The world of fairy, or the Perilous Realm, is another plane of existence. It is created by magic and exists apart from earth. Composed of royal fae courts, each headed by a queen, these kingdoms are formed when a fae and a mysterious and powerful being, called an Elder, form a life bond.
How fae courts are created
Each court is presided over by a queen who has bonded with an Elder spirit during a Questing Journey. The Questing is a dangerous spiritual quest where a fae being travels the Vastness searching for an Elder willing to form a life-tie.
The Vastness is sandwiched between the planes of existence and can be a very dangerous place to be. It is why most fae don’t do it. Others lie and say they did it (but didn’t) in order to gain prestige.
Whether the Elder (a genius loci, or spirit of place), will bond and form a court in the Perilous Realm is always uncertain. They are mysterious beings of incredible magic not fully understood. However, if an Elder who is willing to bond can be found, a fae gains access to an amazing level of power.
While the Elders have near God-like powers when existing in the Vastness, their powers is lessened to some degree when they reside in the Perilous Realm. In the human lands their powers are even weaker, and they often become a spirit attached to specific place (see Knight of Cups).
This is why in Bane of Hounds, Brigit’s Grove, the Elder, has never left the Perilous Realm. An act that has placed it in danger and vulnerable to human tampering.
Fairy Queens and the magic of creation
If they choose to bond with a fae, this lifelong tie creates a physical home where the court will reside. However, the bond also creates an ending: if a queen perishes, the Elder returns to the Vastness. If the Elder dies, the queen also perishes.
All courts are referred to by the name of the queen who rules over it. Some mentioned in the College Fae series includes:
- Court Elixia — Brigit’s mother and court. Elder is a grove of trees (Never Date a Siren).
- Court Corallina — Celia Rivers’s court with a hot springs as Elder (A Study in Spirits).
- Court Ambrosia — Elder is a sacred spring of healing (Bane of Hounds).
- Court Selena — a Black Dog court. Elder is a deep cave (Bane of Hounds).
- Court Summerblossom — Torfa’s court. Had an alliance with Court Ambrosia (Bane of Hounds).
- Court Tinlaxi — where the pug dog is prince (Bane of Hounds).
The queen serves as High Priestess (Pythia) in ceremonies that honor the Elder. These are secret rites, called Mysteries, which only the queen and her closest handmaidens and family would know of. However, it is generally assumed that these ceremonies deepen and energize the magical bond between the queen and her Elder.
Fae Courts are created among the path of Ley Lines
Ley Lines are magical pathways connecting places of power both in the human lands and the Perilous Realm. They are used by the fae for traveling to other courts since the kingdoms are standalone bubbles of existence, created by the Queen-Elder bond.
Imagine each kingdom as a pearl on a strand and that strand is a Ley Line. These Ley Lines are energy trails only seen by the fae. They can travel them as easily as a human follows a map.
There are other ways to travel through the Perilous, or from place-to-place within the human lands. Any fae, if a place is known to them, can travel to it within the Human Lands by stepping through the Vastness for a (very) short period of time.
A fae can also return to their home court from any location such as earth or another court in a heartbeat since they have a bond to their home. Traveling to another court would be a more difficult matter, subject to attack, if not welcomed by the hosting queen.
Another method to travel uses the magical Element of Water. However, it is extremely dangerous for anyone other than one who has Water as their primary element to take these roads (see the Kelpie mentioned in Never Date a Siren).
The importance of loyalty to the queen
The faerie world is composed of many kingdoms, just as the Human Lands has many countries. Each kingdom is ruled by a queen who is equal in status (theoretically) to all the other queens. However, in reality courts differ in status due to size, magical ability, and political strength.
Any being who wishes to be a member of a queen’s court must do a Pledge of Fealty. Even children of the queen must do so when they come of age. This ceremony is usually public, attended by everyone in residence at the court. However, in extreme situations (such as the battlefield), it can be done on the fly.
Like much of the fae court system, this ceremony was copied from the medieval period of human history – the Oath of Fealty that knights gave kings. However, in the Perilous Realm, instead of a sword and prayers, a lock of hair or nail/claw is taken with a ceremonial blade used by the queen.
In ancient times, when courts were at war with each other, and betrayal more common, a Fealty Oath might have resulted in the removal of a finger, hand, foot, or arm in order to cement the bond. This type still happens, usually when a petitioner must prove themselves. For example, if a courtier betrayed the queen, but still wishes not to be exiled.
An extension of this ceremony is a Life Pledge, where a life is given as collateral for some promised deed. This is a far more serious ceremony as it pledges your life to your word. The pledge becomes an irrevocable Geas, a spell controlled by destiny. One such Pledge is given in Bane of Hounds.
Why you need friends in the land of fairy
Your circle and network of bondmates is what protects you against other fae or helps a being climb the social ladder. Bondmates, the term used in place of friends, by the fae, are those who have become close through a complicated series of favors and challenges called the Debts of Honor, Debts of Gratitude, and Fiats.
How a fae handle, incur, and manage their Debts determines what relationships are formed. It shows proof of your integrity (or lack thereof). Unlike humans, fae are more pragmatic and are willing to form an alliance with a former enemy.
Sibyl loses an opportunity in gaining Brigit as a bond partner by not behaving honorably (see Never Date a Siren). The siren doesn’t officially call a Fiat before trying to harm the dryad, ignoring the Laws of Civility. It isn’t the disagreement or harm to Logan that was done, so much as Sibyl’s execution of what she does to Brigit which angers the dryad.
Bondmates can be built within your own court (such as Jib and Brigit) or across courts (such as Brigit and Granite/Celia). They do not need to be sanctioned by the queen, although a fae naturally wouldn’t want to incur their queen’s disfavor.
The depth of the Bond depends on the type and amount of a favors, Debts, and exchanges done between individuals. They usually start out as something small to test the worth of the other, before either fae decides to ask for something more. Some of the best bonds are formed when a wrong must be corrected such as during a Fiat duel.
- Brigit owes Logan a Debt of Gratitude in Never Date a Siren because of his intervention with the Bog Sprites.
- Logan pays back Granite’s help with the bed monster by letting Granite keep the monster’s body (Never Date a Siren).
- Brigit incurs a Debt to Paul at the end of Never Date a Siren which leads to a conflict in A Study in Spirits when he asks for her to spy upon her current bondmates.
- Due to her actions Emma causes problems for Brigit. Brigit gives her a chance to rectify the mistake by calling a Fiat against her in A Study in Spirits. When Emma completes the Fiat, and continues to help, she establishes herself as a worthy bond partner and is accepted by Brigit’s group of friends.
- Jib demands that Paul let Brigit know her debt is resolved for not to tell her is trickery.
Friendships can anchor you to reality
Bondmates can become so important that they can Anchor a fae to reality.
An Anchor is an important point in time, or is a person that has a vast destiny attached to his/her, making the event or person exist in numerous timelines. People who are Anchors play an important role with fae who have time and memory as their Element.
- Chancellor Bandemer serves as an Anchor to Paul, the Doppelganger.
- The O’Connor family is an Anchor to the banshee (see Bane of Hounds).
Anchors can be found in both the Perilous Realm and the human lands.
The danger of being exiled from fae courts
Rogues are fae without allegiance to a queen or the protection of a court. Rogues are seen as fair game by others who can hunt, capture, or kill without any repercussion.
If expelled and exiled, the Rogue usually loses all bondmates and their pledges. However, it is not unknown for some to continue honoring their promises to a Rogue. It depends on personal connections, the severity of the offence, etc…
Queen Elixia, in Bane of Hounds, worries that Brigit may become a Rogue if certain events come to pass.
Laws of Civility
All kingdoms acknowledge a code of behavior called the Laws of Civility. Newly arrived to Leopold Otto and the human lands, Brigit (in Never Date a Siren) grows especially incensed when she feels other fae don’t adhere to these formal laws.
Some of this etiquette includes:
- Greeting your queen by pressing palms to their liege’s hands shows they have no weapons.
- A diplomat coming to a new court might also do this, but only if the queen indicated she was agreeable.
- Keeping a distance of six to eight feet between unbonded fae indicates you have no plan to attack, a rule that Brigit teaches Logan in Never Date a Siren. Torfa angers Brigit greatly due to him not keeping distance (see Bane of Hounds).
- Guest Right, where sharing of salt and bread means a guest/host cannot harm each other. Ladislas seeks to bend this rule in A Study in Spirits, feeling that because Logan is human it won’t matter.
- Publicly calling a Fiat of Harm/Injury against another fae. This establishes a Debt is owed and lets all parties, and their bondmates, know that a duel is in progress.
- If the other fae ignores the Fiat challenge could be done if a fae sees the challenger as inferior. This behavior is seen as rude and could, in itself, be grounds to issue another Fiat.
- Doesn’t declare a Fiat when they act as if they is one. Sibyl does this to Brigit in Never Date a Siren and it is the height of bad manners.
- The public declaration is important as it lets the bondmates of the ones involved in the duel know and they can decide to act/or not depending on the strength of their bond-tie. Sibyl’s actions in Never Date a Siren to Brigit is not only rude but also a dangerous break in etiquette. She treats Brigit as an enemy but did not declare a Fiat, letting Brigit’s bondmates know.
- A Mark of Injury is a lesser form of a Fiat of Harm. It is more mild and is often an invitation for one to prove themselves, possibly becoming a future bondmate, if the breach is repaired in an honorable way (see Brigit and Emma in A Study in Spirits).
- Expletus is the word publicly given to show the Debt is ended. It is usually given by the person who declared the Debt or Fiat and must be made to the other party concerned.
I’ll be doing a blog series of both the customs, traditions, and the type of fae that exist in the Perilous Realm of my College Fae series. You can check out the previous blog on this topic right here: The Fairy Structure in the Perilous Realm .