Saturday, September 13, 2008

Creatures: Fey and Demi-Fey

The following claims to be a transcript of a lecture given by William Rennovar, the Director of the Royal Cerenbaun Institute of Fey Research and Investigation. The Cerenbaun Government denies the existence of any such Institute, and the only William Rennovar that has been found within the legal records of Cerenbaun is a patent clerk who died one hundred and seventy-five years ago.


What is an essence that is above a God? Do we even have the language to describe such a thing? Gods are all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, immortal. And yet, the research of this institute is beginning to show, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that fey and gods are not only two sides of the same coin, but both of these entities share in common an indescribable essence that is analogous to the souls of mortals.

My posting here at the facility grants me special privileges not allowed to the lesser-ranked researchers. Using some of these privileges, I have developed a habit of playing chess with Subject 25. Proper safety measures have been taken, as he and I both have our own copy of the chess board, and announce our moves to one another. We did lose a researcher, however, who foolishly thought Subject 25 was given the chess board by mistake. His attempt to retrieve the chess board lead to his demise; let this be a lesson to you all for following proper containment procedures.

During these chess games, Subject 25 and I have been developing a rapport and relationship that would not otherwise be possible. This relationship has provided me with a rare advantage in studying Subject 25. During our conversations, Subject 25 has told me many cryptic things about fey and gods that at first, I found simply unbelievable. I assumed Subject 25 was lying, or toying with my mortal sensibilities. Independent investigation of Subjects 22, 27 and 28, however, has provided information that seems to corroborate with Subject 25's stories. The "insane" ramblings of subject 13 also seem to corroborate with the information provided by Subject 25, as well as information regarding the relationship between Subjects 2 and 30.

On many occasions I called Subject 25 a "fey" during our games. Each time, it would correct me and call itself a "demi-fey." When I pressed it for what it meant by that, it said that while it has not "become a mortal," it is no longer a true fey. After I asked it how this came about, it told me that all fey of subject 25's type were created during a metaphysical cataclysm during the Silent Era. When I asked Subject 25 about Subject 13, it said that Subject 13 is also a demi-fey, though a far less lucid one.

These exchanges provided me with a new line of questioning I could perform on some of the other subjects. When asked about "demi-fey," Subject 4 told us that a demi-fey is a shadow of a true fey, without what we would call a fey's soul. Subject 22 warned us that the horrible forest-creature she would transform into if her tree was killed is a demi-fey, but she apparently has the ability to recover from that state, unlike subjects 13 and 25, for which their demi-fey nature is permanent. Subjects 27 and 28 spoke at length of the ineffable infinitude of a fey's existence, and that a demi-fey no longer contains within it such an infinite essence, though it can remember having it.

Sensing a potential breakthrough I adjusted the questions asked during the regular interviews given to our more lucid subjects. Soon after doing so, more information began to trickle out of the fey that we have on hand. Shockingly, a conclusion I have been forced to reach about this information is the possibility that fey and gods are in fact the same sort of creature! Believe me, I understand the implausibility of such an ancient idea, discounted by modern science and investigation. But I have developed a theory as to the true nature of fey that I hope that you, my audience, will be receptive to.

First, I wish to make a comparison between fey and mortals, as absurd as that may sound. It has been shown that we mortals have a soul that transcends our mortal existence. This soul can be detected by magic, and in many cases seems to be the source of the energy our magic uses to affect the world. In the same way that an animal has been shown to have a soul, but no magic, I believe that a fey has the same intrinsic essence as a god, but the fey is to a god as a sentient animal is to a godtouched.

What sets gods and fey apart from mortals is that they seem to be aware of their transcendent nature, while mortals are not. When a mortal is killed and reincarnated, for instance, the reincarnation wipes clean the memories of its past life and the afterlife. When a fey is killed, however, its immortal essence retains its memories of its past identity, even as it adopts a new identity. Importantly, a fey seems to not only be aware of its past identities, but also its future ones.

This brings me to the aforementioned relationship observed between Subject 2 and Subject 30. Subject 2 was one of our first captures, and we deemed it inappropriate for study. Subject 2 would only accuse us of wanting to kill it, refused to communicate with us on any subject, and also claimed the apparently insane idea that we were going to capture it "again" despite its insistence that it would die in our captivity.

Part of Subject 2's prophecy came to pass when we decided to end its existence in an experiment to observe a fey's “mortality.” Upon death, we concluded that we could observe no mortal component to the fey. Subject 2's physical body ceased to exist once killed, as has been reported by adventurers who have slain fey in the field, and we could not detect the presence of any soul-like energy before, during, or after the death.

The rest of Subject 2's prophecy apparently has come true as well. Subject 30 is one of our newest acquisitions, and quite strangely, it allowed us to capture it and came with us willingly to the facility. Subject 30 claims to have the memories of Subject 2. It knows many of the staff by name, and even taunted our staff member who personally killed Subject 2. This staff member has since retired for the purpose of mental council. For now, Subject 30 has been cooperating with our questioning and investigations, but has been doing so with a very smug, "I told you so" attitude.

If fey indeed carry with themselves the knowledge of their past and future identities, it is no longer quite as much of a stretch to compare them to the omnipotent and omniscient gods. The powers, abilities and even apparent mortality of many of the fey we capture seem to be intentional self-limitations, limitations they will continue to follow even if it means their death or an outcome they do not desire. The entities we worship as gods, in contrast, either have applied very few limitations to themselves, or no limitations at all.

Further, Subject 30 does seem to be a distinct, separate individual than Subject 2, even if it remembers being Subject 2. It carries no grudges against the staff nor does it share any of Subject 2's habits or tastes. While we cannot rightly say that Subjects 2 and 30 are separate individuals, we also cannot say that these two subjects share the same identity, limitations or behavior.

This now brings my lecture full circle, back to the concept of a demi-fey. I postulate that a demi-fey is not mortal, and retains the arbitrary self-imposed limitations of a fey. What sets it apart from fey and gods however is that it no longer has a transcendent consciousness. Fey and gods seem to share the same sort of non-temporal understanding of the world, granted to them by their infinite soul-like essence, but demi-fey has lost this essence. While they can still remember their past identities, demi-fey can no longer anticipate their future ones, nor does it seem that they survive death like fey do. A demi-fey is to a fey or god as a soulless animantic automaton is to animals and godtouched.

As a horrifying prospect, if one of us were to undergo the transformation of a fey to demi-fey, it would be as if we lost our soul but not our identity. We would be aware that we no longer possess a soul, yet would be able to remember having one. For us, death would be a permanent erasure from existence, unlike the loss of identity through reincarnation, where we are assured that our soul, at the very least, lives on.

Perhaps this knowledge of their own "mortality" is what makes demi-fey so much more violent than their fey counterparts. Demi-fey are aware that they can actually cease to exist, so they fight that much harder for their own survival. Please take this into consideration, as Subjects 6, 13, 19, 25 and 29 have been determined to be demi-fey, and will be re-labeled accordingly.

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