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Note: While this section contains no overt spoilers, it details concepts that are not necessarily revealed until later on. If you'd rather avoid even vague spoilers, do not read this page.
The fae, or more colloquially “faeries,” are a class of spirits which inhabit the natural world. Beyond this, however, there are few consistent traits which encompass all fae, due to this term being applied to different beings that are not especially similar. These can be split up into a few broad classes: lower fae, upper fae, and hybrid fae.
The lower fae are spirits which inhabit the non-animate natural world, namely rocks, water, fire, air, and metals.
Unlike the upper fae, these beings were not intentionally “created” so much as they are small beings born from each god, like a cell within a larger organism. Each god has lower fae which derives from them—rocks and metals are a part of Mère Terre, water is a part of Maiden Moon, etc.
There is one extremely notable distinction between the lower fae and the upper fae—like a cell within a larger organism, while they are certainly “alive” in some sense of the word, the extent of their “consciousness” is highly debatable, and they are certainly nowhere near sentient. Nothing like a lower fae “individual” exists, and they do not have thoughts or desires of their own. Something that makes them unique, however, is they are particularly responsive to the energies of the gods, and are able to be commanded by them at will. Any other creatures who are intimately connected with the gods or the natural world in general (mostly human priests) are also able to command the lower fae.
The reason lower fae are somewhat erroneously considered the same kind of being as upper fae—and are considered alive at all—is due to how ancient humans interacted with the fae. While it was clear they perhaps are not as complex as the upper fae, one who is connected enough can “speak” to the lower fae and see results just as easily as one would with the upper fae. It can be easy to gain the impression that they too are more “alive” than they really are, and this classification stuck.
The upper fae are the spirits which inhabit plants and fungus, and were the first deliberate creations made by Mère Terre. There are a few different varieties of upper fae, although they all have many traits in common, and are considered “higher spirits” along with the gods.
Upper fae have many notable abilities which are only otherwise shared by the gods. For one, they are able to manifest as a spirit outside of their physical bodies, and this spirit is able to interact with the physical world with no consequences to their true body; however, unlike the gods, they can only appear in one place at once. Many upper fae are able to see and distinguish between the souls of humans, although this is an ability they become more attuned to over time; upper fae with shorter lifespans are usually unable to do this.
Not only do the upper fae have many abilities in common with the gods, but they also have some abilities that are almost completely unique to them. Mainly, all upper fae are intimately connected with the energies of the world—in particular, Mère Terre’s other creations—and thus are able to immediately, instantly understand the emotional states of those around them, including animals and humans.
Most of the upper fae of the world can be classified as common fae, and do not have any unique abilities beyond those already mentioned. However, there are still notable things about common fae that are worth mentioning.
Although the spirits of common fae can physically manifest however they please, the default form they take is rather distinctive, appearing like humanoid animals. Their essential make-up is human: they have mostly human looking faces, their bodies follow a general human blueprint, and they almost always have humanoid hair growing on their heads. But beyond this, they have many beastly traits: their bodies are covered in either fur, feathers, scales, an exoskeleton; they may have paws or claws or fins in place of hands and feet, wings on their backs or replacing their arms, or perhaps even extra arms, legs, and eyes. One distinct feature all common fae share is that their eyes resemble human eyes, but with a black sclera instead of white.
What kind of creatures common fae take traits from varies depending on the local wildlife, and to an extent on what their physical form is. Smaller or shorter lived plants and fungi tend to resemble smaller or shorter lived creatures; likewise, larger or longer lived plants and fungi usually resemble larger or longer lived creatures, and they only tend to resemble aquatic creatures if they too are an aquatic being. Otherwise, there’s not a connection between what species a fae truly is, and how their physical form manifests: two plants of the same species may have their spirits manifest like different creatures, and two fae that resemble the same kind of creature may be born from plants of completely different species.
While the specifics of fae culture may vary from region to region, there’s many universally common elements. Fae tend to be rather religious by human standards, but how they practice this is different from most humans. They commonly honor all the gods, and celebrate festivals in their honor many times a year; unlike most humans, they neither exalt Lady Sun in particular, nor condemn Maiden Moon. They do not view it as their place to judge the gods for their actions.
That is another aspect of their culture: they are mostly egalitarian, but in a few respects can be rigidly hierarchical. Because the gods are the oldest beings in the world, most fae at least give some reverence to them, and do not feel they are in a position to judge them. Animals are viewed as being on equal footing with the fae, while humans in particular are viewed as being beneath them, being created long after the earliest fae and animals were. While most fae try not to be too disrespectful to humans due to them having Stars for souls (and thus, being closely tied to the gods), they also tend to be used as prime targets for any mischief.
The exact nature of the relationships between the fae and humans varies by region. In Soléiâ, there is generally a strong boundary between human and fae societies; fae tend to dwell within the forests and wild meadows, with humans living in their own settlements, and there is little intermingling between the two. In particularly rural areas, farmers may give offerings to the fae living in their home and fields; but otherwise, humans and fae tend to prefer avoiding one another. This is generally a fair arrangement for both parties, however it can be dicey—because they’re so detached from each other, fae in Soléiâ tend to be less friendly to humans that stray too far into their territory.
In Asàshí, due to large portions of the terrain making such strict boundaries impossible, there is a greater focus on living somewhat harmoniously with the fae. Offerings are more integrated in daily life overall, and festivals being dedicated to the fae as well as the gods (although more so out of tradition in more urban areas). The benefits to this are that fae tend to be kinder to the humans inhabiting their immediate area, and are more likely to even help those who wander far into the wilds; on the other hand, they usually have more investment in the dealings of humans than their Soléiân counterparts—thus, any actions they dislike may be met with rather swift retribution.
These differences also lead to deeper cultural differences between the fae of Soléiâ and Asàshí. Generally, one major difference between the fae and humans is fae care little for innovation, and their societies are extremely steady over time—innovation often comes from the outside, due to human influence. Because of this, the fae in Soléiâ have a culture more ancient and detached from current human society: the clothing they wear (if any at all) resembles that of some of the earliest Soléiâns, their material culture resembles early Soléiâns, etc. In Soléiâ, it is not uncommon for fae (especially younger ones) to know nothing about human society at all, and they tend to assume humans are far more alien to themselves than they truly are. In Asàshí, fae society is more contemporary—with rural society, at least. The fae in Asàshí are much more knowledgeable about human society, and there are greater similarities between their society and human society.
Ancient fae are, simply, common fae which have lived for a long time—over 500 years or so. They are mostly similar to their younger counterparts, with the largest exception being that they are much more powerful.
Most of the more fantastical powers fae are known to have—namely being able to change human perceptions and consciousness, such as spurring on hallucinations, nightmares, even up to stirring up memories of previous lives, or opening up their eyes to seeing the fae—belong solely to ancient fae. Unfortunately for humans, they are often quite willing to use these abilities; being so old, they are often rather bored with normal fae amusements, and look towards other avenues to humor themselves.
Immortal fae are the original generation of fae, the first living beings created by Mère Terre in time immemorial. When she first began creating creatures, there was one notable difference between them and their modern counterparts: while they could die, they would never die of natural causes, never degrade and decay. Most of this first generation died in the Great Fire, started by Lady Sun; after this, Mère Terre began creating life different—mortality was built into their very core, and they were destined to be born, grow, and die. However, the last remnants of the original generation which survived the Great Fire were never deliberately destroyed.
Because of their age, and their inability to die unless directly killed, immortal fae are the most powerful beings in existence outside of the gods; indeed, they may almost be considered more demigod than mere fae. They can use all the powers associated with ancient fae with ease, can command the lower fae, and are near-universally viewed with respect by the fae below them.
It is unknown how many immortal fae still exist; a few dozen is a generous estimate. This is because most immortal fae that exist (if they exist) are highly private, and haven’t manifested outside their physical bodies for hundreds or thousands of years. The only immortal fae who still interacts with the world—and indeed, the last immortal fae definitively known to exist—is Chêne, in Florêt Folwêkhdin, Soléiâ.
Angels are, in fact, a special class of fae: the spirits of the plants which inhabit the soul's homes of Mère Terre and Lady Sun (Maiden Moon has no fae in her soul’s home, and all the physical universe is Père Ciel’s soul’s home, so that does not quite count). They have both many similarities and differences to their other fae cousins.
For one, angels are incredibly long lived: while not quite immortal, their lifespans are usually greatly expanded, regardless of what species of plant they are. Unlike other fae, their appearance is incredibly humanlike. Angels look nearly indistinguishable from humans, and are androgynous to feminine looking; the only notable difference between them is that they have one inhuman feature in common with their patroness—Lady Sun’s angels have butterfly wings on their back, and Mère Terre’s angels have horns upon their head.
Of course, the role of angels is quite different from other fae—including the fact that they have a role at all. Lady Sun has an entire retinue of angels who inhabit Heaven. They are roughly divided into three groups: the first serve Lady Sun personally, following her around, and generally fulfilling her every whim. The second (and largest) group serve the human inhabitants of Heaven; they act as servants who essentially keep everything running, from cleaning, making whatever food the inhabitants desire, entertaining them, and so on. The last group of angels are the true messengers—these angels send messages from Lady Sun to her correspondants on Earth when she doesn’t especially feel like seeing them herself, and they are the ones who bring select humans to Heaven when they die.
These three groups of Lady Sun’s angels are ranked, and go up in rank over time based upon their performance. When they are born, they work as servants for the humans of Heaven. If they do well at this—and there is a vacancy—they may eventually become messengers of Lady Sun. And lastly, if an angel gains favor with Lady Sun, they may at last rest and join her personal retinue. If an angel wishes to leave her service, and live as a normal fae on Earth, they must petition Lady Sun, who may grant their request if there is a vacancy.
For Mère Terre, she is served by perhaps a dozen angels at the most. Their duty is to merely tidy up her soul’s home and keep her company; because of this, she has a rather personal relationship with all of her angels. Her angels tend to come and go freely, and because of this some decide to live on Earth as normal fae; but, many choose to continue serving her. Occasionally her angels conduct business for her on Earth, the exact nature of which is unknown.
The final category of fae are, technically, another type of upper fae—but they are so incredibly unique among the fae, they deserve their own section.
Upper fae do, in fact, have souls; but, they work differently from divine souls (those of gods and humans). While they may reincarnate in a sense, unlike divine souls, they have no soul's home, no repository of their memories. They fully, truly reset once they enter a new body, or simply become one with the Earth once more. Such souls are called “unbound” souls, a trait which they also share with animals aside from humans.
Beings with divine souls cannot naturally be reborn as beings with unbound souls, and vice versa. That said, this does not mean such a thing never happens—and through this, hybrid fae are born.
The first type of hybrid fae are reborn fae: while they have the body of an upper fae, being a plant or fungus, they also have a human soul. Thus, they are called “reborn fae,” due to being able to truly reincarnate in a way natural born fae generally cannot.
The only way these fae can be born is with the express permission of the fae who gave their seed, and allowed a human soul to inhabit it; normally, by way of said fae to allow a human they like to live on as one of them. While such an arrangement is rare, it is not unheard of—especially after the War of Wars, although such souls are rarely strictly human.
Because human souls are not meant to reincarnate as fae, they often reincarnate somewhat improperly, which also affects how they look. If they are able to reincarnate properly, then their memories are mostly reset, much like with normal humans, and their spirit manifests indistinguishable from other fae. If they reincarnate with their memories partially intact, then they usually look more or less like other fae—however, they’re more drawn to humans and human culture than most other fae, and especially have a tendency to attach to souls they were close to, much like they would otherwise. Lastly, some of these souls do not properly reincarnate at all, and retain all of their previous memories. These fae look almost exactly as they did as humans, the only difference is they will likely have a few beastly features such as animal ears or wings, and black sclera. Because they are still essentially human, these fae struggle the most with fitting into fae society.
The other type of hybrid fae are fae who are born into human bodies. In spite of what their name may imply, changelings are much like reborn fae—a fae may only inhabit the body of a human with permission from the mother. Changelings are incredibly rare, even more so than reborn fae; not only do they require a relationship between the fae and human like reborn fae, but the human must be able to bear a child, and finally must agree to let the fae take the place of any child they may have. The specificity of these circumstances, along with the fact it is much more difficult for humans to reproduce, makes changelings borderline nonexistent in reality. Even so, stories of fae tricking humans into letting them take the place of their offspring can still be heard in Soléiâ and Asàshí.
A major difference between changelings and reborn fae is that, just as if they reincarnated again as a fae, changelings do not retain their memories of being fae. While changelings have a couple differences from “true” humans—being able to naturally see the fae (an ability a tiny number of humans are born with, but all changelings are), and being generally more attuned to the emotional states of others like normal fae are, otherwise changelings are indistinguishable from “true” humans.
The reason fae might desire to become changelings at all is due to the belief that a changeling develops a Star for a soul, like humans do—and thus, if they are able to become a changeling, they can essentially become human. However, this is actually generally undesirable to the fae for a number of reasons; for one, humans are tied to reincarnation in a way the fae are not. While it is difficult for a human to stop reincarnating (aside from becoming a corrupted phantom, which is far more undesirable), the fae are usually able to return to the Earth with little issue; and, the vast majority do not fear death as humans do, but welcome it as a natural facet of life. The other reason is, if a fae wants to live within human society, it need not be so difficult: they can merely take on a human form and slip into society, still remaining fully fae. For all these reasons, changelings are very rare.