Chapter Forty-eight: Elemental Sigils
They stood in rank and file, every single warrior of the faery enclave. Thorn stood at their head with Nettle at his side. The old warrior looked like someone had breathed life back into his shell. His missing limb was easily overlooked because all who saw him found themselves focusing on the wing of silver and light that hung beside his natural born one. For his part, the old hand bore the gazes well. There was a look of pride about him but also one of purpose. He, like those around him, knew nothing about he tumultuous trembling that was merely the latest to trouble their new haven but he still stood ready to face it.
The younger members of their makeshift army such as Echo, Proudsprout and Bluecap also stood in prominent positions. Proudsprout, in particular, was easily distinguishable by demeanour. All he had to do was look behind him to have reason to smile. Their numbers had swelled since the fall of the Troll. Admittedly, it was not by much but even the four they had received were more than welcome. As their leader, the onus fell on him to lead them. He would not fail. Above and around them hovered other members of the enclave. An assortment of curious sprites who wished to know why the defenders had been mustered. Others were more concerned with the strange quakes.
Contrasting all these fae was Thorn. The Sprite Lord looked to have aged in the space of a few days and his gaze was ponderous and unfocused. Something weighed on him and though he tried not to let it show, it shone through when he let his guard down. It was Nettle who with a nudge, alerted him to their master’s arrival.
The crimson dungeon core, now at large as any sprite, drifted down to them, its hard light robes, flapping in the air. It beamed happily, seemingly triumphant and when it spoke, its tone was joyous and light.
“Calm, all of you!” He yelled. “The trembling was my doing and I apologise for any discomfort caused. Next time, I will be sure to warn you before I make any major changes so as to avoid confusion.
“What happened?” Thorn asked inquisitively. “It felt like the dungeon was shaking itself apart.”
Still riding the crest of his achievement, all Brandr did was smile and say, “I simply put some things in place to facilitate our future growth and allow our people to grow stronger, faster.”
The Sprite Lord frowned. That was not the answer he sought. As a matter of fact, it sounded deliberately vague. However, rather than press for more in front of the gathering he acquiesced and make a note to do so when had the dungeon core in a more private setting.
Brandr made a rising motion with his hands and watched a large stele rise from the ground. The stone grew to be a full metre tall grey edifice with a sprawling design that featured Makas the troll in black fighting several sprite warriors depicted in red. Fae script that Brandr had studied precisely for this prupose was inscribed on the borders telling the tale of how the sprites had repulsed the invader from their home and avenged the many that had previously fallen to it. Thorn watched with a falling feeling in his gut as he read a portion that extolled honour, strength and fidelity whiles promising the victory and development of the enclave. Around him, however, the other sprites were growing wild. They cheered the raising of the runestone.
“When you swore to serve me, I promised you protection”, Brandr began. “Now, I give you a promise of power to go with it. I guarantee the growth of your commune and promise to take you to heights you had never before dreamed. Why?
You are my people. Your families are my family. Your strength is my strength. Nothing”, he stressed. “…matters more than our continued growth and survival!”
“When next the invaders come…”
The crowd bristled at this.
“Whenever they assail this dungeon and its denizens, we will be there, together, not just to fend them off but to remind them that this is our home and we, not they, are its masters!”
The sprites cheered, fired up by the speech as Brandr knew they would be. He raised his hands, calling for silence and when he had it, he unveiled his true objective.
“To help with this, I have bound the elements to this dungeon!” With a finger, he inscribed a series of sigils in the air leaving them there to glow in their respective colours, listing them as he did so.
“Fire!” A bright and angry red came first.
“Metal!” A deceptively simple gold.
“Crystal Earth!” A sparkling gem cut and inlaid in an invisible setting.
“Wind!” A sigil that could only be seen because of its near cloudy and stormy tracings.
“And Water!” A blue sigil with contents that flowed for a moment only to seemingly freeze in the next.
The sigils rose from his fingertip and floated to the front of the runestone growing larger as they did so until they were the size of apples. The sprites were transfixed but also confused and awed. Binding the elements? That was a tier of power none of them could have envisioned.
“I was greatly disappointed when I learned that your primary means of rising through the ranks is to watch time go by. That is partly why I created this edifice. It is not just a monument. Like the Blitzwing Tablet, it is a skill share. Any sprite can go up to it an receive a skill that will let you commune with the elements and garner some of their powers. By practising it, you would grow stronger in the elements and rise up the ranks. You could even”
Unable to contain himself, Thorn stepped forward. “You’re saying you created a secret art?”
Brandr paused, surprised that they had a term for cultivation methods. Maybe, this world was not as simple as he first thought. He nodded. Sending the sprites into a frenzy. Many were murmuring in shock as they considered what that would mean for them. The idea that they could actually increase their parameters without chasing after feats or relying on their fae traits was a welcome one but also a foreign one. So strange, in fact, that many had trouble believing it.
“It is not just these elements! Brandr added to their surprise. “With time I would add many more. Currently, I am working on wood for the sake of our plant mages. Following that would be other more esoteric powers. Thus, I implore you to seize this chance but also make the decision concerning what to learn carefully. There will be no easy reversions. So, for now, I would rather our warriors went first. They can pick whichever elements they have an affinity to or wish to specialise in. As for those who are already specialised. The available elements might not currently be suited to you but rest assured. You will soon have the ones you need. There is only one question now.”
“Who will go first?”
The answer to that question was Nettle. The old sprite secured the honour thanks to his power and seniority before rushing forward to lay his hand on the edifice to receive the [Sigil of the Elements].