Changelings are both born and made. Since undertaking the Changeling Way, they are born in the bodies of human infants and spend the first part of their life as normal children. Many reach their teens and a few even full adulthood before the part of themselves that is of the Dreaming bursts out. This process, at whatever time of life it comes, is the Chrysalis
Hints of the Dreaming Edit
Throughout their lives, most Changelings grow up as misfits in their communities. Some indescribable essence hovers over them and causes others to label them as "gifted," "exceptional," "precocious," or even, appropriately, "fey." Some societies have more derogatory terms for such people. As children they have imaginary playmates who might not be imaginary. They insist on believing in dragons and unicorns and superheroes even after their peers have moved on to sports and dating. As they age they continue to strike their friends and families as eccentric or whimsical and fail to ever really feel comfortable in the world. This sense of not quite belonging comes from the sleeping faerie soul, waiting its time to express itself.
Some changelings may experience a mini-Chrysalis, and reject it (or are never discovered by other Kithain) and return to their mundane states, only to re-experience the Chrysalis again much later in life.
At this point the changeling begins to experience life differently. The Dreaming seeps into their life like water into a leaky ship. Almost in slow motion, the house of cards they call their life begins to fall. They are troubled by things they have always seen, because now they are just a little different, in an unfathomable way. That bank they pass every day looks like a dungeon for a second. They look closely and decide that they were wrong. They're tired, maybe they need a new prescription for their glasses. A chemist notices that their glass test tubes are breaking a lot more than they should. A youngster occasionally has an out-of-body experience where they find themself in the woods and their feet look like cloven hooves.
A key scene from Time Bandits is another example: a knight appears in Kevin's bedroom and gallops from his chiffarobe to beyond his wall, only to completely disappear before Dad shows up. There's no proof once the lights are on. The dwarves haven't shown up yet, but they're on their way.
A changeling in Onset has a foot in both worlds. By now they probably notice that "something is amiss," but they will not consciously accept the inevitable. It's almost funny to watch these poor changelings try to cling to the tatters of their mundane existences.
Slowly, like a swimmer coming to the surface, the changeling's true nature begins to emerge. Racial characteristics of the Kithain play a game of hide-n-seek with the character's psyche. They may briefly notice them on themself, or they may notice them on other people, but never for any continual period of time. The physical elements of the Kithain are the most obvious differences between fae and human, so it's understandable that an Onset changeling would notice these things first. While brushing their teeth, they might notice that their jaw was a little larger than they remembered it to be. In shock, they drop the toothbrush. When they looks again, their jaw is the way it's "supposed to be." While walking in a crowd, they might see a pair of rabbit ears peeking out atop the sea of bobbing heads. They blink, and they're gone.
Personality quirks among the fae also subtly surface here. Some of these changes can be quite dramatic, and short-lived. A sidhe undergoing Onset may finally stand up to her abusive husband, and he cringes, as if struck... but just as suddenly, she loses her resolve. The computer nerd, who never really liked the sun anyway, suddenly realizes that a lot more quality time could be had in their nice, dank cellar than in front of a computer screen, then shakes their head and wonder why they have been squatting in the dark for the past several hours. Of course, mortals will sometimes notice the psychological changes. If they point them out, the changeling will, usually, vehemently deny the behavior, or they might seek therapy.
Manifestations of Glamour are rare at this stage, but they do sometimes happen. Occasionally a changeling undergoing the Onset will unconsciously cast a cantrip, though these are more like a virtuoso clearing their throat than a full-belted aria. Items from stores reappearing in the changeling's pocket that the changeling never even touched, that sort of thing. Occasionally, a changeling's anxiety will spawn a chimera or a nervosa during this period.
The biggest danger is that a changeling undergoing Onset will be detected by others besides changelings. This instance is similar to the bird's egg that nearly hatches, but it knocks itself out of the nest in its initial struggles. The egg usually falls to the ground, and if it doesn't break, some frog or fox eats it. The Hidden Ones love to experiment with changelings, and who wants to even think about what kind of kicks vampires get out of these Kithain.
Assuming a changeling survives past the Onset, a little time usually passes before they move onto the next phase, usually no more than a week. Oftentimes, a pre-Chrysalis changeling will spend most of their time sleeping or resting. They are gathering themself, saving their resources and energy for that last, final push: the drawing of the final curtain between themself and the Dreaming.
Dream Dance EditAt some point, usually the most inopportune time for the mortal life, the warnings stop and the high point of the Chrysalis begins: the Dream Dance. Like a natural disaster, Glamour rushes in to surround the awakened Changeling, wrapping him or her in the stuff of raw Dreaming. Nothing they experience has any relation to the world they thought they knew. They often have a hard time perceiving where their body and the rest of the world begins.
Confronted with the Dreaming for the first time, the Fae faces his or her true fae self in the light of chimerical reality. The Mists roll away, more or less, and visions of past lives and even distant Arcadia may come; visions of the future are possible as well. Their deepest dreams and nightmares come to bear, birthing chimera. And the surge of Glamour announces to every fae in the area about what has just happened.
A Changeling is at their most vulnerable during the Dream Dance. Unable to make sense of what is happening, they become a beacon of mystical energy that any supernatural being has a chance to notice. He or she becomes easy prey to some of the more disreputable characters of the World of Darkness, including those who hunt the fae. All changelings in the area are duty-bound to locate the new fae and protect him or her and most do, if only to drink from the wellspring of Glamour associated with the Dance.
The Chrysalis affects physical surroundings as well. Generally, the setting of the event tends to conform to the equivalent locale of the Near Dreaming, but this isn't always the case. The state of mind of the changeling in Chrysalis is important. A Chrysalid who spent her life as an "Army brat," shunted from base to base, might re-invent her surroundings as a bunch of closely ordered, featureless, wood buildings with wild swathes of red, white and blue patterns floating in the air. An advertising executive may suddenly conjure up several large, nightmarishly elongated Marlboro Men with attendant horses, prairie, and rows of giant vertical cigarettes. Dream Dances do not have to be so literal. The possibilities are endless: grasshoppers with human heads, tiny killer cars, or anything else in or out of the imagination.
Regardless of the form it takes, the Dream Dance is immediately preceded by a psychic "wave" of Glamour, washing over everything and everyone. Rescuing fae must act quickly, for pandemonium will run riot after the wave is felt. The last thing you want to do to a Dream Dancer is touch or alarm them in any way. A careful, cautious approach is necessary. Anything that alarms the Dream Dancer could set off an avalanche of Glamour. Kind words and quiet assurances of your wish to help is the best way to communicate with a Kithain in Chrysalis.
Finally, and most important—be wary of using cantrips. Glamour runs riot during this time, and the changeling in Chrysalis often will cast uncontrolled cantrips well beyond their power under normal circumstances. Even your own Cantrips may go haywire, refuse to function, or turn against you!
The Dream Dance abates the moment the changeling accepts her identity and calms down. At this point, she can assist in the control of her own created chimera (and if she doesn't, it may well suggest that she is Unseelie), and things start to settle down. Okay, folks, break it up; Mardi Gras is over, go back to sleep, which is what usually happens. The Burgesses run home, lock the doors, hide in their beds or closets, and by the morning, the Mists fog their brains, and they have forgotten all of last night's chaos.
Fosterage & Saining Edit
The kithain who find their new sibling usually quickly spirit him or her away to introduce them to their new life in a period called Fosterage, a time of learning what it means to be Fae. This period ends with a Saining ceremony and with the new faerie being accepted as a full member of Kithain society. (See Fosterage, Saining) The Chrysalis technically ends at this point, though many would say the Dream Dance is the end of the phenomenon.
Not every changeling who experiences their Chrysalis can cope with it. Some plunge into madness as their world crumbles. Some take refuge in Banality and deny that anything is real about their new being; they would rather have "normal." A few even turn against the Dreaming and all those things connected to it, joining the ranks of the Dauntain.