Ashes and Embers
“Men have to have heroes, but no man can ever be as big as the need, and so a legend grows around a grain of truth, like a pearl.” ― Peter S. Beagle
Author's Note: Below is a neat(ish) recount of Valrae's story line up until now. A lot of her later activities and accomplishments are semi-public knowledge, but most of this is for OOC use and so that I can keep it all in one orderly spot.
0. The Fool [upright]
Beginnings, Innocence, Leap of faith, Originality, Spontaneity
"Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong." - Winston Churchill
Valrae Ivy Baines was an orphan of Cenril. She grew like a weed through the cracks of the side walk. A solitary witch, she forged her own life though the craft and potion making.
A young and bright girl, Valrae nourished her talents and began making a name for herself in the small witch community by peddling her potions and tonics. Eventually, she met a man named Hudson Landon. What started as a request to help suppress the most animalistic and brutal side of one man’s struggle with Lycanthropy bloomed into a lucrative and successful business for herself. She provided Hudson and other members of the community affected by this curse with a relatively safe and reliable tonic to soothe the worst of Lycanthropy’s most biting and unpredictable rages. This was the most notable accomplishment of her very early life in Cenril.
VI. The Lovers [reversed]
Broken relationship, Infidelity, Relationship issues, Separation
"And you learn and you learn with every goodbye…” - Veronica Shoffstall
Before Valrae became a notable figure in Lithrydel as a martyr, or arguably a terrorist, the witch first made headlines in Cenril as a suspect for a particularly brutal murder. Accused of killing a town drunk, the witch was locked away in prison and was rumored to have suffered a great deal at the hands of Cenril’s most corrupt guards in order to force a confession. She was eventually found guilty and sentenced to public hanging.
In truth, Valrae had fallen in love with the engaged and upstarting mafiosa Hudson Landon. While most of their brief affair was spent hidden behind the doors of her small apartment, she’d gotten entangled with a man who eventually began stalking her. Eventually, the affair was discovered by Alvian, Hudson’s fiancé, and he ended the relationship with Valrae. No longer taking the potions she’d previously supplied him, he ran into the man who had broken into her apartment and threatened her as she slept. Enraged and out of control, Hudson had murdered him right there in the street.
Meanwhile, the witch continued her small business, unaware, and met another man. Valrae began a new relationship with the avian Irenic Older. They spent their time in libraries or day drinking on the beach and she began to heal from what was her first and most destructive love. Eventually though, the crime Hudson had committed on her behalf closed in around her and she was taken away by the Cenril guard. While Hudson was a wealthy and connected man, Valrae was an unnotable, lower class witch with known dealings with the man who had been killed. Young and in love, she eventually made a false confession after several days of brutal torture.
While Hudson made efforts through his connections both legal and not in hopes of freeing Valrae, Irenic also began working toward securing her freedom. Eventually, with the help of a vampire named Valen, it was Irenic who was able to orchestrate a prison break and Valrae was whisked away to Vailkrin. On the run, the avian kept them both out of the public eye as they moved throughout Lithrydel.
As a fugitive, the witch lived with Irenic and fell further in love with him until one night in Larket, she awoke to the bed they’d shared empty and the man nowhere to be found. Heartbroken, she attempted to make a life for herself in Larket. Eventually, she and Hudson were again entangled. This time, she took a job working for him in a witch run nail salon that was a cover for his true business, dust peddling. She also took a short lived job for the crown itself working underneath Callum, the royal botanist.
While working on and off the books with the would-be mafia king of Cenril, she made a life for herself and eventually purchased a sizable plot of land in Larket. She became a well known and trusted member of the witch community and eventually found a Coven there. But the anti witch sentiment was steadily on the rise, helped in no small part by Valrae making herself and enemy to Larket’s own Queen Josleen by virtue of being both a fugitive of Cenril and, arguably the more damnable crime in the Queen’s eyes, for being the Jezebel that came between her close friends Alvina and Hudson.
Irenic eventually returned to Valrae and the pair reunited and married. However, this too was doomed to meet a violent end.
X. Wheel of Fortune [reversed]
Bad luck, Disappointment, Misfortune, Mishap, Unforeseen setback
The last of her life was spent in Larket. She worked in a witch-run nail salon - both the legitimate business and the seedy, illegal business that the salon covered for - until her past caught up with her and she was fired. Larket's climate had neared a fever pitch and most witches were put out of work shortly after and moved to a labor camp.
The human woman banned together with the political rebel, Tychus, and soon they forged an alliance between those hopeful for democracy and those who supported equal rights for witches. With help from friends like Meri and Hudson(Who secretly funded things!), they pushed stubbornly against the Rule of King Macon and Queen Josleen. Starting riots, burning unflattering effigies, protesting. Valrae, moving on her own, even cursed the then pregnant Queen, though she was unaware that the Queen was with child at the time. After often choosing scarlet to hide her identity, "The Red Witch" became the name Valrae secretly operated under.
Valrae married Irenic, restored from his curse but for his wings. She returned to Cenril to see the brutal murder of the seconds elected mayor, Fitz, and helped newly widowed Uma erect a barrier that drove out Kahran's enemy forces. Her status as fugitive of Cenril was overturned but her home with Irenic remained on the outskirts of Larket. Her heart remained with her people.
The Dust Up In Cenril
XI. Justice [reversed]
Dishonesty, Imbalance, Lack of accountability, Legal flaws, Unfair treatment
“We can love but what we lose - What is gone is gone.” - Peter S. Beagle
After a curse was unleashed on the young of Larket and the witches falsely accused, Larket's climate towards witches deteriorated ever further. Tychus and Valrae, along with the help of a woman who had been wrongly identified as a witch and was tortured, plotted regicide. They poisoned the King and framed the Queen for his attempted murder.
While the King was comatose and the Queen was behind bars, Larket carried on with the help of the berserk Eirik. His crimes against the witches earned him the title "Witches Bane". With the help of Tychus, Valrae plotted to over take the labor camp and free the witches who were now imprisoned and tortured by the notorious witch killer. This plan failed, largely in part for the separate attack launched by the scourge of Lithrydel himself, Kahran. After a bloody battle, where a number of witches fled or were cut down by Larket's forces and Valrae cursed Eirik for his crimes, Valrae was imprisoned.
King Macon was pulled from his coma by Callum, the royal botanist and Valrae's former employer, and Josleen was released as well. Valrae revealed that she was in fact the one who moved against the crown, even giving false confessions for the curse on Larket's young and breaking the witch detection radar that allowed her and her co-conspirators to poison the king. After torture, the King ordered her execution.
XVI. The Tower [upright]
Accident or damage, Catastrophe, Destruction, Renovation, Unexpected change
"Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once." - Julius Cæsar Act II scene 2 line 33, Shakespeare
Valrae was publicly executed in Larket's square. Witches and non witches showed support of Valrae and distaste for the Crown's actions by donning red clothing, a nod to "The Red Witch". Frostmaw's Queen Hildegarde, and it's steward Lionel, bore witness and condemned the actions of the monarchy. Valrae's last words echoed the golden rule of the Witch's Creed, "An it harm none," and she died in emerald fire.
Her husband was arrested for crimes of a distant past and torn away from the land. Alone as a restless spirit, the echo of the witch haunts Lithrydel, doomed to visit all the places she'd connected to in life until she fades out of existence. Unless, the plan to resurrect her is successful...
With the barrier that protects Cenril weakening, Uma and Lionel form a plan to collect six skulls, dangerous but powerful witch artifacts of legend, and pull Valrae from the afterlife in hopes to see the barrier restored.
Larketian Fault Lines
XVII. The Star [upright]
Astronomy, Good health, Hope, Inspiration, Opportunities, Spirituality
Against perilous odds, the plan to resurrect Valrae succeeds. Friends from her first life, and some made only after her death, quested for the missing crystal skulls and found them.
They used them in a dangerous ritual that pulled Valrae's spirit from the afterlife and into a new body. Larket tried to thwart the witch's plans through political means and when that failed they resorted to violence and irrupted the powerful magic. Everything spiraled out of control and the other spirits that had also been called threatened to spill out of the circle and upset the balance of nature. Both sides suffered losses as the fighting raged and the witches who became keepers of the crystal skulls struggled to hold onto the dark power that had been unleashed.
In the end, the ritual was successful and Valrae was living again. Larket retreated to fight another day and the skulls were separated.
What Dreams May Come
XVIII. The Moon [upright]
Deception, Difficult period, Fear, Hidden things, Insecurity, Mental confusion
“If you live in the dark a long time and the sun comes out, you do not cross into it whistling. There's an initial uprush of relief at first... and then a profound dislocation.” - Mary Karr
Valrae's first shaking days in her new life were a storm of warring emotion. Caught between relief and regret, the familiar and the unfamiliar. In her new body she was a stranger to herself. With Astrid and returned to Cenril, she was familiar in what felt like her old life. She spent her days working and visiting with Lionel. She pulled away from her responsibility for a short time, no longer willing to be the Red Witch.
Eventually, the simple fantasy life she'd surrounded herself with faded. Uma called for her aid in repairing the barrier.
With the barrier restored, the magic triggered Astrid to deliver an ominous prophecy and Valrae was pushed back into her life of responsibility. Meri sent letter to her and she reunited with both her and Callum. She agreed to apprentice Cal, new to being a witch, and the three of them spoke of the dangerous of the skulls and their shrouded past.
With plans to stand beside Lionel and the Alliance against Kahran, apprentice Callum, and unearth the true history of the crystal skulls, all while continuing to make an impact on the greater witch community, Valrae will find herself rising to the tasks or crumpling under the weight of her responsibilities.
What You Leave Behind
XX. Judgement [reversed]
Poor logic, Poor or hasty judgment, Self-doubt, Stagnation
The Hammer of Witches
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." 1 Corinthians 13:12
With the emergence of a masked man calling himself Henry Cramer, danger suddenly lurks closer to home and around every corner. Even inside the once relatively safe borders of Cenril's barrier. A witch phobic book, a hit list of witches, an attack in sage, the very public and thinly veiled threat to all witch kind, and the murder of Lanara's familiar have left Valrae anxious and spoiling for action. Her friends are in danger again and this time she's alive to do something about it... But what can she do when the enemy seems to always be one step ahead?
Between working for Queen Josleen, the very woman who orchestrated her burning, under the alias Sara Grace and apprenticing Callum, Valrae has let her quest for unearthing the Crystal Skull's shrouded past remain incomplete. With the intent to rally her allies and use the dark artifacts against the hunters, could she be leading them all into something more dangerous than a witch hunter with a deadly agenda?
III. The Empress [upright]
A new opportunity, Abundance, Maternal care, Nurturing, Pregnancy, Stability
"To have lived through heart beats and tiny kicks without the other half of a child present. To a child that will be the greatest adventure, the truest love, and the one thing to be able to say without a doubt you don’t regret.” - Meaghan Jackson
Valrae chose a lonely road the moment she learned of her surprise pregnancy. Even with danger and chaos surrounding her, with witch hunters waiting the shadows and covens forming under the moon, the witch chose to carry the life inside her and nurture it alone. She traveled away from Cenril for a time, visiting the Isle her father had originally hailed from, and found her aunt. Her pregnancy was peaceful, interrupted only once by a dream of prophetic warning from an unknown entity. She returned to Cenril in the final weeks of her pregnancy, her aunt and the coven of the Isle making the pilgrimage with her. On a night of Yule celebration and with unplanned help from Mayor Uma Abelin and the reluctant mafia queen Alvina Landon, Valrae gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
With her aunt, the coven she’d rallied at her back and her newborn son in her heart, Valrae will attempt to take on the witch hunters directly. Though in the months of her absence many witches had fallen back on practicing their craft in the shadows, hiding their pentagrams and crystals as they went about their daily lives, Valrae plans on making a change. Calling on the help of old friends and those who would journey across the sea to stand beside those like them, the Red Witch must find her strength to continue to form a coven the likes of which Lithrydel has never seen before. She’ll be bringing the fight back to Cramer, and the hunters who call themselves Knights, to make the world a safer place for her son by any means necessary.
II. The High Priestess [upright]
Hidden talents, Intuition, Mystery, Spiritual insight, Things yet to be revealed
With her aunt, the coven she’d rallied at her back and her newborn son in her heart, Valrae worked toward the goal of taking on the witch hunters directly.
In the months of her absence many witches had fallen back on practicing their craft in the shadows, hiding their pentagrams and crystals as they went about their daily lives. Hoping to make a change, Valrae called on the help of old friends and those who journeyed across the sea to stand beside them.
After a secret meeting of witches from all of Lithrydel and beyond it, the plan to form a powerful coven emerged. Supported by her friends and some of the most talented witches of their time, Valrae eventually founded a coven. They created a small community away from Cenril on the shores of Selen Island.
While Cramer continued to cause chaos and infect the community with fear, Valrae began looking again for the secrets of the Old Coven’s of Lithrydel’s history. Hoping to find several of the rumored to exist artifacts of power, she began her research. Using her connections in the Mage’s Guild, Valrae pieced together enough rumor and legend to, in what might be a string of luck or more likely fate, lead her right back to Selen where the coven was forming. With the help of Mathollak, she found a hidden cave that held the High Priestess’s Triple Moon Diadem.
XI. Justice [upright]
Balance and equilibrium, Cause and effect, Fairness, Justice, Responsibility
With the help of Hudson, Cramer is captured and revealed to be both a woman and a witch herself. She blames Valrae and the crystal skulls for her actions, claiming that she had hoped to push the witches further together to unite them underneath the goal of ridding the world of those who hate magic.
For her crimes, Valrae ended the other witch's life and cursed her soul, and all of her descendants, to never enter either Praemia or Perdere.
Through A Glass, Darkly
V. The Hierophant[reversed]
Abuse of position, Breakdown, Poor counsel
After the Mage’s Guild orchestrates the genocide of the Razurath, Valrae, who is disguised as Sara Grace, begins to question the apparent lack of leadership and moral failings of the guild.
While a secret organization works in the shadows, the guild finds itself locked in a political stand off with Larket.
Valrae is captured by the enemy and trapped within a soul cage fashioned from one of the very crystal skulls that brought her back to life. Because of the cursed nature of this artifact, the skull threatens to absorb her soul. While trapped, she discovers how these dark objects were made and her own connection to the emerald.
Thanks to the efforts of the future archmage, Odhranos, Valrae is “freed” of her soul cage. She goes back to Selen Island for a time, content to heal with her son and the growing coven.
Lies Within Us
VIII. Strength [upright]
Confidence, Enjoying power, Inner strength, Potency, Self-belief, Virility, Vitality
After Caluss unleashes a curse that turns Cenril’s most vulnerable into walking, hungry corpses, Valrae attempts to save them and looks for a cure.
Because this curse is most concentrated on the Lower and South side of Cenril, the class divide that had always existed within the seaside republic is catapulted to the frontlines of the news. While the current Mayor, Uma, suddenly goes silent in the press Valrae herself begins speaking out.
With the help of Veritas, the witch announces that she is, in fact, still living as well as running for mayor.
With the help of Khitti, Kanna, and Lanlan, the witch is able to rid Cenril of its curse and she even manages to return humanity to some of the afflicted, though this comes at a great cost.
Valrae wins the election and becomes Cenril’s current Mayor.
Laugh Now, Cry Later
The God Of Undeath