003: Growers and Breakers

Our adventurers take a moment to catch their breath after the sudden and faintly disturbing clash with long-dead, severed hands which had leaped of their own volition out of an old, open crate. With the dark question of the cavern, and the uncertain fate of both Eli and Grindol on the surface, hanging over them, they decide to delve deeper into the caverns.

Taelyn scouts ahead; discovering an even larger chamber with a river of running water and a fork with two directions. The party takes the smaller, left fork — and soon find themselves approaching a faint, welcome light in the darkness. They come upon a surprising, even wondrous, arm of the cavern that is brimming with bioluminescent fungal growth. The end of the cavern has a stagnant pool of water and an old, stone statue peppered with fungus. As they linger in the space, Khamul notices a figure poised between the large mushroom growths, watching them. A tense moment that nearly gives way to conflict instead breaks into a curious, cautious conversation. The party has a – literally – meeting of the minds with a couple of what look like strange, humanoid mushrooms, and make unexpected and welcome allies.

The underground dwellers have some knowledge to share with the party. Namely that the caverns are very old, and have seen many visitors. All only in passing, from the perspective of these fungal humanoids, except one… An angry-faced, dark-haired human man they must have seen a lot of. They warn the party of a great wrongness deeper in the cavern, somehow related to the dark-haired, angry man, and give them a glimpse of the original statue in this cave before its fungal graffiti and wear-and-tear. From this, the group identifies it as an icon of the god, Sire; the epitome of evil — the god of madness, cruelty, and chaos. Some even realize it as the iteration of Sire known as Bane; the side of the god which glories in dominion over others, and particularly necromancy.

When the adventurers do part from their new allies, they are too soon again beset by the dark dangers of the cavern. They take down a flock of hunting stirges, and retreat again to the fungal cavern to lick their wounds. After this, a shaken Baat stays behind with his new mushroom friends, not ready yet to face the deep, enclosed dark too much like the mines he had so eagerly left behind.

The rest venture onward. Though Khamul spots another natural arm of the cavern across the river, the sight of a long dead body in holy vestments does not sit well with him and they continue on. Once more, a stealthy Taelyn takes point and scouts the cavern ahead, and unknowingly the party is separated further. Taelyn discovers a terrible torture chamber, and sadly identifies one of the hanging, mangled bodies as an elderly halfling man, wearing a locket etched with "For My Dear Dale, Love Lise". Tasi investigates a larger cavern room, full of tables, tools, and dozens of cages, and nearly walks right into the mouths of a waiting abomination. Kemina, Khamul, and Tasi do battle with the creature - a gibbering mouther – and Taelyn rejoins them to give aid. They fell the horror but by now are much more the worse for wear.

Recovering their aarakocra friend from the fungal cavern, the whole-again party returns to the surface and make their way back to the town as evening becomes night. They remembered their duty from constable Aleena just in time, it seems, as they take up the night watch of the lockup from the butcher once more — but this time with rather more to think about.



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