The Swan Princess and the Dire Tree is the eleventh installment in the Dark Parables franchise. The game takes place on the fictional Dire Island, home of the Swan Kingdom. As the Fairytale Detective, we are summoned to the island to retrieve a Magic Seed that has been stolen by a former member of the Swan Guard. Once we do so, events take a rather sinister turn.
Detective, you've been called to the Kingdom of Dire Island to investigate a mysterious series of cracks appearing throughout the land. The phenomenon is related to the disappearance of the magic seed, which holds the key to reviving the Goddess Flora, who keeps nature in balance. The prime suspect for the theft is a high-ranking member of the Swan Guard. Be careful, Detective. They all swore to put the safety of Dire Island and its people above their own lives.
WARNING: This section contains massive spoilers! (Read at your own risk)
The Detective has been sent to Dire Island, the home of the Swan Guard, to apprehend the Black Swan. Just days earlier she stole the new magic seed from the top of the Dire Tree, which allows the goddess Flora to regenerate her powers. Without the seed, the restoration ceremony cannot take place, and therefore, the life force of Dire Island, and the world, will begin to die.
Upon arriving, the Detective meets a young tailor, who was also summoned by the Swan Princess Elise. His magical needle can repair all the cracks appearing in the island. Just before he can get to work, the Black Swan appears, and from surprise at seeing the Detective, accidentally sends the tailor into a crack. She then flies away. Luckily, the Detective saves the tailor using her horse.
The tailor proclaims he doesn’t know how to reach the Dire Tree, so he gives the Detective the Swan Princess’s letter. By fixing a path finding device, the Detective and the tailor travel to the Dire Tree, where Elise meets them and explains the situation. She also gives the Detective an amulet that can temporarily stun the Black Swan if necessary. The Detective begins to investigate the surrounding area and is nearly killed by a large spider, but the tailor saves her just in time. He then departs to repair cracks.
The Detective sees the Black Swan, but before they can talk, the swan creates a new crack, blocking the path. The Detective then manages to break a tree and get across, finding the stolen Magic Seed inside. Once taken, the Black Swan confronts the Detective, saying only members of the Guard can touch the seed. Using the amulet on the Black Swan, the Detective makes an escape and returns the seed to Elise to begin the ceremony.
However, unbeknownst to Flora, Elise is plotting a tyranny. Elise kills Flora with a sword made from Floralia’s three artifacts, and takes Flora’s crown as well. She is put into a hibernation-type pod where she can become a new “goddess”, and the Black Swan awakens the Detective. Flora is now turned to wood and still as stone. The Black Swan explains there is still hope, for a man was trapped in a prison under the lake a few days ago, and that he may be able to help.
The Detective disables many traps to reach the prison, and upon doing so, meets Ross Red, who is currently imprisoned. The Detective destroys the wicked enchantments and removes the force crystal so he’s feeling well again, but his memory is weak. On the way out of the prison, Elise confronts them, now a grotesque monster merged with nature. She attempts to kill everyone, but the force crystal stuns her long enough for the three to escape to the Black Swan’s hideout. Ross needs a memory potion, and the Black Swan gives us an item and advice to find the druid, who has the potion’s recipe.
Using the Black Swan’s advice, the Detective finds the druid’s hut and investigates, eventually summoning her. The druid gives her a recipe for the memory potion, consisting of a Devil’s Claw flower, a swan orchid, a forget-me-not, and a feather. Once Ross receives the potion, he remembers why he came: to protect the goddess at all costs, but he failed. But before the three can talk inside the hideout, the Black Swan is taken by Elise. Ross remembers everything and tells the Detective to assist in talking to Flow, an ancient being connected deeply with Dire Island. Flow instructs them to find the Swan Archives, where all their answers are hidden.
The key to the Archive is buried with a Swan Princess, however. The Detective finds two pieces of an ancient swan scroll while sleuthing, and luckily, Ross had decipher the ancient language. Using the scroll to rule out the possibilities, the Detective finds the key in Odette’s tomb, which only has her armor, for she was exiled. The Tailor falls from above, and the Detective cuts him free from the webs. Though they saved his life, they did nothing but annoy him. He angrily states that the princess stole his mirror buckler and shoved him down from the throne room, then storms off. Ross then admits his sword was stolen as well, explaining how Elise got the artifacts to kill Flora.
When he left, though, the tailor forgot his pack. Inside is a tent with forging materials on the inside, allowing the Detective to repair a few of her broken items. Ross stows it for later use. Using the key in Odette’s coffin, the entrance to the archives opens. In an ancient stone tablet, broken for centuries, the Detective learns that there is a way to at least temporarily stop corruption -- the member’s Swan Talisman, similar to the one used against the Black Swan. Ross shows a lack of faith, however, and says that if they can get Elise on top of the Dire Tree, as far from the ground as possible, then the talisman should work. Her powers do come from the ground, after all. This leads Ross and the Detective to leave for the Swan Guard house, where all the loyalty talismans are held.
The Black Swan is already inside the house, and says she barely managed to escape Elise’s clutches. The cabinet with all the loyalty talismans is locked; by searching all the rooms, the Detective finds the key and opens the cabinet. Because only one talisman may be taken at a time, and Elise used the Black Swan’s, that means Elise’s talisman is vulnerable. Thus, Odile (Black Swan) and the Detective go to the Dire Tree to meet with Ross.
They activate an elevator to reach the top of the tree, but Ross says they need enchanted weapons to defeat the corrupted Elise. Once again using the tailor’s tent, the Detective forges an enchanted fire crossbow and a golden poison-tipped spear. Combined with the loyalty talisman, these are enough to defeat Elise. There is an epic battle on top of the Dire Tree, with Elise inside a plant golem. With Ross and Odile deflecting her blows, the Detective uses the loyalty talisman, and Elise plummets to her death (presumably) from the top of the Dire Tree.
Flora is given her crown, but Odile was gravely injured in the final fight. Flora declares she shall restore her, for “She has carried her curse as proudly as any crown.” In gratitude, Flora also promotes Odile to be the next Swan Princess. Ross walks out happily, and now the Swan Guard will have a fair and just ruler for years to come.
Thus, Fairytale Detective, Black Swan and Ross Red defeated the monstrosity that Elise had become and revived Flora. The corruption wrought on the Dire Tree was healed. Its canopy was once again crowned with green, its withering branches sprang life anew.
Yet, deep in the earth the roots of the Dire Tree still bear the scars. They will serve as a reminder of what becomes when balance is disturbed, even by those with noble intentions.
As the Fairytale Detective was leaving the shores of the Island, she received an invitation to the royal wedding. And thus, she prepared herself for another trek to the Swiss Alps.
Uprise of the Swan
Once there lived on Dire Island a child called Elise. Her childhood was peaceful and happy, her days were spent wandering and exploring under the great canopy of the Dire Tree. This harmony, however, was broken in a heartbeat. The gates of the Kingdom opened and the Swan Guard rushed in. They carried the bodies of Elise's parents... Their armor and flesh battered by vicious claws... their life - expunged. In one stroke, fate left Elise an orphan. Sorrow almost drove the child to madness, but all was not lost. The Guards themselves adopted her as kin, and offered solace and companionship as her new family. Elise found new purpose as a member of the Guard. She excelled in all of their disciplines - from combat to lore - and became the exemplar of service and duty. Thus, she was exalted to the highest rank: Swan Princess. She presided over the Guard like a loving mother. Yet the thought of every soldier who'd fallen while in the service of the Goddess Flora brought her sadness and opened old wounds. As soldier after soldier perished in the name of their dispassionate Goddess, Elise concluded that something had to be done.
At one time long ago, children's laughter could be heard throughout Dire Island, much more so than today. Their favorite game to play was one where each child would pretend to be their favorite Swan Princess. "I'll be Priscilla" said one girl, "because she was the fairest of them all!" Another girl chimed in, "I choose Ethel, because her music still echoes throughout the land." After the other children had named their favorite Princesses, one raven-haired girl spoke softly but with conviction: "I want to be like Odette, pure and true to myself." The children stared at her in shock, as even the mention of the exiled Princess was forbidden. The girl was called Odile, and she grew up to become a member of the Swan Guard, in spite of her problems with authority. She was known for doing things her own way, and getting away with it. In time, a rumor spread throughout the kingdom that a man had been imprisoned by the Swan Princess. Any contact with the prisoner was strictly forbidden, but Odile's curiosity got the better of her. She quickly befriended the prisoner, and from him she found out that Flora was in grave danger. Odile decided to steal the magic seed and stop the plot against the Goddess. In response, the Swan Princess declared her an enemy of the kingdom, and Odile was transformed into a Black Swan, just like Odette before her.
The First Tree
Long before our time, the Goddess Flora planted the very first tree on an island that would later become the Swan Kingdom. From this tree, the roots spread throughout the whole planet, linking every plant to a central lifeforce. Flora soon realized that the tree could not defend itself against the dangers of the world, so she created the Swan Guard to protect the Dire Tree with their lives. In gratitude, every year the Dire Tree produces a magical seed with the power to rejuvenate Flora in a ritual of rebirth. Ross Red, one of the Guardians of the Goddess, was tasked with supervising the annual ritual, from the birth of the seed until the full rejuvenation of the Goddess. At one such ceremony, while everyone was looking at the Goddess, one pair of eyes remained focused on Ross Red's Weapon, known as the Shattering Sword. Little did Ross Red know of Swan Princess' plans to destroy the Goddess, for which she needed his weapon.
A Dark Dream
Long ago, when the Black Swan was still white and a member of the Swan Guard, she met a strange woman deep in the forest. The woman could not speak, yet the Black Swan could understand exactly what the woman wanted. As mutely requested, the Black Swan saved the woman's owl from one of the traps set-up for the magic seeds. In return, the old woman gave the Black Swan a staff and a potion, saying, "These will help you prepare for things to come," then suddenly disappeared. Odile drank the potion, and that night she dreamt of a disaster that threatened the Swan Kingdom. The vision was so vivid Odile had no doubt the danger was real. She could see the Dire Tree on its deathbed, with huge cracks splintering the earth around it. She saw a Swan transforming into a tree. Horrid dreams disturbed her sleep all night, showing her many things and yet none at all. When Odile awoke she seemed a different person, suddenly caring nothing for the duties of the Swan Guard. As she knew very well from her dream, the danger to her homeland was lurking on the inside.
The Jewel of Repose
At the far outskirts of what once was the Kingdom of Floralia, there lived a very poor family. The father took pride in the one precious thing he had: a jewel he had found when he was a boy. One windy night, a strange visitor came to the poor family's home. The riches she had to offer in exchange for the father's jewel changed their circumstances forever. They never came to realize they'd conversed with a Princess, or that they'd parted with the Jewel of Repose. The Swan Princess had long coveted the jewel, one of the three legendary artifacts of Floralia. Now the Princess set her sights on the two artifacts that were owned by Ross Red and the Master Tailor. The Swan Princess still mourned her parents and the other victims of conflict. "What kind of a Goddess lets her people die in vain?" asked the Swan Princess. "I shall be a different kind of Goddess, the one that cares for her people!" But to become a Goddess, she had to destroy Flora. And to do that, she needed Flora's creation: the three Artifacts of Floralia.
- Teasers for this game were first found at the end of Goldilocks and the Fallen Star, in the form of a Swan-based lock and mention of a mysterious message received by the Detective with a feather attached. Also included in the tenth game was a wallpaper depicting a swan and a moonlit lake.
- Goddess Flora reappears in this game in her adult form.
- Ross Red also reappears in this game.
- We learn that the Swan Lake Princess is actually Princess Odette, who was exiled from Dire Island for wanting to marry the Frog Prince.
- One of the items on the Swamp Duty requisition list is an hourglass, which were featured in Queen of Sands.
- Like its predecessor Goldilocks and the Fallen Star, the game is set in a fictional place. It is likely intended to take place in Ireland, given the many uses of Celtic knots and the introduction of a Druid.
- This is the first Dark Parables game to feature a horse that does not abandon the Fairytale Detective at the beginning of the game. Oddly enough, Eipix were made aware of the inside joke of the runaway horses before the release of this game, and decided to do away with the trend. But brought it back the next game where it's remaining.
- The Fairytale Detective has been assumed to be female since the bonus novel included with Curse of Briar Rose referred to her as such, but this is the first game to refer to the Detective as female within the main game itself.
- This game has a game-breaking glitch. If a person fixes the monster in the Tailor's Tent before collecting the glue and/or fixing the swan figurine and then leaves, the tent will close and there is no way to reopen it.
Voice Actors Edit
Tape Recorder: Lauren Synger
Tailor: Bill Corkery
Swan Princess: Lauren Synger
Gate Guardian: Si Hawk
Black Swan: Laila Berzius
Goddess Flora: Mary Morgan
Ross Red: Erik Braa
Druid: Jodi Lorimer
Flow: Si Hawk
Court Counselor: Jason Miller
Ewan the Craftsman: Tim Simmons
Frog Prince: Jonathan Cooke
Special Thanks Edit
Dear Fairytale Detective, we wish to congratulate you on a magical world saved yet again. Your commitment and resourcefulness are an inspiration to us all. Enjoy your well-earned vacation. We wish we could say it will last for long, but we're afraid that may not be the case. After all, the life of a Fairytale Detective is rarely dull and uneventful. ;)