0. The Fool
"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.
After a an ill-fated romance, the witch turned herself in for crimes she did not commit and was locked in prison and set for execution. This fate was narrowly missed when Irenic, the avian man who would later go on to be her husband, freed her from prison and spirited her away from Cenril. Her early days as a fugitive were spent with him until a curse gripped him and he disappeared into the night.
X. Wheel of Fortune [reversed]
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]
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
"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
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
“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]
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?
XXI. The World
" 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.
Through A Glass, Darkly