The Wolves of Brandenburg
Changelings and killcrops are laid in the place of legitimate children by Satan in order to plague mankind. He often pulls certain girls into the water, impregnates them, and keeps them with him until they deliver their children; afterward he places these children in cradles, taking the legitimate children away. But such changelings, it is said, do not live more than eighteen or nineteen years.
Martin Luther, Martin Luther’s Table Talk
Long ago, the Alfar lived upon the world. They still exist, but are a pale shadow of what they once were. The Alfar were creatures of the Wyld; spirits of wonder and nature. As the power of the Weaver grows, their powers fade. As the Wyrm grows, they sick and die. Human dreams and beliefs keep them alive on this side of the Gauntlet, but as disbelief grows there are less and less Alfar every year.
The Alfar are divided into two groups, the Liosalfar (Light Elves) and Dokkalfar (Dark Elves). They alternated rule of the Great Hosts of the Alfar. Now who rules them are unknown as they have become secretive in the past few centuries. Most Alfar have left the lands of mortal men forever, and only changelings remain.
In ages past, the Alvar were allies and rivals of the Garou just as the Tribes fought together and quarreled. The Fianna and the Silver Fangs had the most dealings with them. The Get of Fenris tell a different story, and their feud with the Alfar goes back many years.
In the lands of the northern Europe, men tell stories of two groups of gods, the Aesir and Vanir. They warred with one another until they exchanged hostages and became one. The Garou know this story conceals the truth – the Aesir were spirits of Gaia, powerful jagglings or even Incarna; the Vanir were noble Alfar. Fenris and his brood were once friends with them, and Fenris even dwelled in the Umbral Realm of the Aesir, fabled Asgard and visited that land of dreaming, Vanaheim.
One day from the east came a man. He befriended the Vanir and taught them many Gifts. He was wise and powerful, but he was also a spawn of the Wyrm and lord of the draugr. His name was Odin, the Furious One, for he was blessed with Rage like few Garou ever enjoyed. He could command the spirits, and could travel the Nine Worlds. The Vanir made secret pacts with him. Eventually this foul Wyrm creature would usurp the role of the Celestine Mercury in the worship of the German people, and they would make blood offerings to Odin in the guise of the All High.
For this betrayal, the Get of Fenris swore a blood oath on the House of Vanir, and all Alvar who owe them their allegiance are their enemy.
In the Umbra, Great Fenris grew enraged at the actions of those Alvar his people had called friends. His rage stoked like a burning fire. When Fenris first went to dwell with the Aesir, the spirit was but a small pup. Now he was a mighty beast. If the Incarna spirit was allowed to manifest on the Realm, he would spread destruction. Knowing well how much devastation he would cause if he were allowed to roam free, the gods asked Fenris to agree to be bound and slumber until the time of Ragnarok at which point he would be released to destroy the enemies of Gaia. Great Fenris was no fool and he suspected trickery. He refused to be bound with it unless one of the gods would lay his or her hand in his jaws as a pledge of good faith. Then the spirit Tiwaz approached his old friend and agreed to form a Pact. Alone among the spirit of Asgard, Tiwaz did feed Fenris. All others trembled at his terrible rage. Tiwaz would pay the ban price by sacrificing his own hand in surety. The sacrifice honored Fenris greatly, and Fenris agreed to stay his vengeance.
In bitter irony, acquiring a dreadful physical blemish rendered a ruler unfit to rule in heathen northern European society. Thus did Tiwaz fall among the mortal worshippers as chief of the pantheon, and the draugr lord Odin took his place. Such bitter weeds grow from the treachery of the Vanir. Garou lament such fate, but they remember the ban Tiwaz willingly took, and the Get of Fenris honor that spirit above all among the Aesir.
Garou and Changeling
Both Garou and Fae believe their peoples were closely tied together in the ancient past before the Sundering. In many caerns, the Garou and Fae lived side by side. But no longer. Only the Fianna remain involved with the Fae as they believe themselves to be pledged warriors (fianna is a warrior band) of their ancient kin. This ancient ban is still included among packs of Stag. The Fae however are fickle friends, and both groups have diverged from their once common interests. As a result, interaction between the Fae and Garou have declined remarkably since the Shattering. The world has changed too much.
The Fianna tribe has existed in Germany for thousands of years. There are even now Garou of the Fianna in southern Germany who are descendants of kinfolk originally of the Celtic tribes, although by now they are completely Germanized. In German, the Fianna are called the Hirschsoldaten, or the Soldiers of Stag. There are few Fianna left as every century brings more caerns seized by the Fenrir or more Fianna cubs taken by the Get to raise as their own. However, some holdouts remain. Garou interested in learning more about the Fae would do well to seek them out.
Trods are Domains in the Penumbra which allow access to the lands of the Fae which are not part of the Gaian Umbra, but another plane of reality altogether. Trods are extremely rare. Since few Garou are interested in contact with the Fae knowledge of many trods have been lost. Only the Fianna, packs of Stag, and a few other peculiar Garou keep an eye on them, and even they have lost such knowledge of many trods or perhaps they have become entirely lost. Unfortunately, trods are one way paths. One can enter the Dreaming by such a path, but upon arrival the trod closes. Garou must find yet another trod to return back to the Penumbra. In addition, Garou can become easily lost on trods. Navigating can be difficult requiring Perceptions + Enigmas rolls of different difficulties and successes needed. Guides are essential for any extended exploration of the Dreaming.
Duchy of Transalbingia
The fae realms are not well known to most Garou, but the Garou of Brandenburg still know their lands reside in the same realm as the fae Duchy of Transalbingia, which seems to encompass the lands between the Rivers Elbe and Oder. There has not been any real interaction between fae and Garou for centuries. The best leads the Garou know point to the lands of Saxon Switzerland to the south. There are also rumors that the fae have been active inside the city of Berlin ever since the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm moved to Fredericks-Ludwig University in Berlin in 1840. Most of the Brandeburg Garou scoff at the notion the children of the Wyld would ever live in one of the Scabs.
Chimares are Domains in the Umbra formed by specific human dreams. While not directly related to the Fae, the Garou know that all aspects of the Dreaming are connected. However, it is not common knowledge If it is possible to somehow travel from a Chimare to other areas of the Dreaming.
Alfheimr Tor (Arcadia Gateway)
The Near Umbral Realm of Alfheimr Tor is well known to Garou. Just beyond the Penumbra, the easiest way for Garou to travel there is via Moon Bridges from a Garou caern. Like all travel on moon bridges, such voyages are most safely done during the full moon when many Lunes protect the bridges. Time and distance in Alfheim Tor is even more random and unusual than in areas of the local Dreaming.
Alfheimr Tor is an umbral domain sundered forever from the home of the elves, Alfheim. It was created to serve as a buffer between Alfheim and the Middle Umbra. Long ago, all paths to the Dreaming lead to here, but the gate to Alfheim was lost, seemingly destroyed, during the late Middle Ages in the aftermath of the Black Death an event fae call the Shattering.
The realm itself is a land of perpetual twilight where the seasons never change. In the west are the lands ruled by Lord Lysander, a faerie knight who dwells in midsummer. In the east, is the realm of Queen Marianna who rules a land of everwinter. Before the Shattering, the rule of the realm alternated between the two as the seasons changed, but since the lost of the gate, the two lords blame each other and fight an unending war. The realm is bisected by a path that goes north to south, little more than a prominent hunting trail, that marks the boundaries of each realm. The borderlands are a realm of autumn, the east covered in frost or snow and the west a carpet of multicolored leaves. However, in the past century Garou travelers report that frost and snow now cover even some of Lord Lysander’s lands. Perhaps he is losing the war. A much more advanced cobblestone road, called the Roman Road, leads west to east allowing the easiest and quickest path to the castles of the duelling fae rulers of Alfheimr Tor. They are called the Gateway Castle and the Grim Fortress. Both lord and lady are gracious to visitors and offer hospitality, but no guests should tarry long. In the absence of any contact with Alfheim, these are the rulers of all faerie.
The entire realm is covered in deep forest. Only a few leagues around Castle Gateway does the forest give way to some open skies, neatly tended woods, and little undergrowth. There are even the occasional scenic manors and peasant villages. In the east, the woods become even more dangerous with trails covered in massive spider webs while malevolent horrors haunt the woods. Throughout the woods are any manner of places mentioned in faerie tales from gingerbread houses to giant beanstalks. Likewise, any manner of faerie creature dwell here. Knights of the Rose, warriors from the spirits of rose bushes, warn travelers to avoid any ruins of a white city they may encounter. If travelers continue to travel east and west past these castles, they enter more dangerous territory into the Dream Zone. Only well experienced umbral travelers would risk such hazards.
If one follows the trail to the north, they eventually encounter a great river marked by a sign warning all to turn back. Nevertheless, on the other side the trail resumes leading up the massive snowcap peaks, the Splintered Mountains. There giants and dragons dwell, along with Feathered Parliament of the King of Birds. If taken to the south, eventually one reaches the shore of an indigo sea covered by salt mist. No shore beyond has ever been seen, but rumor holds of small islands and strange ships playing the waters.
Garou entering Alfheimr Tor from the moon path glimpse a forest covered in snow. Standing at the threshold is a knight in black armor. The knight allows no one in without first defeating him in combat. If successful, the traveler enters the realm proper. Garou are well warned to never stray from the paths they encounter – to leave any trail is to risk being lost forever as fae magic twists the land and spoils the Gifts of the Garou. The main paths should always be kept, but that does not always discourage curious or ambitious Garou from following one of the lesser paths that branch from the main trail. Only the fae are able to wander the land without becoming permanently lost, and they demand chiminage for any service provided.
Time passes differently in Alfheimr Tor than in the Realm. Garou are warned this may happen in either direction; years spent at the Gateway may only be hours on Earth, or a few minutes may occupy months or years. This is known – if a visitor takes any food or drink within the Realm, at least a year will pass on Earth by the time he returns.