Posted by : Joshua Sorenson July 20, 2013
Before the great Sundering, the realm of Faerie was a lush, verdant mirror to the Prime Materia, brilliantly teeming with life and ruled by capricious spirits. The ancient tales of the Fey say that the faerie lands had grown out in all directions from Duan, the great World Tree and that the rest of the myriad worlds of the multiverse were but fruit on the end of her branches.
Perhaps it was the splitting of Duan's trunk by the ax of the celestial Chernobog that allowed the Sundering to happen in the first place, but when the veil between worlds was violently torn, the other planes bled into the faerie causing mass devastation. Mortal beings from the Prime ransacked faerie enclaves, while entropic energies from the Netherworld wilted and withered the flora of the perpetual fey springlands.
Panicked...the Fey sought refuge in the last strong of vestige of energies that had permeated their former home, on the great moon Luan. Many of the surviving fey became refuges on the land they renamed to the Luansidhe (Faerie Moon), planting a godtree sapling at each pole, and using their magicks to reshape her face into a more hospitable land for them to settle upon. The fey Summer Court, planted their tree on the light side of the moon, while the Winter Court planted theirs on the dark side of the moon, with the unaligned fey settling the lands between, and the monstrous Fomorians living within the moon's subterranean core.
The fey of the Seelie Court settled in the lands surrounding the Dayspring Tree on the moon's northernmost point. The Dayspring Tree absorbs darkness and toxicity through it's vast system of roots, while radiating a warm, healing aura from it's foliage that gifts the fey people with vitality and longevity. The impurities that are consumed by the great trees roots are distilled into it's fruit, the juices of which are a deadly poison that is highly prized by assassins across the multiverse.
Because of their proximity to the Dayspring Tree's bright, reinvigorating light the fey of the Seelie Court eventually became known as the Summer Court. The fey of the Summer Court are primarily comprised of high elves, satyrs, centaurs and wood nymphs. They revere inspiration, passion, valor and all things that ignite the flames of the heart. Summer fey are widely regarded as producing the most beautiful songs and poetry in the multiverse, but they are also the most openly warlike and imperialistic. They revel in acts of love and pleasure, particularly with members of other species, and celebrate acts of daring and bravery.
Summer Court fey are also renowned for their skill at magically shaping their darkwood trees into weapons and armor. Even their ships are constructed entirely of magically shaped wood (think Jurian tech from Tenchi Muyo). Each Summer Court “Dryark” has a Dryad navigator who establishes a connection with a sapling planted by a fey pilgrim along a path known as the Hamadryad Way”, which then draws the ship toward it in an inexorable fashion.
The court is ruled by the Summer King, known as Oberon “The Black-Handed” and his consort Titania. The Black-Handed is named for his withered and burnt sword hand, an injury he had sustained in a great, ancient battle by plunging a sword wrought entirely of cold iron into the heart of the Fomorian King Arawn – an act that freed the fey people from the cruelty and subjugation of the Fomorians and made Oberon a hero and king.
The Winter Court was once known as the Unseelie Court in the time before the Great Sundering. Long ago when there was a single unified fey court, The Winter Queen Mab was the consort of Oberon. Though the fey don't prize monogamy as mortals do, the Black-Handed's indiscreet dalliance with the mortal songstress Titania was an insult that the prideful queen could not bare. In a rage, Mab fled the court for the lands of the Goblin King Conchobar, taking fully 1/3 of the court with her, and for centuries thereafter dedicated herself to thwarting and undermining Oberon's court.
After the Great Sundering, the Unseelie Court settled the lands surrounding the Eventide Tree, which devours life and light through it's leaves and branches, while bleeding a gloaming coldness into the very ground that in turn protects it's denizens from enemy incursions, which is what keeps the forces of the often indignant Summer King at bay. The fruit of the dusk tree can be distilled to make healing potions and other curatives. It's said that this fruit is an important reagent in rituals that grant eternal youth to mortals, such as the one that granted the Summer Queen Titania her immortality.
Winter Court Fey are guileful and full of pride. They view deftly executed games of intrigue as the highest form of art, and revere cunning, ruthlessness and subterfuge above all. Though they are prone to cruelty and they have no love of mortals, the fey of Winter are not abjectly evil as much as they are insulated and self-interested. This survival mechanism is a necessity in a society where deception, manipulation and casual betrayal are a part of daily life.
The Winter Court Fey, comprised of high elves, changelings and goblinkin, tend to be skilled spies, negotiators and mercenaries. The watershapers of the court can form beautiful sculptures of water richly dyed which are then magically frozen into solid, dry and unmelting ice crystal. In fact, even the weapons and armor of Winter Court warriors are also made from magically shaped and hardened Ice Crystal.
The Winter Court do not have their own means of transdomain conveyance like the Summer Courts' Dryarks. Instead, they have a reflecting pool which acts as a magic portal between their capital city of Frostspire, and it's twin pool in the city of Silverspire at the edge the Bhalen'lad Cluster, where they hire transport to other domains as needed. As a result of this open pathway, they maintain primacy in trade relations with the mortal races.
Ironheart is the name for the cold iron core of the Luansidhe, as well as the home of the imprisoned Fomorian scourge and their king, Arawn the Heartless.
However, the first inhabitants of the moon's core were the cyclops. In the most ancient of times, cyclops were a race of beings created by the clockwork Primordial Antikythron to act as custodians of it's giant mechanical body of spontaneously forming pistons and gears. Slowly, the cyclops attained sentience and will of their own, after which Antikythron banished them along with it's other organic components, becoming a self sustaining monstrosity of independently functioning mechanisms.
The liberated cyclops took refuge on the faerie moon in the time before the sundering, where they lived and worked and crafted, often making forays planetside to trade with the denizens of faerie. When the fey rebelled against their cruel Fomorian overlords, the cyclops formed a treaty with Oberon, fighting alongside the various faerie tribes and helping construct a prison that would hold their mutual enemies for eternity.
The prison of Ironheart is designed as a sphere of pure cold iron, which feeds upon the innate magical energies of the Fomorians, keeping them in a dormant state. Though still physically imposing beings, the powerful magicks that helped them rule over the other fey and threaten the cyclops and races beyond the realm of Faerie are dampened.
After many centuries, the fey forgot about the treaty they held with the cyclops, and after the Sundering they quickly moved to colonize the moon which resulted in a great war between the former allies. To make matters worse, the Dayspring and Eventide trees that were planted to terraform the moon fed on the energies leeched from the Fomorians by their prison, which weakened their magical bonds and allowed them to escape. The Fomorians made a pact with their former gaolers and joined forces with the cyclops, but were ultimately defeated once more by the combined might of the Summer and Winter Courts as well as the Wyld.
Ironheart no longer keeps the Fomorians imprisoned and dormant, but it does serve as their home, having become a great subterranean city in the years since the Sundering where they dwell along with their cyclops allies. The city is ruled by Arawn the Heartless, whose cold iron pierced heart was replaced by another godtree sapling, which fused with the ancient Fomorian king keeping him alive, and giving him great powers and an empathic link to the godtrees of both fey courts. He and his subjects are always scheming ways to reassert dominance over the faerie and peoples beyond the moon.
The lands between the warm embrace of the Summer Court and the Grasping, icy talons of the Winter Court are known as the Wyld. It is a vast expanse of lush, overgrown forestland that is inhabited by wood elves and other fey, as well as firbolgs and awakened animals who live together in independent tribal communities.
The denizens of the Wyld revere freedom and independence above all things, and recognize no king or queen. Though they have no unified ruling body beyond the leadership of their individual tribes, the free fey of the Wyld are unified in support of the Horned King, a sort of folk hero who defies and thwarts the expansion of both Summer and Winter, as well as incursions by Arawn and his Fomorian scourge. This is done through the Wyld Hunt, a practice of meticulously planned and executed guerilla strikes upon the forces and infrastructures of their enemies.
Whereas the Summer Court fey are masters of light and wood magic, and the Winter Court fey are masters of ice and water shaping, the Wyld Fey are masters of magical animal husbandry. Among their number are many awakened animals, such as intelligent, talking beavers and scholarly bison. Wyld Fey are able to form powerful bonds and partnerships with wild animals, who help them cultivate crops, build villages and even fight in battle. Imagine a stampeding army of firbolgs with stone tipped spears charging forth on angry dire bear mounts.
Some Wyld Fey shamans are even able to summon Astral Narwhals for passage tot he outlying territories and planetoids if the ancient beasts deem the fey's cause worthy enough.
No one knows for sure the true identity of the Horned King. He appears as a cloaked and hooded figure in hunter's leathers with stags horns growing from his cowl, and wielding a mighty lightning spear or ornate bow. Some say it is the once mortal bard Taliesin, former husband of Titania who was cuckolded by Oberon. Some say it is Duan, spirit of the original god tree, some say that the Honed King is just a symbol and a diversion, and that it matters not who is beneath the hood.
The Illusory Moon
The Dream Moon, otherwise known as the Monstrous Moon, or the Illusory Moon is the shadow of Luan, the body of an ancient primordial and sister to the world tree Duan. Before the sundering, both Luan and her shadow were visible to the people of the Prime, Fearie and the Netherworld, but after the sundering it can only be seen from the Faerie Moon.
The Illusory moon slowly and inexorably orbits the Luansidhe in phases, much like the moon did before the sundering. Each phase lasts close to a century, and the fey people have come to fear the Dream Moon's waxing and rejoice in it's waning. Despite it's name, and it's incoporeal body, the Illusory Moon is no mere illusion. Though their nature is uncertain, things most certainly live on that moon. The ancient tales call the Illusory Moon the mother of nightmares, and that Luan had sacrificed her life to keep the Monstrous Moon imprisoned within a pocket dimension. It is said that the nightmarish nature of the Dream Moon is what caused the fey to learn the practice of trancing in order to escape the danger of sleep.
- Pirates and sellswords paid with leprecaun gold have been taking over Ark Branches along the Hamadryad Way, meanwhile Cyclops have annexed the reflecting pool in Silverspire. Why are the Fomorians trying to cut the Faerie Moon off from the rest of the multiverse? Are they finally declaring all out war, or up to something more insidious?
- A prince of the Summer Court has absconded with a princess of the Winter Court into the Wyld. But is this a simple case of star-crossed lovers, or is this a plot of the Horned King and the wyldlings to undermine the power of the Courts?
- The Dayspring Tree has been poisoned! It is held within a sleeping state during the waxing fullness of the Illusory Moon, it's boughs and branches quivering in the throes of constant night terrors, tainting the land around it. Who could have done this and why? Surrounded by foes on all sides, the heroes will have their work cut out for them solving this mystery.