martes, 10 de enero de 2017

THE NOVICE LIGHTBEARER'S COMPANION IV

THE NOVICE LIGHTBEARER'S COMPANION
adapted from reliable sources by
DOUCELINE DE RABUTIN,
aka
SASHA MARGRAVIATI

CHAPTER THE FOURTH
THE COURT OF MIRRORS: THE WHOLE STORY
OR,
OF THE QUEEN OF MIRRORS, CRYSTAL HERIL, OUR PHILOSOPHY... LONG STORY SHORT, THE THEORY OF OUR COURT

The Queen of Mirrors
AKA: The True Queen, The Child Queen, The Hierophant-Queen, The Crown’s Custodian
Followers’ Epithets: Lightbearers, Heirs, Brats. (derogative)
Former Kingdom: Crystal Heril
Come on! Just a little bit more! You can do it! I’m leading you, and you don’t want to let me down!
Yeah, see, I was just a 13-year old, wandering ignorant and doing silly things. But then I started
having these odd dreams, and I found I could do these strange things that I could never before. I was
really scared at first, but this really pretty lady with silver eyes told me about what I was, and how the Light had chosen me to lead it, how it was destiny. Everyone’s just got to work together, and follow my orders, and we can beat the Darkness do it forever. I believe in you, you see, so that means you have to believe in yourself. It’s your duty to fight for the Light.
And when we rebuild the Kingdom, everything won’t just be okay again, it’ll be better.
I really hope so.

The Crown’s Custodian is an enigma. Those who have seen her sometimes describe a silver-haired child,
with eyes that twinkle like stars and an infectious crescent-grin of a smile. But most often they say she
looks like the one she meets, their chiral twin... apart from her grin and her eyes, which are always silver.
They say travels behind every mirror, and looks among mankind through glass, looking for Princesses
of unusual talent and drive and skill and will. They say she’s looking for the True Heir to the Kingdom.

Tales from Behind the Mirror
None are ever invited to the realm of the Hierophant Queen, save each Prince and Princess of Mirrors who
visit but once in their dreams, when she reveals their future to them. The Seraphic General may ebb and
flow to the hate of men, but the Hierophant is self-cursed to be alone, in her tower of reflections as she gazes out beyond the edges of eternity, searching the future. No eyes save hers gaze upon the secrets hidden in the Hall of Future Reflections, which surrounds and protects her inner sanctum. No other living soul has looked into the Lunargent Speculum, which once stood in the courtyard to her temple-palace, for all those pure of heart to gaze into and see glimpses of their own future, joys to be enjoyed and terrors to be prevented. And what is within her personal quarters, where the motifs of silver and mirrors are broken to show her innermost heart, is completely unknown, unseen even in the dream-flickers that have mapped out clues of her hidden place. According to some readings of Prophecies, there may be hidden paths within the Dreamlands for a wandering Noble to wander that lead to the Queen’s Realm, for “... in quicksilver chance lies the Edge and the Sleep, and the Heart Turned Without may find the Lady of Reflections within her recursions by following the smile of the rainbow.” If this is true, there have been no confirmed reports of anyone ever meeting the Queen of Mirrors within her hidden place, save her followers - and they do not return to it.
Instead, the Queen of Mirrors contacts those who serve her and those who she would speak with by other
means. To those who have caught her eye, every reflective surface is a means of communication. Like a fleeting ghost she takes the form of the reflections, whose eyes gleam silver, and who talk in the voice of the mimicked.
Those reflections are bound to the mirrors, though, and when she must risk herself in a Darkened world - and she does not like to do that often - she can weave herself a false body. She casts neither shadow nor reflection nor does her voice echo, and like her servitor-priests she can wear many faces. In that form she wanders the world, observing and sometimes acting - though the false body is little more potent than a mortal, only a tiny fragment of her imperial might - and though she does not like to interfere for both fear of Darkness and ruining her own prophecies, there have been times when she has broken her self-imposed restriction. The destruction of a false body does not kill her, but it has been observed to weaken her capacity to act in the real world in the short term, and so she does not often take risks - not if there is another way.

Tales from Behind the Mirrors - The Fall of Crystal Heril
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young girl with silver hair, and she was the fairest maiden in all
the lands. Now, when she was six years old, the priestesses of the stars came, and told her parents that
their daughter was the reincarnation of the Hierophant-Queen, marked by her hair, and it was necessary
to take her away from them, so they could raise her properly. And her parents were happy, because the
Hierophant-Queen was the fairest of all, and they were only poor farmers living at the furthest reaches of
their kingdom. And the girl was taken away, and raised well, and on her eighth birthday, she came into
her own, and remembered that she was truly the Hierophant-Queen, the adjudicator of disputes between
the other Queens. For the priestesses of the stars were the judges as well as the priestesses, and by night,
they held their courts and found the guilty, and helped the innocent, and the Hierophant-Queen was the
first among them all, to ensure that thoughts of the Light were prime among them all, and that nothing
bad could occur. And all was wonderful, and the Light burned ever stronger in the world.
But she did not live happily ever after; only a single year passed between her coronation and the
Fall. The little girl wept when her priestesses brought her news of the wars, and she trembled with fear
when she was asked for guidance; for all the paths she could see held their own tragedies. For such a
young child it was too much to bear. One morning the chambermaids opened the royal quarters to find
that the Queen had vanished, the young child had used her magic to run away during the night. She
returned to the home of her parents but the village had already been overrun.
The greatest knights and the most powerful magicians were sent to find the Queen, but they could
not find the Queen. With no one upon the throne the defenders could not hold back the Darkness, the
people were slaughtered and the crystal towers fell. Triumphant the monsters of the Darkness hunted
all across the land.
But they could not find the Queen.

Philosophy
The Philosophy of mirrors is a simple ideal, an ideal of self exultation that reflects a Princesses own light
back at her. Dazzling her eyes so that she may be spared the painful sights of Sensitivity.

The Mandate of Light
It’s all in the name: “Princess”. The Lightbringers know that as royalty they posses the divine right of
queens. No earthly authority is above them for they derive their mandate from the Light itself.

False Modesty is a False Virtue
A Blossoming is not a random occurrence. It’s a rare event that only affects the best of humanity and
bestows ability beyond mortal men and women. Trying to be just another of the masses is neither honest
nor helpful. No matter the circumstances, one of the Enlightened should use hear natural brilliance to
take the lead. Anything less is a waste of her talents and a disservice to everyone who is depending on
her. It is their duty to take charge, and therefore it is the duty of everyone else to acknowledge that
duty, and aid them in that goal. They’re only trying to help, after all.

Hard Choices Imply You're Not Looking Hard Enough
Throughout her life every Princess will come across a situation which seems hopeless. No matter what
she does someone is going to get hurt and all she can do is accept responsibility, take tough choices and
look for the least of many evils. To a Noble of Mirrors this is defeatism and laziness of the worst order.
Of course there is a good solution! It is their duty to never accept defeat, never look for the least-evil
outcome but instead to throw everything they have into the search for a solution without sacrifice. The
very idea that they accept the death of one person to save five more is abhorrent! They should save all
six, and they will, because they have justice on their side!
If only the World of Darkness didn’t put so many hard choices in their way.

Duties
One might imagine that the Court of Mirrors duties revolve around becoming the True Heir, maybe
fulfilling an ancient prophecy or two. In fact the Queen of Mirrors is quite clear that becoming the True
Heir isn’t something you accomplish. You just be yourself and it will happen, because the True Heir is
destiny.
Consequently the Court don’t really have formal duties, they are aloud to go at their own pace. Take
some time off for dating. Having permission, and a philosophical justification, to get some much needed
sleep once in a while is perhaps the most tempting reason to join the Court.

Background
Like the other Twilight Queens it is possible to divide the Heirs into those who were once among the
Radiant and those who were not. Those who left the Raident for the Lightbringers tend to have been
among the best. They were the leaders of their Nakama, they were martyrs who went above and beyond
for the least of people and they were isolated. They had to stand brave while their allies were allowed to
be scared, they gave expecting nothing when others could ask for help in return and they couldn’t cope.
The Hierophant-Queen told them that it was ok to think of themselves. That they could still make a grabbing a lifebuoy they took her philosophy and her quest. She in turn showed them how to build a
mirror around their souls reflecting the light inwards.
As for the others. It would be nice if there were a uniform background that drew the newly blossomed
to the Hierophant-Queen, but, sadly, that is not true. The followers of the Radiant Queens may call
them hubristic and shallow, but the Lightbearers can have been the nerdy boy sitting in the back just
as much as they can have been the queen bee socialite prior to their Blossoming. They come from all
socioeconomic brackets, and can be driven by an urge for respect and dignity never known before just
as much as arrogant entitlement. Many of them, after the Blossoming, though, have an odd duality of
self-belief and neediness; they can believe in themselves, but they need others to see them be self-reliant.
They are people who need other people around, even when they are in charge.
Perhaps the most tragic aspect of the Queen of Mirrors is that she seems to have a particular allure
for the youngest Blossomings. It is unclear whether they find her more attractive than any of the other
options, or whether she specifically believes that they are more likely to be the True Heir to the Kingdom,
but too many of those precious Blossomings have been lured to her. The Queen of Mirrors is already
tempting for the idealism of many Enlightened, with her promises and her easy solutions and self-belief;
how much worse must it be for the young mind, suddenly exposed to Sensitivity and given power?

Character Creation
Followers of Mirrors favour flashy and impressive actions over subtly and favour Power over Resistance
and Resistance over Finesse. Lightbringers typically cultivate skills that focus on what their fellows
deem important. When they maintain a level of self awareness the Heirs tend to favour Manipulation
and Wits to manage underlings and make the quick decisions leadership requires. No matter where they
find themselves grace and dignity are always key for a leader so more successful Lightbringers have good
Composure. While all members adore the spotlight the court is divided between those who can lure
others into their vainglory and those who only think they can meaning that Presence tends to either
extreme.
A Socially successful Princess of Mirror’s tends to attract sycophants or distant but fawning crowds
but few true friends meaning that while she may have dots in Retainer or Allies, Circle tend to be low.
This attitude also lends an affinity, if not always a talent, for Populist Rhetoric. Since they base their
Transformed self on how they wish to be seen by others Striking Looks is common. Those who take the
Mandate of Light literally may attempt to cultivate White Rabbits to better speak with the light itself.
Whether the answers they hear come from the Light, within or elsewhere the wisdom found in dreams
is only as effective as the Princesses willingness and ability to follow it.

Heraldry
Like any true egotist the courters of Mirrors cares very deeply about other people’s opinions. They
care about how other people look at them. Nothing reflects this truth more than their Transformed
appearance. When a Princess adopts the ideals of the Court of Mirrors her Transformed appearance
stops reflecting how she sees her true self and embodies how she wants others to see her. There is
certainly a lot of room for verity, she may wish to appear powerful, intelligent, beautiful, pure or pious
but at heart she is reflecting the ideals and standards of those who surround her.
When she is reflecting mortal culture rather than that of her fellow Hopeful this can make the
Princess of Mirrors seem almost ordinary; the most popular cheerleader at school simply doesn’t stand
out in a Nakama of gallivant knights and the nobility of future civilisations. Their iconography tends to
compensate as hard as it can within the rigid confines of social normality. Expensive designer clothing,
jewellery, and subtle hints of the superhuman. At least one Princess of Mirrors glows softly.

Echo
An Heir's Echo is like a warm quilt, it makes you feel safe and sleepy and why not? The Princess will
take care of everything for you.

Practical Magic
The Heirs of the Crown’s Custodian are always at their very best. They can assume their transformed
self at any time with a reflexive action and remain Transformed indefinitely. Power is there for a reason,
not to be hidden. In fact it requires deliberate effort to become mundane; a Princess of Mirrors must
make a Transformation roll to resume their normal form, much as a normal Noble would have to do to
Transform.
High Belief has no effect on a Heir’s Practical Magic.

Invocation: Specchio
The Invocation of Specchio is the principle embodied and founded by the Queen of Mirrors, and which
her favoured find comes naturally to them. Specchio is usually turned inwards, more than any other
Invocation it can propel a Princess upwards to monumental heights, the abilities it grants tend to be
flashy and showy but no less effective for them. Fittingly Specchio can sometimes be inverted as though
looked at through a mirror, though less common to making the Princess better than others it can also
be used to make others worse than the Princess.
Specchio has a unique disadvantage that its powers lead to madness. This is counted as
part of the activation cost, and so may not be bypassed. The first time the Princess adds Specchio to
her dicepool, gains a passive bonus from a Specchio Charm or invokes a Charm that requires Specchio
in a scene she rolls her Specchio (for a Bequest that contains a Speccchio based Charm use the higher
of the Charm’s Specchio prerequisite and the Princess’ dots in Specchio). On a Success choose one of
the following Conditions: Drama Queen, Name of the Moon, Narcissism or Special Snowflake. On an
Exceptional Success she gains Mirror Blindness, Madness, Yandere or one of the previous Conditions
as a Persistent Condition. You may create a new Condition that fit the same themes with Storyteller
approval.
Any persistent Charm that would trigger Specchio’s drawback may be disabled with a Transformation
action, it will remain dormant until the Princess chooses to activate it again.
Specchio can be applied without spending a Wisp when the target of a Princess’ Charm is the Princess
herself, it also applies without a wisp when the target is a literal mirror constructed for purpose, when
the Princess intends to set an example, to convert others to her cause, to impress others, when failure
would lead to humiliation or embarrassment, to focus attention on herself or to prove how unique and
special she is.
Those who would use Specchio are expected to be the shining light for the world, the Invocation
does not resonate with Princesses who show humility, who deny or attempt to downplay their own
accomplishments, or let others shine brighter. Even on a simple disagreement the Princess must prove
herself correct, or at least convince the crowd, or else she loses access to this Invocation until the next
day.

What's so Bad About These Girls?
When talking about the Heirs asking what is so villainous is a fair question; and
in truth even the Radiant don’t always consider the Lightbearers among their
enemies. Unlike the Furies – whose crusade against the Darkness often kills innocent
bystanders – the Lightbearers usually don’t do anything that’s so blatantly immoral. While
it is quite possible for a Brat reach levels of insanity where they believe outright
evil is perfectly just, most don’t sink to anything worse than vanity and general
bitchiness.
The truth is that while the Brats aren’t evil, their views are completely impractical
and can often get people hurt. A Radiant Princess when called to defend a village
against a raid might train the people into a militia, she knows that some will die
in battle but their sacrifice will keep the village safe. In contrast a Brat would
tell everyone to relax and let her protect the village single handedly with her
“unstoppable” magic, so no one needs to sacrifice anything. When it inevitably
turns out that she cannot fight one hundred people alone; the untrained villagers
are slaughtered.
Even when it is not a matter of life and death, the Lightbearers thrive among the
sort of idolisation that causes one to rely utterly on the Heir; then inevitably the
Court’s impractical philosophies causes the Brat to fail everyone who placed their
trust in her.

Stereotypes
• Clubs: Wasting your life where no one but the beasts can see you, how does that help anyone?
• Diamonds: Maths class is Boooring!
• Hearts: Formality and protocol. You wouldn’t need any of that if you were as good as me.
• Spades: What’s the point of a joke if people don’t realise how funny you are?
• Swords: You know, your bravery and... stuff is pretty cool. But I think you should do it this way
instead! Chop-chop!
• Storms: You fight, and then you die. Get someone else to die, royals are too important.
• Mirrors (well, OTHER Mirrors, different from the Self): You’re not the True Heir! I am!
• Vampires: Creature of the night, begone in the name of the Light! Unless you’re one of the hot
ones that I can save, of course!
• Werewolves: You’re the archtypical wild man, filled with raw animal strength and passion. How
on earth did you make that look savage and unattractive?
• Mages: Years of study, and you can’t even do magic in front of people? You got the boring powers.
• Prometheans: God, is that thing ugly
• Changelings: You’re hiding, that means you’re scared. Now me, I’m not hiding from anything!
• Sin-Eaters: Sweet party. Real nice... um, death-theme. And the... ghosts. And... um. I have to
go.
• Mummies: Stop worshipping it! It’s old and ugly. I’m the one you should be worshipping!
• Mad Scientists in general: You can’t show them all with a death ray, there’d be no one left to be shown. It’s a good thing I came along, clearly you need my help.
Artificers: Keep out of my Lebensraum unless I need you to make me something... and, in that case, I expect it to live up to all of my expectations, OR ELSE... Now I know how often their trinkets explode right in your face, not lying.
Directors: Racist, twattical, corrupt fanatics gone so right it makes me wince.
Navigators: W-O-W. Is there any space left for someone else on your crew... And, if you're a de facto (Wo/)Man with No Name, surely you need a Bonnie or a Louise to share your feats of derring-do! A dashing military person in period uniform, seeking adventures and problems to solve, and yours truly... the dynamic sounds really interesting!!
Progenitors: Did anyone mention artificial f-ing life!? This surely sounds interesting!! And furthermore you support human testing... what qualifications are there for becoming your assistant/guinea pig?
Scholastics: Like... this guy's Loki/Hermes/Dionysus??? Gawwwds!! And that pun hit the spot right where I wanted it... <3 You make everything you learn and teach sound soooo interesting... Up for a cuppa and some discussion? This is definitely going to be an interesting friendship!!
Atomists: Trust me, nukes are not the solution to everything.
Etherites: The north-going zax to my south-going zax, the Stannis to my Renly; it's either me or them. Stubborn vs. Stubborn means only one gets to live.
Mechanists: Those bastards think everything has been laid according to plan and free will is an old wives' tale. Let them believe what they believe in.
Oracles: It's such a shame that you bigots see everything in black and white, when there are lots of intense, highly-saturated colours around. Not everything is good or evil; and being a Twilight Noble definitely is liminal and straddles the line.
Phenomenologists: Whoa, whoa, whoa, so there is no absolute f-ing truth!? At first I'm a wee bit confused, but I hope it will somehow become clearer... after all, discussing Camus and Sartre makes me feel down, but who's up for a battle of wits? I know that you're up to the challenge.
Numericals: 7H3 1N73RN37 I5 4 353RY1, U W3B N4Z1 7R0115!
Formalists: There's not much to say about them that is badass except the fact that they can breathe in outer space. I don't give a hoot about them.
Revanchists: Hot Nazis from underground!? They study supernatural life sciences!? This surely sounds interesting!! And furthermore you support human testing... what qualifications are there for becoming your assistant/guinea pig? (Far more interesting than the average Progenitor... these are The Beautiful Elite and have occultists and such interests...) The only shame is their bloody Aryan master race philosophy.
Elders of the Third Law: Their inventions are quaint and excitingly clockpunk... I need some of their flintlock guns --and someone who knows how to use them-- to fight those Storms b***ards...
Hermetic Order of 28 Spheres: So you challenged me to prove you wrong!? Hey, let me have a try!!! This will surely be interesting...
Perfected Vision Institute: Put my Specchio charms of mind control to the test! I wonder for how long you will stay focused...
Nine Vertex Devils Club: Cool people with badaaass vehicles... Hey, I've refurbished my trike with some special charms of mine... but I promise I won't cheat in the race (even we Heirs have standards) to gain membership of your exclusive club...
Resurrection Consortium: Good to know these guys in case I get killed.
• Leviathans: Um, eww! I think it’s trying to talk to me.
• Hunters: I’m glad someone’s trying to do something, I think I’ll make you my knights.
• Mortals: Don’t worry everything will be perfect, you just have to do every little thing I say.
•Sirens in general: Something impressive came out of them crossing the despair event horizon.
Buoyancy: Like Lethe but far tamer, actually with qualms when it comes to pulling others' strings. But still, if I found out more about Sirens, they'd put something penetrating between my shoulder blades at heart height. Also, the Siren counterpart to the Radiant Spades. Look up Spades, there's what I have to say.
Conflict: The Siren counterpart to the Radiant Swords, basically. Look up Swords, there's what I have to say.
Harmony: The Siren counterpart to the Radiant Hearts. Expert diplomats with nerves of steel... For everything else, look up Hearts; there's what I have to say.
Healing: The Siren counterpart to the Radiant Clubs. But far cooler, for their touch can heal flesh as well as xyleme or objects. Definitely worth their weight in ibuprofen as medics.
Wisdom: Like Cocytus but far tamer; actaully with qualms when it comes to acquiring knowledge. A perfect Siren counterpart to the Radiant Diamonds. Look up Diamonds, there's what I have to say.
Acheron: You say the world is half empty? Well, I see it as half full! So put an end to your doomsday psychosis and raise your spirits, for gods' sake!!!
Cocytus: It's fascinating, how you guys who lack so much social life actually would kill to get a dark secret...
Lethe: Iago figures who will meet a worthy opponent in a battle of wits... or not? Anyway, I like challenge. And some fugu sushi as well...
Phlegethon: Kindred spirits when it comes to enjoying life, of course! Hey, can we have a drink, preferently a strong and fruity one, and discuss our common goals over our glasses?
Styx: So you want to kill all humans? Not while I am still alive, you filthy bloody Luddites!!!

Inspiration
Libby Chessler, The Grrrreat and Powerful Trrrrixie, the evil cheerleader archetype in general.

1 comentario: