The Story Retold Through Puppets

A wooden pageant wagon, decorated in stormy, windswept landscapes, trundles along the edge of the lake on its own accord. Walking alongside it is a lengthy individual in long, dark robes, the hood pulled up, face hidden. Black velvet curtains cover a wide opening on one side. The wagon stops before you, and silently, the person walks behind, seeming to vanish. A hush settles in all around you, as if even the ever-present storm awaits what is to come.

The curtains draw aside, revealing a row of standing mirrors, each about three feet tall, each depicting a different view for all of you. The center one shows you as you are now, the left one shows your younger self and the right an older version. Before the center mirror, a puppet arises. It is a perfectly articulated, miniature version of Mr. Light, bright clothes, Witchlight vane in hand. The puppet makes a great show of moving the vane about and the center mirror goes dark, surrounded by a blue light. This absorbs your attention so much that you fail to see the puppet or other mirrors exit the stage. 

In a puff of smoke, the central mirror is also gone and the backdrop is now of a vast swamp with broken causeways here and there. Dropping in from above is a balloon seemingly without a pilot. The backdrop cycles to reveal a tower which the balloon promptly collides with. From below, pops up the heroes of this tale, minute versions of each of you, Kamma the size of a fly, but brightly painted to make her visible. You make haste to the tower, only to be waylaid by harengon brigands. There is a facsimile of a quick battle, followed by the exchange of a “magic gourd.” The brigands depart and the heroes move onto the tower. They manage to reach the basket and retrieve a cage from within. Inside, is none other than Sir Talavar. 

The background cycles again, now showing Telemy Hill and it seems the story unfolding is abridged to focus on the highlights. Regardless, inside the hill is a goblin festooned with the keys that jingle like chimes. The creature brings forth an oversized silver key and presents it to the heroes who in turn use it on the cage. Sir Talavar is free. He presents his sword to Kamma and exits stage right. 

With a crank of a wheel, the background changes to a large stump, surrounded by wooden planks. The harengon puppets return, this time lead by one with a long flowing blue scarf. They seem to be hassling the heroes and combat ensues. Miniature Celia casts a bolt, represented by a small blue gem, which travels dramatically to one of the harengons, who then dies with all the gusto of an actor in a melodrama. The narrative seems to linger on this moment overlong, with all the other harengons encircling their fallen compatriot. Puppet Agdon makes a big show of giving up. Our heroes are victorious yet again. 

The scene shifts and you begin to wonder if that backdrop, or this story, will ever come to an end. Now, as if sensing a growing impatience, the scene jumps forward to a brief meeting with King Gullop XIX and then a just as brief battle with the rebels that plays out as it happened, with the heroes causing no actual harm, but the bullywugs fighting each other. These events move on quickly and the backdrop switches to Bavlorna’s study. The audience of brigannocks and korreds hiss and boo at seeing her. Apparently, there is no love lost for the hags here. Next up, is the battle with the gelatinous tube, which ends with puppet Kimber Redflagon, her hair a bright red yarn, being given a wand by Bavlorna and a chime sounds. The first noise emitted by the actual performers. 

A puppet clapperclaw arrives and mist fills the scene, clearing to reveal a new backdrop, this time it is a lush forest with a tall hill to one side. The heroes make their way to the cave, where they meet Nib, the blindfolded miser. He knits golden yarn into “gifts” for each of the heroes. 

Fewer scenes play out in this land and the story is moving at a high clip now. The grandest puppet yet arrives, a three-foot tall, very detailed version of Little Oak, accompanied by Will and the Getaway Gang. They convene with the heroes and make much of concocting a “plan.” This includes the discovery of a unicorn horn, which is held aloft like a thing of mighty importance. The scene shifts and the party arrives at the Wayward Pool, so beautifully rendered on this endless reel of backdrops that you can almost see the water ripple. Kamma and Kimber light the beacon and Llamorna arrives, her resplendent fur seemingly casting its own light. Just as they begin to interact, the dastardly Zarak arrives and tries to attack the unicorn. This is met with gasps from the audience. Battle ensues and at the end Zarak’s clothes are torn away, revealing an embarrassing set of skivvies, much to the amusement of the brigannocks and korreds. 

Next, the heroes and getaway gang find themselves in Loomlurch, when Skabatha arrives (boo, hiss). As they talk, Will can be seen dramatically scaling a tower. Skabatha departs and the heroes go about the business of rescuing children. Just as Will makes it to the top of the tower, Skabatha arrives on her flying rocking horse. Battle ensues yet again, truncated here a bit, but you do get to see Moss become a toad after nearly dying, then Kamma become a walrus then quickly become a worm, accomplished by fast swapping of puppets. The battle ends with the children rescued, but Will is taken off stage in the arms of Skabatha. “Oh no” cries Trig, who is clearly getting into the story. The unicorn horn is placed upon the rocking horse and the puppet rotates to reveal a unicorn. There is a quick reunion met with many “awwws.”

A miniature Squirt the oilcan arrives to bring them into the next scene. This time, it is the same mountains that surround you now. Lighting is represented by flashes of light from behind the backdrop shining through holes in the shape of bolts. Pollenela and Amidor are met along with Gleam, and you begin to wonder how many people are operating all of these puppets at once. The story seems to slow down a bit now and you see the meeting with Mudlump, the cyclops beekeeper, who talks with Willow for a moment and gives a slight bow to the queen bee. Next, aiding Prince Alagarthas at the fey beacons. The backdrop lights up again to show each beacon being lit. Willow is seen sitting upon the Astronomer’s throne and a wreath of stars is placed on their head. 

Finally, the heroes arrive at the henge and puppet Moss dramatically plays the final move in the game of stones. The celebration on the stage is mirrored by the celebration of the korreds who congratulate Queen Argantle again on her magnificent victory. Next, the scene shifts to the mines, where Kamma and Kimber meet Trig and Moliver after the rest fall asleep. The scene resolves with the backdrop shifting to this very lake and a meeting between Trig and Queen Argantle and when the two shake hands, the audience rejoices, many of the korreds taking up the dance again. A banner emblazoned with the words “To be continued!” unfurls in front of the scene, and then the curtains close. From the folds of its robes, the hooded figure presents a document to each of you which looks like a ticket with a tiny puppet resembling you painted on it. Written under this effigy are these words: “Good for one private audience with Endelyn Moongrave—no strings attached!” After the invitations are handed out, the wagon and its attendant disappear abruptly.