|Tribe:||Children of Gaia||Auspice:||Theurge||Breed:||Homid|
|Temp Glory:||0||Temp Honor:||
|Persuasion||Mother's Touch||Jam Weapon|
|Staredown||Sight From Beyond|
|Rite of Summoning||Rite of Binding||Rite of the Questing Stone|
|Rite of Talisman Dedication||Rite of Cleansing||Last Blessing|
|Breath of Gaia||Rite of the Teacher|
Resources: Keisha has a
small new age shop nestled in a side corner in the East Village. Like her
father's old shop in Pittsburgh, it is called the Goddess Gallery.
Perception: Uncanny Instincts
Glabro: Strength 4, Dexterity 3, Stamina 4, Appearance 2, Manipulation 1
Crinos: Strength 6, Dexterity 4, Stamina 5, Appearance 0, Manipulation 0
Hispo: Strength 5, Dexterity 5, Stamina 5, Appearance 3, Manipulation 0
Lupus: Strength 3, Dexterity 5, Stamina 4, Appearance 3, Manipulation 0
The young woman, perhaps in her early to mid-twenties, is mulatto, her skin a light mocha color. Dark brown hair hangs in dreadlocks to her shoulders, framing a soft, warm face with a smile on it and intelligence and wit twinkling behind amber eyes. She’s not especially tall, perhaps a touch over five and a half feet, and average in weight and proportion. She’s dressed in simple, natural fiber clothes…loose-fitting, to provide for a feel of utilitarianism to the girl. A pentacle rests around her neck, four gold earrings in each ear traveling up the crest, and a small nose stud in her right nostril. In her hand, an ever-present staff…and on her back, an ever-present backpack. Never known when you’ve got something that might come in handy in there.
Her Staff (Diff 6, Damage Strength+2B)
Apartment in the East Village
All things are of the Goddess. Everything that is, was and will be comes from Her. Yes, even the bad things. But we'll have time for that later, honey.
Me? I'm Keisha. Keisha Ballard, Cliath Theurge of the Children of Gaia. Still Water, as the spirits call me. Yes, there's a reason for that name. We'll get there. If you want to know about me, you have to be patient. All things will come in time.
To learn about me, I guess it's best if we start at the beginning. My parents were kin to my Tribe. My dad, Malcolm—or Mal, as he's known—has run a New Age store since he was about my age. That's 19, in case you're curious. My mom, Noelle Jackson-Ballard (Dad would never have made her give up her last name) is a sexual therapist. You've seen Meet the Fockers? You know Barbara Streisand in that? Yeah. That's not her at ALL. There is, believe it or not, a certain sense of professionalism to it that Miss Big-Nose didn't quite accurately portray. Don't ever mention that film around my mother. It won't get pretty.
Anyway, Dad's white, and Mom's African-American. I guess it's a good thing they were Gaian…most other tribes would look askance at something like that. Tell you this…I'm pretty damn sure if Dad was a Get kin, I'd have never found my way to Gaia…in my current form, at least. But luckily, he wasn't, and I did. February 25th, 1987…Pisces by the Western Zodiac, Rabbit by the Chinese. And wolf by birth. Of course, I didn't know that until later.
That's not to say that mom and dad ever hid the truth of the Goddess from me. From an early age, I knew that I was part of a larger world. After all, if I wasn't going to be Full-Blooded, I was still going to be kin, right? They didn't go really into the meat and potatoes of things when I was young, though…just started giving me a primer, you could say. I was a kid, after all, and while you could call the way my parents raised me to be very liberal hippy new-agey, they knew enough to know that kids can't keep secrets worth a damn. So throughout grade school and junior high school, I was just the weird kid who didn't say God, she said Goddess, and wore pentacles and all that. The one that mothers hated their kids to be around…not that the kids hung around me anyway. They were too wierded out and uncomfortable…turns out, I'd find out why later. It suited me fine, though…just meant I had more time for my imagination, which was prolific. I loved, loved, LOVED to play with my imaginary friends. More often than not, on the playground, while the other kids were playing wall ball, four-square, and later basketball, I was in the jungle gym, off on a quest to save the prince from the claws of the evil demons that had them. Yeah, popularity was SO not my thing. I didn't care, though. I was content at the time.
Now, I ask you. What do kids do when they hit their teens? They rebel, right? Well, what happens when your parents are the poster children for modern rebellion? The easiest guess is that you go the opposite way, and dress in blouses and dresses and vote Republican. That…wasn't me. I went to the other end of the spectrum. With no boundaries, I had nothing to push against, I guess…but I damn well tried. At 13, I was smoking out, having pretty much constant sex and getting body piercings in places that made college grads twitch. My parents? No problem with it. What they DID have a problem with was the number of fights I was getting in. I was starting to hang with a pretty rough crowd…nasty, anti-social types. I got suspended from school more times than I can count. Probably would have been expelled if Mom hadn't been helping the principal deal with his erectile dysfunction, thus giving her ammo to use for blackmail. And thus, Keisha Ballard's high school career continued,
My parents, in the meantime, tried talking with me. They tried to explain that this wasn't the life they wanted for me. I shot back that my life wasn't about what they wanted. I was just so damn ANGRY at them. My life wasn't theirs. What the fuck did they expect me to do, live a carbon copy of them? Wasn't happening.
Finally, when I was 16, they sent me away for a summer to stay with a friend of theirs in Kane in Upstate Pennsylvania. To say the least, I was…absolutely furious. What, they thought throwing me up into some drum circle or hanging out with some Amish retards was going to make things better? I went up there seriously pissed off.
I was SO not expecting Levi.
Levi Sanford…Carries-the-Dead to the spirits. Adren Theurge of the Children of Gaia. When I got up there, I was sullen and resentful. And here he comes, all fifty-years of him, dressed like some kind of hiker, complete with his staff. I started off when he greeted me by blowing a cloud of cigarette smoke into his face. He responded by smiling, then snatching the cigarette from me and crushing the cherry between his fingers, saying that smoking was bad for you, and that it was where the Wyrm spread it's toxins. I had a very vague idea what he was talking about—Mom was fairly active at the Sept, so I knew we were part of some sort of weird family thing I wasn't supposed to talk about…and they'd explained the Triat to me in general terms. I told him to go fuck himself, and he put me on his ass before I knew he had even moved with a sweep of the legs from his staff. The wind knocked out of me, I just started up, stunned. Levi smiled and said that if I wanted to learn to do that, he could teach me.
And that was how he got to me. Iskakku, it's called…the art of staff-fighting among the Children of Gaia. Okay, so maybe I thought it was weak tea at first. Bringing a staff to a gun fight? Pretty damn stupid. But he proved that wrong when he gave me an empty gun and told me to point it at him like I was going to shoot him. I did…and had to deal with the dislocated wrist for several days. Slowly, over the course of three months, he used Iskakku and the mindset that it requires to alter me…change my way of thinking. While he did, he also taught me the ways of the Garou, and of those who walk the path of Unicorn. It was surprisingly easy for me to accept…hell, when your parents have been subtly prepping you for life within the Nation, hearing the truth just seems…right.
I came away from that summer a changed person. My life was no longer meaningless…I had a place in the world. My rebellious days, I determined to put behind me, and move forward. Unfortunately, I didn't account for the things that would lead toward my change. The dreams…the visions. The coming Apocalypse…pain and fear and death and rage. My junior year of high school was the most trying time of my life, up to that point. I was trying to avoid the anti-social behavior I had before, but I was getting angry at the smallest things. I actually got into MORE fights when I was trying to be good then I did when I was bad. And Mom's blackmail of Principal Henson would only go so far. In October of '04, I was expelled from school. Couldn't have come at a better time.
My parents, shockingly, were okay with it. They kept an extra eye on me, but otherwise, they were entirely supportive. They probably saw the signs. They called Levi, and he came down. Unfortunately, he wasn't in time. Well, not quite. He was and he wasn't.
Halloween. I was pretty much restricted to home…but the visions were getting worse and worse. Things were getting stronger…more vivid. I was determined to go out and have a good time. So I snuck out and met up with some friends at Schizophrenia, a nightclub on the Strip. It was supposed to be a good night…dancing, drinking, having fun. But my mood was getting worse and worse as the night progressed. I started to hear things. At the time, I thought it was the drink and the X…not the spirits. I was, of course, wrong.
The key moment came when I was hanging out with my friends, fake ID's firmly in place, and some drunken ass came up to Kelsey and started hitting on her. She laughed at him…he backhanded her. I was already on edge…already angry. I grabbed a bottle off the bar and smacked him across the face. You know, those things really don't break like they do in the movies. Your cheek bone will break before the bottle did. Just ask Keith Cunningham. I hit him, and hit him again. Kelsey and Samantha had to pull me off of him…I was ready, and honestly trying, to kill him.
I went into the bathroom to get myself together...and that was when it happened. I stared into the mirror, trying to talk myself into not being crazy, and I felt…something solid, yet not. Resistance against…something. I didn't understand. Of course, that might have also been because of the blinding rage I was feeling, coursing through me. I passed through the Gauntlet as my First Change overtook me. Slipping sideways is something that's haunted me ever sense.
I don't…remember quite what happened after that. All I know is that when I woke up the next morning, I was in Levi's pickup truck, and he was driving me back to Kane. I'd been through my First Change, and my first trip into the spirit world. Levi had a few more things to explain to me. Numbly, exhaustedly, I nodded.
I spent a year with Levi that time, learning the ins and outs of myself, and of the Spirits. Levi continued to train me in Iskakku, as well as teach me the ways of the Umbra, and the spirits. I took to it all…fairly well, I'd say. I also found myself rather frightened of the anger I'd had…the near beating-to-death of that idiot frat boy on Halloween scared the shit out of me, and I hadn't even changed form yet. I became an Ahimsa…an avowed pacifist. Levi didn't disapprove.
My year of fosterage came and went in a blur. Finally, Levi decided I was ready. He sent me out on a mystery to solve. There had been a problem in the Allegheny Reservoir…the waterway had been showing signs of problems. He sent me out to investigate. Nervously, I set out. Investigation of the surroundings revealed little on the Umbral side. No signs of corruption…no banes, nothing. Well, nothing worse then what would be anywhere else. I frowned, looking around and speaking to the local spirits…nothing out of the ordinary.
Finally, I crossed the Gauntlet and decided to take a stab at looking from the earthly end. Again, on first glance, nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary. I was confused, thrown off, and a little afraid. Had Levi sent me out on a bogus Rite of Passage? I laid down to sleep…and that night, I dreamt. Dreams of the lake, completely solidified, covered in webs, like the Weaver had raped the spirit of the reservoir and left its residue, holding the waters in place. It was completely horrifying, and I heard the lake cry out to me with a voice it didn't have.
I woke up gasping for breath, panting. The dream has shaken me to my core. Disturbed, I picked up a stone and tossed it into the reservoir…and that's when it hit me. The stone hit the water and submerged without sound…without ripples. The water was completely still. I started to take a closer look on the Umbra side, and what do you know…the webs were there. Faint…hard to see somehow. But there. Turns out that there had been a slow, subtle infestation of some kind of Weaver spirit in the water. Didn't find that out until one of them leapt at me and tried to drag me in. I managed to fight it off and send it into slumber. When I returned to Levi, I was recognized as a Cliath within the Children of Gaia.
I returned back to Pittsburgh in December of 2006 and started working at my dad's occult shop. I made introduction at the Sept. I found a pack, a group of sisters that I loved and cherished just as much as I fought with them. I found love, very real and honest love, even if it was forbidden and it turned one of my packmates into my rival. And that love was taken from me by the Wyrm, by a Black Spiral Dancer. I've never known Rage like that. I've never felt my dedication to the path of non-violence be tested so much. I wanted to kill. To hunt, to destroy. But I bit back my fury, I held true to my path. There are those who consider me a coward for that. I consider it a strength.
Love and a pack are not the only things that happened, of course. Being the Alpha of my pack meant that I had to grow up. I couldn't just fuck around, I had to push myself to grow and become a better force for good within the Nation. I took on greater responsibility, and I led my pack to Glory, Honor and Wisdom. We visited realms in the Umbra where we had to kill each other to escape. We faced down spiritual manifestations of ourselves at our weakest and we held true. We lived together, we fought together. We brought back a pack sister who had been killed, and then rescued her soul from the hands of a Reaper spirit. We had our faults, and we could argue and snipe and fall to distraction with gusto, but when the chips were down, we were there for each other.
Amidst this, I reached the rank of Fostern. It wasn't an easy challenge; the Shadow Lord Philodox who I challenged for my rank set me on a challenge to teach me what it meant to make a decision when life and death were in my hands, and to show me what happened when one got too focused on one avenue and lose sight of the rest. The events that the Challenge involved resulted in the death of two Garou and a Fera and her cubs. It left me known as a Kinslayer among the Fera, and it stole some of my innocence. But I came out resolved, stronger.
As time passed, my pack began to go their separate ways. Our beta went on a journey to find herself. Our Galliard found herself with a mate and children, while our Philodox had her own things going on. I became the Ritemaster of the Sept, dedicating my time to teaching the next generation. I was only in my early twenties and already I was passing my knowledge onto the younger members of the Nation. Between it all, things grew further and further apart. When the pack dissolved, it was not with a drama-filled explosion as might be expected, but with a simple understanding. We would always be friends, but the time had come. I regret that we couldn't make it work, but just like some people make better friends then lovers, we made better friends that packmates.
Finally, my time as Ritemaster came to an end late last year. An up-and-coming Theurge, new to the Sept, threw out the challenge. We challenged honorably and I have no regrets, but in the end he won and I lost. I smiled and congratulated him, and immediately promised to help him. I could do no less. Gaia has Her ways and they may be mysterious sometimes, but to fight against them is fruitless.
I love my former Sept. I love those who were there…my family, my friends, even my enemies. You take the good with the bad. But sometimes, as with my pack, the time has come to part ways. I needed a new place to find myself, a new city to find my home. New York is not so far away. I made my farewells, promised that I was just a phone call away, and I set off. With my old beater car, I headed out of Pittsburgh, on my way to New York City. Bright lights, big city. My father's retired, and I've got some money from him to start up a little occult shop. It won't be much, but it'll give me enough to keep myself fed and in a home. As for the rest…I'm seeing where it leads me from here.