Dancy is a juvenile vagrant and a killer. She’s adamant that she’s is doing the Lord’s work, can see angels, and that her victims were monsters in disguise. She seems at least partially right.
This profile discusses the setting as well as Dancy herself.
There are big S P O I L E R S therein about all of these stories.
This profile stops during the Alabaster: Wolves story, when Dancy’s supernatural backer changes.
This article comes in two parts, since it was a smidgen too long. The second part of the Dancy Flammarion character profile is here.
- Real Name: Dancy Flammarion.
- Marital Status: Single (minor).
- Known Relatives: Julia Flammarion (mother, deceased), grandmother (name unrevealed, deceased), grandfather (name unrevealed, deceased), two granduncles (names and status unrevealed).
- Group Affiliation: None.
- Base Of Operations: Mobile in the Deep South.
- Height: 5’3” Weight: 105 lbs.
- Eyes: Pink w/crimson pupils Hair: White
Powers & Abilities
Though she doesn’t look like much, Flammarion has an unhealthy level of resolve and the certainty of being guided by higher forces. An angel supposedly appears to her in her dreams, and gives her oft-detailed instructions about supernatural monsters that she is to kill – including extrasensory images of distant locations and people.
Certain animals (including blackbirds and a stuffed bear corpse) can converse with her and tend to be vaguely helpful. Magic and spirits also tend to speak to Dancy, though only she can hear them. She sometimes speaks with her own reflection in the mirror – who has knowledge of future events and might be her future self.
She occasionally speaks with the ghost of her mother, or sees demonic men sent to tempt her into abandoning her crusade.
Depending upon whom and what is speaking in her mind, Flammarion might have a remarkable amount of information about supernaturals whom she encounter, or very little. The most useful information always comes from her angel, but sometimes he is silent.
Information from her mother tends to be off, as Julia interprets what she sees through a Biblical framework that is seldom germane to the situation.
For major “cases”, the angel might have sent her dreams for weeks, including detailed information nobody has any way of knowing. However, once a “mission” has started, the angel will not “speak” to her anymore until it’s over. Flammarion always marks the closing of a “mission” by torching the place.
Dancy has had conversations with people she knew and who believed her dead. They could clearly hear her, converse with her and feel her presence (and, in some cases, see her in the distance), but she wasn’t there. These telepathic abilities presumably have strict limits, and it’s entirely possible that Dancy *was* dead when they occurred.
Strange kind of woman
Though many would assume that she’s illiterate, she’s not. She has read the Bible, Beowulf and Longfellow’s My Lost Youth several times, likes reading old issues of National Geographic in public libraries, and has good spelling.
One vision conveys the impression that she can also understand a little bit of French. And she knows a lot of classic riddles, since many monsters are bound by these.
On the other hand, her albinism is limiting, especially under the hot and bright Southern sun. She usually scrounges a pair of sunglasses and a big umbrella to protect herself from the glare. Nevertheless, it’s better for her to operate when the sun is down or the sky is overcast to avoid runny eyes and bad sunburns.
Her condition also leaves her very nearsighted. For instance she cannot safely drive, even if she knew how.
She rarely has seizures, but these can be life-threatening.
Dancy mostly moves around by hitchhiking and riding cheap buses, albeit with her appearance it can be difficult. She lives like a hobo or a runaway. If she can’t avoid it and there’s room, she’ll be at a shelter for homeless persons.
Threat or trick ?
Flammarion keeps a slightly rusted, nasty-looking butcher’s carving knife taped to the bottom of her duffle bag. She sometimes has a backup weapon handy, such as her grandfather’s pearl-handled straight razor. Though she’s not bad with those and has a superior killer instinct, it remains limited as firepower goes.
However, she is apparently protected by the influence of her alleged angel :
- Attacks against her while she is in the active part of a mission given to her by her angel tend not to work or even backfire. A gun fired at her is likely to misfire or even explode.
- She doesn’t seem to have such supernatural protection the rest of the time. But she does have a high level of narrative immunity (modelled in DC Heroes by a remarkably high amount of Hero Points ).
- Her knife strokes seem to overcome supernatural protections, and to hurt even powerful supernaturals as if they were ordinary persons. This is likely restricted to the targets her angel wants her to kill. One creature said that it was actually the angel hiding within Dancy and using her as a vessel, though that wasn’t perceptible until Flammarion struck with her knife.
It is implied that Dancy’s knife lights on fire in such circumstances, making it a vessel for the angel’s flaming sword.
- Even when the angel is not clearly backing her, Dancy’s carving knife behaves much more like a broadsword wielded by a strong, large person than a somewhat rusted knife wielded by a small-ish girl.
- Dancy seems harder to psychically influence than ordinary people, though she’s far from tampering-proof. This is important, since a common attack by supernaturals are glimpses, feelings and visions that feel horribly wrong and attack sanity, rather than anything overt and physical.
Since Dancy shot two monsters dead with a shotgun early on, it seems likely that the angel can empower other weapons than blades. If so, it might be less efficient. Or perhaps the angel is just fixated on “swords”.
Many supernatural creatures know who Dancy is, and whom she has killed. The more knowledgeable ones will realise that her angelic patron makes her a real menace. Less knowledgeable ones might consider killing her before her angel makes her come for them.
Danci is also a biter. The human jaw is more powerful than most think. And Flammarion has no compunction against biting off part of people’s face if she has no choice.
Location, location, location
The stories featuring Dancy probably fall under “urban fantasy”. It’s a version of the real world populated by numerous manlike supernatural beings – many of those being dangerous predators.
And it almost certainly belongs to the Southern Gothic literary genre. It is firmly set in Georgia, Florida and Alabama and presents grotesque, horrific events stemming from local culture. There’s also a distinct H.P. Lovecraft influence, a small S. King one – and it might help mentioning the original Twin Peaks vibe it all has.
The world also presents a run-down, poverty-ridden, worn-out quality that seems almost post-apocalyptic in places. Parts of it are obstinately stuck in the past, and sometimes it’s hard to determine that it’s not the 1970s or even earlier.
The power level is low and the Genre realistic. Most supernaturals have but minor abilities and ritual magic, and ordinary street weapons can definitely kill.
In DC Heroes terms most wizards are but ordinary schmoes with 3 or 4 APs of Occultist and a few Rituals that have full casting time and components requirements. And most supernaturals don’t have more DEX than an ordinary person with the same lifestyle would – much of their power comes from fear.
His hair’s on fire and his heart is burning
Dancy’s angel is apparently unconnected to Christianity – though she doesn’t realise that. The seraphim seems to come from another, wheel-shaped world of magic. At the hub of the world lies a masculine principle of earth and darkness, the Dragon.
The outer rim was invaded by the Weaver, a feminine principle of light and air. The Weaver was trying to reach the hub and exterminate all of the Dragon’s dark creatures.
During this total war, the Weaver created things of light and hatred called angels. These served as nigh-unstoppable warriors. They beat back their enemy, inflicting enough destruction to eventually awaken the Dragon. However, in the nick of time, the natives found a ritual that would expel all angels from their world. This forced the Weaver to retreat back to the rim.
The Flammarion angel might be one of these castaways. Or it might be a construct made by the Dragon to imitate a captured angel of the Weaver. Still, it seems to target creatures that would probably have been Dragon-aligned on the other world.
One of the Lovecraftian influences in the story is the presence of impossible, sanity-eroding angles and geometries.
These patterns (particularly a pentagram-like star within an heptagon, which is impossible to clearly look at, draw or geometrically reconstruct – and may trigger graphomaniac fugues) seem to actually have a protective role in knowledgeable hands. This is comparable to the Elder Sign in the Cthulhu Mythos. It might thus be tied to the Weaver and her creations.
Drunk and driven by a devil’s hunger
Flammarion’s world features an unbelievably ancient and alien species that lived on Earth hundred of million years ago. These incomprehensible, unnatural beings might be the wellspring of much of the sanity-destroying magic and creatures that live in hiding at the margins. Howbeit, most such creatures may not be aware of it.
These Lovecraftian entities are elusive presences in the darkness, with imagery tied to the Cambrian era . It might be their “native” era. They and creatures closely associated with them don’t seem to move through time in a specific direction, or have a specific location in time.
Fossils associated with these life forms *can* be found. It seems that they are concentrated in the Red Mountain area in Alabama, near Birmingham .
However, the ancient things made sure that next to nothing was ever published about that. They hounded a few local geologists into madness and suicide via mental contact. They sometime wear the form of the dead people who found out about their existence.
If Alabama is the native area of these life forms, it is possible that the Lovecraftian weirdness is specifically concentrated in this general area (plus Georgia and Northern Florida) rather than global. However, in this setting Beowulf seems to be a near-factual account. So there’s at least another “bad place” in Daneland.
Dancy confidently stated that these ancient beings were afraid of humanity, but couldn’t explain why. They seem oddly reluctant to kill humans, rather trying to scare them away, silence away and/or drive them insane. Apparently, humans thinking about them cause them psychic pain.
If you get sleep, or if you get none
These “great old ones” appear to have “servitor races” of a kind. One are shaggy, humanoid swamp creatures that have formed the basis of Grendel. The bestial creatures have immense lifespans (possibly millions of years) and bear-like strength, but limited memories.
The other are some kind of dog-like beasts with long twiggy legs. They move like a bad stop-motion puppet made of wires, straw and dog bones. They have horrible eyes and make noises that sound like an alien hyena imitating human onomatopoeia. They might be artificial beings and seem to have little sense of self-preservation.
At least some of the “dogs” are intelligent shapeshifters. They are capable of disguising themselves as sinister humans and perform disappearing acts and ritual magic. Though they excel at terrorising people and driving them to suicide and insanity, they’re no more durable than an ordinary person.
Later on, the setting seems to be more of a kitchen sink urban fantasy milieu with various creatures coming from various mythologies, though that’s less distinctive. Werepanthers, werewolves, distinctly Celtic trolls… It becomes a Monster Manual bric-à-brac.
Dancy Flammarion grew up in an isolated swamp cabin in Shrove Wood (by the Wampee Creek river), Okaloosa County, Florida Panhandle. She was raised by her mother Julia and her grandmother – plus a neighbour, Mr. Jube, apparently the descendant of escaped slaves. The cabin had no power and was quite far from civilisation. All there was was the swamp.
The two nearby landmarks were the ghost town of Hebbard’s Mill and the nameless lake by the Flammarion cabin. The lake saw a shower of extraordinary meteors in 1833, convincing many that it was the end of the world. It has widely been assumed to be haunted ever since. The Flammarions knew it was, and made very specific protective mystical sigils for their home.
Between her last name and some of her references Dancy is likely descended from a XVIIth century French Catholic or Acadian immigration wave. Her isolated family apparently kept some shreds of that culture for several centuries.
The Flammarions were one of the last swamp folks left in the area, and had a poor history. They had apparently ran moonshine during the Prohibition, and there was at least one gun battle with the police when the alligators were put on the endangered species list and the ’gator-poaching Flammarions rebelled.
Into the water, let it pull her under
Dancy’s future mother Julia was haunted by an angel. But she refused to do its bidding and follow its orders – as she thought that she was simply crazy. In 1982, Julia stole her mother’s money and fled to Pensacola Beach and Gulf Breeze to do all the things she couldn’t do in the swamp. Her plan was to then commit suicide so the angel would leave her alone.
She was rescued from drowning by fishermen. Julia Flammarion left convinced that she had narrowly escaped being dragged down to Hell to punish her for her suicide. Julia now wanted to obey the angel, but one of the men she had met before attempting to die had left her pregnant.
She returned to her mother in the swamp. She had an albino daughter, whom she called Dancy, when she was 16. Dancy would be the one that the angel actually used as its warrior-slave.
Let that fever make the water rise (part 1)
When she was 8, Dancy visited Mr. Jube. But the same night a terrible demon came from the lake to confront the swampdweller. Thankfully, Mr. Jube knew the rules constraining this demon. He asked a macabre riddle the demon couldn’t answer, forcing it to leave.
When Dancy was 9, her mother took her to a carnival in Milligan as a birthday present. However the backwood girl was overwhelmed by the experience, and locals harassed her because of her albinism.
There is an implication that the situation in Milligan went from bad to worse. The Flammarion kid may have met with her angel during or not too long after the carnival. However, like her mother before, she did not want to listen to it.
There was then an attack by a swamp creature on the Flammarion cabin. Julia was captured, tortured and drowned in a nearby mere. The monster then attacked the cabin and massacred the Flammarion grandmother, but Dancy killed it with her grandfather’s twin-barrelled shotgun. She then repelled or killed the monster’s mother when it came in.
This profile is continued in part #2 !
Source of Character: Threshold, Alabaster and the first issue Alabaster: Wolves by Caitlín Kiernan (novel, short stories and comic book, respectively).
Writeup completed on the 12th of April, 2015.