Played 1/27 in Emily’s room at Concord and ordered milkshakes.
Have agreed with the Summer Court that we will go back to Ringing Mountain together, and bring back the bodies of the fallen dwarves.
Flint looks at silver UFO with Whistlehiss—turns out it is basically made of mirror. She talks to Whistlehiss about the other courts, some one-word impressions surface for each. For the Spring Court, silly & flaky; for the Autumn Court, sneaky; for the Winter Court, evil and toadstools and bitey creatures.
Meanwhile Grav gets into some wrestling with the archers.
We head back towards Ringing Mountain, having dug up the dwarves who are wrapped in linen. We carry them on some magical floating discs. It is a whole wizard thing.
We sleep at the same place we slept on the way down. Nyix learns a really weird card game.
In the morning, endless diplomacy checks, moving speeches, and other amazing and touching things. Long story short, the faeries and the dwarves amazingly agree to get along.
Later, in the temple, Perkupsia goes mad. It is really kind of awful. He ends up thrown into the giant crevice. Grav jumps in after him, but Flint teleports him out. It is all very intense and emotional.
Later that night, a tail for Scout. She walks through a pool and comes out not only with a tail, but feeling stronger and more alive, more herself.
David sent us these emails as further epilogues:
Leopold came to the faeries in the night. He came with the priest, so as to show that he meant no more harm. Or, to show that he meant harm no more.
People do crazy things, when things change all of a sudden. He thought he could handle it, but the terror of that day, so deep underground, came back to him so clearly, so suddenly, there in the temple. And what could he do but rush the chief of them, with whatever weapon he had? But, afterwards, after he was healed from his wound, and after he spoke with the priest. Leopold realized, Leopold remembered, Leopold knew that he had turned to violence without warning, that he had turned to violence without reason, and that through that violence another had come to death. Another death after too many deaths of fallen brethren. And the faeries missed their fallen ones as surely and as sadly as he missed his fallen ones. He knew that his blow was not solely responsible for the madness and death that followed it, there in that sacred temple- but there was some guilt on his head, and his honor, his ancestors, his god, his very heart- these demanded a payment of the debt.
The other thing to know is that the pixies were there in the temple, through the violence, constrained as they were in a great sack. When Percupsia fell, it was all that the archers could do to restrain the bag from following after. As a man holds a loving pet back from a house on fire, or an oncoming car. But hold them back they did. Pixies are loyal to one, it’s true, but they are also loyal to a clan. To a command. To a family, such as it is. So the pixies stayed in that temple, when their master fell. The pixies, and his sword as well, dropped on the stone in the blast that dropped him. And the faeries claimed them both, and brought them to that night’s dwelling, as they had so many before.
But Leopold came to the faeries that night, after he came to his senses. He came with the priest but he went in alone, and he stayed in their quarters for a long time, in that silent night, in the darkness and the cold. And some say much talking was heard in those quarters, and some say none.
Leopold left Ringing Mountain in the early hours, before even the dwarves woke to continue their mourning. He left Ringing Mountain, with the priest’s blessing. He left to pay his blood-debt, to continue the mission of the fallen, the mission inscribed on the very temple stones. He left, to defend the surface. He left to wander the tunnels- the faerie tunnels and the dwarf tunnels, and the tunnels deeper than any of those. And as he wandered he carried Percupsia’s sword. And as he wandered, he was followed and led and protected and accompanied by a swarm of pixies, dedicated also to their fallen comrade’s mission, now Leopold’s. Now their own. They would defend the surface, from deep within the earth.
A few of the watch saw him, leaving the city, with the sword and the swarm. They saw and knew, or knew after a few words from the priests. And some of them even spoke of it, later, late in the night, in the cold and the darkness, after the last sips of a mug, after the night-fires had died down to embers. Some of them even spoke of it, and after they did, they were often silent. Silent for a long while.
But Leopold left. With a swarm and a sword. To wander the darkness, and to defend the surface.
There’s not one thing they say about the world to come. That world that waits beyond our deaths. But those who walk in the paths of Pelor say that the Sun God is merciful, and welcomes all who love them, regardless of their imperfections and their failings.
It’s hard to know, maybe, if you do not worship the sun, what it means to see the dawn. And harder yet, maybe impossible, to know what seventy-odd years of darkness means for those who worship the sun. To never see the dawn, to see sunlight only in glimpses and memories.
It’s hard to know what that would mean, how that would feel. And, truth be known, it was staggering and colossal and world-shaking to those three faeries who made it to the surface, after. Who made it to see once again the dawn of the sun, in this world if not their own. To see the light of their Beloved, returned to them after so many years in the darkness. It was all of those things.
But greater still, perhaps, or so the stories claim- greater still, perhaps, was the vision of the Great Dawn, the Light that Will Last, come once and for all to Pelor’s child, finished finally with his long toil. A greater dawn, still, perhaps.