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Childlings are one of the seemings of Kithain society. Generally a childling is between the ages of three and 13 years old, though the real barrier is the first signs of puberty. After that point, the Kithain is considered a wilder.

Overview

Childlings live a life of contradictions. They are wise beyond their apparent age, but their innocence and imagination gives them a unique link to the Dreaming and many have lived countless lifetimes, though they may not realize it currently. As they don't understand adult life, they often see things others can't.

Lifestyle

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In many ways they are like mortal children; the world is their playground and they love the spectacle and pageantry of their faerie lives. While older fae can mistake them as passive and peaceful, all of the Glamour coursing through them can make them powerful centers of chaos. The worst are vicious, feral, or entitled while the best are precociously imaginative.

Their innocence brings them closer to the Dreaming than their older fae family and Banality affects them the least. Life is a never ending faerie tale, though some of those tales can be dark, grim, or tragic. They can have problems being taken seriously by their elders especially the ones who are too caught up in the game of life. Noble childlings experience this as much as their commoner counterparts.

They often have to hide their natures from adults who think they know what's best for them and many of them run away when the pressures of the world become to great for them, living entirely in freeholds that will care for them. They enjoy a certain amount of privilege in kithain society; they are nurtured, taught, and encouraged and often forgiven their misdeeds in their learning. This inexperience, though, also keeps them pushed out of adult endeavors, and can force them to live entirely in their own reality where playtime is all the time.

Spring

Children are the most in touch with Glamour and the Dreaming. Even mortal children often have a low enough Banality to see and interact with the things of the faerie realm. Changeling childlings are precious to the Kithain for their combination of childhood innocence and the wisdom and experience that comes from their immortal faerie nature.

Although childlings might seem immature according to the standards of most mortals, it is important to remember that their fae selves are far, far older than their mortal bodies. A childling may appear to be a tabula rasa in their mortal seeming, but their fae mien can reflect a deep legacy of experience and wisdom accumulated through a dozen mortal lifetimes.

The only trouble for childlings is accessing the information. To paraphrase the saying, they remember everything, they just can’t recall it all the time. Some childlings with significant Remembrance recall more about their fae existence than others, giving them surprisingly adult insights and thoughts at times. Otherwise, most childlings have returned to a state of grace that others can only dream of attaining. They are unburdened by the cynicism and Banality that comes from living too long: their fae natures have been renewed by their rebirth into childhood innocence, with little or no memory of their past lives.

Walking the Balance

The existence of a childling is balanced between opposites: fae and mortal, wise and innocent, experienced and yet new to everything in the world. It is this balance that gives childlings their greatest strength, and their greatest weakness.

The greatest power of childlings is the power of Glamour, the embodied power of wide-eyed wonder at the world. They are very close to Glamour and the Dreaming and have the highest levels of Glamour. They also have very little Banality because they have not yet been infected with many of life’s more mundane and cynical thoughts and ideas. To a childling, the world is an amazing place where anything is possible, and, backed by the power of Glamour, they can make almost anything happen.

Childlings are quite capable with cantrips and in the creation of chimera. A childling undergoing the Chrysalis is the most likely of any changeling to produce chimera out of the imaginary friends and figures from stories or ideas. Most such chimera are usually protective or at least friendly to the childling who birthed them, but childlings have been known to create nervosa or nocnitsa out of their vivid imaginations as well, especially childlings whose Chrysalis is not an easy or pleasant one.

Although they have a great gift of Glamour in their natures, they are also limited by their lack of experience. Although a childling might have memories of many lifetimes with their fae nature, their seeming makes it difficult to recall them. Such things seem like hazy dreams or fantasies at best, like childhood games of pretending to be a faerie princess or a brave knight from an exiled noble family. They are often ignorant of the rituals and practices of changeling society, and have to relearn a great deal before they are able to conduct themselves properly at court.

Childlings are also still considered to be children by other changelings. Even though they are taken far more seriously by their changeling elders than by their mortal parents and other adults, they are still considered “too young” for many of the matters of changeling society. They are certainly not involved in the matters of leadership or making decisions about the future of kingdoms or even noble houses without the advice of regents and counselors. Older changelings, especially grumps, often attempt to shield childlings from some of the worst depredations of Banality and keep them from some of the harshness of the mortal world. Too much protection, however, can result in childlings slipping into Bedlam and losing their grip on mortality altogether.

Mortal Family

One of the greatest problems faced by childlings is their mortal family, especially their parents or guardians. Parents do not recognize the special world of their changeling child as anything other than the product of a vivid imagination (indeed, the Mists specifically prevent them from doing so). Even the most indulgent and tolerant parents eventually become confused by the attitudes and actions of a changeling child, especially as the child wants to hang around with teenaged and adult “playmates” or needs to run off to attend court at every full moon.

Some parents are open-minded enough to encourage their changeling child’s “healthy fantasy life.” They talk oh-so-seriously with the child about their “invisible friends,” even leaving out extra cookies and milk for them, and make sure to leave the hall light on to chase away the monster lurking in the closet. A childling fortunate enough to have such parents can get away with a great deal if they are careful and know how to humor their parents’ adult prejudices. Many childlings play the adults in their lives like well-tuned instruments.

Some childlings are not so fortunate. They live with parents or guardians who are very banal in nature and are confused by manifestations of their child’s nature. A childling’s family might even be Autumn People, which places the changeling in great danger of being Undone by Banality if they are continually exposed to the disbelief and cold comments of their family members: “Why don’t you just grow up?” “Act your age, little gentlemen/ladies don’t behave like that!” Even the most well-meaning parents may force Banality on a childling “for their own good” or take them to a therapist to “cure” them of the childhood fantasies they seem to cling to.

The worst cases are the childlings who come from families without love or affection. These families are as cold as a dead grove on a winter night. They might even be physically dangerous to the childling, with physical and sexual abuse. Such experiences can drive a fae child into Banality with terrible swiftness, causing them to be Undone or, worse yet, twisting their Chrysalis and tainting it with Banality, causing the childling to become a Dauntain. These are the dangers that have caused many changelings to take an emerging childling from their mortal family.

The Lost Boys

The Lost Boys are those childlings who run away from their mortal families without knowing who they are and often ending up living on the fringes of mortal and fae societies.

Fostering a Childling

The prime means for Kithain society to deal with homeless childlings and to see to the education and good behavior of childlings in general, is fosterage. When a changeling has completed the Chrysalis, they are brought before the ruling noble and officially recognized. The noble then chooses an appropriate guardian to see to the education and protection of the fledge until they are ready to leave the nest.

For grumps and even wilders, this process is usually a fairly brief one. Grumps have enough maturity under their belts to quickly learn the ropes of Kithain society and all of the do’s and don’ts. Wilders learn the basics and then pick up the rest as they move through the complex world of Kithain politics and society, eager to be right in the thick of things. Even the most patient wilder won’t remain under the direct care of their guardian for long after their Saining.

Childlings are a different story, though. Because they are so young, becoming a guardian to a childling is more of a long-term commitment than fostering a wilder or grump. The guardian of an older changeling is more of their mentor or older sibling, while the guardian of a childling is something of an adoptive parent. Childlings require greater care and knowledge to teach than others, and changelings who become guardians to these young fledges have their work cut out for them.

Changelings who are capable guardians are often assigned to foster more than one childling at a time, and the bonds created by such fosterage last throughout the changelings’ lifetimes. Childlings who are fostered together often come to consider themselves adopted siblings, and their bonds of family remain strong as the grow older. Many young changeling nobles are fostered together to promote alliances between houses and families in later years. The guardians of such fledges also hold respected positions with them as well, such as True Thomas’ fostering of High King David and his sister Morwen.

Initial Temper Scores

Becoming a Wilder

A childling becomes a wilder through a ritual known as the Togail an Ainm.

References

Gallery

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