Rise of The Corruption
Pixie Warlock with a vengeance!
When people think of they Fey, they think of mystical elves prancing around in the forest celebrating life and magic! But Lithica was not that type of Fey. Not only was she a Pixie — a lesser known and often looked down-upon race of Fey — she was also of the Winter Court, which is quite the opposite. Winter Court Fey are emotionless, calculating, and often cruel. They celebrate death, coldness, and the cruelty of fate. While not good nor evil, they rarely become involved in the woes of mankind — but the Corruption is one exception.
The Corruption cares not if you join the other nations in battle. It cares not who you worship, where your loyalties lie, or who you love. The Corruption conquers all — and that is just what it did to the Winter Court. Unfond of the affairs of the greater races, the Winter Court isolated themselves deep within the Forest of Eternal Winter of Geimhreadh. And in fact, their lack of loyalty and isolation that had previously saved them from countless wars, became their undoing. The Corruption spread quickly and relentlessly through the court, killing a majority of the Winter Fey and spreading chaos amongst those that remained.
One such survivor was Lithica. A young Pixie of unnatural beauty and daughter to a noble of the Winter Court, Glacia Sapfink and her husband, Norte. She grew up a rambunctious, difficult child; different from the other Winter Fey, for unknown to herself and most others, she was in fact half Summer Fey.
During a Fey council meeting some odd years ago, Glacia became quite intoxicated during one of the Summer Fey Festivals. Upon awakening in an oversized goblet filled with exotic wine, she somehow felt very different. She soon felt that the pixie seed within her was ready to grow and upon returning to Geimhreadh, planted her offspring in secret. Not knowing what consequences would fall upon her or her family if it were discovered that a noble of the high court had allowed such a disgrace to occur, she quickly made plans to find a husband of the Winter.
Knowing that this secret must never be unveiled, she knew that her money and power was the price to pay for her and her child’s safety. She made a deal with the Court of Shadows, an unofficial and unaffiliated Fey court that was beginning to rise in power. And so Norte became her husband for as long as her noble vote and half of her wealth belonged to the Court of Shadows.
Throughout Lithica’s childhood, she was taught to suppress her frivolous emotions and colorful glow, for it could arouse suspicion of her lineage. As such, she was often tormented as a child and learned never to trust her own instincts. Glacia loved her daughter dearly, but her secrets and disciplines may have been psychologically detrimental to Lithica. Norte, on the other hand, was, not unexpectedly, a cold and distant father. This wasn’t atypical of Winter Fey, but Norte was also physically and verbally abusive toward Lithica when any part of her Summer traits would show. Glacia was also often away on Court related business and because of the secrecy of Lithica’s lineage, there were no other caretakers to raise her. Norte was left to care for Lithica for long periods of time, in which she was sent alone into the Forest of Eternal Winter to fend for herself. Norte’s excuse was that he wished for her to know her land well, as any noble should.
When the Corruption first hit the Winter Court, Lithica was only 10 years old. Madness was everywhere and dangerous magic from both the corrupted and the clean consumed the court in a flurry of destruction and devastation. Norte, seeing this as his chance to be the lone survivor of the Sapfink house, made his escape early and alone, leaving Glacia and Lithica for dead. Glacia took Lithica and flew high into the sky away from the chaos, but was not able to maintain her altitude for long. The couple plunged hard and fast deep into the forest, injuring Glacia’s wings on the way down. Unfortunately, they had not traveled far enough, and the corrupted found their location with unnatural ease.
They raced through the night on foot, with only the full moon’s light to guide them. Barely dodging not only the corrupted, but also the natural dangers of the forest, they following the moonlight, as it was their only path. With Glacia nearly upon death as her life force drained from her injury, they stumbled into a clearing. In the center was a pool of water that appeared to be glowing a bright white under the moon’s light.
A woman’s voice spoke from all around them. “Mother of the child, step toward my well.”
With no other options for safety, Glacia limped toward the pool, telling Lithica to stay hidden.
“Do not be afraid. I am The Lady of the White Well. Come forth.”
As Glacia approached the pool, she could see the reflection of a beautiful Elven woman with white hair and white dress awaiting her. There was no physical form, only the reflection.
“The child cannot hear us here. Do you wish to protect your child, mother? I can help you.”
Glacia responded, “Yes, of course! I will do anything! Please, protect us!”
“I made no mention of your protection, mother. I see the truth in your heart. I can see what you have hidden. Now, grant me one request and I will protect her. Do you agree?”
Seeing this as a chance to make up for everything that she put Lithica through, to prove that she cares for her child more than her status, she agreed.
“Good. My request is that you leave her here and never attempt to see her again. Sacrifice your child to me and I will grant her my protection. Not another word. Now go. No longer her mother are you.”
Glacia was speechless. To protect her daughter and prove her devotion, she had to leave her here now, without another word. She turned toward her daughter, who was limp upon the ground, likely collapsed from exhaustion. She walked toward her, kissed her on the forehead, and limped away into the trees. That was the last time that Lithica had seen her mother.
Lithica awoke just before dawn. She had a gleaming white blade in hand and felt completely revitalized. Remembering the light from the pool, she flittered over with blade in hand. On the surface of the water, she could see the faint reflection of The Lady of the White Well.
“I see you have awakened, child. No need to fear. I am here to protect and guide you. The blade in your hand shall be the bond between our souls. I haven’t much time, but we will speak again, each night that the moon is at its fullest.”
The reflection vanished and Lithica was alone again. But dawn was here and the day rose anew as she entered the next chapter of her life.
White Well: http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/drcact/20101119
The Crystal Fortress
With nowhere else to turn, Lithica made her way to the Crystal Fortress. The Court warned of this place, as it was said to be occupied by horrible humans performing unnatural experiments, but she had no other choice. It was the only location that she even know that civilization existed, and maybe she could warn them of the monsters she had seen.
After flying toward the east for two days straight, she finally came upon a huge structure that glimmered in the distance. This must be the Crystal Fortress. Upon arriving at the gates, she was greeted by the strangest creatures she had ever seen — Shardmind. The Shardmind are beings made entirely of crystal with no mouths to speak, eat or breathe! Dryads were the closest thing that she could compare them to from the forest, but even Dryads could eat and speak.
Several of the Shardmind surrounded her, examining her — tugging at her wings with their cold, hard fingers and comparing her size to their massive forms. They looked around at each other and seemed to be communicating, but Lithica could not hear a word. After her exhausting journey and frightening by these strange beings, she had no choice but to give in. She fell limp into the snow and lost consciousness.
She awakened in a warm chamber filled with strange furnishings and decorations (for a Pixie). She had heard of and seen these things in the glimmer-tales (stories told through light and magic) that the other Fey would tell. She was in a human’s home. She was tucked into a massive bed that could almost certainly fit 10 more pixies, and the room felt scorching hot after living in the Forest of Eternal Winter. Lying next to her on the bed were two bowls filled with glowing gems. She struggled out from under the tucked in sheets and tried to flutter her wings to look around the room. It seemed that the farther she got from the bowls of gems, the weaker she felt. She decided to stay on the bed..
Shortly after examining the chamber around her, a woman stepped into the room from the massive entry door. She looked to be a pale, thin human with black hair, dressed in a tight, black dress with jewelry on every appendage. Her face and body looked young, but infinite wisdom could be seen in her crystal blue eyes. She moved with unearthly grace and beauty toward Lithica, smiling.
“Do not be afraid, little one. The Shardmind did not intend to frighten you. I wanted to be the one to awaken you — as you can see, I am more like you. Tell me, how did you come to find this place?”
Lithica told her the story of the Corrupted, the Lady of the White Well, and her mother leaving her in the forest. She warned her that they may have chased her here and that the land is no longer safe.
The woman looked at her with knowing eyes and did not seem troubled by the news in the slightest. She insisted that Lithica would be safe here within the fortress and that she has received word from other nations regarding the Corruption — and that she and her Shardmind were already working on a way to stop them.
Lithica was comforted by the woman and she was visited every day by her while confined to her bed. Every day, the woman would return with a bowl of gems to replace the ones that were growing dim by her bedside, and every day, Lithica felt stronger and stronger. She wasn’t sure if it was the power of the White Well, or the magic of the gems that was being imbued within her, but she felt an intense surge of power growing within her.
When Lithica felt strong enough to leave her chamber, the woman gave her a large crystal to carry with her. It was the most beautiful thing that she had ever seen! It was a large purple crystal with arcane writing etched all along it’s sides. The writing glowed a golden color when touched by Lithica, and like the other crystals, seemed to empower her.
Lithica followed the woman around the fortress during the next few weeks. Meeting the Shardmind; who she discovered DID speak, just through magic, and watching the woman study and perform her experiments on crystals in her magic lab. When it was time to eat or sleep, Lithica was sent up to her bedroom to do so alone.
After several more months of recovery, the woman told Lithica that she intended to send her to her family in the Summer Court when she was well enough. Lithica insisted that she stay and become her apprentice, but the woman would not have it. She bid Lithica farewell with a cold kiss on her forehead and a small hug. Lithica was feeling extra mischievous and used her magic to lift them both into the air while they embraced! They both giggled in surprise and Lithica then agreed that she needed to be amongst her own kind. She was sent off with a small party of Shardmind and traveled across the ocean to the Leylerian Wilds.
The Summer Court
The Leylerian Wilds and the Summer Court were unlike anything Lithica had ever seen before. Everything was full of vibrant color, jovial music and merriment! As a Winter Fey, she was taught very different from what these Fey are celebrating.
Upon arriving, she was immediately brought to the court by an escort and the Shardminds quickly departed. She was brought forth to a council, where she recounted her story and gave warning. Sitting upon the council in the Winter Fey throne was her father, Norte. His presence made her anxious, but he spoke not a word to her. At the end of the summit, Norte demanded to speak:
“This girl that you see before you is not the heir to the Winter Fey. You see, I am the last surviving Winter Fey. I am not this girl’s father, as her mother had trysts and affairs with the Summer Fey on all of her excursions to the Summer Court. I reject her as my child and deny her the Winter Fey fortune. She is naught but an orphan.”
The Court clamoured, but could do nothing but agree. Mixing blood between the two courts was frowned upon and none would take her in knowing this. With the Court knowing about her powers of the White Well, they decided to use her abilities in the war against the Corruption. She was to live as an orphan and train in the Fey military.
Time and time again, she was called to train with Fey far older and more experienced than her and sent on tasks with troupes with far too little experience and far too much pride. Tasks that she had no business being a part of. Oftentimes, she was one of but a handful of survivors on her missions against the corruption, but always returned successful in her tasks.
Lithica also discovered that the gem that the woman in the Crystal Fortress had given her was actually a conduit for the soul of a Shardmind. In times of great need, she could focus on the conduit and the magic within it would transform it before her eyes into a life-sized Shardmind, ready to follow her commands.
After several years, Norte vanished with a majority of the Winter Fey fortune, but it mattered little to Lithica. Her life now was built upon growing her strength and protecting the Fey that took her in. She had accepted her split lineage and made friends with many Summer Fey, breaking through her normal wintery demeanor. But still, the life of a military orphan gave little opportunities for glee, and her solemnity became her defining trait. She still did not fit in with the other Fey and lead a lonesome childhood.
After proving her strength and loyalty to the Summer Court over the years, she learned from several of her superiors that she was in fact appointed to these dangerous tasks because they wanted the last tie to the Winter Court severed once and for all. This only made her more determined to succeed in her endeavors and wear the badge of the Winter Fey with pride. She became known as the Winter Thistle and become of the most well known and decorated Fey in all of the Courts.
Unfortunately, the Corruption’s advances never eased and a full-blown assault overtook the Leylerian Wilds and the Summer Court. It was a complete massacre and a majority of the Fey in the Wilds perished. Lithica was the sole survivor of her squad.
While attempting to flee from the Corrupted and the Wilds, she began to hear faint whispers within her mind. They seemed to be originating from the crystal that she held from the Crystal Fortress. It told her to return to the fortress and meet with the Lady Anorah. Lithica had heard rumors, but she couldn’t believe that they were true. Could the woman that had taken her in be the Lady Anorah, said to have disappeared 1,500 years ago?
Lithica escaped the wilds and made her way to the Crystal Fortress once again, and the Lady Anorah awaited with secret news for her to bring to Galdyr, where a new-found council awaits.