Sydri, Galvanic Genius by Terese Nielsen
Hello, beloved readers! Today, I have numerous tasty treats for you: spanking-shiny cosplay pictures plus an original Magic fiction by fellow flavor writer Ant Tessitore. What happens when Sydri meets a wicked, roguishly handsome Assassin ’Walker? Flavorful mischief, of course! So, read on for tequila-filled test tubes, poisonous gems, revenge schemes, and general hotness.
In my books, Terese Nielsen is one cool cat, so no wonder she knows how to draw very cool chicks—and not the poser hipsters with all the right clothes whose carefully styled coifs hide a wealth of insecurities, but the truly eccentric babes who don’t give a flying F and rock their own unique sense of style. When I first saw the art for Sydri, Galvanic Genius, I immediately thought of that authentic type of coolness. She’d be the perfect musical muse for dozens of Fiora prog rock and metal bands, if only she weren’t so busy brilliantly artificing (and killing chumps).
Terese used her daughter as model for this piece, and the set has such a level of detail that I knew it’d be a challenging card image to recreate. At the same time, I’m really drawn to legendary characters, and I figured it’d be a good way to dip my toe into more artificing of my own, having to make her delightful accessories.
Sydri does enjoy luxuries, so she’s gotta have the bling.
Starting out with hair accessories—beads on stiff wire, banded feathers, buttons as barrettes
Focused on crafting for this cosplay, I knew there were a few items I wanted to make sure to get right: Sydri’s forehead-brooch thingy, her arm test-tube gauntlet apparatus, the steampunkish pauldron-gears set, and the lacy blue bustier-as-shirt. Sydri also has really big hair.
Sydri’s gear flair is actually quart-size yogurt lids that were cut, painted with acrylics, and detailed with puff paint. Her forehead brooch was sculpted with Fimo.
The cool, terrarium-styled pauldron thing began life as a Slurpee lid.
Glued buttons and rhinestones to a cardboard base that also had a hole in the center for an LED. The “metal” grid on top is made from repurposed bikini straps. Acrylic and puff paint detail.
Side view with LED turned on—it’s just an LED tea light inserted through the cardboard base and glued in place so the on/off switch is accessible from the underside of the pauldron.
Pauldron on in low light. Gears affixed to jacket with velcro. Bra detail done with buttons glued on as trim and puff paint. Replaced the original jacket buttons with more artificer-appropriate ones.
Test tubes for Sydri’s wacky gauntlet accessory. Yes, anything is available on Amazon. Glued the tubes down on a strip of craft foam spaced approximately as shown in the art.
Added another strip of craft foam on top of the test tubes. Put a drop of food coloring in each tube, and like a wino, decided to add tequila as the liquid.
That was my work on the major accessories . . . and yeah, coconut tequila. Hey, it was a prize from a bachelorette party, okay? I figured if Mike Linnemann, Ant, and I actually make it to PAX Prime, I could wear this jacket and rock the minibar on my arm. How convenient, right? A little nip of liquimetal coating, a shot of dragonfire . . .
Contacts are from Honeycolor. Items procured via Amazon Prime unless otherwise stated.
Notes on Cheats
I mod’d a jacket I already had, so that saved a lot of time and money. Things like this you’d want to pick up at a thrift store or snag during off-season clearance sales online if you weren’t into making it yourself. Also, you may have noticed that the jewel in Sydri’s forehead brooch looks familiar—it’s the replica Evenstar from Lord of the Rings. That was just sitting around as a relic from my first marriage, so I decided to put it to good use in this cosplay. Of course, you could just use regular rhinestones glued into the Fimo brooch to achieve the same effect.
The next challenge was to construct Sydri’s set. I put the husband on this task while I did my makeup. Terese has such lush detail in this environment. The goal was to recreate the eccentric, charming, lived-in mystery of the card art.
Built with “normal” things I have sitting around the house
I think we were pretty successful. This was a really big team effort, and I hope you enjoy the fruits of our collective sweat. Want to see the final results? Engage savoring in three, two, one . . .
Sydri and the Assassin
Story by Ant Tessitore; Cosplay and photography by Moxymtg Cosplay; Photo editing by James Arnold
"Greetings, traveler," Sydri said as her latest patron, a man clad in black leather and a hooded cape, slowly entered her shop. She took note of the scowl the man displayed as he gazed around the brightly lit workshop. All around them, Sydri's clockwork creations buzzed and whirred—a mechanical latch built into her showroom door served as a trigger mechanism that had set the room to life. To common customers, the setup appeared to be a creative way to show off the artificer's wares, but to those with a more trained eye, it was easy to see the alarm system for what it was.
"Welcome to my shop. My name is Syd—"
"I know who you are, artificer, and of the wares you are capable of producing,” the man said, cutting her off. Now it was Sydri's turn to scowl. While she wasn't one for theatrics, her welcome speech was the one act she looked forward to with each new customer.
"I require a device to be fashioned that can silently deliver a powerful liquid poison."
"Assassination, I assume—anyone I know? I wouldn't want to ‘cut my own purse strings,’ so to speak." Sydri had navigated conversations just like this one multiple times. She used small talk with her customers as an easy way to obtain information, often allowing her to make the most financially sound decision in regards to who she did business with.
Duskmantle Prowler art by Johannes Voss
"I have agents combing the city for information on the target as we speak, but I can assure you they are no high official or client of yours,” the assassin replied, pulling a small brooch out from beneath his cloak and placing it gently onto the workbench between them. "The target used this brooch to kill my brother. It is laced with a powerful poison that I would like you to replicate and use in my commissioned device."
Had Sydri been less experienced, she may have betrayed herself at that very moment, for she immediately recognized the brooch as her own creation. Years of life in Paliano had honed her ability to conceal her true reactions, burying them beneath a facade of false expressions. Many knew of Sydri as a masterful artificer capable of creating wondrous clockwork contraptions. Few knew her business was a front for her work creating tools of assassination. Fewer still knew that to be a double-front for her true business as an assassin herself. Long ago, she had mastered two separate styles of artifice, one for selling and one she used specifically for her own jobs. Looking down at that boar-head brooch made her thankful she had taken the time to separate those styles.
She looked up at the assassin again, allowing the reality of the situation to set in. This killer was the brother of a man she had killed months earlier. Unfortunately for the assassin, he was unknowingly attempting to procure a method of assassination from the very person he was trying to kill. Sydri recalled what the man had said earlier about agents doing reconnaissance. She would have to work quickly if she wanted to maintain the element of surprise.
"Leave the brooch with me so that I may recreate the poison. Come back in a week’s time, and I will have a device ready for you. My fee for this type of work is much higher than for my normal wares, but I'm sure you knew that already,” she told the assassin.
He dropped a small purse of coins onto the bench next to the brooch. "You'll get the other half when I pick up the device,” he said before turning to leave. Sydri stood staring at the door for a while after the man had left. I guess I should get to work. She smiled to herself, imagining all the different mechanisms she could create to assassinate her assassin.
Cellar Door art by Rob Alexander
Sydri’s current shop was a windowless hole-in-the-wall place off a back alley in the south district, the only entrance and exit being a large, oaken, showroom door. Whenever the artificer was working on a project, she would close up shop in an attempt to prevent any interruptions as she buried herself in her work. Sydri relished this aspect of her life, often working well through the night while losing track of time. Artifice was her true passion, assassinations being a necessary evil that supported the somewhat lavish lifestyle she desired.
That ought to do it, Sydri thought as she put the finishing touches on her latest masterpiece. She held up the small metal octagon-shaped pendant in front of her, inspecting every detail while envisioning the blueprints in her mind. To the common observer, the piece of jewelry would appear to be a large, silver pendant engraved with the likeness of a spider complete with eight beautifully cut sapphire eyes. What few would notice was that one of the eight eyes could be pressed as a mechanism to activate the device. What none but her would ever know was that the trigger was a perfectly lain trap, meant to catch a would-be assassin before he became aware of his situation.
“Now to test it,” Sydri said as she started searching her workbench for an old metal gauntlet. Finding the device, she picked it up, but before she could secure the gauntlet a quick movement startled her. Sydri slammed her palm down onto the workbench with a speed that would have caught most targets unaware, though her prey tonight proved to be the quicker of the two.
“Foul thing!” she yelled into the room, desperately searching for the roach that had skittered out of sight. Sydri hated cockroaches, but she found them almost impossible to avoid—another necessary evil for one wanting to make a life in the High City. I’ll find you and your disgusting brethren later, she thought as she went back to the task at hand.
With the protective metal gauntlet secured onto her right hand, she held the spider pendant in her palm with the engraving facing up, its eight blue eyes twinkling in the candlelight. She pressed the trigger-eye with her left hand and quickly moved it out of the line of fire. The pendant immediately sprang to life, unfolding itself in a whirl of gears and springs into the likeness of a clockwork spider. As quickly as the thing transformed, it immediately attempted to sink its needle-like metal fangs into her protected hand, bite after bite leaving droplets of deadly poison on her armored palm.
Satisfied with her work, she pressed a secret trigger on the underside of the pendant, causing the spider to cease its relentless attack and instead casually walk around before springing back into pendant form. Sydri smiled to herself. Two brothers with the same poison, she thought. Marchesa would be proud.
Royal Assassin art by Mark Zug
Like clockwork, Sydri’s assassin returned to her showroom in a week’s time to pick up his commissioned device. “Welcome to my shop,” Sydri began. “My na—”
“Must you do that every time a customer enters this foul place?” the assassin interjected. Sydri played her part perfectly, scowling as she always did when someone interrupted her welcoming line. The assassin ignored her displeasure. “The device is ready as we discussed?”
“You don’t waste time; I admire that.” Sydri replied. “Yes, the device is completed as we agreed. Would you care for a demonstration?”
At the assassin’s curt nod, she placed the silver pendant onto her workbench, draping its woven metal chain over her forearm as if she were a jeweler displaying a fine necklace of pearls.
“Jewelry?” the assassin said with a grimace.
“Ah, but not just any jewelry,” Sydri replied. “Allow me to show you its hidden capabilities.” With a practiced sleight of hand, Sydri made it look as though she was pressing one of the eight sapphire eyes adorning the spider while secretly pressing a hidden latch on the underside of the silver pendant. Immediately the device whirred to life, its eight clockwork legs working in perfect concert as the mechanical spider scurried around the table.
“The spider has a powerful bite,” she explained. “Needle fangs that deliver a particular poison.”
“And once the fatal bite has been delivered?” the assassin asked. As if on cue the metal spider sprang into the air, folding in upon itself, leaving a sapphire decorated silver pendant in its place.
The assassin dropped a bag of coins onto the table, picked up the pendant, and placed it in the palm of his bare right hand. “Marvelous,” he exclaimed, running his fingers over the intricate spider carving. “The trigger is this sapphire here?”
“That’s the one,” Sydri replied as she removed a simple silver ring from her thumb and handed it to the assassin.
Ring of Three Wishes art by Mark Winters
“What’s this?” he asked, eyeing the small piece.
“This is the key,” Sydri explained. “A precaution. This ring is magically tuned with the device. If the trigger is pressed while wearing it, the spider will just walk around harmlessly before turning back into its pendant form.”
“And if pressed while not wearing the ring?” the assassin asked, already knowing the answer.
Sydri clicked her teeth together in rapid succession, simulating the bite of her mechanical arachnid. Without hesitation, the assassin placed the ring on his finger and then pressed the sapphire trigger. Smiling, he watched as the spider sprang to life.
It immediately sank its fangs into his flesh.
His gaze shot up to Sydri, who was also smiling. The assassin’s face displayed a cascade of emotions—shock, anger, confusion—before going slack altogether as the poison took its effect. With a loud thud, the man fell in a heap to the floor.
Sydri confidently walked over to the dying man. “It is a wonder you have survived this long in our beloved city,” she said to the prone assassin at her feet. She kicked the spider-device away and crouched low, lowering her lips to the quivering man’s exposed ear. “I am the assassin who killed your brother; die knowing that you are no less a fool than he—”
Sydri fell back in a daze as the assassin connected a powerful punch to her jaw. In an instant, he had Sydri pinned on her back, an intricately crafted dagger in his gloved right hand positioned over her chest.
“Apparently, it is you who played the fool this day, artificer,” the assassin growled.
Sydri’s mind was whirling, her eyes desperately darting around the room. How? she thought. Did the poison not take effect? Did the device not work as intended? Was he wearing that glove before? That is when she noticed it. Sitting on the floor of her workshop was a freshly severed hand, complete with two poison-filled bite marks. Clever, Sydri thought begrudgingly, imagining the poor idiot who must be walking around Paliano with a newly acquired stump courtesy of this accursed assassin. Well, more likely, the poor idiot was lying dead in a gutter somewhere . . .
“How did you know?” Sydri asked, dizzy from the blow to her jaw and breathless from the weight of the assassin’s body on top of her. His left hand held her wrists pinned above her head, his right hand menaced her with the blade.
He only smiled. “You have made a dangerous enemy artificer, one who has agreed to pay me richly for your head.” The assassin pressed the point of the dagger into Sydri’s pliant chest, drawing blood and aiming for her frantically beating heart. “The Black Rose sends her love.”
Sydri winced at the pain, and her eyes went wide. She knew that dagger looked familiar.
“Stop!” she yelled, causing the assassin to momentarily stay his blade. “You are the fool and are about to kill us both.”
“Odd last words for a dying woman,” the assassin replied.
“That weapon,” Sydri said, moving her eyes to the assassin’s blade, a delicately crafted dagger with a pommel fashioned into the likeness of a rose. “I made that dagger for Marchesa years ago. The Black Rose uses it to take out multiple targets.”
Confused, not particularly uncomfortable, and in no danger of being overwhelmed by his target, the assassin motioned for Sydri to continue. She took a deep breath.
“There’s a trigger built into the handle,” she explained. “As long as the blade is driven into the victim, when the assailant releases his hold on it, a powerful poison gas is discharged from the pommel, killing the wielder. Marchesa calls it ‘killing two birds with one rose.’”
The assassin immediately checked the handle of the device. Beneath his right thumb and ring finger were indeed triggers, disguised as ornamental thorns. With his other hand, the assassin yanked Sydri’s wrists up, forcing her fingers around the handle of the dagger so his grip was replaced with her own.
Sydri now found herself holding a dagger that was partially stuck in her chest and set to release a cloud of deadly poison.
“Why would Marchesa want to kill us both?” the assassin asked aloud. Sydri could only shrug, feeling ridiculous in her current situation.
The assassin looked down at her and smiled. “Do me a favor and stay put while I do some reconnaissance.”
Agent of the Fates art by Matt Stewart
Sydri glared. “Reconnaissance? What on Fiora are you—”
“Isn’t it obvious?” the assassin replied. “The Black Rose has finally erred. She suspects us both dead, when in reality, she has created a powerful enemy. Together, we can use this to our advantage and dethrone that pompous hag.”
With that, the assassin moved his hands through a quick pass of arcane symbols. He winked at Sydri as his body began to shudder, shrinking in size as it changed shape. Where her former killer had been straddling her belly, a cockroach now crouched in his place. Sydri grimaced at it with the full force of her disgust. It paused and seemed to contemplate her for a moment, rubbing its front legs together in an unsettling fashion before turning and scurrying underneath her showroom door.
Sydri watched the roach depart. Then, keeping her grip on the dagger steady, she carefully withdrew the blade from her flesh. Sighing with relief, Sydri deactivated the dagger, pressing certain petals of the rose on the pommel in a precise order. She reached back into a medical cabinet and pulled out a healing gem, a ruby, and contemplated the state of her affairs while it did its work.
The scent of the assassin’s leather armor still lingered in her shop. Sydri wrinkled her nose thoughtfully. The Black Rose has finally erred. She suspects us both dead, when in reality she has created a powerful enemy. Together, we can use this to our advantage and dethrone that pompous hag.
Together? Sydri wasn’t sure which was more disturbing—that Marchesa was now her enemy or that this assassin was now her ally . . .
Thanks for reading!
Let us know what you thought of this project and whether you’d like to see more like it. We love to hear from you. Till next time, may Magic be your ninety-proof vial of dragonfire. Go Vorthos squad!