Quotes: The Fair Folk

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Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
Elves are marvelous. They cause marvels.
Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes, look behind words that have changed their meaning.
No one ever said elves are nice.
Elves are bad.

They steal cattle and babies...
They steal milk...
They love music, and steal away musicians...
In fact they steal everything.
We'll never be as free as them, as light as them, as beautiful as them; we are animals.

Like most of his race the fairy had a great multitude of names, honorifics, titles, and pseudonyms; but usually he was known as Cold Henry. Cold Henry made a long and deferential speech to his guest. The speech was full of metaphors and obscure allusions, but what Cold Henry seemed to be saying was that fairies were naturally wicked creatures who did not always know when they were going wrong.

Ms. Lewis: The Faerie go through trends, fashions of a sort. Mixing notions, styles, and past ideas into new forms until they’ve run completely out of ideas. Then they rebel, they overthrow the court, and a new season begins with a different foundation. Light faerie versus the dark, for example, or a court with a true king and queen and a dynasty that they’ve glamoured up to extend back through the centuries. The "duelist" would be one idea that might have caught their fancy, as of late.
Blake Thorburn: I'm not sure I get it. They're just playing?
Ms. Lewis: It's a very serious sort of play, when you get down to it. Dress it up in the glamour of possible true death, using a rapier can kill even Faerie. Build up stories of an unbeatable duelist, fights for pride, fights for the idea of romance. See what ideas and adventures emerge. Something as brutal, violent and sudden as this is far more dramatic and interesting when the "death" of one individual in a duel might throw two hundred plots into disarray. A Faerie cannot afford not to watch.

Up the airy mountain
Down the rushy glen,
We dare not throw a party, dude,
For fear of little men.
— from the back cover blurb of Mythology Abroad by Jody Lynn Nye

Good fairies don't exist.
Rae "Sunshine" Seddon

Courage to strengthen,
Fire to blind,
Music to dazzle,
Iron to bind.
— Rhyme predating the game of Snakes and Foxes, a corrupted memory of the tools needed to fight the Fair Folk in The Wheel of Time


Tall and proud and wondrous fair
The people of the dark and air
Hold high the iron that they fear
When the Fair Folk call, don't let them near . . .

Seven years spent out of time
And all is lost that once was mine
I tarried once and listened long
To the echoes of the Fair Folk's song.
Heather Dale, "The Fair Folk"

We were wise, oh so wise,
Not given to lies or deceit.
We juggled secrets at our fingertips,
Wore diamonds at our feet.
We showed you ways to play old airs.
We said we could be friends.
But, when our backs were turned, you got us in the end.

We're the mystery of the lake when the water's still.
We're the laughter in the twilight
You can hear behind the hill.
We'll stay around to watch you laugh,
Destroy yourselves for fun.
But, you won't see us, we've grown sideways to the sun.
Horslips, "Sideways to the Sun," in which the Fair Folk of Ireland withdraw from the ungrateful and Christianised human race

Sit down by the fire and I'll tell ye a story to send ye away to your bed
Of the things ye hear creepin' when everyone's sleepin' and you wish you were out here instead
It isn't the mice in the wall, it isn't the wind in the well.
Every night they march out of that hole in the wall, passin' through on their way out of Hell.
The Pogues, "Sit Down By The Fire"

Don't you see yon bonny bonny road
That lies among the heather fair,
That is the road to fair Elfland,
where you and I this night must gang.
Harp and carp, come along o'me, Thomas The Rhymer....
— The Elf-Queen's invitation to the poet Thomas in traditional Scottish ballad, re-envisioned by Steeleye Span


Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.
William Butler Yeats, "The Stolen Child"

    Tabletop Games 

Consider, for instance, a Fae who believes that he has fallen in love with a changeling, and she loves him in turn. One day, though, that will all fall apart, a house of cards whirling in a callous wind. The Fae might grow to hate the changeling's pandering attentions. Or maybe the Fae will one day ask a simple favor - "Please, my dear, pass me the salt" - and in the changeling's hesitation the Fae sees gross disobedience. As so he snaps her neck, wondering at the sounds that gurgle up from her collapsed trachea. Soon thereafter, he remembers the burbling of the honeyed brook outside his Arcadian home, and he returns to his world, managing to never think twice about how easily he killed his "love."

Totally divorced from the cycle of life and death as it exists in Creation, raksha who interact with Creation-born can only imitate the characteristics of such beings. More commonly, a raksha just parodies them crudely. As a Storyteller you can accentuate the alien nature of raksha existence by playing up how alien Creation-born are to them. Imagine how strange the idea of "food" might be to the Fair Folk. Creation-born devote much of there lives to burying tiny seeds in the earth, carefully cultivating them for months, harvesting the resulting crops, preparing them as food, eating them and expelling them as waste. (What's all that about? Do humans go through all that work just to defecate?) Now, imagine Fair Folk becoming fascinated with the concept of "food" and exploring all aspects of that concept, shaping themselves to be able to eat mortal food... as well as things no mortal would eat (just to keep things interesting). Those raksha who seek to understand Creation approach all aspects of the world with curiosity of a precocious child, the scientific detachment of a savant and all the inventiveness of a being constrained neither by morality nor the laws of physics.
Exalted, Graceful Wicked Masques The Fair Folk

Trust not in their appearance, for the Eldar are as alien to good, honest men as the vile Tyranids and savage Orks. There is no understanding them, for there is nothing to understand - they are a random force in the universe.
Imperial Commander Abriel Hume, Warhammer 40,000

Be not here tomorrow eve! Go! Go away, far away! Hide, skulk, crawl on your belly through the dense tangles of forest if you must, but be not here when the Devils That Stalk Men come. Your soul will not see the Great Emperor, they will take it from His light and devour it for themselves. The pain of your soul will mirror the pain in your body. They feast upon fear, they drink your terror, they delight in your impotency to resist them. They will come and all will die or be taken. That is the way of these things. They don't kill you! They don't just kill you...
— Last words of Jeremiah of Thangod Colony, Beta-Coplin XXI, Warhammer 40,000


O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep;
Her wagon-spokes made of long spinners' legs,
The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,
The traces of the smallest spider's web,
The collars of the moonshine's watery beams,
Her whip of cricket's bone, the lash of film,
Her wagoner a small grey-coated gnat,
Not so big as a round little worm
Prick'd from the lazy finger of a maid;
Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o' mind the fairies' coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love;
O'er courtiers' knees, that dream on court'sies straight,
O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees,
O'er ladies ' lips, who straight on kisses dream,
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are:
Sometime she gallops o'er a courtier's nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;
And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig's tail
Tickling a parson's nose as a' lies asleep,
Then dreams, he of another benefice:
Sometime she driveth o'er a soldier's neck
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of healths five-fathom deep; and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,
And being thus frighted swears a prayer or two
And sleeps again. This is that very Mab
That plats the manes of horses in the night,
And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes:
This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
That presses them and learns them first to bear,
Making them women of good carriage.
William Shakespeare, ''Romeo and Juliet (1.4.57-98)

Som say no evil thing that walks by night
In fog, or fire, by lake, or moorish fen,
Blew meager Hag, or stubborn unlaid ghost,
That breaks his magick chains at curfeu time,
No goblin, or swart faery of the mine,
Hath hurtfull power o're true virginity.

    Video Games 

Far out in the center of this region is a place called the Chantry. It's supposed to hold all kinds of vast and ancient secrets, including a powerful being the natives only refer to as "The Kind One." Now, a title like that can mean a lot of things in folklore, like trying to placate something monstrous.
Justin Augustine, City of Heroes

Leliana: I must say that traveling with you has opened my eyes to how wrong some are about the Dalish. You are not at all savage, and I've not seen you snatch away women and children without provocation.
Mahariel: Are you trying to be funny?
Leliana: Funny? No, people actually do believe such things of you.

Anders: Do the Dalish ever have fancy parties? I always imagined they celebrated most big occasions by eating mushrooms and acorns. And maybe dancing naked around a campfire.
Merrill: You know, I was wondering when the naked dancing was going to start... and the human sacrifice. I mean, you just can't throw a decent party without kidnapping a human child and offering her entrails to the sky gods.
Anders: Really?
Merrill: No.
Dragon Age II, "Mark of the Assassin"

Josephine Montilyet: Stories of "wild Dalish elves" have grown even more outrageous as people learned of you. [...] Stealing children, selling peasants to slavers, burning down villages, using infants for blood magic... those are the stories about your fellow Dalish. I won't repeat what they've said about you.
Lavellan: The humans telling those tales are the first to take a knife to someone with pointed ears. My clan's defended ourselves against them more times than I can count.

    Web Original 

la-meilleure-amie: Everyone SAYS they want a fairytale wedding but when I show up and curse their firstborn suddenly I'm a jerk.
deliriumoverdelusion: Wait, but who curses the firstborn at the wedding? Isn't that jumping a little bit ahead?
of-light-and-dark: Yeah. Most wait after the child is born. Or is this a twofer move, where you create the fairytale wedding by imposing the payment in advance?

    Real Life 

I certainly didn’t set out to specialize in elves. But recently, I think I figured out where this pattern comes from. [...] As I was developing Samara, the cat character, I had a startling insight. Start with a cat; give her intelligence, weapons, magic, and art; allow her human height and stance; keep the attitude - what do you have?
The answer is, of course, an elf. Dip Samara in Nair, and the haughty little wench could walk around Evermeet without raising a winged eyebrow. So I suppose it makes sense for me to gravitate toward elves - I'm a cat person from way back.
Elaine Cunningham