Witchcraft Wednesday: Introducing Marcenda
I wasn’t always a nerd that plays quidditch. For at least a decade, I’ve been a nerd that plays Dungeons and Dragons. Well, more like I’ve been playing it on and off for over a decade, but definitely more on in the past few years. Getting together a good group and staying consistent is always a challenge.
But I’ve started a new Wednesday night game of D&D with some friends. We’re spread out all over the country, but that’s what Google Hangouts are for, right? We’re also not quite playing D&D; it’s more like Pathfinder, set in Faerun with a few serial numbers filed off, with a sprinkle of other game mechanics like Burning Wheel’s artha sprinkled in for good measure.
Sounds like gibberish to you? Okay, fine. On Wednesday nights I’m playing pretend with my friends. Normally I play a paladin, aka a knight that believes in upholding goodness and lawful order that is literally God’s gift to mankind. I decided to mix things up (because I try to be a paladin in real life, tbh) by playing a witch with a lot of self-doubt (which I know nothing about, nope, not me).
Every Wednesday, I’ll be sharing the best out-of-character quote and recapping our adventures from my character’s point of view. Last week we finished creating our characters, so that’s what I have for today.
Quote of the Week: “Do orcs have last names?” -Bees
Marcenda is a human woman, the daughter of a captain of a trading ship and his wife. Her mother had an extraordinarily long and painful labor, dying not long after she gazed on her daughter. The infant stayed in the care of an aunt for a few months, awaiting her father’s return.
He named her in memory of her mother, but could not bear being reminded of his beloved wife’s death for long. He left her in the care of another aunt and left to trade across the seas once more.
Marcenda’s childhood passed this way, constantly passed between by her father’s six sisters and seeing her father only during his brief returns to port, until she was twelve. Her maternal grandparents, thinking the girl needed stability, took Marcenda into their home. It was a small but pleasant country estate, as her mother’s parents were well-to-do merchants who had backed their son-in-law’s voyages before leaving their seaside town to retire in the country.
The girl thrived in her new home and loved her grandparents, but it was her grandmother who especially doted on her. They grew close, but not long after Marcenda’s thirteenth birthday, her grandmother was struck by a long, wasting sickness.
Marcenda watched helplessly as her grandmother’s condition and suffering worsened. And yet, the old woman lingered on. Marcenda had not been raised in any particular faith, but in a moment of desperation, she hoped for something, anything, that could end her grandmother’s suffering.
That is how she stumbled into making a pact into the psychopomp that would become her patron. Marcenda became a witch with the power over Boundaries, and her pact with her patron allowed her grandmother to pass over the threshold of the land of the living and into the afterlife.
Her grandfather was not prepared to raise a young girl alone, so it was not long before Marcenda returned to her hometown. Rather than be a charity case among her aunts again, she kept her father’s house. The sea had become his second wife, so he was not often at port. Meanwhile, Marcenda’s grandfather remarried, seeking companionship in a local widow. They kept in touch by letter, but Marcenda had come to prefer living alone in her father’s empty house and did not leave to visit for many years.
She blossomed into a young woman, though “turned into a gangly dandelion of a young woman” would be a better way of putting it. Marcenda’s favorite pursuits were talking long walks by the harbor and reading the books her father would bring her from his travels. She preferred to be alone, which was aided by her social gracelessness and tendency to think out loud, but she knew how to be courteous when she had to.
When she was twenty and her father was off on a voyage, Marcenda found that grandfather’s letters were growing increasingly worrisome. She locked up house and went to visit him in the country.
He did his best to put a good face on things when she arrived, but secretly he yearned to be free of his second wife. She’d burned through his small fortune, leaving only the small dowry he had set aside for Marcenda. She’d turned shrewish now that the money was nearly gone, but he was determined to keep up appearances for his only grandchild.
Not seeing the disaster his marriage had become, Marcenda asked if there was anything wrong. The old man denied any dissatisfaction other than the usual trials of old age. As she bid him good evening the night before she was to return to her father’s house, she told him that she only wanted his happiness. Her blessing left him with a sense of peace he had not known for some time.
He was found dead the next morning, having poisoned himself to escape his wife. Marcenda’s patron had guided him, but Marcenda was ignorant of the fact. The burden of the death of her entire maternal line upon her, Marcenda had the overwhelming urge to flee before she caused any more harm.
And so flee Marcenda did, not knowing that she’d played into her step-grandmother’s hands. That was the first night that Marcenda flew, embracing her powers as a witch. She was determined to find out how she had been cursed, not knowing that she had brought the peace of inevitable death to those whose suffering had passed what any mortal could bear.