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It goes like this, Aurelie had said. Time works differently here. A thousand years can be a second or an aeon. Here, the measurement of time is a futile pursuit, because from Faerie, we can move to any time in any place.
-The past is another country, huh?
Truly. And this is the story of what happened, in that other country…
Way back, during Creation, Oberon was chosen to be Ruler in Faerie. He was wise, and just, and fair, and all those things you’re supposed to be when you’re the ruler of something. What he also was, was not stupid, so he chose his sister Mab to rule with him. They were like opposites, these two – where Oberon was tall and fair, Mab was small and slender, and dark. Like night and day, the Summer King and the Winter Queen. They ruled together, and ruled well, for as long a time as can be imagined in a place that has no time.
One of Oberon’s favourite things to do was to conjure a creature and go explore his newly-founded kingdom. He’d go, and go as far as he could for as long as he could before something stopped him – mountains, or oceans, or Mab calling him home, because while she was perfectly capable of ruling on her own, and he was perfectly capable of looking after himself, he was still her brother and she missed him if he was gone too long.
Anyway, on one of these trips, he was gone for longer than he ever had been before. Mab tried – she’d tried calling, she’d tried scrying, but either he couldn’t hear her or he wasn’t answering. She’d tried just about everything short of going out and looking for him herself when he just showed up one day, with a woman beside him. The woman was as tall and as fair as he was, and she called herself Titania.

It was inevitable, really – anyone could see what was going to happen next. After an appropriate interval, Oberon and Titania were married. Mab stayed around for a while, and then… well, it wasn’t anything anyone meant to happen, but she just started to… slip away. Nothing malicious, it wasn’t like anyone *wanted* her to leave, but… more and more, the woman-shaped gap by Oberon’s side was filled by Titania, rather than Mab. It was all well and fair that Titania became the Summer Queen, but it offset the balance that had existed before. Two women was too many, in some ways. Maybe they were jealous of each other. Upshot was, Mab left the Summer Palace, left it to her brother and his bride, and went back to her own home that she left all that time before. It saddened Oberon, that she had to leave, but he knew all he had to do was call and she’d be there for him.
There’s something you have to understand, about faeries. There’s people who think we’re creatures, same as humans and animals, and that the magic in Faerie is a separate thing, something outside of us, to be used, when in truth, Faerie magic is as much a part of its people as it is a part of the place. There are creatures that live in Faerie that have learned to use the magic to survive, but for the true Faerie, the Fae and the Fey, magic is as intrinsic as breathing. We *are* magic, in a way. There’s no way to separate us.
-What about Elementals? You said –
Elementals are the concentration and embodiment of an entire reservoir of power. We’re not just magic, we’re a force of nature.
Anyway.
Mab went away, and without her to balance it out, Faerie became the Kingdom of Summer – always bright, always hot. Always the perfect summer’s day. People grow arrogant in that kind of climate, believing somehow that the perfection surrounding them is inherently theirs, that they are perfect and powerful and can do no wrong. Others started to believe it, too, and the Fae garnered a reputation as wilful, cruel beings who looked on other creatures as their playthings. Oberon was mostly out of this; his early doting on Titania let her bring a lot of her people to be with her, but when their relationship soured, as relationships do, he took to spending longer and longer times away from his palace. Travelling, mostly, sometimes visiting with Mab. This gave Titania pretty much free reign in the kingdom, and she took full advantage of it. She came to regard the kingdom as hers, and everyone in it as subject to her fancies. It was the power, it went to her head. When Oberon realised just how messed up his kingdom was getting, he came right back to sort her out. He closed a lot of the portals between Faerie and the other worlds, stranding some of us. Then he and his lady… vanished for a while. No-one knows where they went. When they came back, Titania was very… quiet, and Oberon seemed… tired. Like a lot of the joy had gone out of him. He stayed in the palace for a while, and then left again. Visited all of Faerie that he’d been to before, talked to a lot of people – but quietly, you know? And then, well…

…now he’s gone again.

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November 2013

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