The cruel reality is this: the True Fae like to steal children from the world. Why is this? Hard to say, and it’s not like the Others are particularly clear about their motivations. Do they milk the humanity out of such younglings, drinking their Glamour (or their blood)? Could it be that, if taken at an early enough age, a child can grow up to “become” one of the Fae? Or are their purposes so alien that no human mind can come to comprehend them?
In “The Fear-Maker’s Promise,” an outsider to the freehold called Red Wren has offered up a promise to the local Lost: with a certain ritual that she has performed elsewhere, she can ensure that no children under the age of fifteen years will be abducted by the True Fae for one year and one day. The invocation of this Children’s Contract is not pleasant, however, and forces the changelings of the freehold into a moral dilemma. The dilemma? The ritual demands that physical harm and mental trauma be brought against a single child — acting as a scapegoat, and a focus of the ritual.
The fear of the sacrificial boy is the catalyst for the ritual. His fear is enough to keep all the local children sufficiently afraid of that which they do not know (the Others) and the True Fae at bay.
The Children’s Contract, performed on the Autumnal Equinox (Wednesday the 23rd of September, 2015), therefore falls under the governance of the Court of Fear. Given that Red Wren belongs to the Autumn Court, it’s not surprising that the court decides to go ahead with the ritual.
Within the last year, the number of children gone missing in the city has risen to frightening numbers. Every other night the news has another story of a missing or abducted child. By now, bodies should have turned up living or dead. None have. Some of the local Lost assume the worst: it’s the True Fae, plucking children from the world as casually as you might pick flowers from a garden. Some of the Lost refuse to believe the Others can be so busy without having been spotted in action.
A month ago, an Autumn Court witch known as Red Wren came to the city. She offered the rulers of the Courts and all the changelings of the freehold a way to stop the abductions of mortal children from the city. She offered them the Children’s Contract. It is a ceremony she would perform and then teach to others so that the ritual may be kept every year upon the Autumnal Equinox.
The freehold’s personas were evenly split on whether or not the Children’s Contract should or should not be performed for various reasons on all sides. While not universally so, for the most part the split was along Courtly lines: the Spring and Autumn Court believed it was a necessary evil. The Summer Court found it a grotesque offer. The Winter Court noted that the grief born of so many missing children was, while regrettable, perhaps necessary.
Seeing as how the ritual would be performed on the Autumnal Equinox, that essentially put the Autumn Court into the position of deciding the fate of the ritual and the city’s children. They decided to press ahead with it.