Lost Souls

Big Trouble In Little Mushburrow
The party escapes Mushburrow after all hell breaks loose...

Starsday, 11th of Nerth, Year 3033

Hearing the commotion from the village gnomes, Lilith and Alonwyn awake in the tavern and head downstairs to meet the rest of the party. As they are explaining what happened within the mushroom processing factory, Willow bursts into the room and frantically tells the group that the slime molds are loose all over the village, and she explains that Gazrik will definitely see the release of the molds as an act of terrorism on behalf of the myconids, and will incite full-fledged war. She commands them to rescue Magnus from the dungeons and escape the village before they are sought out.

Alistair uses his infernal magic to disguise himself as Raff, thinking it will help deflect any gnomes from attacking him. Kvothe, fearing that they will be leaving the village and the bleeding tooth right under their noses, uses his druidic powers to search for the fungus, but is unable to detect it nearby.

Meanwhile, Magnus begins sneaking out of the dungeons, as he hears the distant rumbles of battle above, and fears the worst for his companions.

As the party sneaks out of the tavern towards the barracks, the gnome guards are all busy battling the assailing slime molds which are hungry for fresh meat. A few gnome guards stand watch in front of the barracks, battling back any slime molds that attempt to get inside. Alistair, disguised as Raff, manages to persuade the gnomes to abandon their post, and the party is able to enter the barracks, where they find Magnus.

The group sneak out of the barracks and bolt directly into the woods, avoiding any conflict with the gnomes. Now safe from danger, Kvothe attemps to meld remotely using spores trapped in Alonwyn’s bottle, and is able to meld and communicate with the Sovereign, warning the myconids of the coming danger.

After marching for hours, tired and hungry, the party arrives back at the entrance to the myconid city as dawn breaks. Upon arriving in the depths of Myconopolis, the myconids are active and mobilizing, as opposed to their usual state of physical inactivity, living within the meld.

The party speaks with the Sovereign and explain what happened at Mushburrow, and how they incited the gnomes to want to go to war. The Sovereign says that they completed their end of the agreement, even though they failed to avoid conflict. The Sovereign releases meld spores, but Korag-Gora covers his face and Alistair is unaffected. The rest of the party enters the meld, and are transported astrally through the Sporest, seeing the path to the location of the Bleeding Tooth – a deep, dangerous crevice inhabited by evil creatures known only as the Maw.

The group decides to rest and regain their health before making the arduous journey east through the Sporest to the Maw. Each party member tests their potions that they discovered in the Mushburrow factory, finding each one to have a different effect: Korag-Gora’s a potion that turns one into smoke form; Alonwyn’s a potion of swiftness; Alistair’s a potion that allows one to read thoughts; Lilith’s a potion of invisibility; Kvothe’s a potion of levitation; and Magnus’s a potion of growth.

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Factory Investigation
The mushroom factory is explored...

Firesday, 10th of Nerth, Year 3033

Now shortly after midnight, the celebration at the Turgid Truffle continues as Alistair walks between the colossal roots of the huge, petrified and hollow trunk, descending an earthen ramp into the darkness below. Finding no gnome workers or archivists to be found in the dark, twilit night, Alistair decides to head deeper into the wide, heavily-trodden entrance tunnel. He notices that Barkley has followed him and wishes to accompany him below.

The tunnel, lit by glowing mushrooms which resemble lantern lights, descends and makes a sharp turn, coming suddenly to large wooden desk with a sleeping gnome resting his head atop it. Below his head, all manner of scattered parchment and record books can be seen, as well as a large, empty bottle of liquor or wine. Behind him, a wall seemingly carved out of a petrified root stands with a large wooden door with a barred window set within it. Above the door, a small bell hangs, attached to a mechanism that connects to the door’s hinges.

Meanwhile, having noticed Alistair and Barkley slip away to the factory, Korag-Gora sits silently in the night. Two guards emerge from the manse of Gazrik Capwink, and begin walking towards the factory not far behind. He decides to head that way as well.

Alistair stealthily investigates what is on the desk, but doesn’t find anything of interest. Noticing the sound of heavy footfalls and hushed whispers approaching, Alistair looks around at his surroundings for somewhere to hide. Peering under the desk, he is surprised to see the snarling face of a giant badger crawling out from a hidden burrow in the wall. Using his animal handling skills as a former farmer, he is able to calm the beast and quickly slides into the badger’s burrow with Barkley, creating a very snug and somewhat cramped hiding place.

Back at the tavern, Kvothe realizes that Alistair and Korag-Gora have disappeared. He asks Alonwyn and Lilith if they have seen where they went, as he wants a real drinking buddy, but they are too intoxicated to give a straight answer, and decide to head off to bed. He then decides to sneak into the barracks to check on Magnus, thinking that Alistair and Korag-Gora themselves might have done the same thing. In order to pass by the sleeping militia, he transforms himself into a mouse to remain hidden and quiet. Once in the dungeon, Magnus awakens, and when asked by Kvothe whether he’s seen either of them, he says he hasn’t, so Kvothe heads back out of the barracks again, leaving Magnus to sleep more, recovering from his injury and exhaustion.

Korag-Gora, having tailed the guards through the tunnel of the factory, comes up right behind them as they reach the table of the passed-out gnome. The guards are taken for a shock when they notice the hulking goliath standing behind them, and nearly have a panic attack. Korag-Gora asks them what they are doing, and they state sheepishly that they are investigating an intrusion, and that technically Korag-Gora is an intruder as well and that he should leave. Unphased, Korag-Gora offers to help them search for the intruder. They are too afraid of him to say no, so he begins searching the tunnel for signs of Alistair.

Immediately, he notices the badger burrow, and peering in, sees a badger, Barkley, and Alistair looking out at him, Alistair making silent, frantic gestures to not rat him out to the guards. Standing up and turning to the guards, he says there’s no sign of the intruder, and that he must’ve already left. The guards, eager to get back to sleep, say thanks and head back to the surface.

Alistair pulls himself out of the burrow once the guards have disappeared, and Alistair thanks Korag-Gora for covering for him. He says that he thinks the gnomes are hiding something, possibly the location of or information about the bleeding tooth.

Examining the door and its apparatus, Korag-Gora pulls the clapper out of the small bell to keep from alerting anyone. Testing the door, they find that the door opens without needing to be unlocked. The sleeping gnome waykeeper remains undisturbed. They pass deeper into the factory, into the tunnel beyond.

Back at the surface, Kvothe bumps into the two guards and asks them if they have seen their friend Alistair. They explain that they are busy searching for an intruder. Finding the description of the intruder eerily similar to Alistair, he makes his way to the factory and comes to the checkpoint. Finding the giant badger, Kvothe uses his druidic magic to speak with the badger, asking if it has seen any sign of his friends. The badger, in its simplistic badger tongue, crudely explains that Alistair and Korag-Gora passed deeper into the factory. Barkley emerges from the burrow and, after a bittersweet goodbye with the giant badger, follows Kvothe through the checkpoint.

Many feet ahead, Kvothe and Barkley meet up with Korag-Gora and Alistair in a hallway with many doors along each wall. The ceiling has rows of metal pipes running along the ceiling of the tunnel. The floor is no longer a hard-packed dirt and instead a cobblestone patchwork.

Finding the first door locked, Korag-Gora kicks it in, sending the solid wooden door flying inwards. Much to their horror, a loud, horrible shriek begins piercing their ears, emanating from the darkness of the room. Peering inside with their ears covered, the room appears to be a modest office, with a large desk and some shelves covered in books.

To the left of the door, a strange, tall, purple mushroom stalk with many open, quivering pores can be seen vibrating, creating the horrible shriek. Korag-Gora drops the door he kicked in onto the fungus, smashing it to a pancake and smothering the sound. They investigate the room, but all of the writings and books are written in Gnomish. They find a box, and inside find some gold and six potions, each in small bottles containing strange-hued liquids. They take the potions but leave the gold.

They find the next door in the hallway locked as well. Instead of kicking the door in, Korag-Gora goes back to the checkpoint and finds the drunken gnome still slumbering. Searching his person,he finds a key hanging from his belt. Using they key, they unlock the room and are greeted with the same ear-shattering, piercing shriek. Smashing the mushroom, they find a similar office.

Alistair searches the desk and finds a mushroom farming almanac written in Common, complete with many varieties and types of fungus. In the margins, notes in Gnomish are scribbled. He manages to find an entry on the bleeding tooth, and reads some new information – the bleeding tooth usually lies at low elevations, but rarely entirely beneath ground, as it needs small amounts of light. It is also commonly found at the foot of trees, which do not grow beneath the earth. Taking the almanac, they return to the hall.

They notice that the pipes in the hall are leaking water in some places, and buckets and ladders have been haphazardly placed to make ramshackle repairs to the leaks. They eventually come to a T-intersection in the hall, with the path to the left ascending and the path to the right descending. They elect to head to the right. After descending a ways along the dimly lit hall, they come to a wider tunnel which is no longer furnished or floored. The tunnel has many struts and supports along the walls and ceiling, similarly to a mine.

Korag-Gora is worried about the air quality, wondering if it could possibly be poisonous. Alistair sends a ball of flame down the hall, testing the air and illuminating the tunnel with red light. No explosions ensue, so Korag-Gora lights a torch to guide the way. They pass many branching tunnels, each labeled with signs written in Gnomish, but eventually come to a large, barred and locked door similar to the one at the checkpoint. The sign above the door is written in thick, bold, red script.

Unlocking the door, they peer down the tunnel into the darkness. Korag-Gora shouts into the dark, hearing nothing but his own voice echoing, to test the structural integrity of the tunnel. They encourage Alistair to fire another flame down the hall. Much to his horror, the fire roars into a blaze, engulfing the room ahead.

Rushing towards the light of the flame, they find the chamber to be composed mostly of old wooden struts and structures, now on fire, creating a walkway or catwalk suspended above a large pit. Below, they see squirming and moving creatures appearing to be made of fungus, slime, or mold. The platform is held up by large wooden pillars and supports which had been coated in a strange oily substance, but the oil is flammable and had burned up. In the center of the platform, there is a lift apparatus next to a crate of rotting meat.

Burning debris and chunks of wood begin falling down into the pit of slime molds, agitating them and causing the horde of hundreds to begin to climb their way out, no longer impeded by the oil that blocked their path and caused them to slide downward. Now reaching the wooden platform and moving towards the party, Kvothe throws the pile of rotten meat onto the floor, causing them to swarm it in an attempt to absorb the food, but it is quickly decomposed by the many creatures.

The party runs back through the tunnel from the stampede of slime. Kvothe uses an earthen tremor to collapse the tunnel and trap the slime molds in the chamber. It blocks their path, but they are able to climb over the choppy, rocky terrain. Alistair commands Barkley to leave the factory and escape. Korag-Gora runs back to the offices to retrieve the door he kicked from the hinges, bringing it back and slamming it into the place of the windowed door. Kvothe casts an entanglement spell on it, binding it into place with creeping and grasping vines which grip it with great force.

Sighing with relief, but fearing the worst from Gazrik and the Mushburrow forces, the three quickly head towards the exit of the factory to head back to the tavern.

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Fungus & Flagons
The party plays a tavern game...

Thundersday, 9th of Nerth, Year 3033

As pandemonium begins to break out between the party and Willow, Korag-Gora, carrying Alonwyn, rushes away from the altercation. Magnus shouts in pain as an arrow pierces the flesh of his thigh

Willow, without missing a beat, pulls a small pouch from her belt, revealing a strange, white powder. Tossing it into the air and sending a cloud of foul-smelling dust into the nostrils of the party, Lilith and Kvothe find their magics rendered useless, transforming Kvothe back to his normal state from a giant badger. Willow explains that the dust is the spores of the “spell-jammer”, a fungus known to dispel magic and quell magical abilities. Lilith, now panicking without her abilities, flies directly up into the air, above the crowd of agitated gnomish workers and soldiers. Alistair remains hidden from the crowd, hiding in the shadows of the barracks.

Meanwhile, hundreds of feet away, Korag-Gora unties Alonwyn, who says they should have stayed with their friends. She asks him to come with as she heads back down the road, but Korag-Gora refuses to head back to Mushburrow.

Back in the village, Magnus, dropping his daggers, gritting in pain, holds his hands up and pleads with Willow, asking her to hold on and not attack anymore. Willow slowly lowers her bow, eyeing the halfling with suspicion. As this happens, a shrill cry rings out from beyond the crowd of gnomes.

An old, hunched gnome, flanked by Raff, an exceptionally large giant badger, and Barkley, emerges from a large toadstool mansion on the other side of the plaza. The gnome is withered and hunched over, leaning on a walking stick adorned with the shape of a large toadstool on the end, with a long, thin, white beard. As he cries out, he begins coughing and hacking a wet and unpleasant cough.

The gnome orders his men to stand down as Willow attempts to explain the strangers’ crimes. The old gnome waives away their crimes, saying that they are of utmost importance to them and that he wishes to speak with them on the morrow about the “rotheads”. He then orders Magnus to be imprisoned in the dungeons as collateral, so that the party does not leave or do anything stupid in the meantime. He then invites the rest of the group to stay at the local tavern, the Turgid Truffle, and to enjoy their time in Mushburrow. As Magnus is restrained by gnomish guards, the boss turns and disappears into his mansion once again.

Raff goes up to Magnus as he is being restrained, and begs him for forgiveness saying he couldn’t speak up or the Boss would know that he had made a deal with them. He promises to get Magnus out of the dungeon, but to go along with it for now. The guards lift Magnus above their shoulders and carry him through the barracks down below Mushburrow to the dungeons. Barkley reunites with the party, who apologize to the pooch for losing track of him.

Shortly thereafter, Alonwyn arrives in the village center again to find the party missing Magnus. Lilith and Kvothe explain what happened while she and Korag-Gora had abandoned the group.

Willow approaches the party and apologizes for attacking them, but explains that she has to uphold her duty to protect the village. She also expresses her hatred of Magnus.

She explains to them that the boss of Mushburrow is named Gazrik Capwink, and that he is consumed with hatred for the myconids, who he sees as enemies of the gnomes because of the death of his son, Gimble, due to their poison spores. She says that Gazrik wants to wipe out the myconids completely, and that he wants to interrogate the party for information to help in this endeavor, or possibly enlist their aid.

She begs the group to not give Gazrik any information, as she is against the xenocide of the myconids, and wants to find a peaceful resolution. She suggests they lay low and leave Mushburrow in the middle of the night.

After hearing this troubling information, the group decide to reunited with Korag-Gora and try to coerce him into joining up again. They find Korag-Gora waiting statue-like at the gate to Mushburrow, and are able to persuade him to follow them back with the promise that they will leave the village soon.

Meanwhile, in the dungeons below Mushburrow, Magnus is locked in a cell. Magnus persuades Raff to make the guards allow him to keep his belongings, but Raff tells the halfling rogue to behave himself and disappears to go attend to the Boss once more.

Once the guards clear out of the room, a solitary gnome guard is left sitting at a table. Magnus, still bleeding from his leg wound, yells out to the guard that he requires magical healing from his companions. The guard does his best to ignore him, but Magnus continues to harass the gnome, who reveals his name is Stimmy. Finally, he gives in, and disappears to find the party for Magnus.

Alistair, interested in the towering, hollowed tree stumps billowing clouds of water vapor, decides to approach the complex and see if he can get any information from the workers. As he approaches, passing groups of gnomes and roving badgers pulling carts of supplies, he comes to the entrance of the left structure. Stopping a passing gnome worker, Alistair inquires if he can learn about some of the mushrooms they farm here, as he is searching for a specific one. The gnome, looking somewhat irked to have his work interrupted, says that if he comes back later that evening, the archivist would speak with him about it.

Stimmy emerges from the barracks and nervously asks Alonwyn to heal Magnus. They go down through the tunnels to the dungeon and Alonwyn uses her divine healing to mend the halfling’s arrow wound. Raff shows up and is surprised to see the entire party in the cell with Magnus. In an effort to make it up to the party for letting them down, he offers drinks at the Turgid Truffle, wanting to have a good time and blow off some steam. Magnus, now freed from the cell, decides to stay in the cell to avoid causing even more trouble for the party. Also, he says he wants to keep Stimmy the Dungeon Keeper company, much to the gnome’s distress.

Finally, the group gives in and follows Raff back to the tavern as the sun begins to set. Outside the tavern, Raff hypes the group up for a round of “fungus & flagons”, a drinking game of chance with some stomach-turning consequences. The party does not seem enthused, but after some convincing, they agree to come inside. Korag-Gora refuses to enter, as his shield won’t fit through the door, and instead elects to sit on the ground. Disappointed, Raff challenges Korag-Gora in an effort to spark his competitive edge, but the goliath cannot be swayed.

Inside, the Turgid Truffle is abustle with activity. One of the only buildings in Mushburrow accommodating for larger humanoids, a few human mercenaries can be seen drinking alongside the many gnomes. A gnomish bard plays a lute alongside a drummer. A large truffle hog is splayed out on the floor in front of the bar, its body heaving as it sleeps happily despite the din of the barroom.

Raff calls to the barkeep for a game of fungus & flagons, much to the cheers and applause of the room. A table is prepared with a spinning, circular apparatus upon which six metal flagons are placed and filled with ale. The barkeep produces a small box, and upon opening it, a hideously foul stench greets the nostrils of the party. Using tongs, he pulls a glob of what appears to be a putrid, fungal growth from the box and, before anyone can protest, drops it into one of the flagons and gives the spinning surface a good whirl.

Now in the dark as to which flagon contains the disgusting fungus, the six players (in this case, Alistair, Kvothe, Lilith, Alonwyn, Raff, and a gnome named Trilby) take turns selecting flagons and gulping down the entirety of the liquid therein at once. The rules are simple – everyone puts in a gold piece; when someone loses the contents of their stomach, they are out of the game; the last one standing wins the pile of gold, unless the person who gets the fungus manages to keep it down!

Kvothe, taking a bold strategy, decides to use his druidic magic to detect poison within the flagons to identify the one containing the toxic cocktail. Grabbing the one containing the fungus, sure that his stomach will not fail him, he tosses it back, and is met with the foulest flavor ever to grace his tongue. Choking the noxious mixture down, he feels his stomach turn, and promptly vomits. Next, Trilby the unfortunate gnome accidentally chooses the fungus as well, and is eliminated when he eliminates his dinner. Soon after, Raff selects the fungus and runs outside to puke, Korag-Gora watching the pathetic display. Finally, Alistair ends up with the fungus, but is unphased by the horrible taste. The warlock acts his best to be disgusted and hold back his vomit, putting on a convincing enough display to convince the crowd of onlookers, and wins the game thanks to his undead stomach. As everyone prepares the next game, Alistair slips out of the tavern and heads back to the mushroom “factory” in search of the archivist.

Back in the dungeon, Magnus torments Stimmy with a game of “five-finger-filet”, winning some easy gold with his dexterous skills as the poor gnome self-inflicts a hand wound in the challenge.

As Alistair walks through the dark, quiet hub of the village, he looks over to the manse of Gazrik, and sees a silhouette peering from the dimly-lit window. Undeterred, he slips into the shadows and continues his way to the factory entrance he visited earlier.

Back at the tavern, a new game of fungus & flagons is beginning. Unexpectedly, Korag-Gora enters the building and approaches the table. Grabbing all six flagons at once, he pours the ale down his throat, jaw wide, ale pouring down his huge chest. The crowd watches him in silence and awe, and the barkeep sheepishly mentions that they hadn’t even put the fungus in yet. Korag-Gora silently leaves the tavern.

They start a new round, this time only Kvothe and Alonwyn along with four other gnomes named Fuddydud, Boddynok, Stabnik, and Fwoozel. After much gnomish vomit being spewed, Alonwyn finds the fungus, and through a critical moment of intestinal fortitude, is able to stomach the heinous fungus and win the game. Now having ingested quite a lot of alcohol, Lilith and Alonwyn start dancing and making merry with the gnomes as the bards play their gnomish jigs.

Now only Kvothe left with a thirst for fungus, a final game is started, this time with the same gnomes and a new challenger named Ankle. The game is long and arduous, with many gnomes projectile vomiting on each other in a disgusting and pathetic display, but Kvothe is able to pick up the win and secure the gold as the other gnomes drop like flies.

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Losing It
The group finds themselves slipping into chaos...

Windsday, 8th of Nerth, Year 3033

As the dust from the battle settles, the halfling ranger calls out to her company as the gnomes begin to collect scattered supplies and gather their dead. The scarred half-orc, still scorched by Alistair’s eldritch blast, picks himself up, grunting and growling in anger, looking around for a sign of what hit him.

Magnus approaches the halfling, attempting to “impress” her with his dagger skills and bragging about his skills in battle, but she only looks at him with disdain and hatred. The half-orc tells Magnus to leave her alone, and that she isn’t going to warm up to him. He introduces himself as Raff “One-Eye”, and explains that the halfling is named Willow, the captain of the gnome militia. Raff explains that he is a hired mercenary for the gnome company. He also explains that their trade caravan was stopped by their wagon being destroyed by the mechanical harvester.

The gnomes notice Alistair comforting the injured badgers, and gain enough trust to approach and speak with him. Kvothe, using Foxfire, heals Magnus, Lilith, Raff, Willow, and some of the injured gnomes. They thank him, and the act of kindness makes them feel more comfortable in the midst of such bizarre and seemingly powerful strangers.

Magnus, attemping to be serious and patch things up, tries to extend peace on behalf of his party and the Bobs, but he is met with mostly indifference by Willow and the gnomes. Raff, feeling bad for him and recognizing him and his friends as “outcasts and undesirables”, just like him, says that he can help them out by letting them speak to the boss of the gnomes. Knowing that Willow would protest, he says that they need to keep it a secret and not follow too closely behind. Once they reach the village, he could sneak them in – but for a price. Magnus attempts to challenge Raff to a game of dice, proposing that if he can beat Raff, that Raff will have to sneak them in for free. Unfortunately, Raff has no dice, so Magnus is unable to use his weighted dice to cheat the half-orc. Magnus and Raff agree to play later, and they pay him half of what he asked for up-front.

Kvothe produces his Elven lute, playing an ancient Elven ballad for the fallen gnomes as they bury their dead. Alonwyn comforts a gnome in mourning over the loss of his wife who was killed in the fray, and prays with him for her soul, which helps him find solace. Alistair helps the gnomes dig more graves for the fallen gnomes.

As night falls, Willow barks a command to move out and set up camp further north along the road. Raff says that he will sneak them into the village, but that they have to remember to stay far behind the gnome caravan so as not to draw attention or be spotted. The group agrees to hang back, and soon enough, the band of gnomes disappear into the darkness, the fire of their torches fading into the dense trees. Alonwyn begins to panic as the darkness sets in around them, but Lilith quickly makes her a light, staving off her panic attack.

Magnus, suddenly compelled by gibbering whispers in his mind, pulls out his eldritch trinket and begins to lose his mind, seeing horrifying creatures that phase in and out of reality and the fourth dimension. Soon, everything surrounding him flashes between reality and a terrifying, indescribably evil subterranean dimension where he is surrounded by twisted monstrosities. The party attempts to calm him, but he only sees them as evil figures, and runs from them screaming.

Kvothe drinks from his waterskin of pyschoactive water, hoping to capture a bit of the magic of the meld that he experienced before.

Korag-Gora, trying to snap Magnus out of it, slaps the halfling hard across the face, but Magnus just starts screaming a blood-curdling howl, thinking that he is being attacked by a tentacle-faced horror. The goliath tries to muffle the halfling’s creams, but Magus bites his hand, fighting for his life.

Soon, the party notices many strange, fiery orange lights far away in the distance of the Sporest, and notices that, oddly, they are moving slowly. Lilith attempts to recall some knowledge about the strange lights, but can’t recall the information, and the mental strain sparks a surge of wild magic that bursts forth from her mind.

Suddenly, a strange, small clockwork creature appears in a burst of extra-planar smoke – a modron. The small construct turns around, searching his surroundings with a single mechanical eye. Making no sound other than an eerie whirring, the creature begins to panic as he is no longer in his clockwork dimension, pushing a gear or whatever it is a modron does. Lilith attemps to pick it up, but it produces a tiny bronze knife, lifting it into the air in retaliation. Just before it stabs, the modron disappears in another puff of smoke, leaving the party bewildered and speechless.

Suddenly, they realize that Barkley is missing. Looking for signs of the hound, Kvothe finds Barkley’s paw tracks leading along the path with the gnomes, which puts them somewhat at ease.

Alistair proposes that the group just spend the night in the glade to rest, eat, and sleep. The group argues over whether to stay in the glade or attempt to follow the path. Eventually, the group decides to call it a night and sleep within the glade.

Thundersday, 9th of Nerth, Year 3033

At dawn, the group awakens. Kvothe uses his druidic magic to search the vicinity for the bleeding tooth, but is unable to locate it.

Realizing that they are out of water and very thirsty, Kvothe then decides to search for running water to drink. Curiously, he finds a strange, very large umbrella-like mushroom with a constant flow of water pouring from atop its cap in a never-ending sheet of water all around its circumference. Guessing some kind of magical source, the group fills their waterskins and use the enchanted fountain as a shower to bathe, having become extremely dirty and travel-weary from their journey.

While bathing, a few of the party members feel a tiny slap on their behinds, but when they turn, there is nothing and no one there. Confused, they go back to bathing. Shortly after, Lilith hears a disembodied giggle, and then is transformed into a tiny white rabbit in a poof of magic. Alistair, feeling magic come over him, is stood frozen in confusion.

Magnus, similarly feels a magic cast over him, but begins running full speed into the woods, with no control over himself. Magnus, running through the woods, is suddenly tripped and grasped by rapidly growing and twisting weeds, but he is able to break free of the grasping plants. As he tries to escape again, he hears a disembodied, childish voice that says “Not so fast!” with a giggle, and he suddenly feels himself drifting to sleep.

Kvothe, Alonwyn, and Korag-Gora find the rabbit, and are able to detect magic emanating from it. They realize the rabbit is Lilith. Korag-Gora senses that he can knock Lilith back to her normal form by punching her, but this sends rabbit-form Lilith into a frightened panic, and she tries to escape. Biting and clawing at Alonwyn, who is holding her, she finally leaps from her hands, and Korag-Gora sends a goliath fist in the furry haunches of the tiny beast. In a puff of smoke and dust, Lilith is returned to his normal form.

Alistair follows Magnus’s tracks and finds him lying on the forest floor, asleep. After waking him up, Magnus realizes he is missing his entire money pouch, as well as his ever-smoking bottle.

Kvothe, detects something magical perched on the mushroom’s cap, and casts faerie fire on the invisible form, but the mysterious creature dispels his spell, keeping itself hidden. They hear a tiny giggle.

Korag-Gora, fed up with the tricks, produces a throwing axe, flinging it blade over haft at a frightening speed. With a sickening splatter, the tiny creature is sliced in half, its invisibility instantly dispelled, revealing a small, female pixie, now only few pieces of gore and torn fairy wings. Magnus’s money purse explodes from the impact, sending a shower of gold and silver pieces raining down. The ever smoking bottle, somehow unharmed, soars through the air. Kvothe dives for the bottle and catches it without breaking the glass bottle. As the pixie dies, the magical fairy fountain ceases to flow from the mushroom cap.

Magnus, crawling around the forest floor, searches for as much of his money as he can gather, but only manages to recover a small amount of it. Korag-Gora gathers the pieces of the pixie and buries it below the stalk of the toadstool.

Alistair, clearly fed up by the madness of the past day and night, tries to persuade the group to abandon the forest forever and never come back, saying that the benefit of staying and finding the bleeding tooth, or helping the myconids, or following the gnomes, is not worth it. The group is stalwart, and ignores his pleading, saying that they have to stick to their quest.

After navigating the path taken by the gnome caravan, by late morning, they finally reach a fairly minimal wooden gate attached to fencing that stretches into the forest on either side. Not finding any sign of Raff or Barkley, the party begins to worry they have been abandoned. Magnus decides he wants to sneak into the village and see if he can spot Raff. Without much to disguise himself, he attempts to put together the look of one of the forest gnomes, but only manages to make himself look like a dirty, disheveled halfling.

Lilith alters her appearance using sorcery to look uncannily like a gnome. Alistair uses his eldritch magic to change himself to look like a human, trying to pass as a mercenary similar to Raff. Kvothe turns into a giant badger. Soon, the plan to infiltrate the village becomes a full-fledged, full-party affair, and the group comes up with the plan to make it look like Korag-Gora has turned on the party, and is delivering Alonwyn as a prisoner, and is being escorted by a new mercenary, two gnomes, and a giant badger. They tie Alonwyn up to look like a prisoner, and Korag-Gora carries her over a shoulder.

Magnus picks the lock of the gate and swings it open. They sneak in, and find a sleeping gnome guard resting on a giant badger, also asleep. The badger, sensing the party’s movement, awakens, looking confused. Alistair, using his animal handling skills, comforts the badger back to sleep. Magnus decides to knock out the sleeping guard cold and steal his clothes to improve his disguise.

Kvothe, leading ahead as a badger, falls into a concealed pit trap in the pathway. Mostly unharmed, he is able to pull himself out of the deep pit using his badger claws.

The party walks along the path, passing many fungal gardens and some gnomes working in them. Giant badgers pulling carts and digging in fields can be seen. Eventually, the group comes to the main hub of the village, nestled along the side of a river and surrounded by dense woodland.

Impossible to miss, at the far side of the village are two immense tree trunks, now hollowed stumps, as colossal as fortresses or castle towers. From the tops of the hollowed stumps, steam pours in billowing spouts – a sign of industry. Gnome workers can be seen moving along spiraling pathways carved in the wood, scaffolding and walkways suspended between, with windows and openings, outcroppings and platforms jutting from the sides, some built of wood, others naturally occurring fungal shelves and mushroom growths. Pulley systems lift and descend, pulling elevators loaded with crates and supplies from the foot of the complex to the tops. Brass pipes seem to pump water from the river into the complex, and pump some kind of waste further down back into the river.

Large toadstools and mushroom stalks sprout from around and at the foot of the huge complex, functioning as watchtowers and living quarters. An especially large toadstool situated between the stumps seems to serve as some kind of mansion or home, as it is lavishly decorated.

Surrounding the main complex, the windows of burrows glow with warm light from between the roots of trees, the sides of tree trunks, and from within toadstools. Sprawling gardens of fungus blanket the shady, moist forest floor. Ornate buildings carved from wood, some made from augmenting a particularly large toadstool or tree stump serve as workplaces and storage facilities for the gnomes.

As the party walks further into the village, their confidence rises as they notice the gnomes buying into their disguises. They hear some of the workers whisper that Alistair, disguised as a large, burly human, must be a newly-hired muscle. Suddenly, their plan is shattered as Willow emerges from a nearby building. Alistair, noticing Magnus preparing a speech, shoves the poorly-disguised rogue into a large growth of fungus and foliage, just in time for Willow to notice them.

The halfling approaches Lilith and Alistair, both disguised, and remarks that she has never seen them before and asks what they are doing with the goliath and half-elf. Alistair begins to explain that he is a new mercenary and friend of Raff, and that Korag-Gora has betrayed the group in order to turn over Alonwyn to them. Willow, seeing through the deception and very confused by the presence of Korag-Gora and Alonwyn, asks Alistair how he knows Raff, but Alistair freezes up, causing Willow to go on the offensive. She notches an arrow and sends it flying at Alistair, but the warlock uses misty step to disapparate away from harm in a wisp of mist.

Magnus emerges from the foliage and approaches Willow, trying to explain the situation and diffuse the tension by telling her their plan and how they tried to disguise themselves to get into the village, even going so far as to admit that he knocked out and stole the clothes of the guard gnome.

This sends Willow into a rage, as she quickly sends an arrow flying into Magnus’s thigh. Drawing another arrow upon her bowstring, she shouts for bows and spears at the ready to apprehend the intruders as Korag-Gora, carrying Alonwyn, begins dashing away.

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Tentacle Cats
The group stumbles into a deadly ambush...

Windsday, 8th of Nerth, Year 3033

Magnus, having scouted ahead of the party, comes upon a glade from where the strange sounds emanate. Peering ahead, he can see a large wagon which appears to have been chopped in half, its cargo destroyed and spilled all over the forest floor and across the dirt path. Pulling the wagon is a pair of giant badgers which sit looking very nonplussed at a large host of forest gnomes attempting to fix the wagon and gather up the contents of the wagon. They are obviously frustrated, as they argue and bicker loudly in gnomish and throw mushrooms at each other. There’s also a tall and muscular, surly looking man resting on a large battle axe standing nearby, looking annoyed. His face is scarred heavily, and one of his eyes is white and useless. Magnus thinks he looks like he could have half-orc blood in him.

Most surprising of all, Magnus can see a large wooden construct in the shape of a man, but with an arm wielding a circular saw, billowing steam and smoke. The mech is creating horrible sounds as it backfires, its limbs and upper body flailing wildly as a gnome pilot seated atop its torso attempts to gain control, cursing all the while. It’s obvious that this strange machine must’ve accidentally damaged the wagon, as well as chopped down a few nearby trees with its saw apparatus, putting a stop to the wagon’s journey.

Hardly able to believe his eyes, Magnus is surprised when an arrowhead is pointed a few inches from his face. He turns to see, to even greater surprise, an oddly familiar sight – an attractive female halfling with fiery red hair, brandishing a bow, arrow notched, directly at his face.

She whispers to him sharply, asking what he thinks he is doing, and asking if he is the one that’s been spooking her caravans lately. Magnus, trying to be smooth, asks what her name is and where she’s from. She ignores him, and presses him further, asking him to come with her or get shot. Magnus tries to persuade her to let him go grab his friends, and that they will explain everything. She is not swayed by this, and begins to threaten once again.

Magnus mentions the myconids, explaining that they are here to discuss peace terms. This changes the girl’s facial expression, turning from stern to wonder. She asks what he is talking about, but seemingly instantly, she presses her aggression again and directs him to enter the glade peacefully or she will shoot.

Magnus, sensing the danger he is in, produces his eversmoking bottle and pulls the stopper, unleashing a billowing cloud of dark smoke. The last thing he sees before slipping away is the look of growing confusion on the halfling’s face. As he escapes into the foliage, he can hear the sound of her voice shouting out in gnomish to her companions. He quickly scales a tree and keeps the smoking bottle open, letting the thick smoke fill the area and obscure his location even more.

The rest of the group, having heard the shouting and worrying about Magnus’s well-being, rushes toward the area and finds it filled with smoke. Kvothe summons a powerful gust of wind, sending a large section of the smoke blowing away, revealing Magnus perched on a low-hanging branch of a nearby tree. As they begin speaking to each other, they start to hear what sounds like the gnomes being attacked, as well as beastly roars and growls, much to their confusion.

Suddenly, a large, spiky tentacle-like appendage whips from the thick cloud of smoke, swiping about a foot away from the group, causing them to jump back instinctively. The party gets ready for a fight, brandishing weapons and charging spells, as the sounds of carnage ring out through the forest. Korag-Gora lifts his shield, mounting the head of the umber hulk on the front of the iron bands.

As they are preparing for an enemy to appear, a gnome comes screaming towards them, eyes wide. The sight of Korag-Gora’s umber helm causes him to freeze instantly, mouth agape. Alistair summons thorn whips from the earth, grabbing the gnome by the ankles and knocking it on it’s back. As it struggles to get up, another set of spiny tentacles whip out of the smoke and wrap around the gnome’s wrists. As Alistair tugs on the gnome, attempting to pull him closer to feast upon its soul, the black tentacles pull with force, and with a sickening crack, the gnomes arms are pulled from its torso as it screams in pain. Dying from blood loss, Alistair devours the departing soul of the unfortunate creature.

The group, moving towards the glade, rushing through the thick cloud of smoke, eventually find themselves surrounded by frightened gnomes, short swords at the ready, and see the broken-down wagon and mech nearby. The halfling archer stands atop the wagon, arrow notched, barking orders in gnomish and trying to regain control, and surly, scarred man stands amongst them with his large battle axe held high. Their heads swing back and forth, surveying their surroundings for signs of the assailants.

Seeing rustling in some nearby brush, Kvothe summons an entangling patch of plant growth, hoping to trap whatever is hiding there. Korag-Gora, holding his massive shield aloft, adorned with the umber hulk’s head, yells with vigor and approaches the host of strangers. As they turn to look, they are put under the spell of the umber hulk’s gaze. The gnomes begin fleeing in random directions, some dropping their swords and rushing into each other in confusion. The halfling is frozen where she stands. The badgers turn to each other and begin slashing at each other in a frenzy.

Alonwyn, having had no luck with her command in the past, commands the halfling to move towards them. Unfortunately, under the effect of the umber hulk’s eyes, she is unable to move, but the power of the commanding word is enough to make herself attempt to step forward, causing her to tumble face-forward off of the wagon and into the dirt.

Lilith, seeing the large mechanical failure flailing nearby, uses her shocking grasp on the mech, paralyzing it and causing the mechanical gears to seize up, as well as shocking the pilot quite badly. Kvothe, standing near the edge of the now-dissipating cloud of smoke, is suddenly bludgeoned by one of the spiky tentacle clubs across the back. At the same time, gnomes begin being slaughtered by tentacles reaching out around the edge of the glade.

Kvothe transforms into his dire wolf form, angry from having his blood spilled, and dives into the grass from where the tentacle emerged, finding a strange creature – a large, shadowy, purple-black feline with many legs and a pair of long, narrow tentacles whipping from its back. The ends of its tentacles are armed with large, sharp spikes. Stranger still, the creature seems to be flickering between two points, as if his eyes can’t focus on the creature or like it’s in two places at once. Kvothe, diving at the nearest “image”, bites into the creature’s neck, tearing into its flesh, eliciting a feral scream of pain. Alistair and Korag-Gora hear the sounds emanating from the grass and move to aid Kvothe.

Alonwyn, having seen the halfling fall from the wagon, paralyzed, rushes to her side and picks her up. She then spots a nearby mushroom, one that seemed similar to the springy toadstools found in the myconids’ nest, and sends them both flying back to safety by launching herself from atop the cap of the fungus and landing safely on her feet.

Lilith spots the “tentacle cat” that Kvothe has his jaws wrapped around, and fires a huge barrage of magic missiles at it, blasting its hide apart with powerful magic. Magnus bounces off of a toadstool, springing swiftly through the air in a corkscrew, but comes down hard, landing on the creature’s back and damaging himself by a bad fall. Landing right at the angry creature’s front paws, the thing begins slashing at him, tearing into his flesh and tearing him to shreds, sending blood splattering everywhere as he screams in terror and pain.

As this is happening, another tentacle cat emerges from the smokey forest, as well as a third, from behind where the seizing mech stands. The third beast, larger, and more grizzled in appearance, sets its eyes on the crowd of helpless gnomes and growls. Korag-Gora, seeing the large cat prowling towards the center of the glade, sees an opportunity. Bounding forward, he uses his massive legs to launch himself from one of the springy mushrooms, gaining extra momentum and slamming the mass of his goliath body into the useless mech, knocking it off balance and sending it teetering backwards. The incredibly heavy construct tumbles down with a huge thud, catching the beast off guard and bludgeoning it with incredible damage, as well as pinning it to the earth as it bellows in pain.

Alistair grabs the bloodied and incapacitated Magnus from the clutches of the tentacle cat, dragging him into the safety of a nearby brush, saving him from certain death. Alonwyn orders Barkley to defend Magnus while he is tended to. Lilith continues to focus on the first tentacle cat, sending an arctic ray of frost, freezing its already bloodied and damaged hide and slowing its movements. Nearby, the scar-faced man, trying to protect the confused gnomes, enters into melee with the second tentacle cat, slashing into it with his large axe.

The largest of the tentacle cats crawls from beneath the downed mech, blood dripping from its wounds, and, to everyone’s surprise, the displacer beast, already seemingly in two places at once, seems to duplicate itself three times, resulting in four identical creatures standing in a group. Korag-Gora slashes into one of the images of the creature, causing it to blink out of existence, and leaving three more.

Alistair kneels before Magnus, and uses an eldritch cantrip to spare the dying rogue, stabilizing his condition and keeping him from the brink of death. Lilith continues to volley magic at the displacer beast that downed Magnus. Alonwyn rushes over and uses a divine spell to heal his mortal wounds, allowing him to get up and re-enter the fray. He sees the largest of the beasts, and sees that it has two copies of itself, and lets fly an arrow into the cluster, just happening to hit the real one, causing the vision of the others to disappear.

The female halfling, having gotten control of herself, fires an arrow into the neck of the first beast, and causing it to flicker strangely and its whipping tentacles to cease waving – the tentacle cat had finally died.

The gnomes, finally having the effects of the umber helm wear off, begin to group up around the wagon again, holding their swords in front of them in an effort to protect themselves from the remaining displacer beasts. Some of them cast minor illusion spells to disguise themselves or create objects to hide behind.

Kvothe, still a dire wolf, jumps from a mushroom and lands in front of the largest of the cats, snapping at its great tentacles, but unable to catch them due to their great speed. Alistair launches an eldritch blast towards the other beast, but mistimes his attack and accidentally blasts the large, surly-looking man, causing him to scream in agony and drop to the ground in pain. Lilith, seeing this debacle and seeing the man in danger, launches more magic missiles at the beast.

The halfling, gritting her teeth and obviously hurt, tries to fire her bow again, but her bow breaks, possibly from damage sustained from her fall, and she collapses to the earth. Her companion, damaged greatly by Alistair’s attack, has his axe dragged and thrown by the advancing tentacle cat.

The largest of the beasts slinks quietly into the darkness of the edge of the forest, somehow seeming to become one with the shadows being cast by the setting sun. Korag-Gora tries to track its movement and, sensing its position, lobs a javelin into the hidden beast, hearing it hit its mark.

Alistair, seeing the female halfling down on the ground, as well as an abandoned sword on the ground, grabs it and helps her up, handing her the weapon and saying she will need it.

Alonwyn launches herself from a mushroom again, slashing her glaive down upon the cat that threatens the injured man, injuring it badly, and Magnus follows her attack up with an arrow to its side.

Korag-Gora, still tracking the movement of the beast beyond the edge of the glade, attempts to lob a hand axe its way, but overdoes the windup, losing his grip and sending it flying hundreds of feet backwards, causing it to disappear into the depths of the woods.

The red-haired halfling rushes to her companion’s side, producing a pouch of medicinal herbs, a poultice, and some bandages, attempting to stabilize him and fix his wounds. She slips a small berry-looking thing into his mouth, and the man regains consciousness. As she does this, the beast takes advantage and tries to attack her, but Kvothe leaps at it and tears its throat open, killing it.

Barkley, still waiting for orders from his masters near the edge of the glade, suddenly is attacked by the beast that had hidden itself in the shadows. Frozen in fear, the dog would surely have been killed if not for Lilith jumping in front of Barkley to take the full brunt of the bludgeoning tentacle, landing on the ground unconscious and bleeding out from the tearing spikes.

Korag-Gora throws another javelin into the brush where the tentacle emerged from which finds its home in the ribs of the flickering cat. Alistair runs to Lilith’s side and spares the dying tiefling using his eldritch powers. Magnus sends an arrow into the creature’s belly.

Suddenly, as if possessed by renewed courage, the band of gnomes frenziedly charge towards the final displacer beast, throwing their weapons at it, afraid to get too close. The swords have little effect on the monster, but cause some lacerations.

Enraged, the beast slashes out at Alistair who stands in defense of the vulnerable Lilith, slicing into his undead flesh. Korag-Gora, with a mighty roar, stabs his great sword directly into the underbelly of the beast, finally slaying the shadowy creature.

Kvothe turns to the fallen mech, its pilot unconscious at the helm, and holds Foxfire aloft, its magical toadstools glowing bright green, and a huge patch of mushrooms and fungus sprouts all over the ground and from the wooden pieces of the construct, covering it entirely with beautiful foliage.

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I'll Stop the World and Meld With You
Kvothe meets the Sovereign within the meld...

Treesday, 7th of Nerth, Year 3033

The party is led down into the metropolis of myconids, a place known as Myconopolis, all the while taking in the sights, smells, and sounds (though they mostly be the sound of running water) of the cavern. All around them, mushrooms clinging to the cliff faces tower above their heads, shining dreamy lights down upon them.

The banks of the streams that flow alongside them are overgrown with colorful mushrooms that Magnus deduces are psychoactive in nature but not poisonous, though the Heirophant encourages them to drink, as it is safe. The walk down to the cavern floor is arduous on their already sore calves, and many times they stop to rest as Kvothe and Magnus harvest many of the psychoactive mushrooms.

Finally giving into thirst, the party fills their empty waterskins with fresh water flowing from the many waterfalls that pour over the rock shelves and splash lower and lower into the “bowl” of the cavern.

Alonwyn, enchanted by the shining and glimmering lights of the drifting spore matter, uses an empty vial borrowed from Lilith to capture some of the faerie lights, creating for herself a makeshift lantern.

After walking to the point of nearly collapsing, having walked many miles that day already, they finally arrive at the bottom of the cavern. Peering upwards, they can see the many layers and “steps” that make up the cavern and the homes of all of the hundreds of myconids that live therein, most of which are sat in large circles or groups, eyes glassy, communing within the meld.

Nearby, the Sovereign rests motionless in meditation, like a colossal mushroom, in the center of the rippling pool. Having melded for so long, the Sovereign is covered with sprouts of fungus, mold, and toadstools that have begun growing from his stationary and hulking frame. The Heirophant explains that the Sovereign is deep within the meld along with much of myconid colony, and is unable to communicate outside of the meld without being drawn out of meditation by someone inside the meld.

Kvothe immediately volunteers to enter the meld to converse with the Sovereign, but is confused as to how to meld with the myconids. The Heirophant instructs him to be seated, then reaches out, sending a cloud of melding spores into Kvothe’s nostrils, which mentally links him with the rest of the colony.

Kvothe, having closed his eyes before melding, opens his eyes to the most incredible, vibrant, and unbelievable sight he has ever seen. Within the meld, many realities overlap, creating a physically impossible and reality-bending existence within the minds of all of those bound together in the meld. Kvothe sees endless imaginations and worlds around him, existing in all of them separately and simultaneously. After having his mind blown by the plethora of sights, sounds, and colors, Kvothe focuses to see many myconids living out fantasies and lives beyond the subterranean cave existence they possess – many myconids dancing in the sun, something they could never do in reality; existing as other creatures; discussing philosophy and the meaning of life and existence itself; exploring their lost homeland, a place they cannot return to or find.

The overwhelmed druid realizes he can experience anything he wants within the meld, and suddenly is standing within the forest he calls home, Dankwood, long before it fell to the plague of undeath that claimed it. Seeing his sacred forest in its untainted, pure form almost brings a tear to his eye. As soon as a single thought to the plague enters his mind, the forest begins to decay and rot, and horrors spring up from the earth. The zombies begin crawling and clamoring towards him, claws reaching for the terrified elf. Clearing his mind and gaining control, the apparitions disappear, and the forest returns to its pure state.

A deep, slow, chthonic voice booms in Kvothe’s ears, remarking on the darkness that has claimed his home. Kvothe turns to see the Sovereign, in all his massiveness, standing at his side and surveying the forest. Kvothe asks the Sovereign if he can help him and his friends, but that he would need to exit the meld in order to speak to the others.

Upon saying this, Kvothe emerges from the meld, opening his eyes within the cavern again. The others watch as the Sovereign’s eyes glow with light once again, and he stands up, shaking the fungus and mold growths from his body and stretching his colossal limbs. The Sovereign vocalizes within their minds, asking what the party seeks from the myconids.

After hearing about the Bleeding Tooth, the Sovereign repeats what the Heirophant explained, saying that the myconids can use their numbers and reach to locate the rare mushroom. The Sovereign offers the party food and drink, noticing that they are hungering and thirsting greatly after a long journey. A few myconids bring the party mushroom caps filled with water, as well as fungal plates covered in various types of “food” – a sort of salad, made up of gooey, fermented grass and plants; an array of insect larva, grubs, worms, and bugs; and a plate of various common, edible mushrooms, which are actually quite tasty.

Korag-Gora, staring at the “food” with disgust, pulls out his rations and begins eating. Lilith forces one of the worms into her mouth, feeling it explode into goo on her tongue, barely manages to keep herself from vomiting. Kvothe focuses on the salad, finding it to his liking. Magnus picks at the mushrooms, and throws the grubs at Korag-Gora, who shoves a grub into the halfling’s unwilling mouth. Alonwyn, praying, purifies the food and does her best to force it down.

Alistair, watching the others eat, is reminded more of his hunger for souls, and feels an intense desire to consume. Alistair turns to the Sovereign and says he is sorry for what he is about to do. He then brandishes one of his sickles, and begins swinging wildly at one of the myconids nearby, who is taken entirely by surprise. Alonwyn sees this, and, screaming out at him, dives into Alistair and knocks him down. The sickle’s blade still drags across the flesh of the myconid, tearing open the creature and causing sappy ooze to drip out of the wound.

Unable to feast on the soul, Alistair is enraged. Kvothe and Korag-Gora jump into action, attempting to detain the enraged revenant. Korag-Gora gets him into a bear hug, but Alistair, muttering an eldritch spell, suddenly dissipates into mist, reappearing nearby and walking away from the group. Completely exhausted and realizing the magnitude of his actions, Alistair collapses to the floor of the cavern in a stupor. Korag-Gora retrieves Alistair, tying him up completely with his length of rope, making sure he won’t be able to speak as well. Alonwyn touches the wounded myconid, channeling the divine to heal the innocent creature, which thanks her.

Kvothe speaks to the Sovereign, apologizing for the actions of Alistair and asking how soon we can find the Bleeding Tooth mushroom. The Sovereign explains that all of the party must meld together to find it, but that after the actions of Alistair, they must prove their trustworthiness by helping them with the aggressive gnomes. Disappointed, the party realizes they are no closer to finding the object of their quest, and begins preparing to sleep, entirely exhausted from the events of the day.

Lilith does her best to remember what time it is, but having been underground so long, she is unable to ascertain what time it actually is. Surrounded by the gentle glow of the mushroom lights, the strange haze of the fungal spores, and the whisper of many waterfalls and streams, the party make their beds and begin to drift off to sleep. Kvothe rejoins the myconids within the meld, and spends his time conversing with them about many topics and subjects. Barkley, ever-hungry, dreams of leftover beef.

Windsday, 8th of Nerth, Year 3033

The individuals sleep for what feels like an eon, waking up and falling back asleep again as if time itself were stood still within the cavern. A long time passes before everyone awakens for good, and no one knows what time it actually is.

Alistair remains subdued by the ropes, and is unable to utter a spell to escape, but begs and pleads to be released. Korag-Gora eventually relents, but only after taking Alistair’s sickles and making him swear he will not pull that kind of behavior again. Alistair apologizes to the “bobs” and everyone else, feeling much remorse over his actions. Korag-Gora mounts the sickles to the top of his shield, out of Alistair’s reach, and gives him a look that says he will have to earn them back.

Magnus urinates freely, which fascinates the Heirophant, who remarks on the similarity between the halfling’s genitalia and a mushroom.

The Heirophant, still lucid, unlike the Sovereign and most of the other myconids, begins guiding the party away from the central cloister of the cavern and the Sovereign’s pool. The Heirophant explains that there are two paths to the gnomes – either above ground, which will take a good while longer, or through a subterranean passage, which has been booby-trapped by the gnomes and has a high likelihood of killing them. After much arguing and debate, they elect to go above ground and avoid the deadly traps.

The Heirophant takes them back up through a new winding path that climbs the many rock shelves and twists through forests of toadstools and fungus, into a tunnel below a tumbling waterfall, a passage that apparently leads to the surface nearer to where the gnomes will be found. The passage inclines for many hours, and during the trip, the party is greeted with many familiar sights of melding myconids and glowing mushrooms. Magnus stabs a fungal bat out of boredom, but the Heirophant restores it to life using revival spores.

Eventually, they come to the surface, finding a similar opening in the earth with a toadstool covering. Pushing it aside, they are blinded by the orange light of the setting sun. Instinctively, the Heirophant backs many feet away, just to be safe. Knowing that the Heirophant will be unable to guide them further, the party asks if there is anything they should do to find them. He simply tells them to continue North.

Kvothe asks if there’s anything they can use as a sign of peace to the gnomes, and the Heirophant hands him his only possession – his fungal staff. Kvothe grips the ancient wood of the staff, noticing the cracks and grain in the wood and how it is filled with petrified fungus like glass, similar to the large, translucent toadstools that top it like crystals. Holding it, he can feel the power of the staff connect to him, and he sees a dim green light begin to glow within the translucent fungus throughout the ancient wood, and realizes the name of this wondrous item – Foxfire.

Traveling onward, they come to a road that seems oddly similar to the road they stumbled upon the other day. As they pass beyond the road, they hear the growing sounds of commotion, as well as small, agitated voices. Metallic ringing, booms, clangs, and the sounds of trees being felled fill the air.

Anticipating danger, Magnus scouts ahead, sneaking through the brush silently and carefully. Eventually, the little rogue comes to a glade, far from his companions. Peering from beyond the tree-line, he sees a scene that causes his eyes to grow wide in surprise.

To be continued…

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Umber From Down Under
The battle against the umber hulk continues...

Treesday, 7th of Nerth, Year 3033

The umber hulk still raging against the party, Magnus grips his dagger and attempts to stab through its diamond-hard chitin armor, but the point glances off of it. Alonwyn, chancing another rough tumble to the ground, launches herself from another bouncy mushroom, lifting her glaive high above her head, smiting the umber hulk with divine power, but once again, its armor absorbs the impressive blow completely. Similarly, Alistair summons thorny vines from the earth, but they are unable to grip the smooth, hard surface of the creature’s hide. Kvothe, having conjured a flaming blade, swings wildly at the beast, covering his eyes to avoid the effects of the hulk’s strange eyes, but his advances have little effect on the thing.

Lilith bravely stares into the umber hulk’s eyes, overcoming the creature’s confusing rays, and fires two volleys of magic missiles which blast into it, damaging it severely. Korag-Gora, seeing an opening made from Lilith’s barrage of arcane magic, lifts his massive door-shield and rushes towards the beast. Getting enough air to jump atop one of the springy toadstools, he is launched ten feet into the air, sending him soaring above the umber hulk’s mass. Dropping the shield below his gargantuan frame, Korag-Gora brings the shield down upon the hulk’s head, slamming into it with full force and the full weight of the door and his own body weight, crushing the creature’s head into its thorax. The door’s weight keeps it lodged atop the umber hulk’s shoulders.

Magnus, producing his other dagger, deftly dives towards the monster after springing from a toadstool, soaring towards the huge door that rests atop of it. Landing just below the newly-formed platform atop which Korag-Gora stands, Magnus grips onto the umber hulk’s body, driving his dagger into the vulnerable wounds created by the arcane assault of Lilith. Alonwyn swings her glaive horizontally with full force, sliding the blade along the bottom of the door mounted atop the creature, guiding it directly into the umber hulk’s neck, severing it partially from its shoulders with a sickly crunch and killing it.

The Heirophant heals the myconids who were injured during the fray, its staff glowing with green light. He turns to the adventurers, conveying thanks for their help in battling the intruder and protecting the sprouts.

Korag-Gora, pulling himself from atop the dead umber hulk, tears the head from its body easily. Noticing the eyes stay open yet, he holds it towards Magnus, who bounces idly nearby on the toadstools, and who is struck dumb upon peering into the eyes of the severed head. Korag-Gora notices through a mental, or perhaps magical, link, he can control the opening and closing of the confusion-inducing second set of eyes. Finding this effect useful, and noticing that the severed head resembled a crested battle helm, Korag-Gora ties the large insectoid head-helm onto his pack for later use.

The Heirophant beckons the battle-worn travelers to follow, leading them toward a narrow, dimly lit tunnel that leads further into the myconid colony. Glancing back at the “infected” gnome, the party decides to leave him here as opposed to bringing him with.

As they travel deeper into the earth along the tunnel, they find groups of “bobs” sitting in silent and stoic meditation, sometimes sitting in groups, or small circles. The Heirophant points out that they are melding. Sometimes, a stray or solitary myconid will meander by in an adjacent cavern or tunnel.

The tunnel grows more vibrant in hues and variety of colors, as more luminescent toadstools spring from the floors and walls of the earth the deeper the group travels behind the Heirophant’s familiar green glow.

After an exhausting journey, the group finally comes to the end of the tunnel, which opens into an expansive and sprawling cavern, larger than imagination, stretching further than the eye can see, and entirely alien and otherworldly in appearance.

Magical faerie lights, actually drifting plant matter and luminescent spores, drift through the thick cavern atmosphere. Huge toadstools and fungal growths glow and pulse with dim light, sending magical and psychedelic colors dancing across small rivulets and streams that flow down shelves of rock, originating from waterfalls that cascade from the cavern walls.

Huge pillars of rock and jutting cliff sides brim with the forms of myconids and other fungal plantlife. All of the waterfalls, streams, and rivulets flow downward into the deepest parts of the cavern, far below where the party emerged from the tunnel. Before them, a twisting and winding pathway descends in vague stairs between a toadstool forest.

Far away and below them, they can vaguely make out through the thick haze of the cavern the silhouette of a gargantuan myconid sitting amid a pool formed from the converging rivulets of water, the colossal glowing cap atop its head as large as the roof of a house. The Heirophant points to it with a gnarled finger and whispers in their minds – “Sovereign”.

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Fungus Among Us
The party meets a strange society of fungal fellows...

Treesday, 7th of Nerth, Year 3033

The javelin soars through the air, whipping past Alistair’s face, finding its mark in the torso of the strange, fungal creature dangling in the snare. The javelin tears easily through its soft, mushy flesh, piercing directly through its body and sticking with a twang into the trunk of the tree behind. Thick, oozing green fluid, like sap, begins flowing from its fresh wound, as the creature writhes in pain. It’s porous openings on its body are frantically puffing colorful clouds of spores all around it, its eyes wide in shock and fear.

The party begins arguing, turning to Korag-Gora and asking angrily why he attacked the creature. Korag-Gora tells them to stay away from it, and that it is dangerous, as could be seen by what it did to Kvothe. As they argue about whether what the goliath did was the right decision, they suddenly “hear” a voice in their heads, but not an actual voice, but rather the thoughts of another being manifesting within their minds. Odder still, the voice “sounds” like a wail of pain, begging for help. Soon, they realize the voice is emanating from the mind of the wounded mushroom man.

They realize they should try to help it, and Korag-Gora begrudgingly loosens his snare trap from the branch, and Lilith catches the creature as it falls to the ground. As she cradles it, she can see its wound is dire, and that the faint luminescence behind its eyes is dimming. Alonwyn kneels next to the pitiful creature, using her divine magic to close the grievous wound, reducing it to a mild cut and stopping the flow of its sappy, green blood. Magnus checks to see if the blood of this creature is poisonous or toxic in any way, to use as a possible ingredient in his poison making, but finds it innocuous.

The fungal humanoid begins to sit up, regaining its strength and thanking Alonwyn for healing its wound. The party gathers around the creature, and they begin to ask it questions. The creature explains that it doesn’t have a name, or a name for what it is, and that it only paralyzed Kvothe in self-defense, and was trying to avoid startling them. It refers to the Sporest as “the world”, and implies that it has never been beyond the edge of the woods. The creature speaks as if it and its people are from some place far, far away, and are lost here, unable to return. It warns the group that its friends are coming to help it, and that they mean no harm to the party.

The party ask the mushroom man for help in finding the bleeding tooth mushroom, but the creature is distracted as it notices the arrival of its kin. Soon, the soft glow of the eyes and caps of dozens of similar creatures can be seen in the darkness, slowly advancing. They emerge from the darkness and step into the glade, a grotesque gathering of the creatures varying in shape, size, and color – some tall, short, slender, or wide, some with short stubby growths for legs and others with long, gangly arms dangling to the ground, all with varying head and “cap” shapes and sizes, some glowing with a faint, eerie light and others spouting clouds of spores.

At the front of the assembly, a wizened mushroom man with a tall, papal-looking cap atop its head steps forward and glances across the faces of the motley crew standing around its injured kin. It carries a tall, wooden staff covered in fungus in its misshapen fist.

The weakened creature stands up and slowly shuffles between the astonished adventurers towards the silent group of mushroom men. Upon rejoining them, the bizarre menagerie turn to leave, giving the strangers who injured and then saved their comrade little attention. Before they can disappear, Alonwyn calls out for them to stop. They halt, and slowly turn, looking at the group with inquisitive eyes.

The staff-wielding one asks, mouthless, “What do you want?” The adventurers are puzzled, and seem to wonder how these creatures are communicating with no voice, in their mind, and also notice the strange, alien manner in which they communicate and formulate thoughts. Somehow, it’s as if they are able to receive the creatures’ thoughts telepathically.

Magnus explains they are looking for a mushroom, which causes the host of fungal creatures to laugh in unison, seemingly amused by the request given their surroundings. Kvothe shows the “leader” the scroll from Aberforth and the illustration upon it, and elaborates that it is called the “bleeding tooth”. The wizened leader says that it has seen it before, but that it is rare. Kvothe says that that is what they were told, as well. The mushroom man says that they can find the mushroom for them, using their numbers and reach across the Sporest, but he says they have a request for them first.

The leader cryptically mentions small creatures that attack them, kill them, just like Korag-Gora did. He says they cannot negotiate peace with these creatures. The party realizes that the small creatures must be the gnomes that Aberforth mentions, and begins asking more questions of the mushroom men. The leader looks skyward, and remarks that the sun will be rising soon and they must leave, or die, for the sun sickness will kill them (this information disturbs Alonwyn greatly). If they choose, they can follow them back to their colony to discuss the matters further.

The party agrees, somewhat hesitantly, and they begin trekking into the depths of the Sporest once again amongst the company of a dozen or so of the mushroom men. The toadstool topping the leader’s staff glows with a bluish-white glow, guiding their way through the eerie forest. They seem to know the quickest, easiest path through the woods, avoiding all brambles, branches, and other environmental obstacles – the mushrooms and fungus surrounding them seem to pull out of the path as they walk through. It’s quickly clear to the group that they are actually traveling back the way they had been coming, but further south.

As they walk, the adventurers converse with the mushroom creatures. They wonder what to call these strange creatures, and Korag-Gora casually suggests “bobs”. This becomes a running joke within the party, but seems to stick for lack of a better or easier term, or any suggestion from the creatures themselves.

The “Old Bob” begins talking about their society, and their species, saying that they wish to return to their “true home”. This confuses the party greatly, and they are unable to get any straight answers. They ask if they can help them get home, but it explains that this problem is too great for them to help with.

It expresses its wish for the party to “meld” with the colony so that they can understand and become one with them on a higher consciousness. The invitation is one that instantly sets most of them on edge, imagining “melding” as something very sinister. Kvothe agrees to meld with them immediately, not quite understanding what it means but wanting to understand their society and seem welcoming. They ask what melding is, exactly, and the Old Bob points out that Alonwyn, for example, worships the sun. She begins to correct that she reveres a sun deity, but before she can, it continues and explains that melding is, to them, their form of “religion”. It is how they reach a higher consciousness and find meaning in existence.

Walking for what seems like hours, they notice the trees and foliage surrounding them becoming more and more “fungal”, with tree trunks bursting into full-blown mushroom stalks, covered in mold, with branches covered not in leaves but in fungal growths. The air becomes “thicker” with the floating debris and plant matter that seems to be similar to the clouds released by the bobs.

Soon, the host comes to a stop at a glade where a very large toadstool covers most of the ground. The Old Bob approaches, raising its staff, and slowly, the cap of the mushroom begins to rise, lifting to reveal a relatively large opening into the earth – a dank cavern. The other bobs trudge and shuffle awkwardly down into the darkness of the cavern as the Old Bob stands at the opening surveying the sky through the thick canopy of the woods. The final bob, the very one they captured earlier, looks back at the group before descending, giving them a curious glance.

The Old Bob says they must descend into their colony, into the dark, where they can be safe. The group is very reluctant, and ask why they must go into the earth. The Old Bob reminds them that the sun is about to rise, pointing at the now-brightening sky, which was fading from a deep, rich purple above to a reddish glow. It reiterates that the sun gives them the sun sickness, and that it is deadly. Reluctantly, the adventurers traipse into the cavern, instantly noticing the powerful mustiness that meets their nostrils. The Old Bob follows them, shooting a final, furtive glance into the surface world as the huge toadstool lowers and hides their tunnel once again.

Their eyes adjusting to the darkness, they see that the moist, spongey walls of the tunnel are covered in mycelium and are dotted with small, glowing mushrooms, giving the cavern a soft, dreamy light. The cavern descends quite steadily. Magnus whispers to Korag-Gora to be ready for a fight in case this is all a trap, but the Old Bob responds, saying they need not have any fear, which unsettles them both, despite the peaceful message. The Old Bob warns them that the sights they witness may disturb them, but that the “Matriarch” that resides below will not harm them.

After some time of descending the winding, tunnel, they finally reach the opening to a much larger cavern, dimly lit by the subterranean toadstools that seem to be everywhere within the cave. The party is taken aback by what can only be described as a “mushroom garden of their nightmares”.

They step into a very large, bowl-like room, the floor entirely covered in tiny, quivering, twitching little creatures – the bobs’ young – and surrounded by huge, umbrella-like blue toadstools. Amongst the sprouts that cling to the earth, a huge slug-like monster, only barely similar to the other bobs, in appearance, crawls unpleasantly across the cavern floor, its huge, bulbous head having neither eyes nor mouth, instead possessing a hideous orifice like a pocket that squirms with more of the tiny things. Its back is also covered with young sprouts, which cling to its flesh as it slowly drags itself about using long, javelin-like limbs both as legs and as tools. Here within this nest, the sprouts feed on rotting wood and plant matter, safe from the sun’s rays.

The party stands aghast at the Matriarch’s horrifying appearance, but are led down into the nest by the Old Bob. Despite its obvious role in protecting the young of this species, it pays the visitors no mind, which they are very thankful for. The cavern is rife with the smell of rotting wood and the subterranean air is heavy with the spores of the bobs. As they enter the nest, the sprouts seem to part, creeping along the mulch-y earth and making a path for them as they walk.

The Old Bob says that they will be safe here, within the spore nest, and that they must meet the Sovereign. It explains that though their people have no “leaders or ranks”, the Sovereign is the oldest and wisest of their kind, and his wisdom is valued very greatly. It explains that it is the second-oldest and second-wisest of their kind, and is known as the Heirophant.

The party presses the Heirophant for more information on everything they had been talking of, including the small creatures. They ask what they want them to do with them. The Heirophant says that they do not wish harm on the gnomes, but rather to extend a request for peace, as the gnomes have been encroaching on their territories and homelands, and destroying their homes. When they try to communicate, the gnomes attack and kill them on sight. The Heirophant asks that the adventurers act as ambassadors for the bobs. They want to know why the gnomes attack and kill them on sight, and the Heirophant says there was an “accident”, and points to a strange, shadowy creature sitting on the edge of the nest.

They find that the creature is a gnome, or rather, was a gnome. The poor gnome’s body and face are covered in fungus and tiny, sprouting stalks of mushrooms, its eyes milky and white, empty of any intelligence or sentience. It’s clothes have been consumed by mold and mycelium. His mouth hangs ajar, drooling slightly. The gnome’s resemblance is uncannily similar to the rat and the deer that Kvothe had seen before, and it suddenly becomes clear what the “accident” had been.

The Heirophant explains that the gnome had invaded their home, and had been killed accidentally by the poisonous defense spores of their people. They felt guilt because of this, and brought him back to life, in the way that they can. They ask if they sometimes bring back animals or deer, and the Heirophant says that they do, and that it is their gift to the others of the world. The party explains that bringing something back from the dead as an infested zombie isn’t really giving it “life”, but the bobs seem unable to see what is so unsettling to them. Alistair, whose hunger for souls is so great now that it consumes his mind, attempts to pull the soul from the infested gnome, but is unable to, as the gnome is entirely dead inside and lacks a soul.

As the party continues to learn more about the bobs and their way of life, as well as “melding”, they feel a slight tremor in the earth. The tremor sets the entire spore nest into a fervor – the sprouts begin quivering wildly, detaching and swarming around the Matriarch as the slug-like caretaker flies into a wild state, frantically releasing the sprouts from its hide and its “pocket”. The huge, puffy, umbrella-like toadstools that surround the bowl begin to move, extending out and over the young and creating a sort of shield that covers the nest, protecting it. The party, alarmed, asks what is causing all the fuss, and the Heirophant warns of danger. Asking what is so dangerous, it explains that something is coming that feeds on their young.

Magnus, not noticing the tremors or the imminent danger, has been suddenly compelled to pull out the freakish idol that always finds its way into his pack. Being sucked into its dark depths, Magnus senses nothing but the abyss within the idol. Korag-Gora notices him being haunted by the horrid object, and kicks it full-force out of his grasp, sending the thing bouncing around on the large mushroom bubble that now encompasses the floor of the cavern.

The Heirophant says that they can either try to escape further into the colony, or stay and fight the intruder. The party begins discussing what they should do, arguing over whether it would be better to stay or escape. The Heirophant explains that they normally use poisonous spores to kill intruders, but that their presence makes it unsafe to use the spores. They want to try to escape to the surface, but the Heirophant senses that the creature is burrowing from that direction and would cut their escape off.

Before they can decide on what to do, the cavern begins shaking with more force, and chunks of rock and rubble begin to fall from the ceiling and walls, destroying large growths of fungus, and crashing to the floor but bouncing off the large, protective toadstool barrier that shields the sprouts. Huge pieces of rock begin falling from the area in which they descended into the cavern, and soon they see something stirring in the wall from that end of the room.

A large, grotesque claw emerges from the solid rock as it punches a crack through the earth, connected to an insectoid, strangely hairy, appendage. Soon, the rest of it emerges through the crack, pulling itself into the dim light of the cavern which gleams from the shiny, umber chitin armor that covers its entire hulking body. Its small, insectoid head sports a pair of undulating antennae, a set of huge, sawlike mandibles, as well as a pair of beady black eyes. Below those eyes are a pair of huge, lidded eyes, which suddenly open to reveal massive, glowing reddish-orange compound eyes, like the eyes of a gargantuan hell-fly.

At the sight of these disgusting compound eyes, the party suddenly feels themselves losing control of their thoughts, their mind becoming a scramble of confusion. They manage to avert their eyes and regain their composure, but Magnus, whose mind was already weakened by his dark idol, is unable to escape the powerful gaze of this umber hulk. Magnus is frozen in confusion, unable to think or react, peering thoughtless into the glowing, red, metallic portals of the monster’s eyes.

The umber hulk approaches the adventurers, now ready for a fight. Alonwyn stands at the front, shield raised, ready to defend her allies. The creature swings its massive claws at her, scraping across the steel surface to no avail. To her surprise, the monster’s huge, saw-like mandibles reach over her shield and snap shut, slicing into her arms and injuring her. Kvothe, seeing the danger Alonwyn is in, transforms into his dire wolf form and lunges at it, jaws agape. Biting down on its chitin armor has no effect, and his teeth are unable to pierce the surface, which is like solid rock.

Lilith notices that Magnus is still stood in a confused, vulnerable state, and flies over to him, carrying him up to the ceiling of the cavern, out of harm’s way. Korag-Gora pushes in front of Alonwyn, facing off against the umber hulk, and stabs his great sword straight at the creature’s face, but the point glances off the thing’s chitin exoskeleton. The bobs that are gathered around the party begin releasing clouds of spores, sending them like projectiles towards the umber hulk using forceful blasts of air. The spores seem to have no effect on the creature, which shows no signs of paralyzation. The Matriarch, her young now protected and accounted for, springs into action, slithering swiftly from behind the party.

Alonwyn, remembering the way that Magnus’ icon bounced around on the mushroom bubble that has covered the nest, runs and jumps onto the nearest toadstool. The bouncy mushroom cap sends her tumbling into the air, and she manages to flip herself over, soaring above the party and the umber hulk below. Unfortunately, her descent is not as graceful as her ascent, and she tumbles back down and falls upon the back of the umber hulk, bruising herself badly and landing prone, but also throwing the monster off its balance.

Alistair casts a hex on the creature, hexing its mandibles so that they cannot function properly and making it susceptible to his attacks. Kvothe returns to his humanoid form, sensing that his dire wolf form will not be effective against the monster’s unbelievably strong armor.

The umber hulk, now surrounded, punches its powerful claws into the solid rock of the cavern floor, carving its way below the cavern floor and out of sight. Lilith, seeing an opening for an attack, drops Magnus, hoping he will land on the soft and springy toadstools below, and sends a flurry of magic missiles into the tunnel, pelting the umber hulk with arcane energy and piercing its diamond-like chitin. The spell causes a wild magic surge within her, and her arcane power manifests itself randomly, causing her to teleport unexpectedly. She reappears below Magnus, managing to use her body to cushion his fall, which also snaps the halfling out of his confused stupor.

With the umber hulk burrowing below, the bobs spread out and try to sense where it will reappear. The Matriarch begins using her huge, javelin-like limbs to stab and carve into the earth, attempting to cut off the umber hulk’s burrowing. The Matriarch clashes with the umber hulk below the cavern floor, causing the room to shake and the sounds of the struggle to echo through the cavern.

Kvothe jumps into the nest, sliding between the mushrooms forming the shield, and enters into the tunnel formed by the Matriarch, finding the two monsters fighting in the darkness below, but unable to enter the fray. Magnus, no longer demented by the umber hulk’s confusion rays, but unsure of what is happening, suggests that they escape, but the others make it clear that escape isn’t an option at this point.

Alistair jumps into the umber hulk’s rock tunnel, coming up from behind and blasting it with a blast of crackling eldritch energy and scorching the weakened spot where Lilith had damaged. This enrages the creature, which turns and begins slashing at Alistair with its huge claws, but the revenant is too swift and is able to dodge every attack. Flanked again, the umber hulk pulls itself up and tunnels directly up, bursting through the floor where the party and many of the bobs are standing, sending them flying. Korag-Gora and Magnus are able to stay on their feet, jumping out of the way in time to avoid it.

Kvothe conjures a flame blade, a fiery, elemental scimitar, and begins swinging at the umber hulk, driving it back from the party. He is forced to cover his eyes, shielding himself so that he isn’t affected by the umber hulk’s mesmerizing eyes, which causes his attacks to miss wildly. Lilith sends another barrage of magic missiles at the subterranean beast, damaging it further.

With a berserk roar, Korag-Gora raises his massive door and pushes into the umber hulk, using his immense strength to shove the creature many feet into the cavern wall, pinning it there.

To be continued…

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Oh Deer
The party enters the otherworldly sprawl of the Sporest...

Sunday, 5th of Nerth, Year 3033

Standing in the fungus-swarmed field just miles away from the Sporest’s edge, the party begins to set up camp for the night. Magnus and Alistair examine the many varieties of mushroom that grow among the tall grasses of the countryside – some of which have grown to an immense size for their species. Kvothe searches around the grasses and finds a familiar blue mushroom known as a blue cap, an item which is valued for its use in poultices.

Unable to find any nearby trees or fallen wood, the party gives up on the idea of starting a fire, and they begin rolling out their bed rolls, or in the case of Magnus and Lilith, making themselves beds from the soft, lush grass that grows throughout the field. Lilith, having learned how to alter her body with magic, grows long, sickle-like claws and cuts through the grass with ease. Korag-Gora reclines upon his trusty door-shield once again. Alonwyn becomes troubled by the darkness setting in without a campfire, so Lilith lights up a wolf skull carried by Korag-Gora with a mellow glow. They all rest, having food, prayer, and meditation as the half-moon rises behind the clouds.

After everyone falls asleep, Alistair stays awake and practices one of his cantrips from the demonic tome – twisting, thorn-covered vines burst from the earth and tear through mushrooms, grabbing them by the stalks and shredding them apart as Alistair stares with arms outstretched.

Moonday, 6th of Nerth, Year 3033

Kvothe emerges from his trance-like meditation an hour after midnight, feeling an urge to explore the strange, new setting of the sprawling, fungal forest before them. He lithely sneaks away from the camp, Alistair not paying any mind in his state of undead torpor, and begins his short trek through the field to the southern edge of the forest. It seemed to him as he walked that the trees had begun to wrap around the camp, almost creeping closer to the group, though he knew it was most likely a trick of the mind. Strange lights and luminescent apparitions glowed beyond the edge of the woods, entrancing and inviting.

Kvothe arrives at the forest’s edge, trees and huge toadstools beginning to pop up all around him. Before he knows it, he is in the thick of the woods, climbing and struggling through thick vegetation, branches, vines, and fungus. In the dim light of the woods, with nothing but the glow of many eerily luminescent, man-sized mushrooms, Kvothe could not find any sign of the gnomes that had been previously mentioned by Aberforth and even Farmer Giles.

Eventually, Kvothe comes across the thick stalk of an otherworldly, 30-foot-tall mushroom. Drawn to its size and somewhat alien appearance, he suddenly realizes just how otherworldly the forest itself feels. In all of his travels, he has never felt the atmosphere that he feels now, within the Sporest – strange bits of plant matter and particles float and drift in the air, which is oddly humid and cool, almost perfectly comfortable. The sky, despite the clouds obscuring the star and moon, had a dim, magical glow to it. The trees feel more alive, and the mushrooms – the mushrooms!

He then notices the corpse of a deer lying beneath the gargantuan mushroom’s shadow. Feeling a pang of sadness for the creature as he notices a huge chunk of flesh missing from its neck, Kvothe could almost swear he sees it begin to stir. Then, to his astonishment, the deer slowly lifts its decaying head, opening a milky, white eye. As it picks itself up on stiff, clumsy legs, to his shock, he realizes the deer’s other side, the side that had been against the ground and hidden, has been entirely overgrown with mold, fungal sprouts and stalks bursting from its hide, the eye replaced by fungal growth – just like the rodent-like creature from the abandoned house. The deer turns its eerie gaze upon Kvothe, standing entirely still and lifeless, then slowly, gracelessly, bounds away on wobbly, uncoordinated legs. Feeling like he had lost track of time, disoriented by the “magic” of the Sporest, he decides to find his way back to the forest’s edge. Eventually, he makes his way back to the field, deciding to sit upon a downed tree trunk and meditating as the night wanes.

As the sun begins to rise, the rest of the party awakens individually, quickly noticing that Kvothe has gone missing. Magnus tries to get Barkley to hunt down Kvothe’s trail, but he seems disinterested and more concerned with being fed. Alonwyn feeds him some dried meat, but it proves unsatisfactory for the aging hound, who proceeds to stretch out on the ground lazily. Regardless, they notice the obvious trail left by Kvothe’s footsteps in the muddy earth.

Realizing they are in need of some fresh food, Alistair gets the idea to shoot down some of the birds that continually fly overhead. Sending a crackling burst of eldritch energy at a couple of low-flying aerial avians, the birds burst into a bloody, charred explosion of feathers and gore.

After packing up their various supplies and belongings, they begin following Kvothe’s path southeast to the Sporest’s edge, wondering why he would’ve left without them in the middle of the night. Soon enough, they find him meditating on the trunk of a downed tree. He quickly explains to them the details of the mysterious nature of the forest, as well as the bizarre scene involving the fungal, re-animated deer. Perplexed and perhaps a bit put off of entering the Sporest by Kvothe’s story, the party begins to discuss how they should go about finding a single mushroom in a vast, sprawling wood. They decide they should perhaps find the most heavily wooded area, and begin searching there, as it was likely to have the most plant life as well as the least sunlight breaking through the canopy.

After being given instructions from Kvothe on what to look for, Lilith spreads her wings and carries herself a few hundred feet into the air, surveying the tree tops for what appears to be the densest area of forest. She notices many eye-catching sights, the most prominent being the “hill” they saw distantly the night before, now in full view to her – an impossibly colossal and mountainous toadstool, its titanic cap a vast range of warbling hues, but somehow pulsing with a deep red, many miles in the distance, but so huge as to dwarf the trees of the surrounding forest. She also notices a few other interesting sights, including what appears to be a large clearing. To her eye, the densest part of the forest within view is the area directly east of them.

Meanwhile, Magnus spends time foraging for herbs and plants, finding a wild sage root that can be used in a poison.

Coming down to the earth, Lilith explains what she saw, and they decide to enter the forest and head eastward towards the god-sized mushroom. Kvothe offers to show them the area he explored the night before, where the deer’s resurrection had occurred.

The party treks deeper into the Sporest, immediately noticing a shift in the atmosphere of the world around them. The light – harsh, grey, and cold while in the outside world, just moments ago – mellows into a soft, dim, alien glow, warm and yellowy, like twilight, but darker. The air becomes slightly warmer, no longer chilly. The glow of luminescent mushroom caps and what could be drifting plant matter, or perhaps tiny fairy lights, create an unearthly straggle of over-sized fungi and peculiar plant life.

Moving through the choking wilderness of the Sporest and forsaking the main road slows the party to a crawl, forcing them to seek pathways safe to walk upon among clusters of fungus too large to ignore, beneath low-hanging branches, through vines and hanging growths like spider webs, and around fetid ponds covered in moss and algae too dark and murky to traverse. Using the enchanted glow of Korag-Gora’s immense shield casts a vibrant green glow upon the already alien world of the mushroom forest. Traveling so slowly, Kvothe spots many herbs and plants, finding a special moss called royal lichen growing upon the trunk of a tree.

Eventually, they come to the spot Kvothe mythicized to them that morning, finding no trace of any fauna, living or otherwise. Magnus finds an oddly familiar toadstool. He realizes it’s an amanita cap – a mushroom known for its poison. Picking it and placing it in his pack to dry, he begins plotting a use for it.

After struggling through the forest’s stranglehold for many arduous hours, the party is surprised to stumble upon a road heading eastward after a bend from the north. Here, the trees lean in and fungus crowds the edges of the dirt pathway, which is about six feet wide and marred with water-filled furrows and ruts from the wheels of wagons and carts and tracks of hooves.

Following the road ushers a swifter, easier passage through the wood for the party, and soon, after many uneventful miles, they find that a footpath branches from the main road southward, creating an almost tunnel-like passage into the chaotic density of the Sporest. Finding themselves at a literal fork in the road, they discuss the options before them and what the best plan of action is. They realize that the sun is setting and that it is already late afternoon – the already dim light of the forest falls dimmer still, as the twilit glow of the day within the forest dims to a tranquil, murky gloom.

They begin setting up camp, again questioning the viability of a campfire. The group spends some time foraging the nearby area, gathering fallen branches and bits of wood for a fire. Alonwyn uses her divine abilities to detect poison around her, and is startled to see how much of the flora is poisonous, including many of the man-sized mushrooms surrounding them. They decide to start the fire away off the road in a small clearing, just in case someone happens upon them on the road.

Alistair, growing increasingly frustrated, claustrophobic, and trapped within the Sporest, begins losing his composure and begins searching the area for any sign of the bleeding tooth mushroom. Irritated and restless, he wanders deeper into the wilderness, blasting plant-life with his demonic energy. Eventually, he notices a strange sound like the furious beating of huge wings. Sensing danger, but unable to spot a sign of the noise, he heads back to the group, brooding over his dark obsession.

A few large, wide-capped toadstools that stand around face-height to the party grow near to the fire, and Alonwyn and Lilith climb atop them and make their beds there, safe above the forest floor. Korag-Gora lies near the fire, Barkley curling up near him. Magnus climbs into a gnarled, fungus-covered tree with many low-hanging branches, tying himself to the branch and reclining in its bow. Kvothe lies upon the ground, and Alistair broods in an almost obsessive trance.

Treesday, 7th of Nerth, Year 3033

After everyone has fallen asleep, the fire smoldering in the middle of them, Alistair stirs after midnight, hungering for a soul. With eyes burning bright with white fire, he surveys his friends, knowing they are the only living souls nearby. He eyes Barkley, curious of the likelihood of a dog soul’s existence. He trudges over to Barkley as he lies against Korag-Gora, seeking to draw the dog away from the group. Instead of attempting to quietly awaken the hound, Alistair barks “wake up!” to the animal, instantly awakening him and also Korag-Gora, whose fist swiftly wraps around the neck of the revenant. This jolt to Alistair’s system snaps him out of his trance-like state.

Oddly, they suddenly notice the sounds of something stirring in the brush nearby, beyond the edge of the dim firelight. The snapping and rustling awakens Magnus and Kvothe, who instantly begin listening as well. After a minute or so of strange movement around them, Kvothe sees with his darkvision the shadowy outline of a humanoid figure, but with an alien shape and unnaturally long “arms”, intentionally avoiding them and their camp.

Kvothe silently transforms into a panther, slinking across the forest floor, eyes reflecting in the dim light. As he approaches the strange creature, he begins wondering what to do with it, wondering what its intent is as it walks around the perimeter of their camp. Before he can decide, he hears the sound of a bizarre, sneeze-like noise and a strange, bright blue glow fills his vision, and he falls, limbs rigid, paralyzed on the ground as the creature escapes.

Alistair runs to Kvothe’s side – after a minute or so Kvothe regains use of his limbs and transforms back into his original form. They go back to the center of camp, now enveloped in darkness as nothing but dim coals are left of the fire. Magnus has climbed down from his perch, and Lilith and Alonwyn awake – Kvothe tells the others what he experienced. Wondering if it will return, the group discusses what to do. Korag-Gora places a snare trap – a large net and rope rigged to a tree – beneath a tree near to where the creature passed. Soon, the party is dreaming again as the tranquility of the forest lulls them back to sleep.

Not two hours pass, however, before the startling sound of the rope slinging something into the air within the net awakens the entire group. They rush over to the trap, and shining a lantern onto the area, glance a disconcerting image – a grotesque, fungal creature, humanoid in shape and form, eyes pinpoints of light, with a large, cap pulsing with blue light upon its “head” and a body of many vibrant and alien colors, its porous orifices spouting colorful puffs of what appear to be spores, hangs within the net above them, making a futile attempt to struggle free. Standing in wonderment, and possibly disgust, the party is silent.

Just as Alistair takes a step forward, hesitantly approaching the fungal being, a javelin from Korag-Gora’s fist is sent swiftly soaring towards it.

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Breaking Legs & Breaking Eggs
Barkley joins the party on their way to the Sporest...

Starsday, 4th of Nerth, Year 3033

As it draws close to three hours past midnight, the party dusts themselves off in the aftermath of their battle with the pair of ankheg.

Alistair, still regenerating from the horrific burns that have scorched his skin, is suddenly visited by his fiendish patron, Belial. The demonic voice of the echoes in his mind, and the fiend rewards Alistair for his work with an infernal tome filled with unfamiliar magics that is chained to his chest.

Alonwyn turns to Kvothe and asks about the possibility of there being more ankhegs living below the surface, or possibly that they would have young. Kvothe mentions that it is possible, as the ankheg’s feed on meat, and could be using the livestock to feed hatchlings.

Magnus slowly drags himself over to a pile of hay and collapses from exhaustion. Alonwyn leaves the barn to check on Farmer Giles and his family, and finds them terrified, hiding in their farmhouse. They invite the party in after hearing about what happened. Alonwyn carries Magnus and Lilith carries Finthwik to the house and lays them down next to the sleeping mastiff. Everyone decides to get a night’s sleep and deal with any more problems in the morning. Alistair sits and lets himself regenerate, resting and testing his newfound magical cantrips.

The next morning, everyone awakens and meets in the farm house. Farmer Giles fixes porridge for his “saviors”, who offer to show him what has been eating his livestock. Upon seeing the corpses of the ankhegs, he is in disbelief that these creatures were living under his farm the whole time and thanks them for saving his farm.

Alonwyn, Lilith, and Magnus go to the well and bathe, cleaning off the grime, dirt, and blood from the battle before. Korag-Gora cleans off Alonwyn’s armor for her.

Around mid-day, Alistair suggests that they head out on their way to the Sporest, but Alonwyn brings up the ankheg tunnels again. Kvothe and Lilith are very opposed to entering the tunnels, saying they’ve done enough to help the Giles family already. They manage to persuade them into investigating the tunnels, just in case.

Magnus, knowing they will force him to crawl down into the tunnel due to his size, goads Finthwik into being the guinea pig, tying a rope around the hesitant gnome’s waist and sending him down into the gaping maw of the ankheg’s burrow. The fifty feet of rope slowly disappears. Right as the last bit of slack is disappearing, Magnus feels the rope snap out of his hands, flying into the darkness of the tunnel as they hear a distant, muffled cry.

Assuming the worst, and that Finthwik has possibly died, they begin debating who should go in after him. Lilith pulls out her fateful pumpkin and lights it using her magic, stepping into the mouth of the tunnel. Magnus and Alonwyn join her, as Korag-Gora and Alistair sit idly by. Kvothe steps out into the field and notices that a powerful storm is moving towards them and will be on top of them soon.

The tunnel winds down into the earth erratically, with many steep slopes and harrowing twists that cause them to have to watch their step. They pass the remains of one of the ankheg’s shedded skins, as well as the remains of one of the cows. After descending about forty feet into the tunnel, they come to a drastic drop-off in the tunnel where the ankheg had burrowed directly down. They correctly assume that this is where Finthwik lost his footing and fell.

As they inspect the tunnel, they feel the dirt begin to shift and fall away around them. Magnus deftly dives further up the tunnel, rolling away just in time to avoid the shifting earth. Lilith and Alonwyn are caught up in the collapsing tunnel, and helplessly slide with it into the vertical tunnel. Thinking quickly, Lilith produces a white feather from her pack and casts a feather fall spell on her and Alonwyn, causing them to gently float to the floor of the tunnel with an unsettling squish.

Lilith’s pumpkin shattered after the fall, leaving them in total darkness. Casting light upon Alonwyn’s glaive, they find themselves standing in a disgusting, fetid pile of cow corpses. Next to them on the floor they see Finthwik lying unconscious and bloody with an obviously broken leg. Surrounding them are hundreds of large, brownish eggs bunched in clusters, sticking to the floors, walls, and ceiling by a crusty substance. More tunnels branch from the chamber they are in.

They turn to each other and immediately begin to destroy the vile spawn of the ankhegs, Alonwyn smashing through the thick, crunchy shells with her glaive and skewering the disgusting larva, and Lilith freezing and shattering the eggs with her ray of frost.

Meanwhile, above, the rest of the group feel the earth shift as the collapse happens. Magnus emerges and tells them that the tunnel has collapsed and has trapped Finthwik, Alonwyn, and Lilith within. Alistair finds a dilapidated shovel nearby and heads into the tunnel to begin clearing the way, but as he heads down, Lilith uses her thaumaturgic magic to amplify her voice, calling for help. The sound waves that boom through the tunnel cause another collapse, which traps Alistair within the tunnel itself.

On the surface, Magnus convinces Kvothe to help, despite Kvothe being vehemently against journeying into the tunnel, seeing it as a distraction from their quest to find the Bleeding Tooth, as well as interfering with nature. Kvothe transforms into a giant badger, roughly the height and size of his elf form. They head into the tunnel, joining Alistair, and Kvothe uses his badger claws to quickly burrow through the collapsed tunnel.

Looking down into the chamber below, they can see the glow from Alonwyn’s glaive. They debate over the best way to get down to them or get them up to them. Alistair shouts down to them, and Lilith flies up to the top of the chamber with Magnus’s rope, but is unable to fly into the tunnel due to her wingspan. She pulls out pitons and uses them to climb the steep, vertical tunnel up to Magnus, Alistair, and badger-Kvothe. Her upper body strength barely gets her through the climb, but she makes it within reach of her friends, who pull her up into the tunnel, where she collapses, exhausted. Alistair picks up the rope and tosses it down the tunnel to where Alonwyn is. Kvothe turns and leaves back up through the twisting tunnel to the surface.

Alonwyn finishes destroying the last of the eggs, and takes a moment to heal Finthwik’s wounds using her divine magic. His broken limbs snap back into place, and his wounds miraculously close. He remains unconscious as she ties the rope around him, and Alistair, Lilith, and Magnus are able to hoist him up to where they are. They safely recover him, then send the rope back down to Alonwyn, who is able to climb up with ease.

After emerging from the tunnel, they discuss the possibility of there being other nests, but it is quickly decided that they’ve done more than enough to help so far. They talk to Farmer Giles once again, explaining that they have destroyed a nest below his farm, but warning him that he really should think about relocating his family. Farmer Giles thanks them, and says that it would be a good idea to relocate temporarily, at least until he can set up a new farm. Alonwyn writes a note to Viscount Roynish for the family to take with them, asking that Bright Harvest make accommodations for them. She also blesses their baby.

As they are about to set out into the wilderness, the storm raging only a few miles away, Farmer Giles offers his faithful mastiff, Barkley, to the party as a thank you for their help. Barkley is getting old and misses the days of adventure as a young pup. Magnus, eyeing a potential steed, gladly accepts Barkley into their ranks.

As they are going to leave, Finthwik also tries to leave with them. Lilith, seeing more potential dangers ahead, persuades Finthwik to head back to the safety of Bright Harvest along with the family, and to wait for them to get back. Finthwik, disappointed, concedes, and thanks them for saving his life again.

Finally, two hours past mid-day, they set off into the rain. Lightning flashes and thunder crashes all around them as they walk the southern road, wind whipping hard, cold rain in their faces as they trudge along, soaking their clothes and chilling them to the bone. Dutifully, they march onward, unable to see far into the distance due to the heavy sheets of rain.

As they travel, they pass empty wilderness dotted with meager clusters of trees, rolling hills devoid of life, and a few abandoned houses from a long-forgotten settlement. By sundown, the rain is still pouring, and everyone is has grown exhausted from the journey in the terrible weather. They decide to spend the night in one of the abandoned farmhouses, finding one that is the least decrepit.

The farmhouse does not have a door, nor much of its roof left. The wood of the building has begun to rot, and the flooring has fallen to disrepair so much so that grass and weeds have sprung up from between the planks. Mushrooms and other fungi sprout abundantly as well. Broken and destroyed furniture lie in ruin all around the room. Rain torrents in from above in many places, creating tiny waterfalls that cascade through the holes in the roof.

The group manages to find a few pieces of wood from the furniture dry enough to start a fire, tossing the chunks of wood into the dilapidated fireplace. They gather around the broken hearth, undressing to warm their bodies and dry their clothes, hanging their packs and supplies nearby to dry.

Sunday, 5th of Nerth, Year 3033

Soon, most of the party falls asleep, though Korag-Gora sets up his usual station outside of the house, lying beneath his colossal shield which is leaned up against the side. Alistair and Kvothe stay awake, keeping watch as the others sleep. The rain and thunder occupy most of their senses, but despite the constant rainfall, Kvothe notices a peculiar sound coming from within the farmhouse around three hours past midnight.

He investigates, and eventually finds the source of the rustling coming from the hearth where the supplies and packs are hanging. He notices Magnus’s pack barely moving, swaying ever so slightly from the mantle, and the strange rustling sound comes from inside.

Kvothe alerts Alistair, who was sitting nearby. They decide to dump out the pack onto the floor. Magnus’s supplies and rations spill out, scattering without much noise across the moist wooden floor, as well as a hideously bizarre creature. Its appearance resembles that of an overgrown rat, but with unsettling differences – its fur appears more like white, spongy mold, and from its body, odd, almost fungal growths have sprung, including its eye sockets. The misshapen and disfigured rodent squirms on the ground, sprawled out on its back next to a chunk of nibbled cheese. The duo stare at it in disgust, and watch as it sluggishly, almost mindlessly pulls itself to its feet and clumsily scurries, with seemingly little control over its limbs, out of the room and into the soggy outdoors.

The commotion and noise caused by this awaken the others, who have begun to stir after a long rest. Kvothe and Alistair tell the others about what they saw just moments ago, but the others shrug it off. Magnus looks at his gear that has been spilled on the floor, and goes to grab a bit of rations, but finds all of it moldy and covered in fungus, prompting him to toss it outside in disgust.

Korag-Gora awakens as the sun rises, prompting the others to prepare to head out again. The rain has mostly subsided, leaving the countryside a wet, soggy mess. The sky is still a dull, iron grey. Alonwyn suggests that the group joins together in a prayer for good fortune on their journey. To her surprise, the group compromises, on the grounds that they don’t have to join hands. Alistair, with a sinister grin, offers to lead the prayer, which Alonwyn happily obliges. To her surprise, Alistair’s voice is replace by the infernal tones of a fiend who promptly spouts a string of obscenities and insults, as well as cruel laughter. This upsets Alonwyn, who regrets ever asking to pray in the first place, and causes her to rebuke Alistair angrily.

The party set out as the sun is still low in the overcast sky, traveling quickly to make up for lost time the day before during the storm, stopping once in the afternoon to have a short rest and eat before heading east off of the main road. Despite being incredibly worn out, the group decides to force a march to make it to where the Sporest is by sundown. Their feet and legs aching, they trudge through the sodden wilderness, ignoring their exhaustion.

Finally, as the sun is setting in the sky, they begin to notice peculiar things along the path. Sprouting from the earth as they walk, thousands of mushrooms and various fungi, some much larger than ordinary mushrooms. In the distance, along the horizon, they see the edge of the woodland known as the Sporest, and are taken back by the eerie, gentle luminescence of the mushrooms that grow among the trees. Huge toadstools stretch above the trees, and the very tip of a colossal hill or mountain far beyond, until they realize that this hill is in fact the cap of a mushroom itself, glowing with a dim, distant pulse, as impossible as it seems to them.

As they settle in for the night a few miles away from the Sporest, it becomes clear that this place, with its faerie lights and mushroom canopies, is like nothing they have seen before…

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