People had forgotten. This wasn't unexpected; while birds could remember the path to the same beach their mothers and great-grandmothers had come to rest without a second thought, people only remember the things they're told, the things they learn. And people had tried, but words are complicated, easy to twist and confuse and lose and rewrite as they travel across the generations, and that is why people had forgotten.
Reminders were everywhere, if you knew where to look. A four-leaf clover was plucked for luck rather than lifting the veil between worlds; mistletoe hung in doorframes and cradles was tradition, not protection; and in the woods playful youths kept their distance from toadstool circles due to warnings of poison rather than abduction. And now, a shriek across the moors was no longer the Ban-Sidhe but some anguished animal, and a disembodied light in the woods was a man with a lantern instead of a wisp.
A pact was made, in a bloodier time - what some might call a less civilized time. Creatures, old as man or older, whispered sweet promises and offered power and prosperity for one tiny, innocuous task. A single cup, always held, always watched. Just one vessel. Just one gateway. Just one golden, elegant tether to masters both inhuman and incomprehensible, no matter how their faces were arranged or their clothes cut.
They were living myths, thought to be unimpeachable, beyond mortal rules or limitations. However, they underestimated the power of song, the power of story - the power of belief. You see, there are mortals equally worthy of legend, of adulation. These were the heroes of bardic song, those whose stories were repeated at bars and bedsides across the Triple Kingdoms.
And the Sidhe tried to claim the power that came with the tales.
Glaymer; allure. Their lips were perfect, their voices concertos, and everything they said was beautiful and sweet. And when they left, men thought they took the power with them, never noticing that perhaps there was another cause: bards felled by the blades of foreign invaders, stories disappearing from the collective memory even as the facade of the Sidhe remained.
How wonderful it was that they returned! The end, when things changed, when everything went bad, that was what they remembered, not the beginning. Not unnatural deals, not stolen children, not a world where gold was worth nothing in a bargain made with the fae.
No, it was all beginning again, and the little girl who would be queen did not see that it would end again, only differently this time. Worse. There were hermits who saw omens in broken spiderwebs and the late thaw, who knew a circle of heat and a sprig of green was better than a sword against what was coming, but the battle was both here and there, in the hazy realm where Terra meets ether and in the tangible. Not only in forests, but in throne rooms and on dark roads, and craggy beaches.
Things are beginning again, and legends long forgotten must be born anew.