Chapter 3 – Part 3 – Goodbye Shaker Keep & On to Tilandsia

Our heroes found themselves in the in a partial clearing after following a loose trail in the woods. A delipidated shack in the middle of the lightly wooded area seems abandoned. The party began hearing the clicks and chitters of insects as they approached and carefully, Ebbie investigated, seeing a bug, something like a giant cockroach with three foot long mandibles and standing about her height on the far side of a bush. An Ankheg was lurking around the front of the cabin and from the sounds, there may have been more inside. Before Ebbie could retreat and warn her party, Fayzelle decided to take the creature out and began a spell. As he pressed forward to cast, the ground gave way beneath him leaving the spell to fizzle in the air in a puff of purple and blue smoke. From what the party saw, he seemed to have been vaporized.

With the sound of the spell failing, the Ankheg in the cabin were alerted. They exited out into the area in front of the cabin and began to inspect the area. Ebbie attacked the initial foe, her axe hungry and raising her ire. Malek made Illi invisible who then ran up the side of the house to the roof and Malek then scurried up the side of a tree to come to rest on a limb just 7 or eight feet from the ground. Gorre and the guard drakes began battling the Ankhegs on the far side of the cabin. After a few vicious bites, an Ankheg was dead and one of the guard drakes was acting strangely, simply refusing to fight and staring into the sky. The party noticed these creatures, like the Bulette they had faced, were oozing a greenish ichor. One of the Ankheg took an interest in Malek in the tree and to evade it, he leapt onto the roof of the cabin, deftly making the jump but crashing through the thatch finding the cabin filled with pendulous, veiny, pulsating, egg sacks slick with gelatinous mucus gently swinging from their webbed attachment points in the rafters. Malek’s first thought was to burn them and the cabin in which they were growing to the ground.  Once his grim work was in motion, he ran outside to help his friends, pummeling an Ankheg to death and seeing Illi narrowly escape the mandibles of another as she turned into a writhing mass of spiders that skittered in all directions out of the battle.

The fighting drew the attention four infected great boars and several smaller boars that were entering the clearing from the north and south, boxing in our heroes. Illi reformed in a tree overlooking the battle and once the ankheg had been dispatched, the boards attacked. Each one seemed to be covered in spine like growths and they snorted and slobbered the same green ichor. Ebbie easily dealt with a smaller boar with a single swing of her bloodthirsty axe. Gorre killed another and on the two fronts, they sent boars squealing away. When the larger ones began their assault, they were driven off by an unseen force. The party began to see man sized mushrooms appear at the periphery of the clearing and they seemed to be, helping? Once the boar threat had been dealt with, the Myconid introduced themselves. They were indeed here to help and to as for aid. These sentient mushrooms were the end result of a transformation that occurs in this village when the elderly pass away. The spores ingested over a lifetime of living in the village, give the villagers health in life and virtual immortality in death and this is the secret the villagers were unable to share with the party. It was a corrupted version of these spores that had infected the bulette, the ankheg, the boars and now, Bob the guard drake. The Myconids offered to take care of Bob who would never be healed, but could be made comfortable as he slowly went feral. They Myconid begged the party’s help in dealing with the source of the corruption, a creature in a near by cave called Illithane the god boar. They also offered to help Ebbie with her cursed axe problem.

The party went to the cave and found Illithane, a giant creature with a rotting body covered in fur and mushrooms with the upper torso of a man, a boars head and hind quarters, and exposed ribs and skull. Illithane attacked the party and Ebbie slashed away with her axe as Gorre struck the creature with his mace. The god boar’s thrashing shook the cave and collapsed the entrance, leaving our heroes only one way out… through Illithane himself. The battel was long, hit for hit the creature seemed virtually unkillable. Sharing the space and spores with the creature, the party began to understand, this was not some monster, but the poor remains of the first victim to disappear, Talbot Foreman. They understood through the spores, as they had communicated with the Myconids, that he was not in control or even fully aware of what was happening and that there was no way to help him. During the battled, the guard drake, Lolita Elizabeth Luchador Lizard (Lell meaning beloved friend in Halfling), was infected by the tainted spores after biting Illithaine.    Finally, Ebbie landed the fatal blow burying her axe deep into the creatures skull shattering it and driving it to the ground, brain destroyed by a magical weapon. Once the battle was over, Malek said a tearful good bye to his now infected and soon to be feral friend, Lolita Elizabeth Luchador Lizard. He expended the final charges in his ring and obliterated the guard drake’s head as a mercy.

The party left the cavern, bloody and bruised from their battles. They entered a greater cavern covered in mushrooms, gently glowing lichen and slime molds, and walked among giant mushrooms stems where many Myconids joined them, grateful to be freed from the creature. These were the generations of villagers who had come before and one of them, more human than the rest, approached. None could mistake the gentle smile and kind eyes of Abigale Brightstar, a recently departed and risen member of the Myconid. She explained the situation of the villagers, the mushrooms that they sold to the mage school, and she lead them out of the cavern. Ebbie, however, was put into a deep sleep. As promised, the Myconid would keep her here and cure her of the curse, separating her from the berserker axe. The party said their goodbyes and, while the bulk of the caravan members were staying in Shaker Keep until resupplied and outfitted, two wagons along with two drivers and those passengers traveling with the caravan and an unconscious but recovering Feyzelle, left the village headed for Tilandsia where they hope to bring the mushrooms to the mage school.


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