Kishlee the Pooka

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Kishlee the Pooka

Post by The Pooka on Fri Oct 16, 2015 11:44 pm

Player Name: The Pooka.

"Now ain't that somedeal easy to remember?"

Name: Kishlee the Pooka.

“I'm the Pooka as they tell me,
You'd infer it ain't my name.
As for names I got a fair few;
Call me Pooka all the same.”


Although he has nomenclature aplenty, the Pooka rarely introduces himself to strangers, preferring to be addressed simply as 'the Pooka'. This is fairly typical of solitary Fae, who are inclined to think of themselves as the only example of their particular pedigree.

Given Name: Those who know the Pooka well enough are familiar with the name he most commonly uses; Kishlee. He started calling himself this after having been banished from the Court of Annwn and thereafter abandoning his attempt at a courtly domestic lifestyle. Kishlee has since become his favourite name to go by. Friends tend to use 'Kish' as an endearment.

True Name: The Pooka's secret true name is Fáeth Finna Dubh (pronounced Fie Finn-ah Doove), but this is a name he has never spoken aloud nor revealed in any other fashion. Even in the days of the Tuatha De Danann he was properly known as the Púca Cis Le (Poo-kah Kish Lee), for his people are wont to keep their true names a closely guarded secret, lest their enemies gain power over them.

Other Names: The rest of the Fae know the Pooka by a range of nicknames and epithets. A fair few of these are derived from the warm autumn hue of his hair; unusual for Pookas, which tend to be black coloured. The Tylwyth Teg of Wales named him Gwaredd (Gentle) and Pwca O Gwynedd (the Pooka of Gwynedd), while the Daoine Sidhe of Ireland called him Foreith and Dearg Púca na Breathnach Beag (the Red Pooka of Little Britain). In Scotland, particularly amongst the Selkies of the Orkney Isles, he's referred to as Ruadh Bòcan (the Brown Goblin) or Ruadh Gobhair (the Brown Goat). On the Isle of Man he was called Eayin Eairk (Lamb-horned). The Piskies of Cornwall knew him as the Bucca Cober (the Copper Pooka). In England he’s sometimes known as Gareth, or Rustipuck (the Rusty Pooka).

Age: Unknown.

"I'm as old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth."

That's to say, the Pooka isn't quite sure how old he is. His memory gets hazier the further back he reminisces. He was counted amongst the Tuatha De Danann when they first arrived in Eire-land, and he fought in the First Battle of Mag Tuireadh. According to disputable semi-historical accounts, that means he was knocking about at least as early as 1896 BC.

Species: Fairy.

“Study soundly, sirrah; for-soothly I ain't no saint.”

Kishlee is one of the Fairy Folk — the Others, the Old Ones, the Hidden Folk, the Good Neighbours, the People of Peace — that legendary people of yore, comprised of magical, mystical, mercurial beings from the Celtic Otherworld — sprites and sylphs, goblins and gnomes, troll-folk and mer-folk and all manner of soulless, eldritch creatures.

Race: Pooka.

“You may ask what I am or who,
I do not mean to misconstrue,
For semblances I have not few,
I change anon and change anew.

So do not think me foolisher,
If I should winnow, bleat or purr,
For whether feather, fleece or fur,
I am the Pooka, be quite sure.”


More specifically, a Pooka is a sort of half-wild hobgoblin. These fairies are by turns gregarious, mischievous, dangerous, or any combination thereof. Among the differing breeds of Fae — who come in an insensible variety of shapes and sizes — Pookas are the most well reputed for their shape-shifting abilities. It is a generally accepted belief that they can take the form of any beast or bird known to the British Isles. Goats, horses and dogs are their most common manifestations, although their true form is that of a hairy goblin with combined features of those selfsame animals.

Other beliefs concerning the Pookas are more localized. The terrifying black Púcas of Ireland are known for marauding the night in packs and were greatly feared by all who went abroad after dusk. They demanded a 'Púca's share' of every harvest, and would poison or steal crops which they considered to be their right. In Cornwall on the other hand, the Puccas were mostly harmless critters, associated with fishing and mining. In Wales and Southern England, Pwcas or Pucks were little more than miscreants who enjoyed frightening, misleading or humiliating travellers, but doing them no real harm. In Scotland and Northern England, Phoukas were rare and quite solitary.

Occupation: Solitary Fae.

“Crowds make me nervous as a long-tail'd cat in a room full o' rockin' chairs.”

While he can lay claim to any of the regional Pooka behaviours at some point in his long life, Kishlee in his current mien is a characteristically Welsh solitary Pwca. He has been a shape-shifting, prank-pulling, free-roaming hobgoblin for almost as long as he can remember. While it is true that the Pooka can be capricious or even malicious at times, by and large he is a gentle fellow. But then, lacking a soul, he considers a little self-interest to be more than sensible in lieu of an afterlife to look forward to.

In terms of allegiance, Kishlee casts his lot in with the Fair Folk and the Summer Fae, by ethical consensus more than any real sense of fraternity. His ties to the Daoine Sidhe are now tenuous at best, his reputation among the Tylwyth Teg in Wales is more or less in tatters, and he never did feel at home in Scotland at the Seelie Court. But even a solitary Pooka has the good sense to abide by the traditions of those in power. And far be it from Kish to miss out on any occasion for festivity and debauchery. Furthermore, he prefers to avoid associating with the Dark Folk and the Winter Fae if he can help it. He still retains some measure of prejudice from the bygone days of war against the Fomoiri and their ilk.

Orientation: Pansexual.

“The horns’re for buckin' and so’re the hips!”

To the Pooka, there’s always room for life’s little pleasures; laughter, libation and love. His aspirations are to kindle hearts, to lift spirits, and to stifle sobriety wherever it crops up. This happy-go-lucky temperament is often mistaken for childlike innocence, but he’s neither bashful nor inexperienced when it comes to the baser pleasures. In matters of love, he has no qualms about squiggly little details like gender or species or even privacy. Nor does he distinguish between platonic and sexual relationships, as friendship and love are interchangeable commitments in his opinion. Casual romps in the backwoods are typical fare for a night spent dancing around the Fairy Fire, but the Pooka is no stranger to serious romance either.

Magical Powers: Shapeshifting, Glamour, Enchantment, Soothsaying.

“I'm no wizened wizard or soothsaying sage, and my cantrips ain’t the wonder o' this age.”

As an inherently magical creature — albeit not a very diligent magical student — the Pooka can perform subtle feats of magic in his own fashion. Fairy magic is similar to human sorcery, but less ritualized in nature, and worked through simple gestures or mutterings. Kish’s talents in this area are somewhat limited by laziness and lack of ambition, but it is within his power to blow a snuffed candle back into life, for instance, or dip his hand into a pail of milk and make it curdle.

Tuirgin — Shapeshifting: The Pooka shares a primal affinity with the denizens of the forest. He can communicate with them, influence them and as a practitioner of the Druidic metamorphosing magic known as Tuirgin, he can adopt their shapes at will. The billy-goat is his forte but a dog (typically an Irish Wolfhound or a Welsh Springer Spaniel) is his favoured form for blending in with humans. He commonly transforms into an otter for swimming and a lark for flight. Other characteristic metamorphoses are pony, donkey, wolf, rabbit, squirrel, marten, weasel, badger, fox, cat, stag, boar, beaver, hedgehog, hawk, sparrow, swallow, lark, owl, raven, crow, magpie, jackdaw and rook. He is perfectly capable of turning into a horse but a nagging fear of Kelpies combined with the memory of a certain low-point in his life discourages him from inhabiting the form of a horse. A less optional limitation is that no matter the shape he wears, he is unable to alter the distinctive golden colour of his eyes.

Gramarye — Glamour: Kishlee hides from the eyes of the mundane beneath a veil of illusory Gramarye, or glamour. This invisibility is a common Fairy technique known as Feth Fiada, the Druid's Fog. Mortal folk cannot normally perceive the Pooka if he does not wish them to. However, a rare few mortals possess a second Sight that penetrates the illusions of the Fae. Young children and animals, because of the way they look upon the world, might occasionally see through the Pooka’s glamour. His skill with such magic is sufficient to keep him hidden from prying mortals, but conjuring intricate illusions or disguises are a little beyond the hobgoblin’s casual proficiencies. He has yet to achieve anything near the power required to appear with an ordinary human semblance.

Pishogue — Enchantment: The Pooka is an avid enchanter. He usually relies on the music of his Fairy flute to channel his enchantments. When he places flute to lips and weaves an eerie tune, those who hearken to it are spellbound. He infuses the black magic of Pishogue into each otherworldly note. With a merry melody, he can make flames dance in their hearths. With a soothing lullaby, he can put babbling brooks to sleep. With a haunting dirge, he can strike fear into the hearts of the roughest Redcaps. The Pooka also has a knack for making charms. He fashions these out of wood, stone or Druid's glass, carving them into small, crude talismans. Enchanting them requires little more than a flourish of glamour and a small offering to the great mother goddess (usually a drop of whatever bodily fluid is suitable).

Faistine — Soothsaying: November Day, or Latha na Samna, is the Day of the Pooka. In the days surrounding the Samhain holiday (better known as Hallowe'en), the Pooka is able to invoke the power of Faistine and glance fleetingly into the near future. While this gift of sight might sound advantageous, it is probably the least versatile of his natural powers. He cannot divine his own future; all he sees is that which might befall others. Furthermore, his predictions only extend as far as the November of next year, and he cannot choose which moment between now and then is revealed to him, amounting to one page of one chapter of one book. The visions come unheeded, unordered, and unwelcome. After several hundred years, he has learned to tune these dreams and visions out every November Day.

Skills and Talents: Languages, Knowledge, Proficiencies, Adroitness.

“Where Lagan stream sings lullaby,
There blows a lily fair,
The twilight gleam is in her eye,
The stars are in her hair.

And like a lovesick leanansidhe,
She has my heart in thrall,
Nor life I owe nor liberty,
For love is lord of all!"


Kishlee is a Pooka of many skills and talents, randomly accumulated over a very long and colourful history. He began as a prehistoric warrior, and then became a hunter, then a hermit, then a flautist, a jester, a bard, an enchanter and above all a traveller — wandering abroad all the while, picking things up without much in the way of formal training. Of course, even an elf's memory is far from perfect, and many of the skills he once prized in his youth have long since fallen by the wayside.

Celtic Languages: The Pooka is a talented polyglot. He can speak fluently in the ancient Celtic tongue, as well as its Brythonic and Goidelic derivatives; Old Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Pictish, Manx, Welsh, Cornish, Cumbric and a smattering of Breton. He is also fairly well spoken in Old English and Early Modern English. He attempts to keep abreast of modern developments in the English tongue, but the rapidity with which the language mutates is a confounding matter for the Pooka, and he is usually a few decades behind the current jargon. His skill for language doesn't extend from the spoken word to the written word, either. He is almost completely illiterate and can neither read nor write, except in the old Celtic Ogham and Nordic Futhark runes. Not to say those ancient scripts do him any good these days.

Folk Knowledge: Kish’s comprehension of things extends mostly into the natural world. He understands the speech of animals, the nature of herbs and poisons, the unpredictable patterns of weather and the secrets of the seasons. Because of his scant association with mortals and his disregard for reading, the Pooka is only vaguely familiar with human history (other than what he has witnessed first-hand). The Fairy Folk have a largely oral storytelling tradition, much like the ancient Celts, so Kish has a minstrel's repertoire of time-honoured songs and ballads, as well as most of the old folktales of the Fairy world. He supplements his collection of memorized stories whenever he can, or otherwise just makes makes new tall-tales up himself.

Bardic Proficiencies: The Pooka’s most treasured, tried-and-true talent is flautistry. Ever since he first learned to play a flute, it has been the only facility besides shapeshifting that he has really put his heart and soul into. His singing voice is less practised but still impressive by human standards, especially given his ability to duplicate any human or animal voice that he hears. He is no stranger to the other performing arts either. During several stays in the Fairy Courts of Great Britain, he made regular use of traditional theatrical talents; including acting, dancing, acrobatics, juggling, contortion and legerdemain. He is also a fairly decent hand at drawing, etching and carving, although his methods are a little crude. Finally, pick-pocketing and lock-picking are oft-employed but rarely advertised skills of this cunning little hobgoblin.

Animal Adroitness: Kishlee is a rough beast at heart and his physicality reflects this. He has the swift-footed agility of a horse and the sure-footed poise of a goat. His senses are sharp and his reflexes are timely. His hands are deft and dexterous, his feet well balanced, his fingers and toes nimble. Spry, sprightly and spring-heeled...to put it simply, the Pooka is fast. But all that speed comes at a price. His scrawny physique gives him little room for muscle definition. He is barely stronger than a human child, and it wouldn't take much mettle to overpower him. If it came down to fight or flight, there is little doubt that Kish would opt for the latter strategy. Once, in days long past, he might have been an interminable warrior. But nowadays his martial prowess is long forgotten, replaced by a keen propensity for sneaking, subterfuge and sleight-of-hand.

Magical Weaknesses: Cold Iron, Christianity, Oaths and Debts, Bridling.

“It's true! True as a well digger's arse is wet! I swear it by oak, ash and thorn!”

Unfortunately, being Fae has as many drawbacks as it does benefits. Folklore is rife with methods to weaken and repel the Good Neighbours. The Pooka should perhaps count his blessings in that he isn’t afflicted by such grievous frailties as being unable to cross running water or being driven off by common table salt. He is still subject to the universal weaknesses of the Fairy Folk, however, and those are dangerous enough in their own right.

Cold Iron: Like all his kin, Kishlee cannot bear the presence of iron, especially unwrought iron ore. It is an intrinsically banal substance to magical beings. Simply being in close proximity to iron can fill the Pooka with nausea. The touch of it scalds his flesh and nullifies his powers. The sound of ringing iron is like the ear-splitting knell of a gong inside his very skull. Even steel and other ferrous alloys will have an effect, though somewhat less potent depending on the iron purity. The Pooka still experiences some lingering discomfort in his left leg from an old wound he’d suffered (an unfortunate incident involving an iron trap-jaw). Because he is rather ashamed of the scars, he keeps his left heel bound in leather strapping. The sight of jagged metal still makes his knees wobble.

Christianity: Christendom has a bad history with the Fairy Folk, from the betrayal of thrice-accursed Saint Patrick to the dismantling of the Druidic faith. The Pooka himself has had relatively little experience with the Church, but from what he’s gleaned of it, the power of faith is a force to be reckoned with. And not reckoned with by him, if he can help it. Pookas in particular — with their hirsute appearances, devilish horns and impish habits — have been the victims of much demonization on behalf of the clergy. This hobgoblin is understandably cautious not to tread on the toes of any so-named Men of the Cloth. Try mentioning the name of a Catholic Saint; he’ll start like you’d lit a fire under his tail.

Oaths and Debts: Despite his unpredictable nature, Kishlee is utterly bound by his sworn word. He will abide by the promises he makes, as forswearing an oath is tantamount to suicidal disgrace among the Fairy Folk. The Pooka’s particular vernacular tends to get rather flowery and verbose when he’s swearing a formal oath (perhaps so he can sneak in a loophole or two). Nevertheless, he would perish the thought of going back on his word, and he expects, perhaps naively, the same sense of honour from those who have dealings with him. The Fae also maintain a strict code of debts and honours, and the Pooka will strive to repay in equal measure all that he has received. This of course includes gifts, but also slights, for which he is eager to exact due vengeance. He expects others to treat him with the same deference, and so a debt owed to him would have to be repaid in full; no more and certainly no less. Of course, theft is a slightly different matter. He will certainly feel the need to reimburse the owner, but only if they catch him in the act.

Bridling: Once, the Pookas of Ireland were the terrors of the night. But a legend tells that Brian Boru, the famous High King of Ireland, had learned of the way to tame a Pooka. Three hairs must be plucked from a Pooka's tail, and woven into a bridle. If the Pooka could be caught and bridled with this charm, he would have no choice but to obey the directions of the one who mounts him, and he could only free himself of the bridle if it were removed for him, or if he were to swear an oath upon the privilege of the rider. King Brian Boru used this knowledge to capture all the Pookas of Ireland, one by one, and extract from them a promise that they would no longer harass any Irishman who walked outside at night, unless they were drunk, unbaptized or up to no good.



Appearance: Small, skinny, goblinoid, bestial, scruffy, autumn-furred, goat-horned, dog-faced, donkey-tailed, shaggy-haired, floppy-eared, golden-eyed, staring, gangly-limbed, knobbly-knuckled, clawed, fanged, scarred.

“By my reckoning, I’m as hairy a hob as they come—a fairly fuzzy fairy, if y’follow.”

Like many (but not all) Pookas, Kishlee looks like a tatterdemalion hodgepodge of goblin, goat, horse and hound. A pelt of shaggy fur covers his entire body, bunching up into tufts around his cheeks, wrists and ankles. The hair ranges in colouration from tawny to burnished copper to dark brown, and overall is reminiscent of autumn leaves (which routinely get snagged in it due to neglectful grooming habits). His skin underneath is a rich burnt-umber, though it only shows through on the button-tip of his snout and the leathery soles of his feet. He prefers to think of himself as hairy rather than furry.

A set of dark caprine horns arch upwards and outwards from the crown of the Pooka's skull. He has a penchant for wearing random locks of his hair in braids when he's in love, but otherwise the hair on his head is an unruly thicket of curly tangles, from the sides of which protrude large and floppy goat ears. His left ear is pierced by two gold earrings, and there's a noticeable tear where a third earring had been ripped out long ago. The movement of his ears are a good indicator of his emotional state, as they tend to perk up when he's happy or alert, and droop when he's sad or contemplative.

The Pooka's face is more vaguely canine than anything else. His messy fringe overshadows his eyes, which are almond-shaped and set far apart on his face, dominated by irises of a warm yellow hue that could be compared to amber, honey, or piss. He very rarely blinks, giving him an eerie stare with an even eerier incandescent quality in the dark. His nose is broad-bridged and tapers to a flattened snout over a lipless muzzle of a mouth. His mouth opens up into a wide grin which might seem goofy if it didn't show off his sharp, predatory fangs. Even then, the intimidating effect is somewhat hampered by the yellowing moulder of tooth-decay and the gap in between his upper front teeth. He has a triangular jawline accentuated by the tufted fur of his cheeks, a small pointy chin and a scrawny neck.

Upright, the Pooka stands at about four and a half feet tall (nearly five feet if you include the horns), but when moving he usually crouches or lopes, making him appear even shorter. His frame is willowy and his limbs somewhat gangly, terminating in oversized hands and feet. His fingers and toes are long, knobbly-knuckled affairs with sharp claws for grasping and climbing. His feet are as dexterous as his hands, so much so that he can passably play a flute with them (although it requires some awkward contortions to actually get the flute to his lips). An elongated assine tail with a bushy tuft hangs from his rump. The tail is strong enough to hold his weight if he should hang from it, though not for a great length of time. There is a rather ghastly set of scars on his right ankle, which he usually covers with leather strapping. Because of this old wound, he tends to favour the other leg.

The Pooka is a gregarious goblin, speaking with a silvery tone at a chirpy pace. He is capable of duplicating any human voice or animal call, but his natural vocal sound is rather hoarse and scratchy, though not shrill. He has a sort of folksy British accent but it is difficult to place, somewhere between north-country Welsh and the King's English. Reading and writing may be distasteful concepts to him, but he certainly has a flair for colourful language. His speech tends to be littered with archaisms, anachronisms and nonsensical phrases (not to mention exaggerations, misleads and outright lies). He has a habit of referring to people by quaint diminutives like 'sonny' or 'lassie', and he often finishes a statement by embellishing the truth of his claims, for instance '...and that's true as a witch's teat is cold!'.

Lacking all but a rudimentary sense of hygiene, Kishlee carries a rather strong odour, the sum of countless 'borrowed' scents. The smell is uncannily resistant to being described, but could be likened to a combination of old dog hair, damp mossy bark and stale potatoes — and that’s not taking his various bodily fluids into account. While such an outdoorsy aroma might seem unpleasant to certain urbane individuals, the hobgoblin himself cherishes the enduring olfactory reminders of past misadventures. It should be noted that his breath is not nearly so odious, carrying a curiously pleasant aroma of hazelnuts.

Personality: Acrobatic, capricious, cautious, cunning, curious, deceitful, deviant, fickle, flippant, gregarious, lecherous, merry, mischievous, musical, passionate, protective, raucous, swift, traditional, unpredictable, wily.

“By Brigid's big buckled bloomers, that’s the most disrespectful thing I ever heard tell of!”

The Pooka is a solitary Fae, insofar as one could call it solitude by choice. He keeps his own company, which can be company enough for him. Even so, he’d never shy away from striking up a conversation with a perfect stranger. In fact, he relishes the opportunity to vex, befuddle or terrify any unfortunate soul who crosses his path. And when the urge to wander strikes the adventurous hobgoblin, a travelling companion hardly goes unwelcomed by him. The Pooka is a rarity among the Hidden People in his willingness to travel all over the British Isles. Most Fae, even Trooping Fae, are highly territorial and hardly ever stray from their local haunts, but Kish seems averse to settling down for more than a decade. Still, even the Pooka is insular enough that he wouldn't dare cross the English Channel into mainland Europe, however curious he may be about the Fairy Folk of Brittany.

Some would say the Pooka has a two-faced nature, by turns feral and formal, deceitful and honest, footloose and traditional, rude and polite, criminal and lawful. Although he might seem at first glance to have a rather free-spirited way about him, the Pooka is deadly serious when it comes to fairy laws and traditions, and he can be grossly offended when people disregard them. Like most Solitary Fae, he will not make a distinction between wilful transgression and hapless ignorance. He can be roused to startling fury and even outright violence if people should persist in trespassing against his sensibilities. Although he will lie, cheat and steal with shameless abandon, he is also a fairy of his word and he will never ignore a debt, forswear an oath or break a promise if he can help it. He also refuses to accept gifts or services unless they are offered in the proper way or they fall under the auspices of sacred hospitality.

Being of a race of creatures that are often impulsive by nature, the Pooka cannot always help himself when he has the chance to stir up trouble. As hobgoblins are archetypal tricksters, the Pooka has a reputation for hijinks and shenanigans and all manner of mischief. Fortunately for him, Kish is charming enough a rogue to avoid many of the consequences of his actions, at least among his own kind. And if that should fail, it never hurts to have a swift pair of feet. The Pooka's pranks are good-natured at heart, but they aren't necessarily well received by the victims. However, he never lets such mishaps get him down for long. After all, life is sorely short on foolishness, and the world's more full of weeping than even he can understand.

Merry though he may be, the Pooka is still a creature of the woodland wilds. The trees are his kith and the animals are his kin, so he can be exceedingly protective of forests and their denizens. The notion of hunting and killing for sport is abhorrent to him, although he does not shy away from hunting and killing for necessity. Somewhat hypocritically, he himself once served as a hunting hound of the Cwn Annwn; a fact for which he has known long shame. If he should catch anyone mishandling animals or felling trees, he will fly into a wild rage. In fact, Kish attests to having once killed a man for trying to drown an unwanted litter of puppies. Of course, he might have been spinning another tall tale...
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The Pooka

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