Tag Archives: fae

A Modern Bestiary – S is for Spriggan

Yes, S is for Spriggan – perhaps the most unsightly of the Fae.  Sometimes referred to as ‘goat-men’, they are grotesque in several ways, and dangerous despite their small size.

         Here, a spriggan is shown emerging from a wall in Crouch End, London. It’s a talent born of the creature’s make-up, which is closely related to stone.

A spriggan often looks like a wizened old man, but has a large child-like head that resembles a human child with progeria. That would be the rare genetic defect that causes a human child to age with such rapidity the youngster is already dying of old age by the time he or she approaches anything like adult size. Nearly all of them die before reaching the age of 14.

  Humans suffering from progeria tend to go bald at a very early age, but commonly wear headgear to conceal the fact. Because of this, one might mistake a human for a spriggan, which is not nearly as risky as its converse, mistaking a spriggan for a human.

These are traits common to progeria victims, to which I would add ‘manga eyes’ – the disproportionately large head often features eyes that look too large as well, as is often depicted in ‘manga’ style graphic novels.

   Some look less human than others.

   And some, like this little girl, resemble living mummies.

The spriggan, however, is actually kin to the trolls of Scandinavia.

  Note the large nose and sparse hair and fur on this young troll’s body.

  The adult troll, however, can grow to a considerable size, and is as well known for its brute strength as its body odor and its lack of intellect.

The spriggan can also grow to enormous size, and do so almost instantaneously!  This is why they are sometimes said to be the ghosts of giants.  Well, in the Nordic sense of the Jotun, this is partially true – the Norse have never clearly drawn a line separating the giants from the trolls in Jotunheim. The spriggan is distinct from the troll, however, in one important respect – a spriggan can withstand direct sunlight where a troll is apt to be turned to stone in a permanent fashion or burnt to a crisp.

This unfortunate fellow poked his head of his cave at the wrong time.

A Celtic spriggan of the traditional sort is mostly likely to be found in Cornwall these days. Wherever you find one, however, it is best to view the creature as anything but ethereal, whether or not it can pass through walls and emerge from stones.  In some ways, it is made of stones and sometimes looks like a stack of rocks come to sudden and rather horrifying life.

  Do NOT throw rocks at a spriggan!  They are apt to return the favor by throwing chunks of themselves at you in turn, and with deadly accuracy. What’s worse, they can recall the parts they’ve hurled at you, rather like Thor’s hammer, and then, of course, they can do it all over again.  As many times as they like.

For this reason, and because they are impervious to so many magical weapons and spells, the spriggans often serve as bodyguards to other fae.

Unlovely, yes, but effective in their own way.

Spriggans also serve as guards and watchmen. Formerly, they were often found at the sites of ancient ruins, stone cairns (which they can imitate to an amazing degree), and barrows, especially if the tombs contain any form of buried treasure.

Nowadays, and especially since the Fall, spriggans often work as security guards at banks and check-cashing offices.

If you should spot a security guard who sports a prominent nose, large eyes, and a bald head, like either of these two fellows, be polite and keep your distance.  Above all, if you should have grand larceny in mind, go pick another bank to rob!

 

 

A Modern Bestiary – J is for Jenny Greenteeth

1126931186_imefairy32She’s no friend of mine, Jenny Greenteeth.

For one thing, I cannot abide halitosis of a kind apt to peel the paint off the hulls of small boats and the walls of lakeside cottages.  Is it so much to ask that she brush those long sharp teeth of hers every decade or two?

I don’t mind her green skin.  It’s a natural hue, if not the most appealing.  Her long hair, too, is a feature claimed by many fae, though most of us keep it cleaner, and comb it with some regularity.

jenny_greenteeth_by_arwingxl

Something of a water hag, her appearance varies with her mood.  Here, Jenny is showing her irritability, hence the spiny character of her form.

Jenny Greenteeth, you see, doesn’t take well to noisy intrusions, and is apt to defend her watery home in the most direct of fashions.  Let an unwary child wander much too close to the edge of a pond or a stream and Jenny will probably snatch it up, pull it under, and drown the poor thing.

jenny-4

This is the sort of woodland pond Jenny favors, especially when it’s acquired a fine skin of green scum or duckweed, concealing its true depth.

Often called Peg Powler or Peg O’Nell, Jenny’s cousins include Jamaica’s River Mumma.

riva-muma-by_rpowell77-deviantart

The River Mumma sometimes looks more like a mermaid, but often enough relies upon a long eel’s tail to propel herself through the deeper waters.  She is far more fastidious than Jenny, however, taking care to bathe daily.  She then likes to sit upon a sunny rock and comb her long locks.  If you happen to see her doing this, however, I’d recommend slipping away again and granting the Mumma her privacy.  If you make a sound and she spots you and manages to lock her gaze to yours, well, then you’ll wish you had listened to my advice.

Another of Jenny Greenteeth’s kin:  the Japanese kappa.

illustrated_guide_to_12_types_of_kappa

Here, twelve kinds of kappa are illustrated.  As you’ll have noticed, the kappa more closely resemble their preferred victims, children, than the fish or eels that Jenny tends to imitate.  You can spot them, however, by means of the small pool of water cupped by the tops of their heads.

It’s less certain whether the bunyip of Australia might also be a relative, given the wide variations in form and size reported by both Aborigines and whites in that country.

bunyip_1935

The eyes portrayed here strike me as pure exaggeration.  And really, that mouth doesn’t even appear to have teeth!  Very unJennylike!

Here in the Sacramento-San Francisco River Delta, Jenny’s found herself a home, though.  There’s more than a thousand square miles of meandering waterways to choose from, and lately the droughts have greatly reduced water flow through the whole estuary, provoking blooms of toxic green algae humans call Microcystis.  The stuff turns still waters into pea soup and will poison those foolish enough to drink it or go swimming in it.  Together with the mats of water hyacinth that clog many sloughs and canals, it provides concealment for Jenny and many of her other cousins.

microcystis-bloom

One wonders if Jenny and her kin are actually encouraging blooms like this one in Lake Erie for the sake of added habitat, regardless of what it does to fish and farms and thirsty humans.

Best to provide some reserves in the wetlands, however.  When Jenny’s kind cannot find or create what they need, they’ve been known to make do in other ways – ways I’d rather not even contemplate!  I might have my complaints about human technology and their abominable obsession with cold iron but I will admit, I am rather fond of modern plumbing – so long as I don’t have to touch any metal bits.

jenny_greenteeth_by_richardpace-d4c0kp1

Leave Jenny Greenteeth nowhere to go, and she’ll make you regret it!

 

 

A Modern Bestiary – G is for Gan Ceann

   1126931186_imefairy32  I’d rather not even look at one.

To the Irish, the Gan Ceann is better known as the Dullahan, but in this country, he’s the source of all those stories about the Headless Horseman!

Dullahan 1 And that whip of his?  It’s made from a human spine.  You do not want to meet with the business end of it, as he is quite fond of snapping it into the eye of an onlooker, thereby removing the organ.

In most cases, the Gan Ceann rides a black horse and carries his head underneath his arm. The rider’s eyes are small, black, and beady, and they’re in constant motion.  The mouth, however, is locked into a death’s head grin that changes only when he speaks.

Dullahan 3 You do not want to hear him speak, because he can say only one word – the name of the person about to die.  Which might well be you.

Some say the rider is what remains of the ancient Celtic god known as Crom Dubh, or Black Crom.  And yes, this is the very same Crom that Conan worshipped in the stories written by that madman, Robert Howard.

conan  I wonder if Mr. Muscles has heard enough of “the lamentations of the women” yet.

In his heyday, Black Crom demanded human sacrifices each year during his festival, which was held at the end of August or in early September.  This much I can tell you is true.  For when St. Patrick (the much misnamed in my opinion) became a Christian missionary and then returned to Ireland, it was he who put an end to all that, along with the Red Serpent sect of the Druids.  St. Patrick’s purpose had little to do with religion, of course, but that is a tale for another day.

Crom-Dubh-by-Bryan-Perrin  The annual rites of Crom Dubh were a harvest festival of sorts, the crops including both wheat and human beings.

Defeated by St. Patrick and his henchmen, the worship of Crom Dubh was abolished early in the 6th century A.D., but some say that he still wanted his due and took to collecting souls himself, as the Gan Ceann, the Dullahan  or the Far Dorocha (meaning the Dark Man.)

The Gan Ceann will sometimes drive the Deaf Coach, and use it to collect more than one victim at a time.

dullahan 4

Only two horses are shown here…

The coach’s name comes from the Irish phrase coiste bodhar, meaning ‘deaf or silent coach’ because you won’t hear it until it’s upon you.  Normally drawn by six black horses, the coach can travel so fast the friction created by its movement often sets fire to the bushes along the sides of the road.

In any case, you cannot escape him.  All gates and doors will fly open at his approach to let the headless horseman through, no matter how thoroughly they are locked.

dullahan nightstalker  Since the Fall, however, the Gan Ceann has sometimes taken to riding motorcycles.  The upkeep is cheaper and he no longer gives a damn about how much noise he makes.

So how can you protect yourself from this fell creature?  Throw gold at him.  A coin, a necklace, a watch…anything made of gold.  The legends say it will scare him off, but that’s not true.  The Horseman isn’t afraid of gold.  He adores it, and while you are running hell for leather down the road, he will stop and pick it up.  That’s how he’s progressed from riding that cheap little Honda to this gold-plated Harley:

dullahan Harley

And yes, that is his girl friend.  Don’t even ask about the ruby slippers.

A Modern Bestiary – F is for Fachen

1126931186_imefairy32  I can’t even look at them!

The Fachen is a creature better known to men as Peg Leg Jack, although he has no Peg.  In fact, he’s something of a Halfling, since he has only one arm, one leg, and one eye.  That does not make him a hobbit, however, regardless of his other name:  Direach Ghlinn Eitidh, or the Dwarf of Glen Etive.

fachen 1

Nor does it make him the giant shown here!  Fright was the mother of this exaggeration! 

It’s also something of a misnomer to use the pronoun ‘he,’ for the Fachen is neither male nor female.  It is hermaphroditic, and capable of self-gratification and self-fertilization if it cannot find a willing partner.  Such arrangements do not lend themselves to a balanced and rational outlook on life.  Hence its frightful reputation.

The creature is also surprisingly agile despite its lack of symmetry.  It can hop along with all the speed of a galloping horse, but its single arm is an unsightly mess – muscular, yes, but mangled, and some say it’s withered in comparison to its leg.  Worse yet, the arm juts out from the middle of its torso, rather than one side or the other.  Its foot also emerges from the body at an awkward angle.

The limbs are arranged more like this fachen 5

 

fachen 2  than this.

But both of these are well wide of the mark.  The Fachen does not wear clothes, as such.  Instead it sports a thick mane of black or blue feathers which may or may not form a tuft or a crest at the top of its head.

fachen 4

This crude image comes closer to the truth, especially where the attitude is concerned.

The Fachen, you see, is willing to eat anything.  Anybody.  And if it has time, and it isn’t too hungry, why, Peg Leg Jack likes to play with his food.  That means torture and torment and frequently, slow dismemberment.  Therefore you’d be well-advised to avoid the Fachen.  Do not on any account attempt to go to its aid as you might a wounded veteran or a human handicapped in some other way.

It would be wise to take care at the zoo as well.  Since the Fall, the Fachen stranded here have adopted the same kinds of mimicry as their lesser brethren, the Ellyll. They dare not spend much of their magic on that, though, and therefore seek out the company of creatures whom they can easily imitate.

flamingo

No one thinks twice if they see a flamingo standing around on one leg!

If they conceal the one arm with their feathers, the glamour required is not all that taxing.  The bright pink, even, can be achieved with a bit of food coloring, Peg Leg Jack being pretty much useless at filtering brine shrimp out of the water.

Flamingos do not seem to mind the additional company either.  Perhaps it’s because of the birds’ propensity for group sex.  They won’t breed until the flock is large enough to allow it, which is why zookeepers sometimes resort to placing mirrors in their cages, to make the flamingos think they’ve achieved a reproductive quorum.  A few Fachen hiding out in the flock can make all the difference, and the Fachen are willing participants.

flamingo 3  Fachen babies can also be concealed among the flamingos’ chicks, without even needing the pink food coloring.

As for their origins…we do not speak of that.  I will say only that they were made, not born of Nature, in the same fashion as the Fiji Mermaid once so beloved of P.T Barnum.  Or Frankenstein’s monster.  Their maker has been punished for this, and as far as I know did not survive the Fall.  Or if she did, she is still trapped in Faerie, beyond our reach.  I wish the Fachen were as well.

Invisible Creatures

bloody knife               1126931186_imefairy32 Cold iron…Ick!

To see what’s present but invisible – that is the hardest part of any branch of forensics.  And mostly it applies to the very small.  After all, ‘most anyone can spot a hunting knife or a rifle or a bloody rock.  But fingerprints and fibers and microscopic bits of DNA?  Not so obvious, are they?  But it can happen with much larger items as well.  For instance, what if you can’t see the body?

The sad truth is, in human courts, if there is no body, it’s damnably hard to convict anyone of a killing.  The reason?  Humans won’t accept testimony from ghosts or banshees.

ghost on staircase  Why not?  Why would I lie?

Well, yes, as it turns out, a ghost might very well prevaricate about certain things – the same things as most of the living, in fact.  But not about its own existence or its identity, if it remembers who it was.  And banshees – all right, so some of them do get confused about time frames.  They are, after all, best known for announcing a death ahead of time and scaring the hell out of people.  And the banshees have suffered the same hard knocks as the rest of the Fae, so some of them are a bit…um, tetched is the old word for that.  Unreliable.  Crazed, even.

Best mind what you say to a banshee.    thX72KQBMN

Okay, maybe it’s not that unreasonable, but the end result is, it’s damned hard to prove anybody is dead without some sort of corpus delicti.  So if one has any magical talents, the easiest way to deal with a corpse is simply to render those inconvenient remains invisible.

It’s not as hard as you might think.

Your first care should be making sure that no one is going to trip over the newly deceased.  A dead give-away, that is, and no – that was not a pun.  Go to Waller for that sort of foolishness. Since one of the things the killer is trying to avoid is hard work, that rules out many of the things humans do with a corpse – burial, dismemberment and the like.  Burning the body is also a bad choice, since fires of sufficient size tend to attract far too much attention.  But placing a body in a tree, or on a roof, or a telephone pole is quite effective, once it’s been rendered invisible.

How, then, is the forensic tech or detective to locate the carcass? The same way one locates invisible creatures.  What cannot be seen can still be heard, or smelt, or felt.

boggart  A  boggart has a distinctive vinegar reek, and a habit of snorting and snuffling when it’s upset.

Another approach is to make use of natural elements.  Summon a cloud of blue bottle or blow flies, and trust me, they’ll show you what you’re looking for by landing upon it, in their hundreds and thousands.  They’re drawn to death anyway, and are likely to show up on their own, whereupon the buzzing will be your first clue to the body’s location.

th5ILPBXGM  Greedy little buggers!

If you have a sylph handy, you can ask for help in the form of an atmospheric effect – a cloud formation that shapes itself to that of the corpse.

sylph  An air elemental can also be fairly destructive to your crime scene, however, so ask very nicely, and offer fair payment.

If all else fails, you can try smudging likely locations with smoldering sage, and hope the smoke will find and enfold the form of what you seek. Once you’ve located the corpse, however, you will still need to pierce the glamour, or else undo that invisibility spell.  If you’re pressed for time, by the circumstances, bad weather, whatever, then do what you can to visualize the carcass in situ, and record it on film.  You might try using Luminol first.

luminol  Defensive wounds often render the victim’s hands just as bloody as the killer’s, so you may be able to ‘light up’ relevant parts of the body even if you can’t visualize the entire corpse.

Luminol won’t work on ichor nor sap from a wood nymph, of course, but it will work on most kinds of red blood because of the iron content.  Oh hell – this damned machine is shooting sparks out the back.  What did I do this time?

Seeing the Unseen

thFXWR15WZ    1126931186_imefairy32

Now then, where were we?  Oh, yes.  Seeing what is really there…in your crime scene, your victim, your suspects, or your witnesses.

When magic is involved in a crime, you really do have to be careful.  In some cases, this simply means paying attention.  In others, it means piercing a glamour, or the undoing of an invisibility potion or spell.  In still others, it means risking that which, once it has been seen, cannot be unseen!

For instance, your victim may appear thusly:

b27356  Human, right?  Cutish, even, though seriously in need of a fashion consultant.

But what if reality looks like this?

fay vic  Then you’d better know it!

Identification of the fae can be difficult at the best of times, but surely more so when you don’t even know someone’s fae to begin with.  Likewise, the circs of the crime.  Who was murdered usually has much to do with why and how, not to mention who did it.

For me, not a problem.  For Waller and his junior partner, Ivory Jackson, it can be a stumbling block of mountainous proportions.  Neither one has the Sight, you see, and so I am forever wasting my time on the basics.  I have to pierce the glamour, get them to focus on real objects and persons, and then do either some squats or jumping jacks and get the blood flowing through their hobbled human brains.

As you might imagine, both men are resistant to doing such things at a crime scene, especially if it’s in front of the general public or, worse yet, fellow officers.

Then, as often as not, they will see through the glamour and find it does them no good at all.  If the subject is human and female, well, then the glamour is mostly focused on one thing, and one thing only:

Boobs.        Mariah Carey

The reality, for the dicks, is always disappointing, and not all that helpful in crime-solving, either.  The magical mud used by most to create the enhancing illusion is also apt to interfere with other aspects of forensics, like any trace evidence left on the corpse by the killer(s).

But we’ll talk about that another day.

Right now, we need to focus on dangerous glamours.  Those are the kind that hide booby traps (and I don’t mean the type described earlier, which are mostly matrimonial in nature).  No, I mean the kind that can kill an incautious detective, whether human or fae.

booby trap  Punji stakes of the metal type.

Those hiding a suspect’s appearance are also a serious problem, and frequently the most dangerous of all to confront.

For example, the human-looking ‘person of interest’ might actually be:

goblin

a goblin of some sort.

Or even

vampire  a blood sucker.

Worst of all (well, from MY point of view), it could be

fae killer  one of my kind.

More than a few have gone mad in this iron-bound world, and gone unfae as well.  One cannot count on these fae to ever obey the Unwritten Laws.  They are apt to adopt the appetites of those first two examples, or to invent something newer and deadlier yet.

If you yourself lack the Sight, then make sure that someone among you does have it, and mind what they tell you.  If you’re on your own, then I’d recommend the new Falsify RayBans.  Sporting a thin film of silver as well as the usual glare-blocking features and tints, they have proven quite useful to the ungifted human.

thOD4VPH0N  But even the Falsify’s won’t help you if you encounter the truly horrific.  For as I’ve told you, some things, once seen, cannot be unseen.

you know  And don’t go blaming the Fae for this fellow.  He’s one of yours!

Magic & Murder

 

I’m Sathyllien, formerly a fairy queen.

1126931186_imefairy32 And this is what I used to look like.

I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here, though. Blogging is just not something the Fae ever do. It means using a laptop, an I-Pad, a smart phone or something, and that isn’t easy for us. Electricity? No. Downright poisonous. All kinds of metal involved in it, too.

                                       metal

                      This is what forged metal means to me.  No, thank you.

Waller thinks I can handle it, but he’s not entirely sane. He’s a cop. A detective. Old School, too. The kind that gets mad when the world won’t behave. The kind that grabs it by the scruff of the neck and drags it down the street, flailing and screaming all the way, and thinks he can put things to rights again if he kicks more ass than he kisses.

So… yeah. Frank’s an idealist, in spite of everything he’s seen, and chased, and bedded or busted.

……………..narnia ogre

              The day Frank arrested this fellow was… Interesting.

You’d think two decades on the job would beat that nonsense out of a man, but Frank Waller is nothing if not stubborn. Must be part hobgoblin. That could explain his balding head, and the pot belly too.

He’s not a fool about everything, though, and he thinks this blogging business might do me some good. Help me sort out my feelings about my being stranded here. About my daughter. Or the four hundred million little things about this world that offend me so greatly. At the very least, he’s hoping I’ll talk more freely about what I do. About crime scenes, and how you do forensics when there’s a dead elf or magic involved.

thZXPLCU3A  Swords.  Hate ’em!

I don’t think Frank understands how strange it is for any elf to do such work. We are so centered on life, on nurturing life in all its many forms and fostering its wild abundance… we can barely stand to even think about the dead. We are immortal, and death is what happens to humans.

Well, that’s how it used to be. Before the Fall. Before we were swept out of Faerie and cast away here, in this hard, alien world full of cold iron. Here, Death discovers us daily, and we deal it out in our turn.

The authorities here, though, take quite a dim view of most murder and mayhem, on which they hold some sort of copyright. Thus, eventually and in spite of my obvious deficits, I was enlisted to assist Waller in his murder investigations – the ones where magic is involved.

Policeman Holding Murder Weapon  Don’t even ask.

It wasn’t easy. I was not accustomed to their strictured methodology, bound as it is by rules and regulations of every kind. Still, the principles are the same as with any other branch of science. First, you must learn to see what’s there. What’s really there. That’s tricky enough with a normal crime scene, what with ballistics and blood spatter, butterfly knives and body parts. But what do you do when a glamour’s involved, or shape-shifting? What if your victim is totally transparent? What if it’s your suspect who is apparently made of glass?

Oops. Um, we’ll get to that later. I don’t think this machine is supposed to be smoking.

thSQC1BQFP