These are Chronicles from the ongoing role-play for the Children of Stories. They are posted here as they unfold.
The Tales Begin Anew in 2022
- Friday, April 22nd: Union Meeting and Story-time at the Hunros Mine
- Saturday, April 23rd: The Sniffer Moles and the Consultant of Education
- Sunday, April 24th: The Sniffer Moles and the Unusual Suspects
- Monday, April 25th: The Sniffer Moles and The Consultant on Administration
- Tuesday, April 26th: The Sniffer Moles and the Puddle Well
- Wednesday, April 27th: The Sniffer Moles and the Hunt for Help
- Thursday, April 28th: The Sniffer Moles and the Race for the Legendary, Cursed, Gremlin Spanner
- Friday, April 29th: The Sniffer Moles and the Miners Protest
- Saturday, April 30th: The Sniffer Moles and the Fate of the Bell
- Epilogue stories – The Misty Veil Approaches
Friday, April 22nd : Union Meeting and Story-time at the Hunros Mine
A giant artifact, called the Bell, produces powerful magic which seeps into the stone of the Hunros Mountain. The Union of Sniffer Moles, a group of children used to sniff out this magic, were very surprised to discover their workplace had been chosen as a Faireland.
The Guardians, Junction, and the Bard Queen were almost mythical creatures. The Sniffers had legends of them, but never did the youths imagine that myths would come to their dark home.
Their celebrations were short lived. The extraction equipment had gone missing, and they were the only known method of preventing the magic from growing more unstable. Showers of stars and shapes exploded out of seams that formed in the rocks.
The Elfkin Mayor, who had found the Bell centuries ago, called for an emergency meeting with the Sniffers and Overseers for Friday, April 22nd, at 2 pm.
The equipment was found early the next morning, but with no one could explain how they were moved. The Magic Containers were nearly empty, and Overseer Morkus Dreg needed them to make up for lost time.
The Union of Sniffer Moles got to work happily, and gathered at their camp an hour early to share stories with the Fairelanders. The first tales were about how they personally joined the Sniffers or made their way to the mine. The second half of stories were about the history of the Hunros Mine. The Fairelanders learned of the Elfkin Mayor and some of his questionable decisions while acquiring the mine.
As the time of the Mayors announcement approached, the Fairelanders departed for the Town Square. The Mayor wanted to thank everyone for coming, and then began his speech.
The Mayor cited the lowered productivity and the magical eruptions for declaring the Sniffer Mole’s were obsolete. Consultants from Progress, a Company considered one of the Elfkin’s collaborators, had studied the problem. Their advice was to create a machine that would gather the magic directly from the Bell. Citing the Unions long and dependable service, he offered the children an opportunity to learn the machines operation.
The Sniffers and Fairelanders were outraged. Anger bubbled in the crowd as the children wondered about their futures. The Sniffer Moles eventually decided on two courses of action. They would mine as much as they could that night to prove they could still meet their goals. And they would peacefully meet with the Company’s consultant tomorrow at 1pm SLT to hear them out. For now.
Saturday, April 23rd : The Sniffer Moles and the Consultant of Education
The Sniffers worked into the night to prove they did not need the Company’s new machine. When they returned to camp they made a new discovery. The magical shapes could be ridden down the slope before they disappeared. They stayed up past midnight sledding down the inclines on the playful magic.
The Union woke to find more evidence of sabotage. The magic jars were empty. Their hard work into the night was erased. They worked even harder that morning to regain lost time. Overseer Morkus was pleased at the amount they gathered when he arrived at camp early that morning.
The Sniffers had questions about the incoming consultants and their supervisors past. Morkus shared what he did know. The Consultants arrived that morning, and the first was located at the schoolhouse. For his past, he had been a Sniffer for six summers before he couldn’t smell the magic anymore. He clearly missed it, and the Machine threatened his job if the Sniffers were no longer necessary. He was too old to learn anything new.
Lilith Binda, an eccentric scientist from the S.E.E., was visiting the mine. She inspected all the magic powered machines for her own research. The lamps, jars, extractors, and containers kept her fascinated as she tinkered. The Gadgetier, as she was nicknamed, claimed her intentions were to fix the storage problem of the devices. She did this by taking them apart..
The scheduled hour came to meet the dreaded Consultant. It was a Mark III Consultant clockwork designed to look like a plague doctor. Fear and uncertainty was channeled into anger. They yelled at the teacher and made demands, shouted slogans, and asked questions like: “What words are we not supposed to say here?”
The Consultant of Education was intimidating at first, but it was quickly overwhelmed by the questions. It had to re-calibrate and it was clear something was terribly wrong. It told the class that steam came from squeezing chickens.
The malfunctioning machine started to spark and twitch. Tepic, the Sniffer Mole, and Lilith Binda approached the machine to trouble shoot the clockwork. They ignored requests to return to their seats, and the Consultant re-calibrated once again.
It started a word play association exercise. This was the only time the class was cooperative, though some feared the wordplay would hypnotize or somehow re-educate them.
Tepic once again asked ‘What words are we not allowed to say?’ This resulted in a rather dramatic end of the class.
The Sniffers discovered the operation manual behind the desk. The Mark III Consultant had a number of known flaws: Excessive input and questions could cause it to malfunction. Elfkin examinations later revealed they had probably shorted it from the start. However, further sabotage was suspected.
There was no shortage of suspects. The Sniffer Moles were suspects because they had the most to lose from the upcoming changes. Lilith and Tepic were seen actively operating the Consultant right before it exploded. However, Overseer Morkus Dreg admitted to having more to lose if the Sniffers lost their job. They also suspected one of the buyers of deception.
Their suspicions seemed to be confirmed late that evening. Arnold, Rayn, and a Shade creature kept the Sniffer Moles on their toes. These suspects and more have been brought to confront the Mayor tomorrow at 10 am.
Sunday, April 24th: The Sniffer Moles and the Unusual Suspects
The Sniffer Moles gathered at the Town Square to find many of the accused were already in place for the cross examination. The line up of supposedly dastardly villains looked less than intimidating. The magical explosions raining cogs and springs added to the bizarre combination. Most stood against their accusers with dignity. Overseer Morkus was less gracious and had to be escorted, shouting in dismay at the humiliation.
The Elfkin mayor walked to the front and began to speak, “Welcome everyone to this trial of accused! These accused standing before you now are accused of the horrible nasty crime of SABOTAGE!!! Stealing Tools, Draining the Magic Tanks, BLOWING UP ONE OF THE CONSULTANTS!”
Arnold and Rayn were put together as saboteurs troubling the Sniffer camp in the night. Niki, the Rickety Weasel following the Guardians, accused the duo of sabotage and stealing magic. Rayn confessed he tried to break the container for fun. Arnold claimed he paid for what he absorbed, but confessed to working with the Unweaver. “We are not claiming to be good people. We’re not. That doesn’t mean we’re the cause of your problems. You had Rayn guarded in a barrel last night. It was still sabotaged.”
The Mayor moved to the next culprit. A chicken. He called for the one who accused the chicken, and Morkus confessed it was him. (He had to clarify he made the accusation) He launched into a strange story of how the chicken was prowling around the equipment. He claimed it knocked him unconscious after he caught them.
The Guardian Strifeclaw had noticed Morkus when the sabotage had occurred, and told the Mayor what she noticed. After hearing his crazy story she retracted her statement. Who would admit to getting beaten up by a chicken if it wasn’t true?
Tepic and Lilith were next, and a stranger stepped forward to accuse them. They had hands on the machine as it broke. Many of the Union decried and denied he was there, but his scent suggested he was nearby at the time. Anna, a visitor, stepped forward to counter his version of events. The mayor already moved on to the final culprit.
The final suspect was a teapot. Arnold stood as the accuser. The Mayor asked what he had seen it do, but the Shadow saved his breath as who would believe a servant of the Unweaver. He accused the nearby chic-teapot of not being what it appeared and left it at that. Anyone could make an accusation and the votes lindens were what counted.
The Mayor suspected he wasn’t taking this trial seriously, and the crowd noted the Shadows didn’t mind being declared guilty. It was time for the voting to begin in earnest, with the chicken and teapot in the lead. One of the Sniffers encouraged the Fairelanders, “it’s all for a good.. er interesting.. er .. it’s for a cause!”
Just as the voting finalized the Fairlanders were shocked as the chicken transformed into a strange blue creature. It vanished with a delighted giggle at its subterfuge. The Shadows nodded to each other with a smirk and fled as if on cue. While the Shadows came in third, and the chicken second, it was the teapot found guilty. It would be taken to jail for the rest of its existence. If anyone could find it…
The miners were dealing with an unknown number of shape-shifting creatures. The tanks were heavily guarded that night but they were sabotaged again. The Sniffers were convinced the culprit was indeed the chicken…teapot…the shapeshifter thing!
Despite the distressing setbacks making them want to quit, the Sniffers persevered with the Guardian encouraging them to retain their hope. There was still the Consultant they would have to meet tomorrow, which the Mayor had mentioned as the trial ended. The Consultant on Administration was waiting for them at 1pm on Monday, April 25th.
Monday, April 25th: The Sniffer Moles and The Consultant on Administration
The Sniffer Moles were losing hope. Many were ready to quit. If the jars reset every evening then what was the point? They worked hard everyday to be set back to start, and they were paid percentage.
It did not help that the Shadows claimed they could acquire the magic whatever safeguards were put in place. The Unweaver won if the Mine stayed open, because his spies knew how to deceive the Elfkin. The Unweaver still won if the Mine closed from the suffering it would cause everyone who needed the work here.
It seemed there was no way to win, but some returned to the mines and restored what had been lost. Morkus was surprised to see the jars nearly full and was proud of them. He told them where to meet with the next Consultant. They were using the Mayors office on top of the ridge, next to the airship.
The Consultant appeared to be of the same ilk as their predecessor. The Sniffers tried to make it explode immediately. However, their random shouting from the outside and excessive questions had no effect on this model. It only acknowledged the speaker standing in front of it upon the X, and only when presented one at a time.
The Sniffers cited union rules that they have a representative with them. However, with the door remaining open the entire Union could witness the process. It was a simple one. The Sniffer would come forward, identify themselves, and tell the Consultant how they came to the mine.
It was smarter than the Education Consultant. Attempts to trick the clockwork failed and believable stories were accepted with little question. Fantastic stories, tales filled with dragons or the magic of the Fairelands, caused the Consultant on Administration to explode even if it was the truth.
They found a key and a letter which Lilith read to everyone after the explosion.
Many of the Sniffer Moles did not even wait to tell the others as they rushed off with the key. Most caught up after the reading, but many became lost in the tunnels. After searching deep into the tunnels they found the door.
They unlocked it to find a massive room and a strange device in the center. Scaffolding rested along the edges where the company had done its research. The center was a shallow bowl covered in sigils, and at the center a small upraised fountain or well rested empty.
The bowl was empty save for one small little puddle. There, they found the least likely thing imaginable. A talking Puddle that was very excited and relieved they could hear him.
After the initial excitement the Puddle revealed this place was a well for the Flow from the Bell. The Flow came to a rest here once with the Puddle’s friends, but now it was truly alone. It kept crying to OMG, which they couldn’t tell if it was a sacred name, acronym, or an expression of the Puddles. He referred to it as the first which did not explain anything.
The Sniffers noticed that Puddle shared an appearance with the magic they gathered. Things the Shadows had mentioned caused them to pause all mining activities for the present. As they went on strike, until answers could be found, the Guardians told the Puddle they would begin a ritual that might restore the Flow to the well.
Strifeclaw contacted the Bard, Madonna, to help bring joy, laughter, and charity to the Well and restore Puddle. The excited Puddle wanted their friends to return, but needed the Fairelanders help. It would be a hard 24 hours to wait as the Shade and Shadows prowled in the darkness.
Tuesday April 26th: The Sniffer Moles and the Puddle Well
The Sniffer Moles camped out with Puddle that night to protect it from Consultants, Shadows, or any unknown threat. It appeared to resonate with youth the most, only being heard when children who could still sniff the magic were around. They spoke to it, even when there were too few of them for it to communicate.
The excited Puddle greeted the Bards and Madonna as she arrived to perform the ritual. Fairelanders of all shapes and sizes moved in close as Strifeclaw prepared their first ritual since Tensors Underground Cave.
Spirits of the Faire, Harken and Heed!
As we lay before you our great need!
The Flow of the Bell has grown weak
but we mean to bring it back to peak
Spirits of the Earth beneath my paws
Mountain that has had its magic pause
From the Unweaver we will never cower
Let cheer give joy and hope give power
Harken and Heed, the Bell and the Flow will return to the Mine and the Unweavers machinations crushed! Let the ritual begin, and if you can still fight back, fight with all you have to return the Flow to the Well and help Puddle regain his friends!
The music began and the Anceint Charity Stone soared. The bowl began to light up and stones began to rise, slowly clicking into place one after the other. Generosity poured out of the Fairelanders to help Puddle and hit 100,000 in under twenty minutes!
The stones rose into place, but the last stone was held back by the Unweaver. The Fairelanders joy would not be deterred even when the stone rose out of place. It snapped into alignment and the room became even brighter.
The forgotten well filled again as Puddle was transformed by the cheer and goodwill of the Fairelanders. He regained his true form as Loom, the Dreamkin. The other Dreamkin were able to reform, but it seemed Loom had benefited most from the ritual.
The Sniffers discovered the magic was peoples hopes and dreams, and they were mining it dry. The Sniffers wondered if they should cease production. However, they now had to deal with the Company and their Consultant.
All their work would be for naught if the machine activated. They could go to the Mayor about the letter and Loom. If he listened they could stop the machine before it was completed. If the Mayor could not be reached, or was not reasonable, then the Guardians were prepared to go elsewhere. They would worry about where and how tomorrow. For now they wanted to enjoy their victory, which came in at just over L$306,000.
Wednesday, April 27th: The Sniffer Moles and the Hunt for Help
The Sniffer Moles tried to talk to the Mayor, but their efforts were in vain. The Third Consultant took up his time with construction and kept ‘distractions’ out. Not even the Overseer, Morkus, could speak with the Mayor. Telling Morkus about the Loom’s Well did not help, as it was clear the Mayor already knew about it, but had only seen a Puddle room.
The Sniffers were ignorant of several events in play. Lilith, the Gadgetier from the trial, was frustrated the Sniffers ran off without her. Out of caution they even refused to tell her about the Puddle Room. This was to protect Puddle at the time. Lilith only knew the children were acting suspicious.
The inventor delivered the Company letter directly to the Mayor. She reported the Sniffers attempted to break the Consultant by shouting the fail-safe word and other tricks to break it. The Mayor was now aware they’d tried to exploit the weakness, and the final Consultant used that to keep the Sniffers at bay. Morkus could not help them. The Mayor was arranging the Grand opening for Saturday April 30th at 1pm SLT.
The Sniffers had no idea they were in a race against time. The Shadows were acquiring knowledge as they debated. Strifeclaw had sent a guide to join her at the Aarkenfen entrance, heading towards the library. The confused Sniffers went in many different directions. Eventually they made it to Strifeclaw, who had a friend able to help them at the Archives, but there was a problem.
Strifeclaw, previously transformed into the Water Panther by the Unweaver, had to avoid water or hear the Lord of Tragedy’s call. There were many water realms between them and the Archive. She needed a guide to keep her paws dry and bolster her courage.
The Sniffers lead her through Aarkenfen. Many were blinded by the light after their time in the mines. Patrick, a Drow Sniffer youth, felt his skin burning. Their trek would be filled with obstacles for certain.
When they reached the tunnel to cut through the center of Aarkenfen, Cale and Lilith were waiting for them. They managed to overhear the Shadows preparing a trap for Strifeclaw. The tunnel would have flooded when she entered and trapped her and the Sniffers inside.
They had worse tidings. There was a new Lord Shadow, but they didn’t know whom. Cale and Lilith let them pass with the warning to be on their guards. Strifeclaw wondered if they should take the long way. They didn’t know that the Shadows were currently stealing a book around that time period. She was reassured by the Sniffers that the tunnel was safe now.
They passed through without incident and made their way to Opet. Strifeclaw rolled in the sand with relief. Complaints of sand in fur and sunburn rumbled amongst everyone else. The Earth Guardian enjoyed their sun and sand baths until they were ready to move forward.
There was no bridge across the river. Why was there no bridge across the river?
They had to find another way, and so the travelers had to scale the Pyramid. Vicky, a Sniffer, figured they were going to have blisters from the sand, heat, and stairs. They reached the other side without incident beyond separating. Strifeclaw was grateful they were patient with her need to avoid the water.
The next realm was Junction who had provided the Faire and the hope that came with it. It had also brought rain and water. Everyone encouraged Strifeclaw until she ventured into Junction hesitantly. They had to go the long way around as Strifeclaw watched her steps carefully. She could not avoid the rain. Whispers entered her mind that she tried to ignore.
While passing through, Softpaw recognized the Shadow Fox who stole the Water stone in Kuruk, and fought the Society previously. The Shadow possessed a mining extractor and smiled at them. He swam away as Winter, one of the Sniffers, recognized her lost brother. She could not even remember his name. He was Forgotten…
Junction offered comfort and aide as they reached the Hall. A few of the gathered Fairelanders joined them as they passed. They were most welcome as they brought back a sense of levity as they reached the Mythspire Ridge.
The Sniffers had to encourage Strifeclaw to climb narrows stairs while surrounded by water. Their delays were growing and the Mythspire Ridge was notorious for causing new travelers to lose their way.
The stranger, that accused Tepic at the trial, was resting on the lower island. He tried to give them directions to get through the confusing terrain. The Sniffers distrusted both the advice and the advisor. The group followed their allies who had traveled the Ridge before. With their help they were able to make it through to the next Faireland, Atheneum.
The desire to see the hidden mines below called to the Earth Guardian, but they cut through instead and finally arrived at their destination. The Carnelian Archive.
They rushed past Lilith Binda who was surprised to see them. They eventually doubled back and found her in one of the stacks. The Gadgetier was upset they caused the two clockworks great distress. The second had been sent back for repair in tears, she claimed. Eventually, she directed Strifeclaw to the Historian, Dr. Nadina Leth.
Requesting access to the vault was denied. They learned Arnold had stolen a book, and security was tight right now. The Historian could not even remember what the tome contained except the feline had been discussing Dreamkin and the Mine. It was like the memory had been taken too and fading faster. The villain had fled north which was their only lead. Her final warning was not to trust the Company known as Progress.
The Chrysalis Gardens was a beautiful landscape that was stunning to behold. Strifeclaw, however, had to ascend another bridge with no railings and water far below.
At the Gardens Town Square they found Freya, the Sniffer, who commuted from her home here in the trees. She had returned after learning the Sniffers were mining people’s hopes and dreams. The foxgirl was happy to think they’d come all that way to see her though.
They told her the truth however, and asked if she’d seen Arnold. The former Sniffer pointed towards Tenpyo, where Arnold would stand out like a sore thumb.
The Moles chased their enemy to the bright white city, where they all stood out like eyesores. The Shadow was not hard to find at the lower dock. He greeted them with sarcasm and looked miserable. He had just finished eating the book several minutes before they got there. It had not been tasty.
They asked, threatened, and demaned that he share what he had learned. He assured them his inquiries had nothing to do with their own endeavors. The Unweaver, or perhaps this new Lord Shadow, had sent them to retrieve the Legendary, Cursed, Gremlin Spanner.
The legend claimed the artifact, when it was placed inside a machine, would not just break it apart: Repairs and replacements would never work properly again. The Mayor never had another clock installed because of that spanner. That suggested either the legend was true or the Mayor was superstitious.
The Shadows wanted the terrifying artifact for their evil master. The Guardians and Fairelanders knew that had to be prevented. They needed more information from the familiar, but Arnold informed them his orders prevented him from being that helpful. He had only mentioned the Spanner because it had nothing to do with them. The path of least resistance to walking away.
Threats mounted, but he shrugged them off. He responded to a request and added, because he could, that if they wanted to know more they would have to find explorer Copperpot, or the Dwarf who last had the spanner.
They threatened to tie him down, but threats fell on uncaring ears as he vanished in a puff of shadow. The Sniffers grumbled and made plans to find Copperpot.
Thursday, April 28th: The Sniffer Moles and the Race for the Legendary, Cursed, Gremlin Spanner
The Sniffers returned home to the Mine going through the arduous journey again. They didn’t have to pause for traps or to help Strifeclaw so that made the trek much easier. The Earth Guardian traveled north to avoid more water hazards that way.
…At least she and the Weasels got to enjoy the Jailing of Julala Demina by traveling that route.
When they arrived at their eventual destination the children hit a roadblock. No one remembered the old explorer Copperpot. Loom was Puddle at the time, and the Elfkin had not interacted with the explorer whenever he may have visited.
They gathered at camp where Overseer Morkus greeted them. He was pleased to find there had been no sabotage that night and the jars were full. The group questioned him, but he never met an explorer named Copperpot either. He suggested they talk to someone who knew it all, and the Mother of Moles was older than anyone except for Loom.
Racing down to Mother Mole the Sniffer Union was able to talk with the ancient matriarch. She was forgetful in her old age and kept restarting her conversation. Fortunately it was only the effects of time and she was able to share that Copperpot was investigating the old Mine tracks.
The children and their allies thanked her for the help and rushed to the Basset town entrance. The boards had been loosened. The Shadows must have been here already. Loki reminded them they were forbidden to go in there by the Elfkin.
Realization dawned as they realized where else would you hide an ancient and cursed artifact? Softpaw, an ally of the Children of Stories, had checked the passage before out of curiosity. She had missed the a section of wall that was caved in during the inspection.
The Sniffer Moles asked Strifeclaw if she could move the rocks, but she hesitated. This was a trap set by the Unweaver. If she broke through directly it would break her vow again. The Power of the Earthstone was great here, but he had been counting on her rushing without thought. The children would have to open the path on their own, but the panther could use her power to protect them, and knew they could do it.
What she didn’t expect was the Sniffers using dynamite in a small enclosed cavern. She channeled to prevent a brand new cave in of their own creation.
The explosion knocked the rocks back and exposed the hidden mine entrance. The Sniffers went below to find a crushed and ancient skeleton whose very clothes had faded with the passage of time. It belonged to Copperpot, who discovered a lift leading to an ancient Dwarven tunnel before his end.
The Dwarven seal was powerful and required the lift engine to be reconstructed. He had written out a series of clues to their location when he triggered a trap. Stalactites had fallen from above. Strifeclaw had prevented any such thing happening now. At least this deathtrap had been of Dwarven creation.
The children broke into teams and gathered the pieces of engine. Star the sniffer, Nisha the dragon, and their team worked together to get a piece far out of reach. The first piece was already found by one of their rivals, the stranger who had accused Tepic at the trial. He claimed it as his own, but was willing to trade. All the food he could eat at their camp in exchange for the device. The ‘big kitty’ also wasn’t allowed to squish them. Vicky, the sniffer, agreed to this.
And so all the engine pieces came together except for the last. Arnold had uncovered it the day before. He agreed to follow them towards the mine. There he nodded to Lynx, the Water Guardian, who had been trying to remain in disguise. She was not pleased the Shadows had recognized her.
The villain asked them good reasons why he should help them, and not finish the elevator for himself and take the spanner. They threatened Arnold but he didn’t seem to mind. He even corrected them so they wouldn’t waste time with the wrong torments.
Avariel, Guardian of the Airstone, suggested doing so would make him feel good inside. He answered back that was a good reason, and he was almost proud to be a part of it. It was not clear if he intended this as sarcasm. After they provided a few ‘good’ reasons the familiar made a deal with them. If they found and gave him ‘Bobbin’ then he would give them the engine piece.
The crowd groaned in dismay at having t start a new search, and they asked for hints. But the children who stayed up late knew Bobbin’s story already. A Shade cursed by the Unweaver had been tormenting the camp all week. She was attacking Strifeclaw and Loom, neither of which she could approach when they were covered in light. Long ago, after the Elfkin mine opened, a young girl became lost in the dark mines. She had only one ally to stave off the fear: ‘Bobbin’ was her teddy bear and only friend at the end. The Unweaver claimed them both in this tragedy. Without it the child spirit would forever be his pawn.
Niki and Star had already found Bobbin, and led Arnold behind the elevator. He smiled and told the Sniffers they won. He could keep his promise to the Shade to set her free. The reluctant Shadow, to the shock of many gathered, gave them the final piece in trade. However, he would have to collect the Gremlin Spanner after they used it.
The elevator opened and everyone that could fit used it to descend into a sealed Dwarven tomb. The terrible Gremlin Spanner was there. The children took it and wanted to attack the machine immediately. However the Mayor would definitely fire and banish the Sniffers if they were obvious. They would never see Loom , the Dreamkin, the Elfkin, or the Moles ever again if they did that. They returned to camp to plan.
Morkus overheard enough of what they were plotting to offer his assistance. He wanted the machine destroyed too. The Overseer explained that the spanner wasn’t a sword to swing. It had to be placed inside the now sealed machine, and with subtlety to avoid suspicion. The key to the machine was in the hands of the third Consultant, the Technician. The Sniffer Moles would have to deal with them, but after destroying the first two the third would avoid them.
The Union discussed their options and decided to stage a protest of the construction. They would be loud, proud, and get the Technician to come to them. The protest would begin on April 29th at 1pm at the Hunros Town Square.
Friday, April 29th: The Sniffer Moles and the Miners Protest
The Union of Sniffer Moles arrived at the Town Square with a plan. They would protest until the Technician, the final Consultant, emerged. The children intended to be relatively nice and request knowledge about the machine. By understanding, training, and then gaining access they could put the Spanner in unnoticed.
Several allies in the crowd weren’t in on this plan, but it spread quickly. Shouting filled the streets as the Sniffers and their allies caused peaceful havoc. Their allies and bystanders were beside them causing as much noise as possible.
The Technician Consultant emerged to discover their demands. Daemon, the Sniffer Mole, put their plan into action: “We want to know how to not break the machine accidentally.” Several whispered he was being too direct as the Consultant asked why he wanted to break the device. Daemon explained his meaning, “We don’t want to break it by accident. So we need training.”
The clockwork found the requests surprising. They refused to work with the Educator to learn device operation. They had broken the Administrator determining their qualifications. Their jobs, and the Union itself, were all set to be terminated by the Mayor.
This caused the Sniffers to howl protests as politeness vanished. Threats, insults, and demands fell on uncaring ears. Mokrus told them how devastating it was to lose the opportunity to mine the magic. Harrison spoke of starving family. Patrick said without the mine he would lose his hope. It scoffed at their tears. The Technician claimed to have no heart and sad stories could not manipulate it.
But something changed in the clockwork. They had awakened the Educator with misbehaving. They had bested the Admistrator with the fantastical. And now, though it was much harder, their fears and stories of loss were teaching the Technician empathy.
He saw that they were not tools and had much to lose from losing their jobs. The clockwork felt the dream flow within it burst as it broke like the others, just as it has started to truly feel.
They felt sorry for the Consultant, but were assured repairs could restore him. The Sniffers took his key, climbed the scaffolds, and with teamwork placed the true Gremlin Spanner into the machine. The Sniffers fled the scene and returned to camp.
At their base of operations, Winter the Sniffer approached the campfire. After Winters encounter with her brother on Junction her memory of having a brother had completed faded. Previously, he had been her reasons for mining and traveling, but that memory was gone. She was also old enough she had all but lost the scent of magic. The Shadows tried to recruit her in the moment of weakness.
Winter had been close to falling under the sway of the Unweaver. Tepic, Freya, Niki, Star, Vicky, Patrick, and so many other Sniffers went above and beyond the call to show her support. She was able to avoid that fate.
Few of the children had ever imagined growing up and losing the magic, nor how disheartening it could be to realize you lost it. She considered coming for Morkus job, but others suggested she could help the Elfkins rooting out Shadows impersonating real Faireland academies and wizards. The former Sniffer smiled at the idea, and wished them well. She went back home with her friend Freya, who had agreed to go with her wherever she needed.
The Sniffers turned their attention back to the Grand Opening. The Union hoped their plans were worthwhile, and the Mayor would never build another machine with the Spanner involved. Legendary and cursed artifacts could be unpredictable, and so the Guardians would be ready with a ritual if it was necessary. They would call on their ally, Zander Greene, to talk to the Mayor to take over for the Grand Opening.
The Sniffers hoped the last piece of the puzzle would fall into place at the Hunros Mine on Saturday April 30th at 1pm.
Saturday, April 30th: The Sniffer Moles and the Fate of the Bell
The Sniffer Moles arrived early to the Grand Opening. Fairelanders flocked to the Town Center ready to celebrate with Zander Greene. The Mayor, eager to have such a famous member of the Bardic Order come forward, never questioned the substitution. The Mayor informed everyone the Machine would be activated in half an hour.
The Union, and many of their allies, celebrated and danced with hope. They were certain the Gremlin Spanner ensured the device was destined to fail. They could hardly wait for the real show to start after it was activated. There was no sense in wasting a party, and they could all celebrate the Sniffer Moles keeping their jobs.
But their enemies did not share their confidence. Arnold pointed out that he, a reluctant servant of the Unweaver, revealed the secrets of the Spanner in the first place. For all they knew this was all part of some grand manipulation. He added that sabotaging a machine marked with radioactive warning labels was always a bad idea.
The Sniffers had no idea what radiation was and mostly ignored his pessimism. The Guardians were ready to perform a ritual if it proved necessary. Charity already poured into the Ancient Charity Stone to help spread hope and cheer.
Finally, it was time to activate the machine. The Sniffers watched in dismay as it appeared the Gremlin Spanner had failed. But then warning alarms rang and the machine began to absorb faster!
The Mayor panicked as the Machine threatened to overload! The Machine was going to destroy the entire mine and kill everyone! Strifeclaw channeled the Earthstone to prevent cave ins, but the Sniffers had to race into action.
Loki shouted for help and Vicky, Tepic, Lukas, Killua, Mud, Silas, and others rushed forward to answer the call. They didn’t have time to be fancy as they attacked the machine with everything they had. Arnold came behind behind them to either encourage them, or probably steal the Gremlin Spanner as ordered.
The Machine was torn apart, but fire and debris rained on the Fairelanders below as the Bell lost its luster. Some people were hurt, a tiny went down, the Bard nearly got crushed, Lilith and Lynx rolled to safety, but Strifeclaw was concentrating on protecting the earth over them. She was struck hard by one of the metal supports. The Guardian grit her teeth and called on the spirits of the Earth to give her the strength to endure.
If they had been in another realm rather than one where Earth was strongest she would have lost consciousness. Feeling the Earth’s support the Guardian forced a smile and looked to the Fairelanders to begin the ritual. It was hard to think, what were the words? She heard Lynx beseech the Water spirits and could only think to do the same to the Earth quickly.
“Tie for the ritual!” Okay maybe she let on a few hints she was hurt. But letting people know it would hurt their hopes and they needed all they could get. “Earth Spirits hear our need, answer to the joy we have given and in our hearts and to what we have Given to Loom!! Now we have a new purpose, save the BELL! Save the Dreamkin!”
They still had ninety minutes and had raised 76,000 Linden in the first thirty minutes. But the charity and generosity was far from over. Now that they had a purpose the light in the Fairelanders grew stronger. The first matches had come from Tanner of Kuruk, who had sent it from far away, and another unnamed source. The Ancient Charity Stone was raised to 186,000 as soon as Strifeclaw managed.
Olde, the Pawficer, made calls to the Fairelands to send their aide and was able to bring countless allies hoping to make a difference. They offered 50 K if the kiosk hit 225 K!
Arnold hid the Spanner somewhere nearby and informed the Children that without the Bell they would lose. The Company would lose. The Elfkin would lose. The moles would lose. The Dreamkin would lose. The only winner was the Unweaver, as the evil entity had predicted from the start. He ignored their rebuttals and looked to Olde. He would double the match the Pawficer offered. 50 K sent by Freya and Winter, whom the Children saved from a dark path.
This shocked many of the Children, but true to their words when the kiosk rushed past 225,000, it leapt past 325,000! The kids were close to passing 1 million linden raised for the entire year! Matches rained in, but so did hopes for the Bell trying to feed it their hopes.
But the Bell grew weaker…and there was only a light pulse every now and again. Even the music took on a darker tone in the next hour. They needed hope and Olde was happy to provide another match at 425. The charity grew even as concern and worry crept on the edges of the event.
Arnold came forward again and offered 100 K if they reached 600 K. This match was born of their aide in helping the Shade and putting her to rest, and giving Bobbin a new home. Threats, violence, and hate didn’t seem to bother Arnold, but the sudden hugs definitely confused him!
Softpaw encouraged everyone to share their fondest memories and hopes so they could feed them to the Bell. Patrick shared dancing with his parents despite being against the law. Miro spoke of a world without cancer. 15000 L matches flooded from Mud and Tobias. They soon had over 600K, which leapt to 716,000 linden! Olde was already grabbing another match from unknown sponsors!
And still the Bell grew weaker. The explosions of magic slowed down almost to a halt. Vicky thought Strifeclaw should increase the power of the ritual, but she was doing everything she could to stay upright.
Arnold figured he was already doomed when he returned to his Witch and the Unweaver. Having nothing to lose he added that if they reached 900 K he would top it off to 1 million. He would then leave and return the magic he’d been taking from the ritual.
They had defeated the corruption in Kuruk with such a breathtaking endeavor. The hope that filled their hearts would surely power the Bell from such a feat. The Children shouted OMG to summon Loom. They still did not know what the First meant to the Dreamkin, but they need him to combat the darkness. They hoped the Flow was strong enough for him to come.
The Fairelanders celebrated as 900 K was surpassed. Arnold was true to his word and the 1 million barrier was shattered by the Children. Tears of joy flowed freely from those who had never dreamed of hitting such a goal. Tobias and Ruby met another 10 K match they had offered. Tinies river danced and Fairelanders clapped and cheered. Joy reverberated through everyone and the Faire itself was close to 12 million!
Arnold promised to give the magic back in a few minutes, but he had to check on something first. Daemon assured Arnold that he wasn’t one of the bad guys. Tobias and others offered to let him stay. The cat familiar assured them that while he had to work for the Unweaver he was a bad guy, but that didn’t mean he was a ‘bad guy’. He fled with the Spanner deeper into the mine…
The Faire was 50 K from the 12 million mark as many of the Children gave their last pennies to save the Bell. But just as they started to feel hope Strifeclaw whispered to Zander and he told everyone to look to the Bell. It had gone completely dark.
The Children cried as it appeared the Bell was dead. Strifeclaw cried out in dismay and pain feeling like it was her failure to properly align the ritual. All hope seemed lost as the Flow of Hopes and Dreams appeared to be dead.
But a familiar voice resounded around them.
Loom appeared from deep within the mine. He told them the Bell was hope, and there was always hope. The Bell slowly started to pulse again, and then it returned stronger than ever. They had done it! Loom righted the ritual, and the hard work everyone had done sprang to life! The Mine was no longer dark. It was now colorful, alive, vibrant, and brilliantly illuminated. Tears flowed freely from so many and Zander struggled to keep from chocking up on air.
Fantasy promised they would add another 250 K if the Faire hit that 12 million mark. They had passed 11 million for the Faire, 1 million in the kiosk, and they met the goal and surpassed it. They leapt to 1.3 million from the Faire’s generosity.
The children were overwhelmed with joy as they saw that they’d managed to raise 1.4 million linden in only two hours. They had raised 2 million linden this year! And there were still a week to go where it could be more!
Loom called out to the Mayor and settled that only the Sniffer Union could mine anymore magic. The Mayor had to follow the Faire’s bylaws and appologized for forgetting about the Dreamkin. The Guardians assured him that was likely the work of the Unweaver. The Sniffer Union grinned and figured this meant they owned part of the mine.
The children slowly returned to their camp, where Strifeclaw immediately fell over and passed out. Allies congratulated them on their hard work, and had a wonderful campfire celebration.
They had saved the Hunros Mine, and the future was bright.
Epilogue – The Misty Veil Approaches
Saturday, April 30th at 330 pm: The Sniffer Mole Camp…
The Sniffers returned to their camp with triumphant cheers after the crowds dispersed. The worm sausages were cold, but edible and tasty despite their origin. Niki, the Weasel, restarted the campfire to reheat the local delicacy. The flames illumination was unnecessary now that the cavern was truly alive again. The Sniffers checked the extraction tanks, and some headed towards the barrel beds, but most were excitedly playing. Loki grinned at the Sniffers as he let out a cheer. “This means we own the mine doesn’t it!?”
“But we have to mine responsibly,” Mud added from a barrel chair near the fire, and loosened their extraction gear. They looked to the Guardians nearby. Avariel and Lynx nodded, but Strifecaw did not stir from her slumber as their celebration continued. “We don’t want to hurt Loom or the Dreamkin.”
Star nodded in agreement to that, “Yeah, we have to protect the Flow! We need to know how much is safe!”
“We can discuss that tomorrow.” Loki suggested as he looked to their musically inclined friends. “We just saved the Mine and beat the Unweaver, I think? Let’s just celebrate tonight and do the hard work tomorrow!”
“Yes. Congratulations.” Niki and Patrick turned for the source of the voice, which came from within the mine. Arnold crouched in the doorway and watched them with bright blue feline eyes. He walked towards them on all fours, moving like a prowling jungle cat despite his suit and hat. The cat didn’t look directly at them. “I can’t imagine he will be pleased with this development. And anything that upsets him is good in my book.”
“We saved the .. Bell and you .. ” Patrick came forward, their speech hesitant. Bobbin the bear tied protectively to his back. Freeing the Shade together had formed an unlikely kinship between the two. “You helped. Now we need to .. save you. To fight..your witch bond, break…it…help us help you..”
“No.” Arnold shook his head resolutely. “I don’t want to break my bond. My witch was a good, or at least decent, person before the Unweaver corrupted her. If I don’t save her then who will?”
The children were not expecting loyalty from the familiar. They had thought the witch cruel and evil from the start. Tobiath mused to themselves, “It sounds like we can save you just by saving her then, but we don’t know where to find her. You also cannot tell us where to find her, or even share her name.”
Daemon frowned as the pieces of this puzzle fell into place. It was clear a vital piece was missing. He raised his voice in solidarity, “You’re in a tough place, Arnold. But you will always be one of us in spirit! An honorary Sniffer Mole!”
Their reluctant foe nodded respectfully, and started to make their way out of the Mine. Patrick called out and ran up to them. “Arnold…I want to help you! Like we..helped the Shade. But I know … Sniffers will fade into the Mysts soon… I don’t want to forget you!” Arnold paused and half turned back listening. “So I want to help you .. and in exchange for that maybe you could help me too?”
Patrick grabbed at his elbow as he continued hesitantly, “The mine has…changed me ever since I escaped Llolth. I want…to follow the light now. I heard of a new goddess…in the light. Drow follow her now… and her symbol is a sword. So… I need help getting a sword of light… and I thought you.. have a sword. You could get one for me…and maybe.. find her light for both of us.”
Arnold responded with a wry, sardonic tone, “Sending a familiar off to complete your holy quest for Elistraee, and to obtain a powerful relic for you, at the probable risk of my life? Yes. That sounds about right.” His expression softened after a moment, “And the payment you offer is a fool’s errand. Are you sure about this? The Shade trusted you with Bobbin, and for her sake I am willing to let you try. Even if it is a very poor decision.”
There was no hesitation from Patrick as the deal was struck and Arnold ran off without a goodbye. Only later did Patrick realize they had made a promise to stay with Loom too.
The Sniffers comforted Patrick and brought him back to camp. They settled down to their music and fellowship again. The conversation drifted to the Fairlanders and new friends who helped them along the way. Enemies, allies, and strangers who had helped the Bell and saved the mine. The Sniffer Moles could worry tomorrow. Today, they were heroes.
Sunday May 1st Early morning.
The Children dreamed deep into the night after partying hard. They dreamt of Loom and the Dreamkin who joined them in joy and love. They each met a dream of someone who meant the world to them, and was often someone they had lost. The dreams were bittesweet, and when the children woke a Dreamkin companion was by their side. Their new friends would help them with mining limits and all their previous fears subsided.
The children each named their personal new friend after the people they had lost. The excited Dreamkin allowed this and called out to OMG, the First, as they danced excitedly. The Sniffers still did not know what that meant, but they did know the problems with the mine would soon be a thing of the past.
Monday May 2nd, 12:30 am Loom’s well
Patrick made his way down into the mines long after the others slept peacefully at camp or their homes. The Drow had their sword now, and the deal was complete. This meant he needed to make their way towards the Well of Loom.
The glow of hopes and dreams never failed to bring a sense of wonder to the children. The scent of magic was strongest here at the pool. Saving the Bell had been important, but that event had been filled with concern as it looked like their efforts were failing. The Well filling had been filled with hope from the start.
Loom, the giant brilliant blue Dreamkin that looked like an axolotyl, floated in the center of the Well talking with the other Dreamkin. Loom turned to Patrick as he shouted a greeting.
“Patrick! Welcome!” The excited figure gave a bow.
Patrick smiled and remembered his first night here when Loom was just a puddle of magic on the floor. When he had made his first vow. Patrick bit his lower lip, “I wanted to talk to you about .. something important. When you were j just a p..puddle I said to you that I would .. make sure you were .. never alone again and .. I would be here. for you. Do you .. remember that?”
Loom let out a cheerful sound that rang like a bell. “Yes, and I really needed to hear that! I haven’t been alone since!!”
“I’ve been here .. every night. But they say Fairelands .. they come and go .. and I have a f ..friend named Arnold, and .. Arnold needs my .. help” Patrick confessed in a rush. “So .. in a year .. I will have to .. make a trip.”
Patrick felt his anxiety increase. Could a broken promise break a Dreamkins heart?
Loom gave a heartfelt laugh as he spun in mirth. “Oh yes, he came here on Saturday! You want to go help him at the FAIRE!? OMG that is the BEST! And you can really help that cat?”
Patrick smiled as his worries melted away. “I .. thinks so. I will .. do my best .. I have p .. promised him and I know I .. also promised you so .. I need to m..make sure things will be .. alright here. If I have to take .. a trip”
“I will miss you, but that poor thing ran in here talking about how the Bell was dying and everyone needed help. I was thinking of coming anyways, but the thought counted!”
“L .. loom, you’re the best.” Patrick said as he was free to keep his promise to Arnold next year. “It will ..come. we have a while .. yet now but .. it will come ..again, always. S .. Strifeclaw says .. J .. Junction abides, J .. Ju..Junction provides.”
“Junction abides! Yes! OMG! The First!!” Loom cried out as he danced with joy. Patrick was still confused, but happy that Loom was overjoyed.
Strifeclaw would explain it later after she heard the story. Junction was the first Faireland, and OMG was probably the Dreamkin name for that special realm.
To the Dreamkin, that made as much sense as anything.
Tuesday, May 3rd – Chrysalis Gardens
Freya and Winter looked over the edge of the Chrysalis Gardens Town Square towards the ground. The two could not see anything in the mist except the rising trees.
“I didn’t get to appreciate the first time we came through,” Winter lamented as she stepped back to fight the vertigo. “I saw something terrible earlier that day, but I don’t remember what now.”
“Couldn’t have been as creepy as Bassett town. I couldn’t escape that train station fast enough.” Freya shuddered at the memory of the shambling people, “Nobody leaves Bassett town…uugh. It was creepy. Not at all like the old place!”
Winter shrugged, “I wish I knew more about the Fairelands before I bought a fake ticket.” She had family back at Auxentios Pass, but the train at Bassett Town seemed no way to get anywhere. It didn’t seem there was any road back until after the Faire ended. “Maybe we can travel back with the Guardians?”
“That’s a good idea. But until the Faire ends my folks are happy to have you over!” Freya moved away from the edge and gestured for Winter to follow.
“Yes, and maybe when the Faire ends we can all go meet my mom and dad.”
Freya blinked a moment as something tickled her memory. “I’m not sure but didn’t you have a sibling?”
Winter shook her head quietly as she walked down the spiraling stair. “No. I am an only child…”
Something seemed wrong about that to both of them, but neither could remember why.
Wednesday May 4th – Sniffer Camp
The Sniffers huddled up as the Centaur delegation stood proudly, and a bit bemused, nearby. Their camp had grown busy the past few days. The Union members whispered among themselves, and then broke formation and stood together.
“We discussed it and everyone likes the proposals laid before us.” The Sniffers said as they were concluding their first business transaction. “The Centaurs bring fresh food for the Sniffers and we give you a daily helping of magic in exchange?”
The centaurs grinned at the arrangement. It had been the Unions idea in the first place. However, the deal was made and the Sniffers cheered. The worm sausages were tasty but pizza tasted much better!
Thursday May 5th – Progress Board Meeting
The Administrator Consultant, now repaired to some extent, stood before the Board of Directors for the Company known as Progress. They wore suits for the most part, though one wore robes to signify his status. They were all glowering darkly at the news coming from their Hunros investment.
The Clockwork concluded as it steepled its fingers, “The reports are certain. Magic out of the mines will be limited and the Sniffer Moles are suspicious of our activities. We will need to find new responsible energy sources for our products. Our brand will suffer setbacks from this debacle.”
The Lead Scientist, a human man wearing a lab-coat, smashed his hand against the table, “Are you telling me that a group of meddling kids sabotaged the consultants, and the machine itself, and we are the bad guys for it?! They put the Gremlin Spanner in it according to the informant on the scene! They were the villains!”
“We can definitely make it out that way.” The Public Relations figure, a purple Tiefling in a sharp suit, grinned as he saw an opportunity. “With some delicate work we can have the media lay the blame on the children. The fault was not in our equipment, but in its misuse. You don’t blame a screwdriver handle for breaking if you used it as a hammer. We will graciously refuse to press charges, of course, as they are children. We don’t need that kind of bad press.”
“That solves our lesser problem. Our quiet shareholder wanted that machine active and the Well forgotten.” The wizard in the dark robes replied ominously. “He does not like to be displeased. He wants us to shift focus to the Clouded Mountains and -”
A stampede of tiny footsteps reverberated through the building as the workers outside let out cries of alarm. The board members turned towards the door as dozens of Pawlice officers broke into the room. Chaos reigned as the tiny figures shouted out, “We gots ya now! The Board is all under arrest!!”
“What is the meaning of this?! Security! Dispose of these fools!” The robed figure growled as he was swarmed. He never had a chance to finish a spell.
“Nuh uhh uhn! The tiny arm of Fairelands law has finally caught up to ya!” The Pawlice cried as they prevented the Lead Scientiest from fleeing. “Here be de charges! Yer machine caused Reckless Endangerment, Assault with Faulty Machinery on a tiny, Damages to Fairelands and Fairelanders, making clockworks explode if dey get sentience, and worst of all: Yer hoarding all de doughnuts within a mile radius fer yerselves!” There was a slight pause as someone whispered to the Bobcat. “Oh right, and working fer de Unweaver!!”
Several board members growled defiance at this, but the scientist only had one question, “How did you bypass security!?”
The Administrator Consultant did not seem surprised by the chaos, and were not surrounded by tinies. They made placating gestures. “I shall answer your questions to the best of my ability.”
“The Technician Consultant disabled the security measures in full cooperation with Fairelands Watch. Likewise, I too have divulged pertinent information such as the identity of our so-called secret shareholder, the Unweaver. The Shadows who served him to enrich themselves have been identified, and my recorded information is at the disposal of these Pawficers.”
The clockwork watched the Board being ushered out. Outside the Technician stood holding the keys that disabled the security devices. The last thing they saw was the Education Consultant assuring the clueless and scared workers that it was prepared to re-educate the staff so their company could thrive away from service to the Unweaver. Would they like to join the new Union?
Friday May 6th – The Carnelian Archives
Lilith Binda shuffled the last of her clothes into the suitcase. Her mechanical assistant fox, Kit, waited until she struggled to close the locks to pounce on top of the baggage. Lilith thanked them with a pat, and clicked the luggage shut.
She was finally packed and ready to return home. It seemed too early to be recalled, but orders were orders. She regretted leaving now though. This was her goodbye to this realm for good. The Mysts would come within a matter of days to take it all away.
Dr. Leth, her Historian friend, knocked at the door. Lilith could tell she was exhausted, but more concerning was the rifle slung across her shoulder. “Is everything okay, Nadina?”
“I figured you cant be too safe with Shadows prowling everywhere. We could run into bandits on the way home, or hungry cats looking to eat more books.” She growled and patted the new weapon quietly. It was clear the tome eating and memory loss had affected the historian for the worst. “The best defense is a good offense.”
Lilith couldn’t argue with that last part. The Gadgetier moved into the hallway and looked at the millions of books around her and sighed. “I am going to miss the Carnelian Archives. There is so much knowledge here. More than I could hope to read in a lifetime. And I will never get to come back. The Mysts are going to eat it…”
Nadina shook her head in disagreement. “The Mysts are not destroying anything…think of them as a barrier between those who live their entire lives in the Greater Fairelands and the rest of us in the Many Worlds. They fade to us, but…well they abide in memories and stories. The texts on it aren’t clear. But from their perspective it must seem like we are the ones who fade away. That is why they like to attend the Faire too.”
Lilith smiled softly at the thought. “Thanks. That does make me feel a bit better about this. I am…almost ready to go home if that is the case.” She took her luggage into hand, and carted it down the hall. She said goodbye to the Archive, at the end, adding, “I loved getting lost in you.”
With that as the final word, she turned and made her way back to her own world.
Saturday, May 7th – The Tower of Vanwa Órë in the Realm of Forgotten Stories
The Great Hall of the gothic tower was crafted of dark marble and had no illumination. Most Fairelanders would be all but blind here, but the Shadows never had trouble finding their way in darkness. They shuffled into position and spread cruel gossip. The new Lord of Shadow was the subject of some ridicule, but their tones held the ring of bitter jealousy.
The Lord clearly enjoyed his new position. His armor was dark leather and a crimson mace rested at his hip. He was small in stature, but was tall for his age. A horse-sized fox rested behind the villain and listened with amusement to the other Shadows. The vulpine shared what he overheard with malevolent glee.
Arnold looked through the crowd from the entrance, but he felt his witch was somewhere further to the back. She must be delivering a report herself shortly. The familiar decided to walk slowly, as he could sense her foul mood through the bond.
He found her in the backroom where they kept the drinks. She was sitting in the corner with a bottle of wine, and what seemed a dirty glass. Her black gown would have appeared exquisite if it was not wrinkled and covered with mud stains. Their black hair was matted from lack of care and bags under her eyes betrayed lack of sleep.
“Nightmares, again, Ms. Sinclaire?” Arnold asked. “How did the plot to destroy the Clouded Mountains go for you all? Well poisoned? Alchemists assassinated? Mountain on fire?”
There was no response, not a verbal one anyways, as the feline dropped to all fours. The bottle aimed at his head smashed against the wall. He was showered in glass and rancid smelling wine.
“Thank you for letting me duck, I guess.” The familiar called out as he stood back up. Ms. Sinclaire was already reaching for another bottle. He pulled out the cursed artifact, the Gremlins Spanner, out of his jacket. “Mission accomplished, yes?”
She studied him a moment before she poured herself another cup and downed it. His witch, his former friend, clearly wished it was rum at the moment. “Next time, you can go hunting beasts and trudging mountains. I will deal with the children. A nasty curse or two would do.”
Arnold tried not to wince as he handed her the artifact. Showing that he cared would only make it worse. “Why do they keep sending me on missions near the Children? I have not hidden which side I would rather be on. The Shadows and Unweaver both know I sided with the Children last year. What could they possibly gain by tempting me to help the enemy?”
“I get the sense it is a cruel joke, but I do not understand why. I just give the orders,” Sinclaire shrugged quietly, but then she narrowed her eyes. She was not overly inebriated at least. “Tempted or not, you could not have helped them save the mine, right?”
Arnold crossed his arms and turned away. “Your direct orders were clear. The only people I could help were ones that hurt the Fairelands. I followed that order to the letter.” The Machine, and its sabotage, had certainly fit that description. The Dreamkin, he had rationalized, were just dreams and not people.
“Well, you will confess every way you betrayed our cause later.” She waved her hand dismissively and began to smooth her appearance. “Now that I have the Spanner to show for my efforts I better get ready for my report.”
“Congratulations on your hard earned success.” Arnold grumbled sarcastically as he turned back. “You definitely have earned your next promotion.”
Sinclaire ignored his scorn and waved her hand as the mud vanished from her dress. The Witch wobbled slightly as she stood, and her heel slipped.
Arnold darted forward and caught her before she hit the ground. He helped her upright, but the proud witch batted him away once she was stable. She walked away, footsteps resounding on the stone, but at the door a thought occurred to her. “One last question, dear, in case they ask: How goes the corruption of the Guardians?”
Arnold let out a sigh, “Ahead of schedule.”
Sunday, May 8th – The Sniffer Camp
The Sniffers gathered for the final day of the Faire. They shared their time and camaraderie as they ate pizza delivered from the Centaurs. The Mysts were closing in soon, and the children grew concerned at the impending end.
“Will our story just stop now? Is this..this the end?” The Sniffers wondered to their friends and allies.
Strifeclaw reassured them, “The final pages of this story are being told, but stories do not end when the last word is written. They do not stop just because happily ever after has been penned. Stories continue after the book has been shut, and those within it return to their lives. You will be mining in the Hunros Mine for years to come. But the Faire will pull a new Faireland next year with Children much like you whom have a new story to tell.”
The Sniffers sighed with relief and waited for the Mysts. In the final hour the Children rallied with a desire to even more. They pushed hard and broke their record from last year, raising 2,275,827 linden dollars, and passing 8 million for the Childrens stories over the past 9 years.
The Sniffers and Fairelanders, fairycats, familiars, foxes, panthers, drow, elves, humans and animals gathered for a final picture. A way to hold onto their memories forever. The Bell and city served as the backdrop as the children crossed the river.
There they closed the last chapter of the Sniffer Moles of the Hunros Mine, together.