Madder Ipheion

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a character in “To Find the Light”, as played by MilkHoney


Madder Ipheion

Maddie of Starflower Hill

Basic Information
Magus; Disembodied “Bare” Spirit
670+ years disembodied, 24 years breathing

Madder’s eyes are golden amber, one of the common magi colors, and do not have a clearly defined pupil. Blonde hair and rosy lips tinted like her namesake, the madder, whose petals are butter yellow and whose roots are renowned for their brilliant red dye. Her thick hair is pulled away from her face and fastened with leather cording. She has fair skin that likes to be flattered by firelight, not sunlight, especially since she loses opaqueness in strong natural lighting. Round heart-shaped face and large round eyes collaborate toward an image of modesty, sweetness and guilelessness that does not match her personality. People tend to be surprised her Cupid’s bow lips know how to curse, and when she does curse, there’s a perceptible pause, as if she has to slow down and wait for her audience to understand what she has said. Madder is only slightly shorter than the average woman, but she unconsciously floats to match eyes with people who are talking to her, except when she’s intimidated. She wears a green off-the-shoulder tunic-length gown belted with a wide leather girdle, and matching leather boots that rise to protect her knees. They were her work clothes, back when the most arduous task she performed was strolling through well maintained catacombs. No chance of a wardrobe change in almost 650 years.

She doesn’t trust people. Oh, she’s obedient and loyal enough with her contract holder, and relaxed around those she doesn’t see as a threat, but at the core, she doesn’t trust anyone. Rather than become timid or introverted because of this distrust, she’s the opposite; very talkative, blunt and forward, confident, and buoyant. People can’t hurt her if she’s already disillusioned toward goodness (and incorporeal), and so she has no inhibitions from doing what she wants. She likes well-executed pranks, ironic wordplay, old music, archaic gestures that remind her of days never to come again, and traveling. She hates being alone, when people sleep, or anything else that leaves her with nothing to do and no stimulation due to being disembodied. Her guilty pleasure is experiencing what she can’t through other people, but she gets addicted easily and weans herself off with a combination of shame and avoidance. She has a bad habit of purposefully annoying or angering people, more so if she finds their reactions interesting. She is intelligent and creative, but not the wisest for her age. Madder possesses a uniquely selective memory: she can’t remember a spell she’s done a dozen times, but she remembers where there used to be a thermopolium five hundred odd years ago that served the best stewed plums and spiced beef gravy over bread, that it lost customers –and then closed- when drinking trends went from wine to mead and beer, and the names of the succession of bar maids that worked there.

Her contract holder. She doesn’t understand loyalty outside the context of a written agreement. Madder’s personal convictions that her dear boyfriend meant to kill her feature heavily in her trust issues. Both her allegiance and her contract are transferrable.

Very strong. Strong enough for resurrection and any spell of equal or lesser power, though her range of affect is only what she can touch or enchant. Her best work involves sympathetic transfer, a type of sympathetic magic based on the principles that in order to gain, something must give, and there is always an exchange between a source and a destination. Some mages criticized this branch of magic because it presumes sacrifices must be made, however, this perspective neglects to consider the origin of sympathetic transfer was in grounding, transferring danger where it will do the least harm. While this branch of magic invites creativity, outside of it, Madder is slow to learn, poor at remembering, and only shows improvement through examples and repetition. On the plus side, she’s already destroyed her physical body from a failed spell, so if she fails a lethal spell, nothing more can happen. One spell Madder is unlikely to forget is psychokinesis, which she’s dependent on in order to interact with physical objects.

Madder keeps a saddle bag stashed inside the library, full of the little things she’s kept over the years. She can’t carry it, and it is awkward to levitate for long. It contains: an unguent in a walnut shell box, a black unguent in a lidded wooden dish, a magic spoon, a stick of chalk, a charcoal pencil, a stick of wax, an empty quill, a blank book with pages torn out, and a rusting lancet. Her only other possession is her contract, which is hidden elsewhere in the library, where it is unlikely to be grabbed as fuel for a cooking fire.

Maddie was born in the rural foothills to a magi family of farming stock, with great expectations of marrying the neighboring farmer’s son, and thus garner zero socioeconomic change in either family. Maddie loved her family very much, and loath to disappoint them, was aiming for the same goals. Until a necromancer with higher aspirations romanced the pants off her, and they ran away together to the city, where, her folks hoped, they’d do the honest thing and get married.

Maddie didn’t get married. She instead received the finest education in magical theory and practice, and thus garnered an apprenticeship with the self-same necromancer. Her folks continued to hold out hope he’d do the honest thing by her.
But then she died.

As a necromancer’s apprentice, Maddie had a good understanding of dead folks; she saw dead folks more in her daily life than she’d seen hogs on her parents’ farm. She also was more in the company of dead folks than breathers, which might explain why she became lonely, talked too much, and was incredibly reckless. While on an excursion to a lost tomb, her necromancer casually pointed out a great lady (somewhat decomposed in years), who had been revered as a goddess during the course of her life, and whose name was now lost in the annulations of history. Maddie, sensing he too held an inexplicable reverence for the woman, became intrigued to the particulars. (Whether jealous or curiosity, who can say?) No sooner had she moved closer, but she was ensnared in a nasty bit of enchantment, a thrall bent on resurrecting the long dead priestess. Now, Maddie was not a necromancer in her own right, nor was she a magical powerhouse, and so when the enchantment tried to force a resurrection out of her, her spirit popped like a superheated kernel of popcorn, right out of her fleshy shell. Her necromancer understood the effects couldn’t be undone, and moreover, that she’d been incredibly lucky to have safely popped instead of burning, which, removed from extended metaphor, is to say she was irrevocably transformed and not plain ole’ dead-dead. It did, however, kill any idea of marriage her folks back home were still harboring.

Maddie lost everything that day, including her lingering naivety.

She’d been manipulated by her lover and teacher, who, when he’d got tired of her, had led her to a remote location unlikely to be rediscovered for centuries and taken a safe gamble that her curiosity would get her killed and keep his own hands clean. For her own part, she’d been incredibly stupid and ignorant, and worse, dependent on his wisdom and protection. She’d destroyed her body and made her spirit unsuitable for inhabiting a substitute physical vessel, therein destroying any chance she had for a normal life. Her actions were ultimately her own, and so the Magi community relieved the necromancer of responsibility. Her family, inured to failed expectation, like any whose livelihood is at the whim of the seasons, would not question or demand recompense. In the case of a younger brother with romantic notions of chivalry and avenging the honor of his poor dear sister, her family’s magic was laughably impotent. She’d probably become part of the landscape of the hills, The Girl Who Left Home and Got Herself Killed Out There.

Madder Ipheion had a lot of time to grow accustomed to being a bare spirit, powerful but without physical form, and always struggling to maintain connection with the mortal realm. In the first days, her necromancer’s presence was enough to draw her back to the Magi school, where she was discovered and bound by contract to serve as a familiar. Bare spirits were not without precedents, and yet history always focused on how magi could use a bare spirit, indicating a predominant trend toward objectification, loss of rights, and slavery. This is precisely what Madder experienced for half a millennia.

As a familiar, Madder was incredibly valuable. A bare spirit retains her last spell, capable of any degree of magic equal to or less than the last spell, and is safeguarded from future spell failure. Her last spell hadn’t been a simple resurrection spell, as she had no experience with raising the dead or life magic, her knowledge limited by both her low magical ability and the field of her teacher. Her last spell was empathic transfer: she sought to channel the woman’s thoughts, emotions and memories. Attempted resurrection was merely an incidental byproduct due to the target being very, very dead, the ghost long gone, and the enchantment trap; but the result was a spell requiring a lot of juice, and a bare spirit who suddenly was capable of powerhousing most any spell.

Powerful familiars attract unsavory masters. Madder was stolen (more often than not), sold (rarely, and never due to bankruptcy) and loaned out (once, as blackmail payment, which was actually really exciting, at the time), her contracts rewritten time and again. She was never peaceably inherited from master to apprentice. Her time was forgettable by virtue of most masters being predictably horrid. The masters she remembers with any clarity were extraordinarily psychotic, or –the lesser of two evils- formed unhealthy personal attachments. Madder was not comfortable being loved when the main attraction was her ghostly attributes; to be the unwilling object of a kink.

Until, at last, the great enlightenment revealed by Willmeth Pakrot, whose religious notions strongly suggested Madder was a person, not a thing, trapped in the mortal realm, unable to ascend to the upper sphere, and not warranting banishment to the lower sphere (or vice versa, as Madder’s character leaves reasonably doubt as to whether she could pass the Test of Nature). Suddenly, the newly devout had an interest in rescuing bare spirit familiars and releasing them out into the wild. Madder wasn’t rescued until 60 years later, but not for lack of trying. Unable to conceptualize an alternate life, she had her familiar contract destroyed and a new one written on her own terms. Shortly thereafter, the Magus War decimated the population, leaving Madder without a viable contract holder, and stranded in Girau. She won’t leave the library until she has a new contract holder.

So begins...

Madder Ipheion's Story