For the purpose of classification the fairy
race(s) could be roughly divided into a peasant
ry and an aristocracy
. The peasants were solitary
fairies, descended,perhaps, from the spirits
of earth and other aspects of nature, who embodied
their habitat. They took the charge of defending tree
, of forest pool
and mountain stream
. Though they held some of the powers of the Faerie
, such as the ability to render themselves invisible
or to even appear in other forms
, these fairies were wild
and reclusive, their meetings with mortal
s were seldom when compared with the frequency of their relative
's. The presense of such a fairy
was rarely announced by the sight of one, but by the evidence
of the its passing: a fairy
might cause grass to sway as it invisibly over it, moaning and sighing sounds in the branches of trees, and even in the frost
patterns etched on a windowpane.
The aristocracy of Faerie,however, were a different matter entirely. Sometimes referred to as trooping fairies - due to the brilliant excursions sometimes glimpsed by mortels - they were ost often thought to be tthe remnants of ancient gods. They were a race of fearsome power, who dwelled in kingdoms beneath the earth, across vast seas and in palaces above the clouds; tin mortals they could invoke infinite desire as well as fear. The alfar of Scandinavia were divided into subraces of good and evil: the Liusalfar, Light Elves, were air dwellers; the Dockalfar, Dark Elves, resided beneath the ground, in a perpetual darkness as was befitting. The Scots had a similar division, between the fairy bands of the Seelie - Blessed - Court and the Unseelie Court (sometines thought to be the vengeful ghosts. In Wales and Ireland there was no such separation of noble and evil qualities, in these countries the Faerie were believed to be of one race. The Tylwyth Teg - Fair Family - dwelt in Wales, while in Ireland they were known first as the Tuatha De Dannen, then as the Daoine Side - the dwellers of the fairy mounds (for it was under those softly swelling, grassy knolls that many of their palaces were hidden - as they gradually faded from human view).
In years to come the fairy (in the form of nymphs, mischevious elves and the like) retained much of their wild power and form, while their majestic counterparts dwindled in both size and power. It was said that eventually the princes of the Faerie became so small that they rode grasshoppers instead of horses and sported armor made of the fish scales instead of magically forged metal. They lived no longer beneath hill and sea, but in the hollows of oak trees, or in the cowslip's bell or under the leaves of alder and birch. They were absorbed into the teeming population of lesser fairies that had dwelt within forest, field, stream and lake since the world was shaped.