Zombie Sky Press is producing a 6-part RPG adventure (Pathfinder compatible) called The Faerie Ring that invites players to explore the dark side of the fey. This, in my opinion, is a Very Good Thing.
During the Victorian era fairies came to be viewed as cute and harmless–tiny winged creatures with flower-hued wings. This was not always the case. For many centuries and in many lands, the fey folk were seen as potentially dangerous, if not outrightly so. They were propitiated, or better yet, avoided. Still, anyone might have a chance encounter with the fey, so wise men armed themselves with sharp wits and cold iron. The Faerie Ring sets the stage for such encounters.
So does In Faerie Light, an upcoming tie-in anthology of dark fantasy stories. I’m very pleased to be taking part in this anthology. In “Fairy Tales,” when a farm lad foolishly pledges his service to a pair of tiny fey siblings, his only chance of survival lies in the fireside stories his mother used to tell.
In this story I finally got a chance to explore a theme dear to my heart. Here’s an excerpt:
I’d no sooner pulled the knife from my boot than a ring of mushrooms sprung up around me, quick as a blink. The light in the clearing changed. Deep green shadows rose from the forest floor and the air pressed in on me until I was pretty sure I knew how an apple felt when it was going through the cider press. The pain drove me to my knees. I dug my hands into the moss and held on as the world whirled around me, spinning me away into a darkness deeper than sleep.
I woke up to the feel of someone’s boot in my ribs. Two fairies stood over me—tall, fearsome warriors straight from Ma’s darkest tales. One was a woman in a white tunic and leggings. A thick braid of green hair fell nearly to her knees and wings of green and gold rose from her shoulders. The other was a man, also dressed in white, with short green hair and a stub that looked like a plucked chicken leg poking out of a slash in the back of his tunic. Both held naked swords, which were pointed in my direction.
“You pledged service to me and mine,” the woman said in Greenbug’s queenly tones. “Rise, and fulfill your oath.”
I got to my feet and took a look around. The mushrooms that made the fairy ring were as big as cottages. A cow-sized beetle waddled by. And if I needed any more proof that the damn pixies had shrunk me down to their size, there lay my knife, big enough to serve as the keel of a ship.
“Whatever you want me to do, seems to me I could do it better at my usual size.”
“Does it?” the fey man said coldly. “Seems to me the tunnels leading to the dragon’s lair are too slender and subtle to accommodate a blundering meat mountain.”
Now, that was a pretty good insult, and normally I wouldn’t be inclined to let it pass, but he’d given me something more interesting to think on.
“We’re going to fight dragons? Like this?”
“Oh, no,” Greenbug assured me. “We will be protecting dragons.”
This was sounding worse by the moment. “What from?”
Their faces turn grim and solemn. The fey man leaned toward me and whispered, “Squirrels.”
* * * *
In Faerie Light will be released this summer. More details coming soon.