Let's talk about the fae. Anyone who reads urban fantasy or YA fantasy may have encountered the fae - sometimes they're called the Sidhe- and often the story involves a trip to Faerie, or a portal from Faerie to Earth, or a riff on that. But what is Faerie? Well that depends on the story, and there are lots of examples. I've read descriptions of it as a dangerous place where the faerie courts hold sway, a place of pure nature where the sun is brighter and every sense is enhanced, where people go and have a hard time escaping, the list goes on and on.
To me Faerie is a plane of existence where nature rules supreme. The faeries and other creatures have their own customs, and there is honor but also duplicity and mischievousness. There are meadows where twinkling lights and great bonfires illumine the night, elven courts and great dragonflies and gnomes who live in trees. Is there evil as well? Sure in some areas. It could be like Mirkwood in Lord of the Rings- part of the forest is ruled by the Elvenking but there are also darker areas... perhaps great marshes where will-o-wisps feed on the life energies of those foolish enough to enter. Dragons would be here too I would think, their appearance striking fear into all, and the great crack of their wings announcing their presence. One might look up in the night and see a great winged form in the moonlight, obscured briefly by scudding clouds.
I've always been fascinated too by the concept of Gates- portals through time and space to other worlds, of which Faerie might be just one. Perhaps there is a shimmering in the woods, and if you pass beneath the interlacing branches of an ancient oak you find yourself- elsewhere. Or a volcano or lava flow opens up a rift to elemental fire. Could there be a passage to a plane of water, where there is no surface? Or a plane of elemental air, where there is no down. No ground to fall too- do you float or do you just sort of fall forever? Maybe there are floating islands with settlements, with airships and waterfalls that spray into the air.
I'm curious to know what Faerie is to you- how would you imagine it? Do you have a favorite read dealing with the fae folk or a favorite creature?