Members of House Leanhaun are intimately tied to mortal inspiration, and are the most Glamour-hungry of all sidhe. Without Glamour, those of House Leanhaun begin to age rapidly. Cut off for a few months from Glamour, members of House Leanhaun can go from childling to grump almost overnight, suffering all the pain and loss such a change brings in its wake. Though other fae know that this house is so cursed, they are unaware of the cure for it — a forbidden form of Ravaging known as Rhapsody.
The aging effects can be reversed, and aging itself can be held at bay for an unnaturally long period of time through Rhapsody. This is engendered by particularly creative mortals in response to the Leanhaun’s direct infusion of Glamour into them. The mortal who is thus inspired burns with enhanced creativity, pouring his whole life into his art, be it music, poetry, prose, painting, sculpture, dance or any other art form. The Leanhaun feed off the Glamour thus produced, often becoming the lovers of those they Rhapsodize, while the mortals become utterly obsessed with their sidhe lovers. Such a direct channel to the Dreaming, and the creative and emotional outpouring it produces, is very dangerous for the mortals involved. While they fashion artistic masterpieces, they live all too briefly, burning out with one rapturous, incandescent flare.
History of House Leanhaun
The Mythic Age
Few outside of House Leanhaun know of the true origins of House Leanhaun and the curse laid on them; How, Leanhaun unwittingly Rhapsodized a mortal bard; how Finellia of House Liam, Leanhaun's jealous lover, cursed her and her house while taking her own life.
The curse, though, was twisted by Finellia's jealousy, causing more havoc than it stopped. While the glories and beauties of the Long Days lasted, the house forgot the hope (as it were) of the final portion of the curse, for it seemed unlikely that the conditions under which they might be freed would never come to pass. Finellia's fears did not materialize then; there were no humans who rose against the fae. Yet deep within their hearts, fear of faerie power took root, nourished by an empty-eyed bard who wasted away within days of being touched with faerie Glamour.
And so the house endured, keeping their secret locked within and spreading throughout Europe in search of the who might provide them with what they needed to survive. They were not the only cause of the rift between mortal and fae, but Leanhaun's unthinking act certainly served as one of the catalysts that brought about the Sundering.
(For more on the story of the origins of House Leanhaun and their curse, see the article Leanhaun (Founder).
Not even the greatest loremaster among the fae can tell you how the Sundering came about. The story of Leanhaun is one incident, but there must have been many more such to bring the Long Days of Dreaming to an end. Among the sidhe it is said that mortals began demanding what they had shared freely in the past; that they sought to capture the fair folk and hold them hostage in return for concessions or to force them to serve their human captors. Certainly there are plenty of tales of selkie wives held in thrall by those who managed to steal their skins. What is usually not told as often among the sidhe are the tales of faerie kings and queens stealing mortals away from their families to serve as playthings or servants among the fae. Even "noble" House Gwydion did such things.
Nothing particularly impressive or noteworthy heralded the Sundering until it was far advanced. It began as little ore than a distancing; a growing distrust between mortals and fae. Certainly, House Leanhaun's preying upon mortals to preserve their own lives did not help matters. Still, they tried to give something in return for what they took. Nonetheless, the new church that worshipped the white Christ condemned them as demons and devils sent to torment and seduce mortals; to lead them into Infernalism and eternal damnation. Nothing could have been further from the truth, but as the mortals began to believe these lies, fae and humankind moved away from one another, creating a gulf between them not easily bridged.
No others but those of the house knew of Leanhaun's curse in those days. They were noted for their grace and beauty and their discernment in finding and nourishing the talents of potent dreamers. If many of those so chosen created no more than one grand work or died untimely, well, such things happened all too often in those days of violence, disruption, and pestilence. Humans had few defenses against the many perils in their lives. Few suspected Leanhaun's true role, instead pitying them that so many they chose were inexplicably blighted.
It was during this time that Leanhaun herself passed from the world, but that is another tale.
And so House Leanhaun became used to the lethargic pace of the Sundering. In some places, true, the Sundering was more violent and sudden (especially as it built toward the Shattering), but the house had not felt its touch upon them as heavily as they might have. Adapting to the difficulty of moving from the waking world to the Dreaming, they forgot that the slow pace might quicken at any time. Thus, many of the hose were caught by surprise when the Shattering came. Most had only seconds to make their choice: to return to the Dreaming, cutting themselves off from the Dreamers whose creations kept them young and alive, or to stay behind, locked within prisons of Glamour that might, or might not, sustain them.
To return to the Dreaming would be the ultimate torture for them, for they did not know if they could draw what they needed from other fae. The Dreaming itself would sustain them somewhat, but they would age even as Leanhaun did, and who knew how long they would be trapped there? But would it be any better cocooned by whatever Glamour they could muster in the space of a few moments? How long would such an enclave last if they had to feed off of that Glamour to sustain themselves? Even then, it wold merely keep them alive; decay and the foul breath of unstoppable aging would stalk them wherever they fled. Aging was inescapable, but they were immortal, they could not die unless they deliberately took their own lives or fell to another's killing stroke. To stay or to go? Either way, they were damned.
They say the Shattering happened as the Black Plague swept across Europe. In its wake, the world changed. Never again would mortals surrender to dreams of hope untainted by the horror of death and the knowledge that they could be taken by the plague at any time. No one knew the Black death's cause; many claimed to know the cure.
"Drive out the demons! Repent! Believe only what the Church tells you and God's punishment shall be lifted," cried the priests. Mortals, beaten to the point of exhaustion by horrors and losses too awful to contemplate, not knowing how else to relieve the unendurable, turned their focus to mere survival and a hopeless fervor for the Church. And the world narrowed, minds constricted, and the Dreaming broke apart from this horrid new reality. The world of the fae cracked and died. Some of the house were torn to shreds by the chill winds of Banality as they roared across the breadth of Europe. Some chose to remain on Earth, and of those they have no knowledge. They disappeared into the mists of time in most cases; even their names have been forgotten. Some say they yet remain, caught in pockets of Glamour that lie between the worlds, driven mad by centuries of imprisonment.
The rest of the house crossed over the crumbling trods, escaping into Arcadia. Thankfully, most of them remember little of that time. most sidhe curse their inability to recall Arcadia. The Leanhaun see it as a blessing among too many tortures. While they could indeed inspire other fae to such heights that they could feed from the Glamour they produced, doing so while remaining unnoticed was a virtual impossibility. That doesn't mean it never happened; six hundred years is a long time to suffer without respite even when time flows differently. But it couldn't have been done often, or those whose kin they preyed upon would have annihilated the house.
Some have dreams of the time; haunted by visions of themselves: old and broken, crawling painfully, bones shattering, delectable foods untasted whole they had no teeth to chew and their tongues rotted in their mouths. Those who have such dreams often awake screaming, "Never again!"
The house only has the word of those commoners loyal to them for what happened during the time they were away. What holdings they had, they left to commoner care; nor did they begrudge the the use of what was left behind. Don't be surprised to know the house has commoners who pledge themselves to their service. Most Kithain know nothing of the house curse. What they do know is the house policy toward commoners. Since the laying of the curse, it has been the House's business to cultivate friends where they can, be they noble or commoner, Seelie or Unseelie. Their best defense against eventual discovery is to bind as many defenders to them as possible. It would have been foolish in the extreme to ignore commoners, who are far more numerous than the nobles. In any case, the house recruited commoners and rewarded them well for their services, and so Leanhaun trusted that they would care for house holdings when they left for Arcadia; after all, they were the commoners' holdings, too.
The house has no memories of this time, save hazy bits of their own pain in Arcadia. Some find it amusing that the other houses think of them as sybaritic weaklings without the discipline and will to act as muses. Some think Leanhaun Ravage because it is easier to do so. If only they knew of the self-restraint and iron-willed determination they exhibited throughout the centuries of their enforced stay in Arcadia, they would tremble for the eventual fate of those houses who condemn them. Do not forget the true face of the house: They endure. They survive. And those who earn their enmity should beware.
Records of the centuries the house missed tell the story of the mortals' gradual rise to rule their world rather than being ruled by it. As mortals changed and became more confident, so to did their dreams, and those dreams were reflected in the commoners' attitudes. They had to make their own decisions, rule themselves, and survive in a world that became ever more crowded and hostile to faerie kind. They compromised; they lived many lives in succession. House Leanhaun must never forget that it was the commoners who held the line against ever-encroaching Banality. The story of the Interregnum is their story, not that of the sidhe.
And so the time came when the gates of Arcadia burst open once again. The trods that had been closed for centuries filled with light and the exodus from Arcadia began. Most of the Seelie admit that they were exiled from Arcadia and assume that the Unseelie houses suffered the same fate. Perhaps Ailil and Balor were sent away from "paradise." House Leanhaun has no knowledge whether it's true or not. Leanhaun may have even been exiled as well, though none remember being forcibly ejected. Most reentered the waking world in the place they chose, Hibernia, their homeland. It is doubtful the powers controlling Arcadia would have granted them that right if they had been exiled as punishment. Despite rumors that High Lady Eleanor offended the high king, despite the rumors of slain troubadours killed to feed her Glamour-starved body on the eve of the exile, many question what really happened.
What they knew when they arrived was the rapturous sweetness of living again in a body not wracked by age and decay. If so, it makes sense that many chose to come to the world again. Exiled or not, House Leanhaun wanted to be on Earth. It doesn't matter. What matters more is their shared impressions concerning Arcadia itself and why the believe they remember more than the Seelie houses or even Ailil and Balor.
It may be unbelievable, but everything they recall points to the idea that Arcadia itself is locked in Winter. While the Seelie Kithain tulles Earth for 600 years, surpassing the sharing of power that balanced the seasons, Earth blossomed under an unending Summer. Mortals gained great insight and power, becoming more enlightened and producing amazing technological wonders. Arcadia, reflecting the opposite, has been held in the darkness, frozen in unchanging inactivity under the rule of the harshest Unseelie. It may look inviting with its greenswards and crystalline trees, its diamond towers and dragon-cloud skies, the very picture of summery flowering and graciousness, but the picture has not changed. It hardly wavered for 600 years. Arcadia is stagnating. It has forgotten that dreams arise from creativity, from fiery chaos, change, and movement. Some fear for its survival. Having fled Banality, refusing to adapt and change, they now find that they dragged Banality's dread and leaden weight behind them into the Dreaming where it poisons Arcadia itself. Things must change on Earth to change them there.
Some argue that there is no way Arcadia can be ruled by the Seelie, not if so many Seelie houses were exiled. And the three Unseelie houses, perhaps they feared their interference as well. Or maybe they recognized that things could not remain in stagnation without both worlds perishing. Perhaps the sidhe are all here to put a stop to the way things have been for six centuries. That would be irony indeed: Unseelie and Seelie cooperating to overthrow Seelie rule? And all to end Unseelie rule in Arcadia.
It's a pity so few sidhe remember anything of Arcadia, and some wonder if that was by design. If so, whose design? Is there a greater purpose to their return to Earth, and what happens if they miss their chance to accomplish it because they cannot remember what it is they were sent to do? These are the questions the sidhe should be asking. Seelie or Unseelie is irrelevant. What they need to know is: which side do they stand on regarding the coming of Endless Winter? And is the approach of Winter a reason for dread or celebration?
The Accordance War
There is no doubt that the Accordance War was the most stupid, wasteful era of fae existence, and it came about almost totally due to Seelie pig-headedness. So many Seelie are convinced of their own superiority and fitness to rule that it never occurred to them that the commoners had ruled quite competently without them for six centuries. Consequently, they sauntered in assuming that the commoners would gladly hand back the reins of power. Further, they actually expected the commoner kith to bow to those who fled in the face of danger, leaving everyone to fend for themselves. Worst of all, they believed that the changes made to the world during the centuries of their absence were insignificant and ought to be overthrown in favor of reestablishing the feudal custom and reasserting their claim to freeholds they deserted at the time of the Shattering.
Not surprisingly, the commoners resented the noble intrusions and demands. Some tried to reason with the returning sidhe; others realized from the first that if they wanted freedom from Seelie oppression, they'd have to fight for it. That's where House Leanhaun fit into the picture, or rather where they didn't. There were two major reasons the house played only a minor role in the War. They didn't have the same objectives as most of the other sidhe, and many of them were too young to take part.
They wanted their freeholds back as much as anyone else did, but they made no immediate moves to take them from their current occupants (at least most didn't). Some of them claimed lesser sites and freeholds, especially those once held by minor nobles of other houses. since almost all the returnees from the house returned to Hibernia while a majority of the rest of the sidhe ended up in what would become Concordia, they easily claimed sites that had been closed down and left so that only sidhe could open them. So having less reason to fight the commoners than most, they declared themselves neutral in sidhe-commoner conflicts. A few Leanhaun might have fought alongside other nobles, especially Unseelie allies, but they were definitely in the minority.
Most sidhe returning from Arcadia took the bodies of teenagers or young adults. Many Leanhaun, however, wished to be as young as possible, so they would have more time before aging became a problem. During the Accordance War and similar conflicts, at least three-quarters of the house were too young to fight. Lacking warriors enough even to adequately defend themselves and their few freeholds, House Leanhaun discovered a way to survive and prosper.
Realizing they could little afford to make enemies of wither the nobles or commoners, the leaders of the house met together and concocted the only reasonable plan for their survival. They not only declared themselves neutral, but their freeholds as well. Then they opened them to any Kithain in need: the wounded, the abandoned, and the hunted. Aside from providing sanctuary and healing for any fae who requested aid, they also allowed their halls to be used as neutral ground for peace negotiations. Though they only allowed others access to the outermost portions of their holdings, their actions during the wars gained them friends on both sides. That was the objective, after all.
Some nobles charged that by not aligning themselves with them they shirked their duty and made it more difficult for the nobility to come out on top. Mostly, these were the Seelie who disdained Leanhaun's help anyway or who knew them as Unseelie and made assumptions based on that. Others took advantage of their offer and came away from the experience feeling that the house's reputation was unfair and undeserved. Thus, the Leanhaun achieved their objective to stay out of the fighting while cementing new alliances and friendships that would later benefit them. It may sound calculating but it was practical. It is also the reason the the house now serves many nobles as masters of revels or entertainment secretaries .
The Modern Era
Building on the goodwill they built during the war, the house has spent most of their time in the modern era cementing relationships ad strengthening their position. While most acknowledge that they stand firmly within the Unseelie court and that they often act as Ravagers, most other fae don't really understand what it is the house does. Some, in fact, fool themselves into thinking that while the house is Unseelie, most members of it are either Seelie forced into allegiance to a house they feel no identity with or are at least "only a little Unseelie." This is due to concerted efforts to cover up their true activities.
The house works tirelessly to build friendships and maintain webs of favors they do for other Kithain. One focus of their efforts has been to forge many alliances as possible with commoners. They continue to speak for their rights as well as the house's own in the Parliament of Dreams. They swear many commoners into the house. While many hold subservient positions, those who evince talent swiftly rise within the ranks. Even those with more lowly positions are treated with respect, complimented on good performance, rewarded with dross, and treated as valued members of the house. Can Gwydion or even Dougal say as much? Further, they offer commoners far greater opportunities than Ailil or Balor. Most commoners know Ailil manipulates them and Balor wants them for test subjects and shock troops. House Leanhaun lets them know that they depend on them to protect and support them. By appearing to be weaker, they excel. By being charming and showing empathy for them, they win the commoners' hearts.
A second focus concerns the Seelie nobles and to a lesser extent, the Unseelie houses. Many Leanhaun act as entertainers themselves and serve both Seelie and Unseelie households as talent coordinators. They have a knack for locating promising Dreamers and introducing other Kithain to them, thus providing their "overlords" with potent sources of Glamour and aesthetically pleasing new musicians, artists, and crafters. Leanhaun sidhe are often highly valued by those they serve as masters of revels or entertainment secretaries. They aren't greedy; they don't descend upon every Dreamer ravening for their artistry. Instead, they are subtle. They give away some of the finest talents while hiding the truly elite for their own use. While the local lord and his court fawn upon those they provide for their amusement, the Leanhaun secretly enjoy the cream, all the while knowing the others are too busy to notice they aren't there, or to look closely at what the house is doing. Some nobles even lustily defend the house, insisting that they aren't Unseelie at all, but misunderstood artists whose efforts benefit the whole Seelie Court.
As with any group, some Leanhaun do go overboard and those are the ones who blacken the house's name. While the house tries to instill secrecy and subtlety in all house members, some are simply incapable of keeping things to themselves. Those are the one who lead ravaging parties or indulge in group Rhapsodizing. Many also indulge their basest cruelty when selecting and using a victim. These idiotic sidhe may indulge themselves with a local noble's favorite Dreamer, or torture their chosen target unmercifully with no regard for the Dreamer's feelings at all. Such actions endanger the entire house and are usually dealt with by house agents. Occasionally, however, they miss the signs; the Leanhaun goes to far and is hunted down by the Seelie Court. House Gwydion is not known for its leniency in such cases, though some of the other houses may opt only for banishment. Further, horrific Rhapsodizing that draws Seelie attention is usually obvious enough to alert any Dauntain in the area. Woe to the Leanhaun caught Rhapsodizing a Dreamer by the Dauntain. It usually results in the death of the perpetrator and gains the Dauntain a staunch new ally if the Dreamer is released at an early enough stage that they survive the experience. They can still never create again, a prospect that suits the Dauntain anyway.
Does it sound like the house's main focus is to gain enough Glamour to sustain themselves at any cost? It should. That is their main objective. Of course, they aren't so focused on the immediate (crassly called "getting a fix") that they don't look to the future. On the contrary, they now believe that the modern age holds the key to their release from Finellia's curse. Their greatest efforts are put toward the ascension of the Unseelie and the assumption of power by the Shadow Court. These both for the reasons stated already: Restore the Dreaming and Arcadia to the fullness of what they should be through bringing Endless Winter upon the Waking World.
There must be a balancing: darkness on Earth for a time of light in Arcadia. The house believes that all of them have been returned to Earth so that they may lead the commoners into this new era. They have all taken n mortal flesh so that they may withstand the rigors and coldness of Banality. That allows then to live and work in this realm without being consumed by it. As the Leanhaun draw down the cold and suppress the light here, more Glamour than ever will suffuse the Dreaming. When they stand at the point of perfect stillness in which the waking world has so little Glamour that it is like burnt-out ashes, and when the Dreaming flashes with the fiery creativity of too much Glamour to be constrained, then the two will once again align opposite one another, clash together, and begin again the cycle of light and darkness, Summer and Winter, Glamour and Banality. With that perfect balance, the fae will be restored to what they once were before disbelief and mundanity destroyed them.
And in that time, House Leanhaun will take on their roles in the Great Pageant, arising to lead all fae, nobles and commoners, Seelie and Unseelie. Their great vision will shine within the darkness, lighting the way. All will acknowledge their wisdom and bow before the great dream that restores the to the Dreaming and their true selves. No more shall they be half-human caricatures of fae. Yes, the skies may crack open with dark despair, the world may wail in anguish and misery. Ice may enter into every heart. Does the prospect frighten you? It should. The house does not undertake this course lightly. War may come upon them, and house may battle house, but in the end, dark silence will reign. From the silence, the fae will begin anew. The house can only hope that bringing the dark days into being is the working out of Dán to place them at the time of their release from the torment of their curse: Endless Winter, when the stars weep blood and the Earth grows cold.
Few Leanhaun enclaves exist outside of Hibernia. They tend to scatter into dozens of freeholds controlled by other houses; Seelie ones, if possible. Disappearing into service to another house allows them protective coloration that they desperately need. It is a source of amusement that when they join a Seelie household, it simply accepts they must be Seelie as well. Even those who don't trust them initially are rarely given the opportunity to observe what they do outside their freeholds. By distracting them, always maintaining proper decorum, and acting in all ways as though they follow the Seelie Code, they maintain their positions and defuse rumors about themselves. Further, they can usually find out the freeholds' defenses and weaknesses. Making friends among the freehold's courtiers also allows them to gradually change their mind about the Unseelie cause and their visions of Endless Winter. For the most part, these are individual efforts, but each serves to further the house's goals.
The havens Leanhaun do rule tend to become havens for the disaffected, whether sidhe or commoner. They are also places renowned for taste and elegance. The house cultivates there image as seductive, gracious artists whose main talent lies in finding inspired geniuses and cultivating them. They are mysterious and compelling to those they Rhapsodize, evoking all their fantasies of the perfect dream lover. They hope most Kithain see them that way too. As many fae visit their freeholds, the house can only suppose they are successful in this.
While the house still offers sanctuary to those in need, they never let those who aren't of the household see the true functioning of their holdings. That would break whatever illusions they have of the house. Hidden from Seelie eyes, they train for the inevitable conflict that will proceed the coming of Endless Winter. For now, that training mostly focuses on preparing their various house members and allies in infiltration techniques, and helping them to assume their parts in the Great Pageant. Those with the ability learn martial skills, cantrip use, tactics, and how to assess enemy weaknesses. They also train their childlings to appreciate craftwork and arts of all sorts so that they can more readily discover which arts best feed their need for Glamour.
In the deepest reaches of their freeholds, they can finally let down their guard. There they drop the masks they show to all others and reveal their true selves to one another. It is a great irony of the house that most Leanhaun don't truly like other Leanhaun. Perhaps it's because they all compete for Glamour and count their successes in their lack of aging. To outsiders, they seem little more than an appearance-driven, brittle group, far too concerned with themselves, and quite shallow. When among their own, though, they speak freely even when they mistrust each others' motives, for they are the only others who really understand what they endure. So, while they don't like each other, they support and encourage one another because no one else will. Those who mistreat one of the Leanhaun do so at their own peril, for if that mistreatment is discovered, all of the house rise against those who harmed one of their own. It may not be an obvious attack, but from that time on, they work to undermine whatever they support, destroy their reputations, and bring all they hold dear to ruin. Others don't understand how they can feel so fiercely protective of house members who don't even like them; to a Leanhaun, though, it is obvious: Right or wrong, the house comes first. Only another Leanhaun can be trusted to avenge the wrongs done them.
Boon & Flaw
- Boon: All members of the house gain an extra point of Charisma, even if this raises the Trait over 4. Additionally, they get a -1 difficulty on all Seduction rolls and can never botch them.
- Flaw: As a result of Finellia's curse, Leanhaun sidhe age unnaturally. Those who do not engage in Rhapsody at least once a month age one year for every week beyond this time limit that they fail to do so.
The Special Art of Rhapsody
Despite reports that the most frequent (or best known) form of Rhapsody involves groups or cliques, the truth is that the Leanhaun rarely like to share their discoveries with other Leanhaun, and even more rarely with other Kithain. Rhapsodizing is a highly personal, painfully private activity and they don't undertake it lightly, nor do they treat those with whom they enter Rhapsody with anything less than love and respect. Members of the house are all to aware that their interaction with them robs these mortals of their creative spark and, sometimes, of their lives. Perhaps some wilders of the Shadow Court copy Leanhaun's methods, yet few of them even have Leanhaun among them. They indulge themselves in a mockery and a parody of Leanhaun's true practice. They have no real understanding of how the house feels and how they try to make the mortals they choose a blissful as they might in the brief moments left to them. It isn't something Leanhaun cliques do for "fun" or to tweak the noses of the Seelie; it is a grim and dire necessity for them.
Of course, it can be performed as a quick and dirty stripping of the mortal's creative juices, and in extremis, any Leanhaun might do that, but that interaction is more a rape than a seduction. It holds no true satisfaction for them. With no poetry, no tragedy, there is no artistry in it, and for Leanhaun, that is what makes Rhapsody so powerful... powerful enough not only to prevent aging, but to reverse it.
Those who say members of the house are like the Prodigals known as vampires or the Children of Lilith are liars. Yes, it is true they feed themselves at the expense of the mortals they inspire, but they do inspire them! They work at their relationships, embroiling themselves in the pains and triumphs of their chosen paramours. Leanhaun give much for what they receive, occasionally even loving particular mortals so fiercely that they can hardly bear to Rhapsodize them. What can one tell of knowing that one must have what only a talented and loving mortal can give, knowing that one will perish without it, yet one cannot continue what they have begun because the grief of losing the mortal is too great? This soft-heartedness leads to even greater loss, however, for once begun, Rhapsody follows its own course. If one ceases providing inspiration, stops seeing the Dreamer, they still do not recover from that touch upon them. Instead they flounder impotently, lost and unable to eat or sleep, rest or create. The Glamour burns within such a Dreamer, tormenting them, until the Leanhaun once again takes up the reins to guide them to their creation. Perhaps one finds this worse than if the Leanhaun had merely stolen what they needed as the Children of Lilith do. Perhaps it is in fact their only saving grace.
Nowhere in the story or Leanhaun or in descriptions given by Leanhaun does it necessitate the destruction of the work of art. Can music be destroyed? Or a live performance? One wonders if jaded Unseelie or members of the Shadow Court added that part to get the extra dross from a work of art while not, necessarily, needing to destroy the work itself.
Rhapsodic Love, Leanhaun Style
The whole thing is so complex that the house has developed rules governing their relationships with those they Rhapsodize.
- Choose Only Those Who Want Your Attentions
Those the Leanhaun choose to Rhapsodize have only a short time to create. Many of them die. These sidhe know and accept this. Although most fae do not believe them, the Leanhaun have a sixth sense for those who want to be with them at any cost. Some artists need their love and inspiration to bring out what they feel is inside them. They instinctively know that the sidhe will provide what they need. They know what is asked in return and they discount the price. They want so desperately to create a masterpiece, to be loved by someone who inspires them to greatness, that they are willing to trade anything, including their lives, for it.
- Give Your Love and Inspiration Unconditionally
Because the Leanhaun know the mortality rate of those they Rhapsodize, when they are involved with a mortal Dreamer in this fashion, they give that person their full attention. The mortal gives everything they are to them; the least they can do is give a little of their time in return. Aside from respecting their Dreamers, this rule also encourages the Leanhaun to become as enthralled with those they Rhapsodize as they are with them. The greater the Leanhaun's love for them, in fact, the greater the creation and the sweeter the Glamour. Thus, if they want the most effective Glamour, they must give of themselves, truly feeling love for their victims. Such a commitment means that they lay themselves open time and again to the agony of losing those they love.
- Never Regret
Although the Leanhaun know they will suffer when their chosen Dreamer succumbs to their Rhapsody, they have learned not to let this affect their actions. Unless the sidhe has just met the potential target and invested no real energy in the relationship, they cannot escape once caught up in the Rhapsody. There is little use in postponing the inevitable. Nonetheless, many do, stretching out the time they have with a particularly beloved Dreamer. In the end, it hurts them both and the Leanhaun more than if they had been completely cold-hearted. Worse than this, some members, like their founder, come to despise what they do so much that they refuse to Rhapsodize ever again. They have all seen what happens when they let guilt or regret dictate their actions. So, no regrets... ever.
On the surface of things, House Leanhaun appears to have very little organization at all. This is deceptive and comes about because most of them live within or near freeholds of house not their own. Most other changelings never ask what they do when not flittering at court or searching out new Dreamers. They might be surprised by the answers if they did tell them... which, of course, they won't.
The High Lord
The house acknowledges High Lord Eleanor as their leader. She is their most visible member and their delegate to the Parliament of Dreams. Since so many sidhe of the other houses owe her favors, the prejudice against being Unseelie doesn't affect her. Whenever the house reaches a point where it cannot agree on a course of action at the regional level, High Lord Eleanor either calls a High Council or makes the decision. Once she has ruled on a matter, no more discussion occurs. They abide by whatever she declares will be the house's position. As she is both canny and wise, her rulings usually reflect what is best for the house and for the majority of individuals within the house.
Naturally, there are some in the house who would dispute this. The house allows formal duels of challenge. Any Leanhaun who wishes my challenge the High Lady's authority or her ruling on a single subject if such a person is willing to risk themself in a duel to prove their case. Chimerical weaponry is always used in such duels, and should the challenger win, they could demand a new hearing and ruling from the High Lord. In an extreme case, the challenger might even force the High Lord to step down as house leader, but the challenger would have to be of sufficient rank to take over that position. Few, if any, challengers have ever won a duel against Lady Eleanor. She is represented in such battles by her champion, Sir Tairngrim, who has sworn never to lose a battle he fights for her.
You may believe that these challenges are of little consequence, but the loser is drained of Glamour and left to fend for themself. Keep in mind that their particular affliction makes this a real horror for them. If the loser has no friends nearby to bring them back to themself, they could age and die without ever realizing their true self. Challengers who lose and who survive and return to themselves must abide by the High Lord's decision from then on. They are not allowed to challenge any of her rulings again for a year and a day. They adjudicate challenges to other leaders' rulings in the same way.
Directly beneath High Lord Eleanor in authority, the High Council is responsible for helping formulate house policies and deciding house responses to threats against it. Taken as a whole, it can outvote Lady Eleanor. she may still declare that her will override the High Council by fiat, but she rarely makes such an unpopular move. As she has the right to overrule its decisions, the High Council has the right to remove her from her position as High Lord. Neither side really wants that, so both the High Lord and her council move carefully when considering thwarting one another's desires.
Infrequently, those Leanhaun within each region meet to discuss house business. Usually, one or two heads of freeholds, the most respected of their bards and revel masters, and a few house historians and teachers attend such gathering. Though semi-official when compared to the High Council, regional councils take care of most of the nuts and bolts local decisions for the house. Anything they cannot handle is referred to the higher council or sent directly to the High Lord.
Because so few Leanhaun reside together or hold freeholds near one another, they mostly rely on leadership from those with regional authority or charismatic individuals who earned their positions through cleverness, knowledge, and wise decision-making. It's usually enough. If a decision can't be made locally, several leaders meet and attempt to reach a consensus (or at least a majority. You see, they have been influenced by the commoners). When that's not enough, councils are called. They look for leadership from those who prove themselves worthy of respect whether they technically hold higher rank or not. Among those looked to are:
- Heads of Freeholds: While many of the Leanhaun who rule freeholds are higher-ranking nobles, some are merely knights who have managed to assume control of abandoned sites and attract other Kithain to their courts. Although the house tries to make friends for themselves, enough Seelie despise them that maintaining a freehold in the Leanhaun name takes a strong, crafty ruler. The Leanhaun who oversee freeholds constitute the house's second line of command. When the High Lord needs the wisdom of a High Council, she summons these leaders together. More frequently, they chair regional councils, work to disseminate information to the rest of the household, and enforce house policies. Heads of freeholds assume responsibility for finding Leanhaun entering their Chrysalis and bringing them into the family, and for making sure that childlings are taught house history and practices. They oversee the day-to-day running of the freehold and court, including hearing grievances and settling disputes. Finally, since House Leanhaun is vitally interested in bringing on Endless Winter, heads of freeholds also fulfill certain ceremonial roles, often as dedicated members of the Shadow Court.
- The Rose & The Harp: These two treasure-keepers, on Kithain, one an enchanted mortal, hold influence with the High Council and often participate in the council's planning sessions and decision making. Though their status as council members remains unofficial, no Leanhaun would deny them the right to speak, or fail to listen to and consider their counsel. (For more information see the articles The Rose (CTD) and The Harp (CTD).
- Bards & Revels Masters: These house members hold no actual power in terms of decision-making, yet they are usually included in local and regional councils. Their extensive knowledge of available talent in their regions and their own creative abilities make them emulated and sought-after by wannabes, admirers, rulers, and commoners, all of whom rely upon the taste and instincts of these influential Kithain. House Leanhaun relies heavily on both their bards and revels masters to disseminate information (or disinformation) about the house. They serve as chief public-relations officers by painting the house in the most attractive light and scoring at the horror stories others tell of them. More importantly, most of those who act as bards and revels masters are actually the best Leanhaun spies. Along with their misinformation duties, they also seek out other houses' secrets. Some of the more advanced operatives even conceal their house affiliation, masquerading as Fiona or Liam. They face the danger of exposure every day and are rewarded for their dedication by having every effort made to keep them well-supplied with the Glamour they need. From their hard work, the Leanhaun have gained vital information concerning other houses and their treasures, current policies, and defenses. Further, their positions among other freeholds afford them the opportunity to sniff out discontent against the Seelie rulers and recruit converts to the Unseelie cause.
- Historians & Teachers: Few of the House's intelligentsia actually fill leadership positions. They are usually included on councils because their knowledge proves valuable. Any time policies concerning teaching childlings are made, they are called in for opinions. In individual freeholds, teachers are highly valued for their willingness to instruct both childlings and newcomers of whatever age. The house looks to their teachers to train any mortals they enchant and to explain house policies and practices to commoners who join the house. Not to be outdone, Leanhaun historians can often discover precedents for tricky situations where the house has trouble forming policies. They also gather documentation concerning the centuries the Leanhaun were absent and attempt to reconcile what the commoners have discovered with their knowledge of the Dreaming and Endless Winter.
- Knights: This is a deceptive category, for most of the house's lower echelon nobility don't fill leadership roles. Most don't even acknowledge that they are knights. A few extremely important house members claim to merely knights as protective coloration. In fact, they are usually elite warriors and assassins working to protect House Leanhaun. These Knights Protectors (as they are called) carry the approval of High Lord Eleanor and the High Council to act with their authority. These agents act as trouble-shooters eliminating threats to the house as a whole and individuals within the house. Because they carry such sanctions, Knights Protector hold rank as if they were counts controlling major freeholds.
- Noble Commoners: Some of the commoners remained loyal to House Leanhaun through the Interregnum. Those few who retained access to freeholds became nobles in their own right. The house didn't dispute that right when they returned. Along with select other commoners rewarded for their services to the house, these commoner nobles are usually given token seats on various councils. Two of them even sit on the High Council. While those under their direct rulership acknowledge their decisions, there are rarely enough commoner nobles to outvote the sidhe contingent on any council. Still, their votes do count and give the commoners Leanhaun rules the feeling that their voices are heard.
Oaths & Bindings
Like all fae, the oaths of House Leanhaun are not only important to them, but are backed by the potency of the Dreaming. The Seelie tend to lump them in with the Ailil, who often take perverse pleasure in breaking their oaths, especially if they can flaunt their new status as "forsworn." Leanhaun, however, are quite careful what oaths they accept and once they do accept them, they almost never break them. Almost.
- The Oath of Joining is taken by a Sidhe who wishes to join the House.
- The Oath of Adoption is made by commoners joining the House.
- The Oath of Majority is the Oath made by all members of the House.
- The Oath of Mutual Support creates networks of support for the House.
- The Oath of Service is an oath not of joining but of temporary service.
- The Pledge of Binding is made by enchanted mortals.
The Unseelie Court
Obviously, the great majority of House Leanhaun is Unseelie; and unashamedly so. From High Lord Eleanor to the newest childling just past their Chrysalis, most of them are honest enough to admit that their practices place them solidly on the side of the Shadow Court, much less the Unseelie. Still, there are many Unseelie who admit to being Unseelie without supporting the goals of the Shadow Court. These house members do not believe that the house should be working to bring about Endless Winter. Instead, most work to preserve as much Glamour in the world as possible, fearing that its loss will only hasten their decay. Rather than coddling Dreamers and protecting sources of Glamour like the Seelie do, though, they Ravage and Rhapsodize like the rest of the house because they have no choice. What Glamour they find, they take and keep against the day when scarcity will make it far more valuable.
The majority of the lower echelon Leanhaun and their loyal commoners belong to this house faction. Within the confines of house freeholds or when surrounded by other Leanhaun allies, they are happy to acknowledge their allegiance to the Unseelie Court. In enemy territory, though, they rarely admit such affiliation. Since many Leanhaun spend most of their time among Seelie households and Kithain, they at least try to appear Seelie most of the time. In the old days, it was easier to do that, for the other houses did not automatically equate being Leanhaun with being Unseelie.
Luckily, once a Leanhaun takes up residence or begins attending court in territory controlled by the Seelie, they usually, accept them and assume they are there because they espouse the same causes and follow the same rules of conduct. Except for their forays to Rhapsodize, most members of this faction end up being Seelie for all practical purposes, since they almost never overtly perform actions that would unmask their Unseelie natures.
The Seelie Court
The rest of the house looks upon those Leanhaun who profess to be of the Seelie Court with a mixture of exasperation and admiration. They believe the these fae are fooling themselves if they think they can follow the tenets of the Seelie Code, yet still Rhapsodize Dreamers and treat it as no more than a shameful little secret. Nonetheless, the house's Seelie contingent proves helpful since it throws off the other house's suspicions about Leanhaun in general. Because of these individuals, those of the house who do not follow the Seelie Code can more easily fit into Seelie households; Seelie rulers reason that if some Leanhaun are Seelie, others might be as well.
The Seelie Leanhaun seem sincere in their desire to make a place for the house among the Seelie. They believe that by following the Seelie Code, they will discover the means to overcome the curse. Perhaps the most frightening aspect of this determination to be Seelie at all costs is that many take the final step and allow themselves to age rather than seek to prolong their lives through Rhapsody. As the sidhe have no idea what happens to them when they die, most can only admire those brave enough to face their own destruction.
There exists an extremist faction within the house who feel that any Leanhaun claiming true allegiance to the Seelie Court (as opposed to those who masquerade as Seelie to show off suspicion) are dangerous. Such individuals are seen as dishonest and likely to cause difficulties for the house's higher purposes. The extreme faction may hound such Leanhaun, taunting them with their failings any time they fail to live up to every aspect of the Seelie Code, hoping to show them their true colors and where their actual affiliation lies. Rumor tells that some extremists even hunt Seelie Leanhaun, seeking to remove them from the Pageant before they can betray the house. Some believe this has happened already and will continue so long as the Knights Protector hold the right of execution from the High Council.
The Shadow Court
Most of the leaders of the house embrace the Shadow Court's goals, feeling that they come closest to advocating what House Leanhaun desires. Though they allow Balor the glory of being the Shadow Court's fiercest warriors and Ailil the pride of believing they rule the Court, the Leanhaun are its backbone and its thinkers. What the house hopes to gain from a Shadow Court victory has already been spoken of again and doesn't need to be belabored. What should be said is that Leanhaun forms the nucleus of the Ritualist faction.
Since the time of the curse, the house has had soothsayers watch for omens indicating the time has reached the point where they may begin the Great Ritual that will end their suffering. Their sorcerers have kept alive rituals and practices so that they may perform rites correctly when the time comes at last and their manipulators have herded Ailil and Balor in the directions they wish them to follow to force their cooperation when the house needs it. After ll, once the other two houses are revealed as unmistakably Shadow Court due to their actions, they will have no choice but to aid Leanhaun in their bid for ascendency in any of them are to survive the Seelie onslaught such an action will bring about. The Seelie (and even most Unseelie) don't have the stomach for what must be done, nor the will to see it through to its conclusion. The Leanhaun do. Forged in the fires of their agony, they have become adamantine in their determination. If they must destroy the Earth, or lock it in ice for centuries to free Arcadia and revitalize the Dreaming, they will.
Only very clueless Leanhaun could fail to notice the so-called secret societies described below. Many house members strive to be worthy of membership in one or another of them, so they are hardly secrets... to themselves at least. They are unknown to most other Kithain, and if the house is to achieve their ultimate goal, they should remain that way.
- The Knights Protector are the military arm of the House.
- The Midnight Pact is a select group of the Knights.
- The Finders specialize in seeking out Dreamers.
- The Revisionists spin House Leanhaun's good name.
- The Keepers of the Rose seek out chimerical objects and treasures.
- The Eternal Order of Dreams seeks to create a supply of Dreamers for the Long Winter.
- The Inquiry specializes in contacting other supernaturals.
Codes & Conduct
The Unseelie Code
Not surprisingly, House Leanhaun follows the tenets of the Unseelie Code. What might surprise someone, though, is that many of them follow part of the Seelie Code as well. It isn't so easy to pigeonhole them. They run the gamut from mostly Seelie (except for those annoying side trips to Rhapsodize) to mainly Unseelie (strangely enough because few of them refuse to lie about what they are) all the way to the black-hearted, thoroughly despicable and monstrous Shadow Courtiers (who currently espouse Seelie rule in Arcadia). Nonetheless, it taken as a purely majority versus minority, the main thrust of the house bows further toward this philosophy.
- Change is Good
In fact, change is absolutely imperative. While the house acknowledges that the medieval model still has some merit, they know that they must modernize their ways of thinking if they are to make their way in this world. If they hope to bring about a new beginning for Arcadia, they will have to embrace massive change on Earth first, and that change may very well be so overwhelming that most of the fae won't survive it. They don't really understand why Arcadia should be so locked in archaism when the Unseelie Court rules (as they should be ringing in changes almost constantly), but they know things must break apart and form new patterns. Is Banality a mortal reaction to change? When things grow and evolve, many mortals (and not a few stick-in-the-mud Seelie) feel threatened. What do they do? They pull the blankets over their heads, shielding themselves by denying new possibilities. Nothing kills creativity faster.
Is that Banality or not? In any case, the house strives to bring about change, movement, novelty, creativity, call it what you will. While they can appreciate old stories and applaud old favorites, the most exciting ones are those they've never heard before. Odd, isn't it, that the house is trying to bring Earth into the ultimate frozen, unchanging age in the name of change?
- Glamour is Free
Actually, the Leanhaun work quite hard for it, as should be evident by now. Quips aside, they do believe that their is Glamour to spare for most uses, and in that sense it is free. Glamour itself can never be wholly eradicated, only overcome or overwhelmed for a time by Banality. So long as there are Kithain, so long as humans remain to think and hope and dream, Glamour will continue to exist. For the time being, the house believes there is a surfeit of Glamour, after all, they see Dreamers everywhere. This is an age given to invention and creativity. Everyday, new advances and amazing technological devices call forth wonder and spark ideas and stories. No, Glamour is in no danger of running out immediately, despite the grumblings of Seelie alarmists.
The house does agree that Glamour will become more scarce as time passes, partly due to their own intervention. They aren't profligate in spending and wasting it. Leanhaun plans to harvest as many Dreamers as they can, installing them in the Eternal Order of Dreams' freeholds throughout the Dreaming. This is to preserve them against the time when Glamour becomes an endangered commodity. The house plans the same for treasures and chimerical items and beasts. Obviously, as the world darkens and they hoard Glamour, the lack becomes more pronounced, but they plan to use what they hold back when the dearth is at its greatest. Meanwhile, the remove Glamour from the world so that they can bring about the conditions necessary for their Great Ritual. They could hardly do this if Glamour were already in short supply. Thus, it stands to reason that their expenditure of the mortals they Rhapsodize will have little to no effect upon the overall supply of Glamour in the world for several years to come.
- Honor is a Lie
The Leanhaun have never doubted this one even when they strive to be as honorable as they reasonably can be. Most of them are honest enough to realize that Ravaging, especially Rhapsody, is hardly honorable. On the other hand, they are only too aware that certain so-called honorable Seelie are anything but paragons of virtue. Some are self-aggrandizing, pompous idiots, and some are only as honorable in battle or contest as those watching force them to be. The worst are those who believe they are the epitome of honor, yet hunt down Leanhaun because they must labor under a curse... a curse laid upon them by another supposedly "honorable" Kithain, one so swollen with jealousy that she couldn't see straight. Is honesty the equivalent of honor? Who can answer that?
- Passion Before Duty
This one is troublesome due to its wording: Leanhaun's duty is passion; the passionate love and creative genius they inspire when they Rhapsodize a Dreamer. Kithain are passionate creatures by nature, driven by their emotions to excess. How could they be otherwise and withstand the deadening tide of Banality? To surrender to barren, boring duty is to die. Those of House Leanhaun infuse Glamour and passion into everything they attempt so that duty becomes one more creative pursuit.
In their other endeavors, they tend to throw themselves into their roles and revel in their place in the Grand Pageant. Though most of them work to achieve the house goals, they hardly spend every waking hour pursuing them. The love gaiety, laughter, parties, and lavish entertainment, yet they also seek more sensual, darker pleasures at times. Some among them care little what sensations they surrender to so long as they feel something. If wanting to feel fully alive means putting passion before duty, then they plead guilty of that pleasure.
The Seelie Code
Few Leanhaun even attempt to follow every tenet of the Seelie code, yet most of them believe in certain portions of it. Unlike the Seelie, they have never denied the other side of themselves. They can accept that each side of their nature offers them something of value.
- Death Before Dishonor
Considering what the house does to maintain themselves, they would be the greatest liars among the Kithain if they claimed to follow this particular part of the Seelie Code. They suppose that in the strictest sense, they try to treat those they Rhapsodize with as much kindness as they can, which might be considered dealing honorably with them. Some Leanhaun knights strive to live up to a code of honor, especially when they must meet Seelie Kithain in tourneys. But they house has no illusions that they prefer to die rather than act dishonorably. Even most Seelie don't really believe that claptrap, do they?
- Love Conquers All
The house certainly wishes this were true. It would solve a lot of their dilemmas. Their love conquers the mortals they Rhapsodize, though one doubts that's exactly what the Seelie have in mind when they speak of love. Strangely, they consider themselves to be shameless romantics. They always enter into their Rhapsodies hoping against hope that this time it will be different. Each new time they must believe that love will be enough, that somehow their curse will be lifted and they will no longer need to destroy those they most cherish. Of course, nothing changes and their hands are once again stained with mortal blood, or at least the destruction of mortal creativity. Most Leanhaun search for love among the Kithain. It's the only thing that makes their lives bearable. Does love conquer all or is that philosophy just a pretty illusion? The house has suffered too many times to truly believe that love can make a difference, yet over and over they lie to themselves and hope beyond hope.
- Beauty is Life
This tenet the Leanhaun do believe. In fact, their lives literally depend on beauty. They know first-hand that the creative genius they drink in to sustain themselves is a life wrapped in irreplaceable beauty. In response, they try to lead lives dedicated to beauty and graciousness. Their deepest desires, their greatest aspirations, stem from their love of beauty, whether of form, mind, or soul. Even when they strive toward the destruction of the Earth as most people know it, they do so with the hope that eventually beauty will once again rule the Earth and Arcadia.
- Never Forget a Debt
Leanhaun don't forget their debts. They owe more to their Dreamers than they could ever repay. They do not forget them long after they are gone. Some of the house try to make things right (or as right as they can) by looking after the families of those they Rhapsodize. Not all of them take on this duty, of course, but enough of them do that they feel they have paid at least part of the debt. In like fashion, most Leanhaun take their agreements with others seriously. When they accept others' aid, they know they will expect theirs in return. The house makes it a point never to disappoint them. In fact, they thrive on creating and discharging debts to other Kithain. They know their survival depends upon their allies' good will and keeping their regard means honoring debts to them. This tenet is one that almost every Leanhaun follows.
On the other hand, they never forget debts owed to them. They especially make it a point of collecting from those who misuse them in any fashion. They may not always like the way the house collects on those debts, but the Leanhaun hardly care what their enemies feel.
The Shadow Court Tenets
Of all the philosophies of the fae, House Leanhaun understands the Shadow Court's point of view the best. While they would like to adhere to the comforting fictions of the Seelie Court, they can only survive under the Unseelie Code and the practices of the Shadow Court
- Understand the Mortal World
The Leanhaun do understand the mortal world; far better than most sidhe. Many sidhe, both Seelie and Unseelie, are content to let the medieval model rule them. They seek Dreamers in those arts they understand from long ago: painting, sculpture, storytelling, and music being the most popular. House Leanhaun, on the other hand, must constantly search for new sensations with which to sate themselves. They, too, can find superb musicians or painters, but they also ferret out architects, computer software designers, political candidates, science fiction writers, chefs, athletes, and photographers, among others. Of necessity, they learn about what their current Rhapsodic lovers do. They must, in order to inspire them to greatness. Encountering the modern world and its ideas head-on gives the house a unique perspective among the sidhe even while it may be discomfiting at times. The commoners who experienced the changes the world has undergone on its way to the modern age know more than the Leanhaun probably ever will, but then the house encourages alliances with them, so they may share that knowledge.
In terms of understanding modern thought, the house believes they have grasped the basics. In the locations where they maintain freeholds, democracy or some respect for individual rights and property exist. The Leanhaun at least pay lip service to the idea of sidhe-commoner equality. That much they understand quite well about these times... say what your listeners want to hear and you own them. They learned that from mortals. They also know that in the mortal world a great fuss is made about freedom and equal opportunities, but the real determinant of how well anyone lives is how much money they have. That, in turn, is based on their color, religion, the school they attended, and the network of contacts they developed by being in the right place. What more is there for them to learn? That sort of exclusivity comes naturally to them. After all, they are sidhe despite their protestations that all Kithain are equal, and they certainly don't consider mortals their equals either. They respect them for what they can do for house members, and they do consider their feelings and try to make them as comfortable as possible, but in the end, they exist to serve Leanhaun's needs and that's no basis for equality.
- Understand the Supernatural World; Make & Break Alliances as Necessary
This goes without saying. Some think the house is responsible for the part about making alliances and having it be included as Shadow Court philosophy. Those alliances include other supernatural creatures. Ailil may be the instigators of the second half of the idea... advocating breaking agreements as necessary, that is. That isn't to say that a Leanhaun never breaks their word, but they'd prefer not to make that known publicly. Several of their scholars in the Inquiry devote their time to discovering and maintaining contacts with various supernaturals, be they vampires, mages, werewolves, or what have you. In most cases, the house has uncovered evidence that each of these groups has its own agenda... most of them focused around some apocalyptic event that will annihilate their race or wreck the waking world. Now that interests the Leanhaun. In fact, it sounds a great deal like their plans for Endless Winter, and they can use all the help they can get putting that in motion. If the house can convince each group that they stand ready to assist them in their struggles, they may create the climate in which the Shadow Court takeover is assured and gain potent allies at the same time. In order to do that, though, the house needs to determine how those goals conflict with, or support, one another.
Their secondary line of inquiry is to discover if they can utilize any of their powers in place of the Glamour they take from mortals. They already know that the Children of Lilith exude a sort of dark Glamour they find highly attractive. They have found through their experiments that such Glamour lends itself most readily to performing hurtful and controlling sorts of cantrips and is hard to bend toward lighter uses. Utilizing such dark Glamour for any lengthy period seems to promote cruelty and suppress house members' better natures. They wouldn't truly mind this (after all, Glamour is Glamour and beggars can't choose which feast will invite them in) except it tends to reveal them as unmistakably Unseelie with no chance to hide what they are from their Seelie counterparts. Then again, as their time approaches, will they really care what the Seelie think any more?
They have been more reticent about approaching mages and werewolves. Mortal mages were most often their enemies before the Shattering, and the wolf-kin are quite dangerous to approach, especially since many believe the Leanhaun serve something they call the worm. For now, they'll let the specialists deal with them, but as they learn more, they must find ways to use what they can from them, It may be that by using supernaturals in place of humans to slake their thirst for Glamour that they can preserve more Dreamers to help rebuild after they bring down night upon the Earth. An intriguing notion, particularly if by doing so they also eliminate potential competition from these beings.
- Harvest Glamour, Prepare for Endless Winter
One hardly needs to mention this one again. It remains their main focus, the reason the Leanhaun believe they are here. They differ from the other Unseelie houses only in degree of involvement. Where most of the others simply ready themselves for Endless Winter as best they can, the Leanhaun are planning for what comes after it. They don't passively wait for its arrival; they work to bring it on according to their timetable. Most Unseelie, even those of the Shadow Court and the Ritualists don't really comprehend that the onset of the long darkness cannot be allowed to happen at its own pace, brought about by the fae's inability to hold it at bay any longer. Too many of Houses Ailil and Balor believe they should acquire all the Glamour they can in order to glut themselves gorging on it. They don't understand that this isn't a game where the Unseelie win by depriving the Seelie of Dreamers and Glamour and taking home the most toys for themselves; it is a deadly serious necessity for Leanhaun to preserve Glamour for their later needs. They have to take the reins and guide the Kithain into the Endless Winter; they can't stumble into it unprepared or it will destroy all the fae.
- Overthrow the Seelie Court & Nobility
To accomplish Leanhaun's goal, this must be done, but they wonder if it's possible to do without excessive bloodshed. If most Seelie truly understood what's going on, wouldn't they gladly step aside and help the house heal the old wounds so the fae could heal their homeland and reopen the gates to Arcadia? Don't count on it. The Seelie are so entrenched in their rulership that it will take an all-out revolution to oust them.
Before that, though, the house must make certain that the change doesn't result in anarchy or in petty squabbles among the commoners and nobility in regard to who rules. The Leanhaun want to be firmly in position with a workable plan for government of the Kithain in hand before they trigger a rebellion against the Seelie sidhe. If the Seelie cannot abide by their rule, they will have to incarcerate them or put aside some freeholds where they may live and govern themselves as they wish so long as they leave the Unseelie in peace. Meanwhile, they cement good relations with commoners and recruit whomever they can to the cause.
Ailil may think they're in charge, but their reputation as supreme manipulators precedes them; Balor may think to rule through force of arms, but they lack the perspective and wisdom needed to rule, particularly during a difficult transition phase. The Leanhaun have taken great pains to let other Kithain know these facts about their fellow Unseelie Houses. So while the house will use them to overthrow the Seelie, they'll find that their options for rule during the Endless Winter are limited to those tasks the Leanhaun assign them. And the house isn't as complacent as the Seelie; at the first sign they are fomenting rebellion against the house, the Leanhaun and their commoner allies will round them up. The Leanhaun can use fae for Rhapsody, they just usually don't choose to do so. If their "allies" give them reason, though, they'll take whatever steps they must to survive the Winter and bring in the New Spring.
- Fulfill the Ritual Obligations of the Year, Culminating in Samhain
Only Leanhaun Ritualists are obsessed with this one, but all those who take the house's goals seriously attend functions and work to promote the rites they must perform to achieve their aims. Those who are more hedonistic than world-saver at least pay lip-service and attend a few Unseelie revels and rituals either to keep their hand in with the other Unseelie or just to party. Of course, Samhain itself is of paramount important as it is the traditional date on which the Unseelie Court officially takes over rule of the fae. The Leanhaun don't plan to change that when they bring down Winter. In fact, Samhain will probably become even more important since the Great Ritual sacrifice will be tied to that date.
Meanwhile, many of the house make a point of attending the various feasts and observances. From attending, they learn the various rituals they will need to know, who else is interested in their rites, and to build trust in their ability to perform the Great Ritual when it comes. Further, they use such celebrations as occasions to sound out other Kithain concerning house ideas. During the good feelings engendered by successful feasts, they are far more likely to be reasonable and if the house impresses them with their knowledge of rituals, others tend to believe them when they speak about how Endless Winter lies just beyond the horizon.
- Spread Chaos, Revolution, & Anarchy
House Leanhaun tends to do this one in a round about way. They aren't much for anarchy or chaos; they tend to interfere with the mission, but they don't mind subtly encouraging the breakdown of authority in Seelie areas. Naturally, they don't make it obvious they are promoting rebellion. They aren't House Balor, after all. They just make certain that the artists they introduce to the courts in which they have influence are those whose works encourage questioning authority or going beyond the usual limits. Once they rope younger Seelie in through these Dreamers, it's far easier to convince them to join in small acts of rebellion. From there, they can usually recruit such fae to their side.
At least, that's "official" hose policy. Like any group, they have their Wilder element (pun intended). They aren't content to work within the constraints placed upon them by the house. Feeling that their time is limited enough by the curse laid upon them, they take to the streets wreaking havoc on Dreamers and Kithain alike with cantrips and chimera. Some hold jousts on motorcycles in the center of busy thoroughfares; others fight chimerical duels atop skyscrapers. They usually claim to be doing no more than living life to the fullest, but their actions promote anarchy. Indeed, most such cliques don't even give themselves names or choose leaders. They act and react as individuals with a group rather than as an organized faction. While the house can applaud their success in attracting sidhe and commoner wilders to the "gangs," older Leanhaun would prefer to have a little more control over them so that ultimately they serve House Leanhaun.
These rights constitute the most ancient customs recognized by the fae. As has no doubt been the case with other codes of behavior explained here, the house has a slightly different take on the Escheat than most Seelie or even Houses Balor and Ailil. Though the Leanhaun usually act within the letter of the law, so to speak they do so only so long as other Kithain uphold their rights to the same protections.
- The Right of Demesne
In essence, this grants freeholds and the right of rule to those whose birth entitles them to holdings. Further, such rulers have absolute rule within their demesnes. They cannot be challenged or their word questioned. The Leanhaun agree with the basic concept and they really wish the Seelie would extend the courtesy of following their own rules to the Unseelie houses. Any freeholds the Leanhaun hold are constantly under siege by blathering (or attacking) Seelie do-gooders, who usually don't know anything at all about House Leanhaun except vague reports that they're Ravagers. Then they wonder why they behave the way they do whenever they uncover evidence that the house has been undermining Seelie rulers.
The house holds few freeholds, but they constantly search for more. Any place they do rule is held through that particular noble's personal charisma, political acumen, and fighting prowess. Rather than depending on some outmoded ideal such as the right of demesne to protect what is theirs, they make certain they have the strength to hold it come what may. In the end, falling back on the right of demesne to hold their freeholds and control political actions thrive there may prove the Seelie's undoing.
- The Right to Dream
The Leanhaun have never questioned mortals' rights to dream, they simply reserve the right to benefit from them. Most Kithain take this to mean that they should never interfere with Dreamers in a violent way or from a position of superiority... in other words, they shouldn't Ravage. They have no problem with Musing Dreamers, reasoning that it doesn't force the Dreamer or destroy their ability to create again and again. Those of House Leanhaun consider that drivel a convenient fiction the Seelie use to excuse their own actions. Just because they take a little longer to bring about the fulfillment of the Dreamer's vision, that doesn't mean they aren't feeding off that creativity, sucking up the Glamour just as greedily as any Ravager they condemn.
Who's to say which is better? The Leanhaun way brings about an explosion of greatness and perfect genius, brought to fruition through the direct infusion of Glamour into a mortal who willingly surrenders to it in order to create. Seelie Musing reminds some of the house of mincing old ladies fiddling with their knitting, turning it this way and that and clucking over it until it finally becomes something resembling a sweater. The Seelie method interferes just a much, or even more so, than Leanhaun's. They try to inspire some hapless mortal to create something they want created. Oh, it may technically be within the interests and talents of the Dreamer they choose, but it isn't what the Dreamer themself would have brought forth without faerie interference. Leanhaun actually respects the Dreamers more; they are certainly more honest.
- The Right of Ignorance
Mortals have the right not to know about us. That sums up this particular right. Well, not exactly. What it really means is that the fae are afraid to let the mortals know they exist. The fae blame humanity for the Sundering and Shattering and shake in their boots at the thought that they might realize faeries are still among them. They fight try to capture the fae or use them to their own ends! As if the fae didn't use them for their own purposes! Once the fae were mighty warriors and magicians, respected and propitiated by humans who feared their displeasure. Now the fae skulk about the fringes of their world hiding their true selves and begging for a few crumbs from their table of dreams. Pitiful!
Leanhaun make themselves known where they will. They take mortals as their servants and entertainers, their friends and their lovers. Unlike the lickspittle Seelie, they aren't afraid to live in the modern world, nor are they too timid to exercise their powers to enchant mortal beings so they may interact with them more comfortably. Let the Seelie hover fearfully at the outer edges of the feast of life; the Leanhaun will be dancing in the center around the bonfire knowing that if they get burned, at least they've tasted of the finest before they are consumed.
- The Right of Rescue
The house respects the right of rescue and of safe haven the most. They make it a point of house honor to rescue Kithain who have fallen into Banality's clutches are who have been captured by those who know what they are and mean them harm. Occasionally, they have even drawn back another Kithain from Bedlam, even going so far as to track such a one into the Dreaming to bring them back before they are utterly lost. Their missions of mercy go beyond the mere rescue operation, though, for they try to bring the victim back to themself and to discover where they actually belong. They make no distinction between Seelie and Unseelie in this regard and extend their services to include Gallain, Chimera, and even faerie treasures.
To their surprise, some Seelie even extend the courtesy back to them. When they do, the house openly acknowledges the debt to them and try to award them a favor of equal value, even if it is only a promise that they will aid them in the future. They usually accompany such a pledge with a gift or a ring or other trinket that they may send to the house when they have need of said services. Most Seelie tend to forget about this right when it involves Unseelie, however, and to them the Leanhaun grant enmity. That doesn't mean they will not rescue them, just that their hospitality may prove less comfortable than the situation from which they were retrieved. As stated before, the Leanhaun don't forget debts and they have first hand knowledge of the pain the fae can withstand...
- The Right of Safe Haven
As with the right of rescue, House Leanhaun excels at providing safe haven for other Kithain. They willingly shelter the lost, the hunted, the dispirited, the despised, and the endangered. Those who would take them from their freeholds must be willing to battle everything Leanhaun and their allies can throw against them. The house first established this pattern in the modern age during the Accordance War and like conflicts and it has done more to endear the house to Kithain who would have otherwise condemned or ignored them than any other action they could have taken. We make it clear to all Kithain that Leanhaun freeholds are neutral ground where all can expect shelter and healing regardless of court affiliation, rank, or status.
Because their practices are known, they can usually expect at least minimal shelter within Seelie freeholds. It may be grudging, but if they need the help, they don't care what attitude their host has while they extend their aid. In most cases, Seelie courts have at least one Leanhaun in residence or within their territory. Such house members often advise the court concerning promising Dreamers and court revelries, and their presence (since they are seen as harmless) makes it far more likely that the court will offer a Leanhaun haven and extend hospitality to them.
- The Right of Life
It has been noted that it isn't House Leanhaun seeking out Gwydion and slaying them out of hand. At least they don't attempt to wipe out other Kithain merely because of court affiliation, unlike certain Seelie who seem to feel they can break this tenet with impunity. The house also extends the right to life to Gallain and Thallain, though they aren't usually the ones attacking them either.
Naturally, when attacked, they respond. And that's something few Seelie expect. They tend to think of the hose as weakling Ravagers incapable of defending themselves. That's why they believe they can get away with murdering Leanhaun. The Midnight Pact came into being in response to Seelie depredations against the house. They didn't simply awaken one morning and say, "It's a good day to create an order of elite assassins." What is amazing is that the Seelie who so deplore the loss of Glamour and the growth of Banality in the world are the instigators of Kithain murders, which all know promotes Banality and harms the Dreaming. You can't destroy dreams and stories without suffering a backlash. In addition, you cannot destroy a Leanhaun without retaliation. They feel that the Dreaming supports them when they avenge their own and they no longer hesitate to set aside this right when someone else disregards their right to life.
Sigh. A contest to determine justice? Trial by ordeal? The Leanhaun aren't much for battle generally. They're lovers, not fighters. On the other hand, they are able to sustain so much damage and endure so much pain that ordeals meant to prove their guilt often prove their innocence when no Seelie can believe they can endure the pain without confession. Of course, if they invoke the Dreaming it's sometimes a different story. Then again, the Leanhaun can invoke the Dreaming too and it at least realizes that if the Seelie eradicate all the Unseelie, balance can never be restored. So what are we saying? The Leanhaun avoid the Fior whenever possible, that the can sometimes overturn the trial by simple endurance, and that the Dreaming may choose to overlook smaller transgressions since it is focused more on the big picture.
Lets get the obvious out of the way first. No Seelie would entrust a fosterling to the Leanhaun and they rarely send their now childlings elsewhere for fosterage until they've had a chance to explain to them about the house and what they do to sustain themselves. To do otherwise would be to doom them to a short, pain-filled life. They occasionally foster childlings from Ailil and Balor, but only for brief periods. Balor childlings tend to be more disruptive than they care for and they always feel as though the Ailil are all tiny spies. There is a story of a Leanhaun freehold that fostered a Scathach childling. While the house understands that fostering promotes knowledge of one another's ways and helps cement friendships and alliances across family lines, their particular needs for Glamour make this a difficult practice to follow. They prefer to encourage shorter visits to other Kithain. If fosterage is an absolute necessity, they try to send their childlings to other Leanhaun so they may continue to learn what they need to survive without well-intentioned interference from Seelie meddlers.
Current Leanhaun politics can be summed up in one sentence: Those who give a fig have given themselves to Leanhaun's mission and those who don't know about their mission need to be brought to heel quickly. The time nears for the Great Ritual and anyone who isn't actively assisting the house must be counted among their enemies. They basic political stance is to bind as many Kithain to themselves as possible and stop their foes from discovering what it is they mean to do. High Lord Eleanor works from these ideas in the Parliament of Dreams and house leadership down through the ranks of knights has united behind these concepts. For a short time yet, they are willing to let this remain within the arena of politics, but all the fae know war is coming. The Leanhaun plan to be ready when it erupts.
Plays Well With Others
Ailil want to influence the other Kithain; Balor wants to control them. Gwydion prefers to rule, Fiona to love, and Eiluned to mystify. Liam and Scathach just want acceptance while Dougal is content to arm the fae. Who knows what the commoners want; beyond equality. What does Leanhaun want? Friends and plenty of them. Failing that, they'll take fellow travelers tied to the court or even enemies who owe them favors.
The Unseelie Houses
There are far more Unseelie than you may think. Does anyone even remember the Unseelie houses left behind in Arcadia? Yes, there are three openly Unseelie houses on Earth, but they are more than enough to change the balance of power, not that there is any balance now, but if given the chance to rule their half of the year again, they might bring back things as they once were. Don't mistake the more pointed remarks toward Leanhaun's allies; the house is all too aware of how desperately it needs them. They have their flaws, but Leanhaun also recognizes their strengths and appreciates their support in return. If nothing else, just being Unseelie binds them together.
Ah, the glorious leaders of the Unseelie! They seem so gleefully proud of their vaunted skill in diplomacy and manipulation. They insert a critical word here, a little praise there, a pat on the shoulder, a blade in the back... Since they constantly tell the Leanhaun how clever they are, who are the Leanhaun to argue?
Despite such a tongue-in-cheek introduction, the Ailil show genuine talent in social situations. They can be charming and disarming enough that some (even those who should know better) forget they are Unseelie. Their arguments before the Parliament of Dreams have actually bought all the Unseelie houses more room to maneuver by reminding the Seelie that they have a darker side, something the Seelie desperately need to remember.
Leanhaun lets Ailil take the lead. They're welcome to it. The silver dragon's machinations garner so much attention from the Seelie houses that they often overlook the Leanhaun entirely. Leanhaun's survival depends upon everyone else's perception of them as basically harmless and the weakest link in the Unseelie houses. Because of this, Leanhaun is happy to bow to Ailil's supposed leadership. And if they can gain power for the Unseelie Court, the Leanhaun will happily accept whatever crumbs they toss their way... for now. Soon enough, the Ailil will discover who the true masters of manipulation are and recognize their own foolish schemes as the childish posturing they are. Ailil may play at politics but Leanhaun must control the game in order to survive.
House Balor represents a disappointment to the Leanhaun. Gifted with so much, they accomplish so little. If the Leanhaun had half their blessings, they'd rule the world. So they have a deformity or two? So do the members of Dougal and they seem to get along just fine. Why weren't the Leanhaun gifted with immunity to cold iron in return for their pains?
The Balor tend toward either the rough-shod bullies or the oily manipulators who ape Ailil with none of the silver dragons' finesse. Many consider the boorish and a little slow. On the plus side, they make marvelous warriors, often evincing such brutality that they excel at intimidation and occupy most of the opponents in battle. Seelie knights looking for honor and glory rarely stops to picking a fight with the Leanhaun when the Balor make such convenient targets. Besides, many of House Balor recognize that they have common cause with the Leanhaun, not only against the Seelie Court, but against Ailil as well. So long as Balor and Leanhaun present a unified front, Ailil cannot gain the total control of the Shadow Court the seek.
One word of warning, though. Most Balor are like surly children. They don't like being reminded that they lack certain social graces or that most members of their house aren't renowned for their brilliance. Also, don't forget that the cold iron they wield so adroitly against the Seelie can easily find its way into ally backs if given the chance.
The Seelie Houses
So noble, so self-sacrificing! So vocal concerning their own superiority of vision and purpose! So full of congratulations for themselves and their enlightened policies and practices! So careful to follow all the rules... laws they themselves wrote. Laws the Leanhaun cannot follow if they would abide on Earth for more than a few months before aging and dying. Who among them could endure the horror of feeling the searing ashes of approaching death, not in battle, but in ignominious decay? Let them feel the drag of time deaden their nerves and make their limbs leaden with fatigue, not for some noble cause, but for merely carrying the name of House Leanhaun. Let them feel the lash of Winter's chill upon their hearts with every beat, and then let them condemn Leanhaun. Knowing the Seelie, most wouldn't be surprised if the hypocrites did just that.
All Seelie react in typical hysteria the moment the word Unseelie creeps in. Why does it frighten them so? Do they fear that, after all, they are right and they have been led astray? It is only when they face the fact that the Seelie are to blame for the state of the world that they will be freed of their prejudice. (Not that the following Leanhaun thoughts on the Seelie houses don't betray prejudice.)
Why this harshness? Only this: the Seelie seek to reestablish a balance thrown out of kilter by unrelenting Seelie rule of 600 years and more. Why do the Seelie no longer desire the balance and why are they afraid to give up their rulership for even half a year? Who do they truly serve by keeping the world in such chaos?
Yes, the Leanhaun hide their true natures from the Seelie houses. They well know what their reaction would be if they knew the house for what it is. Some suspect; some even know there are Ravagers in the house, but only one house actually knows anything certain and for now the Leanhaun pay their price to silence them. To the others, they either hide their house affiliation or play to their fancies, making themselves into what they'd like to believe the house is. How easy it is to deceive those who regularly deceive themselves!
Plodders rather than plotters, How Dougal ever became noble is beyond most. Not that they show any lack of the qualities most Seelie think of as noble, just that it always seems they simply don't care that much about titles and such. It cannot be denied that they are sidhe, and since they have made a career of supporting House Gwydion, one supposes they've earned noble status more honestly than some other houses one could name.
The main problem with Dougal its hat they often have such narrow minds and constricted views. What saves them from falling to Banality is their creative fire. Their amazing gift for forging weapons and armor (and other things) means that they make items that serve equally well as practical implements and as works of art.
House Leanhaun never forgets that the key to befriending or controlling the Dougal is to heap admiration on their works and to speak knowledgeably about them. for now, their best efforts go to arm House Gwydion and the Seelie Houses. Leanhaun must convince Dougal that this view is short-sighted if they are to triumph. It may seem odd to forge such an alliance, but Leanhaun knows it needs Dougal and so cultivates an appreciation for their passion.
Touted as mysterious and subtle, these potent sorcerers pique Leanhaun's interest. So like the Ailil and yet so unlike them as well. If they actually had half the power and talent they claim (or hint they possess), Leanhaun would see if they could lessen or remove their curse. Then again, they'd probably find the price too high. The Eiluned do know the true extent of Leanhaun's misfortunes and how they maintain their youth. The house pays them well for their silence... for now. When they come to power, they will make the sorcerers pay for making the house crawl to them. No house has the right to hold another's very existence hostage.
For the present, Leanhaun concentrates on frequently backing their views in the Parliament of Dreams and working to discover what they want and supplying it for them. Some Leanhaun agents currently work at seducing certain Eiluned as an experiment to discover if they will help out of affection or love rather than pure self-interest. Others have begun introducing a few Eiluned to the joys and pains of Rhapsody. Once corrupted into utilizing such methods to obtain Glamour, they will have little success in holding the threat of exposing the house to the Seelie houses over their heads anymore. Leanhaun might gain the upper hand and threaten them instead. After all, everyone knows Leanhaun is Unseelie and that they are Ravagers, but suspects the Eiluned are doing something evil. Meanwhile, the Leanhaun are careful in their dealing with the Eiluned; fooling them isn't an easy proposition.
Ah, the Fiona! They are the only house truly capable of understanding the passions that drive Leanhaun. The Fiona, too, are lovers, yet their paramours only suffer broken hearts when these fickle sidhe eventually tire of on love and move on to the next. At least the Leanhaun grant those they Rhapsodize the dignity of being their only lovers during the time spent with them, and they stay until the end.
Though the Fiona may involve themselves to the point of obsession for awhile and feel they are the consummate lovers, they spend far more time reveling in the "feeling" of being in love than they actually spend listening to or being with their lovers. Further, their choice of paramours usually betrays their taste for the flashy and obvious rather than for subtle beauty or talent. Still, they have always seemed to the Leanhaun to epitomize this qualities that most mortals consider the hallmark of Irishness (or, perhaps, the Celtic ideal): a love of laughter, song, good food, fellowship, and fighting.
Since Leanhaun is not a particularly martial house, that's one area of Fiona accomplishment they tend to forget: their prowess as warriors. Some might argue that they even outdo Gwydion on the field of battle. It may come down to a matter of taste: one either prefers the Gwydion ideal or the Fiona passion. Since most Fiona espouse the Seelie cause, Leanhaun would do well to remember their fighting skills rather than regretting that oversight.
Most Leanhaun are highly prejudiced against most fae of House Gwydion. The fact that they openly advocate the destruction, not banishment, but death, of the Unseelie tells most they Gwydion are less than the honorable Kithain they claim themselves to be. All of them are trained to excel in battle, that is sure, but how can the house seriously consider that unbalancing the world by insisting that all fae be Seelie will stave off Endless Winter? Don't they see that is is their insistence on maintaining unchanging Seelie rule that is the greatest danger and a terrible betrayal of all the fae?
The Leanhaun are all too aware that they need House Gwydion (and all the other noble houses) if they are to reverse centuries of damage to Arcadia. They must all cooperate or Arcadia itself will fall to Banality and be lost forever. Many Leanhaun consider it a direct intervention of the Dán that David Ardry has disappeared. While his peacemaking efforts and inclusion of the commoners in the government of the Kithain are commendable, his stable (one could say dull) reign allowed too many of the fae to bask in complacency. The Leanhaun need to seize this opportunity to reach new understandings and forge new alliances. Any other action is suicidal stupidity tantamount to genocide. The fae can no longer afford to let the Seelie dominate them. The fae desperately need to embrace new ideas and break old patterns. Even if that mean sacrificing the high king to that end.
Unfortunately, House Gwydion's stubbornness and immovability are as well documented as their excellence in battle. If they would be truly known as honorable and acknowledged as leaders among the fae, they must stop being divisive between Seelie and Unseelie, and accept that they, too, have aspects of chaos and change within them.
What can be said about the Liam? They belong to the house of she who cursed Leanhaun so unfairly, yet they too suffer woes as part of their heritage. Their are differing tales concerning the origins of their disinheritance, but all point to some indiscretion committed by King Liam himself. If this is so, branding the entire house as oathbreakers is as unfair as laying a curse on all of House Leanhaun for the actions of one.
As to Finellia herself, she fully deserves the appellation of oathbreaker. It was her jealousy that caused Leanhaun's actions, and Finellia's hasty and ill-considered curse that forced Leanhaun's house into the Unseelie camp as their only means to protect themselves. The Liam hate the Leanhaun because they prey upon their precious mortals... an irony indeed since it is Finellia of House Liam's fault that they must do so.
While many Leanhaun can sympathize with Liam's flight, many wish that house would have half as much sympathy for theirs. Of course, some Liams positively reek of Banality, which can prove distressing to Leanhaun since they must maintain as much Glamour as they can without entering Bedlam. Then again, the Liam are plodding bores anyway, so the Leanhaun usually don't miss their company.
Yes, they are a house. Why waste times creating divisions among the sidhe? House Scathach managed to remain behind when the rest of the sidhe fled the Shattering. They are the only sidhe who could give an authoritative accounting of the time the rest were gone and yet most sidhe spurn them for their "common" ways. Could it have escaped the other house's notice that they had no trouble remaining essentially sidhe while not being destroyed as the rest of the sidhe would have been? How did they manage that? Why do the other nobles despise them for it rather than beg them for insights?
House Leanhaun doesn't make that mistake. They actively seek friendly contacts with the Scathach whenever they can. Aside from the knowledge they could share with the house, the Scathach also possess great skill in battle. If everyone else is too proud or too stupid to realize their value, Leanhaun will certainly profit by their loss. If the house could convince Scathach that their goals best meshed with Leanhaun's, they could gain the sort of protectors they need. In return, House Leanhaun would work to make other noble houses acknowledge Scathach's claim to noble status. Their advocacy of the Unseelie cause would make four Unseelie houses against the five Seelie. With Eiluned in doubt, that be enough to tip the balance.
House Leanhaun sees the commoner Kithain quite differently than do most sidhe. The house has worked hard (and continues so) to win their favor and that has paid off. Commoners make up the majority of their most loyal followers and provide the house with depth and resources they would not otherwise have. Even Seelie commoners sometimes find Leanhaun rule and friendship more valuable to them than the patronage of the Seelie houses. Much early house training focuses on fitting in with the commoners while not losing position among the sidhe. Long hours are spent teaching childlings how to deal with commoners as if they were equals, while not letting them know they are seen any other way. (And they say Ailil are manipulative charmers!) Those who cannot be charmed, the house extends favors, binding them to the house with respect, love, or duty. Of course, this works better with Seelie than Unseelie, but even they respond to mutually beneficial arrangements.
House Leanhaun probably couldn't exist without their boggans. Not only do they perform innumerable functions for them... everything from housekeeping to acting as seneschals and social secretaries, but their love of gossip provides the house with valuable insights into those around them. Numerous times, boggan gossip has provided the house with the ammunition they needed to prevent attacks against them or defuse interhouse quarrels. The Leanhaun have found boggans to be loyal and dependable. Their inherent decency makes the Leanhaun seem less suspect whenever they associate with the house. The Unseelie among them can be too demanding and perfectionistic, but you cannot fault their dedication. Leanhaun's only real difficulty with boggans is that they have to be very careful what they learn about the house. Their tongues will wag whether they're telling tales of others or spreading house secrets. The Leanhaun therefore guard quite carefully against giving boggans too much confidential information.
Most nobles (and not a few commoners) dismiss the eshu as little more than clever storytellers. Some even think they are unreliable because they like to wander. What fools! Have you any idea how valuable it is to have an eshu on your side? It's true they are wanderers. That means they carry tales everywhere they go, and if those stories are flattering to Leanhaun, their battle is half won. The house is all to aware how effective such good press can be. They're equally aware of the interesting news they bring back. The house employs several eshu as spies. Since they constantly travel about on their own, few suspect them of acting as spies for nobles.
These regal fae also make excellent scouts. Not only do their travel reports provide the house with accurate and detailed accounts of areas and freeholds they may someday have to travel through or battle, but they can lead where the house needs to be as a given time. Some eshu sympathetic to Leanhaun's aims have even specialized in locating just the sorts of Dreamers house members need to sustain themselves. House Leanhaun rewards their eshu well. More than that, they never forget that the eshu consider themselves nobles in their own right, treating them as such, at least to their faces.
Most fae never look beyond the foul mouths and technical abilities of the nockers. Neither to the Leanhaun. Why should they? Nockers create some interesting and unexpected gadgets, some of them quite lethal. If they are willing to design what the house needs, the house is willing to praise them immoderately and put up with their disgusting language.
The house does go a little beyond that, though, by providing workshops for those who ally with or join the house, giving them positions of authority, and acknowledging their superior workmanship through gifting them with dross. In return, nockers working for the house make some surprising things they will unveil when the time is right. A few of them eschew other sorts of creation to concentrate on armor and weaponry. House Dougal may think they hold exclusive rights to forge work but nockers have the natural affinity for it. Aside from their creative flair, many nockers prove to be vicious fighters when cornered.
Several of the nockers' best designs incorporate modern weaponry and chimerical crafting. Those items could change things significantly, turning affairs in favor of the Unseelie if used at the right time. Since the Leanhaun will control that weaponry, the house has an excellent chance to win conflicts with the Seelie even when outnumbered. Who can argue with that?
Few sidhe pay much attention to pooka. Those who do dismiss them as cute and comical liars or bothersome nuisances. House Leanhaun knows the pooka as tricksters and have occasionally even subtly suggested or urged them on in pranks against other houses. After all, if the duke is bust showing his annoyance with a pooka, he's unlikely to be watching his Leanhaun revels master to see if they are Ravaging the neighborhood Dreamers. Pooka are useful in other ways, though. Good listeners, they all have some talent for getting other Kithain to open up to them. They seem so sympathetic and comical, so harmless, that almost anyone confides in them, spilling just about anything in the process. The more serious-minded pooka remember what they're told. Once the house has weeded out the evasions, the exaggerations, and the out-and-out reversals, it usually finds those revelations quite useful.
The house also uses loyal pooka to spread disinformation about House Leanhaun and their deeds. While it's fine to feed pooka complete fabrications as if they were true, it's also useful to tell them absolute truths while making them sound like lies. In the former instance, if the pooka believes the story to be true, they repeat them, but as if they are lies. In the latter case, they repeat the story they believe to be lies as the truth. In both situations, since other Kithain know pooka always lie, they frequently accept the falsehoods as fact (or close to it) and reject the true stories as false. By the time they realize their mistake, it's usually too late.
One facet of pooka many overlook is their animal-like nature. Treat a pooka kindly, show them favor, and they will serve as faithfully as any pet. This is even more useful if the pooka's beast form is one that can hold its own in a fight. Some sidhe refuse to travel without loyal troll guardians. There's more than one Leanhaun who like a useful pooka or two in their retinue.
Let's face it; redcaps are rude, crude, obnoxious Kithain who will put any foul thing in their mouths and try to chew it up, all in the name of grotesquerie. The Leanhaun have nothing in common with these hideous fashion victims. Their revolting habits disgust Leanhaun and their lack of refinement (or any saving grace) make them unwelcome in house freeholds.
Unfortunately, the house cannot afford to throw away Kithain whose fighting prowess and ferocity might serve their cause and protect their lives. So they pretend to tolerate, even like, redcaps. They literally inundate the Shadow Court in any case, so they cannot be ignored. If they serve house aims, the Leanhaun deal with them, and hope they never realize how much they are despised.
For now, they serve as the backbone of Leanhaun's troops, training secretly for the time when the Shadow Court is prepared to make its move. Though hard to control due to their bloodlust, the house has found ways of ensuring their loyalty and compliance. Since most of them gain their Glamour through Ravaging, the house reads good behavior by supplying those who earn favor with the names and locations of potential "contributors." Those who defy the house, on the other hand, soon discover that their suppliers have dried up anon new ones are to be found. A redcap begging for another chance and a little Glamour to sustain them is a truly pitiful sight and one the Leanhaun finds especially heartwarming.
Lusty and frolicsome, satyrs also possess a great understanding of scholarship and art. When a house member wants a carefree fling or a night of sheer forgetfulness, they consort with satyrs. They have wit and knowledge to match Leanhaun intellect, the love of revelry and music that lifts Leanhaun hearts, and the amorous expertise to please these often love-jaded sidhe. When one's usual love affairs revolve around the tragedy of inevitable loss and your own betrayal and corruption, a fun tryst in the midst of a party can prove so refreshing it saves your life... literally.
Satyrs once had an entire art form dedicated to them, a sacred art: drama. Other Kithain would do well to remember that, for the satyrs have not forgotten. The Leanhaun always speak and act respectfully toward satyrs, playing to their vanity through acknowledging that the ancient Greeks once considered them gods. Because Leanhaun seem to understand them better than other sidhe (or even commoners), many goats join with or serve the house. Most utilize their scholarly abilities to further house knowledge and help locate obscure lore.
Finally, their skill with music can provide a freehold with much-needed mirth and revelry. Some even create Glamour with their playing, summoning a whirling throng of dancers or quietly bringing forth tears from rapt listeners who bathe in the sound of their potent creations. Even when Glamour is not forthcoming, pleasant tunes played in the evening or a sunny garden at noon can help to ease burdens as few pursuits can.
Smelly, sneaky, slithery, whispery, these slinking Kithain make Leanhaun skin crawl. Their long, pale faces remind many of corpses and their preference for dark, dank places evokes imagery of the grave. Some Leanhaun find even childling sluagh so repulsive they cannot stand to have one near them. As if their spidery movements weren't bad enough, their smell nauseates most Kithain, a fact some believe they deliberately use against others, almost defiantly, as if saying "if you can tolerate the smell and pretend it isn't there, I may tell you a think or two. Retch even once, and you'll never hear this information."
And that's the catch. Finding out secrets is second nature to sluagh. They are the best (or at least most secretive) intelligence gatherers among the Kithain. Their bodies can contort into almost any crawlspace, allowing them access to just about anywhere. What they learn from others, Leanhaun wants to know. What they learn from the house, they house wants kept silent. In both cases, Leanhaun is willing to pay.
Often, their price is not costly, but extremely odd, such as asking a Leanhaun baroness to walk down to a deserted dock and whisper a single name. In that case, the sluagh who proved to a fellow Kithmate that he did indeed know the baroness and that she owed him a favor won far more from the doubting sluagh than the house could have paid. Naturally, some odd demands are not so harmless. It is always best when dealing with the crawlers to try to anticipate what use they might make of what they ask for and decide if helping the achieve their goal is worth whatever they can tell you. Many Leanhaun prefer to have something on them that they'd rather not have known or some other hold over them to ensure their silence concerning house affairs. Some members of the house do treat with them that way. Others prefer straightforward bargaining.
A few house members have made a concerted effort to recruit sluagh, trying to win their loyalty. Some have grave doubts hey will succeed in weaning sluagh away from their own kith and from greedy demands, but eventually, most believe all the sluagh will embrace their Unseelie natures. Most are more than halfway there already. Further, some believe that soon after that they will fully espouse the cause of the Shadow Court. It's the only sane choice once one knows all the facts, and the sluagh usually do.
Those who think all trolls are noble have never met the Unseelie side of the family. Then again, the Leanhaun don't really trust most Unseelie trolls without having their sworn word on a matter and retain some hold over them to make them keep that word. This creates some interesting situations. Many Leanhaun prefer troll guardians, but seek Seelie ones when possible. You might be surprised that they are often able to gain their loyalty and protection without recourse to bribery, threats, or subterfuge. They simply offer them what they want: respect and gratitude for their service. Naturally, the house tries to shield them from learning about their Rhapsodies so they don't need to choose between their sense of duty and their sense of morality. Still, a rare few learn what the house does and forgives them because they see the consequences of their abstaining from Rhapsody. These are the house's most trusted and treasured guardians and champions.
Of all the commoners, trolls deserve a real role in governing the Kithain. They are the ones who usually put their lives on the line to defend others and often the rise or fall of a freehold depends upon the grim determination of its troll warriors. The house fully believes that they must win the majority of trolls to their cause if they are to fulfill their goals. Of course, they don't explain it to the trolls as bringing Endless Winter (that seems too much like Ragnarok); instead they emphasize the noble cause of freeing Arcadia from its centuries-long thralldom to the Unseelie Court. And that's the main drawback to this kith: they are sometimes to noble and filled with notions of heroism to really examine a situation from all angles. Needless to say, the Unseelie members of the kith don't suffer from that particular failing.
These obnoxious and disgusting creatures hold no fascination to House Leanhaun. While the house advocates for the Thallain's right to continued existence, they have little in common with them. So long as they keep away, yet seem wiling to aid the house when they need it, Leanhaun has no quarrel with them.
Except for the clurichaun, House Leanhaun has few dealings with the Gallain. Clurichaun and Leanhaun tend to appreciate the same sorts of things, including fine music and dance. The house makes it a point, though, never to Rhapsodize any Dreamer under a clurichaun's protection and never to interfere with their cherished collections. The house holds so few freeholds in Concordia that they rarely encounter the Nunnehi, and Inanimae don't interest them, and won't unless they come forward offering alliances.
While many Kithain leave most of these beings strictly alone, House Leanhaun is always looking for potential allies, even in the strangest places.
- Children of Lilith
The Ailil could take a few lessen from the Children of Lilith. Political manipulations in the mortal world aside, they certainly know how to pull one another's strings while remaining out of sight. Leanhaun scholars among the Inquiry study these vampires, partly because they wonder how close they are to Leanhaun sidhe. They too need something from mortals that sustains them; they too have a potential for immortality as the sidhe once did. The sidhe know they spring from the fae but have become something else in the long years the nobles were in exile form the Earth. Younger mortals seem drawn to them, imitating their looks and posturing as if they too felt the chill of the grave. Some of Leanhaun's most interesting Rhapsodies occur with these sad children who crave meaning to their existence and flare with untold creative brilliance. For attracting such partners to the area, the house thanks the Children of Lilith.
Recently, the house has begun speaking with them concerning their beliefs and practices. There seem to be two main factions, much like the faerie's Seelie and Unseelie, each of which strives to rule. The Leanhaun will continue to observe, then offer their help to whichever side they choose to support, with the understanding, of course, that they support the house in return.
These Prodigals have reverted so far back to nature that the Leanhaun have little in common with them anymore. They are usually violent and closed-minded. Nonetheless, inquirers attempt to make contact with them and discover if they have any reason to ally. They would make formidable warriors in the battle to suppress the Seelie if they could be won to the cause.
Many Seelie advocate that the fae avoid mages since they have been enemies in times past. Leanhaun scholars have noted, however, that there seem to be different factions within the wizards' society. One actively tries to disavow the Kithain, arguing that they are mere superstitions or fictions, trying to diminish the fae into non-existence. The other factions accept that the fae are real and may cautiously have some dealings with them. One such group wants the fae to help them reshape the reality so that all can live on Earth more comfortably. That sounds promising to the house. It is said most other wizards find this group to be insane, but any group that follows its dream and seeks to make that dream reality is a friend to the Leanhaun. The fae are the reality of the dream. If they help the fae survive, who cares if others think them mad?
Though the house knows the sad and horrible creatures exist, it shuns their company. The Leanhaun, who must constantly struggle to maintain their youth and who long for even a moment more of life, cannot tolerate the presence of these dead mortals. Besides, they often remind house members of the artists they have consumed... a reminder they would rather not have to confront.
Did you buy that? Indeed some members of the house feel that way, but many more of them search for ways to contact wraiths in an attempt to learn more of the Bright Road. While most Leanhaun confine themselves to dealing with those restless souls whose main interest lies in visiting the Earth once more, a few house Shadow Courtiers consort with a force of ghosts called the specters' legion. Visitor wraiths say that these ghosts are evil and dangerous and that one should be wary of them, but, then again, the Leanhaun are wary of the visiting dead as well. The house currently studies both types to see which has more reliable information and if either type can be recruited to the house cause in return for assistance in matters important to the dead. Could the Leanhaun again open the Bright Road with the assurance that the sidhe may walk it win safety, most of the nobility would gladly usher them into power.
Sons of Adam & Daughters of Eve
The houses' meat and drink, their wine and caviar. The Leanhaun fully acknowledge their debt to mortals. Perhaps they are the only fae who really do so. They interact with mortals even more than with other fae; but they make sure that the humans they associate with are filled with Glamour so they don't infect them with their deadly Banality. Those whom they choose to Rhapsodize become very dear to them, while others provide them with normal Glamour they use every day. The Leanhaun have hopes the they'll be able to enchant certain mortals they won't need to Rhapsodize to serve and fight alongside them if need be. If necessary, however, the house isn't above sacrificing them to bring their plans to fruition.
Gallery of Rogues & Revelers
- The Crown
- The Harp
- Izzy Tot
- John O'Dreams
- Lady Greenlance
- Mad Caitlin
- The Rose
- Sabrina Lennin-Corvald
- Sir Tairngrim
- Tyria Winter
- CTD. Pour L'Amour et Liberte: The Book of Houses 2, pp. 53-99.
- CTD. Book of Lost Dreams, pp. 43-44.
- CTD. The Shadow Court, pp. 64-65.
|Changeling: The Dreaming Houses|
|Seelie Court||Beaumayn · Daireann · Dougal · Eiluned · Fiona · Gwydion · Liam|
|Unseelie Court||Aesin · Ailil · Balor · Danaan · Leanhaun · Varich|