The Year of Frozen Iron
Fairest Dancer, Acrobat
Physical traits: p.
- 4 Dex
2 strength and stamina
Mental traits: Average intelligence, good wits
Social traits: Pretty average across the board
Adequate, but not impressive drive and computer skills
Very good melee skill
Contracts:Exceptional skill in contracts of Dream, one dot in contracts of Separation
This is an incomplete patchwork of Ozzy’s backstory. Are the gaps due to his Creator having run out of time before the campaign, or has the Hedge itself torn holes in Ozzy’s biography? No one knows…(in any case, I figured incomplete may be better than nothing.)
Ozzy Swift was a bit of a strange child. Not in any supernatural way, just…strangely driven to accomplish whatever he set his mind to. The greatest example of this is that at age 7 his parents took him to see Cirque du Soleil. He was enthralled, and decided that that’s what he wanted to do with his life. Unlike most children his age though, he actually set out to accomplish it, practicing day after day, month after month, and year after year. By the time he’s 12 years old, his parents are truly worried about him; he’s not taking his school work seriously, and its not like he can actually make money as an acrobat (and even if he does, he’s got nothing to fall back on if he doesn’t get an education). At their wits end with a willful 12 year old, they forbid him from practicing until his failing grades turn into A’s and B’s. Instead, he runs away to join the circus (as cliche as that is). A month later, he caves and sends them a letter telling them his whereabouts, along with his first paycheck to prove that there’s more than one path to success in life. They’re so relieved to have him back that they compromise and let him continue his acrobatics as long as he finishes high school. He agrees.
During this period of his life, he begins to have dreams of a beautiful young woman. Her name is Selene, and she becomes a common companion in his dreams. The dreams where she walks beside him are wonderful and carefree, and for the next two years he has strange and wonderful adventures with the girl while he sleeps. But in his waking life he becomes increasingly conflicted about his dream companion. The dreams feel so right, but he knows that she must be nothing more than a figment of his imagination. He feels embarrassed that he can’t relate to anyone his own age in waking life. Later on, Ozzy will think back on this time and be embarrassed by his “weakness”, but this period of life can be a turbulent one and in this respect Ozzy was normal. For a time, the pressure to “fit in” and be normal begins to smother his pursuit of his dream. He spends less time after school training, and more time with people his own age. At night though, he still dreams of her. Through his new friends, he discovers a sweet little solution called “downers”, and with the help of these little blue pills he falls into a deep and dreamless sleep more often than not.
[Something happens to put Ozzy back on the path to his ambitions. Maybe a friend of his dies, and reminds him that life is finite and he’s pissing his away. Maybe he tries a new cocktail of drugs and ends up having an especially vivid dream where he meets Selene again, and she reaches out to him, or he realizes how far he’s fallen. In any case, we’ll skip to the next bit and fill this in later.]
When he’s 16, he’s too eager to pursue his dream, and auditions for Cirque du Soleil without his parent’s knowledge, and gets in. His parents are furious, and demand that he honor their agreement and finish school. They have a falling out, and he leaves with Cirque. Despite the profound loss he feels for the loss of contact with his parents, this time is the most fulfilling of his life.
[He also meets Selene in real life during this time. I’d like to fill this in with a bit more detail when I get the chance, but with the game campaign approaching I’d like to give you the broad strokes. Anyway, the interesting thing is that not only was she not a figment of his imagination, but she’s been dreaming of him too. As they compare notes, they discover that they’ve actually been sharing dreams. Selene and Ozzy become immediate and intimate friends, and their work brings them closer still.]
In the company of the elite performers that form Cirque du Soleil, he truly begins to shine, and just a year later he is cast as the costar of a new, Fairy themed show. His role is the Fae King, and ironically enough he falls deeply in love with Selene, who plays the Fae Queen. For his 18th birthday, she invites him for a romantic picnic in a secluded spot for a “birthday surprise”. She confesses that she’s developed powerful feelings for him, and ever so subtly weaves a verbal contract between them: his heart belongs to her for the rest of his life, and in return he gets something of equal value to be named when he chooses. He agrees, and she tricks him into following her into the Hedge. Urged on Selene’s playful voice, and later by her calls for help and distress, he charges headlong through the tearing thorns and into Arcadia.
[Tie up search for Selene]
Ozzy is met by Paul Twiceborn, a servant of Agrimita, who bids him welcome to his Lord’s home. Ozzy trusts him, and follows. He is greeted by Agrimita’s owl-like seneschal who provides him with a sumptuous feast, luxurious bath, and shelter for the night. Upon exiting Ozzy’s room for the night, the seneschal says “Goodnight m’lord…” and then, very quietly “…I’m sorry.” Ozzy is made uneasy by the parting words, but the soft down of the bed is a powerful soporific. He falls into a deep and dreamless sleep.
He awakens suddenly in the night, just as a nearby clock slowly tolls midnight. Moonlight streams into his room, and a chill breeze stirs the diaphanous curtains. He shivers, and tries to rise to close the window. To his horror, he finds that thick vines have crept over him during the night, rendering him completely immobile. Measured footsteps approach, and torchlight precedes the seneschal’s owl-like visage into the room. He comes to the Ozzy’s bedside and clears his throat. “Sir,” he says primly “please accept my apologies for your…restraints. I’m afraid it’s quite necessary, lest you hurt yourself.”
“[Ozzy responds, but exact dialogue will have to be inserted when Ozzy’s character is better established].” The seneschal continues. “You see sir, you made a pact with an illusion whom you mistook for Ms. Selene, and since this illusion is merely an extension of my Lord’s will, the oath passes to him.” [Ozzy hears a scratching noise in the corner of the room, near the window] “…and tonight my Lord intends to collect his due.” The seneschal looks uncomfortable for a moment and averts his eyes. “He also bids me to inform you that he is ‘a just and honorable being’ and that he will only take what has been given freely. I know it’s hard to imagine now, but that’s good news sir. It means that you should survive the process. You did pledge your heart, but not your life, yes?”
The scratching noise grows nearer, and a creature emerges from the shadows, creeping slowly across the wall. The thing is the size of a man, its skeletal body gleaming bone white in the moonlight. Elongated limbs stretch across the wall as it crawls slowly toward him with a “tick, tick, tack,” With sad eyes, the seneschal looks down at him. “I know it doesn’t mean much sir, but for what it’s worth…I’ll stay with you until it’s over.” Ozzy screams in horror as the creature climbs over the headboard. Claws like scalpels prick his body as it climbs atop him, and with a cutting, rending agony in his chest, Ozzy loses the first piece of his humanity.
Side note: Ozzy’s Keeper behaves radically different depending on whether it’s daytime or night time. During the day he takes what he desires, but during the day, he plays by “rules” to get what he wants. For now, these two aspects are called “Jon” and “Agrimita”. This aspect of the story may get altered before the campaign.
Ozzy gets little time to recover from his ordeal, and a potent concoction from the Brewers has Ozzy on his feet again. He is brought before his new Master, and his new duties are explained. He also learns that without the protection of the True Fae, he cannot receive sustenance, quench his thirst, etc. For the rest of his Durance, Ozzy entertains his Keeper (Jon-aspect) as a tumbler, dancer, juggler, and served whatever whim crosses Jon’s mind. During the day, he does not sleep unless it is to act in dreams. A thousand days of entertaining the Fae in body and mind bleed into one another, a world of constant motion, grace, death, and beauty. Through all of it, Ozzy performs well enough to live another day. His haggard body is kept alive by vile potions and the occasional ministrations of his Keeper’s boney, predatory chirgeon (the one that removed his heart. The palace staff swear that IT was human once, but it has been too long in this realm, and Farie magic runs deep in its twisted frame). As the days and the nights drag on, his spirit and his vitality fall prey to the constant assaults and dramas of his dream entertainment. His will to live is sapped as the nights drag on and on, using the skills he loves so dearly to entertain the crowd that stole his life away. Three years into his Durance, he is on the brink of death. The only thing keeping him alive is a fear, and even death is becoming a more and more appealing alternative to his hellish existence.
[I still need to work this next part out, but somehow Selene, whom Ozzy had not seen since coming to Arcadia, finds Ozzy in his hour of need. They reconnect, and Selene helps Ozzy escape. Her role in his freedom may be partly physical, but the most instrumental thing she does is rekindle Ozzy’s will to live.
Ozzy never receives a replacement heart from his Keeper (because that would allow him to flee Arcadia). Instead, Ozzy forges his own freedom by pulling his heart out of his dreams (Dreams contract, level 4, exceptional success).With his heart recovered (in its own little box), Ozzy and Selene flee the castle of their Keeper. Ozzy gives the heart to Selene, whom he still loves, and they escape through the Hedge together. They become separated though, and the Hedge tears at his memory. He emerges exhausted, confused, wounded, and with a desperate feeling that he’s lost something vital, longing for someone he can’t quite remember.
As of late Winter, Ozzy has recovered enough memories of Arcadia to recall his lost love. Discovering that she is still in the clutches of their tyrannical Master, he embarks on a seemingly hopeless quest:
Through the Thorns.
Into the Land of Madness, Pain, and Beauty.
To steal that which is most precious
From the heart of a malevolent God’s realm.