The heroes descended deeper into the night gorbin cavern and found a chamber full of the black-green skinned beasties. They unleashed a barrage of small javelins which turned harmlessly off of Rainer’s chain armor, and Maris easily danced out of harm’s way. The heroes closed and rent a swath of gorbin death; the tiny creatures provided meaningless (dare I say plebeian?) resistance.
Maris descended to the next chamber holding her glowing coin aloft, it’s light muted by her shadowy cloak. She and Erelas saw more foes and the elf charged in. Maris cried a warning as a tunneltick dropped from the ceiling onto Erelas. The monster, ridden by a gorbin boss, latched its blood-sucking maw onto the solareth fae draining his lifeblood. The party closed. Maris skewered the monster. Vidar blasted it with crackling electrical arrows. The tick rider seemed momentarily out-of-control and Erelas struck with the skill of his ancient race. He drove his three-and-a-half-foot long, slender, curved blade into the monster’s serrated mouth, through its head and into the abdomen of its rider. Both rider and mount collapsed dead from the solareth fae’s deadly strike.
The remaining two gorbin attempted to flee but were taken down by Valarious’ magical bolts and Vidar’s ranged death attacks.
Maris was first to notice, among the debris pile in the chamber, a dark metal rod. It was scaled and ended in a tapered claw with pointed talons. Erelas averted his eyes when shifting to his magical sight due to the brilliance of the object. Valarious offered to study the object but was rebuffed by the suspicious Ruric who tucked the clawed icon into his pack.
The heroes continued looking for signs of the missing mycon. The caves descended to a low point at long chasm thirty feet deep. Rainer climbed down but slipped and landed hard. Ruric followed without incident until he saw two giant whiptail centipedes closing. Fearless of their poisonous bite, the spire dwarf charged and from above Vidar unleashed another series of lightning bolt attacks with his enchanted bow. The first centipede died as Maris surfed the chasm slope down to the fray. The ten-foot long whiptail lashed at Ruric, knocking him down, followed by a vicious bite. The centipedes poison, strong enough to kill a man, had no effect on the dverg. Maris, Vidar and Valarious finished the monster off before it could continue its attack on Ruric.
Ruric healed the injured (including himself) and they pressed on. The caves ascended and the heroes found the remains of the mycon they were searching for. It was suspended to the wall with several burn injuries that had obviously killed it. Ruric noted that the injury patterns showed that it had recently died, had some form of injury resistance or regeneration and was especially vulnerable to flame-based injury.
The rest of the gorbin caves were abandoned so the heroes returned to the mycon cathedral, Fungusdale. The mycons asked Ruric to present the icon to their father-leader. They passed halls of toadstools, molds and threatening fungi undisturbed. Upon reaching the colony’s core, they found a great mass of plant matter with undulating pseudopods and yellowish spore pockets. The sporothrope was disappointed by the death of its offspring but focused more on the metal, scaled icon that Ruric held. Telepathically it communicated that “a blight has invaded my mind” and “it,” meaning the icon, “comes from the hot pain room.” The sporothrope demanded, “take this hard stone from this place,” but then suddenly becomes hostile and commanded the mycons to attack! The sporothrope lobbed a spore-bomb at Rainer, which left him sputtering and confused.
Both Valarious and Ruric recognized some form of compulsion or magical effect upon the sporothrope. Ruric prayed to the ancestors to clear the mycon’s “mind”. Meanwhile, Maris drew her flaming coalbrand, which caused the nearby mycons to retract. Ruric severed the magical compulsion and the sporothrope immediately became neutral again. “The blight is strong. Destroy it or flee!”
Ruric, certain that the real threat existed in the next chamber urged the party onward. The natural cavern, full of metallic sheets and a semi-circular wall of fire, proved a sweltering cauldron indeed. A pair of, and then a third, fire elementals surged from the flames and attacked the party. Then Vidar and Ruric saw the outline of a drakin spellcaster amongst the flames. Rainer ignored the searing heat and charged forward. Ruric wrapped his fire-resistant cloak around himself and doused the flaming barbarian with conjured water. The spellcaster blasted Rainer with a scorching ray, while Maris, Erelas and Valarious battled the elementals.
Rainer, devoid of pain in his ferocious rage, cleaved into the red-scaled reptilian foe with his enormous blade. The drakin, severely injured, fled through the fiery wall. Rainer pursued. Ruric having summoned a field of silence also rushed through the flames to quiet the drakin’s spellcasting. Stymied and near death, the drakin thrust an obsidian orb to the cavern floor creating a blast of force and debris that pounded Rainer, Ruric, and almost flattened Vidar, who had just closed to make another bow attack. Fortunately, the spire dwarf’s supernatural silence protected the party from the worst of the attack. When the dust cleared, the drakin laid dead at Rainer’s feet.
Triumphant, the party returned to the mycon leader. He offered the party a place to safely rest, allowed them to harvest valuable fungi from his colony’s grotto, and again demanded that the party take the strange drakin icon from his colony. Both Maris and Valarious gladly complied.
At the gaming table
Maris’ Miraculously Magestic Magnum Opus, Chapters x through y:
I ducked and weaved through the pitiful shower of javelins and engaged the closest foe. While I wove a deadly tapestry of swordstrikes upon my target, I saw Rainer wade into the rest of them, roaring like a madman. He cut them down effortlessly with little need for help. I cannot help but wonder if he can be that wild and ferocious in the bedchamber. Time for daydreaming later! We hurried to yet another cavern and yet another wave of gorbin javelins. A bug rider fell from the ceiling and set upon Erelas. He was pinned by the creatures and dug its horrible mandibles into his flesh. This, apparently, did not sit well with our new elf-friend, for as I pressed my attack on the rider and Vidar’s electrical arrows crackled and snapped past me into the screeching bug, Erelas exploded in a flurry of flashing steel, finally driving his strange curved sword up through the belly of the beast and into the doomed rider. I was both impressed and nauseated at the sight. On a cautionary note, as powerful and deadly as Vidar is with his bow, I must get assurance from him that he will always miss me. The others easily cut down the remaining gorbin and that is when my eyes saw a shiny! Atop a pile of refuse near the back of the room I spied a metallic trinket. It looked like the leg and claw of a rooster, both valuable and a bit weird at the same time. Erelas winced and rubbed his eyes as he confirmed that this was, indeed, a rather potent magical item. Perfect! Now we only needed to rescue the captive myconid to redeem ourselves.
Deeper into the gorbin tunnels we went until our path was blocked by a deep trench spanned above by vines that looked somewhat traversable. The walls of the trench were sloped rather steeply but only 30-40’ deep with a few climbable vines descending them. I began examining the vines above for durability, when Rainer decided to simply climb down… and promptly fell in like a sack of wet compost. I rolled my eyes and sighed audibly when I saw Ruric had decided to follow. The dverg may very well be the avatar of a living God walking the Twilight Realms, but that does not mean he is always the sharpest sword in the armory. Luck smiled upon him, though as he made it down safely, but then luck’s smile turned to a wicked grin as the sound of hundreds of clattering claws approached and a massive, undulating centipede with a sharp, whip-like tail came racing down the trench towards him. The bellowing battle cry to Clanggedin filled the chasm as Ruric charged recklessly toward the advancing creature. Brave and noble, though he is, Ruric is not a warrior. Vidar reacted immediately, loosing several charged arrows into the head of the beast finishing off what the cleric had started. That is when the second whiplash centipede emerged from the darkness, scrambling swiftly over its deceased mate! I leapt over the side of the chasm and deftly slid down (such grace I am sure none of my fellow party members hath e’re witnessed) landing on both feet and drawing my rapier along its body, severing several of its legs. Enraged, its sinewy tail lashed forth, knocking Ruric off his feet and with incredible speed the creature skittered upon the dverg and bit deeply, injecting him wtih a foul poison as another barrage of electrified arrows and sorcerous magic rained down around us, blasting the monster to gooey bits. Luck seems to wax and wane for Ruric like the ticking of a clock, for despite being poisoned, he stood up, wiped the ichorous remains from his robes, spat on the dead insects without a blink and ordered the lot of us to get to climbing! Vidar decided to use the hanging vines to cross the pit, but soon discovered they were boobytrapped and gave way causing him to plunge unceremoniously into the chasm. While everyone made their way out, I took the opportunity to draw in this particular area on Rimgar’s map, everyone laughed at my drawing and commented that it was the most feminine looking chasm of death they had ever seen. Ugh. Men.
The tunnel on the other side almost immediately opened up and began ascending to a wide, flat area upon which we saw the horrible carnage. The abducted myconid was bound against the stone wall. It had several of its apendages cut off and thrown in a pile near it. It’s wounds were all cauterized by flame, assumably to prevent it from healing itself. It had been stabbed, cut, burned and slowly tortured to death with in the last few hours. All while we had left it to its grizzly doom. I began to weep for the poor, noble creature. I did not say a word, I only looked into the eyes of each of my comrades in turn and they knew my anguish. They knew why this mycon was now dead. We gathered the remains, looted the dead gorbin and made our return to Fungusdale. I didn’t even care about the standard pitiful palmful of coin we found. It was a long and quiet walk back.
Upon our arrival, we were ushered through the bizzare and alien settlement of the myconids to meet their leader. I have never seen such beautiful, yet terrifying plantlife as I saw in those caverns. I even saw some cunning traps made from the plants themselves! Thank the Gods we were considered a friend in this garden of botanical nightmares. We reached the “royal” chamber of Fungusdale and saw that their leader was a rather disgusting mass of wet, quivering plant matter and writhing tentacles. Large yellow spore sacs slowly expanded and contracted like jaundiced lungs. Now I can add hot and humid to the list of dark, cold, wet, dirty and bloodied. I could barely take a deep breath the air was so thick with heated moisture. Ruric seemed to be talking to the leader, though I STILL could not hear it speak anything. He presented the mycon body and then brought out the strange trinket I had found. The leader shuddered noticeably then and Ruric seemed to become unsettled. That is when I saw the myconids all around were closing in on us menacingly. I drew my glowing rapier and moved back to back with Rainer. The plants surrounded all of us and slowly advanced. With a burbling shudder, one of the yellow spore sacs was ejected from the leader and arced overhead landing at Rainer’s feet, erupting in a nebula of poison. I leapt away from the noxious cloud and suddenly remembered, “I have a bloody flaming shortsword!” I reached between my shoulders and pulled out the coal brand, which burst into firey life. My show of flaming magical power did cause them to hesitate. I twirled and waved my sword back and forth in a blazing display of martial prowess. My quick thinking had single handedly saved all of us, as the myconids began to retreat! Sometimes I amaze even myself.
The King Fungus Blob must have enthralled poor Ruric’s mind for now the crazed dverg announced we were off to slay the fire wizard that oppressed the helpless myconid community. Before I could argue some sense into the chaotic aire of the moment, Ruric had led the party down a sweltering tunnel lit faintly by distant firelight. As long as we were escaping this current ambush attempt, I was fine with clocking the charmed dverg back to his senses at a later time and place. It was a surprisingly short trip down the rocky corridor to the lair of the offending wizard. I deftly leapt across a pool of seething hot oil set as a trap for more plebian intruders and found myself in a small cavern which felt like standing inside a steaming, bubbling pot of Maiden Theyriel’s Crab & Potatoes. The walls were adorned with strange curtains of fire and my eye’s caught the form of a creature weaving magic through the waves of distorting heat. Monstrosities appeared from the flaming curtains, beings of pure fire, conjured by the elementalist mage and commanded to attack us! I easily danced about the slow moving fire-beasts, slashing and stabbing through them with great ease, though I could not tell if I was actually wounding the creatures. After a short bit I became bored with this game, but fortunately something worked. The elementals dissipated into the humid air with a whipered groan. I scanned about the room quickly and could see Rainer, Ruric and Vidar had plunged into a firey curtain and disappeared. I stood aghast for a moment before I heard the raging battle cries of Rainer, followed by some inhuman screeching and hissing. A tremendous thud reverberated through the stone floor upon which I stood and I nearly lost my balance as a roasting gust of wind blasted the room. I dropped to one knee trying to catch my breath in the sweltering heat and saw my lost comrades emerge from the flaming walls, bloodied and charred, but alive. They had defeated the mage, and now, we were to return to the Mushroom King. This time making sure I was in no position to be ambushed, we presented the scaled claw trinket and the torn robe of the mage to His Majesty. I can only suppose that He was mightily impressed by us since Ruric announced that we were not only free to leave in peace, but were welcome to stay and even replenish any of our needs from their stocks. Sadly, most of their edible fare seemed rather squishy, moldy, dirty and not-so-edible. More sadly was the fact that there was, ONCE AGAIN, nary a shred of good treasure to loot NOR in reward for saving the myconids. Ruric took possession of the trinket since it gave mee the creeps. I wonder why fate hath placed me in the role of “copperless do-gooder”? Perhaps I have developed an unfortunate reputation of being generous with my skills while working gratis. If so, I will need to eradicate this image quickly.