Dresden Files
Order of the Blackened Denarius

Polonius Lartessa, better known as Tessa, is a member of the Order of the Blackened Denarius, and host of the Fallen Angel Imariel. Her battle form is that of a praying mantis. She is also a powerful sorceress. She first appears in Small Favor


The church believes that Tessa and Imariel are the second eldest of the Denarians after Nicodemus Archleone and Anduriel.[1]

Tessa is a sorceress. Harry Dresden believes she's a very dangerous one.[2]

Like the majority of members of the Nickelheads, she shapeshifts into a more durable, combat ready and terror-inducing form at will. In this form she resembles a demonic preying mantis, capable of converting dismembered sections of her anatomy into miniature versions of her demon form, which manoeuvre to reform until they are reintegrated into her full sized form.[3] Like the rest of her kind, she is superhumanly strong and quick, and possesses a wizard 's level of magical talent, a factor that may contribute to her ability to co-exist without being completely subjugated by her Fallen, Imariel.

Tessa regards raw desire more relevant in a recruit than their potential talents, preferring her Denarian recruits to be well motivated.[4]

Tessa keeps a group of five other Fallen around her, one of which has been killed by Thomas Raith.[1]

She chooses the hosts for her and her followers from among the downtrodden and the desperate, those who will fall to temptation more rapidly. She seems to be focused on the short term while Nicodemus is focused on the long term. Michael Carpenter thinks that going after Marcone isn't Tessa's style and that's why Nicodemus is in town.[1]


Her husband is Nicodemus Archleone who rescued her after she was sold to the temple of Isis as a child to settle her father's debts. Nicodemus found her, gave her a coin,[5] and after several years of courtship(reference needed) they married and had a child, Deirdre Archleone.

Though Tessa and Nicodemus are husband and wife, they are more like rivals of a sort. They barely work together; the last time this happened was just before the Black Plague in Europe.[Footnote 1][1]

Once one of her projects was thwarted in (probably) Antwerp, with her being driven away by Shiro Yoshimo. Afterwards she went to Venice, where she met with Rosanna. During a conversation the two of them had about Rosanna's charge Sanya, the latter listened in, which opened his eyes and caused him to reject his coin. Shiro, who had followed Tessa, found Sanya and took him along.[4]

Ivy mention that, as a child, Tessa was sold to the Temple of Isis[Footnote 2] in Thessalonica to help her father's failing business. She also caused (or exacerbated) the Rwanda Genocide, the Killing Fields, the 100 Year War and War of the Roses, as well as the Colombian cartels.[5]

In the series[]

Small Favor[]

In Small Favor, Tessa attempts to abduct Gard and Hendricks from a suburban house with some other Denarians. Harry Dresden fights Tessa with a charged chain, and Gard empties her assault rifle into her. As Dresden walks out carrying Gard, Tessa is reforming from thousands of tiny mantis-like creatures. Thomas and Hendricks fought three Denarians downstairs. Tessa tries to talk Dresden into handing Marcone's people over. Dresden refuses, and they fight barely escaping.[3]

Skin Game[]

In Skin Game,

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Small Favor, ch. 20
  2. Small Favor, ch. 32
  3. 3.0 3.1 Small Favor, ch. 13
  4. 4.0 4.1 Small Favor, ch. 15
  5. 5.0 5.1 Small Favor, ch. 33

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