DC/RH Special

DC/RH BK II, CH 21: The Lord of Delirium

Chapter Twenty-one: The Lord of Delirium

In all the ways that truly matter, the faerie are akin to nature spirits. Leonard Thurnstein, Court Mage, Magister of the Mages Guild and renowned authority on all things faerie describes the fae as truthful though sometimes distorted, reflections of the world around them. Sprites embody the features of their land. Pixies reflect its mana. Other fae, reflect the seasons and the passage of the times. While the elements are the domain of elementals, there is no shortage of fae with elemental abilities. Some faerie creatures represent not the physical or the mystical but the conceptual. 

Despite Thurnstein’s great work, the faerie by their very nature defy classification. Sure, his research made some sense against the backdrop of pixies and sprites but what of brownies? Or the boggarts and gremlins? All three defied his nomenclature. These were even the lesser uncomplicated faeries, what of the greater fae, the ones who came shrouded with the bloom and gloom? 

The stag snorted, its huge nostrils flaring even as it shook its head. Something was wrong. It could feel it. The air was thick with musk and the walls were closing in. That couldn’t be right. Why were there so many two and three-headed animals? Trying to move back to clear more room for itself only saw it misstep and sway in a manner that threatened to bring it to the ground. The adventurers were not much different.  

Jeanette leaned back against the cavern wall, closing her eyes to stop the spinning. It worked somewhat. No more spinning but she still felt heady. The pounding in her chest didn’t help. Next to her, Bofur leered, his eyes bloodshot, jabbering about something she couldn’t quite make out. Another member of her team had long bared herself to the world, howling and gyrating like a fiend. 

Something was clearly wrong. Jeanette could not quite put her finger on it. Maybe it was her staff slithering away from her. Maybe it was the pink elephants. Those weren’t there earlier, were they? She turned to ask the cavern wall but it wasn’t sure either. The floor was angry she didn’t ask it first so it tilted under her. Jeanette fell. Luckily, her new friend the cavern wall caught on quickly and tried to catch her in its arms. Silly wall! Its hands were too hard. Now her head was bleeding. She put her hand to it and it came away bright red. 

“Hey Bofur!” she called out, her voice strangely distant. 

“Why does blood have to be so red?” she asked, wiping it off on her cream frock. 

‘Damn! That’s going to stain!’ she realised. Red stains too. Purple and blue stains would have been so much better.

Bofur did not answer. He pointed at Theresa, their companion and jabbered on. Jeanette turned to look and would you know it, the naked woman was trying to force herself on a very confused and upright badger. Speaking surprisingly good common, it refused her advances and tried to run off, stopping only to pick up her discarded armoured jacket and wear it like a coat. Theresa yowled and yipped before taking off on all fours after her new, two-legged mate. The deer gathered to wish her the best and sing wedding ballads.

Watching this, Jeanette couldn’t help but giggle. Giggles became full-blown laughter. Soon, she was laughing so hard she was having trouble breathing. Thankfully, she wasn’t the only one. Together, she and her friend, cavern wall linked arms to steady themselves as they laughed. Inane laughter resounded through the cavern. It was nearly loud enough to drown out the furious pounding of Jeannette’s laboured heart. 

Not even the plants were spared. A growth frenzy spread through the first floor of the dungeon radiating from the third chamber. Grasses shot upwards, growing till their weak spines and stems collapsed under their own weight. Being relatively simple organisms, they did not display as many varied behaviours. What they did do was twist themselves into deranged shapes and fill the air with flowers and pollen. 

Slowly, but surely, the introductory floor of Brandr’s dungeon was being distorted. This distortion spread in waves from the third chamber or more specifically, one individual within it, Duke Galronde, an Archfae of the Summer Court. The Lord of Passion, Ecstasy and Delirium. 

Thorn groaned, fighting to keep his knees and mind from buckling under the pressure of the Faelord’s aura. He held on, not under his own power but through his connection to the dungeon core. No matter how the Archfae assailed him, Brandr’s power kept most of his influence at bay. Nevertheless, that left the poor dungeon knight caught between a rock and a hard place. On one end was the Faelord of Delirium, a being who had ascended to power in the Age of Heroes. His every presence demanded obedience from all lesser fae. On the other end was Brandr, the Dungeon God, the will of his home and the being to whom he had pledged his allegiance. Right now, the dungeon core held the upper hand but Thorn know just how tenuous that lead was.

One by one, the fae that accompanied him crumbled. Flix and Proudsprout were taken at nearly the same time, kneeling with conflicting expressions of joyful awe while tears of unworthiness streamed down their cheeks. Together, they gazed at Duke Galronde in blissful rapture. Nettle held on the longest but after mere minutes, he too succumbed, only possessing the wits to knock himself out before he embarrassed himself. Soon, only the dungeon knight was left holding out against the fae lord’s attempt to dominate them.

By all accounts, Brandr should hold the upper hand. This was the seat of his power. These were his people. Yet, the insidiousness and multifaceted nature of Duke Galronde’s power made it shockingly effective. First, it hit the body like a drug, inflaming lusts and desires. Second, it overwhelmed the senses. Suddenly, it was too hot or too cold or both at the same time. The feel of your own sweat made you feel like you were swimming, then drowning. Everything was too loud or too quiet. The shapes and dimensions of the world no longer made sense. Your surroundings began to change into a twisted faerie land. All the while, it whispered to you.


Embrace Rapture! 

The madness awaits! 

Thorn could feel it working deep in his subconscious, scratching away at his mind and will. It didn’t beat down his walls, it wormed its way in. It didn’t break the locks, it asked him sweetly to open the doors and let it in and despite everything he knew telling him not to, Thorn was tempted to obey. If not for how precarious his situation was, Thorn would have laughed at its sheer ridiculousness. He knew full well that letting Duke Galronde into his mind would be inviting a very real chance of madness. It literally told him so and yet, the pleasures it promised… the bliss… the ecstasy. 

When was the last time you were truly happy, Thorn Clearwing?

Visions of joyful days as a young sprite filled his head. His first adventure outside his original commune. The world had seemed so bright and new then. 

It could be that way again. 

All these years of drum servitude to your people. You haven’t lived in centuries, Thorn. 

Don’t you want to feel alive? Don’t you deserve happiness? 

Ask yourself this, where would you be happier… under the dungeon core’s boot or at the feet of a bonafide Archfae? A fae lord who could make you feel pleasure so great it would break your mind. 

Imagine that Thorn! 

Endless pleasure! Endless Bliss! Ecstasy, forever! 

No more responsibilities. No more danger. No more worries or sorrow!

Embrace Rapture, Thorn!

Then, there were the thoughts that weren’t his own. They rang in his head with his voice but the dungeon knight knew, with some help from his master, that they were not his. 

Duke Galronde is my friend. He is my liege for goodness sake. Why am I just standing here? This is beyond rude! I should be showing him around right now instead of fighting him. What if he gets mad? Wouldn’t it be better to give in?

This was why Brandr’s power proved so ineffective. The dungeon core could put as many obstacles in the way as he wanted. He could bar access to the minds of his creatures but what good did that do against a foe that they purposefully let in? The dungeon could shield Thorn’s body but not his mind– not from this. For that, the former sprite had to rely on himself. This was easier said than done. ‘To think is to imagine. To imagine is to dream.’ The archfae’s powers seemed to disproportionately affect thinking entities. That combined with his authority over lesser fae made sure that ignoring those whispers was one of the hardest things the dungeon knight had ever had to do. Somehow, Thorn soldiered on.

By this point, the self-assured smile had fallen off the Faelord’s face. Instead, he watched Thorn with a sort of intent curiosity that was frightening to witness. It was the sort of look one might find on a child tearing the legs off a spider to watch how it would move without them. Even his entourage had backed off at this point. His aura was that intense and most of it was focused on the diminutive fae in front of him. All the happenings outside this chamber were merely side effects.

Finally, the horned fae lord spoke. “Thy son spake highly of thee. Ere coming hither he recounted to me many tales of thee. Tales of the hero Thorn Clearwing and his dashing deeds. Hither I find upon meeting thee yond the real thing is much moo impressive than I first hath believed.”  

Coming from an archfae, this was high praise indeed. Everyone present could tell that he meant it too. Thorn was reminded of the folk tales that told of the archfae’s might, of the armies he had driven mad before him in the Age of Heroes. At once, new thoughts came upon him, driven by the mad whispers of the Faerie Duke’s powers.

He can’t possibly be resisted.

Kings and Heroes have fallen before him.

You’ve done so well already.

Your master can’t blame you. NO ONE would blame you.

Aren’t you tired?

Why fight when it would be so much easier to give in?

You know you can’t win. Why not give in sooner and save yourself the effort?

It will feel so good to give in.




Thorn shut his eyes and his ears to the fae lord. His sweaty brow furrowed in concentration as he hastened to beat the entreaties away from his mind.

“Truly, truly impressive”, Duke Galronde announced appraisingly.

“Indeed!” Came a voice from behind him. “He is.”

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