Of all England’s towns, none are so beloved by the country’s fairies as Lewes in Sussex. The streets which wind and slope around the closely spaced houses provide many a hiding spot for magical folk, as-well-as ample opportunities to play nasty pranks on the humans who live and visit there. One evening, while stumbling from the Rights of Man pub, Roger Forster, a young man on holiday from London, found himself in the presence of a strikingly beautiful young lady, who had long, silky hair that flowed down her hair in honey-coloured waves, an angular face like a fox’s, and large, almond-shaped eyes that seemed to glow electric blue in the darkness of midnight. In-spite of his intoxication, Roger heard the young lady with perfect clarity when she said: “Would you like some company for the night?” in a breathy, sensual voice. Roger nodded as a goofy smile spread across his face. The lady sauntered off into the night without another word, only smiling over her shoulder to beckon Roger along after her. He followed the woman through the twisting streets and dark corners, always at a distance, never quite able to catch up to her. Eventually, they came to the bridge, where the young woman stopped to lean against the railing. “Give us a kiss,” she smiled as Roger approached. He leaned in, but as he was just about to touch her lips, the young woman ceased to be solid, and Roger fell through her, plummeting some ten feet or so, landing in the river with a crash. He managed to break the surface, and as he floated there stunned, he heard the young woman’s voice shout “You’ll find plenty of fish down there.”
The old-growth forests of the surrounding area are a popular place for non-magical folk to explore … during the daytime. In 1874, a story appeared in several newspapers across the country, reporting how two girls – aged 15 and 17 – had gone into the woods on the night of the Summer Solstice, intending to perform a contrived variation of an ancient Celtic ritual. The next morning, they were found wandering the streets in hysterics, their neighbors attempted to coerce the girls inside to eat and rest, but they refused to let anyone touch them. They eventually had to be taken in by force, and once the local physician had a chance to examine them, he found the girls to be free of anyone physical trauma. A few days later, when the girls appeared to have calmed down, they were asked what happened to them, and reported many strange things: childish laughter echoing through the treetops, a large black shape with glowing red eyes that chased them through the footpaths, vines springing up from the ground and wrapping themselves around the girl’s’ ankles, as though trying to stop them from escaping. The next night, a dozen of Lewes’ strongest men armed themselves with axes and shotguns and organized a hunting party to flush out the evil within. The men were gone all night, and when the sun rose the next morning, only one emerged from the woods, face frozen in a mask of shock, hair turned pure white. When asked what had happened, he responded: “We found what it was that scared those girls.” When questioned further, he said: “I can’t tell you anything’ more, they only let me go if I promised I wouldn’t tell ya.” The man then burst into tears. For decades after that, the people of Lewes took great caution to not venture into the woods after dark, and it became something of a game among the town’s children to see who could stand closest to the tree line in the minutes before dusk. As the years passed, and those alive to remember the story of the girls and the hunting party grew old and died, people stopped fearing what lurk among the trees, and the local legend became nothing more than a pub tale, used to scare tourists.
While fairy folk can be quite malicious in their dealings with human adults, they enjoy a warm relationship with children, as they are open to a more colorful view of the world. In 1954, Matthew and Mary Thatcher noticed their daughter Matilda had been acting quite bizarrely, leaving plates of biscuits next to the rose bushes at night, performing silly dances where she would wiggle her arms over patches of mushrooms in the grass, and making squiggly chalk drawings like ancient runes all over the rocks on their property. When her parents asked Matilda what she was doing, she answered: “the fairies told me to.” Confused, Matthew and Mary equated Matilda’s behavior to an overactive imagination. Then, the family cat turned up dead, when asked if she knew what happened, Matilda said the fairies told her to poison the cat because he had been killing the mice and frogs the fairies had as friends. After that, Matthew and Mary hid the biscuits, washed the chalk runes from the rocks, tore up any mushrooms they found on the property, and refused to let their daughter out of the house, all the while, Matilda complained to them: “you can’t do that, you’ll make the fairies mad.” Suddenly, many bizarre and terrifying things began to happen to Matilda’s parents: birds, a dozen or more at a time, descended from the sky without provocation to chase them whenever they left the house, whenever they turned on the tap, a swarm of slimy, wriggling worms flooded out into the sink, causing them to scream in horror, and worst of all, their cows began producing sour milk – every single one of them. While Matthew and Mary were deep in discussion as to what they were going to do about their plight, Matilda came in and told them: “it’s the fairies, I told you, they’re mad at you.” Matilda’s parents shooed her away, but later that night, put a plate of biscuits near the roses. The next day, no birds flew out of the sky to chase them, no worms wriggled out of the faucet, and the cow’s milk was as fresh as it had ever been. From then on, Matilda was free to perform her silly rituals as much as she pleased, and the Thatcher family home never had a cat again.
One popular myth about fairy folk among humans, is that of the changeling, how fairies would steal infants from their beds, and replace them with inanimate objects bewitched to resemble children. This is a misconception, the truth is that fairies would take the form of a human woman’s husband, and impregnate her, thus creating a hybrid-child of sorts. These children, being of mixed heritage, tend to have curious attributes. Though outwardly human, changelings are more neurologically similar to fairy folk, while this can grant them proficiencies which exceed those of normal people – such as in the sciences or arts – it can also hinder their ability to interact with the non-magical. Lewes was home to one such child, a boy named Tyler Johnson, who, from the time he was a baby, would refuse to make eye contact with people, and spoke very little. Loud noises bothered Tyler, so-much-so, that his parents avoided taking him out in public, to the store, or to parties, for fear that he would be overwhelmed, and crumble to the ground, holding his ears shut, moaning like a wounded animal. Doctors diagnosed Tyler as being autistic, a label commonly applied to the misidentified changeling. Tyler found comfort in art, spending hours at a time scribbling abstract, geometric patterns onto paper – little did he, or anybody else know, that this was the language of the fairies, which entered his mind through mystical communications with his brethren. One day, Tyler was in his front yard, examining a spider web in the grass, when Joshua, the stocky red-haired boy who lived down the street, approached him from behind. “Hey nutter,” Joshua shouted at Tyler, who did not respond. Frustrated, Joshua picked up a fresh pile of dog droppings, and threw at the back of Tyler’s head, as Tyler scrambled to remove the filth from his hair, Joshua pounced, pinning Tyler to the ground by his throat, fortunately, Tyler’s mother came rushing out of the house to chase Joshua away. Tyler went to bed that night with his head full of bitter thoughts at Joshua, unbeknownst to him, someone was listening. A few days later, Joshua went to the park to play football with his friends, a bad kick sent the ball flying into the bushes, and he went in to retrieve it, after waiting for Joshua for some time, his friends went into the bushes to discover he had virtually disappeared. Police from as far as two towns over were called in to look for him, alerts were posted throughout the country, but there was not a single trace of Joshua to be found.