Kelpie

A kelpie (pl. kelpies) is a type of fae. Carnivorous river- and lake-dwellers, kelpies are renowned for both their aggression and their vindictiveness.


Physiology

In their natural shape, kelpies are hippocampi - the front half of their body is primarily equine, while the rear half is a powerful tail. They have baleful red eyes, and a mouthful of sharp teeth. Their front hooves typically have some sort of webbing to further ease their propulsion underwater. On land, kelpies resemble more natural horses, though their manes and tails are always dripping wet, and frequently have waterweed tangled in them. Despite mostly resembling landbound horses, however, their eyes are red, and they have sharp teeth. They are always all black or all white. All kelpies can shapeshift into either a male or female human form. Even in this form their hair is mane-like, and always dripping. When they get temperamental, their real eyes show through. They maintain their strength in this form. In any form, kelpies are noted for the cold temperature of their skin, and possess the strength of ten horses. Also, kelpies are highly prized as captive plow horses, because they do not tire (in fact there is some debate as to whether they actually need to sleep, or just indulge in it so as not to get too bored with the passing centuries).

Like all fae, kelpies are deathly allergic to iron. 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. Kelpies are strongly tied to the water, and must live in a body of water (either fresh or salt, depending on the sort of kelpie). If they spend too long on land without immersing themselves in water, they can dry out, fade, and even die.

Other than that, kelpies are as immortal as any true fae - they will not die of natural causes. They age very slowly, achieving physical majority after about five-hundred years, and social recognition of their adulthood after their first thousand. After that, the rate of their aging decreases exponentially (the older they get, the more slowly they age). Because kelpies are both long-lived and aggressive, they typically only have one child with a given partner, if they can stand to be around each other long enough. Mated pairs are very rare. Also, they tend to be fertile in cycles of several centuries, further reducing the likelihood that they will have offspring. The sex drive of the average kelpie varies, but they do not always stay within their species - often, kelpies are attracted to other equine species, though many take humanoid partners.

Kelpies are carnivorous, and prefer humans to anything else, though they will eat other meat (in fact, the smell of cooking meat is known to entice them from the water). They also 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) - but kelpies can generally only manage small adjustments to their person (enough to hide the true color of their eyes and the true shape of their teeth). By the same token, kelpies 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.

A kelpie's skin is of a sealskin-esque consistency, and very soft. When their prey touches this skin, however, the kelpie can choose to activate a magical adhesive quality - the only way to escape is to sever whatever part of the body is touching this skin. Kelpie's are also born with a magical silver bridle - if anyone takes this bridle, the kelpie is prevented from assuming human form, and holds significant leverage over the kelpie. Binding a kelpie with your own bridle makes them your servant for as long as the bridle remains on them - they must do your bidding (within reason - you can't order the kelpie to impale itself on an iron spike, but you can make it plow your fields). However, any kelpie thus bound will never cease trying to get free, and upon doing so will exact terrible revenge, unless they are bound by oath to do otherwise.

Like all fae, kelpies are incredibly attuned with nature - in particular, the water. No kelpie can drown (they can breathe underwater), and they always know the pattern of the currents or tides and storms. Kelpie auras are magical water purifiers - they draw toxins and pollutants out of the surrounding water. In addition, kelpies can grant any rider the ability to breathe underwater, as long as the rider remains on their back.

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.


Society and Habitat

Kelpies are considered solitary fairies, and are Unseelie fae. Typically they avoid Court life, however, and live alone in a particular river, lake, or loch, although some reside in the ocean. They are about evenly dispersed between Earth and the Otherworld, although the balance has been shifting steadily toward the latter with each passing decade for the past few centuries. They are not above hunting other fae, as long as they can catch them, and don't tend to have a great deal of interest in (or respect for) the Courts.