The Life and Adventures of Sir Edelbert Spore

Previous: Volume 23

 

Volume 24

Fooled Again

 

            Edelbert had covered a great many hexes since the birth of the Mushroomish Kingdom. He had walked, flown, ridden, and even swam across a sprawling countryside. The Crafty Crags were in the midst of a vast mountainous jungle. His home had shown him hot springs, lava pools, a volcano, temples, ruins, waterfalls, and cliffs.  Visiting the Prefecture had provided an interesting combination of rolling plains, branching creeks, and periodic hills which poked up from the ground. They had even had a sulfur geyser near one of their outlying cities. Hamerica was nestled amid a treacherous swamp where bogs, mires, and sinkholes were just as likely to croak a unit as any feral. He had even seen the ocean thanks to his visits to the Magic Kingdom.  As a Dirtamancer he knew that there were others, but he felt privileged to have experienced as many as he had.

 

Usually Sir Spore liked to travel, but this time was unlike any experience he had previously had. Being a prisoner was its own kind of unpleasant. There was a stifling feeling of loneliness and weakness which accompanied the chains of captivity (or ropes in this instance). His lack of stackmates or leadership was felt keenly, despite his usual tendency to prefer solitude. All his gear had been stripped except the Rockhopper Boots, which Edelbert thought was an odd oversight. The worst was the sensation of lost Juice. Each morning he could feel his Juice reserve fill and then instantly evaporate. It was as if the Titans wanted to remind him every day the position he was in. But what were the circumstances of his captivity?

 

            Before him was a path. It was neither a straight path nor an easy path. He was ceaselessly aware of the course but that was the only thing he was able to see at all. Surrounding both the Dirtamancer and the trail which he followed was an inky expanse. No lights, colors, or shapes appeared or moved within the void. Nothing but the road he was expected to follow was clear to him. Foliage which obscured his path appeared as it became an impediment. If a log or boulder blocked the way then it would appear as well, allowing him to surmount the obstacle. All he could do was put one foot in front of the other as he felt the trail evaporate behind him.

 

            Tolerating the emptiness was an overwhelming task. Edelbert had a disciplined mind. He had spent many turns lost in deeply grounded meditation.  This was different though. He couldn’t ground, for one thing, which would have by itself caused a calm focus and detached emotional state. Something about the lack of things bothered Edelbert. HE was used to a world so very full of Stuff. Here, without his usual senses, he felt disconnected and distant from the world. It was lonely.

 

            If not for the popping of rations, Edelbert would have been completely unable to tell how much time had passed. The void was all consuming and extremely ominous. On the second turn he had tried to dash off the path. He was immediately overwhelmed with a sensation as if he were on fire. Head to toe, he felt his skin char and crack. The smell of burning flesh penetrated his entire mind. Oddly, his eyes told him there was no flame. He did not lose any Hits either. Very slowly the sensation abated, and an immense voice boomed out within the void.

 

“DON’T DO THAT AGAIN”

 

Spore tried to call out in response but found himself unable to utter a sound. The path continued onward.

 

On the sixth turn of the trek, Edelbert felt himself enter combat rounds. A large circle of jungle terrain sprang up from within the blackness. At its center stood a half stack of Pink Panthers. In between the caster and the cats stood a stack of Savages, the Knight equivalent of the Tarzanian Wildmen. As the Knights charged, the booming voice called out a captor’s order. “DEFEND YOURSELF. EVADE THE ENEMY. AVOID ENGAGEMENT”.

 

The battle was entirely uneventful for the Dirtamancer. As soon as rounds stopped, the forested space faded away until only the path remained. The journey continued.

 

In the middle of the tenth turn (or maybe ninth), the path changed from a dirt trail into a paved roadway. On the next turn, a massive gate appeared at the seeming end of the lane. When Edelbert passed through, the depth of the void dissipated. Sounds, smells, and physical sensations all returned simultaneously to their full capacity. The impact of the refreshed awareness was enough to make Edelbert dizzily stumble and fall. Sight was still denied to him, but the abatement was a massive relief. Powerful hands then grabbed the Dirtamancer and hoisted him into the air.

 

The voice of Hyde commented as Edelbert felt himself being carried away somewhere. “Be good now little Edelbert. I will be seeing you again soon.”

 

For the next couple of turns(ish) the blackness was no longer an imposing void. He could hear and feel his complete surroundings. Rather than walking a clear path, Edelbert could feel that he was riding something very large and covered in feathers. If he had to guess, his mount was a Brawny Owl or a Regal Eagle and they were on their way to the Tarzanian capital of The Burroughs. It seemed that his captors had decided to begin withholding most of his meals. The hunger escalated to be painful and deeply distracting. Food became the primary focus of his mind.

 

----

 

With a soft thud, Edelbert felt his mount land. Immediately someone grabbed and pulled him down. He was then roughly escorted somewhere and tied to a plain wooden chair.

 

Nothing happened for what seemed like a very long time…

 

...

 

----

 

Hands grabbed Spore without warning. He had the reflex to resist, but there were obviously multiple units handling him. Oddly enough, they seemed to give him a bath and a new set of comfortable garments.

 

With a searing blast of brightness, Edelbert could see again. Before him stood Hyde the Foolamancer, dressed in the same suspenders and slacks he had previously worn. He was accompanied by a powerfully built female warlord in tough leather armor. The caster’s fierce eyes did not match his jovial expression. “Alright Dirtamancer, we are going for an audience with the Queen. You should feel honored. Follow me closely.”

 

They had clothed Edelbert in a simply cut green robe. It was by no means plain, however. The softest silk which Edelbert had ever encountered had been used to craft the garment. It was perfectly smooth, with an almost reflective sheen across its surface. Oddly, he still wore his Rockhoppers.

 

Even though Edelbert’s Dirtsense was suppressed by being a prisoner, he could not help but to look at the city with a Dirtamancer’s eye. The buildings were constructed almost exclusively of wood. In fact, many of the structures had natural growths incorporated into their frames. Although the city was heavily enhanced, there was a rough and improvised feel to everything. He suspected that the improvements had been done by unguided Fabrication units. Everything seemed to work just fine, but they were not efficient or pretty. The tower of the Burroughs was reminiscent of Ironwood Tower in so far as that standing at the center of each capital was a gigantic tree. This tree was much more natural in tone than its Mushroomish counterpart. Although walkways and small structures could be seen hidden amongst the towers canopy, it seemed that the great majority of the functional space was hidden within the trunk itself. Common animals and bestial units of all kinds were roaming amongst the branches and pathways, far more than Edelbert could count. The whole city had a rough and untamed feel.

 

Climbing the timber tower was unnecessarily difficult. Rather than stairs, most of the ascent was accomplished by ropes or ladders. Getting to the heights of the tower was quite a strenuous experience. This gave Edelbert an idea. “This is a very nice city you have here, beautiful but functional. Although, as a Dirtamancer I can certainly see things that could be altered to your sides benefit. I am sure that King Amanita would happily negotiate some favorable terms of lending my services to you, for my release of course.”

 

Hyde had silently walked ahead during the entire climb so far. He took two quick steps and spun on his cane to face Edelbert. In a cold and neutral tone, he said. “All diplomatic matters should be addressed with the Queen or an appointed negotiator. I am not appointed.  I will tell you two things though, both very important.”

 

The Foolamancer tapped his cane to the ground. His eye sharpened to a predatory gleam. With a low growl he held up his center finger in a lewd gesture. “Number one. I hate you. For hundreds of turns I have spent most of my time mucking about in swamps, stuck travelling with those silent buffoons, or surrounded by hordes of stinking Uncroaked. All of it, every moment, was toward the ends of your capture. If you and the Mushroomish Kingdom had not so stubbornly resisted, then we could have both spent those turns comfortably here in the capital.”

 

Edelbert opened his mouth to respond but was quickly cut off.

 

“Second,” Hyde raised a second finger and resumed his false smile. His tone changed once again, this time a jovial and friendly note “You will join our side. You probably don’t believe me, but I assure you.”

 

Spore tried to interrupt but as he spoke no sound emerged. He was left silently mouthing while the Foolamancer continued.

 

The funny man twirled his cane three times and brought it to rest on his shoulder. “Come to think of it, I really did all the work to bring you here. I am responsible and the credit should be mine. Maybe I can do us both a favor. I hereby request that you, Edelbert Spore, will turn to the side of Tarzania. Do it now and not only will I forgive and forget my grudge, but I can swear to you that it is truly in your best interests to Turn as soon as possible. Now is preferrable.”

 

Unsure if he could speak, Edelbert tried anyway. “Believe me when I say, trickster, that I will never turn to your side. You should send me back home now. I would happily croak rather than join you.”

 

Hyde spun back toward the stairs and continued upward. “And they say that I am a fool.”

 

Somewhere near the top of the great tree was a large hall nestled amid the branches. It was the largest artificial construction Edelbert had seen during his ascent. Standing at the entrance was an 8-stack of knights. They wore shorts and buttoned shirts, all made of khaki. The units’ feet were bound in heavy hiking boots and their heads sported tan pith helmets. At their hips hung obviously high-quality machete. Although clearly on alert, they assumed a relaxed posture. A couple were leaned against the wall and one was even seated.

 

 “Announce me quickly!” Hyde barked an order at the knights.

 

A Courtier unit had apparently been nestled against the tree as well. She sprang up and dashed over to open the intricately carved double doors. As she stepped into the hall she exclaimed. “Now in attendance, Prince Hyde Hunter of Tarzania and Sir Edelbert Spore, Master Dirtamancer and formerly of the Mushroomish Kingdom.” 

 

The hall was beautiful. Stained glass windows gave a greenish hue to the light that filtered down from the branches of the canopy. Banners with the Tarzanian crest were displayed along each of the walls. Within the center of the hall was laid out an impressive feast, multiple servants dashed about to set final details. A large ovoid table was covered in an impressively wide variety of foods. Six seats were in place around the table, one clearly set across from the rest. At the far end of the room, raised by a few steps, was what had to be the throne. Standing nearby the Seat of Power were five units, each quite distinct.

 

 The only woman in the group turned toward the approaching casters. Her garb was oddly similar to the knights which had been guarding the entryway. She had bright red hair which peaked out from a pith helmet styled crown. Contrasted to the vibrance of her hair, her skin was an eerily pale white. Although finely tailored, she wore a simple khaki outfit of shorts and a buttoned shirt. “Sir Edelbert Spore, our meeting is a long time coming. I am Queen Jane, sovereign Ruler of the great nation of Tarzania. Do you have any idea how long we have been trying to capture you? No matter, why not have a seat and we can feast.” As she gestured Edelbert was struck with the force of a captor’s order. He was not even given the chance to bow in response.

 

“As for you, Prince Hyde,” the woman continued “You have done an excellent job on this lengthy assignment. We will discuss the matter at a later time. For now, well done my son.”

 

The small group which had been speaking with the Queen broke apart and moved to the table. The muscular warlord which had accompanied the Dirtamancer up the tower took a guard position right behind the caster, otherwise, everyone but the servants had found seats.

 

Sitting at the table was difficult for Edelbert. The platters of delicious food held most of his attention. There was a certain decorum that needed to be maintained however. He held himself back, barely.

 

The Queen continued, indicating an extremely large man to her right. “Allow me to introduce my most senior units. This is my husband, Tarzan.”

 

Even sitting, the man was two handspans taller than anyone else at the table. His deeply tanned muscles were flawlessly defined and obviously quite powerful. He wore nothing more than a leather loin cloth, which Edelbert noticed was not quite large enough to be effective cover. Mocha colored hair cascaded down past his clean-shaven face and on below the shoulders. He was level 10 and it showed. “I Tarzan. You Turn.”

 

Edelbert was already tired of being asked to turn. It wasn’t going to happen. Also, what was a husband? “I appreciate the offer, but I am loyal to King Amanita. I am sure we can negotiate some terms for my safe release.”

 

            Without acknowledging Edelbert’s comment, her highness gestured toward the second seat to her right. “This is our Chief Warlord, Donald Blake.”

 

            A burly man with an exaggerated chest nodded to Edelbert. Although not as tall as Tarzan, the Chief was just as imposing. His golden hair shimmered in the light and his blue eyes were piercing to the point of nearly glowing. He wore a metal cap with tiny wings, an item almost certainly related to aerial combat. Six glowing blue circles ran down the core of his heavy armor, most likely indicating enchantments of some kind. An obviously powerful hammer sat prominently on the table in front of him. The weapon’s face was broad and flat, which tapered back toward a bolt shaped spike on the rear. It was covered in stylized lightning, occasionally even sparking or crackling electricity along its surface.

 

            “And this is the legendary Mjolniw, just about the best weapon a Chief Warlord could ask for.”  Donald said with a proud grin.

 

            “You don’t have to introduce the hammer.” The man to the left of the Queen said with an exasperated sigh. His skin was the same golden tan that Tarzan had. He wore a moustache and beard which were both mud red and neatly trimmed. Whatever hair he had was covered by a tight grey turban. He was garbed in a loose cherry red robe which seemed to be more for comfort than anything else. He carried no weapon and did not appear to have any other gear.

 

            Queen Jane face showed the barest hint of displeasure before she hid it away completely. “Gentlemen, we have company this evening. Our new arrival is meant to have a pleasant introduction with his new side. Bickering Chiefs do not calm anyone’s nerves. Particularly mine.  Now relax and enjoy yourselves, this is a special occasion.”

 

            Her attention reverted to Edelbert, but this time with an edge of insincerity in her cheerful tone. “This is my son and our Chief Lookamancer, Seeq Endestwoy. You will have to forgive his poor manners. He can be a bit of a recluse.”

 

            Seeq huffed once again. “Mother, I have explained to you before that my discipline requires time and focus. Loneliness is a burden which I must bear, not a choice that I make. Interruptions are as good as wasting my Juice. I cannot spend my time in court or socializing.”

 

             Jane showed an understanding smile. “It is unavoidable, and we will continue to be patient. That does not mean I have to like it. Now Edelbert, I understand you have already been acquainted with my other son, Hyde.”

 

            “Last but not least.” Hyde commented to a passing servant.

 

            Chief Seeq leaned forward with his elbows on the table. He peaked his fingers and cocked his head slightly to the left. “Let us talk Dirtamancy. We are quite curious to hear your opinions of our city, professionally speaking. What are your impressions so far?”

 

            Edelbert wanted to respond with a quip about having been blinded and bound to a chair, but he knew that diplomacy was the only way he would be getting home any time soon. “It is really quite lovely. The arboreal architecture is a bold style and it goes well with your side’s overall Signamancy. That being said, there is a lot that I can do to improve things here. Movement around the city seems difficult. Some organization of the existing pathways plus the addition of stairs and lifts should balance things out. I can also easily add some amenities. How would clean running water throughout the tower sound? There are a great number of possibilities. It is hard for me to be too specific without getting a better feel for the site.”

 

            Donald set down the tankard of ale he was generously partaking of. “We can arrange tours of the Burroughs and of our nearby cities. Enhancing the defensive strength of our territory will be a potent advantage of having gained a Dirtamancer. I am excited to be working with you Edelbert.”

 

            “I am NOT turning.” Sir Spore immediately reigned in his tone. Such an outburst was quite inappropriate in an audience with a foreign Ruler. He was shocked and disappointed with himself.

 

            The Queen sighed loudly. It did not sound like exasperation, but more of sympathy or maybe pity. “There appears to be some confusion. I suppose it is time to bring you up to speed with current events. Our forces, along with the Silent and Darkest armies marched on and took Crafty Crags half a dozen turns ago. Edelbert, there is no more Mushroomish Kingdom. You are ours now.”

 

            A little something snapped inside the Dirtamancer. He was not overwhelmed with sadness or grief. Neither anger nor revenge crossed his mind. Almost the opposite occurred, he could suddenly feel nothing. His head was full of sand and his hands were numb. For a few moments he even forgot to breathe. “That cannot be true. You are a liar.”

 

            Something hard struck Edelbert across the forehead and burst. It was enough to knock his head back forcefully and nearly enough to topple his chair. He took a single Hit.

 

            With remarkable speed, Tarzan had snatched up and thrown an apple at the caster. “Show respect. This is your Queen now.”

 

            “Dearest.” Jane snapped. “He just received devastating news. His impudence will be forgiven, this once.” She made pointed eye contact with Edelbert as she said the last.

 

            To the side of the hall Donald waved his hand and called out “Bring it.”

 

            A single red Toadie entered the hall from a side passage, a look of devastation on its face. In its hands it carried Princess Peaches’ tiara. It was unmistakable. He was instantly certain. The accessory was shorn in two and the gemstone had fallen from its mounting.

 

            A deep hole began opening within the Dirtamancer. A bottomless chasm split wide inside his mind and he was falling. He felt no need to futilely plead or bargain. He spoke out of shock. “You croaked my family. My friends. My home is no more.”

 

            Seeq opened his arm to indicate their surroundings. “You have a new home now.”

 

            “This is not my home. You are to blame. This is your fault Jane. We were peaceful Royal neighbors. Arthur had been raised by the Titans themselves! Why did you hate us so?”  The edges of Edelbert’s mind were fraying. His vision focused down as if he were in a tunnel. He would do anything in his power to resist these fiends. “There is nothing you can do to Turn me to your wretched side. Croak me now and be done with this charade.”

 

            Tarzan looked on the Dirtamancer with disgust. The Queen and Chief Blake both watched with expressions of morose compassion. Hyde’s smile never broke. Seeq seemed to be almost uninterested in the goings on of the dinner, distracted. The servants were doing everything in their power to be invisible.

 

            On the table, next to Edelbert’s untouched plate, sat a serrated knife for cutting his meat. It was stupid, he knew. But it was the only recourse he could conjure in his emotionally collapsing state. He popped suddenly from his seat and whipped the knife at the Queen. Then he made a break for the servants exit from the hall.

 

            As for the knife, Tarzan effortlessly rolled onto the table and caught the blade well before it struck his Queen.

 

            Edelbert only made it a few steps before he took a harsh blow to the back of his head and collapsed in a heap to the floor. He was not unconscious, but he was mildly incapacitated.

 

            “I am disappointed in you Dirtamancer.” The Queen spoke as she waved in troops. “I had sincerely hoped that a Noble Caster, such as yourself, would have handled this all with a bit of dignity. It is a shame. Hyde, my son, he is all yours. Do your worst.”

 

            Hyde let out a gleeful cackle. “Oh Eddie boy, I tried to warn you. Did I not? Anybody wanna wager as to how long he will hold out ‘til he turns?”

 

            Oppressive void once again enveloped Edelbert.

 

Volume 25 - Darkness Something Something (Coming Soon)

 

Index


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Comments

    • Jade

      Hello, I just wanted to say that I just discovered this series by someone referencing Sir Spore, and I'm glad I decided to look up who that was! This story is very lovely and interesting. I can't wait to read more. Great work!

      • Salvage

        I started this as an intro to the next events but it ended up as a full chapter. I am really excited about 25. It may be a little while though. I am writing a winter holiday story and that needs to be finished before December, so Edelbert will be back burner for a bit. Good news is that my work has slowed down again and my writing time will only increase. I hope to have my other story done in short order, it is coming along nicely. 25 will be a tough one to write, but I will get it to you as soon as I can. 

        Thanks for reading!

        • Bandaid

          Well, crap. The Grimdark continues. I think I need a happy story for a change.

          That said, thanks for continuing your story. I know how hard writing can be.

          I think you made a small mistake though. It is not like prisoners juice evaporates right after receiving it, prisoners do simply not receive any juice in the first place.

           

          • deadmanwlkng

            Thank you for writing these. I really enjoy and look forward to the updates. I am very impressed with how creative you are with the story.  There hasn't been a chapter to date that I haven't enjoyed reading. 

            • WurmD

              Ooh Salvage, you should not have said that :)

              Either it's true and that was a spoiler

              Or it's not true and you were a JRRM-like dick

              XD

              • Salvage

                @WurmD - Not sure what a JRRM is, but I'd hate to be a dick to any degree.

                You are correct. I was attempting to use levity and sarcasm to ease discussion of an unpleasant subject. Shouldnt use sarcasm in text, I occasionally slip though. Thank you for the warning.☺

                What I meant was...

                @Bandaid - I also recognize the prevailing tendency toward darkness in both canon and fanon????. Although the current tone of my story is rather dark, this is not indicative of a permanent change in the overall tone of the story. Do not worry.????

                @deadmanwlking - Thank you. I am honored. It is always heart warming to receive praise on my work. I appreciate your time in reading my stuff.????

                ...

                I hope that was clearer, without being a dick☺ 

                • falcore51

                  Yeah another chapter, whooot.