Once upon a time, longer ago than almost any story ever told, men and women and children spread out from the birthplace of their species all over the surface of Earth over many thousands of years. Their culture was nothing like it is today. They lived in caves lit dimly by the flickering lights of fires, and they hunted the beasts of the woods and plains using spears of wood and stone.
The world was alien to them, and wild. Every day they saw things they did not comprehend, and these they attributed to people they did not understand – gods, spirits and faeries. In their imaginations and in their dreams they gave life to them – to us.
Thus we were born and we walked the lands of the ancient world. We lived and worked alongside them, yet in a sense we remained apart for they were but small groups in our big wide world.
Years passed, thousands of years. Humans advanced so very slowly, for they had so little knowledge of the Glamour that we take for granted. But eventually, they created something that would change our relationship forever.
From iron they made ploughs, and with ploughs they made farms, and on these farms they settled. Slowly but surely, they tamed the land and made it bow to their will. It was no longer wild, it was no longer ours.
And from iron they made swords, and with swords they made armies, and with armies they founded empires. They went further still than taming the land for their survival, they made it theirs.
We retreated, for we had no choice. That land was theirs, and so we returned to the place that was exclusively ours. Arcadia.
Our relationship with them had changed, but it was not lost. Belief in us remained strong, even though the human folk encountered us less and less. Our world and theirs continued to change apace, each one affecting the other – for what are Arcadia and the human world but strange parallels of each other?
In time, the era known as the Middle Ages came to human civilisation, and with it they brought change to Arcadia as well. Over time our land became like theirs, with a king and queen and noble houses, territories, armies and peasants, just like it is today. All of Arcadia was ruled over by King Oberon and Queen Titania, beneath them the Council sat, then all the Dukes and Duchesses of the Houses, all the way down to the lowliest farmer.
It was not that anyone thought this way good or bad, it was just the way things were. And it worked. Humans still dreamed of us, wrote plays and poetry and songs about us, and all was well. For a while.
Not too long later by our standards, the game changed again. The Enlightenment, they call it now, the triumph of science and reason. They stopped believing in us, preoccupied as they were with war and revolution and engineering.
We feared the worst. “The Long Winter”, our philosophers called it, though commonly we just called it “Winter”. We were always scared that the time would come when we were destroyed as easily as we were created, when we were wished away as unnecessary. It came then, with the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. Our world chilled, long winters only barely giving way to damp, cool summers. Then one year, summer didn't come. The ground froze, frost crackling up every flower and tree until the whole of Arcadia was dark and inhospitable.
The Winter had come, the Winter from which we thought we would never escape. One by one, we froze too.
But of course, you may say, we're not frozen any more, are we? We most certainly are not. The ice thawed, eventually. Humans believed again.
They have these things, now. Things that help them dream. Movies, televisions, computers. They had hippies and punks and goths. They remembered what it was like to be something, to share that something around, to tell others. They dream of us once more.
Winter is gone. Spring has come at last to Arcadia.
But it didn't come without cost, did it? The nobles and our houses are back, the peasants and their farms are back, glamour is back. But the King and Queen? Gone, as far as anybody can tell. Either they didn't make it through Winter, or… who knows. Maybe it's best not to speculate. But of course we need a King and Queen, don't we? The Council all seemed to have survived, 13 in all. It would make sense for two of them, or their wives or husbands, to assume the roles. But yet… they couldn't decide just who.
Hence, of course, the war. The war has raged back and forth for three years now, with no sign of when it might end or even if it has an end.
Times are dark indeed for the people of Arcadia. We shall all have to try for a “happily ever after”, but for now… I can promise nothing.