The Shroom Lady
Tink, tink, tink
He was almost out.
Tink, tink, tink
He just had to keep on swinging.
Tink, tink, tink
Just a few more inches of rock and he’d encounter sweet, sweet dirt, something the Shrogo thought he’d never miss.
Tink, tink, crumble.
At last. The moon shone on him again.
Much, much earlier...
“Oi, Znotglot.” Znitgit shouted to his cousin. The Shrogo Gobbgoth was a cautious goblin, not eager to take chances with his life. His cousin, something of a dolt, shouted back “Oi, wossat?” as he rose from his dazed stupor, a half-smoked mushroom in his mouth. “We’z goin’ ‘untin for snagaz zoon n’ mi wants lat to be me!” Znotglot rubbed some of the charred shroom from his mouth, raising his brow and saying “Aight. Wossdaplan?” Znitgit smiled, taking his cowl off and removing the cap of Znotglot, swapping the two. “Jus’ wea’ thiz ‘ea n’ shou’ all menacin’ loike, loike ‘OI, GOBBAZ, WE’Z GOIN’ ‘UNTIN FER SNAGAZ’. Lat getz dah poynt, aye?” Znotglot finished clearing his maw from debris before noddding, going “Oh, yea waghboss, soundz cheeky loike.” as he donned the cap of the Gobbgoth. Znitgit looked at his much dimmer cousin with excitement in his eye. He knew that his cousin would be doing Luara’s work soon enough.
He heard the quick clashing of blades before the rustling of armor followed by the grumbling of dwarves sounded over the hill. Znotglot’d gotten himself - and sadly one of the Hobgobbas - captured and carried off to the nearby dwarven fort. No matter, he thought. They’d be rescued by the forces of Krugmar soon enough, all that mattered here was that he began to dive in the right direction. Producing his pickaxe, he began to work at the cave walls of the stairs surrounding Urguan. He was certain he was headed in the right direction, certain that his hole would lead him to the heart of Urguan so that he might unleash this newfound force upon the enemy. That was when he heard a loud crashing noise.
He’d dug himself into an unexpected place. A cave-in caused him to fall down into a massive cave system that was covered in dense fens of moss. He’d fallen a considerable distance; he didn’t even know he was capable of surviving such a fall. It was then that the pangs of pain hit him and, as he looked around, he saw his bloodstained robes and his limbs askew at strange angles. He cursed Aztran for leading him astray, for it was day when he had begun to dig into the caves - however, he couldn’t be certain about what time it was now. In the dark, dank caves, all sense of time was lost, and he did not feel the cool comfort of Luara in these dark places.
He dragged himself into a particularly dense bed of moss and propped himself up against the cave wall. He was uncertain; for the only time in his life, Znitgit did not feel the moon pulling him as if he were the tides. He did not feel directed by Luara, and felt only the cold cave wall and the moss bed that he had found himself in. He took a Mad Cap from the folds of his robe, believing it to be his salvation, before closing his eyes and falling asleep upon the bed of moss.
When he awoke, he was in a different location entirely. Two small mushroom men were attending to his wounds, placing a variety of strange herbs and mosses upon them, cracking and replacing his limbs as they worked industriously to heal him. Confused and alarmed at first, Znitgit began to struggle before they released a strange spore from their caps, causing him to fall asleep once more. When he re-awoke, his injuries were healed, his ailments cured, and the two mushroom men stood proudly above him. He stood up, looking around and finding that he was surrounded by large, towering Mad Caps, larger than he’d ever seen before. Within each of these Mad Caps, conflagrations of these small mushroom men went about their daily business, cooking various cave creatures and insects for consumption, forging crude tools for mushroom craftsmen to work with. Znitgit stared on with amazement until, all at once, the mushroom men ceased what they were doing and began to file into a large line. The two mushroom men that had helped him motioned for him to follow, and in his curiosity, he followed after.
Sitting on a throne that had seemingly grown itself out of mushrooms, a fungoid woman, beautiful as she was strange and imperious, sat and watched as her subjects filed in, bowing down on carpets of moss in neat columns and rows, forming an aisle that led straight to the throne of the woman. Znitgit was in awe as he walked in, merely taking in the spore-suffused air. He felt drawn towards the woman, and as a result he continued down the aisle that had formed, his gaze facing ever forward. The woman did not halt his advance until he reached the second step of her throne, at which point she extended a hand towards Znitgit’s face. He felt as if she entered his very mind, altering its drive and suffusing it with inspiration and raw fanatical energy. He knew that he must be speaking to a spirit, for who else could capture the hearts of so many subjects, who else could be so alien and yet so familiar? “You know me well, Shrogo, yet you do not worship me as you do the Bad Moon.” she uttered, half in a whisper with a cloud of spores, half with the hiss of a venomous snake. “You squander my children and their power for her power, not for mine. Go, now. Erect your shrines, build your totems, you - and I - will need them in times to come.” Yet, he knew not the name to venerate her by, and just as he was about to ask, her hand touched his cheek, emitted a puff of spores, and all went dark.
When Znitgit awoke, he found himself with his pick in a different mined-out tunnel, his body pointed in a direction. He knew not how he had come to be here, only that he must be here through the will of the Shroom Lady. Already, visions of shrines and great amounts of Mad-Cap addled sacrifices suffused his mind as he took up his pick, his staff, and his sacrificial dagger and began to madly rush down the passage and, when he had reached it, the rock wall he had found himself at. He had a new purpose now, not only for the Bad Moon to take the Evil Sun’s place in the sky, but also for the Shroom Lady to reign over this new land of dark, for myconids to occupy the lands as the Shrogos will without fear of the sun and its vile rays.
Znitgit had finally made his way out of the mountain. Spores painted his robe a brighter hue and collected in dots where already moss had begun to grow, only he decided to leave it be. It was a wet day, fog had rolled onto the plain he had found himself in upon his exit, and it was dark outside and, when he looked up, he saw the moon smiling back down at him. In the distance, he heard a howl, and knew that Luara was following his footsteps. Znitgit’Shrogo was Gobbgoth again and, as he had heard the Kadarsi say, he uttered “Mashaluara.” and was once again filled with holy purpose.