The Fey Folk, being barren, steal away human babies and raise them as their own, twisting them into fair forms. Often the fairies leave one of their own in the raided crib as a spiteful taunt to the oblivious parents. The Warden was a young fairy who took the place of a babe stolen from an old woodsman’s house deep in the forest. He would twist his face hideously as the old man and woman tried to love and care for him. Mischievously, the fairy would break valuables, set fires, and make the animals ill. Still, the parents patiently raised him. This continuing love puzzled the Warden, and he slowly became accustomed to it, growing tall and healthy as a young man would from such compassion. He knew that he could never live as a man in the city, so he stayed with his new parents in their isolation until they eventually died, still thinking him their ugly, troubled son. In bitter grief, the warden took to the forest with the intent of returning the same sorrow the Fey doled out so generously. He now stalks through the forest, his size immense for a fairy from his humans’ diet, and the nurturing of the old couple. He captures all Fey Folk he comes across and lets them slowly waste away, savouring their pleas as they cry out in a language he hardly remembers.
A young fairy with his wings clipped is chained to the turret in the Warden’s hat, where he is forced to use his man-catcher to snag those flitting high in the trees. An adder lives in the warden’s sleeve, darting out to capture fairies skulking in the underbrush.
Men who find themselves lost in the forest often wake up to discover a small leather purse in which is a drawn map showing the way to town, and a bundle of small, iridescent wings tied together with the finest hair.