Paradene Glen

Player Name

Photosynthetic

Name

Paradene Glen

Concept

A dead man's love for a forgotten place, given agency and spirit-form

Power

Shed the Shackles of Matter: Although it is usually stuck in physical form, Glen has begun to re-learn how to assume its original spirit form. For a Fate Point, it can become insubstantial for two rounds. In this state, it can selectively ignore all matter exactly insofar as it wants to, and is undetectable by physical means exactly insofar as it wants to be. If it phases back into flesh while still "inside" a solid object, though, it is expelled to the point where it entered the object, taking 1 physical damage. For all (more than 1) of its Fate Points, it can become insubstantial for five rounds.

Aspects

Echoes of Home: Although the place that birthed it no longer exists, Glen retains a deep and abiding love for similar places — small, wooded parks in large, smoggy cities. Given the choice, it will spend a great deal of time just cherishing them.
Spirit Wears Flesh: Solid and warm-blooded it may usually be, but Glen is still essentially a metaphysical being. It needs neither food nor sleep, and the weather doesn't bother it (though it does seem to like autumn breezes). Conversely, it is much more sensitive to psychic and spiritual "weather": the ambiance of a spell with ill intent feels to it like being caught in the rain, and spending time in dead-magic areas is akin to starvation. Mages and psychics make it skittish: the "air" around them is always a bit too turbulent.
Verge of Transcendence: Since it first encountered the Library, Glen has learned a great deal — enough that it's drawing ever closer to finally dematerializing for good. These days, even when it's not fully insubstantial, Glen's body constantly ripples between opaque and translucent. Its fur ruffles in unseen breezes. It harks to sounds no other solid being hears. It is not quite a creature of this world anymore.
Known for a Ghost: Glen's metaphysical nature is immediately obvious to anyone with the right eyes to see it. Other spirits and similar beings recognize it for what it is — for better or for worse — and may even have heard of it, as the one who survived when it mustn't.

Skills

  • Scholarship (Occult): 3 (Good)
  • Athletics: 4 (Great)
  • Perception: 3 (Good)
  • Stealth: 3 (Good)
  • Survival: 1 (Average)
  • Melee Weapons: 1 (Average)
  • Physical Defense: 2 (Fair)
  • Mental Defense: 3 (Good)
  • Body: 2 (Fair)
  • Mind: 3 (Good)
  • Action Points: 3
  • Load Limit: 3
  • XP Held: 0
  • XP Used: 0

Talents

  • Hopscotch: 2 (Fair)
  • Singing: 4 (Great)
  • Precision Dematerialization: 5 (Superb)

Possessions

  • A small, cheap tin pendant, creased down the middle, on a length of cord.

Personal History

One who has loved the hills and died…
…does not utterly,
Letting his fingers loosen and the green
Ebb from his eyeballs, close his eyes and go:

But other men, long after he is dead,
Seeing those hills will catch their breath and stare
As one who reading in a book some word
That calls joy back but can recall not where —
Only the crazy sweetness in the head —
Will stare at the black print til the page is blurred.
- Archibald MacLeish, “Pony Rock”

The essence of a place remembers those who have loved it. Their joy twines into it like ivy over dunes, giving it the beauty of their love to hold. While they live, their own souls maintain the pattern. When the soul flees, though, the love is not forgotten: as a woody vine holds the shape of the vanished trellis, so the essence of a place clings to the memory of being cherished. Some fragment of its being buds away to become an entity in itself, a being existing only to cherish what the dead no longer can.

Glen is one such entity. The city it remembers is no more, overgrown by modernity; but once it was part of Paradene Glen Park, a little scrap of forest among the smoggy brick. The park was little enough to look at, sad and battered as it was by the metropolis, but it was Elysium to the city-weary souls who came to rest there. Their love so shaped the place’s essence that few had to pass on before it budded a cherisher of its own.

At first, the new entity was little more than a scrap of devotion, and it should have stayed small. Humans will be human, though, and a city park is an opportunity for urban dabblers in the occult. A small band of wannabe magicians came to its groves to try out their new spirit-summoning spell. Their fumbling attempts at magic didn’t call the demon they’d wanted: instead, they got the genius loci, such as it was. The spirit of Paradene Glen was never meant to be instantiated, but their spell forced it into flesh and stuck it there.

Bewildered and little more than animalistic, it escaped its captors by just not being interesting enough and fled into its park. For the first hundred years or so, it hid (it knew the park as an extension of itself, so staying concealed was no trouble) and spent all its time just loving the Glen, as it was born to do. Others who loved the park occasionally glimpsed it, but never for long enough to make it more than an urban legend. It tried to live just as it had before, the inconvenience of instantiation aside; but something was wrong. It wasn’t sure what, and certainly didn’t have the vocabulary to describe the nagging sense of disunity with its park.

Only when the park was finally bulldozed under did the spirit even begin to understand. Genii loci do not persist beyond the place that birthed them; but when Paradene Glen Park died, the spirit of Paradene Glen kept existing. The spell that made it solid had separated its being from that of its birthplace, making them parallel but no longer identical. Nothing in its instinct or experience had come close to preparing it for the wrench of unnatural, final separation. It watched its park die in bewildered agony.

For weeks afterwards it circled the construction site. What could it do, where could it go, now that its reason for being was destroyed? Aimless, it spent its time huddling in back alleys and keening mournfully for its loss. In its shock and grief, and without the shelter of its home, it could no longer stay completely hidden. More and more people glimpsed it: the urban legend of its existence gained credence. Inevitably, someone more dangerous than those amateur summoners took notice.

To this day Glen doesn’t really know what happened: at the time, it didn’t have the faculties to understand it. It remembers being followed for a while; then a scuffle with figures wielding nets; and then a cage, a car, and several days of being poked and prodded in a cold, strange-smelling room. It remembers hating that room with all its being, and it remembers being unutterably relieved to be free again. Thinking back, it later realized that it doesn’t actually know how or why it was freed, only that its cage was opened one day and it fled blindly back into the city. It suspects that it was, once again, not interesting enough to keep: with the park gone, its weird properties were much diminished, and it must have looked like merely a strange depressed animal with some inorganic parts. Either it was deliberately released or its captors didn’t bother guarding it very well.

Freed again, it went back to wandering. Eventually it found the place where its park had been, only to find that its beloved soil had all been replaced with concrete foundations. Without even a lingering connection to the place-that-was-no-longer-home, it drifted out into the city.

The first other park it discovered was a sip of water in the sudden desert of its existence. There were other places like Paradene Glen! This one wasn’t home, but perhaps Glen could find another park where it could be at peace. With that realization, the spirit had purpose again. None of the parks in its home city were suitable — too big or too small, the wrong landscaping, too much noise or not enough. The suburbs and countryside were almost too strange to contemplate, but when the driving loneliness was eventually worse than the alien landscapes, it braved them long enough to travel to another city and keep searching. Through city after city, country after country, it searched, traveling in bus luggage compartments and train undercarriages.

Gradually, as it traveled and searched, it began to learn. Even instantiated, a mere genius loci had no need for knowledge beyond instinct; but for a weird beast to survive in strange cities, it had to begin picking up the ways of the people in them. Though it started from bare instinct, it was intelligent: from discarded books, wind-caught newspapers, and TVs & radios left on in store windows, it learned to speak and read. At first it paid attention only to the facts that helped it hide and find its way around. Eventually, though, it realized the wealth of information to be learned from others — not least of which was the fact that there were other creatures like it.

The scraps of paranormal knowledge it managed to find taught it that it was not alone in its strangeness — perhaps there were no other beings of its particular kind, but there were other people who didn’t fit the human norm. Eventually it worked up the courage to reveal itself; luckily for it, the apparently-trustworthy person it chose turned out to be with the Serpent’s Hand. It spent a long time in the Library, studying its strange world and eking out clues to its strange nature. Perhaps it would have lived there for the rest of its corporeal existence, if things had not Changed.

When the Library closed to it, it was suddenly on its own — nowhere to go, no park to love, no one to turn to. It found a few old friends, and traveled with them for a while, before wandering off with the Chainstalk. At some point, for reasons unclear to anyone else, it set off again on its own, and is now wandering again.

Miscellaneous

A spirit is not an animal. Its appearance and nature depends on its raison d’etre and state of mind rather than on grooming and evolution. Glen was born to love a city park, so its body is an amalgam of the park’s denizens & features: a sinuous, tawny-furred shape neither fox nor squirrel with a bushy tail big enough to hide in, two rows of decorative wrought-iron fence descending its neck and back, brick laid flush on its flanks, fallen leaves in its fur, and loop jewelry of steel and glass. As a quadruped, it’s about three feet tall at the shoulder; it can stand easily or walk awkwardly on its hind legs in order to use its dextrous, hand-like forepaws. It is entirely sexless. Its voice is human but as sexless and ageless as its owner; it speaks with a slight accent, unidentifiable but probably from northern or eastern Europe. It always smells of fallen leaves and wet earth, with a faint undertone of coal smoke.

It’s adrift now, though, and its park is dead, so it always looks disheveled and ill. Its fur is dull and rumpled and its eyes are glassy with fever. Its fencing is broken and rust-stained, twisted into something more like antlers than fence. The bricks on its flanks are broken, pitted, and weathered, with brownish moss between them. Its leaves are worn as if by half a winter (though since its time with the Chainstalk, there are more left intact and colorful), some are rotted away to skeletons, and they share their space with flecks of ash. Only its jewelry remains intact: the rings, earrings, and antler-loops are still made of steel, bright faceted glass, and an iridescent, bubbled obsidian-like reddish-orangish-black factory slag.

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