The Queens Butterfly
The Queens Butterfly
By: RallistonRalliston
Published on 30 Jul 2023 19:20

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WANDERERS' MEMO: All Wanderers please note that this entry was written in 1863, when the paper used to write it still hadn't gone brown with age, the number of Occult Wars fought could still be counted on the fingers of one hand,1 Queen Mab hadn't yet reawakened and again gained note of baseline reality, and we were all still young and stupid. Looking back, the conclusion we come to isn't just comically untrue — it should be seen as an active lesson in hubris and shortsightedness for all Hand members.

However, despite all of its flaws, this entry does remain a useful source of information regarding the Queens. Still, all Wanderers should be advised to take the information found below with a grain of salt.

— L.S.
First Eye of the Serpent,
Serpent's Hand

rating: +34+x

The Queens Butterfly

The Undoer and the Inventor
The Eternal Starlight and the Ceaseless Sun
The Pale and the Radiance
Unseelie and Seelie
The Twin Queens
Mab and Aurora
2, 3, 4

Conspectus

The Queens Butterfly need no introduction. From myth through fact and all the way to legend, the two faerie Queens are known by all, across all worlds. Held up by powers of magic and reality-bending this world has not seen since, their tyrannical Empire might have long fallen, but stories of the two sisters will forever remain a carefully spoken whisper within the halls of the Library.5 Every scholar, every mage, and every Wanderer knows who they are and what they did.

Or, so it would seem.

More than two hundred millennia have passed since the collapse of their worldwide kingdom. Two hundred millennia worth of rumors, myths, and legends. Two hundred millennia of dormant ruin, the truth of its existence buried under the weight of its legacy and the world that birthed itself atop it. It must therefore be asked: what do we know about the Queens really? Is everything we have read about them a true record of reality, or merely fiction, written by people that lived hundreds of thousands of years after their subjects have long perished?6

It's high time to find out.

Illustration

queen.jpg

A human rendition of the Inventor and her faerie court forcing vassalage upon Hahn, the Mogul Kaiser of the Steppes, a nigh-forgotten demigod whom her sister would eventually murder in a cold-blooded fit of jealousy.7 Created under a seance, the piece is one of the few examples of human artistic awareness transcending time, mind, and space.

Knowledge

Traits: It is often said that the two Queens Butterfly were beautiful beyond words, when they still tread the Earth. Looking back, it is difficult to say how much of such records are mere flattery and how much are genuine wonder, but it will suffice to say that neither of the sisters really remained in singular forms for long periods of time. Their skill to alter reality was to such a degree that changing appearances was to them but a flicker of their hands, almost akin to how mortal humans change clothes.8

Despite this interchangeably expressed variety in species and gender, across all of their written and visual depictions, two things remain forever consistent: the Queens' supposed immaculate beauty and overwhelming authority, always expressed by the way both have carried themselves, no matter their looks.

Nature: To speak of the Queens is to speak of duality. It is said that the Inventor — Aurora — was a gentle monarch that cared for her subjects. She was the fire, the bright sun behind the Empire; a beautiful warmth that illuminated her peoples with prosperity and new horizons. Forever bent on multiplying the wonders of creation, the Inventor is depicted as the kind side of the sidhe9, 10 and their long-gone worldwide Empire, a force of love and care that brought nothing but beauty in her wake. It is oftentimes even rumored this is exactly why our world has so many beautiful places to call its own — all the work of the Inventor, who supposedly sculpted their wonder with her very own hands.11

On the other hand, the Undoer — Mab — was the cold hurricane, the end of all things that weren't hers. She was the conqueror, the nigh-godlike warrior that brought the world under the fist of her and her sister's Empire as she lay death to untold legions of enemies that weren't ready to bend their knees. Ruthless and hedonistic, she cared for nothing and nobody but her own pleasure.12, 13 It is said that the only thing that rivaled her warmongering during her millennia-old campaigns were the orgies and feasts she would throw, sometimes more than literally out of this world. A tantrum-throwing monster with power enough to level planets,14 the Undoer is what brought the Empire its cold throne atop all of reality.

It is interesting to consider how both of these natures played into each other; how this yin-yang kept itself from exploding15 for so long as to allow its Empire to live for almost one hundred millennia is almost a paradox of its own. Even more baffling is how such a legendarily gentle being as the Inventor didn't see any issue with subjecting the whole planet to an unjust tyranny that went even beyond the necessary cruelty to maintain its regime is also well beyond reason.16 But it just seems that such is the nature of gods.17, 18, 19, 20

History & Associated Parties: Beyond all else, the story of the Queens is one of death and suffering.

How either came to be is often debated, but it is certain that they were at some point mortal. Who or what birthed them remains unknown, but they came to be with skills in magic and reality-bending that were well beyond anyone even when they were mere kids. In time this mastery only grew, eventually culminating in the full awakening of their nearly omnipotent abilities. It took only a few decades before the sisters began using them to conquer the world.

At first their expansion was slow; they unified all of the sidhe peoples under one prosperous nation ruled by the two sisters. But the hunger that lived inside them21, 22 wasn't still quenched; it wished for more and more and more and more. And in time, as both sisters conquered the whole of Earth and well beyond, more it got.

The times of the actual Empire were those of misery; ruled by a privileged few,23 its hegemony oppressed almost every one of its subjects for ages untold: from the Yeren, forced to labor in the mines through the humans, put as amusement in isolated parks, right to even the prole sidhe, cursed by their own Queen to suffer for her propaganda. Worst yet, none of those that stood beneath its boot could do anything about their fates — not when the oppressive status quo was upheld by two nearly omnipotent tyrants.24

But history was on the side of the oppressed, it seems. The Empire eventually fell into a state of civil war, with the two sisters siding with opposite factions. What caused this is unclear — some say that the Inventor finally had enough of Mab's cruelty, choosing to help their people instead.25 Others say that it was merely a dispute over who should hold more power. No matter the cause, though, the result was more than clear: with the final duel between the two sisters, the Inventor's Name was stolen,26 and the two Queens took their Empire with them to their graves.

Since then, the souls of both sisters have remained dormant outside of reality, forever dreaming of returning to the mortal realm and reclaiming their Empire.27 Though both have managed to subtly influence history over the millennia spent in the spirit worlds, in modern times they are little more than sleepers, their consciousness a dying spark of their once-brilliant flames of passion. There is little to be said about either of the Queens, in this day and age — they are but corpses that are still twitching, even long after they were dealt the fatal blow by each other.

Approach: This is what we are all gathered here to discuss, really. Knowing what we know about the Queens — and knowing that we might not even know anything about them at all — what should the Hand do about the two dormant spirits, if anything at all?28

Observations & Stories

SVENDOR SARRIAN ENZAN'S STORY: Not to say I believe this story, but I think it's still worth considering. Some time ago, I came across a curious set of tales that went over the two Queens and their relations with historical truth. It was more than a decade ago, so I hope you'll forgive me for not remembering the author or all the details, but the conclusion it came to was that, perhaps, neither Mab nor her sister were tyrants — or even demigods, for that matter. The author — someone named Dufort, I think? — argued that their research implied Mab and her sister could have simply been mere ancient peace activists, someone almost akin to proto-socialists.29, 30

Across all iterations of the stories of the Queens, they said, the only fact that remains truly consistent is that wherever they went, they brought order. Usually, this and other facts about their lives are interpreted as meaning they held an Empire over reality; Dufort, however, asked if the opposite couldn't have been true instead. They ask — and I remember this part pretty clearly — what really is truth, after more than 200 000 years? Is there even such a thing, when all that remains of the history we study are silent ruins? Or perhaps are the ideas we cling to so much mere revisionism, a rumor-turned-fact after untold lifetimes of lies and half-truths?31, 32, 33, 34

FATHER WINTER'S STORY: Perhaps another far stretch, but if we have already called the duality of the two sisters a yin-yang of sorts, I don't think this is all that different. I have seen many things in my many years, but something that's always fascinated me is just how different the two sisters are. You don't often see two people so related that are such mirror opposites of each other. One, a gentle creator — the other, a harsh destructor. What if this was by design?

Our world is not a stranger to avatars of forces beyond our comprehension — what if, therefore, the sisters are another such case? What if somewhere out there, there exist primordial beings that represent life and death, creation and destruction, darkness and light? What if, therefore, the terrible powers the Queens wielded came not from random luck at their birth, but from their deific patrons, beings whose will and significance they merely brought to the rest of the world with their Empire?35, 36

L.S.'S STORY: It's easy to say, I think, that certain people and their actions are ontologically bad. It's a very human37 vice, and one I am more than guilty of, but it got me wondering: what if we're all succumbing to it once more, during our discussions here?

I don't want to be a Fae Empire apologetic38 — fuck that noise — and by no means do I want to imply the Empire was anything but absolutely repulsive, but I think there is something we haven't really considered, here, and I don't like to not look at all facts: how its existence affected all of reality.

The two Queens were tyrants and absolutely deserved their fates, but how would the world look without them? Their empire was a crime against nature and all of reality, but in a sense, it was a motor of progress for the rest of the world;39 its existence and eventual collapse were some of the most significant events in the history of the world. I like Father Winter's theory about how the Queens are almost like avatars, but disagree with the sentiment that they are of yin-yang; in my eyes, the Queens are more like manifestations of change, two terrible beings brought forward by fate for the sole purpose of advancing the world so past what it would be without them.40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47

Doubt

The biggest doubt about the Queens I have is, I think, whether we should do anything about them at all.

They were awful beings, that much is true, but… they are gone. Have been for longer than any of us have been alive.48 Perhaps a few thousand — or even a few hundred — years ago, there was a need to intervene, to stop either from interacting with our reality. But now? They are very little more than just ghosts, long-gone reminders of what the world was. The Queens are of no threat to us. What little remains of them is nothing but a silent whisper in the winds beyond reality, a sad memory of the times long—gone.

Once, undoubtedly, the Queens were of importance; of more importance than anyone else in all of history, even. I do think it's fair to say, like L.S. proposed, that they were avatars of change, motors that made reality what it is now from what it once was. But the past is just that — the past. It's been more than a thousand lifetimes since they bid goodbye to the rest of the world, so what use is there to still do anything about their still-rotting bodies? Is it not better to leave that past where it belongs, and look brightly towards the future it has made possible for us?

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