A preview of a new faction: the Fairies.
I. Fairies in Gardens of Hecate
The Fair Folk are an ancient people unrelated to humans. They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes: from a couple of inches to the height of a house. They inhabit and rule wild areas inaccessible to man: deep forests, high mountains and some of the upper underworlds. The human population generally fears them and avoids contact with them (there are, of course, a few exceptions). No wonder, since they have been known to trick, injure, kill, kidnap and transform humans, not to mention eat them. What causes probably the biggest outrage is the fact they take away infants and children, often leaving behind a nasty changeling.
The leader of this particular Fairy gang. He and his crew make a living from trade in stolen human children. A child has a multitude of uses for the Fae, including being an exotic pet, a slave or a special delicacy. The Piper has a magic flute, whose melodies can prove fatal for the mortals who hear it. From human perspective he's a vicious monster, but for his own kind he's just another guy.
The miniature is Hamelin, Avatar of Contagion for Malifaux. I had wanted to get this mini for a while, but was put off by the price: 35$ for a human-sized 32mm metal miniature. The price is so steep because it comes with a big scenic sewer base (which I had no intention of using). In the end I gave in because it's just too awesome.
When I opened the box, the pipe was bent terribly out of shape, and when I attempted to fix that it broke off. Some drilling, cutting, gluing, greenstuffing (and a fair bit of cursing and swearing) later, Hamelin got a new pipe. It's not quite like the original one, but he's not complaining.
I call him done, but there's a chance I'll do some more freehand on his coat some time.
A pair of Piper's pucks who help him lure and snatch children. They are big ugly goblins, but they try to make themselves more graceful by dressing up - and the result is quite grotesque.
About the minis: these are Fairies 1 and 2 by Victoria Miniatures, created for the game Labyrintus. The game itself is still work in progress (has been for years now, who knows whether it will ever get released), but what I can see for now on the Labyrintus website is beautiful.
When I bought the pair I didn't have any specific purpose for them in mind. They came in handy when I started imagining the Fairy faction.
The children that were taken and are kept under the Piper's influence.
I have three copies of Sidiamie, a miniature from Rackham's Confrontation range. You can see them up in the first picture of the post, standing in the front. I intend to convert two of them to get three similar but not identical sculpts. One will probably get a hat, the other a different toy, and such.
Aside from the Bratcatchers, the Piper controls swarms of tiny blue winged Fairies. With their sharp teeth and a voracious appetite, a big enough swarm of these creatures can devour a man in a matter of seconds. Luckily, though, they seldom unite into groups of that size.
For these I wanted to use 15mm Fairies and Leaflets by Warfairy. I ordered them from the online store exactly four weeks ago, and the order still has not been shipped to this day. I've sent them three e-mails inquiring about this, but I got no reply whatsoever. I don't know what's going on over there, but I have a feeling I'll have to find something else to use for the Fairy Swarms, or maybe even come up with a completely different concept. Also, I'll have to report Warfairy to PayPal; I'd hate to do that, but this is no way to treat a customer and I would like my money back. It's a real shame, because these minis would have been just perfect. :(
I'm sure I'll come up with many more Fairy creatures; for this crew and otherwise. There is one already among the mercenaries: the Fairy Sniper from some time go. Also, the Ogre is one of their kind (he will also be a mercenary).
II. The Inspiration
"It's easy, all too easy, for people nowadays to get hold of the wrong end of the stick if you tell them there are 'elves' about. And if you say 'fairies', that just makes matters worse. People think of tall, shining figures dancing in rings in the moonlight to the loveliest music one could hope to hear; or tiny dainty creatures with butterfly wings, fluttering round flowers.
And in a way, some of this is true. For elves do generally choose to appear tall, beautiful and glamurous to humans. (...) They do sing and dance, and sometimes they laugh a lot, though you would probably not like it if you knew what they were laughing about. And there are indeed little flying ones, though they have more in common with hornets than with butterflies. In truth, elves and fairies are a predatory, cruel, parasitic race, who will use other living beings, and hurt them, because this is fun.
[Earlier generations on Earth] knew for sure that there were elves and fairies lurking in pools and streams, in deep woods and inside mounds and rocks, and sweeping across the sky in the wild winter winds. And they knew that these beings were cold-hearted, revengeful, often cruel, however beautiful their faces and however enchanting their music."
- on the matter of elves from The Folklore of Discworld by Terry Pratchett and dr. Jacqueline Simpson
|Artwork by Arthur Rackham.|
I really like how Sir Pratchett imagined elves in his Discworld universe. They appear in several novels, debuting in Lords and Ladies (1992). The fairies in Gardens of Hecate don't really have that much in common with the elves of Discworld; the main idea with those, I think, is that if something is enchanting and beautiful that doesn't mean it is good. However, another theme present in Lords and Ladies is the fickleness of collective memory, which I find more interesting. This brings us to the above quotation, as well as this bit from the aforementioned novel:
"People didn't seem to remember what it was like with the elves around. Life was certainly more interesting then, but usually because it was shorter. And it was more colourful, if you liked the colour of blood. It got so people didn't even dare talk openly about the bastards.
You said: The Shining Ones. You said: The Fair Folk. And you spat, and touched iron. But generations later, you forgot about the spitting and the iron, and forgot why you used those names for them, and you remembered only that they were beautiful."
- from Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett
The same thing happened in our world. As time passed and our way of life changed, so their purpose changed- and we forgot their original sinister nature and stopped taking them seriously. So nowadays when one says "elf", we think Tolkien, and when someone says "fairy" we think cute, harmless, tiny thing with wings. Not scary or murderous at all; mischievous at most. Something nice for children. Just like fairytales.
|Artwork by Arthur Rackham.|
Of course, there are examples of the opposite.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, a 2011 horror film produced and co-written by Guillermo del Toro, features nasty vermin-like tooth fairies as antagonists.
Speaking of del Toro, I am a big fan of how fairy creatures are imagined in Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) and in El laberinto del fauno (2006). These pictures have had a big influence over my own interpretation of the Fair Folk, and are real visual treats. The scenes at the troll market in Hellboy II and the Pale Man's lair from Pan's Labyrinth, for instance, I keep coming back to.
The aforementioned Mexican filmmaker, as he stated himself, is an admirer of the literary work of Arthur Machen, a Welsh author of horror fiction from the end of 19th and the beginning of 20th century. And so am I. Machen's most famous and most influential work is the novella The Great God Pan, but my personal favourite is his short story The White People. I couldn't recommend it more. For me, its awesomeness is in its subtlety and generally creepy atmosphere throughout the narrative. Machen's writings strongly remind me of Lovecraft's in the way they produce horror. I mention it because it also belongs among the inspirations for my Fairy faction.
III. The Rules
The rules for the faction will be based on Malifaux2E Hamelin's Crew:
- The Piper - Hamelin,
- Stolen- Stolen,
- Bratcatchers- Ratcatchers,
- Fairy Swarms- Malifaux Rats,
- Swarms of Swarms- Rat Kings.
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