Shadowrun: Dark Ages
Agnes is an ork witch and wisewoman living in a ramshackle cabin in Tentsmuir Forest, a soothsayer to the people of Fife.
Wood and bone trinkets and magical fetishes adorn the trees on the trail to her shack, etchings of ogham are carved into the lichen-covered rock. Inside, her home is filled with the fruits of the sea; gifts and tokens from thankful or fearful villagers and passers-by; some brave souls leave carved votive offerings from time to time that swing gently from the trees in the hope she might heal some sickness or curse a grudge. Of course, that’s not how it really works, but she collects them happily none the less. She lives an isolated and peaceful sort of existence amongst the trees and on the sands, taking only what she needs, leaving only footprints.
For the folks living in the nearby lonely smallholdings she is many things; an abomination to most, oracle to many, and healer to only a few.
Agnes is a member of a group of old, wise individuals who have tasked themselves with acting as Wards for the wildernesses and ancient woodlands of Scotland – there are forest guardians, mountain guardians, coastal guardians, moorland guardians and so on. When one guardian passes the council meets to select a new sufficiently canny individual to act as ward. Agnes has been guardian of the woods by the Tay for around 45 years, having been appointed the role at the young age of 20.
Originally a group of elderly individuals living out their years in isolation due to either deformation or disease, they shunned the modern church and revered the old druidic ways, meeting occasionally to exchange lore, perform ancient ceremonies and rituals to bring bounty to their respective communities. Many called them monsters, witches or warlocks. They were not… yet.
When Magic returned to the world many of the guardians became what they had for so long been called. Some did not survive the change. Agnes had the misfortune of ending up thrust into the situation of having to “deal” with the monster that would become her predecessor. It was this display of courage that saw the young Agnes appointed guardian, rather reluctantly, at such an unusually young age.
They act as caretakers for the more isolated single farmsteads or tiny villages of Scotland, outside of the larger towns. She is, of course, just one ork and not so young or spritely as she used to be but she takes an interest in the happenings around her forest; perhaps leaving some firewood for the family struggling over winter and then slipping away before being seen. As I mentioned before, the braver peasants around the forest will approach her from time to time requesting divination or healing. Sometimes she grants their requests, sometimes not – depending on how desperately they plead with her.
About 10 years ago she cured the entire Abbey of Lindores of dysentry after their doctor was the first to succumb. But this is not often and happens with more and more rarity; the people largely fear her as a dark witch, but she’d much rather they kept their distance anyway. The rumours of her helpfulness seem to stick much less than the (false!) rumours of her penchant for stealing infants or leading travellers astray into her cooking pot.
As for Agnes herself, she is old and jaded. She was not always hard; she was once soft and full of excitement at the world around her but too many run-ins with pitch forks and cruel words have rather coloured her world view. She would have liked to have had friends and lived amongst others but she just doesn’t have it in her now, and is very bitter about the mistreatment she has received. That being said, there is still a softness in her old eyes, a spark of adventurousness that could perhaps be rekindled very soon…!
Agnes is an old ork, small and wiry for her kind. She is hunched over and bent, all twisted up like drift wood. Her frail, skinny body is all bundled up in woolen layers, in shades of grey and brown. From her neck dangles a necklace of cowrie shells, teeth and bored stone beads and on her knarled, clawed hands are rings of bone and semi-precious gems. Beneath her frayed and moth-eaten wimple her face is chestnut brown, lined by worry, and beaten by the elements. Her teeth and eyes are sharp and yellowed. She has a long, beaky nose.
She has little contact with the humans around her, and only meets with the others of the Assembly every 3 years during Summer solstice near Loch Tay. It is quite the journey so often not every member is present.
She is closest to her neighboring guardians;
Yngrid Fortren who lives in the hills of Perthshire (another old and magical ork, not so hard-hearted but a believer that Others and humans are better off if when they don’t mix) – loyalty: 3, contacts: 1
Old Isobel who lives in Angus to the north (a magical human who seems to always have bad luck) – loyalty: 1, contacts: 1
Agnes found herself making the journey across the river to Dundee in search of better medicine than what she has to hand – she has had a rattle in her chest for some time that just won’t go away. She thought a doctor in the more tolerant town of Dundee might be able to help her and heard that a man named Aiden was the best physician in the land…