29 August 2015

A brief overview of Changeling history (part 2)

Last week, we looked at the earliest part of the history of the fae, from their genesis to the time that Banality sealed them off from the Dreaming. The sidhe had just abandoned the commoners to their fate, clogging the portals back to the Dreaming as the helpless commoner kith watched those portals collapsing.

Today, we will continue the history.

So the commoner kith found themselves trapped in an increasingly inhospitable world, without even the leadership of their traditional rulers to guide them. To be fair, a handful of sidhe did remain (most notably those of House Scathach -- pronounced SKOO-hah), but there was now a massive power vacuum. Some of the commoners tried to form new royalty, others looked to more progressive styles of government, and still others simply fell to chaos and petty infighting.

But the foremost problem was dealing with the threat of Banality. How to protect themselves from an energy which, merely by being exposed to it, could erase your very soul?

The solution: the Changeling Way. The remaining fae clothed their faerie souls in human bodies. This began a cycle of life, death, and rebirth. A faerie spirit would be born into a human body, and lie dormant for several years. The changeling would live as a human, perhaps not fitting in with his community, but still thinking he was just an odd human. Then, something would happen to awaken the fae spirit. Usually, this happened around puberty, but sometimes as early as age 6 or as late as age 25. The changeling would then live in two worlds simultaneously; they had to balance their human lives (working as a normal human worker to provide the necessities of human life; food, shelter, clothing, etc.) and their fae lives (indulging in the Glamour-fueled pursuits that were essential to their faerie souls, such as going on mythic adventures and living lives as courtiers at grandiose royal courts).

Eventually, one of several things would happen: the human body would die, in which case the faerie soul would wait to be reborn into a new one, or the fae spirit would be made dormant once more. This dormancy could be the result of excessive Banality, or through battle with faerie weapons. Sometimes, the fae spirit would reawaken, but other times, the changeling would live out the rest of his life as a normal human. In any case, even if the faerie soul was dormant, once the human body died, the fae would be reborn into a new human body some time later.

Of course, it's also possible for a faerie spirit to be destroyed entirely, usually by death with Cold Iron, but sometimes as a result of a massive amount of Banality. The human body, if it survives the experience, continues as a normal human until it dies, and then the changeling is simply gone forever.

Not all European changelings underwent the Changeling Way. Some, who felt themselves more tied to nature than to humans, became the Inanimae. These housed their faerie spirit in some natural object, such as trees, clouds, rivers, boulders, volcano calderas, or other items. There are also several varieties of Undersea Fae, such as the Merfolk, who have a ritual similar to the Changeling Way.

As European explorers travelled the globe, the kithain (as the European changelings called themselves) went with them. They encountered the Menehune of Polynesia, and the Nunnehi in the Americas, and the Hsien in eastern Asia, and other beings besides. These new creatures learned the Changeling Way from the kithain, and began a similar cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

As the Europeans became, in many ways, the dominant force in the Western World, so too did the kithain become the dominant fae in both Europe and the Americas. Africa is still largely forbidden to them; the strange and mysterious fae beings in that continent have resisted western fae incursions. Most of Asia is similarly inhospitable, though for different reasons... in many places, the Banality is simply too great. Eastern Asia, on the other hand, is simply too strange for the kithain to feel comfortable there. The Hsien, despite superficial similarities to the changelings, are so radically different that most kithain just prefer not to venture there.

So it went, for some six centuries, until the year 1969. It was on 21 July of that year when the convergence of two events caused an event known as The Resurgence. Following so closely on the Summer of Love, 21 July saw the first steps of a human being on the moon. As humanity looked toward the moon, which some believe to be the location of Arcadia, and began to dream and wonder again, a global concentration of Glamour blew open the previously collapsed portals into the Dreaming, and the sidhe emerged from Arcadia once more.

The Resurgence had massive worldwide effects. So massive, that they will have to be discussed in the final installment of this series, next week. Until then,

Game on!

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