Oak Up-Rooted

An unfriendly reaction
Mage-induced reactions

“Changelings were so very finnicky”, Pathwalker thought to himself as he walked into the Freehold.

He was looking for Cedric, several handwritten journals in his hand he planned to give to the changeling as his ‘rent’ for the season, explaining his most recent findings on how Fate magic can interact with the Wyrd, and what connotations that might have on the origins of Supernal and Fae Arcadia, and the possibility of if they’re the same thing. The Librarian always did love his theories on such things.

Still, he hadn’t found him in the library, which meant he had to try checking the Freehold. And of course, that meant having to deal with the, er, varied responses to his presence. The Summer courtiers eyed him carefully but gav ehim a respectful nod when he looked to them. Spring Courtiers, mainly the females, liked toying with him and distracting him from his tasks if they could, enjoying toying with a mage’s supposedly disciplined mind. The Autumn courtiers studied him as if a rival they needed to outdo, and Winter…well…

It wasn’t the first time one had bumped into him violently, not liking having a pesky willworker in their precious hideyhole, but this time the man had purposely shoved Pathwalker to the ground, meriting a frown.

“Pardon, friend, but do you have a problem with my presence here?”, Pathwalker asked in a friendly tone.

The Winter Courtier…an ogre he presumed, based on the covering of white fur and the build that made him look like a yeti, grabbed him from the ground, lifting him upwards.

“Get out. Can’t you tell that nobody wnats your prying eyes here, merlin?”, the gruff voice sounds, as he then spits on the mage and throws him backwards, walking off in a huff.

Brushing himself off, Pathwalker sighs heavily, whiping the saliva from his face and picking his books back up. He eyed him carefully and raised his hand as if about to perform a rote mudra…but stopped himself. Not worth it…so he turned around and continued looking for the Changeling Librarian that was a fair bit more welcoming of his presence.

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A History of the Fall

The hushed whispers of a prophecy foretelling the fall of the freehold have come true. On the first night of Winter, a Blizzard swept through Talloke. It was truly devastating, but not just for the damage of the high winds and heavy snows. For that night, the True Fae returned.

Most Changelings that had gathered for the Changing of the Seasons were just trying to forget their troubles for a little while. Many of their friends had disappeared at an alarming rate. The numbers had dwindled. Most Changelings were not willing to leave the Hollow’s grounds, fearing an attack. Little did they know, they were walking right into a trap. After most of the Goblin Wine had been drunk, the Winter King stood to give a final toast.

My fellow Changelings, a new time has come. The Winter is here! Its pure white snowfall is a symbol of purity and rebirth. But for the rebirth of a Kingdom, so must a cleansing first occur. It is time for the Courts to be cleansed.

As he lifted his glass, the confused looks on his subject’s faces changed to alarm. The faces of their old Masters appeared amongst the walls, from the shadows. Screams of horror rang out as it was a mad scramble to try and escape recapture. Most, sadly, did not make it out of the Hollow safely.

Some, however, were wise to this plan. The Autumn Court was wise to the Winter King’s plan. Most of the Autumn Changelings did not show to the party. Those that had to for formalities quickly left the party, blaming the bad weather for their early retirement. Together, they gathered in a secret Hollow. Those that would listen to their warnings came with them. Together, they shut the doors of the secret room and hid in safety for the rest of Winter. The town suffered a severe population loss, but the blizzard did not end until the Fae were sure they had gotten all the Changelings they could. The town was all but abandoned for an entire season.

As Spring approached, the new Flower King was determined to give the Freehold the new beginning it needed. Now a hero among the town, he rallied the scared Changelings into action. They took back their homes. They rebuilt and reformed the secret Hollow below the library.

Inspired by the new King, the Ogre that took to being the leader of the Summer Changelings decided an army was needed. Most of the Summer Changelings who had survived were well-equipped to fill such roles. Even some of the other seasons decided they would like to serve for the Courts in this manner.

While the Autumn Court had already done more than enough to save the Freehold (including a surprise attack on the invading Gentry that left them dazzled and allowed the Court to save even more Changelings from recapture), they continued to give aid with their keen sense of Magic. The Autumn Queen was key in helping to reshape the Hedge that made up their homes, and to add in more security to prevent something like this from ever happening again.

Though many refuse to acknowledge it, the Winter Court perhaps did the most for the Freehold. Ashamed, almost every Winter Court Changeling was determined to regain their good name. They took up many dangerous tasks, hoping to prove their worth once again. Many do not like the new Ice Queen, so named because of her icy, stand-offish demeanor. It’s not that she is mean, no, she just has to be the strong leader to withstand verbal attacks from the other Courts.

The Courts have seen quite the change in social dynamics. Once viewed as flighty, the Spring Court is now among the most honored. The Summer Court is now viewed as a very regimented group. Those of the Autumn Court are quite mysterious, and often seem distrusting of the other Courts (especially Winter—the Autumn Changelings perhaps hold the greatest grudge). And now, Winter, which used to be simply a calm, pleasant and rarely troublesome group, is the scum of the Hollow.

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Day One: Introduction
Where have they gone?

As the sun sets over the small town of Talloke, the day-to-day hustle and bustle seems to vanish into the twilight. This is not unusual to the local residents, however. Most shops here close by five, and there are only one or two restaurants that are open. Even those close around nine. The only exception to the rule is the local pub, the Acorn. It is open until two, or so the lawmen of the town like to think. Unbeknownst to them, however, it is the secret location of the local freehold. Located just to the east side of town, the rather cozy-looking brick building has a vast basement below its wooden floors. Some days, when the celebration of a new Court comes, the folks in the bar above seem to mirror those emotions below.

Wallace, a Changeling himself, is a Brewer. The poor wizened was taken in the early 20’s. He had been a rum-runner of sorts, but specialized in his own brew. Somehow, his brew had made it into the hands of the True Fae that took him, and one dark night, his entire convoy was captured. He returned, years later, to his small hometown, to find that not much had changed. Save, of course, for the removal of the ban on booze. He opened his own pub, desperate to get away from the horrible memories that hid on the edges of his mind.

After his pub had been established, the kings and queens of the courts approached him and asked if he would like the honor of housing entrances to the freehold’s own Hollow. He found he could not resist one way or the other. Quickly, doors and secret entrances appeared throughout his bar, though they were apparent to only the changelings that knew where they led, and could only be opened by those who knew how. It was indeed an honor for Wallace, and he was pleased that he got to know most of the Changeling’s business. However, it seems that as of late, he’s been regretting his ‘decision’ to keep entrances into the freehold. Wallace has become more edgy, spending most of his time studying every patron from behind his bar, cleaning a glass, ready to bolt.

It is a Friday night, and the bar is buzzing with both Changelings and Mortals alike. It’s been nearly three weeks since folk have been disappearing at an alarming rate. In fact, it’ll be tomorrow for that. Wallace seems edgier than ever, unprepared for how busy his pub is tonight. More than a few glasses have been broken tonight.

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