Friday, July 6, 2012

Stray and Whichway

Stray and Whichway are two Spherewalkers. They are going to take a journey together in the One Branch Project.

Whichway Crookstaff is 16 years old. She's a bit of a free spirit, which has raised concern in the family. She wanders the cities of Everway and Strangerside at all hours. She does this to settle her mind, in which the trumps of the Fortune Deck are constantly appearing. Even when she dreams. Not surprisingly, Whichway has a knack for reading the Fortune Deck. Her readings are True. 

Whichway is a disappointment to the Crookstaff family. The family's reputation is based on their great mastery of the magic arts and related scholarly pursuits. Whichway is uninterested in book learning. She hasn't learned any other magical abilities aside from Spherewalking and True Reading. Whichway's mother recently pulled strings to get her inducted into the Chamber Platinum. She has told Whichway to "Make something of yourself." It remains to be seen what that will look like! 

Whichway's interest has been piqued lately by something she's been exposed to at the Chamber Platinum:  spherepaths. While some are very linear representations of the relationships and connections between the spheres, other spherepaths are quite subjective or coded designs - rather like mandalas. Piqued by these alternative spherepaths, and no doubt building on her intuitive mastery of the Fortune Deck, Whichway has begun to experiment with her own designs, based on the narrative accounts of other Sphererwalkers. This may prove very useful when she begins Spherewalking for the Chamber Platinum.

Whichway Crookstaff
Stray Outsider is 15 years old. He lives in Strangerside. Stray is a gender non-comforming throwaway child of the Keeper family, one of the most conservative (however cosmopolitan-appearing) families in Roundwander. As a Keeper, Stray knows how to fight and how to kill. As a Keeper, he also knows a great deal of lore about gates. Stray has been surviving on the mean streets of Strangerside for the last two years. He fled to Strangerside after being cast out by the Keeper clan's elderwomen. 
Stray (the figure on the right)
Ultimately, Stray ran afoul of Everway's gender system. Women in Everway have a great deal of social power, and they guard it jealously. They have seen what many other worlds are like where women have little or no power. In contrast, Everway has a matrilineal kinship system, and much more egalitarian gender roles. 

Female elders there take a dim view of women whom they see as "throwing away" their social power to express a male gender identity. Stray, who was born a girl, has been disowned. But in Strangerside, Stray found friends. There are other Everwayans there who have broken rules around gender and sexuality and been pushed out of their families. There are also all sorts of Outsiders with different beliefs, identities, and practices. Strangerside can be rough, but there is a lot of room to be who you are, as long as you keep your wits about you.

Stray has been adopted by Bromeliad, a Spherewalker from the realm of Emerald Savannah. He has also been initiated as a layman into the rites of Oxumare,the Rainbow Serpent. By being ridden by Oxumare, Stray learned the Scales Drop rite, a personal ritual that gives Stray the power to temporarily bring his outward gender expression into conformity with his soul-gender. The mambo of Oxumare has told Stray that if he continues using the rite, eventually his gender will change permanently. Through the ceremonies led by the mambo, Stray has also been ridden by Legba. Legba told Stray that he is a Spherewalker.


Joining Forces: In recent months, Whichway has become fast friends with Stray. They when Stray befriended Whichway on one of her many visits to Strangerside. The Outsider city can be a bewildering and dangerous place for naive visitors who lack street smarts. In their first encounter, Stray saved Whichway from harm. Stray now often accompanies Whichway on her wanderings, mostly to make sure she doesn't get in trouble that she can't escape. 

Curiously, Stray is one of the few individuals whom Whichway cannot read using the Fortune Deck. He is consequently a bit of a mystery to Whichway, but one that she likes. Whichway knows she is safer when he's around. Whichway has recruited Stray to accompany her on a Spherewalking expedition for the Chamber Platinum. Together, they will explore one branch of the tree of worlds.

1 comment:

  1. I like the backstory. Your naming conventions are awesome, especially how you use the name of a plant (Bromeliad) that ends up sounding really fanciful and almost Nordic in flavor. I like how Everway deals with race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. as a basis for driving the story, not as just a throwaway detail buried under stat blocks.


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