- #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
- #8 Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Lore and the Library Chase
- #9 Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Lore and the Library Vault
- #10 FINALE Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Lore and the Court Wizard
“I’m sorry?” you say. You don’t know this man, but there is something about him that makes you afraid.
“Tyric,” he says.
Something about the name resonates unpleasantly inside of you, but you remember no-one by that name.
“She got to you. Don’t you remember me? Look at your arm.”
You do so. The skin there is normal, scarred in places from your work, but nothing unexpected. “Look,” you say, “I don’t know who you are or what you want, but I’ve a lot of work to get through today, so if you don’t mind -”
The man seizes your arm. Blue light flares at his touch, and the energy fizzes through your arm. You wrench away, only to see a livid red script wrap around your wrist. At first you want to shout, to demand to know what he’s done to you, but memory soon follows. You remember Tyric. You remember her spell that paralysed you, that forced you to speak.
Shaking, you clench your hands at your sides. “Kae.”
He nods. “You remember. Good.”
“What’s happened to me? Is she here? Where is she?”
He shakes his head.
“If I knew what she’d done to us, I wouldn’t have asked for your help. And if I thought she was here, this would be the last place you would find me.” He gives you a disgusted look. “Pull yourself together, it was only a little bit of mind control. You’re a witch for gods’ sake.”
As annoying as he is, he’s right. You try to think through what’s happened, what it must mean. “She said you were her familiar,” you say. “She said she bound you to her with magic.” You rub your wrists; you cannot feel the script there, though you can see it. “Did she do the same to me? But this shouldn’t be possible!”
Kae laughs at that. “If you’d been paying attention, witchling, you would know that Tyric’s always had a way with unnatural things.”
You frown. “Unnatural?”
He shrugs. “She could hardly fill her tower with magical artifacts through good clean magic, could she?”
You think back on the tower and what you’d seen of it. Certainly she had seemed very wealthy in enchanted items, but you hadn’t gotten a good look at them. You’d assumed that was just part and parcel of being the court wizard. After all, she had access to resources unlike anything you’d ever had.
“What do you know about her,” you say. “I need to know everything, if we’re going to find a way out of this … whatever this spell is.”
“You’re her slave,” he says. “We’re tied to our masters for life, unless they die or set us free.”
The bitter way he speaks those words make you cringe.
“I’d thought you’d be able to break it when you broke the magical handcuffs,” he said. “But it seems the binding is more deep than that. She didn’t even bother handcuffing you.”
True, but she had wiped your memory instead. You’d have rather had the handcuffs, all things considered.
“How did she meet you?” you ask. “She’s determined to track you down. And why would she send me back to my cottage if she intends for me to be her servant?”
He scowls. “If you knew the whole story, you’d probably hate me.”
“I’m listening,” you say. He looks at the floor and then sighs, but doesn’t speak. “Well?”
“She summoned a demon for me.”
This is entirely unexpected. “A demon,” you say.
“Like the evil creatures from a world of fire who torture people for fun?”
You try to make sense of this. “I just … why?”
He crosses his arms, shoulders high. For the first time since you’ve met him, he seems … embarrassed? “I was bored,” he says.
Any sympathy you were feeling is immediately crushed.
“You brought a demon into this world because you were bored?”
His eyes flash.
“I was very bored,” he says, and you can tell there’s more to it than that, but he’s not going to tell you.
He continues, “The why of it is neither here nor there. I don’t expect a human of all things to understand. What matters is that after she summoned it, using MY blood, I might add, she made some sort of deal with it, and the next thing I know, I was wearing handcuffs. And it was not easy for me to get away, let me tell you.”
So Kae didn’t have much more idea of what had happened than you did. But the introduction of the demon did change some things for you. Perhaps, if the demon’s magic was involved somehow in binding you and Kae, then the script on your wrists was demonic as well. There were people who knew about such things. Not nice people, mind, nobody you would choose to have over for tea, but these were desperate times.
“All right,” you say. “Well who knows when Tyric will come calling. We need to have these bindings off before then. I think we need to go to the library.”
He laughs. “You want to go to the library?”
“Do you have a better idea? Because I’m interested if you know something more about this.”
“Not the library,” he says. “But yes, I do have a better idea. Come on.”
He heads towards the door.
You follow close behind.
“Where are we going?” you ask.
“To the palace basement,” he says.
“Why? What’s there?”
He turns to look at you in disgust.
“Look, I just don’t think it’s safe to go back to the palace. Tyric could be waiting. I met her in the storage cellar of her tower once already; it’s hardly an inconspicuous location.”
He waves a dismissive hand. “Not that basement. The other one. The one with all the dead people.”
You stop dead in your tracks. “You want us to go to the palace crypts?!”
He stops as well. “Yes, here is as good a place as any.” He seizes your hand, and before you know it, the world shifts. You feel a swooping sensation in your stomach, like you missed a step on the stairs. The swamp blurs, and when the world comes back into focus, you are standing again in the palace courtyard, the same one the Great Spirit had transported you to before.
You have no idea how to get to the palace crypts. Your heart pounds in your chest. “You couldn’t take us straight there?”
Kae shrugs. “Tends to upset the Palace Spirit if I do that sort of thing unannounced. Better to go on foot from here.”
The palace looms above you, tall and foreboding. Tyric’s tower is just at the other end of the courtyard; it’s nearness makes your skin crawl.
“Why are we going to the palace crypts?”
Kae grimaces. “Always with the irritating questions,” he says. “Just come with me.”
You follow him through the courtyard and to a door on the far side. He takes out a ring of keys and unlocks the door, pulling it open. A dark stairway leads downwards into the darkness beyond.
“After you,” he says.
You eye him suspiciously. “Where did you get those keys?”
He rolls his eyes. “I’ve been here before, and they’re convenient. I expect the chap I took them from will miss them, but I find it hard to care. Now, since you’re being needlessly nervy …” He goes down the stairs ahead of you, fast vanishing into the darkness.
You hesitate. You’d tried this door on your last visit to the palace, and it had been resolutely locked. And if it truly led to the palace crypts, you can’t imagine anything good coming of you being caught down there. On the other hand, you are already magically bound to an evil wizard with ties to the palace, so …
You follow Kae down into the darkness. After a moment, you snap your fingers, summoning a small flame on your thumb which makes it a little easier to take the steps without tripping.
The stairs end in a stone corridor. Kae waits for you as you catch up, and then leads the way through a warren of passages that twist and turn.
You don’t know how Kae manages to find his way; he doesn’t even seem to be paying that much attention, instead just following the corridors as they come.
“So,” you say. “What are we doing here?”
“Looking for the crypt of the old king, obviously. Why else would I drag you down here?”
You raise an eyebrow.
“I dunno. Why are we looking for the old king’s crypt?”
Kae sighs in obvious exasperation. You don’t regret pestering him. It’s extremely creepy down here. The stone walls exude a damp chill. There seems to be mould growing in some of the corners, and even full-blown mushrooms in others. You hear the skittering of rats, though you do not see them. If you have to be down here, you want to know why.
“It’s a demon thing,” Kae says. “Demons love dead people. The more important the better. If she has one doing her bidding, then we’ll likely find it here. And then it can tell us what the script on our wrists says, and then you can finally break the spell.” He pauses. “You know, since I already paid you for that and you made a terrible mess of it.”
That seems wildly unfair. And also dangerous. You don’t like the idea of encountering anyone down here, least of all a demon. “I’d rather have gone to the library,” you say.
“Too late.” Kae turns a corner. “Ah, this must be it.”
You see a massive stone coffin, elaborately carved, resting on a platform with several steps leading up to it.
You can feel the death in the air, and you shiver.
Kae looks around, and puts his hand on the coffin. He frowns. “It’s open,” he says.
“What?” You walk up to the platform and look for yourself.
He’s right. The ornate stone coffin sits there open, empty. “That’s odd.”
“There’s an inscription,” Kae says, pointing to some archaic-looking writing on the inside of the coffin lid. He reads it out loud:
“In death, strength.
In life, loyalty.
I was mortal once, and now I am eternal.
Trust in the king eternal, as he trusted in you.”
“Well,” you say. “That’s ominous.” You don’t even remember the last time there was a king. Regent Allaruna has ruled Larion your entire life, and their mother ruled before them. “I don’t see how it’s relevant, though. Where’s this demon we’re looking for?” You try to sound braver than you feel. You absolutely do not want to meet a demon, least of all in a creepy crypt with a creepy empty coffin.
“She’s right here, lovely,” a voice says. You scream. Kae yelps.
The coffin lid slams shut. You don’t need to turn around to know that it’s locked itself. “Ah, sorry about that,” the voice says.