a mascot. It was enough to drive a young man already prone to melancholy into depression. What really did the trick, however, was finally learning the truth about his father. This revelation was entirely unauthorized, of course, out of the control of Imperial Security and Aral Vorkosigan, so neither ImpSec nor the Prime Minster could control Gregor’s response. He was attending a diplomatic function on Komarr, a planet conquered some years before by Barrayar. The night he found out, he got himself very drunk and stood on the balcony of the house he stayed in, pondering the history of madness in his family and spurred to terror over if and when such a madness would manifest in himself, and if not in himself, in his children. Self-doubts about his own interest in torture (a grotesque fascination which has nothing to do with actual sadistic inclination, as Gregor historically reacted very badly even to hunting, especially when he half-missed and had to chase down some wounded beast) and far too much alcohol inspired him to tip himself over the edge of the balcony. At the last instant, he caught himself.

Then, he realized he could climb down more easily than up. For the first time in perhaps his entire life, no one was around. His guards were nowhere to be seen. He climbed down to the ground and began to walk. He caught a ride to the nearest commercial space transport, which he boarded without looking back. On he went under an assumed identity, hunting for himself apart from the Imperium, wondering if he could make it on his own. And he did--until Jacksonian law got him arrested for vagrancy and sent aboard what was essentially a slave ship. Out of sheer luck, he ran into his foster-brother Miles, who made it a priority to get Gregor home safely whether Gregor liked it or not. They had a close call with an old enemy of Miles' before they seemed at last to be in the clear--and they landed in the hands of evil mastermind Cavilo and her partner, an old commander of Miles' from Barrayar. Gregor could not go unrecognized any longer, and Cavilo quickly knew his identity.

Miles was kept separately, so Gregor was alone with a psychopathic, power-mad genius. But her hubris and genius were Cavilo's great weaknesses as well, so Gregor stroked them. He played the naive young puppet ruler both willing and able to grant great power through marriage, and so Cavilo decided that instead of ransoming Gregor, she would wed him. She began to keep him in her chambers, though who first seduced who is anyone's guess. She playacted, he playacted, and he came to desperately wish the playacting was real, though he knew better. He feigned an engagement to her.

Miles escaped confinement and was reunited with old comrades in arms, and returned with them to negotiate for Gregor's release. Cavilo was convinced she had Gregor utterly under her spell. When at last negotiations began and Gregor was brought along as a hostage, Miles cheerfully greeted them with a laser cannon beyond the doorway of the space dock. Gregor declared his cousin was bluffing and said he would prove it, and he did--by walking up till his chest touched the laser cannon, at which point Miles simply shut and locked the door between them and Cavilo and her men. Miles declared Gregor a genius for having rescued himself.

Gregor quickly retook the role of Emperor then, appointing himself a bodyguard and a slipshod staff from the three vassals he had present. The Barrayaran military force arrived to preempt a Cetagandan strike set up by Cavilo, and Gregor resolutely made himself co-commander of the forces. After the battle was won, he began diplomatic talks with one of the affected planets and charmed the living daylights out of them, aiding in unifying the Hegen Hub. Cavilo was captured and Gregor returned home with a blooming confidence and a new, torrid love for the job he was raised to do. It is heavily implied that he sought psychiatric help for his suicidal depression, at the very least from his foster-mother, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Gregor does not appear in the next few books, until the book Mirror Dance. By then, he has formed into his own sort of Emperor--quiet, wise, and extraordinarily good at people. He meets Mark Vorkosigan, clone of Miles, and seems to be the first Barrayaran to get through to the young man, who is terrified and utterly shut off from the family that wants to embrace him. He grants Mark the closest thing there is to immediate access to him, partly because he could use it and partly so that Mark will use it, and come to trust someone who might once have been a foster-brother. And Mark does use it, and calls on Gregor for several favors, which are granted, for Gregor is a willing ally to his friends and subjects. Miles is recovered, and still convalescent when the book ends and Gregor comes into the game.

Other Notables: Unusual accent, described in canon as "guttural" and "rumbly" and is certainly fairly light. Safe to assume it's of Russian descent.
Inventory: His House Vorbarra uniform and his red robes from the Council of Counts.

SAMPLES

NETWORK SAMPLE: Bakerstreet thread link: a midnight text conversation with Miles Vorkosigan.
LOG SAMPLE: Bakerstreet thread link: Gregor and Ivan Vorpatril react to the loss of a loved one.
vor: (Let's see what happens.)
Player Name: Tori

Player Journal: [personal profile] tori_angeli

OOC Contact info: mtangeli on AIM

Other Characters Currently in the Tower: N/A


Character Canon: The Vorkosigan Saga

Character Journal: [personal profile] vor

Who are they? The Emperor

What is their Name? Gregor Vorbarra

What is their Quest? To figure himself out, basically.

What is their favorite color? Dark blue.

What is their personality?

Gregor is an interesting study in the effects of both nature and nurture on a person’s development. He has, for example, much of his mother’s disposition and temperament. There can be little doubt that he’s a depressive, possibly depressed, man, both from his upbringing and from his family tendency toward mental illness on his father’s side. Many of his mannerisms, figures of speech, and what I like to call “Emperor Therapist” ways, however, come directly from his foster-parents. Lord and Lady Vorkosigan were his legal guardians since Princess Kareen’s death, and Miles Vorkosigan periodically comments on gestures Gregor “inherited” from Lady Vorkosigan in particular. Gregor’s catch phrase, “Let’s see what happens,” is one he picked up from her.

Gregor is a personally warm, unobtrusive person easily overlooked when he wants to be. There’s no inextricable Imperial Presence, no conditioned grandeur, to distinguish him. Still, Gregor is often described as assuming casual positions in casual company. He slumps (“compressed by the minute-by-minute box of his schedule,” notes the narrative), slings a leg over a chair arm, sits on the edge of a desk swinging one leg, you get the idea. He doesn’t buy into any sense of inborn regality, or the shiny splendor of his life (or the throne meant to receive the “Imperial ass,” as he puts it). He’s very self-contained, and his expressions are subtle—a Vorish trait very much seen in his mother, not found at all in his father. It’s not just the Vorish upbringing, though. Even Gregor’s Vor cousins remark on Gregor’s subtle expressions.

Miles, having grown up with his Emperor, can dispel a few misunderstandings many people have about him. Gregor often comes across as strict. Miles says it may look that way, but really, he’s just glum, not strict, that Gregor would be shy, but isn’t allowed. He’s not joking.

Even as a child, Gregor was very quiet. He spoke seldom and when he did, he stuck to the point. He has never been prone to long ramblings, but rather internal conflict and speculation, something those closest to him can sometimes read in him when he looks thoughtful. This quietude shouldn’t be mistaken for stiffness. Gregor has a gift for stating things very succinctly while still being diplomatic.

His depressive tendencies are evident, although it’s very possible those tendencies wouldn’t have become so full-blown if his life had been less tragic. In just over a year, little Gregor had lit funeral offerings for both parents and his grandfather, then spent his life under security so strict that Cordelia had to argue with the head of the Imperial guard just to let the kid spend fifteen minutes at a wedding party held in his own home. Miles periodically assigns nicknames, in his own head, such as Glum Gregor or Gregor the Lugubrious. Someone else describes him as “neurasthenic.” This gloomy temperament doesn’t seem to be the result of low self-esteem so much as a lack of self-identity and personal freedom and very possibly nature as well, considering his family history of mental illness. Gregor’s entire story at this moment is a result of his search for who he might be on his own merit, without having his life built for him (“I think I could be replaced at half my functions by a life-sized plastic model, and no one would notice”). Self-esteem might be the improper word anyway. Personal honor is a closer concern. Gregor isn’t devoid of pride, after all—in stressful moments, he might even use the word "peasants." Otherwise, he’s quite egalitarian. Still, in a moment of stress, it pops out, tellingly revealing that it’s impossible to be raised an Emperor and not have it stick to you.

There is a streak of an odd naivety in him—not in a sense that he doesn’t know about all the awful things in the universe, but that he’s never personally experienced many of them. Despite being commander-in-chief of his own army, he’s never seen real combat.

Gregor is intelligent to the point of being wily. He draws the line at military strategy—Miles always beat him at those games—but he’s a master of diplomatic thinking. He's perfectly capable of talking himself out of a hostage situation even as the hostage, because he is willing to become whatever he needs to become. He has been taught that his very identity is whatever the Imperium needs it to be.

Hand-in-hand with his natural intelligence is his uncanny ability to work with people. He is able to put professional paranoids at ease enough to open up. He is very good on his foreign diplomatic efforts. Gregor gets this ability partly from his foster-mother, whose understanding of the people around her makes her a better psychotherapist than a lot of psychotherapists. Flattery sends him straight up a wall, so they don't often say it, but his advisors see great promise in him.

Gregor is a young man with many self-doubts, most of them revolving around his genetics. “Try it alone in bed at midnight, wondering when your genes are going to start generating monsters in your mind. Like Great Uncle Mad Yuri. Or Prince Serg.” Gregor’s shattered illusions about a man he doesn’t really remember aren’t at all the point, and don’t seem to upset him. “I’m afraid I might enjoy it. The hurting. Like him.” No one who knows him is convinced by this, but it plagues him constantly.

Gregor’s paranoia about his bloodline will not get better with time. Too afraid to marry a Vor lady and further compound the inbreeding, he frustrates his entire court with his refusal of every potential bride. It has affected even his taste in women, and he prefers petite, curvy blondes to tall, willowy brunettes like the Vor ladies. The attempts to find him a wife among Vor women are met with as much indifference as if Gregor wasn’t attracted to women at all, to the point where some suggest his social handlers start trying men. Gregor never explains things in order to make things easier on them all—they eventually will have to figure out on their own that he will never fall in love with a Vor woman.

Gregor is not a naturally selfish person. His recent actions are an exception, not the rule. Gregor allows himself few things that make him happy, having been raised to believe the Imperium is greater than its Emperor. He is a slave to it. But even his ill-advised attempt to run away is met with horror even by himself, as he knows it’s a bad idea even before the hangover sets in. Even then, he revels in the fantasy of being something else. With moments like this, it’s hard to blame him for his desire to have something for himself, or for his impulsive escape. He’s someone without a life of his own, who feels very keenly the enforced sacrifice of his own self for the sake of his entire society. He can’t change anything, and he can’t resent those who brought him up to be a good Emperor, but his longing, his hunger for his own identity is there throughout his entire life. Maybe one day he will make the role of Emperor into his own.


What are they? Emperor of Krieva.

What are their powers? Class Infinity Diplomatic Immunity, Impassive Face of Doom, Tranquil Fury, Signing of Execution Papers, Word of Power Against Chaos Gods, Thorough Self-Defense Training, The Talking of Sense Into (Almost) Anyone, Cream Cake Consumption

What are their flaws, their fears? Crappy inbred genetics, fear of going batshit crazy, really not very assertive at all but getting slightly better about that, fear of losing more people he loves, fear of causing the deaths of the people he loves, being kidnapped, being assassinated, being disappointing, extremely kidnappable, clinically depressed

What makes them weak? Daddy Issues, Mommy Issues, Orphan Issues, depressed as hell, insecure as hell, all his friends either serve him or want to kill him

What is their history?

To make things a little easier for the uninitiated, the Vor of the country Krieva are a military caste serving essentially as a feudal aristocracy. Krieva's government is feudal, more or less, with no written constitution and one very powerful Emperor uniting all the various Counties.

Gregor was born to Prince Serg and Princess Kareen Vorbarra. At the time, his grandfather Ezar was Emperor. There is little to say about Gregor’s childhood until the death of his father in a foreign conflict, a war secretly engineered by Ezar solely to place his own son among the casualties. Serg, like much of the family, was a product of generations of Vor inbreeding, but worse than usual. He was a psychopathic and sadistic monster even the rest of his screwed-up family was relieved to be rid of, lest he inherit the throne (in which case he might have been worse than the infamous Mad Emperor Yuri, who attempted to slaughter all his cousins to preserve his reign). Old Ezar passed away in his sleep, establishing Lord Aral Vorkosigan as his regent until Gregor should come of age. Shortly after came the War of Vordarian’s Pretendership, during which Gregor survived his first-ever assassination attempt. He went into hiding under the protection of Lord Aral and Lady Cordelia Vorkosigan. His mother, Princess Kareen, was told he was dead, and quietly submitted to allowing Vordarian’s usurpation not only of her son’s future power but of herself. Only when Cordelia presented Kareen with one of Gregor’s shoes as proof that he was alive did Kareen resist, and in doing so, died attempting to assassinate the man who tried to kill her son. Cordelia herself ordered the beheading of the Pretender, clearing the way for Gregor’s inheritance.

He was five years old.

There being questionable wisdom in granting the reign over an entire country to small child, Aral Vorkosigan continued as Regent throughout Gregor’s childhood. Moreover, he and Cordelia raised Gregor alongside their own son, Miles. Aral groomed him to be a wise Emperor. Cordelia groomed him to be a good man, and hopefully a happy one as well. Still, they couldn’t do anything about the intense security following the child Emperor around everywhere, watching his every move, crouched in anticipation of attempts to dispose of the last Vorbarra. He grew up hearing of his parents only as near-mythical figures, his father Barrayar’s greatest hero, his mother a martyr. No one spoke a word to him of Serg’s disastrous and violent mental illnesses that caused his own father to plot his death.

He grew up a preternaturally quiet and melancholy child. His playmates (Miles, his distant cousin Ivan Vorpatril, and Elena Bothari) were all at least five years younger than he, and Miles later recalled him tolerating the play he had outgrown simply because there wasn’t anything else to do. He was, nevertheless, very close to his foster parents and foster brother.

He, unlike the vast majority of the Vor, never had real military experience, and this made him feel like a very unqualified commander-in-chief. When he reached the age of twenty, the Regency was cast aside and Gregor became Emperor of Krieva in deed as well as in name. Aral Vorkosigan remained as his Prime Minister, one of the few men in all the world he could trust.

Three years passed, Gregor performing the motions of attending social functions, signing things, kissing babies, etc., but never feeling like anything more than a mascot. It was enough to drive a young man already prone to melancholy into depression. What really did the trick, however, was finally learning the truth about his father. This revelation was entirely unauthorized, of course, out of the control of Aral Vorkosigan and his Council, so no one could control Gregor’s response. He was attending a diplomatic function in Nefreldia. The night he found out, he got himself very drunk and stood on the balcony of the house he stayed in, pondering the history of madness in his family and spurred to terror over if and when such a madness would manifest in himself, and if not in himself, in his children. Self-doubts about his own interest in torture (a grotesque fascination which has nothing to do with actual sadistic inclination, as Gregor historically reacted very badly even to hunting, especially when he half-missed and had to chase down some wounded beast) and far too much alcohol inspired him to tip himself over the edge of the balcony. At the last instant, he caught himself.

Then, he realized he could climb down more easily than up. For the first time in perhaps his entire life, no one was around. His guards were nowhere to be seen. He climbed down to the ground and began to walk. He hasn't stopped walking since, except to sleep.


How does this interact with the wild magic whirling around the Valley? Krieva is pretty far away and hasn't been touched too much by the excess magic. At best, it's a far-off rumor.

How did they end up in the Valley? Gregor might have had a drunk freakout and run away from a diplomatic retreat. Running across the Valley was complete happenstance after he lost his way.

Are they a member of the Collection, The Loyal, The Nobility, or the Lost? Collection

Who are they loyal to? (On the surface or secretly or both) His own country because...yeah. No choice.


Link to test drive thread or other thread with this character as a sample, please: In which silly and pathetic things are afoot


Additional Comments:
vor: (Request and require)
Ivan Vorpatril went home.

[There's several seconds of white noise, then the transmission cuts off.]
vor: (Lost in memory.)
[Very early in the morning, Gregor can be found in the back yard of house 60, carefully snipping a bit of black hair and setting it into a brazier he found for specifically this purpose. He adds a carefully constructed hatchwork of rosewood dowels. Two sprays of a perfume he found that smells a little like he remembers her wearing. Lastly, a white winter flower, waxy and perfect and elegant.

Twenty-one years ago on this day, Princess Kareen Vorbarra was killed.

The offering in the brazier burns quickly, thanks to the perfume, and with little smoke until the delicate white flower atop the pile withers and blackens.]
vor: (The Imperial "We")
[Filtered from Ivan Vorpatril, 100% unhackable]

[The particular variety of neutrality Gregor wears today is stiffer than usual. Close friends would interpret it as irritated, and it doesn't even take a close look to understand why. Sitting in his house, he is involuntarily dressed in a dark blue kimono, visible from the waist up (for Loki's information, the waist down is clothed in black hakama). More annoying is the fact that the Shift has grown his hair out to shoulder length, and he has it tied back out of his face. It still feels weird, though, hanging down the back of his neck like this. Itchy.]

Could anyone here help me plan a birthday party? It's for my cousin. He's turning twenty-three on the thirtieth of this month.

[A pause.]

Everyone's invited, by the way.

[/Filtered]

[He ventures out to do his chores at the stable. Afterwards, out of sheer curiosity, he starts walking around the village, visiting all the stereotypes. Run into him absolutely anywhere.]
vor: (Hesitant)
[It's a nice day. Very nice. Nice enough that two cousins have deemed it a worthy day to plant themselves on a grassy area not too far from CH7 and practice unarmed combat.

It's your typical setup, really. Two military-trained dudes in suitable clothing trying to pin each other to the dirt. On occasion it can look a tad alarming, but in addition to good practice it really is sport between two good friends. One man is broader and taller, the other thin but quick. Anyone taking bets might have an interesting time of it.

Does anyone care to take on the winner?

OOC: This is a joint post with [personal profile] ivanyouidiot. All responses will be tagged by both Ivan and Gregor unless otherwise requested.]
vor: (Not allowed to be shy.)
[A week of research was a questionable coping mechanism. It succeeded in keeping him from having to talk to anyone. Also, in keeping him busy. However, a week buried in information brings on a loneliness that makes unchecked depression go rampant.

That's the worst part about it, sometimes. Being so utterly incapable of breaking the ice, of visiting someone and drudging up polite conversation and leaving that loneliness behind. He can't conjure the energy to visit anyone or ask for a visit, but everything is so much worse when he's lonely. Walking that circle is worse than rummaging through page after page of data, wanting to find and yet terrified of finding. He hated it alone in the research rooms, but feared going back to the same cycle, the same circle, as before.

When he comes back, he puts off going back to the flat for as long as possible. He sees to the horses at the stable, introducing the new mare to the others. Horses don't require conversation, but they provide companionship. Gregor is faintly disturbed by that thought, as if working with the horses might be more harmful than therapeutic. He finds himself clutching Babushka's mane in both fists, his face buried in her shoulder, heart pounding with the sudden, dizzy speculation that the one thing that makes him feel happy in this place is poisoned by his own weakness. No. No, no, no, he's not about to start thinking that way. Working with the horses means working with the hands, and that's human interaction. He enjoys that part. There's a premise to it, nothing forced. It's okay. He's being ridiculous about this. Gradually, he releases Babushka's mane. Her placid temperament helps. It's as if she barely noticed.

He should go home and take a shower, but instead he sits in the stable and sends a written message out, filtering it only lazily since it's nothing important.]


[Filtered to Ivan Vorpatril, Buffy Summers, Adele LeBlanc, and everyone who works at the stable or takes lessons - 35% unhackable]

I've come back.
--GVB

[/Filtered.]

[Then, it's anything he can do to keep from going back to that apartment. He knows once he's there, he'll nest in his safe little area and be completely trapped, alone with his own thoughts. So he plunks himself into the coffee shop with a cup of coffee and a cream cake he brought over from the bakery. He should check up on Loki (he has his own problems). He should talk to Nephry (she shouldn't see me like this). Or Molly (neither should she). Or Buffy (no pretending no no no...). Or Adele (nothing she can do). The trouble is that he's not fit to be seen by anyone. There's really nowhere to go but home, is there? Like it or not, he's chained to that place. Heaven forbid he send out a message to any one of them, or even that idiot Ivan, saying, I need help, today is a bad day, I don't care what you do just make sure...

Cut for morbid/suicidal thinking. )

At last, he sends out a voice message.]


The public stables are open, with three horses available to anyone who needs them. Just check them out with the on-duty stable hand.

[After inquiries are responded to, there's nothing to do but go home. Once he is there, he is most likely to curl up on his couch and not answer the door or any messages.]
vor: (Genes generating monsters)
[The mission at the beginning of the month made Gregor feel useful at last. He rode that emotional high for about two weeks. But there's a problem with highs.

After his morning ride through the woods, Gregor shuts himself up in his apartment and will not answer the door if anyone knocks. The light is on inside. This behavior has been going on for about a week.

At night, he sends a stiff, somewhat monotone message over the journals. His eyes are pointed off-camera, as if he's reading from something on the table beside his journal.]


This is Greg. I wanted to let everyone know since Brave Vesperia put up a new stable, I'm about to bring in a few horses for public transportation use. Before I do that, I need volunteers to help me take care of the horses. I'll train anyone personally.

I'd also like to set up a trade with anyone working the farm: compost for hay.

Thank you for your time.

[Filtered to Adele LeBlanc - unhackable]

They're not working.
vor: (Night-night)
[Filtered to Ivan Vorpatril, 65% unhackable because it's early and he's sick.]

Ivan,

Would you please look in on the horse for me? The Imperial Ass seems to be having trouble getting out of bed today, as the Imperial Sniffles have turned into the Imperial Plague. We apologize for Our impending death and your impending resulting frustrations.

Regretfully,

Gregor

P.S. If this letter caused you alarm, please give yourself a refresher course in detecting the Imperial Sarcasm.

[/Filtered]

[Gregor is sick as a dog. Apartments adjacent to his have probably heard violent, deep, chesty coughing for about two weeks now. Ordinarily, he'd have on-site approved physicians checking him out and prescribing whatever antibiotic was necessary, but here, he has to actually go seek out help. So. To the Battle Dome clinic he goes, looking specifically to see Adele LeBlanc when she's in. He will wait for her, if necessary.

Afterwards, he's going to the library, then the bakery for coffee and something sweet. Anyone stopping in can see him sitting inside, devouring a psychology textbook and sipping coffee, the cream cakes reduced to crumbs. They are the only thing he has eaten all day. He is not looking great, occasionally falling into bad coughing fits, for which he ducks outside, but recovering fairly quickly. When he heads home, he goes straight to bed despite his plans to work out. And the fact that it's the middle of the day.]


[Filtered to Phoenix Ikki 79%]

PI--

I suppose we're supposed to be pen pals, whatever that entails. I hope you're adjusting to the village well.

--GB
vor: (Stop giving me a headache)
[Almost two weeks spent in Malnosso captivity and what does Gregor have to show for it?

Lots and lots of band-aids, mostly. Also a minor cold that has turned into a chesty cough.

Instead of any great torture, drugs, or whatever he'd been expecting, the Malnosso mostly took DNA samples. Blood samples. Tissue samples. He's from further in Earth-universe's future than most besides Ivan, so maybe his specific point in human evolution was of interest. He understands the "lab rat" metaphor pretty well now. There hadn't been a lot of space in his cell, so he's a little stiff and sore. At least the hallucinations are gone. That had been the worst part--having to assure himself that this was a normal reaction to solitary confinement. He slowly heaves himself to his feet, blindly scrabbling for his journal. Writing is not easy with all his bandaged fingertips, so he speaks, sounding hoarse, slightly congested, and exhausted.]
 

Ivan. [A pause. ] Buffy. Adele. Whoever's...interested, this is Greg. I'm back. [He coughs a couple of times, fairly hard.] The Malnosso...anyway, I'm fine. It...wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I'm heading home now. Did someone take care of my horse?

[He'll take about fifteen minutes to walk home from his spot in the woods.]
vor: (Genes generating monsters)
[It has been some time since he did this.

Tonight, Gregor is behind CH7 with two large aluminum bowls. He places them on the ground.

One, he fills with sweet-scented bark and sage leaves. The other, with twigs and dried paper.

His hair has grown too long anyway. Carefully, he snips two locks of raven-black hair from his head. One for each bowl.

He kneels in front of the second bowl, the one filled with ordinary fuel, and tosses a tuft of hair in. Then, he strikes a match and sets fire to the contents. As it burns, he quietly adds a slip of paper with his signature written on it in his best handwriting. His official Imperial signature.

He says nothing as the death offering for his father burns. He's done this many times, at the guidance of Lady Alys. There had been no funeral offering for Prince Serg but the one which had filled the sky of Sergyar.

He returns to the first bowl, tenderly adding the lock of hair, a slip of paper with an invisible kiss, and, of all things, a child's shoe. As the offering burns, tears glisten in his eyes. When he's sure no one is around, he curls to the ground and quietly weeps.

He's aware of the limited privacy, but he'll whisper a few words over each offering. Anyone clever enough to sneak up would have to come very close indeed to hear them.

It is supposed that the burning of these offerings helps to drive away ghosts.

When that's over, he simply sits with his back to the wall and speaks into his journal. It's soft and hesitating--he's certainly not the "inspiring speeches on a dime" sort of ruler back home, but writing in the dark is ill-advised. His voice is somewhat rough.]


On Barrayar, we burn offerings for the dead. People died on the draft, but generally, the usual rites don't apply if they're coming back. It's limbo. What do you do?

Um. Could...someone give me a haircut?
vor: (Is this one of your friends?)
[Sleek and dark, the new horse is a glorious bay mare the color of dark chocolate with cayenne pepper, intelligent and attentive and calm, but headstrong when she wants to go her own way. Gregor has an emotionally difficult time shacking her up in a nook in a barn in the farmlands. A proper Vor horse deserves better, but with the stables full, there’s nowhere else for her.

This morning, though, he’s riding the horse through the woods and grasslands just outside the village, looking exhilarated. With a palette swap, he could almost be back on Barrayar, near the house at Vorkosigan Surleau, with an afternoon to himself, his security perimeter tactfully out of sight and temporarily out of mind. With the exception of one or two bodyguards, of course.

After a shower and a change of clothes (a tunic, trousers, and unbuttoned vest devoid of military-esque embellishments), he steps outside looking happier than he has since his arrival, and feeling freer than he has in years. His hair has grown out of its short military burr cut, but he’s in no hurry to change it back to the Barrayaran standard. It has finally sunk in that here, he has no schedule, no expectations, no affairs. No pressure to marry and have lots and lots of kids (especially male ones). No treaties, no Cetagandan threat, no disgruntled Komarrans, no slander, no ImpSec. Just himself and a future he chooses. This is the chance he ran away for, and it doesn’t even come with consequences back home. For once, Gregor Vorbarra is in an amazingly good mood. Not that it’s easy to tell from his face.

He spends much of the afternoon converting one of the rooms in his apartment into a workout space. He then peruses the weapons’ shop for…well, okay, no, they have absolutely no stunners, plasma arcs, nerve disruptors, or needlers, and Gregor doesn’t have a way to charge them anyway. Not that he really expected a place like this to carry them. Instead, he selects an excellent, if plain, concealable dagger with a walnut grip and sound steel.

In the evening, he sits at Cloud Nine listening quietly to the music, munching an appetizer, and writing in the journal, laid flat on the bar with the cover down. He needs to tape over the name on it already, dammit.]


Does anyone need any work done?

-GB

[Filtered to Rin, 90% unhackable]

Rin, I believe you and I have a race to run.

[…Yup, definitely in a very good mood.

Run into him anytime during the day.]
vor: (We have considered it)
Cut for length. TW for morbid/suicidal thinking. )

[He wakes up early in the afternoon and doesn’t feel better until after he’s taken a shower. It takes a lot of motivation to go outside at all. He spends a little time in the stables just to remember the smell of horses even if there aren’t any that belong to him. Riding. That’s the only thing he can think of that’s worth going outside for, and he can’t do it.

He tries the library. Barrayaran history won’t hold any answers about Serg, so maybe Escobaran. He doesn’t find Escobaran history. He does, however, find some psychology books that he winds up taking with him to the tea shop on a whim. There, he sits and sips his cuppa while devouring one book about mental illness by a supposedly distinguished author. There’s comfort in looking at it from a curable, clinical perspective. Most of the actual content matter he’s already learned at Cordelia’s knee.

Feeling like he’s doing something helps. He starts to look up more information about missions. He wants at least one horse, dammit, and the currency here seems to be these points earned by doing favors for the Malnosso. Maybe during a research mission, he could even learn something about what happened at Escobar.

He has a plan. Horse, psychology, and Escobar. And after the first horse? Maybe another. Maybe he’ll fill the stables so people can travel more easily within the enclosure. It would be good to have horses around. Maybe he could take up a career as a groom. Ma and Da (Illyan and Aral) would have conniptions. Cordelia would say it’s good for him.

He writes:]


Would anyone ride horses if we had them?

Also: I would like to speak with anyone who has died here and come back, if anyone would be willing to speak of it.

-GVB
vor: (Genes generating monsters)
Cut for length )

[The village isn’t hard to navigate. He has no credit chit with which to buy clothes, which causes problems until he learns everything is free for the taking. Definitely prisoners. Much here is of a fashion he’s not used to, but he picks out a black button-up shirt, a pair of blue cotton twill trousers someone calls “jeans,” and a pair of sandals that snap at his heels as he walks. It seems to be the sort of fare most people wear around here, far more relaxed than the military-inspired tunics of Barrayaran fashion. Still, since none of it was inspected by ImpSec, he feels oddly liberated even as he feels wary. There are holes in the shirt to thread his wings through, and he does so very carefully. On the other hand, maybe he should flaunt the colors. No one outside Barrayar is likely to know the Vorbarra house colors, but they might alert an ImpSec agent--if Simon Illyan indeed has any plants here, which Gregor wouldn’t put beyond him. Illyan and Aral, like two parentheses surrounding him.

Illyan is going to have a stroke.

Eventually he sits at the bakery with a cream horn on a plate in front of him, as well as a cup of tea with three sugars and half-and-half. He slumps in the chair like he’s trying to become invisible, feet and knees wide apart, a neurasthenic expression on his narrow face, long hands flipping through his journal with the cover flat on the table, hiding the name on it. It would be best if no one knew his identity just yet.

The worst part is how little he really cares, now that his options have been made a little clearer. Yes, he cares very deeply, but not enough. Giving him a pair of wings, whether or not they count as a mutation, and sending him back to his own people? Would free him of the Imperium, whatever else it would do. He’s not sure if that’s what he wants. He’s not sure what he wants at all. But what he wants doesn’t matter, as long as he has the wings. They’re a handy excuse for now, but what about when Illyan catches up with him in a frantic but well-executed rescue? What about when civil war breaks out back home as various power-greedy Vor lords attempt to lay claim to the Imperium? What about when Aral Vorkosigan is assassinated? What about when the Counts too clever to try to take the Imperium for themselves rally behind Ivan Vorpatril and make him their puppet?

…Okay, that last one just made him stop taking the entire disaster scenario seriously. Emperor Ivan. A smile tugs briefly at his lips.

He stops suddenly as he comes to a particular entry. After a moment, he finds his voice and the button to start transmission.]


Someone asked some time ago about surgically removing the wings. I’m curious. What did he find out?

[There’s a certain cool authority to it, but it’s still polite and respectful, not patronizing or clipped at all. A formal request for information, not a demand. Then, hesitation.]

My name is Greg Bleakman. I’ve just arrived.

[There. That alias should alert any ImpSec agents in the enclosure. It also reveals his emergency alias to any kidnappers listening in, but Illyan can provide him with another.

He spends the rest of the day scouting out places to stay. Eventually he chooses Community Building 7, because it’s close to the stables. He’ll have to go riding tomorrow, once he has settled in a bit better. The third floor satisfies his inner Simon Illyan, and a room at the end of the hall satisfies his desire to keep to himself for now.

Catch up with him at any point during the day.]

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vor: PB: James D'Arcy (Default)
Emperor Gregor Vorbarra

November 2014

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