Faere Folk of the Wyrde Woods (part three)
Our kingdom changes a great deal. The people who followed the People of the Stones were the poet warriors and mystic queens whose thoughts spiralled round and round like their artwork. The Lesser Faere Folk tales recall these centuries as a Golden Age. The Painted Ones – as the new denizens of our kingdom were called in Pook Hall – turned away from the Stones and sought their sanctity in the groves and amongst the Dryads. Unerringly they chose the places which the Farisee deemed to be of special significance and for a while they intermingled freely. The then primary settlement of our kingdom (situated at Roreford) received visits from Pook Hall and the movers and shakers of that primary settlement frequented Pook Hall, making the most of the four visits a humans is granted in a lifetime.
The Golden Age came to an end within the space of a few months when the Regulators arrived; uniform in their appearance they had mastered the ability to make the collective work like machinery. The warrior poets charged in magnificent and epic displays of prowess and bravery but the Regulators left none alive to sing of their deeds and indeed, no great hall was left standing in which such deeds might have been sung of. Our kingdom was but a staging ground for the conquest of the rest of Albion and the populace was subjugated into slavery to fuel a factory of military expansion. Many of the sacred places were destroyed as swathes of forest were cut down to feed the hungry fires of the iron industry which was developed in great intensity for war needed steel.
Steel fed on blood. Much blood was shed but some of the Painted Folk found refuge in Pook Hall where they stayed on to become the Tall Faere Folk. Already receptive to the powers of the Wyrd they absorbed the magic of Pook Hall like sponges and it is the painted ones where our notion of tall noble elves hails from. In Pook Hall the Tall Faere Folk are admired for their bright minds and their leaders are generally acknowledged as the King and Queen (obedience is a completely different matter – when it surfaces it is usually a short-lived whim). It is from the ranks of the Tall Faere Folk that a few individuals, still in tune with what they once were, sometimes interfere with our kingdom. Their strength of foresight means that this sometimes happens in the form of changelings – gifts intended to flower into full potential decades if not generations later. On occasion some opt to return to our kingdom where their gifts can be cause of great gratitude or lethal persecution. The choice to leave Pook Hall, in such a case, is irrevocable. A return is no longer possible; only a brush with the old energies at the remaining sacred places but the opportunities to reload are limited. One day it simply stops and then these voluntary exiles start the long process of fading away into human mortality. Each and every one made a deliberate choice to follow this path; there is no mandatory exile from Pook Hall, even for the foulest critters.
When the Regulators arrived in our kingdom they brought entities with them which were all but alien to Pook Hall. Gods of War; they were single-minded in their blood thirst and desire to own, control and dominate. How apt then that when the Regulators departed they left behind a God of Love. And how ironic that the adherents of this deity did not understand her message and continued their feverish longing to own, control and dominate. In the wilder lands to the west and north some turned to the ways of the Painted Ones once again and our kingdom was so divided into bitter factions that a new foe – the Folk of Wodan – was able to gain a foothold on the isle. That foothold was rapidly expanded to swallow up half of Albion. The few in Pook Hall who cared about events outside of their own realm noted with approval that the Folk of Wodan rejected the twisted beliefs that accompanied the God of Love and brought new denizens to Pook Hall. Hunters and their hounds, shapeshifting ravens and little folk who merged effortlessly into the population of Lesser Faere Folk. The few Painted Ones who had emerged before the Folk of Wodan made the land their own found refuge in Pook Hall like their ancestors had before them. They came to be called the Young Ones, as opposed to the Old Ones who had arrived there centuries before.
Once the battle madness of conquest was over the Folk of Wodan proved to have a keen perception of their surroundings and co-habitation was revived. For centuries the Wyrde Woods belonged to all and none. No single creature, from our kingdom or the other, could lay sole claim to it. Those who are said to follow the Old Ways today do not follow the way of the People of the Stones but a fusion of sorts; a melting-pot with ingredients from the Painted Ones, the Folk of Wodan and Pook Hall.
The God of Love returned, this time from the West where she had been restored to a semblance of her original being. Her champion was a Woman of the West, once a warrior but now devoted to speaking of peace and love. There being no trace of the need to own and control this time around the Farisee let her be and would have cause to be grateful for that decision. One of the denizens of Pook Hall was consumed by dark hatred and emerged in our kingdom in the form of a giant hissing scaly serpent on legs which devoted its entire focus on the digestion of every living creature it could drag towards its slavering jaws after sinking its claws into the prey. Its domain lay outside of the Farisee realm thus affecting their power to deal with it. The former Warrior of the West held a power of her own and her conviction was strong enough for the Farisee to inflate her strength a thousand-fold long enough to end the malign career of the worm. Residue of that Farisee power however, lent the warrior the ability to spread her beliefs far and wide in the Wyrde Woods. She was always committed to the good intentions of that but long after her passing new leaders rose. Some sought a tranquil passage of time but others were consumed by ambition and sought to drive ‘evil’ out of their new domains. Once again the desire was to own, control and dominate.
On the whole the Farisee, no matter how capricious and selfish their forms may be, are avid proponents of fighting evil and can be mobilised to do so for short spans. Howsumdever, the knowledge that they were the ones considered to be the root of all evil; was cause for the majority of them to spurn our kingdom. They were immortally offended as it were and withdrew deeper into their realm which had become an enclave slowly shrinking towards its centre in the Inner Woods.
Some Tall Faere Folk had foreseen that the next interruption of Pook Hall malice would not be contested by the majority of the Farisee. This time round they would not be able to imbue supernatural power in a human ally but when that second worm emerged to wreak havoc it was a Changeling who challenged its dominance. She did not do so alone but with the aid of other strategically placed Changelings and this summarises the Tall Faere Folk ‘foreign policy’ to this day. Pook Hall has its agents in the broader Wyrde Woods; some well aware of their status, others blissfully ignorant. Surrounding these are Guardians, followers of the Old Ways who maintain a weak hold on co-habitation. Amongst the Farisee, however, is a group of creatures large and small dedicated to the purpose of repaying our kingdom for the deeds of our ancestors. The debt they seek to collect is in the form of flesh and blood. They too have their agents in our kingdom; men and woman rewarded with the power to realise their ambitions. From the perspective of those in our kingdom who are in the know this conflict in Pook Hall is one between Good and Evil. The latter so because their purpose – our annihilation – seems a drastic measure to us. The Farisee themselves have other notions of good and evil; ones which we would barely recognise because our mortal existence – or the ending of it – is counted as a thing of minor importance. This is, of course, at a par with our primary motivation to survive. To the Farisee the different outlooks – eradication or cultivation – is mostly an interesting point of passionate discussion in Pook Hall, though some are vaguely aware that such arguments can transform into manifestations of death and destruction in our kingdom when the most passionate debaters come to blows in our kingdom, for such physical strife is forbidden in Pook Hall.
A few folk in our kingdom, many with Changeling blood in their veins, are aware of the machinations of Pook Hall to one extent or another. Of all humans they are the fools who are the quickest to seek short-term alliances with Pook Hall. Fools because they, of all people, know that it is bettermost to stay out of Farisee affairs. Why then, do they sometimes do it? Possibly because they are also amongst the few to recognise the great powers of the Farisee. Farisee power may be diminished a hundredfold outside of Pook Hall yet even thus weakened it remains a force to be reckoned with. The fools are also wise to the ways of the Wyrd. They recognize that all things are connected, even across the boundaries of kingdoms and more than the Farisee themselves the fools have an innate understanding that the Wyrde Woods have become vulnerable in a modern society – prone to destruction in many ways. Should that occur the Wyrd connections will cause the total destruction of Pook Hall which will, in turn, cause the very land in our kingdom to die.
So there you have it. A few Farisee fighting in our shields walls on our behalf and a few humans dedicated to the preservation of the Farisee at all costs. So it is in the Wyrde Woods, one of the few enclaves of sanctity left in Albion, intrinsically at one with what remains of the wondrous part of our human souls.