Christopher Henry MarloweAlias:
Balador Bartender, Sometime-NightwalkerSeeming:
Marlowe’s Mask has no noticeable differences, but that is -- of course -- only half the story for a Changeling. Underneath his Mask, the smoldering eyes actually smolder
-- a deep violet and scarlet flicker in the irises. His hair is jet black, rakish yet somehow perfectly coiffed. His skin is translucently white, but shadows cast on that skin don’t just darken, they blacken -- like ink in water. Douse all the lights in the room, and you can still see him; it’s not quite
like he’s made of blacklights, but it’s similar. He’s sable on midnight blue, a vague outline not crystal clear but still perfectly visible to the naked eye.Contracts:Spring (Fleeting):
- Cupid's Eye: This clause takes the first step in fulfilling a person's desires -- or teasing him and stringing him along -- by revealing what those desires are. The changeling learns one of the subject's desires. Catch: The character has kissed the subject within the past 24 hours, or the subject's object of desire is the character.
- Growth Of The Ivy: Humans are fickle creatures, changing desires with the day or the season. This Contract allows the character to direct a subject's desires somewhat. The subject's desires change in a manner of the character's choosing. The change lasts for one day. Catch: The character is acting to make the subject desire her.
- Wyrd-Faced Stranger: The changeling appears as whomever the subject most desires to see at that moment. The subject recognizes the character as the person he would most like to see at the moment. The character has no say over who she becomes, she just knows that she is recognized as the desired individual. Catch: The character has recently offered food to the target and the target has accepted, or vice versa.
- Pandora's Gift: The changeling creates an object that another person truly desires out of nothing but emotion, dreamstuff and random materials. Things created through this Contract last for the rest of the scene before returning to their original states. Until that time, they function perfectly as normal. Catch: The subject has recently (within one week) given the character a gift. This gift comes with no strings attached, including any expectation of this gift.
- Mask of Superiority: The Changeling becomes able to convince a single subject that the Changeling is simply better than them in some way. This may manifest as apparently higher social status, greater professional authority, or other means of invoking greater station. This Clause does not compel obedience and provides no true authority or knowledge, only creating the illusion of such. Catch: The Changeling is pretending to be a socialite or celebrity who's authority comes from looks alone.
- Songs of Distant Arcadia: Prized Changelings were rarely valued solely for their presence. Often their captors required their subjects to perform in some amusing fashion to prove their worth. This Clause echoes that requirement and grants the Changeling the ability to enhance any form of entertainment she performs. Examples include but are not limited to: becoming an exceptionally skilled storyteller, a particularly agile dancer, a melodious musician, etc. Catch: The audience for which this Clause is invoked holds great wealth or prestige within the context of their society.
- Splendor of the Envoy's Protection: This Clause allows the Changeling to temporarily cast aside the Mask which hides her inhuman nature and reveal her otherworldly essence to even unenchanted mortals. Her appearance dazzles all mortals who can see her with all her glory. This need not be a manifestation of physical beauty, and indeed the Changeling may be horrific to mortal senses, but intimidation is functionally no different than adoration to the user of the Clause. Regardless, the viewer is stunned for up to ten minutes, the invoker reclaims her mortal Mask, or they are physically attacked.. Note that supernatural mortals (such as mages) are not incapacitated, but still find themselves unable to harm a Changeling using this Clause. Catch: This Clause is invoked at a formal party with at least a dozen onlookers.
- Pathfinder: Through this most basic Clause, the Changeling gains access to the realm of dreams. Without it, she may still view the dreams of others, but this allows the Changeling to literally step into the dream of a mortal. Catch: Pluck a thorn from any natural plant and use it to shed a single drop of blood.
- Unnatural Chill: Shadowsouls are distant cousins of Darklings, recruited as the Fairest of the night hours. Unnatural Chill is an extension of this reality: Shadowsouls can allow the smallest portion of their connection to night escape their Mask, surrounding themselves in an almost perceptible aura of cold, bitterly austere beauty -- a beauty that frightens as much as it attracts. ((NOTE TO ADMINS: This is an adaptation of the Unnatural Chill mechanic, which provides a bonus to Intimidation rolls. Let me know if this is an unacceptable interpretation))
((ADMIN NOTE: I switched the order of Personality and History. As I hope the History makes clear, this makes more sense, given Marlowe’s backstory))
Chris Marlowe was the only child of a banker and a lawyer in New York City--the kind of parents who are far too busy making too much money to be bothered with the concept of “parenting.” And so he became what most of these children are doomed to become: The Manhattan Brat. By seventeen, this silver-tongued kid was talking his way into Lower East Side clubs with a fake ID and a smile; he took a girl’s virginity at eighteen on the third floor dance floor at Vida to the roar of the crowd, and traded his, er…other
virginity to a male promoter at age twenty for an open bar wristband and an eighth. He was not--never really has been--a particularly good person.
And even though he wasn’t particularly intelligent, he was smart
--the kind of smart that let you sound like you knew what you were talking about when you had nothing to back it up, the kind of smart that made you seem like someone worth knowing when you were just as grasping and just as reaching as anyone else. He was the life of the party. He had something to say to everyone, about anything, and he was always, always
a good time.
Then Faerie found him.
Like all of the Fairest, Marlowe doesn’t quite remember his time spent in Faerie--he catches only glimpses of it, a sudden taste of honey in his mouth or the rushing scent of a verdant wildflower garden or a sudden memory of a moonlit sea and a palace of white marble. All of these glimpses are bittersweet; some more than others.
He was whisked over the Hedge in the middle of the night out of the bathroom of a speakeasy in New York City--he still called himself Chris, back then--and deposited rather unceremoniously into the middle of a party thrown by a particularly hedonistic Ancient One who called himself “The Wit,” and played the part. The Wit’s demesne rose up next to a calm lake and out of a thick forest in a world without sunlight--only the three moons and stars, and the fires of a thousand thousand candles, illuminated His eternal bacchanal. At first, Chris was treated like a celebrity: A wit to match The Wit, debating the antlered satyr for hours on end, hunting wild animals with The Wit’s courtiers, swimming in His lake and soaking in His Baths. He ate until he could eat no more, drank until his sight blurred, and slowly--so terribly slowly--lost his humanity in the rush. He became a Fairest in a land of night, and the shadows of that place wormed their way into the boy’s very soul.
Chris became Marlowe--something of a fixture in The Wit’s court. His duties (all of a sudden there were duties!) were to entertain the Gentry who came to pay The Wit homage and partake in his endless hospitality, with his mind, with his tongue, and (yes) with his body, when required. It wasn’t an unpleasant existence--far from it. He was treated as a loyal, treasured pet, unlike the Elementals who fed His fires and the Wizened who cooked His feasts. And The Wit took seemingly endless delight in playing verbal riposte with this human male who always seemed to have a comeback at the ready.
Inevitably, it was that coveted quality that undid him. At one of His endless and nameless festivals in that grand palace of white marble, Marlowe fired off a retort to which The Wit had no reply. The Wit was outwitted. The audience roared with delight. The Wit, however, was quite silent.
The next morning (a slightly brighter dusk in His domain), Marlowe awoke in the middle of the woods, naked, with a note tied around his neck informing him of his predicament: The Wit no longer had need of his services, and thought it would be quite droll to have Marlowe hunted by the same courtiers he had once pleasured. These companions and sometime-lovers, these men and women of the gentry with whom Marlowe had mingled, now chased him through the forests of Faerie on horseback and gryphonback and dragonback, cackling with delight as this Fairest scraped his knees and muddied his feet. Were it not for the Gentry’s desire to toy with their prey, Marlowe would have been cut down in a matter of hours. But they gave him time--and that was all the room Fate needed.
Marlowe pricked his left thigh on a thornbush in a particularly thick patch of woods, and his desperation formed a Contract with mortal Dreams--they showed him a road out of Faerie and through the Hedge, and he took it, giving The Wit the slip, getting the last laugh...and getting arrested for indecent exposure after wandering out of the woods in rural Colorado, naked and bleeding.
That was three years ago. The Court of Spring found Marlowe quickly, and he met others like him--Changelings who had escaped, escaped!--for the first time. He found that the auspices of Spring accentuated the talents he’d honed in The Wit’s court, though his memories of that strange place were evaporating with each passing day. And he set to work trying to rebuild his life. The Wit hadn’t bothered with a Fetch, but his friends in New York had all moved on (as club kids tend to do in their upper twenties). And he had no real skills other than those of the consort-entertainer. The Court of Spring whispered “Columbiana” to him as a place where he might settle down and build something like a normal life in a place populated with others--other CHangelings, other Mages, other “not-normals.” Friends to fill the void the Fairest needed to fill. Protectors to shield him from The Wit, and his hunt, should they ever take it upon themselves to come for their quarry.
He’s posted himself up in Balador as a bartender, an occasional performer, and--as always--an escort, earning his keep pouring drinks and charming the pants off of whatever woman or man has the dollars in their pocket and lust for companionship in their hearts. Or wherever else. It’s a hollow shadow of Marlowe’s old role, and he knows that. Feels it, even if he can’t remember it. But for now, as the Courts shudder up into the daylight and Columbiana seems to quake with uncertainty, he’ll take Balador over The Wit.Personality:
Marlowe is, at bottom, the consummate entertainer. They say The Fairest are the best; for Marlowe, this manifests in his interactions with others. He knows just what to say. He knows just who to say it to. He can put on as many masks as he needs to surround himself with as many friends as he can, and he does
so, not out of any genuine interest but out of the deep, un-human obsession of the Fairest to love and be loved. Precisely because he is un-human, though, this isn’t a hollow obsession; it’s quite real. Marlowe wants to be your friend. Marlowe wants you to love
him, to adore him, to be enchanted by him. To be as addicted to him as he is to you. Well, to all of you. The Royal “You.”
This intensity can be off-putting to some, but Marlowe has ways of circumventing that. His Fairest delicacy manifests most powerfully when even those Contracted safeguards fail and he’s actually rejected--the poor man doesn’t know how to cope with someone who sincerely dislikes him. It short-circuits his brain.
Luckily, that happens rarely. Marlowe is a professional hedonist. It is his job to show people a good time. In Balador, he’s a dynamo--making drinks, cracking jokes, seizing the DJ booth, dancing on the main floor--radiating that strange electric energy that accompanies all Fairest in their element. So long as he stays there, he’s untouchable.
Outside, things get a bit more complicated. Marlowe needs companionship like forests need rain, and while he’s done well over the last few years to ingratiate himself with the movers and shakers in the Academy and the Changeling communities, he’s still a delicate soul with a delicate social network. And, for all his easy smiles and quick wit, Marlowe is very much aimless. He is quite literally focused solely on surviving. His dreams do not extend past his next shift. And that vague sense of loss from his unremembered time in paradise makes that harder to live with with each passing day.
Finally, while Marlowe doesn’t remember The Wit and his final hunt, he does
know that leaving Faerie was traumatic, and that he was chased out, and has a vague sense of dread when he contemplates returning, or when he’s forced to be in the deep, wild forests outside Columbiana. His contract with Dream is most regularly spent identifying paths through the Hedge...so he can give them a wide berth.