Changeling

A changeling (pl. changelings) is a type of fae. Sometimes, fae find a reason to steal away a human - whether to be a servant, because they are intrigued or enraptured by the human, or simply out of spite. When they steal a child away, they replace it with a changeling - a fae who takes on the appearance of the stolen child.


Physiology

Changelings are the result of diluted and mixed bloodlines. They have an assortment of fae genetics, depending on the individual, and often some human blood as well. As a result, they tend to be a varied bunch. Some have pointed ears, some don't. Some have golden eyes, some have purple skin, and some look basically human - but with just a touch of something… off about them.

Like all fae, changelings are deathly allergic to iron, though those with human blood have a lesser reaction than pureblood fae. Iron reacts strongly with the magic that is an integral part of their anatomy, and causes a violent allergic reaction in the form of a burn. This starts out resembling a rapid and intense sunburn, but prolonged contact with iron can cause any fae's flesh to blacken and die. Changelings are also among those fae who often live with or near humans, and therefore do not fade in an urban setting (though they do better in the country than amongst skyscrapers).

Although changelings in the Otherworld are as immortal as any other fae, while exchanged they age - slowly as they pass their prime, but still visibly. They tend to be frail and somewhat sickly, though they will not die of any sickness. The longer they spend as humans, the less changelings remember their fae selves - if they spend a full human lifetime as a human they will die a human. In the Otherworld, changelings reach physical maturity after a period of just over twenty years. the rate of their aging decreases exponentially (the older they get, the more slowly they age).

Changelings on Earth tend to have human diets, but they have a typical fae fondness for sweets, as well as milk.


Magical Characteristics

All fae are capable of glamour - an elaborate illusion that will fool all five senses (at least for a mortal) - and changelings use this to perfectly replicate the appearance of the human they replace, though not the personality. Their illusions are limited to their own person, however. By the same token, changelings are capable of seeing through most glamour. Their own glamour can be defeated in the usual ways: even if they can fool another fae's eyes, it is nearly impossible for them to fool another fae's sense of touch. Even mortals can see through glamour, if they have a special ointment rubbed on their eyelids, have pure iron touching their skin, or turn their clothes inside out.

Also, a changeling will reveal itself, and vanish back to the Otherworld (usually up the chimney), if provoked by the brewing of beer or stew in an eggshell, or by hanging the changeling over the fire. Like all fae, changelings are incredibly attuned with nature - they can move through the woods without cracking a single twig or disturbing a single leaf.

No fae can tell an outright lie. They can bend the truth, and they can talk in circles around the truth, but if they actually SAY the sky is red, it had better be red, or they're considered an oathbreaker and their magic (if not their life) is forfeit. On that note, all fae can sense magic in their vicinity, usually by feeling or seeing it. Changelings, however, sometimes fudge this rule a bit. The longer they spend imitating a human, the less of their fae nature they retain - if they grow to human adulthood they sometimes develop the ability to lie, though if they ever return to the Otherworld this goes away. This is one (of many) reasons changelings are viewed with some disgust by many other fae.


Society and Habitat

Changelings are trooping fairies, found in both the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. They are fae peasantry, and are generally viewed as expendable to society (thus, they can be exchanged for humans on a whim). Most 'higher' fae (those with bloodlines that are less mingled) look down on changelings - in the Courts, changelings are the servant class. If they are exchanged for a human, they are usually rewarded for this service, when (or if) they return to the Otherworld. This process can be dicey, however - often, changelings playing humans will seem to wither, grow ill, and die soon after the switch is made - in truth, the changeling is just putting on a glamour of death, and then skipping back home to the Otherworld.