- #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
“A fowl? What would a bird be doing here?”
“I’m coming too,” Soot caws.
Your mouth pops open in surprise. You had no idea that Soot could speak. Something about the summoning spell and the presence of this great spirit must have granted him the ability. Spirits are meant to have a strange effect on nature. “… Right,” you say, as if this hasn’t shaken you to your core. “I would never undertake such an important quest without Soot.”
Soot lands on a nearby branch and starts to preen his feathers. “I am very powerful,” he says.
The spirit of the great palace considers you both. You can feel the breath of it even through the portal, heavy and hot. “A crow is a worthy guide,” the spirit says. “I will grant you passage.” The image of the great dragon shifts again, scales and limbs returning to stone and towers as it resumes its palace form. The portal shimmers and turns opaque, the sucking energy of it fading.
You let out a sigh of relief. “All, right, Soot,” you say. “We should go.” Soot caws at you wordlessly, the magic of the great spirit that granted him language gone. He lands on your shoulder and together you step through the portal.
You find yourself in the middle of a large palace courtyard, surrounded by the palace itself. From where you stand, you can see through the gate and past the buildings of the courtyard into the bustling city streets beyond.
Soot pinches your ear in his beak, and when you squeak in protest, he takes off, cackling. You rub your ear and look around.
The courtyard is surprisingly empty, a mix of stone paths and raised bed gardens. You see a gardener tending the hedges, but she seems to have taken no notice of you. The spirit of the great palace had been kind, it seemed, and not thrust you into the arms of its guards. You centre yourself. You need to focus on your mission: to find court wizard Tyric Westen, or their quarters, at least.
You begin to walk through the courtyard. Your footsteps pattering on the flat stone, you glance around you. You try one door, then another, then a third. They are all locked. “Shite.”
You consider whether a spell might unlock one of the doors and let you in. But though you have the blessing of the Great Palace itself, you don’t actually have permission to be here from Regent Allaruna or their retainers. This courtyard is likely public enough, but if you are caught somewhere restricted, you don’t know what might become of you.
You go to the gardener. “Pardon me,” you say. “I’m a visitor, here to see the court wizard. Could you direct me to them?”
The gardener, a young woman with a dirt-smears on her cheeks and an apron tied around her waist, gives you a brief glance. “Of course,” she answers. She pockets her shears and looks at you properly. Her eyes narrow a little, no doubt taking in your decidedly swamp witch aesthetic, with your dark robes, muddy hems, and Soot landing on your shoulder. You hope she is more kindly toward witches than the guard at the city market.
“I’m in quite a hurry,” you say, hoping the urgency might distract her.
“Right,” she says, crossing her arms. You don’t think she’s fooled by your ruse. “There’s a secret door in the wine cellar. It leads straight to the wizard’s quarters.” She points over to one of the towers at the edge of the courtyard.
Secret door? You are startled by her directness. This can’t be the way most visitors begin their audience with Westen, can it? But it serves your purposes, so you thank her and follow her directions. The door to the tower is blessedly unlocked, and you follow the stairs down into the wine cellar.
There are two servants there, leaning against the wall and chatting. They give you curious looks but don’t stop you. Is security here really this lax? It makes you uneasy, like there is something you are missing. You search for the secret door, not sure what exactly you’re looking for.
“My lady? Are you alright?” You turn to see the servants bow to a woman in a fine blue dress. The woman’s eyes are completely white. A shelf full of wine slides into place behind her, sealing up what looked like a passageway. Well. That must be the secret door then.
The woman ignores the servants, instead turning her unnerving white gaze onto you. “A witch, in the cellar of the Great Palace? Now, there is a a story I’d like to hear. Come with me.” Her head tilts to one side. “Or you could go with the palace guards, if you prefer.” The threat hangs in the air a moment.
You have no idea who this woman is, but her eyes scream to you of magical ability. It must be Tyric Westen, the court wizard who cursed Kae. She holds the answer to your mission. And she is too powerful to trifle with.
You bow awkwardly, unused to the motion. “Of course,” you say. “I, uh, would be delighted to tell you.”
She opens the secret passage, pressing something in the wine rack, and leads you upstairs. The passage features a winding staircase. You pass several closed doors, but the woman doesn’t pause. At the very top is a door more ornate than any of the others you’ve passed. It’s painted deep purple, and carved with strange symbols you don’t recognise. You wonder if they are related to the script you saw on Kae’s wrists.
She leads you inside into her room, and now you are certain that this is the court wizard. Her room is lavishly decorated, with vibrant colours. The purple draperies are trimmed with gold, and the carpet is a bright red. You notice all manner of magical items on display: an urn that burns with a strange light, closed into a glass case. A bookcase where the books occassionally slide off the shelves and reorder themselves, as casually as if an invsible hand is moving them. A staff with a crystal dragon curled around the polished wood, hanging on hooks on the wall. The dragon occasionally shifts, tail sliding and wings shuffling.
You have never had access to anything like the powerful items you see in the room. You largely make do with what you can find in your swamp. For a moment, you feel envy sting at you. But you are not unhappy with your life, and if you complete Kae’s quest, you will have access to anything you might wish.
Tyric gestures to the sofa and chairs in the centre of the room. “Sit, if you would?” You sit. “So,” she says. “My name is Tyric Westen, but I think you know that. Who are you?” She stares at you, her pupilless eyes unnerving.
You swallow hard. “Lore,” you say. Soot caws from your shoulder, and you calm him by stroking his feathers. “And this is Soot,” you add.
“And you were attempting to sneak into my rooms because …?” She smiles. Her teeth are very even.
“I wasn’t trying to sneak in!” You say, though that isn’t completely true. “I was told this was the way to find you.”
She shrugs. “For a tryst, perhaps. For business, the front door would do better.” Her eyes dart from you to look past your shoulder. You follow her gaze, but see nothing. “So,” she continues, “you were sent to find me by your … partner?”
“Partner?” You repeat, your mind racing. She can only be referring to Kae, but as she cursed him, you don’t think linking your name with his is a good idea. “No. I, uh, I’m here to ask for your help.” You wish you were better at lying.
“Really? Because you must be rather capable, to have found your way directly here. And with a whiff of spirit magic about you, no less.” She sips her tea. “So, what is it that you want?”
You cast about for something she might believe but come up with nothing. Tyric’s eyebrow quirks.