I love the different take on gnomes, the setting, the flavor, and the language used to paint the whole picture. This is the kind of submission that keeps me coming back for more and gives me something to aspire to. Thanks for the link back to my own submission (and I wish I'd read this one before I updated it).
Short and catchy, with all the quality I'd expect in a short story from one of the published magazines like the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
The piece can work well as the basis behind a rescue mission for nearly any sci-fi setting, or a cautionary tale told around the star port bar by a retired brotherhood guard about what happens to those who are *too* successful with cutting edge creation.
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Certainly a very high quality piece. Overall, I don't think I can really suggest any useful suggestions for improvement. Oh, one minor thing, the sub mentioned in the 4th paragraph something abt his "access to the nets" was limited. I thought this referred to the Internet or some such equivalent in which case it would be better to capitalise the "nets" bit else there may be a slim chance (very slim) that the reader might wonder abt it meaning something else (as I briefly did but then again maybe it's just me)
That was a beautiful early morning read, I feel as if I will go about my day hearing the music in all the things i pass. Lovely, but I do have to agree with Redgre that such detail, stunning as it is, isn't really given a purpose in this submission. That's fine for writing a novel (have you considered that?) but the little things like this can be lost and forgotten if not given a reason to exist. Be it something to fight, or a rare remedy. The only two that stood out at me, as to having a character influencing purpose, were the Singing Crystal and the Humming Birds. Don't get me wrong, this is an amazing work to detail a world with. But, I have to ask a question: Why would my campaign go here? Detail pieces are fine, but if you can answer that for me I would be given a reason to steal it as more than a name drop. Still, good stuff.
There are two varieties of Keyed Mushrooms. The most common is a patch of typically five or six individual mushrooms of varying height and girth. The patch contains a variety of bright fungi with solid, basic colors such as pure red, blue, green, yellow, orange, and white. Each one produces a slightly different sound, each a cross between a drum-beat and the hit of a mallet on a xylophone key. There is an obvious scale to them, like a child's toy, and they can be used to produce simple melodies.
It is said that there is magic in the music, however. And if you play a certain pattern of notes individual to the mushroom patch, you will be rewarded with a shiny little gem as a thanks from this variety of Keyed Mushrooms. You can learn the song by simply, or not so simply, getting in touch with nature. This was be simple for a Druidic spell caster or a talented musician, but prove quite difficult for the average street-bred people.
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The second variety of Keyed Mushrooms is only one mushroom. It is the Grand Mushroom of The Woods, and it large enough for several men to stand upon it without damaging it. It has a rainbow's hue of swirling, flamboyantly-colored dots that will produce sound when stepped upon. This mushroom is a gate-way to the Realms of the Fey, but to open it, you will need a gem from six other, smaller, Keyed Mushroom patches, one of each color, and then to play the correct tune. An incorrect tune, or miss-step will result in a loud trombone-like blast and a puff of narcoleptic gas, rendering everyone in the area asleep. When you awaken, the mushroom will be gone. As that is the nature of music, it can evolve and change through the experimentation of sour notes.
Even the lowliest of plant life comes alive with music in this forest of sounds. We have all held a piece of grass length-wise between out thumbs as a child, and blown across its surface to make a shrill whistle. It is much easier with the Whistle Grass of this forest. Simply plucking a strand of grass from the soft earth will cause a slight high-pitched sound, like that of a alarm whistle.
A pulp, made of this grass, finely mashed, and mixed with the waters of a Tinkling Stream, can be used to make an impromptu alarm system. As, once prepared and spread of a surface, friction of the mush slipping, from being stepped or or similar, will cause a loud ear-piercing sonic alarm. Guaranteed to wake up everyone nearby.
Well done. I enjoyed exploring this enchanted location with it's musical denizens. It would be a place one would encounter faeries if they exist in your world. My only concern is that the rich depth of detail would be lost on all but the most attentive GMs and players. Definitely a musical background and the right soundtrack would definitely help with mood and atmosphere etc. Of course if you were to use this as source material for a book, I'm sure the reader would be as impressed as we your fellow Strolenites are. All in all a great submission.
@Redgre & Pieh:
I admit that I probably got a bit carried away when detailing this place. I understand what you mean about it being somewhat purposeless, but am at a loss for how to fix it at this time -- my creative muse is fickle. If either of you could make some suggestions to help me significantly improve this piece, I would be happy to credit you.
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In reality, this piece was intended as background for a race of people that I haven't finished yet and was planning to submit later. Perhaps I will add them here after all . . . As for novel writing; I'd like to one day, so thanks for the encouragement. =)