Homie and Rollin had tracked Drokito a great cavern, and could tell he’d headed off toward the east. The cavern was filled with faerzress swirling in the same sorts of swirly patterns as the swirl marks on the walls and ceiling and floors of the caverns.
Unfortunately, the party lost Droki’s track; he’s been here many times, and at an intersection of caverns, the best Rollin could tell was that Droki had been every direction, but he had no idea how long ago each was.
The faerzress seemed to change the way sounds carried through the caverns. While they couldn’t hear water dripping along the cavern walls near them, they could hear a derro laughing and then humming out-of-tune to the south. Rael scouted the other two directions before the group headed south. To the north he found a grove of pygmywort and bigwig mushrooms, and to the east the tunnel sloped down to an underground river that moved swiftly through the cavern.
To the south, they found a familiar face, but not the one they were expecting. Buppido, a derro they’d been imprisoned with back in Velkynvelve, sat with his back to them. In his cavern, remains of various humanoids had been stacked in swirly patterns like the faerzress and the swirls on the walls. Goldenrod stepped out to get a better look and that’s when Buppido recognized him.
“Oh, there you are!”, he cried. “I didn’t expect you to find me here, with my shrine nearly finished! And power! My faithful are finally honoring me… are you? Yes! Yes, I sense that you are ready to receive my truth into your hearts!”
Buppido reached for the heavens (or at least the ceiling of the cavern) and six skeletons rose from the piles of charnel on the floor. The skeletons fought on even as Buppido fell, but eventually, they, too were vanquished, at which point, a ghost of a deep gnome rose from the piles on the floor. He explained that his name was Pelek, and he was murdered here by Buppido. Buppido chopped him up and scattered his parts throughout the cavern, but he could rest if some piece of him was buried in his family’s tomb in Blingdenstone. He told the group that his hand could be recognized by an obsidian ring.
The adventurers searched the disgusting cavern high and low, but found no hand with a ring on it. They continued on, hoping to find it elsewhere.
As they entered a nearby cavern, Stool piped up when they saw some of his people… dancing. "Myconids don’t dance, " Stool noted. With the myconids was one not dancing, a friend of Stool’s named Rumpadump. Rumpadump is as introverted as Stool is outgoing, and Rumpadump didn’t know why the myconids were dancing, either.
After a short parlay Sarith started moving toward the myconids, apparently against his will due to the look of horror on his face. Voosbur, the leader of the mushroom people, offered the Lady’s Gift. Wynn said, “Oh, no need. We already have the Lady’s Gift,” which piqued Voosbur’s interest. “Well, then, follow me!”, he said. He, his entourage, and a still-terrified Sarith all walked over to a grove of mushrooms in the southeast corner of the cavern… and disappeared without a trace.
None of the group actually liked Sarith, so the trade for Rumpadump was fine by them. Rumpadump was terrified, and wants only to get back to Neverlight Grove.
A dense fungi forest blocked their way, but the group continued through it. As they came to a crossing of cavern passages, they were ambushed by swarms of insects coming out of the forest. The dragonborn used breath weapons and fire on each other to char the centipedes and spiders without damaging each other, but more care was needed to skewer the bugs that jumped on the rest of the team. This encounter took a lot out of the group, and they returned to the cavern where they’d seen the dancing myconids to discuss whether or not to return to Gracklstugh to rest or to rest here… a decision forced when they noticed Goldie was already snoring and none of them were large enough to move him.
Unfortunately, sleeping in the faerzress, Rael was shaken by terrible dreams. He awoke screaming— and not just for a moment. Wynn recognized it as a madness similar to what many of the group had inflicted on them by viewing the Prince of Demons a few days ago, and called upon the power of Mishakal to heal Rael’s mind.
After a few turns that took them back to places they’d already been, eventually the group’s explorations took them to a huge cavern filled with a mesa. Cacophonous noise descended from the top of the hill, and the faerzress moved and swayed as if by the sounds.
Rael climbed to the top of the mesa to scout around and found nobody there, but realized he was hearing things from all over the city above them. As he concentrated to listen further, he managed to hone in on Captain Blackskull talking to a subordinate. The subordinate brought news of an adventuring party they were bringing to the jail, and Blackskull noted she had plans for this group. She’d send them after a courier named Droki to capture him, and from Droki, she intended to find out the plans of the cultists in the Whorlstone tunnels. Realizing that the conversation was about their own group, Rael returned to tell the group what they’d found.
Wynn decided to scale the mountain to see what she could hear, and managed to hone in on a group of cultists describing some of the areas in the Whorlstone Tunnels.
More exploration brought the group to a door. There hadn’t been any doors in the caverns so this one was curious. Opening the door gave them the explanation: the stench beyond it was horrendous. Inside, there was a garbage pit filled with the remains of various beings. A derro stood watch on a cliff face, where duergar and grimlock zombies milled about the pit. Rael and Wynn noticed a disembodied undead hand moving about the pit wearing an obsidian ring.
In the ensuing fight, Eldeth was in her element. A soaring leap from the cliff landed her in the midst of three of the zombies, her mattock systematically cleaving parts from them as they shambled around her. One crushing blow from her mattock shot the rib cage clean out from between a zombie’s hips and shoulders, the head crashing down on top of the zombie’s legs before it toppled to the ground.
Meanwhile, Rael had stuck the disembodied hand to the side of the cavern with a well-placed arrow shot, and Wynn retrieved it before it got away, to find the hand lifeless. Wanting to keep the obsidian ring safe, she put it on. The ring crumbled to dust, and her skin turned black and as hard as stone.