The Order of the Whitesmiths
Why the Whitesmiths?Honestly, because I was a metalsmithing major in college, which drew me to the original writeup of House Dougal. I also appreciated the tragedy of the Arcadian Sidhe of House Dougal who stayed behind and died over the years (what can I say, I’m a sucker for a good tragedy). I love the new makerspace Dougal, I think they hold a very vital place in a 20teens story, but I wanted the Smiths of Dougal to have a significant place in the house identity. That place was absent for me in the C20 writeup, and really the Whitesmiths are more a metaphorical expression of my feelings on how these changes were handled, as opposed to a real headcanon. There are a couple references to Smiths in the Dougal writeup in C20, so the following text requires cleaning that up, and tripling down on the implications of the Dougal exile text. That said, I think this creates a very interesting story space, and ties Dougal to modern fine art Whitesmithing, which seems very VERY Changeling to me. I hope some of you find some useful hooks in this writeup.
Order of the Whitesmiths
House Dougal is old. We were smiths in the mythic age, shaping the world itself into form and elegance. In the early days we shaped tools of war, swords, shields, and armor. As time went on we honed our craft, building deep legends among Dreamer and Fair Folk alike. One of the most powerful Dougal Sidhe claims it was our founder Lord Dougal who first reach into the world and shaped the Wyrd. I have spoken with the Baron of our house who makes this claim and as with all ramblings of deep Bedlam I cannot help but wonder if his affliction is just the terrible cost of prying truth from the clutches of the Dreaming.
For most of our history House Dougal has been as hard as the edge of a newly tempered steel blade, and no Dougal past their saining had not heard of the invention of steel, or the price our founder paid to awaken a new Spring after the Winter of Iron. For decades after the Resurgence that story was like the falling of a hammer on a red hot billet. It shaped the wonder and pride of Dougal Sidhe, and reminded the commoners who kept our Balefires burning during the Interregnum of our sacrifice, and why no matter what they accomplished or endured during the Long Winter, it was time for them to step aside.
Then something strange happened. We began to change. The first time I saw a Dougal with a forged mechanical leg I didn’t think anything of it. Our House is often afflicted with failings of the body, and it made sense that upon losing some part of one’s self a Dougal would re-craft their form in the fires of the Dreaming. The mechanical nature of the work was odd, but even we have always had progressives within our ranks. Then I began to see more and more members of my house with numerous chimerical bits holding their bodies together. Soon it wasn’t a hand or a leg, but eyes made of gears and glass, then ears of elegantly folded fabric and wire. When I finally met a Dougal who’s heart and mind was made of delicately clicking bits of brass I knew the House of my memory was slipping from the world.
The irony of this change is that many of our oldest members still remember the secrets of our earliest wars. We understand what so few of the Fae do about what happens when the Shining Ones go to war. We do not fight for pride, or honor, or territory. When the children of the Tuatha battle we fight over the nature of reality. We fight for our very names, forge our truths, and occasionally the truths of our enemies to our whim. So when such a dramatic change happened within our midst those of us who understood such things did not see evolution, but saining magic being shaped against us. We know now that was little more than paranoia, but we responded as though we were at war.
Our transformation was drawing us into a modern world that the Arcadian Sidhe among us were not equipped to survive. Beyond the risks of banality, as we changed, many of our rank were slipping into their unseleighe natures with alarming frequency. While we were away in Arcadia the commoners reshaped the courts that defined our kind for millennia. What had once been a court forged to rule over the darkest winter nights was now a court of change, and transformation, and House Dougal is a house of smiths. Our oldest names and oaths are defined by the striking of hammer to ingot, the shaping of potential into something more than what it is. We cannot be anything other than a house of change, but we refuse to be a house of nightmares. The Whitesmiths were born from this struggle.
An Oath Not Taken LightlyWhen the leaders of House Dougal realized what was taking place they called a conference of the most powerful members of House Dougal in order to fight whatever was reshaping us. The first several days of the conference were filled with fear and warmongering, strategizing had to be suspended several times to fight the nervosa spawning from the intensity of our collective anxiety.
At the end of the 3rd day Duchess Siobahn Ó hAodha ap Dougal gave voice to the fear gnawing away inside all the assembled. No one was waging a shaping war on House Dougal, the Autumn World was just forgetting what we were, and we were being trapped in other stories. There is no fear that strikes deep into the heart of a Sidhe like being forgotten and in that moment the Dreaming burst open and a Cold Iron Nervosa was born from the welling banality and terror caused by that proposition. The beast nearly filled the great hall within the Dreaming where the Lords and Ladies of Dougal gathered, and felled three of our company before any could rally arms against it.
It looked like the heart of Dougal’s leadership would be destroyed by the manifestation of their own terror, but Lady Siobahn found her hammer and drew deep into the Dreaming, unleashing old magics and spoke the name of the nervosa that assaulted her kin in the ancient language of the Sidhe. As the name rang through the air she called on her brethren to unleash into the heart of themselves and reforge their fear. It would be an epic tale to tell of all of greatest nobles of House Dougal calling on the Dreaming in unison, but that tale befits the honor of a Puca. Few of the assembled nobles were able to muster the will to reach into their own terror and reforge it, but those who joined Lady Ó hAodha became the founding members of the Order of Whitesmiths.
The Sidhe who failed to raise their arms against the cold iron beast stood in shame. Siobahn stepped forward and ripped each of their memories from them and cast them into the heart of the Dreaming. Such a failing cannot truly be forgotten, and it will stalk them for all time, but she gave them some hope of respite, at least for a season.
The remaining Sidhe assembled had seen into the heart of their House’s affliction, and committed to a course of action any other House of Sidhe would see as abomination. They followed the creature forged from the names of their own dearest fears into the heart of the Dreaming, and in that place rewove the true name of Dougal. By the time the questing Sidhe returned from the Dreaming, years were lost and the magics worked a thousand loves, tragedies, and haunted nights past the valley of mists were already writ into the names of the rest of their House.
Mechanical, rather than smithing inclinations were now pervasive throughout Dougal, but the slip towards our unseleighe natures had stopped, or at least it appeared so at first. It quickly became apparent that something else entirely was happening. Where other Sidhe shift between legacies, Sidhe of House Dougal no longer held either court. We embodied our seleighe and unseleighe natures simultaneously. For some, this meant being a manifestation of the most noble pursuits of progress, being driven by a need to craft a better world from wire and plastic. Others would lose themselves in the obsession of their work, embodying the most selfish tendencies of the unseleighe, while living a life of structure and discipline that defied any unseleighe legacy. We were transformed more radically than any of Ó hAodha’s motley thought possible.
What no one expected is the old myths of our House had vanished. The stories of Dougal’s triumph over Iron were buried somewhere deep within the mists. Only Ó hAodha’s motley could remember the tale, and when we tried to tell others of Dougal’s great deeds our lips cracked and our mouths dried, and the words would twist and wither before their birth. Yet, we were not graced with the gift the mists bestow on our brethren, we remember the truth with terrible perfection, but we cannot speak it to others.
The Whitesmiths and TraditionThus the Order of the Whitesmiths was born. We tried to reclaim the name of Blacksmith, but that name rejected us as surely as the old stories, and so with great effort we named ourselves the Whitesmiths. Even the secret title we hold for each other is a slander we must bear.
The Whitesmiths gather once a year on Imbolg and speak our true history. We also take this time to initiate new members to the order. We thought for years it would be impossible to extend our numbers, and so eventually the old stories would die with us. Then 3 years ago on Imbolg night Queen Mary Elizabeth strode into the Candlemas light and cast a Geas upon all of the Whitesmiths to reveal their secrets to her. The Dreaming recoiled and twisted back upon itself. A Gaes that cannot be fulfilled will fail, and the magics cast out by the errant Sidhe Queen quite nearly snapped under the burden of our curse. Just as we thought her magics would fail, a trod opened before us that lead into the darkest depths of the Dreaming, and the shape of the Geas burned itself into our minds.
We could not tell the old myths to a Sidhe who had not reshaped themselves in the heart of Dougal’s greatest hopes and fears, and so Ó hAodha stepped forward and lead her Majesty Mary Elizabeth along the paths we walked through the Dreaming years before. Unlike the first quest, Ó hAodha and her ward returned just as the Candlemas fires faltered. Our Lady walked into our ritual expecting to disrupt a group of dangerous conspirators within her House, instead she was shown the extent of our vulnerability in the face of the coming Winter.
Her Majesty now plays a delicate political game, keeping us hidden from the eyes of High Lord Donovan. She fears what will happen to the name of Dougal if all the Whitesmiths fall. Even if the rest of our House believes that we are creatures of the gear and microcircuit, some small part of our House remains rooted in the traditional crafts of our history. If that is lost, we may well lose everything we are.
Whitesmiths in the Modern WorldWhile we are steeped in more tradition than the rest of our House, we are more creatures of the modern world than other seleighe Sidhe. We understand that we must fight to control our names, but we also must bend to the realities of the world around us enough to remain relevant to our Dreamers. The Whitesmiths tend to find this place in the art world. Peter Antor (https://lillstreetgallery.com/exhibitions/featured-jewelry-artist-peter-antor), and Hiroshi Suzuki (http://www.modernsilver.com/goldsmithsmarch/hiroshisuzuki.htm) are both Dreamers of the Whitesmiths.
In these times, our close ties with the fine arts has also entangled the Whitesmiths in academia. There are more than a few Whitesmiths working in metalsmithing departments at prominent art schools, and who have inspired, and been inspired by millennial sensibilities. Unlike other Sidhe who have locked themselves away from the world, Dougal Sidhe of all stripes recognize the rise in the intentional use of saining by budding millennials. For nearly all of human history the battles of narrative, name and shape that the Fae define themselves by were only understood by a handful of mortals. Now the world is rife with blogs redefining stories and names, genders and traditions.
While the Sidhe of the other houses who have noticed this change feel the casual wielding of naming magics by the Sons of Adam and the Daughters of Eve to be an abomination, members of House Dougal, along with a few more radical members of House Scathach see this as a sign of a coming spring. Even those who are convinced that this shift in mortal society portends a coming spring cannot decide if it will be a return of Fomorian or Tuathan dreams.
Of Curses and BoonsMembers of the Whitesmith bear the curse of our founder, not the creeping chimerical blight of our younger brethren. So we must repair our bodies as we did in the ages before the change. If we do not craft chimerical pieces to replace our failings quickly, other members of our House may notice. We are also unable to forge steel, for the Dreaming sees that act of crafting as too close to the stories we must not tell. If a Whitesmith attempts to wield a blacksmith’s hammer, the work they create will be twisted and corrupt, embodying the most destructive impulses of their nightmares. So we work with the lighter touch of a Whitesmith and forge our bodies out of brass, silver and more delicate materials. This gives Whitesmiths an air of elegance that the rest of our House is not known for, ironically helping us to fit in with other Sidhe, even as members of our own often distrust us for reasons they can never quite identify.
The ‘delicacy’ of the materials we work does not impart any physical disadvantage as even chimerical silver forged by a Whitesmith has the strength of tempered steel, but it does give us an air of elegance. It also allows us to spot each other almost instantly, and our suspicions are often confirmed with a simple exchange of looks. As our enhancements are constructed, and do not spawn directly from the Dreaming we must also maintain them when they are damaged. The conclusion of combat is often when a Whitesmith is most likely to be noticed as other Dougal’s mechanical bits heal as dynamically as they develop, where ours do not.