European, especially eastern European folktales, tend to feature the supernatural world quite heavily. A fairly common theme, from what I remember, is the uneasy balance between humans and fae, a very fragile truce that is often disrupted and causes grief all round in these stories. I love that The Secret World’s Transylvanian storyline is full of that tension between humans and fae.
Our wisdom flows so sweet. Taste and see.
TRANSMIT – initiate Transylvania signal -RECEIVE – initiate the Strigidae syntax – OFFER VALID ONLY AT PARTICIPATING LOCATIONS – initiate the contract cadence – WITNESS – The Truce.
Secret truces are made all the time. All around you. Every night it happens somewhere. In a bedroom, parents placate their frightened offspring, assure her that there are no monsters. She falls asleep, but wakes in the dead hours to see her parents crouched on the floor, making complex pacts with the voice under her bed, by the luminescence of her glow-worm night-light. “Paying one beats losing all,” it says.
It might be said that the world of the mundane must make deals with the world of the supernatural. These words hide a fallacy. There is only one world, sweetling – the secret world. Your species only occupies a tiny bit of it, floating on an eroding island of ignorance. The water is dark and full of movement.
Some truces are older than others. In Bacas County – where myths walk in the forest of the remote valley – the humans made an accord with the supernatural that lasted six centuries.
Initiate the secret histories.
They set the truce shortly after Mara, the vampire queen, was cast out. The owlish one, Cucuvea, summoned all the inhabitants, normal and paranormal, to a great gathering. Reconciliations were made, mutual respect achieved.
Such a menagerie! So many phyla and families of the preternatural. Fairies, nymphs, and forest spirits cohabited with moroi, pricolici, and Capcaun. Uriasi dwelled in the mountains and the Valva Apei lurked in the small lake. Humans huddled in their villages and their farmlands. The fragile balance was maintained.
Bacas County became a refuge for the increasing number of disbelieved. They crawled, flew, and loped there in greater numbers as the world around grew inhospitable.
For time out of mind, preying upon humankind was the natural, or paranatural, order of things. The inhabitants of the valley understood. The truce demanded there be no unnecessary aggression, but it allowed all creatures to remain true to their nature – tongue, tooth, and claw.
We were there. We saw. We tallied the coppery cost of peace – a few young men a year, claimed by Fata Padurii – the occasional stray traveller returning, covered in bruises and wicked scratches from the dance of the Iele – those foolish enough to wander out when the strigoi and pricolici hold sway under the blood moon. There is always a cost – a price for a prize. The simplest systems work.
Until the hunters become the hunted.
A few years ago, it was the supernaturals who vanished in increasing frequency. The supernal fauna thinned, culled by an unknown hand. An uproar sounded among the paranormals. They blamed the villagers. The humans denied wrongdoing. Cucuvea tried to maintain the peace, reminding all of the truce.
Many a magical beast wandered from the forest, braving the inhospitable land outside. Those who stayed became cagey, vicious, and unforgiving of suspicious humans. The lion gets a thorn in his paw, and there is no mouse to remove it. Only rending and screams can result.
Soon, hordes of feral vampires arrived, followed by the Romany, those who designate themselves the Drăculești. Many of the forest creatures remembered the persecution suffered at the hands of these monster hunters. Forgetting, there was none. Forgiving, there was none. The relationship strained, the truce frayed.
Yet the Drăculești ignored the creatures of the dark forest. With a little disdain, and more self-control, they focused on the common enemy: Mara and her undead multitudes. Despair can bring pandemonium, but it can also inspire reason. The monster hunters and the supernaturals realised they must stand together against the vampire spawn.
Initiate the possibility matrix.
Is carnage the only possible future, sweetling? If the vampires win, all will die. If the vampires lose, the tattered truce will slip away, and the survivors will tear each other apart. What will you do? We wait in ravenous anticipation.