AiS #27: Into the Fetid Cellar

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Orithur steeled himself for some terrible effect from the pollen cloud emitted by the plant he had just cut down, but nothing happened and after a few moments it seemed like the doughty dwarf was safe. With this revelation, the rest of the party approached the ruined house to survey what lay within. 

A scene of desolation and fecund, warped vegetation greeted the party. Dense, twisted and discoloured brambles, thorn bushes and grasping briars filled the ruins. Experimenting, the heroes discovered that moving through the vast mass of undergrowth would be tremendously slow and difficult. They also feared the undergrowth might obscure vital clues, treasure or even an entrance to the house’s cellar.

Thus, they began the lengthy, tiring task of clearing the worst of the vegetation so they could move and search properly. 

A hard morning of back-breaking labour ensued. Eventually, the heroes succeeded in clearing the worst of the vegetation from the ruins. In doing so, they discovered an entrance to the house’s partially-filled cellar, a well and a massive fallen tree covered in crawling ivy and vines. However, as the party was clearing the worst of the vegetation from around the house’s cellar entrance, Thangrimm strayed too close to the ruined well and the foul purple and yellow flowers twisted about it. As he passed by, the flowers moved, twisted and fired a concentrated stream of pollen at him

The stout dwarf threw off whatever foul effected lurked in the pollen and battle was joined. Although the plant quickly shot pollen at Thangrimm again, the rest of the party were quickly to the dwarf’s side and a minute or so later the plant—identified as a foul yellow musk creeper—was hacked to pieces. 

With the threat destroyed the party decided to investigate the well and the fallen tree before daring the cellar. Darkness filled the well from which issued a faint miasmal stench. The shaft’s old bricks were pitted and aged and covered in lichen and slime. Orithur dropped a coin into the well and after hearing it splash into the water far below estimated the shaft at almost 100-foot deep. 

The fallen tree seemed a better and safer bet, and the party quickly discovered a small hollow under it. A few rotting pouches hidden therein held a score or so coins and two gold rings. An iron wand also lay under the tree and although the party’s spellcasters could not work out exactly what it was Veronwe discovered a Draconic word—restore—engraved at one end. Assuming, the wand was a curative item the elf bravely activated it and discovered it could restore an injured person’s healthy and vitality. Quickly, he tended several members of the party who were still injured or drained from the encounter with the giant spider the previous night.

The party’s attention turned to the cellar. What was once probably a spacious place was now backfilled with windblown soil and weeds. But a small space—perhaps two-foot high remained between the floor and the grimy brick-lined ceiling. Thangrimm stripped off his armour and crawled inside. Getting about ten-foot into the cellar he spotted a strange mushroom/fungus thing against one wall. Behind it, his keen dwarven eyes detected a secret door. As he called back to his friends to explain what he found, the fungus thing began to writhe and move. Several long tendrils broke free from the earth and the thing began to crawl toward him.

Thangrimm retreated as rapidly as he could in the cellar’s tight confines as Orithur who had also crawled down the stairs identified the thing as a violet fungus—the merest touch of its fiendishly long, culling tendrils—that seems like fantastical, doom-laden tentacles to some of the party—could rot the flesh from a person’s bones in mere seconds.

Thangrimm scrambled out of the cellar, and the thing did not follow. It seems the party were safe in the sunlight and they immediately fell to arguing about how to proceed. Some wanted to crawl back into the hole, others wanted to use fire to kill the beast while yet a third faction wanted to dig a hole in the cellar’s roof and attack that way. 

Eventually, the diggers won out and excavations began. After an abortive start when the party dug down to solid rock, they finally found the cellar’s brick roof and broke through. By now it was early afternoon, but the wan sunlight was still strong enough to pierce the fog and filter down into the hole. Again, the thing recoiled from the light and the party mercilessly pressed their advantage. While some fired missile weapons through the hole in the ceiling others crawled back down the stairs and hurled fire at the beast. Caught between the two groups, the thing stood no chance and quickly it was on fire and badly injured. Although it made an abortive attempt to reach Thangrimm who had again crawled into the cellar the fungus was finally destroyed in a veritable barrage of hurled torches and oil.

With the creature despatched, the party’s attentions turned to the secret door…