Arcadia is indeed breathtaking, but its beauty also terrifies. It is a land of deathless joy in gnarled gardens, and of mountains built of half-gnawed bone. In Faerie (for so it is also called), forests, dark and primeval, writhe alongside concrete jungles thick with artfully bent metal and delicate snowflakes of broken glass. Almost Victorian estates squat along shorelines that are crowded thick with the carcasses of a thousand sailing ships, all of this bordered thickly by the Hedge’s labyrinthine mazes. Arcadia is all of those things, or perhaps it is none of them. Perhaps everything that is “known” about Arcadia is merely the fevered visions of those who have lost the ability to discern reality from fantasy and truth from dream.
Because of the nature of Faerie, even firsthand accounts of the land are inherently skewed. Those who have journeyed there, and escaped to tell the tale, find themselves deeply changed by their experiences. Many seem no longer certain of the reality of the world around them, let alone of the alien one they just left. Some, perhaps the fortunate ones, remember little to nothing of the time spent in Arcadia, even if decades passed in their absence. Traveling through the thorny Hedge that surrounds Arcadia tears away at both the body and the sanity of any but the native inhabitants, who are themselves rumored to be nothing more than manifestations of the land itself — immune to, or perhaps merely symptoms of, its reality-shredding power. They are Faerie, and the land is Faerie.
What little is known of Faerie comes from the accounts of those who have visited there and escaped with some measure of their sanity intact. Because of this, it is uncertain whether the contradictions they report are a matter of slanted perception or whether reality, in fact, blatantly contradicts itself within the fae realm. Any fact reported about Faerie or those who dwell within its borders is suspect, at best. Even if it’s utter truth in the time and place it was witnessed, it may be complete falsehood at any other time and place.
Among the accounts told by those who have been unfortunate enough to visit Arcadia (and fortunate enough to return) are the following: Faerie is the nightmare from which there is no waking. Reality, at least as humanity knows it, does not exist there. Faerie’s “natural” laws are not those of science, of spirit or even of magic as mortals can comprehend it, but a complexly woven tapestry of agreements and loopholes with no rhyme or reason intelligible to the human mind. The inhabitants thereof are bound, and bind themselves, in constantly shifting strata of power and manipulation that not only determines social structure and hierarchy within the sentient population but shifts the very nature of truth as well.
Faerie is filled with supernatural denizens who each possess almost unrestricted power within its own demesne — or so they profess. Certainly their abilities are far beyond those witnessed in the mortal realm, leaving no wonder why they were thought to be gods or the most powerful of spirits by humanity’s earliest civilizations. These creatures’ ability to enforce their own will on the world around them is manifested in the form of oathsworn Contracts — some ancient, some newly uttered — with which they can change the very nature of reality, binding time and fate to their whim. The oldest of these Contracts are thought to date back to the beginning of time, and through them the Fae maintain absolute dominion over their homeland — and those humans unfortunate enough to journey there.
The only physical way for a human to enter Faerie proper is to be taken there by the True Fae. While other supernatural means may afford humans entry into the Hedge, Arcadia is the domain of the Fae, and entrance there is solely at their behest. Rumors exist of those who have, through one means or another, found the winding road to Faerie; however, not even legends speak of anyone ever returning, save those who were taken into the Fae realm by the Gentry themselves. Perhaps it is a simple impossibility, and the road to Faerie is not traversable by any save those welcomed by the Fae. Perhaps there is a key to entering Arcadia that no mortal can wield. Or perhaps the Fair Folk simply do not appreciate unsolicited guests and make their lethal displeasure known upon those who come uninvited.
If even a small part of the accounts of those who have traveled there are to be believed, the realm, just as those who make their home there, is a place of unknowable extremes and possibilities. Within the Hedge-hemmed borders lies the potential for both utopian wonder and brimstone torment. The human mind, however, seems intrinsically incapable of comprehending the vast paradoxical nature of the place, just as the human mind is unable to truly understand the wholly alien nature of those who make their home there.
Changeling: The Lost Rulebook, p. 16, 20, 21