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May. 8th, 2006 @ 04:05 pm Dark Ages: Fae thoughts, Part 2: Crone
I know I kind of did these out of order, but it's just the way they've sort of come to me. Here's the second part of my character exposition for my Dark Ages: Fae game, La Pucelle de Demain.

Part 1 is here.

Beata, the Widow de l'Etoile, is the Crone of our circle. She is an air inanima (her origins, as in when she transformed from nature spirit into inanima form, are still unexplored and are ripe for backstory). But here's a very quick look at what we know about Beata's life so far.

  • Beata is "born" as an air spirit.
  • Beata takes on "human" form, that of an older woman who has oddly-elongated features, like an autumn tree shedding its leaves, and wanders France (and elsewhere?) specifically seeking knowledge.
  • Beata enters the city of Orléans, known far and wide as a center of learning, both mundane and occult.
  • Beata shops in the markets of the booksellers and encounters, while perusing an incomplete French/Latin copy of The Prophecies of Merlin, a Templar by the name of Gregoire de Tours. His family standard is that of the shining star, hence his other name, Gregoire de l'Etoile.
  • Beata befriends Gregoire, who sees in Beata an intellectual and spiritual equal. Likewise, Beata grows closer to Gregoire, learning more and more of mortal spirituality, and specifically the very particular Christianity of the Templar Order.
  • Gregoire is drawn to leave the Order, in order to marry Beata. He tells her that this is not uncommon, but all Templars are brothers unto death.
  • Gregoire goes before the Chaptermaster (the predecessor to Francois de Merci, the Chaptermaster of Orléeans in the campaign's present-day) to beg to be released. After some time, the Chaptermaster acquiesces, knowing full well that Gregoire's oaths will follow him to his grave.
  • Gregoire and Beata marry. Beata must be christened (in secret, as an adult) and take a Christian name in order to marry (this after Gregoire discovers she has not).
  • Beata manages to steal the cards which the Chaptermaster brought from the Holy Land, recognizing them as potent totems of magic.
  • At some point in their marriage, Gregoire becomes sick, and on his deathbed accuses Beata of poisoning him unto death. It is also believed that Gregoire has told his fellow Templars of this treachery.
  • Taking her books, Beata wanders the countryside for an unknown length of time. It is during this time that she receives a vision of four knights, whom it is her sacred charge to find and unify. It is her belief that she is the Knight of Swords, because of her affinity with air and her superior mental acuity.
  • Beata settles in Domremy and becomes a sort of village wise woman.
  • Beata meets Hauviette and Marie, and they become a circle dedicated to aiding La Pucelle. It is notable that Joan sees Beata as St. Michael, the only male saint of her three Voices.
  • Beata steals the real (yet only semi-solid; it exists half in this world and half in the Firstborns') Prophecies of Merlin from Kornloen, leader of the fae court. The only other fae to notice is Beata's fellow Autumn Courtier, the troubadour Thibault. Beata has a vision of Thibault as the Knight of Wands. The two of them swear to aid each other in translating the Prophecies from their extant proto-alphabet.
  • Beata tries to aid Marie's daughter Siobhan during her time of supernatural troubles. She does not succeed in making the selkie's daughter feel at ease or helping her control her powers.
  • Beata confronts Thibault on "losing" the Prophecies, when it turned out they were just shifting out of this reality.
  • Beata fights the Winter Queen in a wordless battle over Hauviette's home.
  • Using her knowledge of the Chapterhouse in Orléans, the circle retrieves the hunter Harduin after the Templars invade the clearing of the faerie tree and drive the court into the lands of the Firstborn.
  • Beata becomes convinced the current Chaptermaster is the Knight of Coins. This leaves only the Knight of Cups for Beata to discover and assemble.
  • Beata talks to both the River Meuse and the River Seine in an effort to discover who the Knight of Cups is. They both give cryptic answers, but Beata begins to suspect that the search for the Knight of Cups is a Grailquest.
  • Beata takes on rulership of the court upon the return of the missing courtiers.
  • Beata has a vision of a huge hall filled with feasting men, having something to do with her search for the Grail/Knight of Cups.
  • Beata is framed for murdering Hauviette's mentor Carina during a botched Unleashing. She will need to cede control of the court to the Winter Queen at the solstice.
So as you can see, Beata's main themes are prophecy, magic, abandonment, solo strength/conspiracy, withering/poisoning, and confrontation. Not entirely out of bounds with what I've read about the Crone figure in Spinning Straw Into Gold.

Beata's been a Crone her entire "human" existence, and one with an ancient task forced on her. She is a wise-woman, and one with incomprehensible and somewhat queer goals to the outside observer. Again, this reinforces her status as "outsider" as an older woman and a widow.

Conversely, widowhood (as we know from the Wife of Bath) provides one of the only ways a medieval woman can achieve independence. Beata is notable for being the only one of the circle who owns her own home (first her own shack in the woods, then Marie's old home, ironically after Marie herself became a widow).

Beata has acted as mentor for both Hauviette and Siobhan, a foster-mother figure when the real mother could not aid her daughter. Like the child snatchers of myth -- Baba Yaga, the Harpies (yes, Beata is our only flyer... odd that, hmm? :) ), the evil witches of fairy tales, etc. -- she cannot have her own children so she is condemned to constantly substitute as second-mother. Her womb barren, she is all the more tragic for never having had a time in her life where she could have her own children. In a way, her esoteric tasks are her children.

Thibault is interested in Beata for the same reasons Gregoire was: here is a (granted, older) woman unattached and undaunted by society, and an equal to them in wit and wisdom. The Crone is "more" male than her counterparts, because her childbearing years are behind her and with her independence and wisdom, she is more than a match for most men. Again, Joan sees Beata as St. Michael; not just a male saint, but an archangel and the marshal of God's Army.

Beata is a warrior, to a certain extent, but more like an assassin. She has plotted and planned, like Lady MacBeth with her unsexed, barren womb, in many ways to get what she wants, and is not above harm or even murder (although the circumstances of Gregoire's death are still a mystery in-game!) to do it.

Beata is set against the Winter Witch because she is similar to her, but oddly, the Winter Witch's children all seem to want to be with her (like the Hauviette doppelganger, for instance).

Prophetess, Sibyl, Widow, Warrior, Crone... all these things are Beata.

coming soon: Part 3: Maiden

crossposted to mgrasso
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