An amalgamation of genders and senses (and body parts), The Borrower is a member of the local Gentry, played by Annapurna.
Have you ever stood beside an athlete, flabby and exhausted, and watched them effortlessly do something you couldn't do in your dizziest daydreams? Have you ever told a baseball pitcher, "Damn, I wish I had your arm." or yearned for a sharpshooter's sure vision?
The Borrower has.
The Borrower, however, has a solution: take it.
It wants the best. Whatever its mad schemes may be, it wants the best senses for the job, the best natural camouflage, the best throwing arms and climbing legs or perhaps a tail for better balance. It doesn't care from whom they come. It doesn't care how many of each it currently has. It only wants the best tools for the job. To that end, it needs a nice, broad pool of options from which to choose...
The Borrower's massive realm is as inconstant as its creator, but one thing is always true: it is a challenge to survive. Set loose amidst the beasts and horrors created to dwell there, changelings must pit themselves against unnatural nature and, frankly, each other to survive, in a nightmare race toward perfection. Perhaps it is a jungle for a week. Perhaps a desert. Perhaps changelings are pitted against changelings on a storm-tossed island surrounded by serpent-infested seas.
Who is the most adaptable? Who is cleverest? Who is strongest? The entire realm is a rapid, forced-growth torture for survival of the fittest.
There are, however, the arenas, and the guests who visit them. At times, a changeling may come across -- or be herded into, knowing or unaware -- a mountain valley with oddly stadium-like stands around a central floor, or perhaps a rocky cleft in the hillsides, a massive Colosseum, ruined or freshly hewn from the bones of the earth.
The Borrower's gladiatorial games make Nero look like an amateur.
Some of the worst terrain imaginable forms the border of the Keeper's realm in a hellish, natural ring of fence. It isn't guarded. In most cases, it doesn't need to be; it IS the guard. Sheer rock faces, hail storms, flesh-tearing thorns and crevasses, boiling tar pits or volcanic vents, it is designed to kill, to kill efficiently, and to kill well. For the truly despairing, 'walking the Ring' is always an option. Death is a sure escape.
Competition. Those too dull or too slow are quickly weeded out by the wildlife of the realm, but the price of being the best is the Borrower's personal attention -- and entry into its Games. There are no fluffy bunnies here. There are no gentle souls unscarred by horror, no love stories without their fury and their desperation. No one leaves this realm unscarred.
The Borrower 'trains' its captives with remorseless efficiency, focusing on natural aptitude over formal education.
Really, it isn't picky about which people it takes, or trades for with other Keepers. When so many die, so easily, it can't afford to be too choosy. There are always weapons available near the arenas, and a bold captive is perfectly welcome, encouraged, even, to steal them to survive. Some captives have taken to teaching others, to helping newcomers. After all, the best hope of survival without being Borrowed from is pure mediocrity, and to achieve THIS realm's version of mediocre without dying in the process is no small feat.
The Keeper itself encourages these teachers, and while it seldom speaks to any but its chosen, loyal few, those who have proven themselves fiercest, most ruthless, most like itself, it has been known to subtly ward away the worst dangers from the best instructors, to ensure that supply and demand remain steadiest for its needs.
The end goal? The best of the best of the best. The fastest runners, the swiftest fliers, the best swimmers, fighters whose skills were honed by survival, not honor. While it does, occasionally, borrow skills, leaving its captives clumsy or unobservant (and, thereby, very likely to be eaten in short order), its custom is to 'borrow' senses. Or limbs.
It is a poor borrower. It seldom remembers to give things back, but it does sometimes trade old parts for the new, a chimerical balance kept to preserve its stock. How will you feel, knowing that you now speak with the voice of a friend killed last week in the arena? Should the Borrower require a rhino's bullish strength, it might trade its slender feline build for your broad muscles. Or your face.
It is painful. Feeling threads of your body being unraveled and rewoven into new forms, unrecognised or horrifyingly familiar, can happen at any time, to anyone. The process varies, and physical contact is not necessary.
Suggested Themes for Escapees
Most escapees are scarred in some way, or missing limbs, or senses. The most likely methods of escape are A) survive the Ring, B) slip away on your way to another Keeper's Realm while being traded for fresh meat, or C) be a loyal favorite who escapes on a hunt in the mortal world for new humans to bring back as stock.
- Many Beast kiths exist. Many, many. Chimera is the most common, however, often dual-kithed with Ogre kiths for durability and survival.
- Darklings tend toward the more physical, cruel end -- sharper, fighters, good hiders.
- Elementals are seldom purely elemental, typically influenced by kiths from other Seemings. The situations The Borrower puts its captives through don't lend themselves to one consistent element over another. The realm is too changeable.
- Fairests are almost unheard-of. If you are a Fairest, you were more than likely traded for with another Keeper, your beauty will more than likely end up corrupted or ruined, and you are more than likely tasked with some form of administration over the arenas and the guests who sometimes come to watch.
- Ogres are extremely common, tending toward those most adaptable, most durable and best at survival.
- Wizened are also on the uncommon side of common, but they are canny, and their cleverness can help them to survive. Crafters, for example, might arise out of pure native skill and desperation for trapping the beasts that would kill them.