Orphans of Fairy is the first adventure in the Eldritch Flowering of Prydain Campaign, taking place in the second half of the seventh century of the Christian Era in and around an abbey in the mostly-Pagan British Midlands. Every year, dozens of children are abandoned at the gates and doors of monasteries around Christendom for various reasons, usually because their mothers are too poor to raise them. Most monasteries make it a practice to adopt these unwanteds, teaching them the ways of their order in exchange for years of work as field hands, tradesmen, and servants. Since they know no life outside the monastery’s walls and regimented cloistered existence, monastery orphans spend their formative years concerned only with the quest for spiritual redemption. Many go on to attain high ecclesiastic office.
There are some, however, whose origins were more mysterious than average. Often the children of unmarried women considered well past childbearing age, or of strange, beautiful elfin women who show up a year and a day following the pagan summer festivals with a child wrapped in rich, otherworldly silks, claiming that it is the son of some local swain, these are the Orphans of Fairy. They often do not cry or laugh, but are strangely silent most of the time, lending themselves to being taken in by contemplative communities. At first, they are usually raised like all the others, with needs being met by unmarried mothers who have found shelter at the abbey and are able to serve as wet nurses. After a few years, however, these unusual children prove to be a challenge for their guardians. They do not grow as quickly as the other children, and have strange, sometimes even animal like characteristics: oddly-colored hair and eyes, elfin ears, and slow development. Many remain speechless until well into their teens. However, once they do begin to talk, they are often eloquent, and have highly sought-after singing voices.
At Hwītmynster Abbey in the town of Oswestry in the Kingdom of Mercia, a newly-appointed Archbishop of Canterbury has called for a synod to take place at the Feast of the Ascention in the Year of Our Lord 665. To honor the new Archbishop, the Abbot of Hwītmynster has called for the formation of a children’s choir, drawing on the large population of orphans from the borderlands between the Welsh and English-speaking lands. The Orphans of Fairy are among those whom the monastery’s Prior has rounded up and brought like animals to the abbey in large cages on the backs of horse carts, some of whom make up members of the party. Other party members are lay brothers of the abbey and visitors, members of large parties of Athelings and their followers who will be celebrating the wedding of the King, who donated men and land for the expansion of Hwītmynster Abbey after his coronation, in the nave of the mynster on the day before the synod is to begin.
However, all is not well at this festive occasion. Some of the children have been disappearing. It seems, in fact, that it is the Orphans of Fairy who are failing to show up for choir rehearsal. Who will be next? And is there some foul play afoot?