Humfaeries (HUM-FĀR-ē) are a native species of faerie that disguise themselves from the human world by means of a hummingbird veil charm. The trained, keen peripheral vision of mages can sometimes pierce this illusion.
Humfaeries were discovered in the early 1800s by the mage farmer Wren Winchester near Sault Ste. Marie, Michegan. Here is the story in her own words:
|The first time I encountered what I now know was a humfaerie, I was tossing kernels of corn to the turkeys in my backyard. I heard a strange buzzing sound and looked about, only to discover a ruby throated hummingbird hovering nearby. I didn't think much of it, but decided I would set out a little bowl of sugar water for him. Standing next to the well, I lowered my bucket down into its depths. It hit the surface with a splash. As I began hauling it back up, I happened to catch a glimpse of the hummingbird out of the corner of my eye. To my surprise, it was no bird. It was a tiny person with wings. The expression on my face must have given me away. Once I discovered his true identity, the little faerie man looked just as surprised as I did and quickly disappeared into the woods.|
These faeries earned their name due to the distinctive humming noise they make while in flight, which is especially noticeable when they hover in place. In their natural form, the humfaeries are thin, yet muscular humanoid figures with wings resembling that of a cicada. Adults range from 3 to 4 inches in height. Though their coloration vary, the majority of these faeries are golden skinned with straight, dark hair and brown eyes.
Humfaeries who live east of the Mississippi River prefer to mimic the ruby-throated hummingbird, while those west of the Mississippi tend to resemble black-chinned hummingbirds. To be clear, this is a magical disguise and not an actual transformation. True mages can occasionally see through this disguise if they happen to catch the humfaerie out of the corner of their eyes.
Humfaeries are intelligent and resourceful. They fashion their own weapons and food preparation tools from various woods and stones. They are also known to manufacture their own clothes. Their garments are woven from spider silk and dyed with readily available flora such as bloodroot, sumac, and yarrow. The curling vines of Concord grapes are used to make jewelry, and for special occasions such as joining ceremonies, humfaeries will wear heirloom pieces carved from mother of pearl or turquoise.
Humfaeries never hunt for sport. They only pursue large insects and juvenile rodents for food. After each kill, they honor the lives of the creature they take. They favor magic-laced bows and arrows. They can also cast spells for hunting, defense, and everyday use. Rather than wands, humfaeries use crystal shards to help focus their power.
Humfaeries farm spiders for silk. Their homes are often surrounded by a plethora of webs. This serves several purposes. First, they do not have to travel far to bring in their harvest. Second, humans tend to avoid areas littered with webs, so it deters them from venturing too close. On the rare occasion an intruder does approach their territory, the spiders trigger a silent alarm that warns the faeries of potential danger. The humfaeries also tame hornets and yellow jackets, encouraging them to build their nests within the borders of their lands. These trained hives serve as guardians and a first line of defense.
Humfaeries grow crops of mushrooms inside their tree trucks for food, medicine, and other uses. They have been known to trade their farmed mushrooms with humans.
Culturally, these beings are proud, strong, intuitive, and empathetic individuals. They communicate in their own language, Faerish, which is taught in many Primascholae and Magischolae across the country. Some humfaeries have learned English, French, Spanish, and other languages to facilitate their trade with humans.
Humfaeries have their own religion, focusing on natural cycles of the moon and seasons and the spirits of plants and animals. They believe in a spirit world and an afterlife, and they have elaborate ceremonies on the solstices and equinoxes.
Humfaeries are social beings with their won organizational mechanisms. They mate for life and have a formalized joining ceremony similar to a human hand fastening. Like humans, humfaeries live in family units. Homes are built by hand out of thick grayish clay that they excavate from nearby rivers or lakes. Building a new home is the very first thing a newly-joined couple will do after their ceremony. They carve intricate designs into the walls and archways expanding the dwelling as the family expands. The young look after the old who are respected and revered. Life expectancy is around 150 years of age.
Humfaerie homes tend to be part of larger communities housed in inconspicuous, yet enchanted hollowed-out trees. The magic they weave into their homes allows many of them to fit in a single trunk. The clans call these communities kingdoms, and you can find thousands of humfaerie homes in a single trunk.
Humfaerie kingdoms are led by a joined couple referred individually as either King or Queen. Each clan kingdom has a ruling couple. Rule is ancestral, passing down through children and relatives as the ruling couple passes. They have week-long coronation ceremonies when crowning a new Queen and King. Each kingdom is ruled according to the laws set by their own ruling couple. Although they prefer peace- and it has not happened in over 150 years as of writing this- the different kingdoms of humfaeries have been known to go to war.
While the origin of humfaeries is not completely clear, there is some speculation as to the truth of a story that has been passed down for generations across the midwest. The legends tells us that many centuries ago, there was a small human village just off the coast of the Great Lakes. It had been an extraordinarily stormy summer, and the stores were empty, and the villagers were going to starve. Unable to find nourishment, they consulted their ancestral spirits for advice. The spirits guided them to one of their own, whom they had long considered an outcast, and they begged them to save their lives. The solution they received was a curious one. Unbeknownst to them, the outcast was a Wizard. They revealed their wand and cast a spell over all of the villagers, transforming them into their current shape, and instilling in them some form of residual magic. The magic humfaeries possess is insufficient to cast spells, so they must use crystals to focus their energies and bodies of water to channel it.
Wendigos deprived of human flesh have been known to gorge themselves on humfaeries, suggesting that the above described origin myth may have a note of truth to it. Humfaeries deny this creation story and claim that they moved to Earth from the spirit realm.
A female juvenile humfaerie is called a hem and a male a haw. The plural of these is hems and haws. The collective noun for a group of humfaeries is a hamper.
There are different clans of humfaeries living in various locations across North America. They tend to congregate near fresh water as it acts as a conduit to amplify their magic. Because of the Great Lakes that surround it, Michigan is a natural home to one of the largest kingdoms of humfaeries in North America. Their individual family homes are made from clay they excavate from the beds of rivers and lakes. They build their kingdoms inside innocuous-looking hollowed out tree trunks.
Internally, humfaeries resemble very small human beings. They have insect-like wings.
Humfaeries farm mushrooms and gather assorted plants and berries. Things that are poisonous to humans are also poisonous to humfaeries. They hunt insects and small rodents for food.
Humfaeries have been known to trade with humans. They produce excellent silk cloth and farm rare mushrooms suitable for a variety of purposes. As for the humfaeries themselves, the only body parts with any magical use whatsoever are their hair and wings. Hair is used for wand cores, while their wings have various uses in spells and charms. The more human parts have little to no magic in them and are useless to wizards. Humfaeries can be made into familiars if they are willing. Such a binding agreement is undertaken at great risk to the humfaerie and Wizard alike, as the humfaerie is banished from its kingdom and the associated Wizard is likewise shunned and ostracized by humfaerie society.
Note: Humfaeries are considered a protected species by the North American Council of Five. They are considered sentient beings with intelligence equal to humans. Harvesting a humfaerie for parts carries with it the same penalties as harvesting a human for parts.
Humfaeries favor peace over war, but make no mistake, they are fierce warriors when aggressive action is required. To defend yourself, there are two options.
Firstly, you can create a shield of blinding sunlight. The humfaerie has sensitive eyes, and this temporary blindness typically lasts upwards of a minute, triggering an instinctive flight response. If you have really managed to rile up the wrong clan, employing this tactic will grant you approximately 60 seconds to escape.
Secondly, you can summon a temporary swarm of praying mantises. Mantises are a natural predator of hummingbirds and will eat them in the wild. This option should only be enacted when you have no other way to resolve conflict with the humfaeries. They will disappear, and you will likely never encounter them again.