Dasur nods from the back of the wagon- an unseen gesture. "Oh certainly. I've never eaten a terror lizard before, but I have heard nothing about them being poisonous. Predators such as these typically do not have to deal with being eaten by other creatures and often do not develop such defenses."
"We'll try our hand at butchering, then."
Using a large javelin as a lever, Snorri tries to move the cart out of the puddle.
Strength, enlarged: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (15) + 4 = 19
"Of course," says Glenda, who already is in the process of stowing her hammer and pulling out her kit of bandages and salves.
Take 10 on Heal check for 18 to stop bleeding.
Channel energy: Heal: 1d6 ⇒ 6
While camping Dasur attempts to cook the butchered White Hunter using a Burning Hands spell. The thigh meat, impaled on a tough skewer of mycelium, simply catches fire and falls over.
The wizard stares at the rapidly blackening meat with abject disappointment, wondering to himself why no one has developed cullinary-grade magic.
For some reason, the pale hunters do not continue their attack. Perhaps killing one of their number deters them. It would appear that none of you can cook very well, so you are eating an unfortunate combination of burned and raw lizard meat. Iverna sticks to fungus, and Erebos mutters something about needing to acquire a slave or two.
Two days later, the tedium is interrupted by strange high pitched cries of distress. You are not sure whether their source is animal or humanoid, but as you investigate, you come to the edge of a mossy green patch of ground that glows with a faint bioluminescence, a single myceloid hunter struggles and holds a spear frantically trying to stab at seemingly empty air. The mushroom man is clearly being pulled into the green patch though by nothing that can be seen. Perhaps the hunter has gone mad.
Encounter map is on the Fasturvalt map link above.
Dasur was, as usual, riding in the wagon as they happen upon the mysterious scene.
"Has it been captured by an invisible creature? A carnivorous plant? Driven mad by the spores of an enemy mushroom?" He speculates, unable to even see well enough to identify what the source of conflict could be.
Inside one of the many tubes sticking out of his pack lies a scroll of Glitterdust, capable of revealing invisible creatures- but he is on the cusp of unlocking its secrets, and if expended now, it will be lost to him.
Some quick mental calculus and the wizard decides not to risk wasting such a precious magical item on an unknown foe.
Hopping out of the wagon, the soft ground below makes for a near-soundless fall. "I can assist that fungoid in escaping its grappler, should that be the case, but it is out of range of my spells." He says, running off to close the gap between hismelf at the struggling creature.
Dasur avoids the mossy patch- considering the hunter was being dragged towards it, something wasn't quite right.
Double Move 40'
I'm assuming Dasur does not have enough information yet to attempt an identification of whatever is attacking the myceloid hunter.
Grasping his axe, Snorri hops out of the wagon. "Who's there?" he shouts in Undercommon, hoping to goad the attacker. "Show yourself!"
Moving 20 feet forward and looking through detect evil
Dasur is unable to see what is drawing the fungus man into the slime puddle, which makes it difficult for Dasur to understand what is going on. Certainly this is worthy of study. In fact, all of this is a fairly unique effect, and therefore will require more study to understand what is going on.
Snorri activates Detect Evil for the first time in the Jungle, and is shocked at what he sees. There is, in fact, a pervasive and powerful evil that fills this cavern as far as he can see. Whatever is grasping the fungus man is clearly linked to this massive evil. How strange.
Iverna steps away from the mossy patch, apparently wanting no part of this. Erebos remains reserved.
Whatever has the fungus man in its grasp, it seems to be toying with him. He is dragged closer to the mossy patch.
The myceloid (fungus man), replies to Snorri, "Duer-re-grar, help me. I am caught in the grasp of this pool."
That's all I have for the round. Whatever has the myeloid is entirely focused on him.
Dasur continues moving alongside Snorri as they round the pool. "Ah, this Xan can speak! We must save it and gain an audience with its leader, the mystic mushroom." The wizard says to his Lord in Dwarven between breaths.
Not much longer and the myceloid will be in range of his spells...
Double move 40'
Dasur should be in range of the Xan next round with a 20' move considering Grease has a 30' range. Whatever is dragging the Xan may mess upthis plan though.
"I'm not a duergar" growls Snorri, moving as fast as he can after Dasur. "Nobody touch the moss! There is evil afoot, all troughout the jungle, but especially here!"
Fire? Fire may help, perhaps? But we may damage the mushroom. Holy water?
On the off chance that it's Knowledge(dungeoneering) or (religion): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (19) + 6 = 25
The pool undulates as if something is moving beneath it. The strange fungal mold pool extrudes some sort of are or tentacle or...something. The arm throws spores at Dasur.
Fort save: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (14) + 3 = 17
Dasur finds himself splattered with glowy green flecks, but fights off the drowsy feeling that threatens to overwhelm him.
Erebos slips forward through the mushrooms,Can't risk losing my sponsor and earth magic tutor. He places his thumbs together and fans his fingers, muttering "Infernus"
Fungus reflex save: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (15) + 5 = 20
Burning hands damage: 3d4 ⇒ (2, 4, 3) = 9
Well I miscalculated, the fungus man was 10' out of range of Grease with a single move action. So NEXT turn it will get greased.
Dasur coughs as the spores engulf him. The Air once again carries the harmful attacks of our foes. Why is it so tenacious here, below the surface?
Thankfully his dwarven constitution shrugs off the sporacious assault, and he keeps jogging around the perimeter of the moldy patch. "The greeen patch itself struck me! It is aggresive and aware, take caution!" He warns his companions.
Double Move 40'
Following Dasur as fast as his short legs allow, Snorri evaluates his options. Rather than trying to swing the axe at a puddle of moss, he keeps circling it, moving to the best position to protect Dasur and the myceloid.
Seemed to move intelligently. Can someone goad a sludge?
Double move as well.
Glenda weaves between towering mushrooms and pulls out her vial of alchemical fire as she goes. She twists the cork and lobs the sizzling concoction at the mossy goo.
Thrown weapon: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (6) + 2 = 8
Alchemical fire damage: 1d6 ⇒ 2
As Dasur approaches the myceloid, he can see that the slime has wrapped tendrils around the legs of the strange fungus man. From a distance all of the fungus blended together, but up close he is able to distinguish the two.
Glenda throws her fire into the slime pool, scorching a black patch.
Glenda misses the square she is aiming at, but it doesn't matter.
The tendrils draw the myceloid from his feet, drawing his lower extremities into the pool. He claws at the soft ground, gaining no purchase.
That's all I have for this round
Dasur lets out a surprised exclamation as he finally sees the tendrils wrapped around the Xan's "legs".
Sticking to his original plan, he crushes a stick of butter in his hand and speaks am arcane incantation. Grease portals open up all over the myceloid, covering him in a thick layer of butter.
The wizard's stomach rumbles- agar eating raw and burnt meat for the last two days, the butter-covered mycleoid would be delicious if pan-fried...
Standard action: Dasur casts Grease on the fungus man, giving him a +10 to escape artist checks and combat manuvers to escape grapples. I don't know if the mold pool would have to make a reflex saving throw to hold on to him, leave that up to you GM.
Still skirting around the mossy patch, Snorri moves in front of Dasur, raising the axe in a defensive stance.
"Stand behind me! I'll hack at the tendrils!"
Double move again.
The fungus man flexes his well lubricated fungus muscles, using the spear he carries as a lever to pry himself away from the slime pit. The buttered mushroom man squirts from the grasp of the mold.
He turns toward Dasur, "Thank you for your arcane assistance, Duer-a-gar, but know that I will not become your slave!!" He keeps the point of the spear between himself and you.
Erebos cautions you in dwarven, "Be careful, dwarf lords. The myceloids are alien of mind. They do not see things as we do who are made of flesh and bone."
Guess there was no need.
Nodding to Erebos and stowing his axe back on his back, Snorri raises his open hands in the -hopefully- universal show of unthreatening behavior. "We are not duergar, friend, we seek to take no slaves. We would only ask for your assistance in crossing over to the Lower Azathyr."
Are we still fighting? That mold seems pretty hostile.
Dasur regards the fungus man with curiosity. How do you speak to one that is so different? Perhaps if ideas are distilled to their simplest form... something that is not easily confused. He wonders, musing over several theories. "We are... opposite-duergar. Our skin is pale, we take no slaves, and we only seek... home."
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"Ant-duer-a-gar, move away from the slime and it cannot harm we. Though the godly extrusions vile are, cannot they move. Ambush only we, meat you or fungus us. Your ass-iss-tance appreciate is. Seek you move beyond-the-gap into Azathrym from Azathror."
The voice of the fungus man is deep and sounds more like sandpaper rubbing together than like the vibration of vocal cords. It is clear that the creature does not breath, and has learned to communicate with meat people through an means as foreign to you as sign language.
"We appreciate your tolerance," says Glenda. "Are there other hazards we should know? We are not familiar with this part of Azathror."
As she speaks the dwarf spreads her feet slightly and opens her hands while keeping them to her sides, away from her weapons.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (16) + 6 = 22
Dasur finds himself more fascinated by the fungal creature the more is speaks. It is barely comprehendsible. The vocabulary is unique, and vocal generations are incredibly foreign. What could we learn from thesee creatures? What insights do they have that we do not?
Caught in his musing, Dasur misses Glenda's inquiry completely and speaks directly after her as if no time had passed. "Yes, we seek the way to Azathyrm. Is there any passage not guarded by the Drow?"
Stepping away from the treacherous pool, Snorri looks at the creature with a weird curiosity due to its alien nature, like a kid would look at a large bug.
"Yes, too much danger in the dragonmaw. Do you know of another way? Maybe longer, but safer? Or could any of you Xan know of one?"
"Uhm, Erebos, what are shaokyri?"
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"The Alchemist knows much of the world ways. Longer ways knows him if he does."
Erebos, having made his way around the slime pit, giving it a wide berth, chimes in, "Shaokyri is the drow word for our hunting cats. Descended from your surface cats but bred with fiendish creatures. They are swift, silent, nearly invisible even with darkvision. We use them as others might use hounds, and sometimes as war weapons. The Alchemist he speaks of is the leader of the Xan, a sort of fungal demi-god who is bound up with this place in ways we do not understand. Some say that the Jungle is all his body, so if anyone knows a way around the Maw, he might. He lives, of course, in a sort of city that they also, in their simple way, call Xan. So their race, their home, and part of whatever else he is saying are all called Xan. They will probably tell you that the way to the lower Azathyr is through the Xan, and you won't know whether to dig in the loam, walk through the city, or f%## one of them."
Moving a little closer, "Are you wounded?" "That is a mushroom. Mushrooms are food Nalnera.
Sighing and waiting for an answer. If needed cure lt wounds: 1d8 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 2 = 3 not that that number would help much
Man we've got ourselves in a bit of a pickle. If we talk to the Alchemist he might be able to give us the answer... but will we be able to comprehend it?
Dasur considers Erebos' words for several moments. This was quite a problem, far worse than a langauge barrier. They needed to communicate between completely different mental architectures.
"What if we gave the Alchemist a representation of the Jungle, such as a map, and asked it to mark the way to the Lower Azathyr? I do not know if we could properly explain ourselves to it, but this is the best avenue to success we have discovered thus far." The wizard drones, stroking his oily beard. "I know a spell that can facilitate the understanding of any langauge, but this is a fundamentally different challenge."
"I propose we follow this Xan back to Xan so we may requet the aid of the Alchemist. On the journey I will prepare some visual representations of our goal as well as possible useful mnemonics to faciliate understanding between our different modes of comprehension."
Snorri switches back to Dwarven, hoping that the myceloid will not understand their ancestral language.
"There is another problem. I felt a great evil radiating all around from the jungle, like an infection. If this Alchemist is bound to the Jungle, he may have been corrupted somehow. Which would mean... that we'd have to find a way to purify him."
Again in Undercommon, he speaks to the Xan. "What does the Alchemist say about dangers like this pool? Evil in the Jungle?"
Comprehend languages would certainly help you to understand the Xan, though I'll likely still contort things a bit. Without giving too much away, there are some concepts and distinctions that the Xan don't have, I'm thinking of it as comprehend languages is a universal translator, but these guys are foreign enough to be "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra" in some cases.
The myceloid seems to ponder for a moment, or maybe he is even listening for an answer. In any case, he is still and staring. "The Alchemist Knowledge and Wisdom, so cannot I say what Alchemist say. Jungle Z'ggu-Xan-Zara. Z'ggu-Xan-Zara is and was. Z'ggu-Xan-Zara is Xan and Z'ggu and Zara. Pool is ... Zara. Azara. To take you Alchemist is."
At that he motions for you to follow and he turns away. He continues muttering, often nothing that you recognize as words. He does not seem to comprehend your Dwarven tongue.
"Ah- so Zara is sort of a twisted side of the Jungle- but the Xan are another, and the Jungle encompasses it all... maybe?" Snorri tries to make sense of the words he's hearing, knowing that Dasur will anyhow keep going over them in time. "Yes, please, take us to the Alchemist."
How will a myceloid city look like? What might be their strengths? We'll have to learn about them. Earth Immortal, Dammerhall seems so far away...
Unless you have other plans, the Alchemist looks like our best bet. Onwards to linguistic adventures!
Woo linguistic adventures! It'll be just like Arrival!
Dasur doesn't really leave the fungus man alone as they follow it towards their city-leader-parent-god. "What is Z'ggu? Are Xan, Zara, and Z'ggu seperate entities? Do they function independently or are they all part of one whole?"
He also starts establishing what concepts the fungus man understands or shows awareness of, and those it doesn't, starting with the concept of self. "I am Dasur. Only one Dasur. Unique. Seperate from others here." He gestures to their dwarfish companions. "This one is Xan. Has one body. Yet you reference to self as "we" He gestures to the creatures form. "Is "this one" unique? Or is "this one" part of all Xan? Or is Xan part of "this one"?"
"Dasur are you. This we is Miku. Miku is Xan. This is Xan."
The myceloid talks to you as though you are slow pupils. Taking the time as he leads you toward the Alchemist to try to find understanding.
He motions at Dasur with his spear. Dasur. He points at himself. Miku. He points at himself. Xan. He points at other fungi. Xan. He motions all around. Z'ggu-Xan-Zara.
He draws a rough map of the Azathyr, including the other side of the Jungle, which you have not seen. Azathyr. He draws just the Fungal Jungle. Azathror. Then he draws something else. Azathrym.
Trusting Dasur with making heads or tails of Miku's words, Snorri spends the evenings filing away the bug demons from the mithril armor, replacing them with simple, geometric but artistic patterns.
Craft(armor)+masterwork tools: 1d20 + 6 + 2 ⇒ (13) + 6 + 2 = 21
Glenda listens carefully to Miku, the looks out over the strange magnificence of the fungal jungle. She walks silently for many hours. Finally, when the group stops, she sits down on a rock near Miku.
"I am Glenda," she says. "I am a dwarf." She points to Dasur. "He is a dwarf." She pats the rock that she sits upon. "We are of the earth."
"You are Xan, like them," she says. She points to one of the squat, gilled mushrooms of the jungle. "Xan." She gestures to the jungle. "Z'ggu-Xan-Zara. All of the Xan. The great glory of its continuous existence and the wonder of its interconnectedness."
She turns her hand to point downward. "The earth below, that feeds the Xan. From where dwarves come, and to which we return."
She turns to Dasur and says, "This is not just about language - it is about identity. About how one sees one's place in the world, and how one is a part of it."
And I hope this is leaning in the direction of looking at the gap between intelligence and wisdom!
Dasur looks intently at the "something else" Miku identifies as Azathrym. 'Has Miku been to Azathrym? If not, how does Miku know its shape? Does Z'ggu-Xan-Zara extend below the Azathor to Azathrym?"
Dasur nods in agreement with part of Glenda's assement. "We dwarfs are from the stone deep below. Deeper than Azathrym. Long, long ago we traveled up to Azathyr. The duergar stayed in Azathyr and deeper, but other dwarfs went higher until we found the sky, a cavern with no roof. We dwarfs- not duergar, live in the lands under the sky, where a great orb of fire casts warmth and light over the land. Now we look for an old abandoned home in the Azathyr."
Dasur considers Glenda's interpretation. "Ah, but language alters ones perception of reality. Just as those lacking darkvision could not experience the subtle patina of mithril in the absence of light, a langauge lacking words for "I" or "Me" does not allow the speaker to eaily understand the concept of self. They may only see the collective, and nothing more. By analyzing the words Miku uses I hope to have a greater understanding of their perception of reality to increase the effeciency of our dealings. We now know they have unique, sentient individuals, there are g"gods" among them that make up this jungle, and they see a separation between this jungle and the outer limits of it."
Dasur doesn't have the funds to make any more scrolls, so he'll just be trying to make sense of Miu's speech patterns and get a feel for how they communicate.
"I am Snorri. I am a dwarf, of the Tharnhammer Family. I am glad to meet Miku of Xan. But what is Z'ggu?" asks Snorri, raising his eyes from the mithril.
To Dasur and Glenda, he adds his viewpoint. "It's still not unlikely that their concept of individuality may be different. This we is Miku might mean that he is one and named Miku, or that among the Xan the sentient, moving ones are called Miku, or it could be anything from a tribe to a family. But it's good that we seem to be able to grasp most of what they say."
Pointing to herself, "I am Nalnera of Tharnhammer Family and I am a dwarf ." What about me? To confusing.I long to be trapped in the mind of someone worthwhile. Sighing tiredly and not even trying to keep track of the odd conversation between Dasur and the strange mushroom thing. I long for that day too.
Quietly mumbling to Snorri, "I am glad some of you are able to follow all of that."
The Xan, maybe his name is Miku, blinks at you with what you think are his eyes. "Glenda, dew-arf not duer-a-gar. You-you and we-Miku will to the Alchemist see. The Alchemist talks can Z'ggu. Out of Azathrym and into stone below.
Miku, if that is correct, leads you without tiring. He strides across the loam, forcing you to explain that your legs cannot carry you so swiftly. Miku seems unable to adjust to your pace, but instead scurries ahead and then stands in the distance at the edge of your vision, waiting for you to catch up. When you first tell him that you must rest, he seems very confused. That conversation takes a few hours before he gives up trying to understand why and just lets you rest.
It is about three days of travel at your pace before Miku stops you and says.
"Here Xan is. Dew-arf and duer-a-gar are not allowed Xan are not Xan. Why you must enter to Xan to tell to Xan."
Miku leads you from the main massive chamber of the Fungal Jungle into a relatively tiny 100 foot wide passage that stretches higher than you can see. Nearly half a mile down this tube, the floor still covered with soft organic matter, you come to a wall. The wall is 30 feet tall with two towers that stretch another 20 feet. You cannot see whatever is beyond, but you can see the glow that emanates from it and reflects off the ceiling above. It is strange to experience light after so long in the darkness. There are no doors or gates, only the wall. At the top of the wall you can see 12 myceloids similar in appearance to Miku. The air is filled with a variety of fungal spores. Miku plants himself before the wall and gazes upwards. Perhaps something passes between the guards and Miku. Perhaps not.
Dasur will prepare 4 Comprehend languages spells before they arrive at Xan.
The mysterious glow from the other side of the wall intrigues Dasur- but then again, so did the wall, the spores, and everything else. "This is an entirely foreign experience." The wizard remarks, watching white, pollen-like spores drift into and get stuck in his beard.
"This light is strange.." He remarks in dwarven, looking upward as Miku communicates or not-communicates with the other guards. "What is its purpose? In the Azathyr, light is either a deadly trap or a meal signal to predators. Does this light serve some other purpose? Perhaps it is a byproduct of the energies of Xan coursing throughout the entire jungal. The source of the radiation that enhances our darkvision."
Uttering a quick cnatrip, Dasur looks about with Detect Magic, concentrating on anything that will stand still for more than a few moments.
Not actually expecting to find anything, honestly.