Mid morning, circa 600. The known world has been consumed with greed and stupidity. Brothers turn against each other. Inequities rampant. Greed turns people into faceless monsters, while the gap between working class and wealthy grows at an unstoppable rate. People are driven from their homes and forced to work for nothing or perish. Ailing for the last two years, the Great Emperor, who once used his immense power to bring people together now lies on his deathbed, helplessly watching as his empire crumbles.
1. Adventure: Completing their 8-week journey across many seas, five unlikely ship mates make landfall somewhere along northerly shores. Seeking to reunite the people and return the world to a balanced state, the Great Emperor has sent these travellers in search of the Mystic Fountain - an ancient wonder whose powers have been said to change the world.
Led by the fearless warrior, Barry, the party includes a mystic sorcerer, Dan, a mighty strongarm, Cecilia, Cecilia’s dog, Karen, a gifted polymath, Eugene, and the Great Emperor’s cousin’s nephew’s neighbour’s son, Cyril. Armed with their specialized skills, and the will to set things right, and also Cyril, they set forth on their quest.
2. The Quest Begins: Traverse the Valley: After securing the ship, the Mystic Fountain Party – known, internally, as the MFP, traverse the land. It’s late summer and a warm wind seems to push them into the unknown territory. After their time at sea, the green grassy, flowered rolling land is a welcome reprieve. They follow a creek to a shallow valley, spirits high.
3. Battle: Fire Demons: The MFP comes to a marshy area in the valley. The travellers tread cautiously along the muddy bank, but without alarm. It is Karen who first smells danger and begins to growl, low. Out of nowhere, fire spits forth from the earth, singeing one of Karen’s whiskers. Without budging, the dog bares her fangs and begins to bark. This is not just fire. One-by-one, fireballs leap from the marsh and take place around them all, hovering in a rough circle. They’re surrounded. At the centre of the circle, an uncanny pit of lava. A voice begins, then another, and another, seeming to come from the fireballs themselves, “Come play in the fire. Come play in the fire.”
“Fire demons!” Eugene shouts over the dog’s barking. Cecilia begins to sling clumps of mud at the demons, but they move inward, unaffected, forcing the party closer to the lava pit. Dan stands still and closes his eyes. He steadies his right foot, now close enough to the pit that his leather shoes begin to steam. Bringing his right fist into his open left palm, before him, he says something under his breath. When he opens his eyes, he opens his right fist and extends his palm forward. Barry yells, “Duck!” As the travellers drop to the mud, water forms in a great wave hitting the fire demons and the pit. The fireballs extinguish, but the pit remains and begins to bubble. Dan turns his palm toward the sky, in front of him, and points his hand to the pit. He blows gently across his palm and ice forms over the pit. The ice grows solid and opaque and before they know it, all is calm again.
Brushing themselves off, the party continues, eventually leaving the valley.
4. Enter the Forest: After some time, they find themselves in a wooded area and set up camp for the night in a small clearing. Barry takes first watch while the others catch some sleep. Karen curls up by his side. In the very early morning, as he wakes Cyril for a shift at the watch, they hear the brush move outside their camp.
5. Dance til you Die!: Before they can react, a thunderous boom wakes them all and a treelike figure with eyes lit by the campfire bends the surrounding trees to look at them, like a child observing a snow globe. The giant figure extends a huge, branchlike arm, accidentally grazing the fire. With a look of shock, then something between anger and annoyance, the giant presses down on the earth near them. The ground reacts like a huge bubble filled with water, forcing them all to bounce, but instead of simply landing back in their fur beds, they each land upright and begin to move, in unison. With a horrible, low bellow, the giant appears to be delighted as they all, uncontrollably, and awkwardly, dance.
“What’s happening?” cries Cyril, while Cecelia alarms, “Can’t stop!” and Barry yells, “Do something!”
But they’re stuck. For hours, the giant sways and smiles, and the travellers, with weary limbs flailing, helplessly try to brainstorm themselves out of their situation. As the first light of the sun hints itself through the woods, Cecilia catches a shadowy glimpse of the dog, who is effortlessly stealing a snack from her pack. “Hey!” She protests, “That’s mine!”
Catching what’s happening, Eugene coaxes the dog and says, “Karen! Stick! Go get the stick!” Excitedly, Karen looks around and grabs the cool end of a branch sticking out of the embers of the fire. With the lit end swinging, Karen looks excitedly around. “Bring it here.” The dog continues to look around. “Here.” Finally, the dog runs away with the still-burning branch.
Cecilia calls after her, but then the treelike figure lets out a sharp, low, “Gaugh!” In the growing light, they see the dog has laid the burning stick at the trunk of the figure. It looks stunned. They all stop dancing and collapse. As the first strong ray of light pokes through the trees, the giant figure seems to vanish, and they are free.
6. Forge Through: Without wasting time, the MFP pack up camp and move swiftly through the forest.
7. Enter the Village: For the first time, the travellers come upon a town. It’s small and quaint, but lively, with people rushing about to trade or exchange tales.
8. The Sundown Saloon: It doesn’t take long before Cecilia spots a large sign which reads, “ALE.” The travellers all find themselves inside, enjoying libations, singing songs and forgetting the dreadful forest.
9. A Little Too Much: Sometime into the very late night / very early morning, with all of the other travellers having already found a place to sleep, Cecilia stumbles out of the saloon and into the street, singing to the moon and occasional call from somewhere in the town to, “Be silent!”
10. Onward: Sympathetic to their cause, a new friend from the saloon sets up the travellers with mighty beasts to continue their journey. These large, odd creatures have a sharp face like a bird, but are build more like a horse, covered by fur and feature, most notably, significantly larger left legs, than right. Pamoldin, they’re called. There are only three of these pamoldin, so they pair up, Karen joining Barry on the animal’s spacious backside, and head into the mountain foothills.
11. Battle: Robot Fight! Late one afternoon, after two and a half days of traversing the tricky, narrowing, and ever colder path through the mountain range, the pamoldin stop abruptly and begin to make a sort of whining sound. Bursting through the cliffside, in front of them, blocking their path, stands something unnatural and gleaming in the sun. As the dust settles the voyagers see the figure of something like a huge wagon – its metallic wheels already moving the giant crate of its body toward them, crushing the rocks before it into dust. Dan attempts a spell while Barry draws his sword. Cecilia braces for battle while Eugene begins scanning the monster. “There! At the top.” Eugene gestures to a translucent green dome with multicoloured stars somehow contained within it. Before anyone can react, Cyril runs toward the thing with daggers drawn. “No! Wait!” Barry exclaims. But it’s too late. Cyril climbs the slow-moving wagon thing and wedges a dagger between the dome and the main shell. At the same time, it makes a piercing screech and launches something that explodes in front of the rest of the travellers. The stars beneath the dome blink out as pressure escapes from it and the thing, itself grinds to a sudden halt. “I did it! I got it!” yells Cyril. Eugene and Dan join in the chorus, but Cecilia and Karen remain silently focused on Barry, lifeless on the ground; the only one caught in the explosion.
12. Dead: Unwilling to leave him behind, and unable to bury him in the hard rock of the mountain, they bundle Barry up and load him onto the back of one of the pamoldin, leading the animals on foot. They’ll bury him when they return to the village.
13. Secret Passage: As they ascend, the path disappears beneath windblown snow. They’re freezing and exhausted. The dog and pack animals are unaffected by the cold, but growing weary, jumping and stomping through piles of snow. The will of the empire, alone, pulls them further ahead. It is at this uncertain time, when Dan, at the head of their perilous caravan notices an odd crack in the rock formation beside them. “Let’s rest here until the weather changes.” They wander past the hidden entrance and into some kind of tunnel.
14. Welcome to the Cave of Whipped Cream: Dan lights a torch and hands it to Cecilia, gesturing that she take the lead. They turn and twist through the wide-open tunnel when they come upon an expansive cavern almost entirely covered and dripping with a frothy, sweet-smelling semi-viscous liquid. Eugene steps forward to examine, drawing some of the matter on his finger, smelling it, and eating it, to the horror of the other travellers. “It is as cream from a cloven animal, but sweetened as with honey!” he notes aloud, helping himself to more. Skepticism aside, they all take a taste or two, not noticing the small creatures creeping down from the ceiling of the cave.
15. Curious Creatures: Smaller than Karen, these creatures quickly swarm their new house guests. Dan braces for battle while Cyril reaches for his daggers. “Wait!” insists Cecilia. “They seem curious.” The little white creatures have no eyes, but feel and smell around. They begin to climb the travellers and investigate their belongings. As they feel around Cecilia’s pack, one accidentally plucks the string of a small folk instrument she carries. Every creature around them stops perfectly still. Cecilia takes the instrument into her hands and begins to play. The creatures become lethargic and actually start to sleep on the spots where they stand, lay or climb. She continues playing while the travellers make their way down the only open path through the creamy cavern.
16: Mystic Fountain: 3 torches and 2 rests later, a strange, blue light becomes visible ahead of them in the cave as the path begins a descent. “The Fountain!” exclaims Eugene. Hurriedly, they set further down into the bowels of the cave, the light becoming brighter. Finally, exhausted from their journey, they reach the Mystic Fountain – a natural spring. They drink from it and are healed – including Barry, who had been effectively dead for a whole day. They all rejoice, fill their leather canteens, and begin their journey back home to save the Empire, and maybe even the world.
17. The End
This album is a complete chiptune remake of Short Songs For Patrons III: The Photo Album:
For Patron Quest, I reimagined and reordered the songs as their own short story, envisioning a Zelda / Final Fantasy-esque setting. As you can hear, even though the songs are all using 8-bit sounds, they’re not necessarily what you might think when you hear stereotypical “chiptune” music, venturing a bit outside the norm and exploring some pretty crazy sounds, at times. I hope you enjoy it and get a few listens out of it!
As always, thanks to all my wonderful patrons on Patreon who make this possible and worth doing!
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All the best,