Fair Damsels and Foul Treachery
Mocha Hill Freehold
Top level view: You see a clearing in the woods, with a river of brownish-colored water flowing through it and a large hut-like building shaped like a vaguely rectangular molehill. Around the hut grow various fruits trees and shrubs: several goblin fruit trees, and many shrublike plants with dark red berries (vaguely resembling coffee berries except for the color) along the river banks. Away from the river on the other side of the clearing, you can see a single isolated white elm tree, with a totem pole nearby.
Inside: The room inside the hut is roughly 12 feet by 20 feet, with stairs at both ends lengthwise. Within this room you can see several contraptions: a large potlike brewing cylinder made of crystal-glass, a large glass screen alongside three crystal balls perched on tripods on the opposite side, and a steam-powered engine contraption with a large horn sticking out of one end.
The two staircases open up into a huge underground meeting chamber, roughly 100 feet lengthwise and widthwise, and 15 feet from floor to ceiling. Looking away from the stairs, you can see the main meeting hall, with three rows of ash-wood long conference tables, with chairs along both sides of the table. On the far wall you can see the podium atop a raised platform dais. The banner of both Mocha Hill (with the insignia: a circle with three inscribed vertical lines) and the seasonal ruler can be seen from a distance, On the side walls you can see several suits of full plate armor, and very bright torches all over the side wall for illumination (which give off a sort of ambient yellow “will-o-wisp style” light).
The left and right walls open up into a long hallway along the length of the ceremonial hall, with a door at the end of the hall (at the same distance lengthwise as the podium). Both hallways have an Alice in Wonderland style distortion effect: the door appears incredibly tiny when looking from the staircase end, and the hallway opening appears gigantic when looking from the door end.
Sketch of Mocha Hill
This is a very primitive sketch of the freehold environs and the lower level:
History of Mocha Hill
Mocha Hill was known in the days of old as the “Muck Hill River Estate”, named so because of the dirty brown river flowing through the clearing. Muck Hill became widely used as a meeting place during the rule of the Winter King Octavian, who held the Winter Court crown from 1902 to 1968 in the freehold of DC. Muck Hill was a tributary freehold of DC at the time, and Octavian instituted a lot of the customs of Mocha Hill that prevailed in the old-world setting of the DC freehold: the seasonal Court system of rule, the official knighting ceremonies, and the Court festivities for each season (Homecoming, Pennons, the Ashen Hunt, and Carnival. See Lost In Maryland for more details.)
However, all was not well in Muck Hill for the final two decades of Octavian’s long rule, as the rulers of the other three Courts started to assert themselves. Octavian was very isolationist (as befitting for a member of the Winter Court), and had lots of rules on how changelings should assimilate into the greater mortal society and not stand out, and constantly mentioned how the FBI and NSA are right around the block, and not to be trifled with under any circumstances. Members of other Courts (especially Autumn and Spring), however, made more of an effort to integrate into human society so that Glamour can be more easily harvested. Eventually large numbers of Autumn and Spring changelings broke off from the larger DC freehold and established Muck Hill as an independent freehold. Octavian was none too pleased but knew he was defeated three Courts to one.
Octavian eventually took his lumps in the early 1960’s so that reconstruction can begin. Llatha the Autumn Queen, along with the assistance of Prismatic Dawn the Spring Queen, took over and made some sweeping changes: many of the old “commoner law” rules were declared null and void inside the newly constituted Maryland freehold and the named changed to Mocha Hill in 1963 when Gnimius the Tinker (a Wizened brewer of repute) discovered that the swampy land was great for growing the Goblin Coffee beans that are now used to keep changelings alert, awake, and focused on completing difficult tasks.
Reforms were made bit by bit until 1966, the year another large-scale reform happened: The Hollows of Southern Maryland were granted their independence under the benevolent stewardship of Mocha Hill, and were no longer directly ruled (owned) by a seasonal ruler, and were no longer forced to tithe to the ruler in Glamour. (Likewise, the new Maryland seasonal rulers had no obligation to protect a freehold that broke completely clean from any power structure.) A small semblance of the old feudal structure still exists to this day in Maryland, but by and large most changelings of Maryland are Independent and no longer swear fealty to a crown. Only a great while later (in the late 80s) did DC take suit and start to adopt a balanced approach to rule that incorporates both modern and traditional ideas. Llatha, who was already old at the time of secession from the DC freehold, passed away in 1970.
The new seasonal rulers of the early 1970’s, Dravain and Adriannen, had won the respective crowns of Autumn and Summer in Maryland on an “Independence First” platform, but really yearned for a new empire to rise up and give DC some real competition. These two changeling, along with the Winter lord Old Guthrie (an ogre and Octavian’s protege, who moved to Maryland rather than wait for Octavian to kick the bucket) took the reins of Mocha Hill and started enacting a policy of aggression towards True Fae, and called their motley “The Civilized Hunt” in open mockery of the Wild Hunt, which scared off Prismatic Dawn to the point where she stepped down from being Spring Court Queen, and for a while there was no Spring ruler until Drusy took over. Eventually, Old Guthrie died in 1983 while fighting his own Keeper (a headless terror with an icy whip nicknamed The Soulrender), and Adriannen and Dravain barely escaped with their lives. Eltiana took over the Winter crown, but the Courts were not the same: Adriannen and Dravain became hostile towards one another, to the point of openly dueling to the death ten years later.
Through the mid-late 1990’s, more reforms were needed, and large numbers of changelings started to strongly dislike the Autumn and Summer courts. Elbin was instituted as the Summer lord, but he was largely ineffective in restoring honor to the fallen Court. The twins of the RedShips motley, Seraphinus and Lucianus, eventually found favor among the jaded citizens of Maryland’s changeling community.
Mocha Hill is currently the meeting-place for Maryland’s freehold citizens during major ceremonies and events, but is not actually owned by the lords and ladies themselves. Mocha Hill is but one of roughly 10 or 12 Hollows that exist within the Maryland region, but remains to this day the epicenter of Maryland changeling life, and thus Mocha Hill became the frehold name as well.
Gates and Portals
Mocha Hill has three well-known exits and one lesser known “secret” exit, which connect to the mortal world in the following ways:
- The elm tree is a gate that leads to the Rock Creek Park entrance – just walk clockwise around the tree three times.
- The western hallway door (left on map) leads to the Java House in Waldorf. (which is not a real place, but patterned after the Brewhouse in La Plata, but I didn’t want to use a real place for a freehold entrance.)
- The eastern hallway (right on map) leads to a small bookstore in College Park, off of Rhode Island Ave.
The Mocha Hill freehold is a trod as well, and has a small dusty path that eventually leads to Arcadia, though no one knows for sure. Just cross the bridge across the chocolate-brown water and follow the trail. On the other side of the bridge reads a sign with the following cautionary words:
Humpty Dumpty met his doom by falling off a ledge.
A grimmer fate awaits the fool who walks into the Hedge.
Rules of the Realm
Drafted by Llatha and Chromatic Dawn, November 1966:
MOCHA HILL CITIZENS PLEDGE
We the Oathsworn of Mocha Hill have established ourselves as an independent freehold, subject to the laws of no demesne other than our own. We were once slaves to the Others but now live as free citizens under Mocha Hill in times of peace; divided by the Others but now united under Mocha Hill in times of conflict and hardship. This common Pledge ensures our continued freedom by establishing a common bond that unites us under one common banner against the Others.
As citizens of Mocha Hill we make a pledge in body and essence to uphold the following six Commandments:
- Loyalty: Never provide information, aid, or material comfort to the Others or to their loyal kin: Loyalists, Privateers, and anyone or thing under direct mental control of the Others.
- Hospitality: All who cross the Thorns have the right to spend one full moon as honored guests, and for this time our Guests will not be bound by Pledge or Oath to our Citizens. After one moon, our Guest may either take this Citizens Pledge or walk free.
- Guardianship: Citizens who find the Others or their loyal kin meddling in our demesne are obligated to inform knight or liege.
- Privacy: Take care when revealing yourself to mortalkind: do not Unmask yourself before the mortal authorities, or to anyone else not under pact of Ensorcellment more than three times.
- Rulership: Lords and Ladies of Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter shall rule over their respective season, but seasonal rule in Mocha Hill is never absolute: the combined vote of the other three Lords or Ladies has veto power over any edict.
- Tolerance: Any Citizen of Mocha Hill who upholds this Pledge and all other oaths can never under any circumstances be banished or exiled, nor can their rights as a free citizen be taken away.
- Separation: Do not meddle in the due process of mortal law directly with the power of the Wyrd. Contracts may be used in self-defense, but under no circumstance can mortal authorities see our powers in action.
This is the pledge that binds one as a full Oathsworn of Mocha Hill. However, being a full Oathsworn citizen is a pretty serious undertaking, and not many changelings (usually between 20% to 40% of the freehold membership, varying depending on circumstances) swear to the full oath. Those that do are effectively bound to this Pledge, which they renew typically on the day of the respective Lord or Lady’s annual coronation:
Type: Corporal, Courtly Emblem
Tasks: Fealty (follow above commandments, -3)
Boon: Vassalage (fertility blessing, 3)
@ : Courtless pick whichever Court they have the most goodwill towards.
The Membership Oath (lesser Citizen’s Pledge)
Allow me fair entrance to your gardens, and membership within the Mocha Hill freehold. I take this simple pledge to never provide information, aid, or material comfort to the Others or to their loyal servants, until the wheel of seasons spins again, and in return I shall give a token of appreciation to the Court of < season > to share in the bounty of your freehold.
This is the Cliffs Notes version of the above Citizen’s Pledge, whereby the oathtaker swears to uphold only the first of the six Commandments upheld by an Oathsworn. The Membership Oath equates to the following simplified Pledge:
Type: Corporal, Courtly Emblem
Tasks: Lesser Endeavor (not selling out to Fae, -1)
Boon: Lesser Favor (provided by Court, 2)
Mocha Hill is home to changelings from a variety of backgrounds, so it should come as no surprise that they have a variety of different beliefs. Mocha Hill citizens are as varied as their kiths and kinds, but politically they tend to fall into one of three groups:
- Old Escheat: The arch-conservatives of Mocha Hill. Members of this faction generally believe in a strict division between mortal and changeling unless Glamour is involved. Anything worth doing is done with a Pledge and a vow, and woe be to any Oathbreaker who breaks a pledge. Anyone who is not full Oathsworn is a second class citizen, and is lucky to be a citizen at all. The old ways of the DC freehold are still carried out in spirit, if not to the letter. The Margraves are a serious threat to Court sovereignty and a problem caused by abandonment of old feudal ways, and the only good Margrave is one with his head on a pike.
Notable Members: Before 2004, the Summer, Autumn, and Winter Court rulers had a nearly unanimous history of adhering to Old Escheat customs and beliefs. However, the Old Escheat is at its all-time weakest in 35 years (in no small part due to the RedShips, see below), but Eltiana and Elbin remain steadfast in keeping up old traditions. Changelings born before 1960 side with the Old Escheat in much greater numbers than the younger pups, with a few notable exceptions. Drusy has kept up a non-partisan image in recent years, but rumor says she’s secretly Escheat but admitting as such would completely alienate her from the liberal-minded Spring Court.
- Free Citizens Lodge: Started out as a mock “coffeehouse philosophy” group but soon became the tongue-in-cheek official name for Mocha Hill’s moderates. This faction believes that injections of U.S. constitutional law to changeling politics is a good thing. The “old ways” talk among Old Escheat courtiers sounds a little too much like absolute monarchy, and Viva La Revolution sounds a little too true to their namesake and might just start chopping heads in the name of some radical ideology. Policy talk is all the rage, and these guys and gals tend towards a pragmatic Jeffersonian outlook.
Notable Members: Kendrick oversee the Java House which serves as the Lodge’s meetingplace, and both consider themselves die-hard Lodgers. The RedShips motley found kindred spirits among the more nerdy and intellectual Lodgers, which represents a historic shift for Summer and Autumn. Changelings who are active in mortal politics (such as Sarlandra) tend to favor the Lodge as well.and
- Viva La Revolution: Started in Pandora’s Basement in the wake of the Dravain-Adriannen death duel fiasco. True to its name, Viva La Revolution is focused on change and liberal activism, and sometimes take radical stances in support of the rights of downtrodden Lost. Pledges and vows don’t stop corruption; just look at Mocha Hill’s history of oathbreaking Lords and Ladies. The Margraves are a problem right now, true, but Eltiana and Elbin aren’t exactly pure as snow in the whole deal, and oh those Pledges cover their tracks quite nicely. How convenient.
Notable Members: Changelings who identify with Viva La Revolution run the gamut from the “Loud and Proud” Fat Bottomed Girls, to quiet sympathizers such as Clare Seaward and Granny Taters. Some changelings such as Roscoe take the Viva La Revolution side not for the cause but rather for the opportunity to stir shit up among the Old Establishment. The Courtless and disenfranchised take to radical politics more often than most — which some Old Escheat courtiers doubtlessly see as “Margrave sympathizer” tendencies. Go figure.
- Apathetic: the unofficial fourth group. Quite a number of changelings in Mocha Hill simply don’t give a shit about politics.
Notable Members: Not really noticeable because they stay out of the way. Politics is a nasty game — why stand around and risk getting your head sliced if you don’t have a dog in the fight?
Treasures of the Realm
The following treasures are available for use by the seasonal ruler of the realm or any knights or the official steward (Kendrick):
- Blood Pennon with Mocha Hill crest (Token 5, see book for details)
- Glasses of Revelation (Token 4): This is a pair of 3-D glasses (the cheesy red-and-blue type) that allows the wearer to see invisible, camouflaged, or shapeshifted (such as any of hte Mirror contracts) things as they really are. Roll a Perception check in addition to the standard roll whenever the wearer sees an illusory object, and if the number of successes is equal to or greater than the number of original successes, the illusion is pierced and the object appears in its true form.
- Oathbreaker’s Ruin (Token 5): This is an exceptionally well-made steel sword that appears to be hand-forged sometime around 1900, with the image of a snake encircling the hilt. If this sword strikes an oathbreaker of Mocha Hill and does at least one point of lethal damage, the wound will not clot as if the victim had a severe case of hemophilia. The bleeding will continue until the victim dies; the victim takes one additional point of Lethal damage per 15 minutes unless a medic tends to the wound and rolls five Medicine + Intelligence successes, rerollable once per 15 minutes. Five successes are needed per wound in order to be fully healed.
In addition to these three treasures, lords and knights have access to the Everburning Flame, which is a torch that has been continuously burning since 1908. The Flame can be harvested for one point of Glamour per day, but it will extinguish if it is harvested more than three times in any one day (by someone eligible to do this). So far this hasn’t happened, due to the practice of laying stones whenever the Flame is harvested and removed at dawn.
Citizens of the Realm
Changelings of influence in Mocha Hill have their own pages:
- Information regarding the Mocha Hill nobility can be found on the Lords and Ladies page.
- The Knights are the first line of defense from invading Gentry or hostile changelings.
- The Retainers do all the little things that keep the Court functioning.
- The complete list of changelings in in Maryland/DC area can be found on the Mocha Hill Roll Call section, which includes independent freeholds and motleys (and even the Margravate) in addition to the courtiers of Mocha Hill.