Loyalist Caretaker Costume

I sometimes get asked why we still wear this costume. They would argue that we are no longer hunted. We can just work in the open. And I would answer them: "That may be so. But should we not carry on with this tradition? It may look outdated or even weird, but it honours those that have lost their lives for our cause."
— A caretaker
  This costume has a long and storied history with the loyalist caretakers. They wear it during most rituals and ceremonies they conduct in honour of Cassidy, the Last Dragon and their charges. The costume began just as a simple mask that was worn to hide their identity. Other pieces were added over time until it formed a full costume.   Its significance has waned over time but is nowadays recognized by many people. Replicas have even found their ways into several movies and plays. Knowledge about the masks' supernatural properties is still very limited though so most replicas come without it.   The rules on how and when the costumes have to be worn are not written down anywhere. The costume is adhered to out of the social norm and has seen quite a few changes over time. Usually, a change is initiated by just one caretaker and then either adopted by others or discarded.  

Components

The costume consists of five pieces. Underwear and shoes are usually worn with it, but they are not considered as part of the outfit. There are a total of 186 masks around the world in the possession of the caretakers. Additional costumes without masks are sometimes worn as well.  
  • Dragon Bone Mask. An enchanted mask made from dragon bone. Once put on, the mask melds with the wearer's face and becomes invisible. While wearing the mask, it creates an illusionary facial appearance for anyone who looks at the wearer. This was to protect their identities from those that hunt them. In addition, it protects the wearer from flame burns. The masks enchantments are maintained by the mystical energies provided by the dragon bone. To take off the mask the wearer simply has to touch their face and the mask will appear.  
    • The illusionary facial appearance effect works by blurring the appearance of the wearer's face. The magic then influences the minds of those who look at it to see a fully defined face. This appearance is based on a mix of faces they have seen in the past. This secondary effect has a range limit, so anyone watching with a binocular would only see the blurred face. Perceptive onlookers will probably figure out that they do not see the real face, though actually seeing through the face would require powerful magic.
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    • The resistance from burns effect makes the skin of the wearer impervious to the burn damage caused by flames. Any flames which are hotter than the flames created when burning wood or similar materials will overcome this resistance and cause burn damage to the skin. Though it still brings a reduction in damage caused. Despite this protection, the heat of the flames is still painful to the wearer.
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  • Grey Robe. The core of the costume is a simple grey robe. The robe is usually made of synthetic fabric and has no special properties.
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  • Rope Belt. A rope belt holds the robe together. Most caretakers just use a simple hemp rope, but it sometimes is replaced with a more fashionable belt.
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  • Ornamental Red Shawl. The caretakers wear a red shawl which is embroidered with gold. The ornaments from various dragon forms. Although all caretakers have one as it is given to them, not all of them wear it as some consider it to be too decadent.
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  • Fire-shielded Gloves. As the caretakers often handle fire during rituals, some wear special heat-shielded or fire-retardant gloves. I made them from high-tech material. The caretakers wear them in addition to the mask because the enchantment only prevents burns, but the heat of the fire is still painful.
 

Occasions to Wear

The costume is worn during many rituals, and traditions which are conducted by the caretakers. One such occasion is when the caretakers come together in official capacity.

Initiation Ceremony

The outfit is worn by them for the first time during the caretaker's initiation. The procedures of this ritual are a tightly guarded secret and are usually led by Cassidy herself. All the initiates know is that it involves fire. Still many have to be turned away as the loyalists cannot support an arbitrary number of orphanages.

Sermon

A simple sermon led by a caretaker in the costume. A sermon usually follows a simple pattern to first thank the dragon for her protection and wisdom. Then the caretaker blesses the attendees using the power granted by the mask. This blessing has a small positive effect on the healing of mental trauma and calms down. Which many of the orphans can benefit from. Then attendees can share stories of the dragon and themselves. The sermon is ended with an individual prayer to either the dragon or any deity they may believe in.

Coming of Age Ceremony

This ceremony takes place to celebrate an orphan becoming 18 years old. During this ceremony, they stand in a cleansing flame and receive the last blessing of their caretaker. With this, they are ready to face the challenges of their lives outside of the orphanage. Here the protective nature of the costume comes in very handy.
Item type
Clothing / Accessory
Rarity
Rare (186 Total)
Components
Dragon Bone Mask
Embroidred Shawl
Grey Robe
Rope Belt
Fire-resistant Gloves
 
Historical Development
Check the timeline at the bottom in the metadata section!  
Manufacturing
The mask is carved by a dragon bone carver and then enchanted by a skilled witch. A mask takes a few hours to make. The other parts of the costume are manufactured by different companies. The gloves are made by a company called Fabric Outcast which specializes in customized high-tech gear.  
Stolen Masks
In the past, some crafty thieves stole masks of the caretakers a few times. Each time dragon loyalists would track them down and kill them. As a result, theft of them has become very rare. Caretakers still store the mask in a secured and shielded safe which protects both against magical and physical attempts to break open.  
Dragon Loyalist Festival
Twice a year there is a festival held in honour of the dragon. Many loyalists come together in a few places around the world. During this festival, the caretakers get together both for official business and to socialize. Originally caretakers would wear the outfit throughout the festivities, but most now only wear it for the special occasions and rituals for a few hours.  
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Cover image: Photo by Kayla Maurais
  • 1701 CE

    19 May

    The First Dragon Bone Mask
    Artistic creation

    At a meeting between a number of caretakers and Cassidy the first mask was introduced. In the weeks before, many caretakers and many of their supernatural charges had been killed by hunters. They had been identified and then followed to the various hidden places that the caretakers used to hide the supernatural orphans from the hunters. To prevent this from happening Cassidy introduced the masks which would help them hide their identity.

  • 1754 CE

    10 October

    Robe and Belt
    Cultural event

    During a conference held attended by most of the caretakers in Europe some of the attending caretakers suggested that the robe and belt which was already worn by most should become an official uniform for them. The suggestion was accepted by a clear majority and found only little objection. Since then the robe and belt were part of the costume.

  • 1857 CE

    10 October

    The Red Shawl Controversy
    Cultural event

    A short but heated controversy erupted over the decadence of the red shawl. Many caretakers thought that they should focus on their responsibilities towards the orphans. This conflict became so heated that it almost ended with a knife fight. Only the intervention of Cassidy herself prevented the worst from happening.

  • 1975 CE

    10 October

    Fire-Shielded Gloves
    Cultural event

    Heat-shielded or fire-retardant gloves were added to the costume after Cassidy learend that the enchantment only protected from burns, but did not protect the caretakers from the pain caused by the heat.

Comments

Author's Notes

This article was written for the Costumes Community Challenge.


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8 May, 2021 15:24

Nice article! It is well written with no long pieces of text. The layout looks pretty good too with the clear divisions. The different times it is worn was a nice addition as well. The quote at the start worked pretty well to intrigue the reader!   One thing I have with this is that in the quote you mention that they used to be hunted but why was this the case exactly?

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8 May, 2021 15:42

Thank you for your kind words! The answer to the question is at least partially answered in the first event on the timeline. :)

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8 May, 2021 16:30

I missed the timeline first but that does indeed explain it a bit ^^

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Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
8 May, 2021 16:10

Great article! This is a nice mask and outfit. I like that it protects from fire since it's made from dragon bone :D   "Knowledge about the masks supernatural properties is still very limited though so most replicas come without it." This is an interesting detail.   "There are a total of 186 masks" good! I like numbers :D   "While wearing the mask creates an illusionary facial appearance for anyone who looks at the wearer." You're missing something from this sentence like an "it," after wearing.   "fire shielded gloves." Oh, fire retardant material :p   "are usually led by Cassidy herself." Who is she? The leader of the group?   "Still many have to be turned away as the loyalists cannot support an arbitrary number of orphanages." What's the link between the initiates and the orphanages? You mention orphans again after that, so the link is even more important to mention :D   Also, I would appreciate a short summary at the beginning of what the group is/stands for. I get that it's link with dragons, fire and orphans, but that's it.   Also you say that the mask "illusionary facial appearance for anyone who looks at the wearer". This is ok as it is, but you can also add that this allowed them to hide from pursuers since this could be worn for a number of reasons.   Great use of the timeline! I've never seen it used in articles so it took me a while to manage to find it, so that's good that you've added the link inside the article too. Since other people may also be unfamiliar with it, including the judge, you may want to add something to say that it's next to the metada info?

To see what I am up to, see the list of my Summer Camp articles—my favourite is Sentient Cells.
8 May, 2021 16:41

Thank you for your great and in-depth feedback! It is greatly appreciated :)   I've changed a few things around and added some more context and tooltips to the articles. And special thanks about timelines!

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11 May, 2021 13:51

Interesting article. Nice use of a timeline.

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11 May, 2021 16:34

Thank you for your comment, Kajetan!

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16 May, 2021 00:21

I absolutely adore the bone-mask description - the idea of a mask that gives you the illusion of a different face is just fascinating. What do people who look at the Caretakers when they're wearing the mask see - ie, what does the illusion look like?   This is such a neat article and I adore your styling/color choices as always!

In Gormhan, an ancient magic-using nobility clings to its power in a high-tech 1950s-inspired world. There are dragons too!
16 May, 2021 05:26

Thank you for your kind comment!   The effect itself is something I image shows something else depending on who looks. At a distance, the face would look blurred while someone getting a look up close sees a face created in their mind. E.g. the bits and pieces are taken from their memories. This also means that careful spies may realize that this is not the real face if they compare notes! I guess I will expand on this a little :)   The theme itself is Deadhouse Sonata (a Guild theme created by ) with some minor adjustments by myself.

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16 May, 2021 21:05

That's so cool! I love how the mask "constructs" a false face - and I wonder, is it common knowledge that the Loyalists wear the masks? If not, I bet it was sure a shock for the spies when two of them realized the Loyalist they were trying to identify looked totally different to their eyes.   I didn't realize it was a theme, which means your integration is great! It suits your world/tone really well :D

In Gormhan, an ancient magic-using nobility clings to its power in a high-tech 1950s-inspired world. There are dragons too!
17 May, 2021 12:24

Yeah, when I first found the theme it was awesome how well it fits with the mood of my world! There are quite a few issues I've found over time, but overall I am happy with it.   Knowledge about the masks is still very limited. However, your questions made me think about how the orphans would be affected by these masks being worn during ceremonies. Likely many of them would have experienced some trauma in their life and it would be rather charring if suddenly parts of such face would show up before them. I'll definitely have to think more bout this. So thanks for your comments! :)

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17 May, 2021 19:44

I feel the same way about the Opulent theme! I've had some issues with it over time (which I've started correcting with CSS) but overall it really suits my narrator's voice and her perspective on my world.   Ooh, I'm glad my questions could help give ideas! :D Sounds rather sad for the orphans, but definitely something to think about...

In Gormhan, an ancient magic-using nobility clings to its power in a high-tech 1950s-inspired world. There are dragons too!
17 May, 2021 22:05

I love the dragon bone mask. It has really interesting, fascinating properties. I love the facial illusion part of it. I also really love that the main part of the costume is a simple grey robe with no special properties. Great background information too. <3

18 May, 2021 04:57

Thank you, Emy!

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23 May, 2021 23:12

This is a really cool entry! I love that the masks are made from dragon bone, and the way they meld into the face of the wearer sounds both super cool and super uncomfortable. I also really enjoy how each aspect of the outfit has a practical use, it all fits so well together!

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24 May, 2021 07:17

Thank you for your comment TC!

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29 May, 2021 19:38

Really interesting outfit. The illusionary properties of the mask are very cool, and that fact that it has properties beyond even that adds on to it very nicely.   I found it cool that while it originally started as an outfit with meaning, this meaning faded over time and it became sort of a pop culture thing. I am curious, is there anyone in the world who finds the use of them in movies and plays to be offensive or in poor taste due to the history of being hunted, or is it often used in a tasteful manner in these instances?

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30 May, 2021 05:00

Hi Jarhead, thank you for your kind comment!   I've never actually thought about it. There are two sides to this. The caretakers themselves are a small group of very busy and dedicated people. Most of them are probably not even aware that this is a thing and would not have the time or energy to really care about it.   This of course would be different for the orphans. They certainly care if their caretakers whom they generally love and respect are represented in a disrespectful manner. Which probably has happened.   At the same time, most people, including those who use them in their creations, are unaware of the exact nature of the costume and its past. They are more likely to simply see it as a weird uniform that a bunch of fanatics are wearing.   I might add one or two events to further illustrate this change and how exactly it is viewed by others!

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8 Jun, 2021 21:07

Real nice, interesting how the dragon still gets personally involved. I completely missed the timeline, though, so at first was disappointed there wasn't more information about the hunts. Not sure how the article could be more explicit about the timeline though.

9 Jun, 2021 08:38

Thank you for your comment! I plan to expand on this conflict elsewhere in the future. Which is why it is currently only expanded in the timeline. I could add a small history section to the main body, but I quite like the layout as it is now. Oh well :)

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