I think I finally understand what Mum meant when she said to not eat strange plants that I know nothing about.
Currently, we are all in the camp of an alchemist who we stumbled into and nearly slaughtered (error on both of our parts). Due to this nice warm fireplace and the fact that we all definitely feel safe here, I figured this would be a good time to stop and reflect.
From the scene of battle, we headed further down a tunnel, looking for the hand that crawled away when we stumbled upon a strange sight. A couple of mushroom looking fellows dancing, smaller mushroom fellows that just stood there, and what appeared to be a couple of qua’goths with strange spores upon them. Being the cautious bloke that I am, I disappeared into the shadows with Topsy and Turvey to observe and, if needs be, strike if they are hostile. The rest of the company approached them to talk to them but they didn’t utter a word. One of the smaller mushrooms went up to them and just stood there. They were all just standing there for some time until Xillow started talking as though she were responded. That’s when it occurred to me that the mushroom man was communicating telepathically. From what I’ve been seeing, the fellow seemed to be friendly. Then all of a sudden, the mushroom man released strange spores that effected anyone in a nearby radius.
Then the strangest thing started to happen.
Our party got funny looks on their faces, like they were floating on soft clouds or like they were more drunk than a dwarf at a feast. Then for the next couple of hours, Topsy, Turvy, and I sat and watched them dance the strangest dance I have ever seen in my life. Amnon was dancing akin to a common farm chicken, Lycyra and Kallista flailed their arms about and twirling about in circles, and Xillow kept doing somersaults and repeated the same phrase over and over again:
“Double rainbows! Double rainbows!! DOUBLE RAINBOOOOOOOOOOOWS!!!!!!”
It was funny for about 15 minutes. No wait. It remained funny for about 45 minutes. And then it got sad. And sadder. And then I got depressed just watching them.
I merely jest. It stayed funny for the whole 2 hours.
Finally, they sort of sobered up and started to leave until the qua’goths started moving and eventually blocked their way. It got dangerous very quickly. As our company ran past the qua’goth (with myself merely walking by, unbeknownst to them) they began to give chase. Amnon then let loose a firebolt at the ceiling to knock loose some boulders to block their passage. Thankfully, it bought us some time. We ran forward until we came across a rather large thicket of mushrooms. Further back, we heard the qua’goth shifting the boulders around. Thinking quickly, I wall jumped onto one of the large mushrooms. I was about to leap but I couldn’t figure out how far the next mushroom was. While I was trying to judge the distance, Kallista followed my example and lept up as well. Amnon and Lycyra decided to burn their way through the mushrooms. Unfortunately, it took a bit longer than expected for the qua’goth soon began catching up to us. So Amnon turned around and proceeded to buy Lycyra a bit more time to make a path. Now with the distance judged, I began bounding across the mushrooms with little effort on my part. Soon, reached the end of the mushroom forest and made my way down gracefully. I took a look back to find that no one was behind me. So I took a moment to myself to map out the path we traveled thus far. A few minutes later, Kallista falls next to me and lands with such grace that I couldn’t help but applaud and be impressed. Eventually, the rest of the company caught up and we headed down the path before us, thankfully losing the qua’goth in the process.
During my slight absence bounding across the mushroom forest, Amnon got spored again and was rather loopy for a time so I supported him as we walked.
After a couple of turns, we came across a room with a stone hill. As we entered this room, we began to hear voices up there and thought that there was someone there. Kallista attempted to sneak up there but was very noisy in the process. From our point of view, she appeared to freeze and didn’t move a muscle. Rolling my eyes, I put away my journal and proceeded to walk up without making a sound.
As I walked by, I heard Kallista mutter “Show off.”
Thank goodness she didn’t see me smirking.
When I got to the top, there was no one there at all. Just mist. So I signaled to the rest of the company that the cost was clear. As we listened a bit more, we realized that it was the sound of the duergar market from above but there were no visible holes in the ceiling to be seen. I decided to look around for the hand but found nothing at all. One of our company noticed a crevice and saw the hand prints that definitely came from our renegade hand. They suggested that Topsy and Turvy go in to try to find the hand. The boys gave their consent and went into the crevice. A few moments later, they came back and reported that it lead to another tunnel but there was no sign of the hand.
We retraced our steps and took the opposite tunnel and walked down that instead. We kept going until we came upon what appeared to be a mushroom garden. But we were not alone. Kallista did a bit of recon with a bit more confidence this time and found that these were duergar workers. I made my way over to a crate, making a tad bit of noise but thankfully, they didn’t notice my presence. Then one of our company lured them away while Xillow scouted ahead. A few tense moments later, she came back and told us that there was a door that lead into a wider tunnel and what appeared to be a duergar camp on the right with a nice room. There was also a duergar wearing a robe with a strange vigil on it. Lycyra then went ahead to verify what Xillow had seen until we heard a loud commotion. Lycyrya ran back in and told us the duergar were chasing her. I then lept into the mushrooms for stealth and cover and waited for the duergar to show.
There was about four of them, one with the robe, two of which went into their larger size. It almost didn’t seem fair with how prepared we were. Within a few moments, and a couple of scrapes, we slew all but the robed duergar. Xillow had him pinned to the ground. From our interrogation, he apparently reacted out of self defense rather than aggressiveness, as not very friendly creatures tended to wander through the crevice we came from. His name, he told us, was Lorthio and that he is a duergar alchemist. We made a deal to have him teach Xillow alchemy and we agreed to let him live.
As we walked into the camp, which turned out to be Lorthio’s laboratory, I saw one of the most cheering sights I had seen in a long time. A glowing fire. I took my place in front of the flames and rested. As repayment for slaughtering his guards, we offered our services to him and offered to have him join us for a time, to which he agreed. He then said that if we were ever in Gracklstugh again, we were welcome to come to his laboratory and rest.
Now everyone is quiet and there isn’t anything but the sound of sleep and the crackling of the fire.
I will turn in for the night. Perhaps we can finally leave Gracklstugh tomorrow morning.
May luck continue to protect us.