23:46 – 23:48 – The group are once more clambering blindly through the slimy, suffocating embrace of the sewer's waters, their feet skidding on the slippery muck on the floor, their lungs aching with the desire for air (apart from the warforged of course, who does not need to breathe at all). After what seems to be an eternity of this, they begin to feel the water moving around them, and after a short while longer, the movement becomes a definite current; sucking and terrifying.
With Veteran acting as the anchor for the rest of the group (who are tied together), the party slogs on, moving along with the increasingly powerful current into a much wider pipe. In this place no one can touch the floor, and everyone fights a sense of sudden panic as they feel the little control they had begin taken from them by the surging, powerful waters.
For what seems like an eternity of frantic swimming - lungs on the brink of bursting and sucking in a fatal load of filthy, diseased water, the world a dark blur of rushing shadows and bright, dancing lights - the group move forwards; half by their own volition, half borne on the currents. Suddenly, Veteran makes a violent move, and begins to tear up towards a murky patch of greenish light above and to the left of the group. Dragged along, and by now utterly desperate to take a breath, the group frantically fight to follow, and all soon feel a wall of smooth rock, the milky radiance coming from above. Realising that the light is coming from the surface of the surging, glassy waters, the group claw and kick up along the wall and...
23:49 – 23:51 - ...Find themselves at the back of a narrow strip of water that borders a large cavern; apparently the result of a collapse of the ancient sewer-pipes. No one can see very far into the chamber; partly because they are still in the water, and a low wall blocks their view, and partly because much of the area is filled with large stands of huge, luminous mushrooms. Every inch of the chamber is covered in some kind of fungus; thick pools of pulsing muck bubble and coil in some areas, and dense, heaped drifts of ferny, fleshy fungi form sticky ridges amongst the chambers open areas. Six curious columns of vivid purple mould, each sprouting small stands of toadstools, stand around the chamber, several clearly growing on humanoid skeletons. The stink of decomposing organic matter and spores is overpowering, blending unpleasantly with the sickly, noisome aroma of the sewer waters.
At first the group cannot make out any life other than the mushrooms. However, suddenly one of the mushrooms begins to move. Worse, as the water is cleared from eyes and the group make repeated jumps above the wall, they see that there are several curious fungi actually floating in the jade shadows at the roof of the chamber; each a dripping puffball like thing, bearing stubby “eye-stalks” on its top and a nest of twitching, dripping tendrils below. Looking all the world like vegetable eye tyrants, they strike the group as almost comical – at first.
And then all hell breaks loose!
One of the purple mould columns suddenly jerks towards the waters edge, shedding a drizzling layer of violet spores as it goes, and lashes out towards the Veteran with razor sharp claws. Closer now, the group can see that it is a humanoid skeleton, animated by the purple slime and moulds that have utterly infested its form, taking on the role of flesh, tendons, muscles and organs. More of the fungus zombies begin to animate, and one of the floaty things drifts serenly towards the party, its tendrils suddenly exuding a fuming fluid.
But the zombies and floating fungi, numerous though they are, are only part of the problem. Three of the “mushrooms” are actually sentient fungoid humanoids – Rot Folk – and they move to engage the party at once. Two are 7' tall masses of pallid mushroomy flesh, with long chitinous spines growing from their malformed “fists”. The other is a bear-sized, and roughly ape-shaped mass of fungal tissue and silent rage.
The group engage the aggressive fungi in combat, and despite initial thoughts that it would be easy to crush these toadstools under foot, the fight proves to be anything but simple. The zombies are the least worrying foes, though their filthy claws leave itching spores in the wounds they inflict. Worse, they are drained of their vitality by the rot folk when they are wounded, allowing the sentient fungi to ignore a significant amount of harm vested to them by the party (though this always results in the collapse of the targeted zombie).
The floating fungi however are a real trial. Filled with corrosive spores, they explode when struck by even the lightest attack, scattering the fungal seeds everywhere. These spores burn the flesh of the group, but actually seem to heal the flesh of the rot folk and their allies. Worse, they blind those they strike for deadly seconds, the victims eyes burning with their stinging touch.
The group take a considerable pounding. One of the smaller rot folk is thrown into the swift flowing waters of the sewer by an artifice fuelled blast of pressure, and although it is initially sucked away into the dark waters, it managed to swim back towards the chamber and rejoin the battle.
It takes some effort, but slowly, despite corrosive spores and infected wounds, the group manage to hack the fungous humanoids down, eventually reducing them to slimy piles of reeking rot.
23:52 – 00:00 – No sooner have the monsters been defeated then the air thickens with more spores, and a strange, cold light bleeds into the chamber from a narrow corridor leading from the area the group currently inhabit. Another gaggle of mould zombies shamble in, forming a thin line around a huge myconid – the source of the eerie glow. It is almost 10' tall; a bloated thing of pulsing, slime sheened fungous flesh. A waddling mess of twisted flora imbued with a keen, alien intellect and murderous strength. It bears two knotted growths roughly analogous with arms, and the group notice that it has them raised in what the dundorin feels is a submissive gesture.
This gives the party hope of survival, especially when they spy the two ape like myconids that back the huge thing up.
A tense moment passes where both parties take stock of each other – the dripping, glistening plant monsters and the bleeding, bruised and filthy mammals / organic-machines. Then, the massive fungus releases a huge cloud of brownish spores, blasting it towards the party.
There is a moment of panic.
Ormid, remembering distant lessons from his youth, suddenly recalls that these creatures communicate through certain spores which create a psychic rapport, and cautions the party against any hasty actions. Though many still try to resist the spores effects, Ormid allows them to fill his lungs and fights the urge to resist the seeping weight of another consciousness that begins to seep into his own mind like a heavy psychic slime.
“You have killed our own” gurgles a sludgy, bubbling voice in the mind of the artificer, “You must make amends.”
Ormid speaks out loud, “They attacked first, we...”
“You have weakened our guard. You tresspass. You must make amends.”
Realising that arguing with this powerful being, especially as it is surrounded by potent guardians, will be at best, a waste of time, the artificer allows it to go on, gesturing towards those allies untouched by its psychic words to stand ready, but not to attack.
The psychic voice continues.
“You must make amends, or you will be destroyed.”
“How can we help?”
“The guards watched for the 'liquid darkness'. It comes and destroys all. You must destroy it. You must destroy it now.”
“Where is this..liquid...darkness?”
“It comes from the waters. Go into the waters. Destroy it, or destroy us, there are no other options.”
Ormid explains to the monster that the group would do better waiting for the 'darkness' to come to the fungus garden, all the while trying to ignore the zombies, who are now vomiting purple spores onto the remains of the monsters the group slew, each pile of mangled matter instantly furring with whipping tendrils of ambulatory fungus. The myconid (which Ormid now knows to be some kind of divine representative thanks to the psychic meld) is not happy with this at first, and demands that the party go at once into the surging waters and hunt the 'liquid darkness' at once, and ominously warns that the party will face the colonies full wrath if they do not comply. Ormid calmly explains that if they enter the waters they stand little chance of surviving the environment, let alone any encounter with the deadly monster the fungi fear so. After a moments contemplation, and despite clearly being reluctant to do so, the massive fungus agrees that the group will stay here and await the arrival of the 'liquid darkness', though it makes it clear that they will not be allowed to wait here for ever, and that sooner or later, if the unseen horror does not arrive, they will be expected to enter the surging embrace of the waters and to seek the thing out.
24/5/1472 – (heavy rains through the day in the south, becoming thundery at night).
00:01 – 04:15 – The group rest a little, alert for the return of any myconids, as well as for the silent approach of the “liquid darkness” - whatever it is.
It does not appear. The newly planted moulds thicken and spill onto the stone floor, throwing up fleshy, sweating mushrooms with frightening speed.
04:16 – 04:20 – The rot folk return in force, lead by the rot priest, and the group are told to get into the waters or to die. However, it changes its mind when Ormid relays its feelings to the group and they calmly relate – through Ormid and with obviously deadly gestures – that they will be more than happy to eradicate the entire colony if they have to, though they would prefer to be allowed to destroy the 'darkness' and to pass through peacefully.
The group are granted the myconids equivalent of a day (which for some reason is about 18 hours).
04:21 – 22:00 – The group wait...and wait....and wait...watching the disturbingly fecund growth of the fungi in the garden. A short while after the myconids leave for the second time, a number of mould zombies arrive and begin to work with the fungi like gardeners; uprooting “weeds”, crushing pallid bugs that are feeding on the moist flesh of the choice specimens, and generally working to keep the fungi here healthy.
The group rest. The group talk about their plans once they get back “home”. The group chat with Evran about his past and life in the sewers, and they group stare at the lukewarm, stinking flow of the sewer river.
….And then, just as they are getting comfortable with the idea of having to somehow carve their way through the deadly mushroom men, something utterly black and liquid slithers like a greasy shadow from the waters, its amorphous form sending tiny curls of acrid fumes up where they contact anything organic.
A monstrous ooze – a really big monstrous ooze – the “liquid darkness”, is a barely aware dungeon scavenger; a blind creature of seeking tendrils and acidic secretions.
The group move to attack.
22:01 – 22:02 – It is over before it has really begun. The first thing Evran does is invoke a powerful spell of protection which wards the entire party against all but the most powerful acids, immediately negating the slime's most deadly weapon. The party set about it with almost total immunity, though it does unleash a couple of powerful psionic screams when wounded, which send Veteran and Llewellyn reeling, staggering them momentarily as the power ricochets within their psyches. The party also quickly discover that blows with weapons split tiny, ambulant and aggressive puddles of slime off the main bulk, in essence creating multiple lesser foes for the group to contend with. However, these are easily dispatched with bursts of arcane fire from Ormid and Evran, and very, very quickly, the bane of the myconids is reduced to a fuming, tarry stain on the floor.
22:07 – Within moments of the ooze being vanquished, the rot priest is back, shining with a strange silvery-green light. It releases more telepathic spores, and in its emotionless, clotted, psychic voice, tells the group that they are free to go, and that they are no longer held accountable to the clan.
Eager to be out of this stinking place, the group gratefully grab their gear and prepare to leave.
22:08 – 22:10 – Only to be stopped by the rot priest. At first the party suspect a double cross, and all ready themselves for an almost impossible battle. However, the massive fungus produces a swollen hand within which lie tarnished coins, and a beautifully crafted (if filthy) staff, carved with runes of artifice.