This bit of insane detective work is brought to you by BDC
Welcome back to the archives in the depths of The Magic Tavern. Last week we deep dived into the lore of the Unseelie monarch, the Queen of Air and Darkness. In an unexpected trap, the unnamed Fey sister of Titania was corrupted by the mysterious Night Diamond. This strange artifact not only took her physical form, but it turned her against her sister and the Seelie Court and drove her to steal the ‘treasures of the Arcana’. She now holds court of her own in either another part of the Feywild or, as older editions state, in Pandemonium.
But the story doesn’t end there. And there are a multitude of mysteries surrounding this formless, illusionary master, Fey goddess. One such mystery surrounds the relationship between the afore mentioned Queen of Air and Darkness and Auril, the Frostmaiden; the embodiment of winter’s wrath.
Now, just for point of reference, Auril is the Forgotten Realms goddess of ice and snow and has been a long standing staple in the pantheon there. But there have been many references given about Auril through the many tomes written about her that seem to allude to a direct connection to the center of our study: The Queen of Air and Darkness.
Dragon Magazine #367, in an article about the Frostmaiden directly states, “Fey of the Shiverpine Forest revere Auril as the Queen of Air and Darkness.” Now, before you start sending me hate mail, I am aware of the Sage Advice post where a fan asked Ed Greenwood, the lore master of that age of D&D, point blank about this and which clearly states that he believes that any connection is simply the Fey Queen impersonating Auril to ‘retain worshipers’ and that Auril ‘cooperated’ with the ‘boosted’ influence. BUT, this bugs me greatly. What possible benefit does the Queen of AIr and Darkness get from this relationship? But, in the end, even with this questionable reasoning, whether you buy into this line of thinking or not, you may still decide to ignore it all. It is STILL in the hands of the DM.
The fifth edition does seem to split them back up as in The Swordcoast Adventure’s guide lists them separately with no common lore. But you know what they say about unseeing a thing (strangely close to unseelie…man, I’m in too deep). Once the genie’s out of the bottle, it’s hard to put it back and, once you start digging into the evidence, it seems obvious that Auril and the Queen of Air and Darkness are one in the same.
First of all, their symbols. The QoAaD is always represented in both symbol and life as the black diamond. This is, of course, because of the Night Diamond that transformed her. But, when approaching the actual Queen, one would find themselves in the presence of the same mentioned black diamond floating over an Onyx Throne exuding her essence and power.
Auril’s holy symbol is traditionally a snowflake. However, usually this snowflake is either seen within a black diamond or includes a diamond shape within its design. You can see above that even the 5E redesign of the symbol still shows the subtle diamond shape in the framework. And, even in the Frostwind Dale adventure that showcased her, her third form (although not a diamond or black) is a geometric teardrop of ice. We will find in our studies that gems, geometric shapes (especially diamonds) and the Queen are interconnected.
Besides the snippet from Dragon #367 (see above), she has also been equated elsewhere with a fey power that some take as a mistake. But the name, Aurilandür, has been given as a more ancient fey name for the winter goddess of Faerun. Titled the Frost Sprite Queen, she seems very near to the definition of the Unseelie Queen since her court is a diametric opposite of Titania’s Seelie court. Since the Seelie Court is also labeled the Summer Court, this makes the Unseelie court, the court of winter. All evidence points to Auril being a Fey power from ancient times and, since she is the divine representative of winter’s wrath, she becomes a near mirror image of our dark Fey Queen. In fact, the queen is spoken of as ‘holding back the sun’ or summer.
We keep coming back to that Dragon Article where they solidified and unified Auril and the Queen of Air of Darkness. Not only did they say that one faction actually believed they were the same, but they kept making allusions to the fact. The Abattoir, one of the locations in her domain in the Feywild, was listed as a place where ‘high priests and warlocks’ would make sacrifices in order to bring ‘darkness and ice’ to Toril. This was all attributed to the ‘corrupting influence of the Black Diamond‘; blatantly leaving this with no explanation and clearly alluding to the fact of her connection with the Fey Queen.
Also there is similarities in their domains. The Queen of Air and Darkness is driven from the despoiled land of Landonion and takes here corruption to the plane of Pandemonium. This is sort of an odd place for a Fey Power to reside. On the third level of Phlegethon, the Queen held a soiled and mocking version of her sister’s court. However, there the new 5E source (Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide) insinuate sthat she resides in the Feywild with the other Fey powers.
Auril also takes up residence, at times, in the plane of Pandemonium. Faith’s & Avatars places her on the TOP layer of Pandesmos in the great wheel cosmology. However, Dragon Magazine #367 places her in the Deep Wilds of the Feywild, in a domain known as ‘the Land Under Eternal Ice’ thus harkening back to, possibly, her Fey lineage?
And, before I forget it, what is this confusing piece of art from the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide? There’s no label, but it is directly across from the fey powers list including the Queen of Air and Darkness. It definitely has a good bit of Auril’s imagery with the snowflakes and icy blue on white. No real evidence, just strangely interesting.
There’s more, but I’ll get to that next week. The fact is that she has been directly connected to the QoAaD many times and leaving us, despite Ed Greenwood’s explanation, wondering why. The more is her strange relationship with the Gods of Fury, the bizarre relationship between Grummsh, the Orc God, and her one time leader, Talos, and the off-hand comment about her plan to siphon off the power of three other gods. Tag that with a handful of similarities, themes and enigmas and we have a mystery on our hands.
In the next coming weeks, I am going to try and lay out my case that the Queen of Air and Darkness and Auril aren’t just similar and not simply the same. My argument is that the Black Diamond not only corrupted her and took her form, but that it splintered the Fey Princess’ body and power into several different beings. And seeing that the Black Diamond has ten facets (which it oddly states everytime it comes up), it’s possible that there are ten splintered pieces scattered throughout the D&D multiverse and Auril, among others are those pieces. In fact, Auril may be the most powerful piece.
And the gods help ups if all the pieces are put together. And there’s evidence that it has already begun.