Cassandra Li
Cassandra Li
Cassandra Li
Portrayed By: Michelle Yip
Name: Ann "Cassandra" Li
Gender: Female
Character Type: Paranormal
Age: 23 years old
Date of Birth: Ares April 14, 1990
Place of Birth: Hong Kong
Family: None
Faction: None
Association: Affiliate
Occupation: Busker

Cassandra, whose birth name is Ann Li, is a woman in her early twenties, who has been, since she was about seventeen, gifted with foresight - and burdened with it as well, because few believe her. She chose the name Cassandra after the tragic death of her parents in a train crash - a crash she had foreseen, and begged them to take a different train. They'd laughed it off, and died, halfway to Scotland. While she could have played in any symphony, or attended either the Royal Academy of Music or Juilliard (to which she had been accepted before the tragedy), she chooses to do neither, instead busking on street corners. She does not need the money, thanks to her inheritance, and money she earns busking is donated to a charity her parents founded for children who do not have music in their lives.

Born in Hong Kong in 1990, a few years before the 1997 transfer of sovereignty from the United Kingdom back to China, Cassandra's parents elected to take their careers and their young daughter to London before the transfer, and so they picked up their instruments (in Cassandra's mother's case, her voice - a rising young star in Cantonese opera; in her father's case, a half-dozen traditional instruments, and a saxophone), their daughter, and the rest of their possessions, and they emigrated.

It was something of a long process, but eventually, they settled in.

Ann Li grew up in a reasonably well-off neighborhood near Marylebone and the Royal Academy of Music, where her father taught seminars on traditional Chinese instruments and on sound production, before his tragic death and that of his wife in a railway accident en route to a holiday in Scotland. Her mother performed with a number of prestigious orchestras and made several recordings, sometimes with an orchestra, sometimes simply accompanied by her husband, who also produced the recordings. (At the time of their deaths, Cassandra's mother and father were 44 and 40 years old respectively, and Cassandra was 17.)

Cassandra's upbringing was warm and loving, as witnessed by the fact that her birth was what prompted her parents to leave Hong Kong before it ceased to be a British colony, and her musical talents were encouraged and honed by private instruction from the time she showed an aptitude for her chosen instrument.

Cassandra - who was Ann then - picked up the violin at the age of three, and by the time she was seventeen had been accepted to a prestigious music school in the United States: Juilliard. But it was not to be.

A few weeks before she was scheduled to fly to New York, her parents boarded a train for a holiday in Scotland… a train ride that would prove fatal for both of them. And the hell of it, for Ann, was this: she had begged them, pleaded with them, to take a later train, because she was convinced that something horrific was going to happen… and when she learned their train had derailed, she could not eat for days. She'd seen the crash… and couldn't stop it happening. And it wasn't the first time she'd seen something bad happen before it did… nor would it be the last.

Unable to control her visions - and unable to convince anyone that she wasn't making things up, that the visions were real and would happen the way she saw them, she dropped out of Juilliard before she ever attended. Now, afraid to be close to anyone, she performs on street corners, busking for cash. Her talent is there, but there is an underlying pain underneath it all that has not dissipated despite the years between the accident that claimed her parents' life and today. And she still sees things, and wonders if she's going mad…

Instructed not only in violin, but also with a strong musical theory background (both Asian and Western styles), Cassandra is proficient enough to audition for the London Philharmonic - and steadfastly refuses to do so, preferring instead (being bereft of family) to perform on street corners. Although her childhood home was left to her, along with all her parents' possessions, including a number of unreleased recordings, she has chosen instead to take a small flat, and has kept the home as something of a shrine, visiting only rarely when she feels the need to do so (usually immediately following an Incident, as she calls her foresight.) The soundproofed music room, containing her father's instruments, as well as a baby grand piano, and various recording equipment, is kept pristine.

As a gift for being accepted to Juilliard, Ann's parents bought her a hand-carved (not factory-made) German violin crafted by a luthier named David Hopf. c.1780. The Hopf violin stays at home (and is quite heavily insured!), and when Cassandra busks, she uses either a mid-range (~£ 50 replacement value), Chinese-made student model violin, or, if the weather is not going to be completely soaking wet, her electric violin (a Stagg) with a small amplifier. The electric violin is bright sky blue, and so is the amp.

Before encountering people from the London Watch, Cassandra avoided telling people about her ability to see the future; however, an encounter in Islington has prompted her to befriend a few members of the Watch (among them Cedric), and to offer her abilities to the Watch to help them out. A few weeks after the Islington incident, Cassandra purchased two violins that had belonged to a family friend and one of her early violin teachers from an antiques dealer who was handling the friend's estate. One of the violins was cursed, and Cassandra played it for five days and nights before being rescued, injuring her playing hand (fingertips shredded) but unable to quit playing until the violin was wrenched from her by force. Unwilling after that to spend any more time in her parents' soundproofed music room, or indeed the London house, she put the house up for sale, packed her belongings, and moved with her friends from the Watch to Galway. The encounter with the cursed violin granted her the ability to find other cursed objects; her innate curiosity draws her to the objects in question, and if she is alone when she finds one of great interest, she may be drawn to the point of being unable to resist its lure. If she ever encounters the cursed violin again, this will happen regardless of her best efforts.

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