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The Fairies of Ainslough remain a peculiar breed. While their distant urban cousins the Reluctant Folk grow to nearly human-size, and are prone to typical human behavior, particularly the urge to shout obvious comments to athletes and other performers on the quality of their performance, the Ainslough fairies top out at 7 inches or so. My learned colleague Dr. J. Q. R. Aldous Hopswitch at the University has purportedly measured one topping 12 inches, or a ducal foot, but his research was marred by a rogue beheading from a fellow scientist’s troll study1.
Their small size is often assumed to be a disadvantage in the wilds of Hysperite Falls, where 99% of all Ainslough fairies make their home2. The Falls are home to a number of predators, not the least of which include the famed tiger trout, but the Ainslough fairies have developed an unusual martial ability. This propensity towards warfare can be seen in their vast artillery, including catapults and siege weaponry that far outstrips the collection of the Ducal Regiment.
In addition, the Ainslough fairies have been reported to have a rather sour taste3, which may be explained by the fairies’ strong addiction to the gerift plant, whose berries may be fermented to form a rather sour alcohol. Young Ainslough fairies are raised on gerift milk, and continue to drink it well into their fourth score of years, or about when their teeth fall out.
Despite their size and sourness, and the rural backwater in which they make their home4, the Ainslough fairies have produced three of the known world’s loveliest women, which may account for the abiding belief on the part of many small children raised far from Hysperite Falls that fairies are all good and beautiful. These women, in order of beauty, were:
3. Frances the Fair – lived to only 30 winters before falling victim to a tiger trout while her portrait was being painted by Joshua K. Rankin, who later won the Prix de Ars Ultima for the work.
2. Paula the Pretty – who killed herself at age 40, unable to tolerate the thought of a single grey hair upon the head of which poet Hugh Gabilshatush rhymed “a raven’s wing of luscious black, she’s meaner than a heart attack.”
This most recent death has led to a closing of the borders with the fairies of Ainslough, or so we must conclude by the violent shower of rocks and dried, sharpened animal dung, propelled by ballestra, which greeted a party of students from this very University.
1 Being a Comprehensive Examination into Troll Behavior, or, “What happens when we give them a beer?”, Dr. H. X. Smithington, PhD Obvious Studies (Harris & Xavier, 764).
2 Don’t ask about Gerald Ainslough. You’ll just start his poor mum crying again, and it took all four of her sisters to calm her down last time, along with the last of the rum.
3 The widespread proliferation and resettlement of the vampyres of Un-Littlesmithick excludes a rough area of about 153.86 square miles, or a poorly-drawn circle formed by a seven-mile radius from the base of Hysperite Falls.
4 Again, excepting Gerald.