The Faeries have been forced out of the Mortal Realm by the Dragons. The Dragons have sucked all the Mana out of the world into their private stores, and the Faeries cannot live without it. But the land of Faerie cannot support them forever either. Unfortunately, Faerie and the Mortal Realm follow different paths through space and time, and travel between the two is nearly impossible.
The Faery Elders, however, have managed to support 24-hour Conjunctions, which synchronize time between the two lands and allow limited travel in between. These Conjunctions happen every few weeks for Faeries, and every few decades for the Mortals. The Faeries have to use these brief opportunities to release the Mana back into the Mortal Realm, save the Mortals from the grip of the Dragons, and defeat the Dragons themselves.
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Elder's Circle Report
|Location:||Southwest Standing Stones|
|Date:||4-iv-md (Approx 487 Anno Dracorum, Mortal Reckoning)|
|Scribe:||amon Celeb OíThran|
(The Elders stand, one at each stone. The rest arrive and seat themselves quickly.)
(ha'sen Elieon speaks)
Welcome, all, to this hallowed ground. It is with good tidings, but heavy hearts, that we have brought you to us today. Our situation merits little consideration Ė cut off from our world, we have an enchanting retreat, but one which can hardly hope to sustain our race. We have abandoned the Mortals to our enemies, and left our land to be ravaged and torn. But today, we have direction, and the recovery begins.
For the first time, a scout has returned from the Mortal Realm. (bows head, remembering those that have passed before) sen Giniath will present his report shortly, as he has already for the Elders. Affairs of the Mortals are better than we have feared, worse than we have hoped. Many have succumbed to the Dragons, and few remember our legacy. But we will have our opportunity to save the Mortals and recover our land! (audience sighs in relief)
Let me begin at the beginning, with sen Giniath. sen?
(sen Giniath rises, flies to the Speakerís Stone, and begins)
Yes, yes, it was wonderful to see! Free! The mortals are free! Well so not all of them are entirely what you might consider free of the influence of our enemies, but they are still living on their own, most of them, and their houses are just the same as ever and their children, oh, their children, such a sight to see! And still loyal! I found him or rather he found me or maybe we even found each other but in the end it doesnít really matter because-
(ha'sen Elieon coughs Ė rather politely)
Ahem. Yes. Well let me try to start at the start and carry on as youíd expect the story to unfold and let us see whether that covers everything that I need to so we can go back and save the children of the wondrous Mortals and bring them to know us again. When the Elders (with a respectful nod to ha'sen Elieon) told me the Conjunction had begun I left immediately for these very Standing Stones, and there I found exactly what you might expect to find on the spot which is namely a set of large standing stones. It didnít look any different than the stones that were standing the day before or indeed these very stones that are standing here today which I suppose makes sense since theyíre all the same stones that have been standing here since we first separated Faerie from the Mortal Realm, though perhaps I should say the Elders (with a bow to ha'sen Elieon, who nods and coughs politely in return) who separateÖ yes, sorry.
Well it didnít seem any different coming into the circle of stones, but as soon as I left it was completely changed around but not so much that I didnít know the paths for the paths were clear to see it was just that it wasnít the same as when I had come in and the paths were different but they were still clear and I didnít have any trouble following them and it was really only minutes before I reached the end though I have to say the way was strange for it was not as clear as the day I had left and the trees seemed to fold in overhead and darken the light though of course light canít be dark but somehow it was and the mist crept up and I donít know how I could follow the paths since they were new to me and unfamiliar but somehow they stayed clear the entire time until the moment when I emerged from the darkness and suddenly everything was clear and at that instant I knew I was back in the Mortal Realm! (sen Giniathís wings start beating excitedly)
Well I swear I hadnít been there more than an hour when he shot me! He actually shot me! Me! Can you believe the nerve of the little beast! Well I suppose you can see that it wasnít really a mortal wound though it seems silly to call it that since any wound to a Faery of course wouldnít be mortal but Iím sure you know what I mean when I say that it was only a toy and it really couldnít possibly have done me any harm but he managed to scare the daylights out of me since I was only flying along minding my own business and suddenly here I was thwacked in the back of the head (or perhaps it was more of a thump) and I hadnít even seen the brute before he maliciously abused me! I really donít understand since I consider myself to have fairly good vision and Iíve never had trouble spotting a prowler before but maybe I was just out of practice looking for the right things because somehow my eye had passed right over the muddy little clump of mortal-infested grime (you can tell he was really quite a cute one!) even though he apparently had an arm sticking out and before I could quite recover he was spinning his little sling again and another clod of the precious mortal earth was flying directly at me and of course I dodged with ease but all that got me was an admonition!
"What do you mean stand still," I said, "Iím not even standing at all!" for you see I was flying at the time and it didnít make any sense for me to be standing because then Iíd fall right out of the air!
"I canít hit you if you move around so much!"
"Well what makes you think that I want to be hit at all?"
"Who cares what you want! I get to hit you! Now stand still!"
"But-" I started to dodge another divot from his sling and it became clear that he probably wouldnít hit me even if I was standing still and it mush have been pure blind luck that he managed to get me the first time and I hope his family wasnít going to be relying on him to bring home the dinner any time soon though of course he must have been only 50 or 60 at the time (which I suppose would be 8 or 10 human years) so it was quite unlikely that he would have been relied on for much of anything until he had vastly more time to practice and I really do hope he manages to get some in.
Clearly I had to adopt his mindset if I was to achieve anything in this exchange and so I tried to think like a human and all of a sudden it wasnít too hard to know what had to come next and he really was kind of cute even if he was a little beast! "Why should I?"
"Because you donít exist and so you have to!"
"What do you mean I donít exist?!?"
"Well youíre a Faery if Iíve ever seen one and my daddy says there are no more Faeries!"
"Well how does your daddy know?"
"Because heís the smartest man in the whole, wide, world!"
"Well of course but even smart men make mistakes sometimes!"
"But my daddy knew the very last Faery who ever lived and so he knows that there arenít any more! Now if you donít hold still, Iím going to come up there and make you!"
Of course it was patently ridiculous for me to follow orders from the cretin but I didnít figure it could really hurt and so I just hovered in place for a while and let him take his best shots while I talked to him some more and of course he just yelled that I had moved every time his little mounds went flying by and I guess he did manage to get one or two within armís length so he really wasnít as bad as I had thought but I wasnít exactly laying my life on the line.
"What was his name?"
"Daddy, of course!"
"No not your daddy, the very last Faery!"
"How should I know? I wasnít even borned yet! Daddy said he was named after a flower."
"LíIlian? LilaÖ Lilly? Was that the flower? A lilly?"
"Wh Ė how did you know?" (a hushed sigh passes through in memory of sen LíIlian)
"Tell me Ė you must tell me Ė what happened? Why did he never return?"
"You should really ask daddy. Iím not even supposed to know about Lilly, but sometimes I donít go to bed right away when Iím supposed to. All my brothers stay up, and if I wasnít the youngest Iíd get to stay up too. But none of them believe in Lilly, and Renailís practically as old as daddy! He should know whether to believe or not. How come youíre here if Lilly was the last one?"
"Please Ė tell me about Lilly."
"Daddy says Lilly ran out of lemma, and Faeries canít live without lemma. He said it got too dark and Lilly couldnít find his way home. Do you have enough lemma?"
"Iím not exactly... Well, yes, I have plenty. But are you sure thatís what he said?"
"Sure Iím sure. Unless it was something else. Donít you use lemma? Can I have a ride before you run out?"
"One step at a time my friend! If I give you a ride will you let up with the sling?"
His eyes got wide as I flew down, and the sling was discarded, forgotten before it hit the ground, so I remembered where we were that I might return him to the very spot because Iím sure he wouldnít have half so much fun without the sling though I have to wonder what he did with it when there werenít any fairies around to target and I extracted one more promise before we took off.
"Now we canít leave until you swear to believe in me. If you forget that Iím real, I wonít be able to hold you up any more, and youíll fall right out of the sky!"
The little demon solemnly swore as we rose, and I headed off to get a better look around, because I had to find out what he was talking about and how the rest of the Mortals were doing and what the Dragons were up to and all kinds of other important details. In the end, I discovered that his father was vastly older than I realized, some 60 human years, and the Mortals must have lost half a century in the two weeks that passed since LíIlian left us, which surely means that we are all but forgotten to them and it is only an incredible stroke of fortune that I found the little beast who had heard of us before and I never did find out for sure what happened to LíIlian. I stayed no longer than necessary, for I didnít want to succumb to whatever affliction my friend suffered, and I couldnít get much more out of my passenger, except that he wished there were more beverages on board and we had to grab a branch from the very top of a tree so everyone would be sure to believe him when he returned.
(sen Giniath retires with a bow, and ha'sen Elieon resumes with a nod to the departing Fey)
And this excellent work has given us all the information we require. Sen Giniath returned some 14 hours after he left, from his perspective and ours. So the Conjunctions must bring the two worlds into perfect union, and the 24 hours we are able to maintain them is matched by exactly 24 hours in the Mortal Realm. Between Conjunctions, it is clear that dramatically more time passes for the Mortals. As for LíIlianís fate...
sen Giniath was unable to find any traces of Mana left in the world. As far as we know, the Dragons have drained it all. As the mages among you can no doubt see, we are magical to the core, and the Mana flows freely in Faerie. We conjecture that we cannot live in a world so drained, beyond the brief duration of the mystical conjunctions. sen LíIlian was the victim of The Withering Ė what we call the brief life we live without Mana.
With this, our mission is twofold. First and foremost, we must restore the faith of the Mortals and bring them back from the brink of the Dragonsí grip. And second, we must release the Mana from the Dragons back into the world. Only by revitalizing the Mortal Realm will we be able to rejoin our homeland, and save the Mortals from the fate that awaits them.
We will bring about many Conjunctions in the upcoming year, and we must take action in as many as possible, hopefully raising the Mana in the Mortal Realm to the point where we can return on a more permanent basis. Prepare yourselves well, for the first expeditions will be leaving in only days. Remember that we are fighting for our home, and for the Mortals. Both have undoubtedly been twisted against us, but we must heal and not judge. Remember that even now the Mortals have but basic technology, and our forging and equipment will be at best unfamiliar. Remember that you have 24 hours, no more, no less. Do not fail to return, for we cannot help but assume the devastation of the Withering. And remember that in this, as in all our endeavors, we are united with one spirit; The Elders will advise you on your journey, hold the conjunction for the duration, and await your return. Good luck, and Godspeed.
(ha'sen Elieon bows. The Circle of Elders at the Standing Stones has concluded.)
Appendix: A Recent History of Faerie
The Faeries and Dragonkind have never gotten along. Whenever an adventurous Faery was killed by a Dragon, the young and aggressive were called to hunt. The next time that Dragon ventured forth from the wilderness, he was tougher and smarter. In years past, we solicited the aid of the humans to fight the Dragons, arming them with bright bronze swords and magical armor.
Eventually the Dragons fed up with the abuse and left. We knew neither whence they departed nor when they might return. The occasional abduction was mute testimony to the fact that they were not gone for good. Indeed, they eventually did return from foreign lands, bringing with them new knowledge, and new power. The dragons had learned the ways of magic beyond even what we know, and began to store (some say "hoard") the very Mana of the earth. They settled anew and quickly became the rulers of their prized fiefdoms. Taken by surprise, many Faeries died in these Mana-starved lands.
It didnít take us long to discover the horrible new power the Dragons had brought. It helped them reproduce faster and live longer. The nearby Faeries began to age, for the diminishing magic of the land was no longer able to sustain them. Few were powerful enough to oppose the Dragons on their Mana-drained home ground. It was quickly made clear that this was a downhill battle, for every bit of Mana cast at the Dragons was diverted to their cause.
When the very sources of magic of Faerie itself were threatened, the Elders joined together in momentous arcane magics, the like of which had never been seen on Earth. To save us from the Dragons, they were forced to separate our land from the Mortal Realm. Despite the vast power of the Eldersí Circle, only a small part of the land could be saved, and it was cast adrift, charting itís own course through space and time.
But matters grow still worse in the Mortal Realm, and once again the Elders have joined. This time they strive to bring about the Conjunctions that may be our only chance to save our land and our people!