Masques are metaphysical manifestations that adorn the heads of Sleepers
, from cradle to grave. These masks mark hold the essence of their nature and narrative, from old farmer to young knight. For the Sleeper, these masques are marks of their connection to the Dreaming-World.
Masques are expressions of essence, telling the tale of the Sleepers story and their role in the Dreaming-World. Masques may be damaged or cut, but never come off.
Masques are can be simple and elaborate, with smaller stories and roles resulting in the more simple masques. The masques are made out of a flesh-like material (or whatever creature-equivalent that may be) to form a life-like and expressive but stylized face. It is warm to touch and striking to masque is much like striking any other part of the Sleeper. They will bleed, break and come apart under abuse but are capable of almost complete regeneration with time.
Despite fully covering the Sleepers head, the Masque does not actually hinder them in any way. A masque-wearing wolf is fully capable of biting prey, while a knight always seem to be able to fit his helmet on without concern. Some masques include horns, tusks or other protrusions and these function much like one would expects.
When a Sleeper draw close to Awakening, the masque begins to show marks of fraying. The material crack at the edges, colors face and never-healing scars begin to form. The closer the Sleeper comes to their awakening, the less of the Masque remains.
Masques can and do change. As a Sleeper grows old and their role in the Dreaming-World enters a different phase, so too do their masques. Sometimes, this change is forced upon the Sleeper by outside elements; either the sub-conscious whims of the Dreamer or the Awakened.
All Sleepers have the potential to become more than their masque. When events conspire to bring the Sleeper far outside their intended role, the Masque begins to calcify and break. After that first step, the Sleepers eyes are opened and for the first time, they begin to truly think. For most, this first step sets in motion the irreversible path towards Awakening.
Chandra could remember the day. She had once been a farmer and her entire life had belonged to the routine of tilling fields, planting seeds and the frantic harvest. Her hand floated across the scars that marked her face. The deep, jagged cuts from the Nightmare still ached when it rained.
It had been difficult to guess who had been more surprised: herself or the beast. The thing had impaled itself almost on accident and it was as if her eyes had opened for the very first time. As if color had gained a new edge. The blows after that had been no accident and when the Nightmare finally stopped moving, the farmer had become something else. She had become herself, Chandra.
The masque remains after a Sleeper awakens but it is an empty, lifeless thing. Most simply wither away or fade