Erendorn is teeming with many fearsome beasts of indescribable proportions – but some of the most cunning, most tormenting creatures in these lands do not come in such obvious packages. The Sprites of Erendorn are petite creatures, no more intimidating than the flora and no bigger than a dwarf. But these menacing tricksters can really pack a punch and love nothing more than to play cruel games with their victims beneath the canopies of the High Forest.
Sprites of Erendorn
The Sprites of Erendorn are conniving little creatures who delight in using their magic to torment others. Residing in the High Forest, this race is easily recognised by their unique and childlike appearance. Standing at just 143 centimetres tall, Sprites are clad in woven leaves taken from the forest floor. Vines spiral round their arms and feet and crawl over their heads, a characteristic that allows them to easily hide from large predators by disappearing into the surrounding woodland.
Another defining feature of this race is their ability to move at incredibly high speeds. This, and their unparalleled agility, allows the Sprites to move swiftly through even the most dense region of trees without hardly moving a twig. Sprites are also recognised by their fatuous laughter that rings throughout the forest. To those unfamiliar with the Sprites, these resonant giggles may at first sound like nothing more than child’s play; but those familiar with their work know that this laughter is not so sweet and innocent. Cruel intentions govern the actions of Sprites and their sparkling tittering is nothing more than a symptom of their sadistic amusement.
At first glance, most Sprite activity appears harmless – but look a little closer, and something sinister underpins every superficial act of innocence. When a Sprite sits calmly against a tree trunk, or lies peacefully among the flowers, the serene smile on their face is usually because of the butterfly trapped between their fingers, struggling to fly away as their captor watches amusedly.
When they are seen holding hands and skipping in circles around forest creatures, they are not playing a friendly game but a tormenting one, encircling their target so that they can cast one of their mischievous spells on them. Sprites have been known to use their magic to zap creatures’ tails, trap Blue Melmees in spellbound cages and to even string terrified fauna from trees, dangling them just out of reach from hungry predators below. But the Sprites’ favourite and most used form of magic are control spells.
Using their manipulative magic, Sprites will often pit two of the same creatures against one another, forcing them to fight until they are physically exhausted or until the Sprites get bored. They use many devilish incantations to take control of unsuspecting victims and play cruelly with them like puppets. Often, the Sprites will sit astride a large tree branch, watching with brazen grins as their torment unravels below.
Lucky for the defenseless creatures of the forest, Sprites tend to have short attention spans and become bored quite easily. When this happens, they will abandon their current game to find a new twisted pleasure. However, despite their ruthless nature, the Sprites are not an evil race and they make sure to never kill other creatures.
The High Forest
Sprites thrive in temperate environments that are rife with trees and other fey creatures. This is why, many centuries ago, the Sprites made the High Forest their home. The High Forest provides the ideal conditions for Sprites: enchanting flora bursts from the ground in vibrant, iridescent colours; grand trees cast cool pillars of shadow across the sunlit earth; the temperature is always mild, the air always calm, and powerful Forest Druids carry out their shamanic existence nearby, blessing nature with their magic.
Sprites are not totally callous creatures. While they enjoy tormenting small fauna, they have a deep respect for the High Forest and care greatly about its wellbeing. By having an affinity with nature, Sprites also hold the Forest Druids in high regard. This is a race of spellcasters who are so intrinsically linked with nature that they live in complete synchronicity with its cycles. But, while the Sprites do respect these fey creatures, that doesn’t mean they’re exempt from their meddling.
The lack of destruction or harm that Sprites cause to the Forest Druids is certainly a sign of just how highly regarded they are in Sprite culture – but not even that is enough for the Sprites to deny their inner mischief. Rather than tormenting the Forest Druids, the Sprites like to play pranks on them. They love to pull harmless tricks – hiding their books on herbalism, swapping the ingredients in their remedial concoctions, some will even go as far as casting one of their control spells onto a Forest Druid elder as they go about their teachings, making their arms move absurdly as they watch giddily from the distance. But they have to be careful. Forest Druids, in general, are much more powerful spellcasters than the troublesome Sprites, and they won’t hesitate to hit them with a little snap of magic to get them on their way.
Relationship with the Forest
Like their druidic neighbours, the Sprites have an almost symbiotic relationship with the forest. They can run blindly through the meandering paths and know exactly where they are. They understand the noises carried by the rustling canopies. They spend dawn bathing in the early morning dew and at night, they sleep in the hollows of trees.
But Sprites are as important to the High Forest as it is to them. The flourishing undergrowth, vibrant foliage and strong, mighty trees are all signs that this region has a high concentration of Sprite activity. Indeed, the Sprites play a crucial role in the High Forest’s ecosystem and while they are feared by many of its smaller inhabitants, they are one of the reasons why this region of Erendorn is perhaps the most breathtaking display of nature that these lands have to offer.
Sprites and the High Forest’s Ecosystem
There are many different ways the Sprites contribute to the High Forest’s ecosystem, and one is by snacking on the insects that destroy some of the forest’s most enchanting plants. In general, Sprites meal on the various fruits and berries that grow in the forest and they have also been known to feast on fallen pine cones or conkers that litter the ground. But their energy comes from the many insects that they snack on throughout the day. From cutworms and beetles to caterpillars and moths, the Sprites’ eating habits actually help to protect the plants by reducing the number of insects that destroy them.
Sprites are also said to play an important role in the life of trees, which they have a natural affinity with. According to the legends, Sprites speak ancient spells to the trees during harsh winters lest their roots wither and die. This is a tradition that the Sprites have performed since the Old Times. In fact, the rumours say that these careful chants are the reason why the Nine Deeproot Trees continue to grow. These are Erendorn’s most ancient, greatest trees that stand reverently in the heart of the High Forest. While no one can say for certain whether the Sprites are linked to their eternal life, many creatures believe that they steal away at night to speak their spells to them.
There is one more ritual that the Sprites do in order to help maintain the balance of the High Forest’s ecosystem, but it cannot be done simply. In order to perform this ritual, they need the presence of their great and powerful leader, Queen Talia, who possesses a unique ability.
Queen Talia, Leader of the Sprites
Queen Talia has led the Sprites for nearly a century. Overgrown with entwining vines, she is a wise and powerful leader who no longer shares her race’s enjoyment for cruel games. In fact, it was Queen Talia who decreed that the Sprites would not kill or maim another creature unless necessitated to by hostile circumstances.
While she looks no older than her lively subjects, Queen Talia is becoming more and more fragile as time wears on. For most of the year, she stays within her sacred chamber – an enormous, hollow tree trunk that sits behind a waterfall. The hollow of this tree is so grand that all twenty of the Sprites’ elders gather here for their meetings with the Queen, who is nearly always found meditating atop her throne made from braided twigs. It is said that when she does this, which is nearly all year round, she is actually using the ancient tongue of the Old Times to communicate with the trees of the forest.
In spite of her fragility and tranquil disposition, Queen Talia has a unique power that no other Sprite has ever possessed. There aren’t many outside of the race who know of this ability. Even so, it is one that every single living organism in the High Forest depends on. Queen Talia of the Sprites has the ability to summon the rain.
Rain Dance Ritual
Once a year, after the tireless summer sun begins to cool, Queen Talia will leave her chamber, passing beneath the waterfall on her way to a secret destination that only the Sprites know exists. In this place, every one of her subjects awaits her arrival; in order for the Queen’s rain summoning spell to work, the Sprites must perform their sacrosanct ritual of the Rain Dance.
In this secret nook of the forest, the ground is covered by a thin layer of cold, crystal clear water. Pebbles worn smooth by centuries of dancing Sprites sit beneath the glistening water and tall trees surround the open space, protecting it from view. As Queen Talia arrives, the Sprites begin walking slowly in a huge circle, parting only to let her through.
With Queen Talia standing at the centre of the clearing, she raises her arms towards the sky in a reverential gesture whilst murmuring the ancient word of the Sprites beneath her breath as she begins the rain summoning spell. Meanwhile, the Sprites’ dance gains momentum and vigour. They stomp their feet in unison, sending synchronised veils of water splashing through the air. Between their timed claps and high jumps, they hold hands with each other as they move in an anti-clockwise circle. All the while, the Sprites chant an accompanying spell whilst their Queen continues to hone her magic.
Eventually, as the Rain Dance ritual begins to climax, Queen Talia’s body will start to surge with power. Her entire frame trembles and a deep, focussed frown shades her eyes. With her arms raised to the sky, her palms begin to glow hot white as the gilded clouds come together in an angry swirl of black and grey that darkens the whole forest. By this point, the Sprites are dancing furiously and shouting more than chanting. The ground trembles beneath their stomping feet, the Queen thrusts her arms further towards the sky, one final flash of white light bursts from her hands and then — the rain comes.
A successful summoning spell can result in rainfall that lasts for weeks on end, and the forest drinks it thankfully. Without this period of intense rain, the forest would not be able to support nearly half of the life that teems below its leafy awning and so, the Rain Dance ritual is as integral to the forest’s ecosystem as the sun itself.
Entering the Dungeon Depths
Despite their innate desire to live in harmony with nature, not every Sprite stays in the High Forest. The fact that this race gets bored quite easily leads many of them to abandon their way of living in favour of traversing Erendorn, where they can search for new forests to explore, new powers to find and new creatures to torment.
Many Sprites have even entered the dungeon depths beneath Erendorn, their impish desires far too strong for them to ignore. With enormous monsters and creatures that are inexpressibly powerful, the dungeons are no place for a lone Sprite. This is why they tend to go in groups, although not even numbers guarantee your safety in a place such as this – but stranger things have happened in these depths, and bigger beasts have fallen.