Eva married her fiancée Jack in April of 1999. The very next month, she was back on the street assisting SWAT with a gang raid. During the firefight, she unknowingly killed a gentry’s favored loyalist servant. As she swept the building with her partner, something caught her eye in a side room. She went to look closer and was quickly lost in a smothering tangle of thorny vines. Unknown to her, a perfect copy rejoined her partner and continued the sweep. He never caught on.
The gentry styled himself after an old nobleman, riding swift, otherworldly steeds behind a baying pack of hellish dogs. He had recently lost a hound and knew of her skill through his dead servant. Though she would make an excellent replacement, he reasoned, she had also caused him irritation. So instead, he made her a vixen, the target of his moorland hunts.
She was not the only fox they hunted, but she was the only one who always got away. She got to know the keeper’s demesne to perfection, predicting how it would turn and change from day to day. She knew it even better than the keeper’s hounds, so that as they were but inches from her tail she would disappear through rotting logs and choking bramble. She also knew how the other foxes ran. In dire need, she would cross their paths and mire her scent in their own, letting the dogs chase someone else that day. Thus Eva became the White Wisp, her keeper’s most elusive prey. Her constant, creative evasion of his hunt thrilled her keeper, and he eagerly anticipated her next amazing escape. Or her demise at his table.
Her guile led her to the edge of the bramble one day, and she saw a gap where none should be. Curious, she padded through it into a tangled maze which tickled her memory. Thorns and ropey vines there were, and razor leaves too high to see overhung snaking, treacherous paths: “I know this place”, she thought. And in thinking, she remembered. “My name… my name is Evaline. And I have a husband! I have a husband!” This thought drove her harder than the baying of any pack. She dove through the thorn and weed, cutting her own path through the brush. All the while remembering his warm skin, the caring look of his face, the smell of his hair at night, the sound of his laughing voice at the cinema – every memory of him made her way more clear, until at last she burst into another world through a shining door of joy. She looked behind her, panting, as the thorns shrunk away behind a crawl space door. Then she was hit in the head with a string of beads.
Eva came back to the mortal world on February 24, 2004.
Eva quickly sought out her husband. She expected years of change, and could handle most of it: the new house, new car, unexpected love of gardening, and pet dog were OK. But she also saw an impostor. It was like the bastard keeper knew what would drag her from his moor, and had reached across all of Arcadia to deny her at last the embrace of her husband. She fell to sorrow at this defeat and welcomed the consolation of Winter Court. For a few months she was a Flowing Page of the court and proved quickly that she could gather supplies and information. She might have gone far in Winter, but for the fire in her. Eva’s thoughts turned away from sorrow and away from ice: she wanted revenge. She found quick acceptance with the courtiers of Summer and began working with them on a plan to destroy the last vestige of her keeper’s control while taking back the life they assured her she was owed. Though she changed courts, Eva did not abandon those who had sheltered and consoled her.
After a month of planning, Eva set her scheme in motion. Her fetch was in the NOPD Gang Unit and was said to never let a case go stale. To lure her out, Eva’s new Summer friends put on elaborate acts of pretend misdeed, inciting many reports of “gang violence” within her fetch’s precinct. A winter courtier on the force made sure the related cases fell to Eva’s fetch. Then, when the fetch had a solid lead, Eva sprung her trap. A normal investigation turned into an ambush. The fetch’s partner was knocked out, and then her fetch was made to duel Eva. Though they confiscated her weapons, she had a hidden knife which nearly won her the match. After a drawn-out fight, Eva drove her fetch to the ground and slit the thing’s throat with its own knife. Her fetch was no longer human, but a jumble of rotting wood and moss. Eva donned its torn uniform and checked into the hospital to recover from her own very real wounds.
After recovery, she lied and fabricated her way through a mandatory debriefing and counseling regimen, then resumed her role in the NOPD. Any differences in appearance were blamed on her recent trauma and hospital stay, and she remembered enough procedure to avoid any serious fumbles. Her husband noticed a difference early on, but refused to broach the subject for a full season.
Eva was now a much more valuable friend to have. Her successful handling of the “new gang” earned her a promotion to Patrol Sergeant, which was enough to let her tamper with evidence, manipulate paperwork, and otherwise protect her fellow changelings from the nuisance of police investigations. She could also make someone’s life a living hell. Her favors were gratis to Summer court, but she also favored Winter court with more lenient bargains and lower prices.
Jack Hillwood met Eva in '97 during a local shooting competition. They married in '99, but didn’t have children in the month before her replacement. From that moment on, she was barren. Her fetch said nothing about the supernatural world, and Eva never found out what – if anything – the puppet knew. Eva blamed her own sterility on an abdominal wound from the “gang fight” where she killed her fetch.
Jack was never a dumb man and noticed changes in Eva the day she disappeared. He convinced himself they were from his imagination over the five years of her durance, but when her demeanor changed again in '04, he was spooked. Had something happened at the precinct? Was someone in a gang blackmailing her? Was he simply insane? Jack worried and wondered for months. Eventually, Eva relented and explained how she had been replaced. Jack saw a bit of truth through his skepticism, and took her at her word. She showed him more through dreams, and he came to believe her fantastic story. Though not ensorcelled, he knows of her hidden society and does his best to avoid jealousy. Her promise of fidelity is reassuring, but he can’t help staring at her empty place on the sofa every time she misses dinner. For her part, Eva still tries to balance freehold responsibilities with home life.
¶ Marriage Vows
After going over her kidnapping, durance, and escape with Jack, Eva promised that she wouldn’t leave him again. No mortal promise, she invested her words in a Pledge which mimicked their marriage vows from five years prior. The Tasks of the pledge include a Greater Alliance between the two, as Eva believes is fitting for marriage; a Medial Task not to commit infidelity; and a special Medial Task on Eva’s part to spend time with Jack at least once a week, regardless of her other commitments. In return, they each gained some boons to make married life easier (esp. Adroitness bonuses to Empathy).
Eva and Jack live with two dogs, an older Black Mouth Cur named Rox who was Jack’s before Eva disappeared, and a year-old Jindo mix named Kaiya that Eva adopted after getting back. Eva sleeps far better when she knows they’re guarding her wood-and-metal den.
Hunting was always a big part of Jack’s life. He grew up near Jackson, Mississippi, where he learned to hunt squirrels and small game around age 10. Eva didn’t. She would join him for the camping and time spent together, but had no interest in the sport. Jack was rather surprised, then, when Eva brought in a rabbit one evening during a camping trip. Her new love of hunting was one of the many changes that led to his learning of her durance in Arcadia. Now the two regularly hunt together – he with his rifle, and she with her scoped pistol.
Eva doesn’t bring back all of her kills, though. One of the few times she stops pretending to be human is when she’s utterly alone in the deep woods. Raw game is a rare treat and she’s very careful that Jack doesn’t find out. The carcasses she does bring back are usually dressed by her husband, though it’s a skill she’s trying to learn. Especially large game is quickly dressed and chilled, to be brought to Beau’s butchery for proper preparation. Between the two of them (and her preference for wild meat over store-bought) Eva and Jack save a fair amount on groceries.
The other pastime she and Jack share is their morning run. It’s nothing special, but ensures they get at least an hour together every day, regardless of otherwise hectic schedules. They also run for charity when the season comes around.
On her own, Eva is a total MMA geek. She knows every fighter in the UFC and Bellator and follows their matches religiously, occasionally boring her husband. She regularly joins a small group of Summer and Spring courtiers to watch local bouts and relish in the raw edge of the audience and fighters. Eva also participates from time to time. Though she never wins and rarely advances very far, she does get to meet some very useful people and learn how to recognize wildly different fighting styles.
Summer Court routinely buys tickets to more mainstream events like boxing matches and football games. Eva attends with her fellow courtiers more for the camaraderie than anything else. Though boxing is what originally got her into MMA, it seems too scripted now, and football is just tame by comparison.
Joined the NOPD at age 22 in 1998 after graduating from the New Orleans Police Academy. She served there personally for only a year before being replaced by her fetch. Fortunately, her fetch maintained a stellar reputation as an officer and was promoted multiple times during the five years of Eva’s absence.
She had some difficulty integrating herself into her old job. Her five years in Arcadia meant there were a lot of memories she didn’t have, and not all of them could be blamed on the assault and hospital stay. Her demeanor had also changed. Where her fetch was meticulous and always followed regulations, Eva was more hot-headed and prone to cutting corners. She was formally reprimanded by her Lieutenant after ruining a pair of cases shortly after her return. In the first, she coerced testimony from a key witness, which made it inadmissable in court. In the second, she denied a perp’s access to their lawyer for a full hour while she threatened and interrogated him. That case never even made it to court. During an internal hearing, Eva apologized for her behavior, blaming it on the trauma of the previous assault, and acknowledged that it was inexcusable. They let her off without a demotion or other punishment, on the condition that she didn’t do it again. True to her word, she never ruined another case. It wasn’t long until she was promoted to Patrol Sergeant and given command of a squad of experienced officers within the Organized Crime Unit.
Off the clock, though, things were different. Local gangers learned how painful it was to cross her, and a boot to the throat encouraged more than a few “anonymous tips”. Her Lieutenant suspected she was playing vigilante after hours, but enough of the department was sour one way or another that it just didn’t matter. It was one thing if she screwed up a case, but otherwise it just wasn’t worth bothering.
There are a few cases which stand out for Eva, both professionally and personally.
Back in May of 1999, Eva was new on the force and showed a knack for OC. She was invited to ride with the SWAT team as they cleared out a Cosa Nostra stronghold in the Broadmoor neighborhood. They had surprise, but the Family went for guns and a firefight ensued.
William Amoret was a member of the Cosa Nostra family controlling Broadmoor and other parts of District 3. He was also a loyalist. When the Family needed someone to disappear, he was their cleaner of choice. The mark never reappeared, the cops never found out, and nobody had any idea how he did it. It was the perfect disguise for Willy as he dragged the cringing, crying men to his rendezvous in the hedge. He frowned sometimes, looking at the thorns in their skin and the blood seeping from countless cuts. “Better them than me,” he would mutter over beer.
Willy died during the firefight that day along with four of his fellows. His Master knew, of course, and was none too pleased with the presumptuous human who took away such a useful creature. So he tricked her and whisked her away to his Arcadian estate, first thinking to make her a hunting bitch, but then settling on making her his prey as punishment.
Eva didn’t find out the final outcome of the raid until years later. She and her partner cleared the rest of the building room by room, and one door opened into a withered garden. She stepped through to check the corners, and her fetch stepped back out in her place. After returning, she found out that two SWAT officers were sent to the hospital that day, but survived.
Eva wasn’t there for this one; it was one of her fetch’s great exploits. She’s learned about it from the case notes and hearsay after her return.
In 2002, the Devoto family of Cosa Nostra started getting attention in a big way. They wanted to expand their control and began provoking neighboring families into squabbles and turf fights. Then they started ordering hits, not just on other Cosa Nostra families, but also on a few businesses who refused their “protection”.
Everyone pays off the cops, but the bribes weren’t enough to avoid a real investigation this time. The hits were spilling, bringing violent deaths to nearby innocents, and the businesses in the area were starting to close or move out of the district, rather than face the Devotos. Ofcr Hillwood was sent to investigate a printing and copy store believed to be a front for the Devotos.
In questioning the store’s proprietor, she learned of a few regulars who recently quit coming to the shop. Tracking them down led her to an Agresta-controlled pub. After more tedious questioning and puzzle solving, it became apparent that the current situation was due to a disagreement between the Devoto and Agresta patriarchs.
The two families had been working together for 15 years. They had a profitable relationship, and their mutual nonagression helped put them near the top of the local dog pile in gang land. Earlier in 2003, Don Doriano Agresta passed away and leadership of the family moved to his son, Eustorgio (often Eustace in reports). The new Don Eustorgio Agresta never considered the Devotos to be equals. He broke the family’s alliance and began challenging their control to boost his own reputation.
These new details gave the gang unit all they needed to lure both families into false engagements where they were trapped and arrested. A few of these raids resulted in casualties on both sides, though far more gangers died than police. It took the better part of a year, but finally the two families were defanged. Their worst members were locked away and the remainder were left to the mercy of their rivals.
Ofcr Hillwood was given a commendation for so tenaciously gathering what would become vital information on both families. The act also helped solidify her reputation as a no-nonsense investigator, opening the doors for future promotions and better assignments.
In September 2004, officers in the wealthy Gentilly Terrace area started seeing homeless children. At first they suspected runaways due to the good clothes and American accents of the children, but then more and more showed up: 16 in all. The children were put in CPS custody for the duration of the investigation. By the time Eva was brought on board, CPS had filed a disturbing report on the mental health of the children. Not one of them could describe where they lived or who their parents were, and some even refused to give their own names. Human trafficking was a top suspicion and Eva started working on leads. That week, she and her partner delivered a warrant to a couple from that neighborhood on suspicion of drug possession. While searching their house, her partner found an amateur film studio in the basement. When he asked about it, the wife happily turned on the camera to show them some footage. The film showed in detail a sexual encounter between the husband and one of the children in CPS custody. He was 10. After tearing their jaws from the floor, they arrested the couple and confiscated more than a dozen DVDs of footage.
The footage featured more of the lost kids, but in different settings and with other adults. It became apparent that the children were being used in a low-profile child pornography ring, helping to pay for the drug habits of at least one involved couple. Worse, her own investigations turned up evidence of a new trod right in the middle of the distribution area.
While other officers rounded up members of the pornography ring house by house, Eva took a group of Summer and Autumn courtiers to the trod. Just inside, they found half a dozen spider-like hobgoblins. Strewn around their webs and in their mouths were gently lit impressions of the children, as though crafted from sagging stained glass. The spiders immediately tried to negotiate, but the courtiers were having none of it and killed off all six. One of the Autumn courtiers, Marc Bisset, identified the spiders as fate eaters. Their victims were cut off from fate, unable to remember key pieces of their old lives. They would also be forgotten by old friends, lovers, and acquaintances. If they could not establish a new fate for themselves, they would be forgotten by the world and very likely die of neglect.
Eva and the others gathered what fates remained, even partially, and traveled back to the mortal world. That night, the bluffed and sneaked past CPS and did a short ritual to rejoin the children to their fates. Only 10 were saved.
No one was sure if the trod was created according to some plan, or if it happened randomly. The spiders used it to ensnare their passing victims, and at least had the courtesy to dump them back in the mortal world. The house nearest the trod was bought during foreclosure by a Winter courtier who now tends the trod. The members of the pedo ring have been working their way through the courts, with all the hassle that entails. One is already serving a 20 year sentence.