Among the Fae, social structures are not only complicated but actually hold weight within the world. Affiliations, Oaths, and allegiances have physical manifestations that influence the world and augment the powers, abilities, and appearances of every individual within the Faen. Many Fae are unaligned and some merely co-operate with whichever power holds sway in their area but for those who are part of a Fae court things become considerably more complicated.
The courts are divided in two ways. First is by season: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter with Spring and Summer working in tandem with each other while Autumn and Winter do the same. Then there are Seelie and Unseelie, while no Fae can truly be considered “good” or “evil” by the moral standards of most mortals the Seelie courts are often considered to be “more good” than the Unseelie because of their affiliation with the light and open court intrigue. The Unseelie courts prefer the night and secrecy with the various unsavory things that can be engaged in with both. Individual Courts led by Fae Lords and Ladies are characterized as “Seelie Spring” or “Unseelie Autumn” and so on. Spring and Summer tend toward Seelie more often than Unseelie while Autumn and Winter are opposite though neither are exclusive to each other.
And while this might all be complicated to keep straight it’s usually something that only the Fae have to worry about, even those that deal with the Fae intermittently are usually able to keep such dealings to an individual basis without having to entangle themselves with the complex politics those of the Faen engage in. Usually.
Changelings and Half-Fae are notable exceptions.
Changelings are mortals kidnapped from the physical world to be enslaved within the Faen. The Fae view themselves as higher creatures and as such have no moral qualms with putting mortal races to work for them through force or coercion. The Seelie tend to be more even handed with the practice, viewing themselves as benevolent masters who have “chosen” or “rescued” such mortals from otherwise banal existences. The Unseelie are more straight forward in their need for hard labor, pit fighters, or sex toys. The Faen is permeated with strange magical energies that mortal bodies aren’t equipped to deal with for prolonged periods but the Faen also appears to have something of a primitive consciousness to it as well.
Those who linger in the Faen for too long find their bodies changed or warped, often in a way that is suited to the tasks they’re initially pushed into. Pit fighters can become stronger or more durable while those taken for sex see their breasts enlarged or their flexibility enhanced. Once the changes are completed the Changeling is able to live within the Faen for longer periods of time without suffering mental deterioration, though not indefinitely. A Changelings courtly nature usually aligns with that of their master’s, as its the most likely way that they’re to survive. Those serving Unseelie Autumn Fae find themselves made to be Unseelie Autumn as well.
Half-Fae have it arguably worse than Changelings do. Half-Fae can not live in either the physical world or the Faen for too long and have to spend time in both for long periods of their lives in order to keep themselves mentally stable. This puts them into direct contact with the political machinations of their Fae relatives whether they like it or not on one side and places them in a place of flux on the other. Some Half-Fae find the constancy of the Faen to be more of a home than the mortal world and chafe at it’s dynamic shifts and altered allegiances over the “short” periods of decades or centuries. Others despise the unchanging ways of the Faen and the static nature of its occupants, desiring the progress that linear time brings in the mortal world.
In either case, Half-Fae will also struggle with their inner natures. They are neither made as the Faen intended nor able to truly choose their own path. Some are so torn by their own nature that they are capable of doing what no true Fae or Changeling can ever do lightly, change courts. Usually any Fae creature is bound to a court they choose for extended periods of time, with any change being born of world altering or catastrophic circumstances. Changes allegiances in courts is just not done that often among the Fae. Half-Fae however can be part of Spring in their 20’s and become Winter in their 60’s. But the changes for Fae usually occur along the Seelie-Unseelie access.
Gwendolyn of the Platinum Feather is such a half-fae. Originally born as a Seelie Spring Court Fae, Gwen eventually had to venture out into the world to secure mortal alliances and resources for her shrinking noble house. Being half human and half Veela she was particularly well suited to the task of moving between the realms. Initially she disliked the idea of leaving the Faen, but after a short time in Zelmesca she began to adapt…until she was taken by Myanna.
While she was with Myanna, Gwen was exposed to a great deal of things she’d not known previously. She was treated the way a Fae might treat a Changeling and was exposed to forms of decadence and excess at the expense of others (or her own expense) that she’d not been exposed to before. Her appetites grew dark and eventually Gwen’s nature shifted to Unseelie. Eventually when she would free herself from Myanna, Gwen shifted back to a Seelie nature and tried to move on. But within her there was an Unseelie self that hungered for the things she had with Myanna, who was not forever a part of who Gwen was.
Now Gwen struggles with both natures, trying to operate as a Seelie Fae out of duty to her family but harboring deep and powerful desires to be Unseelie and live a life like Myanna’s and keeping it as secret as she possibly can for fear of reprisal from the Seelie courts with which she is aligned.