Though most of Sevrin’s ruling elite shrug off stories of a Faerie Realm, belief in fairies is persistent and widespread. So are folk remedies designed to ward off the Fey Folk. No right-thinking person would seek out a fairy, for they are believed to be capricious and mischievous, if not downright malevolent.
This attitude is based largely on legends of Fairy Tales, twisty little stories gathered from the mortal world. It has been observed that fairies nudge events in the direction of irony, dark humor, or surprising reversals. There are many theories about their motives for this meddling, but few mortals suspect the truth:
When a fairy commits a crime against her people, she is exiled from the fey realm until she has gathered enough entertaining tales to balance the scales of fairy justice.
Fairies delight in suprising twists, but they also appreciate classic storytelling tropes. They have a special fondness for trickster tales, and they enjoy stories in which a Common Man or Clever Youth outwits kings or wizards or dragons. Few things are more likely to capture a fairy’s attention than a devious plan or even a carefully staged prank.
This affinity has been observed so often it’s become proverbial. Prank-playing children are likely to be admonished, “Watch it, or you’ll end up in a fairy tale.” A mischievous scamp is frequently referred to as “fairy bait.”
The link between fairies and plotting mortals has also given rise to many folk rituals. Anyone setting out to make a plan–ranging from a battle strategy, to a pair of tavern owners discussing the possibility of joining forces to bargain with a brewer, to a storysinger sketching out a bawdy ballad–is likely to touch cold iron or eat a pinch of salt to ward off fairy interest. Thanks to the latter practice, a person who’s always plotting or double-dealing is described as having a “salty tongue.” This is not a compliment. If someone tells you, “When you speak, I smell the ocean,” the socially appropriate response is a fist to the face.
Artwork by Rainfeather Pearl.