Forsaken: The Edge of Everything
Beloved things left behind by the dispossessed
Discardings are the lonely spirits of precious items left behind when people lose their homes. These sad little beings represent those items simply forgotten in the ashamed rush to leave.
These are usually conventional items, as valuables are often sold off (and these have their own spirits, the Pawned). They look like dog-eared books, stuffed animals, well-worn t-shirts, baby blankets.
These little spirits tend to congregate together in schools for protection. A sad-looking stuffy might just look like discarded bric-a-brac in the Hisil, until its belly opens and its stuffing shoots out like a tendril to grab a passing mote.
Discardings tag along behind spiritually interesting beings, in hopes of being noticed and loved again.
Precious items sold in desperation
Little is sacred in these hard times. When people are in danger of losing their homes, their cars, a chance to eat for a week, or even just another day’s high, they’ll often sell anything. “Priceless” family heirlooms suddenly have a price, and it’s often much lower than the seller ever would have hoped for.
The Pawned are the spirits of precious valuables being sold off out of desperation. They almost always correspond to items with both personal and monetary value, and the worse the deal the seller got, the more powerful the Pawned spirit.
Thus most Pawned appear as faded valuables that still bear some imprint of their original owner. A diamond ring might reflect the eyes of an eager suitor, or a locket the face of a smiling child, while a coat hanging on the rack keep the shape of its original owner.
The Pawned have a unique Numen, “Precious Reverie,” that allows anyone who dons the precious object to experience major emotional memories connected to the item. You might feel the thrill of receiving a precious necklace or the rush of stabbing an unfaithful lover with an heirloom knife. This powerful emotion tempts many other spirits to try the Pawned on, at which point the crafty little spirits devour their wearers.
Frutto della Vite
Wine is the most important industry in Mendocino County, with dozens of vineyards growing their grapes, printing their labels, bottling their vintages, and shipping their wares from hubs in or near Ukiah. Even after a long struggle against legalized marijuana, and the growing demand for more produce, the majority of arable land in Mendocino is devoted to sprawling vineyards.
This struggle, however, has turned the once-languid local vineyard spirits into a ruthless army of like-minded thugs and soldiers.
Still bearing their Italian name, “fruit of the vine,” the vineyard spirits all work in a tight-knit, semi-feudal association, the spirits of each vineyard forming a “crew” with the most powerful local spirit the capo. All capos in turn answer to Vito Vite, the lord of Mendocino Wineries.
They look like men and women of all shapes and sizes, wearing wine-dark Italian suits. Instead of hands, they have bunches of whatever grapes their vineyard grows, and the same for their heads. More powerful Frutto bind their grapes to head-shaped trellises rising out of their collars.
Frutto della Vite are still wine spirits at heart, jolly and warm in good times, vicious and cruel in bad. They all seem just a bit inebriated, but this does not actually impair them.
Riders on the Roads
They run in packs, up and down the massive 101. Free-wheeling spirits of the open freeway, the Riders on the Roads represent speed, freedom, and aggression, and serve the mighty Godling called Lanesplitter.
Each Rider on the Roads looks like an iconic American motor vehicle made entirely of concrete, not quite separate from the roads they ride upon. They almost always run in packs of three to several dozen, following the will of whichever vehicle happens to be out front. Hence, a pack of Riders on the Road is a constant race of cars cutting each other off, blocking each other in, and desperately trying to be leader, however brief their reign may be.
Whether it’s a Harley Davidson Fatboy, a Ford Mustang, a Jon Deere truck, or a Hummer H2 calling the shots, all Riders on the Road are aggressive, arrogant, and in a hurry. They welcome the company of any who can ride in their competitive number, and answer any threats with promises of retribution from Lanesplitter, for anywhere they pass, the God of the 101 is sure to follow soon.
The thousand little insults and indignities the blue-collar suffer stoically add up over time. Assuming a hard life where hard work is rewarded with some upward mobility and a future for the family, your average worker can swallow it all like so many rusty nails.
But sometimes it all turns to shit. The worker is downsized years past their prime, or loses their pension, or is humiliated on the floor by a smug new boss. Then all those swallowed nails start to pierce the belly, and the pain turns to anger more precious than the dream of a better future.
Rusty Chains are the vicious and unrelenting spirits of working-class rage and revenge. They are not exactly banes, though dangerously close, as their source does often come from legitimate injustice.
Brutal and direct, these spirits want nothing more than to avenge the wrongs that crush the souls of the working class — any wrongs, no matter how slight. Still, like any good worker, they know how to bide their time and wait to strike back in force.
Rusty Chains most commonly appear as hooked chains in rough stick-figures, bunched-up knots of chain for heads. But they can take any human-like form composed of the stuff of hard labor: wooden planks, TV or telephone wire, bricks, garbage, or tools. With all the workers betrayed in the Second Depression, you’re bound to see many sorts of Rusty Chains indeed.
Spirit of School Athletics
The Ukiahi varsity athletics program has been fairly successful over the years, with Wildcats teams winning regional and state championships in basketball, volleyball, tennis, wrestling, and football – unusual for a small, liberal town in the California mountains.
Of late, the teams have been even more successful, student showing an unfamiliar aggression on and off the field. This due in part to the new and “improved” Ukiahi Wildcat, spirit of school athletics who stalks the shadow of Ukiah High.
The Wildcat is large golden bobcat with purple spots who can be found anywhere on the Hisil campus of Ukiahi, though she prefers the small locus by the goalposts. Under her influence, the school’s athletes have become more aggressive and assertive. The spirit even encourages bullying, viewing it as natural selection that breeds strength.
The previous Ukiahi Wildcat—a peppy spirit that looked like a living, empty mascot suit—disappeared near the dawn of the Second Depression. The current Wildcat won’t say where he went, save to lick her chops and give some nearby student a shot of killer instinct.
Coraggio de Vite
Courage of the Vine
There is no courage like the courage of the grape. Coraggio da Vite is the chief enforcer of the Vite family, the spirit of the simmering, explosive anger and invincibility that comes with being drunk on too much wine.
This wine spirit was specifically cultivated by Vito Vite out of a crop of especially aggressive Frutto de Vite, fed on the latent aggression of wine alcoholics—the way it’s kept in check, and then violently explodes.
Coraggio was the most eager of the lot, a born fighter prone to intense control followed by bursts of pure, cruel destruction. She is Vito’s Sword of Damocles, hanging over the head of any spirits that owe fealty to the Vite. Even powerful local spirits like World’s Largest would think twice before braving her rage.
The enforcer looks similar to the other Frutto de Vite: a female figure in a wine-dark, pinstriped suit, with a sprig of grapes where her head and hands should be. She keeps her head-grapes tied up in a bunch to resemble a head with a ponytail, but unties them into long whipping strands to fight. The grapes themselves are as heavy and solid as rocks.
The people of Mendocino Valley have always been laid back – how can you be uptight in at the base of the rolling foothills, cradled in the silvery sierras, a pacific breeze from the west and nothing growing in the fields but wine or pot?
In the 1960s, Mendocino became a hotspot for hippies seeking a natural escape from the hustle and bustle of urban counterculture. And a spirit of laid-back permissiveness was born.
No other spirits are quite sure why FarOut Man takes the form of a superhero. The wiser ones figure “because he thinks it’s cool, and because he can.” Thanks to his influence, the people of Mendocino are overall a mellow, anything-goes lot. This makes it a pleasant, liberal-minded place to live.
This was great while the area was affluent, and made its money on wine. Now, years into the Second Depression, FarOut Man looks at his domain and sees tension, anxiety, and aggression. A corporation is starting to run the show, and the wine business doesn’t bring in jobs anymore. He looks around nervously, and wonders what to do.
He looks like a beautiful, bearded hippie Jesus, wearing a medallion belt, bell bottoms, and birkenstocks. He goes shirtless, his long hair curling down, wielding a solid gold peace-sign necklace like a flail. The words “FAR OUT” rise like a hologram from the center of his chest. He has no eyes behind his John Lennon sunglasses.
He is not desperate yet, but his veneer of laid-back hippie-ness sometimes frays at the edges, reminding anyone looking that this is still a predator, who’s fed with lazy efficiency on the local relaxation spirits for decades.