Episode 27: Myconids and Zombies and Djinns, Oh My
Adrift in the joy of the collective consciousness of a myconid colony deep in the Underdark, the party struggled to retain their sense of individuality. The myconids sensed the coming of what they termed a False Joy, some invasion intent on the destruction of their colony, and were preparing to defend its nexus against this threat.
While Ara and Magnus both succumbed completely to the influence of the hive mind, their identities subsumed into the collective and their will turned completely to the colony’s defense, and Keen seemingly unconscious, neither awake nor part of the collective, Yuna and Levani were able to resist. Through a kind of emotional resonance they convinced the collective to allow them their freedom, and awoke to find themselves and their companions laying in a field of bioluminescent moss and fungi, beneath a towering central mushroom dozens of feet tall, itself host to uncountable varieties of fungus growing out of it. Mushrooms of every description and size surrounded them, covering the ground, the walls and the ceiling of this immense cavern.
As they took in the surroundings and attempting without success to rouse their companions, they heard the unmistakable sound of an army stomping their way through the tunnels, approaching the cavern. As the myconid colony made ready, it raised Magnus and Ara to their feet, and though they moved as if in a dream, they stood sentry at the mouth of four tunnels and made ready for battle.
What followed was a pitched battle between the four warriors and dozens of Duergar – the grey-skinned, black-eyed Dwarves of the Underdark. But these were no ordinary Duergar, for each of them was little more than a husk, a host for a large, purple, plant-like parasite that grew out of their heads, their long, tentacle-like fronds waving.
Magnus and Ara, still in the collective, had little understanding of the physicality of their actions, and instead sought to resist the despair, anxiety, isolation and fear brought on by the False Joy. They focused on feelings of joy, peace, wonder and unity, and in doing so laid waste to hordes of the parasitic invaders. Yuna called forth divine energies to slay her foes, and heal a grievously wounded Ara, while Levani sent lightning bolt after lightning bolt searing down the tunnels, dispatching dozens of Duergar.
Wave after wave of invading zombies marched on the colony, brandishing clubs, axes and their bare hands; every hit upon those in the collective damaged the very fabric of the colony itself. Isolation and despair mounted, until in an act of desperation Magnus focused his will, reached into his pack and found the iron flask they recovered in the Dissian Catacombs weeks before. He unstoppered the flask, releasing the Djinn contained within, which to its astonishment found itself joined to the collective consciousness of the myconid colony. The djinn resisted despair by calling forth a great sandstorm whirlwind that decimated the zombies, and with a final push from Yuna, Levani and Ara the invaders were finally repelled.
With the False Joy resisted, the myconid colony found itself enraptured by the idea that there might be joys beyond the collective that could be known, other novel perspectives to explore; it seemed changed by its encounter with the party. As a kind of thanks, the colony shared with them its understanding of the maze of burrowed tunnels leading away from this central cavern, filled with dead ends, dangerous terrain, perilous creatures, and the den of a bulette and its offspring. The party would be able to navigate the tunnels safely now, making the next leg of their journey much safer.
The collective consciousness retreated from Ara and Magnus, whereupon Magnus considered what to do with the djinn, which, while still under his control for the present, made it clear that it would lay waste to the party and “scour this plane clean of its filth” before returning home to the Hells as soon as it was free to act. He tried, and failed, to force the djinn back into the iron flask; Yuna suggested he instruct the djinn to rejoin the myconid collective.
This he did, and the djinn stilled, hanging motionless in midair, its whirlwind form filling with luminescent fungal spores. What may become of the myconids and such a malevolent intelligence, none can say, but for now at least the danger has passed and the party is free to complete its quest to recover the residium crystal deposit and deliver it to Banu, the El Astrum Public Library’s Adeptus Practicus Emeritius of Necromancy, whose geas Magnus is still struggling to resist.
Mini-game Rating: Pretty Not Bad
DM Ambition Rating: Mad With Power
Parasitic Duergar Zombies killed: 50+
Ambulatory Mycelium Elemental Planeswalkers Created: one, apparently?
RP Rating: Awesome!