EDIT: I had to change the title of this chapter because the next chapter is titled Flavour Text and Skills.
Chapter Twenty-four: Needs of the Fae
“Do you now understand why I had you stay back and leave it to them?” he asked the sprite lord beside him.
Thorn looked at his master. The dungeon core was growing rapidly. Already, it twenty centimetres. Even as he came up with an answer to the question, he wondered how much longer it would take before he surpassed him.
“Yes! I think I do.”
“You might have protected them but you also gave rise to a shadow in their heart. I noticed when you first came here how they looked to you for everything. It is good for a leader to be loved and his opinions respected but that was not the case with you was it?” his master pointed out. “They act like they cannot do anything without you, dogging your every step and stepping morosely and lethargically when you are not there to tell them what to do.”
“It is not their fault!” Thorn tried to argue. “Since the troll, we have all had to make sacrifices. If I did not micromanage…we would all be dead!”
“I know that but what about them?” Brandr informed him. “That is all in the past anyway. Already, they have been reminded that they are not truly incapable. Their spirits stir and their will is restored. What self-resentment, fear and depression remains will eventually be dispelled by this. We will leave them to it. Our task lies somewhere else. While they build the present, we will think of the future. Come! We have a dungeon to build?”
With those words, the dungeon core led his assistant away, slipping off into the recesses of the first floor.
“Where are we?” Thorn asked.
They had left the final chamber behind a while ago. There should not be anything back here let alone an entire chamber. The new chamber was incredibly large but sparse. The walls were made of a pale marble and the floor was made of gentle low hills covered in lush but ordinary green grass. These two features, the lighting and the cobblestone road they flew over, were the only things beside them.
“Technically, this is the second floor though that will change when we are done”, he was quickly informed.
Thorn’s eyes bugged out. When had they made the transition? From his perspective, they only passed through a simple opening in the wall. Had that been a portal? It had not looked any different from the entrances to any of the other tunnels.
“What do you mean that will change?” he asked.
“I have been playing with the floor arrangements. The costs are higher than I’d like so it is not something I would be doing often but it is possible to shuffle or rearrange the order of the floors”, the dungeon core told him. “We will construct our base here, turning it into a nexus from which to control all other floors. That means we’ll have to drop to the bottom soon and following that, create any new floor between this one and the one above it but it will be worth it.”
Thorn nodded appreciatively. He liked this. It meant that his people could maintain proximity with the dungeon core and that they would not have to uproot themselves and move with the core from floor to floor. They flew rapidly, with Thorn wondering how he was the one struggling to keep up despite the fact that he was using [Advance] as best he could. A couple of minutes later, Brandr brought him to a stop where the road ended.
“I brought you here for a couple of reasons. The first is so we can build the nexus. This is the centre of the floor. I did not make it too big as that was unnecessary but it should be more than big enough for all our needs”, he told the sprite. “Describe what you need and I will get to building.”
Surprised, Thorn could not help but ask, “You can make faery havens?”
“If you describe it well enough, yes!” Brandr informed him. “What kind of homes would you like?”
“Oh!” came the response.
Thorn did not know what to say but he tried to explain nonetheless. “Fae don’t just live anywhere. Our homes require a certain balance in terms of magic, nature and people. These shelters are called havens. We don’t live in houses. We live in communes and revels. I thought, given what you said, that you knew but it doesn’t seem so.”
“And you think I would not be able to do so, why?” Brandr asked.
“We live in special kind of hawthorn tree called a faerythorn”, Thorn explained. “These are very rare. You only get them from inundating a hawthorn seed in faerie magic for a long time. The trees provide us with homes due to this because they take on the magic and become faelike themselves. They can be endlessly modified within reason. Every commune has a fae that is in charge of tending to the health of the tree and any backup seeds. There’s also another sprite who oversees any modifications and living arrangements.”
“And you?” Brandr interrupted. “What do you do?”
“I am the sprite lord!” Thorn exclaimed. “I govern the sprites. Every sprite has or finds a duty. it could be tending plants. It could be laying paths. It could be rearing wisps or seeing to births. It can be anything. Mine is to lead and protect. The others do their duties and I do mine.”
“I understand”, his master said. In his head, however, he rejoiced at this news. If the sprites already had a kind of job caste system, he could easily introduce new jobs and train them to take up whatever role he desired.
“Then, I suppose it is those sprites I should be speaking to”, Brandr concluded. “You will have to go back and get them!”
After some consideration, he added, “Why not just get all of your elder sprites. The ones who hold important roles. You do have elders or experts, don’t you?”
“We do!” Thorn answered noncommittally. “Most of them yet live but that is probably because their age and power has seen them through. I will bring them to you.”
“Good!” Brandr exclaimed in a pleased tone. “But first, take this!”
Thorn snatched an object headed for him out of the air knowing his master sent it. Looking down at what he caught, he found himself holding a wooden ring. It was anything but plain. Faerie etchings covered it, all of them pulsing with magic so strong, it burned his fingers.
“That is one of the reasons I needed you alone. I was unsure how your people would handle it”, his master was saying. “That thing is the cause of your problems. The world will referred to it as loot from our battle but from what I can tell, it is a legacy artefact of some kind. Probably, from the being whose form it took near the end. The troll likely found it somewhere and inadvertently triggered an inheritance rite of some sort. However, being unqualified and the artefact, sadly, being broken. It latched on, warping him and twisting his very soul and form.
“Regrettably, it is filled with the powers of your race and he likely channelled its powers and ability to recognise compatible successors. Only, instead of passing the artefact over, he devoured them, using their essence to as qualifications to retain possession of the artefact and its powers.”
Thorn stared at the ring in his hands, fingers rubbing at the brown wood. His eyes reflected the magical green light that pulsed from it. He could feel it calling him, begging him to put it on. However, knowing now what it did to the last person to possess it, he was in hurry to suffer the same fate.
“Did the flavour text say who it belonged to?” he asked.
He had never heard tale of any forest lord in their area but there was no way it could have belonged to anything else. If they had a name then, even if their record failed them, they could always inquire from other communes. Once, they encountered some, of course.
“Flavour text?” Brandr asked in confusion.
Funny story– no, not so funny. If you’rewonderingg why this chapter took so long to appear, guess what just happened? I deleted the original chapter 24. Not sure how, not sure when but when the time came to put it up, it just wasn’t there. I searched high and low and as best as I can tell, I’ve overwritten it cause it isn’t in my backups either. Luckily, I was able to retrieve a portion of the chapter, the part that ends with Brandr and Thorn going deeper into the dungeon, the bit before the scene break from another source. (didn’t have access to my computer at that time, typed it somewhere else and copied pasted it where it should be later.) That part was the end of the original chapter 24!
So now, I have an ending and no beginning. With nothing else to do I come up with a quick title, place it there, grab the next chapter, edit the first bit a bit and stick it on as an opening scene!
Long story short, I am somehow two and a half chapters short, (I had hogw in that file too. Sometimes when I’m done writing one, I just continue with the other in the same document. The half is because when editing, I pinched a bit off the HoGW one) and have no idea where to go from here. I’ll think of something!