Ramia, the Shaman

Background

A young giant drops her doll in the forest. Her parents call for her, she runs to them. The doll is remembered hours later, in tears; too far away to go back and recover it. Tremendous leaves cover it and seasons pass. The Wyld flows in and ebbs out, and the modern age comes. The doll awakens.

Ramia has lived in Pinedeep for many years. The villagers know her well, or at least recognize her well and call on her skills often. As a shaman she is a dual being: part earth, part spirit. Specifically, the earth is dollmaker’s clay. She lives in a spirit house with the hybrid elemental Ivy. She knows that she grew up in the Northeast as a strange orphan daughter, taken in by parents who never knew what to make of her. She knows that she saved Ivy from a death by poisoning nearly a decade ago. She also knows that she is a doll, who awoke into consciousness just a few years ago with these stories already fully enshrined in her mind. To Ramia, both of these are true. Both happened, both are valid. Ramia is comfortable with contradiction.

Recently Ishowo and her band entered Pinedeep (or perhaps were created from nothing on its edge). Ramia recognized them immediately (she had never seen them before). This was a moment she had foreseen from the moment she awakened. She witnessed the disagreement between Salome and Ishowo, and came to speak with the band after Salome stormed off (did that happen before or after they were created?). Ramia remembered Salome (she had never met her), and knew (she guessed from Salome’s anger) how she would raise an army to kill the villagers here. She impressed on Ishowo how important these people were to her, and offered to help her if she could keep the glen from coming to violence. Ishowo agreed.

Now Ramia acts as local expert and spiritual mentor to Ishowo’s people. She does them favors – mending cracks, pointing out influential people – and in return, perhaps they will handle a few of the things that bother her as well. For instance, a pair of strange sisters have set up in another nearby village, Chestnut Ford, and are manipulating the people and spirits there. Ramia would love if someone could tell them to knock it off. Most important, though, is that they work to end the strife with Salome before it becomes unmanageable. Ramia wants no wars here.

Appearance

ramia-500

Ramia’s skin is stained purple all over from years of applying hallucinogenic mushroom paste to her body. She claims that it is also because she is made of a particular type of clay. She often draws patterns on her body to attract the attention of spirits. Her eyes are a bright orange, her hair a bright white. Purple sheep’s horns grow through the hair. To cap it all off, she has four arms.

As if the rest of her appearance weren’t unusual enough, Ramia has a small foot-long dragon-shaped pet, which curls up in the hood of her cloak when she leaves the house.

Demeanor

Smiling, enigmatic, and a little disconnected. Ramia often appears to be daydreaming, even if she’s listening very intently. Once again, both of these things may be true. She pays attention to both the real world and the spirit world. She’s not so much drifting and dreaming as switching between sight and second sight. She’s nervous about missing something and failing to understand the world around her.

Ramia helps others and plans for the future because she’s quite nervous about it. She was abandoned at a young age in both of her stories. She craves stability. For that reason, Ramia is very protective of this land and its people. She feels connected to it, and suspects that her local upbringing and her long time covered by the leaves of the Glen’s trees gave her an affinity for this place. Anyone who threatens the people here will face her anger. Those who help defend the people are taken under her wing.

Intimacies: Help mortals and spirits coexist (defining), Ivy still needs my help (major), The glen and its people are my responsibility (major), Argent and Juri need to get lost (major), We are all both spirit and flesh

Capabilities

Ramia’s primary skills are as a shaman. She applies a paste of psychoactive mushrooms to her skin, which allows her to see and interact with spirits. Most of her work is with smaller and weaker spirits such as elementals, forest sprites, and the short-lived spirits born of strong emotions. These ephemeral beings are often eager to prolong their existences. Ramia crafts tiny homunculi for them which house and protect their essence as they stumble around the world. They can speak to others, fetch objects, carry messages, and generally do what one might expect a living doll to do. (Siean will find the fractal nature of this situation amusing, if she ever meets Ramia.)

More rarely, Ramia strikes bargains with ghosts, small gods, and more powerful elementals. If their goals align with hers (or at least aren’t repugnant to her), she’ll help them as long as they help her. Her anxiety about working with powerful spirits is well-earned, however, and she does this only rarely.

Ramia’s shamanic talent is instinctual, but that doesn’t mean that she didn’t have to learn a lot to use it properly. She knows the names of hundreds of local spirits, and is familiar with the hierarchy of Yu-Shan. She studies herbs and botanical extracts, to better act as the local healer. Ramia’s also good at connecting those who know with those who need to learn. She makes sure that Margery has a steady flow of stories; that Maska meets the elder men who will help him grow up a little; that Koyo finds responsible people and Ishowo begins to see more than just people in need in her life.

In a fight, Ramia depends on her homunculi. (She has four arms, but she isn’t exactly a trained grappler.) The dolls can swarm opponents and drag them down, or distract them, or tear at important parts. They’re often quite tough, made of strong rope and twine. She keeps a few that are made of sharper things – glass or an old set of knives – in case someone might really try to hurt her.

Supporting Characters

  • Elaida Stonecarver, the only one in the valley, who makes some of her granite dolls. Argumentative, gullible, respectful.
  • Benton Weaver, who provides Ramia with rope and twine. Aspiring, hard-working, bossy.
  • Oliaea Forager, who encounters Ramia looking for mushrooms from time to time. Humble, careful, secretive.
  • Quan Mason, who is perhaps a little too interested in Ramia. Obsessive, capricious, self-conscious.

Questions

  • Where did Ramia’s pet dragon come from? Is it connected to Sia and Mari’s mother? Is it part-elemental? Perhaps a castoff from the Wyld? Is it just a lizard?
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