as you approached the hour mark and paused to dry your drenched hands, you realized that the support of your weight had somehow shifted from vertical to horizontal. a brief wave of vertigo filled your chest as you attempted to determine whether the trajectory of your descent had shifted, and the darkness had obscured your ability to detect it. growing ever more disoriented, you continued to shimmy through the roots, feet first, until finally, you were elated when you found none, indicating a possible crawlspace. as you entered the earthen void and prepared to stand for the first time in hours, your eyes met five vaguely humanoid fungus huddled together and staring at you vacantly. in the crevices that formed the sunken cavities that held their milky white eyes, you noted a grey, pasty crust had collected. their spongy flesh seemed be covered in mottled spots that resembled a rorschach test and each creature carried a small rucksack, crafted from some sort of dark, fibrous material and clasped tightly in one of two tridactyl appendages.
from the darkness, and spoken in a hushed, child’s voice, uffizi said:
the binding laws of the seelie court of summer do not stay my hand in this place. while i shall draw no blood on feywinian soil, this inlet of the underdark is spiced with unseelie taint, and a kin’tyne must always perform that which it is duty sworn.
she paused briefly as the creatures began to shift and cock their heads, before whispering, this fel is found, grand emmantiensien, watch me be bound.
the monkey that you had all but forgotten deftly climbed from a fold of her robes and silently paded down her arm to the cavern floor. slowly blinking, the child gestured in the air and you were forced to step back as her companion swirled into a torrent of ashen smoke that eventually folded into the visage of a ghostly bear.
winded by combat, you collectively labored to extract thin pockets of oxygen from the dampness as you watched uffizi knelt by one of the fallen myconids and, using the tips of her finger, gingerly withdraw a tendril of amber sap from the empty space above its head. silently, she opened her mouth and dripped the ever darkening liquid onto her tongue. you noticed that though she winced briefly, a smile of ecstasy pulled at her lips as she drank of its death. quickly righting herself, she moved to the next corpse, performing the same ritual as the first. your eyes escorted her for a minute more, before you turned and began to fully consider your surroundings.
a collection of aqua phosphorescent caps peppered the walls, their glow fainted by veins of darkrock that bolted through stone and soil. one of the creatures rucksacks had spilled its contents, which seemed to be damp lichen of similar strain that lined the walls. each mushroom had been carefully collected and cleaned in a similar fashion, which lead you to believe that they were being harvested for some reason. upon further investigation, it was syracen who determined that the caps were used to transport the protein rich mycelia which covered the rock and served as an anchor point for the myconids to take root and feed on the minerals below.
looking back the way you came, you could see the roots spider along the cavern wall, increasing in girth before twisting into an inverted wooden whirlwind that spiraled horizontally back into the soil.
your gaze returned to the opposite side of the alcove where the roots continued to break and sink into the rich dirt, only to give way to a larger cavern that lazily opened to the left and right.
quickly, you realized that with no real bearing, it is incredibly difficult to tell which way the floor pitches, more or less which direction you are heading.