|Chapter One: Learning from the Past|
Whoa there buddy! Whereís the fire?
Some redcaps, eh? Yeah, I bet I know just the fellas that youíre talking about.
Hang on now, theyíre not chasing you. See- there isnít anybody behind you. They were probably just trying to frighten you. Looks like it worked, too. Come on, I know this great little spot where I can buy you a drink and you can tell me how you upset that corby.
A corby? Well thatís a common name for a group of redcaps; the less vicious ones like to run around together as a sort of strength-in-numbers sort of thing.
Why donít we do the same thing? We do- only instead of having corbies, we have the whole boggan kith. I knew that you were newly sained, but I didnít know that you hadnít been properly educated yet. Come on, this is going to take more then one drink.
Well, I guess that the best place to start would be an explanation of where boggans come from, why we exist.
Thatís right, all fae kind originate in the Dreaming. Iím glad to see that youíve had at least some education. Still, knowing which other kithain to avoid is a lot more important to the here and now. But I suppose that you already received a primer in that earlier this evening. How about tonight I educate you on boggans, and tomorrow after youíve had chance to recover from your little adventure earlier I give you the low-down on the locals? Here, have another beer -donít worry, Iíll drive you home later- and listen to where you come from.
Most of the other Kithain fight and squabble over who was birthed first by the Dreaming. It's as if the whole lot of them believe in some sort of universal primogeniture, fighting for the right to inherit a cosmic throne. Well, we werenít first, not by a long shot. The nockers are probably the only ones who came after we did. What Iím about to tell you isnít something that you can find in any book or epic poem about the origins of the kithain, but itís something that Iím as sure of as Iím sure that Iím sitting here with you now. Our kind came after most of the others because we were needed to clean up the mess that all of the others had made.
When boggans, or what would come to be called boggans, came on to the scene, the Tuatha De Danaan were having their great war with the Fomorians. The humans were suffering in that war. You see, the Fomorians were the manifestation of all that was dark, unsavory, and primal in the human psyche- while the Tuatha were their high ideals and hopes. The two races of elder gods waged a great war that lasted for generations with the younger races of the fae being forced to choose sides in the epic conflict over the lands of Earth and the dreams of man. The sidhe, who are considered direct children of the Tuatha De Danaan, sided with their parents and most of the kithain followed suit, even many of the redcaps, although I may never know why. Fighting alongside the Fomorians were some of our darker unseelie kin, the perverted thallain that they had helped to create, and the dark-kin who were long thought gone from this world, but have since reappeared as their masters of old reawaken.
Well, we can talk about the sorry state of affairs that the world is currently in later. Right now, let me finish telling you about the sorry state of the world back at the dawn of the human race. A sluagh historian that I know has convinced me that this great war between the Tuatha and the Fomorians, the War of the Trees, corresponded with the rise of mankind from a primal beast into a civilized creature. As the great war raged on to decided the fate of the Dreaming, the Earth, and the future of humanity, both sides overlooked one crucial thing: making certain that the humans survived this war between gods. Powerless in a world where great forces fought over both their lives and their psyches, the fledgling human race was in danger of either becoming so mentally scarred that their primal minds would forevermore rule over any noble aspirations or simply becoming extinct under the strain of prolonged war. Dying, afraid, and probably going insane- the humans called out for help. Despite their preoccupation with the war, the Tuatha De Danaan heard the plea of humanity and sent our brethren kithain to aid them. They failed.
The pooka tried to play with the humans to cheer them up. The satyrs tried to indulge their passions. The sluagh tried to frighten them into behaving. The trolls tried to inspire them to join in the war. The eshu tried to tell them stories of heroism and life lessons. As for the redcaps- they had little interest in helping humans, and most of the sidhe opted to remain with the Tuatha and out of the domain of man. Iím sure that other kiths now lost to us also tried to protect and aid the humans, but, they like the others, were too wild to offer anything but temporary comfort and assistance. Youíll recall how I said that humanity was on the cusp of becoming civilized? When the War of the Trees began, humans were just starting to develop language and form united bands working together to survive. All of those other kiths had been formed from the dreams of decidedly uncivilized people who were daunted by the natural world around them. They embodied primal drives such as passion, hunger, or fear and even today tend to be wild and feckless creatures.
Yes, even the sidhe. They are notorious for their shifting moods, like the very winds, and the grandeur that they invoke can only be compared to the brightest light of the sun or moon. The trolls who have ever been stalwart and unshakable were as the unchanging and reliable mountain ranges where some early humans made their homes. Back before the rise of the Tuatha, the humans were wild creatures and the dreams that they created were similarly wild. This is why satyrs and pooka are so bestial, why trolls and redcaps sometimes seem to have been chiseled directly out strangely shaped boulders, and why the sluagh seem so much like a dark shadow come to life.
Because they were formed from the minds of men before they had achieved the earliest forms of society and civilization, they could not help mankind to achieve the noble state of which they had begun to dream. And so, a new kith was formed- a kith that was practical, useful, and kind. I cannot say how much of our forming was the unconscious creation of mankind and how much was directed by the Tuatha De Danaan, but this is when and why we came to be.
At first, under the direction of the Tuatha, we helped humans by listening to their prayers and dreams and answering those that were deemed to be worthy. We were smaller then, and could easily pass unseen as we traveled from hovel, field, or cave easing the burdens of our dreamers. Before long, our duties extended to punishing humans who preyed upon others, but even then our real purpose was to alleviate human suffering. Our powers were great then, and a single one of us could easily make vast fields bear fruit and grain, build magnificent and sturdy homes, or even increase the fertility and longevity of mankind. If you ever wondered, thatís why all of those people in the Old Testament could have so many children and live for such long spans of time.
And so, because of our creation and subsequent intervention mankind was able to survive a war that had consumed all the Earth and Dreaming, a war that literally reshaped the world with earthquakes, floods, and great fires. I already mentioned the Old Testament and floods. Yíknow, Noah wasnít the only guy to get tossed around during those times. Find an eshu some time later and ask about flood myths, youíll get an earful.
Anyway, we were so good at protecting and preserving humans where the others had failed that the other kiths quickly started asking for us to help them as the war dragged on. This was our first real test; everything else had been a cakewalk. We knew that we couldnít abandon our human charges, but our fae brethren also seemed to be in trouble and we couldnít ignore that. As a united kith we held a great meeting in a secret hold beneath the earth and, after an awful lot of talk, decided that our duty to the human dreamers came first.
When we announced this some of the other fae grew angry and petitioned the Tuatha De Danaan. The Tuatha realized that our abilities were too great an asset to be overlooked in their war and declared that henceforth we would aid all who were in need, human or fae. A few boggans were angry and called it a curse; they said that they should be paid for all of the extra work that they would have to do under such a geas. If you ask me, these were probably the first boggans to become unseelie. A lord of the Tuatha angrily stepped forward and laid another geas upon the most outspoken of the dissenters that would not allow them to accept the slightest recompense for any task that they performed. Thatís why there are many of us to this day who feel uncomfortable when we receive so much as a ďthank youĒ after having done someone a service.
There were some who actually went to assist the Fomorians after that, figuring that their forces could be as needy as those of the Tuatha, but they were very few in numbers. A good deal more declared that they would be neutral for the remainder of the war, and willingly helped anyone at all who was in need.
After the War of Trees we continued to serve, protect, and guide humanity as it rose from small tribal bands to the early great civilizations. Iím proud to say that our subtle nudges were enough to assist the rise of agriculture, pastoralism, and early weaving and pottery techniques. And although we were sometimes worshipped as gods (as were all the fae) we would never permit ourselves to perform all of mankindís tasks for them. Back when belief was so strong and the Dreaming had not yet separated from the waking world, we could have eliminated starvation, homelessness, and possibly even war, but we didnít. We only assisted humans directly when it was needed, and mostly prodded them in the right directions by giving them dreams of how to bake bread, mix fertilizer, or how to build homes out of nothing more then sticks or mud. By making them do most of the work they stayed honest and strong, but by getting them to settle down we helped to shrivel the black paths of the Dreaming. A man has fewer fears of the natural world around him if he has a full stomach, a warm fire, a soft bed, and a safe home.
This new condition for man was both our triumph and ultimate defeat. It was our work with helping to civilize humanity that made them push away their darkest fears, thus helping to keep the Fomorians locked away and out of our world. However, while we may not be as wild and linked to the natural world as the other kiths, we are still fae and somehow formed from the basic drives and dreams of mankind. When humanity pushed themselves away from the natural order and their primal fears, they started pushing us away as well. We may have done our work too well. The safe and comfortable, but self-reliant, humans had little need or consideration for their fae gods. Their dreams became less vivid, their belief in spirits less important, and they made their first real intuitive leap without an iota of fae assistance when they first forged some rocks from the ground into the substance we call cold iron. And, as their dreams became less important in their daily lives, so the Dreaming pulled away from their lives as the Sundering began.
No one has ever managed to pin down precisely when this happened, but it seems clear to me that it was a very slow and gradual process. We certainly werenít aware of what was happening until it was far too late to stop it. Iíve heard some say that the Sundering still continues to this day, which seems pretty reasonable if you ask me. Anyhow, things changed, we diminished- all fae kind did of course- but I think that we may have been hit harder then the others. It was at this time that we started taking a much smaller role in the course of the world.
While previously, one of our kind might watch over a whole island, mountain range, or kingdom- as our powers diminished, we began to see the wisdom in micromanagement and started taking on smaller duties, bringing us even closer to humanityís dreamers. The more ambitious of us might take watch over an entire valley, town, or sacred glen. Most of us, though, took jurisdiction over a specific home, farm, or family. We had always been closer to humans then the other fae, but now we were actually living with them. To be honest, this move was also partly based on how much easier it is to inspire a single family to belief then an entire nation.
Previously temples and large sacrifices would be dedicated to our kind, but as the Sundering progressed we learned to enjoy the simple pleasure a bowl of porridge or some cream. The Sundering brought great change into our way of life, but I think that we adapted admirably. It certainly left us better prepared to deal with the aftermath of the Shattering then anybody else.
Now youíre going to hear a lot of commoners say that we were left high and dry as all of the trods started closing, but youíll probably also get stories from our illustrious nobles saying that they kept us from Arcadia for our own protection because of some war or other going on in our homeland. To be honest, I donít want throw my voice one way or the other. I donít remember what happened back then and Iíve never met any kithain who claimed to have anything but vague or fuzzy memories of that whole time. Personally, though, I have to say, Iím wary of anyone who claims to be protecting me while theyíre packing a suitcase and telling me to stay behind. Besides if there was really some big war going on in Arcadia then how come most of the trolls were left in the Waking World?
I shudder to think what would have happened though, if all of the fae, noble and commoner alike, had managed to escape into Arcadia. Without anybody left to inspire and muse humanity during the time after the Shattering, Iím sure that the Long Winter would have quickly befallen us, and the Resurgence never would have happened.
We were as flat-footed as anybody else when the Shattering hit, but like I said earlier, our close proximity to humanity helped us in the aftermath. With nearly all freeholds and trods closed to us, we had no refuge from the banality around us and so we found a modicum of protection by binding ourselves into human bodies. Naturally, with our intimate knowledge of humans, we boggans were instrumental in devising the Changeling Way ritual that bound us all to human bodies.
Anyhow, there we were- stripped of our home, our freeholds, confined within mortal shells, and bereft of our leaders. Itís no surprise that so many of the commoners, and perhaps entire kiths, were totally taken by the cold grip of banality. Still, we endured. Having lived near humans and having done human labors made it easier for us boggans to adjust to our new lives as humans. Now, though, all of us surviving commoners had to try and make lives for ourselves without freeholds or Arcadia to retreat to, and this usually meant living and working like normal humans. For us, this was no great chore. We were used to human labors, and now we could do essentially the same work, but be paid in money instead of porridge.
Although greatly diminished, what remained of our birthrights served us well during the Interregnum. Our ability to discern social situations helped us pick out which humans most needed musing and which changelings most needed dreamers. Being able to do a dayís labor in one-third the time helped give us enough time to muse our own dreamers and help our fellow kithain to muse theirs. It was a lot of extra work for us, but I honestly donít believe the Resurgence could have ever happened if we hadnít look after our fellow fae so diligently back in those early days.
As you might imagine, fae society was tattered, torn, and darn-well near non-existent in the years and even decades following the Shattering. Love or hate the sidhe, they were our leaders, and their sudden disappearance created a fierce power vacuum. Even so, what was worse for all of us was the loss of the Dreaming and Arcadia. Weíve lived for so long nowadays as changelings, and worked so hard to create a niche for ourselves in the Waking World, that itís almost easy to forget that this isnít our home. There were a few, very few, freeholds left after the Shattering and they naturally became packed with all manner of fae seeking shelter from the worldís banality. Sometimes there was suspicion, hostility, and brutal conflicts. Mostly, there was shared fear and cooperation in the face of a world that suddenly seemed a good deal more dangerous. These early motleys quickly came to rely on us boggans to bring them food, dross, and dreamers as they huddled in the remaining freeholds away from a world that seemed alien even from behind mortal eyes. As corresponding with a certain adage about teaching a man to fish, we focused on teaching all the rest of the commoner kithain how to survive amongst humans, a lesson that fortunately grew easier as we began the cycles of reincarnation and began to be raised as human.
Are you ready for a shock? Back in the first couple hundred years of the Interregnum a whole lot of us boggans found our way into the folds of the Catholic Church as monks, nuns, or priests. Okay, I guess thatís not as shocking as saying that redcaps or satyrs were lining up to take vows and shave the tops of their heads, but itís still not something normally associated with any type of fae. Anyhow, the monastic lifestyle was relatively accommodating to us boggans. After all it was a lifestyle that promoted peaceful living and a diligent work ethic. Proper monasteries provided a haven for many boggans, as well as an outlet for serving the community- and the monasteries that came under lazy and corrupt priors provided us with an excuse to practice some good old faerie retribution until they repented their ways.
Besides the brown-frocked boggan monks and friars, many of our kind also found their way into being parish priests. Priests, sheriffs, and magistrates were common positions for boggans in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. These positions allowed us to look after entire communities of people, both mortal and fae. They helped us to identify and aid both dreamers and new changelings, a useful thing given how unorganized and fractured fae kind had become. Some boggans, particularly those who still felt tied to certain homes or families, took positions as farmhands, servants, or artisans that kept them nearby to their old sources of glamour.
Nothing is greater proof of our collective ability to survive and adapt than the culmination of arts, innovations, and exploration commonly known as the Renaissance. However, for all of the cultural and philosophical advancement made during those centuries, very little changed in the lives of the common peasants and serfs. So, while Italian satyrs partied in Milan and Eshu from Portugal sailed around the world, we mostly stayed in our various homesteads looking after our charges and our dreamers. The few of us that did begin to frequent the salons in Paris and Vienna argued for socialist doctrines and the rights of workers. We finally saw some payoff for our continued labors as serfdom was gradually abolished in Western Europe in the years leading up to the Napoleonic Wars.
Long before serfdom was abolished, though, many of our dreamers began sailing across the Atlantic in search of new lives. Although [JP1]very few of us took part in the initial exploration, a good number of boggans made their way to the colonies of the New World where we could enjoy the new homes and new ideas that we hoped would flourish there. In truth, most kithain looked at the New World as a way for us to start fresh after the Shattering and the Changeling Way. Not only were we full of new hopes and dreams, but so were many of the settlers that we accompanied.
With ties to our own nobility severed, it only seemed appropriate that our dreamers in this brave new world follow suit. It might surprise some, but it was us boggans that really led the charge in shaping the ideals and starting the movements that led to the American Revolution and the founding of the U.S. There were boggans who mused Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, boggans who aided the colonial war effort, and boggans present at the Constitutional Convention. It was our hope that a new form of egalitarian democracy would arise. We were only partially successful. We had were so proud of that bold sentiment ďAll are created equal.Ē Unfortunately, the ability to seize Indian property and own African slaves only increased after Americaís independence. With that aftermath of the American Revolution and the spectacular failure of its sister revolution in France, out of shame we boggans never took any sort of major role in human politics again.
Even avoiding world politics and major wars, there was plenty going on during the nineteenth century to keep even us boggans busy. It was an age of epidemics, genocide, slavery, and industry. Unfortunately, it was only the latter two that we were really able to have any impact on.
Slavery is as irksome to a boggan as it is to any eshu. There is something that really sticks in our craw about people not getting any recognition or compensation for their labor, but when that labor is forced...well, there is precious little on earth or in the Dreaming that can hold back a determined boggan. Many of us joined abolitionist movements, worked the Underground Railroad, and lobbied the government to end the practice of slavery.
Another form of slavery arrived with the steel and steam of the Industrial Revolution as men, women, and children fell to the clutches of mines and sweatshops. Boggans were on the front line of the unofficial war known commonly as the labor movement. As union leaders and agitators we fought in the boardrooms and in the streets to secure livable conditions for the new working class.
Our attention was drawn away from the urban factories and mining towns when we saw the disposition of farmers and workers during the Great Depression. We have always felt an affinity with farmers. Their work is so important and yet so underappreciated. Farming communities have long been our primary source of Dreamers. When so many lost their farms and homes in the Dust Bowl, many of us felt that we had somehow failed those we should have been looking after the most. Just as we had looked after them during times of war or during epidemics, we did what we could to ease the suffering that we saw around us. We organized food drives, helped find work where we could, and helped to establish and protect the little shanty towns that popped up alongside the highways. Some of the more unseelie, or simply more vindictive, boggans took it upon themselves to punish greedy bankers or land owners who took advantage of the itinerate laborers.
Goodfellas and Goombahs
The connection between boggans and organized crime is a venerable one. Boggans are good at organization (any organization), and itís no surprise that some have turned those talents to crime. Boggan involvement in true organized crime began with the labor movement. Generally sympathetic to the plight of the under-appreciated workers of the Industrial Revolution, many boggans took part in the formation of the first labor unions. However, in attempts to gain recognition, the early unions often resorted to violent methods of persuasion. Much of this was organized by the mafia. Some unseelie boggans even made careers as professional agitators and lived off of union kickbacks. The labor wars lasted into the thirties and many boggans, along with a few satyrs, became firmly entrenched in the world of organized crime during those years.
What really cemented kithain entanglement with the mob, though, was the heady years of prohibition. The mob became both powerful and glamorous as Americans turned to them to supply the nation with bootlegged liquor. A number of boggans were quick to open speakeasies (one of the biggest fonts of glamour in the roaring twenties) and lend a deft hand to the business of booze smuggling. One boggan of the time, Michael Sloane, ran the biggest and most popular gin joint in St. Louis out of the cityís only active freehold. So popular was Sloaneís club that not even the mayor and police commissioner tried to hide that they were regular customers.
There have been a slew of famous gangsters from the thirties that have been suspected to be boggans. The diminutive George ďBabyfaceĒ Nelson is high on the list, but his psychotic violent behavior would suggest either a boggart or perhaps an unseelie boggan in first-stage bedlam. Another one was a contemporary of Babyface- Pretty-Boy Floyd, a bank robber with a reputation of polite gentle manners and for redistributing his gains among the distraught workers of Depression era Oklahoma.
With Al Capone, though, there is no doubt- he was known to be boggan kinain. Although short of stature, Capone was such a master at manipulating people and working the social and legal system of 1920s Chicago, that it was only because of unreported tax returns that either local or federal law enforcers were able to arrest him. He was extraordinarily efficient at his chosen endeavors and, also like his boggan cousins, he was owed favors by many people that he had helped out in some way or another over the years.
Even to this day many boggans remain linked to the mob. A number of boggans are actually involved in prostitution rings, an excellent way to make certain that the girls are being properly taken care of. Most boggans in the mafia today find themselves connected to money laundering and/or gambling rackets. There are fewer boggans involved in gun running, extortion, and drug trafficking. While some boggans interpret providing a junkie with a fix or arming vulnerable street thugs as a way to answer the Call of the Needy, most are less than comfortable with the long-range effects of that ďhelpĒ.
If you'll gather 'round me, children,
A story I will tell
'Bout Pretty Boy Floyd, an outlaw,
Oklahoma knew him well.
It was in the town of Shawnee,
A Saturday afternoon,
His wife beside him in his wagon
As into town they rode.
There a deputy sheriff approached him
In a manner rather rude,
Vulgar words of anger,
An' his wife she overheard.
Pretty Boy grabbed a log chain,
And the deputy grabbed his gun;
In the fight that followed
He laid that deputy down.
Then he took to the trees and timber
To live a life of shame;
Every crime in Oklahoma
Was added to his name.
But a many a starving farmer
The same old story told
How the outlaw paid their mortgage
And saved their little homes.
Others tell you 'bout a stranger
That come to beg a meal,
Underneath his napkin
Left a thousand dollar bill.
It was in Oklahoma City,
It was on a Christmas Day,
There was a whole car load of groceries
Come with a note to say:
Well, you say that I'm an outlaw,
You say that I'm a thief.
Here's a Christmas dinner
For the families on relief.
Yes, as through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.
And as through your life you travel,
Yes, as through your life you roam,
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.
- Woody Guthrie, The Ballad of Pretty Boy Floyd
Now, ordinarily weíre a very united kith; weíre not inclined to fight amongst ourselves, and we rarely let trivial things such as politics and personal philosophies stand in the way of either business or friendship. However, the return of the sidhe and the following war came closer to dividing us then anything else. Many of us were proud of what we had accomplished over the last six hundred years. Not only had we managed to survive, but we had helped establish democratic governments and end slavery practices. But others were disappointed with what we had done, things hadnít always turned out as we hoped they would, and between all the wars, the epidemics, the industry, and everything else there had been so much suffering for both mortals and fae. When the living, breathing, incarnations of ďthe good olí daysĒ suddenly appeared before us in Ď69, a lot of us were hoping much of that suffering would be over. Those of us who got embroiled in the war, though, flocked to both sides in such numbers that to say which side had the most boggan supporters could only be speculation. Even at the height however, there was very little animosity between boggans, regardless of affiliation. It was a war about position and leadership, not killing fellow fae. At least, not from our perspective.
Remember how I had said that after the Shattering we took to running what was left of the freeholds? Well with the Resurgence, not only did the sidhe return, but most of the long-dormant balefires were rekindled. We quickly took to helping open up the lost holds and making them habitable for all fae. Regardless of whether they became bases for nobles or commoners, maintaining freeholds was our primary function during the Accordance War. Thatís not to say that there werenít boggans on the front lines. A boggan can be as great a warrior as anybody else. However, thatís also not where our greatest strengths are either. We have a great aptitude for quickly preparing things like food or supplies, and our way with people can prove invaluable for easing tensions and helping to draft peace treaties. Between that ability, and the ties we forged with both commoners and nobles, we played a large role in establishing the peace and trust we had enjoyed under High King David.
That bit about being in the freeholds though, donít go yakking this to just anybody, but that was a calculated move on our part. Even to this day, there are very few freeholds in Concordia that do not have at least one boggan who is intrinsically involved in its workings. Like the sluagh, we know the secrets of almost any freehold, but unlike them, weíve already got a set of the keys and the trust of everyone inside.
Donít look at me like that. There isnít any great boggan conspiracy to seize the reigns of power. Besides, if youíd been listening closer, youíd know that that is the last thing any sensible boggan would want to do. Iím just saying that we have a modicum of insurance for the dark days ahead. War is still spreading throughout Concordia and every traveler who comes along has new tales of adhene and Fomorians coming from the Dreaming. The freeholds arenít our greatest strength though- itís each other. Remember that, no matter how dire your situation is, you can always turn to a boggan for help.
All Iíll say about whoever orchestrated the disappearance of High King David is that heís a brilliant idiot. He, or they, are smart enough to keep him (or his corpse, as the case may be) locked up in cold iron or otherwise away from scrying eyes, but hasnít managed to claim the throne in the past six years. And if anarchy was the goal, thatís only been a partial success because most of the smaller kings and queens still retain their power. I donít pretend to know what will happen to the throne and its gaggle of claimants. My only advice is to avoid insecure nobility. And if you do come into the service of a noble lord, make certain that heís strong enough to stand up against the Urban Renewal League or any other violent anarchs.
A noble sidhe can be a grand protector and ally, but far too many of them are acting like spoiled children playing ďking of the mountainĒ with Tara-Nar. Opportunists like Rotgut Redhelm arenít any better. If the Fomorians really are returning then the whole lot of them will need to band together or all of us are surely doomed.
But enough of that sort of talk. Neither of us are going to change the world tonight. Finish that beer and then Iíll take you home. Tomorrow Iíll make sure that you get properly introduced to the other locals.