- #1 Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Lore and the Bound Fey
- #2 Co-Writing With AI Dungeon: Lore and the Trip to Market
- #3 Co-Writing With AI Dungeon: Lore and the Great Palace
- #4 Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Lore and the Lady with White Eyes
- #5 Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Lore and the Wizard’s Familiar
- #6 Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Lore and the Palace Crypt
- #7 Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Lore and the Restrained Demon
You are Lore, a witch living on the edge of the medieval kingdom of Larion. You have a wand and a pet crow named Soot. As you sit in your swamp hut mixing a magical potion, you hear a knock at the door. You open it and see a most unusual sight. A man man in fancy robes stands before you.
You sigh. Your hands are still stained from the potion ingredients you’ve chopped, ground, and mixed — a purple tea leaf, a home-grown eye of newt substitute, and sand from the silver beaches beyond your home, among other things. You want to clean your hands by wiping them on your robe, but the robe is new, so you just clasp them in front of you and hope your visitor doesn’t notice.
In the background, Soot makes a low caw of curiosity, but you focus on the person in front of you. He seems young — too young, surely, to have afforded such expensive clothes. You note the silver embroidery lining the edges of his cuffs, and the hardly-worn boots on his feet, stained perhaps for the first time by the mud of your beloved swamp. His hair is long and slicked back, and he has an arrogant set to his jaw.
“Can I help you?” you ask. You feel less intimidated now than you did at first sight, but you’re still irritated that he interrupted you mid-potion.
“I’m looking for the witch of this swamp.” He holds up his hands. As his hands catch the light, you see a thin thread of energy running between them — some kind of magical cuffs. You’ve never seen a spell like it before, but it’s clear that he’s run afoul of another spellcaster.
“That doesn’t look comfortable,” you comment, leaning against the door and trying to look non-chalant. If this man is as wealthy as he looks, perhaps you can finally get a bit of money in your pocket to fix the leaky roof of your cottage. “I’m the witch of this swamp,” you say, then gesture at the room behind you. Herbs hang to dry from the ceiling, and your cauldron is still bubbling. Soot seems to have lost interest in the visitor, and now tugs at the ends of the curtain in his usual game of trying to destroy everything you own. You turn back to the visitor. “So. You found me. Who are you and what can I do for you? I assume it’s something to do with those magical handcuffs?” You motion towards the man’s wrists.
“You can release me,” he says, his voice strained. “I’ve spent long enough in this infernal magical trap and I have more important things to do. I’ll pay you well for your time.”
You consider it. Though the spell is unfamiliar, it looks simple enough and you ought to be able to dispel it. More worrying is why this man was cuffed in the first place — and who might take offense if you free him from of the spell. “Come inside, and we’ll discuss it over a cup of tea,” you say, stepping aside and gesturing for him to join you. “Oh, and do mind Soot. He might land on you if you make a fuss but he’s no danger.”
He steps inside, and you close the door.
“Soot!” you call out warningly. The crow flips his tail at you and knocks a crystal onto the floor, but doesn’t pester your visitor. You lay out two cups and set your kettle boiling. “You never told me your name,” you say. “Or how you got those magical cuffs. I’ll need to know both before we even discuss the price of removing them.”
“My name is Kae,” the visitor says. His eyes are fixed on the teapot in the corner. You hope he’s not going to be awkward about drinking it or handing over the cup. “And you got those cuffs by …?” You prompt.
He wrinkles his nose and looks away. “Does it matter?” he asks. “It’s hardly any of your business. Just remove them and have done with it.”
You tilt your head to one side, considering him. You’re rather itching to teach him a lesson in manners — after all, he came here asking you for help, and he’s acting like you’re a servant (and not one he treats kindly). You have all sorts of itchy, smelly, and downright unpleasant things you could slip into his tea without him being any the wiser that would fast have him asking for forgiveness, but you put that kind of witchery behind you long ago.
Kae breaks under your scrutiny. “I got on the wrong side of the court wizard, all right?” His cheeks flame with embarassment. “That’s enough said about it. He doesn’t know I’ve come to you. So. How much?”
You purse your lips and consider. “A hundred gold,” you say, which is a frankly ridiculous amount for a simple dispellation, but he looks rich and spoiled and it won’t mean anything to him. He looks like he’s about to agree, but you cut him off as you add, “And your full name.”
There’s a lot a witch can do with a true name. You don’t intend anything nasty, but it will give you insurance against the court wizard going after you and might come in useful in the future.
He looks offended. “I don’t believe you know who I am or what I can do,” he says. His eyes turn cold, and there is a glint to them that has you concerned. “Two hundred gold, and we both leave here happy, healthy, and never speak of this again.”
You hesitate, reconsidering. Most people think little of handing over their names — it’s old magic now, and considered little more than folklore. And there is more of a presence to him now than when he’d first arrived. Is that … power? You make a strangled croaking sound and Soot swoops over to flap in his face. As he throws up his hands to protect himself, you quickly cast a spell, tracing the runes in the air and pushing them toward him. As the spell breaks over him, he gains a brief, glowing aura. In it, you read his true nature. Kae is not the young man he first appeared. He is not a human at all. He’s a fey, and an old one at that. No wonder he has the presence he does.
As his aura fades, Soot flaps away to land on his perch at the other end of the room. He looks miserable, and his once orderly hair is now mussed and powdered with crow dander. “Well,” he says. “That was rude. You could have asked.”
You tense, rising from your seat. “I did,” you say, as sharply as you can. By a miracle, your voice doesn’t shake. Kae is powerful beyond anyone you’ve ever encountered, but you don’t want him to know you’re afraid. What little you know of the fey makes them sound quite like cats — capricious, and as quick to love as to kill. You’d rather not end up the plaything of an immortal being.“Why have you really come here?”
“I think it rather speaks for itself.” He lifts his hands again, and the thread of energy binding them shines and pulses at the movement. “No lies from me. Not today, anyway. As I said, if you break these cuffs from me, I’ll go on my way, and you can return to –” He purses his lips and looks around at your cottage, with all its clutter and crow feathers. “Whatever it is you do in this place. I thought you were a hedgewitch, not a junk witch, but I don’t judge.”
You consider your options. If you send Kae away, you risk offending an immortal being — and all the stories say that fey hold grudges. But if you free him, he’ll likely have access to all that power you saw inside his aura again, which will put you at a distinct disadvantage. The true name deal is looking better by the moment. He’d have no way to harm you if you held his name, and no doubt that’s why he refuses to give it to you.
You chew your lip. Better to have him in your debt, you decide. The handcuff spell looks simple enough. Any number of spellcasters would be able to remove it, and then he’d be free to pursue his grudge against you. “All right,” you say. “Two hundred gold — real gold, mind you, not an illusion or a trick.”
“You have my word,” he says. Nervously, you reach out to take his hands with yours. They are cold and clammy to the touch. You begin to mutter an incantation under your breath that will dispel the magical handcuffs, mentally unweaving the simple twist of the spell with your mind. “
No,” he says, a note of command in his voice. “I don’t think so. This isn’t how it went before. Try something else.” He wrenches his hands away from you, and the connection you had with the spell severs. Your hands sizzle painfully with unspent energy, and you flap them a moment, hissing at the pain.
“What do you mean ‘before’?” You eye him suspiciously. “What aren’t you telling me? Have we met before? I don’t remember you!”
Kae rolls his eyes. “Mortals,” he says, with obvious disgust. “So limited. So … linear.”
You’re frightened but also furious. Who is he to come in here and ask for help, only to insult you and interrupt your spells? “Yes, yes, we mortals are all very pathetic,” you say. “What is it you expect me to do here?”
“The blood thing,” he says, waving his cuffed hands dismissively. It’s an awkward motion but he still manages to make it look arrogant.
“The blood thing,” you repeat flatly. You clear your throat. You’ve never worked with a fey before, but surely they’re the same as any other creature when it comes to such things? You go to your kitchen and rummage through the drawers. Thimbles, scissors, bundles of herbs, loose rocks, a much-pecked-at bag of bird seed, and … yes! You pull out a long hat pin and brandish it at Kae. He doesn’t so much as blink at you.
“Hold still,” you say. You prick his thumb, drawing blood, and let it drip onto the faintly pulsing energy thread binding his hands together.
“Undignified,” he mutters. “Do it.”
You prick your own thumb, letting a single droplet of blood fall onto the thread.