Spirit of Misery

I realized recently, much to my surprise, that I had never really done a formal writeup for the Misery Spirit that inhabits my Fomor character Linda. That’s not right. So here is the first draft for that rather unpleasant Bane. Also, hopefully this will make it a bit easier to understand the woman inside whose soul this thing presently lives. Enjoy!

Misery Bane

Linda has dubbed this malevolent spirit “Jez”, a heavily contracted and less unwieldy yet more familiar form of its actual name. She uses feminine pronouns when speaking about Jez because it inhabits her body even though she’s well aware that gender isn’t particularly meaningful for the Bane itself. Many Epiphlings (concept or emotion-spirits) lack individual identities or names, but this spirit is a powerful enough Jaggling that it is personally distinct.

At one time, Jez was a gaffling, a simple example of the Spirits of Pain that serve in Grandfather Thunder’s Brood, but as it continually drank deep of the emotional sorrow, desperation and sadism that surrounded the blighted ghetto of Razor Alley, it grew in power and malice. Eventually it became bloated with Wyrm taint and crossed the narrow boundary between Pain-Epiphling and true Bane. In this transition, the spirit grew both more powerful and more subtle, and grew to prize the slow, constant throb of despair, heartache and hopelessness beyond momentary sharp pains.

Jez is a sneaky and subversive entity that exists in a constant state of sorrow and anguish both of body and mind, and it delights in sharing its suffering with others whether that pain is the quick jolt of a wound or the slower, seeping poison of despair. It prizes most the weak and empty soul that brings suffering to itself and can be goaded to repeated half-hearted suicide attempts through self-pity and remorse, yet never quite succeed. The more that they prolong and perpetuate their own misery through sustained self-destructive behavior, the greater the Bane’s satisfaction. Where once it was a Spirit of Pain, it has since become a Spirit of Misery. And as they say, Misery loves company.

Willpower 4, Rage 8, Gnosis 7, Essence 19 (Power 30 if you’re using the Mage rule set instead of Werewolf).
Charms: Airt Sense, Possession, Corruption, Agony, Inner Pain, Neutral Scent.

Image: This Misery-Spirit is a tall and gaunt semi-anthropomorphic figure whose long robes conceal an indeterminate number of barbed and taloned stick-thin limbs. Its twisted almost-human face is constantly contorted in the throes of torment, for relief from which its eyes dart in constant search.

Influence on and relationship with Linda: With the numerous correspondences between this Bane’s nature and Linda’s experience with life, it was almost laughably easy for Gorm’s Kumo ally to convince it to join with Linda through the Rite of the Goblin chrysalis.

It is important to remember, when thinking about how this Bane influences her personality and feelings, that even a self-aware Fomor like Linda can’t avoid considerable of bleed over from the Bane’s emotions to her own. A spirit of misery makes up something like half of her spiritual nature. Even when she is most actively resisting its direct influence over her thoughts, its indirect influence cannot be denied. To a certain extent, just having it there has changed her and will continue to influence her even despite the restraining power of Strago’s Device.

She lives in and spreads misery to others about her without conscious effort because to do so is simply in her nature. The Bane itself is in perpetual misery, and Linda can only fight this fact back for brief moments. Happiness and hopes are fleeting and agonizing at best for her (when they can be procured at all), and maintaining them consistently is just impossible. She might desperately attempt to cling to positive feelings and the kindnesses of others, but no sooner have they come to her than the poison begins to set in.

Although Linda is herself a timid woman, she has taken on some of the Bane’s aggression. In dangerous situations, she demonstrates a tremendously pragmatic yet vicious brutality, but beneath this simple ruthlessness lies something that she tries very hard to hide: outright sadism. both Linda and her occupant find fulfillment in causing others to suffer, whether she wants to admit this horrible truth or not. This sadism is one of the few traits of the Bane which was alien to her before her possession: she was by inclination a gentle and nurturing creature and has found reconciling these disparate parts of her personality taxing, shameful and agonizing.

Yet she is no less brutal with herself than with others: her self-loathing was highly developed even before she became a Fomor, and has only been amplified in the time since her possession. This leads her to sabotage her relationships and decisions, to be frozen in despair or apathy and to actively cause herself physical harm. Note that although she is a self-destructive sadist, she causes harm to herself and others out of loathing and for relief from her own misery rather than perverse sexual gratification: she does not “get off” on pain, either her own or that of others.

Three is also the matter of Linda’s sexual promiscuity and the Bane’s role in that.Why would a Misery Bane want Linda to have lots of sex? Simple: because she herself is ashamed of her own loose sexuality. While loving sexual intercourse is a life-affirming and healthy thing, the wanton and emotionally bereft sex that Linda routinely engages in is desensitizing and deadening. Remorse, disappointment and depression are meat and drink to Jez, and it energetically prods Linda to engage in any behavior that will fill her with these feelings.

Linda never really had a moral compass before being possessed, which has aggravated matters and forced her to rely on concrete things like people and specific goals to retain her sanity rather than abstract principles like right and wrong or the wellbeing of the remote goddess Gaia that her Black Spiral Dancer cousins so despise. Love and tenderness are utterly alien to the Bane, and Linda tries very hard to focus on the love that she has for her missing daughter as one of the few anchors that she can cling to maintain her sanity and individuality against the being subsumed in the Misery Spirit’s eternal bitterness. Using her daughter as an anchor is largely responsible for the current success Linda is having in resisting falling back into heroin addiction (since said addiction directly impedes the search for Krissy). Another anchor has been Devin and a desire to repay the kindness that he has shown to her.

Then there is Steve. Jez reviles Steve more than it does any single person except Linda herself. It hates him because he is Garou, and because he has in his obnoxious way somehow given Linda flickers of hope and even inspired her to dream that there might possibly be more to her future than eventual insanity and death. She has grabbed hold of her instinct-driven Kinfolk duty to look after, protect and care for a Garou even though she hates and fears the Garou race as a whole, and fears even Steve himself. Linda has decided that, while she may not be worthy of forgiveness for her tainted state, she will do her best to serve faithfully as Kin to Steve while he will let her. If there is anybody that could prompt her to take the probably lethal step of seeking exorcism, that person is Steve. Accordingly, Jez dearly and fervently wishes to hurt, humiliate, alienate or kill Steve. If she can get an opening, Jez just might find a way to take a shot at doing exactly that.

As for Linda herself, she and the Bane are trapped in a very nasty cycle of loathing and conflict with themselves and one another from which there is no escape in sight save Linda’s own death. The Bane gleefully torments and second-guesses her, reminds her just what sort of deviant she was even before it came along and how grotesque a freak she is now, and seeks to convince her to give up. Linda goes out of her way to shut the Bane up and maintain a personal identity as distinct from it, and has made strides in that direction partially through outside help. Devin gifted her with a device that forces the Bane into a state almost like Slumber much of the time, which keeps its conscious interference down as well as doing a little bit to blunt its indirect influence as well.

Then there was the recent incident where Linda convinced Steve to perform a Rite of Cleansing on her. While it is true that she went through this process partially to win a measure of trust from him, to affirm her desire to be his Kin and partially to reject her old life as Black Spiral Dancer Kin, she also did it partially as a way of striking at Jez herself. The Rite of Cleansing is a brutal and nearly unbearable torture for any Wyrm creature, and neither Jez nor Linda is an exception. Linda counted suffering the rite’s effect herself well worth the cost of forcing Jez to go through it.

It remains to be seen where things will go with this grotesque spirit and the pitiful woman whose body it has made its home.

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