The word "Changeling" was once used to refer to an unwanted child, who the parents often believed were demons switched at birth by malicious fairies - often "Changelings" would have unusual behaviors or traits, which by modern standards would be considered birth defects or handicaps, yet in the ancient mind was seen as proof of the child's inhuman origin.
Often these poor children were subjected to abuse as a common belief was in place at the time that in order to get rid of the "Changeling" the parents would have to mistreat it severely so that the fairies would take the "Changeling" back.
In the modern age such practices are rightfully resigned to the past, yet there was a disturbing case not long ago of an infamous child-abuse case that would not of been out of place in the dark superstitions of the Middle Ages: yet it was not in a remote village but instead in the heart of one of Scotland's most famous cities, that of Edinburgh.
The child at the centre of this disturbing story was named Elizabeth and was taken from her home at the age of three, having enduring great hardship in her young life - mostly at the hands of her mother, the woman known as Agatha.
Agatha lived alone and had raised Elizabeth almost in complete isolation from the rest of the world, having been obsessed with collecting figurines of fairies. Agatha's home was a shrine to these figures - almost every square inch of the four bedroom apartment was packed full of the impressive ornaments and Elizabeth was confined to a small cot at the edge of a lonely room.
Agatha conversed daily with the figurines, as if they were alive. Every time Elizabeth would cry, Agatha would ask the figurines to take her away - yet grew increasingly angry as her pleas seemed to fall on deaf ears.
Deciding to spark the "fairies" into action Agatha took to starving young Elizabeth, when this failed to cause a response Agatha began to beat her daughter - continually asking the figurines to take her away.
Remarkably, little Elizabeth survived three years of this torture, Agatha's cruelty only growing worse over time as she began to treat Elizabeth like an animal and boarded up most of the windows in the house so as to leave her in darkness for days on end.
One night a frantic call came to the police as a neighbor reported a terrible noise from Agatha's home - when police arrived they had to resort to breaking the door down as Agatha refused to answer.
Once inside the police found Agatha standing over a terrified Elizabeth, having tied the child to a table and preparing to strike her with one of the fairy statues, having gathered many others in a disturbing circle around the table.
Agatha was quickly apprehended and Elizabeth was saved, as she was led away Agatha claimed that Elizabeth was a monster, that her "real" daughter was with the "fairies" and that she had to get rid of Elizabeth in order to make things "right" again.
Following further investigation into Agatha's past authorities discovered that she had been a mother before but tragically lost her baby, which sparked her obsession with collecting fairy figurines - yet despite this she tried for another child a few years later and thus Elizabeth was born.
Agatha is currently in a psychiatric ward, having been deemed a danger to society - little Elizabeth on the other hand has moved on, finding a new family and a life free from cruelty, though only time can tell what the events of those three years have done to her.
Written by Inferno Pendragon