Monday, September 29, 2014

Not Everything’s Fair in Feytown: Blight of Iron and Wrath of Grapes, Part I

Not Everything’s Fair in Feytown: Blight of Iron and Wrath of Grapes, Part I
(As commissioned by the proprietor of for the much adored Displacerklaus celebrations. Many apologies for the lateness. Blame my editor, Rule of Three Hs.)

A Snooty P. Crabtree work

Good day, I am famed world traveler and noted sage Snooty P. Crabtree.  You may have read my works such as Akenian Delicacies: Everything is Artificial, The Red Planet: Is it Really So Pleasant, Bring out Your Mad: The World of the Asylum System, Finnsmouth: A Scenic Look of a Picturesque Town, The Common Adventurer: Threat or Menace, Weeding out the Pretenders, and My God Should Be Your God.  My work clearly speaks for itself.  I need say no more that I have written a multitude of books on a multitude of subjects.  I have traveled hither and yon, cataloguing the wonders and horrors of the world. 

But before you call me a mercenary, before you call me an adventurer (worst of the worst), know that I am no such beast! See the byline of The Common Adventurer up there? I travel not to spill blood or spread lies. I am no Valentine MacGee! No, I travel to prevent such things from happening.  I am a skeptic; I want to empower people to see through the lies and do things on their own, not to depend on wandering murderers.  I am a bard; spreading enlightenment is my trade!  Unlike other “writers” who shall remain nameless (author of a number of “Authoritative” Travel Guides), I will not bring the reader sensationalist conspiracies or bitter rants.  No, my purpose here is to chronicle what I observe and let you come to the conclusions I give you.

This work will be much a return to the style of my earlier work Finnsmouth: A Scenic Look at a Picaresque Town.  A quaint little hole-in-the-wall fishing village, I find the rumors of fell aquatic influence to be very much blown out of proportion.  As I related in the book, my investigations found no trace of fish people or dark water gods.  Any degeneration in the townsfolk comes purely from years of isolative inbreeding.  Rumors of so-called “Deep Ones” are merely superstitious poppycock! So I suspected, and so I found, the rumors of this city I now describe to be much the same way.

As with Innsmouth: A Scenic Look, I have once again been charted by the Royal Pithfinder Explorer Society to explore the town of Fairtown for an Encounters Journal article.  In contemporary times, Fairtown commonly goes by the moniker of “Feytown” supposedly because the fey that have overrun the town. I have been tasked to watch out for signs of the fey and to describe no less than 20 faery spells, rituals, manifestations, and/or incantations. Humbug! Whereas it is true that certain gestures and verbal utterances can alter the quantum fabric of our universe (although this itself is more often fiction than fact), faeries and their magic are merely silly superstitions. 

Fairtown and its History: A Look in Brief

Fairtown is a fair amount larger than backwater Finnsmouth.  It is, or was before the alleged fey incursion, a major stop on the trade point in between the central and western parts of our glorious empire.  To the north is Crandleton, a sister city but bitter rival to Fairtown.  To the south are the Wasteland Shires, a miserable and harsh mass of land covering a network of all but independently ruled but loosely associated burrows.

Fairtown began life with its famous grape orchards. This land was first inhabited by an obscure sect of druid-like priests the Vinegrowers.  The Vinegrowers made their living by making a quite fine wine (the exact method sadly now lost) and selling them to nearby towns and cities of the time.  For the Vinegrowers, the production (and even more, the consumption) of wine was sacred, even to the point that drunkenness was seen as communion with their now defunct and obscure god.   

Apparently the Vinegrowers were initially held in high esteem by all nearby. The priests were regularly called to bless any endeavor remotely associated with plants or agriculture, even though most of the time it had little to do with grapes or wine.

Of course, back then life was wild and wooly.  Whereas ruffian barbarian tribes ran roughshod over anybody in the country, the walled up city states rotted from within under the weight of decadent nobles and endless bureaucracies. No matter where one went, superstition reigned supreme. To the uneducated, savage mind, any number of unusual events we would easily dismiss today as natural phenomena was taken as the work of “demons” or “faeries”.  So eventually the Vinegrowers became associated with the Fey after a sickness spread from a town enamored with their wine.

For a long time, the outside world shunned the Vinegrowers and their woodsy shrine.  The priests turned inward, and little was heard from them.  That is until a large deposit of iron was discovered in a nearby mine.  As the ages past, the fey hysteria didn’t died down.  No, in fact, it had only simmered to a boil.  Therefore, there was a great demand for iron, cold iron in particular.  Miners began settling around the area, and eventually others followed.  A little mining town sprang up, and eventually that town grew larger than the hamlet it began life as.  We can see its humble origins in the quaint little architectural designs.  Despite people leaving, the town still has the signs of overpopulation as the relatively tiny houses squat together and are frequently filled to the brim with tenants. 

Sadly, when a boomtown prospers, a conflict must come with those that already live there.  At first, the townspeople were inclined to kick out the weird priests of a bygone era, and the priests had similar feelings.  They would come to blows more than a few times.  However, so the legend goes, during one particularly nasty brawl, a few of the fighting townies paused from the melee.  Exhausted and thirsty, they fell upon one of the casks of wine and took a drink.  Instantly, they fell in love with it.  Word spread of the priests’ excellent wine like wildfire.  The villagers would try to duplicate the wine, but it always failed to reach any level of tastiness.  Dejected and defeated, the people of Fairtown reached an arrangement with the Vinegrowers to market their wine for them just like the days of old. 

And there we have the origins of the modern Fairtown.  Although the Vinegrower priestly tradition withered away as its priests married into the prominent families of the town, grapes and wine remained until recently major export products.   So too was its iron.  But both have recently fallen victim to blights, the latter a blight that makes it highly fragile whereas with the former a blight that makes the mind highly fragile.  Both will be explained in their proper sections below. Among other strange phenomena, the town is slowly drifting to ruin as the core of its economy falls away.
There is a consensus among the locals of Fairtown and the townspeople of its neighbors that the Fey are at work here.  However, their interpretation of why this is occurring is vastly different. Fairtownees proclaim that they’re being overrun by a hostile fey invading force. On the other hand, residents of other towns blame Fairtown’s misfortunes on a “covert alliance” with the fey that grew too close such that the madness of the fey has rubbed off on the town.   We shall see that neither theory holds water.

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