It is said that the Fairy Folk used to be commonly seen in these parts. They were not the tiny, pretty bewinged creatures who danced through the addled Victorian imagination – that place where nature was defanged and submitted to the unnatural niceties of the new industrial age.
No, these Fairies were dangerous, quick to take offence and often deadly. They could give, but they were more likely to take away. Take your health, your spouse, your children, your sight, your life.
Cross them once and you would never have a chance to do it again, or even to make up for it – and it was not hard to cross them.
It was thought that they had lived in this land a long time before heavy, unmagical humans ever set foot here. Then we blundered into their world and took it away, shouldered them out, pushed them into corners and wastelands and tried to deny their existence.
Even so, everywhere there was a bit of wild, they persisted. If people kept them sweet, superstitiously leaving out the fairies’ share of the butter, the cream, the corn and the apples, then they left well alone. If they were forgotten or disrespected, they made the land wither, the cows dry up, the crops fail, and they crept into houses stealing away precious but intangible things.
They are beautiful, though, these wild, savage Fairies. Dressed in green, followed by enchanting strange music wherever they go (if they’re in a good mood), silver-eyed, dark-haired, golden-skinned.
If they discover that you have seen them, they will make you pay for the sight. Your sanity will be gone with the wind, and they might well curse you with the gift of poetry.
Some say they still live in those few lost places, where humans do not care to wander, but it is best not to go looking for them, unless you are prepared to pay the price.
Image: Titania by Arthur Rackham