Chapter Eighteen: The Wee Folk of the Obsidian Castle
Though the presence of Ivak, Claroosa and Fatho did not go unnoticed, deep within the castle, there was actually a rather large number of people unaware of the intrusion. A number that was at least in the hundreds. Though numerous people were within the castle, Ivak and company found the castle deserted as Fatho tried to get a sense of where the orb room was. He was extremely happy that his sense of direction was not having to deal with things being in a place and not in a place, though the geometry of the castle was throwing him off a bit.
The castle was not deserted, but all the people could fit in one room. This was a simple riddle.
All the people were of the wee folk, sometimes called fairies, though larger beings are sometimes also referred to as fairies. These people were of small races, like the generally brave pixies; tiny humanoids with insect wings, or the generally fearful gnomes; strange cones that come in many colours, possessing beady little eyes, round toeless feet and a mouth that is hidden when closed, or the generally nervous mottilings, the mothfolk.
These three are quite common throughout Kigan, though all of the wee folk are quite ubiquitous, but Nortrieln has one more race of wee folk that is particularly common to its lands, for Nortrieln is where these people inside the castle were from.
The twimovoi, who seem much like little balls of hair, with eerily glowing eyes to all that see them. Only when walking or grabbing something can their hairy limbs be seen. With the men of the twimovoi you can at least have an idea where their mouth is due to their luxurious mustaches and beards. It is scant comfort however as their mouth seems far too large for the size of their body.
It was a community of these wee folk and a few minorities of others that sat at various makeshift tables in a single room. This room was festooned with various improvised tents, though the wee folk who had the ability to produce silk or other fibres where slowly making better dwellings for everyone. It had only been a week and a bit since everyone had moved in, so things were still chaotic. It was not in fact terribly clear what the original purpose of the room was, such was the state it was in.
The one responsible for all this was sitting at a table, with her extended family, and family friends, blissfully unaware that there were intruders. Well perhaps not blissfully, she was in fact picking at the food before her, not a bit going towards her mouth, it was some manner of thick soup made from the grey pumpkins surrounding the castle, it had lumps of pumpkin in it, some of the lumps where meant to be used as spoons. The bowl itself was actually carved pumpkin too.
She was a pixie, with the rarity of chitinous limbs, as her kind though descended from flower fairies had long lost their connection with nature. Her butterfly-like wings were patterned with a pair of beautiful blue eyes, though her own real eyes were green as grass. Her short hair was the same blue as the eyes on her wings, and she wore a brown lacy handkerchief, with a hole for her head and secured at the waist with a piece of string.
Claroosa and Ivak would have recognised her instantly, as she was the one who had stolen the obsidian orb of the castle.
“Weird grey pumpkin again, I can’t stand this stuff, how does it taste so bad?” One of her siblings said.
It was Sino, if it doubt, it was usually Sino complaining. Sino was one of her older brothers, bluehaired and green-eyed like her. He had become quite bitter after an accident in which he lost his wings. Namely they were stepped on. He was fortunate it was only his wings.
“Shhh Sino, You’ll trouble big sis Quil” This small voice was Rind, one of Quil’s female cousins. Rind’s parents where perhaps more than a little odd, some people gossiped that it was due to the fumes of the alchemist shop they had lived inside, unknown to the owner.
Quil was a bit troubled, but it wasn’t really because of Sino, he was always complaining after all. However, this time his complaint did bother her, because of her other worries. She lashed out, bitter herself that her idea was not working out as perfectly as she had thought it would.
“Do you want to go back?” She said quietly.
Sino said nothing, he could not say it, he couldn’t meet Quil fierce gaze.
“Thought not, how could we go back? Where people get stepped on and die, where we are nothing better than pests?” she snapped.
“All the same, I don’t see you gobbling this vile stuff down” This drawling voice was Dwala, her own mother, carrot haired, emerald eyed and orange wings with black and blue patterns. She herself was eating the vile stuff as she called it.
“The elders and shamans say that it is safe to eat, more than safe, we can live off this stuff they told me!” Quil shouted, trying to convince herself.
“Yes, if you can bear to eat it” Hobart, one of her younger brothers, said.
He was blue haired and brown eyed, his wings a bit more like Quil’s. He too was eating the pumpkin, grimacing all the while.
It was truly terrible stuff. One person had described it thusly; “Like something crawled into your mouth, died, rotted, then scraped your mouth out and then crawled down your throat to rest like a ton of rocks in your stomach”
Really most of all Quil was angry that she couldn’t stick the stuff herself.
She had hoped they would find something to help in the kitchens, but the castle claimed to not be able to tell her where rooms were, and they hadn’t found the kitchens. She was getting the horrible feeling that the castle was not a complete product, that and magicians sometimes had odd ideas about what was and wasn’t necessary. One old twimovoi had expressed the opinion they were fortunate that there was doors, stairs and hallways. He had once gotten stuck in a house when a magician had bought the derelict building and set about renovating.
Blue-black haired, amber eyed, glittery winged Frahn, one of her sisters wrapped her only arm around her and ruffled her hair.
“Aw lay off guys, at least the water is really tasty, and this place is super safe, I mean we are the only ones here!”
“Yeah! We’ll spread out throughout the castle, just a whole castle only for us wee-folk!” One of her cousins yelled.
A few other people cheered.
Quil was not so easily consoled.
“We… we could always go on a raid back to Welterine, get some things” she said.
A few people got very interested in what Quil was saying at that point.
Dwala noisily slurped the remains of her soup, as if to banish what Quil had said.
“My daughter, it may be vile stuff, but I think everyone is glad we don’t have to steal from the large again”
This got murmurs of assent and knowing nods. The large were nothing but trouble, careless and clumsy.
“I guess we’ll find the kitchens eventually” She said.
Frahn patted her head.
“Good thoughts Quil!”
Then Quil heard a voice that nobody else could, a wobbly voice, a dry voice. It was the voice of the Castle. She had first heard it when she had brought her family into the castle. It had asked her if the people with her had captured her, and if she needed them dealt with.
-Mistress, this one must inform you that intruders are in the castle, they have defeated the guardian, and they defy my attempts to lead them astray with shifting rooms and passages, does this one have permission to engage more fatal defences?-
“You mean that monster outside wasn’t fatal?” Quil spluttered aloud, though she had been getting better about not speaking to the castle aloud.
-It proved not to be Mistress-
“I have to talk to the Council!” Quil said to her extended family, almost knocking Frahn over and falling herself.
She fluttered over the tables, drawing quite a bit of notice, a lot of the wee folk of Welterine felt they owed her a lot, the rest? Well most of them had remained in Welterine. At the time, Quil hadn’t understood that. She still didn’t, but she was beginning to understand it.
-Mistress, they are making uncanny progress, even with this one lengthening the route to the orb room and making crude mazes. If this one was not restricted, a closed loop could be made and the intruders could be left to die a slow agonizing death due to starvation. The creator saw fit to prevent such a thing coming to pass. This one’s manipulation of the spaces has been restricted too.-
-Who are they?- Quil thought.
-One of their number is the master previous to you Mistress. They seem quite determined to reach the Orb Room, the other is some huldre woman and a… This one is not sure what it is, perhaps a mixed blood?-
-SEND WHATEVER YOU CAN AT THEM!-
Quil shivered at the memory of the monstrous woman chasing after her. She had thought she would die then, but her lucky wings had saved her twice.
-As you command Mistress-
She landed at the council’s table. The council was made up of an elder and a youth from each of the races, along with a representative of each of the specialists the community had. It was a crude system, but it had worked well for the wee-folk trying to live in the world of the large, united by their fear and envy.
Currently only the elders and a few of the specialists were present. Representing the gnomes was Big Mama Grutile, a massive green cone. The elder of the mottilings, Cazzith, was a stiff silvery mothman who seemed more like a collection of moss and fungus than a moth person. The pixie elder, Nola was a old maid who seem even smaller than pixies normally were, but she had this odd youthful cast to her, even though her hair was wilting and her transparent dragonfly wings were tatters.
The twimovoi elder, Dimot, was glossy black haired man, with a glorious moustache that twirled around his own body. He was actually quite young comparatively. A few twimovoi had a rather unfortunate encounter with a witch who inflicted a blight on the twimovoi of Welterine out of revenge, the old and the weak died, there was not a thing they could do.
Along with these there were other elders and the specialist representatives, but they tended to defer to the four elders out of habit more than anything else. All of the elders were in simple woven silk robes.
Quil herself had been given the dubious privilege of being the pixie’s youth.
“Whatever is the matter dearie?” Big Mama Grutile asked.
“There’s intruders in the castle! They defeated the guardian, it’s the large I stole the orb from!”
“I feared this would happen, the large will even care about a few missing grains, how much more will they desire an artefact!” Nola said.
“We shall hide, as we have hidden from the sight of the large for aeons” Cazzith pronounced.
“What more Quil?, you have more to say do you not?” Dimot questioned.
“The castle asked me for permission to use more fatal defences, I gave it the permission”
Nola spluttered. “Is it saying that monster wasn’t fatal?”
“Well, they defeated it, didn’t they dear?” Grutile observed.
“Hrm yes, not very fatal if it doesn’t kill them” Cazzith grumbled.
-Mistress, it appears that the woman was unexpectedly proficient in using the gorer constructs as blunt instruments against the other gorers. One in each hand no less. Not only that, they fail to fall into any of the fatal traps in the trap rooms, they simply move in such a manner as to never set them off. It is as if they know exactly where the traps are. The creator was not a trap maker so this one blames him. This one shall send the knights, the gargoyles and the tentacled thing that defies names to attack them- The Castle informed Quil.
“The castle is sending more things after the intruders but they’ve defeated the gorer constructs that the castle sent after them!” Quil wailed at the elders.
“Gorer construct? What in the world is that?” Grutile boggled.
“I’d imagine a construct that gores” Cazzith said grimly.
“Probably with a horn or something like that” Dimot added.
“That doesn’t sound very pleasant” Nola said.
“We don’t want pleasant, we want fatal don’t we?” Dimot questioned.
“Well, it seems these ‘gorer’ constructs weren’t fatal enough!” Grutile said.
-This is very embarrassing Mistress, The intruders retreated back through the traps and the traps destroyed most of the defenders, They are now dealing with the tentacled monstrosity, they seem to be having such an easy time of it that the previous master has decided to paint.-
-Wait, there was a tentacled monstrosity? What would have happened if we had stumbled across it?-
-Oh, you would not have stumbled across it, it was quite sealed, though if you had somehow breached its seal it would have devoured you all before this one could do anything-
“They’ve dealt with most of the defenders the castle sent, they are just dealing with some horrid tentacle thing” Quil reported dejectedly.
Grutile spoke “Oh my, they really do seem quite formidable, I would almost root for them”
-Well, Mistress, the tentacled horror is sealed again, the previous owner sucked it up into the painting he was doing, this one is afraid by the time this one has regenerated some defenders it will be too late-
“They defeated it, nothing is left” Quil said.
The elders were silent.
“No, not quite nothing left”
Quil flew off to cries from the elders as they realised what she was intending to do. She would not be stopped however. She wasn’t going to give up, even if it was hopeless.
She picked up a large’s needle that someone had brought from Welterine. She would fight to keep the large from this place she had found.
-Mistress, this one detects your will to fight, permission to grant you the power of the castle-