While he wasn’t thrilled by the turn of events his life had just taken, Scanlan could at least admit that he was in a very beautiful gnome-sized birdcage. Made of twisting gold bars with decorative silver leaves and glowing orange runes up the bars. He’d probably admire it more if he wasn’t trapped in it, those runes suppressing his magic, and he was wearing the clothing he went to sleep in.
How did you end up in this situation Scanlan you magnificent bard you? A listener to his tale would ask him if there were any. But sadly he didn't have a good story for that due to waking up in said literal gilded cage in what he assumed to be another plane then the one he went to sleep in. Going from his safe comfortable bed in Westruun where he was sleeping next to his wonderful radiant wife to waking up in a hammock tied to a metal pole that rose to the top of the cage. A menagerie of musical instruments were at the bottom and there didn’t appear to be a door. Threw the bars he could see cascades of lavender and ivy as if they made walls, he could smell the lavender but roses, orchids, and honeysuckle as well. He was immediately on edge.
Just as he sat up in what appeared to be a pale purple silk hammock. The bars shimmered, not disappearing but becoming translucent and standing before him was a woman with honey colored skin and hair that seemed to shift with the colors of autumn, reds and yellows and soft tans and oranges mixing together. It took him a second of confusion until her face clicked with a book he’d been helping the Cobalt Reserve restore. He was completely and utterly fucked.
“Queen Titania,” he easily faked a smile, “This is an unexpected meeting.”
“Master Bard, I’m so glad you’re finally awake,” her smile was surprisingly warm.
“About that not to be blunt or come off as rude but why am I here?” he asked.
“My court is in need of a new bard and the most talented bard in Exandria seemed to be interested in my court.” she said like it was obvious.
“Being recognized for my talents is always a pleasure.” What was he doing? He was stuck unless Pike and Grog could figure out where he disappeared to. He was probably in the center of the Feywild of all places! Being kept in a magic gold birdcage by a sort of god who grants mortals willing to make a pact with her magic powers! “But may I ask where we are?”
“Why we’re in Senaliesse of course.” She said it like it was obvious, “My summer palace in the heart of the Feywild.”
He kept the panic clawing his throat at bay. This was ridiculous! He was Aes Adon! He was the Meat Man! He was Burt motherfucking Reynolds! He’d fought vampires and pit fiends and ancient dragons and a literal god there was no way he wasn’t going to get out of here. He’d done too many things for him to just disappear off the face of the mortal plane after it all.
Pike woke up to an empty bed which would’ve been slightly strange considering Scanlan almost always slept in later than her, his pajamas were folded neatly at the bottom of the bed which made it more unsettling. She checked the closet and his nicest pair of clothing was gone, well tailored slacks and shirt, his best pair of shiny black leather boots, Scanlan’s favorite coat Vex had gotten him last Winter’s Crest, in the style of his Marquesian coat but a deep purple silk with a swirling gold trim if you looked closely at you could see suns, stars, moons, and eyes of Ioun built into it, and a lightweight burgundy scarf. Which was confusing given that it was autumn and Scanlan hates the cold, privately Pike thought he hated it so much because it reminded him of dying.
She reaches for her holy symbol on instinct. When her hand enclosed on Sarenrae’s symbol her goddess seemed to hear her question and Pike feels her vision pull and she regained sight in the Feywild but it kept going and going until it reached a grove of silver tree then it went up and up and up until she was in a city in the treetops. Lit in golden hues and soft pinks the city glowed as sunbeams caught yellow roses and a soft breeze shifted the bushes of lilacs. Even then her vision traveled through the city’s winding roads made from the branches of the trees until she reached the center of the city and saw the beautiful strange tower that looked like it had giant dragonfly wings for glass and a metal she couldn’t identify. Once again she rose up until she’s in a room, within the center a curtain of ivy and lavender. Through the curtain was a fae woman and a golden birdcage with a shimmering translucent front and within dressed in his missing clothing was Scanlan.
He had his trademark smile on his face but she could tell when it was forced or when another emotion was threatening to overwhelm his facade. His tells were there, impossible to see if you hadn’t known him for years and hadn’t spent those years trying to learn said tells.
“Queen Titania.” was the only thing she heard until her consciousness returned to her body still in her nightdress hand closed around the symbol of Sarenrae around her neck. She quickly got dressed and grabbed the key in her jewelry box. She needed help. She needed her best buddy. Grog was still asleep when Pike ran down the stairs and into his room. Her bare feet met the worn wood of the room. The rising sun was peeking through the windows with the bit of light blue of a sunny day. Panic was coursing through her veins.
“Grog! Grog!” she shook him to the best of her ability, “Grog! Wake up!”
“P-Pike?” Grog’s tired voice asked.
“Ya buddy,” Pike said, “C’mon we need to go.”
“Why?” he asked.
“Scanlan got kidnapped by a fae queen!” she rushed the fear of the situation fueling her.
Grog sat straight up in shock, “What?”
He looked at her with an edge of confusion to it she understood. A look of how and why and what. Her best buddy wanted to know where the other member of their familial unit was and why he’s gone. Slowly rage filled Grog’s eyes. She could almost read his mind, no one fucks with Vox Machina even after retirement, especially after retirement.
“Scanlan’s in the Feywild, we’ve gotta go after him.” Grog nodded. They both split up to gather their respective gear. Pike made sure to grab his key before going back up the stairs to the gnome sized portion of the house.
In the upstairs hallway was a very fancy locked cabinet covered in runes. Only three keys into the cabinet exist, each to a different section. Pike pushed her key into the lock on the largest drawer. Magic hummed in the air as the arcane locks and whatever other nasty surprises Scanlan added temporarily dispelled on the drawer. She slid it open.
Within it in all it’s glory on a velvet pillow was the Plate of the Dawnmartyr. Rubies glinted in the candlelight as the brass and gold gleamed. Methodically she donned the armor that had seen her through the toughest of Vox Machina’s battles. She ran her fingers over the silver scrolling before closing her drawer and unlocking Grog’s. The Titanstone Knuckles reflected the candlelight as she removed them before closing Grog’s drawer. The Knuckles were heavy and glinted with the pattern of the heartstrings they were forged from.
Grog is already ready when she got down the stairs and even managed to grab her shield, gauntlets, and mace. He looks determined and angry, not rage angry but definitely upset. Pike had an idea of how they could get into the Feywild. They’d need Allura, who thankfully was visiting Westruun.
Scanlan had come to the conclusion that bird cages were incredibly boring. He had no interest in being the personal songbird of the Summer Queen. But forcing himself to be completely quiet was surprisingly difficult, he was vaguely aware he was almost always making some sort of music. It just felt natural to let it flow out of him, to hum, to play, to sing, actively making sure he wasn't was incredibly uncomfortable. He felt like he was holding back an immense amount of pressure that was slowly building. He had to release it eventually and he knew that but he was feeling especially spiteful.
Speaking of dumbass birdcages, the one he was in was no longer just surrounded by flowers instead he was in Queen Titania’s throne room, made of a shining metal that reminded him of liquid in a way. She was planning a party of some sort. He tried to pay attention he really did but he just couldn’t follow what was being said. In all honesty holding back his natural flow of music just reminded him of how cut off from his magic he was. If he could just dimension door he could at least get out of this stupid cage.
Out of desperation and just a hint of curiosity he reached out to see if he could access Ioun’s blessing, not to activate it just to see if it was within his reach. He reached out and felt a barrier push against him forcing him away from the power of his blessing. He grit his teeth and pushed back and managed to get past and he knew he could do it again if he needed to. He glanced over at Queen Titania deep in conversation with a planner of some sort she didn’t seem to notice what he’d done. He let out a silent sigh of relief.
Gods he missed Pike. He hoped she was coming or had literally any idea where he was. He hoped he’d see Pike and Grog and Kaylie and the rest of his family again. He didn’t want to be stuck in the Feywild forever. He hadn’t felt this alone in years. He twisted his scarf in his hands. He silently sent a prayer to Ioun for any form of guidance she could offer him.
After what felt like hours of planning a party starts he’s let out of the cage but not before two pixies fix a gold cord with the same runes as the cage’s around his neck.With a wave of her hand the front bars disappeared. Almost an army of bards arrive making him wonder why she wanted him so bad. They’re led by a very tall handsome satyr who greeted Queen Titania cordially but glanced over to him with a smirk. Scanlan’s stomach twisted with something he couldn’t explain.
He’s led into a side room by a tabaxi woman where said satyr is waiting. His dark hair is wild but his eyes gleam with intelligence. A beautiful fiddle case sat on the floor. His clothing was a fine dark green. They’re alone and Scanlan wondered if that was on purpose.
“Hello Scanlan Shorthalt,” He smirked, “I am Hyrsam the Prince of Fools.”
“Are you sure you’ll be ok?” Allura asked as the two of them stepped towards the swirling verdant green portal she had drawn onto the floor, her hair immaculate despite the early hour. Pike honestly hadn’t wanted to know what bed head she was still sporting.
“Yeah,” Grog replied, eyes forward at the portal, he looked impatient.
Allura nodded though she looked nervous, “Be careful.”
“We will,” Pike assured. Even then she felt grim, Allura had filled them in on who Queen Titania was, the Summer Queen, the Faerie Queen, the Queen of Light, and Leader of the Seelie Court. This wasn’t going to be easy.
“Good luck.” Allura called as they stepped into the portal, “I should have finished the protective spells on your home when you get back.”
The Feywild was as beautiful as she remembers. Greenery in every form surrounds them. It’s breathtaking in its purity with nature. The air is filled with magic swirling around them both. Large trees going up higher than she can see. Flowers cover the ground. Leaning against a nearby tree in a sleeveless blueish white shirt under a green cloak. His curly red hair falling down his back.
“Mr. Strongjaw, Mrs. Trickfoot, it's been awhile.” Artagan said calmly.
“It’s Trickfoot actually not Shorthalt,” Scanlan corrected looking up at the satyr, whom radiated power, “I’m a married man.”
“I apologize then Mr. Trickfoot.” Hyrsam said, “But we have other matters to discuss.”
“What other matters?” he questioned as Hyrsam stepped forward.
Hyrsam smiled a smile Scanlan knew all too well, “Why getting you out of here of course.”
Scanlan met his eyes, “And why do you want to do that?”
“I am a creature of what some would say chaos,” Hyrsam explained his smile continued to curl, “And I want to fuck with Queenie there.”
“No deals? Just fucking with her?” Scanlan pressed.
“Oh I like you more than I thought I would.” he laughed.
Scanlan raised an eyebrow, “That’s not exactly an answer.”
“I’ll get you out, I’ll even get you back to your wife.” he promised.
“What’s your plan?” Scanlan glanced at the door wondering if they were about to be interrupted.
“Huh no wonder she picked you.” Hyrsam knelt down.
“Her?” Scanlan tilted his head to the door to indicate.
“Gods no,” Hyrsam laughed before poking the center of Scanlan’s forehead, “Her.”
“Wha-” he started.
“It’s a bit of a shame too, you would’ve made such a great addition to my retinue.” Scanlan wanted to step away from him but his feet wouldn’t move Hyrsam’s eyes bearing into him, “It's quite a tragedy that all that potential got squandered on her but alas there’s no changing the past. So I’ll settle for a bit of anarchy and to think of what you could’ve been.”
“What's your plan?” Scanlan pressed again no time to think about how fucking weird this all was or what this Prince of Fools was saying to throw him off.
“Just follow my lead and do what I say,” Hyrsam smirked as he picked up his fiddle case and walked back to the throne room.
“Hello,” Pike said awkwardly.
“Do you need help finding your bard?” Artagan asked somewhat sarcastically.
Pike can feel Grog’s lack of patience and rage coming off him in waves and she’s half tempted to give into it as well, “Yes we’re looking for him.”
“Well lucky for you that an old deal has come back to bite me in the back and I’m here to help.” every word that left his mouth was slightly bitter and tinged with annoyance.
“What’s your plan?” Pike questioned because honestly it sounded too good to be true.
“I’m here to be your guide.” Artagan said begrudgingly.
“Let's go then.” Grog said.
Pike looked up at Grog. He wasn’t handling this well, she wondered if she was or if she was just unknowingly shoving everything down until they could get Scanlan back. So that when it was just the two of them she could hold him close and cry, so they could both murmur soft words of love and encouragement to each other. She and Grog followed Artagan deeper into the Feywild and hopefully towards their missing family.
Fae parties were interesting. A large stage had been set up for Hyrsam, his lackies, and Scanlan to play that had emeralds and moonstones embedded in the wood. Strange drinks that look a bit like honey substituted alcohol and fancy snacks are carried on shining platters by teams of pixies. Floating opals glowed, illuminating the throne room turned ballroom. Everyone was dressed to the nines. Fancy fabrics, rare metals, and jewels were dripping off every guest. Queen Titania sat above everyone on her throne made of green summer branches and flowering vines. People glanced at him and whispered to each other. He sat on the edge of the stage and watched them all. He could hear them. He ran a finger over his wedding ring.
“You know how to duet with a fiddle player right?” Hyrsam asked, interrupting his internal monologue he’d been about to start.
“Of course I do.” he replied with a glare, mind flashing through all the times he and Kaylie had played together.
“Great, we aren’t going to duet, I just wanted to know, be ready to turn invisible on my command, it’ll make everything smoother.” Hyrsam whispered before patting Scanlan on the shoulder and turned to the githyanki on his left to tell him something in elvish.
Before he could retort he realized Hyrsam dispeled the runes on the cord. His magic came back to him in a warm rush. He hadn’t even realized how drained he felt without it. But he continued to just glance around the room like nothing’s changed.
Then colorful lights that remind him of fireworks start going off all over the room, red and purples and yellows and blues made it hard to see. Loud popping made it hard to hear. Smoke started to rise. Someone started to scream. Platters clattered to the ground. Drinks smashed to the floor. People started to run towards the exit.
“Now.” Hyrsam’s voice said in his brain and Scanlan cast invisibility.
He got swept up into Hyrsam’s arms and is haphazardly half-thrown into a large sack. He could still breath which was great considering some magic sacks just suffocated you but he couldn’t see anything. Only hear screams and popping and utter chaos. The jostling of the bag made him nauseous. He was half tempted to puke and ruin the bag, but it would also get all over him. Eventually the screams get distant. The sound of feet and hooves on wood remains constant.
After what felt like hours of pushing through thick vegetation they reached the trees from Pike’s vision, silver and sparkling in the perpetual sunset. Artagan held his hand out to signal them to stop. He looked vaguely annoyed with the whole thing, grumbling under his breath as they walked. Grog looked ready for a fight. Pike felt ready for one.
They waited in silence until a platform slowly lowered, a large group led by a very tall satyr with a sack slung over his back. Next to him is a githyanki and behind them a whole host of different people from Tabaxi to Halflings to Genasi and Tritons. The satyr saw them and let out a laugh before bounding over to them.
“Artie you actually did it.” he laughed.
“Of course I did,” Artagan huffed, “And stop calling me Artie.”
The satyr let out another laugh before turning the bag slung over upside down. Pike didn’t see anything until she saw the impression in the ground.
Until suddenly getting off the ground was Scanlan. “Hey guys.” Suddenly Grog is pulling Scanlan into a hug. Definitely not crying Pike was sure. Just being happy he’s back and making sure no one was taking him, or that he was an illusion.
“Well Artie you finish this up and get them out. Then our debt is paid.” the satyr says with a dark smile before walking into the night his trope following behind.
Artagan crosses his arms but nods nonetheless, “Well we should leave before the wrath of possibly the most powerful being in the Feywild comes crashing down on us.”
Pike felt Grog pick her up and put her on his shoulder, Scanlan on the other. As they followed Artagan back out of the Feywild, grass a happy green. She glanced at Scanlan who gave her a small genuine smile.
After getting back to the material plane, back into their own home and it's safe familiar red brick, and it was just the two of them she let herself feel. The relief and fear clogged her throat as she pulled him into a hug. She was vaguely aware that she had been crying. Eventually they stopped hugging and Scanlan took her hand and moved a strand of hair out of her face before he took her other hand. There’s a few tears welling up in the corners of his eyes. She squeezed his hands, their foreheads met and she looked into his eyes. Full of relief and love as he softly moved one to hold the side of her face. With that she pulled him into a kiss. She let go of the worry that had been eating her alive. They eventually pulled apart his eyes filled with a certain fondness so few people get to see from him. She held him close and cried on his shoulder; he kissed her tears away before finally letting his own fall and she kissed those away. They have each other again. They have each other and that’s all that matters.