Leannán Sí (Seelie)
The leannán sí, or “fairy lover”, is a beautiful fae who takes a human lover, granting them inspiration in exchange for their life force - a sort of vampiric muse. English speakers often drop the “si”, shortening the name to “leannan”. (In fact, speakers of many other non-Celtic languages also do this, taking their cue from English.) In Welsh, they are usually referred to as awen drasig, meaning “tragic muse”, though they do not appear much in Welsh folklore and are often not explicitly identified as such when they do.
- Leannans are skilled shapeshifters who typically tailor their appearance to the human they choose to target, selecting features that their target will see as beautiful - not cute or sexy, but simply beautiful. A leannan also has four wings, similar to those of a dragonfly. They are significantly smaller than the wings of a shyde, and compared to those of certain pixies, they are longer but proportionally smaller overall. In addition, they taper suddenly to a point near the end.
- Life Cycle
- A new-born leannan appears to be a human of around twelve or thirteen, usually female. The newborn remains with its parent for up to eight years before reaching maturity, during which time their body grows much as a human would. After this, a leannan’s body stops aging, which makes it difficult to guage how long they can live since they rarely share their true age. After draining between two and six victims, a leannan gains a pregnant appearance (even when taking a male form), which lasts two to four months, after which they exhale a mass of smoky energy which, over the course of about an hour, settles into the form of a newborn leannan.
- The favourite “food” of a leannan is the life force of a human. However, they often eat human food as well, both with their human lover (for example on a romantic dinner date) and in lieu of a lover. A leannan without a lover typically has four to six meals a day, as human food does not satisfy them nearly as much as human life force. They will eat almost anything, but are born with a mild distaste for meat which many never overcome.
- From around six years of age, leannans start to learn to change their form as they wish. They can assume almost any human form, limited only by their imagination, and can remain in an alternate form for up to a day. As they get older and more skilled, they learn to hold a form for longer. They also have the power to know what a human finds beautiful, as well as their draining kiss which sucks life out of their human victim while at the same time stimulating their imagination. The kiss can be anywhere on the body, but mouth-to-mouth is the most effective. The sensation of being drained is also mildly addictive.
- Society and Culture
- Leannans view humanity only as a source of sustenance. They select targets largely arbitrarily, though usually only those who already have some artistic or creative leanings, and favour men between the ages of twenty and forty (however, women are also potential targets). Though commonly known as “fairy lovers”, leannans do not always have a romantic relation with their target, as what someone finds to be beautiful may not always align with what they are attracted to. They rarely engage in sexual relations with their targets, though on the rare occasions that they do so in a female form, they can bear children in the normal human manner. They do not understand the concept of love, and will ruthlessly abandon their target if they become too weak to provide decent sustenance. An victim rarely survives much longer once abandoned. Leannans are typically solitary and do not get along well with others of their kind.
- Brief History
- For a long time, leannans did not have representation on the Seelie Court and thus were unseelie fae. This changed around the ninth or tenth century CE when a leannán sí named Clíodhna became the Faerie Queen. She appointed several other leannans to the Court, and since then, they have managed to maintain their status in the Court even in the face of at least two attempts to expel them.
A devious trickster and thief of souls, the kakodaimon is the stereotypical demonic character. In the past half century or so, they have come to be known colloquially as “devils”, possibly due to the influence of RPGs such as Dungeons and Dragons.
- Primarily human in size and form, with bat-like wings, curved black horns, double-pointed ears, and spade-tipped tail. The wings and tail are red, but the rest of their skin is of a standard human tone.
- Life Cycle
- Devils reproduce in the same way that humans do, with their basic life cycle stretched by a factor of two - puberty hits around the age of twenty-four to thirty, and they are fully mature around age forty. After that, devils age a lot more slowly than humans, rarely showing wrinkles before the age of two hundred. Their hair starts to turn silver around this time, and an average devil can live about four to five hundred years, even if they never gather any souls. A devil who gathers many souls can live a lot longer, but exactly how long is unknown.
- Devils have a preference for meat, especially red meat, but also eat a fair amount of vegetables. They tend to avoid sweet things, whether fruit or confectionery.
- A devil’s only inherent supernatural power is their silver tongue, a mild compulsion that they use to convince their targets that making a pact with them is a good idea. However, most devils also study magic, and often become quite powerful as mages. Due to their practice of absorbing souls, it is possible for a devil to possess a Gift, though mages in general tend to be harder to tempt due to having a better understanding of the stakes.
- Society and Culture
- Devils yearn to gain power by absorbing the souls of unfortunate humans (they also occasionally target djinn and other non-fae species). In pursuit of this goal, they typically select a target and approach with a genial attitude, tempting them with the offer of a single wish. They avoid mentioning at this stage that they expect a soul in exchange for the wish, unless the target outright asks what the cost is. If the target does agree to a wish, the devil makes sure that their target understands the cost, but attempts to downplay it, implying that a soul isn’t really as important as people think. Once the agreement is sealed, the devil melds the target’s soul into their own and proceeds to make the desired wish come true. Over time, the victim’s personality also blends with the devil’s into a single unified mind; just how long this takes depends on the victim’s strength of will. Once the blending is complete, the victim is no longer a distinct person from the devil, functioning only as an extra body that the devil can use in its nefarious plans.
- If a victim is found before their personality has fully blended with the devil’s, there are two ways to potentially salvage their personality, effectively saving their life if successful. Neither method has a high success rate, however. The simplest method is to blast the victim’s soul (which after the soulmeld is really just a proxy of the devil’s own soul) with antimagic. However, the chance of the victim surviving this is almost nil. The second way involves a somewhat complex magical ritual known as “animectomy” which strips the victim of their soul (again, the soul in question is really a proxy of the devil’s, so what this really does is sever the link between the devil’s soul and the victim’s body). The success rate of animectomy is around three percent, though the sample size is small - the ritual is a recent development, and fewer than a hundred have gone through it.
- Brief History
- One of the most famous devils is Mephistopheles, who is known to have negotiated with a man (generally assumed to be named Faust or Fust) in fifteenth or sixteenth century Germany, becoming his familiar for a number of years in exchange for his soul. Mephistopheles is believed to still be alive in the twenty-first century.
- Kakodaimons should not be confused with the other source of devil stories, the djinn. In particular, the Devil as a proper noun (also, Satan) refers not to any kakodaimon but to a djinn named Iblis who was born around ten thousand years ago. Kakodaimons, on the other hand, are a much younger race, probably less than three thousand years old.