Sigil was a weird place.
I was following the familiar path leading from the Twilight Witch’s tavern to the upscale apartment district of ‘Shadehaven’ when I turned a corner and spotted a ‘Nagaji’ (think six-foot-tall lizard man with a snake head) standing on a street corner doing a poor job of concealing something under his trench coat, (he was cradling the bulge with both arms as if it were a child). He was soon approached by a short female vulpine humanoid (a Kitsune) carrying a sack over her shoulder. The two took a moment to size each other up and then looked around for anyone that might be spying on them. I was only watching them from the corner of my eye so neither of them spotted me. The Kitsune opened her sack and presented a human skull engraved with runes and possessing a set of glowing orange orbs where the eyes would have been. Judging by how the skull struggled against her grasp and the fact it had a blood-red cloth tied over its jaw like a gag, it probably wasn’t a willing part of this exchange. The Nagaji looked the skull over and nodded approvingly, he then removed the bulge from his coat and revealed a bag containing a collection of vials filled with soft white powder. Feydust most likely, a highly addictive substance that can enhance intelligence. The two exchanged parcels then walked away briskly in opposite directions. As for me… well I kept walking, this was Sigil such oddities were common, and rarely was it worthwhile to get involved with someone else’s business.
Now what was weird was seeing the shadows and figments of three other probabilities for how that exchange could have gone. In one of them, the skull got free and started biting the lizard man. I shook my head and put my focus into the current main probability line. I have a bit of an affliction due to some planar probability research gone awry. I can catch glimpses of other ways things could have happened. It was meant to give me an edge in combat, by allowing me to shift possibilities. For example, I could see the shot I was going to miss and nudge into a different possibility wherein I hit the target instead. I was still struggling to make my mind adapt properly, I kept seeing probabilities when I didn’t need to. At least I had got to the point I could walk down the street without having to attempt to avoid where people could have possibly been.
The golem guard at the gates of Shadeheaven recognized me and let me in with a polite nod of its stone head. I thanked it as I walked by and made my way up the stairs to the fourth floor. I reached the door of apartment ‘4C’ and knocked gently. I heard a high pitched voice from within call out “Just a moment!” followed by the skittering of many legs to the other side of the door then up the wall next to it. I heard the squeak of the peephole opening and saw a familiar eye gaze through. “Ah Mr. Belton.” The high pitched voice greeted me and a moment later the half gnome, half spider butler swung the door open and ushered me inside. (Did I mention Sigil was weird?)
I stepped inside and heard the door close behind me. “Howdy Charlie. Is Fana available?”
Charlie walked along the ceiling next to me. “The mistress is currently with her agent, however, their meeting should conclude soon. If you like you may wait for her in the foyer. I shall inform her of your arrival.” He gestured politely as he hung upside from the ceiling.
I thanked him and found a seat on the familiar sofa. As I sat there enjoying a moment of quiet when a familiar ruby red smile caught my eye. I frowned as I recognized the picture on the cover of the book. The book was titled ‘Hunter and Huntress’. The ruby smile belonged to a shapely female silhouette in the background. In the foreground was a young, handsome, broad-shouldered, elven man wearing leather armor that showed off his unrealistically perfect pectoral muscles. The picture suggested the male elf was being followed by the shapely female figure. Despite myself, I flipped the book over so I could read the description.
Adrie Shadowwalker is a huntress of legendary skill known for being able to capture any quarry she seeks. When she’s sent on a dangerous expedition to the edge of the known world to hunt a legendary monster, her eyes soon fall upon another target, one that is unlike any she has ever pursued before…
Delton Wildstalker is a handsome, naive, young man who is looking to prove himself. Delton is a capable hunter, but hot-headed, eager, and ready to dive headfirst into adventure (even if it’s a risky proposition). Will Adrie’s gentle touch be enough to tame his wild heart? What happens when the heart of a hunter becomes the quarry of the huntress?
I sighed and put the book down. ‘Delton’… she changed all of ONE letter of my name. I was told the book had a happily after ending for ‘Delton’ and ‘Adrie’, the real ending had been quite different. It wasn’t bad per se… I had deluded myself into thinking I was love, and the real ‘Adrie’ had just been looking for a good time. The break up was inevitable. It wasn’t too harsh, but it definitely put a bad taste for relationships in my mouth. Haven’t been in one since and I just assume keep it that way.
A short while later after the agent left, Fana a short, blonde-haired, elven woman entered the room and greeted me with a smile and open arms. “Hello, Belton!”
“Heya Sis.” I greeted her and we shared a warm familiar embrace.
We parted then took a seat around her coffee table. “So… what brings my big brother the bounty hunter for a visit today?”
“I’ve come to you for advice. My party and I are traveling to the Feywild. As I recall you made a trip there once.”
She nodded and smiled, “Hmmm yes, that was a few years ago. Back when I was still a researcher before I took up writing fiction.” She went over to a small bookshelf the one where she kept a copy of each of ‘her’ books. “Here we are.” She took a book titled ‘On the Feywilds’ and laid on the table where I could flip through it. “It’s hard to get detailed information on the Feywilds, most non-elves tend to forget their time their after they leave. The region is also impossible to map, its not uncommon for entire kingdoms to be willed into existence by the fickle imaginations of Archfeys. We do know a few things for certain, for example, Fey are vulnerable to iron or anything that contains iron, even rust.”
I knew all of that already, but it was usually best just to let my sister tell the story the way she wanted to, so I nodded along as I flipped through looking over the various sketches and notes. I flipped to a page that read ‘The Laws of the Fey’ which listed three in bold print. “I didn’t know they had laws. I had assumed them largely to be creatures of chaos given all the stories I’ve heard about them turning princes into frogs and such.”
Fana frowned and made a ‘sort-of or not exactly’ gesture. “Most Fey will follow those three laws, but not all. Also, they’ll follow them to the letter, not the spirit.”
“Okay so what about the first law? ‘Speak no false words.’” I inquired
“Generally Fey can not knowingly say something that is untrue, but that’s not the same as telling the truth. They’ll try to twist the words to give false impressions or to be misleading. The best way I found to counter this is to ask any vital questions three times in succession. The Fey will likely give away more than they intend to in trying to come up with three different answers.”
I frowned. “Most Fey are very long-lived, it’s quite likely any Fey we meet will be well versed in verbal duplicity. How about the second law, ‘Break no Oaths.’”
“The Fey can not willingly break a deal once it is set. However, they are very tricky about the deals they set. Often the price for something will seem much easier to repay than it will actually turn out to be. If someone fails to keep their deal with a Fey it will give them power over them, which is what the Fey truly seeks. Keep in mind giving or receiving gifts are considered to be open-ended deals! So give no gifts, and accept no gifts.”
“So interacting with Fey, in general, is a terrible idea,” I noted. Well, the third law seems helpful at least, “Harm no outsiders.”
Fana chuckled sardonically. “You would think so, but alas no. Fey are all parts of a ‘court’ usually either the ‘Court of Summer’ or the ‘Court of Winter’. They’re not allowed to harm anyone mortal or fey that is outside of their own court… unless slighted first, which is where it gets tricky. For example, openly carrying iron weapons for self-defense could be considered a slight. If a Fey wishes to harm you they’ll do everything they can to trick you into slighting them somehow, and what actions count in that regard are not well understood.”
I began to have doubts about our mission, perhaps we needed to find another way to reach Tiene’s maybe a more direct portal. “So with all of this trickery, and danger how is it you were able to travel to the Feywilds and back safely, Fana?”
She thought the question over for a moment before answering, it seemed as if she was struggling with how to phrase the answer. “Well… it was really an accident really. You see the Feywild can at times work according to a narrative logic.”
“‘Narrative’ as in like… one of your stories?” I gestured to the copy of ‘Hunter and Huntress’ on the table.
She nodded. “Indeed. The Feywilds will attempt to … reduce a person into archetypal characters over time. The valiant noble knight will become more and more heroic. The barbarian will become more and more dimwitted and violent.”
I frowned as I thought, (‘And the ranger with alternate probability viewing issues and a fear of rats will eventually be turned into an indecisive coward, no doubt.’) “So wait… this narrative thing ‘helped’ you?” I questioned with an overtone of disbelief.
Fana explained, “Yes, you see I had set the narrative unknowingly. I was the determined researcher set on a quest to find out the truth of the Feywild that became my story, my narrative. As such the Feywild tried to help that narrative. The Fey I encountered were more willing to help me.”
“Could my party and I do something similar?”
She shrugged. “Well perhaps. When I did it, it was sort of fluke so I can’t be sure… but if you go into the Fey with a specific mission in mind and keep yourself from being distracted from that mission it ‘could’ aid you greatly. You have to be careful though, everything in the Fey has its own narrative and will attempt to draw you into theirs. I would consider having a means of narratively shielding yourself from being drawn into other stories.”
I reasoned through what she said. “Okay… so if you go through the Feywild by being a determined researcher character, perhaps if I made myself another sort of character that could give me a measure of protection.”
Fana nodded. “That’s the idea, but I can’t promise you it will work.”
I thanked my sister for her time then left. I had an idea that could work but I would need to do some shopping first if I was going to pull it off.