~ Binky Beetle and the roving Peg Cobbler ~

The shoe-makers and tinkerers of the fey folk, Peg Cobblers are so named for the weedy plant (Bidens pilosa) that is always about their person. These craftsfolk would plant the seeds as they roamed, ensuring they had a convenient supply of wooden pegs at hand the following season. Their symbiotic relationship also provided them salads made from the plant’s leaves, and the ground up the pegs served as a palatable coffee substitute. To hone their craft, apprentices would be tasked with hammering as many pegs as they could onto the legs of unsuspecting passers-by. This annoying practice also kept the green-horns out of the way of their mentors during important commissions. As there was plenty of work for the wily shoe-smiths in those days, the plant’s encroachment was kept at bay by frequent harvesting.

Time and trends have taken their toll on the practitioners of this formerly widespread profession.

When mass-produced shoes became common, the iconic Peg Cobblers saw their trade displaced by short-lived, disposable alternatives. Even more damaging to their craft were the seasonal trends that prioritized style over substance. Instead of practicality and craftsmanship, fleeting aesthetics came to dictate what the fairy folk wore each season.

The hard-working shoe-smiths moved outwards to regional areas, trying to outrun urbanisation, but the voracious tendrils of the City reached them eventually. As the craft ceased to be practised, the pegs were left to proliferate, with nay but a handful of aging shoe-smiths to keep their numbers at bay. By the late twentieth century, the few remaining Peg Cobblers had turned bitter, and resentful, neglecting their quintessential crop entirely. Nowadays, young Faylings have made a game of covering other creatures with the infamous seeds, unaware of the helpful function they once served.

The rhinoceros beetles (Dynastinae) are the historical companions of the Peg Cobbler. The creatures provide many benefits; the horn serves as a shoe last, and the tough exoskeleton provides a surface for cutting, measuring, and hammering upon. The beetle can also carry heavy weights, discourage predators, and even fly (albeit clumsily). Capable crafters in their own right, they will gladly take on the menial chores, allowing the cobbler to focus on the challenging tasks. The male beetles in particular take much pride in their work, and have become as resentful as their Fay companions. Surly curmudgeons, they’ve taken to drinking, and often crash into buildings mid-flight, later to be found upside down, dazed, or even expired. If approached, they’re likely to hiss at you. It’s only bluster though, just pull them out of any harm they may be in, and they’ll be on their way.

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