Naiad queens are powerful naiads, part of the nymph family of fey, who rule over places of outstanding natural beauty, centred on bodies of fresh water, called their ward. Naiad queens are the nymph queens of the naiad family. As they are the species of nymph that most often interact with humanoids, naiad queens are loosely called nymphs by some scholars.
Naiad queens appear as beautiful young humanoid women with elf-like ears, large almond eyes, and skin and hair matching the colour of local humans. They stand slightly shorter than humans and weigh around 100 pounds. Most humanoids view them as the epitome of physical beauty, particularly humans, who consider them idealised versions of themselves. Their beauty can potentially blind intelligent creatures who look directly upon them, and a sideways glance is enough to stun them. Most naiad queens never wear clothes.
All naiad queens are female and must take male lovers to reproduce. They prefer humans and elves as lovers, and other fey to a lesser degree. When the time comes to do so, they form elaborate schemes to lure men into their wards, but most would-be suitors simply blindly stumble away, and only the most worthy get to mate with the naiad queen. The relationship is always passionate but never lasts long, as naiad queens are too fickle and wild for marriage.
As soon as they can walk, a naiad queen's children are taught the ways of the wild and how to harness their charms. At the age of 50, naiad queens mature and leave their mothers to take wards for themselves, usually one located near their mother's home. They live for between 300 and 500 years on the Material Plane, or for millennia on the First World.
Heroes who protect sites of natural beauty or perform a great service for a region's fey might receive a naiad queen's boon, which enhances their physical attractiveness in a way reflecting the naiad queen's appearance. A naiad queen's bane, which haunts the victim with her loveliness, is most often inflicted upon those who rudely disrespect her beauty, but she might also inadvertently subject her lovers to it in the throes of passion without realising, leading to the rumours that mating with a naiad queen is to invite insanity.
Naiad queens can be found everywhere natural beauty untouched by civilisation is found, usually near breaches between the Material Plane and the First World. Their wards are always places of incredible beauty hidden out of prying eyes, with many ways for the naiad queen to access the nearby land. Wards located near settlements are very rare and can only be seen in isolated forests or newly-settled areas. Naiad queens see their wards as temporary places of residence instead of permanent homes, and usually enhance the ward's beauty and defences with magic.
By their nature, naiad queens are solitary creatures as they stand guard over isolated places. However, they are not asocial beings, and usually stay in contact with relatives whose wards are located nearby.
Naiad queens appreciate those who treat them fairly and with respect, but can be dangerous opponents of those who seek to defile their wards. Interlopers who accidentally stumble upon their wards are kindly ushered away; kind souls who seek their wards for peaceful reasons are treated with hospitality and offered help if necessary; and many exploitative trespassers have been blinded forever, if not slain outright, as punishment for their greed.
Naiad queens are friendly with other good fey and can often be found in their company. They appreciate the lighthearted fauns, sometimes share their wards with dryads, and often allow sprites to protect their wards as well, unless they are rude to them or their visitors. Naiad queens do not tolerate evil fey and especially despise nuckelavees, often working with adventurers or other good fey to destroy them. Compared to other fey, naiad queens are generous with their tokens and often give them to kindly travellers, lovers, or patsies.
Most other races respect naiad queens and do not go out of their way to disturb them. The exception are a few foolhardy souls, tempted by the vision of perfection, who often find themselves blindly stumbling out of the woods, the image of the naiad queen imprinted into their destroyed eyes.
Naiad queens can be found across the entire Inner Sea region, from the tundras of the Crown of the World to the jungles of the Mwangi Expanse, most commonly in Andoran, Kyonin, Varisia, the River Kingdoms, and the Mwangi Expanse. In Kyonin, they live relatively close to elves and frequently trade with them.
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