While each of the kith have their own take on history (which may be found on their respective kith pages), this history is specifically from the point of view of a Commoner and tries to be less kithocentric. Coming from the point of view of a commoner, there is a definite bias against the Sidhe.
In the Beginning
How did the fae come to be? You want to go that far back? I’m not a theologian, I’m an historian. You really want it? Ok. I. Don’t. Know. How’s that for an answer? What would you rather I say? You’ll get a different answer from every closet philosopher out there. The fae are made from the dreams of mortals. We’re the children of the Tuatha de Danann. Dana herself created us. They’re probably all true in their own way. The Mythic Age was just that… mythic. A story changes with the telling and so does our past. The past is reflected in the Now, and time is fluid. Cave paintings were magical. They fixed an event in time. Before that, history had nothing to bind it. It was based on what the storyteller believed, or rather, what they chose to say. That’s magic, too.
Next came clay tablets, stone, and paper. Writing pinned history like a butterfly to an entomologist’s board. Things stayed. What grandfather knew, you knew, and so did your neighbor. Not everyone in Babylon was literate, but someone was. That’s an evil of writing: It begat the bureaucrat, the scourge of the world and the right hand of Banality.
Mythic philosophy is a tale told by a besotted satyr, full of drivel and musings, signifying a waste of time. Let’s move on.
Most Kithain believe the Sundering began the moment Cold Iron was forged. It’s a fine, poetic myth, and since poetry and myth fills the fae nature, what could be more appropriate? I think the Sundering began the moment someone said, “I don’t believe,” and meant it. Behind stone walls, by a warm fire, it’s easy to ignore a monster in the underbrush or a drake’s eye gleaming in the dark. And it’s a short step form ignoring to disbelieving. When early humans turned to science and logic instead of their old gods and spirits to explain the world’s mysteries, the old gods began to die and the power of Dreams wavered.
We satyrs probably felt it first. Ancient Greece, after all, was full of philosophers and budding scientists. The Celts, though, still believed in ways more comfortable to them, so they traveled Europe and began to mingle with the other kith. Remember, the world was young and the kith weren’t mixed together like now. Trolls ran the Nordic forests, satyrs frolicked in the Mediterranean, and sluagh skulked Slavic swamps while redcaps haunted highland crags. Even in the Dreaming, few kith, other than the eshu, traveled much. But time passed. Populations increased. People migrated or got invaded. The Kithain began to move too.
And what of the Great and Terrible Sidhe, Masters of All? Well, they were Great and Terrible, but also Aloof. They stayed in Arcadia or the Dreaming, mostly. The other kith, who became known as the Common Folk, were the fae most mortals had truck with. We all had our demesnes in human life.
The Courts were there, of course. Always have been (in a relative sense). In the old times the Courts didn’t mingle so freely. Each knew their place. From Beltaine to Samhain, the Seelie Court ruled, while the Unseelie did in the dark half of the year. Sometimes the fae merely changed allegiance rather than being physically replaced, or so I’m told. I don’t know how common it was; our memories are muddled and records nonexistent. The Shadow Court? Nonsense. The Shadow Court has always been a Samhain ritual, nothing more.
Read some of the noble chronicles… Weyland, Arnel, Prospern, Drake… they give excellent, if kithocentric, accounts of the old times. But they are really more concerned with glorious quests and epic romances than life in the mundane world. Maybe if their heads weren’t in the clouds all the time, the could have seen the coming darkness.
As for the commoners, they spent as much time in the Dreaming as the mundane world. A few curious ones took on mortal flesh for a while so they could live among humans and teach or learn from them. Who could have guessed the Changeling Way would one day be our final recourse?
Despite the gradual weakening of the Dreaming in the mortal realm, they Common Folk were having a fine time. There were more Dreamers than before and many still believed in the old ways. The Christian Church was a minor problem in some places. In fact, the fae got along splendidly with the “Celtic Church” founded by Colomba, Brendan, and others in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and northern England. Most evangelicals away from Rome were relatively tolerant of divergent beliefs. Instead of overthrowing them, the Irish incorporate them into the Christian belief structure. Many monks were powerful Dreamers and created incomprehensibly beautiful art in metal and illuminated manuscripts. Every Changeling should go to Dublin to see the Book of Kells and the Ardagh Chalice. You’ll get a Glamour buzz just looking at them. Many fae even lived within monasteries, drinking from the dreams and Glamour and inspiring greater expressions of religious zeal. But eventually Rome had its way and the Irish Church grew rigid and intolerant. It was good while it lasted, though.
Across the Waters
As Banality pushed away the Dreaming, some adventurous Kithain inspired mortals to seek fabled lands across the ocean. Many never made it back. A handful found the land that would be called North America. The first European known to see North America was Bjarni Herjulfson, a Kinain who got lost on a trip to Greenland and found Newfoundland instead. He told a troll he knew and the race was on. In the early 11th century, Leif Erikson landed on Vinland (as they called the new land), accompanied by trolls in mortal form. It was shortly after landfall that the fae noticed other fae spirits watching them. The trolls met with the nunnehi, strong but not threatening, and the natives, called skraelings, who treated them with cautious respect. Coming from curious and opportunistic stock, the giants spoke of peace and trade. Sadly, hope of peace died quickly; Leif’s brother, Thorvald, slew several of the native people. Warfare was constant, and the European settlement withered in a score of years. Only a few trolls stayed, and through a great ritual opened the first trod between the New World and Old in 1023. They held that path against Nunnehi and skraelings for over three centuries, until the path closed of its own accord. What happened to them, I can’t say. Perhaps they were lost on the path in returning or simply stayed in the west. However, chimerical stones bearing their runes have been found as far south as Virginia and as far west as the Ohio River Valley. It seems that, no longer bound by their duty, the explored the continent.
Another great but practically unknown explorer was Madoc ap Gwynedd of Cymru. Rather than war with his brothers for the princedom of his land, he sailed with his followers into the western ocean, inspired by tales of the land beyond the sea. Of course, many changelings were among his crew for the adventure. They eventually landed at the now Mobile Bay. Their trek took them to the Appalachian Mountains where they settled. Their relations with their neighbors was peaceful, if not warm, and Madoc journeyed home for supplies and more settlers. Soon the Welsh colony was thriving in the mountains of the new land. In time, no doubt, the Welsh and native tribes would have merged and multiplied in the normal way, but it was not to be.
Tales differ on who discovered the treasure. Some say it was a childling; some say it was Dyfnwal ap Gwydion, lord of Caer Madoc who discovered the stone. Some say it was Madoc himself who woke from a dream the first night in the encampment on the ridge; digging under his bedroll, he uncovered a strange and beautiful gemstone. This wondrous rock was called the Dreamstone. Whoever found it, it came to the hands of a sidhe of House Eiluned, who realized its potential. In a mighty ritual, he opened a trod across the ocean, allowing other nobles to journey to the new land. Even as the gate formed, the nunnehi noticed and weren’t happy about it. The demanded the trod be closed and the stone returned to them (though if they had known about the stone it seems to me they wouldn’t have left it lying around for the sidhe to find). War came to Madoc’s Mountain as nunnehi fought Kithain, drawing the mortals of both sides into the fray. Thought they fought bravely, the Welsh settlers were driven from their home. They tried to resettle but were attacked by tribes each time. I don’t know what became of them, but I’ve heard tales of a tribe of Indians with blue eyes and some Welsh-sounding words in their language.
As for the Welsh fae, they held the trod’s gate until reinforcements came. The Nunnehi seemed willing to face destruction rather than give up, and it may have come to that if the Dreamstone hadn’t vanished. A truce was called shortly thereafter. Nunnehi aggression slackened, though they were never as friendly after that. The trod held until the 14th century. When the trods began to fail the sidhe and most of the commoners took the faltering route back across the water to reach Arcadian gates. A few commoners stayed in the Summerlands, however, having formed ties with the nunnehi.
The Shattering Begins
The War of Courts
Since the Sundering’s beginning, the world’s connection with the Dreaming was slowly wavering. Then, the world changed for the worse. The details are maddeningly obscure, but here’s what my fellow historians and I managed to piece together. As Banality grew stronger, the fae grew weaker. The cycles of our lives were gradually but inexorably spinning into new courses, and some among the Unseelie Court were determined to do something to draw the Dreaming back to them. They believed that plunging the world into chaos would lessen Banality and make mortals more tractable. After all, they’re more likely to believe in dragons if they see one flatten their house. These dark fae refused the Seelie their ascendance during the light half of the year, and so the mad struggle began. Shocked by this unheard-of breach in tradition, many fae fell into their own Unseelie natures. The Accordance War was a skirmish by comparison, for, though weakened, the fae of that age had might we can’t imagine at their disposal. Bitter winds and cold rains the dark ones brought to bear against a cowering world; dragons and drakes and great wyrms were wakened from centuries-long slumber to once more make the earth wither beneath the shadow of their wings.
In the early years of the thirteenth century, the winters grew long and cold and the rains fell with monsoon-like duration. Crops drowned. Roads were reduced to muddy morasses. Famine and cold did their part to fill the graveyards. In later years, people called it the Little Ice Age. In modern fashion, they blamed the weather on sunspots rather than sorcery; warfare’s destruction was pegged on Mongols or squabbles between local kings instead of the Shining Host and nightmares made real. Killing the Dreamers was madness; starving and hopeless peasants cannot dream, and an artist in a hungry land cannot find patronage. Even worse, in such chaos, people looked to the Church, whose hate of the fae was growing. And still the battles raged. The cold persisted for two hundred years, but it would get worse before it got better.
The Black Death
Mortal histories link the wretched conditions to the susceptibility of Europe to its next invader: The Black Death. Plague blazed across the continent, from the Black Sea to Ireland, in less than four years. Millions died in agony. Cities were emptied, and villages vanished. In one hundred years of disease and famine, the population of Europe had been cut in half. Where was once hope was now fear. All art, all dreams, revolved around the dance with Death. Glamour was tainted, fit only for dark creations. What little hope remained was in the Church, whose Inquisition was becoming a dire threat to all supernatural beings in the land. Few mortals remembered or practiced the old ways that powered the fae. The death of millions, the power of the Church, the loss of belief… all this proved to be too much. With a terrible scream, the tenuous ties which bound the Dreaming to the Waking World snapped.
The Shattered Dream
Yes, when the trods began to collapse, when Balefires flickered and died, and cloud castles melted away, the sidhe bolted and ran. Not all at once, though. At first it was but a trickle to the fae realms. As the paths grew fewer, though, that stream became a flood. I have only a few memories of that time, mercifully. One that remains is of knights of House Gwydion holding back a desperate mob of commoners while a lord traveled a trod with his courtiers, his prize horses, falcons, and hunting dogs, cart after cart loaded with treasures and mundane souvenirs, and finally his cattle. The knights withdrew through the gate just as it collapsed. Like the fall of Saigon, the Sidhe who speak of it at all will rationalize their betrayal. It happened all the same.
There were exceptions. There always are. House Scathach, for whom retreat is an alien concept, stayed on Earth. Also, according to the chronicler of the House, Fiona herself, with a small retinue, refused to leave the mortals and commoners she held dear. There are a few, a very few, other exceptions. Two or three Gwydion put their money where their mouth is and stayed to defend their people. Master Weyland says more than a few of House Dougal refused to leave their workshops. Given their love for mortals and low social status, I’m sure a few of House Liam stayed as well. I’ll bet no member of House Eiluned waited around, though.
For whatever reason they may have stayed, the sidhe had a hard time of it. Afraid and hemmed in by Banality, many commoners chose these brave souls as scapegoats, killing not a few. A few wrapped a cloak of Glamour around them so tightly that neither Banality nor reality could find them. Others took on the Changeling Way like us. And then there were those who, out of pride or penitence, sought no sanctuary and were eventually crushed by the new age.
Not all the commoners were saddened by their departure. Like children with their parents out of the house, the began to claim their depopulated kingdoms, styling themselves kings and lords. Some did it out of a sense of duty, but many out of greed.
Each kith had heroes, but the trolls were probably the greatest of all. Though many had the opportunity, almost none returned to Arcadia. After the gates closed, the trolls took the mantle of leadership, organizing motleys, gathering and rationing what Glamourous resources remained. They proved themselves truly noble and we haven’t forgotten. Don’t you want a leader who will die to defend you rather than scamper off when things get rough?
Still, it was a hard time. The Inquisition swept across the land. Motleys were broken as some Kithain fell and others fled. For the most part, we were on our own. Without a motley’s support, far too many fae Forgot themselves.
We weren’t completely friendless, though. The Fianna showed themselves as good as their oath. They had their own troubles but still hid and helped us. The Ard Righ of the Tribe welcomed many refugees inside the seven walls of Tara, though we had nothing to offer in return. Always remember they stood for us in our hour of need.
The descendants of the Wyck, the Verbena, were even higher on the Inquisition hit list. Though there was little we could do as our power dwindled, we helped where we could, and they did the same.
Sadly, some of our allies felt the Shattering like a mortal blow. The Inanimae all fell into slumber. Many of the creatures of dream and nightmare lost all of the power they once enjoyed over mortals. Once proud, helpful, of frightening, the chimera were left to wander the world unnoticed by those around them. Many just faded away.
From a 15th Century Writing
In Samhain dreams, I can remember the darkest times. Unlike many of my kind, I did not take the guise of mortals, for I thought it deceptive and wrong; I was nothing if not true to myself. I dwelt in the forested lands where the Cross has not yet purged belief in the old ways. There were those among the Wyck who were convinced that mage and fae belonged to the Mythic Age and that we had overstayed our welcome. Gradually, I began to believe it too. Forgetting came soon after. Times are hard, but I wouldn’t want to go back to the days after the Shattering.
It seems strange that in spite of the struggle to survive, the Courts still made war. Madness. There were some in both camps that saw the Shattering’s shakeup of fae society as a chance to render the old systems void. The Unseelie Court, which was quite large due to the dark times, believed, despite the evidence to the contrary, that chaos and darkness was the only path to bringing back the Dreaming. The Seelie Court argued, not without reason, the by violating the old ways, the Unseelie had caused the Shattering. While most fae were hiding from the Inquisition, the Unseelie were wreaking havoc among mortals, causing them to run to our persecutors for help. Fear and desperation make one do crazy things. Some of the fae rabble-rousers suggest that the squabble was the work of some of the remaining sidhe. I don’t believe it. Not really.
Cooler heads would have prevailed, but it would have been too late to save the Kithain. Fortunately, Prodigal allies stepped in. The Fianna had succored us for many years and their patience was wearing thin, especially as their kinfolk were being caught up in the struggle. After a changeling prank led the Inquisition to a werewolf pack, the Ard Righ of the Fianna, Gionna of the Broken Spear, demanded in no uncertain terms that the two sides meet at Tara to work things out or no longer enjoy hospitality in Tara or any hall or hold belonging to the Fianna. This was a potent threat in those days, when freeholds were even scarcer than today.
And so they came… representatives of every kith and both Courts, even some kiths since forgotten. They gathered at Tara. For three days and nights, they discussed, argued, ranted, and raved, but no agreement was reached. Several Kithain argued for a contest to settle once and for all which court would rule, while a few called for the resumption of the age-old way of splitting the year.
To this day, no one knows who said it. A trick of the Dreaming withholds that memory from us. But in the moments before dawn, someone arose to spoke before the Council. They spoke with a conviction stronger than the staunchest troll, with passion no satyr could match, yet with reason irrefutable. What they told the assembly was, in short, this: Our very essence houses both Seelie and Unseelie and to deny either would be to deny ourselves… the road to Forgetting. To fight each other for what we are is dangerous. For if we win the fight against ourselves, do we not lose? In a voice laden with prophesy, they warned that should war continue beyond the following sunset, the fae were doomed to fade from the Earth forever.
The lone voice convinced even the hardest heart among the fae. It is said that Thomas of Boothby, a boggan of great repute, drafted the Compact which declared a cessation of hostilities between the Courts for as long as both courts felt it necessary (in modern terms, “for the duration”). All gathered signed the document. As the sun set, the mysterious speaker, suddenly enveloped in a nimbus of powerful Glamour, rolled up the document and, in a burst of Glamour, vanished into the Dreaming. At that moment, all changelings around the world learned of the truce. It is a truce that continues to this day, after a fashion.
As years turned into decades, then into centuries, the changelings adapted to their cruel world. Those that were able huddled around the rare balefires while others made their way the best they could. Some kith fared better than others; nockers did especially well as the paradigm of science began to wrest control from the Church, but each kith found its niche, even as they do today. At first, they remained in their familiar feudal system, but as the merchant class became ascendant, commoner associations began to reflect the change. Leaders were styled mayors, aldermen, or generals, and the courts became assemblies. In many cases, changelings dispensed with leadership roles altogether, living in egalitarian motleys.
On the Interregnum
I’ve heard the sidhe tell stories of glorious battles and epic quests, of hardships endured for love and honor. Those tales don’t impress me and can never move me like the stories of the Interregnum. If you think things are Winter-cold now, can you imagine what it was like when the Black Death stalked the Earth? When children lived and died in factories that coated the verdant valleys with soot? How DARE they speak to us of nobility, the whiny hothouse flowers? True nobility died on the rack, suffering to the end rather than betraying the motley. It died in the plague houses, comforting a child until the last light faded from her eyes. It died in Forgetfulness in a Banal school, trying to find and fan one spark of creativity amid all the rote work. The sidhe fight and quest because they enjoy it. We suffered because we had no other choice. I despise the lot of them.
- from Sohrab, eshu wilder
The problem with the sidhe is that they’re too removed from us. They can’t possibly understand what we went through. Even the Fiona, who style themselves “the people’s sidhe,” don’t really want to hear about the Interregnum. If only they could walk for a while in common shoes, maybe they’d learn a little humility. Or humanity.
About the times the Plague died down came the rediscovery of new learning called the Renaissance. The word actually means “rebirth,” a most apt description. In the span of two or so centuries, artists made greater strides than they had in the previous millennium. Think of it! What wonder to have experienced the works of DaVinci, Michaelangelo, and Spenser pouring new Glamour into the world! Think of first performances of Marlowe or the Bard. Great thinkers of the past were recovered. Distant lands were (re)discovered, and explorers fire the imagination like little else. When the Orient and the New World (thought to be the same place) were “discovered,” imagination peopled the new lands with improbable beings. Even a churchgoing woman might leave out a libation for the “Good People.” Perhaps, we thought, some magic was left in humanity after all.
But let’s not forget the nearly constant warfare and upheavals of the period. Dynastic squabbles, religious strife, and the Inquisition and its children were still around. Imagine what the sidhe missed because the ran a few decades too soon.
Flight to the New World
In the face of persecution and disbelief, many changelings plied the waves as they had in the Shattering, looking for the fabled Summerlands. This time, the incipient colonies were strong enough to stand against hostile native peoples. The wiser of the fae tried again to make peace with the nunnehi and were initially successful. Again, peace depended on both sides; brash young braves, angry wilders, or even a boundary crossed accidentally could provoke hostility. Many Kithain learned, to their regret, who was here first.
Still, the European fae had the strength of numbers on their side. As native tribes were pushed off their lands or fell victim to European disease, the Nunnehi grew weaker. Many followed their mortal kin to the west or to oblivion, while others faded into the hills. I’m not saying it was right. I’m saying it happened. There’s little we can do about it now except spread the truth and hope it doesn’t happen again. Conquest, though, is a part of both human and fae nature.
The Age of Enlightenment & Reason
The Enlightenment was like a thorny rose for the Kithain; beautiful yet painfully sharp. Masterpieces of music and art drew us to patrons’ courts in droves. A certain love of chivalry and gallantry reappeared as musketeers and pirates. Great discoveries in science and exploration fired imaginations and inspired dreams of a better world, especially among the nockers. But many of these dreams had no place for the fae. We became “fairy tale nonsense.” Mortals wanted to believe in things they could see, touch, and smell, not a bunch of myths.
But the fae were not so easily banished. They were explorers, soldiers, tutors, and even courtiers and politicians. They say in salons with men of letters arguing philosophy. Occasionally, people even started thinking. Many commoners feared the sidhe would never return; others began to hope they wouldn’t. These visionaries had listened to the new dreams of humanity that were taking shape around bizarre ideas like equality, liberty, and fraternity.
The Spirit of Independence
From the Age of Reason sprang the Age of Independence. In a world of privilege, people began to speak of basic rights. The old notion of the divine right of kings was fading quickly for both human and fae. In the American colonies, the populace chafed at what they saw as oppressive rule. The British responded, in a typical way, by becoming more oppressive.
In the fertile ground of colonial America, ideas took root. Read the pamphlets of the time like Common Sense, Rights of British America, and the rest. The probably seem tame and obvious now, but then they were beyond radical. Look at the words of the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Believe me, for most mortals that wasn’t exactly self-evident. These were immense dreams. They had to be or how else could people have had the courage to cast aside their ties to one of the most powerful nations on earth? To even claim them as an enemy? And how in a world of monarchies could a nation be governed by the people?
From that day in 1776 when the document was signed, even to the present, commoners have made pilgrimages to Philadelphia to see Liberty Hall; it’s an important shrine for us and one of the reasons the Legion of Liberty fought no desperately less than 200 years later.
Of course, the United States was rather exceptional. The people were more or less used to fending for themselves when they cut the strings. When you think about the odds they prevailed against at Jamestown and Plymouth Colony, you get a sense of how they learned and earned independence. While the transition was rocky, the government managed to hold together. The same thing basically happened for the commoners. While following enlightened self-rule was much more difficult than following the local troll overlord (mind you, many fine trolls ruled then), the rewards of freedom were cherished. When the French revolted, though, the ideals were soon corrupted. The dreams turned sour, and the republic consumed itself with violence. Other countries had similar problems as they struggled with the rights and responsibilities of democracy. Many roots of the Five Years War were sown at this time.
Changeling Politics in Early America
In the early colonial days, commoners had little contact with each other. Lucky Kithain had one or two friends to keep them from Forgetting their true selves. They had to be very careful in those days because religious intolerance and xenophobia were rampant, and the Burning Times were not entirely past. As more fae arrived in the New World, groups became larger, and kith politics became more important. Motley organization mirrored the mortals around them. Democracy was the rule, not the exception. There were some “Mayors for Life” but strictly feudal territories were quite unusual. Occasionally, charismatic personalities would rise and dominate the political landscape of states or even regions, creating a new state unified under one banner. Such entities did become de facto kingdoms. This kingdom might keep things stirred up or bring order, depending on the leader. A kingdom seldom outlived its creator.
As the faerie’s situation stabilized, we began to strengthen our connections to one another. The leader of Marthasville might have news motleys in Savannah would want to hear, or may be a changeling in Chicago would turn to a motley in Peoria for refuge in a crisis. Over time, this loose association became known as the Confederation of the Turtle. I think the name came from the Nunnehi who were at times allies. Sadly, the Confederation was no more effective than the ones mortals escaped in the 1780s and struggles were too frequent to allow us to come together permanently.
The idea of “Us” versus “Them” is in every culture. I support my sibling over a cousin, my cousin over the clan, my clan over the village, my village over another village. In the dark times, when all Kithain were “Us” against the Banal mortal “Them,” we acted in accord and cooperation saw us through. When resources were short and we had room to breathe, “Us” meant one kith. The redcaps would kick the boggans aside for a freehold while the sluagh would use the situation to further their own goals. At times, the struggle would flare up into war. We were divided more often than not in our history, and that’s part of why we lost the War.
The Industrial Revolution
Industry’s explosion in the late 18th through the 20th century was a blight on the world. At first glance, one might see it as not such a bad thing. Jobs were plentiful and cheap goods were readily available. People had access to libraries. Free public education was a long way off, but talk of common schools was popular.
One of the flaws of most high school history classes, though, is how they compartmentalize aspects of history. History doesn’t work like that. Nothing happens in a vacuum and history is more interesting when you see that. The industrial age held good and bad for the fae.
The Revolution had its roots in the Enlightenment. The nockers, of course, were pleased as punch, at least at first. The gadgets, tools, contraptions, and innovations excited them. Trains were the marvel of the age. People actually thought they would die if they went faster than 25 miles per hour. Then there were microscopes, telescopes, Watt’s steam engine, the cotton gin, and steamships. Nockers probably thought Newton was a god.
But you can have too much of a good thing. When all those innovations were applied, something went wrong. Factories grew and belched out soot and smoke. Forests were leveled to feed factories. The poor were given the choices to work 16 hours a day or starve, and young hands could work alongside old ones. Some of us remember these horrors. The ranks of the Kithain diminished alarmingly in this period as many were unlucky enough to be born in the industrial hells or stifling bureaucracies of new business and were never inspired enough to reach Chrysalis. Even the nockers took a second look… well some of them.
Sadly, and it’s hard to say, some fae were among the oppressors. I don’t mean Dauntain either though quite a few of them were foremen and chairmen. There have always been tyrants among us, and the industrial world brought them out in force. Money and power were their ambitions and no one could get close enough to stop them. While no kith was unrepresented, the nockers spring most to mind. Many were as rich as Rockefellers and had the time of their lives making new gadgets and not worrying about how they were produced. Ah, well, it’s the way they are, so we couldn’t blame them too much. Oh, hell, blame them if you want.
The Age of Romance
In the dreariness of the Industrial Age, there was a spark of hope. We didn’t sit in the grime and waste away. We tried to change things we could. The accumulation of our efforts became a movement which became the Age of Romance.
The Romantic movement was a backlash against both the Banality of the modern world and the stilted conformity and rationality of the previous Age. Where music was once structured, it became flowing, bright, wildly passionate, or darkly brooding. Poetry and art likewise became evocative. Themes of love and heroism took on new life. Look at Shelley, Scott, and Whitman.
Sadly, it was the middle and upper classes who benefited. Rights for the poor were practically nonexistent. Anything like a worker’s union was outlawed by the English Parliament. Still, the middle class began to read novels, attend plays, and listen to music. Patronage of the arts was something the fae were grateful for. The situation for children had also changed for the better. Before the mid-1800s, child mortality was high so they weren’t exactly doted on. They were treated like miniature adults. As the standards of living improved, for those with money, anyway, children were more likely to grow up. Partly for that reason, and partly because of the shifting ideals of the time, children were loved and nurtured.
The War Between the States
As American industrialism progressed, there was a shift of Kithain to the agrarian Old South where customs of the familiar European style still existed, especially among the upper class. Which isn’t to say there were no fae among the northerners. There were enough to make things interesting when the next revolution came. If one were to generalize, you could say the changelings of the south were conservative idealists while those of the north were moderates looking toward the future.
I was there, though my memories are vague and scattered. There were those of us who took up arms against distant rule, same as our ancestors did. There were those who fought against us, too, who thought that to dissolve the union would shatter the dream first given shape 80 years previously. Who was right or wrong?
Yes, we fought, but with swords more than guns. There were battles you’ll find in no mortal history book. Many fell on both sides to Forgetfulness or worse. What did we get out of it? A far worse oppression. More than a few lost themselves to Banality, some were undone entirely. While the post-war years were bad in the south, northern fae had their own issues as industrialism reached its height.
Since the first settlers arrived, they had been looking towards the sunset, yearning to see what was over the horizon. As the population expanded, pioneers set out westward, trying to get ahead of the rest. In the time of prosperity following the War of 1812 Americans looked westward and decided God had given them the right to rule the continent from sea to shining sea. They struck out by the thousands and tens of thousands, seeking their fortunes. Struggling against wild animals, hostile natives, and hard country, they worked and fought to tame the land, or just to find some place where no one could tell them what to do. People were hungry for a place to call their own. During the gold rush, they dreamed of wealth and were willing to kill for it. When enough folk moved into a place, it ceased being wild. People brought stores, newspapers, law, and trains. That’s when a new class of adventurous hero emerged: the gunslinger, the duelist of the day. Nerves of steel and catlike reflexes began the legend. Like Robin Hood, criminals such as Jesse James became fabled heroes, though they seldom deserved the acclaim.
Of course, you could look at the other side of the coin. Expansion was at the expense of the people there first. The Nunnehi had every right to fight against the Kithain and have it still. But history is about conquest. To get land, someone else has to lose it. The only difference now is that we’ve developed a sense of guilt. Nearly every culture has conquered or been conquered at some point. Even the Tuatha de Danann were overcome by the Milesians. While I’m sad the Nunnehi and their tribes were given a raw deal, I’m not taking the next trod back to Europe.
Turn of the Century
Late in the Age of Romance, art and literature looked for inspiration in the fables of legendary times. The fae loved it. Camelot, El Cid, the Celtic revival, all these were fair game for the artists and writers of the era. Mansions of magnificent opulence, bought with the hard work of the wretched poor, sprang up in the getaways of the wealthy. It was an era of bright promise. The Wright brothers built the first working flying machine. Outlandish inventions like electric lighting, radios, and the telephone were bringing the world into the future. It was the first inkling we had of being one connected world. People thought we were entering a glorious, opulent, new age, one where they could rise above the whims of nature and the suffering of eras past.
The Great War
Trouble reared its ugly ahead again as territorial disputes and expansionist greed turned into a shooting war that snowballed into an epic conflict. We call it the First World War, which is ironic as then it was called the War to End All Wars.
When America entered the war, duty, honor, and glory were the watchwords. We were going to help our English cousins, ride in like the cavalry and show how brave the sons of America could be. Some Kithain couldn’t resist that call.
The War to End All Wars was one of the most Banal conflicts ever fought. It killed the spirit as well as the body. Soldiers were drowning in mud, huddling in caves and trenches, and covered with vermin. Once when we fought, we could look our enemy in the eye as blades clashed. Now humanity had invented way to impersonalize killing. Machine guns covered the field with a hailstorm of bullets from which courage and valor were no defense. Artillery churned mud and collapsed bunker and trench, burying men in tons of earth. Flamethrowers seared flesh. Barbed wire grabbed and held its victim steady so the enemy could aim. Worst was the poisoned gas. To top it all off, communications were poor and ignorance and stupidity reigned. Men charged into gunfire because that’s how war was conducted when Napoleon conquered Europe a century earlier. Squads disappeared into the churned mire because generals didn’t know better. No, glory and honor had no place in this war. Too many Kithain perished. Many more Forget themselves in No Man’s Land.
What came of it all? Some had hope that all war would be rendered obsolete. Others saw the world more darkly and either fell into despair or a wild kind of carpe diem; after all, if life is meaningless, have a good time. It was a mix of these two that led to the Roaring Twenties.
Fire in the Sky
If there was anything like glory or Glamour during the war, it was in the sky. Knights of the air, they were called, their horses built of canvas and wood, their lances spitting machine guns. The fact that most of these sky warriors met their deaths in a matter of days or weeks only gained greater glory for the survivors. Children dreamed of flying at Richenbacher’s wing, of lining up Voss or Richthofen in their sites. The dashing aviator, a figure of romance in his leather jacket and silk scarf whipping in the wind, was this age’s answer to the gunslinger, the swashbuckling pirate, the knight errant.
There were Kithain dogfighters on both sides. They even had a couple of all-Kithain fighter groups. One of the best pilots, a nocker named McGarth, racked up an impressive 15 confirmed kills. One time, he got caught by a patrol of Fokkers and had his Sopwith shot almost to kindling. As the story goes, he nursed his craft in, cursing and screaming at it to keep it running. As he walked away, the engine fell out and the top wing collapsed.
The Roaring Twenties
The twenties were an interesting tumult. Prohibition caused more problems than it solved. Clever people got around liquor restrictions. The unlucky went blind drinking bathtub concoctions. Organized crime got a lift by bootlegging. New mythology rose up around gangsters and the “G-men” who fought them. Kithain were on both sides. It was pretty ugly and people took terrible chances, but the mood was more “seize the day.” Like in the west, there were tales of Robin Hoods robbing banks, giving money to the poor, or just keeping it themselves to have a good time.
There were actually a number of freeholds established in those years. The speakeasy, where a guy or gal could get a drink, dance, maybe find romance, was a popular spot. A few remain open today, and in some, the mood of carefree optimism remains abundant.
To be perfectly honest, the Great Depression wasn’t as bad for the fae as you might think. Sure, people’s lives took a turn for the worst and many mortals despaired of ever finding work, but they seemed to hang on to dreams all the more tightly. Hollywood offered escape, and you can bet the fae were there. Pulp fiction, radio, and movies had a profound influence on the dreams of mortals. If you doubt, ask an old grump about the chimerical nightmare the Kithain had to deal with during Orson Welles’ radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds. The mass hysteria resulting from that Samhain broadcast induced months of attacks by chimerical tripods and tentacled Martians. They would have been amusing were they less dangerous.
World War II
While not as Banal as the Great War, this conflict cost everyone dearly. In the Confederation of the Turtle, duty called once again, and the wilders joined up, despite the awful stories the grumps told about the last war. For the most part, though, the Kithain didn’t get directly involved.
In Europe it was a different story. Many German and Austrian fae joined the fray, far more out of loyalty to the homeland than to the wretched ruling regime. Quite a few nockers were ensconced in secret labs inventing new and more interesting ways to bring the enemy (whoever it was) to its knees. Most of these were Unseelie, of course. Other nockers were opposed to the war because a few of them, and many Kinain, were ending up in concentration camps. In occupied countries, reactions were largely against fascists. The satyrs were mostly against Hitler and Mussolini, and the sluagh made fantastic resistance fighters. Eshu carried messages all over the Middle East, where there was a war of espionage going on. Trolls were divided, depending on where their loyalties lay. As the war progressed, the Banality of the fascists became apparent to all. For all, though, the war was a losing situation. The ruins included treasured architecture and artwork that were lost to bombings in all lands the war touched.
After the war, people settled down and went on with their lives. The new dream was the American Dream: success as defined by a nice house, a big car, a good job, a family, and a dog. It was not a great dream, as dreams go. Suburbs became crowded, and one yard looked pretty much like the next. But where there are dreams, there is hope and aspiration… and the fae.
The world’s highest summit was conquered and a mortal banner flapped in the thin, cold, and hostile air. Many colonial nations gained independence. The first human crafted satellites orbited the globe, and pilots soared faster than sound, firing the imagination of a generation of would-be astronauts. It was a time of remarkable discoveries and inventions.
Of course, there were dark times during this golden age. McCarthy and the red scare hurt the Kithain pretty bad; the madness destroyed many a mortal career, sending a few into Bedlam. Kinain fell by the score, sent to jail or blacklisted. Probably the greatest blow to us was the stifling of creativity among writers and filmmakers. Many were fined or imprisoned. Others suffered under censorship. I laugh at people who say such things could never happen in Concordia. They did once. It could happen again all too easily.
The 1960s were one of those nexus points in American history which foment great changes, with an impact felt for generations. The youth, their heads swimming with idealistic notions, raised hand and voice to bring change to the world, to take power back from the old establishment that had botched up things but good. Populations such as the Native Americans, African Americans, and women began to speak out. Their ideals gave the commoners strength and hope.
The civil rights movement, the war in Vietnam, the polluted, degraded, and just plain toxic environment, and the redefining of the principles of the country was based on, all served to divide young and old, Right and Left, Traditionalist and Iconoclast, North and South. It was a clash of cultures and it promised a new and better world… if we survived the change. It was a powerful time to be alive.
There were many places, like San Francisco and many college communities, where the music came alive and sex, drugs, and meditation were expanding consciousness and lowering Banality. Changelings were drawn like magnets to these places. We inspired dreams wherever we cold, through song, speech, or hit. Many fae were antiestablishment: Government stasis and repression hadn’t done much good. It was time to turn back to the people. So, we marched, staged sit-ins, and raided government buildings.
We hoped that out of turmoil a new society of openness and freedom would be born. The more optimistic hoped or a new Spring. We got more than we ever hoped… or feared.
Hindsight is great. Something was up, but everybody was so busy with what was going on that they didn’t try to puzzle out the portents. The power of the Dreaming showed itself in little ways as the ‘60s progressed. We were seeing more chimera, Banality was ebbing in some locales, and those with the Sight were having strange vibes and confusing visions. In April of ’69, one sluagh friend of mine (well, an acquaintance) told me he had dreamed that men had landed on the moon and found a sword stuck in a boulder. Just as an astronaut reached for the blade, a host of horsemen, cloaked in a blinding light, stampeded over the men. I think he was the only person in America who wasn’t watching the TV when the Eagle landed in July.
How they came varied. Some rode out of the Dreaming in great processions, taking mortal form after arrival. Some simply woke inside the mortal shells they had chosen. Don’t ask me what happened to the humans who owned the bodies. Some say their souls are frolicking in Arcadia now, but I’m not apt to completely trust the sidhe. For all I know, they were sent out of the world entirely or maybe they are locked in some corner of that hybrid mind.
Regardless, the sidhe were scattered around and had to hunt for each other. Some Unseelie say they wish they had known the sidhe were coming so they could have hunted them down before they got organized. I think that’s probably just hindsight at work. Many folks saw the Return as a sign of Spring arriving. I was as thrilled as hopeful as the rest, at least at first.
Over the course of weeks, more sidhe started showing up. A handful refused to take mortal form and they either died or were driven back into the Dreaming. After they discovered each other, they began to make themselves known to us. Some commoners reacted with joy, some with indifference. But many could see the storm on the horizon and knew it would leave us changed forever.
The Great Land Rush
The sidhe began their land rush almost immediately. In little retinues, they divided up the world into kingdoms, laying claims to individual areas before going out and taking what they thought was theirs, all without asking the commoners. Some claimed to have “memories” of freeholds and former realms before the great Bug Out. Others didn’t bother with that pretense and just laid claim to the first choice real estate they could get their hands on. If the freehold’s creator happened to be there, well, the pointy-ears would usually be magnanimous enough to allow the poor sod to swear fealty first.
I guess you can imagine that most of us didn’t care for the idea of Restoration. The world was a very different place than the sidhe remembered. Even our monarchs were little more than figureheads, or at most a “president or life” in those days. Sure, some conservative commoner monarchs followed strict feudalism, but populist rule with council and advisors was the norm. Even if we did want kings, why would we want the sidhe? They abandoned us, after all, and we managed to survive without them. The sidhe lost their right to lead us. Divine Right had no place in the modern world.
They didn’t see it that way. The Shining Host just waltzed in with a thank-you-we’ll-take-it-from-here-and-don’t-forget-to-bow-on-your-way-out attitude. Then they got offended when we said “No.” They demanded the “return of their rightful property,” and we replied, “No, now sod off.” Then they got really pissy. Only the fact that ownership of a freehold must be given by free will kept them from evicting the owners or worse. As it was, the sidhe persistence often provoked de facto sieges and even skirmishes in many cities. Things got tense. Leaders emerged among the commoners. Some were already the mayors or lords of freeholds or larger territories. Others were relative unknowns who found their voice in the heat of struggle. The spirit of 1776 began to rear its head among the motleys. The analogy between the sidhe and the British came easily, and pretty soon there were fliers quoting the old patriots.
Most commoners had little interest beyond their own holdings. Some leaders had the foresight to see the big picture. These visionaries called for a united commoner front. If they’d had time, who knows? Maybe they could have united the commoners. Sadly, that job was done for them by the sidhe.
Don’t think we were all for liberty, equality, and fraternity. Quite a few commoners sided with the Royalists. They saw it as the natural order of things, or thought they’d get a piece of the pie when the new age of Glamour started raining down. Motleys broke up. Lovers parted. Friendships fell into tatters. All over the Restoration. Things were bad but were about to get a whole lot worse.
The Beltaine Massacre: Night of the Iron Knives
Every commoner knows the story of the massacre. Who-knows-how-many Kithain, the first among equals in motleys from coast to coast, met to discuss a peaceful settlement from the growing conflict. Instead, powerful magics and iron blades filled the hall. Those commoners all died forever, their souls burned away. Many of us still can’t talk about it without blowing a gasket or breaking down.
I don’t know if we’ll ever know for sure who gave the order. But the sidhe certainly know, and since they haven’t given us the bastard’s head, I can only assume they approve. That’s reason number one not to trust the whole damn lot of them.
Not surprisingly, the nobles lost a lot of their commoner support. They didn’t seem so noble anymore and their treachery only cost them more blood in the long run. If only they’d kept their word! I believe we could have reached a peaceful settlement good for all. We’ll never know.
To their credit, members of House Fiona were openly outraged at the atrocity, and most refused to join the other nobles. A few of them even joined our motleys. Braver knights and truer arrows I’ve never seen. Most declared themselves Swiss, so to speak, and acted as mediators or messengers between the two sides. Of course, a few fought on the Royalist side. To be fair, though, I saw many a normally fierce Fiona hanging back in a sidhe charge, or clumsily letting fleeing commoners get away.
Almost all of House Scathach came to our defense. Before the Beltaine Massacre, they had been tight with the returning nobles (though I don’t understand why. They were treated like dirt). They recognized the barbarity of the ambush. Besides being swordsmen without equal, the made good assassins. Their greatest flaw, though, is their limited vocabulary. They’ve never heard the phrases “tactical withdrawal” and “strategic retreat.” I don’t think the other houses have ever forgiven them. For my part, the black unicorn is always welcome in my hold anytime.
News of the massacre spread like wildfire. Commoner riots erupted everywhere, and some unwary and perhaps undeserving nobles were torn to pieces or pinned with cold iron. The rest quickly banded together and readied for battle.
The Beltaine Gathering
When the sidhe came for our oaths of fealty, we politely but firmly told them to get a life, get a job, and get gone. When they started throwing around their damn Sovereign Arts, a couple of burly trolls escorted the fops out of our freehold. Well, their Texas-sized pride wouldn’t stand for such treatment, and before long things got tense in the old neighborhood. Then news came of a great conclave where all the commoner leaders would sit down and hash out our problems with the Royalists. We voted unanimously that Jerry Andros, the noblest and most eloquent of our small number, should speak for us. Now some of us were a little worried; after all, we hadn’t seen the vaunted honor of the sidhe in use since they showed up. My friend Melyra even crawled out of her favorite air duct to whisper dire portents in Jerry’s ear. But he went anyway, saying that any solution was better than fae fighting fae.
Turns out that wasn’t an option, and I never saw him again.
The Accordance War
Here it is. What you’ve been waiting for. The history of the War. First, let me explain what each side had going for it.
It’s not what you know but who you know. Well, the nobles had both. Many Arts had been forgotten before the Industrial Revolution, but the sidhe remembered these is if they’d used them yesterday. They were also experts at battle tactics. They knew how to travel the trods and how to manipulate the Dreaming to their own advantage. They slipped into newly-awakened freeholds before we even noticed the Glamour.
They also had ancient connections. Pacts made with Inanimae, werewolves, wizards, dragons… seems like they had sworn alliances or eternal friendships with every sentient creature they could find. And if half a millennium had made them forgetful, the sidhe and the Dreaming would be quick to remind them of their ancestors’ obligations.
On top of having a royal flush, the Shining Host had aces up their sleeves. I don’t know what they could bring with them on their return trip. Perhaps they merely recalled resting places. But when we saw them in hall or field, they bore treasures of legend, unseen since the Shattering: the blade Caliburn, the Crown Eldritch, Davaric the Thirsting… these and more, ready to make a rebel’s life difficult.
What did we have going for us? Numbers, obviously. The sidhe were outnumbered 20 to 1. Even with their commoner allies, we had superior numbers. Secondly, we knew the lay of the land. The world had changed a lot in 600 years. Knowing the new geography was critical to what victories we had during the war. New associations and new thinking would take a while for the nobles to understand. Most importantly, we had spirit. Whether driven by hate and anger or by the fires of freedom, we had the power of a cause on our side.
Not all our mortal relatives knew about the fae, but those who did proved invaluable. Some provided safe houses. Others made excellent messengers who, as obvious mortals, could slip unsuspected through blockades. A few even fought with us. And, of course, there were the few who had knowledge of the forge. Now, I want to make it clear that I would wish a cold iron death on no one, except maybe those who committed the Beltaine Massacre. However, giving the enemy something to worry about, I have no problems with that. So, some of our Kinain hand forged caltrops. After we learned how the sidhe loved flank attacks, we would scatter scores of those things around where we needed protection. When we heard the shrieks, we knew the bastards were on the move. Usually, the first few would be out of action, nursing foot wounds. Those who continued the attack would have to tread carefully.
Few Kithain know that our fae cousins, the Inanimae, still exist, much less took part in the war. There were precious few of them awake at the time, and their help was often subtle. How do you see a water spirit in a river or an air silf on the wind? But there were a few who awakened with the Resurgence, and some chose sides in the war. I have heard tales of motleys aided by men of stone or inspired by warrior bards with a fiery passion in their song. I can’t say I’ve seen them, though.
Of the Prodigals, only the werewolves had an active part in the war’s battles, small though their effort was in the grand scheme. There are several tribes of werewolves, some friendly with the Kithain, some not. But the closest to us are the Fianna. For centuries we worked together, hiding each other during bad times, sharing song and drink (and beds, on occasion) during the good times. It’s understandable that the commoners might feel let down when the tribe as a whole didn’t get involved in the war. I don’t really blame them, though I resented it like hell at the time. We had shared blood and hearths… and they said they didn’t want to get involved in “internal affairs.” What I didn’t know at the time was that the sidhe, who seemed to have pacts with everything under the sun and moon, had forged many oaths of support with the werewolves before the Shattering. Not just with the Fianna. House Gwydion used to be pretty tight with the ruling tribe; the Silver Furs or White Fangs or something like that. That didn’t make things easier for our lupine allies.
In spite of that, the Fianna did make the difference on a few occasions. Sometimes their loyalty to their neighbors overruled whatever their ancestors said hundreds of years ago, and there’s nothing like a pack of nine-foot killing machines for turning a sidhe charge into a noble rout.
These magicians were trickier to deal with than the werewolves. It was hard to know where you stood with them. A few genuinely helped us, mostly by healing our wounds or hiding us after the sidhe trounced us. These were usually the ones who called themselves Verbena. Another group, House Hermes, tended to side with the sidhe. In general, I think most mages who even knew about Kithain saw the war as an opportunity to strip freeholds of their Glamour and capture the stray Kithain for sick magical experiments. The rest didn’t even know or care what was happening.
Don’t think the nunnehi sat around and waited for us to finish our war before pestering us again. They fought opportunistically. Some fought on the commoners’ side, partly because those individuals were at least on speaking terms with us, and partly because many of the sidhe had treated the natives badly 700 years ago. Others would whack any Kithain that came along. Luckily, we usually had a better idea of the places to avoid, so blundering sidhe bore the brunt of the raids. Nunnehi ambushes turned the tide in the Battle of Newfound Gap, and the sidhe learned quickly to be wary in mountains, deep forests, or open plains, especially near reservations.
A Frontless War
To dispel any confusions up front, the Accordance War was a civil war, not some scrap in a distant land that folks thought about every now and then. Most Kithain were involved in some way, from the smallest childling to the silver-haired grump. Each freehold was watching out for the enemy and preparing for a scrap, if not actual fighting. Subjugated cities usually had some kind of commoner resistance, and commoner-held cities were always alert for signs of sidhe. Just because the major skirmishes were taking place a thousand miles away didn’t mean there weren’t sidhe on the trod just outside your freehold. The larger conflicts that earned the name “battle” were, comparatively speaking, pretty rare. For every Battle of Buckhead or Manhattan, there were hundreds of ongoing duels, skirmishes, and guerilla actions.
Having said that, I’ll focus on the larger conflicts which involved organized units rather than scattered motleys. Such battles were much rarer than the independent strike. A good percentage of sidhe, maybe even half, and their commoner supporters traveled in great hosts to do battle with the “rebels.” Militia units were formed on a city, county, or even statewide basis. One of the most famous of these was the 4th Troll Commons; others included the doomed 3rd Western Legion of Denver fame, the Blue Ridge Battalion, and the infamous Iron Brigade over in the Kingdom of the Burning Sun. As the war progressed, survivors of broken units joined others, so that at Second Plains the 1st Ozark Legion contained commoners from the Mississippi delta to Milwaukee.
One more thing about the units I need to say. For the most part, the multiunit armies formed when a battle was expected. Once a particular struggle had been concluded, the army dispersed. Standing armies became more common later in the war as sidhe conquests left many homeless soldiers.
The Opening Move
Shortly after the Massacre, the sidhe realized what their arrogant villainy had cost them. Commoners took to the streets, hunting down every sidhe they could find. Many nobles chose the better part of valor and headed west for San Francisco. There, they gathered around the highest-ranking among them, First Lord of War of House Gwydion, Lord Dafyll, who took command on May 10th, 1970. Dafyll was an arrogant prig among arrogant prigs, as far as I’m concerned. He graciously accepted leadership of the sidhe forces and planned the counterstrike. And so, the first concerted move on the board of the Accordance War was made on May 12th, 1970, at the Battle of the Bay.
Early Days of the War
- JOIN UP! The banner of freedom lies in the mud, trampled by the tyrannical sidhe. The sword has fallen… will you dare to pick it up? Lend your might to avenge those who fell at Beltaine! Lend your strength to preserve your freedom! Join the 12th Common Infantry! If not now, when? – Chimerical flier
Less than a week after the Bay was pacified, Vancouver and Seattle were embattled, and Los Angeles was under siege. The City of Angels had resisted capture for months and was still a hotbed of resistance for the rest of the war. The fact that the Shining Host seemed to stop on the coast took us by surprise. I found out much later that the sidhe had brought with them the age-old squabbles between Courts. Once they had taken the major center of the coast, the bigwigs of both Courts found hidden places in the Sierras and talked and fought for months. I suppose the Seelie Court won out, but it couldn’t have been my much. They buried the hatchet in the spring of 1971, seeing us commoners as a more important problem to be squashed, I suppose.
Then, small units of sidhe began leapfrogging from freehold to glen. Dafyll’s forces moved far more swiftly than the commoners could have imagined. The chief reason was the trod network, which few commoners knew about and even fewer understood. In nearly every case, the commoners were either killed, captured, or left weakened to the point they could make no move against the sidhe.
- Battle of the Bay
- Milehigh Campaign
- Fall of Silver Creek
- First Battle of the Plains
- Battle of Philadelphia
- Great Lakes Campaign
- Battle of Niagara Falls
- Battle of Manhattan
- Southern Campaign
- Peninsular Campaign
- Second Battle of the Plains
- Battle of North Ford
Despite what you have heard, the armies didn’t go around killing the wounded and giving no quarter. Sure, it happened sometimes, but it’s in a soldier’s best interest not to kill an enemy that surrenders. Of course, the nobles had to learn the hard way. While most of the sidhe were relatively merciful with captured commoners, a handful ordered mass executions of the “rebels.” Once word got out of this, you can be sure no one ever surrendered; that was why the fighting in St. Louis was so bloody. At one point, a sidhe patrol found the heads of a dozen sidhe stuck on a circle of pikes. A note on one pike read (in blood), “An eye for an eye. A dead prisoner for a dead prisoner.” Soon after, the sidhe boned up on their Geneva Convention.
Prisoners of the nobles, so I hear, were given a chance to swear loyalty to the sidhe; if they didn’t, they were chucked into prison or kept as hostages. Some were tortures or interrogated; others had their wounds tended and received good rations. A few were geased to sneak back and commit some sort of mischief against the commoner army. It all depended on the noble in charge.
The commoners had similar fates for their prisoners. Some Unseelie liked to torture their prisoners, and some kept their charges locked in iron cages, a particularly grievous fate for a sidhe. Most were treated with whatever respect they had earned; in other words, a sidhe who wasn’t constantly throwing curses on their heads of their jailors or trying to escape would be treated decently. It wasn’t unheard of for friendships, of a sort, to develop between captor and captive.
There were a number of prisoner exchanges during the war. The commoners usually got the better end of the deal, since the sidhe seemed to agree that one noble was worth two or three commoners.
- Explained by Vera Nkubah, eshu spy
In the Accordance War strategy, a stand-up battle usually had one or two objectives. The first was to take territory. This was typical when there were freeholds to claim. The Battle of the Bay and the Southern Campaign were examples of this. The second objective was to deplete the enemy’s men and material. Denver and the two Plain’s battles were in the second category.
We eventually learned that large field battles were the Royalist’s meat and drink. It gave them plenty of room to use their cavalry to good effect, while we hardly had a horse, chimerical or otherwise, between us. After several of these debacles, we wised up and switched to guerilla tactics of hit-and-run ambushes. Of course, most of the troll commanders would conduct their stand-up fights when they could.
The Air War
One of the strangest airships in the sidhe arsenal was the Corrig, a kind of self-propelled, living airbag the size of a small house. The mouth on the front took in air which was blown out of “gills” on either side of the body. Two or three Royalists stood in a gondola suspended from a harness attached to the creature. From that vantage, they could spy, fire their bows, or fling cantrips at the army below. Opposing arrows bounced right off the rubbery-looking skin. I have no idea how they controlled the things, and they were all gone by the end of the war, victims of Banality.
The commoners had nocker technology, from ornithopters to airships to improbable cruisers that seemed to come straight out of an E.R. Burroughs novel. Most of the time, these fleets would join over unpopulated areas where Banality wouldn’t be as strong. Disaster struck during an air battle in West Virginia, when a damaged passenger plane on its way to an emergency landing flew into the middle of the fight. Every aircraft and winged beast, with all their crews, disappeared into the Dreaming. No searcher has yet found a trace of them.
The War Winds Down
As the years progressed, the surge of enthusiasm the commoners gained from Manhattan began to wane. Rumors that a High King had been discovered, and that Caliburn was again in noble hands, took the wind out of our sails. Many felt the war couldn’t be won. Yet few spoke of surrender, since we believed that would lead to a life of slavery or a death by iron.
Large-scale offensives against the sidhe were less common, as motleys focused on retaking and holding their old territories. For most changelings, the war was more localized and more personalized, with the motleys of one or two freeholds fighting a self-proclaimed baron or count in another freehold.
The Treaty of Accord
Word spread that David Ardry wanted a meeting with the leadership of the commoner forces. It should be obvious what we thought of that proposal. Did they think we could forget Beltaine after a few years? But the trolls and some of the other elders actually considered going to the meeting. General Malory told me that Ardry, who claimed the high kingship, had proven himself a most honorable and reasonably egalitarian man. Still, there were not a few of us who were already considering who were most qualified to replace our leaders should the commoner representatives fall into another ambush. I was chosen to attend the council, though I’m not certain why. I can tell you, I was as surprised to return to my hold as my comrades were to see me.
The High King was pleasant without being supercilious. He did not dawdle but came directly to the point. I suspect his brevity was a preemptive strike; perhaps he knew that Malory or Caprin would begin rattling off demands at the first opportunity (in fact, both had spent the journey rehearsing). The terms of peace were laid out. We were to follow the feudal structures the antiquated nobles preferred. In return, the nobles would have to allow commoners into their ranks now and then, and they’d have to let commoners have a say in things through a Parliament of Dreams that King David wanted to put together. True, it was not much of a democracy, it turns out, but that’s what you get when the rulers write the rules.
Well, we were pretty impressed by the plan, and more so by the King’s earnestness. The distaste, if not the outrage, evident in the eyes of many of Ardry’s aides lent further weight to his words and made us snicker a bit under our breaths. Our leaders were, for the most part, convinced, but maybe they were softened up by the king’s oratory and natural charm. I don’t know. Certainly, it was a tough sell to the folks back home. Some of them didn’t like our big concession; after all, overthrowing the nobility was the whole reason for the war, wasn’t it? There were some long evenings of heated debate. Everybody wanted peace, but many thought, and still think, the price for peace was too high. Some motleys were on the verge of rejecting the Accord, even if it meant becoming outlaws.
Then, the trolls, nearly the whole kith, threw their support behind King David. Well, that tore it. I remember wondering if some deal had been struck behind closed doors, and I haven’t necessarily been convinced otherwise. Whatever the circumstances, opposition to the Accord collapsed in the face of troll capitulation. Still, it wasn’t time for misgivings, but a time for celebration. The war was over, and fae wouldn’t fight fae anymore.
Hey, we could dream, right?
Yes, I fought for the nobles. Does that make me disloyal to my kith? Hell, no. The return of the nobles was a sign that Spring is near, if only we have the courage to strive for it. That means uniting under the sidhe’s banner. Short sighted, that’s what the rebels were. They’d rather rule in Hell than serve in Heaven.
- Elizabeta, sluagh wilder
- Egil Magnarson, troll wilder
The boggans of this world don’t understand. Yes, war is a dirty, painful business, and the cost is great. But for trolls, sidhe, and yes, even redcaps, battle is what we are about. We are creatures of the Dreaming, and our role is the martial struggle, whether in a duel of honor or in a legion. Dana created the first troll with a sword by his side. Always we have been defenders, and always will we be so. Those who call for a peace without honor do not understand that we can no more acquiesce to such a thing than we could stop breathing. To lay down a sword when honor demands to strike… it goes against every fiber of our being. Ask the saint to renounce God, ask a mother to slay her child, ask a troll to kneel before a tyrant, and the answer will be the same. To call us warmongers is to be ignorant of what we were created for, of what we are.
Countess Freddi was real friendly to us until she got her own freehold. Then she ignored us. So things worked out great. Except when she caught Brekka making fun of her in court. Then the Countess sicced her two big mastiffs on her. And they breath fire, too. Lucky for Brekka, she could outrun them. I really hope her tail fur grows back, though.
- Peigi Eightfingers, redcap grump
The War was a boon for members of the Unseelie Court. Unburden yourself of scruples, and you can make a fortune selling weapons or information to both sides. I didn’t do any such thing, you understand, but I know a few guys that drained unprotected freeholds while everybody was off dying. And a few redcaps and darker trolls set up protection rackets for undermanned freeholds, eventually protecting their way into ownership. But hey, more power to ‘em.
The baron I serve is wise and just, a sterling example of his house. Even after the Accord, when he could have easily taken our territory, he asked us for the privilege. We granted it and have never regretted our decision. He takes his obligations to his people most seriously, unlike many who see their lands as a supply of Glamour and soldiers. He protects the land and his charges from monster, raider, and Dauntain. I am proud to serve him.
On the Glory of War
The war was hard, true enough. And long. Sometimes I can’t bear thinking about all the friends I lost, at Manhattan, at Turner Bridge, as Holkum’s Fairground and all the other fights.
But in a way, I miss it. I mean, I had a purpose. I was fighting for something. I could look at the redcap next to me, and even if I didn’t know his name, he was my closest friend in the world at that moment. We were all comrades, and whether we lived or died, we knew we were right. I was young, dammit, and I thought we could win the world! I was a warrior with a cause! Now, what am I? A damn gray-haired grump nobody wants to listen to. Hell, half of my holdmates weren’t even a gleam in their father’s eye when we were facing the Shining Host. It’s ancient history to them, and I’m their resident dinosaur. And the sidhe are still in charge.
What I wouldn’t give for a little youth and pride.
So, the treaty was signed, and all lived as friends forever more, right? Nope. The grudges were too strong. “We shall have peace… right after I claim this freehold.” “We’ll play nice… as soon as Count Ratbastard has his accident.” Hell, for the next couple of years, leaders from both sides were getting fumble-fingered with knives, falling asleep at the wheel, stumbling into dragon’s lairs, and what have you. The High King did his best to stop it, even appointing trusted commoners as sheriffs to investigate and stop killings. One of the king’s own advisors, Lord Melizein, was brutally murdered, and I know that fellow wanted the Accord to work out as planned. He didn’t really deserve that kind of death. But you know the thing that really pisses me off? Some of the less popular lords “invited” commoner “wards” to stay in noble freeholds. They said it was a “gesture of goodwill” to let one of the Great Unwashed live with the aristocracy. But we all know they’re insurance against an uprising. The practice continues to this day, and for all his political skill, King David can’t seem to figure out what’s really going on. Or maybe he doesn’t care.
Well, let’s not poison the wells. High King David certainly knows how to get people to work together without reaching for their hilts. I guess everybody’s more or less resigned to the way things are. But I don’t trust the sidhe, no not one bit. I wish the trolls were in charge.
From the '70s and '80s to the Present
For many humans, the high of the 60s crashed in the seventies. The rock stars who inspired Dreamers around the country began to die from drugs and accidents. Many young people lost their vision of a better world and became Banal money grubbers. Others rejected either vision and became punks. The space program lost support, and the Apollo missions were canceled. There were minor triumphs: unmanned probes to Mars and deep space, but nothing to capture the worlds attention like Apollo 11.
Things didn't improve, either. Music went through a reinvention or two. Though the Top 40 was as inspired as ever, folk music from around the world gained a new popularity. Nothing in the space program could match the first moon landing, but the space shuttle did stir the imagination. Eventually the newness wore off. The grand achievement just looked to easy to excite. Unfortunately, it took the Challenger disaster to remind people how dangerous space travel is.
It took a good decade for things to calm down after the Accordance War. Fae used to taking care of themselves now had to bow to nobles; in turn, sidhe who had always thought unquestioned loyalty their due had to make allowances for the "headstrong, lawless" common folk. The two still have a share of tension between them, but folks are a little more accustomed to the arrangement. There is room for improvement.
You may not believe it, but the Dreaming's influence is stronger now than before the Resurgence. Many take that as a sign of the coming Spring, but some fae liken it to the brief appearance of improvement that the dying experience before sliding into oblivion. But don't despair. That wouldn't do. We've come through hard times before, and we'll do it again. Like now, with the High King gone, who knows what's in store. It may be that finding him will unite commoners and nobles; it could be that we'll all take this as a signal to rebel. Life's all about cycles, and where there's a winter, there'll be a spring, no matter what the doomsayers tell you.
- Some thoughts by General Lyros
"The King is dead, long live the King." This was to be the final test of our new world. When the king passed on, his heir would take his place peacefully, and lives would go on without pause. But I fear we will fail the test. David, with the failing inherent in youth, didn't proclaim his heir apparent before the kingdoms and the Dreaming. Certainly, he called young Princess Lenore his heir, but he also treated Queen Faerilyth as all but co-ruler. And then there's his sister, Morwen, now Regent, who could make a claim for the throne should she wish it. Worse yet, there are a number of Kithain who hunger for the royal throne themselves and are too foolish to realize the futility of the attempt. Still others would suffer no king to rule them, least of all a sidhe.
Oh, child, the darkness threatens us again. The appearance of King David unified the fae as nothing else could; his disappearance threatens to dissolve that union. Kithain across Concordia suspect everyone from Dauntain to the High Queen herself of bringing the new Arthur down. Though I would see justice done, who did the deed is not as important to me as what comes next. Will the nobles war with each other, bringing their commoner vassals into the fray? Or will it be another war between commoner and sidhe?
Already I hear members of all kith stirring their fellows to action against one group or another. What do these agitators hope to accomplish? Have they forgotten the futile carnage of the Accordance War? Don't they realize that such a war can't be won, only lost? I fear another was will spell the end of our kind, and the slide into the Winter from which the world will never emerge.
- From a conversation with Badr al Din
I too have heard the words of war, the cries for blood. I have seen the fires of greed and anger and vengeance in the eyes of commoner and noble alike. But I am not troubled.
Do you fear the loss of King David? His loss was fated, and you shouldn't fear fate. He was a good king and a noble soul, but he is not the one who will lead us home. The Prophecies of Balin, spoken in the days of the Shattering, have made everything plain. To paraphrase: The Highborn shall return to bring light into the darkness, but the light brings little warmth to those huddled in Winter's cold. The light dims as blades snuff it out, but one of the Highborn stays the hands and joins High and Low together. This, of course, has come to pass and should be familiar to you. But the tale foretold continues: In his weakness the good king falls, and anarchy and darkness return. Yet in the midst of the chaos, two Kithain, one Lowborn, one High, will meet as equals. Together, they shall discover the key that will open Silver's Gate. When the light of rarefied Glamour pours forth from the gate, then comes the True King, who brings light and fire great as the summer sun! Seelie or Unseelie, all shall kneel to the King, and peace shall be restored to the land. Banality's grip on the world will be broken, and new Mythic Age will arise.
I see you are skeptical. Look at it from the point of view of the Arthurian tales. Surely you've heard the bards call David the new Arthur. But it's not so; he is Uther, the one to come before. He ruled, then fell. And the Sword was given to a Kithain who, though a restless Eshu, has a spirit as true and unyielding as stone. And only the one destined to rule this land will be able to take it from him. Makes a certain sense, does it not?
When comes the king, so comes the Spring. And it comes, never fear. Already the Seekers search for the Two. And they will be found, Mark my words.