Everyone knows that Dick Whittington went to seek his fortune in London, had no luck, and was leaving when he heard the bells of St. Mary-le-Bow ringing the message "Turn again, Whittington, Thrice Lord Mayor of London." He went back, went on a trading voyage, and founded his fortune by selling his cat to a cat-less country plagued by rats.
What is less known is that the people Whittington sold his cat to were unearthly, and he came back with more than gold. Were the people fays? Djinn? No one knows. Where was their realm? Was the cat itself magical, maybe a yaoguai returning to its people? Esoteric London has lots of rumors. In any case, Whittington founded an esoteric family, with their "Whitgifts," magical links to London, cats, and bells. The Whittington, "the Thrice-Mayor," is the magical ruler of Sundered London, or so the Whittingtons claim, and it is seldom worthwhile to contest them.
First level of response is the Whittingtonians and Witners showing up in force. At the next level, the Thrice-Mayor sends in one or more Ringers, with handbells that damp magic and spread bad luck on magic users when rung. After that, the Thrice-Mayor and family get creative.
Their most famous measure is Ringing Out. If you get Rung Out of London, which involves ringing one of the church bells, you suffer bad luck and magical impairment within London thereafter, until the Whittingtons Ring you In again.
Carillon is in her early twenties and a student at a London university, where she is reading History. She lives in a nice little apartment on her own, but of course the Whittingtons all live in London and can easily find or contact each other. This is sometimes a Burden.
She answers to "Carol" as a nickname, and this Taken Name protects her against adverse nymic magic. She is a small person, wears her brown hair short, and has striking green eyes. Her mother tells her these are the result of a prenatal, indeed pre-conceptual, wish expended on her behalf, and Carillon supposes she is grateful; she likes her eyes, but people are always asking her if the color is due to contacts. Like most young, healthy women, she is pretty; like most young, healthy women, she does not think so. She makes a point of dressing nicely and has the upper-middle income to do so.
Her parents are second cousins. (She trusts that prenatal wish included something about genetic health, not just eye-color.) She knows they are on the lookout for a "suitable" match for her. We'll see, but no sense borrowing trouble. Meantime, she dates whom she likes, admittedly mostly Sundered chaps, and does her studies. She takes her History with a side-order of Archeology; her prosaic teachers think she's going into academics, but the real idea is a background with which to evaluate magical goods, and she takes more esoteric tutoring for that.
She does parkour of a night with friends-and-relations, which gives her some nice street cred. This is generally illegal, but she's never been caught, nor have the people who run with her, as has been noticed and celebrated in her group.
She also volunteers at a no-kill cat shelter. She herself has three cats, two random moggies and a Norwegian forest cat. The apartment has been optimized for them, and they sometimes go parkouring with her, usually alone.
She declines to get into the clique-war between the Townies and the Cat-Fanciers.
Contra the Townies, London is certainly home, but she'd like to visit other places and feels her relatives would do well to broaden their horizons magically, just for the sake of adaptability. She's had arguments in pubs about this. Paris! Lyon! New York! Venice! Vienna!
Contra the Cat-Fanciers, she likes dogs too, she just can't accomodate one at the moment. She has even trained her cats to be good with dogs—not hiss or run and invite chasing, but to spot threat, too. This also produces arguments in pubs. (Secretly, she would like to be a Friend To All Living Things, or at least To A Selection Of The More Cuddly Living Things. She feeds birds at her window but doesn't let the cats hunt any. She keeps tropical fish.)
She is not particularly fond of bell music. She uses bells as an esoteric messaging system and that's all.
Of course she knows London cold, but on top of that she can divine short cuts, hiding places, and safety and danger zones.
She begins to be able to foretell traffic jams. She looks forward to the day when she can dowse for things generally in London.
She can build up an extra charge by running long, hard parkour courses as an austerity. (Grandmother and her parents do it by hiking, but that takes longer.)
Someday, she hopes to be able to move about London with unreasonable, preternatural speed, and to have a map of London magical activity on call in her head, the way the Thrice-Mayor is said to have. But not yet.
When she gets really good, she'll be able to make London bring things and people to her, or act to defend her, etc.
As soon as she touches a cat, if not before, she can discern its general state of physical and mental health, and where it is in its life-cycle, equivalent to a thorough vet exam.
On a good day, she can give energy to a cat, speeding healing and rest.
She would probably volunteer at the cat shelter anyway, she thinks, but doing so long enough acts as an austerity that lets her build up extra charge. For a big, quick charge, she has trained her cats to scratch her on command, though this rather weirds them out...
She is in the process of training her cats to act as trackers (blood-hound fashion; when she learns dowsing, she will deputize them for it) and runners (fetching and delivering messages and small loads in the manner of a Harry Potter owl, only on foot).
With a little effort, she can amp her senses for feline dark-vision, smell, draft sense (despite not having whiskers like Cousin Tommy) and hearing.
She begins to be magically stealthy and magically good at climbing and leaping, which is seeping into the parkour.
Grandmother lets her help with maintaining and charging the Cat Coat. This is a piece of felt, made from cat fur, that looks like a black cat skin (but is not, you may be sure). If you put it on—yes, it's too tiny to put on, but if you put it on—you turn into a cat, or rather put on the seeming of a cat. It's a great training tool. It is an heirloom, of her particular family, not the whole Whittington clan, and it looks fragile, so they're very careful with it. Carrilon can do no more, at present, than put it on, take it off, and charge up the energy. When it comes to physically maintaining the felting without damaging the spell, she just watches respectfully and hands Grandmother things when told. Family tradition says it was a gift from a fay.
Not her strong suit, which she attribtues to being dragged to too many carillon concerts and church bell-ringing exhibitions by Dad. Oh well, at least she knows what to get him for Christmas and birthdays.
She can tell if a bell is enchanted, or if it has been used for magic.
She can leave and pick up messages on bells with other campanomancers. When she gets good, she'll know when there's a bell out there with a message for her.
She hears accurate and detailed weather forecasts in church bells, if she listens hard. (She'd love to know who that voice is.)
And that's about it.
She can detect magic and identify Whittington magic and a few other types.
She can push and pull magical energy to and from a willing partner.
She's preternaturally good at spotting who's Sundered.
Just as she mundanely knows London geography solid, she also knows, mundanely but thoroughly, all about cats, their breeds and care.
She can take little naps at will. This is not magical, but it's useful for topping off one's energy level.
True to her schooling, she knows a lot about world history, more about western history, and even more about esoteric history.
And there's the parkour.
Now let's talk combat:
Back around World War II, a family member brought home nekodo, the Way of the Cat, a combination of karate, knife fighting, and using cats as throwing weapons. It works much better with trained, willing cats, which hers are. Such cats know to latch onto clothes, don't run before time, trip creatively, and know where the blood vessels are near the skin. Teaser and Jerry, her two tortoise-shell sister moggies, are hellions. Tucker, the male Norwegian, doesn't seem to have his heart in it for sparring, but he makes up for it in mass, and when it's real, he can let out the berserker. This has been determined experimentally on long, dark parkour runs alone that she has never, never told her family about. (Though it was her family that had her learning nekodo since she was a tot.) As to knives, when she's combat-ready, she has one in her boot, two at her belt, and there's the hair-pin that people often forget about. She knows where the blood vessels are near the skin, too.
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Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2015