This month, for the first of the monthly essays (unlocked thanks to your support!), we have some in-character material written about the Folkish, from the current work-in-progress novel.
Hundreds of years in the past, before the cataclysm that split the world and drove all wizardry from the face of the earth, the wizards created servants for themselves in many shapes and forms. One of these forms which has endured to the modern day are the folkish, being more formally known as the servile animal-folk.
Some observers have made claim that the folkish are the product of a wondrous whimsy, a proof that magical forces were and are part of a glorious creative impulse which speaks to the greatness of man’s nature. This hopeful thinking clashes with the facts: no civilized person feels comfortable amongst the enslaved. As we know from the brutish manners of our own colonies where slavery is retained, and the inhuman acts of the Drastinians, one man cannot enslave another without defiling themselves. But animals? Cattle, horses, and dogs have been mankind’s servants from the very beginning – and a more profitable relationship has never existed! The folkish, then, are in truth as the domesticated animals. Intelligent enough to follow commands, blessed with a mental simplicity that allows them to enjoy such labours. That the wizards of old saw fit to create their own slaves from these animals is a sign of wisdom and civility – such as could ever exist amongst those who deny God’s creation – not a sign of creativity and whimsy.
With the draining of magic from the world, and without their masters to serve, the folkish have adapted by fits and starts to honest employment and fair contracted servitude. They can be found in any city of reasonable size, from the most rural extent of Marilace to the very heart of Southmarch itself, often living in ghettoes and communities amongst their own kind, where they are most comfortable. There are rumours that this allows them to continue to worship the wizards in secret, but I have visited many churches with folkish within the congregation and am pleased to say that, aside from praying for their ‘blessings’, they are Godfearing.
The matter of their blessings is one of especial note. It seems that the magic that blessed them with their form – what some call the ‘true’ magic, as though magic were an apple, and eating from the side yet to turn rotten were a preventative measure – fades from generation to generation. Manuscripts hundreds of years old speak of folkish who could pass almost for human – an impossibility now, of course! The folkish we see amongst our cities tend towards being shorter than a man, sometimes by a little, sometimes by a great deal, and all bear remarkably animalistic faces and features. A well-blessed folkish may have hands that are well formed, a less-blessed folkish may suffer to live with paws instead. The least blessed of all are rumoured to be the product of bestiality – if such a thing could truly take place between an enchanted animal and a mundane one. The ‘beastbloods’ are rare, but resemble a mundane animal in all respects save their intelligence, though this is said to fade rapidly indeed. I have never met one, but very young folkish toddlers do appear far more animalistic than the adults, to my eye. The beastbloods may be a superstition, but when dealing with magic, it is unwise to dismiss superstitions.
Given that the waning of magic from the world continues, the echoes of magic among the folkish will logically reach silence at some point in the future. Some think it a matter of perhaps a few generations, but I view this as zealotry at its worst. A logical analysis would imply the folkish will remain with us for hundreds of years before vanishing into their bestial natures, and will become a historical footnote. To those who have met folkish, admired their industry and good spirit, this will be an unfortunate and sad fate for these descendants from victims of wizards’ egotistical quest to twist the world to best suit themselves.
When the day comes that the folkish are extinct, however sad that day will be, we can at least take comfort in that it is also the day on which the modernization of the world shall be all but complete, free of superstition, with God’s will and God’s natural laws obeyed in totality at last.
We may also take comfort in that we shall tell our grandchildren, and they shall tell their grandchildren, of these wondrous little people who serve us with such earnest joy.