The Creatures of a Stranger Sort of Fairy Tale
One of the reasons I love the fantasy genre is because I get to play with all kinds of mythology and creatures. The world of A Stranger Sort of Fairy Tale is filled to the brim with different creatures and peoples, so let’s take a look at some of the oddities you’ll encounter.
We’ll start with the plain-Jane familiar creatures. Humans are, well, pretty much exactly like us. They don’t feature much in the book itself, but they do exist in Arubio and other places. In fact, the emperor of the powerful country of Rus is a human. His son, the Grand Prince Aleksandru, is half-human and half-incubus (a cambion).
It’s a pretty amazing feat for a human to hold power in one of the largest and most powerful nations, especially when they’re surrounded by all kinds of other, more powerful and magical creatures. Although they’re not the focus of A Stranger Sort of Fairy Tale, they’re certainly players on the global stage in this world.
The incubi/succubi (s. incubus/succubus) are important players in the world of A Stranger Sort of Fairy Tale. These demons control Arubio, one of the more powerful countries. They’re allied with Rus. Aleksandru’s mother, a succubus, was an Arubian princess, sister to Tarquin’s father.
Aleks himself is half, whereas his cousins Tarquin, Tullia, and Tanaquil are all full-bloods. Males are referred to as “incubi” and females are “succubi.”
Incubi are humanoid, but they have horns, claws, and pointed ears. They also have fangs, which they use for feeding. As in most myths, the incubi and succubi of Arubio feed on energy. While most of them prefer sexual energy, they dine more broadly on emotional energy.
Tarquin is being crowned king of Arubio. He’s an interesting incubus, in that he suffers from a lack of appetite. He’s also incredibly sensitive to emotional energy, even more so than either of his sisters, the princesses Tullia and Tanaquil.
The incubi are also a kind of empath. They don’t necessarily have the ability to make people feel things, but they do sense emotion and sometimes reciprocate it. In Tarquin’s case, this can actually make him physically ill.
The incubi do also eat “human” food, and they usually maintain a more humanoid shape than their “true” forms.
Because they feed on sexual energy, incubi differentiate between “sex” and “love.” Sex is about food, while love is something quite different. They tend to mate and marry for life. Falling in love is accompanied by a rise in a hormone called amorinine, which can drive the incubus or succubus insane.
The incubi can be more sinister figures, as they can and sometimes do get involved in manipulation and coercion of the people they feed from. The ethics of feeding is always a hot topic among their kind.
The fey are the next most important group in A Stranger Sort of Fairy Tale. Hailing from the north, they’re something of a rarity in Arubio and the south.
Fey are humanoid, but also incredibly insectoid. They begin life sexless, and slowly mature into their adult forms by cocooning themselves and undergoing a metamorphosis. This can last up to ten years. They usually have delicate frames, and they’re somewhat androgynous when they emerge. Both males and females have large, showy butterfly wings and antennae, along with large, insect-like eyes.
Fey diverge from gender and sex conventions within other species. Most fey children are allowed to choose their sex. Most will go on to be female, producing eggs and bearing live young. “Males” are much more rare, but are actually hermaphrodites, producing both eggs and sperm. They develop when isolated, and so are able to reproduce on their own. This is useful in the event of a fey colony being wiped out; the species can survive and reproduce from a single individual.
As a result, gender and sexuality is rather complex in fey society. “Male” fey can decide to adopt either a masculine identity or a feminine one. Some switch between the two, as they undertake different reproductive roles. Since fertilization is external, sex itself is something more social, so the fey tend to engage in it as a bonding exercise with almost anyone. It’s not rare for polygamous relationships to develop and fidelity is almost unheard of, because fey don’t conceptualize it the same way.
Fey don’t eat human food. Rather, they subsist on nectar and fruit juices, occasionally flowers. They’re considered “freaks” and a common insult is “bug” because of their butterfly-like appearance.
Dragons are another of the peoples of A Stranger Sort of Fairy Tale. Most of the time, they take a humanoid form. They tend to be stubborn and they love treasure.
Dragons are powerful creatures. Also native to the north, they’re found almost all around the world. When they transform, they’re quite formidable.
Some dragons have wings; others do not. Some also breathe fire, while others do not. Something almost all dragons have in common is a hatred for fey. Long ago, the fey and the dragons crossed each other, which has left lingering hurts.
Ephraim, Tullia’s husband, is a dragon. His niece Amira is in Tarquin’s harem and one of his closest confidantes. Tarquin has his hands full keeping them cordial with Viridian.
Giants do exist in this world, although they don’t appear in the story itself much. They inhabit the Red Mountains near Arubio, mostly in the duchy of al-Kadi. The duke of al-Kadi is their primary representative to Tarquin’s court. His daughter, Thurayya, is also in Tarquin’s harem.
The Nords are magic-users dwelling in the north (and you might recognize them from another story). While no Nords appears in A Stranger Sort of Fairy Tale, they do exist, and it seems there’s speculation they’re related to the fey. While they don’t have wings or antennae, they do use magic, much the same way the fey can and do.
There also other peoples who populate this world. It’s a diverse one, which makes the lore and culture so much more intriguing and multilayered. You can explore more about the peoples of this world on May 8, when A Stranger Sort of Fairy Tale arrives.