Rose Belinda Edwards
Rose Belinda Edwards
by David Carroll
Mage Character sheet
Nature: Avant Garde
Physical: Strength 2, Dexterity 3, Stamina 3
Talents: Alertness 2, Awareness 2, Dodge 1, Expression 2, Intuition 1, Streetwise 1, Subterfuge 2
Entropy 3 (Dance)
Backgrounds: Arcane 3, Destiny 2, Avatar 2
Unknown Armies Character sheet
Obsession: Time. She wants to understand the human perception of time and how it affects reality
Rage: Deliberate institutionalised cruelty. There's a lot of crap in the world, but she hates people who use the system to justify their own savagery.
Fear (helplessness): She fears her own failure against the laws of nature -- not just that she cannot master them, but that they cannot be mastered. She fears magic is just glitz over the abyss.
Noble: Although she can be a bit blunt at times, she genuinely wants people to be able to help themselves.
Wound Points: 55
Body: 55 Well travelled
Speed: 45 Methodical
Mind: 50 Organised
Soul: 70 Meditative yet passionate
Unnatural: 1 hardened / 1 failed
Rose Belinda was born on the Seventeenth of September, 1967, third child of Debra and Tony Edwards. The family lived in Portsmouth, a hundred kilometres south west of London, and was soon joined by the fourth and last child. In order, then, there was Leonie, Richard, Rose Belinda and Sandra. Portsmouth wasn't a town suited for an artistic enclave, but the Edwards did their best. bringing the children up in an enlightened fashion, denying them a television but exposing them to all manner of Art, Literature and odd friends. The experiment was not a great success. As of 1995, the situation is as follows:
Rose Belinda is different, perhaps the only one in her family who has the energy to formulate and actively seek her goals. Rose has a destiny, and she knows it, but that does not lead her further from the world, but to examine it more closely, and too immerse herself in it when required. She is impatient and always eager, but knows that all she does - if she remains careful - is helping that destiny, and is thus quite content to wander the United Kingdom and Europe, seemingly aimlessly. Wherever she goes, Gaia is there.
Rose is 5'8" tall, with long blonde hair. She has a serious face that smiles a lot, and has a small almost-unnoticeable scar running above her right eye into her hairline (that is always present, no matter what form she has taken). She is quite thin, keeps up her fitness with her regular exercise, and watches her vegetarian diet (though is much happier to use her Life sphere to correct any imbalances than eat anything bland). She has a penchant for long skirts and waistcoats in reasonable weather, but tends towards jeans and large woollen jumpers in colder climes. Certainly, when dealing with others she always likes to look very neat, and will wear either a suit or gown in the appropriate circumstances.
She is also, in a very tangible way, quite a forgettable person. People have trouble remembering her, Non-Mage lovers find themselves stumbling over her name less than a week after she has inevitably left for different parts. She also tends not to have too much trouble with customs, though she tries to keep her passport and details up to date. She could 'arrange' to have a regular study allowance assigned to her, but within three months the computers would have mislaid her details. This is a source of both frustration and convenience for her, but in the end she accepts it as part of the deal. She knows that when her destiny is fulfilled, no-one, no-one that matters, will forget her name.
* * *
If it ever really started, it was at the age of eight, when Rose saw a road accident between a car and a mounted policeman. She never quite knew if it was anyone's fault, but she saw the car swerve in the road, crashing through the horse's back legs before coming to a stop. The horse ended up sliding across the bonnet and falling into the road, the rider was thrown, and the whole thing was making the worst noise Rose had ever heard. The horse was screaming, horns were going off left and right, someone was swearing. The policeman got up and Rose saw the seeping wounds down the left side of his face as he'd been pushed through the gravel, but mostly she just saw the horse, and it was half an hour before a man in a white coat came and gave the horse an injection, and the screaming stopped but the blood remained. Rose knew that the horse had died, had been killed, and thought, in a clear and precise way, that it just wasn't fair.
It took years to build that accident into a metaphor for the Earth's ravagement by mankind, but the image remained for her. Sometimes it gave her nightmares, though she wouldn't tell her parents why.
Yet she'd always been interested in animals, and another six years would go by and the interest would deepen and the metaphor would become stronger. But her real moral development was punctuated in stages of moving beyond the image of that crippled animal surrounded by (impotent) men.
Her interest in animals taught her something else too. It started childishly. Run like a fox, Rose Belinda. Leap like a rabbit, search like an owl, feel like an elephant, feel no pain. It was nothing, of course. When she looked back she could see no connection being made. But it was a moment of reflection, the name of the animal faded into the image and the feel and nothing and she would run and leap. Perhaps it taught her, more than anything else, confidence. She knew it was silly, and knew that didn't matter, because it helped her.
At the age of fourteen she almost consciously decided to come to terms with death as a part of the natural cycle. The horse did die, the policeman will die, and (maybe) so shall she and nature would go on. Unbeknownst to her at the time, the decision had a lot to do with her burgeoning sexual interest. The connection eluded her.
Connections. She had moved on from the invocation of convenient wildlife, could simply clear her mind and concentrate on the action at hand. And it was then that she connected, the first stirrings that grew more powerful. Letting go of the imagined and sliding into the actual. After a while, it was undeniable. She could sense the lifeforce, and beneath it, something else, patterns in static, signs in the heavens. Fate and fortune in the palm of a hand.
There were scary times, images of cancer and insanity. If there has to be death, why pain?
Images of sex, play and replay, and when flesh did finally slide against flesh she screamed because it wasn't right. It wasn't natural and good but unclean and small.
The screaming brought people, and there was trouble, but she could handle it.
* * *
When she discovered the Wiccan movement in 1983 it was just like coming home. The concept of Gaia, in particular, was hers. One planet, one Mother, one network of life that was everywhere. She found it almost surprisingly similar to the stale doctrine of her childhood, the one about the omniscient deity, except suddenly she could see the deity. The life she could sense and, and not just life, but movement. Not just the beauty of cats or the cleverness of plants, but everything. In essence nature was more powerful than her own interest in it.
This was by no means a depressing realisation, quite the opposite. It also in no way forgave the pollution and the cruelty. The enemy of Gaia is entropy -- the force that could push a cycle beyond the normal limits of rebirth and renewal, creating only lifeless and useless sludge. From the extreme heat of the Earth's core, to the rich soil of the surface, from the ocean to the air all is movement, and only in the sludge Gaia cannot be.
Perhaps the belief of the Wiccans she read about and finally met didn't quite extend to the extremes Rose Belinda conceived, but she knew that no one else would come closer to the truth, and she knew that with time and study her ideas could be used to further enlighten the Wiccan philosophy, and that of those who could not yet see even that much. In 1983, at the age of sixteen she left home without warning, went to London and then further North to join what was essentially a commune. And though it wasn't always great, people were trying. In the grey years of Thatcher, the feeling was of optimism. Anything could be done. She reached out again, slowly now, and found warmth and then pleasure in the arms of others.
In 1985 she met Anthony Le Croix, a man with the personal power she sensed in occasional members of the Wiccan movement she had came across. She explained her theories to him, and he was delighted, accepted her as a pupil. She was taught about the Verbena, about sliding into reality and then keeping on going, dragging reality behind. She learnt about power and the discipline and responsibility that went with it. She was taught that, yes, anything could be done.
* * *
In 1989 Rose Belinda Edwards and Anthony Le Croix had a falling out, a very public and messy one that had its roots in the new theories that Rose was developing. about the relationship of Gaia to time. By 1986 she had moved out of the communal existence into a very cosy London flat, which gave her the room and peace she needed for her studies. Over the years she also renewed relations with her family. She had never thought her homelife had been anything more than a bit stifling, and so had felt some guilt over her abandonment of Portsmouth for her new-found religion. But when she resolved to return, for a meal or maybe a weekend, she was welcomed and, as long as she didn't try and expand on her beliefs to her disbelieving family, a pleasant time was had. She also had a number of relationships that, generally increased in their seriousness of commitment. She was quite willing to spent time outside the Wiccan fold, and spent the majority of 1987 seeing a charming young man by the name of Malcolm Friend. It ended badly, with recrimination and argument, and as Malcolm found the arms of another lover, Rose Belinda believed she had driven him away, with her wandering eye and all the times she was unavailable, because of her work. After a while she became involved with another Wiccan called Teresa Wood ('no shit', they would say) and that simply simmered comfortably.
The rift with Malcolm was put behind her, and was inconsequential beside the later rift between Rose and her tutor. After four years of her study, the relationship between the two started to change. They had never been lovers, but Rose started finding evidence of more and more rumours about them, about how she was his mistress, how she would swap 'favours' for her continued reputation of academic achievement. Anthony would scoff at any suggestion of such talk, almost insinuating she was trying to 'test the waters' by raising the subject. And always there was the growing argument about her theories. Anthony did not want to hear about non-linear cycles of growth, any such thing was a trick of perception, as the mind became bored with the slow moments of life. "Go and join the Cult of Ecstasy," he said with weariness one night. "You'll find out all about it, I'm sure."
It all exploded one night, at a major festival held in one of the larger groves near London. During the evening she overheard Anthony talking about her, talking about her sexual prowess. In an instant she was blinded with rage, seeing the source of the rumours, sure it was due to his jealously of her theories. Without thinking she attacked him, swearing abuse and then the two were rolling beneath the Tree, flailing. They were dragged apart, but at the last instant, just before any such move could have been seen as calculated cruelty, he swung the knife he was holding at her face. She swung back, but the point cut to the skull on her forehead, and up into her hair.
Then everything became still for Rose Belinda, the pain distant as she looked at her tutor and the blood started flowing down into her right eye. She heard him say quite clearly and precisely that she was banned from the order of Verbena, stripped of her position in London. Whether or not such a ban was enforceable, or even if she had a position in London, didn't seem to matter, and as she was dragged off, still unresisting, she only thought that it just wasn't fair.
* * *
These days Rose Belinda travels. She visits the separate members of her family on occasion, so they don't forget her, which she couldn't stand. When in London, she generally spends a night in Teresa's arms, and then moves on. She doesn't go to the organised rituals, or talk to the other people she knew. She has been told there are worse rumours about her now, and Mages do not forget so easily. She is sometimes bitter that Teresa did not join her in her travels, but the woman had her own studies and position.
Mostly she travels on the continent, because she likes it. Her studies now are less academic, less concerned with the details at the edges than a spiritual quest to deepen her understanding of the central tenets of her religion. She is lucky, and fit, and she has always liked card games and can actually get by quite adequately on the back of those fifty-two symbols of power (and the element of chaos that comes with the deck), if she feels so inclined at the time.
She is naturally inquisitive, and tends to take charge in any applicable situation, simply because she believes she can get things done. She will go to Wiccan ceremonies, if they are large enough for her to feel safe in the crowd. She will party, and drink to her limit, and lie in the arms of men or women if she likes them, and she is lonely for the night. Perhaps she studies people, but would never really admit to such a thing. She likes to talk to strangers. She also carries a knife that has more that symbolic use, if needed.
She wants to write, but never quite gets the time. She does paint, which is in a real sense is her periods of meditation (certainly it serves her better as such than a demonstration of skill with a paintbrush). Spending time and effort to capture any landscape in detail is wasted. The details change.
Perhaps even the truth changes, the truth beyond the tricks of perception that all magic is, perhaps that is the core she is searching for. Even the Technocrats, with their wanton destruction and all their sludge of the human mind, would listen to her if that were so, and she could chart the movement of that change. She knows it.
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