Faerie Tales Do Come True
Fae in this setting are largely, though not entirely, split between two courts, Summer, the Kingdom of Apples, and Winter, the Kingdom of Ashes. The owners of the inn come from the Kingdom of Ashes, and the royal house of Winter, in specific. There are a number of unaligned houses and families, but in the interest of actually getting things accomplished, most houses of any note have aligned with one of the courts.
There are many types of fae and faerie creatures, and houses and families are not always confined to a single type, although there are some that prefer to keep their lineages more clear and 'unpolluted', as they are so fond of saying. Some of the more prevalent houses and lineages are listed on the appropriately named pages, in the menu to the right.
Kingdom of Ashes
The Kingdom of Ashes, ruled over by the Winter Court, is an inland kingdom in the Far Lands. The court is housed at the palace in the Royal Duchy of Uachdartuaim, which is, as the name suggests, atop a seemingly endless catacomb that houses the history and remains of generations of the royal court. Though frequently portrayed as evil, those of Winter are neither more nor less immoral or amoral than the Summer. Winter's policies and behaviour, though, are generally more crisp and abrupt, leading them to be perceived as rude.
Kingdom of Apples
The Kingdom of Apples, ruled over by the Summer Court, is a coastal kingdom in the Far Lands. The court is housed at the sea-side palace in the Royal Duchy of Bagh na Bànrighe. While those of Summer are frequently seen as more gentle and kind than their Winter bretheren, they are simply more inclined toward discussing trades in a way that makes their requests seem negligible in comparison to what they offer, rather than as a gift granted for some great and torturous service.
(First off, someone please correct my Cornish. I beg of you, please.)
Queen Joan's kingdom is, unlike the two great courts, not in the Far Lands, but in the world of men. She rules over all of Cornwall and parts of Devon, but declines to interfere in the affairs of men, more often than not. Joan's court is held in a literally unspeakable location, in Cornwall. Once one has visited it, the location can never be spoken of, and it is passed down the generations of pixies in a coming of age ceremony during which the children are led to the place and return home as adults, having been presented to the court. The kingdom, itself, is unaligned, but houses within the kingdom may choose to make treaties and trade agreements with either of the great courts.
The high sidhe are those last who remain mostly unchanged from a time before men. Though no one can swear to their origins, it's variously said they were a first attempt of the gods to create sentience, they are the true primary sentients of the world and humans were made as a mockery, or that they arose entire from the latent magics of the earth. However they arose, they were the first of the fae, and most others are their children or their creations.
Generally, these fae are man-sized, or taller than men, and somewhat fine featured and angular. They're often described as graceful and beautiful, though definitions of beauty vary widely. At the least, the oldest among them are a breathtaking and terrible sight, their presence alone seeming to draw all eyes and the air of a room toward them.
It is the high sidhe who divided over matters of ethics and inclination to form the two courts. And though neither court can truly survive long without the other, their history is spotted wtih distrust and war.
((Water-horses. This section is yet to be written.))
While, historically, is it mostly the ladies among the lhiannan who have gotten notice, the lineage does have its gents. These fae are the muses of many an artist gone mad, and occasionally of great leaders and generals, as well, for the arts of war and politics are no less art than those of sculpting, painting, or poesy. They provide inspiration and, in return, derive their sustenance from the emotion evoked by the works. Their consorts are frequently driven mad, descending into an exaggerated state of the emotion the lhiannan prefers to take for sustenance.
The lhiannan are usually man-sized and in some way alluring, if not beautiful. Some among them are quite horrific to those who are not of an eye and mind to seek them, but though they are far rarer, even those find consorts among men.
While pixies are a race unto themselves, many of them have seen fit to ally with the courts as a sort of protection, in these troubled times. Though once they drove the Summer out of Somerset, after the Purge, they've largely found it better to be on decent terms with those who will tolerate them as they are. Despite this, Queen Joan has declared her neutrality, and maintains an unaligned court in Cornwall, that has dealings with both Summer and Winter.
Pixies are tiny creatures, some families with wings, others without, although they all fly. They are extremely angular and sharp-featured, to the point of making even the high sidhe look round-faced by comparison. They tend to dress in scraps of finery, lace and ribbon, foremost.
These creatures are sometimes helpful, aiding the needy and the grieving in their household chores and daily tasks, but are eqully mischievous, misleading travellers and leading children away to partake in their playful revels.
The pooka are shapeshifters, tending toward rabbit, horse, goat, and dog forms, when not their roughly hominid shapes. They are generally somewhat smaller, in their natural shape, than men, though not exceptionally so -- just a few inches below the median for the place of their birth.
Pooka are exceptionally mischievous, at the best of times, telling the truth in such a way as to make the listener believe things that are anything but true, and in their animal forms, leading men on wild rides or chases. They are masters of straight-faced deception and evasion, and this has led to the term 'the pooka truth' being used to describe a tale of doubtful veracity. They are also inclined to steal or foul any fruits or crops not harvested by the first of November, counting those as having been left to rot and thus fair game.
Redcaps are, on the whole, rowdy and deadly. Generally short and broad-statured, they wear, as can be presumed from the name, red caps, hats, hoods, or ribbons that must be kept red by dyeing these in the blood of their victims. As can be expected, this results in a great deal of killing, at which redcaps, after centuries of practise, truly excel. As they are among the few fae unaffected by iron, this killing is frequently effected with iron pikes.
In some places, redcaps also wear iron boots, or in this modern age, iron-cleated and toed shoes. Although, as time marches on, fewer young redcaps are using iron, if they've integrated into the world of men, preferring to dodge the metal-detectors, where possible, with glass blades and structural-plastic boot parts. Those who choose to live among mankind tend to gravitate to industries involving meat, where a decent supply of blood can be acquired.
Those redcaps who choose to ally themselves with Summer tend to restrain their impulses and slaghter only those they see as having in some way harmed the court, their house, or any considered to be under their protection. The unaligned and these allied with Winter are far more immoderate in their kills.
((Seal shapeshifters. This section has yet to be written.))
There are many types of fae and others who choose to align with the courts, and houses are not always confined to a single type, although there are some that prefer to keep their lineages clearer. Some of the more prevalent houses are listed below, with an alignment and the most-represented lineage(s).
(Winter, High Sidhe)
The Winterborn are the wholly-matriarchal royal house of Winter, which has had but a single king. The house is headed by three sisters, one of whom is the Mad Queen. The eldest is the Mistress of the Hunt, and the youngest is the Grand Constable, insofar as Winter can be said to have combat force that isn't the hunt, in these times. Although the holders of great and strange power are frequently deformed in ways that the royal family would otherwise find intolerable, these rare cases are kept alive to serve the court, although they are nearly never seen. Only once have they been released -- exiled, in fact -- into the world, and those who left suspect they have been replaced by others, though their old chambers remain empty.
The Ó Ruadhàins
The Ó Ruadhàins are an old and settled redcap family, who only rarely breed outside the line, and when they do, the results are frequently tragic. The bulk of the family are goat-farmers, these days, but the smell of blood and the pikes resting in the dooryard leave no question that they keep the old ways, as they must, to survive. The head of this house is referred to only as 'Granny', and she's well known for her temper and stubbornness.
(Summer, High Sidhe)
The Summerborn, as might be suspected, are the ruling house of the Summer Court. They've an equal history of kings and queens, many of them co-ruling, as opposed to merely taking consorts. In the eye of Winter, they're betrayers of their own kind, siding with mankind to protect themselves, at a time when humans sought to purge the world of magic. In their own eyes, they see themselves having slowly gentled men into the edges of magic, and in another few hundred years, they hope to have eased the human mind back into acceptance of their kind and the implicit magic in all things.
Led by the Lady Alice, the Satyrwhites are a faily of mostly helpful pixies, generally inclined to help with the housework of those they see as being in need. Their kindness does not extend to the lazy, though, and if they've not seen you trying to help yourself, they're much more likely to hide things and lead you astray. Strangely, though, they are, themselves, more likely to dance and play than to work, although all they mean to do tends to get done.