Soft echoing footsteps were the only sounds as our heroes moved down the path that the spriggan leader had pointed out for them. The hallway opened into a massive circular chamber and on the opposite end of it stood a throne with a regal looking woman standing before a throne of brambles and vines. A small number of stairs led up to the throne and at the top of the stairs was a large black mirror.
Inside the mirror were shifting images of the missing children, smiling and laughing and playing together in some unknown space.
The imposing Queen stepped forward to the mirror with a bemused smirk on her face at these outsiders entering her throne room.
Not wanting to show any sign of disrespect the majority of our heroes stayed at the entrance of the room while Dox stepped forward and knelt on one knee. “My name is Dox…from the Kingdom of Valdrik. We have been tasked with bringing the ruler of this realm out from this prison.”
“You show respect.” mused the fae Queen. “But your help is not necessary. The Princess has already been reunited with our mother, and once we are at sufficient strength we will leave this place behind and finally be back together.” the Queen placed a hand over her heart “We have not been forgotten.”
Dox tilted her head as she could have sworn she heard another voice, a softer younger voice repeating the same thing at the same time…that “We have not been forgotten.”
“And the children?” Dox asked.
“They have been granted refuge. It is a much kinder fate than if they had been left in that poor kingdom. After tonight, they won’t have a home to return to.” The Queen stepped forward and placed a hand on the mirror, which rippled and shifted from the images of the playing children to the horrifying destruction currently ongoing at the capital of their country, Waterview. The slaughter and mayhem of the Carnival of Tears was put on display for our heroes to witness, with no sign of the other half of the council.
“Now, the children will live out their time here under my guidance. Adults are not welcome in this place…leave now. I will not repeat myself.”
Dox once again heard that small voice “But they seem nice. We shouldn’t be so mean.”
“And what of the Princess Rhoswen? We won’t leave without her.” Dox spoke defiantly. When a promise was made she was serious.
“I am ”/characters/rhoswen-queen-of-the-fellnight" class=“wiki-content-link”>Rhoswen, Queen of the Fellnight, and I will protect the Princess from ALL those who would harm her!" The Queen slammed the bottom of her staff into the ground as a wave of shadows emanated from her.
It was right at this moment that Dox finally realized where that other voice was coming from. The Queen’s Shadow…it was smaller than it should be. Laying as a shadow upon the floor, attached to the Queen of the Fellnight Realm was the moving talking shadow of a young girl.
Battle was joined with the rest of our heroes quickly rushing across the chamber to reach Dox. The floor of the throne room shifted and burbled as another giant Teddy Bear made of rocks rose to stand in their way!
Another clockwork automaton in the shape of Red appeared from the shadows, taking a defensive stance in front of the Queen as well.
Both aspects of the fae creature known as Rhoswen could apparently act independently, flinging spell after spell after at our heroes. Dox, for all of the wrath thrown her way merely crawled forward and placed her hands protectively upon the stone floor to try and grasp the shadow of the girl.
“You poor poor thing…please, what can I do to help you?”
The shadow placed a soft hand upon Dox and whispered “It’s okay. It’s okay, I can protect all of the people that I brought here, even you!” And with a sudden shift and an utter of some magic words Dox found herself much much smaller as she was suddenly transformed into a small songbird!
Luckily for our changeling, their naturally changing physiology allowed Dox to merely concentrate and return herself to her own form.
Seeking to end the battle without merely killing the cursed ruler of this place, Ogg, Dox and Alanea realized that the positioning of the ebon mirror appeared to affect Rhoswen. Turning the mirror to face the opposite direction caused the fae to switch places with the shadow on the floor, with the young girl standing as a fully fleshed out creature and the queen as her extended shadow. Another clever turn of the mirror caused the shadow connecting the two to be stretched taut as the two could be pulled apart but not completely separated…not by any kind of normal means anyways.
Ogg however had more than normal means available to him. Bringing the Glaive of the Darkest Depths to bare, the half-orc general sliced through the extended shadows and using its dimension-cutting abilities, severed the shadows.
The little girl clutched her chest as if having a panic attack as the queen, who immediately became flesh again as well, crawled to the young girl and attempted to cover her protectively.
The mystery of the “Queen” who was also a “Princess” had finally been deduced….they were one in the same. This young girl, the Princess Rhoswen who had been sealed in this place by the Rulers of the First World for “The Crime of Existing” had gone insane from her loneliness over the untold amount of time she had been left here in her prison. Having some connection to the shadowy nature of this demi-plane, her powers had created and expanded this place to the castle it is now…and after being forced to endure such loneliness and sorrow for so long her psyche fractured. But what happens when a Fae goes insane? A protective personality was formed, a Queen that would be strong enough to protect the young girl that had created her from anything that would harm her…
“I’m sorry” the Queen muttered to the young girl. "I did everything I could…I — " before she could finish, the creature known as Queen Rhoswen was pulled through the ceiling as if plucked into the sky by an invisible force.
With her mental protections gone the Fellnight Realm began shuddering and collapsing in on itself, the throne room falling two floors as the world around them dissolved into endless shadows. When the shifting and changing was finished, all of the creatures that were still real were crammed into the single square shaped room that had previously been inhabited by the illusion of the crying young girl.
There were a few awkward moments as the other Spriggans who had not been killed collected at one side, the one spriggan who had decided to buddy up to our heroes was in between, and Eleanor was cramped into the tiny room.
The ebon mirror was also back in the room, reverting to showing images of children laughing and playing. Upon examination it appeared to be some unique and amplified kind of Maze spell that the kids were placed in…if the mirror were removed from this demi-plane the effects on it should automatically end and bring the children back into the material plane. Ogg hefted his Glaive and once again sliced a hole through the dimensional lines revealing a portal back to Candlemere.
Dox lifted the young girl in her arms. The girl’s breathing was shallow as if she was sick. As Dox began moving towards the portal something began pulling in the opposite direction, as if an invisible anchor was attached the tiny girl in her arms. The girl clutched Dox’s shirt, whispering softly.
“I’m sorry. You should go…leave me here…”
No. Not like this. Not to this little girl. No one deserved the punishment that had been put upon this little girl’s shoulders.
With Ogg, Alanea, Boudreaux, Lucius, Eleanor, and Aurum all pushing behind Dox our heroes slowly step by step moved through the portal. With red rose petal tears falling from her eyes, Princess Rhoswen looked up at Dox one last time to mutter “Thank you…” before being enveloped in a white light.
As they found themselves on the other side of the portal, all that remained in Dox’s arms was a single rose.
Waiting for them on the other side was “Red” whose face was unreadable at the sight of the rose in the changeling’s hands.
The mirror’s magic broke, and the children of Valdrik slowly began pouring out onto the island of Candlemere.
Lucius and Dox approached the red garbed wanderer and held out the rose. They had fulfilled their promise but…they hadn’t expected this.
“I’ve known this little girl for a long time…and I felt that a long time ago I failed her when I shouldn’t have. I came here to right a wrong…and now this.” The man looked square in Lucius’ eyes.
“I take it you’ll take responsibility for this situation?”
Lucius wasn’t quite sure how to take that. Take responsibility? Of what? Regardless, he nodded but not before Dox piped in that she would also take responsibility.
Once again Red cut open his palm as he handed the rose to Lucius and Dox. The thorns pricked their hands as the mysterious man poured a few drops of his own blood onto the rose. Wrapping his palm in some bandages he gave a huff as he turned from Lucius…
“Of course it had to be a woodsman that I have to rely on.” And with that, the man walked off.
The danger has passed, but loved ones and innocents have been lost in the crossfire.
With the leaders of the country meeting back up, it is time to pick up the pieces and decide what to do next.
Next time on Kingmaker!
Level 9 Reached!