It is nigh impossible to find, but deep in the forest, at the foot of a mountain, in a mossy glade there is a small house built of stone and timbers, with a roof of thatch. A small plaque next to the door reads “Welcome to Peaceful Hollow”.
Nothing about the cottage seems remarkable, other than its setting, but if one were to visit, they might learn just how magical a place it truly is. Most would not notice how it sits astride the demarcation of the fantastic and the mundane, but within its walls one just might find answers to questions not yet asked, solutions to problems as yet undiscovered, and have conversations with beings from the realms of imagination while learning the workings of what myth and fable are made of… for this is the home of Professor Greenman, his student Raynwülf, and his helpers Twinkle and Kwiplick.
Professor Greenman is an ancient, almost immortal figure, humanoid, crowned with leaves and antlers, and dressed in white robes. His purpose, as he tells it, is the education and training of likely students to go out into the world of the mundane and through interaction with the humans, keep the Magic of both the Earth and Faerie alive.
His current student is Raynwülf, an apparent cross breeding of elf and wolf. Still young and inexperienced, Raynwülf is sometimes not as motivated as the Professor would like, but still manages to learn enough and ask enough of the right questions that he is deemed ‘acceptable’.
Twinkle is a fairy, magical, tiny, and winged. She performs the duties of secretary to the Professor, and takes those duties very seriously. Devoted to the Professor, she has developed mechanisms that allow her to complete every task assigned to her.
And then there is Kwiplick, the Professor’s servant. Kwiplick is a Hobgoblin — two feet tall, horned, covered in hair, and hoping that someday the Professor will let him become a student — although he’s a bit clumsy at times and his grasp of language syntax is somewhat skewed.
All of them live together in the harmony (and occasional lack thereof) of a family. Come along and get to know them…
“Raynwülf, where are you hiding? It’s time for lessons!” called Professor Greenman.
A muffled snarl, followed by a groan heralded the elven-wolf crossbreed’s emergence from a pile of quilts and blankets “Uulllfff,” he yawned as he scratched himself awake. “I’m here, I’m here. Just let me wake up and get breakfast.”
“Breakfast was an hour ago. Kwiplick tried to wake you then. Had you listened to him and gotten up, you could have had ham and eggs, and porridge with honey. All that’s left is the remnants of porridge, and it’s certainly cold by now.”
“Cold porridge? Awww…” whined Raynwülf.
“It’s you own fault. Now hurry up and let’s get to lessons! You still have a lot to learn.” Professor Greenman smoothed a wrinkle from his robe as he waited for Raynwülf to crawl out from under the blankets. “Today, you’ll be learning the genealogies of the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, and ways to protect yourself from the machinations of the Shadow Courts. ” He turned and strode from the chamber, calling out, “Hurry along, now… Kwiplick, bring me volume three of the ‘Empirical Datum of Everything’ — I need to confirm my memory.”
Raynwülf stood and stretched, eliciting another yawn, then ambled off to the kitchen. Scooping the remnants of the porridge into a bowl, he headed towards the study where the Professor gave his lessons, eating as he went. As he passed the door to the library, Kwiplick came out and immediately began berating the current student.
“Waking you, I tried — you not getting up like Perfesser tell. Not fault of me.” Kwiplick chattered as he followed Raynwülf into the cottage’s study. The hairy and horned hobgoblin carried a book almost as big as himself in his long arms. “Perfesser not happy, make wolf-elf do chores instead, Kwiplick the lessons learn he will.”
Raynwülf ignored the diminutive servant as he scraped the last remnants of cold porridge from his bowl with his finger, and set it down on a table next to a spinning gyroscope.
Throughout the study, the Professor had placed unique objects that whirred, spun, sounded whistles when disturbed, and generally made a background noise that one soon learned to ignore. What could not be ignored, however, was the flutter of wings and sparkle of light that flew right up to Raynwülf’s face.
Twinkle, the Fairy who acted as the Professor’s Secretary immediately began scolding — “You do NOT leave dirty dishes in the study, you lazy whelp! Pick that up! Take it to the kitchen and WASH it! NOW! And don’t take all day — you have lessons to learn.”
Raynwülf grabbed the bowl and took off at a run — he had no intention of dismissing a warning from Twinkle, as she had reinforced her displeasure in the past with bolts of fairy magic that really, really stung. Following the fairy’s instructions to the letter, he was quickly returning to the study for the day’s lessons. The Professor was waiting and ready as he entered.
“So, today’s lesson, ” rumbled Professor Greenman, “is intended to demonstrate the permanence of power in the realms underhill. Can you tell me the four Courts of Faerie?”
“Those would be the Seelie Courts of Spring and Summer, and the Unseelie Courts of Autumn and Winter,” answered Raynwülf as he settled into his chair.
“Correct. But are those the only Courts to be found there?”
“No,” replied Raynwülf. “There are also the Shadow Courts, but they are unrecognized by the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, and are considered to not be of Faerie. And there are also the Courtless — the Fae who do not wish to align with any of the Courts.”
“Very good. I’m glad that you are keeping up with your studies. Now, which of the Courts is the most powerful?”
Raynwülf smiled. “That would be… a trick question. Each court gains dominance during the period of the Wheel of the Year for which they are named — a mechanism agreed to by all four Courts millennia in the past. Each reaches the peak of their dominance on the Sabbat of the Wheel’s quarter; Beltane for Spring, Lughnasadh for Summer, Samhain for Autumn, and Imbolc for Winter. Since it is currently late Autumn, Autumn Court is currently in Dominance.”
“Excellent! Now tell me, who Rules in the Faerie Courts?” asked the Professor.
Raynwülf scratched his head as he tried to remember the names. “Umm, that would be… Queen Mab?”
“She rules the Autumn Court, yes — but that’s not what I asked.”
“Oh, then you mean the co-rulership; Titania and Oberon of the Seelie Courts,” answered Raynwülf. “High Queen and High King of the Sidhe, both Seelie and Unseelie.”
“Very good, Raynwülf. Now, can you explain why is it a co-rulership?”
“Because neither alone could control all the Courts,” answered Raynwülf. “Each is a capable ruler, but Titania rules by cooperation and compromise, while Oberon rules by intimidation, by being the most powerful of all the Fae. While each of the Courts might agree to some compromises on their own, it is more likely that they would go to war and conquest to get what they wanted. With Oberon there to enforce the compromises suggested by Titania, peace between the Courts prevails.”
“Exactly. Well said, Raynwülf. Now, as you mentioned, Queen Mab rules the Autumn Court. Who Rules the Winter?”
“That would be Queen Morgan le Fey.”
“And what is unique about the Winter Queen?”
“She is a half-Fae, born of a Faerie Father and a Human Mother, and the most active of the Fae rulers in both the Faerie and Human Realms.”
“Correct. Who rules in the Seelie Courts?”
“Spring is ruled by the High Queen and King, Titania and Oberon, but they allow the court to be managed by Lord Ariel, while Summer is ruled by Prince Puck.”
“Also correct. I’m glad to see your studies are being successful, Raynwülf. Now, to the Genealogies,” intoned the Professor as he settled into lecture mode.
“Both Faerie and the Human Realm are populated by descendants of the Firsts, those whom myth and legend have given the aspect of both Gods and the creations of Gods. This happened so long ago that knowing the origins is almost entirely a matter of conjecture. We have no hard facts as to the proper names, nor of their abilities beyond what is currently the norm. If the stories are to be believed, the First could do such things as wield lightning, give life to inanimate objects, create whole universes with a thought… all very unlikely to be true, merely embellished to explain to primitive minds the effects of the forces of nature.
None of the current knowledge of Fae and human Ancestors can be traced back beyond written history, though the Fae did develop it well ahead of the humans. While we do know that Fae lifespans encompass centuries, there are indications in some belief systems that Humans were also once very long-lived. But that is neither here nor there, as it is irrelevant in the worlds today.
But let us focus on the Realms of the Fae; In the Seelie Courts, Oberon and Titania have, together and separately, swelled the ranks of the Fae of both Seelie and Unseelie Courts as well as added to the population of the Courtless and Shadow Courts. Prince Puck is one example, son of Oberon by a Sylph, while Titania has given birth to several in the Courts through her liaisons.
“Of course, dalliances are not confined to the Nobility. There are many instances of half-Fae in the human world — and in the Courts. Queen Morgan, for example.”
Raynwülf frowned as he committed the lesson to memory. “Professor, has someone ever attempted to chart all of this?”
“Attempted is precisely the word, Raynwülf — I would hazard that it is impossible to accurately determine who fathered whom throughout history. It is just as likely in the human realms as in the Fae that there are nobles in both whose direct ancestors include shepherds and stableboys.”
“So you’re saying that genealogy can’t be accurate? That no one ever really knows?” asked Raynwülf.
“Oh, some are accurate — there are those who do practice monogamy. but go back more than two generations, and the result is likely a crapshoot.”
Just then, Kwiplick entered the study. ” ‘Scuses, Perfesser, but needing reminded from Twinkle is appointments today you have.”
“So I do, so i do,” chuckled the ancient teacher. “I believe that will end our lessons today, Raynwülf. Go into the library and delve into some of the histories, and see if you can chart the makeup of the Summer Court before tomorrow. Oh, and be sure you don’t sleep through breakfast again.”
That brings to an end this installment of my blog. I hope you’ve enjoyed what I’ve written, and will come back to read future installments as they are posted. I can’t promise to post on a regular schedule, as my muse sometimes goes missing for weeks at a time, but I will update as frequently as possible. Thanks for joining me on this experience.
Robert De Hwyl