Creatures of the Shadow Realm

The Crow King


   

Crows and ravens have a great many legendary associations with the Tower of London. It's said that the head of Bran the Blessed, whose name means "Blessed Crow", lies buried beneath the William the Conquerer's White Tower, and as long as it remains there, England will be safe from invasion. Another legend - or perhaps a variant of the same one - claims that if the ravens ever leave the Tower, England will fall.

It's likely that the spirit that now calls itself the Crow King was born, at least in part, from those legends. It claims to be an ancient being, but there are few reliable references to it before the ninteenth century. A few of the more scholarly Uratha have noted that the appearance one of its favourite manifested forms - an armoured Celtic warrior - owes more to the romantic imaginations of Victorian antiquarians than the historic Celts. It may well be that the Crow King, at least in its modern incarnation, was born from the jingoism and patriotism of Victorian Britain at its imperial height.

In any case, the Crow King's preoccupations seem to match the legends. It's obsessed with safeguarding the land from invasion - which makes it a de facto ally of the Uratha, since it sees the spirit world as a "foreign" land whose inhabitants must be kept out. Several packs, indeed, have persuaded it to become their totem, a valuable alliance since the Crow King has a considerable amouunt of power. Like any crow, it's also obsessed with bright, shiny objects, although it doesn't care a whit for their monetary worth - to it, a polished piece of glass is better than an uncut diamond. Its minions, lesser crow-spirits, fly all over the city, ferreting out information, which the King will sometimes trade for a suitably bright bauble. The Uratha occasionally try to take advantage of this to bargain with it for useful information.It's easily contacted, since it claims the Tower of London - one of the capital's most popular tourist spots - as its domain.


The Phobovore



The Phobovore is an Abyssal parasite which, as it's name implies, feeds on fear. It's not sentient, displaying intelligence no greater than a fairly smart dog, but it's cunning and tenacious.

Once summoned from the Abyss, it needs a living host to survive. In theory, any creature able to experience a discernable amount of fear will suffice, but it prefers humans if possible.

The Phobovore's reproductive and feeding cycles are peculiar. It drives its host to engage in behaviours which cause fear in those witnessing it. The purpose of this is twofold; firstly the fear provides the creature with food, but secondly the behaviours allow the creature to "spawn". Its larval "eggs" are fear-related memeplexes, implanted into the minds of the witnesses by the behaviour of the host.

The "eggs" remain largely dormant in the minds of their unwitting hosts - although they cause the most appalling nightmares as as side-effect of their presence, potentially lethal to those who suffer from conditions such as a weak heart. The trigger for their development into full-blown Phobovores can come from two sources. First, if the parent creature is killed, it sends out a telepathic "cry" to its offspring, essentially "activating" them. (Banishing a "parent" back to the Abyss also seems to trigger this reaction, although this isn't something the Conspiracy has ever actually tried). Secondly, if the parent becomes sated with fear, it seems to instinctively conclude that there is sufficient food available to feed its offspring, and so sends out the call for them to awaken and develop.

The Phobovore in its active state doesn't harm the host directly beyond influencing him towards fear-inducing behaviours of some kind. In a dormant state, however, the nightmares are an almost inevitable consequence. Normally even a mentally healthy human cannot carry a dormant Phobovore for more than a few months without being driven irreversibly insane, or dying from stress or suicide induced by the endless night-time fears. If the host of a dormant Phobovore dies, the larval parasite dies with him, or her.

The Bosworth Conspiracy long ago found a way to keep a fully-developed Phobovore in a dormant state in the mind of the host, but this high turnover amongst the hosts was a problem. The males of the Bosworth bloodline, for reasons the Conspiracy has never been able to discover, seems to have a unique ability to contain a "tranquillised" mature Phobovore without being driven insane, although they do suffer dreadful dreams as a result of its presence. The females of the line, for some equally mysterious reason, seem unable to become hosts at all. (Actually, although the Conspiracy is completely unaware of it, the Bosworths carry a trace of demonic blood in their veins, like the Hunters of the Luciferge).

Consequently, the Conspiracy have for centuries used the Bosworths as carriers for the original source creature. Normally, a mature Phobovore dies with its host, but the Conspiracy have developed a complex rote (Mind 5, Prime 5, Life 3), to transfer the entity from one generation of Bosworths to the next.

Unfortunately, the Phobovore's dormancy is sporadic. At unpredictable intervals, it will wake up and implant new spawn in any innocent bystanders nearby. The Conspiracy's standard policy on these unfortunates is to murder them so that the spawn they carry never get a chance to develop, but however closely they monitor the Bosworths, they can never feel sure that they've got them all, meaning that the original creature's death could unleash a plague of fear-inducing and fear-eating Abyssal parasites on London.

However, in controlled circumstances, the Conspiracy have also found the Phobovore a useful weapon. Mages aren't immune to being "implanted", and the larval "eggs" are very hard to spot if you aren't a Master of Prime - so any troublesome Mages can be quietly driven insane in a way that shows no marks of Mind magic to implicate the Conspiracy.

The Conspiracy tells its junior members that the Phobovore was originally summoned in the seventeenth century to fight Archbishop Simon Mercadier and his vampires. This isn't a complete lie, as Mercadier's control over London was the conspirators' initial target. Having secured the capital, however, they fully intended to use the creature to dominate Mage society across the British Isles by using it to assasinate any potential rivals.

They didn't realize until it was too late that its spawning would escape their control. The creature's ability to create others of its kind forced them to use it far more sparingly than they had originally intended, in case it - and its offspring - should escape their control. Although many Mages have died from Phobovore infestation over the past few centuries, almost always to the conspirators' advantage, they are a long way from the complete control over Mage society which they once dreamed of.

A newly "hatched" Phobovore is relatively vulnerable. It needs a rich diet of fear to grow in its first, crucial few minutes, and drives its host almost insane with terror in order to achieve this. Frequently, the host dies from the experience, especially if he or she suffers from a weak heart. If this happens, the Phobovore dies with its host, but the creatures seem like some normal earthly species in that they spawn a large number of offspring, most of which don't typically survive. Possibly the "evolutionary" function of this (assuming that an environment as utterly alien as the Abyss has some kind of analogue of evolution), is to ensure that any Phobovores which do survive have hosts strong enough to sustain them for at least a few months.

While the larva is growing in those first crucial few minutes, it can theoretically be starved to death if emotional manipulation magic is sued to calm the host's fear. It can also be exorcised with Spirit magic (or equivalent powers used by other supernatural beings)

Like any other Abyssal spirit, the Phobovores have a Ban, which is capable of wiping them all out, mature and implanted "eggs" alike. The nature of the Ban is only known to the leaders of the conspiracy. However, legend has it that the ritual for summoning the entity was contained in a grimoire written by Dr. John Dee, Elizabeth I's court astrologer. Supposedly, the grimoire also recorded the exact nature of the Ban, but it has been lost for centuries. Some rumours hint that it fell into the hands of the Kindred in the early eighteenth century, but the identity of the Kindred concerned is unknown even to the conspiracy's leaders.


"Scoot"



Alyna Sirota's was a nightmare the moment she was conceived. Her parents were members of a Satanic cult and intended to raise her to be a human sacrifice just before she reached puberty. A age 10 she was sacrificed, but before the ritual could be completed the cultists were interrupted by an American PI. The man sabotaged the spell, and though the demon did materialize, it was more interested in the cultists than it was in the girl.

The ritual did not leave Alyna unscathed. As a result of the abuse done to her, she evolved from a ghost to a spirit. She's become close to the human who saved her soul, and now seeks justice for those hurt the way Jason Cash got justice for her.

With Scoot's metamorphosis, the girl has changed and evolved into something most humans would consider alien. While her outward behavior does mirror a ten year old girl, she is no longer able to grasp certain abstract concepts. While she might be driven to help Jason bring a rapist to justice, the idea of stopping the rape from occurring would be completely alien to her.

Despite this, she is extremely close to Jason Cash, and he is very protective of her. The two are close, and work well together, an unfortunate fact for anyone who falls into their sights.