These creatures don’t recall everything about their identities and their lives in Arcadia. How much they recall is inversely related to how “human” they have become. While banished Charlatans remember the most about their fae lives, reborn Charlatans remember considerably less and humanist Charlatans remember almost nothing.
Generally speaking, the Others cannot survive long in the human world. However this may be true, some of the Fae can survive among humans indefinitely. Doing so obviously weakens them, and many such exiled Fae don’t even know what they are — but it happens. Changelings who are aware of these strange beings call them by many names. The most common (and the one used here) is “Charlatan”, for these Fae are not human, but pretend to be so convincingly that even they believe it.
Some changelings call them “Earthbound”, making reference to the fact that these Gentry are stuck here in the mortal realms (which is a dangerous oversimplification, because not all of them are). More erudite changelings call these Fae “Red Kings” in reference to Through the Looking Glass, in which Alice is informed the she is but a character in the sleeping Red King’s dream. And finally, some changelings call such Fae “Sleepers”, implying that such a Fae might remember and reclaim his true nature at any moment, in the manner of a “sleeper” espionage agent or a person waking suddenly from a dream.
Not all changelings know that Charlatans exist, and most Lost know only what they’ve heard in whispered rumor. Some changelings are aware that the True Fae don’t truly die if they perish from exposure to the mortal world, but most changelings think that such Fae become fetch-like creatures, not human, but unable to access even the memories of their previous lives. Either way, Charlatans frighten changelings terribly.
Here is a small list of Charlatan characters:
Becoming a CharlatanEdit
The process of turning a True Fae into a Charlatan might happen in many ways. Here are some samples of it:
The True Fae that have been banished to the mortal world are among the rarest of Charlatans. A banished Charlatan isn’t necessarily weak. He is just weaker than the being that banished him. Charlatans can be cast out of Arcadia in political coups, as punishment for crimes that human sensibilities cannot even fathom or even as part of some arcane, almost scripted procedure.
Not all banished Fae were literally exiled from Faerie, however. Another possibility is that a Fae gives another of the Others power over him. Likewise, a Fae who violates some oath or otherwise trips over his own vows might end up banishing himself. Some Fae even make promises or bargains with the mortals the Fae kidnap, weaving in pledges to the humans’ servitude. It’s unlikely, but possible, for a mortal to exploit a loophole in a Gentry’s casual promise that allows the mortal to escape and the Fae to become exiled from Arcadia.
Banished Fae remember their true identities, and unless forgetfulness is part of the curse that banishes them, they remember everything about Faerie and the circumstances that led them to the mortal world. This makes them dangerous and bitter. They have been stripped of much of their power and are, for all intents and purposes, at the mercy of the human world.
Death in the Mortal WorldEdit
“Death” from exposure to the mortal world isn’t really death to the Fae. Instead, this death curses them to remain, forever ever tainted by this exposure. They have built up a kind of immunity to whatever it is about the mortal world that kills the True Fae, but in so doing they have barred themselves from easy return to their homelands.
Fae who have died from exposure remember little of their true lives in Arcadia. What precisely they do remember varies from Charlatan to Charlatan. Some remember that they were not born human, but “became” so after dying. A Fae who dies from exposure to the mortal world doesn’t automatically become a Charlatan. In fact, the act is voluntary. When the Fae's body dies, in the next sunrise he breaks forth from the now-desiccated corpse like a butterfly breaking free from a chrysalis. This occurs only if the Fae wishes to become a Charlatan, if the Fae feels that life on Earth is better than death. Not all of the Gentry feel this way; some choose to die instead.
It happens, sometimes, that one of the Gentry makes a particularly close connection with a human being. The nature of the connection isn’t as important as its strength. That is, one of the Fae might come to love a human being, and this connection would be just as binding as if the Fae learn to hate the same person. Becoming a Charlatan by connecting with a human being is a much less unpleasant process than doing so by death or banishment. It’s also much slower.
The process of coming to understand and emulate a mortal can take days or months, but the very attempt to understand humanity provides a bulwark against exposure — provided that the Fae doesn’t call upon his true nature or fae powers. In any day that one of the Gentry spends time trying to understand humanity, he suffers no damage from exposure. If, however, the character enters the Hedge, uses a Contract or blessing or calls upon his fae nature in any way, the “clock” resets itself.
The moment in which the Fae forges the connection is not a bolt from above. It is a gradual awakening, as the Fae comes to feel that this strange new world is the world that has always existed. The Fae’s former existence in Arcadia becomes the dream, that strange and faraway realm that the Fae feels he might have imagined all along. The Fae gains the ability to dream and even to create art, but in the process loses most of his memories of Arcadia. Likewise, any magic that he retains is subtle and instinctive, usually blessings rather than Contracts. Tokens work only if the Charlatan calls upon the item’s catch, similar to a non-fae being trying to activate it.
All of this does not mean that the Fae has become human or even a changeling, however. The Others cannot be other than they are, and though a “humanist” Charlatan has suppressed most of his memories of life in Faerie, the memories are still there and can be reawakened. How this happens varies, but it normally involves a significant occurrence involving another fae being.
Reclaiming the True Fae heritageEdit
It is possible for a Charlatan to reclaim her rightful place. As with everything fae, the rules of banishment have catches. It’s just a matter of figuring them out and enacting them. Anything that banishes a Fae to the mortal realm, any spell or punishment that the other Gentry can levy, must have a loophole that the Charlatan can exploit.
Of course, these loopholes are generally so subtle that the Charlatan never discovers them (even if she remembers what she is enough to search), and so difficult that she is more likely to kill herself in the process of trying to exploit the loophole than succeed.
As difficult as it might be to discover and enact a loophole for a banished Charlatan, reborn and human-emulating Fae have an even harder time of it. Stuck in the mortal world by their own decisions (or, perhaps, by the intervention of changelings), any methods of returning to Arcadia open to them must be discovered through action.
- Autumn Nightmares, p. 84-95