An Invitation Wrapped In Chains

My most dear lady, most serene huntress,   I tend to my bosom the token which you left with me when you were last my most beloved guest, and pray that this missive finds you thinking of me.  
— Excerpt from the invitation
  Delivered within a gilded cage, the aged envelope is held shut by a delicate silver chain wrapped many times around it and held in place by the wax seal. Red like blood, the seal is marked with the symbol of a stylized cage, encircled by a length of chain. It is an invitation by the Countess of Cages and Chains, a powerful Fae archlady and currently ruler of the Faelands, to visit her in the Beyond. Each letter is deeply personalized to the person receiving it, though only one such invitation can exist at a time.  
Long have we been apart, but never are you far from my thoughts. Whatever cruel fate time may have in store for us, they are memories that I shall cherish always. In my heart, I know that you feel the same and long for me also.  
— Excerpt from the invitation
The letter itself is an ancient parchment of good quality, faintly scented with an intoxicating fragrance of a hard-to-place nature. The calligraphy is exquisite and prone to flowery, old language, written in whatever language the recipient knows best.   Once another is written, the previous letter disintegrates into a pile of perfumed ashes that no magic can repair. Once withdrawn, such an offer is seldom repeated.
  Past the prose, the letter offers an invitation to her palace in the Faelands, promising either leisure, a relaxing visit, or terrible torment in the same tone - sometimes, all three in the same letter. As one of the most powerful Fae in the Beyond, there are few wishes that the Countess couldn't fulfill, if she so chose. Terrible and beautiful, there are equally few who can deny her.   Almost unique among all the wonders of the Fae, the letter acts as both a Gate and a Key, opening to the outskirts of the Faelands upon accepting the invitation.    
I have enclosed within this letter a lock of my hair, so that you may hold it and think of me.  
— Excerpt from the invitation
  Once in the Faelands, the invited party is met by a retinue of Hobgoblins to guide them to the Countess. The journey is never without peril - no trip into the Beyond ever is - with jealous rivals, angry beasts, and other trials invariably blocking the way. Although the letter is enough to give the traveler safe passage and keep them safe from Fae, most who delight in treating the Countess's guest as their own, its protection is not complete.  
Some Fae will harass the invited, simply for a chance to cause trouble. As they do, other Fae are quick to ride to the invited's "rescue", embroiling them in a series of duels of honor, minor skirmishes, or outright wars as the Fae gleefully seize at the chance for some drama.   It's speculated by some magi that the journey is integral to some part of Fae nature, something that limits even the Archlords and ladies of the Fae. Whatever binds them, it does so tightly, and no visit to the Countess lacks trials for the invited to best.   Who the Countess invites and why can only be guessed at. Some are survivors of the Wild Hunt or victims of her past affections.
I cannot live another day without the blessing of your smile, and humbly submit to you this heartfelt invitation once more to come to my home and into my arms. A thousand pleasures await you here with me, a thousand more should you chose to stay.   I know you still prowl the world in your search, my dear huntress, and even if you shan't stay long, every moment together would be my most dear wish.  
— Excerpt from the invitation
  Others have never met her, or even any Fae, before finding the letter delivered to them. Most of the time, she is coy about her desires and shrouds them in temptation, while some of her invitations might state her intentions openly - but only a fool trust the word of a Fae.  
I wish fervently that this letter finds you soon, and that you remember the time we once shared. As always, no matter how sweet your screams are, I have made my pact with you once more, that no pain shall befall you when you are with me. I will make you scream in other ways, my darling huntress.  
— Excerpt from the invitation
What the Countess truly wants from those she invites, only they know. Only a few have admitted to accepting her invitation, and each have returned, more or less intact. In the end, they all get swept up in the great games of the Fae during their stay, but some return with powerful artifacts or magic boons.   Though few would call her benevolent, promises made within the letter are honored, leading some to believe it functions as a sort of pact in addition to everything else.
  Currently, a Walker and former prey of the Wild Hunt named Amelia Korp holds the letter, and has done so for quite some time. Almost singularly unique among all who have been invited, Amelia has even thrown the letter away only to have it delivered once more. Whatever the Countess wants from the Walker, she wants it enough to weather rejection.  
Last, I make this vow, that I desire no one but you.   Yours forever,  
— The Countess, signed with a kiss on the letter
by Pixabay
 

Faelands

Fae live in the part of the Beyond called the Faelands, a kingdom of wonder and nightmare they've carved from magic and dying gods.   It is a realm of horror and magic, of majestic wonder and terrors not found anywhere else. Within primordial woods and industrial nightmares of pipes and choking gas, the Fae hold court and drown their boredom. The Countess is one of the Archlords and Ladies of that realm, a being of almost unimaginable power.  
Faelands
Geographic Location | Jul 17, 2021

Deep within the Beyond, the Faelands beckon through dreams and ill-omen. It is a land of wild and primal power, lust and whim unfettered, emotions untamed.

 

Hobgoblins

The Fae share their lands with a thousand kinds of slaves, collectively known as hobgoblins. Every Fae has their own cadre of Hobgoblins at their beck and call, able to create them with a passing thought and thinking just as little about destroying them again.   The greatest among the Fae have entire legions of Hobgoblins bound to their will, using them for anything from waging war to erecting monuments to entertainment and experimentation.   These lesser spirits have all the malice and whimsy of their lords, but only a fraction of their power.  
Hobgoblins
Species | Jul 11, 2021

A minor fae spirit-creature, imbued with all the malice of their greater kin but only a fraction of the power... Or smarts.

 
The Countess Hobgoblins are varied, but all feature her signatures in some fashion - heads trapped in cages, chains used as weapons, and so on. Some ape her elegance, while others play the rule of the subservient brute.
 

In Full

 
My most dear lady, most serene huntress, I tend to my bosom the token which you left with me when you were last my most beloved guest, and pray that this missive finds you thinking of me. Long have we been apart, but never are you far from my thoughts. Whatever cruel fate time may have in store for us, they are memories that I shall cherish always. In my heart, I know that you feel the same and long for me also.   I have enclosed within this letter a lock of my hair, so that you may hold it and think of me. Until we are together again, I hope it will serve to remind you of me, and as a token of my undying affection for you. Never shall those feelings diminish, and no words from you can hide what I know to be the truth, my lovely huntress.   Even now, I am thinking of you. As this letter finds its way to you, so too do my hopes and prayers that you still do what you do so well. I have watched you continue your hunt from afar, watched every life you take and secret you ferret from the wicked.   I cannot live another day without the blessing of your smile, and humbly submit to you this heartfelt invitation once more to come to my home and into my arms. A thousand pleasures await you here with me, a thousand more should you choose to stay.   I know you still prowl the world in your search, my dear huntress, and even if you shan't stay long, every moment together would be my most dear wish.   Do you remember? When I laid you down in that sunlit garden of dreams and caressed your scars, and we -  
ALRIGHT, that's quite enough of that.  
— Amelia Korp, probably blushing furiously
  Others call you maimed, but I call you only beautiful. I know your scars can still bring you suffering, my beloved huntress, and know that those who inflicted them on you suffer even greater pains. Never have they seen the outside of my dungeons, and they never will. Their fate is an eternity of agony.   I wish fervently that this letter finds you soon, and that you remember the time we once shared. As always, no matter how sweet your screams are, I have made my pact with you once more, that no pain shall befall you when you are with me. I will make you scream in other ways, my darling huntress.   Last, I make this vow, that I desire no one but you.   Yours forever,   The Countess, signed with a kiss on the letter
  Among those who go, some return with a potent artifact bestowed upon the Countess's most favored: a kiss, branded onto flesh as if with red-hot iron.  
The Countess's Favor
Item | Jul 13, 2021

A kiss that marks the the skin like white-hot iron, promising power and favor to those who recieve it, and a temptation to return to the Countess's tender mercies.



Cover image: by Unsplash

Comments

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Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
13 Jul, 2021 10:09

I absolutely love the letter and the language you use in it, this is really beautiful writing! I like the way you've presented the article, with little excerpt to illustrate your points and then the letter at the end to get the full impact :D   The fae stay my fav an I really like this Countess and her relationship with Amelia :D I love how the fae create troubles for guests and then other come play the rescuers :p

To see what I am up to, here is my civilisation challenge article.
15 Jul, 2021 16:59

Thank you so much :'D   I'm glad to hear that, and Amelia is definitely getting her novel now... Sooner or later! :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
13 Jul, 2021 10:27

Fans self. Nicely done Q!

15 Jul, 2021 16:51

Thank you :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
13 Jul, 2021 10:31

Oh very well done Q! That letter, too! Your flowery language research paid off!   I love this so much.

Lead Author of Vazdimet.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
15 Jul, 2021 16:51

Thank you :D Yeah definitely, I'm really happy with how it turned out :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
13 Jul, 2021 10:41

Yeees, the language in the letter is great!! Amazing job, Q! I love all the background to the letter too, particularly the fact that if she writes another the letter will disintegrate.

15 Jul, 2021 16:54

Thank you! :D Yeah I'm super happy with how it ended up :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Master Brinsmead
Caitlin Phillips
13 Jul, 2021 10:42

I adore this letter - I love the language in it: so thrilling but dangerous at the same time. It was brilliant to see the letter excerpts to illustrate your points, before being able to read it in full.   I love the idea of the letter acting as both a gate and a key. Such a fascinating, unique idea! Excellent article.

Cait x
15 Jul, 2021 16:51

Thank you - I am super happy how the lette turned out. Thank you foryour help :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
13 Jul, 2021 12:29

This is an awesome, unique approach to the Letter or Message prompt! Too cool! I love that the Lady has locked up for eternity those who harmed Amelia, and the interesting tidbit that she's weathering rejection and has seemingly infinite--and tolerant--patience for her to visit. :D It sure SOUNDS like a suitor who cares for her, but indeed, missives from the Fae are fraught with danger! Will Amelia get an adventure to delve into the Faelands and wind through its dangers to visit the Countess, I wonder....


You are doing a great job! Keep creating; I believe in you!
Luridity: Love is love, and chivalry is most certainly not dead. A galaxy of sweet, silly, sensual & downright sexy characters, their lives, & their loves. Contains NSFW content.
15 Jul, 2021 16:56

Thank you very much :D   Who knows, maybe we'll have to write some stories about these two! ;D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
13 Jul, 2021 12:34

OMG! My favorite of your articles so far. Left me wanting to receive one of my own letters!

15 Jul, 2021 16:54

Thank you very much :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
13 Jul, 2021 12:43

I don't understand why Amelia didn't accept yet! What is she waiting for?

14 Jul, 2021 06:41

A safeword, maybe? :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
13 Jul, 2021 15:49

Such an amazing article, I love the Fae theme you are traveling watching these closely with offering of milk and sweets in the window.


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14 Jul, 2021 06:40

Thank you :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
13 Jul, 2021 17:04

Woah, what a letter :O I loved the winding and slow buildup to it -- both in language, and in layout. Splicing in parts of the letter throughout the main text before getting to the letter is excellent. Excellent work, Q :D


Cathedris, the world of God-husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
14 Jul, 2021 06:40

Thank you :D I'm super happy with how it turned out


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Sage PanAndPaper
AS Lindsey (Pan)
15 Jul, 2021 09:53

Beautiful prose as always; you're right to be proud of this one! I need to know more about the Countess, and why she's so powerful.   Also, got a good chuckle from "— Amelia Korp, probably blushing furiously"

Drake's Dozen | Magic and Tech and Identity, oh my.

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15 Jul, 2021 16:49

Thank you very much :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
16 Jul, 2021 07:14

Oh my gods Q this is so fascinating! I've quietly slipped this link to one of my DM's since the party is planning to go to the Feywild in hopes of reconnecting with one party member's long lost love. I have no idea how dark he's planning to go with it, but he's been talking about needing inspiration and this is just so cool.

17 Jul, 2021 06:54

Aw, thank you very much :D Let me know how that goes!   I am pretty dang happy with how the Fae are turning out in Shedim!


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
1 Apr, 2022 15:38

Oh boy, that letter was such a read! I will be honest, I didn't realise at first that the smaller quotes were part of the same letter, I thought they were examples of letters received by different people - The realisation was an interesting moment!   I can only wonder what Amelia did to the Countess for her to desire her visit so intensely...   (BTW: There seems to have been a copy-paste slip in the full letter, the phrase "I have enclosed within this letter a lock of my hair (...)" is repeated ;) )

5 Apr, 2022 09:33

Thank you :D   And whoopos.. I'll fix that :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.