In Fairy Dust's universe, a great number of fantastical beings really exist. Their coexistence creates situations unknown to our universe
Before developing a stable and modern civilisation, the peoples of the world had to learn to live with one another, with races whose differences were much deeper than skin colours. Despite it being established that humanoids have equivalent faculties, each has unique physical and mental characteristics. Politics, urbanism, industry and science are affected, for better and for worse.
A metropolis such as Rieville is guaranteed to house communities of each of those races, with the exception of those who require a climate not found in the region. Because of the size of the inhabitants, varying between under five hundred grams to over three hundred kilograms, infrastructure must be adapted, sometimes by building specialised neighbourhoods. If those ghettos sometimes end up dividing socially and economically, it's nothing but a regrettable accident, believe it!
Society is modern and tries to fight racism, but it isn't a simple task. Businesses may have a legitimate need to restrict their services or employment racially : by example, a small business run by fairies can be honestly unable to provide services to giant people. Making sure these restrictions really derive from the business's capability and not its owners' prejudice is the object of a complex system of licenses and inspections.
Fairies are the smallest and most delicate humanoids. An average individual is about fourty centimeters tall and weights a little more than four hundred grams. Sexual characteristics are discrete, as flight adaptation makes any superfluous weight undesirable. Fairies don't seem to age, but their life expectancy is limited by their size which exposes them to accidents and predators.
Fairy wings are made of continuously growing keratin. As the surface wears, it produces fairy dust, a fast acting hallucinogen. When threatened, fairies throw a cloud of dust to disorient their predators. Some related humanoids are immune to dust's effect, but most are vulnerable. Recreational use of fairy dust is widespread, but its abuse is linked to psychological disorders and overdoses are fatal.
Regardless of their intelligence, fairies maintain a childlike naiveté on topics they are uneasy with. It is believed that this innocence helps protecting them from trauma brought about by their physical fragility. It is indeed rare for a fairy to reach adulthood without seeing at least one friend devoured by a carnivore or crushed under a distracted human's feet.
Fairies live in temperate to warm climates, and hibernate in winter. They're too small to approach a fire hot enough to work metal, but find successful places in mixed societies.
Elves are by far the most feared and hated race of all humanoids. Unable to synthetise certain molecules they need to live, elves must obligatorily eat humanoid flesh, or deperish and die. Animal flesh does not suit them and causes severe allergies.
Despite food supplying them in essential substances, elves suffer from accelerated aging. Their life expectancy is relatively short, but can reach fifty years with regular medical attention.
Elves produce a powerful opiate venom that can knock out much larger prey. While illegal, the sell of this venom for recreational use is a common source of income. Demand is guaranteed by the strong addiction it causes.
Despite being so fragile, elves are present in all inhabited areas of the world. They're naturally timid and agoraphobic. They preciously maintain their common language and keep their secrets away from strange ears.
Great elves are born from an elf man and a woman of any other race. With time, many cultures formed from such mixes. Gifted with their lesser elf ancestors' adaptations but without their weakness, they're usually tall, graceful, vigorous and bright. They keep the intolerance for animal flesh, but don't need human flesh to live: they don't need cannibalism, when they practice it, it's only by taste. Their societies are either admired or feared. Few in human dominated cities, they build their own cities or live directly in nature, preferably in the forest.
Gnomes usually have a bad reputation, without deserving it: both their appearance and manners offend the other races, often without the gnomes noticing. Between them, they form prosperous and peaceful societies, but never developed the conflict avoiding strategies the more aggressive races call politeness. They understand social conventions as much as the others but have a hard time believing they're important.
Goblins are short, bald, entirely bald and with a child like build. Their enormous eyes see clearly in darkness but are injured by any bright light. They can tolerate a moderate artificial lighting but sunlight instantly blinds them and can fatally burn their skin in a few minutes. They can live in cities at the condition of having a neighbourhood without night lighting, and most of the world's inhabitable grottoes house a community of them.
In cities, blind goblins have more freedom than seeing ones, because they do not fear electric lights, and the opportunity to trade outside their community makes them the richest class.
Leprechauns are fay creatures, resisting fairy dust and venoms, and they can get drunk without getting sick. Their skin wrinkles early on and a middle-aged leprechaun looks the same as an elderly one.
Being solitary, leprechauns don't welcome strangers enthusiastically, and prefer to build their house far apart. Despite the distance, they cooperate well and are good workers, which makes their communities usually rich. They don't like the stereotype associating them with luck, which downplays the hard work behind their prosperity.
Also known as succubus when showing a feminine phenotype, all incubus are actually male. Their size and appearance is extremely variable. Their physiology excluding reproduction with one another, they must obligatorily propagate with other races.
An incubus is defined by its mode of reproduction: during sexual contact, instead of normal gametes, the incubus emits immature germ cells that implant in the partner's genital tract. The tumor they form stops growing after a few days and specialises to produce spermatozoa carrying the incubus's DNA. If the host is a woman, she'll repeatedly become pregnant from the incubus. If it's a man, his sperm will contain more spermatozoa from the incubus than his own. All the genes determining the incubus trait are on the Y chromosome, so only the boys born from it will inherit it, the girls will reproduce normally.
In cities, it's illegal for an incubus to hide his nature to a partner, but this is difficult to control. Many young incubus have no knowledge of their own nature and infect many hosts before finding out.
Just like elves and fairies, they produce psychoactive toxins. While they are coveted on the black market, they are less actively repressed, as the chemical mix is complex, difficult to isolate and preserve, so the rarity makes its trade self limiting. A simple skin contact with saliva is enough to induce a state of suggestibility and euphoria for a short time.
The only giant race to populate all continents, humans became, for over a century, more numerous tan all other humanoids put together. However, their extreme gregarious tendencies incites them to build immense cities where they gather by the millions, therefore occupying less if the vast territories left in the less urbanised areas.
A majority in many powerful civilisations, humans are in position to influence laws in their favour, so other races often have to raise issues caused by this situation. Modern democratic systems try to provide a balance to this effect, but only manage it partlyDespite their industrial capacity, the humans' productivity is surprising, because seen from the outside, they seem to spend most of their time finding ways to kill time. They seem in fact lazy and cowardly individually, and invincible collectively.
Almost as feared as elves, orcs aren't surrounded in mystery and rumour like them: their threat comes from straightforward brute force and ferocity. Even though they've been quiet for a few decades, confined by treaty to a reservation they can only leave under strict conditions.
Orcs are a race that made itself: from human-troll hybrids, they applied an eugenic policy long enough to make themselves a descendence to their taste: tall, strong, brave... and half mad. The tradition of castrating the unsatisfactory boys fortunately seems to be going out, sometimes replaced by knocking out their tusks, which is expected to be enough to make them unattractive to the patriarch's wives. Only the ruling class is allowed to marry, and each caste has its own obligations, but orcs' erratic and not very obedient temper forces them to be loosely enforced.
A Troll is a great, heavy, hairy, stinky and happy creature. Their powerful body gives them strength and health, and their simple personality doesn't waste time inventing neuroses. They can eat almost anything and are at ease in cold climates. Their scent allows them to recognise the parentage of individuals they meet for the first time.
Trolls unfortunately have a rather low status in mixed societies. They have long been confined to physical labour and few resources were spent towards their education. Their bestial appearance and strong smell incites many humans to see them as mere animals, and their low natality keeps them from becoming an interesting demographic for politicians. While capable of violence, trolls are poor warriors, being too emotional and protective to tolerate endangering their or their peers' lives.
While also small and airborne, imps are not related to fairies. Their wings are formed from their arms and don't grow back after an injury. Poorly adapted to winter, a few managed to settle in hostile climates by moving into the house of larger creatures.
Though their needs are modest, imps are very territorial and, when they adopt this parasitic lifestyle, they make sure their host remains alone, endeavouring to drive away or even kill all undesirable company. Housing an imp promises a lifetime of misfortune.
When their housing needs are guaranteed, imps are productive members of society, but when an individual ends up on the wrong side of the law, resorting to this strategy can be very tempting.
The different races forming society do not constitute distinct species and can reproduce with almost any other. While some pairings are more common than other, none seems completely impossible. For obvious practical reasons, most happen between races of similar sizes.
An individual is considered an hybrid if they possess less than 80% of genetic material from the same race. In an urban area, about one person out of twenty meets that criterion. Genetic research has shown that truly pure specimens are a rare exception, sometimes found among island populations.
First generation hybrids have a relatively uniformous appearance and physiology, while on the second generation, the expression of recessive traits is unpredictable. Some combinations can show themselves to be less favourable than others. By example, a quarter fairy child may produce fairy dust, but not have the neuroreceptors that would resist its effect and risk developing mental disorders if no care is taken. Luckily, most manage globally well and severe problems with health and adaptation are uncommon.
There are seventeen known species of dragons, but only two live outside the tropical regions. Dragons are saurians who share an unique specialisation, the ability to breathe fire. Some species have wings, some don't, and their shapes and colours vary as much as one would expect from other types of lizards.
Dragon breath is composed of highly flammable compounds; the green dragon's fuel, the hottest known, consists of 70% cholesterol, 20% alcohol and 10% water. While it can be drank, it has a foul taste and a nauseating mucous texture, as well as being corrosive and causing serious digestive problems in the long run. For the dragon itself, it serves a more vital purpose, as even a small dragon's fire can force a predator to flee. When kept as pets, dragons' flint tooth is usually removed to reduce the risk of fire. Dragons are omnivores, eating insects and fruit when young, and larger prey and foliage as they grow.
Some dragons are partially domesticated. They can still live in the wild, but are attracted to humanoids and prove very easy to tame and train.
It is said that unicorns are drawn to virgins, or that only the innocent can approach them. The truth is the opposite, actually. By a mechanism scientists haven't been able to identify yet, anyone approaching an unicorn finds themselves in a state of mental regression and becomes as vulnerable as a child. This phenomenon allows the horse-sized predator to lure their victim to its lair.
Unicorns can be tamed, but captive ones must be kept locked away from the people, and muzzled when in contact with them. Anyone dealing with them must first be trained to resist its psychlogical effect, and keep in mind that even a very obedient unicorn can turn on them without warning. They can however be desirable beasts, as they are very strong, and make enthusiastic battle steeds. Circuses also like to have a few, but letting them near children is increasingly unpopular.
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