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Web Original / Elsewhere University

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The first panel of the original comic
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Originating from tumblr user charminglyantiquated's February 2017 comic, this Tumblr-hosted collaborative work explores the idea of a college campus where The Fair Folk have taken up residence alongside the human students. The blog in which all its content is collected can be found here.

Tropes

  • A Mythology Is True: Subverted; while the Fae at Elsewhere University usually resemble those from Celtic mythology, they actually change based on your beliefs - for example, a transfer student from Japan may encounter Youkai (or Huldufólk if they're Scandinavian).
  • Achilles' Heel: Iron and salt for the fae.
  • Berserk Button: Never reference stories where the fae lose, like Tam Lin. They don't like them.
  • Body Horror: The descriptions of many of the fae.
  • Cannot Cross Running Water: "Know where the sprinklers overflow runs across the sidewalk" is one piece of the original comic's advice.
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  • Captain Oblivious: About a third of the students go through their entire time at EU completely oblivious to its magical dark side (one has been a professor for years). Another third likely know there's something more going on, but don't get involved in anything. Fic generally focuses on the remaining third, who do get involved.
  • Changeling Tale: When the Fae take someone, they switch them with a changeling, a faerie who takes that person's place, though as a rule the changeling is never quite the same as the original. Sometimes, this hurts and angers the people who knew the original; other times, they find the changeling is much better company, and are happy keeping them around. Changelings are guaranteed safety for their time on campus; if they're unwanted, the thing to do is politely call them out on what they are, and they'll leave, whether that's vanishing back to Elsewhere or drifting around the campus for a while. In return, when EU's resident assistants do their yearly journey into Elsewhere to find anyone who hasn't come back yet, they're guaranteed safety as well. This doesn't guarantee the RAs getting everyone back - sometimes they fail, and sometimes students don't want to come back.
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  • Claimed by the Supernatural: It's best to keep your head down, lest one of the Folk take a liking to you. If you're a musician, artist, or something of the sort, carry salt and iron with you at all times, because They have a very different way of showing affection.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Belief is what powers protection against the fae; salt and iron have been believed in for long enough they're givens at this point, but anything else is down to whether the user believes in it strongly enough.
  • Cold Iron: Iron is known to repel the fae.
  • Creepy Crows: The crows on campus are too intelligent, know too much. You can befriend them by reading them poetry out loud, and the science of thermodynamics. Do not wrong them.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: Most fae are affiliated with a certain Court, divided into Seelie and Unseelie. Quite a few Courts resemble this.
  • Deal with the Devil: Never say "please", "thank you", or "sorry" on campus, or you may unknowingly instigate one of these.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Some fae are like this. Fitting, given that word eldritch is derived from elven.
    • The True Royalty, lovecraftian beings that are the ultimate rulers of the fae (in most stories presided over by the mysterious Queen) are the epitome of this. If Elsewhere is to be compared to an ocean, the University would be a tidal pool and the fae inhabiting it would be minnows. The True Royalty, on other hand, would be apex predators of the deepest depths. They are so powerful and enormous that they cannot exist in our universe. If they attempted to cross over through one of the thin spots between our world and Elsewhere, reality would be destroyed. Thankfully, they haven't yet noticed EU. Humans and fae alike pray that they never do.
    • invoked All fae are this in some measure. According to the author of the original comic, fae in Elsewhere are chaotic, senseless beings whose form is utterly fluid and depends on their will. They cannot enter the human world at large. If they attempted to leave one of the thin spots between worlds such as EU, they would get pulled back to Elsewhere (exceptions are changelings who grew too human and lost most of their magic and weirdness but even they will never become true humans). When entering the human world, they can be affected by human belief - the reason why iron and salt are so powerful is because EU is built on land steeped on generations of Celtic folklore and superstition. It is also implied that they have some sort of connection to the natural world, the implication being that at core, fae are pure forces of magic and elements.
    • And then there's Jimothy, the skeletal, blacker-than-black, vaguely humanoid (despite the lack of eyes and the presence of More Teeth than the Osmond Family) being who goes around on all fours and is still as tall as a horse. He'll give some of those teeth to anyone who makes a trade with him. He's also seemingly harmless, loves colorful plastic bead necklaces over any other trade good, and is the closest the University has to a beloved mascot — both in-universe and among the readers.
  • Exact Words: The fae may not be able to lie, but they sure know how to exploit loopholes.
  • The Fair Folk: The whole premise of the work.
  • Food Chains: After you eat faerie food, all human food tastes like dust or similar, and nothing else can and will ever be appetizing. Either that, or you'll be trapped in Faerie indefinitely. Either way, be careful, and don't accept food unless you know exactly where it came from.
  • Hero of Another Story: While many of the fics and world building tend to focus on the students, a majority of the staff are actual heroes partaking in quests. Many of them own swords.
  • I Know Your True Name: In this setting, someone's true name is not necessarily the name given at birth, but the name that they, in their heart of hearts, feels to fit them best. In Elsewhere and the places it touches, giving a command to someone with their true name compels them to obey it. No-one at EU gives out their true name, and all official paperwork is kept under heavy guard in the campus registration office.
  • Inhumanly Beautiful Race: True to the traditional lore, the Gentry.
  • Land of Faerie: Elsewhere, the other-dimensional realm of the fae, which the university is currently named for. (There's speculation about the university's true/original name, and what happened to it.)
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The Wyrm living under the abandoned English building is a hoarder of riches and so powerful that none of the fae at EU can stand up to it.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: They range from vaguely Uncanny Valley humanoids to eldritch abominations.
  • The Quest: Many of the Campus Staff are in the middle of one.
  • The Scottish Trope: While traditionally Macbeth would be the Shakespeare play that shall not be named, in EU it's A Midsummer Night's Dream, known as "Their Play". It's not that it offends the Fae - as far as they're concerned it's too different from what the Royalty are actually like to risk catching Their attention - but putting it on is a decidedly disturbing experience. No-one ever decides to put it on, but every few years it ends up happening anyway, and those involved can never remember what it was like.
  • Shared Universe: Most of the stories were written by people other than the original comic's author, and fan suggestions make up a lot of the lore.
  • Trapped in Another World: What happens when most people are claimed by the Fae or venture Underhill. Many make it back, but not all.
  • The Wild Hunt: Because Elsewhere University is a residence of the Fair Folk, this trope naturally comes into play.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: The library is a good place to cram for finals, as long as you don't fall asleep there.
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside: You don't want to spend too much time Underhill.
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