The Rider is less a member of the London Freehold, than a Boogeyman to it. There were many who didn't believe him to be a Changeling at all, until the bone crown of Autumn appeared above his head. Fatesfire has many a name, depending on his means of travel that night: sometimes a black horse, spouting gouts of flame from its mouth; sometimes a motorcycle, wreathed in fire; sometimes a horse-drawn funeral coach, clattering down the backstreets of London. He only appears at night, galloping across the city, spreading terror in his wake. The Horseman rarely stops in his endless pursuit, though pursuit of what, none can say. Some believe The Horseman is cursed never to rest, riding back and forth across the earth for all eternity. Others say that when The Horseman stops riding, its where a person is due to die.
But The Rider is a changeling, and a member of the Freehold, and like all Freehold members, he serves a valuable purpose. And that purpose is Fear. Not mindless, meaningless fear, no - when the Horseman comes from you, it means your doom is near. Not from the Horseman itself, though should it come for you, the best course is to run. But the Horseman can smell doom in the air, and those it chases are in mortal danger. Perhaps a changeling has let their enemies get too close, or perhaps the changeling's Keeper has caught wind of its former slave. The Rider is a herald, an omen of misfortune, but most of all, it is a warning. It warns of danger, but that danger can be averted, if the warning is heeded.
The trouble, of course, is that the Rider's warning is not always clear. Those who are chased know they are in danger, but they may have no idea why. The Rider is sometimes helpful, and sometimes not. He may leave an obvious clue: a foe's signature sword in a pool of blood, a compromising photograph nailed to the door with a knife. He may leave something ambiguous, like a lock of hair - who's is it? Is it someone to beware of, or to rescue? He may leave no clue whatsoever. Why he acts like this is another mystery. It is generally agreed on that The Horseman is not quite sane, and may be incapable of acting helpful. Perhaps he simply doesn't know the doom of some of the peoples it warns, merely sensing it and chasing it. Or perhaps he enjoys terror too much. Woe be to those who don't flee from The Rider when he comes for them - he's quite willing to drive the message home with a few scars.
The Rider has a few secrets of his own, of course. He is not motiveless, and sometimes the Horseman does indeed kill people himself. He may appear to others while on some other errand, though he does not chase them in such cases. Nor does he always chase victims to warn them. Sometimes its to terrify them and drive them into a course of action. The biggest secret is that "he" is actually a "she", an equestrian rider from the early 70s who was brutal towards her competition. Changed beyond recognition by her Durance, the brutality remains, but she now acts as an tireless sentinel against the workings of the Gentry.
The Horseman is actually quite small and fit, the body of a jockey, but when ridding down the road at night, her small stature is hardly noticeable. She never speaks above a whisper. Her garb varies; for a horse, riding pants and boots, a jockey's vest and a black cape; for a coach, a coachman's mantle, for a motorcycle, tight, black leather jackets and pants. She always wears gloves, and long sleeves, despite the weather - rain doesn't seem to touch her. Around her neck is an iron collar. Her head is pure black and transparent, like smoke floating in a room, and her eyes and mouth glow brightly with fire. Some less reliable souls have sworn that she can snap the collar from her neck and pull her head right off her shoulders, carrying it in one hand as she thunders through the night.
There are many rumors told about the Horseman among the fae of London, most of which are false or foolish. Three, however, have a grain of truth in them. The first is that the Horseman has entered into some manner of pact with hobs, or lives as king of some Hedge-lost thorn town. This is indeed true, as the Horseman's hollow -- a subterranean lair beneath an ancient, dead Hedge-tree -- nestles at the foot of Herne's Hill, itself occupied by a warren of nocturnal, burrow-dwelling Hobs. They care for the Horseman, currying her horses and bringing her food or furniture, and in exchange, she defends them. The second rumor, more outré, is that the Horseman is in possession of the Dawnspear, the legendary, fate-bound weapon of the Dawn Court. This too is true, and the curse of the Dawnspear explains much of why the Horseman is as mistrusted by the Freehold of New Jerusalem. Finally, the third rumor is that the highest courtiers of the Unseelie know how to contact the Horseman, and control her wanderings. This is half-true, as while some courtiers of the Unseelie do know which hobs can be entrusted with messages to the Horseman, control is entirely too strong a word. The most that they can ever do is to direct the Rider's attention in a certain direction. Often, this is enough.
Virtue: Just (Actions have consequences, you earn what you receive. The truly pure of heart have nothing to fear.) Vice: Greedy (The Maestro is always willing to up the ante and roll the dice again, no matter how high the stakes get; there's always ever so much more to gain.)
Marie Tempest is rarely referred to as anything but "The Maestro", and it is certain that Marie Tempest is not her real name. Little else is certain about her, including if she is changeling, hobgoblin, or even True Fey. She has a striking appearance, and terrible fashion sense. She's an average sized woman, with olive skin and feverish light brown eyes. Her shortish, brown-red hair looks like it's been struck by lightning several times. She wears hideous plaid vests, brightly colored dress shirts, and plain slacks and dress shoes. This is all topped off with a fur-trimmed coat that's covered in stitches. She has multiple piercings in her ears, with chains running between a few of them, and rings on every finger. A long, jagged scar runs across her nose and under her eyes, completely bisecting her face. She smokes an antique Calabash pipe.
The Maestro has her own wares, but the most well known attraction is her bizarre stage play and fun house at the London Goblin Market. On the outside, the place appears as a crude, if entertaining, sideshow, often run with shadow puppets or paper cutouts. Once inside, though, the true special effects come out, sometimes appearing more real than life. For most, the side show is just a way of letting off steam, or perhaps a deeper catharsis - visitors can get on stage and act out a fantasy of their own with no consequences or prying eyes. For those who ask, however, the Maestro is willing to play a gambling game within the theater, and the prizes to be won can be great indeed. Provided, of course, the player is willing to gamble something of equal value.
Like all things at the Market, however, the buyer should beware. When gambling, the Tempest likes to pit her opponent's vice against their virtue, and she doesn't like to lose. The line between reality and theater tends to blur when playing, and players should be very careful what they do when gambling. People who fail to take the game seriously, assuming that its simply an illusion, will quickly discover the consequences of their actions are not limited to the stage.
Rank: 3 Mental 3; Physical 5; Social 4 Willpower: 1 Wyrd: 5 Notable Powers: Sales Pitch, Make All Your Fantasies Come True, Unexpected Strength
Virtue: Just Vice: Resentful (The Púca insists upon due deference and respect -- fear is acceptable. Treat him appropriately, and he is gracious. Belittle him, and the Púca is quiet imaginative in the torments he constructs as vengeance.)
According to his business card (a slice of never-melting ice, with letters in gold), the Púca's name is Black Huiarnviu. He goes by 'Harvey,' however, and is familiar with the play. He is tall, with skin that was so pale it was like the finest alabaster, and short, black-brown hair that fail to conceal his long, black rabbit’s ears. His eyes are completely black, and they are hourglass-shaped, like a goat’s. He wears the clothing of a late 18th century courtier, a robin’s egg blue doublet with a ruff, and white stockings and blue knee-britches, and silver-buckled shoes. He has a heavy signet ring on one finger (the sigil taking the form of a wheel), and he has a sword strapped to his belt, a semi-transparent creation of crystal and cold. He has a harp, a small thing, of black wood and crystalline strings, that makes no sound when plucked. He speaks slowly, in a quiet, whispery voice that sends shivers up one's arm, choosing every word with care, and never using two where one will do.
The Púca appeared in London a few years ago, a companion of the Maestro. He is a cold, slow-speaking figure, a striking contrast to the Maestro's madcap frenzy. He claims to be a Púca, though whether he is some ancient, inhuman changeling, a particularly human-ish hobgoblin, or a True Fae cast out of Arcadia is anyone's guess. He says that he is a bard, a lore-keeper and story-teller. He gives his rank, if asked by a knowledgeable individual, as an Ollamh fili, a master-bard.
Beyond that, the Púca is infuriatingly mysterious. He seems to have no existence outside the goblin market at Picadilly Circus, save for the few times he and the Maestro are seen together. If he is indeed one of the Púca, then it seems probable that he is a master shapeshifter. Certainly is a master bard, capable of song so beautiful as to make angels weep (though never on his harp of crystal). He has a sword, and it seems likely he knows how to use it.
Primarily, what the Púca does is grant wishes. He is a man who makes dreams come true. He specializes in the traditional wishes. For fame, for love, for glory, for beauty, for wealth, for health. He can grant them, playing them true on his soundless harp of crystal. Of course, there's a catch. The Wyrd maintains balance, the Púca said, or else he refers to the Second Law of Thermodynamics (the one modern piece of science he approves of). For every wish the Wyrd grants, it takes something else in exchange. It's a Monkey's Paw approach to wishing -- wish for wealth, and receive millions in insurance when your husband dies, wish for love, and be afflicted with a ruinous disease, which lets you meet the nurse that you will love forever. If he likes you, the Púca will mention this catch. He doesn't have to, however.
Rank: 3 Mental 6; Physical 3; Social 3 Willpower: 1 Wyrd: 5 Notable Powers: Makes Your Wish Come True, Uncanny Knowledge
Type: Changeling Affiliation: Freehold of New Jerusalem Court: Autumn Entitlements: Mirror-Walker, The Honorable Order of the Third Hour (T.H.O.T.H.) Seeming: Darkling Kith: Tunnelgrub Born: 1980
Virtue: Helpful Vice: Short-Tempered
Background: Andrew Chiacchiaro was a weird kid. It wasn't that he meant to be, really. He just couldn't quite help it. He had weird interests (ballroom dancing, computer engineering, urban history), and he had weird parents (His dad was a professional artist from Italy, his mother was a librarian from Edinburgh), and he had weird hair (too long) and weird clothing (tie-dye designer shirts).
Andrew was never going to be a popular kid. Lanky, nerdy kids who do ballroom dancing rarely are. But neither was Andrew a complete outcast. He was smart, and he had a force of personality that made him seem not quite so weird once you got to know him. He had a wicked sense of humor and an inventive mind. It was a fun combination. The summer after Andrew graduated high school, it proved to be nearly fatal.
It was an old house on the corner of the small town in Middlesex that Andrew grew up in. It had been abandoned for years, decades really. And all the kids knew it was something strange, that the last family had died, or disappeared, or been eaten by... something... back before the War. No owners ever managed to live there after that, and nowadays it was owned by some bank that had forgotten about it. It was a draw. Everyone was curious about it. And Andrew decided that, before he left for college, he would see what it was all about.
So he got a flashlight, and made a lockpick (the internet was a wonderful thing, even back in the mid-90s), and broke in. He explored the house top to bottom, and he found the odd bloodstains on the attic ceiling, and the rustless knives in the kitchen, and the strange pit in the basement, a rope ladder leading down. Too curious for his own good, he climbed down the pit, and when he reached the bottom... someone cut the ladder down.
It would take three years for Andrew to find his way out.
The pit was connected to a tunnel network, tunnels full of earthen passages, where all there was to eat was fungus and insects, and all there was to drink was cold water from brackish pools. Andrew wandered through the tunnels, and his only company was the creature that was never very far, that ruined the tools he tried to make, that got him lost, that cut his ropes and whispered in his ear when he slept. Andrew changed, his Mediterranean skin turning green and dark, his eyes yellow and large. His hands grew adept at digging tunnels, his mouth at catching and eating the slippery little cave-lizards and the darting blind fish he sometimes found. He grew better at squeezing through the smallest holes. And one fine night, his shadowy pursuer slipped in and slashed his face open, so that Andrew would never stop smiling.
Squick only stayed as sane as he did by constant effort. He talked to himself. He sang songs to himself. He once spent a week drawing something on the wall, which the creature defaced while he slept. He made plans and schemes for how to get out. They never worked.
Then one day they did. Andrew doesn't even remember what clever trick he tried, but he did it, and he ran so quick that he lost his creature, and when he did that, he saw the light, and came out of a ditch just outside of Sheffield. He hadn't seen the sunlight for so long, he just lay there for hours.
Then he got up, thought about it for a while, and went to London. He could hide there, couldn't he? It was big enough. So he went there, and he settled in, one more Lost among many. He joined the Court of the Leaden Mirror, his experiences in the dark giving him an excellent appreciation for the art of fear. Slow terror, steady paranoia were Andrew's -- Squick's now -- endless companions. They were old friends, and he held them close and used them. He was good with computers, and some months of night school and a few pulled strings by the Unseelie got Squick a job with a big corporation as an IT specialist. No one expects IT guys to come out into the sun a lot.
There's a lot that a guy who's good with computers can find out, especially if he's also very good with locks and squeezing through small spaces like windows or air vents. So Squick's good with secrets. So good, in fact, that he's the Collector of Whispers for the local Unseelie Court. He's not a deep-cover spy, he doesn't break into St. Bartholomew-the-Great's when there's a Lancea et Sanctum ceremony going on. But he can pick up a lot of juicy little details. How's that wizard at paying his taxes? Where do that werewolf's kids go to school? Who's got little secrets stuffed into the back of their hard drive? And all the while, Squick can leave tiny hints and tiny notes behind for his victims, so that they always know that someone's watching them. Squick learned very well from his Keeper.
He hangs out in London Underground a lot, where he's managed to steal a forgotten access tunnel for his own private use. It's comfortably enough furnished, and stocked with enough canned food to see Squick through till after Doomsday. The Things that live down there mostly ignore him, and he may even be on speaking terms with a few of those hoary monsters. He still does ballroom dancing and urban exploration, and he's close friends with much of the rest of the Unseelie spy crew (particularly Hammond and Sergei, all of whom are now trying to explain the contemporary world to poor Horus). Recently, Squick's met Lydia, a lovely girl who shares his fondnesses, and who can sing as well as he can dance. He owes Erin and Lauren a lot right now. Getting Lydia to be accepted by his friends (her being a vampire) is proving a little tricky, though.
Type: Changeling Affiliation: Freehold of New Jerusalem Court: Winter Entitlements: Knight of the Utmost Silence, Knight of the Rose Seeming: Elemental Kith: Earthbones
Virtue: Helpful Vice: Gluttonous (Alcoholism)
Frau Heinzelmaul, like most of the Winter Court, doesn't like to talk about the past. Frau Heinzelmaul would prefer to talk about the now. As in, what is your problem right now, and how would you like her to fix it? More crude courtiers joke about Winter Court 'fixers' that involve poisoned knives, but that's not really Heinzelmaul's bag. Heinzelmaul takes all the cursed and dangerous stuff that crawls out of the Hedge, and she gets rid of it. Don't ask her how, she's not going to tell you. If she told you someone might get the stupid idea to go dig it back up.
She also vanishes changelings, every once in while. Not permanently - at least, not usually - but if you come to Heinzelmaul with the Gentry on your tail, she'll scuttle you away until it's safe to poke your head above ground. Of course, there are always rumors. Sometimes they don't come back, and Heinzelmaul's not about to start talking. Maybe they don't want to be found, maybe the Gentry got them, or maybe Heinzelmaul shoved them into a frozen river in the locked trunk of a car. But when the shadow of the True Fae grows near, rumors suddenly don't seem to matter that much. Heinzelmaul fixes things. If you have a problem, Heinzelmaul solves it. And she'll know when you have a problem, because no one comes to her for anything else.
It would be wrong to call her liked, but Heinzelmaul is comforting, which is almost better to one of the Lost. She's predictable. Always there, always sour and grumbly, as blunt as a rock and usually far too frank. And she's always, always willing to help clean up a mess, even if she chews you out for being stupid enough to get into it. The London changelings are very fond of her as a concept, although personally, most avoid dealing with her unless they have to. Heinzelmaul, as an elemental, doesn't really make friends. If anyone knew about the drinking, maybe they might do something. But then again, maybe they wouldn't.
In her human mask, Heinzelmaul is almost cartoonishly unpleasant to look at. She's in her mid-forties, and has a slightly squished face, with her eyes and ears looking too low. Her nose is rather large and long, and her mouth is large and expressive. Her lips are very, very thin, however, allowing her mouth to near vanish into a line when she frowns, which is often. Her teeth are at least good, but a bit crooked. Her hands are oversized, her body is pudgy and tubular, and she herself is rather short, though solid. Heinzelmaul wears a cloche hat with a miner's lantern attached, which she pulls down low over her eyes. Her hair is cut in a short mop that also covers her eyes, and is the grey color of black hair going white, though with an oddly blue tinge.
In her true seeming, most attempts at resembling humanity have been discarded, and she resembles a mole, or a kobold from myth. Her skin is blue and mottled, and her hair is also grey-blue. A short layer of blue-grey fur covers some of her body, and her hands now have heavy digging claws, which are sharp enough to worry some people. She wears a hedgespun coat with ice trimmed sleeves and collar, and has a skull motif around her accessories.
Heinzelmaul still speaks with a pronounced German accent, all of her V and F and W consonants all mixed up. One might wonder what the German lady is doing in England, and if you ask her, she will promptly tell you to shove off. Most people agree she came over with the Jack-of-Crows, whether there's any truth to it or not. Certainly the pair got along as well as Heinzelmaul got on with anyone, and now that he's stepped down she keeps on in her profession, steady and stolid as always.
Rank: 3 Mental 6; Physical 5; Social 1 Willpower: 1 Wyrd: 5 Notable Powers: Make Things Disappear, Tough as Nails, Trained Nurse
Type: Changeling Affiliation: Freehold of New Jerusalem Court: Autumn Entitlements: Knight of the Utmost Silence, College of the Tallowed Flame Seeming: Beast Kith: Riddleseeker/Roteater Born: 1984 (?)
Virtue: Pragmatic Vice: Curious Long-Term Aspiration: To fall in love
Curiosity killed the cat. What it did to the crow was a good deal worse.
Rook's memories can be likened to a decrepit house of mirrors. Some are broken and shattered into a thousand pieces, showing nothing more than shards of reflection, the meaning lost for all time. Some are bent, offering up warped and twisted images that hint at possibilities even as they confuse and confound. And somewhere inside the labyrinth is a single grain of truth, both lost between and guarded by the myriad mirrors.
Rook isn't certain what her real name is. She has vague memories of a father, a large man with a bristling black beard and a booming voice, dressed all in black. She doesn't remember a mother, though Rook remembers being among a great many other children. An orphanage, perhaps, and the 'father' was in fact a priest?
Rook remembers a graveyard nearby, though in her memories it is winter, and the headstones are covered with caps of snow. Rook thinks she was taken when she was fifteen or sixteen years old, as she was still young, but there was a boy involved. She ran out to the cemetery, hiding among the graves, though from whom she's not really sure. From her father? From the boy? There was a mausoleum in the back of the graveyard, and Rook remembers that the door was ajar. Curious, Rook pushed the door open, and it was there that the shadows took her.
Rook's Durance took place in a frozen necropolis of infinite size, stretching out as far as the eye could see. Rook nearly froze to death, until she learned to burrow under the snow, breaking into the graves and sleeping beside the dead. She learned to eat the frozen flesh of the corpses, and melt snow for drinking water. The dead gave her food and shelter, and they spoke to her. They asked her questions, and she learned to answer them. The dead don't think the way the living do, but Rook learned to solve their riddles and pay their tolls, and so she survived on dead flesh and dead minds.
Her escape, Rook remembers perfectly well. One day, another crow appeared in the graveyard as Rook sat down to feast upon the fresh graves. They bodies were still warm, beneath the snow, and out of some memory of etiquette, Rook offered the crow a place at the meal. The crow accepted. He introduced himself as One-for-Sorrow, and he asked Rook if she wanted to go home. The young woman who was no longer a young woman said yes, upon which the crow asked where was home? And this was a question that even the clever Rook couldn't answer. Not any more.
The crow with the mind of a man and the girl with the mind of a crow talked for a very long time. Hours passed, and they talked of philosophy and science, and of how Galileo's discovery applied to a world with inconstant stars. Days passed, and they talked of friends long gone, of schoolyard fights and vanished enemies, and of the uncertainty of memory. Weeks passed, and they shared secrets, frightful things they had learned among the dead.
Then, when the conversation had taken from full moon to full moon, the crow asked Rook if she wanted to go home. Rook said no. Then the old crow showed her the way out of Arcadia.
Rook came out of the thorns in Highgate Cemetery in 2003, with nothing but the tattered remains of a too-small schoolgirl's uniform on her, a human femur in her hands, and her most precious possession, a laminated ID card from St. Joseph's Catholic High School with the name Cordelia Corbin on it, along with a birthday, (February 19th, 1984) and a photograph. The curious thing? The smiling, round-cheeked blonde girl in the picture looks nothing like Rook.
Since she returned from the Thorns, Rook's made herself as much at home in London as she can. She's gotten herself a home (even if it is a rat's nest), a job (even if Rook has less paperwork than most illegal immigrants, and is paid appropriately), a place in the Freehold (as the person who makes inconvenient information go away), and a roommate (even if said roommate is a psychopathic faerie-vampire). In order:
Rook's home is a tiny apartment in Lambeth, in one of the large housing estates built after the Second World War reduced significant chunks of London to scenic rubble. A large block of minimum-rent flats located near the Waterloo Underground station, the apartment complex is mostly populated by students, new immigrants, and the slightly more successful class of drug dealer, lending it a distinctive ambiance of optimism and impoverishment. Ear-splitting techno-music and enticing scents of foreign cooking both flow through the paper-thin walls with ease, as do the occasional sounds of people being knifed or assaulted in the stairwells. Rook adores it with the utter irrationality of someone who hasn't quite grasped the concept that 'high crime rate' and 'no health service inspections' should concern her.
For her job, Rook works, if it may be called working, as an Assistant Medical Examiner at the Necrology department of Guy's Hospital. She received the job via her connections at the Unseelie Court, which smoothed over such small issues as the utter absence of paper-work or verifiable experience. While quite good with dead people, Rook is somewhat lacking in medical degrees. On the hospital records, Rook is a medical student working the mortuary night shift at Guy's, and is paid a student's stipend. She even had an internship up in Scotland for a while. She handles the least pleasant or interesting cases, establishing the cause of death for a long series of homeless drunks and unlucky accident victims, along with the odd murder or suicide that seems to be too odd to be entrusted to anyone who's reputation might actually be damaged by such things.
Regarding her place in the Freehold, Rook's quiet demeanor and inquisitive mind has led to her quickly acquiring a number of friends in the Unseelie of London. Well, perhaps not friends exactly. If you're blackmailing someone, they're your friend, yes? Or selling them information they can use to blackmail someone. Due to her job as an assistant medical examiner, Rook has the ability to cover up a lot of supernatural indiscretions, discreetly altering files or faking autopsies. This puts her in a position of considerable influence, as the Sun Banisher (the faerie who makes evidence go poof) is a very useful fae to know.
As for Rook's roommate, Cheshire? That is a story in and of itself. As always, dead people were involved.
Rook is a rather complicated individual, a neurotic bundle of contradictory drives and forces. When all are focused on a goal, Rook brings a laser-like level of attention to a topic. But when they start pulling in different directions, Rook tends to unravel in short order. Constancy is not one of her defining characteristics.
Rook's top-most drive is her magpie-like drive to acquire. It's a compulsion, to collect things and make them her own, to know a secret, to steal a key, to have something in her hands and know that it is unmistakably hers... this is what drives Rook from day to day. It's not quite greed and it's not quite curiosity, though it looks a great deal like both. It's a true compulsion, an instinctual desire to know and to have.
Interestingly, once she's actually gotten whatever it was Rook was looking for, the excitement fades. It's the hunt that interests her, not the final result. Most of what Rook hunts are secrets, though she's not terribly picky. Just little factoids to pick up and squirrel away in her memory-emptied mind, the importance of which are up to debate. Though this tendency to pick up random bits of information does go a long way towards allowing Rook to pass as a normal human, given that she's essentially a functioning amnesiac who's missing most of her past.
Beneath her corvid curiosity, Rook is driven by a need for order and for control. Rook is something of a philosophical neat-freak. She insists that the world accommodate her view, which is best summed up that people get what they deserve. Rook doesn't believe in a monolithic sense of good and evil, but she does believe in what might be called karma as a very real force. The guilty must be punished and the innocent rewarded.
When the world doesn't provide that sort of neat sense of action and consequence, Rook feels the need to take it upon herself and provide it. Rook's really rather manipulative, and she revels in the role of shadowy hand of fate. Most of the time, Rook dispenses a rather cruel, if occasionally ironic, form of cosmic vengeance upon the people she takes it upon to judge. But every so often, Rook meets someone who in her mind deserves better. Though it should be noted that Rook's definition of deserving bears precious little relation to Merriam-Webster's. These people receive the full attention of their own, slighty-demented guardian angel.
Both her curiosity and her desire for cosmic justice, however, are proxies to make up for the fact that Rook is a desperately lonely and insecure young woman, starved for even the smallest scrap of affection. A lonely childhood followed by a Durance of utter isolation has done a number on Rook's psyche, and for friendship, she would move mountains.
For love, Rook would shift the heavens themselves.
Affiliation: Freehold of New Jerusalem Court: Spring Entitlements: Legate of the Golden Wheel, Bonded Notary Seeming: Fairest Kith: Draconic/Sandharrowed
Virtue: Just (An eye for an eye. Every wrong and every betrayal needs to be met with proper retribution and judgment.) Vice: Resentful (Unpunished wrongs are unacceptable. Nobody is allowed to escape their deserved punishment, even if Donny has to enact it himself. Woe betide anyone that wrongs Donny. He will come after them and his vengeance will be thorough.)
Background:The ifrit whisked Donny away to the Citadel of Colored Glass, at the heart of one of Arcadia’s largest deserts. The Citadel serves as the only refuge for creatures traveling the desert, but it can also be a prison, for the Citadel itself is the realm’s Keeper.
Standing high above the endless dunes, the Citadel glitters in the oppressive Arcadian sunlight and lights up on its own during the deep Arcadian nights. It is renowned across Arcadia and the Hedge for its markets. Despite its remote location, the Citadel thrives on trade. Literally anything and everything can be bought or sold there for the right price -- and with enough persistence and willingness to navigate the labyrinth of negotiations, deals, and contracts that hold the Citadel together. Nothing is free in the Citadel, but a being willing to pay enough and find a seller can buy anything.
The Citadel does not allow inhabitants or travelers to enter or leave freely. Even for those humans delivered to the Citadel, their stay must be bought or they are cast out into the merciless desert. Simple necessities like food and water must be bargained for. Most humans become changelings when they begin dying of thirst because they have no choice but to barter away some of their humanity in exchange for something to eat and drink. Smart visitors negotiate their exit when (or sometimes before) they negotiate their entrance because leaving the Keeper does not allow people to leave lightly.
Two kinds of beings dwell in the Citadel: those who learn to negotiate and those who don’t. A changeling or goblin that picks up on the Citadel’s methods and works his way through the cutthroat maze of making deals can live comfortably, though even they can never rest if they want to maintain their status. Those that don’t are a miserable lot, barely able to barter for permission to stay in the Citadel. Most of these become servants of more powerful fae, and a large portion of these are taken to other Durances, often with more sinister Keepers looking for amusement. Still, even those that navigate the Citadel’s treacherous paths have been burned before. Nobody ascends in the Citadel without falling, and few are able to stay where they stand. Every perch is tenuous. Everyone else is trying to bargain for what you have, and very few things can truly be considered too sacred to give up.
Fortunately for Donny, he was a quick learner. He had some natural charm and quick-thinking that helped him figure out what he had to do -- but not until after he spent days as a parched and dehydrated shell -- even death, it seemed, was something you had to barter for. His rage at his father, his fury at being so horribly betrayed is what eventually kept him going. Though few things in the Citadel are too sacred to trade, those that are are worth keeping, and Donny refused to let his anger and drive for vengeance go. Over the next several years, Donny mastered how to climb the Citadel’s ladder, weave through the complex wheeling and dealing, and negotiate the best agreements and contracts he could find. He became ruthless, but in this world, one had to become ruthless. And finally, he negotiated his freedom on a goblin caravan leaving for the Hedge where it intersected with London. Because the Citadel’s being was built on negotiations and contracts, Donny’s Keeper had no choice but to let him go forever.
When Donny broke free from the Hedge, he did what many changelings did: tried to find his old life. Unlike most changelings, he found his life was easy to recover -- except for the fact that Britain presumed he’d been dead the past two years of Earth time. But no fetch had been left to take his place, and so he reclaimed his old identity.
His return brought the media to life. For the first week after he came back, headlines blazed with “Millionaire Murderer’s Son Makes Miraculous Return!” The buzz continued for about a month, but Donny tried to avoid it. It bothered him, not because it was a media craze, but because he wanted to hunt down and kill his father and learn what happened to his mother and sister. He turned down many interviews, claiming that he just wanted to find his family and settle down, and the memories were too painful to talk about. In reality, he needed the distractions to end.
Unfortunately, he learned his father had been convicted of murder and while in prison was brutally beaten and killed. Cheated of the one thing that kept him going in Arcadia, Donny swore he was going to turn his vengeance on the ifrit that cast him and his family into Arcadia.
Donny joined the Summer Court after a fateful visit at his old house. An older couple lived there, but they knew who Donny was and let him come in to revisit. While he stood in his old bedroom, two Summer Courtiers appeared and invited them to their cause. They said Donny, more than many, would understand the threat the Gentry and their minions presented, and that together, they could keep the Freehold and London protected. Donny agreed, finding the Summer Court’s anger toward the Gentry agreeable.
Eventually Donny settled in with his aunt and uncle to get his feet back underneath him. Though only two years had passed on Earth, several more had passed in Arcadia, and his extended family found Donny had changed. He was more suspicious, guarded. He tried to find the price in everything, and had difficulty accepting any charity, fearful of the strings attached. Even when he first moved in with his aunt and uncle, he tried to pay them with money and when that was refused, he did work for them, helping keep the house or making dinner unannounced. He had a debt and it had to be paid.
Donny learned that despite his trials and despite his goals, he had to try and go on with his life. His family encouraged it, his Summer friends pushed him toward it, so he got a GED and went to college a year after his escape. Meanwhile, he put his negotiating skill to good work for fellow changelings at the Goblin Markets. Compared to the rigors of the Citadel, the Markets were simple to navigate. Donny put what he learned in his Durance to good use and arranged many beneficial pledges and goods for some of the Summer Courtiers. Word began to spread that he was a cunning pledgesmith who “graduated” from the Citadel.
He got a bachelor’s degree in pre-law and went to work as an intern in a solicitor’s office while he attended law school. Again, his Durance proved useful to him and he earned his law degree without breaking a sweat. He passed the bar and quickly went to work as a solicitor and contract lawyer. Meanwhile, his reputation as a pledgesmith grew. While he went to school he negotiated hundreds of pledges between changelings, courts, and motleys. Though his status in the Summer Court didn’t expand much, his reputation across the London freehold did, with changelings of many courts coming to him for advice or to preside over their pledges.
Currently, Donny maintains his work as both a contract lawyer, solicitor, and Hedge lawyer. A few businesses keep him on retainer and his practice is gradually growing because of his effectiveness. He also serves as a lawyer for the supernaturally savvy, on permanent retainer to the Seelie Court where he serves as the Verdant Advocate, charged with keeping the Seelie out of legal trouble. He's an old loyalist of Alexandra Merill's, and has been exceedingly dubious about the reign of Aurora.
Affiliation: Freehold of New Jerusalem Court: Summer Entitlements: Knight of the Rose, Jeweled Attendant of the Dreaming World Seeming Ogre Kith: Leechfinger/Gristlegrinder
Virtue: Helpful (An easygoing nature combined with a powerful natural charm often means people treat you well. It may have left her slightly entitled, but it also left a feeling that most people were pretty good people. In the end, beneath a broken mind, a cruel streak and a fearsome appearance, Glenn is just a big dumb puppydog, always eager to help out.) Vice: Lazy (Glenn's an idiot. Thinking is just too hard. If you act dumb, people will give you the answers, so why bother to figure things out for yourself? Glenn can't really be bothered to form her own opinions, nor can she be bothered to stick up against things she thinks aren't right. It just leads to a tedious, stressful argument. She's probably wrong anyway, so why try?)
Background: Glenn Mitchell was born to a pair of middle-class, suburban parents in the late eighties. After this monumental occasion, nothing much more was expected of her.
Which is not to say she was a neglected child, far from it. Glenn was as loved as any child could hope for. But she was, by nature, not particularly curious or driven, and she was given little in the way of guidance or expectations to push her to be otherwise. Her natural talents languished, and her deficiencies settled into hard-wired habits. She studied, cribbed notes and cheated enough to maintain average marks, was good at track but couldn't put forth the effort to join the team, and had no direction in life beyond friends and boys. And she was somehow good with boys. Glenn had no particular interest in makeup and fashion, nor a terribly great mind, which quite annoyed those girls who did - but somehow her tomboyish behavior was attractive to the opposite sex. It boggled the mind of most the other girls at school.
It must have bemused her Keeper, as well, for she was taken away, dragged to the magnificent forests of Arcadia. There were other women there, proud and beautiful as Amazons, seductive, and deadly. The Huntress of Blood and Desire was the most terrible and beautiful of them all. They chased through the wood and sometimes the Hedge, falling upon whatever was unfortunate enough to be caught there. They would hunt wild beasts, attacking them bare-handed like the frenzied maenads, but the Huntress' favored prey was humans. Sometimes they would hunt them as they would beasts, more often they would lure them in with whispered words and half-promised kisses. Sometimes they would do both, reveling in the mixed feelings of desire and terror. Glenn was for once forced to hone her talents to survive, and she thrived. She got cunning. She got cruel. She got crazy.
And she got... bored. There was only so much lust and carnage one could handle before it all began to blur together. The other hunters, as vapid as she was, became incredibly boring to talk to. And any time anyone interesting came along, they were hunted down and killed. For perhaps the first time, Glenn craved something to stimulate her mind. She found it in the form of a series of strange pebbles she started to find lying around the wood, each one carved with a unique set of dots and bars. She never figured out their significance, but upon investigating, she did find who was leaving them - a hob, perhaps, or maybe even one of the Wizened. Giving chase, she easily caught it. Out of boredom, she asked it a question and let it go again, letting it run before bounding after it. She continued her little game, not noticing the forest growing thicker or the Hedge growing closer, until she found herself lost among the Thorns. In surprise, she dropped the hob, which darted off and she never saw it again.
It took her a very, very long time to get out. She mostly picked a path and stuck to it, walking in a straight line until she finally emerged in Scotland. The Glenn of the past likely would have had no idea what to do, but the glaistig that returned managed to track her old life down. She was quite surprised to find her Fetch at her parents' house, tending to it while they were out on vacation. Her Fetch was very surprised when Glenn chased it down and ripped it limb from limb.
The trouble with the real world is people tend to notice and object to murder. Glenn wasn't very subtle in killing her Fetch, and someone called the police. The Fetch, in one last bit of revenge against its murderer, stuck around for a while after death, leaving the changeling to flee as her double was taken into custody. It rapidly occurred that Glenn Mitchell was about to be declared dead, which would make living as her rather inconvenient.
When Glenn walked into the morgue, however, she was in for a bit of a surprise. She had easily made her way past the police, tricking them into thinking her a superior. But when she found her body, it was accompanied by a gaunt woman with feathered hair and pure black eyes - a changeling, just like herself. Glenn had barely considered the thought there would be others like her - there had been the other Huntresses, but this woman was so different from them in every way. It threw Glenn enough for a loop that she could not fool the changeling as she had the mortal police. Instead she put on her most lovely smile and all her charm, and asked the changeling please not to list Glenn Mitchell as dead.
It worked, but the acquaintance didn't end there. Rook -- in Scotland on a medical internship -- was the first of many changelings she met, but she was the first. Currently, Glenn is living with her in a rather dubious apartment in Lambeth, having taken up a mindless retail customer service job. She spends her days selling impractical jewelry and ironic t-shirts to angsty teens, and her nights either out enjoying herself or throwing Rook's junk out of the living room. She is marginally better at cooking than her roommate, which isn't saying much. Her nickname, Cheshire, was given to her by Ozzie in reference to her smile, and she likes it just fine. Her parents are dubious about the whole setup, but too polite and mild-mannered to say anything.
The most important thing to remember is that Glenn Mitchell is a killer. It is the most important thing to remember because it's so easy to forget.
Oftentimes, Glenn acts like a normal young woman. She's easy-going and relaxed around people, tomboyish and casual. She's certainly pretty enough to indulge in the flights of vanity that all people have, but for the most part she's grounded, aware of her failings, even sometimes self-depreciating. She's aware enough to know where others surpass her own talents - she's not prone to self-reflection in any capacity, but she has an instinctive awareness that lends itself to a good understanding of people. For the most part, she's friendly and non-confrontational, supportive of her friends and dismissive towards her enemies.
But the fact remains that Glenn Mitchell is a killer, a nightmare of lust and fear, a seductress and a hunter. In truth, she's a bit bored of violence and mindless pleasure, hence why she did not return as a serial killer. But instincts are hard to beat. She enjoys causing terror, she enjoys chasing down running prey, and she enjoys the feeling of sinking her teeth into things. She can be very scary, very evil, and very, very cruel. It seeps through, even in her daily life. Glenn Mitchell is not quite sane.
Type: Changeling Affiliation: Freehold of New Jerusalem Court: Spring Entitlements: The Honorable Order of the Third Hour (T.H.O.T.H.), Jeweled Attendant of the Dreaming World Seeming: Wizened Kith:
The Inventor gains the benefit of the 8-again rule on all Crafts or Science rolls to design, build, modify, or repair any sort of device or mechanism. By spending 1 Glamour, the changeling can add dice equal to their Wyrd to any of these rolls.
Virtue: Pragmatic (Voice of Sanity) Vice: Arrogant (Misunderstood Genius)
Background: The first truly vivid memory Robert had of growing up was the Blitz. Not the first one, when the Luftwaffe bombed London nearly daily. No, the second one, that started in late 1944, when the Nazis tossed hundreds of V-2 rockets across the south of England, killing thousands and destroying entire city blocks. On one of those city blocks was the house in Battersea where Robert and his family lived, and though they survived by virtue of being away when the bomb landed, it made an indelible impression on Robert.
The years after the war saw Robert go through school, and then the University, and then working for Saunders-Roe, an aerospace company centered on the Isle of Wight that helped build some of Britain's first rockets. He was a boffin, and he was proud of it. They used a little catalytic fuse that he helped design in the Black Knight rockets, which is quite likely Hammond's proudest achievement. Sure, it's just a fuse, but it's still rocket science! He was a UFO enthusiast back before it was common, he acted in local amateur theater, and he was married, to a charming young woman he met through the theater.
But good things come to an end, the British space programme never quite got the sort of support the Americans and the Soviets gave theirs, and in any case, Hammond wasn't around to see it. His Durance is a vague, uncertain blur in his mind, having something of the quality about it of a dream. He remembers huge, robotic insects with gleaming silvery mandibles cutting him out of some strange cocoon, then pushing him into the Mechanical Forest. Half some twisted nightmare factory filled with insectoid robots, half a forest inhabited by nothing but insects where all the trees and inhabitants are utterly mechanical, everything was composed of shining, jointed metal, colorful wires, and arcing electricity.
Hammond and the other stolen mortal boffins were put to work. They repaired, they maintained, they altered according to the whims of their insect-like masters. Sometimes they succeeded too well, and were taken away, and those never came back. Sometimes they failed, and were taken away, and returned with metal limbs that were better than what they had before. Hammond's skeleton is a thing of lightweight steel, and his fingers are sharp and mechanical and exquisitely precise.
It was a little like aerospace work, but it was more like art, every device unique, needing both intuition and intelligence to fix. Hammond was good at it, quickly learning the strange rhythms of the Mechanical Forest. He even grew to enjoy it, the work at least. But the rewards of success were too terrible, and there is little satisfaction in doing work when those around you are merely mechanical spiders incapable of appreciating what you did. Hammond tried to run away. He failed, was captured, and they put him back to work. He ran away again. This time they opened him up, and replaced his heart with a thing of cold steel, and a bit of his brain became a silver-white computer. And he ran away once more, and he crossed the jagged, metal junkyards, escaped the robotic spider-hounds, and he was free.
It had been decades since he was captured, the five years Hammond spent inside the Mechanical Forest stretched out to nearly forty. There was no question of going back to aerospace work. Technology had advanced so swiftly that Hammond scarce understood what was going on. Nor could he ever secure the sort of background and credentials necessary to clear the security checks. His own fetch was now an old man.
J. Ilkin Aylesworth got Hammond a job in the Indie film industry, working on special effects. Into this, Hammond settled nicely, for all that it was different from what he had once done. But the creative urge was powerful in Hammond, and he thrived, even if he does have a slightly unwholesome fondness for building giant robotic insects. Hammond, by the standards of the Faerie court of London, is really very sane. He keeps himself firmly grounded in the mortal world, lives in Battersea, still plays in amateur theater, and is in a long-term relationship with a nice woman named Megan Morton. This is probably because Hammond knows that if he ever lets himself go properly, he's going to start building giant robots with which to try and conquer London, and this would be a bad thing for everyone involved.
Professionally, Hammond is extremely easy to deal with... so long as one is willing to cede most artistic control to him. He knows what to do best, and everyone else (faerie monarchs, directors) had best get out of the way and quickly. He is willing to extend a level of respect to fellow craftsmen, provided he likes them. He's a perfectionist, and he has the typical Wizened work ethic that verges on workaholism. His artistic vision tends to lean somewhat to the horrific, however, but in the Autumn Court and the special effects industry, that's more of a feature than a bug.
In the context of the Freehold of New Jerusalem, Hammond serves as the Master of Machines, responsible for most of the technical work of the Unseelie. He's the one responsible for keeping the Unseelie's pet monstrosity in tune -- the Devourer, a twenty-foot-long mechanical centipede he created for an old movie -- and for the maintenance and repair of the Ebon Engine, the Unseelie's new headquarters-hollow.
Rank: 2 Mental 5; Physical 1; Social 3 Willpower: 1 Wyrd: 3 Notable Powers: Mad Inventor, 'Scarebones', Special Effects Master
Type: Changeling Affiliation: Freehold of New Jerusalem Court: Spring Entitlements: Jeweled Attendant of the Dreaming World Seeming: Fairest Kith: Incubus/Treasured
Virtue: Hopeful Vice: Gullible
Background: Marc is a decent guy in the terrible situation of being a changeling. He's a very handsome man with a faint reptilian grace. His eyes sparkle like twin sapphires and his hair is a shining, smooth gold that looks like strands spun from the metal itself. His figure is perfectly sculpted, though his frame has a somewhat unnatural look. It seems a little too perfect, like he was carved from stone itself.
And indeed he was. He was molded into a sexual creature of sapphire and flesh by his Keeper. Several times he was thrust into a block of pure corundum and carved out by Wizened artisans over and over until his Keeper was satisfied. Every time a new tweak was needed, he got thrust back into the block, sometimes left to sit for days at a time. His Keeper was a great dragon and considered Marc part of its hoard, so even when he was free, Marc was little more than a treasure trinket. He was often put on display or made to fight for the amusement of the Keeper and his guests.
Marc finally escaped Arcadia four years (Earth time) after he was abducted. Like most changelings, he tried to go home only to discover he'd been completely replaced and the life he once had was no longer his. And like most changelings, Marc had a hard time adjusting to the feelings of being no longer human and having no place where he thought he'd find one.
In came Ilkin, Marc's savior. Ilkin already had dealings with the Freehold of London and when he came across the unfortunate changeling, the Mage recognized the symptoms of a man who just found his way back from the Hedge. He took Marc under his wing and tried to help guide the changeling back to some sense of reconciliation. Ilkin did his best to help and eventually guided the draconic into the Spring Court.
This came at the cost of Marc becoming very attached to Ilkin. The changeling fell hopelessly in love with the man who helped put him back together after Arcadia. He attempted to use his Fairest charm on Ilkin and it worked, to an extent. The pair had a brief whirlwind romance that ended when Marc finally settled in and realized his affection toward Ilkin was more about hero worship than love.
Marc still holds nothing but respect for Ilkin, but usually manages to keep from following the mage around like a lost puppy whenever they're in the same area. Usually. As a changeling of Desire, he has pronounced Desire for Ilkin but tries to mitigate it with other things. He likes warm and fuzzy romance a lot and is one of the people Ilkin consults the most when he's doing a romance or a comedy movie.
Away from Ilkin, Marc is strong and confident. He's a beautiful, handsome draconic man in both his Mask and his Mien. He carries himself with a quiet majesty and a regal bearing. He's strong and muscled, though his body in his Mien is sculpted to look a lot more muscular than it really is. Like most Draconics and Fairest, Marc is outgoing, personable and very self-assured. He knows his way through most social situations and tends more toward physical pursuits than intellectual discussions. Fortunately he's just smart enough to fake it.
Ilkin and Marc are still friends and have maintained an Ensorcellment/Glamour pact for several years now. Recently, Ben's come in on the pact, so Marc spends time protecting the mages' dreams and ensorcelling their sight. In exchange, they provide him a valuable source of Glamour.
These days, Marcus serves the Seelie Court as a Sage Escort -- in essence, counselor and courtesan in equal parts, charged with healing the wounded souls of the Lost, especially those who have been abused and twisted by faerie lovers. He's a bit of a ditz, but he's also good at his job, if only because he doesn't have a malicious bone in his entire body.