- 1 Overview
- 2 History
- 3 Society: The Patterns of House Varich
- 4 Allies & Enemies
- 5 Treasures of House Varich
- 6 The Famous and the Infamous
- 7 References
House Varich claims descent from their Lord Varich, a child of ancient and eternal powers and the embodiment of nobility and tragedy. To know his story is to know how to survive and conquer.
The Mythic Age
For more on the founding of House Varich, see the article Varich (Founder).
Many worshiped the Varich as gods in their homeland, the great city of Novgorod. They made sacrifices to them of handsome serfs, carvings, enameled jewelry, and fine pieces of amber worked in gold. They loved their Dreamers, treating them as vassals and children, as was only proper, making sure that they both loved and feared the Varich. Mortals danced on hillsides, spilling blood and flowers for their amusement in the days before the Shattering. After the Fomorians’ betrayal, the house mourned the changes to Varich. His heart grew dark and he vowed never to love another. Despite his sorrow, he ruled fairly and found his passions in war and politics.
The Varich reveled in their land of endless forests, honoring the change of seasons as ice castles formed on the steppes to shield them in winter and silver birches bloomed lacy leaves to roof their summer circles. They ruled as golden threads shaping the tapestry of the world. Their subjects; the spirits of house, tree, and field made flesh, and the commoners whom they had chosen to affiliate with their grand and just house, were meant for their rule. Their Dreamers heard their music, gave them sacrifices, and called them gods! Amusing, yes, but not far from the truth in their minds.
Yet in the heart of their realm, the mortals who had dreamed for them alone began to have new dreams. Pale men in rough, dirty robes came from far away, twisting the dreams of their people, trading visions of the Varich and their servants for those of richly decorated beings they called saints, whose images they painted upon dead wood. “Christianity” came. At first, the Varich though to use it for their own ends. The passions of their people might be turned, for Varich, too, could appear as magic beings to do miracles for the masses. This was a mistake, for the worshippers of the bloody wooden sacrifice were jealous of their powers and their people’s worship. They took their names and twisted them into names of their holy men, trying to consume the fae as they ate the bread-flesh of their god. Legends and miracles were not enough. The Varich watched as others struggled. Those loyal to them were tormented in fire and water and thrown to the wolves in the dead of winter. Hundreds of their Dreamers were slaughtered, and still the Varich watched; for there would always be more, always had been more.
Some of the house fought. Varich himself worked magics to shelter those who were loyal, beginning patterns that their Dreamers would follow through centuries of despair. Soothsayers, peering at flames through globes of amber, saw trods crumbling and fading as golden-roofed churches were built. The faces of their Dreamers turned from the Varich in anger and fear. Screaming mobs of filthy animals that had once served them extinguished the Balefires that had once glowed as the sun on high hilltops.
There were more than enough reasons for leaving, and leave many of them did. Quietly they gathered their commoner servants, those favored Dreamers they had saved and the gifts that still pleased them. Panicking Seelie sidhe saw their first signs of trouble and chose to usurp power in this world to prevent the change. The Varich gracefully gave in, allowing the Seelie to weave many of the threads that would lead to their downfall. The ever-changing worlds grew stagnant, bringing an end to the cycle of seasonal rule. Power in Arcadia would be the Varich’s, those who first saw the patterns and best prepared for the Great Winter. Varich gathered them together quietly. Before the other houses knew the Shattering was upon them, the Varich left the mortal world, closing many of their trods behind them.
Departure & the Shattering
A few of the house stayed. Whether foolish or too fond of their earthbound dreams, a faction called the Obtenyani fought to keep Varich holdings and to stop Banality’s onslaught. The leader of the Obtenyani, Wila Irynochka, saw the patterns ahead differently. Wily and rash young rytsar that she was, she gathered together those Dreamers whom Varich had saved from persecution and placed a geas on them to remember the house always and to hold to their dreams in secret and darkness until their return. Then, as trods shimmered and failed, as shortsighted houses came clawing in desperation at the gates, she fled with the last of their people, leaving behind their final Balefire, now no more than a faintly glowing cinder.
Arcadia: A World Carved of Ice
For centuries, Arcadia, beautiful homeland of the fae, has existed in the endless throes of unchanging winter. Although the flesh the Varich must wear on Earth has fouled the memories of their days in Arcadia, they remember visions that came to them of patterns laid time and time again as they waited for some sign of spring’s return. They looked in vain for revolution to follow stagnation so that Arcadia would open to new Glamour. Then the sign appeared: a red star gleaming in Arcadia’s sky. The new crimson light stained snowy hills and towers of ice with the flush of a bloody abattoir. War, bloodshed, change was coming. The great circle of time finally signaled revolution. The Fomorians, enemies of the Vila, foes of most of the sidhe, have given them a warning in the shape of a red orb; Balor’s Eye, glowing in the midnight sky.
What has happened in the world since they left? They know little. Visions of this world were cut off from their sight during the centuries they dwelled in Arcadia. To them it seemed as though they left but a short time ago, yet the world has changed beyond recognition. What sorts of warriors live in this modern world? What dreams do Dreamers make? The Varich must unravel the secrets of this new world quickly. From all they have heard, many of the commoners rebelled against their sidhe masters. The Varich will not make the same mistake as the houses that arrived before them. Their servants will once again answer their call to service. The Varich have little time before the pattern completes itself. When it does, they will reign as masters of Winter in the mortal world. Soon the Fomorians will arrive. They must be ready.
House Varich embodies the blood and bones of Mother Russia. They are the dreams of the first people of that ancient land: the Avar, the Tatar, and the Kazar. They are the vision of warriors who ride their stallions for days across the icy steppes to reach their enemies and slaughter without mercy. They are pictures in the mind’s eye of craftsmen delicately applying rainbows of enamel and gold. They rule the spirits of the bathhouse, the forests, and the air. They bid them, mortal and spirit, to remember them through centuries of Seelie rule. Russia has changed. The voices of the leshii, the dryad, and the spirits of the wind no longer sing in every breeze. Their homeland has many mortals, but Dreamers seem few. Many of those who still exist live in dark hopelessness, lost to Banality. Nevertheless, old patterns have reemerged. Dreamer shamans dance and sing broken fragments of their old paeans to the Varich. Flames awaken on the hilltops where their Balefires once brightened the sky. Old pathways now lie open and vulnerable.
House Varich has returned. Yet some of them have found themselves in lands only rumored to have existed when they left. New pathways have opened to a land call America. In that place, they find themselves amid towers of stone that cover the sky, on a small piece of forested land called Central Park. Snow lies on the ground, but trees have buds pushing against the ice. The Varich will find their Dreamers there. Still others of the house have emerged in an alien place where the sea washes against a giant’s toy bridge sun from webs of steel. High on a hill, along the curving road lined with colorful houses, they hear the voices of their people. They call this place Russian Hill, signifying that someone has already claimed it for the Varich. This is very good. Their Dreamers remember.
Society: The Patterns of House Varich
Great passions once ruled the founder of House Varich. His betrayal in love, though, has shaped the house and all its members. Though many of them still reflect Varich’s fiery nature, yearning for impetuous actions and longing to heed the calls of everlasting love, their vows constrain them. They love within the threads that Fate has woven for them, studying the patterns that rule their lives. Intricacies are dear to them, for they echo the webs that bind and shape them to their destiny. Rhythms amuse them, fix their attention, and provide great joy as they decipher them. Dances, battle formations, and the movements of fine equestrian performances all hold the same fascination. The strategy of combat and the interwoven strands of war, love, music, and politics sustain them, icy substitutes for the vows of love lost to them.
House Boon & Flaws
- Boon: Pattern-sense – Members of House Varich understand patterns. Given three rounds to watch a series of actions performed by another, such as sword fighting, dancing, or sport, their difficulty in opposition or as a partner is lowered by 2 points. They may observe an opponent’s patterns even while engaging in combat, though they cannot fight one foe while observing a different one. Given a chance to observe three different times, they receive an extra die in addition to the decreased difficulty for that scene.
- Flaw: Loveless – House Varich sidhe can never give a vow of love to another. The other houses that came forth with them during this second resurgence know of this flaw.
- Flaw: Challenge-Bound – Varich sidhe must accept all challenges. If a member of the house fails to acknowledge a challenge, they lose 1 point of Willpower per day until they return the challenge. (Willpower lost in this fashion may not be recovered through the expenditure of experience points or by any other means until the character honors the challenge.) If a challenged member of the house is imprisoned to keep them from accepting the challenge, they lose one point of Strength for each day of their captivity (to a minimum of one point). If they remain imprisoned, their Stamina declines by one point per week until they “die” (i.e., forgets their fae nature). As one might expect, house members take care to be courteous to each other and to stay in fighting trim.
Most Varich sidhe have deep golden hair and dark eyes. A few are born with blue eyes, while some have sable hair that turns silver at the onset of their wilder years. Almost all Varich have high cheekbones and slanted eyes as well as very long, thick hair, often worn in braids. They tend to dress in brilliant scarlet or black voile, trimmed in fur and decorated with intricate patterns of gold cording. They especially love amber. Many of their treasures are either carved from amber or have amber decorations.
Much like the feudal society from which they arose, House Varich believes in the natural order of members’ roles in their freeholds. Some may attempt to see the possibility of worthy individuals rising above their station, but few of them truly believe that “all men are created equal,” no matter how often they hear quotes from the Declaration of Independence of the Communist Manifesto. Their servants, commoners and Inanimae alike, shall always serve. They may rise to the top of their rank, but without some great deed, they may go no further. The word of the head of a freehold is law. No one may gainsay a household’s lord within their own holdings; not count, duke, nor even the High King himself.
As one might guess, the armies of House Varich consist of organized ranks of rytsar who command squads of foot soldiers. Mounted on tall, elegant horses, the rytsar serve as more than leaders. They also observe the ebb and flow of each battle, studying the movements of the enemy to exploit any of their flaws. Warriors of the house usually perform several feints to discern the enemy’s patterns before making an all-out attack. Several ranking officers find places from which to observe the battle from every side, ready to follow their initial assault with reinforcements when the enemies’ patterns become clear. Though this ability to discern patterns gives them a distinct advantage, it also serves as a potential weakness. If an enemy knows their tendency to take the time to determine their patterns, they may use that knowledge to deny them the opportunity to observe them, pressing their attacks before the Varich can predict their movements.
Threads in the Weaving
Do not think that all Varich adhere to the same beliefs just because they belong to one house. They, too, have their dissenters and their secret warriors. Their house prospers because they do not cast out those who disagree with them. Neither do they turn their backs on those who do their dirty work. The house grows stronger because of these distinctive elements.
- The Obtenyani: The Changed Ones
- The Nochnytza: Eclipse of the Sun
Oaths of House Varich
- The Right of Demesne: This gives a noble the right to freeholds accorded to them by title and birth. It also points to the inalienable fact that a noble’s freehold is theirs to rule as they wish; no one may gainsay their word within their holding. To the Varich, this portion of the Escheat needs no repeating. If it does, the holder has not applied their whip correctly or often enough.
- The Right to Dream: The right to dream? Say, rather, the duty to dream. Varich’s Dreamers belong to them; they muse them, shelter them, and drive them to create works of beauty and wonder. In exchange, the fae gain Glamour. This is the way things have always been. They do not take the Dreamers of others unless they wish to call war against them. And they certainly would never deny another house their Dreamers unless that house neglects them so that they need Varich protection and patronage. They gladly give their protection to those who ask.
- The Right of Guesting: The Varich generously follow the duty of guesting. Anyone who asks for shelter in their holdings receives food, a place by the stove, and all the favors due a friend or ally. It is an honor to give hospitality to a trusted friend. For those they don’t know, it is a way to learn more of a stranger’s motivations and methods. For their enemies, it is a necessity. The Varich understand that it is better to have a foe in your home than in the shadows behind it. The house also has a reputation for lavish festivals and gatherings with many competitions. No one leaves their tables unsatisfied; they do not allow it. Balalaikas ring as they dance until they have no more energy to move. When that happens, their satyrs come and they dance again, this time with heated blood, body against body. Anyone may join in the dances the dances, although they exact severe penalties for serious missteps. The Varich are pattern and do not lightly endure those who cannot follow one. It is a pleasure and a danger to be a non-Varich guest among them. It is an exhilaration of existence on the edge of pain.
- The Right of Ignorance: The Seelie now believe that the fae must stay hidden? No wonder fewer Dreamers exist! How can mortals dream for the fae if the fae skulk in the shadows like cowardly sluagh? The Varich will not become whispering ghosts to hide satisfy those too timid to live. Perhaps they need to hide themselves from mortal eyes for the moment, but as Winter returns and the Fomorians send their monsters to destroy all who oppose them, the Varich will emerge from hiding and proclaim their existence openly. They must have strength from Dreamers and mortals who know they exist. It will be interesting to see their reactions as well as the expressions on the faces of the Seelie cowards who have faded to nothing because of their timidity. Believe that this time the Varich will hold their Dreamers safe while gathering even more as servants, soldiers, and playthings. The Varich now understand that, at least in this, the Obtenyani were correct: they need Dreamers. In this age still subjugated by its dead wooden god, these Dreamers must be nurtured and preserved.
- The Right of Life: For House Varich, the right of life is very important. They do not kill other sidhe. Torture, perhaps; change their minds, yes; but kill? No. That would be too brutish and unkind. Never let it be said that they are anything but courteous to their cousins, both Seelie and Unseelie. One caveat, though. They meet any challenges fully with the courage and determination of their house. If someone happens to die in such a challenge, the fault belongs to the one who so foolishly sought death at Varich hands.
- The Right of Rescue: Rescuing those who have been lost to Banality or who languish in the captivity of unbelievers is a joy to the Varich. They find it interesting to see the patterns that lead to such a loss and the weavings they must create to rescue those in need. If they save enemies from the clutches of those who would destroy their fae souls, they gain allies who will fight on their side; perhaps even against their own wills.
Allies & Enemies
Now that the Varich have returned, they must establish once again ties with houses that once served as allies and make certain those that opposed them do not offer significant threat. Both nobles and commoners have gone through many changes since the Varich walked the Earth. They cannot afford to underestimate anyone.
The Nobles: Rulers by Birth
Some of the noble houses have already staked their claim on the mortal world. Though they have ruled for decades unopposed, Varich has returned to offer them challenge. Varich represents the interests of those who see the necessity of patterns and of the alternation of Seelie and Unseelie influences. They hope to find allies among some of the other houses, though such may not welcome the Varich at first.
- House Aesin: The Unseelie members of this house follow their own code of honor. Varich salutes them for their independence. They have, however, the subtlety of Viking warship in full sail. They see only the doom-filled final conflict ahead, much as the ignorant Norsemen who influenced them. Too bad they cannot see beyond the end of their world. Perhaps it is for the best. Varich will keep them as allies and allow them to enter Valhalla in their service when the Fomorians come. Aesin will serve as a good front line. Varich will look beyond the battle and pick up the pieces. Perhaps the Aesin will find the Ragnarök they seek.
- House Ailil: The members of this house breathe political acumen and subtlety. They understand the turning of the seasons and manipulate patterns nearly as well as the Varich who will do all they can to make sure the Silver Dragon fights on the side of the Sun when the war effort begins, for they understand the futility of denying either side of fae nature. Until then, Varich will watch and learn. The Ailil have had more time in this world to create a network of spies, and Varich can benefit from their knowledge if they can convince the Ailil to make common cause with them. Dragons are wily creatures and very likely to surprise those who do not watch them. Varich does not make that mistake; they know the Dragons’ strengths and weaknesses too well for that.
- House Balor: How would Varich describe their feelings for Balor? From the beginning they have known of Balor’s slyness and untrustworthiness, yet they find something very attractive about them. Wounded, constantly imperfect, they take pride in their faults and flaunt them as treasures. Varich suspects them of having more in common with the fomorian enemy than with the Vila and if this is true, the Balor will know of the approach of Winter before any other house. Varich’s duty will lead them to stay close, no matter the final cost to them… or to Varich.
- House Beaumayn: Many members of this French house believe they understand the patterns of the future better than the Varich do. They prophesy doom and ending times. Despite the Mists, Varich retains memories of their tiresome storm-crow mouthings. They bring doom upon themselves by their words, as they did when they undertook their experiments with cold iron. Although the Varich admire Beaumayn’s courage, they also approved the decision to imprison them for their rash actions. It is best to be wary of them, for if they remember Varich’s part in their banishment, they may decide that vengeance carries more import than prophecy.
- House Daireann: What can be said about those who care only for battle? Place the Daireann at the front of the fray and let them do what they do best. There is little complexity in the weavings of their minds or politics. That makes them easy to deal with.
- House Dougal: This house of crafters and metalsmiths can be very useful in times of war. Varich will treat Dougal with all the respect they treat their most talented servants if they are willing to forge for the house. They will know Varich’s enmity if they are not.
- House Eiluned: Sorcerers and gossips, members of House Eiluned spend their existence searching for secrets and holding them close. In many ways, they remind the Varich of the cowardly sluagh in their love for secrecy and elusiveness. Still, they can be quite powerful, and they have familial connections to House Ailil, a house the Varich have always considered an ally. If they did not choose to ally with the Seelie court, Varich could resoect them for their mastery of the Arts. Perhaps someday they will realize their true affiliation or reveal to the house the secret they have held for so long: that they are actually Unseelie as well.
- House Fiona: House Varich has long admired this courageous and passionate house. When most of the Varich left for Arcadia, House Fiona fought beside the Obtenyani until the Shattering drove everyone away from the mortal world. Though they’re foolish in their passions, their bravery makes up for a great deal. Varich laments their lack of trust in them; it seems they feel that more from the house should have remained in the world until the last possible moment. Perhaps they have learned to control their passions since reentering the world.
- House Gwydion: This house provides reason why Varich does not call themselves Seelie. The Gwydion do not understand the infinite variations in the patterns of the world and cannot see beyond their own narrow interpretations of honor and the Escheat. Too bad for them! They are good fighters and strong leaders… not as accomplished as Varich in either, but capable all the same. The house should consider calling a challenge or two on them to keep both houses in good fighting shape before the true war begins.
- House Leanhaun: Weak and nearly useless, the members of Leanhaun attempt to befriend everyone, making their friendship worth nothing. There is nothing worthwhile about them except their ability to make friends. Rest assured, though, that members of this house will find it difficult to seduce Varich into alliances, no matter how amiably Varich may act toward them.
- House Liam: The Liam tried to find Glamour among Christian believers and chose to side with the church that persecuted Varich’s Dreamers. The Varich suspects, tough, that they eventually found themselves barred from the religions they so fervently embraced. Perhaps they have learned a few lessons since their return, but Varich does not hold out great hopes for them.
- House Scathach: Seekers of weakness in Fate’s pattern, most of this house remained behind after the Shattering, priding themselves on mixing their blood with mortals. Somehow they believe that diluting their fae nature will bring them victory in the coming war. Always their eagerness to work outside the patterns of Fate shows their untrustworthiness. House Varich does not hate them, but many pity them. They do not truly understand the patterns they work to destroy. A few members of House Scathach, the wisest ones, left for Arcadia not long after the Varich did. Now they have returned. Varich will watch with interest the patterns of their reactions to their faithless, half-human cousins.
Commoners: Born to Serve
Commoners make useful servants. While the Inanimae provide most of the help Varich needs in their freeholds, they are limited to certain places. The peasants possess more versatility, though they also claim more independence than the house might like. Varich treats their servants with respect, for they realize the importance of giving even the least of their households the honor they deserve. Still, they know that servants may turn against them… no sluagh is ever allowed within their freeholds without swearing the most powerful of oaths… and the house realizes that the smallest mouse can kill a wolf, provided it has the advantage of position and circumstance. It is good to remember how many patterns are shaped by commoners’ actions.
- Boggans: Gossips and homebodies, boggans serve as the connection between the nobles and the house spirits. Boggans always remember to leave a bowl of milk on the doorstep and to save a bit of steam in the bathhouse each night. These helpful commoners get along with the lesser house and hearth spirits, complementing each other’s skills. Woe to the freehold, though, where the relationship between the domestic spirits and boggan caretakers succumbs to jealousy and envy.
- Eshu: Varich remembers these commoners from long ago. As graceful on horseback as the tribes of the steppes, the eshu often appeared among the nomads of the tundra and taiga. Always listen to their stories, for they see the patterns that connect freehold to freehold and duchy to duchy. Though they couch their facts in fable, they reveal important secrets. Varich honors all storytellers but reserve the best place at the hearth for the eshu. Varich believes they will be some of the first to see the signs of the coming Winter and will do all they can to ensure their friendship.
- Nockers: How can one resist the impossible, complex toys created by these makers of intricacies? Through flattery and respect for this hardy group of commoner crafters, Varich hopes to gain the weapons and armor necessary for the coming battle… and if they produce toys in the meantime, who would protest? The items the nockers make are entertaining.
- Pooka: Which is true and which is a lie? The pooka twist their words so much it is an amusing puzzle to figure out what they mean to tell. Do not dismiss them merely as liars and fools. Pooka have much to tell those who are willing to untangle their web of words. They are also very loyal when treated well, as are most good servants.
- Redcaps: Uncouth, straightforward, unalterably obnoxious, redcaps are no batter than pigs for eating refuse, yet they easily make the best frontline shock troops. Though the Varich do not invite them to the head of the table, they are welcome to clean up the scraps after the feast. If they showed the least sign of complexity, the Varich might find them interesting. For now, they consider the redcaps expendable soldiers, whip them to the front line, and keep them downwind of noble noses and the bathhouses.
- Satyrs: Ah, the satyrs! The dances they dance, the music they make! They are the most interesting of the commoners. The Varich invite them to their celebrations, listen to their scholarly wisdom, and appreciate and join in their wild abandon. No Varich freehold would be complete without at least one satyr as house lore keeper or mentor for the fosterlings.
- Sluagh: Treacherous, slimy, cowardly traitors… what else is there to say? Since one of their kind betrayed Varich, the house has considered the sluagh their enemy. They hoard secrets within their tiny, dark hearts, whispering lies with their toothless mouths. Their secrecy and duplicity obscure and destroy patterns. They are a canker in the heart of the Dreaming, pretending to live as Seelie to gain protection from the house. The Varich would spare a Fomorian before granting mercy to one of these soft, rotting creatures smelling of mouse droppings and dust. Do you know how hard it is to make a sluagh scream? Very... but it is worth the effort.
- Trolls: To those of House Varich, trolls are known as volos. Renowned for keeping sacred oaths, they are some of the few commoners the house trusts implicitly. As different from the sluagh as they can possibly be, volos will give themselves for life so long as their loyalty is won. Although the Varich are Unseelie, they seek the loyalty of trolls from both Summer and Winter Courts. The first make uncomplicated shields and loyal servants; the second are harder to draw into service but prove more willing and flexible in times of war.
The Varich have heard that some members of their house have become creatures known as Lost Ones; nobles who refused to leave the mortal world when the Shattering occurred but chose to surround themselves in pockets of Glamour rather than take on human shells. Now these Lost Ones dwell in hidden places, cut off from both the mortal world and the Dreaming. Since Varich’s return, some of the Obtenyani, under the leadership of Wila Irynochka, have taken it upon themselves to search for these secret realms in the hope of rescuing those who have been trapped in their own dreams for centuries.
Though now a shadow rises to occlude what the house knew while in Arcadia, they remember Thallain and their terrible guises. While hordes of beasties and boggarts and goblins and ogres fell, the Thallain still surrounded Varich castles and tore at the walls. Hunting them was dangerous; not hunting them was suicidal. Some fae think they can use these monstrosities. Varich, though, recognizes that their patterns are too simple for anything other than killing and dying. Along with the Fell, they serve the Fomorians and await their masters’ call. Destroy them when possible; send them against enemies when not. They call themselves Unseelie; the Varich call them insane.
The Gallain, at least those who dwell close to the natural world, once served Varich well. They have heard, though, that these creatures also have changed since their departure. The new patterns they weave may be important to the house.
The Varich do not know if Fomorians walk upon this world now, but all patterns point to their imminent arrival. The house has heard of creatures called fomori, who may be lesser children of their great foe, though far cruder and more Banal than true Fomorians. Perhaps the Varich will fight them as practice for the coming wars.
Inanimae: Spirits of the Rus
“Our hills and homes remember us and will learn to do us homage in the dance of servant and master yet again.” – Sergei Malaruski, Grump noble of House Varich, upon his arrival.
“Abandoned, lost to the chill winds of Banality, even in our repose our anger festered and burned. Do not expect the bannikitza to bow, nor our tainted waters to come lap against the feet of our so-called masters.” – Alma, rebel bannik bathhouse spirit, upon the coming of Sergei Malaruski to his old holdings.
The Inanimae, spirits of the earth and sky, have always been Varich’s servants; their children. Many have lost their way in the Russian darkness. Their voices haunt us. Few return to the Varich fold. When the house ruled all the Russians, the land teemed with Inanimae. These spirits were part of everything for the fae: the earth, the rivers, their freeholds, and the endless taiga surrounding them. The Varich understood how to please these spirits as well as how to use them.
Many Inanimae served as household servants, gardeners, and keepers of forestlands. Some acted as guides within the Dreaming. Others stayed near the homes of Dreamers to remind them of the magical world around them and to work for those the house wished to favor. In exchange, the Inanimae received honors and gifts for their loyal service. The Kithain protected their Anchors.
When House Varich left, some Inanimae who had Anchors in the Dreaming came with them to Arcadia. However, many Inanimae were left to the mercy of the post-Shattering world and either fell into Somnolence or had their Anchors destroyed as pagan sites of worship. With the Resurgence some decades ago, the sleeping land awoke to its spirits.
Unfortunately, many of the surviving Inanimae of Russia suffer from the pollution in the land, water, and sky. Those who returned with the house are very loyal to them and will not expect the terrible reception they receive from their brothers and sisters in the Autumn World.
A Rus by Any Other Name: Varich Terms for the Inanimae
Here is a list of most of the Inanimae as members of House Varich know them.
Spirits of the hearth and home are as powerful and helpful as the size and magnificence of their Anchors, as well as the amount of respect paid to them, allows them to be. No Varich holding is complete without them, and no member of House Varich will knowingly insult these helpful spirits.
The wild spirits of Russia have suffered from the poisons poured into the water, land, and air. Some of them, particularly those with an Anchor in the Dreaming, have managed to keep themselves nearly unchanged throughout the centuries since the Shattering. The Varich do not pay as much attention to them as they do the Inanimae servants sharing their freeholds, but they do understand their power.
Whether or not these mysterious creatures were once children of the Dreaming, their lives now possess a very different pattern from those of the fae. The Varich know very little about them, though sometimes they have faint memories of their relations with them before the Shattering. What role such creatures play in the future of the house has yet to be determined.
- Upyri: Although some believe the upyri, or vampires, once stood among the ranks of the fae, others feel that what the peasants believe may be closer to the truth: that they are corpses inhabited by the unclean spirits of evil sorcerers. For centuries the witch Baba Yaga, rumored to be one of the upyri, sent nightmares into the Dreaming. Now the house rejoices to hear that she has disappeared. They have heard of others, though, who gather mortals for twisted sorcerous experiments. Do not let the upyri near you unless you carry a long stake of ash wood and a very sharp, real sword.
- Werewolves: Long ago, the Varich met some of the changing wolf peoples. The first of their kind sprang howling from Varich’s forests of pine and silver birch to become their nobility. Many of the wolf-kind work with the leshii to preserve the Varich’s lands. Some of the wolf folk even attend house celebrations to dance in honor of the changing seasons. Other wolf folk, known for their bloody claws, possess more savagery and cause Varich’s Dreamers to fear the Moon, their father. Winter hunts in pursuit of these killers has always been a favored, though dangerous sport of the house.
- Ghosts: Many sad spirits wander in the darkness of Varich’s rivers, roam through the dank mists in Varich’s forests, or scream in agony in the pits beneath Varich feet in the mossy Taiga. The house knows them. Russalka call to the Varich, water dripping from their limbs as they beg for help. Some of them are Dreamers lost to us in the purges of the followers of the crucified god. Other ghosts are new, but they wail with the same voices, with the same accusations, telling the Varich of murders and purges during the long centuries of the house’s absence. There is little the house can do for them except seek vengeance for their murders. In time, Varich tells them… in time.
- Sorcerers: Many mortals have tried to gain the power of the fae. Few have the blood of the kinain that may allow them to access Glamour and the world of the Dreaming. Some of the Varich remember tainted sorcerers fighting wars over access to power. Others followed their tortured god and chanted songs of joy over the crackling fires and screams from Varich kin. All should be approached with caution.
Upon the their return, the house noticed with great perplexity how other sidhe treat mortals. What is the point of watching humans from afar and yearning for their Glamour when it is all there for the taking? If humans created the fae from their dreams, they dreamed them as their masters. In the past the fae did not take part in most mortal doings, for they did not interest them. Why spend time in the bower with the cattle? The Varich showered their favor only on mortals who were truly passionate and artistically skilled. Still, they had many favorites and often enchanted artisans to decorate freeholds and create adornments. The house needed no servants, for the house spirits worked for them industriously and without complaint. Now the house has learned its lesson. They will watch mortals, see how others influence them, and work to bring back the worship they lost. Varich will have mortal servants, human lovers, and Dreamers as playthings. They will teach the house what they must know to claim this world as their own.
- Our Rod: The Kinain of House Varich: Although in the past the house did not think of mortals as equal to them, they had no problem with joining them in celebrations or taking them as lovers when the mood struck. Better to love someone who will not be hurt by a refusal to join with them in oaths of fidelity than to cause anger or mistrust in your own. A few possess the spark of Glamour, particularly those who kept their belief in the Varich throughout the centuries. The house shall first gather these as their servants and advisors in this modern world. So far, they have found branches in their Kinain in many places: among shamans in Siberia, with “black marketeers” (whatever that term means) in Novgorod, and among a group of pagan Lithuanian bards. Others dwell in the new lands far to the west, and the house will work quickly to discover them and claim them for their own.
Treasures of House Varich
The house has a weakness for certain items. Creations of amber and gold, devices made or decorated with a complex pattern, and luxurious furs, finely wrought swords, and unusual magical toys all appeal to the Varich. Those wishing to gain favor soon learn what gifts to bring. The treasures below are special to the house and have been given to heroes at various times in the house’s history.
- The Amber Wyrm
The Famous and the Infamous
Although the house has yet to make their mark in the modern world, they bring with them unique and vibrant individuals whose actions should soon command the attention they deserve. The house considers itself fortunate that those who lead them do so with an awareness of both their past and their future.