November 15, 2016

World of Outcast Shadows: Styx Castle and the Styx Royal Family

The land bridge between the northern continent of Ataxia and the southern continent of the Empire (formerly known as Astasia) has been inhabited by the royal family of Styx for as long as anyone can remember. Disparaging tongues claim that Styxians are actually of mixed human and goblin blood, evidenced by the fact that Styxians can use more than one type of magic, just as humans can, to say nothing of the fact that Styx goblins look almost exactly like humans. The Styxians themselves claim to be fully goblin, but were forced to live close to the human Nomansland due to other goblins’ jealousy of their superior magical abilities. Either way, these human-looking goblins set up a country for themselves in “the sticks”, which they eventually assigned the more goblinical spelling of “Styx”.

Despite other goblins’ constant ridicule, Styx has prospered over the centuries, owing in part to its plethora of natural resources as well as the diversity of its population. Having experienced more than their fair share of hatred from other goblins, the Styxians welcomed those who were considered useless, corrupt, or ungoblinical by other nations. Though initially leading to a somewhat skulduggerous populace, the Styxians managed to quell most fighting and maintain their seat of power, centered in Styx Castle.

The castle’s architecture is based largely around the aesthetic of chaos and games, with doors in the ceiling and checkerboard-tiled floors, sculptures and topiary of chess-pieces, and the famous playing-card wall-papered entrance hallway, which of course leads to nowhere. Another aesthetic present in the architecture, flag, and currency of Styx, adopted roughly three hundred years ago, is the pineapple. Due to an event which polite goblin company shudders to mention, the royal family acquired a number of pineapple plants, which now grow in their underground greenhouses. Other points of interest in the castle include a series of catacombs where the royal family keeps the ashes of their dead, a covered walkway leading from the main tower to the ballroom, and a library devoted to nothing but cookbooks. Another curious feature that most people fail to notice is that the throne room, located on the second floor, can only be accessed by secret doors or the hall of portraits, which itself requires entry through secret doors or the exit-less upstairs conservatory.

In addition to their infamy as ungoblinical ne’er-do-wells who happen to have a castle, Styxians are also known for their unique research into magical items, particularly magical plants. Through breeding, coaxing, and the occasional dangerous experiment, the Styxians have managed to create a mirror that records up to twenty-three minutes of visual data reflected in it, a hedgemaze that responds to verbal commands issued by the royal family, and a type of flower that collects and then gives off sunlight.

The most famous creation of Styxian research is the legendary Domino of Nonpareil, a mask which allows the wearer to become anything he desires. First worn by Natasha Caprice of Styx, the mask has been passed down through the generations to each new ruler of Styx in a ceremony known as a “Domination,” similar to a human coronation ceremony. Though the kings and queens have once or twice used the mask to defend their country from invaders, they more often use it for practical jokes or simply as a fashion statement.

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