Moonlight Romance is the bonus gameplay content included in the Collector's Edition of Return of the Salt Princess. In it, we play as Princess Wanda, who must choose between marrying King Henryk of the Grak Kingdom for duty or eloping with Nuada of the Daemon Evokers for love.
While it seems that the game itself is not based on any certain fairytale, it has elements of The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter and the legend of Chang'e along with the story of the historical figure Princess Wanda.
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More than a century ago, a beautiful princess of a special lineage was betrothed to the King of the neighboring Grak Kingdom. When she came of age, she was sent to the Grak Kingdom to get to know her betrothed and be wed. One night, during one of her usual moonlit walks, she wandered into a mysterious forest and coul not find her way out ...
My life has never been my own. I'm like a puppet, whose movements are dictated by others.
"Walk properly!" "Act more like a lady!" That's all I hear all day. They say they are preparing me to become queen one day.
I am a princess born from the line of a fabled prince and his long-forgotten princess.
The tragic saga of my ancestors resonates with me. I have read it a thousand times.
Magic, adventures, curses, goddesses, evil witches ... people think these things only exist in stories.
But I know they are all real. My ancestors are proof of this.
I wish I could live a life full of magic and adventure just like them. But I am only mortal, unlikely to be involved in any fairy tale. I don't even have the power to decide what to do with my life.
They sent me to this country to marry its King.
Only at night do I have a little freedom, to walk outside with the moonlight as my companion.
Tonight, I went exploring nearby and ended up in this unfamiliar forest ...
WARNING: This section contains massive spoilers!
The bonus game takes place more than a hundred years before the events of Return of the Salt Princess, and it starts with Princess Wanda lost in the Forest of No Return. Wandering through the mist, she discovers a boat by a lake she thinks is near the Grak Palace. Climbing into the boat, she is startled by a golden arrow shot from the sky. Looking up, she is shocked to see a dragon in the sky!
A man suddenly appears in front of Wanda and warns that she will get lost if she gets on the boat; Wanda is so overwhelmed by the presence of the dragon she passes out for a moment. When she comes round, the man introduces himself as Nuada, Prince of the Daemon Evokers and that the dragon is his spirit animal Solais. Nuada enquires if Wanda is the Moon Goddess or perhaps the Moon Princess born from an oriental plant but Wanda answers she is only a mortal princess living in the palace next to the lake. Nuada is deeply surprised that Wanda managed to enter the forest as it is protected by strong enchantments but he agrees to help Wanda get home.
Nuada suggests looking in the grove for magic salt to act as Wanda's navigator. Under some rotten wood, Wanda finds the salt shrine but accidentally triggers the sorcerous trap! Nuada calls out a warning to keep back and is ensnared with vines which release poisonous spores; Wanda quickly cuts him free and feeds him the antidote, to which Nuada gives her the salt crystal orb in gratitude.
Returning to the boat, Wanda places the orb in the figurehead and Nuada assures her it will guide her way through the mist. The Dragon Prince is saddened that they can't talk some more and being forbidden from leaving the mountain means that meetings will be difficult but he assures Wanda he will find a way. He bids farewell to his 'lovely Moon Princess'. Wanda successfully finds her way back to the Grak Kingdom Palace, where she is greeted by her frantic fiancé King Henryk. Henryk fusses over Wanda but shows no interest in listening to her tale of what she saw in the forest.
In a voice-over, Wanda reveals after that day she begun sneaking frequently into the forest to meet with Nuada - she feels truly happy and wishes such days could last forever. But one night, as Wanda prepares to meet Nuada again, she is waylaided by King Henryk who asks to join her on her walk. Left no choice but to say yes, Wanda meets him by the lake where she is shocked to discovered her boat has been burned! Henry reveals he ordered his men to burn the boat, insisting that it is to keep Wanda safe and that their wedding day has been decided. When the princess says she is not ready for this, Henryk briefly loses his temper with her but quickly apologises and takes his leave.
Knowing Nuada is waiting on the other side of the lake, Wanda escapes out of the palace through her bedroom window and ends up in the forest she got lost in earlier in the game. Then, a moon rabbit appears to lead her back to the sacred grove where Wanda finds a bow she can use to fire a flare arrow. After Nuada appears, Wanda tearfully reveals she is to marry soon and that they can't see each other again. Nuada confesses that he loves Wanda and suggests that they elope.
In a second voice-over, Wanda expresses how her heart is in turmoil over Nuada's proposal to elope - she loves him, but knows she can't abandon her duty easily. Another night passes and King Henryk tries to impress Wanda with some of their wedding presents but she remains unimpressed. Suddenly, a white cockatoo appears at the window with a message: on the next full moon, Prince Nuada will take Princess Wanda away and if anyone tries to stop him his dragon will tear them to pieces. Henryk is outraged by the message and immediately orders more guards to watch Wanda.
In her final voice-over, Wanda reveals she has been confirmed to her room since the cockatoo delivered its message and has nothing but time to make a decision. The night of the full moon arrives and Wanda unlocks her door to find the corridor is filled with mushrooms releasing soporific spores. Hurrying to the top of the palace tower, Wanda lights a brazier to signal to Nuada and he appears on Solais.
Nuada assures Wanda that the guards are only sleeping from the mushroom spores and tells her it is time for her to decide; when Wanda laments she doesn't know what to choose, the Dragon Prince produces her lost engagment ring and tells her to take it if she intends to return to Henryk. Wanda takes the ring ... but only because she wants to return it to Henryk before she leaves with Nuada!
Wanda has barely written her farewell message (it is this same message the Detective will discover a century later) when she hears Henryk calling out for her and hurries to leave. By the time Henryk has reached the top of the tower, the couple are flying away on Solais towards Solwood and their new life together.
This is the first time I chose my own happiness over my duty.
I gave up everything in exchange for a new life.
I am no longer a princess, but the wife of a Daemon Evoker Prince.
I know this is just the beginning of my own fairy tale, just like my ancestor's saga.
But ... Henryk's last desperate cry haunts me in my dreams. Sometimes I feel uneasy. But I've made my choice. With Nuada by my side, I have no fear.
The Moon Rabbits
Long ago, in the mythical age, there was a Daemon Evoker whose spirit animal was a rabbit. She fell in love with a fabled king who was descended from a god of archery. The king was a hero who shot down the other nine suns in the sky. Because of his ancestry, the king was immortal, but the rabbit girl was not. Wanting to live with her beloved forever, she asked the witch in her clan for an elixir of eternal life. Now, this witch, whose spirit animal was a frog, knew of forbidden magic. She gave the rabbit girl her desire. However, the witch did not warn her of the side effects of this elixir of eternal life. Innocently, the rabbit girl drank the elixir. Immediately, she grew as light as a feather and flew all the way to the moon. The girl could find no way to go back down to Earth. All she could do was fruitlessly experiment with creating elixirs to fix her curse. Perhaps as a side effect of the original elixir or perhaps because of her own loneliness, the girl's Daemon split into many rabbits. Legend says that on the night of the full moon, the girl will send one of her spirit rabbits down to Earth to help a person in need. It is said that if you are in danger of being parted from your beloved, the rabbit girl will surely send you help if you ask for it.
The Princess from the Moon
Once upon a time, a childless couple found a mysterious plant that glowed with silvery moonlight. Upon cutting it open, they found an infant the size of a finger. The baby grew up quickly into an elegant maiden, whose beauty was as indescribable as a mirage in the moonlight. Over time, news of her beauty spread, and royalty from all over came to ask for her hand in marriage. The maiden rejected everyone, for as she grew older, she remembered her identity as a Princess of the Moon. By celestial law, if she fell in love with a person who lived on Earth, both she and the man would be punished. However, the heart does not listen well to logic. Though she tried to resist, the princess fell in love with a man on Earth. In due time, their romance was discovered, and they were both punished. The man was cursed to turn into a wolf and left to howl at the moon in grief for eternity. As for the princess, she was brought back to the moon to be wiped of all her memories and sent back to Earth as a baby. Whenever the princess remembered her beloved and tried to search for him, she was sent back to the moon to repeat the whole cycle as punishment. It is said that the Daemon Evokers believe that the wolf man was one of their ancestors. They believe that one day, they might meet the exiled princess under the moonlight, fruitlessly searching for her beloved.
- Princess Wanda and Nuada are the parents of Princess Brigid, a major character in Return of the Salt Princess
- Princess Wanda is a descendant of Prince James and Princess Ivy, first introduced in The Exiled Prince.
- The Royal Advisor gave the rabbit Daemon Evoker the potion that took her to the moon. The advisor is the same one mentioned many times in Return of the Salt Princess.
- The golden bow and arrow are based on how James and Ivy met, and the same golden bow Nuada uses is seen in the main game of Return of the Salt Princess.
- The parable The Moon Rabbits appears to be based on the Chinese legend of Chang'e and Hou Yi
- There are many references to the Japanese folklore story The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter in this bonus game: The Princess from the Moon parable, Wanda's robe made from the fur of fire-rats, the dragon jewel, the cowry necklace, and the fake silver branch with golden leaves, both gifts were what Princess Kaguya requested from her suitors to trick them.