This week I wrote Origins, the folklore that is passed down through the generations on where Shifters came from. Like any origin story it only has part of the truth, but its the truth the Shifters needed to develop their sense of identity and shared history to develop as a race. This story may or may not end up in my current WIP, I don’t want to info dump on the reader though I will take bits and pieces to provide context.

I love my origin story and thought I would share it here as a tantalizing insight to the universe I am creating and I hope you enjoy.

P.S. The Fae are now referred to as Pari (a derivative of the Persian Pari-Pari).

Shifter Origins

Innovation comes out of crisis, and when the Pari came to Earth their world was in crisis.

The Pari had been in a civil war for almost 40 years; their planet’s ecosystem on the verge of collapse due to increased sea and atmospheric temperatures; and, the Pari of the land lacked the ability to effectively engage with the Pari of the sea creating tensions between the two races. 

But the Pari of the land were great scientists and innovators, when they discovered Earth they utilized our ancestors to find a solution to their problems. Using their Elphame magic they desired to discover the ability to change from one species into another, so the land Pari could turn into sea Pari and find common ground for their quarrels.

This was The Age of Experemental Evolution in Pari history. Scientists used animals and explored merging Elphame with the animal’s spirit before ripping both from its body and thrusting the merged energies into a human.

In the beginning some ancestors turned feral, the spirit of the animal too dominant and they would be stuck in the animal form. Over time the Pari learnt how to pull spirits from multiple animals and combine them, merging only a small part of the mixed spirits into our ancestors. This process was less effective at first for maintaining a shift, however, within a few generations the offspring, from childhood could control and maintain full shifts. 

This discovery provided the solution that would end the Pari civil war and soon the Pari returned to their homes leaving sentries to observe evolution of the Shifters they had created. 

The experiments on our ancestors to create Shifters were not the only ones the Pari conducted. Later Shifters learnt about another branch of Pari scientists studying the elements, and whether, if they could control the elements, if it would give them the ability to reverse the damage they had done to their world. Through their research the Pari created another race, the Mages.  

Shifters and Mages lived in relative peace with humans for nearly 600 years before the witch trials began. Unlike Mages, Shifters had always kept their Elphame abilities secret and Shifters were predominantly saved from trials— though a few were accused of being werewolves and drowned.

During this period the Pari who maintained sentry over their creations assisted in hiding and relocating the Shifters and Mages, protecting them from human ignorance. Shifters started creating compounds or safe havens for families to live free from persecution, and providing safe harbor for nomadic Shifters which eventually lead to the development of an underground Shifter network.

Shifters continued to live alongside humans but the tales of how the Pari had almost destroyed their planet remained on their consciousness, and influenced their culture. Shifter compounds spread around the world during the colonial period and Shifters learnt of others like them across Asia and Africa. Shifters begun to collaborate, developing a global Shifter network providing more opportunities for individual and families to find new homes in new Shifter communities which exist to this day.

World Building Changes

For almost 3 years I have been building my Elphame Universe and in the last couple of weeks, I have been having this feeling that my Universe is unintentionally too… I am going to say European. Or at least appeared to be based too heavily on European folklore— which it is, and it isn’t.

I was so focused on trying to make the races different from how we traditionally told stories about them that I didn’t stop and think maybe then be using other lore as my guide. The most prominent example of this is the Fae.

In my stories I see the Fae as an advanced race, they make mistakes, they are constantly questioning their own ethics and morality, but they are also in a way the older aunty or uncle that you would go to for help and advice. They care about life and want to guide you to make good choices.

That doesn’t sound like any Fae I have read either in modern or historical literature. The Fae are either portrayed in a benevolent light, or as tricksters, power-hungry, bargain makers, cruel and bloodthirsty.

It got me thinking of the other Fae or Fae-like creatures in other histories such as Jin, the Peri (or Pari Pari in Malaysia), or the Johan. The Peri had closer ties to the being I was looking to create but not quite.

Right now I am throwing up two ideas.

  1. To simply change the name of the Fae to Pari and look to the Persian, Arabic and Malay folklore more to build out their identity as a race more, or
  2. To create find another mythical being which better suites the qualities that my Fae race currently embody.

I haven’t quite decided yet which way I will go. Considering I am currently querying my books I either need to make a decision fast or (fingers crossed) if I get an agent explore the idea with them.

Thankfully in my current book the Fae play only a very small role for the most part I believe it will only be a name change rather than extensive changes to the book. But I am working on a second standalone in this universe for Nano and if I am going to change the Fae race I would like to do it now rather than in draft 3 or 4 while the story is still new and exciting.

The Elphame Universe

In the speculative Elphame Universe the Fae are an advanced race that had interacted with humans in centuries past creating the myths of Fae, Pari Pari, Nymphs, and Jogha across the world. These Fae have abilities and technology beyond those of contemporary society, and what is magic but science we haven’t learnt yet (Arthur C. Clarke).

The magical abilities of the Fae are the evolutionary result of Elphame, a compound that is natural to the Fae world. Centuries ago the Fae— under the guise of research and the betterment of all— experimented on the young human race. They tested the Elphame compound on humans, studying its effects.

These experimentations included taking one male and one female youth from each region, back to their Fae world. There those youth would become the first of the human settlement in Elphame and for almost 600 years the Fae would study and did not interfere as the settlement grew and a new Human Elphame race was born.

As the human race evolved, the moral ethics of the Fae’s involvement on earth saw the experiments come to an end. But small groups of Fae stayed and from the shadows watched, and over the generations two new races evolved. 

The Fae world

Fae: The Fae have many abilities. Over the millennia their life spans have lengthened and are now able to live upwards of 300 years. They are simultaneous hermaphrodites and possess fully functional male and female genitalia. They have no disease and heal from most injuries within minutes. Individual Fae have abilities that their families have cultivated over the years, including:

  • Abilities to heal others
  • Levitation
  • Control of the elements
  • Change gender, shape, species
  • Foresight 
  • Empathic 

They are also a technologically advanced society and have learnt how to harness the Elphame and apply it to wormhole theory to create portals from the Fae world to Earth.  

The Fae people are a highly enlightened, well-educated, liberal-minded, community-centric, environmentally aware race. Though they will admit they are not perfect and continue to make mistakes. 

Shifters: Shifters were the evolutionary result of a Fae experiment focused on controlling Fae ability to change genders and forms. Prior to the experimentation, Fae could not control their gender, environmental factors could see their gender change multiple times throughout their life. The Fae wanted to control their gender and were interested in seeing if they could take other forms using the Elphame.

Although this experiment ultimately failed in controlling gender, it did succeed in allowing the humans implanted with Elphame to take on physical aspects of animals for short periods of time. Over the centuries the Elphame within these humans evolved and within three generations these humans were able to change into an animal form. Overtime the animal forms these shifters would turn into would change dependent on the enviroment, but eventually a persons animal forms would be determined based on personality traits. 

Shifters are not like the apha pack animals portrayed in media. The animal shape they take is not a separate being, there are no “animal instincts”, no alphas or omega’s, and they do not have packs. However shifters do live in small tight-knit communities ofter made up of extended families and friends. These communities are connected through shared history with the wider shifter community and shifters will often travel and visit other communities (it helps with preventing inbreeding). Shifters are aware of the Fae and Mages, but the Elphame Humans are a race they are only just learning about. 

Mages: The Mage race, like the Shifters were the evolutionary result of Fae experimentation. The Fae wanted to learn how to control the elements and used humans as guinea pigs to their theory’s before applying to their own race. This experiment was highly successfull and through teaching human’s how to pull the little pieces of Elphame the Fae had given them and call the elements the Mages successfully learnt to find magic in nature. 

The Mages, unlike the Shifters, didn’t form small communities. Instead they remained assimilated in society and often faced persecution for their abilities. The Mages learnt to hide themselves in plain sight and kept their knowledge within the family. 

Over the generations the Mages learnt how to further harness their energies and direct it certain directions, e.g. towards healing. However some Mage’s developed new abilities including the ability to pull energy from animals and other humans. These Mages often sort power and the ethics and customs of the Mage people were often discarded in that reach for power. 

Elphame Humans: The Human Elphame are the descendants of the youth taken from Earth 600 years ago and brought to the Fae world. For 500 years they lived, grew and prospered creating their own traditions, customs and ideas. During those 500 years the naturally occurring Elphame naturally blended into the humans genetic make-up, giving them longer lives to where they now live for around 130 years, less illness and faster recovery from wounds.   

However human technology in the Fae world did not keep up with their new abilities and after 8 years of drought and famine the Winters Men would be a night that would change the trojection of the Human Elphame. 

With the Human Elphame civilisation on the verg of collapse due to starvation and no knowledge of Fae world beyond the lage island the Human Elphame inhabit a group of men in their 40’s and 50’s take action. In one winters night they murder 85% of elderly and disabled people who they considered did not contribute to society and were taking away valuable food sources. The night, which would be known as Winters Men, shocked many humans and the Fae leading to the Fae announcing their existence to the Human Elphame.

The introduction was a rocky start with many upset that the Fae had not made themselves known sooner, but that populous animosity was quickly replaced by appreciation of the technological advances and relief from the famine the Fae provided.

Human Elphame are now beginning to assimilate with the Fae population and some have even returned to Earth.