Leaving the cave of dancing myconids, the party continues on through the Whorlstone Tunnels. A dense fungi forest blocks the party’s way, its tallest specimens growing some five feet high. As they assess the best way to pass through it, a hissing sound starts to rise – like uncounted tiny voices whispering in tongues you don’t understand. Leona Prax realizes that the hissing sounds are mainly caused by air whistling through perforated mushrooms in the thicket of fungi. The party begins to make their way through at a snails pace, pushing their way through the overgrown fungi.
When the party reaches a T intersection, they are attacked by swarms of centipedes and spiders.
A Hungry Xorn
The party turns left at the T intersection making their way through another 100 feet of fungi forest. The continue on until they reach a narrowing in the tunnel, leading to another T intersection. They stop for a moment, as they hear crumbling rocks up ahead. It turns out there is Xorn eating faerzress-infused parts of the wall. Leona Prax teaches Rumpadump the “juice” signal and it releases spores so the party can talk with the Xorn. It’s really hungry and is begging for anything faerzress-infused. It notices the faint glows from Gerald Wolfway and Leona Prax‘s backpacks and asks for what’s inside (the glowing crystals). Gerald gives him one and the Xorn seems really pleased.
The party ask the Xorn if it’s seen a derro with a funny hat, Droki, and he has. He says he comes down here often from the direction of the dark pond, turns right as his intersection (towards the fungi forest), then later comes from the third direction of the intersection, traveling back towards the dark pond. He also shares that the derro isn’t wet when coming from the dark pond. Hmm …
The party thanks him for the information and bids it farewell. A few moments later, Leona Prax realizes that it pick pocketed one of her glowing crystals.
The White Rabbit
The party turns left at the T intersection, moving towards the dark pond they saw earlier. According to the Xorn, Droki should be coming this direction within the next 8 hours. They figure nearby the dark pond is a good place to ambush him. They discover a fungi patch against one of the walls and Harbeck Emberglow discovers a small crack in the wall. It’s too small for him to fit through, but Rumpadump should be able to squeeze through. Gerald Wolfway convinces it to go see where it leads. It goes about 50 feet before getting scared, but not before the narrow tunnel turns left as if to cross the dark pond.
The party lies in waiting, against Issander‘s wishes, to try and capture Droki. After a long rest, Issander begins to see some of his friends and family. They’re clearly not real and he begins to freak out. About the same time, Leona Prax digs through the fungi patch and discovers to new types of fungi (described in the New Fungi section of Whorlstone Tunnels). She takes a small bite of the short mushroom, she fells strange and the room begins to grow. Well, that’s what she originally thought before she realized that she was shrinking. Then a tiny derro scurries out of the narrow tunnel.
The dirty derro is easy to recognize: a pale face under a floppy hat fitted with two tentacle-like things that bob up and down in time with his brisk pace. He keeps muttering a repetitive series of phrases to himself at different volumes, failing to notice the party.
Droki is late!
They will be so angry!
Stupid, stupid, stupid!
Delays, blocks, procrastination, obstructions, pfah!
No time, no rhyme, not mine!
Once the party notices him and begins to go after him, he quickly clicks his heels together and runs away at lightning speed. The party is tired from staying up all night and disappointed they couldn’t catch Droki so they return to their rooms at Ghohlbrorn’s Lair.
New Attack Plan
The party comes up with a new attack plan: look for him at the Blade Bazaar for the next day until he returns to the Whorlstone Tunnels, according to the information the Xorn gave them. They spend the afternoon the first day looking for him and come up empty. There are a few times they think they saw him, but it was just wishful thinking.
Towards the end of the day, they are greeted by a stone giant named Dorhun, the same one who was chasing after the two-headed Rihuud the party had to put down the first day they arrived in Gracklstugh. Dorhun invited them to Cairngorm Cavern later that evening so Hgraam, their leader, could talk to them. The party cautiously agrees to the meeting.
Later that evening, the party crosses Laduguer’s Furrow to get to Cairngorm Cavern along the western walls, south of the divide. They are greeted by Dorhun, who invites them inside and asks them to wait. Hgraam the Stonespeaker enters, somberly greeting the party. He was originally furious they had killed Rihuud, but over the past few days has made peace with it, realizing the party had very little choice but to put him down. He laments over the loss of Rihuud and the dark times we find ourselves in. He begins by saying:
Something evil stirs in the Underdark. The rock itself cries in pain and horror, and a madness creeps from the blackest depths.
Harbeck Emberglow shares the information the party has about the madness, the rise of “he who shall not be named” and ensuing destruction of Sloobludop. Hgraam is interested in hearing this troubling news and it begins to make sense of what the stone has told him. Hgraam continues his warning:
Pay heed to the signs surrounding you. A cave with two faces. Rock devoured, and the land overgrown. The pebble believes itself flesh. The earth rejects its wards, and the tunnels shake in fury. By these portents, you shall know of evil’s presence and of evil’s face. This is what the stones tell me.
As the party is leaving, Hgraam calls over Dorhun and whispers something to him. Dorhun returns with a large, cylindrical item covered in a dark cloth. Hgraam presents it to the party saying they seem to know much of what the stone tells him, and this may be of use to them in the future. It’s a polished crystal the length of a human forearm, a Stonespeaker Crystal.