Fairy Tales

NOTE: The following stories are called “tales” for a reason; they may not be entirely accurate to the actual entities of the Feywild. Don’t believe everything you read.

To the people of Miklagard, the Feywild is a strange and eerie place, filled with denizens that are frightful, alien, and not entirely trustworthy. Tellers of fairy tales often make distinctions between “seelie” and “unseelie” fey. According to these storytellers, seelie fey are those who are friendly, benevolent, or at least apathetic towards humans, while unseelie fey are dangerous and malicious. In actuality, the lines between seelie and unseelie fey are blurred; oftentimes, well-meaning fey simply do not understand the needs or concerns of humans, and can cause great heartache and pain as a result. Other times, the most seemingly evil fey may actually have good intentions. The Feywild and its denizens alike are murky and mysterious, and so are the tales that deal with them.

Some storied fey, such as the October King, have influenced mortal traditions. Children’s stories and legends say that he and his goblins cross over on one dark night in autumn: Winter’s Ev, or Last Harvest. His goblins wear masks and sneak into towns and villages, where they intend to catch humans and put them into eternal slumber. The only defense against them, says tradition, is to wear a mask of your own, fooling the monsters into thinking you are one of them. Thus, every year, on the festival of Last Harvest, humans across Miklagard wear monstrous masks and costumes, and the October King’s plans are foiled.

Other faerie tales try to explain real, mundane phenomena as the work of the fey. The Sandman, according to myth, is a faerie who sneaks into people’s homes and sprinkles sand in their eyes, causing them to have their dreams. Of course, no faerie could be in every person’s home in one night; that would be ridiculous. But that doesn’t explain why people sometimes find sand in their eyes, or even small piles of sand on their windowsills.

Consider the cautionary tale of Tora, who was caught between two powerful fey. Tora, a wandering adventurer, became trapped in the Feywild during one of her sojourns. There, she fell in love with Titania, the Summer Queen, a fey more vibrant and beautiful than almost any other. In becoming her consort, however, she earned the ire and jealousy of Titania’s sometimes lover, the Green Lord Oberon. Oberon employed many treacherous schemes to get rid of Tora. He offered her poisonous flowers, a hunting dog (with orders to hunt Tora herself), and cursed robes that would turn her into a dove. He even challenged Tora to an honor duel, but Tora outsmarted him and prevailed. Some versions of the tale end there, but others continue on to a more dreadful ending. In these versions, Oberon eventually triumphed by deceiving both Tora and Titania. Oberon’s servant, Puck, took Titania for a tour of Oberon’s luscious forests, while Oberon spoke with Tora. He led Tora to a shimmering pool, which served as a portal to the mortal world. Tora had no wish to return home, until Oberon told her that while mere months had passed in the Feywild, years had passed in the mortal world, and her younger brother was on his deathbed. At that moment, Puck led Titania to the pool, where she saw Tora leap into the water. Feeling betrayed, she condemned Tora, and returned to her abode to mourn her loss. Both Tora and Titania had been betrayed: the pool was no portal, but simply a mess of lilypads, beholden to Oberon. The lilypads seized Tora and drowned her, and Oberon returned to Titania, who was his lover for a century afterwards. Some versions of the tale say that Tora’s spirit still haunts the pool, singing a mournful song and wishing for Titania’s forgiveness.

Then there is the tale of Elias and Siobhan Alastai, the twin children who rule the Feywild’s seas. According to legend, the Ocean Mother was the ruler of the seas in ancient times. The king of a seaside realm desired the power of the Ocean Mother, and embarked on a quest to find it. He learned from a sea witch that the seat of the Ocean Mother’s power was her true name, which she kept whispered into a conch shell on a distant island. He and his best warriors embarked on a quest to find the island and retrieve the shell. When he did, he spoke the Ocean Mother’s true name and stole her command of the ocean. His realm became fantastically rich, as he could quicken the travel of his ships, and deliver great quantities of fish. Meanwhile, the Ocean Mother had lost her powers and returned to the eladrin, where she bore twin children, Elias and Siobhan. Elias was friendly and energetic, while Siobhan was quiet and pensive. The Ocean Mother died while the twins were still young, but she made them swear they would take back her power from the king. While still children, Elias and Siobhan sought out the king’s realm and infiltrated the castle, using skills and magic their mother had taught them. Finally, they found the conch shell containing the power of the ocean, and shattered it into two pieces. The king’s control was broken and given to the twins. Elias took command of the shallows, while Siobhan took control of the deep. Elias delivered a speech to the realm, proclaiming his new dominion over the ocean. He brought all ocean transport to a halt, and then flooded the king’s realm with massive tidal waves. His waters dragged the realm into the ocean, where coral began to grow over its broken buildings. Elias spared the innocent people of the kingdom, transforming them into the first merfolk. The king, however, he yanked out to sea with a riptide, sending him into Siobhan’s domain. Saying nothing, Siobhan seized the king and dragged him into the lightless depths of the ocean. And according to the storytellers, he is still there today.

The Prince of Hearts is an archfey who deals in love and romance of all colors and hues. One of his greatest achievements is immortalized in the Tale of the Lich Who Loved. The tale itself is extremely long and takes many twists and turns. In short, the Prince of Hearts challenged himself to find a partner for Grimulf, an evil wizard who swore he would never find love, and transformed himself into a lich to lay waste to an entire realm. The Prince of Hearts searched far and wide before finding Sigmund, a simple man who ran his village’s cemetery. Sigmund shared Grimulf’s love for arranging flowers, gardening, and decorating corpses and tombstones. His cemetery was the most beautiful in all the land. Sigmund’s only worry was that, when he died, his own grave might not be up to his own standards. When Grimulf drew near Sigmund’s village on his mission of conquest, the Prince of Hearts arranged for the two of them to meet. Grimulf was so awestruck by Sigmund’s beautiful cemetery that he stopped his rampage to admire it. Over the next few years, they developed such a close bond that they could not bear the thought of leaving one another. So Grimulf killed Sigmund and turned him into a lich. Now that they were both dead, they realized their love for what it was, and were happily married by the village priest. Sigmund and Grimulf then slew everyone in the kingdom, and turned every village into a graveyard, and every city into a vast mausoleum, and settled down to live as caretakers of the undead. By all accounts, they have lived happily ever since.

Fairy Tales

Miklagard Andrew_White