The rest time – the party couldn’t really call it ‘night’ in this huge cave that never changed – was marred by vivid dreams of becoming lost in vast forests of mushrooms for years and years before succumbing to and becoming a part of the forests.
After a rest and some food – edible but tasteless fungi Agaricus affirmed was safe and nutritious for ‘animals’, supplemented by their own rations – they set out with the Sacred Seer for Doomspore Dell. It took three hours as the terrain became difficult underfoot, and the giant fungi forest – “the fungal jungle” as Minimus kept saying – became thicker. Zelda suspected that the Sacred Seer was deliberately taking them in via a difficult route so they would find it hard to leave in a hurry if they needed to. Still linked with the Sacred Seer via the communication spores she did not speak her mind for fear of alerting the elder myconid, but resolved to be on her guard. Eventually they came to a place where the fungi trees were so thick it was like a wall.
The party approached the wall of decaying mushrooms tentatively, but the Sacred Seer encouraged them to push on, assuring the heroes that this was the right place. As they passed through the smell of death greeted you, followed by the ear-piercing shriek of odd-looking fungi that grew silent as the Sacred Seer entered the dell behind you. Inside the dell, the party were greeted by fungi that resemble tentacled skulls; short, squat toadstools that weep a viscous, red fluid from their gills; and tall, slender growths that spew noxious spores into the air like fetid chimneys. On the far side of the dell, nearly a dozen myconids mill about; their eyes meet you as you enter. These myconids were different, they looked warped, changed, mutated perhaps by the faerzress Marie thought. There were dead myconids on the ground, rotting. Unusual fungi grew throughout the area. They resembled tiny brains on short, thin stalks. The heroes knew from their vision in Gravenhollow that this was what they were after.
“This is Doomspore Dell,” said the Sacred Seer, via the telepathic spores. “These braincap fungi can only grow where there are certain dead fungi present for them to feed on, AND there must be the magical radiation that you call faerzress. You likely cannot grow them on the surface. But I will provide you with as much as you need. I will cultivate it and give it to you to sell or use or however you wish. I only ask that you let me live. I want to live! Go back to Agaricus and tell him you killed me, I do not want to die.”
“Are the accusations against you true, about stealing the sprouts and myconids?” asked Cundall.
“Are the accusations against you about spreading the taint of Zuggtmoy true?” asked Marie.
The Sacred Seer would not admit to any corruption by Zuggtomy, she would only say that she had received ‘otherworldly clarity’ to her role in Sporedome. When asked, the Sacred Seer said that her role was to unite Sporedome into one big circle, and for her to rule. As a reward for helping, the Sacred Seer said that she knew of the drow outpost being overrun by fire giants, and was willing to provide myconids to assist when the time came to take the outpost back. She denied emphatically kidnapping any myconids or sprouts.
“All that are here, are here because they hear the call of change, the call of something better coming, and they want to be part of it.”
“Can we look around?” asked Zelda.
The Sacred Seer assured them there was no need. It would be a good idea to report back to Agaricus now, and tell him that there were no sprouts but that they had to kill the Sacred Seer, the myconid elder suggested.
Heedless, Zelda and Minimus pushed through the dell and into the thick mushroom forest on the other side. Here they found a large cage with myconid sprouts, being guarded by two huge misshapen giants. The party caught a faint telepathic thought from the Sacred Seer – “I do wish you had not done that.”
The battle was on, Minimus and Zelda ran back to the dell, the mutant myconids attacked, while the Sacred Seer sought to escape. However she was followed and attacked by Minimus and eventually despatched. The giants – identified by Marie later as Fomorian Giants, a misshapen, evil giant with an ability to curse anyone it looks at with its evil eye. The mutant myconids were destroyed easily, but the giants were among the toughest foes the party had ever fought. Both Cundall and Minimus were cursed, their bodies painfully wracked and stretched, they developed a club foot and a hunched back, making it difficult for them to move quickly and use their weapons as effectively as they could have. Minimus ended up playing hide and seek in the fungal jungle for a while, to draw it away from Cundall who had been severely injured and allow Zelda to come tend to him. Marie used a fly spell to stay out of reach of their massive clubs, but still had to dodge rocks they hurled at her. The party were victorious in the end, but it was a battle that cost them much in their reserves of healing, and of pain and wounds taken. They looked at dismay at the battlefield where most of the braincap fungi had been flattened by the combatants. They were able to harvest some, however, and knew that more would grow. It would mean another trip into Sporedome later to get more.
The party searched Doomspore Dell and found a chest filled with coins. Why a myconid would need coins they couldn’t say, but assumed it was part of the Sacred Seer’s plans for domination of Sporedome.
They returned with the rescued myconid sprouts to Agaricus to report on the death of the Sacred Seer. While they were pleased to have the sprouts (some of which did not belong to this circle, but the party were assured they would either be adopted or returned home), those elders who opposed the party taking the Sacred Seer were outraged, as much as a myconid can be anyway, that the Sacred Seer had not faced their justice. Agaricus himself was unhappy, but later told the party that he knew it had been a risk but was disappointed the party members were unable to keep their word. He allowed the party to rest again before heading back to the Waydown. During their rest time they noticed a mind flayer speaking to Agaricus. After the mind flayer had left, they asked Agaricus about it.
“That is Huum,” said Agaricus. "He has provided counsel and aid to our circle, and to many other circles besides us. It was he who had warned us about the Sacred Seer.
The party left after resting, and Agaricus agreed to provide myconids to tow the boat upstream to the Waydown. He justified using myconids to help the party to the other elders by saying it would make the party leave that much sooner. It took much longer than the trip down, but the myconids seemed tireless – no wonder the derro liked having them as slaves Minimus thought.
“Light up ahead,” called Zelda. “I think it’s the Waydown!”
“Cundall’s Hole,” corrected Cundall.
There was no winch for the boat – the Zhentarim had long gone – but after much yelling Ziggy appeared at the hole. He lowered a rope and between him and Elum the party and the boat were hauled to the surface. The party told Ziggy about their adventures on the trip back to Elventree.