On the History and Nature of the Fae by Nemius Perigums
When I was initially approached by the Scholars of the Basilica to conduct a study of the creature commonly referred to in these lands as "Fae," I was apprehensive. By what logic was I, an alchemical botanist, be charged with compiling a written record of the indigenous peoples of this land? Surely the Basilica's needs could better have been served by a cultural historian, an anatomist, or even a taxonomist. Little did I know what the insistence of the Basilica stemmed from the fact that, indeed, a representative from each of these disciplines had been previously assigned the task of assembling the tome you now hold in your hands. And, through no fault of their own, each of them failed in their own way.
What is a Fae? If we cannot satisfy even this most base of questions, then the following pages can contribute nothing to the corpus of gnomish knowledge. We know that Fae are a sentient race that dwells in the forests Dalentarth, and those of Klurikon. We also know that they seem to be divided into two "tribes," for lack of a better term, that are somehow aligned or otherwise attuned to the seasons of summer and winter. Though Fae appear in distinct genders, these are apparently superficial (perhaps, even elective) differences, and have no impact on their reproduction or social responsibility. We also know that the Fae are not mortal - they are subject to some form of reincarnation, returning to life at some point after they die. In addition, Fae are intensely magical beings more so than any other race encounter thus far by the gnomes.
But there is more. We also know that there are creatures referred to as "wild Fae" - boggarts, sprites and others - which are somehow also related to the Summer and Winter Fae. There are rumors that, at the time I am writing this introduction, that a new "tribe" of Fae has appeared in Alabastra, and are far more militant than either the Summer or Winter Fae have ever demonstrated themselves to be.
If anything, these additional facts can answer our initial questions, at least in part. A Fae is a magical being, whose essence is as mutable as the whole of nature. Just as both the red rocks of Detyre and the steppes of the Plains of Erathell are both part of one land, so too are many different creatures part of the one collective that we refer to as "Fae."
Physiologically, not much is known about the Fae, even after years of study. I do know that Fae anatomy though it bears some semblance to our own, is perhaps more similar to that of a plant (which, I presume, is why the Basilica eventually concluded a botanist would be more useful to conduct such a study). How and why such anatomical features were combined remains a mystery (indeed, almost everything about the Fae remains a mystery), but I can only imagine that magic plays a strong role in their bodily functions.
Socially, the Fae are bedviling. They are as capable of living alone in the wild, no better than a common beast, as they are of complex social interaction. Rumors persist that the Fae have a city, or something like it, hidden in the primordial forests of Dalentarth, though few have ever seen it. From what reports I can verify, it seems that the Summer Fae have some authoritative body which goes by the name of the Court of Summer. This is apparently ruled over by a High King. But they pay no taxes or tithes, swear no fealties nor fight in wars. For what purpose, then, does this centralization of power exist?
Like so many things, a Fae will only tell you that it exists because it does, and that it always has. Could such an institution really be so eternal? Could such titles and rituals really have meaning without substance? It seems more likely that the Fae are playing at having a society than actually having one.
We can say with some certainty that the Fae are an old race, older than many others by far. In rare cases where we can find datable Erathi and Fae ruins, we can successfully establish that both originated around the same time. This can be difficult to prove, since Fae tend to construct with plant matter - which has a habit of decaying - but though the evidence is circumstantial, it is enough to conclude that the Fae are perhaps the oldest living things in Amalur. But seeking to learn about the course of that history is about as satisfying as interviewing a tree on the accomplishments of its life - for though a Fae might live a hundred years, it does so frozen in place. When asked, a Fae might answer with some uncertainty about the events that transpired. In truth those hundred years are to a Fae a series of repetitions, of cycles that have repeated since time began and will repeat until time ends.
As this book will show, a Fae will tell you that everything repeats. And though empirical evidence proves otherwise, they are partly right - for a Fae, nothing ever changes.