The Fay, so it is said, are simply variations of the same thing – a kind of spirit folk born from the deepest wilds come to life, having developed self awareness and consciousness over the aeons. Some are more akin to humans than supernatural beings, such as the Elves, Dwarves and Gnomes. But the oldest and most powerful are the Greater Nature Spirits, ancient beings who act as caretakers and guardians of the lands within their domain – and whose form, and power – is anything but predictable.
At the lower end of the spectrum, some take the form of tiny faeries or glowing balls of energy. Some show no interest in humanity whatsoever as if humans were invisible to them, others are curious, friendly or even playful and helpful, and a few are quite mischievous or sour, with a few going out of their way to cause travelers to become hopelessly lost, such as the Greater Forest Spirit commonly known as the Will o’ Wisp. While these pesky nature spirits are typically quite harmless, and largely immaterial so cannot be in turn be harmed either, if attacked in a way that actually damages them, more powerful beings may well come to their assistance and it is unwise to take a hostile action against them, even if they are – as is sometimes the case – exceptionally annoying or tiresome..
Will o’ Wisps are, so it is said, to be the first stage in a Greater Nature Spirits immortal development, for they do not age in the human sense of the word, but only grow more powerful with time and experience. The oldest and most powerful among their number are believed to be descends and the children of the Faerie Queen herself (and if the bards tales are even half true, some are most certainly her offspring, for the Faerie Queen has had many consorts over the millenia).
Such ancient Greater Nature Spirits can be found in sacred groves, rivers, mountains and other natural places along a network of lay lines all throughout Eletreus. No two spirits are quite the same, each with their own independent outlook, character and motivations (as well as many varied magical powers).
Because they are all quite different, they react differently when a stranger from the outside world strays into their domain. Some stay hidden and give no sign of their presence, only revealing themselves if forced to defend their sacred land from desecration. Others are seemingly actively hostile, and though outright violence is rare, they will not hesitate to drive out an unwelcome intruder – and within their domains they are incredibly powerful, animating trees or rocks, summoning packs of wolves or the local apex predator, even possessing their victims and taking control of their bodies, and otherwise warping reality to their will – though all of their powers end and can go no further than the very edge of the land that they mark as their domain..
If approached with respect by a person with a pure heart, some spirits will offer assistance or provide hidden knowledge in return for a modest tribute. Druids, Rangers, Elves and the Tuath tend to be given a fair audience, but anyone whose motives are murky are usually mislead and toyed with – while those who are open, honest and fair are almost always treated as such in return (though some trickster spirits should never be trusted and cannot help but lie and mislead).
While the vast majority of Greater Nature Spirits could be considered to be essentially good, and almost all detest violence and will only use it as a last resort to protect themselves or anything within their domain, it must not be forgotten that they are natural creatures in sync with the cycles of Danu and at night some of them can be unpredictable. While most are bound to the domain from which they were birthed into the world of men, with lake spirits unable to leave the shores of their lake, forest spirits unable to break from the cover of the trees that shroud them and hill spirits confined to the slopes and peaks of their steep domain, at night some of them are sometimes found wandering outside of their domain. Approaching a nature spirit in this state is ill advised, for they appear to be somewhat ‘stretched thin’ and overly defensive, and a previously helpful and friendly spirit may become openly hostile and downright spiteful after dark (the vast majority simply take their rest).
TOXIC GREATER NATURE SPIRITS
While such wandering spirits are dangerous (and of course, ANY Greater Nature Spirit can become dangerous if seriously provoked) – there are a handful of Greater Nature Spirits that are so irredeemably twisted and dark they are almost akin to the Fallen. Such nature spirits always seem to arise in fearful places such as swamps, haunted woods or a place of ill repute. These spirits are particularly dangerous, for unlike other Greater Nature Spirits they can leave their domains for short periods of time while still retaining most of their power – and can enter the dreams of their victims and will attempt to drive them to ruin or to the grave. The most famous example of such a spirit is the evil half sister of the Faerie Queen, the Banshee of Blackwood Forest in Tuath De.