Shadow World » Faerie realm » Changeling
It was a morning like any other. You would think that the day your baby is stolen, you should know something is wrong the moment you wake up ? indeed, that a good mother would have jolted awake in the middle of the night with the knowledge that her child desperately needed her.
But that isn?t how it happens.
The reality is that you walk into the nursery oblivious to the horror that has just entered your life. You feel well-rested. The sun streams through the windows and a light breeze flutters the curtains. Smiling, you look at your infant asleep in his cradle and think, ?What a funny expression he wears ? his face so screwed up in concentration that he almost looks like an old man. Whatever could he be dreaming about??
You stroke his face, the top of his head. His skin feels less silky. His fine dusting of hair feels coarser, already losing its newborn downiness. You wonder when the soft spot in his scalp hardened ? you had never noticed the tiny sign of maturation before today. He?s growing so fast, you think. You can scarcely smell the milk-and-powder baby scent that usually clings to him.
''Then your son awakens and you lift his tiny form into your arms as you?ve done a thousand times. But today he feels different ? a little less solid, a little less real. Nonsense, you think. ?Tis only your imagination. You sit in the rocking chair, cooing your baby?s name as you unbutton your nightdress. He does not respond to the sound of your voice or his name on your lips the way he usually does. He must still be sleepy, you think. But you look into his eyes and see them quite alert ? and seeming to
hold ancient wisdom in their depths.''
Your smile is forced now. You try to shake off the dread sweeping through your heart, but find it is your hands that shake as you bring the child to your breast. You murmur his name softly, over and over, as if the mantra can exorcise the doubt filling your mind. As if it can somehow affect the next few moments. But he will not nurse. As he turns his head away, horror floods the deepest part of your maternal soul.
''In that moment, you know. The tiny being in your arms is not your child. It is not, in fact, a child at all.
It is not even human.''
?Kaiana, 1377 HC

Human changelings look exactly like what they are: ordinary humans. They may be scions or commoners of any human race. When encountered, they may still be children or they may have grown to adulthood in the years since their kidnapping.
Faerie changelings are very old seelie faeries who look enough like humans to pass as one. Though as small as human children, they bear an ancient aura, and their eyes frequently betray the millennia of wisdom hidden behind them. When first substituted for a human child, they typically appear from mere days to two years old. If the changeling?s nature is not discovered, it uses its limited Seeming powers to alter its appearance as it ?grows up.?
Changelings ? or those suspected of being changelings ? can be worked into an adventure plot or continuing campaign in a number of ways. The discovery of a faerie changeling substituted for a Cerilian child could be a catalyst for adventure, particularly if the stolen child is of noble birth or heir to a domain. An unusual child (perhaps one that has grown to adulthood, or even a player character) might be suspected of being a changeling.
Or a party adventuring in the Shadow World could encounter humans stolen from Cerilia by the faeries. The characters might try to return the kidnapping victims to Cerilia. In the case of adult changelings, the victims might have no wish to leave the only home they have ever known, but could serve as valuable sources of inform ation about the Shadow World.
The seelie faeries prize beauty in all its forms. This admiration extends, unfortunately, to human children. To the faeries, these children are like dolls: a passing amusement. The human lifespan ? let alone childhood ? is so short compared to the seelie existence, that the faeries don?t think of humans as equal beings, but as novelties. They see nothing wrong with plucking a child from its parents? care for their own pleasure. To them, it is like taking a puppy home from the kennel.
The faeries take relatively good care of their ?pets.? The human changelings live among the Seelie Court until they reach that gawky adolescent stage when they aren?t so cute anymore. When they reach age 12 or 13, the faeries outfit them with arms and equipment and send them out into the world. Because of all they have learned among the faeries, most make it to adulthood, either somehow finding their way back to Cerilia or living in the Shadow World. Their time among the faeries generally teaches them enough about stealth and craftiness ? or leaves them with enough tales to tell ? to function as 2nd-level rogues.
Meanwhile, back in Cerilia, an ancient faerie switches places with the stolen child. Sometimes the changeling is discovered immediately, in which case the faerie leaves (if it can) and returns to the Shadow World. If the parents don?t notice the switch, or observe oddities in their ?child? but do not know how to account for them, the changeling remains as long as possible. Innately curious, the faerie takes the opportunity to learn as much as possible about humans during the masquerade.
After (at most) six or seven years, however, the faerie changeling grows bored. One night it simply disappears, never to be seen by its ?parents? again, and returns to the Seelie Court.
Faerie changelings retain the extraordinary perception they enjoy in the Shadow World, but the only Seeming they can manipulate is that which they carry out of the Shadow World, surrounding them like an aura. Human changelings learn how to manipulate and penetrate the Seeming from their faerie guardians.
See Also: The Changeling - a rewrite of the adventure from the Players' Secrets of Tuornen

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