Fair Folk, The
A persistent folk tale motif found on many worlds is that of the usually invisible trickster-helpers sometimes known elliptically as the Fair Folk*. Examples of this set of motifs have been found in surviving records going all the way back to Old Earth civilizations like Classical Greece and Imperial China, but are strongly associated with the North West European Fringe.
Sightings of these entities are reported in every region of space, even Metasoft, connected with unexpected assistance from unseen or partially glimpsed small humanoids, and often items going missing and returned under acausal conditions. Many cliological surveillance records apparently show brief glimpses of Fair folk but none have been established to be irrefutable.
The rules of conduct when faced with a Fair Folk Helper are often interesting, as they can be contrary to those of normal society. For instance:
Do Not thank the Fair Folk The bionano enhanced clade of posthumans from Orkady in the Communion of Worlds apparently decided to adopt the lifestyle of the Fair Folk in 7981 and disappeared from their worlds, becoming miniaturised and using military stealth technology to remain invisible. In 8766 the widely spread clade was wiped out by what seems to have been a nanowar attack that turned every individual more or less simultaneously into stone.
Do Not ask their real name
Do Not follow them to their hiding places
Do Not give them certain things to eat or drink-often water or alcohol either one of which may cause a radical change in the entity
Do Not eat or drink anything they give you as this may lead to enslavement (so-called thralldom)
This has led to the persistent myth that the real Fair Folk were offended by the Orkadian adoption of their way of life and cursed them in this way. Some commentators however suspect this whole sequence of events concealed a covert war of some kind against an unknown enemy, a war which the Orkadians lost.
There are also persistent rumours that this stone state is really a chrysalis form for the Orkadians. The rumour states that they are all undergoing a prolonged Ascension, and will return to aid people even more than they previously did.
*So called because the person addressing them is begging them to be fair and kind. Hence, also the Furies (Greek mythology's punishers of those who offended the Gods) were called the Kindly ones - wishful thinking, basically, codified into a culture-wide descriptor.
Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 09 December 2002.