Character Notes for Aislinn Rowntree

General

  • Aislinn's first husband, Murtagh, taught her some of his trade during the years they were married, and although she doesn't know enough to become a furrier herself, she knows how to lay snares, skin a dead animal without ruining the meat or the pelt, and handle a firearm. She's even a fairly decent shot where that last one is concerned even if she's only pointed a weapon at another human being once, and was unable to bring herself to pull the trigger.
  • When she was small, Aislinn's mother taught her to play an upright piano that the Carrolls had received in exchange for Cormac's services as a physician. It was sacrificed for firewood during a particularly harsh winter several years after her death, but Aislinn remembers the basics and some of the songs she learned to play.
  • Aislinn's religious beliefs are an unlikely marriage of Roman Catholicism and Celtic paganism — she believes in the existence of one eternal God and the eventual resurrection of the dead, but also in lesser entities native to her Irish homeland and it nature worshipers. To Aislinn, the ground and waters that receive the dead are holy; there is no aspect of the natural world that does not embody some kind of life-principal. Animals and plants have souls just as people do, meaning that all life is sacred and should not be taken without reason or respect. She pays special attention to Epona, protector of horses, donkeys and mules, in the hope that the deity will look kindly upon her husband's herd and livelihood.
  • Aislinn smokes and rolls her own cigarettes, which are made from a combination of tobacco and other plants, including mint and lemongrass, as well as non-herbs like rose petals or clover leaves. She has several different mixtures — most of which are medicinal, some of which are not.
  • Aislinn's medical background allows her to treat a variety of illnesses, injuries and other conditions with varying degrees of success. She has an interest in antiquated journals and texts dating back to the early nineteenth century and considers herself to be a lifelong student with no desire to stop learning about the most effective ways to heal the sick and the wounded. Folk medicine, however, is her specialty.
  • Her familiar, Hush, tends to prefer shapes that are diluted in colour. He commonly takes the form of an arctic fox, pale stag or a white raven, but adapts to Aislinn's mood or whatever her situation demands. He has a soft, effeminate voice that Aislinn has described as fog floating off still water.
  • Although she is by far not the best artist in Dornie, Aislinn enjoys drawing with charcoal and, when they're available, paints using watercolours. Her eye for detail and interest in anatomy lend additional realism to her work, which she keeps in a portfolio at her home rather than framing it for display. This art is personal; she does not usually show it to anyone except family and close friends.
  • No one wants to die, Aislinn included, but there is something about the idea of drowning that paralyzes her with fear despite her love of the water. It is a central theme in many of her nightmares, and she refuses to set foot on a boat without her wren feather talisman. She insists Edmund do the same when he goes out on the loch.
  • Aislinn views make-up as an unnecessary indulgence and does not wear it. This is not to say that she doesn't care about her personal appearance — she brushes her hair every morning and night, bathes regularly, treats her skin with beeswax-based creams, and keeps her nails trimmed. She prefers scented water infused with flowers to more potent perfumes.
  • As the mother of two young boys, Aislinn has tended to her fair share of injured or abandoned wildlife brought home by her children. Not all of her patients have survived — those that did were all eventually released back into the wild after their rehabilitation, and on this point she is firm. As tempting as it may be to keep a fox for a pet after raising it from a cub, wild animals belong in the wild.
  • Aislinn is dyslexic, which affects her ability to read. She is not unable to, but she processes it much slower than most people, and has difficulty spelling words. It takes her a very long time to get through the medical journals and texts she's so fond of, and then she has to read them several more times before she fully comprehends the material. While not a reflection of her intelligence, it is nevertheless embarrassing and she avoids situations where this might become obvious to other people.
  • Aislinn speaks both English and Irish. She prefers Irish.
  • Both of Aislinn's parents were relatively conservative people, and starting from puberty she was raised to dress in clothes that covered her arms and legs. This is a behaviour that has carried into adulthood; out in public, Aislinn wears dresses or long skirts with wool stockings underneath, especially in the winter, and sweaters or cardigans paired with flat-soled leather boots that lace up. Shawls, lambskin gloves and heavy coats are also core components of her wardrobe. When in the privacy of her own home, she is a little more relaxed and has fewer reservations about exposing her skin. It's not that she is particularly prude or concerned with propriety (she isn't), but rather it's just something her parents, particularly her father, brought her up to be conscious of.
  • Her favourite animal is the otter.
  • Aislinn's name is pronounced Ash-ling. Her horse's name, Toirneach, is pronounced Teer-nahcht, and means thunder in her native Irish, which she chose for the sound of hooves.

Hooks

  • Aislinn is Dornie's resident physician and visits her patients in the comfort of their own homes. Characters who are sick or hurt can call on her for assistance — she helps manage chronic illnesses and occasionally delivers babies as well when midwives aren't available or someone requests her specifically to do it. She operates a small, hole-in-the-wall apothecary with no sign that is incredibly difficult to find if you don't know where to look. Most people in Dornie do.

Relationships

  • Edmund Rowntree: Aislinn was given to Edmund as a gift by his brother, Duncan, and although she was initially afraid of him, it did not take her very long to recognize that he and Duncan were very different people. He arranged for her son to work for him as a stablehand instead of polishing shell casings at the ammunitions factory, provided them both with shelter, and married her a short time later. When she attempted to consummate the marriage, Edmund sensed that she was doing it out of a sense of obligation rather than desire and refused her, opening a rift that would take several months and a brush with death to close, but that was seven years ago. Edmund — or Eamonn, as she calls him — is now the father of her six-year-old son, Ariel, and the person she trusts most in the world.
  • Cordelia Ross: Cordelia is Edmund's niece, and Aislinn's assistant. Her desire to dedicate her life to bettering those belonging to other people is something they both have in common; although she knows that Goneril intends to frighten Cordelia away from her line of work by allowing her to help, she's made a point not to shelter the girl from anything unless it puts her in physical danger. She agrees Cordelia should be aware of what she's committing to, but has faith that she's stronger than her mother gives her credit for.
  • Jain MacCruimein: If Aislinn had to pick the one person in Dornie that she's truly afraid of, it would be Jain, in part because she has looked into his soul with her magic and seen what resides there, but also because he has told her that he'll murder Colm if she tells anyone what he is. Jain was present during the militia's raid on Rannoch, and was the sword responsible for killing her infant daughter when Duncan forced her to choose between her children. She does not doubt that he'll follow through with his threat.
  • Goneril Ross: Aislinn senses that Goneril's ambition is dangerous, but this makes her more concerned for Goneril's well-being than anyone around the other woman. She worries her desires will get her into trouble one day, and when they do the situation may be so far beyond their control that not even Duncan and Edmund will be able to help her, so when opportunities to guide her in a different direction than the one she's set on steering herself toward arise, Aislinn makes every attempt to take them by gently nudging her elsewhere. Although they are friends, they are not particularly close.
  • Jørn Wartooth: Jørn and Aislinn come from different cultures, but their belief systems have core things in common; he is the only other man she speaks openly with about her spirituality, apart from her husband. When Jørn's associates left him for dead in Dornie, it was Aislinn that Edgar Ross brought in to treat his wounds, and although the mercenary had a fierce reputation and soul to match, her magic allowed her to see that, like Edmund, he possessed a gentler side as well. She calls him a friend and does not worry much for her apprentice as long as Cordelia is under his care.