THE QUEEN OF THE FAERIES
Come follow, follow me,
You fairy elves that be;
And circle round this green,
Come follow me, your Queen.
Hand in hand let's dance a round,
for this place is fairy ground.
Anyonymous - THE QUEEN OF FAIRIES
The Fey are ruled by the Queen, and she is as near to omnipotent as one can get. Her word is Law. Big time. But she seldom exercises this power, at least not drastically. So quite a lot of the political maneuvering takes place on the lower levels, though there are always people trying to suck up to her to gain favours. At the bottom line, though, she isn't all that prominent in the unfolding stories. She's like the geography: Background. Important to have around, yes, but that's about it.
It should be noted that she is the final arbiter in all cases of faerie law and order. If she proclaims that a certain trade agreement shall fall to house Mrriv, it will. If she decrees that a mortal man shall be treated as their king for the next year, the faeries will treat him as one. This is one of the reasons that all fey in existence try to be on her good side.
On all occasions the Queen acts as a focal point, but on certain special festivities she is also at the center of some special arrangements. She is usually the one to judge the winner and award the prize, something which brings great prestige. She is sometimes the one to bring a gift to all the invited, and sometimes she dances with all the guests. It depends on the occasion, and the faerie social calendar is quite complicated. Since they do not follow the earth year, or even the earthly custom of static time at all, it can be quite difficult to ever establish any set pattern for these parties that mortals can recognize.
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moone's sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green.
The position of Queen is, contrary to popular belief, not hereditary. Whenever a Queen dies (or, even more seldom, abdicates) the race begins. Every single female fey with ambition begin gathering support from her friends and family. Everybody wants a piece of the cake, yet anyone who ends up backing the losing horse could suffer from their error for many centuries to come. Therefore only those candidates whom people believe can win the throne are widely supported. If the choice is unanimous, the candidate is crowned Queen. To this date no known fey has been crowned without bitter competition.
As long as there are two or more candidates for the throne the battle continues. Fey society is fractured along political lines, and open hostilities often break out. Assasination attempts at both would-be Queens are commonplace, and her most loyal supporters aren't safe from danger either. Feuds often flare up, since there is no Queen to stop them. This interregnum is perhaps the most chaotic period in Fey society, and most of them wish for it to end as soon as possible, so a very swift method has been devised to determine who will become Queen.
They have a contest.
Almost all of the Seelie Court, from the lowliest Brownie to the loftiest Sidhe, begin to trek to the ancient battleground. There they begin the extended preparaitons, building stands and erecting tents, and in general arranging for one heckuva party. At a predetermined date the candindates with sufficient backing from the rest of the community enters the arena, to begin the Three Trials. The eldest of each house gather there too, to act as a panel of judges. If the previous Queen is still alive she will also join the panel, with her vote counting thrice (she's the Queen, after all).
The first test is about the Arts, and the contestants must compete with each other in song, dance and poetry. The poetry battles alone are legendary, since the term battle is quite justified in this instance. The poems often end up as piercingly acerbic verses about the questionable status and habits of the opponent, and in a few instances the whole business has been ended by the Battle of Verses alone, since the assaulted combatant lost all support due to the allegations and verbal assaults directed against her.
The second test is one of magic, and all would-be Queens must show their prowess with glamour. This tends to be the most visually stunning part of the trials, but also the one which weighs the least in the final desicion.
The third and last test is one of wits, and the panel tests the intelligence and wisdom of the ladies. Quite a lot of convoluted logic and trick questions are presented here, for the Fey will not allow a fool to rule them (on a permanent basis, at least). Riddles and rhymes are the most standard presentation form here, and if one manages to present the answer in like manner extra credit is won.
After all the tests are completed the panel retreats to have a furious debate and a vote. They then reappear and proclaim one of the candidates as the new Queen. Then the festival can begin, and for three weeks the merrymaking reigns across the Seelie lands.
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