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Lady Alys is the mother of Ivan Vorpatril, the cousin of the series' main character, Miles Vorkosigan. Her slain husband was Padma Vorpatril, a descendant of Xav Vorbarra, along with Aral Vorkosigan. During the War of the Vordarian Pretendership, the pregnant Lady Alys, along with Lord Padma, was targeted for assassination because of her husband's Vorbarra bloodlines, thus making both her husband and her unborn child potential rival claimants for the throne. Her husband was killed, and Alys was forced to take refuge in a seedy district of the capital city, Vorbarr Sultana, called the "caravanserai" where she gave birth to Ivan while in hiding.
She is considered High Vor though it is unclear how she has this distinction. (There is a possible consistency flaw in the series in this regard.) During the later novels, she serves as basically Emperor Gregor's official hostess, as the emperor has no sisters or mother. It could be said that she serves as the emperor's Chief of Social Affairs the same way the Chief of ImpSec is in charge of Security affairs. In this capacity, she spearheads the organization of the Emperor's wedding to Laisa Toscane, which included the duty of serving as 'baba' to Laisa's Komarran parents, in effect acting as Gregor's emissary to formally request their permission for the marriage.
Later it is learned that not only is she dating former ImpSec Chief Simon Illyan, but she is also a blind drop for an ImpSec covert operative responsible for aristocratic affairs.
Lady Alys is regarded as a sophisticated, stylish woman, with long dark hair and large attractive eyes. She noted for her good manners and impeccable taste, as well as her organizational abilities. Throughout the series, she is noted as providing sartorial advice to many of the female characters, including custom designing the stunning wedding gown of Ludmilla Droushnakovi (later Koudelka), and essentially being the newlywed Lady Cordelia Vorkosigan's stylist.