the cavern’s began to shrink in size and the ceiling’s sloped out of the darkness until eventually, they collapsed into a dead end. as you approached, the earthen alcove appeared to be adorned with a crude drawing of a giant iridescent mushroom blowing a cloud of spores onto a charcoal sky. towards its base, a vast mycelium complex drifted behind, while it appeared to be levitating just above the ground. the shades of its flesh blended and shifted between lavender, pale peach and maroon. with each color change, you could swear that the emotional demeanor of its facial expression shifted with it. giant, phosphorescent lichens formed the outside border of the fresco and collected a small pool of condensed moisture that served as home to several blind silverfish, and a small number of tadpoles. at its base, you could make out what seemed to be a single small word, but not written in a language you easily recognized.
with the help of ming’s magic, you were able to determine its lineage as psilofyr.
as you back tracked through the caverns to investigate the alternate path, the walls gently wound and opened into a larger void in the rock. 20’ from you, positioned in a small ring, sat four myconids. a clouded shimmer surrounded the collective and the creatures seemed to be gently swaying in unison. above their heads hovered three gaseous sacks, silently hanging in the dusty firmament. hesitant at first, syracen was able to coax one of the mychonids’, who approached gingerly and bent the spongy cap that formed its head towards her, ever so slightly. four small gills formed and a shimmering mist of spores billowed out and surrounded her face.
as the walls began to melt away, her vision took on the aesthetic of watercolor and she shared in the song that myconids sing to one another.
a few moments passed, and then her hallucinations spoke.
skinned ones. your presence confuses the colony. why have you come?
questions begat questions, as the creatures spoke of alien concepts like slumbersickness and a repeated reference to he who cannot be heard, any longer.
as syracen struggled to piece together the broken tale of the colony, it was the surprisingly warm, familiar voice of finnegan brambleshoot that finally bore the answer. finnegan explained how his work, and ultimately his failure trying to purify the fel that eroded the sewers below the city, left him surrounded by the crumbling walls of the highhouse of tandus quint. as the tree erupted from veil’s fissure, like a sickly weed, he could feel the veil shred as plane crashed into plane. when the earth stopped collapsing around him, he found himself lying among this colony of myconid, shadowed by the trunk of the wooden behemoth. almost immediately he identified his surroundings as the shallows of the feydark, and being well versed in their dangers, he drank of the myconid spores and hid his presence in their slumber. it was from here that he began his investigation.
their corruption stems from their lack of divinity. vanthor has severed their ties to mechanus, and placed himself in their slumber. he shares in their sporespeech, as you and i do now, and bends their will to his. these here, are but the few that i have been able to isolate and reconnect to the mother mycelia. though they are still unable to directly communicate with psilofyr, they find his presence… comforting.
as he gazed upon the colony, his soft voice continued, this is where i must reside for now. were i to leave, the conduit i weave would break and vanthor would have complete control of this colony. a kintyne… nay, a druid of any order, cannot allow that to happen.
it was then that uffizi’s voice intoned, emmantiensien commands that i watch over him. he is vulnerable acting as a conduit and should vanthor learn of his presence, he lacks the ability to defend himself and maintain the thread. still, the tendershard crucible must be returned, and i’m afraid that now falls upon you.
its madness to delve into the semidepths blindly, continued uffizi. this alien realm is more perilous than you can imagine and the rules bend to the fey echo. my advice?, she murmured as her eyes slid to yours, stay hidden, trust no-one, pray for the surface.
she speaks the truth, grumbled finnegan. sprouts, it saddens me to say that you are wildly out of your element. as much as i would love nothing more than to encourage you to take the dyne’s offer, the price of handing the crucible over is too great. he doesn’t know what slumbers within, and were it to be stolen, or its true nature discovered…
when you enter the semidepths, seek the surface by any means necessary. barter your way up. your cunning will be stronger than your sword. be swift. be silent. be safe.