The fae refers to the dominant inhabitants of Faerie, an alternate dimension rich in magic. Portals to and from Faerie appear occasionally but visitors are seldom welcome. The Fair Folk (as they also like to be called) are descended from protohumans who wandered through portals.
The magical energies had a profound effect on the protohumans, accelerating their development and gradually changing their bodies. The protohumans struggled to survive but over millennia their descendants learned how to harness the mystical energies that saturated the dimension and used their magic to start to tame it. As they continued to thrive the children of the first magic users were born, not just formed of matter but magical energy made flesh. These were considered the first ‘true’ fae. It’s believed that some of these fae left Faerie to return to Earth and, breeding with humans, produced the ancestors of the human subspecies Homo Magus (magic using humans).
Being literally made of magic gave the fae immense mystical power and they used it to truly master their world, forming organised societies much like feudalism. Some of the early fae were more gifted with magic than others and used their power to become conquerors, forming armies to claim lands. This period is regarded as the dark ages of Faerie. The wars for control were incredibly bloody, lasting for centuries and costing thousands of lives. As the wars progressed two main factions gradually proved themselves superior; The Seelie and the Unseelie.
These armies had some of the strongest magic, better tacticians and an undeniable charisma which the others lacked (more than one smaller faction had their leaders assassinated or overthrown). The conflicts ended when the remaining leaders surrendered to either the Seelie or Unseelie and were absorbed into their folds. The remaining armies rattled sabers at each other for a few hundred years and had a few minor skirmishes but an uneasy truce was eventually formed between them. Both factions agreed that they would rule separate territories where they would have ultimate authority. Members of the other faction may enter the territories but must submit to the laws of the kingdom and are forbidden from interfering with matters of state.
The mainland of Faerie is known as The Fair Lands and is split into two territories with an area of neutral ground in between them. The lands ruled by the Seelie Court are referred to as the Summerlands as they consist of vast forests and plains rich in plant and animal life. The Unseelie Court rules the Winterlands, a harsher environment consisting of tundra and mountain ranges and has very little life. Each region is ruled by a royal family and, as the name implies, a court of advisors, lords and ladies, knights and servants.
The royal families inhabit castles which are masterpieces of fae construction and would be impossible to recreate without magic. In addition to being ornate the Seelie and Unseelie castles are fortresses, nearly impossible to breach and are the most heavily guarded places in Faerie.
Noble and common fae have the opportunity to be trained as warriors, including the royal family who are expected to lead their armies. Many fae, both men and women, become knights and many aspire to achieve the position of Royal Guard, one of the highest honours a fae can reach. Although warrior fae are trained with a multitude of magical weapons it’s common for them to ‘bond’ with a certain weapon and specialise with it. An example of this would be the falchion Shadowsteel which has been handed down from king to prince for generations of the Seelie royal line. Another is the Unseelie queen’s whip Soulstealer.
Several unaffiliated factions of fae formed since the formation of the royal courts. Most of these are harmless, preferring to avoid the politics of the courts or just wanting to have simpler lives but some of these rogue factions are dangerous.
Wild fae have devolved into primitive barbarians who reject their magic in favour of brute strength and weapons. Because of their relative brutality and overall love for combat, wild fae are ignored by most of the other fae and will only associate with them if they don’t have a choice. The wild fae live in tribes who regularly war with one another for various reasons; territory, resources, women (wild fae are patriarchal with the women being forbidden to learn to fight) but mostly just for fun.
Dark fae practice the darker aspects of magic such as ritual sacrifice, necromancy and demonic deals. Their usage of black magic has twisted the dark fae’s minds and many have been mistaken for demons. Although the dark fae have an alliance with the Seelie Court, it was one formed out of convenience and the two do not get along. Dark fae are feared by most of the races of Faerie and some fae mothers even use the threat of them to get their children to behave.
Throughout the history of Faerie some of these groups, as well as outsiders, have attempted invasions of the main kingdoms but none have been successful.
Fair Folk that weren’t slain in battle or executed were exiled to other dimensions, including Earth. In many of these worlds the exiles were met with hostility so were forced to use their magic to disguise their appearances to live amongst the inhabitants. Even the most powerful fae is unable to create portals to places already rich in different kinds of magic, such as Heaven or Hell, as it creates interference or more powerful beings have blocked access.
Some of the fae who left their world changed and adapted into new species. One of these, having lost their magic entirely, became a race known as the Shi’Van who specialise in organic technology.
The monarchies of Faerie are very different. The Seelie Court is ruled by equal monarchs, usually a king and queen, and any major decisions must be unanimous between them before they can be executed. The Unseelie Court has always been ruled by a queen alone who’ll have at least one royal consort who’s level of authority has varied depending on the queen. The Unseelie queen’s word is law and she reigns unchallenged (except by any daughters she may have).
The Summerlands’ castle is located deep in the heart of a forest and has been fused with the plants, being famous for the two large trees that form the outer towers. The Winterlands’ castle was effectively grown from the peak of the kingdom’s tallest mountain and is a maze of cold stone and ice.
As a rule the monarchs reign until their deaths but some have previously stepped down for their heirs. Kings and queens who’ve stepped down occupy the role of Summer/Winter Father/Mother, a position of importance which involves them advising the current ruler(s), handling some matters of court and state and ensuring the kingdom thrives. The Fathers and Mothers technically have a higher authority than the monarchs and can overrule decisions or go over their heads but only in extreme circumstances like negotiations or war.
The crown princes and/or princesses of the courts are known as the Summer/Winter Lord/Lady. The heirs are expected to learn from their parents so they’re ready to assume the throne when the time comes. Lords and Ladies have several duties (several of which are ones the monarchs are too busy for) some of which include; combat training, matters of court, observing the kingdom and its inhabitants, and occasionally handling duties normally performed by the king/queen. Upon their coronation it is traditional for a king or queen to invite a challenge to prove their worth as a warrior but these are seldom taken up and they will often spar with the previous ruler for show.
Centuries ago, The Fair Lands were plunged into a bloody civil war between the Seelie and Unseelie courts. The reigning monarch of the Winterlands, Queen Mab, was a highly ambitious ruler and wanted the entirety of Faerie to be hers.
The Winter Queen gathered her army, even recruiting mercenaries from the unaffiliated fae, and marched on the Summerlands. The Seelie Court was unprepared for the initial assault and they took heavy losses before being able to push the Unseelie army back. The armies fought brutally and the monarchs were forced to initiate a draft, any able bodied or magicked fae was recruited into the armies. The courts were at a stalemate for a long time, sometimes an area would be claimed by one just to be retaken by the other shortly after and all the while taking heavy casualties. Eventually the stalemate was broken when the Unseelie Court had their allies, the banshees, aid them and for a long time they had the clear advantage.
Out of desperation the Seelie Court made alliances as well; with the dark fae. In return for their assistance the Seelie Court would allow them to continue practicing their magics without persecution and turn a blind eye.
The alliance turned the tide of the war in the favour of the Seelie due to the dark fae’s reputation and different form of magic and for a while it seemed that they would win but then the rulers, King Oberon and Queen Titania, were betrayed by one of their own. Robin Goodfellow A.K.A Puck had grown rebellious under their rule, feeling marginalised, and the idea came to him that things might be better for him in the Unseelie Court. Puck went to the Unseelie camp and eventually met their queen to deliver his message. Mab and a handful of warriors slipped into the enemy camp with the knowledge of how to get past their magical defences. Many Seelie warriors were slaughtered in their sleep but the army was alerted to the assassins’ presence before they could reach the king and queen.
Despite being caught unawares, the Seelie killed all but Mab. The Unseelie queen then used powerful magic to kill Oberon and Titania.
Before she could absorb their essence Mab was driven off. The Seelie monarchs had no heirs so the kingdom was thrown into disarray and, without its head, the army was forced to retreat, the Summerland castle being taken in the process.
In a last ditch attempt to turn the tide the strongest remaining Seelie fae performed a ritual that would resurrect their fallen monarchs. The ritual worked, to a degree, as Oberon and Titania were reborn, not as fae but as humans. As the humans aged the fae in them grew more prominent and they were drawn to each other after the spirits of the king and queen spoke with them of their true natures.
Mab extended the reach of the Winterlands and claimed the Summerlands as her own, ruling both kingdoms for many years with plans to expand to the rest of Faerie. Rebellions were attempted but were all swiftly quashed, many before they had even begun.
One day Oberon and Titania returned and eventually gathered an army to retake the Summerlands. The Unseelie were pushed back to their lands where they fortified themselves, preventing the Seelie from completely wiping them out.
The courts were once again locked in a stalemate and entered into a prolonged ceasefire. Any trespassers were imprisoned but neither side engaged in any other open hostility.
Some of the Seelie were uneasy about the returned king and queen as, although they were technically the same Oberon and Titania, they were also humans. Some fae were disgusted by the thought of being ruled by humans they defected and many were left doubting their rulers’ ability to run the kingdom. Fortunately the resurrected monarchs proved just as capable as they were before and had a prosperous reign. Things were thrown into disarray when Oberon and Titania once again died heirless as they had been so busy reorganising the kingdom to have a child. The kingdom was vulnerable and confused. A regent was appointed and they held the throne until the return of the king and queen.
Over time The Seelie Court gradually adapted to the routine of their rulers’ deaths and rebirths. Unfortunately, so did the Unseelie Court who became aware of the Summerlands’ vulnerability without their king and queen. Although none of Mab’s attacks have ever succeeded in conquering the kingdom they severely tax the Seelie Court.
The current Oberon and Titania (Ian Andrews and Maisie Green) are operating as teenage superheroes on Earth. Both know that they’ll have to eventually surrender their human lives to become the full time rulers of the Seelie Court. Puck is also on Earth, having fled Faerie, but has been sealed out as punishment. Recently Queen Mab has journeyed to Earth in the hopes of finding Oberon and Titania before they reach their full potential so she can kill them and rule Faerie again.
There are a handful of different kinds of fae. The most common are the ‘true’ fae who mostly resemble humans but with a few differences such as slitted pupils and long pointed ears. True fae’s appearances vary depending on if they’re Seelie or Unseelie. Seelie fae have very pale, practically white, skin and, as a rule, have some shade of green eyes. Unseelie fae have skin in various shades of grey and usually have pale or very dark blue eyes.
The wild fae vary greatly in appearance but are larger and more muscular than other fae. They are also the only kind of fae to grow facial hair.
Exposure to dark magic twisted the dark fae’s very beings with their growths often being stunted and many are born with birth defects. The Dark Fae tend to have dull coloured skin and brighter colours are seen as desirable.
Sprites, like Puck, are considered a lower class or subspecies of fae and are natural shapeshifters, constantly changing their forms, but are still powerful magic users. Generally, Sprites resemble true fae but smaller and more delicate, however this may just be a ruse.
Some sprites are known as changelings as they will abduct a human (usually a baby but not always) and shapeshift to take their place. Whilst disguised they will at best cause mischief but at worst physiologically torment humans and more than one couple have been driven insane by their ‘baby’s’ actions. There appears to be no reason for this other than their twisted amusement. The human abducted is perfectly safe and is put in an enchanted sleep somewhere in Faerie. If the changeling is exposed (and prevented from escaping) they can usually be persuaded to bring the abductee back.
Both the Dark and the Wild fae inhabit an area of the Fair Lands called the Midnight Forest where, eons ago, a powerful demon sorcerer appeared. No one knows how or why he came to Faerie, or even what his name was but his presence alone, due to his Infernal nature, disrupted the magic of Faerie and by extension the land itself. When he began using demonic magic it didn’t mesh with the raw Faerie magic as they were so fundamentally different. Things got worse when he began to try and use the raw magic and combine it with his own.
It gave him immense power but almost killed him every time he used it as well as poisoning the land around him, killing plants and animals. His corruption grew worse and worse but attempts to stop him were met with failure. It took an alliance of several species in a combined assault to finally kill him although at the cost of many lives.
Although the demon was slain his influence lingered and corrupted the forest he’d been inhabiting, including the plants and animals when they returned. Those who had killed the demon worked together to try and erase his poisoning but were unable to and were forced to contain it in the forest where it left a permanent scar on the land. The precise point where the demon emerged has never recovered and has come to be known as Demonscar.
The fae who called that forest home (those that hadn’t been killed) were forced to live with the permanent darkness, the malformed plants and aggressive animals and eventually they began to change as well. The ones on the outskirts of the forest grew larger and more aggressive, becoming the wild fae.
The ones inside the forest were exposed to even greater amounts of the corruption, including traces of Infernal essence which mutated them into the dark fae. Dark fae began to respect this demon and respect turned to admiration which eventually changed into worship. In their worship of the demon the dark fae wanted to become like him and dedicated themselves to doing so. Although they weren’t capable of using demonic magic, dark fae learned how to use black magic and further twisted themselves in doing so.
All fae metal is made from a naturally occurring ore known as mithril. Mithril deposits can be found throughout Faerie but most commonly occurs underground. Although other metals do occur, Mithril is prized for its strength (more durable than steel) and its beauty, being a shiny silver colour when polished. It's also considerably lighter than most other metals and is easy to shape when heated.
Mithril is also favoured as it's harmless to the fae unlike iron, which also occurs in Faerie, that burns on contact and even steel can cause irritation and pain with prolonged contact. Like most substances in Faerie, mithril is a natural conduit for magic and contains its own magical energies which makes it perfect for magicrafting.
As with any other metal, the purer it is the higher quality it is and the very best is used to create weapons, armour and jewellery for royalty, high ranking soldiers, and other figures of importance.
It’s a common misconception that fae are incapable of lying, in fact some seem to take great pleasure in lying. The truth is that most fae simply choose not to lie as honesty is of great importance to them and it is much harder to lie in the fae tongue. As previously mentioned, the fair folk value honesty which often makes them come across as blunt or insensitive as they dislike bandying words and seldom give thought to sparing others’ feelings. If a fae does wish to deceive they’ll do so more subtly through means like doublespeak, half truths and lies of omission.
Many fae consider it a mark of skill to be able to manipulate and deceive without speaking falsehoods. Although they generally don’t lie, it’s not a good idea to try and deceive a fae as they’re all skilled at seeing through falsehoods and consider attempts to deceive them grave insults.
Contrary to popular belief, consuming fae food and drink won’t bind a mortal to them or at least not always. What usually happens is the fae will cast a binding spell on the human which will then be sealed by them accepting the offered food or drink. To the fair folk that’s considered a deal, they just didn’t tell the mortal. This, along with other means such as offering deals, was common practice in the olden days of Faerie and keeping mortals for amusement or labour was considered fashionable but nowadays is looked on disdainfully, not that it stops some fae from doing it.
Bindings can be broken at a fae’s discretion but only by the one who cast it or by one with considerably more magical power than them.
Caution and respect are very strongly advised when dealing with the fae, especially the nobles, as they’re a very proud and powerful people and consider humans beneath them. Whilst it’s best to be polite with fae, they generally dislike sycophancy and will refuse to deal with a suck up. Queen Mab however is responsive to flattery and is said to enjoy others grovelling at her feet. Fae tend to be more subtle in showing their emotions and experts at hiding them which is why it’s often thought that they have no emotions and why dealing with them is so tricky.