Chapter Six: Parameters
“Open yourself to me, Thorn”, Brandr commanded.
If there was only one thing he could say about Thorn, Brandr would definitely speak of his responsive decisiveness. The sprite lord did not even hesitate when called. He flew to him quickly and threw the link between them wide open. Thorn obeyed every order given to him without question, performed with admirable efficacy and addressed Brandr with the utmost respect. His actions and changes had not gone unnoticed by some of his subjects, many of whom now looked at him with gazes of pity or disdain.
Brandr knew full well that the winged creature was afraid of him and that his actions were all made in an effort to prove his worth and usefulness. Some would consider Thorn spineless given his newfound dedication to serving the monster he had sold his body, soul and service to, but Brandr actually approved of that. Thorn knew what he was doing and why he was doing it. Also, the sprite proved he wasn’t the kind to languish or sulk around petulantly. His actions might not be motivated by duty or loyalty but with time, Brandr knew could turn the sprite lord to his side.
“Tell me, sprite”, Brandr began. “Are you truly certain that the only way to enter my domain is through the entrance?”
“Yes, master!” He was answered. “I guarantee it! Dungeons possess a measure of divinity. Not even gods can enter or view what is inside them without coming through the entrance.
Unbidden, Thorn thought back to his days as an adventurer. Clerics new to the life were very uncomfortable in dungeons. The one in his party had told him that whenever they dungeon dived, he actually lost his connection to his god. He could not offer prayers nor could he receive divine blessings and missives. When in a dungeon, all clerics could rely on was what they had prepared beforehand and whatever their mana and innate abilities could sustain. That was one of the reasons some churches and religions abhorred dungeons. Just this fact made them see them as challenges to their god’s power.
Then, there was terrifying fact that a believer who died in a dungeon never ascended to the promised lands or the blessed home of his divine patron. Their souls remained in the depths to be devoured by the dungeon core. That piece of knowledge, in particular, was one of the reasons many religious people reacted so badly to the mention of dungeons. There were some faiths that refused to have any near them. Who could feel safe with a monster spewing, flesh-eating, soul-devouring creature nearby?
‘Who indeed?’ Thorn asked himself, refusing to look up catch his new master’s eyes with his own.
His heart quivered somewhere between his throat and its proper place. Thorn did not bother to calm it, nor did he try to say something in his defence. There was nothing he could say. The creature had surely seen what was in his mind. He hadn’t even meant to think that, it just happened to flash through his head. There was a sort of resignation to his actions and thoughts just then. He had fought tirelessly over the last few moons to keep his people from certain death.
They had nowhere else to go and now that they were in the dungeon and bound to it, nowhere to run. Even without that, they were in the heart of the creature. Combine that with the pact and the crystal figure could probably kill any and all of them with barely a thought.
Brandr looked past his subordinate’s slight quivering carefully dissecting what he had seen in his head. It was good to know that his domain was divine in nature and that other deities didn’t get along with his kind. He made a note to find out more on that later. Right now, there was something else that required his attention.
Sparing a glance at the blue panels that had appeared in the time he was conferring with his subordinate, he asked the question that had been bothering him ever since he discovered in Thorn’s mind that the strange phenomenon was neither unique to him or a symptom of his current soul state.
“Tell me everything you know about these blue panes and your ‘will of the world’!”
Evidently, that’s what they were. The will of the world communicating to its inhabitants. It informed them of circumstances involving them, assessed their current state, rated their power, status and skills, notarised their achievements and rewarded them in equal measure. Even with his background as a Dao Lord at the helm of an empire that spanned multiple realms, Brandr had never heard of such a thing. He stared at the ones floating around him in suspicion. ‘Just what kind of world is this?’ he asked no one in particular.
All beings bore some connection or affinity to the world of their birth but this was ridiculous. Brandr’s birth world had been incredibly rich in yang laws and everything it bore, including him, carried some trace of these laws. He’d met others who had come from fiery worlds and even worlds rich that influenced the growth of the spirit but this? How could it tell everything that happened and how exactly was it rating its inhabitants? Doing his best to keep his composure, he scrutinised his soul and crystal body praying that whatever connection he bore to them wasn’t invasive.
He got nothing. The frightening part was that he was unable to tell this was because there really was nothing to find or if he simply couldn’t because of his weakened state. What if the connection was itself affecting his perception of it? More and more possibilities flitted through his thoughts. Forcefully, Brandr brought this runaway train of panic and paranoia to a stop. Mentally, he took a deep breath into non-existent lungs, calming himself. Whatever the case, he couldn’t do anything as he was now. He had to first regain his strength. Then, he could go around figuring just what was going on in this bizarre world.
“…it is rather easy to review the evaluation of your parameters. You just have to call it up mentally and it would appear. You can even tweak the notifications themselves and how they come to you…” Thorn was saying.
Brandr focused, peering into the sprite’s mind and understanding just what it was he was saying. That was the best thing about this form of communication. With his access to Thorn’s mind, he could actually see just what the sprite meant. This gave him the context he needed to make sense of the sprite’s words as well as several examples from his memories to illustrate them.
He saw visions of the sprite receiving numerous of these…’notifications’. In some, he was elated at the news they brought. Others made him worry. He even watched as the sprite called up a panel to check on his ‘parameters’ or his personal screen. Understanding what he needed to do, Brandr did same. Immediately, a massive blue panel appeared in his sight, replacing all the others that came before it. It was folded vertically into three sections such that there was one on either side of him and on in front of him. At the top of each were these words respectively; Skills, Parameters and Feats.
Needing more context to decipher what he was seeing, he tried to recall what he’d seen of the sprite lord’s own screen in his memories. Without even meaning to, another tri-folded panel appeared above his own. This new one carried different information including the name Thorn Clearwing in the small slot that said name as opposed to the first which instead had Brandr Goldfire. Taking his time, he continued to contrast the two, finding even more differences.
[Name: Brandr Goldfire Race: Dungeon (Variant)]
[Age: 4 months Sex: – ]
[Status: Healthy, Disordered spirit ]
[Divinity: *** Rank: 1 Floors: 1/5]
[PWR: C INT: B END: D CHR: D ]
[WIL: B WIS: B LUK: E ]
[Familiar/ Dungeon Guide: Thorn Clearwing]
-Divine being: X3 modifier on all physical and spiritual parameters
-Worldspawn: Complete perceptions of self + Personal world + Connection to world
-Creator: Allows you to create materials and creatures to suit your purposes
-Converter: Ability to convert aether into useable energies + Ability to convert matter and energy into divine power
-Assimilator: Ability to add absorbed energy, matter and spirit to self and gain dependent effects
-Environmental magic is strengthened + Increased Domain ability
[Name: Thorn Clearwing Race: Sprite (Forest) ]
[Age: 412 years Sex: Male ]
[Status: Healthy, Tired ]
[Rank: 4 Class: Hexblade ]
[Occupation: Ruler (Sprites), Hero, Adventurer (Retired)]
[Affinity: Faerie, Nature, Dark ]
[MAG: E INT: F END: G CHR: F ]
[WIL: F WIS: G AGI: G VIT: F ]
[Dungeon guide to: Brandr Goldfire]
-Faerie: Incredible adaptability + Ability to use fae magic
-Forest Sprite: Increased affinity to nature + Animal speech
-Winged: Ability of Flight
-Repulsed by Iron: Weak to cold iron
“Stop!” he commanded the rambling sprite. “Go back to what you were saying about parameters.”