Ephemeral Entities

The Lady of the Black Swan

Type: Spirit
Affiliation: The Guardians of the Veil
Rank: Lesser Jaggling (Rank 3)
Themes: Swans, Royal Law, The River Thames

Background: For centuries, if not millennia, swans have been renowned as birds of beauty, grace, and innocence. They were and are royal birds -- in Great Britain, by ancient law and tradition all swans not otherwise marked belong to the Crown, though it only enforces this claim on certain stretches of the Thames. The practice of Swan Upping, a ceremonial occasion when the Worshipful Company of Dyers and the Worshipful Company of Vintners carry out a census of the swans, has been going on for almost nine hundred years.

Swans are also huge, aggressive, bloody-minded birds with an almost eight foot wingspan and who can hit a man with their wings hard enough to break bone. So there's that too.

The Lady of the Black Swan is a river-spirit associated with the Thames who brings all of these myriad elements together in herself. The spirit claims a venerable antiquity for itself, and for centuries has been one of the right-hand spirits of the river hag Jenny Greenteeth. But wheels turn, and Jenny found herself on the wrong side of certain immortal sages and dangerous werewolves, and is presently withdrawn to the headwaters of the Thames where she can gather her powers and wait for her bindings to wear away (though it may take a century or two). In the meantime, the Lady of the Black Swan has emerged as the most potent of the Thames spirits, laying claim to all of the waters of London, and for some miles in either direction.

Of course, she doesn't claim it for herself. The Lady of the Black Swan, like any other unmarked swan, is the personal property of the Queen of England. As such, the Lady claims the Thames in trust for the Queen, and is merely the administrator of its waters and its spirit life. That the Queen (presumably) is unaware of this is a moot point.

Here's the thing. This is a very good thing, because if the Lady of the Black Swan were not bound to the British Monarchy, she would not be compelled to obey all the laws of the state. And if she were not enjoined from, say, murder, she would be a singularly deadly spirit. She spent at least a century as the lieutenant of a human-sacrifice-demanding river hag, after all.

But the Lady is so bound, and so she is forced to keep her behavior within sharp limits. Unbound, she would be a demon -- the Lady is not of necessity cruel or violent, but she places no value on human life, and is prickly and quick to anger if she feels her prerogatives are in the least way impinged upon. Worse, she chafes at her restrictions, and takes a malign pleasure at finding loopholes in the British legal structure that keeps her so bound -- ill-considered laws, misapplied laws, forgotten laws on the books from the days of Henry VIII, those are her stock in trade. So while the Lady of the Black Swan is not capable of simply tearing apart someone who offends her (or who happens to catch her eye), woe betide the hapless soul who falls afoul of the law or slips between the legal cracks.

Those who do manage to avoid her displeasure, obeying all laws and placating the whims of a mercurial swan princess, find her to be a sharp-tongued but strangely cheerful spirit. The Lady is optimistic by nature, and given sufficient respect can be magnanimous. She has a great respect for freedom and liberty, though she seeks it primarily for herself, secondarily for the other swan-spirits of the Thames, and for anyone else only a distant third. Still, if someone can meet her, avoid any verbal missteps, and make a case for aid that both appeals to the Lady of the Black Swan's fondness for freedom and violates no laws, that someone can gain a powerful ally.

In appearance, the Lady of the Black Swan is a perfectly demure, graceful soul, taking the form either of a beautiful human woman of slight build, wearing a cape of swan feathers, or else of a large, black mute swan, with markings like crowns upon its head and wings. There is something of the ballerina in the Lady's human appearance, really, courtesy of ten thousand performances of Swan Lake. She is often accompanied by lesser swan spirits, who take the form of mute and pretty girls, or smaller swans marked with her sigil.


Type: Spirit
Rank: Lesser Jaggling (Rank 3)
Themes: Hunger, Feline Mischief, Novelties and Amusement
Pack: The Catford Crew

Background: “In ancient times, cats were worshiped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” -- Terry Pratchett

As one of the most common domesticated pets, there are many cats in London, and thus there are a great many cat spirits to go with them. The spirit now called Devourer is a combination of many, a being born in the flat of a mentally troubled cat hoarder, from a swarm of cats who ate the near entirety of their master's income (until a neighbor called Animal Services). Devourer has soaked up Essence since then, steadily feeding off of pampered pets, vicious alley mongrels, and internet memes. The resulting spirit is a bit odd, though one could argue not so much more than any other cat. It shares the same sense of feline curiosity that might be expected from a cat spirit. What sets it apart is the hunger. The darkness that tainted its origin, both from master and pets, has left it fussy yet never satisfied. It wants better things, it wants new things, it wants the choicest bits to eat, and it always wants more.

But it's hard to get more without a few paws in the material world, and cats don't make the most focused servants. The alliance with Grandmother Fury (though she was much younger then) was one initiated by Devourer, who was looking for an unconventional partner, and found Florence was looking for one likewise. The pair didn't share many goals in common, but neither did their goals contradict, and more importantly they shared compatible temperaments. Florence had more than a little feline caution and attitude, which meant the two worked together well when furthering their goals. Devourer certainly didn't object to Florence's vision of being openly respected by humanity. Florence could handle Devourer's demands for novelty and foodstuffs.

The alliance has worked out exceptionally well for both of them. Devourer is a powerful spirit, Florence a formidable woman, and they both suit each other better than other Pure and other spirits. To be honest, the deal had been slightly tipped in Devourer's favor for a while - Grandmother Fury's grand work hadn't paid off until recently, which meant most of the Catford Crew's goals focused on appeasing their spirit totem. Her (relatively) recent breakthrough means the Crew is finally moving towards a new grand vision, but Florence has had a near lifetime of wrangling her totem to keep the Devourer happy.

Her most recent efforts in this direction have been recruiting Renfield, a somewhat insane local werewolf - not that this was difficult for Grandmother Fury to accomplish, given no one else wanted the man. Renfield and the Devourer have taken to each other exceedingly well, given they have a shared obsession: to eat, more and more, bigger and stronger. The Fire-Touched Penny Ash also runs something of a shrine dedicated to the Devourer, which keeps the spirit quite pleased. Fat on essence and offerings, Devourer remains quiescent and helpful so long as it is kept amused.

Beyond whatever mischief takes its fancies at the moment, Devourer is mainly concerned with finding new things to eat. It is, however, a fussy spirit. It wants new, special, unusual things, or powerful things - foods that are somehow significant. Failing that, it wants the best food possible. Offerings and valuable objects don't go amiss either, pretty things to appeal to the cat's vanity... though the Devourer is known to sometimes eat them, too.

Devourer appears as a jet black housecat, or possibly a swarm of such, that looks more like a cut in the fabric of the universe than an actual animal. It has burning orange eyes, and oddly enough never meows - any animal noises it makes sounds like the bark of a dog. When speaking, it has a warm, amused alto feminine voice, something like how a movie version of Bastet might sound.


Type: Spirit
Rank: Greater Gaffling (Rank 2)
Themes: Healing, Protection, Disruption of Black Magic
Pack: The Iron Soldiers
Incarnated: 1600s

Verbena has long been associated with divine and other supernatural forces, and has been a sacred plant since the days of the druids. The Romans called it Juno's Tears. The Christians called it Devil's Bane. Witches used it in their spellcasting and potions, while witch hunters used it to dispel enchantments. The spirit known as Irongrass sprung into being during the time of English witch trials, as both sides in the conflict called upon the herb's sacred powers. It was a powerful spirit back then, and it served both witches and witch hunters alike - it defended all who wore its flowers, and who sought to destroy black magic wherever it lay. Even those who knew nothing of spirits, who could not see their ally to thank her, fell under her protection.

But eventually the witch trials ended, the witch hunters stops their hunts, and the witches dwindled. Those who were left behind were more interested in magical seals and alchemy, not the simple herbs of folklore. Irongrass survived in Glastonbury for a long time, feeding off the Sodality of the Tor, a group of mages who still followed the older traditions. It wasn't great living compared to the years before, but it was enough. Irongrass endured, even as many spirits like her slowly dwindled and vanished.

It was only recently that Irongrass was forced to move to greener pastures. The Sodality of the Tor had been in a long, slow decline over the years, becoming more and more parochial as they clung to the past and yet failed to preserve it. Stonehenge fell victim to their negligence several decades back. Dartmoor saw itself taken over by demon-hounds bent on corrupting everything around them. Irongrass could see the writing on the wall well enough, but more so than that, the spirit left out of anger. It was dedicated to defending people against magic, and the apathy around it was too much for it bear.

It sought out London on the sole basis of its size, not knowing if there would would even be enough Essence to sustain it. When Oswin Sherrow found it, it was a weak and sickly thing, feeding off Ayurvedic Wellness centers and herbal tea shops. The fact that Oswin failed as a werewolf worked in both their favors, as his solution was to trot it back to Avinash Kaur Rana and attempt to find a solution to the spirit's problems. Avinash, her husband, and her companion Priya took a liking to the small spirit. There had been talk between the three werewolves of forming a pack, but of course, they didn't have a totem...

They grow Verbena in Bethnal Green, now, in little pots on the roof or on the windowsills. They still grow it for teas and herbal remedies, but they also grow it as a symbol. Those who grow verbena, those who wear the flowers, use it as a badge to support Avinash's cause. The flowers are a sign they know of the supernatural world, and are willing to defend their people from it. And Irongrass protects those who wear her badge, even as her appearance shifts to match her new community.

Irongrass stands a foot and a half tall, a dryad that slightly resembles the goddess Minerva. She has green skin and lavender flowers for hair, and wears a lavender helmet that covers the top half of her face. She doesn't have proper facial features, simply large eyes and a mouth that only appears when she speaks. Her appearance has changed to wearing a lavender sari instead of the robes she used to wear. She wields a spear that looks quite a bit like a stalk of verbena flowers.


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