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Volume 2 - Better Homes and Ruins - The Life and Adventures of Sir Edelbert Spore

The Life and Adventures of Sir Edelbert Spore

Previous : Volume 1

 

Volume 2

Better Homes and Ruins

 

            Edelbert awoke the next day because of an itchy back. A feather in the mattress insisted on prickling his spine until he could no longer ignore the assault. His green eyes snapped open and he stood almost immediately.

 

“Upgrading this feather filled friend of mine is right at the top of the list once my Juice has returned. In the meantime, I have some juice I need to relieve myself of.” Edelbert chuckled as he stepped over to the clay chamber pot tucked next to the fireplace.

 

            The sky outside the tower was growing brighter but there was still time to croak before start of turn. Edelbert did not want to get dressed until his clothes had been cleansed, he suspected they would still be damp. “Wait. Would they?” the curious Dirtamancer asked, talking only to himself and pigeon A.

 

            “Cleansing is natural Dirtamancy right? Well that means it is a part of your field Spore.”  He slapped his forehead as he lectured himself. “We are only one turn old and already opportunities are nearly slipping through our fingers.”

 

            Edelbert walked over to the wardrobe and swung the doors wide. Inside waited his still damp muddy clothes. The fact that they were still just as damp and muddy as the night before taught him something about Dirtamancy. It was small but it was something. He hoped that soon he would learn something big.

 

            Within a few minutes the local turn would begin and the world around him would be cleansed. At that moment Edelbert would have an opportunity to watch the Titans perform Dirtamancy. All he had to do was pay attention as any good student should.

 

            Edelbert seated himself with legs crossed and hands folded. Using Dirtsense he reached down into the mountain, grounding himself to calm his mind. Fortunately, the stone tower worked as a conduit. If he were on the third floor of a wooden tower he would not be able to feel deep within the mountain.

 

            The moment before start of turn came with a slight tingling pressure. It was that sensation which woke most units from sleep on any given turn. Sir Spore used that moment to focus on his Dirt and magic senses.

 

            Opening his senses for Titanic cleansing was nearly too much for Edelbert to handle. Magic lit everything in a flash while Dirtamancy and something else flooded all around. In an instant all superficial impurity disappeared from everything. The world was fresh again.

 

            The magic faded as instantly as it had appeared, however, the ache in Edelbert’s head did not. Two magics, he had definitely sensed two disciplines. Certainly Dirtamancy but what was the other he had felt?  A minute or so of quiet reflection brought Spore to the conclusion that he did not know enough to find the answer. It seemed, not surprisingly, that Titanic magic was beyond the understanding of a turn old novice.

 

            “Well I can always try again tomorrow.” Edelbert remarked as he began to dress “So what is the plan for today?”

 

            A few details jumped out at Sir Spore as he looked around. He had not been paying enough attention to his surroundings and things in the tower were different. The stove had ignited of its own accord, his bed had made itself, and there was now a green book resting on the desk.

 

            Edelbert stepped forward to the desk and picked up the little green book. Inside was nothing but blank pages. “Interesting, this will make an excellent journal. I like the idea of recording my own story.” With it being so early in the turn he decided to sit down and write out his first turn.

 

****

 

The Journal of Edelbert Spore

 

Turn 1 – As first turns go I was amazingly successful. Most importantly I survived. Beyond that I made a new friend and ally, Turnip the Pokedaemon. My cloak and boots are comfortable as well as useful and I think I will be able to improve them with some work. Upkeep will not be a problem for some time as long as I am careful and smart. The Titans have been gracious enough to grant me an artifact as well as a beautiful place to live. The feeling that this tower was made for me is difficult to escape, it must be Fate. I feel at home.

 

****

Looking out the window Edelbert realized that the sky was still dark, very dark actually. Thick black clouds were billowing into existence which meant that the hex had rolled weather for the day. It was going to be a mean one too by the look of the developing clouds, rain was already sprinkling.

 

            With weather brewing Spore figured it would be good to check on Turnip down in the tower yard. He picked up his staff and headed down to ground level calling pigeon A. As he passed the first candle sconce he decided that replacing them with powerball sconces would be prudent. The upgrade would not cost much juice and although candles would probably never ignite a stone tower there was no reason to risk it. Besides a powerball gave a much brighter and more even illumination.

 

            As Edelbert passed down through the library on the third floor he filled the lantern with four powerballs, the most it could hold. To his surprise the library was mostly empty. The night before it had seemed sparse but well stocked. In the light he realized that many of the shelves were entirely empty and many of the books that were present had degraded to the point that they could not be repaired.

 

“Disappointing, I had hoped tofind some valuable information in here.” the Dirtamancer complained “I will just see if I can manage some Signmancy on one of these turns. Maybe I could even get the books to pop if I refurbish this space thoroughly enough.” It was a task he knew he would attempt later.

 

            Edelbert continued down to the ground floor. While he moved across the statuary hall booming thunder shook the entire tower. As he opened the double doors Edelbert was immediately struck with a blast of wind and water. The weather was already very strong and he was not sure if he really wanted to go outside.

 

            “Turnip can you hear me?” Edelbert yelled out the doors. “I have upkeep for you!”

 

Eventually he decided that it was his obligation to make certain that Turnip made its upkeep for the day. Spore flipped up his hood and tucked the cloak into his belt to keep it from catching in the wind. With a lowered head he dashed out into the squall.

 

            The rain was warm which surprised Edelbert just slightly. His cloak did help to keep the weather off though. Out in the center of the lawn he found Turnip nuzzled into the soil. Its eyes were closed and it showed no sign of having registered the dirtamancers approach.

 

“Turnip I don’t think we should be out in this and I have upkeep for us both.” Edelbert cried into the wind. With a focused thought he transferred Turnip’s sixty-five upkeep to the daemon, unsure if the daemon had a wallet. The schmuckers would not transfer for some reason.

 

Edelbert breathed deep and focused his mind once again to give the daemon his upkeep. Again nothing.

 

“Turnip, wake up and take your upkeep!” Edelbert leaned forward and lightly jabbed his ally with his staff. The daemons eyes snapped immediately open and looked deep into Edelbert’s. Lightning cracked the sky. With a slight shimmy its mouth slid just above the soil line.

 

            “Ish dish Weirdish” Turnip pointed all five of its leaves at Spore and then sharply pointed one leaf at the door. It then twisted itself back down into the soil and closed its eyes.

 

            Once again Edelbert found himself offended by Turnip. Still nothing to be done about it though. Getting used to Turnip and its attitude would take a good amount of patience.

 

 “Well if you do not want upkeep then I will not force you, foolish plant” Assessing the state of the weather Spore figured it would be best to spend the turn inside. He knew he had upkeep and there was more than enough work to be done in the tower.

 

            Stepping inside and closing the door Edelbert realized how truly dreadful the weather outside really was. Even with his weather resistant cloak he was nearly soaked to the bone. With a spark of juice, he cleansed himself.

 

The Great Gardening Staff was already proving to be immensely useful, the reduction in spell costs meant that he had spent a fairly small portion of his juice even with all the lanterns and the cleansing. The sheer increase in productivity he gained was invaluable.

 

With nearly the entire day still ahead of him Edelbert decided that simply paying upkeep seemed a bit brash. He turned, swung the door back open and with a silent order sent pigeon A out to search for provisions in the rain. There was at least that orange tree down in the glade. Pigeon C got orders to continue onward and signal back if it encountered anything new.

 

“Well then what is on my agenda for today?” Spore wondered. “Do I upgrade the tower, or I could work on my gear, or I could try for a golem of some kind? Tough choice.”

 

Upgrading the tower would increase his own comfort which would be nice. However, improving his gear or making a golem would increase his combat ability and there by his ability to survive. He knew there would be more creatures popped here eventually. In fact, the more work he did on the hex the more chance of units popping.

 

As he considered his plan Edelbert walked up to the second floor workshop. Whatever he decided this would probably be the place to do it. The workshop would provide him a small bonus on any crafting.

 

“Now is not the time for indulgence.” The barbarian in Spore once again overcame the noble. “I need to protect myself. Let me see what I can do about a golem then.”

 

The first step of making a Dirtamancy golem was to determine what materials were available. Edelbert knew that he at least had easy access to clay and granite.

 

“Let me see all the options I have.” Edelbert drew his staff and focused

 

Mössbauer Raman” A pulse of magic rippled out from the dirtamancers feet, echoing down through the stone of the tower and then deep into the heart of the mountain. As the pulse traveled down he received pings of information whenever it passed a new cache of mineral. Although there were a few rarer minerals in the mountain, none of them were close enough for Edelbert to draw out with any reasonable amount of juice. So clay or granite were his best options.

 

Granite golems were mostly heavy units which would require a minimum of two turns to construct with his novice class and low level. Clay was easier to work with and allowed for a wider variety of golem types.

 

A multi-turn casting was tempting but delaying his combat support seemed a poor idea. Also it would use most of his juice each of those turns which meant a prickly bed for the next few nights. Sleep was still important.

 

Edelbert knew a couple of possible designs he could apply to clay and after he was done he would still have about a quarter of his juice to improve elements of the tower. It just seemed the better of the two options.

 

Every caster knew that the more time they spent on a spell, especially crafting, the more potent the effect would be. Design and effort improved effect. So rather than casting a spell to create a golem from scratch Edelbert decided he would draw the clay up and work it into the golem form instead, he certainly had the time.

 

Echus Mawrth Memnonia” Spore chanted as he focused his mind on one of the nearest and purist clay deposits. A few moments passed before a man sized mass of greyish clay seeped up through the floor and lumped into the center of the work table.

 

The smell of the fresh clay was nearly intoxicating. Excitement from building his first golem was enough to cause Edelbert’s hands to shake.  Before beginning his work, the dirtamancer grounded again for a few minutes. When he mentally returned to the room he felt much calmer and focused.

 

Using his bare hands Spore grabbed onto the clay and began to work the lump with his Fabrication. Immediately he knew he was making a mistake. To get the bonus from the workshop he needed to utilize the facility, the tools.

 

Assessing the contents of the room Edelbert knew that the bonus from this workshop would only be a one. He did have some extra juice he could use and still animate the golem, especially since the more manual work he put into the crafting the lower the cost would be.

 

Spore swung the staff off his back once more and cast. “Build-up-bare.

 

Workshop components began to form out of thin juice. New tools grew out of the racks already hung on pegs that fit them. Edelbert’s concern for design showed itself in a large parchment sheet appearing in one of the few open spaces on the wall. An ink well and ruler grew on the shelf immediately next to the sheet. A single powerball lantern formed on the ceiling already illuminated. All of the pieces that were in the room before had their surfaces smoothed and a clean layer of varnish applied to them, even the table. The rooms bonus boosted up to a two.

 

With the workshop improvements done (for now) Edelbert set to drawing the golem he imagined. His drawing skills quickly proved to be poor but the process did help to clarify the intended design within his head. Just another thing he would need to practice. Almost an entire hour passed while he imagined what he would do.

 

A cooing sound called out from Edelbert’s mind. The distraction was only slightly bothersome as he was not actively casting yet. Pigeon C had found something. Sitting down and focusing he absorbed the intel C had gathered. Breathing deeply, he then focused further to try and see some of what C was seeing.

 

Bright orange lava bubbled beneath his bird. It had apparently found a volcano hex to the south and was just passing over the caldera. By the look of things, the hex was not especially near an eruption of any kind. It was not dormant by any means though.

 

The next thing Edelbert saw was a large ball of flame arc into the sky and fall directly down on C. The pigeon had stood no chance. The experience was jarring for him because it really felt like the fire was coming down on him. Standing alone in a perfectly safe tower he was still sweating.

 

“Well that is too bad. I guess you can’t survey a mountain range without breaking a few pigeons.” Edelbert sighed. “Which reminds me, how is A doing?”

 

Thinking about A came with the realization that his only remaining pigeon was waiting at his front door. Edelbert decided that it was a good time for a break and that a meal was probably in order.

 

He headed down the stairs and opened the main doors. Wind and rain tried to rush inside with pigeon A right behind them. On the doorstep were a dozen or so oranges. Edelbert quickly swept them inside with his foot and closed the door.

 

“Good job A.” he said as he patted the golem on the head. “Take all of these upstairs for me. I will meet you in the suite when you are done.”

 

The bird swooped into action and flew right up the stairs. Edelbert grabbed two oranges off the ground and also headed upstairs. The oranges were gobbled up and then he paid the rest of his upkeep so he would have a bit of variety in his food. The Titans sent him some lovely chicken in a rich but sweet red sauce with some carrots and peas.

 

Eating was nice but his mind would not pull away from his golem. Finishing it was no longer a curiosity but a necessity. His discipline demanded it of him. Edelbert returned to the workshop and set back to work.

 

Shaping the clay into the form he wanted took a few hours. Working this much clay and not using juice to do it was slow work. Slowly the image of a male wearing scale armor and carrying a long thin curved greatsword emerged from the lump on his table. Edelbert even spent time refining the face so that the golem felt as much like a regular person as he could manage.

 

With the form completed and detailed all Edelbert had left to do was cast to animate the golem. Once again he drew his staff and prepared to bring the clay to life, or so to speak.

 

“You can do this Edelbert Spore just focus on the plan.” He told himself for comfort as he breathed in preparing to speak the spell.

 

Quin She Huang” he whispered into the ear of the statue

 

A sharp crack was followed quickly by another and then a couple more. Edelbert could now see the unit’s stats.

Terracotta Stabber

Move- 10

Hits- 5

Attack- 5

Defense- 3

Specials- Golem

Upkeep- 120

 

The golems hands flexed and then took a grip on its very large sword. The unit placed its feet on the ground and stood. Even as a regular golem the stabber stood a full head taller than Edelbert.

 

As exciting as completing his first golem was Edelbert realized that there was now nothing to be done with it. The day was nearly over and the weather outside had not relented at all.

 

“Golem, head down to the entrance and stand guard. No one but Turnip is allowed inside. Unless something happens I will be down in the morning.” Spore relayed to his unit as he began up toward his bedroom.

 

With the day winding to a close Edelbert just had one more thing he wanted to take care of. “Alright you prickly bag of feathers, let us see what we can do to make you more comfortable.” He did not have too much juice left but remaking a single piece of furniture would not cost much.

 

Edelbert focused and converted the entire mattress to raw matter. With the bank of raw matter and most of his remaining juice he wove a new mattress into existence. It was cotton and down feathers stuffed into a silk cloth, very luxuriant to be sure.

 

With his last dribble of juice Spore sanded and polished the wood frame as to avoid any splinters. The bed looked much better than before and much more suited to someone of his noble bearing.

 

Trying to get into a habit he went to his desk and recorded the day in his journal. With the tasks for the day complete, Edelbert decided to sit down and read Canon until it was time to sleep.

 

****

 

The Journal of Edelbert Spore

          Turn 2-       I made my first Golem today. The process was enjoyable as well as fulfilling. I look forward to getting to test out the stabbers capabilities. Although I suppose it is unwise to wish for combat. Hopefully Turnip made its upkeep for the day. I would be saddened to lose its company. Things to work on-improve workshop and library, upgrade equipment, refine golem design, unravel daily cleansing riddle.

 

          Turn 3-       The weather kept me inside again today. I took the time and juice to make another Terracotta Golem. This one I am calling a Defender because it only has a greatshield rather than a regular weapon. The defender has a five defense with a three attack while the stabber has a five attack with a three defense. I suspect if I built a terracotta golem with a hand weapon and regular shield it would have fours in each. The library project is going to take a few turns to complete as long as I work on it as a daily after thought. I am still unsure I can manifest books in there without Signamancy.I will add that to the to do list. If the weather will let up soon it is my intention to go down in the cavern with my golems and check it out. I have an itch to get underground.

****

            The morning of Edelbert’s fourth turn came with a break in the clouds and the calling of birds. Sunlight streaked down across the Crafty Crags Ruin and mists rose from the ground. Off to the north many hexes appeared to still be storming.

 

            Multiple turns inside had left Sir Spore a bit stir-crazy. Eagerness to test his new golems combined with curious excitement about exploring the caves underneath the ruin. A bubbling energy gripped him.

 

            “Good morning Turnip!” Edelbert called out as he emerged from the tower onto the dewy lawn, just moments after start of turn. Behind him trailed both of his terracotta golems and pigeon A. “Glad to see you alive.”

 

            Turnip loosened itself from the soil and stood to look at Edelbert and his retinue. It stacked up with them and turned to the dirtamancer.

 

“Weirdish” It chirped out happily.

 

“I wanted to go down and explore the caverns in the glade today. Are you interested in joining me?” Edelbert did not want to come off as too bossy since Turnip seemed prone to independence.

 

“Wei.” The daemon spun and started toward the steps without another word.

 

“Hold on just a moment Turnip.” Spore called after him. “I have been thinking and want to try a couple things before we go.”

 

“Skeet Coop” the dirtamancer cast and two new Clay Pigeons formed up beside him. These two were much greyer than the first set. He stuck with calling them B and C.

 

“That will raise our stack bonus and I can use them for scouting when we are done down there.” Edelbert explained in case Turnip was curious. “Also I was hoping that you would use your Chant on me. My juice is almost full so I should be able to avoid any problems that may come up. I think that I can learn from experiencing different specials. You know, get new perspectives and insights into the world?”

 

Turnip looked him straight in the eye. “Weirdish?” The daemon asked clearly and seriously.

 

“Yes, I am sure.” Edelbert replied immediately. “Doing it now will let us deal with any downsides of whatever special I get, outside of combat. If there is a problem, we just stay up here today and pay upkeep out of my wallet. See? Minimal risk and I think it could really teach me a great deal.

 

Edelbert thought about who and what he was talking too. “Plus, it could be fun.”

 

Weirdish” Turnip said with a wide grin.

 

Edelbert braced himself but wasn’t sure anything was different at first. Nothing immediate happened, like the reverse drowning that had occurred the first time. He now had the Bioluminescence special.

 

On the back of each of his hands was a bright green dot and the lawn around him now shimmered slightly. Apparently he now emitted a soft steady glow like a powerball. The effect was not draining his juice but he also could not seem to turn it off.

 

“Well this could be useful in the cavern. I am not sure what I can learn from this though.” Edelbert shrugged as he turned toward the stairs down the mountain.

 

As Sir Spore and his group marched down the mountain side he found his thoughts wandering back to powerballs. What was making his skin glow without juice? Whatever it was it was not dirtamancy.

 

As they passed the entrance to the great balcony Edelbert sent his two new pigeons down to see if anything had popped. Nothing new was down there however, just the half circle of statues.

 

Just to try it, the caster conjured a fist sized blue powerball. Unexpectedly, the spell cost nothing, not even a drop of juice.

 

“Hmm, that must be an effect of the Bioluminescence.” Edelbert said more to himself than to Turnip. “I wonder what else I can manage?”

 

His first thought was color, so he conjured a large crimson orb. The red mixed with his own greenish glow and the blue of the original orb, which gave the area an unErfly appearance. Again the spell cost nothing. With no need for the second power ball he decided to extinguish it.

 

Next he changed his own glow to a soft silver, without cost. This new method was much more nuanced, like having acquired and Adept or Master class spell as a Novice.

 

His perspective of the powerballs was different now. Looking at them revealed their simplicity. The new component was a tiny flicker of Life at the heart of the sphere. This sustained the juice, which meant the improved duration and brightness of the powerballs.

 

After a few moments of consideration, he increased the brightness of the blue power ball, then he diminished it as low as he could. Once diminished it looked like a glass sphere with bright veins of blue branching all along its surface.

 

As the group continued downward Edelbert stopped suddenly and silently ordered the rest of the stack to do the same.

 

“My trap sense just went off, everyone just a moment please.” The dirtamancer reached out and felt the mountain and stairs around the stack. The ten steps immediately in front of the group were a natural trap that would have collapsed as they passed over.

 

Penrose” Spore cast the same stairwell repair spell he had considered the first day. A polished wood handrail formed along the outside edge of the entire stairwell. Edelbert could also feel a wooden structure form beneath the stairwell, supporting the stone ridge. He purposefully sealed all the new wood against rain, like the doors into his tower.

 

 “It seems the weather has a severely detrimental effect on the construction here. I will have to consider that in the future. I was not expecting such rapid decline.” Edelbert took note. “Let us continue. We are cave bound.”

 

As they approached the valley floor Edelbert ordered his pigeons out to check for any hidden enemies. His birds swooped into the brush followed by a thunderous “Screeeuuu” sound which erupted across the glade.

 

A massive leathery beast took flight from the trees, causing powerful gusts to batter Edelbert and his stack. It took nearly all of Spore’s strength just to maintain his footing, the rest he used to maintain his bowels.

 

Fear washed over Edelbert like an avalanche. He could feel it as pressure on his skin holding him in place. A terror so penetrating that his screams could not squeeze through his grinding jaw. His eyes would not even close to give him the small mercy of darkness as the beast decided the dirtamancer’s fate.

 

The monster’s lightly scaled skin had an almost shimmering blue color, like a rippling pond. Two arms and legs gave it a vaguely man like body except for the great talons tipping each digit. Enormous wings sprouted from the things heavily muscled back. Its head was triangular both front and back except that the front was a fierce looking beak. A large red orb stared out from either side of the head.

 

Spore could see the thing was called a Terrordactyl. If there were a special that was heavier than a Heavy, then this creature had it. From top to tip the Terror must have been twenty times as tall as Edelbert, maybe more.  Its wingspan seemed to cover the entire glade.

 

The beast swung its huge head, looked straight at Edelbert, then bellowed a roar. The sheer shock of the roar was enough to toss him backward, where he collapsed to the ground. The Terror then turned and flew off toward the hex’s southern boundary with ferocious speed.

 

Dumbfounded, Edelbert sat up and stared at the departing Terrordactyl. Two things happened as it crossed out of the hex. In an instant the crushing terror that held Spore dissipated, simply gone. He still had some healthy regular fear but he was able to breathe and stand.

 

At that same moment the massive beast became considerably smaller. The distance made it difficult to judge but the Terror was probably no bigger than a Dwagon or Megalogwiff, or at least how Spore imagined them.

 

Minutes passed as he watched the Terror soar off over the jungle. It passed whole hexes in mere seconds. Eventually the beast disappeared against the background, the shimmering blue faded into the sky.

 

Edelbert turned to look at Turnip who was planted on its rear and appeared to be just as shaken as he was. 

 

“Shish” the daemon sighed out with obvious relief.

 

            “Normally I would not approve of such language my friend but in this instance I would have to agree” Spore said and then began lightly chuckling.

 

            Unfortunately, it seemed his new bird B had been battered against the ground when the Terror took off. It was now little better than scattered shards.

 

His golems had all taken defensive formation around Spore and Turnip. He must have ordered it when the fear took over. None of them showed any sign of having been effected.

 

“I would still like to explore the cave.” Edelbert said as he offered Turnip a hand up to its feet “Are you alright with coming still?”

 

Turnip answered immediately and with enthusiasm. “Wei.”

 

“Well then, Skeet Coop” Edelbert called out and the red pigeons B and D formed at his feet. The group continued down to the glade.

 

As they moved into the trees it was immediately clear that the blessing he cast three turns before had an impact. Multiple of the trees had fruit. Now there was a crabby apple tree, at least two julius orange trees, and even a banana-phone tree. There were multiple crunchberry bushes and a schnozberry bush. Edelbert felt an unexpected sense of pride at his Flower Power.

 

The downside of this discovery, it was clear the Terrordactyl had been here foraging. Many of the trees and bushes had been ravaged. Luckily some few of them were still bountiful.

 

It was early so Edelbert set to making a basket for each pigeon. While he fabricated, the golems all foraged. Turnip didn’t eat fruit or veggies so it spent the time rooted, lowering its upkeep for the day.

 

In total they managed to gather three full baskets of various edibles, even after Spore had eaten a half turns’ upkeep. Edelbert had the pigeons shuttle the baskets back up to the tower for later. It was not even midday yet.  

 

            With excitement the dirtamancer restacked his golems, as well as Turnip. The group went over to the cavern opening and descended into the mountain. As the cave roof sloped into a passage Edelbert actually became more comfortable. The air down there was somehow different, but he liked it.

 

            The passage wound its way downward. Edelbert had to admit that the glow of his Bioluminescence was nice in the darkness. He wouldn’t be sneaking up on anything though.

 

            Eventually the passage way opened into a moderately sized cavern.  With the bright light now in the cavern, gems twinkled from within the stone. Not many gems but that they were visible within a natural opening meant there would be plenty more to find with digging.

 

            As Edelbert’s attention focused on the walls the pigeons all began loudly chittering, this was not something they had done before. His scouts had sighted an enemy.

 

            On the other end of the space was a large pile of refuse. Something had been croaked and brutally harvested. A writhing mass slopped around in the meaty remains, presumably looking for scraps. It was paying them no mind. Either it was dumb or powerful, but better to be careful either way.

 

Edelbert recognized it as a Hook Wurm. That almost certainly meant a wurm infestation in the caves. There was no way he was lucky enough that this was the first one to pop.

 

Wurms were a common encounter in caves, unfortunately for dirtamancers. They were ugly beasts that had the Larvae special. If they croaked a living unit, its corpse was implanted with larvae. At the start of the next turn a wurm would pop, sometimes multiple. The type of wurm was not determined by the original wurm either. A scout class wurm could pop a heavy or caster class wurm, assuming the scout could get a croak.

 

            The golems stepped into screening positions for Edelbert and Turnip. All of the pigeons entered into a holding pattern above their heads, to wait and evade until given any other order. As his stack approached, the mass stopped writhing and turned to face them.

 

            The wurm gurgled an oddly high pitched whine from its dripping maw. With a smooth grace the beasts thousand tiny barbed legs focused and came to attention. The grey wurm reeled back and cast the triple pronged hook from its tail at the Terracotta Stabber.

 

Stabber was snared and immediately yanked across the room to the wurm. With sword held high the golem turned the pull into a charge maneuver. Slashing true, the sword left a clean gash along the beast’s tubular torso.

 

Edelbert silently ordered his pigeons down to assist so that the stabber could take an open shot and finish its foe. As the birds swooped over to help however, a pink blob whizzed out of the darkness and splashed against pigeon C. The blob struck hard enough to crumble the poor fragile scout. A mass of goo and clay shards splurched to the ground.

 

Out of a rift in the wall a Bubbletape Wurm slithered into sight. The sticky pink creature left a trail as it passed across the floor. Edelbert knew the trail would bind units if they passed over it, like Pink Dwagon breathe.

 

Next, from the darkness emerged two Hoop Wurms charging at the Terracotta Defender, both already engaged in full speed roll attacks. The greatshield came up and easily deflected the first wurm but that left an opening for the second.

 

The sharp spines along the wurm’s background into the clay leaving tread marks while removing two hits. Turnip stepped forward and snapped a critical bite out of the hoop as it bounced away after the roll attack.

 

Losing its balance from being bitten, the creature then fell prone for just a moment. The defender capitalized with a coup de grace from its shield, splitting the wurm.

 

Edelbert intended for his golems to survive this battle. “Pozzolana” The holes down the defender’s side filled in, all completely sealed.

 

A pointed hook jammed deep into the shoulder of the stabber. Pecking and a full strength downward thrust were returned as an immediate reaction. The Hook Worm dropped, Xs replacing its tiny little eyes.

 

            In a single move action, the bubbletape shot across the cave toward the stabber and pigeons. At the end of its slide the thing coiled and sprayed thick bright pink fluid, covering the golem and A.

 

            The remaining Hoop Wurm swung wide round the cave before redirecting for a charge run. Edelbert and his stack mates turned to face the approach, but a sharp jingling sound suddenly filled the space.

 

            A Ring Wurm rushed into the battle. The large brass bell on its tail was already rattling violently, the beast was clearly enraged. The reddish segmented beast stood up on its featureless head, pointing its ringing tail at Edelbert and Turnip. With a focused quiver the bell began to emit a powerful piercing wave of sound.

 

            The dirtamancer’s head split like a melon, or at least he felt like it did. The noise caused a pain similar to… maybe a thin spike driven from ear to ear. Turnip was also affected apparently, it had dropped to one knee and was gibbering.

 

            Edelbert wanted to do something. He wanted to move, or cast something, even just to give a coherent order to his golems would have been a joy in those turns of agony. All he could do was writhe about, clutching his ears, incapacitated.

 

Then the noise stopped, Turnip had regained its feet and held an intense look of rage on its usually smiling face. It was faced toward the Ring Wurm and growling a low steady rumble. For the first time, Edelbert truly saw the daemon in Turnip.

 

While they were incapacitated a few turns had apparently passed. The bubbletape wurm was croaked, covered in oozing slashes and stab wounds. Pigeon B, the third of its name, had also been shattered somehow. Both of the Terracotta were damaged but still above half hits.

 

Edelbert did not have time to worry but he knew they were in trouble. A heavy feral would usually be an appropriate encounter for a low level warlord and a stack of knights. Most of the knights would survive, with luck all of them, as long as the warlord commanded well.

 

Edelbert was not a warlord and his was not a stack of knights. The two golems were basically knight by stats, but each with half hits already. The pigeons were a nuisance, at best, against such a creature. They would mostly just add stack bonus.

 

That was as far as Spore got in his tactical assessment because Turnip snarled and charged the Ring Wurm straight on.  As it charged forward the daemon gave an order to the entire stack. IMMEDIATELY ENGAGE HEAVY! The entire stack responded.

 

All four of the golems charged along with Turnip. The Wurm responded by raising its tail again and rattling it violently, this time to no combat effect. Edelbert, much to his own surprise took one big step forward and cast. “Hoboken” left his fingers and struck right into the bell of the tail, cracking it.

 

Five charges against the Ring Wurm, five hits. The pigeons did not manage to actually do any damage but they did hit. Unfortunately, so did the sneak attack from the forgotten Hoop Wurm against the dirtamancer’s back.

 

Pain raged through Edelbert’s whole body and he crumpled forward. Three hits gone in a single blow. He could feel his cloak was now shredded, no longer providing its bonus.

 

If he did not stand he knew he would croak.

 

He stood.

 

Although he would probably still croak, he laughed to himself. Spore wanted to heal himself but had no Healomancy, instead he healed his golems. “Liquid Cement”. A foul smelling brown goop filled the cracks and chips in the golems. Their hits returned to full.

 

“Pigeons to me” Edelbert called “Track the Hoop Wurm.”

 

Off to his left a booming crash indicated a string of attacks from the Ring Wurm. Spore was distracted looking for the rolling wurm, although he felt the Defender lose a couple hits.

 

The Hoop swung tightly around and came straight for the caster again. This time however, Edelbert had his two pigeons charge its flank, each grazing a hit and unbalancing the wurm in its charge. Utilizing the brief opening, he swung the Great Gardening Staff and connected for two hits of damage on the beast. The Hoop Wurm uncoiled as it fell to the ground so Edelbert stepped up and coup de graced with the base of his staff.

 

Another boom and Turnip’s hits fell. Edelbert turned back to the heavy and sent the pigeons in as distraction. The situation had gotten bad quickly.

 

The Ring Wurm jabbed its head into the chest of the Stabber and then swung wide off the attack to strike at Turnip like a club. Although Stabber took the full hit, Defender stepped forward and blocked for Turnip just at the last moment. The golem still took a single hit, despite a successful block.

 

All his friendly units had taken significant hits, excepting the pigeons. The wurm was still fighting intensely despite the hits it had suffered. This was going to end soon for someone.

 

Channeling most of his juice Edelbert intoned “Geocache”. Loose stones around the cavern levitated then swiftly floated to a point an arm’s reach in front of the dirtamancer. As the stones collided they compressed together, forming into a single dense mass. Striking out at the mass he yelled “Geosmash”.

 

As soon as his hand made contact with the dense stone it burst into dozens of shards which blasted forward into the flesh of the wurm. The hit caused the beast to writhe, dropping its defenses momentarily.

 

Turnip and Defender capitalized, each with a strong hit against the heavy. Stabber, unluckily, only grazed its blade against the wurm’s hide, dealing no damage.  

 

Again the Ring Wurm swiped its head toward Turnip. Rather than block, this time Defender tackled the daemon out of the way. The attack connected with the golem instead and it snapped in two, head shattering as it struck the cavern floor.

 

Edelbert had little juice left and fear rising inside of his throat. With no good idea of what to do the caster desperately charged forward brandishing his staff. Clumsily he struck the wurm, actually doing damage!

 

Another turn of blows exchanged by the others left Stabber broken to bits. Turnip showed no signs of slowing. Retreat was foolish because the wurm would just croak the others and pursue so it could pop more wurms.

 

Edelbert swung overhead with both hands and brought his artifact staff down across the body of the Ring Wurm. Two hits of damage dropped off the wurm, which unfortunately still stood.

 

The beast reared its head and came down on Turnip for a full power smash attack. Fortunately, the daemon anticipated the attack and danced to the side. The Ring Wurm crashed down hard, probably losing a hit or two to recoil.

 

Turnip immediately countered with a massive bite from the side of the wurms head. Edelbert was unsure but that hit might have been a critical. The wurm twitched along its length like it might try to get up but the daemon snapped another bite without waiting.

 

Edelbert made to whack it with his staff but then a rush of xp overtook him. Each kill during the fight had given xp but he was focused elsewhere, so he really did not notice the sensation. He also had not actually leveled until the Ring Wurm died.

 

            Leveling was fun. His juice pool raised considerably. Although his juice did not replenish, he did gain access to the new juice and was now at almost half again. A feeling of new spells filled a place in his mind. It was not so much a specific knowledge of any technique or magic word. This was more a sense of potential, an awareness of growth but also of growth to come.

 

            Surprisingly, his Combat score raised to a two. Casters did not usually gain much in stat growth beyond their juice. Move was the most likely. Combat was an especially rare score. Dirtamancers were however one of the more martial casters, despite being primarily cold casters. Golems, traps, battlefield fortifications, and the general danger of subterranean locations tended to generate a fair degree of battle expertise.

 

            Turnip had also leveled to two. It acquired an extra Hit and a point of Combat. The daemon would now have two uses of its natural magic as well. Its face held a grim smile and it seemed to be catching its breathe.

 

Both pigeons leveled, A up to three and D was now two. Each bird only gained move, but in considerable amounts. A had a whopping thirty-four move score and Edelbert could feel it had gained a nice boost to its spot check.

 

Every one of them had gained a small Upkeep increase, but the power boost was well worth the cost. Levelling his golems would be important.

 

One other advantage of leveling was a numbing that occurred on all wounds. Nothing healed, it even still hurt, but the pain lost its sharpness or urgency.

 

“Before we do anything else.” Edelbert spoke “We should check those remains for any larvae. I do not want any more wurms, if we can avoid it.”

 

The body appeared to be a Rock Jock. They were meaty subterranean units that often had dance fighting specials. Edelbert poked around but did not see anything that seemed out of place. He cast to form a wood pile and ignite the remains, just to be certain.

 

Pigeon D got the honor of flying farther down the tunnel to see if there were any other unfriendly encounters. The passage and next cavern down were both clear, thankfully.

 

“Turnip, you were amazing.” The dirtamancer turned to his friend. “Your ferocity and initiative saved the day! You surprised me with your order but it was exactly what we needed.”

 

The daemon responded with a curt satisfied nod “Weirdish”.

 

“We are too hurt to explore any more but I figured I would pluck a couple of these gems out of the walls. Can you hold gems Turnip? I know you do not have a normal purse.” Edelbert asked as he removed an easy blue gem from the stone.

 

“Wei.” Turnip said and then opened its mouth to reveal a small egg-shaped orange gem.

 

“That looks almost exactly like the gem that you gave me a few turns ago.” Edelbert wondered. “Where are you getting those from?”

 

“Dish dish” the daemon chirped as it swallowed the gem once again.

 

“I wonder what kind of signamancy I would need to cast to understand what you are talking about.” Edelbert sighed.

 

As he moved around the room the dirtamancer plucked a couple of surface gems from the wall. Each cost a tiny bit of juice to remove from the wall but all told he claimed 4500 quickly in gems, without clearing the room.

 

“Do you want this?” Edelbert held out a violet gem to Turnip, worth about 1500 schmuckers. Who in turn grabbed the gem and swallowed it without a word.

 

“I was thinking that you should use your Chant on me again. The bioluminescence is interesting but I want to see what else I might get.” Spore said as he began to walk for the exit.

 

Weirdish” the daemon chanted.

 

This time something was different. Edelbert had gained a sense of something, not dirtamancy, but something in the cavern. Two somethings reached out to him, distracting his attention. He now had the Embalm special.

 

The body of the Hoop Wurm that Edelbert had croaked personally and the body of the Bubbletape Wurm were both in a condition to be prime for preservation. Processing the bodies would stop them from de-popping at dawn and would provide a power boost to any Uncroaked made from the remains. All of the bodies could benefit from Embalming but only the two were near perfection.

 

Having a Croakamancy special was strange. He was experiencing a sensation like hunger, except what he needed was to work on the bodies. The dirtamancer had no need for preserved Croakamancy corpses but he did need to utilize the special.

 

Edelbert and Turnip spent a little time working on the bodies. Ring Wurm meat, as it turned out, made excellent plant upkeep. Spore even cut a steak off to try for his dinner. The Hook and Bubbletape Wurms would make excellent decorations, once he could construct a golem to carry them back up to the tower.

 

After that work was done, slowly but surely, the group returned to the mountain peak. Walking the stairs did not especially hurt, Edelbert was surprised. Everything hurt equally, even stopping or sitting. Injuries were no fun; he saw now why Healomancy was a desirable skill.

 

The tower remained exactly as it was before, excepting the three baskets of foodstuffs, which Edelbert had forgotten entirely at that point. Although it was late in the day the sun still had some ways to go before it dipped beneath the horizon.

 

“I assume you will be rooting for the rest of the turn?” Edelbert said to Turnip as they approached the tower.

 

Turnip spun itself into the soil with a quick “Wei.”

 

“Fine, I will see you on the morrow… unless it rains.” Spore replied as he walked into his tower. The pigeons were sent to take the baskets to the apartment while he slowly climbed the stairs.

 

Edelbert wanted to sleep away the time until cleansing, but he suspected the pain would make that difficult. Instead he decided to keep distracted. At the workshop, he stopped to croak some time repairing his torn cloak.

 

Repairs of the tear in the Woolrus Cloak were time consuming, but required no juice. Dollamancers could apply juice to equipment to increase the stats of the item. Edelbert had nothing better to use his juice on for the turn, so figured he would give it a try.

 

The problem became apparent almost immediately. As hard as he focused he could not see where he could apply juice. Changing the material into wood or metal appeared fairly easy but that would change the armor type. As a caster he could only wear the lightest and least restrictive protective equipment before suffering huge penalties to just about everything.

 

Unable to prescribe a Dollamancy effect, Edelbert decided to try a new direction. Switching to his Dirtsense he deeply focused on the material composition. The cloak was mostly light leather with the Woolrus wool rooted in it, but something else was there.

 

Strange to him was the film of oil on the wool itself. According to his senses as an Embalmer, the oil seemed to provide a bonus on preserving bodies. It was also the source of the weather resistant properties in the cloak. As a test Edelbert spent a touch of juice to remove all of the oil from the cloak, then he placed it in a jar.

 

As the last remnants of oil were sealed in the jar, a quick pop of juice was drawn involuntarily from Edelbert’s pool. The cloak had lost its weather resistance and the jar of oil was now a consumable item, Woolus Oil. The jar counted as a small thrown weapon and the oil gave a moderate bonus to flame attacks.

 

Materializing another jar of oil out of nothing was easy enough, it was also more expensive.

 

Then he reapplied one of the oils to the cloak. This returned the weather resistance but now only as a temporary effect. Using up much of the juice he had left, Spore strengthened the effect while he made it permanent. The cloak now had Heavy Weather Resistance as a feature.

 

The last spell of the lot had cast as Dollamancy, Edelbert was unaware until successfully finished. It also had contributed to the high cost of the combined spells.

 

“Congratulations Sir Spore!” Edelbert cheered himself, but immediately regretted it. Pain seared across his wounded back.

 

Casting a discipline in which you were untrained came with penalties to everything, including cost. A trained Dollamancer of any actual rank would have probably gotten a weather immunity enchantment from the same casting, and for much less juice.

 

With the Woolrus Cloak repaired and with hope that the turn was nearly over, Edelbert ascended slowly to his apartment. Unfortunately, the sun still had an hour or two until it would go down. Dinner seemed the next step and so he paid his upkeep.

 

Attempting to sit was a complete failure. The pain was more than he could bare, so he cooked and ate standing up. Ring Wurm steak was juicy and delicious. Spore wished he had harvested more portions.

 

Afterward Edelbert found himself bored but antsy. He began to pace around the apartment.

 

While circling, the caster found his mind wandering. He knew that he had survived because of Turnip’s tenacity. What fortune to have an ally of such excellence.

 

 Review of the day’s encounters gave him some small ideas on how to improve his golems. This turn had also shown him how very dangerous a place these ruins really were. More importantly it showed him how unprepared he was to survive them.

 

No more wandering around with less than a max stack. Fluffing his stack bonus with pigeons needed to be left as a desperation tactic too. He decided that non-defensive improvements on the tower needed to wait, the library and apartment especially.

 

Refining his workshop would still be a practical choice, since the bonus there would boost most of his endeavors. Aside from new golems, Edelbert knew his juice would have to mostly go into his gear and into reshaping the terrain of the hex.

 

Pacing eventually caused his legs to ache. Because sitting was not an option, he decided to lean against the Great Gardening Staff for a break. While he leaned, slowly his thoughts began to drift in a different direction.

 

Methods of rearranging the plants in the grove to increase their productivity. An inkling of how he might cast the garden buff more effectively. Thoughts of exactly how a plant uses the minerals it absorbs. As he pondered, new ideas crept forward into his mind. Edelbert was daydreaming of Flower Power.

 

Considering the cause for a moment left him certain the staff was instigating the mental shift. The +1 artifact bonus was certainly the assumed bonus and a nice boost. With his mind free floating maybe the huge +3 Flower Power bonus took over, which guided his thoughts out to the garden.

 

If Edelbert were right, that would mean he could effectively learn new Flower Power skills just by practicing with the staff. Over time it would draw the knowledge out of him, eventually possibly even making novice Florist.

 

Specifically focusing through the staff, the dirtamancer considered Flower Power as a discipline. With the turn nearly over, he reflected on his Embalm special while thinking about how it might mesh with Flower Power.

 

Usually, Croakamancy and Flower Power were about as unrelated as disciplines could get. Something strange occurred to Edelbert though. The fruits and veggies harvested from the grove were croaked. They could be Embalmed.

 

            He grabbed onto a couple of crabby apples and popped off the inedible claws. With a deep breath Edelbert focused on Embalming. Immediately the fruit turned into a thick gel that dripped through his fingers onto the floor. The goo was sticky and sweet, it also counted as provisions.

 

            “I guess I will need somewhere to store all of this gel.” he realized. Conjuring a few jars, Spore set to Embalming all of his food stores. The process took just a few minutes; produce was much easier to preserve than a corpse.

 

            Turns end was rapidly approaching. Edelbert hobbled over toward his desk pondering Bioluminescence in a Flower Power context. The connection was not as apparent as it was with Embalm.  What use did trees have for powerballs anyway?

 

            Trusting in the strength of the staff, the dirtamancer opened up his juice and let his instincts cast for him. His hand raised up and in his palm formed a small bulb. The bulb soaked in the available juice and sprouted.

 

            With his other hand Edelbert quickly conjured a clay pot filled with highly fertile soil. Although his juice was getting quite low, he dropped the sprout into the soil and fed it what was left to absorb.

 

            Thick roots swarmed across the surface of the soil. A cluster of lime green leaves popped out suddenly, followed by a half dozen long thin stems. Buds formed at the tip of each stalk, which then burst open.

 

            The revealed flowers had a shocking red color that he had only seen in sunsets, each had a sparkling glow similar to Gems. They radiated a soft white beam of light, like a lamp.

 

            “Well that sure is lovely.” Edelbert said just as Turn ended. Both of his new specials evaporated away.

 

            An idea occurred to him. With Dirtsense he focused on his journal, which sat upon the desk. Every line, every fold, every particle; he tried to memorize them to the smallest detail.

 

One Potato Two Potato”. The journal wavered and then there were two little green books on the desk, side by side. Edelbert had cast his first Dittomancy, albeit minor. His juice pool was now dry too.

 

Then he leaned over the desk and opened the new tome. The duplicate’s pages were without writing; he had expected an exact copy but it did not matter.

 

Inside the new book Spore set about writing as much as he could recall about Bioluminescence and Embalm, especially fruit preservation and cost free powerballs. Some details certainly escaped him, but this information would probably be useful at some point. Tomorrow he would plan time to write while he still had new specials.

 

“Just keep learning Spore.” He whispered to himself as he began to write in his journal. “Just keep calm, keep working, and keep alive.”

 

****

 

Selected Entries from The Journal of Edelbert Spore

 

          Turn 9-       Good evening Journal.

 

          My stack of golems is finally complete. I regret the extra time construction took but I felt compelled to attempt a Terracotta Archer. I am certain it is possible even though the solution eludes me. Archers would have been nice but will not be a fatal lacking.

 

          Work on the valley orchard progresses well. Most of the nonedible plants and all of the weeds have been removed. I did leave some trees to provide shade and flowers because they are pleasant. The guidance of the staff means that I rarely miscast Flower Power spells. I cannot say for sure if the magic has become any easier but I am certain my understanding has improved.

 

          I also started installation of a portcullis at the entrance to the mine. I estimate it will be finished in two turns, dependent on few distractions. Having the caverns sealed will keep any potentially unfriendly explorers out of my mine. The plan comes with the added benefit of trapping ferals inside, to be dealt with as I choose. Minimizing free roaming units in the hex can only benefit my safety on any given turn.

 

          The pigeons I sent out have reached a distance which I can no longer see through their eyes. I am unsure why twenty hexes are the limit, or what I will have to train to extend that range. Thankfully, I do still receive general terrain information and scout reports. No losses today, still six out there. When another breaks I will cast again for more.

 

 

          Turn 16-      Hello Journal, it is time for our evening discussion.

 

          Had an encounter with a stack of Muffinmen today. One of the golems was croaked, but all of the rest got level two. A worthwhile trade for the most part. I already spent enough juice that I will have to make a replacement tomorrow.

 

The only thing of value the group had on them was a Nonstick Pan. Deceptively physically simple, the minor magic item is only a fair sized metal saucer with a hollow pipe handle. My best guess is that the pan utilizes Changemancy. I say “PAM” and wave the pan over a surface then the surface becomes slick like ice. Interesting trick but I do not see an immediate use for it. I stored it in the library for safe keeping. I will have to study it when the mood suits me.

 

 

 

Turn 20-      Hi Journal,

          Turnip gave me Haberdasher with his Chant today. Being my first encounter with Hat Magic I had an enlightening day. I made a few mundane hats for my work around the hex. Each will provide a small circumstance bonus to the tasks they are suited, my new miners cap for instance.

 

 

 

Turn 28-      Good Evening Journal,

 

          I got Fly today. Being detached from the ground was  a bit disconcerting. Seeing the ruins from the sky did give me new insights into defense planning though.

 

My flight special let me leave the hex for the first time. Just into the next hex to the south, but it was a learning experience. The terrain effects are stronger in a non-ruin hex. Moving would have been very difficult without flight and was still a pain.

 

Nothing much happened though. I considered installing a path in the southern hex so I could return on foot easily. I realized others could use that path to get in as well, so decided against.

 

 

Turn 35-      Wonderful News Journal!

 

          Today I received the Musician special. With it I was able to make a number of different Rhyme-o-mancy instruments. All other projects were postponed for the turn. Instead I spent as much time as I could just jamming along with the mountain and taking as many notes as I could. Hopefully I will be able to learn the instruments, without the special.

 

The music was uplifting. I enjoy Turnips company but I would not mind a conversation. Playing somehow relieved that need, kind of like talking to myself or you, but more soothing.

 

 

 

Turn 42-     Hey there,

 

          Today’s special was Hitchhiker. After thinking all turn, I am not really sure what it does. Very relaxed day though. I took a break from work to spend most of my time deep grounded. I figured maybe someone would come by, they never did.

 

 

          Turn 58-      Top of the turn to you Journal

 

                    Pigeon E6 found a side today. I am unaware of their name and have yet to make any actual contact. E6 has been exploring the swamp area to the South East so that I might procure new edibles, medicines, or poisons. After its move was spent, the bird nested in a tree to await end of turn. A while later a four stack of units passed into the hex, they stopped long enough to take drinks and eat quarter upkeep rations. I tuned in immediately.

 

 The four were seemingly identical. Their skin shone white in the sunlight, as bright as a cloud. All of them men, they kept their raven hair in a clean knot atop the head. Each had a loosely wrapped coat with tightly wound white cloth under garments. The group wore tall sandals and carried curved swords at their waists, held in sheathes. The black trimmed coat had a crest on the right breast, a trio of black circles with the letters SDE emblazoned atop the image of a black trimmed shield. The whole thing set against the white background of the coats. Every detail of them was black or white.

 

Odder than that was the silence. E6 only heard three small splashes from them the entire time the units spent in the hex. Not a word, or a snapped stick, or even a clink from their swords. A blind unit would have never known they had passed. I think I will recall E6 tomorrow.

 

 

          Turn 72-     Unexpected good news today Journal,

 

          I was in the Library most of the turn, spending my juice failing to cast Signamancy for new books. Turnip had taken most of the golems and gone down to the pond to do whatever Turnip does.

 

This afternoon a Chocolate Moose wandered into the hex and attacked the stack. The fight was quick but mean. The lone moose managed to damage all five golems and Turnip before being brought down. No casualties on our side.

 

The rewards of this random encounter were excellent. The most impressive, Turnip hit level four. I do not know how it managed so fast.  Only one of the golems did not level, so now I have four level three knights.

 

Oh, a big pile of moose chocolate too.

 

 

 

Turn 84-      We had a small disappointment today,

 

          Entering into the mines we had a run in with a stack of Twobats, a Dittomancy type Pokedaemon. The bad news, Turnip was unable to isolate and capture one. The bats fled from the caves when we encountered them. Our encounter has left Turnip in a rather sour mood.

 

 

Turn 99-     Strangely interesting day Journal,

 

          Raise was the special today. A Croakamancy special, Raise gives the ability to Uncroak a limited number of units per turn. I only realized what it could do when I saw the Wurm statues in the library. The Embalming I had performed all those turns ago still held the bodies fresh.

 

The whole process was invigorating. Pooring energy into a Lifeless mass and causing it to regain a semblance of the Life it had before.

 

Uncroaking had similarities to golem production but emphasized animating existing bodies rather than forming a moving body from inanimate matter. If my golems bodies are formed by me then I need to be sure my idea of a body is strong.

 

Watching the two units take actions is entertaining. Everything works but they were awkward somehow, ungraceful. I am unsure what I am going to do with a couple of Uncroaked.

 

Croakamancy is not so bad, especially if used academically. Each and every magic type or special that I have encountered has tied back to Dirtamancy somehow. What does that mean?

 

 

Turn 100-    I am a buffoon; you already knew that though Journal.

 

          I went down to the yard to do some training exercises with the golems and uncroaked. The golems readily set to the routine I have had them working. While I put the uncroaked through some exercises, I happened to glance at the golems. I realized they were not gaining xp. We had been out for an hour and they had not gained a point of xp between them.

 

After some thought it dawned on me that I had never actually checked the xp gain of the golems, I just assumed they were making progress. I also realized, that many turns of training would have at least levelled the fresher units. I feel quite silly, should have paid more attention.

 

It took a bit of experimenting but I figured out that the golems only gain training xp when stacked with me. I have been sending the golems out to train for the last few dozen turns on their own while I work on projects in the tower.

 

I will just have to start a daily workout with the golems. Some regular exercise could only be good for me, maybe I will finally hit level three.

 

 

 

Turn 111-   Long day today Journal,

 

          Turnip gave me the Gassy special this morning. With it I could release a close range poison attack. Glad to be rid of it though, my stomach felt uncomfortably puffed up all day. Honestly, I did not smell too Noble either.

 

 

Turn 118-   Very bored Journal,

 

          I decided to make that pot for Turnip which I have always joked about. The pot itself is a simple porous clay. Then I filled it with the highest quality soil I could materialize. Just to go that extra mile, I used the Staff to cast the most powerful focused Flower Power blessing within my skill. The finished pot is beautiful, nearly glowing with fertility.

 

Turnip would not get in.

 

After a long pointless argument, I realized what its objection was. Resting in the pot drew attention to the daemons natural veil. Units would be more likely to see it while resting, and possibly gain a sneak attack.

 

It was right but I did not have to like it. After thinking for a while I conjured another pot and placed them on either side of my door. In the new pot I planted an Iron Wood sapling that one of the pigeons discovered a couple turns ago. I blessed that pot just as I had Turnip’s.

 

I also had to promise to decorate the lawn so there would be more than just two ornamental plants around. The whole ordeal gave me an idea for a garrisoned scout golem, like a stone head. I will probably give it a try, could be nice for security.

 

Turnip looks good in its pot.

 

 ****

       The start of Sir Edelbert Spore’s 141st turn was much like any other nowadays. He awoke before start of turn to witness the cleansing riddle. A quick breakfast of homegrown provisions followed and then down to see Turnip.

 

       On the walk downstairs he checked in with his scout network. The Stoneheads sensed no new units in the ruins. Nothing interesting to report yet from the roaming pigeons either.

 

       As Edelbert stepped out on the lawn Turnip was already awaiting.

 

       “Weirdish.” Turnip chirped out cheerily along with a head bob, then immediately chanted “Weirdish

        Suddenly the dirtamancer found himself ready for anything! He was now in possession of the best special an elf could get! (or worst depending on which elf variety was asked) … Edelbert Spore was now Eager!

 

        “Thank You Turnip! Do you want to come train with the golems and I?!” Edelbert cheered. “It is going to be a great session today! I am sure of it!”

 

        “Shish” was all Turnip had to say in reply. Its enthusiasm seemed gone as it went over to its pot and nestled in.

 

        The dirtamancer turned without missing a beat, and went off to train with his golems, whistling the whole way!

 

        Usually during training Edelbert focused on defensive actions! He would equip a shield and mimic the action of his Defenders, or he might practice blocking blows with his staff! Today was different, today the caster played offense!

 

        Swords, axes, and spears all found their way into the dirtamancers hands that morning! Wielding the one handed hammer stood out among the others though! The weapon just felt right somehow! It made sense, hammers were important tools for fabrication of any kind!

 

        Training lasted much longer than was normal and only came to an end because Edelbert actually took a Hit! A jump attack with a great-sword proved too much for his skill, from which, one of the Defenders blocked him into a boulder!

 

        Luckily his back was hurt more than his pride! His back would magically heal, pride only seemed to heal slowly!

 

        He ate his lunch on the walk down to the mine! His back was one large bruise, but if that was not a reason to stop, neither was lunch, right?!

 

        Edelbert was having more fun working in the mines too! Breaking rocks, moving soil, and eventually pulling out gorgeous gems! What a life! His only wish was that his golems were not so slow while digging.

 

        Usually the dirtamancer would come down and just pluck a couple of gems off the walls, to mainatain upkeep! In a short couple hours of work, Spore’s stack managed to mine almost eleven thousand schmuckers value in Gems! This would bring the Hide-And-No-Peek stash to nearly two hundred and forty-five thousand!

 

        “What a great day!” Edelbert yelled at the sky as he emerged from the caverns into the orchard.

 

         In response he received a loud splash from the direction of his pond! A quick check with his scouts told him nothing new had arrived! Pidgeon Eye 3 had seen nothing in the sky and the Stoneheads were all humming contentedly to themselves on the ground!

 

        As his stack walked over to the pond, Edelbert sent pigeon A up and forward to see what was splashing!

 

         At the edge of the pond stood a lumpy blue unit! It was focused on fabricating something so did not notice Edelbert’s approach! To seem friendly, he ordered all of the golems to hold back in the woods a bit and let him approach alone!

 

         The aquatic unit had two bulging eyes atop its roundish head! Oddly, each eye had a black dot floating in the middle that seemed to follow where the creature was focused!

 

         The overly round body of the thing was contrasted by two long thin arms that reached all the way to the ground! Its legs were too small and seemed incapable of supporting such a bulky awkward creature! There was also a thin tail that supported a nearly see through frill, it looked helpful for maneuvering in the water!

 

         Not only did it match the physical description, but Edelbert thought this was a Pokedaemon for two other reasons! Displayed on the unit’s round white stomach was two crossed black sewing needles, the symbol for the unallied Dolliwog! Also the daemon seemed to be engrossed in building a basic Puppet golem!

 

         Using sticks, mud, and spit; the funny blue amphibian was constructing a body and limbs! Edelbert was enjoying the show and would have let the daemon finish but he shuffled, accidently breaking a twig!

 

         The lumpy daemon spun quickly and gracefully, letting out a startled “Dolli!”. It bounced backwards a step into the pond and took on a clearly defensive stance.

 

         Edelbert for his part threw his open hands into the air! “My apologies! I didn’t mean to startle you! I am not your enemy! Quite the opposite, I want to be Allies!” he blurted without taking a breath!

 

         Thankfully the daemon relaxed a bit. “Wog?” It said with skepticism in its tone.

 

        “Your language is different! Of course it is!” Edelbert quickly said “Here, I will prove it!”

 

         Spore reached into his pouch and fished out a small gem worth seven hundred schmuckers or so! Without hesitation, he flipped the turquoise gem to the surprised Dolliwog!

 

          “Wog Dolli?” it said while staring at the gem in its hand. Then it smiled and took a few steps toward Edelbert.

 

           “Yeah, you can keep it! Come on up to my tower!” the dirtamancer said “If you are going to stay I can make you a pond to sleep in up there! I am sure Turnip will be excited to have another daemon around!”

 

           The daemon stopped. “Wog?” it said with hesitation in its voice.

 

            “Oh Turnip?!” Edelbert turned and said “It is a Weirdish friend of mine! We live together on the top of the mountain! It is going to be great to have a new ally!”

 

           The Dolliwog sighed deeply, which turned into an intensifying gurgling sound! A torrent of high pressure water erupted from the frog daemons mouth and slammed the caster backwards into the bushes!

 

           Pigeon A watched as the unit rapidly bounced away toward the lower ridge and out of the hex! Edelbert tried to pursue with his golems, but none of them could match the speed of the Dolliwog! Well except A, but he was not going to waste a level 5 scout golem for nothing!

 

          With disappointment and a bruise on his chest, Edelbert collected his stack and continued back up to the peak of the ruin. Although he was still excited about the day, losing this last encounter did make him realize how tired he was.

 

         As they summited the stairs Edelbert immediately yelled. “Wake up Turnip! Something happened!”

 

         Turnip hopped up and out of its pot, seemingly ready for combat. It took one look at Edelbert and his elfish enthusiasm, then relaxed.

 

        “I was on my way back from the mine and I found another Pokedaemon!” Edelbert began “A Dolliwog, down by the pond! I negotiated with it, offered it a gem, and asked it to ally! It had the nerve to spray me and then run off!”

 

        “Weird?” Turnip said, looking very serious.

 

        “Yeah, I know!” Edelbert assumed he agreed “Where does it get off?!”

 

         With a full body pivot, Turnip open leaf slapped Edelbert across the face. Just hard enough to only deal nonlethal damage but still hard enough to send him sprawling backwards.

 

         The daemon then yelled “Weirdish!” as it yanked open the tower doors and stormed inside.

 

         Edelbert was not sure how to react! Why was he so offensive to daemons today?! The dirtamancer dismissed his golems to their guard posts and cautiously proceeded inside, searching for Turnip.

 

         The two ran into each other on the stairs just above the workshop. Before Edelbert could speak, Turnip flipped out the Daemondex and began nimbly leafing through the pages.

 

         Each time Spore would try to speak, Turnip would look at him and hold up a leaf to signal “Just a turn”. After a short period of waiting like this, it found the correct page and handed the book to Edelbert with an emphasized tap on the page.

 

 ****

 

Excerpts from The Daemondex by Findamancer Red Ketchup

***

            Allying with or capturing a new daemon is complicated. There are three main scenarios that can occur. First, an unallied daemon can encounter a side with no Pokedaemon tribe. Next, two unallied daemon can encounter each other in the wilderness. Last, a daemon can be battled and possibly captured by an already formed Pokedaemon tribe.

 

            When a wild daemon encounters a potential ally they are prone to turn for the same reasons that any unit may turn. Self-interest, friendship, bribes, magic compulsion, or what have you. Each Pokedaemon will have different likes and needs but all it takes is managing to convince them.

 

            If a daemon allies with a side that does not have a Pokedaemon tribe already, then the unit gets Chief status automagically. That tribe and side can now pay to replenish the tribe with daemons already captured. This is the only way in which a tribe can have only one variety of daemon.

 

            Daemon in the wild tend to live alone or in small groups of the same type. When together, they are compelled to establish a hierarchy based on displays of strength in ritualized one-on-one duals. When two daemons encounter each other, combat is engaged.

 

            The battles are intense and seem to be performed at full strength, however the loser is never croaked. The effect is some sort of natural Healomancy or Croakamancy attached to the process.

 

            The loser, and followers, are then compelled to turn to the authority of the winner. The winner gains Chief status and a tribe is formed. Sometimes this is only a tribe of two units, but two types of daemon are required. The new tribe is then able to pop basic daemons of either type, for cost.

 

            The winner of one of these battles can demand payment from the loser instead of fealty, if it so chooses. This is usually only reserved for encounters with weak varieties or by daemons that covet solitude.

 

            When a wild daemon encounters a preexisting tribe the rituals are more complicated. If the wilder encounters an actual daemon, the two can battle one-on-one with the effects being similar to the wild. The wild daemon would just join the tribe of the other without the winner becoming a Chief.

 

            When a daemon encounters allied units but not an actual daemon, then capture literally means capture. In these instances a daemon must be present to initiate a battle for entry or payment. A wild daemon will not ally with nondaemon units already in an alliance with a daemon. This usually means the daemon must be detained and taken to an allied tribesmon. Capture in this manner does not interfere with the ritual induction process as long as the turning is left to battle.

 

            An unallied daemon can call a challenge against a tribes Chief, who can elect a proxy if they so choose. Battle takes place and if the wilder wins then it can claim Chief of the tribe, regardless of whether the tribe is allied or not. Losing a battle like this often results in ridicule amongst the daemons or even banishment from a tribe.

 

            When two large tribes come in contact a more complicated ritual is demanded. Rotating one-vs-one combat between members on opposing teams of six takes place. The winning tribe can claim a material prize and the ability to pop one new type of daemon acquired from the loser. These battles are sometimes even between sided tribes.

 

            In any of the mentioned rituals involving an allied daemon there is an additional rule. A unit can stand at the edge of the battle, stacked with their ally. This position is called trainer and allows leadership or other stack buffs to be applied. They are not allowed to contribute in any other way. This represents the advantage Pokedaemons see alliance to be.

 

            The intricacies of this process are complex and difficult to decipher, owing largely to the daemons odd language. The best advice I can give is to allow daemons to handle daemon politics.

 

***

 

-# 98- Twobat (basic)- These light flyers pop with the ability to duplicate themselves in air. As each levels they gain diverse natural Dittomancy magic, from a large set. A group of Twobats can become overwhelming quickly. These units make excellent scouts because even when one is croaked, a duplicate can often complete a given mission.

 

-#99- Gorebat (intermediate)- Gorebat gain the Drain Life special upon Changing. As they level, each gains a variety of Healomancy specials. These daemon will actually heal victims so they can feed off of them longer before croaking. Gorebat are capable units in their own right, they become truly deadly when they realize they can Ditto their Drain Life special. Gorebat can be difficult to work with for the more squeamish units.

 

***

-#114- Dolliwog (basic)- Dolliwog the Spooky Frog. These daemons gain natural Dollamancy as they level. Making them competent at both making gear and Dolling. This means they bring more gear options than other types of daemon allies. The Dolliwog are also always Amphibious. The major factor contributing to Dolliwog being different from most types, all three of Dolliwog’s Changes have Spookism magic. This makes them very potent when fully Changed. Dolliwog also have a unique crest for the unallied of their kind, probably because of their Dollamancy. The crest is two black sowing needles crossed together.

 

Changes into -#115- Dolliwhirl (intermediate) and -#116- Dolliweird (advanced)

 

 ***

            Turn 145-   Good day Journal,

 

                    Turnip finally talked to me today. Having no one to talk to and no new specials to play with have made for a boring few days. I tried explaining that I did not mean to scare off the Dolliwog. I have reread the entire Daemondex twice, just to make sure I never mess up like that again.

 

 

          Turn 170-    Hello Journal,

 

                    Dirty day today. A Diaper Djinn popped in the airspace. After a tense standoff, we got to talking about Dirtamancy as it relates to Crap. Most of the djinns abilities revolved around Crap or filth of somekind. I had never explored that particular area of my craft. As odd as it was I enjoyed being covered in Crap today.

 

          I offered for it to stay a while. Apparently, djinn are not the stationary type. It was nice enough to leave me a big pile of Crap to play with though. I intend to mostly make golems from it. I sealed it up in a big tank behind the tower for when I need it.

         

 

          Turn 188-    Journal,

 

                    Turnip levelled again. Now it is five. I am not even three yet. I train every turn. I cast every turn. I battle almost all of the ferals which Turnip does. There is no good reason why I have not hit three yet. I am a Noble, we are supposed to level faster!

 

 

          Turn 211-    Good Evening Journal,

 

                    Sorry I am a bit late. I was reviewing my books, oh I mean financial books. No need to be jealous Journal.

 

          Turnip gave me the Penny Pincher special today. Although it was not full Moneymancy I certainly learned a lot.

 

          I wrote down and calculated my incomes and expenses. On a given turn, right now I am spending one thousand forty-nine schmuckers per turn. I manage it without dipping into my stash because of the mine and orchard but it is still an exorbitant amount. I disbanded most of my pigeons. I have a very strong map of the area. If I need more I can just summon them. That only dropped it to nine hundred forty.

 

          I could not justify losing combat golems. I thought about it all day and realized a solution. I can pay my golems upkeep with juice. It will cost half of my juice per turn but I can pay off all units but myself. I can eat rations more diligently too. This brings my total daily upkeep down to one hundred thirty nine.

 

          This means I will be able to save more money for the future. Although I will not be able to do as much work each day around the ruins.

 

 

          Turn 233-    Enlightening day Journal,

 

                    The special today was High Definition. It is an extremely rare and potent Signamancy special, which imparted a deeper understanding of the world and it’s symbols. I knew all of this effortlessly because of its effects.

 

          There was nothing I could not gaze upon and gain deeper understanding. Our world has layers of depth and meaning I never dreamt of.

 

          Using High Definition I was finally able to conjure books into the library. All of my old notebooks have been edited and expanded upon as well. There is now a wealth of available information to consume here. I am also confident new books will pop on their own occasionally.

 

          Today made me realize something. No, that is not correct. Today made me accept something.

 

          I kept telling myself that I was preparing to leave someday. My improvements were all just for security while I got my rocks in a row. That one day I was going to take the golems and the chest and get out of here. Well I am not, at least not lightly.

 

          Ruins are expected to have challenging encounters. The Crafty Crags Ruin is my home. I was popped here, by the Titans, with a purpose. This ruin contains great treasures; A mine flush with gems, a Noble Dirtamancer, a fierce natural ally, an orchard, magic items, books, golems, and all the gear I have made or found. Time will only improve our bounty.

 

          From this turn forward I accept my responsibility as the guardian of Crafty Crags. If a side wishes to come and claim this ruin and its treasures, it will have to gain my approval or go through me. I will test their minds and their character. If they insist I will test their mettle as well.

 

          I must go to bed, this new resolution will bring much work in the coming turns.

 

          Hmm. And this seems to be your last page… I would say coincidence, but today taught me better. I will pop a new blank tomorrow.

 

****

 

 Volume 3 - Growth and Consequences 

 

Index

 

Forum Thread

 

Comments

  • Nikolai II

    A very good post. Immensely long, so I can barely remember what I wanted to comment about.

     

    Oh, yes, about the morning restoration - I wonder if the non-dirtamancy aspect might be healomancy? 

     

    And about the workshop - parchment on wall and ink would seem impractical for design work. I'd expect a blackboard and some chalk. Excellent for sketches and changing your mind over and over.

    Then once the design is finished, or at least good enough for saving, you move over to your pulpit or drawing board and ink it down on paper, parchment, papyrus or pergament. (Especially with ink being so runny you want a slightly flatter surface when applying it.)

     

    That minor quip (and maybe a breath/breathe mixup) aside the entire post is filled with sheer brilliance and should be a lot more lauded than it seems to be. Well done.