Ancient Folklore, Arthurian Legend, Avalon, Celtic Folklore, Christian Folklore, Cockaigne, Eldorado, Fairies, Fey, Folklore, Fortunate Isles, Hy Brasil, Irish Legend, Isle of Youth, Magonia, Medieval Folklore, Otherworld, Tir na nOg, Welsh Legend
Concerning The Isles of the Otherworld
The separate realms of the Otherworld are termed Isles, and mostly lie in a great sea that seems to touch all the waterways of the mundane world. Usually mortals arrive in an Otherworld Isle by land, however, through portals located within ancient earthworks, or deep in lovely wild places. Countless stories tell of some hapless fellow who descended into the depths of an ancient barrow, only to find himself in a strange and wondrous landscape. From time-to time an Isle will even manifest in the seas of mundane world, to be accidentally discovered by unsuspecting mortals.
Like everything else connected to the Fairy Folk, the geography of the Isles is uncertain. Although it seems possible to circumnavigate an Isle, anyone landing ashore will find more territory than seems possible. Likewise, sailing around a Isle in a different direction will reveal a completely different shoreline. Since the Isles of the Otherworld lie in no definite place in ordinary space and time, navigating from one to another usually requires following bizarre and seemingly impossible directions. Likewise, there are paths on every Isle that lead to all the other Isles.
Each Isle of the Otherworld has its own King and Queen, and may also be home to the Kings and Queen of other Fairy Courts. For example, the Western Isle is home not only to the King and Queen of the Dead, but also the royalty of the Unseelie Court. In addition to the Fairy Folk themselves, the Isles are inhabited by the souls of the Honored Ancestors, and those mortals who the Good People have carried away.
Time follows a different course in the Isles of the Otherworld. Although a visitor may feel only a single day elapse, a year will have gone by in the mundane world. Likewise, the visitor may meet fellow mortals from many different epochs of the mundane world, as well as the souls of Honored Ancestors who have not yet died. It is not impossible that a visitor will meet their own soul!
Known Isles of the Otherworld include:
The Isle of Youth
The Isle of Youth is the favored retreat of the Kings and Queens of the Good Folk. Every Fairy noble maintains at least one pleasure palace there, where they ensconce their mortal lovers. All who step foot onto the Isle enjoy perpetual youth and good health, losing all physical imperfections and debilities of old age. Food is plentiful, and the forests are thick with game. In the center of the Isle is the great Plain of Joy, where the Honored Ancestors engage in sports and music. Anyone who seems to die on the Isle of Youth is instantly restored to life, and there is no such things as sickness, worry, or fear.
The Isle of Apples
The Isle of Apples is a fair realm of bountiful orchards, and grand castles made of colored glass. Delicious fruit is always in season, the weather is always balmy, and the sky is always a deep, clear blue. On account of the fantastical strongholds the land is also called The Isle of Glass. There beautiful Fairy women tend to fallen mortal warriors who were friends of the Good Folk in life. Fairy Warriors in gleaming silver mail duel in grand tournaments, and ride through the countryside in spectacular processions. Fairy Workmen craft enchanted weapons and armor, to be granted to mortal heroes. A mighty human king is said to dwell in the Isle of Apples, awaiting the time when he can return to the mundane world and reestablish his realm.
The Isle of Cakes
The Isle of Cakes is a realm of pure indulgence, where everything is made of delicious food that never spoils, and everyone is free is do as they please. Houses are made of gingerbread, and the ponds are beer and wine. It rains grated cheese onto hills of buttered noodles, and the wild flowers are made of sugar. There are no social distinctions in the Isle of Cakes, and even the King and Queen of the realm wander about without pomp or ceremony.
The Phantom Isle
The Phantom Isle seems to have strange sense of humor, taunting anyone who wishes to step onto it. It will suddenly appear out of mists, and just as quickly sink beneath the waves. It may keep itself always on the horizon, never drawing closer even if a ship sails directly towards it. If a visitor actually steps foot on the Phantom Isle, he will find that everything on it shares the tendency to suddenly appear and disappear, or to change shape. Naturally, the Isle is inhabited primarily by the Tricker Fairies, who will lose no opportunity to work mischief upon visitors. Those who laugh along with the jokes may find themselves eventually granted boons; those who try to harm the Good People will be subjected to horrible torments.
The Isle of the Warrior Queen
This beautiful Isle is inhabited by Fairy Warriors that take the forms of lovely, dark-skinned women. All the metal on the Isle of the Warrior Queen is gold, which there can occurs in a form as hard as steel. The amorous warrior-women decorate themselves with jewelry made from this gold, as well as with perfect pearls of every hue. The Isle of the Warrior Queen is tropically warm, and covered with palm trees and riotously colorful flowers. Most men (and some women) who go there do not return.
The City of the Golden Man
The City of the Golden Man is unique among the Isles of the Otherworld in that it always manifests within a lake, rather than on the sea. The City appears to be an island town of exotic architecture, made completely of gold, and inhabited by folk whose bodies are covered in golden powder and paint. The City of the Golden Man is said to only appear in the warmer regions of the mundane world, and finding it is an obsession of many mortal treasure hunters.
The Isle in the Sky
Unlike the other Isles of the Otherworld, the strange Isle in the Sky floats above the surface of the land and sea, often moving into the heavens above the mundane world. The Good Folk who inhabit the Isle in the Sky build strange contraptions to visit the lands below. These flying machines sometimes resemble the ocean-going ships of the mundane world, but just as often they take the form of gigantic air-bladders from which ornate cabins hang, or round metal chariots that move without any visible means of propulsion. Those who inhabit the Isle in the Sky seem to be particularly fond of absconding with things from the mundane world, whether people, livestock, or crops. Likewise, they often create strange circles of flattened plants in grasslands or crop fields, for reasons comprehensible only to themselves. Stories say that the inhabitants of the Isle in the Sky are skilled in controlling the weather, and can be bribed by mortal magicians to create storms, or clear unwanted clouds.
The Western Isle
The Western Isle, also known as the Land of the Dead, is the home of the frightful Fairy Bugaboos. Commonly reached through gates located in ancient burial grounds, it is a shocking place for most mortal visitors. At first the Western Isle appears to be a dark nether realm of graves and tombs, filled with grotesque monsters and grisly walking corpses. The Western Isle is not a place or torment or fear, however. Here the most terrifying monsters play like puppies under the full moon. The dead sing ribald songs and joyously dance among their graves, reveling in their rotted and gruesome bodies. At grand banquets the dead gleefully feast on worms and slime as if they were fine delicacies, and debate the merits of various vintages of pus. Sometimes someone’s eyeball or viscera is flung across the table, starting a rollicking flesh-fight. In the Western Isle all the fears and restrictions of the mundane world are gone, and the dead can freely indulge themselves. Living visitors should beware of meeting of deceased former lovers…
There are, of course, many other Isles of the Otherworld beside the ones outlined above. Not all Isles are directly accessible from all times in the mundane world, however.