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History of Titania, Oberon and the Canolbarthby Lost Woodrakeagathokles wrote:
In Tall Tales, it is said that Titania is the only actual competitor of Oberon, which indirectly implies that Gwynn is not interested in taking over.
These comments got me thinking: what if the Fall of the Canolbarth indeed has nothing to do with an Unseelie Court, but rather (inadvertently) with the rivalry between Titania and Oberon?
Bear with me.
Here is how Titania describes the effect of her quarrels with Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream:William Shakespeare wrote:
Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge, have suck'd up from the sea
Contagious fogs; which falling in the land
Have every pelting river made so proud
That they have overborne their continents:
The ox hath therefore stretch'd his yoke in vain,
The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn
Hath rotted ere his youth attain'd a beard;
The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
And crows are fatted with the murrion flock;
The nine men's morris is fill'd up with mud,
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
For lack of tread are undistinguishable:
The human mortals want their winter here;
No night is now with hymn or carol blest:
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound:
And thorough this distemperature we see
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Far in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,
And on old Hiems' thin and icy crown
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set: the spring, the summer,
The childing autumn, angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries, and the mazed world,
By their increase, now knows not which is which:
And this same progeny of evils comes
From our debate, from our dissension;
We are their parents and original.
So, Titania and Oberon's relationship affects the state of nature. In truth, some of her words here could fit the Fall of the Canolbarth well.
What if the Shadow Elf machinations coincided with one such quarrel? What if it was not a coincidence at all? Is it below Rafiel (and if not him, surely Atzanteotl) to sow dispute between the couple so that the forest will be more vulenrable? PC1 takes from Shakespeare that the couple's main points of friction are jealousy of alleged human lovers, and the occasional changeling boy at Titania'a retinue. Can one of the immortals interfere precisely in such a weak spot?
Okay! Tried to incorporate all the stuff from above, canon material (PC1, GAZ5, WotI) alongside the excellent fan work on 2300 BC Mystara and Grondheim, and this is how I imagine Oberon and Titania's history...
- 2100 BC: The elves reach the Sylvan Realm, following Ilsundal.
- 2080 BC: Titania becomes Queen of Summer in Grondheim and rules the fey kingdom.
- 1700 BC: Glantri/Broken Lands cataclysm and final Fall of Grondheim. Titania remains to reign over a shrinking fey kingdom that is hardly worthy of its name.
- c. 1650 BC: Finding no interest in her so-called kingdom at its current state, Titania decides to abandon her body.
- 900 BC: Titania is reborn, but as is often the case (according to PC1), she has no memories of her past lives. Meanwhile, in the Sylvan Realm, the young fey prince Oberon befriends the elf Mealiden Starwatcher.
- c. 800 BC: Mealiden learns the secret of the Rainbow (perhaps from the fey), and Oberon joins the elves in their journey. He tells the story that he was bored with life in the Sylvan Realm and itching for adventure, but in fact Oberon realized the dangers of staying in the Sylvan Realm, now surrounded by hostile forces (either Moorkroft's or others') and decided it was safer for him to leave.
In the elves’ first stop at current-day Thyatis, Oberon meets a young local sprite named Robin Goodfellow, or Puck, and gleefully joins his mischief. He also encounters the centaur prophet Chiron, who tells him to continue travelling with the elves and woo Titania. It is unknown whether Chiron told Oberon who Titania was.
The elves continue in their journeys and finally reach their destination. With Puck’s assistance, Oberon woos Titania and the erotic sparks between them prove to be instrumental to the magic that grew the Canolbarth. Dreamland becomes a major gateway to the Plane of Feywood, fairies swarm through it to the forest, and Oberon declares himself Ard Ri and Titania his queen.
From thereon, Oberon and Titania’s relationship was stormy, to say the least: the lovers on both sides, the accompanying fits of jealousy, the mutual manipulations and maneuvers towards reconciliation (including that infamous time, when he made her fall in love with a human from Tallwoode shapechanged by Puck to have an ass's head). In truth, all of these, although not making for a stable couple, were crucial for keeping the passion between the two alive – and with it, the wellbeing of the Canolbarth, which magically depends on it. Until…
- 734 AC: During his research, the hsiao Tyrk-tyrk Hsuu stumbles upon the truth about Titania’s past identity, and informs her of it. Realizing that she was queen of the fey before Oberon “made her one” deeply changes the dynamics between the couple. It is unclear whether Oberon or Puck were aware of Titania’s past, but she is now more suspicious of them, and believes she should rule the Sunlit Realm in Dreamland. There is a real schism between the two, and Atzanteotl takes notice.
- 988 AC: Peaseblossom, Moth, Mustardseed and Cobweb, the favorites of Titania’s retinue, bring to her a human infant from Ierendi, whom they all refer to as “the boy”.
- 1006 AC: “The boy” grows to become an extremely attractive young man. While this is not the first changeling Titania grooms, and definitely not the first one to cause discord between her and the Ard Ri, Oberon becomes even more jealous than usual in this case. “The boy” charms him as well, and Oberon wants him to himself alongside controlling his queen’s fidelity. In truth, the handsome boy is governed by Atzanteotl (or is perhaps Atzanteotl in disguise?), and continues to whisper sweet nothings in the ears of both fey king and queen to drive a wedge between them. It works. Titania and Oberon are now in direct conflict, and the Canolbarth is suffering due to it. It is the perfect timing for the Shadow Elves to make their move.