"I can sell you anything your heart desires. Sounds great, right? Yeah? You know what my heart desires? A world without any fucking pricetags. Get out of here, go home to your family. Whatever you think you're looking for, it's not for sale."Name:
Disillusioned djinni merchant-of-wondersSeeming:
Troll | ArtistCourt:
Charity (Ruthlessness, if Second Edition)Vice:
Envy (Kindness, if Second Edition)Attributes:
Intelligence 2, Wits 3, Resolve 2 | Strength 4, Dexterity 2, Stamina 2 | Presence 2, Manipulation 2, Composure 2Skills:
Crafts 4 (Gardening) | Athletics 3, Brawl 4, Larceny 3, Survival 1 | Empathy 4 (Oneiromancy), Persuasion 3 (Deals)Merits:
Dual Kith 3, Hollow (Size) 1Contracts:
Artifice 3, Fleeting Spring 2Mantle:
Once upon a time, there was a writer of grand ambition and bountiful desire, with a keen understanding of the heart (and what it took to bargain yet another extension or advance from increasingly unaccommodating publishers) and absolutely no talent whatsoever in his chosen medium. He dreamed vividly, but could not reproduce his imagination, and soon enough the many proud boasts he had impressed upon his fellows became torments that compelled an endless string of arguments, bar-fights, and increasing isolation. He found solace in his gardening, the gift he DID possess, though he could no more conceive of giving up his intended profession to deal in things so unadventurous they were actually rooted
than he could of cutting off his own arm. To be a tradesman like his father - unbearably crude, almost as grotesque as those low-minded swindlers who dealt in the ephemera of New Age mysticism and the interpretation of dreams. No, his was the noble path, the path above hands or heart or mind - the soul's
road belonged to the writer, and the writer alone.
So his credit suffered, both fiscal and social, and his parents threw him out and let his garden go to rot, and he fell to drinking and roughness, and the world wore on him - but he never gave up.
One day, he happened across a young woman selling flowers by the corner, and was immediately captivated - not by her beauty, though it was certainly great, but by the beauty of the central flower upon offer. It was a lotus, a thing rare in Europe and certainly unheard of in a street vendor's flower cart, and its scent filled his head with ideas that seemed to flash and crack like a thunderstorm. Ideas that, he perceived at once, could be written.
He asked its price, his voice coming to him as if from a faraway land. "Irony, indignity, and adversity," she said, and he remembers quite clearly his response: "Oh, is that all? Well I've no shortage of those already. Why I'd call it a bargain." He thought it was a joke, because he hadn't been looking at her eyes. No one ever looked at her eyes. There were other things, formalities, informalities, the tryst and the merry chase along a lonely lover's lane, all overshadowed by the intoxicating scent of the lotus. For a night, Tristan imagined that his hard times had at last come to an end.
You can probably imagine the rest.
The djinni that returned from Arcadia is blue-skinned and gold-eyed, with a shining white grin and prominent fangs etched in flowing, vaguely Arabic calligraphy. His right arm - cut away by his own hand - has been replaced with a clockwork prosthetic made of verdigrised bronze and blood-red glass, sunk into his flesh with a cruel array of silver screws. His breath, blood, and sweat partially sublimate into dark clouds within which multicolored lightning flashes through the forms of fantasies and nightmares. His Keeper was the Empress of Unbidden Lasciviousness, a thousand-eyed cobra with a woman made from diamonds as her tongue, and her realm - the Gardens of Desperate Wonder - was a ruined desert metropolis half-overtaken by jungle, wherein everyone was fed a lotus that inspired endless desire. Each captive had been given pieces of the things they needed, and chosen because they contained pieces of the things others would covet. The only way to survive was trade, compromise, and sacrifice; the only way to thrive was improvisation, manipulation, and violence. He bartered his body, made a business of bullying. He sold his dreams and his storytelling - and his pride, when he saw how little such shoddy goods were worth - and invested in making others' dreams come true. He became a tradesman like his father, and swindled the unwary with ephemera and false hope.
Eventually, Tristan sold his strong right arm for a kiss and a key, the combination of which he used to unlocked the heart of the Gardens (and its familiar Flowering guard), a dust-choked conservatory housing a singular lotus that brought satisfaction and thus freedom from the Empress' spell. Though the ancient treasures that fed its soil were as sharp and cruel as Thorns, he forced a path forward to reach the blossom - and found himself home...well, almost.
His fetch is a writer of little ambition, penning East-inspired novels glorifying asceticism and honest living. They are all wonderful successes. He's married the Flowering who bought Tristan's soul, and like Tristan shares a love of gardening, though nearly everything he touches is certain to wither and die - save nettles and roses and anything else that stings or tears, plants that follow the fetch like weeds on the wind. Tristan's left him alone, too bound up in lingering horrors to fight the impostor for his stolen life. His Hollow is the central courtyard of a crumbling castle, an overgrown pleasure garden dominated by a vast weeping willow whose roots form a one-room cottage-pavilion. The castle itself is controlled by ghost-like hobgoblins who animate heaps of silverware, books, and the occasional suit of armor, but they've proven indifferent to Tristan's occupation. Its sole entrance - up through one of the corner fountains of the courtyard - is through the bottom of a small meditation pool at the back of the dingy office he's opened since his return, where he offers dream therapy and interpretation to such clientele as are attracted to his prices and not repelled by his absence of certification.
Mechanically speaking, are we using God Machine? I've got the free .pdf, but I haven't really flipped through it yet.
It's officially Second Edition now!