Miriam El-Suufi

Born: 1975, in Luxor.

             Miriam was raised by moderately religious parents and married to a distant cousin, Namir, shortly after her eighteenth birthday. Miriam was an obedient girl who loved her family, so she took the arranged marriage in stride.
Despite Namir’s prospects in business, he made some bad decisions and he and Miriam were in financial difficulty within two years of their marriage. Stress between them was further aggravated by their lack of children. During this period of stress, Namir consoled himself with religion and, within a short time, went from being a reasonably moderate practitioner of Islam to a dedicated conservative. The spiritual grounding he obtained with his newly-found religious fervor gave him the confidence he needed to reverse his bad fortune and he began to prosper.
          However, the strictly constrained life that Namir demanded Miriam heed was stifling to her. As Namir’s personal and spiritual fortunes grew, his marriage became even more strained and eventually collapsed. Namir arbitrarily put Miriam aside during their fifth year of marriage, claiming that she was insufficiently religious and barren, to boot.
          Although Miriam received her dowry back from Namir, as tradition demanded, he refused to pay her the usual alimony that would support her until remarriage. Miriam’s family had moved to Cairo, seeking better work and they were reluctant to accept her, believing that her apparent infertility would make it impossible to find her a second husband. Miriam was left at a loose – and vulnerable – end in Luxor. Handled carefully, Miriam’s dowry would support her for a few months, but she didn’t know where to turn next.
           Finally, fate smiled upon Miriam and she was stumbled across – literally – by Yemena, a member of the Cult of Isis who had recently arrived in Luxor. The pair became acquainted and Yemena offered Miriam an escape from her precarious situation. As an adherent of the netjer, Yemena didn’t believe in coincidence and she knew that Miriam had been placed in her path for a reason.
          Miriam was introduced to the Cult of Isis in early 1998 and quickly became a part of the mystical organization. For the past year, the cult had been receiving signs that Osiris was about to break his long silence and that something drastic was about to happen in the Du’at. No-one even conceived the horrific destruction when it occurred on the eve of the millennium and the cult mourned the loss of the Du’at’s stronghold and denizens.
          But now Osiris spoke again, telling the slowly reviving cult that they had new duties to perform with the creation of a new Spell of Life. This sense of purpose invigorated everyone and saved them from despair – Miriam included.
          It was realized that Miriam had a latent – and slight – talent for prophecy, usually in the form of precognitive dreams, or sometimes a brief vision. These visions were often difficult to interpret, as they always called up heavy symbolism or strange metaphor but, once interpreted it became apparent that Miriam was sensing the presence of newly arisen tem-akh in need of assistance. Several amulets were crafted to help focus and refine Miriam’s talent. By far, the most important item she possesses is a pendulum of ancient faience that can help pinpoint the physical location of the stranded hajjrite (details below).

Miriam underwent a crash course in languages, cultural studies and divination as she realized that her new duties would take her across the world. In order to obtain funding for this travel, she has made an arrangement with the Ashukhi Corporation, who are happy to assist her, providing they are kept fully informed as to her activity. A year’s intense study and some carefully-placed publications has created a slight reputation for Miriam as a lecturer on ancient Egyptian theology, and that is the core of her ‘cover’ as she moves across the globe.
          Given that her strongest second language is English – with French far behind – Miriam’s activities are most often contained to North America, Australia and Britain. Should she receive directions telling her to go elsewhere, she will arrange to travel with a fellow Cultist or employee of Ashukhi who can assist her.

So far, she has located and assisted three newly-arisen tem-akh and brought them back to the Web of Faith. The Cult of Isis has been rather disappointed that only one of those three has chosen to remain within their ranks – although they certainly didn’t miss the Sefekhi – but they realize that any success is something to celebrate.

As time passes, Miriam is building up a small but significant network of contacts within Egyptology academia. Given the confusion that often overcomes newly arisen tem-akh, they are often drawn to significant Egyptological collections – although precisely how they know where they are going baffles Miriam profoundly. So, Miriam keeps in touch with the curators of those collections (most notably in Chicago, London, New York City and San Jose) with a standing request that they should call her if some particularly unusual – or violent – visitors come to town. Miriam believes – and hopes – that over time, such networking will be a more direct way of locating the lost tem-akh, rather than relying on her often cloudy visions.

 A key thing with this character is that she is an ordinary human. She has no special abilities, beyond her rather unexpected and uncontrolled one of prophecy,  and even that is strictly limited to matters concerning the Amenti. As a human in the World of Darkness, Miriam is extremely fragile, but also very humane and culturally flexible.
          Miriam is extremely dedicated to the Cult of Isis – although she shies away from fanaticism. The maternal, protective philosophy of the Cult suits Miriam down to the ground, although it doesn’t quite make up for her lack of a one-on-one emotional relationship and family. While she doesn’t miss Namir at all, she can’t help feeling incomplete without a family to call her own – beyond the family of the Cult itself, that is.

 Approximately a year ago, Miriam encountered one of the garou, a Silent Strider named Kumla Storyseeker. A newly arisen tem-akh in Chicago that Miriam was following had been mistaken for a lost cub by Kumla. Fortunately, the confusion was quickly cleared up and Kumla – living up to her name of Storyseeker – eagerly listened to anything Miriam was willing to say about her order and her tasks. In return of which, Kumla told Miriam a little about her own kind, and both of them parted ways very satisfied by their encounter. Miriam still has Kumla’s phone number somewhere, but – given  the transitory ways of both herself and the Silent Striders – she doubts she will ever cross Kumla’s path again.

 Special Notes

Prophecy – this is entirely under the GM’s control and should be used sparingly. Most often, a vision will come to her in a dream. Imagine Cordelia’s “visions” in Angel, but add a layer of heavy symbolism and magickal weirdness, which makes them that much harder to interpret. A sign can range from the sight of Horus pointing north with a staff of alder in his hands, to a range of hills with a river of blood running between them. Deciphering the symbols in these visions requires a roll of Perception plus Enigmas, usual difficulty of eight.
If the GM wishes to be mean, feel free to hit Miriam with the ‘blinding headache’ flaw right out of Angel, too – or some other side-effect of prophecy.
So-called ‘mind altering’ drugs may enhance the effects of prophecy or provoke visions, but that is left entirely to the GM. Miriam has not experimented with such things, although one of the more senior priests (who hails from a background of African shamanism) is thinking of suggesting it to her…

 The Pendulum of Thoth  - this is an amulet crafted by one of the Amenti who realized his duty to help find his lost brethren. It is a pendulum of ancient faience dangling from a cord of flax. It is used in the classical divinatory way by being swung over a map of any scale. It requires a skilled interpreter to sense the subtle changes in the pendulum’s arc to determine to where it is being drawn. Generally, the smaller the scale of the map (a city map, rather than a country-wide one, for example) the greater the pendulum’s wobble and the easier it is to interpret.
          The amulet has one health level and if it should be destroyed, it cannot be repaired. To use, the wielder must be entirely focused on the task (heavily modify difficulty for distractions) and, of course, have a map to hand for casting. Even a crude hand-drawn map will suffice, although interpretation will be more difficult. Roll Perception plus Fortune-telling, difficulty determined by the scale of the map. A world map/atlas would be difficulty ten. A finely detailed map of a small town, or an architect’s map of a few city blocks would be difficulty seven, or less. A botch will send the wielder off in the wrong direction entirely.

Character Stats

Mental Attributes are primary, as are Knowledges, followed by Social Attributes and Skills. Strong background in Contacts – although they are all of the same stripe: Egyptologists and curators of collections of Ancient Egyptian Artifacts.

Moderate Resources – her income is provided entirely by the Ashukhi Corporation, particularly once she has identified a newly arisen tem-akh to be brought to the Web of Faith. Otherwise, she has enough to cover rental cars and a modest hotel when she travels. Sometimes she will sell articles to historical and academic journals – always on the subject of Kemetic theology.

Very high Willpower – 8 or 9. She needs that to cope with the sight of the walking corpse that is the tem-akh before it undergoes the Spell of Life.

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