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Soulless is a terms used by changelings to describe those among their ranks who who lost their souls on their return journey from Arcadia through the Hedge - they are unpredictable and often dangerous.

OverviewEdit

Arcadia is no place for a human, a fact that is made painfully clear by the effect entering has on the human soul. Those who pass through the Hedge, as captives of the Fae or through their own wanderings, often feel that a part of them begins to wither: the unique spark that made them human. Relief of sorts comes with the return, and the Lost have come to believe that their souls are reunited with them when they reach mortal soil once more.

Then there are those who weren’t so lucky. An unfortunate few find themselves back in the world of humans, and yet the shard of their own humanity remains painfully elusive. Perhaps they spent too long in the lands of Fae and were sent back through the Hedge long after their human souls had withered and died. Perhaps the horrors they endured at the hands of their Fae Keepers were so great that their own souls now reject returning to their fae-tainted psyches. Or perhaps they are merely the victims of fate; the unlucky one-in-a-million for whom something cataclysmic goes wrong, denying them any hope of returning to even semi-human existences.

Whatever reason denies them its return, the changelings that others call Soulless are horrific. Unfettered by human morals, incapable of human emotions, these creatures are the closest rivals to True Fae in alien nature, if thankfully not in power. Soulless beings have no concern for the balance of Clarity; they often epitomize such extremes that the idea of “balance” is antithetical to them. Some are controlled only by a desire to destroy, inflicting immediate and devastating damage on the world they return to. They may set themselves up as snipers on school grounds, suicidal bombers or abusive authority figures. Others are driven to subtler, but no less amoral, goals. More subtle ones may mimic normal humans or changelings for a time while wreaking untold damage below the surface. Unfortunately, while they are no longer fettered by Clarity, they do not lose their knack for changeling magic. They retain access to whatever Contracts or pledges they forged and learned in Faerie, and are just as single-minded about striking new ones, should it suit their goals.

Where most changelings may find it difficult to pick back up their human lives, the Soulless may do whatever is necessary to reclaim the lives that were stolen from them. They do this not from affection for family or friends, or a desire to truly become the people they were once more. Instead, they simply find their earlier identities the most expedient roles to slip back into — niches tailor-made for them, with only a few messy details required to reclaim them. Their fetches, should they exist, are eliminated with stark efficiency. If friends or family members notice the sudden change between the pseudo-human fetch and the newly returned Soulless (if indeed the two were all that different), their concerns are ignored, with no attempt made to explain them away. Why, after all, should the Soulless care if those around them are uncomfortable or suspicious? The exception, of course, is those who are adamant enough in their concerns to inconvenience the Soulless significantly. Similar to the fetch, such individuals are most often dealt with quickly, efficiently and without the slightest regret.

The most frightening aspect of the Soulless, however, is not their amoral nature or their ruthless drive. What sends the icy shiver down any changeling’s spine at the mention of the Soulless is the niggling doubt it raises in the back of their minds. The soul is not a tangible thing, to be weighed and measured. While all changelings experience a withering upon entering Faerie and, at least by contrast, a strengthening upon escaping, it is impossible to be absolutely certain that whatever was stripped from them was truly returned. Perhaps what they feel is simply a reaction to the two different environments. Perhaps they are merely deluding themselves in thinking that their souls were joyfully awaiting the chance to merge with them upon their return. Perhaps they are truly no different from the Soulless themselves, only better at fooling themselves and those around them.

ReferencesEdit

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