Past the southern mountains of Slumber’s Grasp, in a valley between kingdoms, lies the Vale of the Clockmakers, a strange little land of carpenters and woodcutters, farmers and tinkers. At the center of this land is a magnificent manse: The Lodge of Locks. Not a castle properly, but what a castle might dream of being in a small, magical, wooden retirement. Ten thousand gears in one hundred and one locks kept the lodge sealed. Every few years some traveler or dynast would come by, seeking to test their intelligence against the locks. Once in a century they might succeed, only to be stymied by the next lock.
At the center of the lodge, beneath the ground, is an unbreakable seal three meters wide, and beyond that seal is nothingness itself. So says the woman who came through it.
Five years ago a woman made her way out of the lodge. The townsfolk were astonished – not only because of her strange features, but also because the lodge had been sealed for all recorded history. She was the first person to ever enter or leave it. She opened the locks as if she had been born to the task.
Even beyond this achievement, it was obvious that she was one of the Chosen. She was strong and keen-eyed. She learned the local language inhumanly fast. People found themselves leaping to her aid without thinking. After an initial period of confusion and equilibration, she helped improve the industry of the valley immensely, drawing new logging plans and introducing crop rotations. Her genius was undeniable. After she had ben in the valley for two years, the people began treating her as their ruler, and she subtly and graciously accepted.
Her land had little contact with Slumber’s Grasp before her arrival. Travelers brought word from time to time, but few people visited the Vale of the Clockmakers. Princess Athela was stunned by reports of her arrival and her appearance, and sent young Prince Jasper to speak with her – with a few older advisors, of course. He returned to the Vale for a few days each year afterward, seemingly eager to know more of this strange queen. What will she think when she hears word of Jasper’s rebellion? Will it be a disappointment? A concern? Or the next step in her plans?
Half of the Queen of Iron’s face is pale white; the other half is forged of soulsteel. Other pieces of her body are made of this terrible metal as well. The locals, unfamiliar with the magical materials, believe it to be iron. She is fond of crystal, saying that it reminds her of her home, and wears gaudy jewelry to show it off. Her eyes are a dark grey. Her hair is golden blonde.
The townsfolk say that the Iron Queen was bewildered and confused when she arrived. She is not so any more. She considers her words carefully, and speaks distinctly, but there is an air of confidence about her. She treats her citizens with authority, but with respect. She rarely meets with visitors, preferring to send a servant in her place. They are told that only citizens of the Vale meet with the Queen – not entirely true, but not far from it.
Intimacies: “My safety is of the utmost importance” (Defining), “I must rebuild myself” (Major), “Prince Jasper” (Positive), “I will return home” (Positive), “Those who would threaten my valley” (Negative)
The Iron Queen has two disparate skill sets. The first is managing people. She naturally puts them at ease, finds their most productive qualities, organizes them, and puts them to work. She spots liars and slackers easily, though the Vale of the Clockmakers has few of either. She can read ambition on a face as if it were drawn there. Her second area of skill is with architecture and metalwork. In this she makes excellent and clever use of machines, including pulleys, levers, and cogs. She knows the strengths and properties of all manner of materials, letting her choose the right one for the right task. She also has some familiarity with alchemy, especially as regards the magical materials. There are many blind spots in her knowledge of the world beyond the Vale, but she learns exceptionally quickly.
Her Majesty’s essence works to enhances these abilities. Pheremones shape emotions and build trust. Her voice is perfectly pitched and modulated to issue commands that sound like requests. Her soulsteel eye sees weak points in structures and materials. Her fingers let her feel the intricate structure of mechanical devices from the outside. Her limbs support more weight than they look like they should. All of this might is carefully put to use by a mind that itself respires essence and voraciously takes in all before it.
The Iron Queen does not heal easily. She knows how to create soulsteel from “raw materials” – that is, from the souls of the dead – but repairing the metallic portion of her body is difficult and time-consuming. For that reason, she avoids combat at all costs, something that has been easy to do in this peaceful valley.
- von Heikkila, her majordomo. Mature, succinct, dazzling.
- Torvald Ekks, occasional visitor from farther south. Cultured, sociable, deceitful.
- von Saulison, who wants to overthrow her. Jealous, concerned, calculating.
- da’ Sinikka, who meets most of her visitors for her. Bold, reasonable, loyal.
- What artifacts did the Iron Queen find within the Lodge of Locks – or bring with her from places beyond? What strange powers might they bestow?
- How large is the Iron Queen’s stock of soulsteel? Is she running low, or has she been stockpiling it? What does this say about her relationship with the folk of the Vale, and of her needs?