Type: Changeling Affiliation: Freehold of New Jerusalem Court: Dominic Entitlements: Mirror-Walker, Knight of the Rose Seeming: Beast Kith: Cleareyes/Oracle Born:
Virtue: Loyal Vice: Violent
Background: Do you love me? Do you love your hound?
"You are the best, seriously."
Then come with me. I will show you what it is like to be one of us.
When Dominic was five, his parents bought him a pet: A wolfdog pup. It was a tiny, playful ball of fur and teeth at first, but within a year, it was bigger than Dominic. The boy and his wolf led a happy life, playing in the yard, going on walks, and just spending time together.
Like many children, Dominic swore his pet could talk to him. Unlike many children, Dominic's pet did. It whispered to him when they were alone, told him of the joys that came with being a wolf, the thrill of the hunt, the glory of the capture. Dominic's parents smiled and laughed, and as Dominic and his pet grew older the boy learned to keep quiet about talking to his wolfdog. For some reason, people did not appreciate that as much by the time one turned ten. But the wolfdog and Dominic had many conversations. The hound was Dominic's confidant and best friend.
High school arrived and Dominic started off like any normal boy. He got his first girlfriend and fell head over heels in love. Then she broke his heart. Like most shattered by their first loves, Dominic descended into melancholy. Only the wolfdog kept him company. Only the wolfdog reassured him everything would be okay. Only the wolfdog told Dominic of a place he could go where his heart would never be broken again...
...And Dominic went off with his only friend in the world.
The next ten years, Dominic lived with his wolf, with his other wolf friends. He became a wolf and hunted with them. He hunted the Huntress's prey, he tracked down the Huntress's prisoners. His Huntress rewarded him greatly for a job well done.
Then she came. Dominic couldn't tell if she was the same girl. But the color of her hair, the smell she left in her wake, the sound of her laugh. Dominic fell in love all over again. And when she escaped, she took him with her.
Ten years passed in Arcadia, but only one went by on Earth. The other Dominic was only sixteen. He'd gotten over his melancholy and was doing well in school again. But the original Dominic was older, different, confused. She disappeared when they left the Huntress's forest, and he has not been able to find her since...
Since returning to Earth, Dominic has begun using the one skill he knows best: Hunting. He fell in with Peregrine, a Mage and private investigator. Dominic is something Peregrine needed. The changeling is much more even-tempered and can find things Peregrine can't.
He has joined the Summer Court at the invitation of Dana the Tall. She heard of his skill at hunting, and recruited him to be part of the Hound Tribunal, an elite group of trackers that dealt with Freehold threats. He serves her now as the Constable of Calefaction, charged with seeking out those who would break the laws of the Freehold. Dominic is not particularly angry, but he has little tolerance for betrayal of friendship, pack, or community. Friends and loyalty kept him going even when the Huntress punished him brutally. His fellow wolves were always there to pick him up when he was at his worst. Woe betide anyone that threatens the Freehold or those close to Dominic.
And through it all, he's still looking for her. Someone cared enough about him to lead him away from the Huntress, back to reality. He wants to know who she is, why she helped him. Sometimes she still haunts his dreams, staying just ahead of him as she guides him through the nightmare, back to the world.
Rank: 2 Mental 3; Physical 4; Social 2 Willpower: 1 Wyrd: 3 Notable Powers: Hunting Hound and Private Eye
Personality: Light-in-Darkness burns with the fire of life and passion. A furnace burns in his core that keeps him alive and full of energy. He is passionate, intuitive, creative, and inspiring. He's alert, athletic, active, and ardent.
Light-in-Darkness does not do anything halfway. When he gets started on a path, he follows it to its finish, and he puts his all into it. Anything worth doing is worth doing well and with all your heart, so when he puts his mind to something, every action shows his passion and dedication to the job.
The Fireheart typically comes across as very intense. He works hard and plays hard. Though he can contain himself enough to function in human society, most people can sense the fire burning behind his eyes. He used to be much more manic and outwardly energetic. Now, he simply brims with fire just below the surface. He's learned, partly through Bo's teaching and partly through his own practice to call on it when it's needed. When he summons it forth, he can use that passion and intensity to inspire people around him, something he takes great delight in doing.
Needless to say, Light-in-Darkness is an optimist. It is hard not to be when one is a Dawn Courtier. He truly, deeply believes that the world will change for the better, for the Lost, for mortals, for everyone. He believes he can bring that change, one step at a time, and nothing can burn out that fire.
Bo and Light-in-Darkness have a powerful symbiosis. Bo has been a mentor and friend to the Fireheart for years. Light-in-Darkness reminds Bo of his own passion for life. The changeling continually rekindles Bo's drive to explore, experience, and learn. In exchange, Bo tempers the changeling's passion and energy, and provides an avenue of focus. He helps Light-in-Darkness channel himself to worthwhile pursuits instead of spreading himself too thin and burning out.
Light-in-Darkness is part of the Seelie Court, and most of those who know him only casually assume him to be arrayed with Summer, given that he works for Dana the Tall as a warrior and Crimson Knight when the situation calls for it.
Type Changeling Seeming: Elemental Kith: Fireheart
Type: Changeling Affiliation: Freehold of New Jerusalem Court: Summer Entitlements: Magistrate of Wax, Legate of the Golden Wheel Seeming: Wizened Kith: Chatelaine Born: 1937 Apparent Age: Late twenties/Early thirties
Virtue: Code of Behavior (Superficially, Miss Bell is the very model of the early ‘60’s working woman: professional, decorous, minimally emotional, and very careful not to do anything controversial. It’s mildly disturbing, actually.) Vice: Violent (I said “superficially.” Under the skin, Miss Bell is a seething cauldron of stunted ambition, repressed passions, unspoken opinions, and just plain anger. Sometimes, this anger expresses itself rather more directly than is convenient. In these circumstances, Miss Bell is an extremely scary woman.)
Background: Evie Shaw grew up Georgia royalty. Her father owned more tobacco-growing land than a few South American countries, her mother was a fixture on the local social circuit, and Evie herself was a pampered only child. Evie hated it. A vigorous, willful high-schooler, too passionate for the strictures of upper-class Southern girlhood, she resolved to get out of Dodge as fast as humanly possible. While not necessarily much brighter than her peers, she poured every ounce of willpower into her studies starting her Junior year – applying for a scholarship program at Scripps, a women’s college in the L.A. area, without her parents’ knowledge. Her work – and her pedigree – payed off. Seeing donations in their future, the admissions officers let her in. The night after her high school graduation, she packed her luggage into her brand-new Studebaker and started West, with her parents none the wiser. There were a number of rather dramatic phone calls over the next few weeks, needless to say.
College was fantastic. College was progressive, and liberal, and freeing. A lot of the students were there to find husbands, from one of the other schools in the area. Evie was there to cram for her sociology degree, and debate with labor activists and poets, and to play shortstop in an all-women’s club softball team that the city tried to shut down. She was having the time of her life.
And then she graduated, and it turned out nobody really wanted a woman sociologist, thank you, but as it happens they were hiring for the secretarial pool just at present. After months of searching for a spiritually challenging position, Miss Shaw bit the bullet and took a low-level clerical job. Which turned into a string of low-level clerical jobs, since Miss Shaw’s sheer, insouciant driven-ness tended to rub management the wrong way. Finally, after being slapped on the ass by her second supervisor in a row, Miss Shaw stormed out of her latest office in protest, and grabbed the classified section of the paper from the first newsstand she could find. And, if there is anything you should have learned from Underwood’s story, it is that answering the World of Darkness’s classified ads while angry is a patently horrible decision.
So, the thing about The Firm is, it’s an office. And offices have to have front doors. Thus, The Firm does too – they’re nearly impossible for most employees to find, but there you go. There’s a comparatively nice lobby, with couches, anemic-looking plants, and everything. There’s also a desk, at which a receptionist does all of the mind-numbing things a receptionist usually does. However. The Firm’s front doors open out into the rest of Arcadia, and thus, not all of The Firm’s visitors are particularly friendly. Accordingly, it is also the Receptionist’s job to subdue said unfriendly visitors. A company-brand baton is issued for this purpose. Note that it is strictly against policy for Reception Area personnel to exit the building on company time; all violations will be taken up with Human Resources.
Needless to say, a couple decades spent within twenty yards of an obvious escape route – with only interoffice calls and bashing hobgoblin invaders into marmalade to distract you from how forbidden actually escaping is – tends to do a number on the old psyche. On the plus side, Miss Shaw got into fantastic shape. On the minus side, she finally snapped and attempted to run for it (again) in 1988. She almost got all the way to the door, this time.
As this was her third offense, H.R. thought it best to arrange a transfer. After an insufficiently short visit to The Firm’s fabrication laboratory, Miss Bell was relocated to the Switchboard Room. Cramped, dark, locked tight and filled to the ceiling with wires, it was well away from the lobby. And, following the previous occupant’s suicide, there was an opening there for a new Operator.
Miss Bell held this position for nineteen years, after which she finally made a successful escape attempt. More on this later. She emerged from the Hedge along with Xerox in 2004, and spent the next few years in Manchester, although she did return at least once to the United States. Manchester didn't quite work out for a number of complicated and awkward reasons, and so in the winter of 2008-2009, she and Xerox moved to London.
Once here, it turned out that the Unseelie Court (itself something new to Miss Bell, given that Manchester had four seasonal courts, not Seelie and Unseelie) was in desperate need of a secretary. The previous Unseelie King, the Jack-of-Crows, tended towards a management style that consisted of grabbing a nearby changeling and threatening them till things happened, while Todd acted as though allergic to paperwork. This did not make for smooth governance. So Miss Bell ended up half-taking over, writing down memos, keeping the Unseelie Courtiers in contact with one another, and formally recording all pledges. She has a surprising amount of power and influence given how little time she's been in London.... or she would, if part of the 'employment' agreement hadn't been a very long and very thorough pledge with Todd White that rather sharply limited the opportunities for any kind of profiteering. The Winter King's lazy, he's not stupid. What Miss Bell thinks of this has not yet been determined.
The happy, gung-ho college girl of 1959 is still under there, somewhere – but it’s been buried under four decades of conditioning. Evelyn Shaw’s progressive social views and never-say-die spirit didn’t fit with The Firm’s mid-century image of receptionist, operator, and company woman; accordingly, The Board made damn sure that she never got a chance to act on those impulses. Ever. And it worked, mostly. Talking to Miss Bell is something like talking to an on-duty telemarketer, all the more so because she never seems to “turn off.” She is professional, reserved, and scrupulously polite – and always the tiniest bit stilted, as if she’s reading from a script while her boss is looking over her shoulder. She barely ever shows strong emotions, and even when she’s socializing, it’s like meeting a ‘60’s housewife at an office party: small talk and smiles, but a certain artificiality, as well. This is what happens when all of your conversations include “how may I direct your call?” for forty-something years.
Needless to say, Miss Bell is a phenomenally repressed individual. At present, one of her only outlets is when something needs subduing…at which point she is a silent, steely, expressionless wad of aggravated assault holding a blunt instrument. This may not be the most psychologically healthy way to let off steam.
She also plays league softball, though. So, you know, there’s that.
Miss Bell customarily speaks with a perfect, radio-quality Mid-American accent, the product of years of enforced practice. When – if – her surface ever cracks, some of the old Georgia tones might creep through for a moment.
A cream-and-honey complexioned strawberry blonde, Miss Bell has hazel eyes and looks to be about in her late twenties. This being 2007, Miss Bell can’t get away with the huger, spray-heavy hairstyles of the early ‘60’s, but some of the more conservative styles still work well for her – usually something in the bob category. Here’s a good example. Note that Miss Bell is perfectly coiffed at all times. Physically, Miss Bell, in a word, is statuesque. A little taller than average (5’9”-ish), well-stacked, and with all the best kind of curves, she still manages to be very well-toned and in generally excellent shape – though this last is not an immediately obvious fact, given how she dresses. The general idea here is “Athena as war-goddess.” Her face is drop-dead beautiful as well, clear-featured and aristocratic, but impassive enough to be a little off-putting. Miss Bell is not overly given to displays of emotion. In her dress, she gets as close as she can get to slimline, form-hugging ‘60’s-era work dresses or blouse-skirt combos, most often along the lines of these here. Usually prefers strong pastels, but rarely any truly bold colors. Heels are a must as well. It’s sometimes difficult for her to cobble together a serviceable equivalent to this kind of getup using modern fashions, but she does her best – still, even more so than Underwood, she looks a bit dated, and rarely dresses down. Barely ever seen in pants, but rumored to look spectacular in a bikini. Matching necklace and earrings at all times: usually pearl, sometimes gold. Matching handbag in whatever color her dress is, filled with the requisite personal items. Not-quite-as-matching vintage 1961 Rawlings Adirondack brand softball bat. Blond hardwood; heavily used. For when Miss Bell is working.
When she is accepting phone calls, Miss Bell also wears a Bluetooth headset on one ear: it’s more modern than she’s accustomed to, but it means the mortals don’t freak out when they see her “talking to herself”.
Beneath the Mask, Miss Bell resembles a plastic store mannequin, carefully rendered to look as attractive as possible without actually displaying anything that might be deemed too offensive. Her skin looks just a little off, to the point that it's obviously plastic and fake, but it's hard to pin down in description why. Her hair is likewise just a little off, somehow resembling a wig despite the fact it is clearly growing from her head. The area that constitutes her torso -- that is, from her shoulders down to her hipbones -- is an exquisitely styled, inlayed, old-fashioned rotary phone. The rotary begins at the bottom of her sternum and ends where her navel should have been, the receiver makes up her shoulders, and the metal and wood make up her ribs and the rest of her torso. An observer might note that this makes the phone effectively useless, since to use it Bell would have to remove her head. The bits of phone are connected to the rest of her body via thick metal ball-bearings, which allow her the expected range of movement while still making her look like someone's fine art project.
Miss Bell can place and receive calls with only a slight mental effort: she dials the proper number or hears the ringing in her head, and she hears the other caller’s voice in her head. She does need to speak her end of the conversation out loud, however.
Rank: 2 Mental 3; Physical 3; Social 3 Willpower: 1 Wyrd: 3 Notable Powers: Efficient Secretary; Southern Courtesy; Baseball Bat
Type: Changeling Affiliation: Freehold of New Jerusalem Court: Winter Entitlements: Mirror-Walker Seeming Darkling Kith: Mirrorskin Born: 1967 Apparent Age: Early twenties
Virtue: Courageous (There is nothing you can do to Xerox that hasn’t been done to him already. Intimidation, emotional blackmail, and even a lot of physical violence will be met with an eye-roll and a caustic remark. And when he’s really invested in something – I mean really invested – nothing whatsoever will dissuade him from it.) Vice: Lazy (Then again, Xerox is really invested in being an utterly unambitious waste of couch. It’s funny, but the guy may well be one of the most resolute layabouts in existence: it’s like he has a point to prove.)
Background: Phan Tuan Hung was still in the womb when his parents emigrated. Sensing trouble during the ramp-up of American troops in Vietnam, his father decided to get out while he still could, hopping a plane to Manchester with his wife: he had an older sister there, a medical technician that was willing to go in on an apartment. The Phans were middle-class back home: both fluent in English and French, and with dad holding a mid-level managerial position at a garment factory outside of Saigon. Their new home offered limited opportunities for recent immigrants, but it did have plenty of textile mills. Hung’s father got a job on the factory floor, and worked his way back up to foreman – and working-class respectability – within the space of a few years.
Hung (Dave, when he wasn’t at home) grew up a nice enough kid, quiet but very bright: a dedicated, unprepossessing student across the board, and a reasonably skilled athlete on the junior track team. His friends were friendly, his family was living the brighter side of the immigrant dream, and university was beckoning on the horizon. All was right with the world.
And then, it wasn’t. In 1982, Thatcher’s corporatist policies caught up with Dave’s dad’s mill: the plant closed, and the family was out most of an income. After a few months of scraping by, the family packed their luggage into two cars and drove off to a smaller, shabbier apartment – Dave’s parents in the station wagon, and Dave and his aunt in the sedan.
The sedan was the one that didn’t get T-boned by a drunk driver.
Having both of your parents die when you're 15 can change a person. The lesson Dave took away from that day was not “sometimes bad things happen to good people.” It was that his parents had done everything right, and that he had done everything right, and that no matter how diligently you try to be a productive, well-respected member of society, the uncaring universe is still going to grind you into the muck with its bootheel. Clearly, what Dave was doing wrong was trying too hard.
Starting in his eleventh year at school, Dave was the most intelligent, most sarcastic, most willfully apathetic slacker in his class. He let his grades drop, quit the team, spent his evenings with his Atari and stereo, started hanging out in convenience store parking lots with disappointing people and dating disappointing girlfriends. His aunt was out of the apartment at all hours, and didn’t really care what her nephew got up to. Other people noticed, but mostly in the wrong ways. Lacking the social awareness or sympathy to confront Dave's mental breakdown, his teachers responded by getting stricter. From a very angry and depressed teen's point of view, it became rapidly apparent that no one cared about him beyond his ability to fill out standardized worksheets and turn them in on a deadline. He responded with a curious, hard-edged determination to fail, a "screw-you" in response to an institution that was offended he no longer obeyed. A string of disciplinary visits turn into a string of mandatory councilor visits, with councilors that unfortunately weren't very good. The best of them kept trying to ask personal questions about Dave's parents, which went over as well as you might expect. The worst was still camped out with Freud, and spent her time looking for sexual deviations and repressed memories. The rest silently shrugged and tried to put Dave on pills. Dave took the pills and sold them on the street.
Dave finished secondary school, slouched his way through Sixth Form on inertia, and didn’t bother to apply for university. He did not, however, bother to tell his aunt this last fact. After spending the three months following his graduation lying on her couch in front of the TV, this decision came back to bite him: the truth came out in an hours-long shouting match, which ended with Dave kicked out of the apartment and on a bus to London, bitter and resentful. He’d show her. He’d show everybody. The only thing society gave half a damn about was his ability to be a cog in their little machine. He’d get exactly the most low-rent, low-effort job it would take him to cover the food and rent, and in doing so, he would prove he saw through the system.
Turned out The Firm needed a mailboy.
Two decades of pushing a cart through the halls of an endless office would break the spirit of most people. Not Dave. In a weird, fatalistic way, he sort of expected it – not the whole “kidnapping by faeries” bit, but the details of the job? Close enough. The primary thing he resented was the big-business, ultra-capitalist structure of The Firm; reminded him too much of the Conservative government that did in his parents. Thus, with ample time to practice, he learned just the right line to walk between doing his job and thumbing his nose at the Board: a snide comment here; a thirty-second delay there; an unattributed prank every so often.
It was when HR discovered Dave running a makeshift black market out of his mail cart, that things got ugly. He was transferred to R & D, to be part of a pilot program. This is, perhaps, the least pleasant sentence that a The Firm employee can hear. Several months of horrific, body-shredding experimentation later, Xerox rolled off the line and into an observation tank, able to copy both paper documents and the physical appearances of those around him. The Firm’s motives for adding this last feature were never explained.
The Firm’s mistake was throwing a fax machine into Xerox’s design. From her post in the Switchboard Room, Miss Bell detected an unauthorized phone signal coming from somewhere else in the office: painstakingly, through the electronic “language barrier” imposed by their disparate models, they got to know each other, and began to hatch an escape plan. Several weeks later, a The Firm messenger who looked nothing at all like Xerox trundled a bulky freight cart right through the office’s front doors. Management didn’t catch on for ten whole minutes. It was just barely enough for a head start.
Xerox is a tremendous waste of potential. Naturally brilliant, he exhibits a laziness borne (ironically) of the hard, bitter desire to underachieve. Not only is he profoundly fatalistic about society in general – and corporate authority in particular – he feels that his time with The Firm paid off his work quota for the foreseeable future. Thus, now that his durance is over, he aims to march right back into the cocoon he was in through 1985, vis-ā-vis video games, headphones, and Tab. Maybe he’ll swing a temp job he can work from home, so he won’t starve. It’s definitely possible to goad Xerox into exerting conscious effort, but you have to convince him that he already wanted to do so a week before you said so. Thankfully, this is not an overly difficult task, and once he really wants to do an assignment, he tends to grab onto it and not let go. Bull-headed stubbornness can be a powerful thing…and the effects of his earlier upbringing haven’t vanished entirely.
In person, Xerox is the caustic, teenaged sysadmin who hates all the bands you like. His default state is self-conscious apathy, vague irritability, or sarcastic disdain, goadable into full-on ranting if you press your luck. Has a very narrow – and largely outdated – definition of “cool.” However, in the somewhat unlikely event that you fit this definition, he’s actually an all right guy to hang out with for beers and Soul Calibur, good at laconic banter and enthusiastic debates about pop-cultural minutiae. Again: not an awful dude, just a dude who’s from awful circumstances. Thinks grown-ups don’t understand, and occasionally takes time to “stick it to the man” in a low-level capacity -- his talent for disguise serves him well, here.
Xerox is Manchester born and bred, and has a working-class “Oop North” accent to show for it. Kind of like this, but a good deal less thick.
Xerox and Miss Bell emerged from the Hedge in Manchester around 2004 and made their way down to London about a year later -- the Freehold of the Workers' Engines was a bit too emphatically working-class for a pair of True Fae-crafted office drones to find comfortable. Since then, while Miss Bell has somehow ended up rising in the ranks, Xerox's stayed more or less firmly where he is. He runs messages for the Unseelie, mostly, and does other small jobs around the Freehold. He's still got an anti-authoritarian streak, but Miss Bell and Todd both have a certain talent for directing it into useful avenues.
Appearance-wise, Xerox is a Southeast Asian twenty-something who looks as if he last updated his fashion sense in the 1980s (this is not inaccurate). Lots of straight, medium-length, slightly oily hair, usually flopping over his forehead. Here’s a good reference. Xerox doesn’t usually take a lot of time to style, but when he does, there is mousse involved. Physically, Xerox looks like a naturally weedy guy who’s developed a serious jogging habit – that this jogging habit was enforced by Transdimensional Employers of Doom doesn’t usually come up. In other words, the guy doesn’t look like a weightlifter, but he’s in very good cardiovascular health. He’s also shorter than average, at about 5’5”. Studiously average face: he’s no great shakes to look at, but he’s not ugly either. In terms of fashion he's McFly-esque. In fact, if you’re not listening to The Power of Love while you read this, you’re doing something wrong. Jeans and high-tops for bottoms, t-shirts in some appalling shade of neon for tops: sometimes graphic, sometimes solid-color, and often under a rumpled button-down depending on the temperature. For outerwear, Xerox wears a leather jacket or a parka when it’s colder out, and chooses from a selection of rather unfortunate canvas and jean jackets when it’s more reasonable. Xerox rarely classes himself up – unsurprising, for a guy who always looks as if he’s just rolled out of bed – but when he does, it’s a middling imitation of Miami Vice. He has a Vintage 1986 model Walkman, clipped to his belt nearly all the time: even when he’s not listening, he keeps the headphones around his neck. Xerox likes experimental, synthesizer-heavy new wave, played at ridiculous volumes: now that he’s out of durance, he scours used record stores for cassettes and makes mix tapes from ‘80’s-music radio stations.
Self-named in his typical bitter black-humor, Xerox is a troubled teen who was run over by the universe and is now determined to give it the middle finger by wasting his life. On first glance, he doesn't seem to have a typical changeling Mien, looking like a normal person with hilariously out-of-date fashion sense. Three things mark him out as not being normal: first, if anyone manages to touch him without him shoving them off, he weighs wrong - his skin feels slightly off, and he seems to have the density and mass of pewter. Secondly, his eyes reflect light wrong, and also occasionally flare up brightly with bright white beams that seem to "scan" objects or people... one of these is more noticeable than the other. Thirdly, his chest opens up like a cross between an armoire, a gull-winged Delorian, and an actual splayed rib-cage, revealing a hollow closet full of objects that his body "copies". Also, he can take his face off. Actually, he can take off any part of his body, although just the surface of it - there's always something underneath, a different limb or skin color or face. In this manner, he can essentially transform himself just like a doppelganger, albeit a rather disturbing one. He tends to store his excess limbs in his chest cavity if no one is looking, though strictly speaking he doesn't need to - he can just remove his false face and have his real one appear beneath it. Likewise, he doesn't need to open up his chest cavity to produce his bizarre duplicate objects, somewhat fortunately, as this tends to prove difficult when wearing clothes.
Rank: 1 Mental 2; Physical 2; Social 2 Willpower: 1 Wyrd: 1 Notable Powers: Sysadmin; Waste of Brilliance
Type: Changeling Affiliation: Freehold of New Jerusalem Court: Winter Entitlements: College of the Tallowed Flame Seeming Darkling Kith: Antiquarian Born: 1989 Apparent Age: Early 20s
Virtue: Curious Vice: Paranoid Long-Term Aspiration: To achieve a position of power in the Unseelie Court
Background: Formerly the ghoul of Lauren Darrow, given to her as a present by the Lady of London, Elizabeth Sheridan, presently a changeling of the Unseelie Court.
She was born in Hong Kong, but when she was ten she and her family (father, mother, and two brothers Kevin and Timothy) emigrated to the UK. Her parents having worked in the civil service, none were too keen on becoming part of China when the city was handed over. Hers was a high-pressure family, one that forced all three children to excel. Kevin became a doctor, and currently has a practice in the Midlands, while Timothy joined the British Royal Air Force, and served in Afghanistan. Rebecca, meanwhile, worked and entered into the Slade School for Fine Arts, to learn photography.
Freedom was sweet for Rebecca, especially the chance to move out from under her family's thumb. She went a little wild, indulging in an ever-increasing variety of drugs and dubious romantic relationships. She was still a hard worker, that had been drilled into her bone deep, but now she played hard as well as worked hard. She was looking towards a promising future as a fashion photographer (albeit a short one at the rate she was abusing her body), when one of her friends overdosed and died in her presence. The incident scarred Rebecca badly, and it was then that one of the Lady of London's agents (Alistair Niall, the High Sheriff) discovered her. She would be a perfect ghoul. So anxious to avoid death, to live forever, that she would give herself over into slavery.
She was given to Lauren Darrow, and as a ghoul Rebecca's tendencies towards academic over-achievement and constant work served her well. She was conscientious, extremely intelligent, and unnervingly ambitious. Rebecca wanted it all, wanted the power and immortality that others around her had.
Her personality was significantly warped by her brief time under a Vinculum, only recently broken. Where once she had felt nothing but unalloyed love for Lauren and worshipped the Kindred, now her feelings are far more complex. She is trying to separate out different strands of self-loathing, for her willing slavery, resentment and fear towards the Kindred, a very qualified appreciation of Lauren as a gentle regnant, and her continuing ambition.
Following a failed attempt at immortality, Rebecca spent three years (subjectively) in Arcadia, suffering a Durance at the hands of the Wyrm.
Broken Hearts Type: Vow Tasks:
[All] - Lesser Alliance (-0), Medial Forbiddance; Reveal what happened at Highgate Cemetery (-2) Boons:
[Rebecca, The Changeling] - Adroitness; Investigation, Academics (+2) Duration: Decade (+3) Sanction: Lesser Curse (-1), Flaw: Nightmares (-2) [Exceptions] The pledge is not broken and the curse is not triggered if a clause is broken or unfulfilled for any of the following reasons:
-Refusal to betray another friend or ally.
-Either party is rendered physically or mentally incapable of fulfilling the pledge, either by external or internal conditions.
-Either party is forced to break the pledge by supernatural means or mind control.
-Either party was unaware their course of action or inaction would violate the pledge.
-Either party breaks the vow of secrecy in the context of the confessional or medical/psychiatric treatment
Vampire Anchor Type: Vow Tasks:
[Rebecca, The Changeling] - Lesser Endeavor (Stay in Touch with Lauren at least 1/week) (-1) Boons:
[Rebecca, The Changeling] - Adroitness: Subterfuge (+1) Sanction: Flaw: One Eye (-2) Duration: Season (+2) [Exceptions] The pledge is not broken and the curse is not triggered if a clause is broken or unfulfilled for any of the following reasons:
-Refusal to betray another friend or ally.
-Either party is rendered physically or mentally incapable of fulfilling the pledge, either by external or internal conditions.
-Either party is forced to break the pledge by supernatural means or mind control.
-Either party was unaware their course of action or inaction would violate the pledge.
Virtue: Prudent Vice: Resentful (The Fetch has more than a whiff of a dragon-ish temper around her, quick to anger and slow to forgive.)
Background: Rebecca Lee is the fetch of Rebecca Yue Chan (see above), crafted from shadows and cemetery stone by the Collector. Her unknowing existence as a fetch was only days old when her original showed up, splashing nightmares and three years of Durance-bred resentment at her, culminating in Lauren Darrow nearly killing her in a secret chamber beneath Highgate Cemetery.
Thanks to Oleander, the fetch survived the experience, though her existence was bought with everything the fetch used to think was her life -- her family, her job, most of her friends, Lauren... and with the knowledge that Rebecca was fundamentally fake. In a strange way though, this method of delivery actually worked to Rebecca's benefit. She is furious at losing everything, and is determined to prove herself more real and more genuine than the people who wrote her off. It's hard and frustrating, but an 'I'll show them, call me fake will they!' attitude is probably still healthier than mourning over one's absent humanity.
Rebecca's also had the support of the Temple Guard pack, and has recently become affianced to Oleander. Truthfully, even though she's a fae-creature, she's basically an auxiliary member of the Temple Guard these days, putting her frightful intelligence to good use. She's traded one family for another, in essence, and while she isn't thrilled with this state of affairs by any stretch of the imagination, she's coping.
The fetch's personality is a little different from the base -- she lacks the original's burning ruthlessness, though she's also got just a bit of a dragon in her, holding grudges for a very long time and having a new-found fondness for gold and gems, though her income isn't going to support a hoard anytime soon.
Rank: 2 Mental 5; Physical 1; Social 3 Willpower: 1 Wyrd: 3 Notable Powers: Brains of the Operation; Shadow's Warning & Shadow Step Echoes
Type: Changeling Affiliation: Freehold of New Jerusalem Court: Dusk Entitlements: Magistrate of Wax, College of the Tallowed Flame, The Honorable Order of the Third Hour (T.H.O.T.H.) Seeming Wizened Kith: Artist/Author
Virtue: Patient (Patience is a virtue. Horace has lived a long, long time, and he did so by keeping a cool head, and having a plan for everything he did.) Vice: Indecisive (But sometimes there's such a thing as being too patient. Age and a lifetime of slavery have slowed him down, and Horace is prone to refraining from action until the time for action has passed him by.)
Background: Horace's memories are a jumbled mess, when he has them at all. What he does remember: Horace was always a scholarly youth, the kind with such unbridled enthusiasm for the past that it seemed he was born seven centuries too late. Always was he bringing up discussions of Chaucer's final stanzas, or bemusing people with random tangents on the history of this or that word, or telling jokes and then pointing out the historical misconceptions in it. The strange thing was, he was good enough to make people interested in whatever he was talking about. It was dead obvious he was destined for academia, and he was set upon the path at the earliest age possible - he was the second of three children, and belonged to a family well off enough to send him to schooling. Horace winded his way through Britain's finest learning institutions, before landing himself a junior and then full professorship at a small University. He was bright, promising, and his peers all knew he was going places. That's when the Mistress took him.
Beyond that are simply memories of Arcadia, stretching out into infinity. He never saw the inside of the library. The Mistress amused herself by using him as a reference book of sorts, comparing his answers to her own tomes when she thought he might be wrong. As it turned out, Horace was rarely wrong. This either amused or angered the Mistress, Horace really isn't sure which. It got him turned into a snail, certainly. But she put him in the workshop as a "tool" of sorts, and there he's stayed ever since. Over time he picked up the trades of the craftsmen there. Over time still, he became a master at his crafts. He's outlived all the crafters who taught him, and some of the others since. That makes him the Old Master.
He thinks he died, to be honest. He recalls fading away, and there's a huge gap in his memory that he can't explain. He's back now, and he can't explain that either. He's not sure how old he is - Horace really has no idea how long he's been inside. He has memories of cars, and telephones, but not of computers or even television. Physically, he feels ancient, eighty or ninety or over a hundred. But when one lives in a place where time is meaningless, and when one has the skin of a snail, who can even try to guess at it?
Fortunately for Horace, the Lost are used to integrating some very strange individuals into their societies, and Horace, though cast adrift in time, at least lacks the visceral insanity of some of those who returned. The Unseelie Court had its records, centuries worth of old books and journals that detailed the True Fae and the Hedge of London, and simple files on the Lost. Someone was needed to organize and care for them, and Horace was perfect for the job. They made him the Lord Scrivener, the archivist of the Unseelie, and he spends much of his time in the Ebon Engine, where he has small but comfortable quarters and a workshop of his own. The rest, he spends at the Cat's Cradle, where he is always welcome. If nothing else, Horace has a job, a home (two, really), and he has friends now.
Professor Horace Murthwaite can be traced to Northumbria University starting in 1909. The fetch did its best to match up to the charismatic professor, but it was missing some kind of vital spark to it, and it died in obscurity in 1948.
Horace is a genial, pleasant sort of man. Old age hasn't slowed his mind a whit, and he is always ready with some story, poem, song, or experience. He is a respected academic, a master craftsman, and a grandfather rolled up into one, which lead the Mistress' changelings to call him the Old Master. He tries to be as kind as possible to the young folk who breeze through his workshop. He's seen far too many of them go before their time, and he knows he'll outlive most of them even yet. They are, in some ways, his greatest regrets. He's seen them all wear down and break, over the years, and so he gives them what little things he can. He sometimes wonders if there was anything more he could have done for them, but for the most part, knowledge and comfort are the best he can offer.
Above all, Horace is patient. His long decades in the Mistress' workshops have taught him to take the long view. Time, history, the rise and fall of societal trends, they all wash over Horace like water. As such, he's not prone to fits of depression, nor outbursts of joy. He merely waits and watches, waiting for the wheel to turn again.
As far as the rest goes, Academics remains his true calling. The present is so bizarrely alien to him that it almost is stranger than Arcadia, and Horace is torn between examining this strange new world or throwing himself further into the past, clinging to it for support. He doesn't expect it to matter that much, as he doesn't expect to be around much longer, but he's starting to have odd little thoughts that he's wrong on that count.
Due to one of the little changelings mistaking his name for that of the god Horus, Horace on occasion chooses that moniker.
Rank: 2 Mental 5; Physical 1; Social 3 Willpower: 1 Wyrd: 3 Notable Powers: The Old Master; Medieval Literature; If you can keep your head when all about you, are losing theirs and blaming it on you...
Blessing: Ogres are mostly big, often ugly and always capable of frightening displays of brute force. The player can spend points of Glamour to improve dice pools involving Strength, Brawl and Intimidate. Each point of Glamour spent adds one die to one dice pool. Curse: Not all Ogres are necessarily stupid, but most are fairly gullible, weak-willed and prone to impulsive, thoughtless actions. An Ogre doesn’t get the benefit of the 10 again rule on dice pools using Composure (with the exception of Perception rolls using Wits + Composure, which suffer no penalty). The character also suffers a –1 die penalty to Composure when using it as a Defense Trait (that is, when subtracting it from another character’s dice pool).
Sundering Talons: when damaging an object with his bare hands, the Render may ignore up to three points of Durability. His claws count as a tool created to bypass Durability.
Render Born: ??? (Emerged in 1931, physically in his early twenties) Apparent Age: Late forties, early fifties
Virtue: Determined (John is a force of nature. When he sets his mind to something, he does not give up. Ever.) Vice: Arrogant (John is the best at what he does, and he knows it. He takes a rather great deal of satisfaction in proving it.)
Background: There are a lot of versions of the John Henry story. Some say he was from Tennessee, some say he was from Virginia, some from Alabama. Some say he died in 1871, some in 1887. Some say he wasn't a real man at all: just a legend recounted by railroad men. It is generally accepted that he was a steel-driver on a crew of railroad workers: someone who hammered holes in the rock during tunnel construction, so that the explosives could be inserted. It is also generally accepted that he worked for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway; that a steam drill salesman made a pitch to the company boss that his machine could replace John and the other laborers; that, to save everyone's job, John made a bet he could beat the machine at its own game; and, lastly, that John won that bet, but died in the winning.
That is what is generally accepted. There is another version of the story. In that story, the steam drill salesman isn't a steam drill salesman at all, and John Henry doesn't die. It just looks that way.
The changeling who now claims the name of John Henry will not confirm or deny this version of the story. Though practically nothing will prompt him to admit it, he doesn't even know if he was there at the time. He doesn't remember anything from before his durance -- not even the fractured half-impressions retained by some others of his kind. His first clear memories are of him, his hammer, and a crew of similarly equipped Lost, carving an endless tunnel blow by blow into the bedrock of Arcadia. The Warden of the Depths was merciless, and the changeling was there for a long, long time. Decades, maybe.
When the changeling snapped his chains and started the riot, he led twenty or thirty strong-backed laborers in the cause. After that, there's some uncertainty: he remembers leading them into the hedge, but after that comes another opaque patch that he estimates at anywhere between a couple days and a few months. The next thing he knew, he was being nursed back to health in the community of Sundown -- a tiny rural freehold disguised as a ghost town, deep in the West Virginian Appalachians. They'd found him half-dead and raving in the wilderness, alone, with his hammer. It was May of 1931.
From that point on, the changeling knew that he identified as John Henry. But he wasn't entirely sure that he had done so before then.
John stayed in and around Sundown for the next ten years and change. West Virginia was not a pleasant place to be in the Great Depression, what with the coal industry collapsing: as John saw it, while he'd been stuck in Arcadia, the steam drill had won, and the American worker had been left holding the bag. Apart from freehold business -- Sundown was a 10-man outfit with a lot of territory to cover, making John one third of his Summer Court -- Mr. Henry assisted with quite a number of WPA projects over the years. Civic responsibility aside, John liked being in construction. It felt natural.
It was WWII that prompted him to go international. John enlisted in the Army Corps of Engineers, and supported Patton's march through Europe with the 1317th General Service Regiment. However bad it was back home, it was worse there. People needed help rebuilding, and laborers needed someone to stand up for them: physically when necessary, and as a spokesman and advocate for when management got too oppressive. John was going to be that someone.
Since then, he's been all around the world, going where the work has been the biggest and most dangerous, and staying until it's done. In 1959, he was hammering out the Taishet-Bratsk-Lena line of the East Siberian Railway, sheltering the laborers from the cold and helping smuggle political prisoners out of the country. In 1977, he was carving out the Seikan Tunnel between Honshu and Hokkaido -- a job too tough for mechanized drills. In 1995, he was underground in Boston on the Big Dig, and ferreting out OSHA violations in his off time. His most recent home is in London, where he has been since early 2003: he's put hours in on the High Speed 1 line and the Piccadilly extension to Heathrow Terminal 5, sequentially. Once work on the Crossrail begins in 2009, he'll probably stay to help with that, too.
Henry's projects generally have a few factors in common. While he's a stellar all-around laborer, he prefers work that reminds him of his roots: preferably on rail or transit projects, and especially jobs involving "productive demolition," like digging or tunnel construction. He's just as likely to be operating heavy machinery or setting off nitroglycerine these days as he is pounding the rock himself, but the spirit of the work is almost the same. Once he finds a new project, he'll stay in the area anywhere from a couple months to nearly a decade, depending on the scale of the work and how much he likes the city. He also enlists in both the local laborers' union and the local Summer Court, where they exist, though he remains a member in good standing of both the Freehold of Sundown and LiUNA Local 453 (based in Beckley, WV), sending a portion of his earnings to them every year. While a man of considerable supernatural power, he never seeks outright leadership positions in either type of organization, preferring "trusted second-in-command" positions whenever he rises that far. This is a function of hometown loyalty rather than natural humility: even when he's not the official head of the organization, John has no problem with overshadowing people.
In mortal society, John goes by the alias of "John Ferris." He wouldn't usually be one for pseudonyms, but enough people know the legend that it would be problematic (or suicidal) for him otherwise. Plus, he gets a kick out of the pun.
John Henry is a rock. He's dependable to his compatriots and relentless in pursuit of his goals; he always keeps his word; and he never, never gives up. In short, everything about the guy screams "GOOD IDEA TO HAVE ON YOUR TEAM" at a rather impressive volume. Since John is also a dyed-in-the-wool populist, "Changeling society" and "the oppressed working classes" are two teams that suit him just fine: he views himself as their protector and the champion of their interests, able to keep them safe and thriving when few others can. This mission, as well as his own personal career of physical labor, are the two things he takes most seriously in life: he is steadfast (sometimes stern) in their performance, inspiring and vocal in their defense, and can definitely become angry when they are derided. John doesn't do irrational, brushfire anger, either: it's the slow-burning, grudge-holding, inexorable kind. If you make John angry, you probably deserve it, and it does not stop being awful forever. Also, keep in mind that John has a hammer.
Off the job? Well, John's still a great guy when he's kicking back: a steady friend and the core of a good social circle, with the kind of broad, expansive personality that people tell eulogistic bar stories about. He has a strong competitive streak, and a penchant for issuing and accepting dares and challenges -- all of which he follows through on, and nearly all of which he wins. He is also rather easily spurred to recount his own achievements, which would be more tedious if they weren't legitimately interesting. If you really got deep into it, you might conclude that John is out for personal glory as much as he is for principle -- two impulses that, happily, are not mutually exclusive. Introverts? John thinks they're great, if only they would stop hiding in the corner whenever he's around.
John's doubts about his identity still plague him. He knows the steel-driver's trade, true, but that just means that he could have heard the legend somewhere before his imprisonment, not lived it. He wasn't sure when he was taken into Arcadia, but he was in his early twenties when he went in (and physically so, when he came out): a good deal younger than the mythic Henry was supposed to have been. And he still doesn't know how long he was in for. That not knowing bothers him to this day, and to this day he makes no hard claims as to his identity, preferring to let people assume. Luckily, he's big enough that people tend not to ask.
Many of John's leisure pursuits are as physical as his day job: thus, since moving to the UK, John has discovered rugby. Whether this is the best thing that could happen to the sport, or a development that will forever scar the nation's amateur talent pool physically and emotionally, will have to be left for history to decide.
Mr. Henry speaks in a clear, commanding bass, definitely American, with traces of a Virginia or North Carolina accent.
John Henry arrived in London back in 2003, and he got to see the last years of what Alexandra Merill and the Jack-of-Crows did to the Freehold. He hated it, loathed the twisted elitism and casual tyranny. He saw them -- both of them -- as only a little bit better than Gentry. When the Freehold Crowns went to Aurora and Todd, John Henry was among the first to give them their loyalty, and he'll stand by his oath till the walls come crashing down all around him.
John's come to serve as a kind of mentor to Aurora and to Dana, grounding them in the realities of hard work and daily life, and generally serves as a counterbalance to Othello's trickster persona. He doesn't really approve of the cat or his methods, but he's willing to trust him. He brought down Alexandra, so he can't be all that bad. His attitude towards Todd is rather more skeptical. He's willing to grant the fox-king the benefit of the doubt -- he's better than the Jack, certainly. But the fact that the Fetch-Law forces changelings into the shadows, while the handiwork of the Others roams free just boils John's blood, and he's been pushing Todd towards a break. If that ever happens, John'll stand by his side gladly.
These days, John is the Iron Adjutant of the Seelie Court. He doesn't deal with the parties and he's skeptical of the chivalry, but he's the man that makes the Seelie Court work, especially the more militant aspects of Summer. He's the man who keeps the membership cards and collects the dues, figures out the patrol schedules and keeps the armory stocked. It's boring work, but eighty years of construction projects and union organization mean that John knows just how important it is. In a very real sense, John Henry is the bedrock on which the Seelie Court of New Jerusalem is founded on.
Rank: 4 Mental 4; Physical 8; Social 3 Willpower: 1 Wyrd: 7 Notable Powers: Actions Speak Louder Than Words; Beat the Machine
Type: Changeling Affiliation: Freehold of New Jerusalem Court: Spring Entitlements: College of the Tallowed Flame Seeming:
Blessing: These changelings really are the Fairest of Them All, and their magic only emphasizes this. The player can spend Glamour to improve dice pools that include Presence, Manipulation and Persuasion. Each point spent increases one dice pool by one point. A changeling counted among the Fairest also suffers no untrained penalty for using Social skills in which she has no dots. Curse: The Fairest, similar to the creatures who stole them, can be callous and unfeeling, vicious and prone to toy with others, even people who love them. Their inner balance suffers for this. One of the Fairest suffers a –1 die penalty on dice pools to avoid losing Clarity (for example, the player of a Fairest with Clarity 5 who kills another changeling rolls two dice to avoid losing Clarity, rather than three).
The Flamesiren may invoke the blessing of Burning Hypnotism: once per scene, the player may spend one Glamour to surround the Flamesiren with a blazing flame-like aura. Anyone looking at the Flamesiren must make a successful Resolve + Composure roll, or suffer a two-dice penalty to all actions until the character decides to douse the aura or the scene ends, thanks to the distraction.
The Minstrel’s blessing is Perfect Pitch: a Minstrel changeling can spend a point of Glamour to re-roll any failed dice on one Expression roll (so if, for example, a Minstrel who rolls six dice and gets 2, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 can spend a point of Glamour to re-roll the 2, 5, 6 and 7). They also excel at soaking up the adulation of a crowd when performing, enjoying the benefit of the 8-again rule for any attempt to harvest Glamour from the emotions of the spectators during their own performance.
Virtue: Generous (The Axe owes a debt to the world, and it's one he'll never be able to fully repay. You need spells, lessons, advice, backup, or a drinking buddy, and he's your man. He'll probably even pick up the tab.) Vice: Gluttonous (Used to be Envy, but he's since grown out of the really pernicious aspects of that sin. He still lives hard and parties harder, though -- and damn if he doesn't still enjoy it.)
Background: Tommy Lynch was born in 1959, in inner-city Belfast. His father (abusive) had a low-paying job in manufacturing; his mother (emotionally distant) took only a vague interest in her son's well-being, and he (sullen, rebellious teenager) wanted nothing more than to get out of town. At 16, two weeks before his GCSE's, he did so, hopping a ferry to Great Britain and hitching down to London. As is sometimes the case with teenagers in this situation, he didn't have a plan as such -- aside from making friends, drinking heavily, getting a retail gig at a record store, and attempting to pick up blondes -- but he was certainly a damn sight happier than he had been.
To his credit(?), Tommy's planlessness only lasted for four months or so, until one of his new buddies drove him up to see the 1975 Reading Festival: on the lineup, an early-career Judas Priest. Heavy metal was beginning to discard its blues influence for harder guitar riffs and black leather. Tommy was in love. The music was great, yeah, but what really attracted him was the lifestyle. As a teenager in search of an identity, hard rock seemed a gateway to instant respect and guaranteed badassitude -- one that he could ill afford to miss out on. He scraped together the cash for a used Fender the very next week.
The next four years were hit-or-miss. Tommy's self-taught riffs got marginally better, the record store gig became a bartending gig, and a couple of adolescent rock combos were started and discarded at Tom's instigation. In 1979, though, he finally hit it big…mostly. It was the height of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal: outfits like Motörhead and Iron Maiden were pioneering an uptempo, punk-flavored sound, and they were doing it right in London. Tommy's new brainchild -- Panzerfaust, a power quintet recruited from his musically-inclined buddies -- fell right within this milieu, and for once, the mix of talent and personality was spot on. Problem was, thanks to his idea being hijacked by one of his more charismatic friends midway through, Tommy ended up stuck on rhythm guitar instead of lead. The fact that he was legitimately less talented than said lead guitarist did nothing to lessen his ire. In fact, he probably would have quit in protest…if the band's self-titled debut album hadn't unexpectedly struck gold on the UK Billboard charts, that is.
Panzerfaust rode the wave to tremendous effect through the mid-80's. Money was made, concerts were headlined, groupies were bedded, hotel rooms were trashed, controlled substances were ingested in large quantities, and four additional albums worth of actually very good classic metal was released. Tommy enjoyed the spoils, but stewed in his own envy behind the scenes, struggling with his bandmates for creative control and frontman credibility. He was largely unsuccessful. Among his only moderate triumphs: recruiting a new manager for the band after their old one left to raise a family in 1985…although, really, the manager found him.
The UK's musical tastes were beginning to change by 1986. The really hardcore metal fans were migrating to thrash -- an inaccessible niche genre at best -- while the rising teenage fanbase was hooked on a new sound out of America's west coast. Twisted Sister, Dokken, and Van Halen were in…which meant synthesizers, leopard-print pants, ridiculously long hair, and songs about driving down Sunset Boulevard in a convertible. This was glam metal, and it was where the money was.
It was also where the other members of Panzerfaust did not want to be. Despite dwindling audiences, Tommy's four bandmates wanted to stick with the classic metal sound, as a matter of artistic integrity. This, to Tommy, was poison. After a protracted airing of grievances that eventually became a fistfight, he "expressed his opinion" to the rest of the band, at which point they kicked him out.
At which point subsequently, in the midst of an alcohol-and-stimulants-fueled solo binge later that night, Tommy's manager came a-calling. You see, thanks to an extraordinary and coincidental feat of prior planning, the manager had drawn up the contract so that Panzerfaust, as well as performance rights and royalties to their entire back and future catalog, rested entirely in Tommy's name! So, in the event that he was kicked out of the band, this proviso stated that he wasn't actually kicked out of the band. He had kicked the band out of the band. And he would even get a new guitar by doing it!
Of course, the activation of this proviso was conditional.
By the next week, "Panzerfaust" featured Tommy Lynch on lead guitar and lead vocals, with a bunch of 20-year-olds bussed in from L.A. on everything else. They were also not playing any of Panzerfaust's back catalog, favoring instead the new, popular, commercially viable sound from the West Coast.
Tommy's manager provided all of the music. Tommy's fans had an uncanny tendency to go smilingly glassy-eyed after concerts and cassette purchases, and then to go missing several weeks later. Tommy's bandmates played hard and partied harder, but were extremely vague when it came to talking about their past. Tommy's critics said the band's heart was gone, or paid attention to the substantially less popular outfit started by Tommy's ex-friends. But who pays attention to critics? Tommy barely paid attention to anything, and by Tommy's standards of "a great situation," this was a great situation. And it was a really good guitar. Tommy named it Delilah.
The situation lasted until the fall of 1989. This was when Tommy awoke to find a groupie (that he'd previously been sleeping with) grinning rapturously and stepping through a temporary Hedge gate in the hotel bathroom, humming the riff from Panzerfaust's latest single.
This led to a rather heated discussion between Tommy and his manager. His manager reasoned that if the "shut up and keep playing" explanation didn't work, the "you are a patsy that I recruited to perform and popularize a series of hypnotic melodies designed to lure innocent listeners into eternal Arcadian servitude" explanation wouldn't work either. He was right. Corrective measures were taken.
Old Red -- for such was the manager's true title -- operated a domain remarkably similar to the '80's heavy metal vision of Hell: all plush banquettes, bearskin rugs and neon-tinted living quarters, overseeing pits of pyrotechnic flame and damned souls. It suited him, for Old Red was remarkably similar to the '80's heavy metal vision of the Devil. For the next three years, The Axe was his personal, indentured, in-house musician. Because, come on: he may have asked some inconvenient questions, but at least the kid could play.
And, you know, a funny thing happened over those three years. Because he had no choice but to play the guitar, and play continuously and well, under threat of heinously dramatic injury, The Axe discovered that he liked playing the guitar. Not just as a means to an end, but in its own right: because he liked the music, and found the act of playing it meaningful. And he was getting a lot better at it, too…
Old Red really shouldn't have let The Axe hold onto Delilah -- the one he'd given him in 1986. The faerie magic that had made it play so sweetly was decidedly less convenient when used to play a song of The Axe's own composition, thus allowing The Axe to literally bust through the walls of Hell and claw his way back into the land of the living, THROUGH THE POWER OF ROCK AND ROLL.
It was certainly convenient for The Axe, though. And one thing was for certain: he was chastened, more sincere, and ready to take what he'd learned and get right back to…
…Wait. What was this "grunge" nonsense everyone kept talking about?
The Axe has matured a decent amount since the '80's, personally as well as physically. This growth can be attributed to two major causes. First among them is his realization that, by being a stupid, self-centered asshole in his late twenties, he inadvertently sent countless metal fans to a fate worse than death. Apart from spurring him to a greater degree of self-contemplation -- and with it a more serious outlook and a (marginally) quieter lifestyle -- he considers this a debt that it is his responsibility to repay to the world at large.
The second cause is his newfound dedication to music as an art form. Since escaping his durance, he's maintained a quiet but talented solo career in coffee shops and bar basements, playing hard rock guitar and singing -- he's even written a good number of original songs. The act of playing helps to center him, and is immensely rewarding from a creative standpoint; he genuinely believes that music appreciation and performance can improve the lives of most other people, as well. Of course, he puts the most stock in classic metal, but he's willing to concede the merits of most genres inasmuch as they are meaningful to others -- even "hair metal" hasn't been entirely tainted in his eyes by his stint with "New Panzerfaust."
This creative raison d'ętre is also how he pays back his debt to society. For those who show interest in the guitar (or rock in general), he's eager to teach anyone who wants to learn, and recommends collaborators and like-minded musicians when his students are good enough to start their own combo. For the Lost, his services extend further. As Delilah is a focus through which faerie magic can be aurally channeled, The Axe has effectively become a one-man Contract library for the London Spring Court: he maintains an extensive mental discography of magical techniques in song form, and tutors interested changelings in their use. Sometimes, striking a bargain with Spring is just a matter of knowing the right tune! Add to that: The Axe is a dab hand at composition, so he might even pioneer a new Contract one of these days.
Not that really playing Delilah is always the healthiest thing…and thus, The Axe is inwardly frustrated that he can't use his talents to full effect. After all, he learned all these really spectacular songs in Arcadia, and got inhumanly good at playing the guitar…but now that he's out, he can't actually perform any of that without (pick several) driving people insane, opening random Hedge rifts, drawing the ire of his Keeper, or who knows what. Horrible, unspecified things, probably. The closest The Axe gets to drawing on his full power is using Burning Hypnotism, and that feels fantastic -- but it's never quite enough. Thankfully, he's now borderline-responsible enough to keep his desires in check, but still…
Lest all this talk of solemn vows and somber life lessons give you the wrong impression, let it be definitively stated that The Axe is a rock star. An aging rock star, but still a rock star. And, while he no longer views partying as an end in and of itself, he still quite likes partying. The Axe's afternoons may be quieter, and he may have trimmed down his chosen substances from "everything" to "both varieties of cigarette and an awful lot of alcohol," but it still takes a noble effort to keep up with him on a weekend night. Or many weeknights, really. Regardless, he's a blast to hang out with (especially over beer), takes well to being the center of attention, and is generally a pleasantly raucous catalyst to most social gatherings. He also likes blondes, who, in turn, like him -- in disproportionate quantities, considering his age. Just don't ask him to do anything before noon, because he will have a hangover.
In mortal society and on stage, The Axe goes by the Gaelicized version of his old name: Tom Mac Loinsigh. His speaking voice is a hazy, Belfastian baritone, marinated in years of booze and tobacco. When he sings, though, it's far clearer, and capable of astonishing vertical range -- a modification made in his durance, and one of the few he's unmitigatedly thankful for.
Rank: 2 Mental 3; Physical 1; Social 5 Willpower: 1 Wyrd: 3 Notable Powers: Hard Used; Old Rocker; Walking Encyclopedia of Dubious Goblin Contracts
Type: Changeling Affiliation: Freehold of New Jerusalem Court: Autumn Entitlements: College of the Tallowed Flame, Warden of the Silent Depths Seeming Ogre Kith: Witchtooth Born: ??? (Escaped 1996) Apparent Age: Mid-20s.
Virtue: Trustworthy Vice: Selfish (Inkeri is quite vain and magnificently self-centered. She's not mean about it, she just tends to not see why she should care about other people's problems.)
Background: Some -- most really -- of the Lost are wrecks after they emerge from their Durance. Held captive in an alien world, their bodies changed and molded to fit the whims of their cruel masters, few emerge without a host of psychological problems. It has been said that the Courts are at least as much support groups as they are political organizations. Most Lost get better eventually, at least enough to be able to function, but some don't. And then there's people like Inkeri Halveri, who walked out of the Hedge one fine summer day in the mid-90s, dusted herself, and set about rebuilding her life.
By 2000, Inky (as she likes to be known), was living in a small flat, had a part-time job at the pharmacy of Guy's Hospital, and was a member in good standing of both the Unseelie Court and the goblin market at Piccadilly Circus. Though gregarious and flirty by nature, she's never said very much about her Durance or her mortal life, though she uses "Helene Silfverberg" as her mortal name and speaks fluent Swedish. Her Durance, in the meantime, left Inky with a considerable store of occult knowledge. She knows how to brew potions, how to tell the future, how to speak with the dead, and more.
These days, Inky acts as a consultant to the Unseelie for occult matters. Not so much by the high leadership -- the Jack-of-Crows knows far, far more than Inky does -- but by the lower ranks. Her pride and joy, however, is Inky's Emporium, a marvelous stall at the Piccadilly Circus Goblin Market where Inky does occult consultations and brews potions for all comers, and makes a quite satisfactory living doing so. She tends to vanish from London for a few months every year, coming back with improbable stories and more improbable magical trinkets, including a wheel of cheese that can lead you through the Hedge and a Samobranka, a tablecloth that creates a grand feast every time it's used.
In person, Inky is flirtatious, friendly, and a bit childish. She makes an effort to put on a dignified and demure attitude, especially with customers, but her results are... mixed. She can be self-centered to the point of solipsism. For all that she's rarely malicious in any meaningful sense, her temper is terrifying when unleashed. She's still an ogress, and can bend a steel bar in a fit of pique -- if angered she's more likely to knock someone flat with one of her iron pans than to bother with complex spells.
Past that, Inky is one of the Huldra, the nymphs of Scandinavian folklore. She's absolutely lovely, with a cornflower-blue eyes and long, golden hair around which she ties a white kerchief. She looks to be in her mid-20s at most, though she's closer to her mid-40s at the very least, and possibly older. In the Hedge, she favors the outfit of a dairy maid, and long dresses in various cheerful colors in the mortal world. As one of the Huldra, she has a long, cow's tail that peeks out from under her skirts (one reason that Inky never wears pants), and in theory her back opens up into a hollow, revealing an inside like a rotten tree stump filled with insects. If so, she never shows it to anyone though, not under any circumstances (she's sews her own clothing to always cover her back).
Rank: 2 Mental 2; Physical 3; Social 4 Willpower: 1 Wyrd: 3 Notable Powers: Huldra; Seductress; Contracts of Stone 3, F&T 2 (Fish, Woodland Animals); Prophecy