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Discussion in 'THE TEST CHAMBERS' started by DinoFeather, Jan 13, 2016.
(Note: Avelinne is not a given surname, but was his
mother's name. He has found that the denizens of
Gramheim respond a bit better to Hemlock Avelinne
than Hemlock, Son of Avelinne, Witch of the Wood.)
Witch of the Wood
True to his elven blood, Hemlock remains largely unchanged by time, appearing to be somewhere in his earlier twenties. He is pale skinned, dark-haired, and has slightly tipped ears, though his features appear otherwise human. Some consider his eyes to be unsettling, but they're little more than an average hazel; the fact that they are often peering from beneath a hood is likely what most find the most unsettling, as Hemlock is by no means a threatening individual. He stands a few inches shy of six feet and possess a slight build, leaving him far from physically intimidating. He generally conceals himself under dark cloaks, often adorned with feathers and furs. Though little more than his rings are seen, he wears jewelry of wooden beads and bone, as well as an intricate talisman as a necklace pendant. On the rare occasions he is about without a hood, he can be seen wearing a feathered piercing in his ear.
Many from Gramheim consider Hemlock to be a bit of an odd duck-- which isn't a wholly unwarranted assessment. Somewhat reclusive and rather eccentric, Hemlock spends a majority of his time in the forest outside of Gramheim. Given, he does live there, but his residence is one that any respectable citizen avoids. If possible, anyway. It isn't that Hemlock is unfriendly-- quite the opposite, actually. No, the issue that most take with him, is that he is a witch. He will, however, be the first to point out that he is not that kind of witch, nor is he a wizard. If one was to inquire, he does some divining here and there, as well as the occasional bit of spellwork, but he isn't one to peddle such a "service" about on the streets.
Mostly, he's a healer and brewer of potions. If one were to give him the opportunity, he's also a talker. Most don't. Well aware of how the general populace feels about witches and practitioners of the old ways, Hemlock keeps largely to himself and he seems content enough. Even so, he isn't an unsympathetic being, and is pleasant to most everyone, soft-spoken and polite-- save for a rather unusual sense of humour. On his weekly visits into Gramheim, he can sometimes be heard talking or singing to himself in a language that no one quite recognizes. That, coupled with his usual adornment of feathers and (no one is sure if it's intentional) leaves, gives way to avoidance.
If one were to interact with the witch, they would find him laid-back, having a vague but perpetual curiosity for most everything. Gramheim denizens try to limit such interactions to business, only buying from him when they truly need it, and reluctantly allowing Hemlock into their shops. He also has a somewhat unsettling air about him, despite his amiable nature. Most describe it as a feeling of gloom, though they wouldn't say the man appears to be sad. Perhaps the townsfolk would be less put-off by this, if he would stop vanishing into (seemingly) thin air...
Eccentricities aside, Hemlock is a well-read individual that excels in the healing arts. Having learned from his mother, and she from hers, many of his practices are proven, age-old methods that utilize medicinal herbs, roots, and fungi. Once a week he wanders into the heart of Gramheim to sell his wares, ranging from fever-reducing tinctures, to soothing poultices, to tonics for intestinal parasites. Some of his concoctions can also be used to alleviate sickness in livestock, which has earned him begrudging tolerance from many farmers, though they would be sore-pressed to admit even that. Hemlock also possesses more "practical" medicinal knowledge and has been (reluctantly) called on to sew wounds and help set broken limbs. Many of his practices are unlike that of physicians', so people tend toward their suspicions, but he has yet to do any unsatisfactory work. Despite his "unsavory" profession, the worst crime he could currently be held accountable for is oddity.
Long ago, when Gramheim was cleaner and quieter, a strange young woman took up residence in the nearby wood. She was a pretty thing, but had an odd air about her, and it wasn't long before rumours filtered into the town that an elven witch had settled nearby. Still, some were fascinated by the murmurings of the beautiful young woman, and ventured out to where she lived. Within a few short months, the woman, one Avelinne by name, had a quaint stone cottage that had been all but built for her. Whether by voluntary efforts of suitors or by entrancement, no one can really say, but the young woman was living comfortably, occasionally venturing to town to exchange her herbal concoctions for various supplies.
For over a century people came and people went, trade increased, the town grew, but Avelinne remained the same-- untouched by time. But as Gramheim grew and more people flocked to the ever-expanding town, Avelinne became more reclusive. These newcomers brought with them the teachings of a new God, and many shunned her for her beliefs and practices. This, however, did not stop those same people from purchasing charms and potions from her when they thought no one else would see.
Perhaps it was because she was lonely, or perhaps because she wanted to ensure that her skills and beliefs would be handed down, Avelinne conceived a child. Who the father was, no one but she knew, but after a yearlong disappearance, she returned one summer day with a baby.
Many said the child was cursed, conceived of shadow-- for his hair was as dark as his mother's was fair. This, of course, was nonsense; just the rumours of old women who have naught left but gossip. In fact, the child was more human than his mother, and in all likelihood the son of a passing traveler. He only asked about his father once, and was told that he was a handsome man from a land far, far away. That had been enough to sate Hemlock's curiosity, and he developed no contempt for the absent parent. Everything he needed, Avelinne provided.
From her he learned all about the magical plants of Gramland, and those beyond. He learned how to draw a fever, soothe aches, and hinder infections. Despite the growing isolation the pair faced from the town, the boy learned kindness and acceptance, not to judge people based on their beliefs, and above all, to respect the balance of nature. He learned the ancient art of healing magics, and he also learned to respect the limitations of magical ability, to never take more magic than one had energy to give in exchange-- for to do so could cost him his life.
As he grew, Hemlock also learned the practical skills of a healer; he might not always have the bounty of nature at his disposal, and Avelinne thought it imperative to teach him to use what he had available. Much of his practice tending wounds and illness came from injured wildlife found in the forest, though the pair would be occasionally called if no physician was available to tend the injured or ill.
While Avelinne was a peace-loving woman, she also knew the world could be dangerous, and taught her son the basics of self defensive using small daggers and knives. These, she taught, were never to be used for personal gain or to harm the innocent, but only to protect oneself or loved ones. She also taught him the art of illusion, to fade into shadow, which could often be used to avoid a fight.
Time continued to pass. People came and people went, but the witch and her son remained the same.
And then one day, with no explanation or announcement, Avelinne was gone.
Some thought that the elf was, at last, spirited away by the heathen gods she worshiped, some that she eloped with a traveler, and some even went as far as to claim that Hemlock was responsible-- though, when it came down to it, no one really cared.
Hemlock was fifteen when Avelinne left, and while he no longer had her to teach him, he had her numerous books and records as a guide. She had given him everything that he'd needed, and he continued on as though nothing had changed.
Taking the ever-evolving trade of the town in stride, Hemlock continued to sell his wares to the townsfolk, though his visits became less and less frequent, dwindling to one weekly outing.
With the trade and market being heavily dependent on livestock, Hemlock became an unspoken go-to for many smaller farmers. It wasn't good business to have a witch tampering about with one's cattle, and it wasn't a necessity for animals going to the market; but for those who produced dairy, wool, or eggs, they didn't have the same luxury of slaughtering an animal on the spot. Instead, if an animal was to become injured or an illness took over their flock, Hemlock was bade come quietly to assist in what ways he could. Most times, he was happy to help at no cost, as many smaller farmers often struggle, especially during the off-seasons, but people were (and are) hesitant to take anything from a witch for free, afraid they may be cursed as their "payment." As such, Hemlock has been given payment in a myriad of forms when coin has run short.
Initially not having the slightest idea of what to do with half of the "payment" given to him, the witch developed a rather domestic set of skills, including spinning wool and raising chickens. While these weren't skills he would've sought out, it has provided him with necessities to live a largely isolated life in the forest without want.
With the recent happenings however, even the forest is beginning to feel dangerous. True, Hemlock possess no riches of interest to bandits and raiders, and the raucous murders of crows that linger near the stone cottage, along with the many talismans strung in the trees, serve to ward off any would-be trespassers-- but for how long?
Knowing that his cloistered hermitage won't grant him indefinite sanctuary, Hemlock has decided to offer his assistance-- though how the townsfolk will react to this, no one can be sure. Many unsavory rumours of vile witches, vampires, and werewolves have reached the town, and many are turning a suspicious eye on Hemlock.
Knowledge of medicinal herbs/plants and ability to derive potions, medicines, etc.
Similar knowledge of poisonous/toxic plants and is capable of creating/extracting potent poisons
Basic medical knowledge/first aid
Can utilize magic, but seldom does in the presences of others
Healing - he can mend wounds, but this takes a serious toll on his energy/vitality and he must rest afterward, especially if the wound is severe
Illumination - he is able to summon a small ball of light that can be held in the palm of his hand; no more or less useful than the average lantern
Minor Illusion - he cannot turn invisible, but can become unseen/unnoticed; works often but not always
Proficient with a dagger and throwing knives; used in tandem with poisons
Agile; accustomed to climbing and running
Considerable lack of physical strength
Prefers to engage enemies from a distance and does not do well one-on-one
Poisons do not work immediately, and can take considerable time before their effects kick in
Virtually no charisma; friendly, but doesn't always to know how to interact with others
Using healing magic to tend to more than minor wounds leaves him heavily fatigued/possibly unconscious
None as of yet.
His chickens' names are Maple, Holly, Ivy, and Ash. In his free time, he knits them tiny sweaters.