The Huldufolk live alongside humanity, influencing their world, but forever apart from them. Some Huldufolk appear to humans (but usually cannot appear to them as themselves), and if they feel strongly enough for a person, they might fall in love with them. They might even have children with them (a Lost Twin), though afterwards they won’t be able to appear to them again.
… But what if that’s not enough? What if they aren’t content to just watch from afar? What if they must find a way to bridge the gulf between them and the human they’ve fallen for?
Or, what if Huldufolk’s reason for stealing a human isn’t even as relatable as that? What they just want some company, or a useful tool, or they genuinely want to ruin someone’s life? Whether they have a have a reason they can convince you is valid or not, only the Banished have a way to turn a human into a Huldufolk, and the power to do so has lead many a Huldufolk to fall to the Banished over the centuries.
The process is simple in explanation, but abhorrent in application.
- Simply get your human of choice (your candidate) to commit an unforgivable act (usually murder, but torture and grievous bodily harm that can never been recovered from have been known to suffice on occasion) to an innocent person. Usually this involves some trickery, often mistaken identity, or fooling your candidate into believing their victim has wronged them in some way. The important part isn’t whether the candidate was tricked into doing it — the only important aspect is that they chose to commit the sin of their own volition. The victim did not deserve their fate in any way, and a Huldufolk created the situation where their candidate did the deed of their own free.
- Once the candidate has committed the act, they begin to separate from the mortal world. The reality around them begins to dim from focus, and mortal society starts to no longer notice their existence. At this point, any Huldufolk can appear to the candidate at will. After letting the candidate’s sanity unravel for a bit of time, the Huldufolk trying to steal them from the world reveals themselves.
- The Huldufolk attempting to steal the candidate must reveal the ruse to them: they’ve done harm to an innocent person, and that harm can never be taken back. They then need to convince the candidate to agree to be hidden from the world permanently. They can convince their target however they want. Often these discussions involve their eternal damnation; or convincing them they can never be redeemed; or, the simplest truth: that they’ll be found out and arrested if they return to the mortal world. Importantly, the Huldufolk cannot threaten or use coercion to convince their candidate — they again must choose to be stolen of their own free will.
- If the candidate chooses to return to the mortal world, reality snaps back into focus. Everything returns to normal, with the exception of them having committed a terrible deed and whatever consequences may come of that, in this world or the next. Their story with the Huldufolk ends here.
- If the candidate chooses of their own free will to leave the world of humanity, the participate in the Huldufolk’s ritual, appealing to the Patrons of the Banished to steal them from humanity. That ritual requires a sacrifice, which they have already made. Once completed, they are now one of The Stolen.
The process to create a Stolen Huldufolk, while requiring the assistance of the Patrons of the Banished, does not require the Stolen to join the Banished themselves. Their kidnapper must explain the options available to them, and let them choose. Often they will attempt to downplay the other choices, presenting the Banished as their natural home
Some Stolen will refuse to make the decision right there, and end up either joining one of the other factions, or forsake the society altogether, becoming a Rogue Huldufolk. Most, however, will accept this explanation from their kidnapper, and make their choice on the spot. Some choose the Banished having chosen to lean in to their sin, making evil their new life’s work. Others choose the Banished believing they have no real place elsewhere. Unfortunately, once the choice is made, leaving the Banished is a dangerous pursuit, and one rarely attempted.
Advantages: Stolen have an advantage no other type of Huldufolk can claim: they grew up as an actual human, part of human society. They therefore have the closest connection to humanity, and the easiest time influencing it by far.
Additionally, a Stolen can do something no other Huldufolk can: when they choose to appear in the mortal world, they can appear as themselves. They appear as themselves as they looked before they were Stolen, but it does mean they can use their own identity, if they wish to, and they usually have documentation from their mortal days to back up their identity. Unfortunately for them, if mortal authorities or others have an idea of who committed the awful act that led to the Huldufolk being Stolen, being able to resume their former life might not be much of an advantage.
If the Stolen joins the Banished, they have the reputation for having been important enough for a Huldufolk to go through a great deal of trouble to bring them into the fold. If the Stolen joins the Blessed, either immediately, especially if they make the dangerous conversion later, they gain a reputation as one trying to redeem themselves for their sin.
Disadvantages: Because they’ve spent their lives as humans, only to cross into Huldufolk society much later than the other kinds of Huldufolk, Stolen have a distinct disadvantage dealing with the Patrons.
If they stay within the Banished, the Patrons generally perceive the Stolen as owing them something, given their earlier appeal to be removed from the mortal world. They do, however, seem to respect the Stolen for choosing to live this way.
While the Patrons among the Blessed may also respect a Stolen for pursuing redemption, the Stolen’s appeal to the power of Demons leads the Patrons to be unlikely to wish to speak to them. The Patrons will only appear to the most successful Stolen among the Blessed, and it’s unclear if they do so out of respect or necessity. Even their Messengers are unlikely to appear to a Stolen, even if they make themselves the most powerful member of their faction in the city. Additionally, the Stolen among the Blessed are expected to spend some of their time trying to atone for their actions, even if that pursuit does not help their faction.
Luckily for some, the mysterious Patron of the Agents of Balance seems to have no qualms about dealing with the Stolen, and leaves it up to them whether they wish to atone in the mortal world.