Agunl Qw Agiya has been coming around here since I was knee high to my mother, as long as I can remember. She's never hurt a soul, just pulls her trundle cart along the road. Its macabre, all the bones and things she has in it, and she is a fright to look at, but I don't think she's the monster the abbot makes her out to be.
Appearance: Agunl Qw Agiya, or Agun for short, is a decrepidly old woman of indiscriminate heritage. Her hair is still long, but brittle and dry. Her face is a labyrinth of wrinkles and creases, a testament to a long life exposed to wind and wun, snow and rain. She is almost always barefoot, but has feet as tough as a goat. Most of her teeth are missing, a mixture of long years of inadequte nutrition and a few too many confrontations with hot blooded members of the Faith. She doesn't speak often, and when she does, its a price, yes, no, or some other single word responce. On rare occasion she can pantomime a comical dance and sing with a loud but dry voice.
Agun sold me a handful of crow feathers and fingerbones, we hung the fetish above our sick son's crib. The abbot and his monk's prayers did us no good, but the silver piece for the strange fetish destroyed his fever and ended his nightmares in a single night. It crumbled to dust by morning and our boy was tired, but smiling.
Agun is a relict, her years long beyond even her own count. The settled folk came, and her own folk either moved on, were exterminated, or took up the newcomer's ways. There was much anger and fighting, among her own, and between them and the newcomers. The warriors sought magic to win, but their magic and weapons failed. Wisdom showed Agunl that once they were the newcomers, and had driven another people out just as they had been driven out. The world is a circle, time is a serpent eating its own tail.
She is also a medicine woman/shaman. She can call upon the little spirits of the earth, and the ghosts of the departed and the anima spirits, or totems, of living animals and living places. Her art is now dead, she is the last practitioner of it. The core of the art is the creation of fetishes, one shot or temporary magic items. By using sympathetic materials, ritual purification, and incantations and chimiage to the spirits, she entices them to perform a service and inhabit a fetish for a short time.
Take this. Hang above door. In a moonday all will be well. Go. Go now.
A fetish is a temporary or one shot magic item. These items are empowered by a spirit that has willingly entered into the fetish construct. These magic items tend to be focused towards purification, dream states, healing, divination, and securing fertility, good luck, and other minor boons. Never is a fetish something as brazen as a wand of lightning bolts, or as plain as a metal disc. The Fetish is made of natural materials, all of which must have been alive at some point. Bones, feathers, shell, herbs, special wood and other materials are the most common. Such fetishes can be as large as wooden poles placed for a ceremony, pouches worn around the neck, or something hung from a peg, or above a door. It is slow magic, not given to flash or dazzle.
The Trundle Cart:
Agun's cart is a mixture of business stall, fetish workshop, and wagon. The cart balances on three rickety wheels and she pulls it on foot with a pair of wooden poles and a leather lash around her hips. The cart was once painted, but it is now flaked and sunbleached white. The entire thing has a strong smell to it, the most obvious smells being the assortment of dried herbs, bulbs and aromatic plants hanging from it. Less obvious are the smells of old bone, blood, and curing leather. The top rail once held an awning that has since rotted and blown away on the wind. It now hangs with animal skulls, fowl that have been killed and are hanging until suitably ripe to cook and eat, and colorful scraps of torn clothing.
Agun rarely accepts money for her fetishes and charms. Rather, she barters for her goods, exchanging healing tokens for loaves of bread and hunks of cheese, cured meat and pouches of salt, tobacco, and odd pieces of junk.
Old Vs. New
The old ways are all but gone, but seldom fast enough for a growing religion, such as the Faith (insert typical monolithic faith here). The old ways were bound with pacts of blood, and administered by shaman and mystics. The new ways are prayer and ordained clergy, tilling fields and paying tithe and tax. The two cannot coexist, and with enough time, the old ways fade as the old ways of life are replaced with the plow and the almanac. Agun has survived for a long time by never challenging the Faith. The Faith has also been forced to hold its hand as Agun is among the most desperate of the poor and hardly looks the part of the wicked heathen. Her bartering also makes it impossible for the Faith to either demand tithes from her, or to present the old mystic as a Seller of False Gods. giving the old toothless woman a loaf of bread for some bird bones and a possum tail is much more akin to giving alms than purchasing black magic talismans.
Of course, this is exactly what is happening. She is indeed bartering magic items (albeit of a limited fashion) for food and knick-knacks. The Abbot also knows this, but can really do nothing about it. He isnt horribly worried, the old Bone Woman is older than the Abbey, she's sure to kick off one of these days.
The Dingus Seller: Agun on occasion comes across rare trinkets and knick-knacks that are more than meets the eye. If a magic artifact has been broken in X pieces, she could very well have one of them. If the PCs need to find the ring of someone 50 years dead, she might have that as well too. On an alternate note, the PCs might need one of her fetishes to complete their main objective. Rather than accept some gold coins for the thing, Agun will have (of course!) a task or minor quest for them to take care of first.
The Powder Keg: The Old Ways havent completely died, and Agun is a constant reminder. As the Abbot predicts, one day she just doesnt show up. Later she is found dead, and the rumor mill starts grinding. Bandits? Natural Causes? The Abbot says wickedness doth take its due, and the villagers start thinking that the Abbot sure is happy a harmless old woman is dead. The PCs are brought in to protect the Abbey from the villagers, or to investigate the old woman's death.
Speaker of the Dead: Necromancy is the first thing generally banned by the Faith, and a great deal of magic is suddenly illegal and heretical. Thus speaking with the dead and dealing with the dead in methods other than ensorceled steel and flame is extinguished. Agun can talk to the wind and raise the spirits and sometimes the bodies of the dead. The PCs need to find her, bring her to the tomb/grave of the person they need information from, and convince her to speak to the dead for them.