As a Changeling, you lead a double life, alternating between reality and fantasy. Caught in the middle ground between dream and wakefulness, you are neither wholly fae nor wholly mortal, but burdened with the cares of both. Finding a happy medium between the wild, insane world of the fae and the deadening, banal world of humanity is essential if you are to remain whole. Such a synthesis is by no means easy. Mortal affairs seem ephemeral and trivial when you stand amid the ageless magnificence of the Seelie Court. When you don garments spun of pure moonlight and drink wine distilled from mountain mists, how can you go back to polyester and soda pop?
Alas, you have no choice. Although your faerie self is ageless and eternal, your mortal body and mind grow older and less resilient as you move through life. Sooner or later, nearly all changelings succumb to one of two equally terrifying conditions: Banality, the loss of their faerie magic; or Bedlam, the loss of their mortal reason. But is this fate inevitable? Can you retain your childlike wonder while fighting against the frigid Banality that seeks to numb your mind and steal your past? Can you ride the currents of the Dreaming without being swept away in the maelstrom of Bedlam?
You stand alone in the mundane world. No mortal will ever understand the depth of your alienation, strangeness and uniqueness. Though you may try to communicate your condition through art (and many have tried and failed), only those with faerie blood will see, understand and appreciate what you are.
An exile among exiles. Lost among the lost. The stranger in every crowd.
Hail, fellow traveler — welcome to the Dreaming.
Before their Chrysalises, changelings hover in a half-reality, seeing the world as others do, but touched by flashes of otherness. They experience momentary visions of chimerical reality without understanding what they see, or hear strangely compelling sounds without recognizing their origins. Sometimes it is a smell or taste or even a tactile difference that is incongruous with what is experienced by everyone around them. Children, too young to know that these alterations are not normal occurrences, simply accept them. Teens and adults, more rooted in the "real" world, often dismiss these experiences as hallucinations, frequently denying the occurrences so they won't be labeled as "weirdos." Some respond to the stimuli that "isn't there" and end up in counseling or a psychiatric ward. But what they experience is real — for changelings.
This illusionary fantasy world is called chimerical because unenchanted mortals cannot normally experience it. Although they occupy mortal flesh in order to stave off Banality, changelings' true selves lie within their fragile, englamoured souls. As changelings, they see the world around them from within a chimerical shell. The whole world has a chimerical reality for the fae. They do not shift viewpoints back and forth from the banal to the chimerical, seeing first a street with broken pavement and sagging storefronts, then changing with a blink to a vision of a golden avenue lined with palaces. Instead they normally see the true magic anima that exists within every object, place and person. They pick out the inherent nature of persons, places and things, weaving those perceptions into a greater whole.
Thus they do not see the tattered old book of fairy tales with the torn cover, but the warmth and pleasure countless children have derived from reading it. Each child has left some imprint on the book, some tiny spark of imagination or inspiration that the book evoked for her. Changelings see and revel in that residue, which may cause the book to appear new and crisp, with freshly painted colors. Likewise, they may smell luscious strawberries on an "empty" plate, feel the weight of velvet on what looks like a school uniform, and dance to a symphony played on crickets' legs.
When imbued with Glamour, changelings experience the world as a magical, mystical place filled with amazing and exciting things. They see things from a fae perspective that colors everything around them. Trees are not merely a collection of wood and leaves, but glowing green-topped pillars shot through with golden, life-sustaining sap. Moreover, should a changeling use her faerie sight to look deeply within the essence of the tree in search of its faerie nature, she might find the tree to be a resting dream-being, arms thrust skyward, feet planted within the warm earth. Butter knives might be silver daggers, and an old stuffed animal a prancing faerie steed, while an old raincoat becomes ornate armor. As most people cannot perceive such things, they dismiss changelings' reactions to their chimerical environment as playacting, miming or just plain craziness.
There are those who argue that chimerical reality is really a greater or more expanded reality. Neither compartmentalized nor tightly tucked into a common consensus of what is "real," this altered state of sensibility welcomes stories, tall tales, legends, myths, childhood playthings, imaginary companions, hopes and dreams. It also incorporates fears, monstrous horrors and the darkest imaginings of humankind. All exist within chimerical reality, and all are as real as any objects found within the boundaries of the mundane world. This "reality" is all that remains of the age of legends — the fragment of Arcadia still on Earth. As a faerie king once said, "Anything is possible within the Dreaming."
Changelings may live in a chimerical world of their own, but this is not to say that they don't realize that they also exist within a more constrained reality. If this were so, they wouldn't even be able to drive a car without running off the road. Kithain respond to stimuli that more mundane people cannot see, but this does not mean that they are unaware of real-world objects, people or dangers. They don't ride their faerie steeds along airport runways oblivious to the aircraft taking off and landing all around them, or ignore a mugger with a gun.
This is not meant to say that they have some sort of double vision that lets them see mundane and magical at the same time. Rather, the magical aspect becomes paramount, superseding the mundane reality of the objects and people with whom changelings interact, but not eradicating its presence. It is almost as if changelings' bodies remember the worldly details while their minds see beyond the ordinary to the essence within. A car is still a vehicle to be driven along streets, even if it appears to changelings that the car is glowing orange and fitted with spreading antlers on the hood.
Solid objects exist in the mundane world and must be accounted for. This often causes problems for changelings whose faerie bodies encompass more mass than their mortal selves. This is especially true for kith such as trolls, whose chimerical bodies may take up far more space than their mortal shells. In such instances, a changeling who is imbued with Glamour will always defer to his faerie mien and will make every attempt to compensate for the larger mass; to do otherwise would be an act on par with disbelieving the existence of chimera. It is therefore possible for a seven-foot tall troll to climb into the back of a Volkswagen Bug, but in doing so he denies his faerie existence, thus giving in to mundane reality. Such acts can be dangerous for any changeling, for falling back on the mundane brings with it the inherent Banality of such an act.