AN: This guidebook is a companion to my story, Good Enough for Government Work. It may be read as a standalone piece, but fair warning, it is in the style of a textbook.


Selected excerpts from E. Thornton Hensley's - The U.S. Census Bureau Handbook: A Pocket Guide for Human Enumerators.

A Brief History of Population Demographics and Preternatural Societal Norms for the U.S. Census Bureau Human Enumerator

The Species

Advanced life on Earth is made up of two species: preternaturals and humans.

In the past, the seemingly missed-match species have worked as a system of checks and balances on each other. Preternaturals, while technically the stronger, longer-lived, and more powerful of the two species, also suffer from extremely low birth rates, and are not as mentally stable due to their supernatural nature. Humans, while theoretically the weaker of the two species, are on the whole gifted with relatively high birth rates, and an adaptability that comes without having to accommodate say two beings in one body or a particularly nasty aversion to silver or iron. On the other hand, humans are woefully outmatched when it comes to pure physical strength and have virtually no resistance against certain types of supernatural phenomena.

Contrary to the many tales of folklore, myths, and legends, preternaturals are born, not made; humans have never been in danger of being "turned".

Preternaturals and Politics

Throughout the world, preternaturals have naturally congregated into their own communities, much like the Native American reservations in the Western United States. Their various societies are considered sovereign nations and are not bound by the laws of their respective "host countries." However, any preternaturals that decide to leave their home districts and live amongst humans are subject to human laws and are expected to follow human rules of conduct. However, this does not preclude them from their own race's laws either.

When the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, it specifically stated "no state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." In the famous Supreme Court case Elefson v. Delaware, the Court interpreted this amendment to include all American citizens, including the preternatural, under the equal protection clause. More importantly, the law specifically states that preternaturals' powers are inherent to their race and therefore cannot be considered "illegal" by any statute.

Congress then passed what is colloquially known as the "Preter Laws," which set the stage for the human and preternatural co-habitation that exists today. The laws allowed for the unique parallel existence of preternatural laws and its inherent supernatural qualities amidst the general human population. This was confirmed in a second famous Supreme Court case, Monterrey v. Raferty. The Court upheld the right of a shifter Lion, Raferty, to keep his scar bond mark on the human Monterrey.

As a result of these two landmark cases, in the late 19th century, preternaturals in America started to leave their insular communities and move out to the human-run territories in search of greater job opportunities and higher standards of living. The great flight to the urban cities was especially advantageous to the less dominant and weaker preternaturals, since they were able to escape the strict power hierarchies of the preternatural-only societies. On the other hand, their entry into human society did not discharge their duty to their respective laws or their various preternatural ruling bodies – for example, a shifter was still subject to their territory's alpha Elite, and a vampire still answered to the Order.

In 21st century America, preternaturals and humans have completely mixed throughout the country and are often wholly indistinguishable from one another. In fact, evolutionary biology has caught up with the preternatural species and the success rate of certain combinations of human-preternatural offspring, such as: hybrids, dhampirs, and demi-fay; has greatly increased since inter-species marriage became socially acceptable in the late 1950's. The most interesting aspect of the combined genetics is that hybrid, dhampir or demi-fay power levels can range from practically human with virtually no preternatural characteristics to more powerful than a full-blooded preternatural. As a side note, it still evades scientists as to why the preternatural races are not biologically compatible amongst each other.

Back on topic…the preternatural-only communities (colloquially called "reservations" since they mimic the Native American settlement) still exist for some extremely important and fundamental reasons. The most dominant and powerful of the preternaturals are considered far too dangerous to fully merge with the regular human population. These particular preternaturals are the most powerful of their kind– the shifter alpha Elite, certain elemental fay races, and the high fay Æsir. In contrast, the last vampire reservation disbanded in 1983 and the vampire Order has fully integrated with human society. The preternaturals that make up these reservations prefer to keep company with their own kind, as opposed to those that joined human society and regularly mingle with other preternatural races. For example, a shifter "Elite Den" is composed of the country's very strongest alphas. These dens serve as something similar to a police force training grounds for their race. A shifter that is a member of an Elite den is considered judge, jury, and executioner of their territory and in the case of that shifter race's highest alpha, serves as the leader of the shifter race itself.

These particular communities are not used to working with humans and because the Census Bureau only visits these areas every 10 years and with changes in leadership occurring at a moment's notice, a certain level of decorum and conciliatory behavior is required.

Preternaturals and the U.S. Census Bureau

Since 1790, the United States has counted every single American, every ten years, as mandated by the Constitution. In 1840, that responsibility fell to the newly formed U.S. Census Bureau. Since that time, preternaturals have been counted alongside humans as part of the U.S. population. While preternaturals that have integrated into human society are counted just like regular humans, the preternatural-only communities require a more delicate approach.

It has been the policy of the U.S. Census Bureau that reservations require an on-site enumerator to physically count and catalog the number of citizens on a reservation. Due to the territorial nature of these reservations, each shifter race's alpha Elite, and the fay ambassadors have all signed treaties with the U.S. government that mandate only pure human enumerators will be accepted into the reservation for the counting exercise. The human(s) must sign a waiver and confidentially agreement, indicating that they are entering sovereign nations and will follow that nation's laws and customs. Depending on the size of the reservation, the whole exercise, with accompanying paper work, takes approximately 12 hours.

Due to the highly charged atmosphere of a human visiting these reservations, enumerators that are chosen for the counting exercise must have gone through a sensitivity training exercise, pass a blood test to ensure the "pureness" of their humanity, and undergo a physical examination the day of the counting appointment for any existing preternatural bond marks. If an enumerator fails the blood test or shows signs of any bond mark, an approved alternate will be sent in his or her place.

A general rule for all enumerators to keep in mind: preternaturals are subjects of the Elite, the Order, or the Æsir first, members of a preternatural territory second, and United States citizens third. Never forget that preternaturals are significant, tax-paying, productive members of American society and that just like immigrants to this country, they happen to have their own cultural norms and customs that should be respected.


General Information on the Preternatural Races

Shifters

Shifters have existed alongside man since the evolution of man from ape. They are closely related genetically to humans, although still retain a modicum of DNA differential as would be expected of an entity that allows animal and man to exist in one organism.

Shifters are mortal but have a protracted aging rate, with roughly twice the average human life span, with most dying of natural causes between the ages of 134 and 205. Like humans, they are considered mature and fully developed at approximately 18 years of age, although even at their eldest; never appear to age much beyond a human 40 year old.

They often possess senses that mimic their shifter animal; but as a general rule, shifters are very fast and extremely strong, often considered the strongest race of their preternatural brethren. They may take on physical characteristics of their shifting animal and can be more "feral" than human at times. All shifters morph into some form of predator animal. The ease of transformation into their animal forms depends upon an individual's strength and "alpha" status. The most dominant and powerful shifters can change between their human and animal forms at will, while the more submissive shifters can only change at the full moon. Shifters are sensitive to pure silver, but it is more like an allergic reaction as opposed to the element's mythic lethal properties one might find in Victorian fairytales.

Unlike vampires and the fay, shifters' strength is not tied to age. Power is derived from genetics and natural talent but this is tempered by experience and skill. A 30 year old shifter could be just as powerful as a 200 year old shifter, but the relative inexperience with how to use that power would usually put the younger shifter at a disadvantage. Shifters are physically easy to differentiate from humans, as both genders are usually tall and powerfully built. Their movements may mimic their shifter animal, but all tend to possess a unique supernatural grace. In general, they are highly sought after for labor intensive jobs like construction, forestry, agriculture, etc.; while certain races are heavily recruited by the U.S. military. Less dominant shifters work alongside humans in both the private and public sectors.

All shifters live under the rule of their territory's alpha, even if that shifter has chosen to live amongst humans.

Documented shifter races and their associated territory names are as follows:

Gray Wolf – Pack

Barbary Lion – Pride

Golden Eagle - Aerie

Komodo Dragon – Bank

Great White Shark – Shiver

Kodiak Bear - Sleuth

More race-specific information regarding physical characteristics, societal norms, and a map of shifter territories in the U.S. can be found in Chapter 2– the Shifter Races.

The Shifter Animal

Preternatural science has completed numerous studies on shifter anatomy, biology, and genetics and still cannot empirically explain how shifters are able to transform between animal and human. In laymen's terms, shifters are two entities in one body. Whatever physical body happens to exist at the time indicates which conscious is at the forefront. Shifters generally agree that neither their human nor animal conscious is more "them" than the other, only that the two are inextricably connected.

Scientists have confirmed that in the most powerful of the shifters, the "Elites", the shifter animal conscious can actually manifest while still in the human body and vice versa. A dangerous predator combined with the intelligence of the human mind in either body is not something to trifle with, and it is considered a good general rule to make all efforts to calmly remove oneself from the vicinity of a shifter when signs of this phenomenon occur (although running is extremely discouraged, as it will only promote the shifter's predatory instincts). Common physical characteristics of this phenomenon include: changes in the human eye to that of their shifter animal; a tangible prickling sensation on one's skin, and the materialization of claws, canines, fur, etc.

A shifter animal rage occurs when a shifter has gone into what is colloquially called a "berserker rage". This happens when the shifter undergoes an extreme emotional upheaval, often seen when someone they perceive as under their protection has been injured or killed. Depending upon the power level of the shifter in question, the rage may be overcome by the coaxing of a "claimed" entity or forcefully pulled out of it by their Alpha, whichever comes first. It is considered extremely dangerous, if not suicidal to approach a shifter in a rage unless you are: scar marked/linked by the raging shifter; or the raging shifter's Alpha. Everyone else is vulnerable to attack. If a shifter stays in this rage for too long, it becomes severely unstable, losing all conscious intelligence of either its human or animal self. As part of a treaty with the U.S. federal government, the shifter alpha Elites have agreed to hunt and kill lost "berserkers" for the safety of humans.

The Shifter Elites

The shifters favor a more primitive method of politics when it comes to controlling their territories; their rule is maintained by brute force. The Elites are the most powerful, but not necessarily the oldest, shifters in North America. The Elites work like a specialized police force to maintain control over their territories and the greater shifter population at large. For obvious reasons, human law enforcement agencies work with special agent shifter liaisons to assist with the apprehension of shifter criminals. Political liaisons with human federal, state, and local governments are maintained by the Elite "Omegas," which are the least dominant members of the Elite Dens, who serve as representatives to human lawmaking delegations. When absolutely necessary, the top shifter alpha Elites will meet with human governments, the vampire Order and the fay elemental ambassadors.

In all but the rarest of cases, shifters are born into their territory's pride, pack, aerie, bank, shiver, or sleuth. Every shifter type sends their territory's strongest members to serve in the American Elite, where smaller groups of Elites than establish Elite "Dens" that cover a larger region of the country. These Dens are scattered throughout the U.S., and with the full backing of human laws, serve as judge, jury, and executioner to shifters that violate their laws. Shifters are always testing their dominance and power amongst others of their race, so the Elites suffer no fools and offer no mercy for those that seek to create trouble. Elites are often forced to avoid prolonged contact with human inhabited areas, because their feral tendencies do not mix well with the general populace. It has been observed however that very well controlled Elites are generally able to maintain long term contact with humans without incident.

Shifter Bond Marks

Shifters by nature, no matter their power level or submissiveness, are extremely territorial and possessive. This trait extends to nearly all aspects of their behavior and thus all six of the shifter races have agreed upon a common law in regards to bond marks. There are three levels of bond marks that can occur between the recipient (person bearing the mark) and the marking shifter (person giving the mark). One or all three may exist at any given time. These marks may occur between two shifters, two hybrids (half human/half shifter), a hybrid and a human, or a shifter and a human.

Level One – Scent Mark: This scent mark serves as a notice to other shifters that the recipient is familiar (e.g. a relative, a roommate, best friend, etc.) and is under the protection of the marking shifter. It is essentially a warning sign that if the recipient were to be harmed, the marker would likely seek retribution. This mark is only detectable by other preternaturals. A human's sense of smell will not pick it up.

The mark requires that the marker rub microscopic secretions from specific scent glands on the marking shifter's fingers directly on to the skin of the recipient. The recipient is not required to consent to this mark and if the recipient is human, it is likely the recipient would not even be aware that the mark was there unless another preternatural was to notify them. Recipients may bear multiple scent marks from numerous shifters.

A scent mark will last until the recipient cleanses the marked area with soap and water.

Level Two – Scar Mark: This visual mark serves as notice to both humans and shifters that the marker has "claimed" or intends to claim the recipient. A claiming implies a very strong connection to the marker, and while it usually connotes a romantic relationship, this is not always the case. It is a stronger warning sign that the recipient is under the marker's protection.

The mark appears as a scar on the recipient's skin. The marker has no voluntary control of the location or size of the mark, as it is entirely driven by their subconscious. The scar mark is unique in that it serves not only as a warning, but is a conduit of the shifter's power. The look of the mark is unique to the shifter species, while the intricacy and overall appearance is an indication of the shifter's strength or alpha status. As a result, if a stronger shifter wants to scar mark a recipient who already bears a scar mark from a weaker shifter, the stronger shifter can override the weaker shifter's mark.

The recipient is not required to consent to this mark. The bearer of the mark is always the more submissive, be it another shifter, hybrid, or a human. Because the mark is a manifestation of a shifter's power and alpha status, a scar mark from a weaker shifter will not manifest on the skin of a more dominant shifter. The recipient may cover the mark with clothing or make up, however that will not stop the conduit properties of the mark should the recipient be under what the marking shifter's subconscious believes to be a threat.

Interestingly, this mark was the basis of the Monterray v. Raferty Supreme Court case, where Monterray argued that the mark was illegal because she did not ask nor approve of the mark's application on her person. However, the Court found in favor of Raferty and by extension, preternatural laws in general "because the mark does not cause pain or inhibit the physical or mental liberties of the recipient, only providing an outside source of intimidation or protection. Redress of grievance is available through preternatural law by the petitioning of Raferty's Alpha to remove the mark." To this day, the only recourse of action for unwilling recipients of a scar mark is through preternatural law.

The scar mark is extremely beneficial to both the marking shifter and recipient in one other way. While in a rage, the marking shifter's animal will recognize a scar marked bearer as under their protection and will not harm them. In addition, the marking shifter has one other person besides their Alpha to coax them out of a berserker rage. Shifters can scar mark multiple recipients, however, in practice; it is usually only limited to one recipient; although the documented limit has been three.

A scar mark will last in perpetuity until one of the following happens:the marking shifter removes the mark;the recipient is scar marked by a more dominant shifter;the marking shifter's Alpha removes the mark (done only for very special circumstances);the marking shifter dies.

Level Three –The Link: This tactile mark works like an invisible magnet, in that both humans and shifters sense a deep connection between the bearers. The link indicates the closest of relationships, and is exclusively used for mated pairings. The link manifests itself as a sensory instrument and allows the linked pair to know the other's location, no matter the distance, sense and ward off perceived threats, and serves as a last resort failsafe in case of a shifter berserker rage.

This is the only mark where there is no recipient or marker, since both parties must consent to the link in order for it to take hold. There is no limitation on power level or alpha status, all it requires is that the shifter animal accepts the other shifter animal/other human as its true mate. Once the link is made, it cannot be broken except upon the death of one of the pair.


Vampires

Vampires, like shifters, are genetically related to humans, although to a lesser degree. The chromosomal differentiations between a human and a vampire are not enough to exclude the existence of dhampirs however. Contrary to lore, vampires are not immortal; they simply have an extremely reduced level of cellular decay in relation to humans. For example, one of the oldest vampires in America was born in ancient Rome and runs a celebrated Italian restaurant in Philadelphia. He appears to be in his late 50's. Moreover, vampires are not "dead", they do in fact breath oxygen and their physical bodily functions are almost identical to humans, aside from minor adjustments to their digestive tract due to a purely liquid diet. They also have a natural aversion to silver, but again, differing from mythic lore, have no problem with sunlight, wood, garlic, thresholds, Christian crosses or other religious paraphernalia.

Contemporary science has projected that a combination of genes, diet, and some heretofore unexplained "supernatural something" enables vampires to be so longed lived. They sustain their existence solely from human blood, which does indicate some kind of symbiotic relationship between vampire biology and human red blood cells. Vampires are known to prefer specific blood types, with interesting differences in popularity depending on location. For example, in America, the two most prevalent blood types are 0+ and A+, and as a result, those types are the most popular "flavor" for the vampire population here. On the contrary, in India, the second most prevalent blood type is B+, and thus Indian vampires have a particular liking for that flavor as well.

Due to the very close relationship between human blood and vampire life sustainment; the association between human and vampires is the strongest in the preternatural community. Since 1868, vampires have been able to seek sustenance from blood banks, and have not had to rely on voluntary "donations" directly from a human body since that time, (although it is a well known fact that vampires prefer this method of feeding). In the modern era, vampires and dhampirs may survive off a combination of blood bank stock and human donations. Most prefer feeding from the gender of their sexual orientation, as the act of taking blood directly from the vein is considered a very intimate act.

Vampires and dhampirs may acquire many types of supernatural powers, almost always directly proportional to age. The older vampires develop some very interesting abilities, not all of which have been recorded. While all vampires and dhampirs of any age exhibit supernatural speed, healing, and strength, the documented abilities of the eldest vampires include teleportation and mind reading.

Amusingly, despite their more "magical" qualities, amongst humans, vampires are considered the most civil of the preternaturals. Anthropologists have speculated that this is because there is almost no phenotypical differentiation between vampires and humans and the fact that vampires' bond marking requires the consent of both parties. Aside from the lengthening of their canine teeth for live feeding, vampires and humans share all other physical characteristics. If a vampire wanted to, he or she could live their entire lives without a single human knowing their race, something most shifters and fay could never accomplish. As a result, vampires and dhampirs are often sought after for employment in occupations where their abilities are considered advantageous, such as law enforcement; but they are by no means limited to those professions, and often work alongside humans in the private and public sectors.

The Vampire Order

The vampires prefer an oligarchy-type political system, with much of the authority vested in the eldest, more powerful vampires. While they are not as vested in pure strength and dominance as the shifters, the vampires do put a lot stock in supernatural ability, but it is tempered by political savvy and leadership experience. This group of vampires is collectively known as "the Order" and every member has some form of official title. Vampire society is much more cohesive than the shifters, mostly due to the fact that it is one race and that their territories are much larger, often encompassing several states in size.

As opposed to the shifter Elite Dens, the Order regularly works with human law enforcement and law making bodies. During key moments in American history, top members of the Order have met with Congress and the U.S. President. They also meet shifter alpha Elites and fay elemental ambassadors on a less frequent basis.

Vampire Bond Marks

The Seal: Unlike the rather elaborate shifter bond marks, the vampire bond mark is very straightforward. They only have the equivalent of the shifter link and it manifests very similarly in what appears to be the universal preternatural fashion of a tangible magnet-like connection that is comparably obvious to both humans and other preternaturals. For vampires, this mark is called a "seal" and it also allows the marked pair to: know the other's location, no matter the distance; sense and ward off perceived threats; and depending on the pairing, may also augment certain vampiric abilities. The seal may exist between two vampires, a vampire and a dhampir (half human/half vampire hybrid), a vampire and a human, a dhampir and a human, or a dhampir and a dhampir. Both parties must consent to the seal in order for it to take hold.

Once the seal is made, it cannot be broken except upon the death of one of the pair. Due to the very long lives of vampires, it is very unusual to see two full-bloodied vampires with the seal, although it is very common in vampire/human and dhampir/human relationships. In a sharp contrast to shifters and some elemental fay, the vampires are not as overprotective of their bond marks and usually follow human norms for expectations of conduct. However, if a vampire or dhampir does feel that their sealed human is threatened, the result is almost always fatal.


Fay

Of all the preternatural races, the fay are the most otherworldly, and mysterious to the human eye. Fay do share some genetic material with humans, but not much. Interestingly, certain races of fay have more in common with humans than others. For example, a small number of demi-fay have been confirmed between humans and: Sylphs, Gnomes, Salamanders, and Ondines. The underlying similarity between these fay is their basis in elemental magic and manipulation. Fay are the lone immortal race of the preternaturals. Scientists are at a loss to explain this phenomenon aside from vague attributions to some kind of connection to natural earth "magic." It is speculated that the fay's unusually low birth rate is due to a combination of their very small population and exceedingly infrequent reproductive cycles, with one recorded pure elemental birth every 100 years or so. The birth rate for demi-fay (half human/half element fay hybrids) is comparably minuscule. Demi-fay are not immortal, but have extended life spans similar to vampires.

While all fay enjoy immortality, they may choose to perform the equivalent of a ritualistic suicide to end their current existence. It is believed that they are eventually reborn, but only within their previous race. Since records have been kept, thirty-four fay (6 high fay and 28 elemental fay) have committed suicide. The method of completing the ritual is a closely guarded secret within the fay races.

The pure elemental fay have humanoid physical bodies but possess hair, skin, and eye color that vary most dramatically from human norms. Moreover, elemental fay abilities are often symbolized through physical manifestations. Even more outrageous are those "high fay," which have so far proven to be incompatible with human DNA. It is projected that human hybrids of the high fay races have not been successful due to the extreme differences in genetic material between the species. Conversely, it is now believed that elemental fay most likely share some basic human origins (similar to shifters), but the genesis of their "magical" nature and apparent immortality continues to elude scientists. Elemental fay do not intermix between the races due to long-established fears of maintaining pure elemental bloodlines and avoided "mixed" powers.

With the exception of Gnomes, fay have a natural aversion to iron, while silver does not bother them at all. Elemental fay have adapted very well to human technology and urban environments, however the high fay have exhibited rather low levels of tolerance for either.

The Elemental Fay

Fay powers are a fascinating topic and run the complete supernatural gamut. Humans are most familiar with elemental fay and their more specific properties; their known characteristics and powers are as follows:

Sylphs – a race of fay that can manipulate the element of air. Depending upon power levels, recorded abilities include: flight of their person and other people; ability to form tornados, wind gusts; affect changes in air pressure; and in the more powerful cases, the manipulation of air in physical bodies and atmospheric weather patterns. Physical characteristics often include: white, platinum blonde, or silver hair; opaque white, pale blue, pale lavender, or silver eyes lacking pupils; extremely fair to translucent skin color; delicate, bird-like skeletons; and very tall in height and slim in build compared to humans. While no means a general rule, sylphs tend to be rather aloof, formal, and unemotional; however are they are also considered extremely trustworthy, honest, and excellent leaders. Sylphs tend to stick to their own elemental kind, eschewing close relationships with humans and other preternaturals, even other fay.

Gnomes – a race of fay that can manipulate the element of earth and is not affected by iron at all. Depending upon power levels, recorded abilities include: ability to create earthquakes; form structures out of and maneuver rock, minerals, earth metals, and even volcanic magma. They also possess extraordinary strength, and in some cases, may be even stronger than an Elite shifter. Physical characteristics often include: black, brown, or dark red hair; gray, green, or hazel eyes with goat-like horizontal rectangular pupils; black to deep tan complexions; very resilient and difficult to break skin and bones; and roughly average to short in height and stocky in build, comparable to the average human. Gnomes are well known for their stubbornness, frugality, and implacable sense of honor, but are well loved for their gregarious and outgoing nature, and friendly attitudes. They are the most neutral of the elemental fay and get along well with humans and other fay. They are more wary of the vampire and shifter races however.

Salamanders– a race of fay that can create and manipulate the element of fire. Depending upon power levels, recorded abilities include: creating bursts of fire both large and small; agitating molecules at the cellular level to create heat in various entities; and possessing bodies that are impervious to burns. Physical characteristics often include: dark blonde, red, blue, or white hair; crimson, yellow, amber, or blue eyes with slit reptile-like pupils; black, red, blue, white, or yellow skin color with inherited birthmarks appearing on the skin; and relatively tall in height and bulky in build compared to humans. Salamanders are notorious for their volatile, fiery tempers and untrusting nature; however they are also the most emotional of the fay and once you have gained their hard earned confidence, prove to be a loyal friend for life. They have an inherent prejudice against Ondine fay, as they are an elemental opposite, but are unbiased in regards to humans and other preternaturals. Furthermore, in what is considered to be a bizarre connection of reptilian-bases supernatural magic, Salmanders enjoy a close knit relationship with the Komodo Dragon shifter community.

Ondines – a race of fay that can create and manipulate the element of water. Depending upon power levels, recorded abilities include: transforming water into all three of its possible states: ice, liquid or steam; the manipulation of water through air and earth, and in some of the more powerful cases, the manipulation of water in physical bodies and weather patterns that contain high moisture contents. In addition, some Ondines possess gills that allow them to breath underwater. Physical characteristics often include: blue, green, blonde, or black hair; blue, turquoise, or green eyes with cuttlefish-like "W" shaped pupils; light green or pearl colored skin; slightly webbed fingers and toes; and roughly similar in height and build to the average human. For obvious reasons, Ondines always live near a major body of water. They are known to be morally ambiguous, hold grudges, and very vindictive if crossed, yet they are also incredibly intelligent and enjoy dispersing knowledge and research findings to the world at large. They have an intrinsic aversion to Salamander fay, again their elemental opposite; and tend to form limited connections with humans. Ondines have no problems with other preternaturals and interestingly, have a long-standing kinship with the Great White Shark shifter community.

General: Despite the elemental fay's immortality, they make it a practice to hold down jobs and live relatively normal lives. They are highly sought after in occupations where their elemental manipulation talents can be put to good use, e.g. firefighting, marine biology, mining, the military, etc. However, they are not completely beholden to their elemental abilities and even more so than shifters, seek employment in regular "human-based" industries like finance, research and development, and public service.

The High Fay

Documented high fay races and their associated regions in the United States are as follows:

Pixies – concentrated in the Midwest – Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Oklahoma

Brownies – prefer cooler climes –North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, upstate New York, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont

Elves – favor temperate climates with seasonal variation and heavy tree cover –Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Western Maryland, North Carolina, and Tennessee

Eldest – N/A

More race-specific information regarding physical characteristics and societal norms of the high fay can be found in Chapter 3– the High Fay Races.

The Fay Æsir

The fay have a unique political system, with a virtual anarchy aside from the implied threat of force from the most powerful fay. This group of fay is called the "Æsir" and it is made up exclusively of "Eldest" fay. The Eldest to the fay are what humans had once considered the Roman and Greek gods to be to them. In fact, members of the Æsir go by the names of gods listed in pagan Norse polytheism, and it is modern scholars' belief that nearly all human mythology was based upon the then unexplainable exploits of the Eldest.

The Æsir live in a second dimension available only to high fay, as elemental fey are firmly tied to earthly elements. In contrast to the vampire Order or even the shifter Elite, the Æsir do not work with human governments at all. It has been their tradition to appoint elemental fay as "ambassadors" of the Æsir's interests to countries throughout the world, where they serve as liaisons to human, vampire and shifter governments alike. As a result of this rather laissez faire approaches to governance, coupled with their immortality, the fay have a notorious reputation for being somewhat dismissive of human laws.

Elemental Fay Bond Marks

Only elemental fay and demi-fay actually create a bond mark, and even then, only when in a relationship with a human. The fay are considered a mixed bag when it comes to bond marks. Gnomes are the least territorial and overprotective of the preternatural races with the Ondine following at a close second. Salamanders are considered even more defensive and controlling than shifters. Oddly enough, considering their rather stoic reputations, Sylphs are the most jealous, domineering and quick to anger preternaturals in the world. By all means, never threaten or even think of threatening anyone bearing a Sylph bond mark, the consequence is almost always deadly.

An elemental fay mark produces an effect similar to a shifter link or vampire seal. It manifests very similarly in what appears to be the universal preternatural fashion of a tangible magnet-like connection that is comparably obvious to both humans and other preternaturals. For elemental fay, this mark is called an "aura". It is a very apt phrase in that it literally surrounds the couple in a cloak of magic that allows the marked pair to know the other's location, no matter the distance, sense and ward off perceived threats, and in rare cases, bestow a human with the ability to manipulate that element as well.

Once a recipient accepts a fay aura, it cannot be removed except upon the death of one of the pair. Elemental fay and demi-fay, due to their immortal and incredibly long-lived nature respectively, never bond mark each other.