Root and branch sun and shade this is how the nine-bread's made. Left and right up and down this is how you break the crown. Stone and heart blade and song this is how the gray-lock's wrong.
– Common Children’s Rhyme, Meridian Songs and Tales, Vol. II
The shortest path between two points is a straight line — or at least that is what my colleagues in the mathematics would contest. However, I have found that when attempting to traverse the distance between what is known about our unsavory neighbors and what is supposed about them, that the road is never straight and often ceases to constitute the requirements of being a road or a line. It breaks off into hills and strange foggy moors, it loops around itself like two snakes in rut. It seems to end, but then begin again from the most preposterous of angles and coordinates from the most vexing of vertices. To claim the ability to give a satisfactory summary of the Fey Courts and their vassals, subjects, lords is the claim of a madman. (and let it not go unsaid, that we have discovered many a poor wanderer on the fringes of Riddlewood babbling incoherently with total confidence about all manner of bizarre happenings and features of their time among the Fey)
I am no madman, but this is the task that has been given me. Onward.
I shall begin with a skeleton of historical fact.
- Princess Amodred Torossian disappears from the environs near Varamere township. Fey involvement is suspected and a rescue mission is assembled and dispatched into Riddlewood to investigate.
- Rescue mission returns with Princess Amodred accompanied by a ‘Druid’ halfling. The abduction was orchestrated by a Red Wizard, in an attempt to broker an accord with the Fey Court. With the aid of the Druid, the rescue mission successfully convinced the Fey to release the Princess and deny the Red Wizard. Tentative diplomatic channels established between the Kingdom of Toross, using the Druid as an intermediary.
- The Fey Court dispatches an official ambassador into the mortal world. Clad in pale wooden armor from head to toe, the fey called itself Walker, but the common folk of Meridian swiftly adopted the moniker ‘the White Knight’. This ambassador seemed to have no clear purpose at first, simply wandering from town to town – viewing the goings on of the mortal world from a distance. As a precaution, Princess Amodred and the Druid Gen-Roda accompanied the White Knight across the land.
- The White Knight’s purpose was revealed to be as something of an arbiter for the continued interaction between the Fey lands and the mortal world. Depending on what the Knight learned on his journeys, the Fey were strongly considering closing their borders forever and retreating beyond the reach of the mortal races.
- The trio, now known as the Unstoppable Three, defeat the Red Wizard at his keep on the Isle of Windows. The wizard’s plot to gain more arcane power endangered the entire continent, if not the entire globe -but it was brought down by the combined courage and might of the Unstoppable Three.
- The White Knight returns to the Fey lands within Riddlewood, promising to return soon with his people’s decision.
- Amodred Torossian is crowned Queen of Toross. She also weds Lilith Gold of Corinth, a diplomatic wedding to strengthen ties between the human city-state and the Elven technocracy that controlled the eastern half of Meridian.
- Gen-Roda becomes Archdruid of Riddlewood.
- Simon Torossian is born, Crown Prince of Toross.
- The White Knight returns. A council is convened in the heart of Riddlewood between all the major powers of Meridian and the Fey -who at last present a single name for their kingdom, ‘The Violet Leaf’. (It is unclear whether this referred to the Fey court itself, their lands beyond, or some even more inscrutable concept.)
- A treaty forms, though it was never put to paper. The Fey offered safe passage through Riddlewood, allowing swift travel between Toross and the growing port city of Rune. In return, the mortal powers agreed to leave the forest unmolested and the Wilds (as the Fey called the borders of their realm) unviolated. The Archdruid was given responsibility to keep the balance between the mortal world and the Wilds, along with making certain that the terms of the treaty were kept. A further provision, all parties to the treaty (later called the Pinebark Accords) would reconvene once a year in the spring at Third Turn to recommit to the treaty and discuss any issues.
- The Violet Leaf build a small outpost in Riddlewood, where the Fey could spend time in the mortal world at their whim. The outpost was frustratingly never named – or more accurately, any Fey that was asked the name of the outpost would give a different answer – the enclave was simply referred to as Faetown by mortal travelers.
- Queen Amodred dies of natural causes, her son Simon is crowned King of Toross.
- At the yearly meeting on Third Turn, the Archdruid Gen-Roda performs an act of shocking treachery – she brings an iron blade hidden on her person and uses it to take several Fey hostage. She holds out for three days until the leader of the Violet Leaf comes into the mortal realm to hear her demands.
- The Rupture.*
- The city-state of Toross falls to the subversion of the cult of The Lonely One. Most scholars agree this was due to being functionally cut-off from the rest of the continent by the collapse of the road through Riddlewood.
- Current year.
*I am uncertain where this terminology originated, as from the few survivors of the immediate effect that made it beyond the reach of Riddlewood’s branches descriptions it was much more of a deluge or explosion. Suffice to say, where before the borders of the Wilds were difficult to find even for the wise or skilled, they suddenly enveloped almost the entire breadth of Riddlewood. The Fey seem content to stay within this sudden expansion of their lands, but any mortals that journey there through madness or misadventure rarely return – and those that do come back as only shambling husks of their former selves.
These morsels of information, in my estimation, are the only solid ground we have when discussing the Fey. Despite the century of open communication it is frustrating how little we truly know. Perhaps by design, as even the most talkative of Fey seemed more interested in the function of buttons or the purpose of a kiss than anything as concrete as their own history or the true nature of the Wilds. No record exists of the name of the leader of the Violet Leaf. Similarly, the events that precipitated the Rupture were obliterated by the event itself. Obviously the blame can be laid at the feet of the Archdruid – but what motivated this sudden break of faith after decades of trust? And what actually caused the Rupture itself? The vengeful wrath of the Fey is the most likely explanation, but we have no evidence either way. Only the Violet Leaf – or perhaps any druid that survived the flight from Riddlewood? – know the truth.
The truth which may forever be lost among the strange fog of the Wild that permeates the forest – and lost among the fading memories of the past.
The hour grows late. I shall dispatch this first report as requested, then follow with more missives detailing what lore I have gathered about the Violet Leaf and the Fey themselves. Fair warning though, my future letters leave behind the solid earth of history and verified reports – they enter the shifting lands of legend, grandfather limericks, and bard songs reserved only for the most gullible or most intoxicated.
Rectangul Morton, Archivist – Rune – 1307