Notes from the Droh College of Chemic and Animate Research
Office of the Chief Apothecary
Findings upon the Nature of Faeries
While it had long been noted that no two faeries looked alike, and that many of them resemble mundane, non-fae species, the revelation that faeries were the mobile form of a parasitical fungus surprised many students of the field. Surprise became dismay upon the revelation that the sparkling haze that often accompanied a faerie swarm was in actuality a drifting cloud of infectious spores.
Faeriscite spores may be inhaled or enter the body through small breaks in the skin. The infection progresses in what are now defined as five stages. In the initial stage, for instance, this common field mouse shows no outward signs of infection.
After several weeks the effects of the Faeriscite fungus have begun to manifest. The mouse has entered the second stage of infection. It is now bipedal, sprouting dorsal growths that will eventually become wings, and can speak a few words in a chirping, baby-like voice. It begins to seek out places where other creatures congregate, at this point others of its original kind. It is not, as far as research can tell, currently infectious.
The progress of the Faeriscite fungus varies based on the size of the victim, but it is accepted that the third stage is marked by the Faerie losing most resemblance to its parent species. Now the victim is highly mobile, capable of complex thought and communication and driven to seek out large areas of what we must now recognize as potential biomass.
It has been theorized that the evolving faerie tends to mimic the features of the species dominating its environment; this would imply that humanoid researchers are predestined to find humanoid faeries, while Goblin or Uranja investigators would find fae in their own, different image.
The fourth stage may be recognized by the development of the distinctive pot belly of the aging Faerie. The wings become rigid vanes to beat the air. The Faerie’s speech becomes simpler, suggesting that its intelligence may diminish. In contrast, its desire for companionship grows. This is the stage at which, in simpler times, one used to find faeries nesting in the eaves of cow sheds and hiding in the rafters, coming out at night to mend shoes and spin wool. The faerie's hunger to be helpful takes on a certain horror in retrospect.
In its fifth and final stage, the Faerie is reduced to a belly full of spores and a pair of wings. It speaks very little. Whether it finally bursts from internal stress, or whether it begins to seep and leak its terrible golden burden, the final stage of faeriscite infection is a lethal threat to any plant or animal in the viscinity. There is no known cure for the Faeriscite plague. The old north country tradition of immediately destroying faeries and faerie rings with fire is still our best approach to curtailing the spread of the disease.