Tuesday 8 April 2014

Solomon Blackbird

Solomon Ruth Blackbird (Deadlands - character for part of a large campaign. The idea is to have 4 characters for the overall story; Solomon is my favourate of the ones I've genned but I've not yet played her)

The orphanage in which Solomon was raised was really for abandoned boys, but Solomon had been left there and they couldn’t very well turn an unwanted child away just because of her gender.

She came there without a name. The Rev’d Barkwell, who ran the orphanage, had a system for dealing with boys in this situation: a ‘lucky dip’ of first names from the Bible. Being a bit stuck in his ways, he didn’t create a new set of female names, but just drew hers from the existing bag and ‘Solomon’ she became.

The only other woman in the orphanage was Nancy, the cook, cleaner and general maid. She nicknamed Solomon ‘Blackbird’ for her raven hair and because the child often sang as she played or undertook her chores. It was also Nancy who gave her the middle name Ruth, because the world could be too ruthless at times.

Solomon was happy at the orphanage. Life wasn’t easy; she and the boys were expected to undertake a lot of chores and housework/gardening to ensure the place ran on its low budget, and the Reverend and teachers were strict and fond of discipline. All the same, she and the boys managed to find time for games and ways to not get caught when breaking the rules, and Nancy  told wonderful stories and taught her to play the guitar. It was all she was used to and she never felt an outsider because of her gender – until her periods began.

Nancy had intended to sit down with her before her periods began to warn her, but Solomon started younger than Nancy anticipated and was terrified. She screamed and screamed and it was decided that the orphanage was no longer a suitable place for her. Nancy offered to take her in and look after her with Nancy’s close friend Marjorie, but as much as both Nancy and Solomon liked this idea the Rev’d Barkwell did not think it would be appropriate and sent Solomon to live with his sister and her husband.

Thus began an intensely unhappy period of Solomon’s life. She was cut off absolutely from all the people she knew and cared about. The Rev’d Barkwell’s sister, Honoria, and her husband Peter Drake were not used to a girl who had been raised no differently to a boy, and expected her to play quietly. They felt ‘Solomon’ was a terrible name for her, but rather than accepting her suggestion of ‘Ruth’, they tried changing it to ‘Sally’ and made her wear dresses. Whenever she rebelled, they blamed the bad upbringing led by the Rev’d Barkwell and made remarks about Nancy that Solomon didn’t understand but knew were meant to be unkind.

She ran away.

There are not many ways a young teenage girl by herself can earn a living, and Solomon knows she is lucky that the Pony Express were recruiting in the first town she came to. She enjoyed the job and loved the solitude that came with it as much as the people she worked with at either end.

Solomon has grown into an attractive young woman with straight black hair that she cuts short when she is in town but lets grow long when she is out on the trail. Her skin is a mid-brown that darkens easily in the sun. She seems strangely wreathed in shadows on even the brightest day.

As the game begins, she has recently had to leave her job because a puma attacked her on her route, killing her pony and nearly killing her – she escaped with her life but lost her eye. She has a mind open to the supernatural because of some of the things she has seen (or thinks she has seen) whilst trekking across the country, which have lead to nightmares. Her shadowed appearance can be offputting, but she uses her love of tale telling, her guitar and fine singing voice to inspire hope in those around her.

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