Spruce came from upper class parents – the only child of two fox-morphs. Keilah Spruce (nee O’Donnell) was a skilled seamstress and an even better dancer. She met Isaac Spruce in a pub while he visited on business. He visited more and more often. There were fights, there were recriminations. They took some wonderful vacations and bought the little country cottage.
Silver Spruce’s History
Keilah opened a local clothing store and did well for herself. A daughter came along, eight years in. Her childhood was split between their country estate and a beautiful house in the city. Summers in the tiny village of Caller’s Crossing where Keilah was originally from, the rest of the year in Dublin. Her father spent some time overseas, during which her mother had a health scare and lacked the resources to upkeep her house and get her necessary medicine.
Her family were Artificers, bred in the bone and gifted at that talent. They made objects, they made treasures, they made enchantments. She needed to save her mother. Walking the streets of their small village and the nearby town, the young woman sought out alchemists, asking after a cure or an indentured internship or both. Anything to help.
They all asked, “Why do you want to become an alchemist?” and she answered, and they shook their heads and kicked her out of their shops. When she asked what answer they would have given, the fox was told “The secret of eternal life. Now don’t come back.”
The same answer, every time, a brusque refusal.
Eventually, in tears, she confronted the regional guildmistress who then explained that this was a standard test of perseverence. If she had gone back to the same alchemist again and kept asking, she would have been considered. Spruce explained her lack of time, and even the guildmistress agreed that without being one of the locals it is unlikely an outsider would understand they had to sleep humbled on the doorstep.
Spruce countered the “outsider” label with a stern protest. In the mouth of the guildmistress, a rude yet necessary lecture on class structure and ingroups was simplified to “you ain’t one of us, but you can be one of mine”.
Early success aside, the fox woman faced further difficulty when a potion for her mother simply wouldn’t work. She lacks memory of why the potion suddenly changed, aging on her dresser, from murky purple to the bright white light it should be. But Keilah lived. It resolved itself, and Spruce learned a lot about alchemy during that summer, though she would forget some until much later, as she forgot why and how the potion was fixed.
At the age of sixteen – the day after her birthday, in fact – her parents divorced. There was never a satisfactory explanation given. They opted for joint custody. They made it work. They considered getting back together quite a few times. More fights, more crying, but Spruce never felt unloved.
At 18 she went to college and spent time with her father, on the west coast of America. But she always returned to Caller’s Crossing in summer. Graduating with her alchemy and potions certification from night classes, and a master’s in education 6 years later, Spruce finally left academia aged 24 and… promptly applied to a different university. Athene Magical College was set in the side of a hill. It had a rich history. It was part of a larger school that taught engineering and chemistry and there was even a medical school. It had a fledgling alchemy department. That was her way in.
When the fox first came to the school, she was overqualified for the assistant librarian position. After a number of contract arguments, the head librarian and the alchemy instructor were among the financial casualties. Spruce volunteered to take up the slack, and demonstrated her qualifications in a number of ever more difficult tests.
Now she works as the reference and research librarian at Athene Magical College, as well as teaching Introductory Alchemy and Basic Magical Methods.
On the one hand, the faculty rankled at a relative upstart with only a bachelor’s degree in magical fields being counted among them. On the other paw, she volunteers to do everything they hate doing – and does it well and quickly.