|Dr. Winnifred Foster|
|Full Name:||Winnifred Michelle Foster, M.D.|
|Full Title:||Medical Examiner of Eagle County, Medium, and Disciple of the Occult Mysteries of the Dark Goddess|
|Age:||35 (Nov. 29, 1973)|
|Theme Song:||"Cymbeline," Loreena McKennitt|
|Quote:||Death sets a thing significant / The eye had hurried by, / Except a perished creature / Entreat us tenderly - Emily Dickinson|
Winnifred ("Winnie" to friends and family) is not, at first glance, the type of woman most would have in mind when thinking of someone who spends most of her waking hours around dead bodies. To most she is sweet and charming, with a faint drawl and a quirky sense of humor. She dresses in a classy, feminine style for work and has been seen in Mage society wearing pastels--not the way most Euthanatos are seen in public. She's kind and caring, the sort you'd expect to be a nurse, to have joined the Verbena or Celestial Chorus.
Anyone who gets to know Winnie will soon see the true woman beneath the outward demeanor, however. Not that she's not kind, and the quirky humor remains, but it gains a morbid streak the moment she lets her guard down. Those who know Winnie have seen the single-minded focus on a goal, the obsessive dedication to her work, the moments when she stares into the distance and seems to be somewhere else. Perhaps to counteract this tendency, Winnie has a deep passion for life and sensual pleasures. She has little tolerance for what she sees as waste or frivolity, but with the keen knowledge of someone who literally stares death in the face every day, she enjoys her life as much as she can and encourages others to do the same. She's quick to trust, especially where others might not, but has a hard time forgiving betrayal or what she sees as evil done by choice, without duress. There is a deeply buried dark streak within her, a thing that mostly comes out in magick or in her rare fits of anger, a thing that lusts for blood and vengeance and morbid things--a thing she keeps tightly under control for fear of falling to corruption.
The world is as it is; there are certain fundamental things that simply are no matter how much we want them to not be. The thing of it is, reality is fluid, like water, or air, it is fickle and it will change what we see to protect what is inherent and unchangeable. Just because you're moving the course of the river doesn't mean you're making the water into something else. It's still water, and it is still deeper and older and stronger than you are.
The fundamental things, the true things, the river that is life and reality--these do not change. Mages ride the current and can direct the course of the waters. The Wheel of Time is like a mill-wheel lowered into the river, churning the waters, generating energy from them, changing their course more strongly than any Mage ever could. Water wants to settle, to fill the cracks--to pull everything down in entropy and chaos, until at the end all it still and calm and settled like a quiet pool. The wise Mage works with the water, goes with the currents, doesn't try to dam the river up too much or cause too many waves--these lead to Paradox and Quiet and all other manner of bad things.
Among all of this, the Dark Goddess--known in various places as Kali, as Hecate, as Persephone, as Morrigu--dances in and on the waters. She tends the Wheel of Time, she spins the Web of Fate from the waters. She is the Washer at the Ford, the one who chooses who will die and who will live. She changes form and name, becomes young and old and young again, because she is like the water--she adapts to what is needed. Technology may rule the current paradigm, but the Washer still works and still chooses, the Dark Lady still rules even the most ardent Technocrat, for no one can gainsay or overcome death forever. She may have changed her form, but she has no less power than she once had--like the water, she finds the cracks, she wears things down, and when the time comes, we all die. Our souls are washed clean and sent back to the river, to be spun out once more in the Lady's dance.
As for magick, Winnifred views people in general as being like swimmers in the water, trying to steer themselves this way and that but mostly tumbled along by the currents and forced downriver in whichever way the water decides. Those who work static magic (including whatever other supernaturals are out there) have more control, more ability to swim against the current. A True Mage, though, can actually direct the flow of the waters--for a time. Winnie sees herself, and her magic, as being like a boat upon the waters, using its rudder to change direction, causing eddies that affect the flow of the rivers and the state of others. At first she was mostly just directing her own fate and perceptions. With each Seeking some of the construct has faded, and now she feels like she's riding lower in the river, more of a kayak than a riverboat, sometimes dipping a hand right down into it, to change the flow of some of the droplets for a time. She thinks that someday she'll be right in the river but working magic on the water nonetheless--and this idea, of having so little between her and the raw currents of fate, is both exhilarating and frightening.
- Physical: Strength 1, Dexterity 3, Stamina 2
- Social: Charisma 3, Manipulation 2, Appearance 3
- Mental: Perception 3, Intelligence 4, Wits 3
- Talents: Empathy 2, Sensitivity 3
- Skills: Crafts 2, Drive 1, Firearms 1, Meditation 2, Melee 1, Performance 2
- Knowledges: Computer 1, Cosmology 1, Investigation 3, Law 1, Linguistics 2, Medicine 4, Occult 3, Science 3
- Arete: 3
- Spheres: Entropy 2, Life 2, Mind 1, Prime 2, Spirit 1
- Backgrounds: Allies 2, Avatar 2, Resources 3, Sanctum 2
- Willpower: 6
- Merits: Medium (2), Police Ties (3), Gall (2)
- Flaws: Flashbacks (3), Intolerance (Vampires) (1), Driving Goal (3)
- Winnifred's intellect is most finely honed to logic and deduction, to assembling facts over time to garner a whole. This is where she excels--taking the pieces of a thing, like a puzzle or a dead body--and rearranging them in her mind until she finds the key to solving the puzzle or the mystery.
- Winnie sculpts--taking formless clay and giving it shape is exactly the opposite of entropic decay and, she thinks, helps her avoid the death-taint. She also draws and paints, although she doesn't have the knack for those arts that she does for scuplture.
- Winnifred speaks French in addition to English, and learned Sanskrit during her magical training.
- Forensic Pathology is Winnie's specialty here, and has been even since she set foot in medical school. Pretty obvious.
- Biology is Winnie's forte, as far as science goes, linked to her medical studies.
Merits & FlawsEdit
- Ever since she was very young, Winnie has heard voices, felt spirits nearby. After a round of psychologists in her childhood she learned not to tell anyone else and kept the voices to herself until she joined the Euthanatos. It made her a somewhat isolated child, however, and she was drawn to medicine and forensics early on, curious to see if she could solve the riddles that her "friends" sometimes offered.
- Police Ties
- As the Eagle County Medical Examiner Winnifred works directly with the police department. She's new, but there's a certain clout the position alone carries.
- When one has to testify in court regularly one learns how to choose one's words carefully; when one has been intimidated by defense attorneys (or prosecutors or detectives) who want the bodies to say what they want them to say, one learns to diplomatically refuse. Perhaps most importantly, when one has nearly died, and works with death on a regular basis, one loses some of the fear of consequences in the face of that one considers important. Winnie is very good at showing polite backbone, at standing up to those more powerful than her without seeming rude, and at holding her own in the face of social duress.
- At the age of 30, when she was in the middle of her residency, Winnifred was assisting on a case involving a rash of seemingly linked homicides. The killer targeted Winnifred, kidnapped her, tortured her, nearly killed her, and the experience led to her Awakening. Like many Euthanatos she found the First Death something she doesn't want to repeat anytime soon (regardless of whether she's actually afraid of it or not), but it's more what came before the actual nearly-dying that haunts her. She channels the problems into work and magick, and she knows that maybe if she'd just let herself use the energy magickally she'd be rid of the flashbacks, but she's afraid to let that darkness out so far--perhaps something her Avatar will address in a future Seeking.
- Intolerance for Vampires
- She's always found the entire idea of undead kind of icky--even before she Awakened. But since her lover was turned into a vampire, Winnie has grown to dislike vampires to an almost irrational degree. She doesn't like being around them, doesn't want to have anything to do with them, and on some level would probably be quite happy if they all just got burned up into piles of ash. If they still have souls it'd release them back to the karmic cycle, right?
- Driving Goal
- Karma--the need for it, the need to ensure it is doled out to those who deserve it--consumes Winnifred's life. Most importantly, the need to punish those who end life too soon, those who torture before they do so, or commit other crimes without killing. The faces of the dead whose murders she cannot solve haunt her, the whispers of the dead begging release or vengeance torment her. The Wheel must be balanced, the corruption must be uprooted, as much because Winnifred is obsessed with karmic justice as because the Goddess she serves demands balance. She is aware of this, and tries very hard to counter its effect on her life, but it's only a matter of time before it causes her trouble.
- An old cabalmate, Jackie Dubouis, living in the Chicago area, is still close friends with Winnie. (Jackie was actually Winnie's mentor at first, but she isn't doing much teaching anymore.) Detective William Murphy of the Crystal Springs P.D. is also a friend of Winnie's from Chicago, and actually got her the job as Medical Examiner. He has no idea she's a mage but he's fond of the quirky doctor and is starting to garner some influence, though he's also still the "new guy"--and his reputation in the department may partly depend on how well Winnie does at her job, since he referred her.
- Winnie's avatar typically appears to her in dreams, a manifestation of the Morrigan, or possibly the Washer at the Ford. It's not a particularly strong influence in her life, and mostly Winnie goes her own way, magickally, but she does try to follow what she thinks it wants her to do.
- Winnifred makes a decent living at her job as the county Medical Examiner, and has some savings as well.
- Winnie has a two-bedroom apartment, and uses the extra room as her sanctum space. Much of her magick uses simple sorts of foci--candles, incense, water, music--and so it isn't hard to keep it well-stocked. She has candleholders and statuary she made and dedicated herself, and various other magical implements. She tends to keep the place dark, both in decor and lighting, and the door locked--it's a stark contrast to the rest of the apartment, and obviously, well, a little odd.
Magick and FociEdit
In general, Winnie's magick is an eclectic blend of Euthanatoi styles. There's elements of Celtic paganism, Christian mysticism (she loves fancy Celtic crosses), bits from the Greek, a smattering of voodoo, and a heavy dose of the Hindu theories that permeate the Tradition, especially in her use of Sanskrit. To Winnifred it's all just different ways of revering and serving the Dark Goddess--even the Catholicism she was raised with has a strong ties to the feminine with the Virgin Mary and various saints.
She's had three Seekings--the first successful, the second a failure, and the third successful as well (bringing her to Disciple level or Arete 3.) Each Seeking has involved Winnie's Avatar attempting to strip away some of the complexity of her magick and worldview, trying to make her see that things really are simpler than she thinks, more basic, and also that Winnie herself is not quite human in the way she used to be. The most recent Seeking was only a month or so ago, and so Winnie hasn't yet had time to raise any spheres to the Disciple level.
Each sphere has specific foci she includes in rituals and on-the-fly magic:
- The Sphere of Tamas, dark inertia and decay. The flow of the waters, the tendency of all things to seek a stable state. The world tends toward disorder--this is the way of things, and we shouldn't fear it. For direct entropic affects--trying to cause more entropy in a thing--Winnifred tends to use water (saliva will do in a pinch), while reading fate typically includes dice or Tarot, sometimes runes. Bones, blood, and water work for this as well, especially when she's combining Entropy with another sphere like Life or Spirit. (Winnifred has discarded the need for foci with this sphere.)
- Life is Prana, breath, and breath or air is a common foci in Winnie's magic. Blood works as well, or any piece of a person for sympathetic effects in conjunction with other spheres. Even simple touch can work, for healing--but there has to be some sort of connection to the subject, even if it's just Winnie blowing on or toward them, thereby affecting their life breath with her own. (Winnifred has discarded the need for foci with this sphere.)
- Winnifred's Mind magick is still fledgling, more perception than anything else. Crystals, water, or any other refractive substance help focus her perceptions--she has a small crystal she carries that she uses for on-the-fly mind-skimming magicks, often smeared with a little blood or saliva.
- Prime is Vac, or Speech, the sound that created and resounds in all the world. Some sort of sound is neccesary here--a word, a song, perhaps something more jarring if damage is intended to a Pattern.
- Spirit and Mind are intimately tied in Winnifred's view, and crystals or water work here as well. Reflective surfaces are useful. For seeing into (and someday traveling into) the Umbra, a window or a door can work as a mirror--really, any liminal space will do, any place where one can work in the borders to open portals into the otherworld.
Winnifred has never really known what it's like to feel alone. Not that she's never been entirely alone before, but from a young age she heard voices, felt presences. Her parents once told her that as a baby she'd laugh and smile at things they couldn't see or hear. As she got older, it seemed natural to her that she'd hear voices in the breeze, feel people in the room when no one was there. The big old house in New Orleans' Garden District seemed to have occupants other than Winnie, her parents, and her three siblings. Her parents took their second child's eccentricity as just part of her personality--at least, until a worried teacher referred Winnie to a psychologist. Three psychologists, two doctors, and several rounds of therapy later, eight-year-old Winnie learned to keep her mouth shut about her "imaginary" friends, lest any other well-meaning adults decide she might be crazy.
It wasn't until she was eleven or so that Winnie figured out the people she could feel and hear were the spirits of the dead. She visited a cemetery and found two of her "friends" there--they'd once lived in the house, and had stayed when they died. She'd always told the "mean people" to stay away and they mostly had (likely kept away by the "good" spirits that were fond of the little girl) but as she got older, Winnifred started talking to the darker spirits more and more. Sometimes it was frightening, but sometimes the anger seemed to have a focus, and Winnie knew she could help if only she could figure out what had caused the ghost so much pain.
She seemed to be a normal enough teenager, worked hard, and managed to get accepted to Johns Hopkins for both her undergraduate work and medical school. She was a good Catholic, called her parents weekly, excelled in her work, and if her choice of forensic pathology seemed a strange to many who thought she ought to go into surgery or research or some other, more prestigious or lucrative field, well, she was just a little odd. Eccentric, but in a nice way, easily explained by her coming from New Orleans, of all places.
So, outwardly, Winnifred had led an eventful but fairly normal life until the age of 30. She had long practice by then in keeping her true self hidden, and she was still never really alone--the world seemed full of spirits that sometimes flocked to a living person who could actually hear them. Then again, just one spirit can be a lot when they're chatty enough.
Winnie's residency was in Chicago, and toward its end (just two years left), she was directly assisting the county medical examiner. A rash of murders had gone through the city, and it looked as though they might be connected--a serial killer, targeting women. Indeed they were, and soon the killer, Kyle Garret, went after Winnifred herself. Just as with the other women he did various awful things to her that this history need not dwell on. At the end, he killed her--strangulation, with a cord wrapped around the neck.
Winnifred was never really sure if her heart actually stopped, but she does believe she died for at least a moment. Breath left her body, and there was the tunnel and the light so many who've returned from the edge of death talk about. In the light was a woman--not the beautiful Virgin she'd been raised to believe might be there, but an ugly and frightening hag. She offered Winnifred a mother's embrace and Winnie, scared and hurting, accepted, sensing an innate goodness.
The hag became youthful and beautiful, told Winnifred that she understood the truth of things, and that she would be given another chance, should she want it. And Winnifred did--she couldn't die in that house, when she knew who'd killed all those other women, could point at him in court and make him pay for his crimes.
Fate, or perhaps the goddess, intervened. As Winnifred was dying, a police officer called to a domestic disturbance knocked on the door--the wrong door, it turned out. By luck (or fate) the 911 operator had taken down the wrong address. Garret, distracted and thinking Winnifred was unconscious if not actually dead, loosened the cord and went to get rid of the cop. Officer Adamson would later swear he heard a female scream from inside the house, as impossible as that was--Winnie was, indeed, unconscious. Nonetheless he pushed into the house past Garret, who made the mistake of trying to attack the officer without checking to see that he had a partner first. Garret was arrested by Adamson's partner and Winnie was found alive. (And the domestic disturbance turned out to be a prank call anyhow.)
In truth, in the moment that Garret loosened the cord Winnifred came back from the threshold of death. She was out of her body--an experience she's been trying to duplicate ever since--and could sense the spirits in the house, the spirits of Garret's other victims. It was one of these spirits that caused the scream Officer Adamson heard, and in return Winnifred put all her efforts to being sure that Garret was convicted and put away for life.
And yet, somehow... it wasn't enough. In the moment of death Winnie had Awakened, had been reborn somehow. The world was utterly changed, she could feel the currents of life and death pulsing around her. A therapist told her it was just her reaction to a traumatic event, but Winnie knew better. She could feel the power when she walked into a church, sense the decay and pull of a graveyard, feel the heartbeats of people walking by on the street. Her dreams were filled with a woman that was sometimes young, sometimes old, water held new and special significance. Most importantly, at the time, though, she knew that not all of Garret's victims were at rest. Somehow this seemed desperately important, now. Justice had been done but balance hadn't been restored.
Desperate, Winnifred went to Chicago's magical community looking for an exorcist. She found David Fields, a man who not only understood her pleas, but managed to get her to talk about the new way the world felt. David helped put the spirits in the house to rest, and then offered Winnie entrance into a new life--as a member of the Euthanatos.
David did not become her mentor--that duty fell to another member of the cabal, Jackie Dubois, for reasons Winnie only understood when David asked her out for dinner. Jackie was a competent mentor, however, more a sister than a teacher. Once Winnifred understood the basics of magic, knew the tenets and rules of the Euthanatos, their relationship became more one of simple cabalmates than anything else, though they were still close.
In the meantime, David and Winnie began dating, Winnie continued her residency, and while some might have thought her life was settling down in truth it had changed drastically. Winnifred was a Mage now, reborn into new life and purpose. Her cabal became her social group, she studied the occult, and though she still attended church it was less and less frequently. Karma and justice became a consuming obsession, the true inner personality--the morbid jokes, the deep passions, the quirky, odd mannerisms of a person who's spoken to the dead her whole life--came out even at work. When she finally completed her residency at the age of 32, she knew she was viewed as a bit too odd to gain a position anywhere in Chicago proper, so she applied for and received a position in a suburban hospital (which put her closer to her cabalmates anyhow.)
She was never quite technological enough to join the "Locksmiths" (the Euthanatos sect that specializes in cryptography and the Internet), but her style--a little of this, a little of that, with some Catholic veneer thrown on for good measure--was too eclectic to fit into any other sect. This was just fine, many Euthanatoi don't join sects, and Winnie's cabal used a combination of styles anyhow. The one thing she has only rarely participated in is the Good Death--at least directly. David and Jackie were both expert assassins, and the others (Greg Boynton and Sarah Kirk) did alright with that side of the Tradition. So when Winnie would discover someone who she just couldn't prove had done wrong by conventional means, the cabal would investigate magically. Twice in five years this resulted in death; both times Winnie felt responsible even if she hadn't been the one to do the killing.
And so, five years passed. Then one day, David disappeared. The cabal searched for two weeks before he showed up on the doorstep of the apartment he shared with Winnie in the middle of the night. The moment she saw him, she knew he was undead. He had been turned into a vampire--not by choice, but now... why did things have to change, after all? He tried to argue the point, to convince Winnie things could go on similar to before, and by morning she seemed to have given in. He went to sleep in their bed, trusting Winnifred wanted him to continue on.
An hour later, after much deliberation in her sanctum, Winnie opened the curtains and David burned to ash. She called the cabal and threw out the bed. There was no repercussion from the vampires--evidently David's Embrace hadn't been sanctioned by the Prince. Winnie didn't know why that mattered and didn't care. She wanted to believe that maybe David would reincarnate, that maybe his soul and Avatar hadn't been destroyed when he'd become a vampire--but everything she'd been taught told her otherwise. For three months she tried to pick up her life again, but things just weren't working.
It was a godsend when an old friend called with a job offer. Detective William Murphy had worked with Winnie for two years before moving to Crystal Springs to be closer to his parents. The Eagle County Medical Examiner was retiring, there was an opening, Winnie would be a perfect fit, he knew she'd wanted a change of venue--would she be interested? Winnie jumped at the offer. Her own parents were still in New Orleans but her older sister--and hence her niece and nephew--had relocated to Denver after Hurricane Katrina. Colorado was also very far from Illinois, and while there were no Euthanatos in the city that was perfect--Winnie was wanting some solitary work anyhow.
Winnifred applied, interviewed, and was accepted as the Eagle County Medical Examiner. She said goodbye to her cabal and moved to Crystal Springs--got a new apartment, dedicated a new Sanctum. What the future holds in store she doesn't know--the Web of Fate is hard to read, and right now she doesn't particularly want to look too closely. She needs to start over, away from the memories of Garret and David, and Crystal Springs seems like just the place to do it.
Death Sets a Thing -- Emily Dickinson
- Death sets a thing significant
- The eye had hurried by,
- Except a perished creature
- Entreat us tenderly
- To ponder little workmanships
- In crayon or in wool,
- With "This was last her fingers did,"
- Industrious until
- The thimble weighed too heavy,
- The stitches stopped themselves,
- And then 't was put among the dust
- Upon the closet shelves.
- A book I have, a friend gave,
- Whose pencil, here and there,
- Had notched the place that pleased him,--
- At rest his fingers are.
- Now, when I read, I read not,
- For interrupting tears
- Obliterate the etchings
- Too costly for repairs.