This is my second essay on the topic of Summerland. Today I want to explore the Kingdom of Eternal Summer, a fae realm where the sun never sets.
Kingdom of Eternal Summer
The Kingdom of Eternal Summer, also known as Summerland, is the home of the Faerie Seelie Court. At the heart of the kingdom lies the great Summer Palace, but the Court itself frequently roams the land.
The landscape of Summerland basks in eternal summer. The days are long and hot, the evenings balmy and the short nights are cool and refreshing. The sky is a perfect shade of blue, fading through orange to deepest purple in the evening. The stars glitter brightly, unless masked by the brief rain showers which herald the dawn. This warm rain washes clean Summerland, ensuring every morning begins fresh and clear, with the promise of a hot afternoon.
The idyllic lands of the Kingdom are forever cloaked in summer’s mantle. The patches of woodland are thick and shady, the meadows are bright with flowers and the scattered farms are eternally productive. Honey, and mead, are the signature products of the Kingdom, for the native bees are abundant and productive.
Meandering rivers are full of fish, and the woods boast great herds of deer. Fishing, hunting and hawking are popular morning pursuits, before the sun grows too hot. In the afternoon, however, the air becomes oppressive and the constant buzzing of bees turns soporific.
Queen of Summer
The ruler in the Summer Palace is Queen Titania, a character lifted from the play by Shakespeare. I wrote about Shakespearean faeries in an essay posted during Shakespeare week back in March.
Queen Titania is fond of music and dancing, which drives the endless feasting of her Seelie Court. Her benign nature is reflected in the weather and terrain of Summerland. She is kind, charming, beautiful and fun-loving, all traits of an idyllic eternal summer.
The Seelie Court are Queen Titania’s entourage of fae who participate in her endless balls, hunting and feasting. The largest, grandest balls are held in the grounds of Titania’s Summer Palace. However, much of the time the Seelie Court enjoy extended periods roaming through the soft landscape of Summerland. For all the beauty of the Palace, the Queen is happier dancing in a wooded glade or singing to the moon from the summit of a low hill.
When on their regular travels through the Kingdom, the Court resemble a circus more than a centre of government. Decorated wagons, swarms of faeries and a mass of excited riders comprise this restless parade. There is always music playing and beautiful voices singing the praises of the Queen or Summerland’s charms.
A host of liveried servants attend the passage of the Court. Some rush ahead to prepare a feast, others strike camp after the riders have left. Lumbering wagons trail across the landscape bearing tables, chairs, portraits and beds. One wagon may carry a vast cask of mead, while another is a mobile bakery producing the lightest of loaves even as it bumps through grassy meadows.
The exact composition of the Court often confuses mortal visitors. The Royal Baker may well be a Grand Duke, and the liveried servants claim to be members of the Court of equal standing as the Queen’s Maids of Honour. For all the outward trappings of royal power, the Court retains the heart of Faeire, where all is not quite as it seems.
Wildfolk of Summer
Not every inhabitant of Summerland is a member of the Seelie Court, whatever they may tell inquisitive travellers. The glades and dells of the Kingdom are home to all manner of humble folk. Brownies, boggarts, mischievous goblins and sullen trolls all live in Summerland.
Some are farmers, although they spend little time working their over-productive fields where sunshine and the Queen’s magic ensure an easy yield. Others tend the rolling meadows where bees of all sizes work far harder then any faerie. In Summerland, most of the wildfolk have absorbed the Queen’s easygoing manner.
Those wildfolk who retain a fondness for martial pursuits form the bulk of the Queen’s Guard. Their main duties are to patrol the borders of Summerland, keeping out those faeries whose dark hearts do not match this realm of eternal summer.
The most common foe of the Guard is the Wild Hunt, who range across the many planes. The drowsing woods of Summerland are teeming with deer, and thus are desirable hunting grounds. For all their watchfulness, the Queen’s Guard are not always successful. At such times, the Guard vigorously pursue the Wild Hunt across Summerland, and all is bedlam.
Another common trait of the wildfolk, and all who visit Summerland, is the preference for afternoon naps. Past noon, the sun is at its strongest, and the Kingdom of Eternal Summer grows uncomfortably hot. Thus, the residents of Summerland frequently nap for several hours.
Whoever has work in Summerland, completes it during the cooler morning hours. After a light lunch, all save the Queen’s Guard retire to a shady spot, often near a winding river, and doze for several hours. Then, as evening falls and the sky turns to shades of orange, life and music returns to Summerland. Refreshed by their nap, the fae are ready to laugh, dance and sing deep into the night.
A Shadow in Summerland
For all the bucolic appearance of Summerland, it is still a realm of the fae, and thus has its dangers. In the thickest parts of the Wildwood the sun never reaches the gloom of the forest floor. Here where the air is humid live faeries whose hearts burn like the relentless sun. As the Queen’s Guard focus on the borders of Summerland, they are not in a position to deal with this cruelty at the heart of the kingdom.
Yet, the greatest danger to mortal visitors lies with the natural capriciousness of the fae. Stay too long in the hot sun, and it burns the skin. The same principle can be applied to most of the dealings between mortals and the fae. The secret to a traveller staying safe in Summerland is “everything in moderation.”
Drink too much fae mead, then awake years later a pauper in a strange land. Dance too long at a faerie ball, then waltz forever under the forest eaves. Sing too beautifully, or simply catch the eye of Queen Titania, then end up bound to the Seelie Court for 100 years and a day. Many a fool has trusted the appearance of Summerland as a paradise of milk and honey, but in all fae realms appearances are not to be trusted.
Summerland in Your Game
In my Tales of the Hero Wars camoaign, the Kingdom of Eternal Summer is but one fae realm among many. You may choose to use it this way, or simply adopt it as the home of the Seelie Court.
Alternatively, Summerland makes a suitable Heavenly Hunting Grounds. Tone down the mischievous elements of the residents, and the setting works as a conventional paradise. Replace the Queen with the deity of your choice, and you are good to go.
Summerland is both a magical realm of the fae and an idealized vision of summer. To customize the setting, add in those traits of the long summers you recall from your childhood. I am sure these will resonate with your Players.
What personal features would you add to an idyllic Summerland? What stories emerge from the Seelie Court? Share your thoughts in the comments below.