Though it has been forgotten by all but a few of the eldest fae, the Kithain of House Balor trace their ancestry back to a line of sidhe who mixed their blood with that of the Fomorians. Most changelings believe that the house name is simply an Unseelie joke, a slap in the face to the proud Seelie. The twisted members of House Balor have no intention of disillusioning them. Because of this, most Seelie believe that members of House Balor are like bad children, that since they are dissatisfied by their place in fae society, they say and do things merely to shock their Seelie cousins. Few understand the true danger House Balor poses.
The house reckons their founder as Lugh of the Long Arm, grandson of Balor of the Evil Eye, king of the Fomorians. Thus, they believe they are doubly royal and laugh at the pretensions of House Gwydion. As Lugh slew his own grandfather, they believe that they are destined to rid themselves of the weak and foolish Seelie, and take their rightful place as the rulers of the fae. They would then demand tribute from all their subjects, and rule the humans as overlords. House Balor believes that the Endless Winter is almost here, and that a strong hand needs to guide the helm to steer the fae through it. They actively work to bring on the Winter so they can seize power as soon as possible.
All members of House Balor are marked by some sort of deformity, a throwback to their Fomorian blood. Such deformities are not always apparent, nor are all of them physical. They might also be mental or emotional. Many changelings of House Balor flirt with disaster by carrying and utilizing iron weapons as a way of thumbing their noses at the other sidhe. They do not suffer from Banality’s Curse, the frailty of most sidhe. They are even more likely to fall into fits of depression, however. Unlike Balor’s burning eye, their deformities give them no special powers.
Members of House Balor can often be found pretending to be from other houses (especially Eiluned or Dougal). They are highly skilled in both warfare and infiltration. Many bide their time, worming their way into the confidence of Seelie they perceive to be weak and ripe for takeover, acting as knights, confidants or courtiers. While some members of House Balor cooperate with the Shadow Court, the house has its own agenda, which it hopes to eventually implement. For now, they act in concert with Houses Ailil and Leanhaun, content to bask in the prestige of bringing the Black Spiral Dancers and the modern Fomori into an alliance with the Unseelie.
If you are of the blood of Balor, rejoice in your fortune, for you are the elite among the Children of Dreams. Alone among the fae, House Balor has no doubts, no hesitations. Though they do not currently rule, even now their plans move to fruition. Their moment will come with the intensity of an undeniable whirlwind and when that wind has swept clean those who are not worthy, Balor will remain.
They come from the Dreaming back into the Waking World to conquer it and turn it to their use. In doing so, they must assume the outward guise of humankind, but they are not like pitiful mortals. They are gods clothed in other flesh for the moment. When they rule by force of arms as well as by birthright, that will change. Then they shall order the worlds, both physical and Dreaming, to their liking, and command the mortals and their weaker brethren as they wish.
For now, that journey from the Dreaming to the Waking World robs them of their memories, leaving them vulnerable. Their commitment falters as they struggle to remember who and what they truly are. This information is provided by the house's greatest teachers and generals to remind their own of their place in the house and within the War of Rulership. In it, it will be explained where the house comes from, who they are, and why they seek the subjugation of the worlds.
Make no mistake. For too long they have been downtrodden; their name and forthright scorned. No more! They shall rise like a tidal wave to crush their foes. Though all may stand against them in the end, such foes are but insects to be swatted when they prove an annoyance. Let them posture and preen. The Balor are the embodiment of dark dreams of war and conquest. They are the scourge and the flame; the iron sword that cleaves the light. Their coming will be cause for lamentation and the curses of their enemies, for they bring the Evernight with their victory. They are the armies of darkness and their name shall be destruction. They are Balor. They will prevail.
History of House Balor Edit
Let no one tell you they know history if they haven't lived it. The People of Balor were rulers of the land long before the other noble houses existed. Their's is blood of the most royal. Gwydion may pretend to be the chosen leaders of the fae all they like; Balor knows the true story. All the sidhe except House Balor trace their origins back to the Tuatha de Danaan. Balor claims an older kingship, an earlier rule, and a greater progenitor.
The Mythic Age & Before Edit
Before the advent of the Tuatha de Danaan, Balor's people, the fomorians, ruled the waves and received tribute from the people of Hibernia. They were born of the earliest settlers' dreams and terrors, of all that they admired and feared, given shape from their most hideous imaginings and the fomorians became as the mortals made them: strict overlords who accepted their adulation and their tribute and who agreed to live apart from them on islands of their own. The fomorians governed the northern seas, preying upon anyone foolish enough to venture into their waters, and the struck fiercely and decisively against those who denied them their due as rulers of the northwest isles.
Gradually, these first dreamers died out and were replaced by the Fir Bolg, who settled and farmed the land. At first, the Fir Bolg resisted fomorian rule and, in a great battle, drove many of them out but when they returned in greater force, the king and warrior elite of the Fir Bolg agreed to pay tribute. In return, the fomorians used their magic to make the lands fertile and bless them with strong children.
For long years, the fomorians reigned, unchallenged and respected, if not loved, by all. Though they took the best that mortals produced as their tribute, they did not require much. Mortals were regarded as beloved subjects, and marriages even happened with a few of their elite. Many willingly came to the fomorians as servants, drawn by their glory.
Then came the Tuatha de Danaan. Though they were distant cousins of the fomorians as creatures of the Dreaming, they refused to recognize the fomorians' dreamers and their overlordship. In their arrogance, the Tuatha saw only that the fomorians' dreamers were dark and small, not tall and fair like themselves. They invaded Hibernia, demanding that the Fir Bolg cede their dreamers, known as the Beaker People, half the land. The Fir Bolg refused. As the fomorians lived on islands separated from Hibernia by stormy seas, they did not know the Tuatha had come. They forced the Fir Bolg into battle, defeating and killing most of them with faerie treasures and magics against which their dreamers had no defense. Those who survived fled far to the West, to the fomorians' islands, for sanctuary and to warn of the coming of the Children of Danu.
When the fomorians heard what the Tuatha had done, they could hardly curb their wrath. First, they sent envoys to the Tuathan king, Nuada; ambassadors from fomorian to Tuathan. Now, remember, the fomorians were born of nightmare and terror and so had twisted visages and differences others would call deformities. The proud Tuatha, who would accept no one as king who was not physically perfect, drew back in horror from the messengers, giving deadly insult. They barely heard the complaint against them on behalf of the Fir Bolg and the fomorians' demand that they pay tribute... both to acknowledge fomorian rights to the land and to repay their dreamers for some of what they had lost. The arrogant usurpers refused and set the envoys adrift on the sea with neither weapons nor food. Only fomorian magic drew them back to the islands, where they reported what the Tuatha had said.
The Rise of Balor Edit
No more would the fomorians bow to Tuathan insults. They gathered their hosts and prepared for war. One among them, a mighty warlord called Balor, was chosen to lead them in battle. When he was much younger, Balor, who had but one eye, spied on a solemn rite he was forbidden to witness. As punishment, the Dreaming cursed him so that his eye became a thing of terror. Whenever it was opened, a horrible red light issued from it, killing all it gazed upon. Thus, Balor could not open his eye without destroying whatever he looked upon and was so made effectively blind. Even without his sight, though, he was a great warrior: quick, clever, strong, and wily. He led the fomorian army into battle against the Tuatha. Great was the slaughter on both sides, but in the end, the Tuathan king, Nuada, lost his arm and the Children of Danu fled before the power of Balor's eye.
Graciously, the fomorians granted them their lives and once again demanded their just tribute. By their own laws, Nuada could no longer rule the Tuatha, for he was no longer perfect. In his stead, they chose Bres, the most beautiful among them. The Tuatha did not realize that Bres' mother might be Tuathan, but his father was fomorian. Bres agreed to give in tribute one third of all that the Beaker People and the Tuatha produced, be it milk, cups, animals, or people. The fomorians took the goods because their barren islands could produce little. The people they took to replenish their own decimated ranks. Both the fomorians and the Fir Bolg had lost most of their people from the war with the Tuatha. These people became their wives and husbands, their children and their children's children. Those, the fomorians mingled their blood with that of the Tuatha for the first time on a large scale. Balor was made king, and his story is another tale. (For more on this, see the article Balor of the Evil Eye.)
When Balor was eventually slain by his grandson, Lugh of the Long Arm, the people of the fomorians scattered. They dwindled, as had their first dreamers. Realizing that their time was at an end, they closed their homes, sank their islands back into the sea, and sailed for the Dreaming.
The Tuatha de Danaan remained for some little time after, and it is from Lugh's line that House Balor traces its lineage. Eventually, even the Tuatha realized that things were not as they once had been. With the death of Balor, the humans lost much of their awe and fear of faerie folk. Now they came not as supplicants, but in as much arrogance as once the Tuatha showed the fomorians, demanding as their due what was once a treasured gift. New people came to Hibernia, bringing with them a new substance that proved deadly to fae kind. Rather than face their destruction from cold iron, the Tuatha left the world, slipping into the Dreaming like the cowards they truly were. Though their children, the sidhe, would remain when the Tuatha left the Waking World, with the death of Balor and the cessation of the human's fear of his great power, the Sundering had begun.
The Sundering Edit
Though many of the sidhe decried the Sundering, House Balor established themselves as a house during this time. Having lost their fomorian kin, their leaders began trying to salvage what they could. They intermarried with the sidhe, mixing their blood and loosing some of the powers their differences once brought them. Lugh was the first leader of the house, though he did not acknowledge that, preferring to lick the boots of the Tuatha's children from whom he received adulation in return. To rule in his stead, the Balor chose one of his sons, a youth named Cathal, which means battle-mighty. From that time forward, Cathal was ever critical of the king, mocking Lugh's actions and calling to mind that Lugh had slain his own kin. Eventually, Lugh himself went into the Mists, and the sidhe were left to rule themselves.
Balor prospered as a house, though the other sidhe shunned them for taking Balor's name. In time, they forgot that the was was indeed sprung from that fearsome fomorian as much as they ever were from the Tuatha de Danaan. They deluded themselves into believing that the Balor were little more than poor cousins with no social graces. House members warned them that the fae must curb the humans' excesses and rule them with an iron fist if they were to remain within the Waking World, but the sidhe paid little heed to them. As humans became more daring, even capturing faeries to force them into service, Balor proposed that the fae fall upon the mortals with plague and warfare, wiping out enough of them that the survivors would forever learn their place. Arrogance again won out over good sense. Blindly, the other houses believed that humans loved and revered them. Members of Balor, who often sported grotesque bodies that the humans hated, knew otherwise and made plans to survive when the inevitable happened.
Though they will tell you otherwise, House Balor was the first to propose many of the tenets of the Escheat. They will tell you that these customs came into being through Seelie efforts to protect all fae. They are liars. House Balor warned them and they didn't listen. House Balor insisted they have the right to rule their domains as needed, handing out justice as they saw fit, and acting as stern overlords to the mortals under their sway. Hause Balor proposed that the fae stop interacting with mortals when outside of their own holdings, keeping fae nature secret so they would no longer hunt the Kithain for their magic. House Balor asked that all fae understand the need to rescue those who were taken by the mortals and they begged them to agree to give safe haven to those fae who were in danger. The other sidhe laughed, assuring them no such measures were necessary. House Balor cursed them then, saying that until all fae acknowledged the wisdom of these basic rights, the rift between fae and mortals would continue unabated. They foretold that their loved ones would suffer the agonies inflicted by mortals who captured Children of the Dreaming and they would be powerless to prevent an even greater disaster they had foreseen dawning on the horizon. Now, of course, those four rights are part of the Escheat, but noe sidhe acknowledges that it was House Balor who proposed them.
Turning their backs on the Seelie fools, Balor made themselves treat with the wielders of cold iron so that they could study the metal and learn how to lessen its effects on them. To their surprise, they discovered the metal was far less deadly to them to the other sidhe. Where they suffered its touch, and it stripped their Glamour, members of Balor could withstand... a gift of their fomorian blood. Only if they died of wounds from such weapons were their faerie souls destroyed. They could even wield such weapons as long as they did so carefully. Finally, they had a powerful weapon capable of bringing ruin upon the descendants of the Tuatha! Perhaps they could have reclaimed what had been lost to them had they been given the time, but the inattention of the rest of the sidhe and their failure to keep the mortals in line had gone too far. The disaster that seers of Balor had foreseen suddenly fell upon the fae, and the Balor, as well as other sidhe, were forced to make split second decisions or perish utterly. With the advent of new arrivals who wielded cold iron, the Tuatha had left for the Dreaming. With the coming of the Shattering, all fae who valued their lives fled there as well or made accord with the new ruling force of the land Banality.
The Shattering Edit
Though their seers warned them that a terrible calamity loomed over them, they could not say when it would strike. So Balor was prepared, button prepared enough. Many theories concerning the reasons the Shattering occurred abound. That doesn't matter now. What is important is that it did occur, forcing the sidhe to flee for Arcadia before the gates slammed shut, trapping most commoners and a few nobles in the mortal lands where they faced the tidal wave of Banality that swept the world. Some escaped by taking on some of that Banality and becoming Changelings; their faerie souls hidden within an outer shell of humankind. Others, now called the Lost Ones, wrapped themselves in as much Glamour as they could draw around them and imprisoned themselves in cocoons of magic, hoping to ride out the wave and emerge when Banality had passed them by.
Some Balor thought that they might be partially immune, again, due to their fomorian blood, and faced the onslaught directly, hoping to withstand its worst ravages. Most of them perished. Rumor tells that a very few, who knew at the last moment they would not survive, chose the way of the Scathach, mingling their blood with mortals, but remaining faerie nobility. The wisest of the house say that those souls may even now be among House Scathach, believing they are of that house when in reality, they are Balor.
The house has only hearsay for this knowledge, though, because they fled with the other sidhe to Arcadia. They knew nothing of the Waking World for the centuries that followed which the sidhe, arrogant as ever, termed the Interregnum.
The Interregnum Edit
Like other sidhe, the Balor remember almost nothing of these six hundred years spent in Arcadia. Their "allies," the Leanhaun and Ailil, tell them the Unseelie ruled in Arcadia then as they do now. Some among them claim that Arcadia lies locked in stagnation and Endless Winter, trapped that way by the Seelie's refusal to surrender the Unseelie their half of the year in the Waking World. Members of House Balor don't claim to know; they are honest enough to admit that their time in Arcadia is a blur. Perhaps it is as they say or, perhaps, things are different than they believe. It matters little. They aren't there anymore and the way back is closed to them for now. They think the gates will open once again when Balor rules the Waking World and Arcadia must treat with them or die, and that's the theory they proceed with for now.
While the sidhe were gone, the commoners established themselves and learned to live in a changing world. They took the freeholds the sidhe left empty and kept alive the presence of the fae on Earth. Balor had kin among them, though the other changelings never considered true fae. Instead, the merfolk and selkies were considered among the Gallain. Not that they often acknowledge their kinship to Balor either. It is said the selkies tried to force the sidhe to allow commoners through Silver's Gate when the Shattering happened, but were defeated. Some of them have resented the other sidhe ever since.
Nowadays, a few of them, tired of being treated as lesser beings, give their allegiance to House Balor. If all of them wold do so, the house might have an undefeatable force on land and sea. House Balor fights for their rights to be accounted noble in the Parliament of Dreams (though they have little hope the Seelie sidhe can be induced to grant such a request). After all, their founders were brother and sister to Lugh of the Long Arm and their blood is mixed fomorian and Tuathan just as House Balor's is. Meanwhile, Balor benefits from their association with them both because they tell the house what happened during the Interregnum and they shelter house leaders in their domain, under water, where most other fae cannot go.
During the Interregnum another group of Balor's kin established themselves and became stronger. These are the Prodigals known as Dancers. Once, fae and werewolves were one folk and the ones known as Howlers shared breeding stock; a people known as the Picts, with the fomorians. When the Howlers descended into another place and returned as the Dancers, House Balor rejoiced, for those who had been bound to the house by kinship now thought more like they did. They fought the same foes. While the Balor were in Arcadia, the Dancers spread across the world and gained many powerful allies. Members of House Balor find that the two of them still have much in common, even fostering some of their most promising young with them in their hives.
The Resurgence Edit
Since they don't remember Arcadia, the reason for their exile from it remains a mystery to House Balor. By this they mean they don't know, not for certain, but they make shrewd guesses and base their plans on them. However, they do not delude themselves that they hold all the answers as AIlil and Leanhaun do.
That said, they do believe this: When the trods were briefly blown open in 1969, there was war in Arcadia, probably instigated by the Seelie trying to hold on to more than they were entitled to just like they've done in the Waking World for all the centuries. The Seelie houses that were exiled constitute the rebels who tried to grab power for themselves. The Unseelie houses? Balor suspects they just back the wrong faction. Whatever the reason, and despite Ailil's claims that we chose to return, Balor remembers the exile order, they will return to Arcadia on their own terms. Then they will make them pay for the treatment they endured.
Still, perhaps one should thank the exilers for the opportunity to garner power over the dreamers in the Waking World. When Balor has that power, they will hold the exilers' Glamour for ransom. Whatever their claims to the contrary, Arcadia cannot exist without the infusion of Glamour from somewhere. Travel through their gates may be impossible, but they still draw Glamour from those links to Earth. When the Balor are in control, they will bind the gates from this side, cutting off their supply. Than the fae of House Balor will decide who gets Glamour and who doesn't, and they shall control both Waking World and Dreaming.
That is why they accepted exile.
The Accordance War & Movements in Ireland Edit
The house tells anyone who will listen that the returned through the newly opened trods to Hibernia because it was their home before the Shattering. That's the truth as far as it goes. Many did emerge in Ireland and reclaim a few freeholds there, particularly in Northern Ireland. What they don't say is that many came through elsewhere as well, and in far greater numbers than anyone suspects, Seelie or Unseelie. Their infiltrators carved places for themselves among Houses Dougal and Eiluned, Liam and Ailil, traveling from Arcadia with their erstwhile houses and taking up whatever role they seemed entitled to. Since most sidhe can't remember things clearly, placing agents among other houses means that their "kinfolk" don't question their identities. After all, they arrived with the rest of the family.
Balor seeded these agents with trigger phrases to help them remember their true allegiance once they'd been accepted, and most have already been activated to further house aims. They are watched quite carefully when they are activated to make certain they don't try to betray their true house to their false houses. Those who attempt to do so are immediately killed. Luckily, the house has always been adept at choosing those whose loyalty to Balor is unquestioned and so have only had to destroy a handful of their own to preserve their secrecy.
Most of them chose to return as teenagers or young adults and they gladly honed their skills in battle against the commoners, whether as part of the Accordance War in America or under the guise of sectarian warfare in Northern Ireland. Those who arrived in other territories fought their own battles as well. Aside from the glory of warfare, they made little effort to stake claims to the more sought after freeholds. They were not yet ready to confront the other houses and they wanted more secluded bases where they might train and gather their hosts in secret. The other houses may believe the Balor are unsophisticated and relatively useless outside of battle, but they know how to hide their motives and bide their time. They never fight foolishly. They pick their battles; time, place, and foe, and when they are convinced the battle can be won, they fight without apology or quarter. Only idiots fight for honor or glory.
So as you might surmise, they fought the Accordance War, but not with great conviction. They did enough to assure a victory for the sidhe, but not so much that they made the commoners their bitter enemies. After all, they will need assistance from the commoners later and it's hard to recruit someone whose hatred of you burns so hot they can think of nothing else but revenge. Stoking that hatred against the Seelie, on the other hand...
The Modern Era Edit
In the recent past, House Balor has spent a great deal of their time making alliance with the Dancers and the Fomori, whom many believe to be the remnants of the fomorians in the modern world. Some house energy has gone into building the Shadow Court and needling the Seelie about their continual refusal to share power for the Unseelie half of the year. Balor has representatives in the Parliament of Dreams, but they are there to disrupt rather than to negotiate peace. Most of the house knows their true agenda which is to prepare for the Evernight, then seek to bring it about once they're ready.
Since the first Balor returned, they have tried to ensure that newer returnees emerge as very young children or newborns. This makes them children of the modern world, without the medieval mindset that accompanied most of the sidhe who returned earlier. The house needs those skills, just as they need young warriors to fight the upcoming battle. Most of those who emerged in 1969, those who spent little time in freeholds, are starting to fade and forget.
When the house brings about the war that accompanies the Evernight, they will need strong, young bodies, for they know that only the strongest will survive and prosper. They cannot waste their resources on grumps to old to serve the cause. They are better used elsewhere, such as in the Waybuilders Corps.
For now, Balor pretends to the Unseelie that their highest priority lies in advancing the Shadow Court's aims. They give every appearance of wholeheartedly supporting Ailil's claim to rulership and they run interference for the Leanhaun and their Ravaging. In short, they appear to be the dumb grunts on whose backs the movement is built. That's fine with them for now. If the others suspect nothing more, the Balor certainly aren't planning on enlightening them. But they are taking names of those who treat them poorly; Balor's day will come.
To the Seelie, they present a different face. They may hate the house and fight them if they are caught "encroaching" on their territory, but they rarely slay house members outright, for they are the Guardians of the Gates. Not all who made the trip from Arcadia remember their journey down the trods to Earth, but many recall terrible things along that route; huge black things that pursued them and tore at them with great fangs and claws. They remember sinuous bodies, lightening reflexes, and wickedly gleaming eyes that promised death to any creature they caught. A few even remember friends or kinsmen who fell to the beasts, and their screams as their faerie souls were shredded and lost. The Balor call the beasts the Fell and remember them best of all. Thus they have claimed the right to patrol trods in the Near Dreaming and to fight the Fell on behalf of al fae. They watch to make certain that these terrible beast do not find a way into the Waking World. Thus the Balor are the Guardians and whatever else the Seelie feel about them, they cannot argue with Balor's effectiveness in that regard. Balor considers it one of their highest priorities, and most fae of the house take a turn on patrol against the Fell. There is little worry for it though, as Balor has a way to deal with the creatures. All in all, it gives the house the perfect opportunity to gradually assume control of all the gates into the Dreaming.
Balor tells no one outside of the house their true intentions. They want to bring the Evernight, what most fae call Endless Winter. They have no plans to do so until they are ready, though. All their alliances must be in place, they must mark each dreamer so they may take the prisoner when they begin their bid for power, they must control the gates and trods, and they must be strong enough to strike decisively, killing or capturing those fae who oppose them. They will then be the only source of Glamour and others must beg it of the house. Banality, which has always bothered Balor less than other sidhe, will force them to subjugate themselves or die. Finally, the Children of Balor will see the curs of the Tuatha de Danaan beaten and cowed.
May that day come soon!
Balor Society Edit
Long before the coming of the Tuatha, the armies of Balor stretched from one shore of their island home to the other, a mighty force of arms and faerie magic. Today, though their numbers have dwindled and the children of the Tuatha rule in their stead, they still exist as an army. While other houses of the fae mimic medieval societies and conduct their affairs like social clubs, Balor organizes their force in a more militant manner. They exist in a state of war, and their house structure reflects their emphasis on preparedness and discipline.
Unlike armies, though, the Balor marshal their forces along family lines, allowing and encouraging the common ties of kinship and respect to temper the coldness of harsh militarism. They expect much of house members and expect each individual, from the rawest fledge to the oldest grump, to pull their weight. They cannot countenance idlers or shirkers. In war, they brand as traitors those who do not contribute to the goals of the house and deal with them accordingly.
The other noble houses, Unseelie and Seelie alike, fear Balor, though they tell themselves that they merely hate and disdain them. In fact, the recognize that the Balor possess a strength of mind and purpose sorely lacking within their own soft houses. They call the Balor cruel, crude, and repugnant; some houses question the validity of Balor's claim to a noble heritage. How conveniently they forget Balor's origins and the fact that they predate the sidhe spawned from the castoffs of the Tuatha.
Boon & Flaw Edit
- Boon: While they are somewhat handicapped by their deformities, the Fomorian blood of those of House Balor shields them from the worst effects of iron. Cold iron still causes members of House Balor some discomfort, but they take no penalty when performing tasks while in contact with the metal, nor do they lose any points of temporary Glamour when struck by iron weapons. This allows them to carry and utilize iron weapons without suffering any penalties. If slain by an iron weapon, however, their faerie souls are destroyed just like any other changeling’s. Additionally, though every Balor sidhe has a Seelie Legacy, it is always subdued. Though they can masquerade as Seelie sidhe, they will never actually become Seelie.
- Flaw: All members of House Balor have some sort of deformity (physical, mental or emotional) that cannot be rectified through prosthetics or psychological help. Changelings of House Balor can never rid themselves of their deformities. As a secondary aspect of their Fomorian blood, no member of House Balor can have a Willpower higher than 6.
Balor's Challenge Edit
Part of the house's strength comes from the blood of the ancient fomorians; a heritage that not only gives them greater resistance to Banality and, therefore, a more adaptable nature than other sidhe, but also marks them with tangible signs of their origins. What other houses call their "deformities," they see as challenges and bear them proudly as badges of the house. These challenges spur them to greater effort, forcing them to push themselves harder to overcome whatever physical or mental mark that distinguishes them. Those with one arm or one hand learn to fight without shields and become al the more deadly with their blades; those who lack an eye or some other sensory organ discover ways to compensate for that missing sense. If one of them limps because of a twisted or malformed limb, they practice new ways of maneuvering so they do not become a liability in battle.
Unlike the fae of House Dougal, they cannot replace their missing limbs or eyes or augment a diminished sense through the construction of elaborate prosthetics. They must make do with what they have. Fortunately, they posses the will and determination to do just that.
The Armies of Balor Edit
Like any army, House Balor utilizes a strict chain of command, originating with their High Lord and proceeding through the "ranks" of nobility down to the ranks of knights or warriors. They ascribe both military and noble titles to their members, signifying their dual nature as soldiers and as nobles.
Although the house has few freeholds in Concordia, they have bases of power in other parts of the world, particularly in Hibernia, Albion, Caledonia, and Cymru, where their roots stretch back to the Age of Legends. Even in Concordia, though, they maintain a number of hidden fortresses, most of them located in out of the way places, such as swamps, wilderness communities, mountain glens, and other sites ignored by most other fae. These holdings use magical and technological defenses in order to prevent intrusion by infiltrators or raiders. Some of the house make their homes with their near-kin, the shapeshifting Dancers who share their blood, though most of them have forgotten the fact. Other of them dwell in cast underground strongholds where the darkness suits them and allows them to conduct their affairs away from the prying eyes of the Parliament of Dreams and its agents.
Head of the House EditFrom his underwater kingdom beneath the icy waters of the Northern Sea, High Lord Li-Tili issues the orders that determine the direction and emphasis of the house armies. His Fortress of Glass, which occupies a pocket of the Near Dreaming in the bowels of a sunken ocean liner, contains rare treasures that allow him to communicate with his armies on the surface, view the freeholds, and breathe water as if it were the purest air. Although the High Lord does not dictate the house's every move, he does provide them with general guidelines and goals, all based upon a timetable of his own devising that anticipates the imminent arrival of the Evernight.
The Tower Council Edit
Directly below the High Lord, the Tower Council acts as advisors for House Balor. Consisting of the leaders of all their freeholds and fortresses as well as the leading generals of the house, the Tower Council discusses the directives of the High Lord and formulates policies. The leaders of the freeholds provide information on the affairs of the house at the lowest levels of organization, while the leading generals offer counsel based on their assessments of the forces under their commands.
- General of the Elite Guard: Duke Gordwyn
- General of the Forces: Duchess Rowhenne
- General of the Foreign Guard: Lord Raghnall
- General of the Bleak: Duke Fearan
- Head of Security: Lady Eithlinn
The Iron Guard Edit
This group forms the third level of leadership within the house. Made up of the heads of minor holdings and the leaders of special interest groups not represented on the Tower Council, these junior officers in the armies of Balor make up the backbone of the house's forces. The Iron Guard includes the heads of the propaganda corps, intelligence analysts, elite sorcerers, and researchers in charge of teams dedicated to the discovery of methods whereby the house might imbue their challenges with powers such as those possessed by their fomori near-kin.
This group also includes a few ennobled commoners, such as the troll Lord Grodolf, who exercises field command over Balor's allied commoners, and the redcap Lady Moya, who heads a strike force that performs various black ops for the house. Although these commoner nobles believe that they hold actual power within the house, it is made sure that true house members oversee their every action so that they do not take their liberties too far. When the time comes to remove them from their lofty positions and reduce them to their proper station as servants, the house stands ready to do so without hesitation.
Oaths & Bindings Edit
What follows is a most serious of truth and most powerful of weapon weapon, short of an iron blade or the purging flame. Do not swear an oath lightly, for the words uttered in solemn ceremony in the presence of witnesses bring with them the might and grandeur of the Dreaming. Most fae spend a good part of their life thinking they are human. In that alien and soulless society, men and women make and break promises as casually as they don clothes. For humankind, words carry no inherent power, and oaths taken in the name of honor, or God, or country, frequently fall by the wayside in the interest of convenience and expediency.
Not so with the fae. Unlike humans, they have not lost the ability to imbue their oaths with binding force, drawing on the ancient power of infusing words with Glamour so that they create chains of obligation that bring down dire punishments when broken. Long ago, when Balor's fomorian ancestors fought the Tuatha for the right to remain in their homeland, they learned the that the only way to control the treacherous children of Danu without slaughtering them lay in binding them (heart, mind, and body) with the three-fold oath. Not even the sliest of miscreants among the Tuatha could elude the strictures placed upon them under oath, and whenever the house could bind them, they did so, hoping that the Dreaming that they served would deter them from their course of carnage and extermination.
Unfortunately, the Tuatha knew the secret of oathtaking themselves. Their histories are rife with examples of so-called "heroes" brought low by their ignorance of the literal words of their vows. As often, though, the legends of this ancient enemy contain tales of wily children who sought for and found gaps or loopholes in their oaths and weaseled their way out of seemingly impossible situations. As many times as the fomorians enforced their ways upon the Tuatha through the power of an oath, they retaliated by imposing their own on the fomorians.
Make no mistake about it. Any Balor who has sworn their Oath of Majority knows the truth of these words about the power of oaths. They can feel the force that binds their Dán to that of the house. It is an oath that binds actions, girds their hearts, and commanders their mind into service. The penalties of oathbreaking a house oath ensure one does not survive to get a second chance at keeping the broken oath. Unlike the slippery Ailil, who manage to somehow create a cult for their forsworn members, Balor allows no such evasions. If the curse contained within an oath doesn't slay the oathbreaker outright, House members assist the Dreaming in carrying out the sentence.
Balor requires only one oath of their members; the one taken when swearing fealty to the house. No other vow is necessary to mark one as a child of Balor. Should one elect to join a group within the house, they will most likely take a secondary oath of loyalty to their chosen society. Further, as the occasions present themselves, they may swear other oaths of friendship, quests, or vengeance. More importantly, though, one should learn the art of administering oaths and exacting promises from others, particularly enemies and those taken into service.
- Oath of Majority: The oath sworn by all house members when they finish their fosterage.
- Oath of Loyal Service: An oath that binds a commoner to House Balor.
- Oath of Adoption and Ritual Maiming: An oath that binds a sidhe of another house to House Balor.
- Oath of the Enchanted Servant: An oath sworn by all enchanted humans who serve the house.
Using Oaths Against Others Edit
Knowing when to slay an enemy and when to allow them to live under oath comes with practice. A house member's first efforts may prove misguided, forcing them to terminate the oath with extreme prejudice (to use a human phrase). One shouldn't be too concerned with having to slay failures. Eventually, one learns how to discern with house foes present a good candidate for servitude or mercy, and which should taste an iron blade.
While other houses may believe that Balor lacks the subtlety to manipulate others into doing their will, their mastery of the art of administering oaths more than makes up for their deficiencies in guile and subterfuge.
The Courts Edit
Balor of the Unseelie Court Edit
Many of the youngest house members avoid the politics and motives that attend membership in the Shadow Court, preferring to identify themselves simply and openly with their Unseelie natures. Because they flaunt their Unseelie ties, they create the image most often associated with the house. Unseelie Balor do not care who knows their house affiliation. They take great delight in reminding the Seelie fae that another way of life exists. They revel in violence, roaming Concordia in cliques that specialize in Ravaging, suckering hapless Seelie nobles int duels (and then cheating to win) and, otherwise, adding to Balor's reputation for general mayhem and unbridled aggression.
The house views such activities as both necessary and vital to the goals of the house. The prevalence of Unseelie Balor tuning wild through the kingdoms of the Seelie keeps the Tuatha bastards busy and provides a smoke screen behind which Balor of the Shadow Court can conduct their affairs without intrusion. Eventually, mere Unseelieness pales for most of this group and they drift into their proper places in the Shadow Court. A few staunch hellions, though, persist in their denial of anything more important than creating anarchy. After the coming of Evernight, the chais engendered by the fall of the Seelie and the onset of Endless Winter should provide Unseelie Balor with all the discord they desire. Then, they can take their places among the majority of their house as leaders of the Shadow Court.
Balor of the Seelie Court Edit
Although their fomorian blood prevents house members from assuming their Seelie Legacies, a small minority of the house chooses to adopt the outward appearance of the Seelie fae. These "Seelie" Balor usually disguise themselves as members of other houses, most often Dougal, Eiluned, or Liam, and blend in with Seelie households. Unlike house members who serve as sleepers for the Eyes of Balor, these individuals seem to pass themselves off as Seelie for their own purposes. These aberrations come as close to being Seelie as any of the house can, working hard to control their natural impulses so that their inherent Unseelie nature does not show through.
While the house questions the motives of these pretenders, they have a wait-and-see policy regarding them until they know more about why they have chosen to immerse themselves in a way of life that runs counter to their natural bent. Some theorize that this desire to play at being Seelie is an odd manifestation of the challenges associated with Balor membership. Others believe that Seelie-seeming Balor provide an invaluable service to the house by acting as independent agents of corruption and subversion within their adopted houses. If this is the case, then these house members do, indeed, serve well. A few house cynics ascribe more sinister motivations to the Balor who associate with the Seelie court, maintaining that they are traitors to the house and deserve immediate termination.
Whatever their reasons for their behavior, the "Seelie" Balor deserve watching. If they have, in fact, decided to cast their lot in with the other side, they will be dealt with accordingly when the house brings on the Evernight and have the leisure to seek out and punish those who have betrayed them. If, however, the Seelie pretenders can provide the house with insights that allow them to maximize their control of the Seelie houses, they may very well be rewarded for their actions by giving them control over the Seelie houses they have adopted.
Balor of the Shadow Court Edit
The majority of Balor not only serve the ideals and goals fo the Unseelie Court, they also make up the heart of the Shadow Court. Despite Ailil pretensions of leadership, House Balor controls the innermost workings of the Shadow Court, allowing the other Unseelie houses the illusion of power so that they will not notice the house's true purposes. Outwardly, Balor espouses the goal of the Shadow Court: power for the Unseelie fae. They do this because it provides them the best opportunity to prepare for what they really want: power for House Balor.
The house has worked hard since their return to foster the impression that the house consists of mindless warriors who only want the chance to break Seelie heads. So far, they have succeeded in fooling Ailil and Leanhaun into discounting the as a political threat within the Shadow Court. They know of Ailil's delusions of a dual rulership with Eiluned, their Seelie sisters. When the time comes for Balor to take charge of the fae on Earth, they shall put that notion right out of Ailil's minds.
In the meantime, the house gathers strength and lets the other houses lay the groundwork for them. What the other members of the Shadow Court do not realize is that Balor holds them in as much contempt as they do the Seelie Court. The Shadow Court serves as Balor's stepping stone to power and vengeance against all of the children of the Tuatha.
Secret Societies & Acknowledged Edit
While the house does not lend itself to a plethora of secret societies, a few of these clandestine organizations exist within the house. Some of these groups have the approval of house leaders, while others have simply arisen out of common ground or perceived necessity. The subtle politics of House Ailil and the convoluted romantic liaisons of House Leanhaun do not exist within the confines of the glass tower; rather, the sub-rosa groupings of House Balor embody darker and wilder desires and ambitions. The cold of the Evernight beckons, and some hear its call more loudly and answer it in mysterious ways.
Then there are the acknowledged groupings, those societies who are known either to most members of Balor or even to other houses. Other Kithain may even admire these groups, especially as their true aims are not known to all.
- Eyes of Balor: Spies and Assassins.
- Masters of the Dance: Liaisons to the Prodigals.
- The Royal Guardians: Caretakers of house treasures.
- The Waybuilders Corps: Grumps chosen for a special privilege.
- Guardians of the Gates: Balor protectors of the trods.
- Riders of the Fell: Willful youth who will do anything to overcome their deformities.
Codes & Conduct Edit
The Unseelie Code, Balor Style Edit
To say that the Balor live by the Unseelie Code smacks of understatement. They are the Unseelie Code, more so than the posturers of Ailil or the romantics of Leanhaun. For the Balor, the precepts of the Unseelie Code embody everything they need to survive. They not only live by the code, they die by and for it as well.
Balor functions as an army, for they stand upon a battlefield. They fight for the right to walk openly once more, class in the fullness of their faerie splendor so that they may strike terror into the hearts of those who oppose them. They engage in a war for survival, and sometimes it seems as if they are the only ones who know this for certainty. Their interpretations of the Unseelie Code reflect their awareness of the desperation of their plight. They have never prided themselves on gentleness and mercy. They don't intend to begin so now.
- Change is Good
Fear of the unknown stultifies change, leaving the world cowering in stagnation. The Seelie Court languishes in the grip of an infectious disease that rots away its will to attempt a new beginning. Unlike them, Balor dedicate themselves to change. They seek to bring about the end of the old order in order to bring about a rebirth of Glamour. Their commitment to the Evernight goes hand in hand with their desire for, and need of, change. Although some of them do, in fact, fear change, they embrace that fear. They are the children of dark imaginings and fearsome nightmares. They can do no less than accept those visions that gave birth to the house and its founder.
- Glamour is Free
House Balor does not believe in hoarding Glamour on in exercising restraint in acquiring it. Unlike those who see themselves as harvesters of Glamour, carefully tending their gardens of dreamers in the hopes that one day they may gather the fruits of their effort, the Balor stalk their quarry and take what is rightfully theirs wherever and whenever they can. Occasionally they indulge themselves by savoring the slow process of cultivating their dreamers, but as a house they find the act of seizing Glamour more satisfying. The nightmares that birthed them have also set their preferences for Glamour spiced with fear and terror, loss and despair. Balor sidhe do not worry about exhausting the supply of Glamour. The Seelie Court lies when they claim that Glamour is an irreplaceable resource. So long as humans breed and proliferate (and the constant state of over-population seems to indicate that they will continue to do just that) the fae will not lack for dreamers. If their dreams are born of despair, so much the better.
- Honor is a Lie
House Balor rejects outright the Seelie crutch of honorable conduct. The weak and cowardly have invented the concept of honor to protect themselves from the strong and bold. Balor cannot afford the luxury of strict codes of behavior on the battlefield or in any other sphere of action. As an army dedicated to bringing about Evernight, they value victory above all. Regardless of how "honorably" a warrior conducts themself in combat, losers gain nothing. Balor sets their sights on their goal, and uses whatever means present themselves to win. If they decide to spare an enemy or to treat a defeated opponent with mercy and compassion, they do so not because honor binds them but because they chose that course of action. They realize the dangers inherent in observing out-moded codes of honor. Too often, they have suffered the fate of those who choose, unwisely, to allow enemies to live. Mercy breeds resentment and largesse often sows seeds of vengeance in the hearts of those who feel beholden to an honorable victor. The Balor do not shirk their responsibilities, nor do they shame themselves in their actions. They do not rely on "honor" to show them what needs doing. Only fools require the chains of honor to insure that they do not misuse their power or fail to perform their duties.
- Passion Before Duty
Those who lack passion resort to duty as their motivation. Balor fuel their actions with the fires of anger and revenge, hoarded since the time when their ancestors fell before the treacheries of the Seelie and their mortal allies. No one needs to remind them of their "duty." Their instincts tell them what they must do and they follow the impulses of their emotions to achieve their destiny. The other houses speak of obligations and debts, of owing and being owed. Balor remembers those who wronged them and seek redress for their suffering and deprivations. Duty makes a cold and unresponsive bedmate. The weak-willed allow the demands of others to dictate their actions and cal lit "duty." The Balor do as they like and as their wills dictate, without regard for the expectations of others.
The Seelie Code Edit
The tenets of the Seelie Code present the house with an arsenal of weapons to use against their weak cousins. Although the Balor do not recognize the principles that govern the Seelie houses, they study them carefully so that they can better understand those who oppose them.
- Death Before Dishonor
The children of Gwydion fall victim to this tenet more often than the other Seelie houses. Place one of these hide-bound honor-mongers in a situation where they have to choose between dishonoring themself or facing their own annihilation and nine times out of ten, they will opt for a glorious death. On the rare occasion when a Seelie sidhe elects to face dishonor, House Balor can still claim a psychological victory. The sight of a once-proud opponent humbled by their fall from grace warms even the coldest Balor heart.
- Love Conquers All
This tenet gives the Balor an effective weapon against the hopeless romantics of Fiona. Capture the heart of one of the Fiona and one need not bother with defeating them on the field of battle. Too often, the sidhe who espouse the Seelie Code suffer from the delusion that a case of inflamed passion constitutes a promise of life-long commitment and loyalty. The Balor play upon this weakness whenever possible, reveling in the utter abandonment of principle that accompanies "true love" and using it to control Seelie lovers. In many cases, their victims of the heart never realize what the Balor side is doing until it is too late.
- Beauty is Life
The maimed artisans of Dougal demonstrate a particular weakness to this principle. Strangely enough, so do the effete mystics of Eiluned. Those of Balor who can hide their physical impediments beneath a façade of beauty gain the upper hand in dealing with many Seelie, who fail to look beyond the outer shell. By threatening the destruction of something, or someone, beautiful, they bring to their knees those who live by this tenet. By deliberately espousing the grotesque, Balor renders themselves immune to the lure of outward appearances.
- Never Forget a Debt
Liam suffers from an overabundance of guilt, deserved or not. They, therefore, become vulnerable to reminders of unpaid debts and unreturned favors. Most Seelie sidhe leave themselves open to manipulation through the clever use of binding oaths and solemn vows. If a Balor can manage to place any of the Seelie fae in their debt, they can command their obedience, if not their allegiance.
Shadow Court Tenets Edit
The children of Balor represent the true vanguard of the Shadow Court, despite the lies put forth by the preening politicians of Ailil and the fawning sycophants of Leanhaun. For the present, it suits House Balor to allow the other Unseelie houses to assume control of the Shadow Court. Their actions draw the attention of the Seelie, leaving the Balor to do the real work of the Court without interference. Ultimately, Balor will assume their rightful place as leaders of the Court, relegating all others to their proper places as their servants and subjects. In the meantime, the house strives to uphold the principles of the Shadow Court in its own fashion.
- Understand the Mortal World
The fae who fail to comprehend the world around them lack the means to survive the coming of Evernight. Too many changelings, particularly sidhe, shun the outer world or ignore it as much as possible, fearing the taint of Banality. Balor's duty lies in inuring themselves to the rigors of a dreamless world. After all, they will rule this world in the aftermath of Endless Winter. The house seeks, as well, to understand the motivations and vulnerabilities of mortals in order to secure their ascendency over them when they come to victory. Knowing one's subjects gives one the means of ruling them. Encouraging house childlings and wilders to study modern technology and steep themselves in the mundane aspects of the mortal world provides future generations of the house with warriors skilled in techniques and strategies necessary for conquest and domination.
- Understand the Supernatural World, Make & Break Alliances as Necessary
The Prodigal races provide the house with a host of potential allies, provided Balor knows how to use them. To this end, they cultivate associations with the shapeshifting Dancers, fomori, and vampires. Some of these creatures share Balor's ambitions and their viewpoint regarding the mortal world. Wherever possible, Balor insinuates itself into these societies (such as they are) and do what they must to place them in their favor. Not only do these creatures provide inroads into certain useful areas of society, they also make convenient scapegoats for Balor's more extreme actions. Most of them prey on mortals anyway, so why not let them take the blame for a few mysterious deaths?
- Harvest Glamour, Prepare for Endless Winter
Balor accumulates Glamour for one purpose: so that when the Evernight ends the world as they know it, they will control access to the Dreaming. When the other fae find they must come to Balor for their share of Glamour, the house can dictate the terms for dispensing that vital commodity. They freely admit to the regular practice of Ravaging in order to gain as much Glamour as possible from mortal dreamers. What most houses don't realize is that their primary targets for this form of gathering Glamour consist of humans affiliated with their enemies: the changelings of the Seelie Court. They guard their own dreamers jealously, sustaining them in the same manner that a conscientious pig farmer tends their livestock. That doesn't prevent them from raiding the property of their competitors. By depleting the children of the Tuatha de Danaan of their stockpile of dreamers while as the same time increasing and husbanding their own supply, Balor furthers their goal: the monopoly of Glamour to use as they see fit.
- Overthrow the Seelie Court & Nobility
The Seelie Court contains within it the seeds of its own downfall. Already, the fragile nature of the Parliament of Dreams and the pillars of Concordia tremble with the disappearance of the High King. Although many of the fae lay David Ard-Ri's absence (and presumed death) at the Balor's doorstep, in truth, they had nothing to do with tat fortuitous event. Nevertheless, they graciously accept the credit for the action, even if, for once, they are innocent. The conspicuous lack of leadership of the Seelie fae, though, can only work to Balor's advantage. They take the High King's disappearance as an omen that the time has come for them to take decisive action. Already they have activated many of their "eyes" in Seelie freeholds throughout Concordia and in other lands as well. One by one, the leaders of the fae will fall to Balor swords or else they will recognize the need to accept their leadership.
- Fulfill the Ritual Obligations of the Year, Culminating in Samhain
By keeping the annual celebrations of the passing year, Balor remembers the time before the Shattering, when mortals feared their power. Each festival commemorates the spirit of change; something the Seelie have put aside in favor of drab stability. Particularly, Balor holds the Samhain revels as their most sacred time. They, at least, remember the passing of rule from the Seelie to the Unseelie court that once took place on Samhain Eve. The screams of Samhain sacrifices still echo in their ears with the aching sweetness of a half-remembered melody. When Evernight brings about their rule, the Seelie Court will find itself reduced to the mockery to which it has consigned the Unseelie, and the Samhain bonfires will once again break open the paths between the worlds.
- Spread Chaos, Revolution, & Anarchy
The promulgation of dissatisfaction and discontent among the commoner fae constitutes Balor's most effective weapon against the tyranny of the Seelie Court. They work incessantly to undermine the credibility and reliability of the Seelie nobles through acts of terror and subversion. Each rumor they spread, every noble they subvert or destroy, every freehold they "liberate" form its Seelie lord contributes to the wave of rebellion that sweeps through Concordia. There will be time enough to institute their own form of order in the aftermath of the Evernight. For now, anarchy serves Balor's purpose best. Concordia is dead; Long live Discordia!
The Escheat Edit
Long ago, the Escheat upheld the right of the fae to the Glamour of mortals and provided them with a set of laws by which they could govern themselves. After the Shattering, this code of precepts enabled the commoners to survive in a world bereft of their leaders and surrounded b hostile humans. As children of Balor, the enemy of the Tuatha and their weak children, Balor upholds the Escheat as they understand it, regardless of how other fae view their interpretations. After all, Balor had a hand in its creation although its current form bears little resemblance to the original conception. Balor envisions the Escheat as a set of principles that guarantee the supremacy of the fae in both the Dreaming and in the mortal world. Those who merited power by right of arms and wits would rule those whose talents lay in obedience and submission. All would know their place in the world.
The Right of Demesne Edit
The sovereign power of a lord or lady over their holdings and their subjects resembles that of a general over their army. None should question that right. In turn, those who hold power should never rely on their reputation alone to maintain it. They rule who have the strength to exert their dominion. The weak and softhearted may lay claim to freeholds and subjects for a time, but inevitably they succumb to their frail natures.
- Reality: Balor holds few freeholds openly. For the time being, they place their agents within the holdings of others, like cuckoo's eggs waiting to hatch in foreign nests. They pay lip service to the titles of others, knowing that when the Evernight scours the fae of weaklings, they shall reclaim those freeholds that rightfully belong to them, as well as the places left vacant by the passing of their former lords.
The Right to Dream Edit
Mortals provide the fae with the Glamour they need to maintain their true natures. Their dreams connect the fae to the Dreaming. The fae, therefore, have an obligation to encourage their dreamers to produce as much Glamour as possible. Whenever they can inspire humans to greater achievements of creativity, the fae can only benefit. Ravaging, while an immediate source of massive infusions of Glamour, debilitates the dreamer, or deprives them altogether of the power to dream.
- Reality: Glamour belongs to Balor. it is not, as the Seelie would have it, a "gift" bestowed on them through the largesse of human dreamers. Humans exist for the singular purpose of producing Glamour for Balor's pleasure. To think otherwise is to deny their natures as fae. Furthermore, they gain as much Glamour from nightmarish visions as from dreams. The creations born of terror and fear taste every bit as sweet to their voracious appetites. Balor does not how their dreamers manifest Glamour, only that they do so in quantities capable of supporting their desires. Ravaging when necessary lends its own piquancy to the Glamour gained in that fashion, particularly when the dreamers do not belong to Balor but serve their enemies.
The Right of Ignorance Edit
The intrusions of humans brought about the Sundering, which drove the sidhe from the world 600 years ago. Their continued disbelief in the existence of anything outside of their puny senses has created the tide of Banality that bars Balor from direct access to the fruits of the Dreaming. So long as Balor stands to loose from the institutionalized hostility of humankind, they need to keep it from discovering the truth of their existence. This tenet works as much for their protection as for the purported "good" of humanity.
- Reality: Eventually, Balor plans on revealing their existence to the world in order to take their place as ruler of the humans; as they did in the ancient times, before the Tuatha and their ilk deprived them of their rightful position. For now, the Balor find it expedient to allow humans to remain as ignorant of them as possible. Whenever they do allow selected dreamers to view them as they are, they do so in order to inspire them with terror. The sight of a Balor sidhe in all their grotesque glory brings some of the keenest dreams.
The Right of Rescue Edit
Any fae so unlucky as to fall into the hands of humans or to succumb to Banality before their inevitable decline deserves rescuing. Balor does not shirk their duty in this regard. This tenet of the Escheat has its origins in their own realization that the children of Balor were few and their enemies were many. They once staged many daring rescues of captured warriors of the house, usually snatching them from the prisons of the Tuatha. Nevertheless, the principle remains. They do not leave the fae to the pleasures of their enemies.
- Reality: Balor uses the opportunity to rescue other fae as a way of honing their military skills and their stealth tactics. Although they feel no particular loyalty to any fae outside their house, they do recognize that masterminding or executing a brilliant extraction mission ensures that the rescued individual and their household owe the house a debt of gratitude. Otherwise, they would just as soon let the other fae rot in their captors' hands.
The Right of Safe Haven Edit
House Balor expects to receive hospitality from other fae, as is their right, and they grant it to others, in turn, at least for the traditional three days and nights. Despite what others may believe of them, they do not lack in civility or respect for traditions. Even though they have few freeholds in Concordia, their holdings elsewhere serve as models for the strict interpretations of this tenet.
- Reality: In the days when the Balor warred against the Tuatha, they needed this "right" in order to buy them time to spy out and subvert their enemies' holdings whenever possible. Today, they still demand hospitality from the Tuatha's descendants for the same purpose. Unfortunately, many Seelie houses refuse to recognize Balor's right to hospitality, treating them with disdain and hatred to rival that of their Tuatha ancestors. Balor grants hospitality to other fae when they demand it, but feel no shame in taking every advantage to study their guests to determine their weaknesses and vulnerabilities. If the other houses fail to reciprocate, believing that "honor" prevents them from availing themselves of the opportunity to gain an insight into their guests, then they are fools. Should one of Balor's guests outstay their welcome, though, then the hose reserves the right to dispose of them as they see fit.
The Right of Life Edit
This principle purports to unite all the fae in the protection and preservation of fae kind by forbidding the killing of the children of the Dreaming. Balor agrees that there are few enough fae in the world at present and that they should avoid deceasing their numbers whenever possible.
- Reality: There is no tactful way to say this: death to all the children of the Tuatha! A river of fae blood divides the Balor from the other sidhe, and before the Shattering, they met frequently on the field of battle, taking no quarter in their encounters with their enemies. Balor does not go about haphazardly slaughtering the other nobles; to do so would bring their armies down upon them without hesitation. On the other hand, the judicious "removal" of Balor's most troublesome opponents only serves their purposes. Balor do not suffer as much from Banality as other fae, so they can risk the penalties extracted by the Dreaming for ridding themselves of their enemies. For the good of House Balor and its goals, some of them accept the consequences and revel in the blood they spill i the name of the Evernight and House Balor.
Balor does not believe in coddling the young. The Waking World assaults the fae with a relentless barrage of Banality; the children of the Tuatha show little in the way of leniency or mercy to the children of Balor. In order to survive in both mortal and fae realms, the Balor must not only hone their physical skills and overcome the challenges of their house, they must also harden their hearts against the prejudice and cruelty they encounter in the presence of their enemies. Fledges, or "recruits," whether they emerge from their Chrysalis as raw, untamed childlings or angry, cynical grumps, undergo a grueling period of fosterage not unlike the training period human soldiers undergo in boot camp.
For a year and a day, the potential member suffers a serious of rigorous drills that target the individual's particular challenge. Under the brutal regimen inflicted upon them by their commander (mentor is a patronizing term), recruits learn to ignore the hardships imposed upon them by their so-called deformities, or else suffer punishments that range from beatings to forced marches or periods of solitary confinement in heated iron restraints. Members of the recruit's new household constantly taunt them with ridicule and verbal abuse, pushing their resources to the breaking point. The recruit must demonstrate the ability to withstand and endure without sniveling or else fight back and stand against their tormentors. While a fledge who pummels their commander or one of her superiors (i.e. every house member who is not a recruit) into submission may earn a raw and bloody back for their efforts, they also garner the beginnings of respect for their refusal to knuckle under.
Any recruit who fails to meet house standards of toughness and resilience or who uses their challenge as an excuse for sub-standard performance usually meets with an unfortunate "accident" during fosterage. Balor does not accept weaklings into their ranks.
Once the period of fosterage has passed, the surviving recruit undergoes their Saining; a celebration that combines the formality and dignity of a military graduation ceremony with the unlicensed revelry of a satyr's ball. A private ceremony, conducted by the ranking members of the recruit's new household, takes place at the beginning go the festival. This ritual results in the revelation of the true name of the new house member and also indicates whether or not they bear a special destiny within the house. Immediately after the Saining ceremony, the new child of Balor undergoes the Fior-Righ; their final (and sometimes fatal) ordeal.
This test of a new house-member's worth focuses on the initiate's challenge, forcing them to demonstrate their ability to overcome or ignore what others might see as an impediment. Usually this takes the form of a physical feat they must accomplish, such as scaling a high wall and retrieving a token from its summit or swimming a river against a fast moving current, in combination with a duel of arms that tests the new member's military might. Tests of wits are rarely part of the Fior-Righ of the house. They assume that any recruit who survives to celebrate their Saining and participate in the Fior-Righ has demonstrated their possession of ample wit and intelligence to come so far.
Current Politics Edit
Most of House Balor's political aspirations center around the War of Rulership. While other fae waste themselves favoring one side or the other in the question of who is to rule in High King David's absence, Balor makes it their business to encourage all sides to battle it out in as bloody and deadly a fashion as possible. While everyone else engages in this minor squabble, Balor works to bring on a cataclysmic war leading to Evernight so they can assume rulership over the fae and the people of the Waking World. When they have it all within their grasp, who's going to care that David no longer reigns? With the coming of Endless Winter, the strongest will survive and prosper. Balor certainly hopes the other fae will expend their energy in the lesser battle; it will make it easier for the house when they make their move. Until they are ready to do so, though, they find that they must declare some allegiance (however disinterested) to the political impulses shared by the other fae.
Political Impulses Edit
Though members of House Balor likes to think of themselves as a unified front against the children of the Tuatha and the Seelie fae in general, they suffer from as much factionalism as the other noble houses. Despite their differences of opinion and vision, all political impulses within the house agree on one thing: one day, they shall rule the other fae.
- Purists: A small faction in the house, Purists believe in the ideal of power sharing between Seelie and Unseelie fae. Few Balor Purists are so foolish as to believe that, once in power, the Seelie Children of the Tuatha would ever relinquish their rule. Instead, the Purists of the house favor the enlistment of the house's Seelie pretenders to occupy the thrones of the fae from Beltaine to Samhain, thus keeping it all in the family.
- Repudiators: This faction claims a sizable membership within the house. Balor Repudiators agree that the Seelie reign has lasted far too long. The coming of Evernight will inaugurate an era in which only the Unseelie can demonstrate the skills and leadership necessary to carry the children of the Dreaming into the future. Repudiators of the house, therefore, see no need for Seelie survival except as slaves and whipping boys.
- Ritualists: Balor Ritualists vie with the Repudiators for the majority faction. The importance or reviving the lost rituals and ceremonies whereby the fae drew power from the Dreaming and reassert their connection to the cycles of the year attract many house members who look to the glories of a pre-Tuatha past. These Ritualists also use their practices and beliefs as a convenient way to secure power within the Shadow Court without arousing the suspicions of AIlil and Leanhaun. Little by little, Balor Ritualists seek to restructure and revise the ceremonies and rites of the seasons to reflect their fomorian ancestry.
- Modernists: Any Balor who claims to be a Modernist either lies like a pooka or else suffers from a serious mental "challenge." Nevertheless, a few members of the house have insinuated themselves into the Modernist faction for the sole purpose of winning over the Unseelie commoners to their cause. Balor Modernists have no intention of ever really sharing power with the lesser fae, but they can talk a good line when they need to. After all, the house needs cannon fodder for the coming battle against the Seelie.
- Anarchists: A fair number of younger house members subscribe to the Anarchist impulse; advocating the immediate and utter dissolution of the Seelie power structure. Balor Anarchists serve as a smoke screen, since the other houses expect them to pursue the course of random violence espoused by the faction. While most Balor fae migrate to one of the other impulses after an initial stint with the Anarchist faction, a few hardcore agitators keep alive the façade that the house cares for little beside causing havoc and instigating mass destruction.
Those to be Conquered Edit
What follows tends to represent accurately the feelings of most Balor. It might seem hard to comprehend that the house is so bent on rulership that they discount even their allies, but even the other Unseelie houses are not like the fomorian blooded Balor. They are children of the Tuatha and so are counted among Balor's enemies. Balor never trusts their lies, never bows to their will unless it serves the purpose of the house, and never, never trusts them; and if they cannot trust other fae, how should they trust creatures even more alien?
Unseelie Houses Edit
Of the houses that returned, Balor has the most in common with Ailil and Leanhaun. At least they are Unseelie. Not that that in itself wins them any loyalty from the house, but it does mean they can't stand by and watch the Seelie try to wipe Balor out. There aren't enough Unseelie sidhe for the other Unseelie houses to stand on their own without Balor's might behind them. In the end, Balor's erstwhile allies will realize who wields the true power. For now, the house allows them to believe they hold the upper hand. When the time comes, Balor will shatter their illusions and assume their rightful place as leaders of all fae.
Posturers who play at being bad, most Ailil think too much of themselves to be taken seriously. Let them warm the throne and revel in their idiotic power plays for now. They delude themselves that they are such great manipulators; the Ailil never notice that the Balor "fall for" whatever they say not because they're stupid or unsophisticated, but because they want them to believe they are less intelligent than they really are. They never suspect that the house doesn't want to be in charge for now. Funny how such great manipulators never realize when they are being manipulated.
The Ailil also seem foolishly unaware of House Balor's true heritage. They discount Balor's claim to rulership and royalty, claiming it for themselves. Do they even realize the Balor have fomorian blood? Or do they, as the Seelie houses do, believe the name was chosen for the house out of spite?
Ailil acts as the undisputed leader of the Unseelie houses. More than that, they assume leadership of the Shadow Court. Their plans for Balor are to send them into any heavy fighting and use them as cannon fodder to gain their own ends. Balor doesn't mind. They accept the challenge was they accept all challenges to their martial abilities. What the Balor don't countenance is the idea that they do it as Ailil's stooges. They will fight, but on their own terms and for their own ends. By the time the battle for supremacy begins, they will be ready to assume control. Their plans will be in place, dreamers at their command, and the remaining Glamour in the world under their control. Let Ailil try to order them about under the conditions. Balor will laugh at their pretensions. The House may allow them some access to Glamour under controlled conditions... for old times' sake. They are Unseelie and supposed allies, after all.
Both houses would do well to embrace the opportunities provided by High King David's disappearance to hone their battle skills and make alliance among various factions and the commoners that can be used to advantage later. If they don't do so, though, Balor certainly isn't going to suggest it to them and will profit from their oversight. Why is it that the Leanhaun and Ailil think the Balor are so dim? Don't they realize that successful soldiers must have a grasp of tactics to survive?
The Leanhaun believe they are so cultured, so intelligent, and so tasteful. They play on their ability to find talent and broker it to interested changelings. Although Balor isn't privy to their plans, it probably has something to do with how to survive as Glamour grows limited... by trading their expertise to the Seelie in exchange for their miserable lives should those self-righteous fae ever learn Leanhaun's secret. These cowardly fae use the other Unseelie houses to cover their practices and provide muscle to discourage the Seelie from picking on them. At least the ones who remember they're Unseelie do. Most of them just pretend to be Seelie to the extent that they might as well be Seelie.
They defer to the Ailil, but think the Balor are nothing but dumb grunts. Still, they're too concerned that someone will discover their secret (like Balor didn't 600 years ago!) to dare try anything against them. Sneaky bastards, though. The Balor believe they hope to use the house to shield themselves from harm. Like the Ailil, they want the Balor to do their fighting for them, but have no idea of the war they actually wage. They would undoubtedly be shocked if they knew the house had plans of its own. In many ways it will be a pleasure to see the genteel Leanhaun realize who has the upper hand. They've been less than helpful to either the Unseelie cause or the Shadow Court except as it suits their own designs. Let's just see how they fare when Balor rules and cuts of their Glamour supply unless they serve the house in all things. The Balor aren't so starved for companionship that they need them. Let them age for a few months and watch them come crawling.
Seelie Houses Edit
There are no uncomfortable grey areas to consider when dealing with the Seelie houses. Unequivocally, they are the enemy. Many Balor would start slaughtering them now and let the Dreaming sort them out. Not that they follow such a policy. No killing sprees yet, at least not until the house is ready. They are patient. They will spin their webs and let the Seelie entrap themselves. Only when Balor strikes their decisive blow will they realize how the house has set the scene for their destruction. Then Balor's revenge will be complete.
Stodgy and unimaginative outside their forges, Dougal is probably the most admirable among the Seelie. They show the most talent and dedication of any other sidhe, but they are such lapdogs of the Gwydion, they don't realize their true potential and power. They've always been to concerned with giving their tinker's toys to Gwydion to notice that they could rule by virtue of their weaponry and armor if they chose. Luckily for Gwydion, Dougal plays things far to honorably for that. Could Balor win their support, they could benefit both from their skills and their battle knowledge. Unfortunately, the idea that Dougal might join Balor is so ridiculous they might as well wish for Balor himself to rise from the dead and lead the house into Evernight.
Dougal's history supposedly tells their origins as smiths for Gwydion, who were accorded noble status. Some give a different theory, believing that Dougal were once fomorians captured by the Tuatha and forced into slavery in the smith to forge weapons for use against their own kind. Over the years, they were allowed to interbreed with lesser sidhe (much as the Balor did with the Tuatha). Gradually, after much time in service to the Tuatha, they lost their identities as fomorians and took the name of one of their most talented smiths.
Disputing the theory overlooks one important fact: every Dougal sidhe has some sort of physical handicap just as Balor have their challenges. Unlike Balor, Dougal fae can compensate for their flaws with cunningly crafted machines and items. This would mean they simply have more Tuathan blood than fomorian, but how else does one explain their physical differences except through having the same blood Balor does? This is why Balor so often masquerade as Dougal... both because it's hard to hide their challenges and because everyone trusts the fae of Dougal. Perhaps when they attain more power, they can approach them and explain the kinship. If they turned to Balor's cause, they'd make a mighty addition to Balor's armies.
The Eiluned often prove as slippery and untrustworthy as the Ailil their closest kin. Most are maddeningly smug and obnoxiously proud of being mysterious. They pride themselves on their secrecy and sorcerous talents, believing this make them indispensable to other Kithain. It's true that sorcerers may be needed for now, but their vaunted powers will wane as Glamour becomes scarcer. Their only use in combat is as support troops and they seem blissfully unaware that other changelings can cast cantrips too. In the end, they'll have to get used to the idea that physical might will rule over their sorcery. Then Balor will tell them where and how to use their magic and make them realize how pathetic their pretensions are... a good slap in the mouth with a mace will shut any sorcerer up.
For now, there are enough Eiluned who profess to be Unseelie that it makes sense to ally with them and welcome them to the Shadow Court when necessary. Other Seelie even suspect the Eiluned who are Seelie of being up to something, partially because of their close kinship to ailil, but also because their secretiveness brings it down upon their heads. Naturally, any alliances made with either Seelie or Unseelie Eiluned are worth exactly as much as theirs are. Given the choice, they'd choose Ailil over Balor anyway. So use them, but keep a leash on them. And don't turn your back on them.
Such a waste! House Fiona usually produces good warriors. Certainly, they are the most courageous of the Seelie houses. That may be because they are a little wilder than the others; they actively seem to court danger and sensation. They are most noted for their torrid love affairs, bur Fiona easily fall prey to overindulgence in liquor, drugs, revelry, even perversions. That means Balor can control them. Supply them with what they need, and they'll devote themselves to their own downfall while praising their supplier as their best friend. Recent rumors speak of a drug that can control the will of changelings. If Balor could find a supply of this drug and addict key members of Fiona, they might be able to utilize their battle skills on the front lines.
On the other hand, Balor hardly needs drugs to control the Fiona. They become so wrapped up in their lovers that a threat to the loved one brings immediate compliance from the weak-minded Fiona. It is said that the only thing a Fiona fears is the death of a lover. Take such a lover hostage and one can direct the Fiona as they will, but make a Fiona love you, and there is nothing they won't do for you... betray their house, the Seelie cause, even their now self. What an irony.
These overly conservative fae are the Seelie's version of the Ailil, at least in so far as being arrogant, overbearing, and convinced they are the only suitable rulers make them like Ailil. The comparison stops there. Where Ailil manipulates others, Gwydion assumes others will follow simply because they command it. The House claims to be so loyal to the Seelie cause that house members hunt down and kill Unseelie, a course of action forbidden by the very code that they purport to serve! These pretentious snobs claim their right to rulership through descent from Tuathan kings. Rumor also says their leader, High Lord Ardanon, claims descent from the founders of a land called Ardenmore. No such land has ever been known, leading all to question the good high lord's sanity. Amusing! We all know their penchant for running mad when they are thwarted. Somewhere along the line, the Gwydion's claim Lugh among their forebears. Perhaps they're Balor's cousins as well and have inherited the mental challenges some Balor face. Maybe the house ought to explain the relationship to them and watch them squirm.
Balor has more claim to rulership than ever they did. Further, the house knows what being a ruler actually means. They need only gain the upper hand and they will show the Gwydion their errors and crush their foolishness. it is their fault more than any other that the change of the courts so that the Unseelie may rule the dark half of the year has not occurred in so long. They will pay for that once Balor rules. When they scream for Balor's pleasure, let's see what their "noble" sentiments of rulership are worth.
Fools and cowards, the Liam let the other houses treat them as oathbreakers and pariahs just so they can claim allegiance to the Seelie cause that hates and distrusts them. And they say Balor are twisted! While they have little prowess on the battlefield and little talent for sorcery, they often show a genius for scholarship and historical inquiry. If they do not prove too much of a hinderance to the house in their quest for rulership, Balor may keep them alive to serve as their chroniclers.
The best way to deal with a Liam is to befriend them. They are so starved for approval, they'll do almost anything to win it. Pretend to trust a Liam, welcome them home to dinner, and you've got a lapdog who'll do your bidding forever. And it you can't win them over, they're relatively easy to kill and none of the other houses care as much about a few dead Liam as they would about one of their own.
Now these fae interest the Balor. The Scathach know a lot the Balor need to learn and they are fabulous warriors. The only sidhe to remain behind when the Shattering occurred, they have continuity and an innate understanding of the changing times that no other noble house can claim. Of course, this makes them less than sidhe in the eyes of other houses. Balor doesn't care if their blood is pure or not; it's as pure as theirs is!
If Balor could win Scathach as allies and show them the reasoning behind their maneuvering, they could overthrow the Seelie sooner than anyone believes. Afterward, by placing them in positions of power over the Seelie, Balor will give them the revenge they crave for the others' treatment of them. They'll be so happy with that, they won't even bother to notice who the true rulers are. Many Balor kin can be found among the Scathach already; those who tried to stay behind and had to resort to the same methods as they did to survive. Perhaps the house can play on that and reawaken their memories of their true allegiance. One way or the other, Scathach will end up serving Balor; it's just a matter of whether they do so willingly or under coercion. Now, if Balor could discover what else makes them tick beside a craving for acknowledgment, they'd rule them tomorrow.
The Commoners Edit
House Balor has always appreciated the commoner fae, especially in jellied sauce or on a bun. In all seriousness, there are certain commoners who are currently indispensable to the cause. Others might as well be eaten; they hardly serve any other purpose. The best Balor can say of most of them is that they don't arise from Tuatha stock. Still, even the most useless of the non-nobles can be turned to Balor's ends. It's all a matter of setting them against the right opponents. Now that High King David is no longer here to enforce the peace in Concordia, Balor has an unparalleled opportunity to do just that. The house must move quickly to bring commoners into the fold while espousing common (excuse the pun) cause with them. Once they are no longer useful as pawns, Balor will force them into service as cannon fodder or dispose of them at leisure.
Speaking of useless, Seelie boggans are feeble homebodies who'll pay almost any price to be left alone in their cherished homes. They can be sickening with their love of routine and penchant for work. They're as bas as humans! Luckily, they have this weakness for others in trouble that can be exploited by anyone clever enough to do so. Even Unseelie boggans can usually be counted on to help, though the do it in order to get you into their debt. Balor even employs some Unseelie boggans, sending them to Seelie freeholds where they make themselves indispensable and listen to all the gossip. At the right time, Balor will call them back, crippling the everyday running of the freehold and learning all the Seelie's secrets at the same time. Though they don't acknowledge the relationship, boggans are related to boggarts.
The Balor take in a lot of eshu who are tired of being treated like servants. They give them the title of nobles and princes that other sidhe deny them and let them wander wherever the will to spread tales of Balor prowess and fearsomeness. Some eshu aren't too bad on the battlefield either, and their command of Wayfare is unequaled, giving Balor a great advantage in tactical situations.
While the house is more than willing to grant them titles, they also provide those who swear allegiance to Balor something even more dear to them: adventure. Give an eshu an interesting path to follow, a challenging game of chance, information that leads them to something they've never seen before, or a great story they can adapt, and they'll eat out of your hands. So long as they believe Balor will share in the leadership once the Unseelie rule, they'll remain house pawns. If they're disappointed that their principalities fail to materialize, well, the redcaps would be happy to help the Balor hold a feast in their honor.
Changelings after Balor's heart, nockers are rude, crude, socially unacceptable, and don't care who knows it or who they insult. You have to give them credit, it takes a lot of courage to face up some of the more powerful Kithain and curse them for everything from their looks to their ancestry with suggestions for performing anatomically impossible exercises thrown in for good measure. They aren't the best in battle, but with some well-crafted nocker weapons, armor, and inventions, one can carve out an empire.
Lately, the house has been experimenting with letting nockers build fortress-workshops in the Dreaming. They serve as strongholds, forges, and craft shops for the house where nockers have free reign to be as inventive as they like. They've been working on special treasures that allow Balor control of the Fell and on creating weapons for the war with the Seelie. The house has been able to amass quite a stockpile due to the workshops, and they'll undoubtedly build more. So long as Balor praises their work and gives them space and materials to play with, the nockers will remain devoted servants.
Most pooka act like fluffy idiots unless they're the kind who become something useful in battle. These lying pranksters cause havoc unless tightly controlled. Even the Unseelie variety are intolerable unless sent to play their pointless games elsewhere, preferably among the Seelie courts. They know nothing of military discipline or of serious attempts to gain ascendency in the world.
On the other hand, they sometimes make amusing pets. Trap them in animal form and never let them be in a position when someone's not watching them. This can provide endless hours of entertainment as you watch them squirm and maneuver to find a way out of their predicament. It's even more fun to pretend one doesn't realize they are anything but animals and make plans how to cook them for dinner in their presence. It's also amusing to require a pooka to tell you the absolute truth... or else. They can't do it to save their lives... literally.
The clean-up crew! Redcaps make great shock troops in battle and clean up what's left of the pooka. Most Kithain, Seelie or Unseelie, don't really want redcaps around. Ugly and disgusting, they have such a bad attitude that they don't have to be as tough as trolls to cause fear in others. Their dining habits could make vampiric cannibals barf. They're Balor's kind of changelings! The house employs a great number of redcaps, letting them run in gangs in Seelie territory, and they train them in their strongholds in the Dreaming to act as the vanguard of their armies.
Balor has made a promise to the redcaps that if they serve the house faithfully, when the house rules, they will give them an entire kingdom of their own that they can rule as they see fit. They've promised them that they can elect their own king, do with the mortals in their area as they like, and do whatever else they want in that territory. Further, the house has agreed to supply them with Glamour when that commodity becomes too scarce for easy harvesting. how could they resist that? More and more flock to Balor's banners every day.
Of course, the house will keep their word to them... they've sworn it with potent oaths. But they didn't promise they'd do anything to keep them alive during, or after, the fighting. The redcaps will get their kingdom, and even access to some Glamour, but the house doesn't expect a large number of them to be alive to enjoy it, and they never said they wouldn't attack and wipe them out once they had kept their initial promise.
Passionate and volatile, satyrs enjoy nothing so much as revelry and abandon. Good. Balor can certainly understand their baser desires, for they share them. In fact, many Balor like keeping satyrs as sex slaves in their holdings. Having one or two attentive bedmates under one's control helps relieve tension after battle. Of course, they tend to be incredibly moody, so it pays to control them through access to drugs or liquor. When they aren't keeping your bed warm, they can entertain you with songs or musical instruments. In a pinch, they can even serves as soldiers. They have a lot of endurance, of not much skill in martial pursuits. Overall, a few satyr servants can make life much more pleasurable.
Their main drawback is their fascination with lore. They're reputed to be great scholars. So what? Some members of Balor use satyrs to do research for them. Make sure you know what they are researching, though. Who knows? They might stumble across something useful.
These sneaky little gobblers make many fae's flesh crawl. It isn't their looks so much. Pasty faced and toothless, if they weren't so obviously from Russian dreams, the Balor might suspect they'd crossed with fomorians somewhere along the line. It's something else... something indefinable. Sluagh have only one saving grace: they make great espionage agents. They can crawl in any tiny hole to listen to secrets or squeeze through small cracks to steal treasures.
Unfortunately, they can't be coerced or bribed into working exclusively for Balor. They don't even have any loyalty to the Unseelie or Shadow Court rather than the Seelie one. Their information network can be useful, but it goes both ways. They're just as likely to sell Balor's secrets to interested parties as they are to broker Seelie secrets to the house. That can't be allowed.
Go ahead an employ them to get what you want, then feel free to dispose of them before they turn on you and sell you out to someone else. And don't feel bad about gaining pleasure from it. A good torture session might even garner more information from them. Don't be shy. It's easy to be creative. For example, they stink normally, but if you really want to smell something foul, try boiling them in oil some time.
Seelie trolls are useless. They have sold their strength for Seelie acceptance. They allow themselves to be bound by oaths to protect the very people who usurped their positions in the world after running away for six centuries. House Balor understand what Unseelie trolls really want, however. They desire an excuse for battle, blood, and mayhem. They want to crush the ruling sidhe and take back the freeholds stolen from them. They labor under the same righteous anger the Balor do... the fury of the conquerer denied their rightful rewards.
Balor prefers to give them free rein and let them cause havoc. The only difficulty with this is that some are too stupid to realize the Balor aren't like the other sidhe and they strike against the house as well. That's why it's so important for Balor to recruit the ones they can use. Hands down, an Unseelie troll is the best warrior on any battlefield so long as they are under the command of a gifted general. Balor knows how to direct all that anger and strength and use it to best advantage. That means convincing the trolls to place themselves under Balor's command and binding them to the house. For now, that involves making promises to them and allowing them the leeway to wreck havoc on their personal enemies. Once they're in deep enough and bound to the house by unbreakable oaths, Balor can rein them in. For now, Balor lets them do the dirty work for them and terrorize the Seelie while they're at it.
The Thallain Edit
Balor's relationship with the Thallain is one of the best kept secrets of the house. More so even than the Unseelie kith, the Thallain have desires and feelings similar to House Balor. For one thing, few of them have any more sympathy for humans than Balor. Granted, many of them actually prey upon mortals and even eat them on occasion, but you have to expect a little excess from creatures who have no Seelie nature at all. True, some of them are less than bright and many are all but uncontrollable, but Balor still finds the useful.
Individual Thallain occasionally work for the Unseelie, especially members of the Shadow Court who are unlikely to turn them in. Most other fae see them as monsters and either hunt then or try to drive them out. They aren't given the benefit of protection under the Escheat, meaning any fae can kill them on sight with impunity. Balor feels differently about the Thallain, so they take advantage of the other faes' blindness. The house welcomes them, providing them with what they want and need in exchange for their allegiance.
For some time now, Balor has been recruiting Thallain. They have an entire army made up of nothing but Thallain, led by Duke Fearan, with their own companies made up of their own kind and commanded by their own leaders. Naturally, members of House Balor take overall command of this kill-crazy group. For the most part, the army serves as a tool of terror. The house doesn't expect them to make more than a small dent in the Seelie armies. Their real value is to divert attention from Balor's better trained warriors, allowing them to win the day whole the Seelie panic at the thought of going against a force of Thallain.
The Gallain Edit
Balor doesn't know or care too much about most of the Gallain. Most have little to do with court intrigue and no real interest in who's in control. Since they don't care what Balor does, Balor has no interest in them. That said, there are a few exceptions. Among them are two groups of kith the house claims as kin, and another that interests them because of their place of origin: Hibernia, which has always been a concern of the house.
Native to Hibernia, the clurichaun have always stayed on the periphery of fae society. Unless one really pisses them off, and gets them drunk as skunks, they aren't much use on the battlefield. They are fairly handy at singing scathing songs and berating rulers who fail to meet their standards, which no doubt bothers the Seelie a lot. While Balor gets a good laugh out of that, it really isn't very effective in the long run. The clurichaun habit of collecting things interests the house much more. Most of them collect useless, stupid objects, but a few specialize in items Balor might like to acquire, such as weaponry or treasures. The house could care less about these fae themselves, but is more than happy to relieve them of their collections whenever they find one worth taking.
The selkie arose from the same ancestry as the Balor did. Born of Balor's daughter and her Tuathan lover, Cian, the second born of the triplets became the the first selkie. Legend says Manannan Mac Lir turned her into a seal. When she wished to assume a humanlike form again, she had to strip away her pelt to do so. Ever after, the selkie had to don there sealskins whenever they wanted to become seals, and remove them to change back. The Balor don't know if this is because of their fomorian blood or not.
The house acknowledges their kinship with the selkie. Some of them acknowledge Balor in return. Others deny any knowledge of their origins. One of House Balor's primary tasks in the Parliament of Dreams is to agitate to award the selkie noble status equal to that of the sidhe. Since the Seelie don't really believe that the Balor have fomorian blood, though, it's impossible for them to acknowledge that the selkie are the house's first cousins.
Whatever the Seelie believe, Balor has enough selkie on their side to provide them with hidden bases along the sea coasts and in undersea caves. Even now, Balor train Special Forces there who will join their armies at the proper time, catching both Seelie and Shadow Courts unaware in flanking maneuvers from the sea.
Balor's other cousins, the merfolk, prove even more difficult to pin down than the selkie. If the selkie exist on the periphery of Kithain life, the merfolk practically shun it altogether. That may be because they exist almost exclusively in the water. Unlike the selkie, who take up lives on the land when not in seal form, the merfolk build undersea castes and forts. They are able to confer the ability to breaths underwater on those to whom they give special treasures, allowing the Balor to visit and stay with them.
Like their forces with the selkie, the Balor have operatives who spend much of their time among the merfolk. Rather than preparing for warfare, though, the house uses these bases as hideouts for their more notorious members. Strangely, the mer often prove more warlike than the selkie and some have offered to join Balor's forces. Obviously, the house has accepted. The house also strives to have the Parliament of Dreams acknowledge the merfolk as nobles, but if they're reticent about the selkie, the don't understand about the mer at all. in both cases, Balor hopes to eventually use the Seelie's prejudice against Balor's kin to bring them fully into the house's plans.
The Prodigals Edit
House Balor is somewhat ambivalent to the prodigals. The usual theory runs that they used to be fae once upon a time, but time and circumstance conspired to change them. The prodigals don't subscribe to that theory, but the Balor aren't interested in their point of view most of the time anyway... with the exception of the Dancers.
Children of Lilith Edit
Such a fanciful name for leeches. Most Kithain know little of these bloodsuckers, though we've all heard the tale that they sprang from a blood-crazed redcap cursed by the Dreaming. The Balor aren't most Kithain. Who cares if they were once redcaps? Their value now lies in the Dark Glamour they exude and in their potential as allies. The ones the house knows best are from a political faction called the Sabbat. Some of their activities remind the house of their more aggressively anti-human members. Apparently, they have their own households, too, and Balor has engaged in limited cooperation with the house called The Shadows. You haven't tasted Dark Glamour until you've run with a pack of vampires. They take the victim's blood; a Balor gets the victim's fear and pain. Curiously, once bitten, the quarry seems to surrender to a state of bliss or orgasm. For now, the two groups seem to have similar goals. More contact is needed, though, before integrating them into house plans.
Give them credit. They are badasses in a fight. They're ranked among the prodigals, though how they could be related to the pooka is a stretch. They live for battle, but most of them fight against their idea of a god of destruction they call the Worm. Balor is on the other side. Since some of them, who call their family the Fiona, are apparently related to House Fiona, they'd probably be Seelie given the choice. Too bad.
There is one tribe, the Dancers, who shared a kin group with the Balor long ago. Both of them used the Picts as breeding stock. At one point, the werewolves descended into a great pit to battle this worm-god the other werewolves fear and hate so. Instead of defeating the darkness, they came to know and serve it. House Balor got on with them a lot better after that. When the sidhe left for Arcadia, they lost track of them, but since the return, Balor has been making alliances with them and exchanging fosterlings. Balor's house leader was fostered in a Dancer labyrinth, in fact, and gained a unique perspective from it. The two groups have a common goal: they both seek to bring on the Evernight, which they see as the time of the Worm's ascendency over Mother Earth. Bring it on!
Humans & Near Humans Edit
Obviously, the Balor have little respect for humans. Their petty stupidity cost them much in the past and they have not forgotten that. Nonetheless, the idea that the house wishes to wipe them out is ludicrous. They merely wish to turn their talents (such as they are) to Balor's use. They have no problem with having humans as slaves. There are two types of humans who may prove a little more difficult that the run-of-the-mill type: Ghosts and Witches.
Sons of Adam, Daughters of Eve Edit
This stupid name was no doubt thought up by some Seelie moron who thought is sounded romantic. Humans, though, are only good for producing Glamour and they'd better give the Balor what they want, when they want it. The house has little patience fo those who can't, or won't, produce. Then again, difficult humans are at least good for target practice or honing one's skills at torture.
Most fae ask, "is there any use to these whining pulers?" Balor knows better. While it isn't easy to interact with these animate spirits, some of the house's more daring members have forged tentative alliances with a few. Most ghosts come from discontented humans who have died before finishing some pointless task they appointed themselves in life. Their loss; Balor's gain. House members point out the most creative and brightest of the Seelie to the faction known as Sleeping Sandmen, who strip away the enemies' Glamour while they sleep. What a perfect attack on those the house despises! Both sides get what they want since the wraiths apparently need Glamour to fuel their existence. Granted, the Balor don't understand exactly how that works, but they've learned enough to begin the Waybuilders Corps. They just wish they could establish better contact with those they house has sent to the lands of shadow so they could know if they are successful or not. For now, communication is sporadic at best and held hostage to the goodwill and desire of the wraiths. If the house is to continue working with them, they need to find some way to entrap them and force them to speak whenever the house wishes. Having to bow to the whims of disembodied spirits is almost as intolerable as putting up with the Seelie Court.
These humans present the house with some serious problems. They apparently possess the power to change reality to some extent. The good part about that is that if they get too ambitious with there changes, they burn out and end up vegetables or they die. Naturally, the house was familiar with mages in the old days. In fact, many fomorians possessed magical powers. Balor became aware of mages soon after they returned. So far, they have been cautious about dealing with them. They have watchers secretly monitoring the few they've identified. Apparently, they're divided into two courts like the fae are. Some of them seem a lot more banal than others. There are rumors, passed along by the spies, that certain wizards may be looking for changelings to experiment on. Well, the house warned the Seelie long ago that they should comply with their ideas on the right of rescue and secrecy. It would certainly be a pity of the Seelie found themselves placed in the paths of mages who want them as lab rats, wouldn't it?
Soon after the Resurgence, Balor contacted the beings called fomori. Naturally, the house assumed these were their kin who had survived through the intervening centuries. Many of them evinced the same sorts of "deformities" as the ancient fomorians. These disfigurements even confer certain advantages or powers on those who possess them. It seemed Balor might learn from them how to empower themselves and use their challenges as Balor of the Evil Eye once did. The house has spent much time since the return making alliances with the fomori. In recent months, the house has become aware that these beings are probably not the remnants of Balor's most kin, but some sort of hybrid of human and something else. Exactly wha that something else is they aren't certain. What seems true int hat many fomori either work for or associate with a conglomerate known as Pentex and that most werewolves hate them and kill them on sight.
Since the fomori seem powerful, Balor doesn't regret allying with them, but must now send agents to discover the truth behind their existence and whether the alliance will be to their advantage in the end. Not that the Balor are above using and discarding them now that they know they aren't really their kin. Meanwhile, they'll continue the alliance and hope they can learn the secrets behind empowering what others perceive as disabilities. If these beings have, in fact, been engineered in some fashion, perhaps the house can do so themselves using human subjects or turn those already in existence to Balor's service.
House Treasures Edit
Balor's Famous & Infamous Edit
- Balor of the Evil Eye
- Black-Tongue Dooley
- Devyn Crow
- Eithlinn of the Gleaming Eyes
- Lisette Levay the Voodoo Queen
- Lugh of the Long Arm
- CTD. The Shadow Court, pp. 63-64.
- CTD. Pour L'Amour et Liberte: The Book of Houses 2, pp. 103-147.
- CTD. Book of Lost Dreams, pp. 42-43.