Volume 15 - The Princess Ride - The Life and Adventures of Sir Edelbert Spore
The Life and Adventures of Sir Edelbert Spore
Previous: Volume 14
The Princess Ride
Author's Note - This is one of few chapters that will not be focused directly on Edelbert. He will be back for Volume 16. Sorry for the delays in updates, I have been have trouble writing lately.
It was early afternoon in the first turn of the Mushroomish Kingdom. Down the central stairwell of the Crafty Crags walked two women, conversing as they strolled the mountain.
The first was of the race of Men and wore a lovely pink day dress. Her flowing amber hair dropped down to below shoulder level and swayed as she walked. The green of her eyes was amplified by the bright white of her smile. The woman was conventionally beautiful by most any estimation. “Just call me Peaches, plain ol’ Peaches.” The princess said with a smile.
Her companion was fungal in nature and covered in pink hearts, head to foot. “I assure you.” Mother spoke “The toadie are excited by your presence and honored by your attention, my lady. My apologies, I mean Peaches”
The Florist smiled and bowed her head slightly. “Thank you Mother. I am excited to work with you all as well. Now, why not tell me about your tribe and what it is that they can do? I am intrigued by a Flower Power natural ally, especially one so diverse.”
The two were headed for the barracks which the main group of toadie currently occupied. Soon, over the coming turns the mushroom men would spread to fill the mostly empty city.
Mother was eager to discuss the ability of her people with a true Florist. Edelbert was nice but she knew he did not quite have the same intuition. “We are admittedly more varied than most tribes. Our time with Chief Spore allowed us an opportunity to diversify, which is usually not feasible. Most tribes have one or two specialty units, having four is very rare.”
Peaches giggled at the thought of rare natural allies. “It seems that we all owe our Dirtamancer a great deal. Why not walk me through the different types of units you have available? I want to learn all about you, we are going to be the best of friends.”
Chief Mother was pleasantly surprised at the sudden familiarity, although glad the princess was an open person “Alright, I feel it is best to start with the basics. Toadie in general have lower attack and move, but higher hits and defense. This applies to all colors of the tribe. Most toadie are genderless, I am an oddity. We are connected on a deeper level than most units. It is not a sharing of specific thoughts like Thinkamancy can, but we do gain knowledge from one another. I benefit from this effect more than the others. Reds are our common units. They are the bulk of any tribe and come in infantry, scout, and knight classes. These are all fairly straight forward.”
“What about heavies?” Peaches interrupted “Also what do the tribe like to eat? You said basics. Oh, what about fun? When your people relax, what do they do for entertainment?
What odd questions the Chief thought, this girl was going to get on famously with Edelbert. “We have no heavies. As for food, we eat a fungus that we grow called simply susshroom. You are welcome to try some, although Edelbert says it is nearly tasteless; However, we love it. Oh yes you asked after our entertainment, which is a group activity. The entire available tribe will dance and hum together. We are eager for this new growth, it will enable us to perform a much grander song. Again, you are welcome to participate if the mood suits you. Thank you for asking, princess.”
“I am a florist, not a warlord. Although I want to know your tactical capabilities, what I really want is to understand your people. From that we will see what we can do to be stronger, together. For instance, with some casting I can probably manifest heavy toadie. Also, I bet we can improve the susshroom. Maybe make it taste better or increase its ration value. These are just for starters” Peaches saw great potential with these little units, if only she could tap into her own potential too.
The two women made their way into the orchard near the base of the city. As they strolled along, the princess stopped occasionally to admire the auras of the life around her and pluck from the garden. Mother would stop and wait patiently, as she continued to explain the intricacies of her tribe.
“The Foolshroom do not use juice the way the Thinkshroom or Heartshroom do. Their ability is constant, but it requires a touch attack. They have no control over what the enemy sees or how strongly they may or may not be affected. There is also the downside that they are affected too. Never trust a Foolshroom with a sensitive task. They are fun loving units though, usually great senses of humor. Currently Lucy is our only Foolshroom, although the king says we will pop more, that all types of toadie will be vital to the defense of the kingdom.”
As they walked, the princess gathered seeds and nuts from many of the plants around the orchard. When Mother spoke, she would snack on her collection, thus storing the various species for her to call on in the future; Well, once she had Juice to spend. Thanks to the lush variety in the gardens, she heavily suspected her available specimen were already a match for many Adept.
Peaches continued to see promise in the toadie. “I will have to look but the Fools may be producing a spore that triggers the hallucinations. If that is true I may be able to boost their resistance to their own ability, clear their minds a little.”
Mother smiled for what felt the hundredth time in this conversation. “I am sure Lucy would appreciate the attempt, as would I. Shall I continue to the blues? We call them Dollshrooms. Each is popped with regular Fabrication, however as they level they gain tricks that are related to more advanced Dollamancy. For instance, a higher-level blue might be able to fabricate golem components or perform minor enchantments on gear. These abilities are always severely limited but the increased knowledge leads to all Dollshrooms in a tribe being better at their craft. They tend to be focused and stern in personality, preferring to keep to their work when not participating in the song.”
“I wonder” The princess asked “Might it be possible for Edelbert to expand on the blues abilities by casting his Dollamancy? I suspect I can do it for you Mother but we will have to experiment.”
The Chief chuckled “What an interesting thought. At the very least we should be able to cast in concert to produce more potent effects. The Thinkshroom do this with their casting abilities. The more of them in an area the cheaper and stronger the effects they can produce. Your father has me popping a couple per turn. Individually they can be very limited but eventually we will have an admirable network of grey toadie.”
Peaches had noticed something. “Mother, do they speak out loud? Can they? The greys I mean.”
“No, in fact I am one of very few in the tribe with full Language. We all understand well enough, especially with orders, but nearly none of us have the capacity to speak. Amongst ourselves, we communicate through our connection. Lucy can talk but usually has little of importance to say. The greys can speak in your head for a tiny bit of juice.”
Peaches sighed lightly. “Oh, I see. That would be lonely if not for your connection. I feel bad for Turnip. Anyway, what do the tiny green spots mean?”
“A rare few of the tribe pop with a poison touch ability. It is not common and is not under our control. Poison is just a bonus ability we occasionally get. Usually about one in ten gain this special. Which, I believe, leaves only the Heartshroom. We can simply produce an aura of peace. This aura can be focused or extended but all of it costs juice. In groups, we can be extremely effective at calming situations and units. Our abilities are not as flashy as some of the other toadie but I can attest to the usefulness of peace.”
The princess giggled. “I like to hear that Mother and I can work with that. We will do great things together”
As the afternoon wound on the two women chatted and mused. The turn eventually ended and Peaches received orders to be in her father’s meal chambers for breakfast. She decided an early night would be prudent.
Princess Peaches scoffed at her over-protective Chief Warlord. “Father may have ordered us south to claim some city site, but he never said we could not enjoy ourselves. Let us go down and have a quick dip in the hot springs. We will still make it to our destination.”
As she spoke she allowed her Arrow Frog to turn sharply down in a controlled plummet toward the ground. Flying was an interesting sensation which the Florist was very much enjoying. The rushing wind was exhilarating.
Kernel Claypool, Chief Warlord of the Mushroomish Kingdom, called after his princess. “I can order you to come back here.” She was too far gone to hear and if honest with himself, he wanted to experience the hot-springs too. As such, he began a controlled dive. His bonus to aerial combat allowed him to drop far faster than Peaches, which allowed him to land before the princess.
Near the ground there was a warm mist in the air, plus the light smell of sulfur mixed with chlorophyll. A series of small pools covered the hex, seemingly responsible for the light fog. Overgrown on nearly every surface was a thick blanket of fuzzy moss. A few flowers poked up from the greenery and butterflies flapped about in the air.
Nothing big was moving in the hex and everything was an ordinary sort of quiet. For safety sake, the two accompanying Clay Pigeons began a sweep of the hex and found nothing. Each of the toadie knights remained in the saddle with their eyes closed, apparently content.
Peaches hopped from her Arrow Frog, slipped off her shoe and slid her bare toes into the water. “See what I mean Kernel. A few hours here soaking is not going to hurt anything.” At that she began to fully disrobe.
Chief Claypool became suddenly very uncomfortable. “Umm… do you mind keeping on your undergarments ma’am. I suspect that it is improper for a non-royal warlord to be exposed to his princess in such a way.”
The now naked woman raised her arms, somehow seeming to expose even more flesh. “What is improper about a couple of commander units having some fun. A handsome warlord like you, maybe we could have a different kind of fun while we are here.” She then giggled as she dove into the nearest pool.
This did get a laugh out of the man, but not for the reasons the princess would have liked. Being a woman meant Peaches was simply not Kernel’s type; He too was interested in muscular male warlords. “Well if that is how you feel, then I might as well enjoy the pools too.” Stripping off his leather lamellar armor did take a bit of time, but he began the process.
Peaches was already swimming laps around her pool “So Chief, Tell me a bit about your strategy for the side. I am curious to see who we will become.”
Claypool sat down to remove his greaves. “Air power, it is the best way to go because of our terrain, especially since our Arrow Frogs are Jungle Capable too. We will need the mobility to keep our promises to the Ford Prefecture as well. The toadie will be a bulk of our standing ground forces, supplemented by daemons and golem. I hope to maintain an extensive scout network between the Dart Frogs, Clay Pigeons, and the toadie. I will need to learn from you and Edelbert. Understanding what it is you can add will … wait! Do you hear that?”
A distant beat had begun, maybe a drum. Without pause Kernel had his spear drawn and was at full combat ready, except he was nearly naked.
“I do not hear anything.” The princess answered.
But Claypool could hear something… music
(To the tune of Copacabana, sort of)
Siwens, home of the Siwens
Our hotspring will leave you expirin’
The air here is steamin
The Siwens are singin
Oh the Siwens…will mess you up
As the voices continued the Chief could feel himself become quickly drowsy. Without realizing it, he walked into a nearby pool. His whole body had suddenly become heavy.
Watching as Kernel began to sink, Peaches resisted panicking. She did not hear anything and the warlord was not responding. She grabbed him by the arms and tried to hoist him from the water. As she dragged him up, she began to hear a distant tune. From the moss arose three pale blue women. All were naked and swayed as they began to walk toward Peaches and Kernel. These women were the source of the odd song. They each held a long knife at the ready.
Siwens, home of the Siwens
Just give up your tryin
Cuz units be dyin…
Oh the Siwens
We’ll eat you up…
Peaches could feel the spell attempt to take hold. It was primarily a Flower Power effect but with the boost of Rhyme. As a Florist she had resistance to her own discipline and she made the save easily.
The princess was unsure what to do. This was exactly why Kernel had come along and he was clearly incapacitated. At least his chief-in-hex-bonus still applied. “Hello ladies. Might I offer you some rations instead? We have no desire for combat. Why not sit with me?”
Each of the Siwens shrieked and charged forward. In response, the waiting toadie knights leapt their Arrow Frogs into the air and swept overhead of the princess, screening for her. The amphibians also lashed out with their tongues, releasing a single arrow-like barb each.
Both projectiles struck deep into the belly of the leading Siwen but rather than collapse, she flipped her dagger and threw it at the struggling caster.
CRASH, one of the pigeons took the hit instead.
“Fine.” Peaches nearly screamed. “You want the hard way.” She finally had Kernel on the shore enough that he would not drown, so she let him go. With flawless grace, she then dove underneath one of the frogs and grabbed the Great Gardening Staff.
“Moss Boss” she cast and a large mound of moss stood up behind the Siwens. The roundish golem was equally strong and temporary, a heavy that only lasted a few rounds.
Then a dagger struck her in the shoulder. Her Florist senses warned of the poison which seeped into her body, attempting to exert itself. Whatever variety it was, it was very strong. Unfortunately, this time she did not make the save. Her vision immediately began to fade.
That was when the Moss-boss smashed in the head of one of the Siwens and the frog knights charged into the other two. A brief melee ensued but Peaches was preoccupied.
“Poison Schmoison” she cast, using the last of her juice. Although the poison would no longer kill her, Peaches found herself lightly incapacitated. One of the knights had taken a hit from the third dagger and was beginning to convulse on the ground. It hurt the princess to watch it suffer, but without juice or some very specific plants there was nothing she could do.
For the rest of the turn the stack waited in the hotsprings. Kernel slept away the day and Peaches had the surviving toadie knight hold her up so she could enjoy the pool.
They both awoke the next turn quite refreshed. Neither looked forward to the call they had to make to the King. Not only were they already late, but they had each made serious blunders they would have to account for.
According to Edelbert and his scouts the city was called Laftrak, a pleasant level one city nestled between a forest and a river. This site was under the control of a barbarian commander. This meant that the units inside were active and acted on the barbarian turn during the day. They had, apparently, been tending the nearby farms for upkeep.
The city had a simple mounded dirt barrier and a wooden gate. From above, it was clear that the city was mostly empty. A few houses were scattered inside, around the garrison and tower structure. No archers attacked and no other sign of immediate threat occurred.
Down on the lawn of the garrison waited one man in colorful garb. He was slight of build and not very tall. His green and white checkered jumpsuit matched his pointed hat and shoes. By all appearances the man was unarmed as well. He waved as the delegation circled the city.
“Oy there, we knew a side was coming. Come on down and chat. I’d hate ta have to yell the whole time you are here.” The little man called up.
Under order, the Arrow Frogs pulled down just above ground level and hovered. Kernel was wary after the ambush of the last turn, however his orders were to talk so talk they would.
“Hail. I’m Chief Warlord Claypool of the Mushroomish Kingdom. Would ya’ll be amenable to parley? We come in peace”
The little man flourished and did a little hop, which jingled hidden bells in his outfit. “Well you can call me Quinn and I come as often as I can.” In the distance, someone played a rimshot on a hidden set of drums.
Peaches was caught off guard by the lewd joke and she laughed out loud before catching herself. It was inappropriate for a princess to laugh at such a thing during a negotiation. She found herself glad her father was not present.
This time the checkered man bowed, cleanly and respectfully. “May I ask the name of the beautiful lady with the excellent sense of humor?”
“I am Princess Peaches, Daughter of the Mushroomish King. I have been sent as envoy to negotiate with the leader here.”
Quinn gave a knowing grin “Well the joke is on you then. There is no leader here. Only fools following fools.”
Kernel was not in the mood for riddles. The previous turns blunders had soured his attitude for the day. “Speak plainly. What do you mean there is no leader? There has to be someone in charge.”
“Nope.” Quinn laughed again. “I have been elected to speak with you so I suppose I will have to do. What is it you want? You are not from the Darkest Knight Kingdom so I can only assume you are here to claim the city?”
Peaches could sense Kernel’s dissatisfaction, so she decided to take the lead. “Well, yes we do. Although we are happy to come to terms with you and whoever else is living here. How would you like to join a side? We need a court jester by the way.”
This changed the smile on Quinns face from one of sarcasm to one of greed. “Let’s talk.”