Viva la Vida
King: Hungry Tatarind Lalonde
The Antler Crown, the Emerald Court, the Court of Desire.
Bare branches will again bear fruit. This belief is the common element in members of the Spring Court. Just as all changelings, these Court members have had their lives ripped from them by their one-time Keepers. The Spring Court exists for changelings who refuse that loss, choosing to replace it with something new. They deny despair in preference of hope, and together they keep that hope alive where alone it would falter. Their lives are not over, and they intend to prove it — to the Fae, and to themselves.
Mother Susan is the alleged founder of the Antler Crown. After returning to Earth from Faerie, her dreams of motherhood were shattered by infertility. Contracts she forged with other entities enabled her to have a child again, but she would not keep it. Many believe that Mother Susan gave up her infant to Spring in order to seal the pact that founded the Court. They honor her as one who sacrificed her spring so that others might have theirs, though many question what could have driven her to such an extreme. Some say it was guilt, and they wonder what she might have done to first have her child.
This is how the members of the Spring Court defend themselves against the Fae. These Court members will not be silent, pain-wracked victims of their tormentors. These Lost choose to exult in the now and guiltlessly retie themselves to the human world around them. They surround themselves with the beauty their time in Arcadia showed them, proving that their joy is not trapped in that other place forever. Far from a denial of the situation, this is a deliberate attack on the Fae. Changelings of the Emerald Court fulfill their own desires, and do it with style, out of spite and pride, to diminish the power the Gentry hold over them.
If it were easy, every changeling would do it. Instead, there is an entire Court devoted to the idea. The Court of Desire serves as a support group for its members as much as a governing body. For every refugee who truly embraces the concept of living well in order to live at all, there are two who play the game and hide their shame. Being among others struggling the same way strengthens all of them, helps them go on. The reinforcement the Court provides is the reason it and many of its members have survived so long. So, what members of the Spring Court do, they do with style. They must enjoy life and steal Faerie’s thunder, which they do by making their existences beautiful as well as enjoyable. Changelings of this Court seek the most poetic aspect of any effort, from poignant stanzas and cleverly appropriate bargains to something as simple as walking gracefully to the bus.
Bearers of the Emerald Mantle practice equal elegance in their interactions with others. Their wit and eloquence naturally attract allies and acquaintances whom, in a pinch, they can call upon or manipulate when necessary. This quickly became and remains another of the Court’s tools in its effort to remain free.
The results are subtle, but effective. One motley spends its evenings in a nightclub, drinking in the thirst and lust and the slaking of each. It can also rouse the clubbers to riot to conceal their escape. Others sneak into office parties across their city, riding the white-collar workers’ one night of release, but they always have friends to hide them. From this, changelings of the Spring Court camouflage themselves against these backgrounds. Hunting Fae cannot find changelings as easily when the prey doesn’t have that feeling of loss that most changelings cannot shake off.
And when True Fae grow close, the Court gathers. The monarch arranges soirees to delay or deflect the wrath of the Fae. There is a metaphysical power in unbridled joy that turns away captors seeking their slaves. There is such strength in being able to honestly laugh in the face of terror that it slows or stops the hunting Gentry, who wonder if these are their quarry after all.
Changelings in a Spring Court pursue their every action with elegant grace, and they refuse to neglect their own pleasures. Many of them are very serious about seeing their own desires met, to the point where people might call them narcissistic egoists. Few admit that a Spring courtier has a very good reason to pursue his own interests, and that that pursuit requires an iron will and a self-control to rival any recovering addict.
The ideal of beautifully living for today is very attractive, especially to escapees from the courts of Faerie. But few changelings have the right personality to live in the moments of their own creation — so much of what they are is in the past, decided for them by minds decidedly unconcerned with fulfilling the changeling’s desires. They still have not escaped the Arcadian prison, though they walk free on Earth. Such people do not belong in the Spring Court.
The Court seeks those who want to deny the consequences of the past. Rather than hide from it or stand against it, they choose to leave their troubles behind them and forge something new and distinctly theirs in the “new” world of Earth. They are pioneers and explorers on the experiential landscape, always seeking a new pleasure because moving any more slowly means the Fae will find them.
A proper member of the Spring Court is devoted to meeting her own desires and doing so elegantly, but also to helping other members meet their desires. A changeling who can not just emulate Spring’s rebirth but help carry it to others is one who has the Court’s respect. A courtly Knight proclaims his love for the maiden in every artfully careless step and revels in it, but it is better if his proclamation gives the maiden the opportunity to gently swoon and become ravished just as she desires. A changeling scientist constructs her lab such that every Bunsen burner and bubbling flask speaks volumes about the sanity she delights in pretending is lost, but it is better if her research assistant has the opportunity to thematically rail against her madness before storming out the door in secret joy.
Anyone is welcome to join the Spring Court, but members are judgmental. A changeling without the same affectation for beauty as the others is quickly made to feel as if she doesn’t fit in. Unless (or until) she shows some special poetry in either her work or play, she will be only on the periphery of the Court and unable to advance.
Some changelings of this Court suffer strong feelings of guilt. What gives them the right to see to their own wants while others suffer? No mere human may have endured as much as one of the changelings, but there are other fae who have. This question is most common among members whose hearts are changing, and will soon lead them away from the Spring Court.
Some observances are common among many, if not most, Spring Courts. Best known is the Spring Revel, a region-wide party the Court commands each time power transfers to the Spring Court from the Winter Court. Changelings of all Courts look forward to these celebrations, as the Court of Desire arranges locations where the fae can be private and makes a special effort to see that at least one desire of every attendee, changeling, human guest, or other, is met. The best monarchs use the opportunity to demonstrate the intended themes of their reigns without being so gauche as to state them. Members of the Spring Court, at least, believe that the Revel deters Fae incursion.
Spring courtiers constantly compete to make the most subtly eloquent and audaciously beautiful statement in their individual bailiwicks. This is no poetry slam or lyrical comparison. It is a competition practiced in all media across a Court’s jurisdiction, and a composition’s worth is measured by the response among humans. The Spring King or Queen usually judges. She determines which member of the Court performed best (taking into account gamesmanship and honor, the wild cards) and bestows a simple honor or prize once each year, usually during the Spring Revel. Arranging a building’s skeletal structure to look like a rose growing into full bloom as it is built is an example of one victorious entry.
Every year, many Spring Courts hold a Homecoming. Some members of the Court (or other Courts) try to rename the party to something not used by academic institutions for their sporting events, but the attempts always fail. The name is too perfect. The Homecoming usually takes place on the date of the Spring monarch’s escape from Faerie, but it is occasionally rescheduled to honor a particular changeling. Everyone is invited, and they are all expected to “let loose.” Surprisingly, most of the guests actually do.
The Antler Crown displays itself extravagantly, holding little back. The Court’s colors are the vibrant blues and greens of its season — the green of new growth and the pale, infinite blue of an unclouded sky. Courtiers occasionally make use of the lighter tints of winter to signify the transition. Symbols common in Spring Court heraldry include an antlered crown (naturally), dawn, spring flowers or buds, the eastern direction, ribbons, a rapier and main gauche, a lance, the imagery of wings, a fox or rabbit, a robin or sparrow, a well-maintained phonograph or vinyl record, a lace handkerchief and a needle, among others.
The Mantle of a Spring courtier reflects the growth of life and hope within her. Mantle 1 to 3 manifests in a character’s seeming as something fresh and rejuvenated. Fragrant drafts of spring air are common, and images of slowly growing plants are far from unknown. Mantle 4+ affects the character’s surroundings with the fecundity of her seeming. Flowers grow up where she steps and things appear more lively.
A member of the Spring Court with Mantle 1+ is socially smooth and adds one die to Socialize rolls. A character with Mantle 3+ easily rejuvenates those connections she once lost and purchases Allies and Contacts at reduced experience cost. She pays one-half the normal cost for those Merits. A character with Mantle 5 rarely makes faux pas; when meeting someone for the first time or otherwise making a first impression, the character’s player may re-roll her relevant Social dice pool if she desires. She must keep the second roll.
Lust. Hunger. Greed. These and more fall under the broad blanket of “desire.” The Spring Court claims the greatest connection to this emotion by right of the Court’s pact, and few deny that the courtiers make it a part of themselves.
A member of the Court of Desire luxuriates in her signature emotion any place she can find it: The child in the supermarket who can’t have a cookie. The dog on the street, staring hungrily at its owner’s pastrami. The older man walking with his grandchildren and longing for a rest. Some Lost relieve these desires, slipping the kid a snack or bumping the sandwich onto the ground. If doing so creates a greater story or meets more wants — the mother is upset at the well-meaning stranger usurping her authority, so she forgets herself and allows her other child to have some bubblegum — so much the better.
Many changelings find positions in human communities that provide close views of human desires. One owns a strip club, while the friends in her motley serve as bartender, waitresses, and janitor. A changeling organizes and leads a two-week summer camp, knowing the sort of drama that runs rampant there. Members of the Spring Court are quick to organize celebrations, from block parties to gallery openings. Some become purveyors of alcohol or marijuana (occasionally to minors), letting the relaxed inhibitions help people reach for what they want.
Spring courtiers are careful to recognize their own desires. To do otherwise would be a failure, because a pleasure unknown is a pleasure unfulfilled. Members also try to be aware of what others want, especially their comrades-in-arms. Allowing a fellow refugee to suffer despair is as much a failure as despairing yourself. A few changelings take it further, considering it their duty to ensure their companions meet their desires.
Some members of the Court spend their time seeking new pleasures in an attempt to experience everything and deny themselves nothing; their less frenetic comrades often stick with the few pleasures they prefer, though often only after a period of searching for what those pleasures are. There are those who consider the continued search for fulfillment just another part of the escape that began with a furious, fearful race through the Hedge. Others think of it as their reward for making it this far.