Petals of the Rose
The Dark Days
The Dark Days is a time period after the Four Seasons motley disappeared and before they returned. This was approximately a year. In the minds of most changelings, the beginning was the day Lucianus led a battalion of Summer soldiers into the Hedge, fought the Wild Hunt, and was slain. Many of those following him were also killed, captured or seriously injured.
The loss of the Warlord of Summer sent the Summer Court into a frenzy. Winter disappeared off the map, but Spring and Autumn did what they could to work to keep Summer under control. The loss of stability in the Courts seems to have provoked the Others and disappearances started to rise quickly. More and more Summer motleys turned to bridge-burning, trying to destroy hedge gates and slash-and-burn the Hedge itself.
A determined Spring contingent insisted that all could be made right, and tried to host a large bash to embolden the community and bring the Lost together. At some point during the evening, their revelry was set upon by Loyalists and hobgoblin agents of the Fae. Many more of the Lost were taken, and several were killed.
After this, any cohesion or attempt to rally the Courts together was lost. Annie Bile, the rightful Consort of Summer who should have handed on the crown to Autumn, failed to appear. Word from the few Summer members in touch with other Courts was that she was on a personal vendetta to avenge her fallen lover.
Unable to assume the crowns of the Rose Throne officially, Festerionand Olga did what they could to control their own Court. But around this time, a number of dissatisfied Summer squads and some members of other Courts who sympathized announced themselves in rebellion, declaring that the Rose had lost all power to protect the community. Storming Vancouver, the heart of Autumn’s territory, they waged a bloody struggle, block by block, to usurp the city. These dangerous and violent changelings named themselves and their fledgling Freehold The Northern March.
Dispossessed of its lands, Autumn and the courtiers who remained loyal to the Rose were forced into the middle of the city. Some who maintained friendships with other Courts were given shelter or switched membership entirely. In the confusion, yet more disappearances happened, though it is widely believed that at this point, as many were from changelings fleeing the area, or, whispers say, killing off rivals and mortal enemies, as from actual conflict with the True Fae.
Combating the chaos and trying to salvage the kinship and compassion of the Freehold, The Hospitallers started heavily recruiting from the reduced ranks of Summer, building a militant wing of actual soldiers to act as protectors. Their skill and resolve was tested soon enough when The Shelter, a long-time safehouse and permanent residence of many psychologically disturbed and disabled Lost was assaulted by Privateers. Although the attack was defeated, the Shelter was abandoned in short order. The Hospitallers set up a network of smaller, less obvious safehouses and continued to work to rescue new escapees.
As Winter should have risen, the next major milestone of the Dark Days hit. A series of deaths amongst prominent Winter members occurred over just a week. By the end, Winter became a giant standoff, with factions springing up to point fingers at one another, and the private business of the Court suddenly exposed to the entire city. At its worst, one group involved a vampire of some dark reputation to detain their opponents. At that point, a coalition of Winter and Spring members who refused to see the community expose itself this way to an outsider undertook a Black Ops-style mission to free them. It was revealed that the group responsible was an Entitlement of evil changelings calling themselves The Shadow Caliphate. These despicable Lost were driven out of the Court and the city.
The events in Winter’s camp became discussed as rumor and fact among the other Courts, and suspicion of the Winter Court grew. Festerion of the Autumn Court announced that he was leaving the city forever as a result of the unbelievable bloodshed and mistrust that now existed between the Courts. Olga remained, but word was spread that she would no longer wear a crown without Festerion. She condemned efforts by her Court to reclaim their lost territory, citing the continued loss of life and pain it would cause. In turn, the Court spurned her as not being willing to fight for them and their rightful lands.
A month of quiet was spoiled in March, right before Spring should have taken the Rose Throne. A True Fae began to poison hundreds of dreams across Tualatin, Sherwood and Wilsonville. Acting quickly, Candlewax and Melisande got as many loyal Spring courtiers and allies from the Autumn Court who specialized in Oneiromancy to counter the move. Correctly interpreting the signs, they anticipated the appearance of the Apple Man and laid an ambush for him. Nevertheless, both Candlewax and Melisande lost their lives in the struggle that ensued. The Spring Court both laments and admires that they refused the use of iron weapons.
By the return of Summer, the city had fractioned into a number of smaller groups all vying for resources. It threatened to become a set of much smaller Freeholds and probably would have done so, except for the sudden and catalyzing return of the Four Seasons motley. Building trust with Pledges and hard work, they organized things, created kinship where only fear and hatred had been. The Rose Throne was saved, narrowly.