TITLE: Countess, Seer

RACE: Witch

HANDS OF POWER: Water (Master. She’s damned old)

MERITS: Arcane Magic, Magic: Curses, Ritual knowledge, Occult Library, Streetwise, Subterfuge, Politics, and History.

FLAWS: Disfigured (she lost an eye in this lifetime, a story she rarely talks about), Ghost Sight, Higher Purpose.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: When she was younger in this life Olesia was a prime example of Eastern European beauty, an exotic woman that men fought (and literally died) over. Time and sheer mileage took its toll however, and now Olesia is an old and ugly thing with rotten teeth, a stooped posture and gnarled limbs. Yet for all of her lack of physical attractiveness she’s very spry for a woman of her advanced age; Olesia still possesses the grace of a water child and can move surprisingly quickly when she needs to. These nights she just seems like a bag lady, a lost wanderer of the streets that mutters and curses to herself as she goes dumpster diving for food. Those in the know however… they pay her a very well earned respect.

CHARACTERISTICS: She’s an old school Polish witch, in fact one could make a case that Olesia is the personification of old school in general, being one of the older active Talamascans in existence. If anything she has a lower bullshit tolerance than Katita (which is really saying something), and she’s not afraid to speak her mind about anything that displeases her. Being a seer does that to you over time, and the old witch has had a lot of time to get stuck in her ways. To say that she’s salty would be a gross understatement; to say that she’s mean-spirited would be a mistake. She’s kind to those that deserve it and helps those that are struck with misfortune, giving her an edge on the streets of New York that no one can match.

HISTORY: The Past - Olesia was born sometime in the 5th century in a small settlement along the Wisla River in what would become Poland in 840 under King Piast. Back then is wasn’t a country but a collective of Slavic tribes that lived off the land as farmers and herders, meshing with the Germanic and Celtic tribes that they encountered along the way. At an early age it was discovered that she was gifted with the power of elemental control, and it was also happened upon that the jade-eyed child was a prodigious seer, a talent (or curse, depending on how you looked at it) that has grown over the centuries. For a few lifetimes she served as the Matriarch of her particular tribe, protecting them against the whims of stronger countries and magical threats from without and learning the ways of magic however she could, trading her mystic gnosis for tomes of power to read and memorize. It was a good life until organized religion entered the picture.

She viewed the Greek missionaries with an amused but critical eye and noticed that the aspects of their Father, Son and Holy Ghost ran parallel with Selene, Seth and Simon. By the time she was born into her next life the Slaves were caught in the focus of the intense rivalry between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Times were changing, this the seer knew, and the visions she was presented with were harsh, dark things that stank of evil and foreboding for those that weaved magic and heard the whispers of the planet. So with a heavy heart she left her small village to warn the others of her kind and let them know of the dark times ahead with only a mule to speed her journey across Europe. It took an entire lifetime to find those that were important enough to prepare the Talamascans for what was to come in the future.

The Lord of Sorrows was making a push, viewing the witches as strong enough to need eradicating, and he used one of the uglier weapons in his arsenal of tricks: religious fanaticism. By the late Middle Ages opposition to witchcraft hardened due to the growing belief that all magic that did not come unambiguously from God came from the Devil and therefore were manifestations of the darkest evil imaginable, and those who practiced even the simplest sorcery, such as village wise women, were regarded as practitioners of the Black Arts in league with Satan. In fact almost all of those that were under the Church’s suspicion of witchcraft were women, which were evidently regarded by witch-hunters as especially susceptible to the Devil’s blandishments. In reality the Lord of Sorrows’ plan was embarrassingly simple: Kill all the women in the hopes that the Talamascans couldn’t reproduce.

While Olesia would pooh-pooh the idea of her saving the clan single-handedly, there was no doubt that between her and the Talamascan family that the absolute worst was prevented from happening. While the other clans hid from the eyes of man King Gregory stood firm in his convictions that humanity as a whole would come to accept magic for what it was; a natural occurrence of nature that wasn’t evil in the slightest. It was a hard row to hoe in those times, what with the dark feints that the Lord of Sorrows used. Experience with such dissident religious movements as the Albigenses and Cathari (who believed in a radical dualism of good and evil) led to the tainted belief that certain people had allied themselves with Satan, thereby causing the church to establish a series of papal degrees between 1227 and 1235 that established the rise of the Inquisition… and that dicked up things for everybody, Talamasca and otherwise.

It took five hundred years for the persecution to finally decline, but in the end even the Lord of Sorrows could not uproot the caretakers of the planet, thanks to Olesia (who by then was elevated to the title of Countess) and her portents from on high. The seer paid the price for her meddling during those seven centuries of hate; during five lifetimes Olesia was hunted down, tortured and killed by the agents of the church, yet despite their best efforts they never managed to claim the Talamascan’s heart. Olesia was there to help in the Venice Jihad, she witnessed the savage rape of the earth during the Industrial Revolution, stemming the tide of damage, she killed the infamous mummy known as Ba-Set and has fought for the planet as best she could and now she witnesses the birth of a champion, the one who would become the clan’s savior. That person would be Katita, and Olesia is delighted to help her in any way she can… not that the old bitty would admit it.

Olesia knows quite a lot about the things going on in the city; she knows who killed Marius and how the Feranti became what they are, about Natalie’s eventual murder and the burden that her parents carry due to the inevitable, and she knows that the planet is angry enough to finally take action against the mortals that cover it like a skin disease and attempt to abuse it for their own ends. Humanity has a lot more to fear than the Chimaera, they have to face the sins that they have done to Gaia herself, and that may become a very nasty day for the mortals.

Olesia and Katita share a bond that only fire and water could create. They throw vicious barbs at one another the likes of which would lend an outsider to believe that they were the most bitter of foes, yet the friendship they have would withstand time itself and they are more alike than either of them would ever admit. Olesia has an eccentric habit of “taking off” from her duties as a Countess for a lifetime and picking up where she left off during the next one; she considers it a vacation from the stress of being one of the political elite, and it reminds her of her roots as a tribal person. Talamascans give her due as a matter of course as she is one of the true elders of the clan while everyone else respects her sheer power; she is a master of the Great Curse (two words: Michael Jackson. He really should not have pissed her off).

See also Katita