Columbiana Department of Community Development: Permit SpecialistSeeming:
Mask: Wears a pair of large, thick rimmed, coke-bottle glasses. Occasionally uses a cane due to a bad knee.
Unmasked: Helene’s bestial form is something between human and avian. In place of hair, multi-colored feathers sprout from her skin and cover her entire body. Her hands and feet are almost scaly in texture and terminate in brutally sharp talons. While her hands are still arranged in a humanlike manner, her feet consist of four toes each: three pointing forward and one back. Attached to her elbows are rudimentary flight feathers which give her arms the appearance of underdeveloped wings when outstretched. Her face is likewise avian in nature: two large black beady eyes and a short, straight beak. Contracts of Fang and Talon:
1 - Tongues of Birds and Words of Wolves: Allows her to communicate with songbirds. This communication is at least partially emotional and does not necessarily require vocalization (either by the Changeling or the animal).
Catch: Before activation, the Changeling gives the animal a new name.
2 - Beast's Keen Senses: Upon activating this Clause, the Changeling takes upon the heightened sense most closely associated with her beast.
Catch: The Changeling can see or touch an animal of her associated species.
3 - Pipes of the Beastcaller: The Changeling can now summon and command any songbird. These called creatures come as quickly as they are able and perform any command given them to the best of their ability and understanding
Catch: The Changeling asks the animal to guard or observer changeling's dwelling.
4 - Tread of the Swift Hooves: This Clause allows her to take on her beast's form of locomotion and improves her ability to move. Allows her to jump and glide.
Catch: The character is touching an animal of her associated species.
5 - Wearing the Bear's Shirt: The Changeling can now take on the physical form of the creature she is bound to and bears with it all appropriate advantages and disadvantages. She can no longer speak a human tongue and is beyond her intelligence is indistinguishable from a typical member of her associated species. Clothing and small objects close to the skin meld into the form with the Changeling and are depicted as slight coloration variances in the flesh or fur.
Catch: The Changeling is in the creature's natural habitat and touching (or near enough to touch) the creature she is becoming.Contracts of Smoke and Mirror:
1 - Nevertread: This Clause allows the Changeling to leave behind, depending on circumstance, either no trace of his passing or deceptive traces. For example, the traces left behind are misleading, footprints resemble that of an animal or the brush in heavy woods close behind the Changeling to leave no indication of their passage.
Catch: The changeling is barefoot when using this Clause.
2 - Skinmask: The Changeling supernaturally transforms his flesh to resemble that of another so as to hide his own identity. This only affects one aspect of the Changeling's form (i.e. only his face or only his hands) and must be used to resemble an actual person the Changeling knows.
Catch: The Changeling holds an item belonging to the person he impersonates.
3 - Transfigure the Flesh: This ability allows the Changeling to alter the size and shape of his body as he wishes. He can make himself taller or shorter, skinnier or fatter, or any other variation in size/shape of the body. This ability can not alter size/shape by more than 50% of the Changeling's original size. (i.e. a six foot tall changeling cannot become larger than nine feet tall or smaller than three feet tall).
Catch: The changeling is wearing clothes obviously too big or too small.Personality:
Helene is stern, unyielding, and all around unpleasant. Her experiences in Arcadia have left her untrusting and suspicious of people in general. The very definition of pessimism, she will latch onto anything if it gives her an excuse to complain. Even among friends she is biting, cold, and cynical. For the most part Helene keeps to herself, avoiding the company of everyone except her dear friend Helen.
Having been denied agency for so long, she holds onto any scrap of power she’s given and wields it with an iron fist. Unfortunately for the citizens of Columbiana, this means getting approval for building permits and zoning changes is a colossal pain in the ass. If dealing with someone she dislikes she will find any possible means to make their experience as unpleasant as possible. On the rare occasion that flattery and good manners move her, she will pull strings and make sure paperwork goes through without any snags.
Helene has found solace in her faith and dutifully attends church every week. Despite possessing the gift of song, she no longer sings in public out of fear it might draw the Gentry to her. She is fiercely independent and dislikes both asking for help and receiving unwanted help. History:
Helene was born with talent and a grim determination to make something of herself. Even with the deck stacked against her, she aspired to make it to Broadway. It was a lofty goal for a girl from the small town of Lafayette, Louisiana. Her singing career began in her church choir and blossomed during her high school years. After scrimping and saving she left home at the age of eighteen and made for New York. Casting for a women of color was hard to come by, but Helene’s talent and ambition landed her a role in “A Chorus Line” during its opening run on Broadway.
Everything was perfect for the first few weeks until one night when Helene received an invitation to a dinner party from some mysterious, wealthy patron known only as Eletea. Thinking nothing of it (because theatre folk are known for being a bit eccentric) Helene accepted the invitation.
The night of the dinner party Helene arrived at a dilapidated brownstone. A quick check of the invitation showed the address was correct, but no one appeared to be home. When Helene went to knock she found the door ajar. The faint sound of music drew her in and as she walked through the foyer the building changed around her. The dingy, neglected rooms twisted and stretched into exquisite vaulted ceilings trimmed in gold. The decaying wooden floors turned to polished marble under her feet.
Before she could find the source of the music, she was intercepted by the issuer of the invitation, Eletea. Her patron was more beautiful than words could describe with skin of flawless alabaster, eyes glittering with the radiance of stars, and hair like tangible sunlight. Eletea took Helene by the hand and guided her through an empty dining room. On a dais at the end of the room was a great, gilded bird cage. Eletea ushered Helene in and urged her to sing.
Helene hesitated but obeyed.
Her hymn lasted only a handful of seconds before Eletea cut her short, face contorted in disgust. With a wave of Eletea’s hand, Helene’s features began to twist and warp. In the end she looked more songbird than human. Helene was urged to sing again. It was different this time, a sweet and utterly ethereal sound. Helene was horrified, but Eletea was finally satisfied.
Once Helene understood what had happened (as best as one can understand the Gentry) she tried to rebel, but Eletea quickly squashed all hope of her new pet’s escape. Helene existed in this manner, confined to her gilded cage and forced to entertain for what felt like an eternity. Her only company was that of one of the fairest coincidentally named Helen. Known together as “The Helens” they took to each other quickly and were, when Eletea allowed it, inseparable.
But it wasn’t meant to last. Eventually Eletea’s interest waned and Helen was cast out. Unable to bear the thought of leaving their dearest friend behind, the Helens hatched a plan. Helene, in the shape of a tiny songbird, was pocketed by Helen as she escaped through the hedge. They arrived in Columbiana shortly after.
Years had passed since Helene’s disappearance and she knew that even if she tried to go back to her old life, there would be nothing left for her. Instead she was content to lay low, hoping to avoid detection by Eletea or her compatriots. She managed to secure herself and Helen jobs in the local government. With so much gloom and red tape surrounding them, Helene was certain they wouldn’t attract any undue attention and has done everything in her power to keep it that way.