Kirsten Hadrifax grew up in the gas-lamped shadows of Balcone, raised (somewhat haphazardly) by her grandfather. Her mother had died in childbirth, and her father had vanished some nine months earlier leaving behind only a name: Hadrifax. Her grandfather, as a retired explorer of some notable skill, was able to afford to send her to a private school, but she was always A Step Apart from the other children; uninterested in their petty friendships and rivalries. At home, she spent most of her time reading - about her grandfather's exploits, as well as other explorers, sparks, frauds, mystics, etc.
Phase one aspects:
A Step Apart: Kirsten always seems a little bit… disconnected… from the world around her. Sometimes, particularly with mystic phenomenon, this gives her perspective that others would lack. On the flip side, it can, particularly in social situations, cause her to lack perspective that others would have.
Bookworm: Specifically focused on ruins and mystic phenomenon, this aspect can be used for declarations: "I've read about something like this…" Or it can be compelled to get her to spend time looking through a private library when she ought to be leaving before security catches up. (For some examples.)
When Kirsten was twelve, her grandfather died quietly in his sleep. For a month and a half, she lost herself in books, reading and re-reading everything in her grandfather's rambling old house, until she came upon an unlabeled tome, buried in the far corners of the attic. Within its aged covers she found descriptions of dark rituals… including one for recalling the spirits of the departed. The search for the needed components drove her into the darkest corners of Balcone, where she made deals with shadow cultists and worse. But, unlike many who have fallen prey to such dealings, Kirsten had read the tales of Faust and Suleman and Alhazred. And so, where others might have accidentally traded away their mind or will or soul, Kirsten offered rituals of power, blood sacrifices, and the like - and lost nothing of her own freedom.
By the time she was fifteen, she was known as The Shadow Witch, a figure of whispered fears and eldritch power. And yet, for all the cantrips and thaumaturgy she had amassed, she was little closer to her goal; the components had all been collected, but the knowledge she had acquired along the way told her that the ritual was flawed. She tried it anyway, and the backlash left an entire city block shattered by the fury of the unseen.
Phase two aspects:
The Shadow Witch: Kirsten's power as a thaumaturge focuses on shadows (note the lower case 's') and darkness. Most of the time this can be dismissed as mere tricks of the light, but when she works with powers, lights dim, and darkness dances around the edge of vision.
Those Who Dwell In Darkness: Kirsten has a knack for finding shadow cults, necromancers, undead, and other things that go bump in the night. Of course, any such entity will have its own agenda, and sometimes, those who dwell in darkness will instead seek out Kirsten...
Having exhausted the knowledge and resources available in Balcone, Kirsten hitched a ride with the next group of traders from the Nexus. She found it easy enough to establish new contacts, and soon had set herself up as an assistant librarian in Castle Barkelos, an ancient mansion on Astaria. Here, in a hidden room, she found new (to her) texts that addressed the secrets of death (and taxes, but those parts were boring.) Seeking further revelations, she took advantage of recent renovations to open a sealed section of the castle's catacombs... and inadvertently released an ancient vampire from its centuries-long slumber.
Phase three aspects:
(( to be determined ))