Crystal Forge Lore

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   Back to Main           Prologue                  Chapter 1

   Chapter 2                 Chapter 3                 Chapter 4

   Chapter 5                 Chapter 6                 Epilogue

Chapter 2

          Spring tours were in full swing. A large group of nearly a hundred Drifters followed a handsome boy who looked no older than 21. The  young man had medium-short brown hair, spiked in a soft, feathered sort of way on top and longer jagged edges that hung just below his jaw line on the sides. Not a wrinkle was seen on the young man’s face; he had a calm composure, but drifted with a friendly confidence. His hooded pinkish-purple cape blew gently behind him in the breeze, the iris of his eyes crystal-white. Underneath his unfastened cloak he sported a pair of fitted black pants, bandage-like shoes, a butler-esque top, and lots of long blue ribbons to tie it off. But what was perhaps most striking about his appearance was the white rose growing from the front of his neck. The flower’s pedals caressed the boy’s skin and shielded it with leaves; it was part of him. He led his guests from the edge of one of Eeventide’s massive forests deeper beneath the burgeoning treetops. He flew at a brisk pace and didn’t slow until someone addressed him.

Oliver Rose, Leader of Treeforge Guild

          “Mr. Oliver Rose,” asked a girl nearest him, “What is this place called?”
          “Please, call me Oli,” replied the white-eyed Drifter, holding up a hand. “And this place is called a ‘forest’.” A few people throughout the pack snickered, but their friends gave them a quick nudge as a reminder that they were laughing at the newest Guild Leader. Oliver chuckled, too, “Just kidding! I know what you meant. But in all honesty it doesn’t have a name yet. Partly because we’ve only recently settled nearby and haven’t thought of a name yet, but truthfully?” 
          The group watched Oli slowly spin around as they continued forward, taking in the full view of the colossal trees. 
          “Eeventide has a will of its own, and I don’t know how much it would appreciate us naming its body parts.”
 That got him stares from the crowd.
          “I mean, how would you like it if I looked at you and started calling your arm or your leg something else?” he asked, pointing a large, hairy man. “Like…‘Wildwood Expanse’?” 
          More burst out laughing. The girl who posed the question shrunk back into the crowd, embarrassed. The heavy-set man looked bewildered.
          “I apologize,” said Oli, remorsefully putting both hands up. “Where we’re going everything will be made clear.” With that, he took off deeper into the forest, but not too fast so that the crowd could continue at a loose follow. He knew the group with him today was comprised of all ages; kids, adults and even some elderly. 
          Within moments the group had formed up into a follow-the-leader line that snaked through the forest. With each passing minute the trees grew larger and taller, and pretty soon started changing colors. There were so many kinds, all growing closer and closer together as the light of the outside world grew fainter and farther away. But just as it was getting hard to see, the people’s faces lit up with smiles, illuminated by swarms of fireflies and ethereal light emanating from the surrounding plants and trees.
          Oliver glanced over his shoulder often to make sure he hadn’t lost anyone and smiled contently to himself as they reached their destination. The forest broke out into multiple sections, with groves and grottos in every direction and a central dip in the forest floor that was as wide as a canyon. Before them laid an entire city built into the trees, sprawling with humans and creatures alike. The city was strangely futuristic, but not at all modern; spires and townhouses jutted out from the skyscraper trees, while wooden houses and odd-shaped cabins sat nestled into branches slowly pulsing with colorful nebula. More castle-like structures and penthouses hung upside down from the canopy-covered sky, and Drifters cloaked in earthy tones busied themselves with work. Living trees, some with faces and some without, walked on their many roots while others stood proudly guarding the edges of the city. The guests who first arrived just behind Oli were still standing in awe by the time the rest caught up to take in the sight. 

Treeforge Complex

          “Welcome to the Treeforge Complex!” said Oliver cheerfully as he drifted dramatically over the ledge where the crowd stood above the city. “This is my home, and it could very well become yours, too.” 
          The whole lot of them instantly burst into whispers and murmurs among themselves, amazed at what they saw. Some drifted cautiously beyond the ledge to get a better look, but none went out past Oliver who was looking at them all with an expression of sincere satisfaction, the same one he gave to all of his guided tours on Recruitment Day. “Does anyone have any questions before we head down to get a better look?” he said.
          There was a moment of silence, but then a deafening flurry of questions from the crowd, all talking over each other. 
          “What makes the trees glow like that?!” 
          “What are they doing?!”
          “Are all of those people Treeforge Guild members down there?!”
          “How did this place get here?!”
          “Was it built or was it found like this?!”
          “Are the trees summoned or were they discovered naturally?!”
          “How long has all of this existed?!”
          “Do the other Guilds know about this?!”
          “Why is it called Treeforge Complex? Didn’t you say you don’t name places on Eeventide?!”
          “If they’re upside down, how do they stay in place?!”
          Oliver threw his arms up again to hush the crowd. “You see the nebula?” he said, pointing at hotspots throughout the forest where the pink, fuchsia and purple lights glowed brightest. “Nearly everything is made up of stardust, but the galaxy stuff is a different story. As we were building this place, we made sure to infuse the trees with nebula so that it remains protected. Out there,” he said, gesturing toward the way they came, “the Thoughtstream is Eeventide’s sword. It’s not a place meant to be inhabited, which is why no one has been able to get near it, despite what you may have heard. I believe that the Thoughtstream is alive and active, and Eeventide will use it to exterminate threats it feels should not be here.” 
          “But doesn’t Eeventide enjoy chaos?” asked someone. Most of the group was still staring out at the beautiful city. 
          “Yes, it loves chaos. Craves it, even,” confirmed Oliver Rose. “But I haven’t been here very long and can already tell things are changing in a way that is truly disturbing the planet. Should it ever try to destroy this place, the Thoughtstream will detect the nebula and know not to touch it since it’s merged with the environment itself.” 
          “What about the Treefolk?” asked another.
          “Them?” replied Oliver, waving toward the creatures navigating the cityscape. Several giant mushrooms carrying wood stopped and looked up at them. “Treefolk and Mushfolk have been here all along. The ones without faces are natural, the rest we forged. The city project is never finished, but they are a great help. And, believe me, they’re also a force to be reckoned with in battle!” Oliver looked around and saw most peoples’ faces mesmerized before adding, “But enough chit-chat, there will be plenty of time for that; what do you folks say we go down to say hello?” 
          That got the crowd stirring. Some of the younger Drifters pushed and shoved their way to the front next to Oli, anxious to see the Treefolk up close. Oliver smiled and led the way down a steep slope, the air beneath the dozens of guests ruffling leaves and vines that grew along the cliff as they floated by. 
          Oliver continued to speak up so most of the crowd could be informed. “What do you guys think are the most important ingredients of a healthy forest?” 
          “Water!” shouted one.
          “Good soil!” shouted another.
          “Sunlight!” hollered a third. 
          “All correct!” Oli applauded. “But on Eeventide, as we all know, things can get a bit extreme.” Oliver heard kids laughing and sounds of surprise coming from some of the adults, and upon glancing back saw several small hordes of fireflies dancing around them as they went along. He briefly bore his perfectly white smile before continuing, “Sunlight hits the outer forest, but isn’t required in here because of all the other sources of natural bioluminescent light, not to mention the nebula we brought here. As you can tell, the soil is so good you can barely see it anymore because everything is so overgrown.”

Sporeheart Shroom

          “Look!” exclaimed a young person. The crowd of Drifters rushed forward in excitement, and scooped up water to drink from a long-winding stream that had become uncovered along the forest floor. 
          “The water here is so healthy, too,” finished Oli. 
          Just then a skinny mushroom approached the group by the waterside and dropped a lantern it had been carrying to greet them. Lots of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ ensued from the crowd as the creature was mobbed by those trying to get a closer look. Oliver smiled as a plume of vapor parted the crowd and gave the mushroom some space. 
          “Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Sporeheart,” said the Guild Leader. 
          The human-sized Mushfolk visibly shuttered. Then, glimmering, magical water resumed pouring from the brim of its cap. Its body had lots of holes in it, the stringy gaps allowing an eerie yellow light to shine through. 
          “I’ve personally appointed this little guy to be the beacon of the Complex, a sort of mobile lighthouse that can help you get back to wherever you need to be should you get lost.” 
          “Oli, why is this place called the Treeforge Complex?” asked a Drifter toward the back. 
          “Because,” said Oliver, “Our Guild is named Treeforge and the blueprints drawn up by our Cardsmiths were complex as heck! I’ve heard it’s a tradition to let Guild Leaders name their HQ, but what can I say? I’m not great at everything I do.”
          A handful of people laughed. 
          “Well,” said Treeforge’s Leader, turning back to the Mushfolk. “Are you ready to show them the inner city?”
          The Sporeheart Shroom picked up its lantern and nodded.