• Kings & Queens
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The last King of Europe wears a misshapen crown. It was silver once, but blood and soot have conspired to darken its luster. It is dented now and sits awkwardly upon his head. His scepter is a gnarled stick, a branch salvaged from the courtyard oak that was cut down during the last Occupation. He used to be lame, but now he is crippled. His left leg, much like the southern wing of his palace, is dark and lifeless. His skin, like the walls of that wing, peels and flakes off, leaving a trail of black ash behind him.

If you could follow his trail—chart his history backward—you would find the reason for his injury on the second floor of the south wing. In the conservatory, located in the southwest corner. The reason lies charred beneath the pianoforte, and it is difficult to ascertain the identity of his dead assailant. The pianoforte is also crippled, and not just from the fire. One of its legs has been broken.

All things seek to mirror the King: that is the Final Law of Entropy.

The third symbol of the King is his signet ring. It is a heavy band, platinum wrapped around silver, and mounted with a half-moon wink of obsidian. Tiny letters have been carved by a master jeweler into the face of the stone. Without the aid of a jeweler's loupe, the script would appear like scars and striations, much like the lines and wrinkles on the King's face.

It is difficult to say whether the jeweler was a clever copyist or a prescient inscriber. That detail, like the ring itself, has been lost.

If you were to break open the charred corpse beneath the pianoforte, you would find the ring within the swollen and dry stomach of the dead Queen. The King, crippled both in body and mind, does not—will not—remember why she swallowed his ring. He avoids the southern wing and, in doing so, condemns himself to being broken.

There is no one to heal him. No one to love him.

no 1 = 0

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