While it is impossible for the human (or changeling) mind to fully understand the alien and convoluted whims of one of the True Fae, there seem to be several common motivations for the Fae to take human “wards.” Though Keepers may not have any single motivation for what they do, the Lost have pulled from their mutual disjointed memories what they believe to be several primary roles that changelings are “encouraged” to play.
Many folktales speak of the Fae’s inability to have children of their own, and a resulting fascination with human babes. These stories, however, are more likely than not the wishful thinking of parents who believe their children have been taken; thinking that they have been stolen because of the parental longings of their new “family” is far more reassuring than believing them killed, neglected or treated as slaves. Unfortunately for changelings, the truth is less comforting. While some have vague memories of being treated roughly akin to a member of a fae family, the reality was far more “red-haired stepchild” than “beloved heir to all you survey.”
Likewise, while romantic tales have been spun of the Fae falling in love with mortals and sweeping them off to serve as consorts, the realities of such tales are far from idyllic. Some changelings, especially those who were seduced across the Hedge, may have been concubines to their Keepers, but the role was scarcely more romantic than that of an abducted sex slave to a mortal master. The Fae are fickle beings with no real ability to empathize with a lover’s wants or needs. They might have played at being attentive and “considerate” from time to time, but only for as long as it seemed fashionable or amusing.
Other changelings, especially those who were taken later in life, seem to have been chosen to continue their mortal roles for their new Fae patron. Child prodigies, cunning inventors and philosophers have been snatched to serve in the laboratories, naves and libraries of Faerie, while writers, poets, singers and musicians are abducted for their Keepers’ entertainment. Cooks and craftsmen, those with a knack for working with metal or plants or taming wild animals have all found their services come to the attention of the True Fae, and found themselves stolen away for their use.
Perhaps most confusing, at least for the victims, are those who seem to have been taken for no particular reason whatsoever. They may be pressed into service in their Keepers’ guardian forces, or set to scrubbing their floors — tasks that certainly could have been filled as easily (and certainly more efficiently) by fae underlings or through the use of Fae magics. Whether these individuals were truly chosen at random, or whether their Keepers had some greater plan that was beyond human kenning, is uncertain.
A Beast would have spent her time in Faerie with the mind (and sometimes the form) of an animal. There is no real consciousness of the past in this state, only the eternal vivid present. Because of that, a Beast’s memories of his time with his Keeper are fragmentary and blurred, snatches of vivid colors, a vibrant swirl of hunger, pain, fear, violence and sex. Beasts who escape sometimes have vivid dreams of their durances. A dream disturbs and terrifies, and the Beast often wakes screaming as the dreams fade almost instantly.
The Darklings’ memories of their time in Faerie are awash with shadowy fears. Vague, hulking forces loomed from the corner of the room. Small skittering things crawled across faces or became momentarily tangled in hair before dissolving. Wet, slithering things moved around in the background. Trapdoors and boarded windows with something behind them figure heavily in dreams of Faerie. Being sent on errands with no point, being forced to copy ancient codices of lore that made no sense while outside things shrieked and fluttered, being made to enter a cellar and being eaten, over and over again, being lost in mazes: all of these things feature heavily in Darkling dreams of Faerie. The dark places of the human world don’t remotely compare.
While most other Lost became the way they did through simply living in a Faerie’s home and eating Faerie food and doing Faerie work, the Elementals were often deliberately changed, transformed into slaves of some kind or another, or features of the land until one day, they awoke to themselves and realized they had to escape. Their memories of Faerie are often difficult to understand. Some know that once, they understood what it was to be a tree, or a stone or a mound of earth. Some remember being lost to enchantment, becoming a clockwork doll or a lover made of ice. Others recall being lost in an environment now alien to them: perhaps the changeling served as a manservant in a flying city of glass or a blazing city made all of brass.
The Fairest find that the memories of their time in Faerie are brief, fragmentary. The Fairest have dreams of self-annihilating ecstasy, of perfect pleasure, intercut with moments of horror and fear. Romantic interludes segue into hellish agonies. A bed covered with radiant blossoms is suddenly drenched in blood, the flowers becoming hooks and chains that rend and tear. The perfect body, only glimpsed in fragments, becomes as cold as crushing stone. Threads of fragrant hair that cover the dreamer’s face become strands of razor-sharp wire that slice his face away. And when the changeling wakes up, he screams and he doesn’t know if he’s screaming in agony or in bliss.
Ogres’ memories of their time in Faerie are often clearer than those of other changelings. Kidnapped by monsters, the Ogres became monsters. Some were forced to subsist on raw flesh. Some were chained to the hearth and forced to cook for awful masters. Some scrubbed floors until their knees grew scales. Some were made to fight. Some were chained up in dungeons and fattened up for the pot. All were abused in some way, and Ogres sometimes have flashbacks of verbal and physical abuse, brief painful moments where they relive in their heads the impact of a fist or foot, or the sting of a verbal barb.
The Wizened bring back disjointed memories of random cruelties, of being the butt of tricks and experiments that seemed hilarious to the Fae, even if they couldn’t appeal to any human sense of humor. Many Wizened dimly recall trying to escape over and over again, each time being outwitted by their spiteful captors, perhaps at times being allowed to think they had escaped before the fact that they were in Faerie all along was revealed.
- Changeling: The Lost (Rulebook), p. 23-25, 101, 105, 109, 113, 117, 121