Fairies in the Shine Cycle

This essay is largely drawn from a discussion on the Holy Worlds forum.

From the earliest conceptions of the story that is now called the Shine Cycle, there have been occasional references to “fairies.” The Vaynar, that universe’s quasi-equivalents of angels, acknowledge them as something like cousins and are themselves occasionally called “half-Fairies”. And other fleeting references have popped up occasionally since. But until quite recently, I had never given them much thought. Now that I have, today I’d like to explain them to you in somewhat more detail.

There are at least two kinds of beings in the Shine Cycle that are called “fairies”: Great Fairies and “their lesser cousins.” Although quite distinct, these two are closely related, and (as I said) somewhat more distantly “related to” the Vaynar. The Great Fairies are sometimes called “Half-Vaynar,” though they would never claim such a title themselves.

A Great Fairy is something like a good dragon—a rare, solitary, comparatively ancient (“comparatively” because the world itself is only a couple of centuries or so old at the-end-so-far of my Outline of that world’s History) being of immense power that is so dangerous by nature (“good, but not safe”) that you wouldn’t want to get too close to but would seek out if you had a problem of that caliber, had exhausted all lesser solutions, and were either particularly brave or particularly desperate. For example, in the current draft of the prologue of my novel-in-progress An Internal Conflict, Persephone Royal muses that their last, best hope lay in a “major metaphysical intervention”, either a miracle or a working in the Power that would have been difficult even with all the Empire’s mages at full strength “and a dragon and a Great Fairy thrown in for good measure.”

Ordinary fairies are far more common, but far less powerful or influential. Each generally has made a home in some place that he or she finds metaphysically significant; I’m not yet sure whether naiads and dryads are kinds of lesser fairies or not, but in any case, most lesser fairies have similarly tied themselves to a place in a symbiotic relationship. Most are similar in inclination and personality similar to their greater cousins—good but not necessarily “nice”, more like a small force of nature than a person—unlike the Great Fairies this varies quite a bit from individual to individual. And while most are solitary creatures, living alone in the places they have chosen, some settled together to form communities and a few even live among people.

Great Fairies are nearly “glorious and terrible” in their appearance, at least usually, though they can change their appearance (within reason) as they choose. Ordinary fairies have some slight ability to change their appearance (though this varies from individual to individual), and can appear fearsome at need, but tend to look almost whimsical most of the time. Great Fairies usually choose to appear quite tall; their lesser cousins are quite short, with a few unusually large fairies growing to be as tall as a short human being, though only an infant would be small enough to fit in your hand.

What else would you like to know about fairies, or anything else, in the world of the Shine Cycle?


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