Neverwinter

The Journal of Micar'eyl Auvrymtor: Making the Mushroom Kingdom

The Journal of Micar’eyl Auvrymtor: Making the Mushroom Kingdom

We pop into the Feywild hundreds of feet into the air and fall to our deaths okay, not to our deaths but into a deep green lake in an underground cavern. I’ll drop this here even though it took a while to notice, but Valtha and my Bregan D’aerthe accomplice (whose name I totally remember, shut up) seem to have disappeared in the transition. Hazards of dimensional travel, I guess. I trust they ended up somewhere safer than we did.

Anyway, before I can get my bearings a bunch of tentacles shoot out of the water and grab at us. While Rodrik, Seipora, and Cefrey hack at the lake monster, I swim to shore. Sniping at a distance is my usual preferred strategy. In this case it proves to maybe not be the smartest move in the world, though, because there are redcaps waiting to ambush me. I get treated like a riding lizard being broken to saddle and have kind of a miserable time of it before my companions manage to defeat the lake monster and come rescue me. I am left with a burning, eternal hatred of redcaps. Fuck those guys!

So surrounded by dead redcaps, we rest and take stock of the situation. There’s sunlight glimmering far overhead, but the cavern walls are steep and don’t look particularly climbable. No guarantee we’d land in the lake again, either. Lacking better alternatives, we plunge into the Faerie Underdark, or “Feydark,” as some call it. Follow the tunnels long enough, and we’ll eventually find our way to the surface, and from there to the Iliyanbruen outpost for a ride home.

Like most things in other dimensions, the Feydark is an inferior version of its counterpart location on the prime material plane. Okay, sure, the rugged natural beauty of the crystalline walls and energetic growth of underground plants and critters bursts with life in a way you see in only a few places in the Underdark, but it lacks the stability and stillness of the true Underdark. Instead of being in the roots of the world, I feel like I’m in the roots of a plant.

Well. Poet hat off then.

At a ford crossing an underground river, we encounter a guard patrol of three cyclopes who work for a formorian named Malabog. It’s more of a straight-up fight than I would have wanted, but we defeat them pretty handily. The problem is, it seems like the direction we’re headed is going to take us into a section of sealed or guarded caverns that seem to comprise some sort of underground fortress (presumably belonging to Malabog). Other options are going back the way we came or sweeping through a fungus-heavy area of cavern that the patrols seem to avoid.

While thinking about what to do next, we take the time to make a raid on an area where some Feydark crystals are growing. Lots of potential mystical uses for those. If nothing else we might be able to trade them. We have to fight another three cyclopes on our way out.

After that, there’s really only one option. We decide to head through the mushrooms. As we travel, there’s an uncomfortable tension in the air like we do not belong. From what I know of Feywild lore, the fomorians basically rule the lower reaches of the Feydark, but one of the groups that contest their rule are the mushroom people known as the myconids. The myconids normally inhabit the higher levels, meaning that we’re going in the right direction, but they can be a problem all on their own. They communicate through passing spores back and forth, which I figure is probably the almost emotional tinge we’re all feeling in the air. Most of them don’t speak or understand our language.

I let off a song of diplomacy in the general direction we’re heading, just in case they have someone who can translate. Doesn’t seem like we have any luck, though, as there’s no response. Then things sort of go to the Abyss. We stumble into a cavern where the spores are so thick that all four of us start to hallucinate and start attacking each other. And there are myconids, and I take a swipe at them and nearly get eaten to death, and eventually none of us were capable of acting rationally. We all closed our eyes, not even coherent enough to be afraid about how we’re probably going to die.

We do wake up, though, in undersized beds with our wounds stitched over with mushrooms. I’m afraid my account is going to get a little hazy and abbreviated from here, though. The truth is, I wasn’t reacting too well to the fungus in my body. I think it was a combination of a mental hangover from hallucinating out and some kind of a physical reaction to all the mushrooms. I found my attention drifting in and out, and I had a hard time pulling my thoughts together for some time afterwards.

So we were rescued by gnomes. We awoke in a gnome village or trading stop or output or something — not quite sure. One of the gnomes, named Colmarr, did most of the talking and he told us we are in a place called Baile. The gnomes have some kind of trading arrangement with the myconids and stopped by for a visit after we collapsed. The myconids didn’t know what we were, and the gnomes told them not eat us.

Cefrey and Rodrik did a lot of talking with them. I didn’t catch most of it. Eventually we tell them we are heading towards the Illiyanbruen. Colmarr knows about them; tells us that they are east of here attempting to establish New Sharandar. Apparently this is causing a lot of tension with something called “the Sea Lords.”

Anyway, the forest where New Sharandar sits is under siege from a spriggan (a.k.a. redcap) army. They work for Lord Malabog, the fomorian whose territory we skirted in the deep Feydark. He is apparently allied with Netheril, who I guess have tendrils everywhere.

The gnome is quite a chatterbox, as he also tells us a lot of stuff going on with fomorian politics. Another more powerful fomorian named Thrumbolg is edging in on this territory too. He’s the the First Lord of Mag Tureah and he holds a seat in the Court of Stars. Thrumbolg sent Malabog’s son, Raghnall, here to overthrow his father, which is apparently what you do if you’re a fomorian.

Cue yet another side discussion that Thrumbolg also has a son looking to destroy him, who apparently is prophesied to do in his old man with with a magic sword called Fragarach, or “the Answerer”. Thrumbolg’s son worked with some cyclopes to forge it, a sword which apparently looks exactly like that snazzy new sword of Seipora’s. But Colmarr assures us that it’s probably just a replica, of which there are many floating around. Not that Thrumbolg isn’t just as industrious about sweeping up and destroying replicas, just in case.

I miss how we talk them into it (a little out of it, recall) but gnome commandos sneak us into the forest around New Sharandar. The fortress of New Sharandar looks pretty hastily constructed with not so much of the usual eladrin attention to architecture. It’s more about fighting than looks. On the plus side of seeing a friendly face, Merrisara Winterwhite is there and she greets us and gives us hospitality. Well, greets me anyway. Due to what I will non-emotionally call “personnel turnover,” I am the only one of the group who has met her before.

We explain what happened, and she tells us a story that matches what Colmarr already filled us in on. This Malabog commands some powerful forces. When the Illiyanbruen first came to New Sharandar they fought spriggans led by a coven of hags. They pushed their enemies back at first, but have been attacked in wave after wave of monsters. It’s Lord Malabog behind it, no doubt at least partially because of his alliance with Netheril. This is why Iliyanbruen hasn’t been more active in the war to date — apparently they’ve had their own side conflict going on here in the Feywild, caught up with Netheril’s dark fey allies.

So then there’s a long-ass discussion about what to do. Rodrik sort of wants to head immediately back to Neverwinter, but I make the case that these are his allies in the fight against Netheril, and we have to do something to help them. Then we consider trying to find Malabog’s son Raghnall and prop him up in place of his father. Which admittedly he isn’t going to be any nicer, but at least he wouldn’t have an existing Netherese alliance.

But Cefrey doesn’t like that either because she’s sick of ‘helping evil’, and I’m burning up from the spores in my blood and can no longer care. FInally Cefrey and Rodrik tell Seipora and me that the plan is to make an alliance with the myconids. We help them kill Malabog and they spread their spores over his territory and turn it into a mushroom kingdom. I hate the idea of exposing myself to fungus again but can’t muster up a rational argument against it, so I’m like, “Yeah, whatever.”

The gnomes agree to interpret for us with the myconids and even have some kind of device that can help spread spores. But for this to work, we have to get an agreement from the Carrion King, the myconid archfey who rules over them. Only he can empower the mushroom people to spread aggressively enough for this to work. We figure he’s likely to be positive about this, as his long term goals are for the myconids to infect and take over every corner of land in every realm of existence — in the very long term, of course.

I’m just glad we’re dealing with him instead of Zuggtmoy the dread and fell ruler of the 222nd ghastly plane of the Abyss, who is also considered the lord of rot and fungus. Or at least, I presume they’re different people. Hard to tell with these godlike extraplanar entities sometimes.

We sneak through the forest and back to the myconids. The gnomes give us some masks to wear that will protect against the spores, then lead us into a big chamber where an enormous mushroom thing grows out of the ground. It sprouts a head that comes towards us. We tell the Carrion King what we want. There’s a lot of confused back and forth, then finally he agrees. Then he forces mushrooms down our throat that will allow us to communicate with the myconids and access the mycelium network that lets them share life force with each other. Ugggh.

I am pouring ten anti-fungal potions down my throat when we get back to Neverwinter. I swear I am.

We lead the myconid charge and bust through Malabog’s fortress. The cyclopes are literally eaten alive by fungus almost before they can take action. Finally we get to the throne room where we face Malabog and his elite cyclops guards. We’re sure it’ll be the fight of our lives.

Then our myconid allies poison Malabog and his troops, and they spend more time beating on each other than us. It’s a very familiar fight, except this time our enemies are the ones killing each other, with some slight assistance from the Northern Five. Even a surprise lake monster pet doesn’t do much to stop us. After Malabog dies the myconids explode, spreading their spores all around.

Up above the Iliyanbruen push back the dark fey, though that coven of hags is back to pick up their spriggan troops again. Merrisara promises that this will free them up to fight more in Toril and provide more help against Netheril. I snag some favors and get help from a few of their technicians to set up a teleportation circle in the Moongleam Tower so we don’t have to use the flying carpet or ropes to access it all the time. They really know their teleportation magic, the eladrin do.

Then at long last they transport us to the Prime Material plane, and we head back to discover what has become of Neverwinter in our absence.

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Jason

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