AKA: The Hierophant, The Crown's Custodian, The Child Queen
Former Kingdom: Crystal Heril
Followers' Epithets: Lightbearers, Heirs, Brats (derogatory)
Come on! Just a little bit more! You can do it! I'm leading you, and you don't want to let me down!
Yeah, see, I was just a 13-year old, wandering ignorant and doing silly things. But then I started having these odd dreams, and I found I could do these strange things that I could never before. I was really scared at first, but this really pretty lady with silver eyes told me about what I was, and how the Light had chosen me to lead it, how it was destiny. Everyone's just got to work together, and follow my orders, and we can beat the Darkness do it forever. I believe in you, you see, so that means you have to believe in yourself. It's your duty to fight for the Light.
And when we rebuild the Kingdom, everything won't just be okay again, it'll be better.
The Crown's Custodian is an enigma. Those who have seen her sometimes describe a silver-haired woman, with eyes as bright as the full moon and an infectious crescent-grin of a smile. But most often they say she looks like the one she meets, their chiral twin... apart from her grin and her eyes, which are always silver. They say she makes a body of mirrors from ancient manor houses, of glass from sky, of moonlight and water and silver, and walks among mankind, looking for Princesses of unusual talent and drive and skill and will. They say she courts the Cat, the elusive patron of the Embassy to Fate. They say she's looking for the True Heir to the Kingdom.
Although the Queen of Mirrors is reckoned as one of the Twilight Queens by the Radiant Queens, this is not such a universal opinion among the Enlightened on Earth. The Crown's Custodian certainly rejects such a title, and in fact claims the so-called Radiant Queens to be nothing more than echoes, memories of Queens. In some areas, Princes and Princesses of Mirrors are welcome among the Radiant, for there is a desperation for allies, and far too many among the Radiant hold dual allegiance, not seeing the contradiction in such split loyalties. Some are thankful that the followers of Tears and Storms cannot seem to do the same, while others view that as the true cancerous nature of Mirrors showing through, reflecting and stealing the magnificence of others, while contributing nothing themselves.
Darker secrets lurk within the heart of Mirrors, though. It has been noted that sometimes the psyches of her followers are as fragile as the glass and silver that she is named for, that they lack the resilience of the other followers of the Light. Some blame the stresses that the Heirs impose on themselves, the constant self-expectations, while others suspect something darker, that gazing into a mirror too long, and, worse, modelling yourself after it, cannot be good for a mind.
Tales from Behind the MirrorEdit
None are ever invited to the realm of the Hierophant Queen, save each Prince and Princess of Mirrors who visit but once in their dreams, when she reveals their future to them. The Last Empress may sit in the Heart of the Darkness, weeping as the voices of her hidden city wash over her, and the Seraphic General may ebb and flow to the hate of men, but the Hierophant is self-cursed to be alone, in her tower of reflections as she gazes out beyond the edges of eternity, searching the future. No eyes save hers gaze upon the secrets hidden in the Hall of Future Reflections, which surrounds and protects her inner sanctum. No other living soul has looked into the Lunargent Speculum, which once stood in the courtyard to her temple-palace, for all those pure of heart to gaze into and see glimpses of their own future, joys to be enjoyed and terrors to be prevented. And what is within her personal quarters, where the motifs of silver and mirrors are broken to show her innermost heart, is completely unknown, unseen even in the dream-flickers that have mapped out clues of her hidden place. According to some readings of Prophecies, there may be hidden paths within the Dreamlands for a wandering Noble to wander that lead to the Queen's Realm, for "... in quicksilver chance lies the Edge and the Sleep, and the Heart Turned Without may find the Lady of Reflections within her recursions by following the smile of the rainbow." If this is true, there have been no confirmed reports of anyone ever meeting the Queen of Mirrors within her hidden place, save her followers - and they do not return to it.
Instead, the Queen of Mirrors contacts those who serve her and those who she would speak with by other means. To those who have caught her eye, every reflective surface is a means of communication. Like a fleeting ghost she takes the form of the reflections, whose eyes gleam silver, and who talk in the voice of the mimicked. Those reflections are bound to the mirrors, though, and when she must risk herself in a Darkened world - and she does not like to do that often - she can weave herself a false body. She casts neither shadow nor reflection nor does her voice echo, and like her servitor-priests she can wear many faces. In that form she wanders the world, observing and sometimes acting - though the false body is little more potent than a mortal, only a tiny fragment of her imperial might - and though she does not like to interfere for both fear of Darkness and ruining her own prophecies, there have been times when she has broken her self-imposed restriction. The destruction of a false body does not kill her, but it has been observed to weaken her capacity to act in the real world in the short term, and so she does not often take risks - not if there is another way.
The Philosophy of Mirrors is a simple ideal: an ideal of self exultation that reflects a Princess's own light back at her, dazzling her eyes so that she may be spared the painful sights of Sensitivity.
The Mandate of LightEdit
It's all in the name: Princess. The Lightbringers know that as royalty they possess the divine right of queens. No earthly authority is above them for they derive their mandate from the Light itself.
Modesty is a False VirtueEdit
A Blossoming is not a random occurrence. It's a rare event that only affects the best of humanity and bestows ability beyond mortal men and women. Trying to be just another of the masses is neither honest nor helpful. No matter the circumstances, one of the Enlightened should use her natural brilliance to take the lead. Anything less is a waste of their talents and a disservice to everyone who is depending on them. It is their duty to take charge, and therefore it is the duty of everyone else to acknowledge that duty, and aid them in that goal. They're only trying to help, after all.
Hard Choices Imply You're Not Looking Hard EnoughEdit
Throughout her life every Princess will come across a situation which seems hopeless. No matter what she does someone is going to get hurt and all she can do is accept responsibility, take tough choices and look for the least of many evils. To a Noble of Mirrors this is defeatism and laziness of the worst order. Of course there is a good solution! It is their duty to never accept defeat, never look for the least-evil outcome but instead to throw everything they have into the search for a solution without sacrifice. The very idea that they accept the death of one person to save five more is abhorrent! They should save all six, and they will, because they have justice on their side!
If only the World of Darkness didn't put so many hard choices in their way, and respected the fact that they're fighting the good fight...
One might imagine that the Court of Mirrors duties revolve around becoming the True Heir, maybe fulfilling an ancient prophecy or two. In fact the Queen of Mirrors is quite clear that becoming the True Heir isn't something you accomplish. You just be yourself and it will happen, because the True Heir is destiny.
Consequently the Court don't really have formal duties; they are allowed to go at their own pace. Take some time off for dating. Having permission, and a philosophical justification, to get some much needed sleep once in a while is perhaps the most tempting reason to join the Court.
Like the other Twilight Queens it is possible to divide the Heirs into those who were once among the Radiant and those who were not. Those who left the Radiant for the Lightbringers tend to have been among the best. They were the leaders of their Nakama, they were martyrs who went above and beyond for the least of people - and they were isolated. They had to stand brave while their allies were allowed to be scared, they gave expecting nothing when others could ask for help in return and they couldn't cope. The Hierophant-Queen told them that it was okay to think of themselves. That they could still make a difference, the biggest difference of all, without such self sacrifice and hardship. Like a drowning man grabbing a lifebuoy they took her philosophy and her quest. She in turn showed them how to build a mirror around their souls reflecting the light inwards.
As for the others. It would be nice if there were a uniform background that drew the newly blossomed to the Hierophant-Queen, but, sadly, that is not true. The followers of the Radiant Queens may call them hubristic and shallow, but the Lightbearers can have been the nerdy boy sitting in the back just as much as they can have been the queen bee socialite prior to their Blossoming. They come from all socioeconomic brackets, and can be driven by an urge for respect and dignity never known before just as much as arrogant entitlement. Many of them, after the Blossoming, though, have an odd duality of self-belief and neediness; they can believe in themselves, but they need others to see them be self-reliant. They are people who need other people around, even when they are in charge.
Perhaps the most tragic aspect of the Queen of Mirrors is that she seems to have a particular allure for the youngest Blossomings. It is unclear whether they find her more attractive than any of the other options, or whether she specifically believes that they are more likely to be the True Heir to the Kingdom, but too many of those precious Blossomings have been lured to her. The Queen of Mirrors is already tempting for the idealism of many Enlightened, with her promises and her easy solutions and self-belief; how much worse must it be for the young mind, suddenly exposed to Sensitivity and given power?
Followers of Mirrors favor flashy and impressive actions over subtlety and favor Power over Resistance and Resistance over Finesse. Lightbringers typically cultivate skills that focus on what their fellows deem important. When they maintain a level of self awareness the Heirs tend to favor Manipulation and Wits to manage underlings and make the quick decisions leadership requires. No matter where they find themselves grace and dignity are always key for a leader so more successful Lightbringers have good Composure. While all members adore the spotlight, the court is divided between those who can lure others into their vainglory and those who only think they can meaning that Presence tends to either extreme.
A Socially successful Princess of Mirrors tends to attract sycophants or distant but fawning crowds but few true friends meaning that while she may have dots in Retainer or Allies, Circle tend to be low. Since they base their Transformed self on how they wish to be seen by others Striking Transformation is common. Those who take the Mandate of Light literally may attempt to cultivate Dream to better speak with the light itself. Whether the answers they hear come from the Light, within, or elsewhere the wisdom granted by Dream is only as effective as the Princess' willingness and ability to follow it.
Like any true egotist the courtiers of Mirrors care very deeply about other people's opinions. They care about how other people look at them. Nothing reflects this truth more than their Transformed appearance. When a Princess adopts the ideals of the Court of Mirrors her Transformed appearance stops reflecting how she sees her true self and embodies how she wants others to see her. There is certainly a lot of room for variety - she may wish to appear powerful, intelligent, beautiful, pure, or pious - but at heart she is reflecting the ideals and standards of those who surround her.
When she is reflecting mortal culture rather than that of her fellow Hopeful this can make the Princess of Mirrors seem almost ordinary; the most popular cheerleader at school simply doesn’t stand out in a Nakama of gallivant knights and the nobility of future civilizations. Their iconography tends to compensate as hard as it can within the rigid confines of social normality. Expensive designer clothing, jewelry and subtle hints of the superhuman. At least one Princess of Mirrors glows softly.
A Heirs' Echo is like a warm quilt, it makes you feel safe and sleepy and why not? The Princess will take care of everything for you.
The Heirs of the Crown's Custodian are always at their very best. They can assume their transformed self at any time with a reflexive action and remain Transformed indefinitely. Power is there for a reason, not to be hidden. In fact it requires deliberate effort to become mundane; a Princess of Mirrors must make a Transformation roll to resume their normal form, much as a normal Noble would have to do to Transform. A high Belief score has no effect on an Heir’s Practical Magic.
The Invocation of Specchio is the principle embodied and founded by the Queen of Mirrors, and which her favoured find comes naturally to them. Specchio is usually turned inwards, as more than any other Invocation it can propel a Princess upwards to monumental heights - the abilities it grants tend to be flashy and showy, but no less effective for them. Fittingly Specchio can sometimes be inverted as though looked at through a mirror; though less common than making the Princess better than others, it can also be used to make others worse than the Princess.
Specchio has the unique disadvantage that its power leads to madness. When a Princess invokes Specchio her mind becomes a bit like mirror glass, prone to crack at the first blow - she takes the Unbalanced Condition, if she doesn’t have it yet. Every use of the Invocation leaves her Unbalanced, even when it applies at no cost.
Specchio applies at no cost when the target of a Princess' Charm is the Princess herself, it also applies at no cost when the target is a literal mirror constructed for purpose, when the Princess intends to set an example, to convert others to her cause, to impress others, when failure would lead to humiliation or embarrassment, to focus attention on herself or to prove how unique and special she is.
Those who would use Specchio are expected to be the shining light for the world, the Invocation does not resonate with Princesses who show humility, who deny or attempt to downplay their own accomplishments, or let others shine brighter. Even on a simple disagreement the Princess must prove herself correct, or at least convince the crowd, or else she loses access to this Invocation until the next day.
- Why don't you let me do that for you ... you could at least be grateful, commoners!
Clubs: Wasting your life where no one but the beasts can see you, how does that help anyone?
Diamonds: Maths class is BOOORING!
Hearts: Formality and protocol. You wouldn't need any of that if you were as good as me.
Spades: What's the point of a joke if people don't realise how funny you are?
Swords: You know, your bravery and... stuff is pretty cool. But I think you should do it this way instead! Chop-chop!
Tears: Why are you wasting your life defending a city? You're more important than a city.
Storms: You fight, and then you die. Get someone else to die, royals are too important.
Vampires: Creature of the night, begone in the name of the Light! Unless you're one of the hot ones that I can save, of course!
Werewolves: You're the archetypical wild man, filled with raw animal strength and passion. How on earth did you make that look savage and unattractive?
Mages: Years of study, and you can't even do magic in front of people? You got the boring powers.
Prometheans: God, is that thing ugly.
Changelings: You're hiding, that means you're scared. Now me, I'm not hiding from anything!
Sin-Eaters: Sweet party. Real nice... um, death-theme. And the... ghosts. And... um. I have to go.
Mad Scientists: You can't show them all with a death ray, there'd be no one left to be shown. It's a good thing I came along, clearly you need my help.
Leviathans: Um, eww! I think it's trying to talk to me.
Hunters: I'm glad someone's trying to do something, I think I'll make you my knights.
Mortals: Don't worry everything will be perfect, you just have to do every little thing I say.
Patrick Bateman American Psycho