#19: A Letter Concerning the Material Realm

To Captain Blythe Ferdinand:

I was very pleased upon learning that the Queens of Summer and Winter accepted my proposal to further explore this new realm as a way to subsidize the magical energy of the Fey Realm. Their response advised that the majority of our funds would be coming with the military contingent that would be joining us on the expedition and that you would be my contact with the royal government moving forward. However, they did mention that some of the funds would be reimbursable if there was anything I would need to prepare before your arrival.

As it stands, my excitement at deepening our understanding exceeds my scientific logic and I have led a small contingent of researchers into the realm. I utilized spatial magic to open up a portal just large enough for our group. Thus, we have set up a small encampment in the jungle I had mentioned in my previous missive. Though small, I do believe this headquarters should be large enough to house my researchers and the modest military unit that you will be leading here. My assistants and I were able to tap into this realm’s elemental magic to construct structures that will functionally work for our purposes without disrupting the local ecosystem. 

I was quite impressed at the functionality of the elemental magic here. I have used elemental magic to construct elements from natural elements in the fey realm, but nothing this elaborate. The fauna in this realm is truly a marvel and the essence of its elemental magic complements it perfectly. I look forward to showing you the research labs and dorm units we were able to construct by encouraging the trees and bushes to grow how we needed them. My mind currently races at the other uses we may be able to find for the magic of this realm.

This letter is to serve as an update brief on what my team and I have uncovered during our time in this unexplored world. I wish to keep you as current as possible so that you may best utilize both of our times upon our initial meeting. 

First things first, my team and I decided that this place needed a name. Continuing to refer to it as “the new realm,” became cumbersome quickly. Due to the tangible nature of everything in this realm, especially when comparing it to our Fey Realm, we decided to call this the “Material Realm.” That is how I will be referring to it moving forward.

About a day into our studies, a group of natives discovered our encampment. They approached us more with curiosity than hostility. I used a basic translation spell to communicate with them. It turns out, they are part of a population of sub-elf species. One such species refers to itself as “human.” These humans have small rounded ears and are less lithe than an average elf. They seem to have more body mass and larger deposits of fat distributed throughout their body. This likely developed evolutionarily from their need to hunt down their own food. These deposits of fat allow them to live for multiple days if needed, without sustenance. Of course, we elves have never had this problem as Fey food has much more concentrated nutrition, requiring less to sustain our bodies. Humans have hair on their heads and faces, as elves do, yet I was surprised to see that some of them had hair growing out of their chests and all over their arms and legs. I suppose this was also an evolutionary adaptation to what I presume are colder times in the material realm.  Finally, the skin tone of these humans seems to be darker than that of a high elf, yet lighter than that of a river elf. 

Additionally, there is a species that refers to itself as “orcs.” Orcs are much larger than humans or elves. They seem to have much more in the way of muscle mass, yet they do still carry a good bit of fat content. Not only are they taller, but they are also much broader than an elf or human. While the humans had voices in a similar tone to elves, orcs seem to have much deeper voices with a bit of a growl present in any word they speak. Orcs also had hair throughout their body, in similar places to humans. Their skin tones, however, were more earthy. The orcs I have met have had grey, brown, and green skin tones. 

We learned that the orcs and the humans live side-by-side in this jungle. They have seemed to learn how to best complement one another. The hunting party we met, for example, was composed of both humans and orcs. The orcs tended to confront the larger prey, while the humans used crude ranged weapons to shoot down smaller prey. Once on our short travels with them, the humans would even attack larger prey while the orcs confronted them physically. I was impressed at how this primitive culture has adapted to find an efficient way to survive. Notably, the orcs and humans see each other as equals. This was a startling contrast to how we elves have viewed the fey sub-races. It feels so bizarre to imagine elves living alongside pixies, gnomes, or trolls. Our history has taught us that society can only function whenever the superior race institutes a strict caste system to maintain order. I have considered if in the coming centuries as the society in the material realm develops if the brighter humans will overtake the orcs or if the stronger orcs will dominate the humans. With any luck, there can be an extended sociological study conducted in the material realm. That would be very interesting to read after I’ve reached my third century.

Once this hunting party assessed that my team and I posed no immediate threat to them, they invited us back to their camp to meet their leader. Upon our arrival, it became clear that the native population has not developed ways to utilize the full functionality of the Material Realm’s magic. They lived in primitive huts constructed from dried wood harvested from the jungle lashed together with dried grasses and vines. While the ingenuity was commendable, I couldn’t help but feel sad that they have been forced to live in such conditions. Perhaps, upon your consultation, my team and I may teach these people some basic spells to help them live more comfortably.

Whenever we met their chief, I was able to witness something incredible. The hunting party addressed their chief and immediately bowed in front of him. He then waved basic ritual implements, such as color sticks and gemstones, while chanting an incantation. I do not know if he was fully aware he was channeling magic. As he completed the ritual, all the wounds sustained during their hunting expedition were healed in front of our eyes. Bruises lightened until they faded into their natural skin tones, cuts knitted themselves back together and broken bones snapped back into place. In all of my time as a magical researcher, I had never seen anything like this. I have decided to call this discipline of magic “healing.” 

The sheer possibilities of this type of magic could be revolutionary for our people. We could cure diseases that have plagued our youth. We could assist the labor population of sub-races to be able to work longer and increase productivity. We could develop methods to save elves that have experienced fatal injuries. I look forward to learning ways to channel this magic and hopefully bring some of it back to the Fey Realm. We could potentially do this through the use of localized spatial magic. I will keep you updated on our progress.

I look forward to your arrival and to any guidance you can send from the Fey Queens. If you have any need to contact me before your arrival, simply send a message to my wife. She has the means to contact me when I am traveling outside the Fey Realm.


Rowena Zarin


These stories serve as inspiration for the upcoming short story collection, Tyranny of the Fey. The collection will be released on August 15th, 2023. You can pre-order it now!

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