Chapter #633

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                                   +   +
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                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +      Epic IV      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  However,   +
+   TSR has in no way endorsed or authorized their use, and any such      +
+   items contained within these stories are not representative of TSR    +
+   in any fashion.                                                       +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2000 by Thomas A. Miller.  Any resemblance to any persons        +
+   or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.       +
+   Copying and/or distribution of these stories is permissible under     +
+   the sole condition that no money is made in the process.  In that     +
+   case, I hope you enjoy them!                                          +
+                                                                         +
+                                                      Thomas A. Miller   +
+   Rillen          18th level human monk                                 +
+     onyx dog figurine                                                   +
+   Songa           13th level human huntress                             +
+   Tarl            barbarian warrior                                     +
+     war dogs (8)                                                        +
+   Date:           2/6/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           afternoon                                             +
+   Place:          deep within the eastern Griff Mountains               +
+   Climate:        temperate                                             +
+   "A friend in need is a friend indeed."                                +
+                                                     - common proverb    +

                      DCXXXIII.  Foul Foliage

  Though they had no way of telling time in the underground caverns, an
entire day had passed since the adventurers first encountered the strange
tribe of mushroom-people.  Tarl's sight had returned and Rillen's wounds
had healed.  In addition, Songa and Tarl had located and claimed what
little treasure the slain white worm possessed in its mazelike lair.  The
trio were debating their next move...

Tarl:  We could get back on the boat and see where it takes us.
Songa:  Unless the river narrows and the boat gets forced underwater, in
  which case we'd be in trouble.
Rillen:  Good point.  The only other option I can see is asking Fungo if
  there's any other way out of here...back up to the surface.
Tarl:  True.  If we go much deeper, we're likely to run into drow, mind
  flayers, duergar, or gods know what else.
Rillen:  Drow should be child's play for you, with that spell-killing
  blade of yours.
Tarl:  That's not the point.
Songa:  Well, we can ask Fungo, because here he comes.

  The tall, reedy mushroom-man was being followed by a retinue of others,
the entire scene looking somewhat solemn.

Fungo:  Wish leaving?
Songa:  We do.  You've been very nice, and helpful, but we have to get
  back to our homeland.
Fungo:  Up, up.  (he raises both hands above his head)
Rillen:  Yes.
Tarl:  (looking around at all of the mushroom-people, as are his dogs)
  So what's the party all about here?
Fungo:  Needing help.  You help?
Songa:  What kind of help?
Fungo:  Roots evil.
Rillen:  What?
Fungo:  Roots evil.
Songa:  We don't understand.
Fungo:  Roots evil.  Fungo not fight, us not fight.  Roots evil not stop
Tarl:  Hmm.  Maybe he means that there's a foe they won't or can't fight.
Songa:  And they want us to do it for them.  (she turns to Fungo)  You've
  got an enemy - is that it?
Fungo:  Yes.  Yes.
Rillen:  I suppose we could help.
Songa:  We should at least have a look - we owe them that much.
Tarl:  I owe them a lot more than that.  (to Fungo)  We'll help.
Fungo:  Help Fungo.
other random mushroom-man:  (spinning in place)  Help, help, help, help
  Fungo Bungo.
Fungo:  (his round, pupil-less eyes narrow at the other)  Silence.
other random mushroom-man:  (bounces off of a wall, then into one of its
Fungo:  Come, show roots evil.

  They soon left the warren, moving along a path that the humans hadn't
seen before now.  The passage was cramped like those in the warren, but
its smell and temperature weren't nearly as pleasant.

Songa:  Smells like...something rotting.
Fungo:  Roots evil!

  The mushroom-people were getting antsy at this point, and some of them
stopped advancing.

Fungo:  Roots evil, scared.
Tarl:  (pats his sword)  Fear not, small one.
Fungo:  Fear.

  The reason for the fear became obvious when the passage opened into a
larger cavern:  the place was dominated by a weird plant that sprouted
from the center of its floor.  At the thing's heart was a large, green
bulb mottled with brown streaks.  Sickly-looking pink leaves ringed the
base of this central bulb, their edges covered with red spines.  About a
dozen tentacle-like roots, thick brown roots covered with spiny hairs,
radiated from the bulb.  Each root was several inches thick along most
of its length; the central bulb was better than six feet across.
  As they watched with trepidation, the bulb began pulsing, the roots

Songa:  Fungo, what is this?  Fungo?

  The mushroom-man - in fact, all of the weird little humanoids - were
frozen in place!  They were clearly alive and aware, but they neither
moved nor communicated.

Songa:  Fungo?  (she grabs the creature, shaking him)  Fungo!
Tarl:  He's out of it.
Rillen:  They all are.  Maybe this thing has some power over them...akin
  to paralysis.
Tarl:  It would seem so.  No wonder they're afraid of it-
Songa:  Look!

  The nearest couple of tentacles were snaking toward the intruders!

Tarl:  (roars with fury)  Enough!

  The huge barbarian brought his sword down on the closest of the roots,
severing it cleanly and chipping the stone floor.  The exposed areas
that had been cut leaked a noxious green ichor, causing Tarl to gag.

Tarl:  Ugh!
Songa:  This thing has many weapons.
Rillen:  So do we.  (he launches one arrow, which splits into two, at
  the central bulb)

  Both shafts buried themselves in the central mass, and the roots of
the plant-thing thrashed about wildly, seeking prey.

Songa:  (grabbed around one ankle, suddenly, she is pulled from her
  feet)  What?!?
Rillen:  (sends another pair of arrows into the central bulb)  Look out
  for the roots-
Tarl:  They're everywhere!  (he slices at one as it swings by, cutting
  off the root's last three feet)  Hah!  (he turns back, yelling to his
  dogs)  Drag the mushroom-people back out of here!

  Strange as it might have been, the dogs understood and obeyed, moving
the helpless fungus-people out of harm's way.  As for Songa, she was
having a difficult time casting her spear while held on the rocky ground
by the snaking root.

Songa:  Bah.  (she tosses her spear aside and draws her sword, slashing
  at a second root as it snakes toward her)

  It was difficult to fight with the noxious fumes that the wounded foe
was emitting, but the vapors didn't linger long.  Now that the humans
could anticipate the fumes after wounding the plant-thing, they were
better able to avoid the choking and gagging.  As well, Tarl and Songa
had already neutralized three of the roots, Rillen stepping on the one
his wife slashed and causing it to let go.

Rillen:  My arrows are helping, but they can't penetrate deeply enough!
Songa:  (finds and readies her javelin of piercing)  Perhaps this will
  be more effective.

  The huntress took aim, drew her arm back, and then hurled the missile
at the monster's central bulb.  The javelin scored a direct hit, sinking
deep into the fleshy mass and causing green goo to seep out around the
shaft of the weapon.

Rillen:  Good throw!
Songa:  Thanks.  (she recovers her spear, then stabs at an approaching
  root, half-severing it)
Tarl:  (advances on the bulb, hacking away at any tentacles that come
  near)  We need to kill the center part!
Rillen:  (fires more arrows at the bulb, hitting yet again)  Keep it
Songa:  (moves behind Tarl, backing him up)
Rillen:  (moves off to the side, in order to continue to fire arrows
  without hitting either of the other two)

  As they approached the bulb, it turned out to have further defenses.
The sickly-looking pink leaves whipped about, sending dozens of the
tiny spines toward the attackers.

Songa:  Ow!  (she raises her arm, looking at the inch-long red spine
  that is lodged in it)
Tarl:  (having been hit by several of them himself, he doesn't pause)
  Kill it now, look at those later!
Songa:  (irritated with herself because she knows he's right, she
  leaps forward, slashing with her sword)

  She inflicted a shallow slice across the length of the bulb, the
wound immediately beginning to "bleed" the green sludge that served
as this thing's lifeblood.  Tarl followed up with a stabbing attack,
driving about four feet of cold steel into the guts of the bulb.  The
weird and deadly plant-thing didn't like that at all; the bulb began
to quiver, spewing more of the green stuff, and its roots whipped
about without rhyme or reason.  Just then, Rillen hit it with another
pair of arrows.

Songa:  (notices that the area around the red spine is inflamed and
  burning, but ignores that as she slices off a root at its root)
  I'll move around and sever the roots - you keep hammering away at
  the bulb!
Tarl:  Aye!  (he hews again, slicing off a large chunk of the bulb's
  bloody green mass)

  This foe might have presented a challenge to a novice group of
adventurers, but the great strength and speed (and the magical
weapons) of the three humans proved too much for it.  With a great
heave, it suddenly ceased all movement, giving up the fight.

Tarl:  (sniffing the air)  Ugh.
Songa:  (pulling the spine from her arm)  Mild poison, I think.
Rillen:  (walks over, his bow still in hand)  Best to remove all the
  spines anyway.

  With the thing's death, the mushroom-people returned to a state of

Fungo:  (peering at the remains of the monster)  Roots evil gone.
Tarl:  What were they?
Fungo:  Never know.  Ate many Fungo people.
Songa:  Not any more.  (to Rillen)  This slime that the thing used
  for blood reeks.  I can't wait to jump in the river and wash it
Rillen:  That would be a good idea.
Tarl:  (pulling the red spines out of his body)  As would the treating
  of these.  They sting a bit, but I don't think they're poisonous.
Fungo:  Spines hurt Fungo people.  Not hurt you people.
Songa:  Maybe the spines are vegetable in nature.
Rillen:  Who knows?  (he looks around)  Should we be getting back?
Fungo:  Home, rest, happy.  (he turns and points back the way they

next:      they say their farewells
released:  4/24/00
notes:     I made up the monster (and the fungoids) myself, they didn't
  come from any book.
    One of the points of this arc was that not all adventures have to
  be earth-shaking or of great import.

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