036. Key to the Kingdom

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Braum confronts his demons and finds himself.

"I am competitive by nature."

Braum finds himself near death in the back of a large van being driven by a one-armed man, who reminds Braum that his name is Talus. As he removes the bullet from Braum's chest, he presses the man to "remember the key". Braum starts to feel a little better as he climbs up into the passenger seat. Who is this strange man? How does he know Braum? Talus tries to communicate to the man that the feelings of suspicion he has about the people at Oakland Hospital Psych Ward are founded, and that Braum does indeed have a "secret life" that he may have forgotten. He tries to tease information out of him, eventually presenting him with cheap plastic gemstone. He urges Braum to trust him, and give him two minutes: holding the gemstone, he recalls the name of "the key", Kay… and suddenly he is re-enchanted, and the memories of his Fae life come flooding back.

Braum thanks Talus for reviving him and bringing him back to himself, but as the memories come back in fits and starts, he asks Talus how the satyr managed to find him. Talus vaguely tells him that he was "tracking" Braum. But why are you helping me, Braum asks, especially after having shot me? Talus sincerely tells him that he would never intend to hurt Braum, which naturally confuses the troll. Braum remembers that The Spark was "under attack", and they are suddenly there. The Exhaust is covered in soot, and effects are missing from the walls, presumably looted. Talus pushes Braum to look for Zistor's plans for the rocket, to make sure they are safe. Braum and Talus head down to the workshop, but are confronted by a different keypad, one to which Braum does not know the code. As they head back upstairs, Braum searches for Kyoko, discovering that the pooka's room is empty… as if no one had ever lived there. When Talus asks why Braum would want to look for Kyoko, the troll prompts him to remember that they are romantically involved….

And suddenly Braum awakens, strapped to a table in a small cell. A tall masked man stands over him, examining him along with a short, wizened boggan, who bemoans the fact that they were "operating on outdated intelligence". Braum realizes that his chimerical death, abduction to the psychiatric ward, and subsequent escape, were all crafted in his mind in an attempt to get information from him. The masked man formally introduces himself to Braum as King Meilge of House Eiluned, King of Willows. He makes the situation very clear to Braum: either he must swear an oath of fealty to him immediately, so that he can retrieve Zistor's rocket plans for him, or be killed and used as a political "point" for House Eiluned. Braum refuses, and King Meilge leaves him alone with the boggan.

As the boggan prepares to execute Braum, the troll knight attempts to reason with him. He declares himself to be loyal, but moreso to ideals than to people: if King Meilge has an honest grievance with High King David's reign, he should address it head-on rather than through these dishonorable murders. The boggan accuses him of treason for such a statement, but Braum persuades him to tell him more. The boggan claims that David "doesn't understand them", and that he rules without vision. His mind made up, he leans over Braum, pointing the gun at his forehead. Braum, with herculean strength, rips himself free of his restraints, his massive hand engulfing the firearm. "My name is Sir Braum Madsen ap Gwydion… and I am the Beast." He pushes the gun upwards, pulling the trigger… and as the boggan's head explodes, his form morphs back into that of the King of Willows, and Meilge, the pieces of his alabaster mask shattered on the floor.

As Braum realizes the weight of what he's done, he stands up a little taller, excited by the fights ahead: this is Wilder Braum! And as he walks through the cell door, he confronts a frightened-looking Fala standing in the hall. "You're alive…" she mutters as the troll strides towards her. Before she can ask any questions, he tosses the pieces of Meilge's mask at her feet: bewildered, Fala asks what this means. "I'm… free?" She grins broadly, thanking Braum profusely for his actions. "How are I am going to get you out of here?" Braum flashes a winning smile as he tells her: "Get me out of here? You're coming with me, Fala. I want you to be my squire!"

The eshu is overwhelmed with emotion as she pledges her allegiance to Sir Braum Madsen ap Gwydion… Kingslayer.

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