The year is 1814. England is at war, with Wellington keeping the French at bay in the Peninsula. The king, George III, has gone mad, and his son, Prince George, has been appointed Prince Regent.
The well-to-do members of the bon ton spend their summers at their country houses, and their winters in London, during the social season. They take trips to Bath, or to the newly-fashionable seaside resorts such as Brighton. They attend balls and eat feasts and then the ladies withdraw to the drawing room while the men smoke and pass the port.
But meanwhile, magic is returning to England.
Three centuries ago, English magic faded, as the Ladies of the Lake left the mortal realm. Three years ago, the revival of English magic failed. The magician who tried it vanished, the magic they worked fell apart. Maybe it was never real. But you know better, because since English magic has been reawakened, you are among the handful who have access to it.
Magic left England because the Ladies of the Lake took it. Perhaps they took it because:
- It was dying and needed care in distant Avalon, like King Arthur.
- Henry VIII personally offended one of the Ladies, and this was how they punished him.
- The long relationship between monastic mysticism and the Ladies meant that Henry’s feud with and destruction of the monasteries had to be repaid in kind.
- The Ladies lost a bet with a fairy and had to retreat from the mortal realm, taking English magic with them.
- Anne Boleyn was a powerful changeling and they were protecting magic from her.
But no one can agree, and no one knows for sure.
Similarly, there are many theories regarding why and how magic is returning:
- The current king, George III, is mad, and that opens the gates between England and Fairy.
- Fairies suddenly need things from the mortal realm again in their own political games.
- The fairies feel they must defend England against the rise of industrialism, or perhaps some miner dug deep enough to open a gate to the fairies’ Otherworld.
- Lord Wellington actually is the rex quondam, rexque futurus and this is Britain’s hour of need.
- Myrddin Wyllt has gotten free, and is bringing back his dangerous magics with him.
Most scholars agree that back in Arthurian times, when Nineve imprisoned Myrddin, it was the last blow in a battle for control and stewardship of English magic. The Ladies of the Lake safeguarded it from then on. Myrddin Wyllt was an agent of chaos and half-demon and could not be trusted! The almost-fairy Ladies of the Lake could be.
But however it came about, eventually, the age of English magic passed, and England made do with no more than human strength and human ingenuity for the next few hundred years.