Breaking free from their barricaded defense from within the dungeon they had been clearing, the intrepid adventurers of Redsun pressed forward, through the forge they had plundered, over the ghouls they had slain, and further still then they had yet ventured, down a few steps arriving at an ancient forewarning. Glistening bright blue elvish script warns readers to "Rest Not in the Beast's Abode". Whomever wrote it meant for it to be read, as the enchantment that made it pulse with energy would outlast the stone it was carved in.
Watching their steps carefully beyond this, the adventurers gave wide berth to the explosive Glyphs of Warding that dotted the halls. Surely these were more than enough to keep out wandering beasts and any over-inquisitive and under-informed plunderers. Even non-adventurers recognized the shape of the sigil that would detonate in calamity if stepped on or otherwise violated. Their careful steps, while not enough to trigger the glyphs, drew the attention of something hiding in the walls around them.
A neon yellow-orange filth surged with pressure, cracking bricks and sliding through crevices and holes in the wall, quietly pooling in the hall as the party wandered past. They were so focused on avoiding the glyphs that they thought nothing of another gross puddle forming in an already gross dungeon. In fact, they were so consumed with focus on the glyphs that when they happened upon the gaping maw of ruined floor it was a surprise to them.
It would prove quite challenging to make it across the 100 meter hallway unassisted, given the 5m yawning chasm in its middle, no doubt left from a careless detonation. Whatever unfortunate soul had been first caught in the glyph's blast must have carried some explosives or volatile alchemical reagents, because looking down over the ledge the hole made, the blast appeared to have vacated hundreds of meters below.
Since finding out how deep the pit went was low on Callie's list of priorities, she employed her Misty Step. With a gentle puff of smoke, she safely dis- and re- appeared, having crossed the chasm ready to hammer in pitons and rig a secure crossing. As she did so, she spied movement 50m behind the party; The puddle they had opted to ignore had not extended the same courtesy to them. It began to take on shape and slowly make its way toward the chasm around which the party found itself.
With newfound expediency, Carsus, then Nowhere, awkwardly shuffled along the tied rope. Inch worming their way across, they safely, albeit less-than-glamorously, joined Callie. When it came time for Lingis to traverse, however, her desire to perform outstripped what one might call common sense. She approached the line as a tight rope, Ochre Jelly sluggishly advancing behind her, cold and stale drafts plunging down below her, and a nauseated party ahead of her, hoping she might not make that all too common mistake.
Alas, Lingis did indeed look down. Her eyes lost focus as she gave into worry and lost her step. Frantic, she lunged at the rope, desperate to hold on, as it slid across her fingers. She blinked three times before collapsing in a heap on the stone floor of the pit.
Lingis' bones had shattered, and an errant limb had landed almost a meter away. Above her, her party frantically assembled a plan by assembling their remaining rope. Nowhere proceeded expeditiously, one hand controlling her descent and the other already casting something to pull Lingis back from the brink. Carsus followed, quickly establishing a defensive perimeter, trying desperately to make out the shapes in the dark. Above them, Callie guarded their means of escape and laid pain on the slowly advancing Jelly.
Carsus ground his shortswords together, hoping to ignite even the palest spark to shed some light on the situation. Nowhere reassembled Lingis and continued her casting to bring her back to life. Surrounding them, a half dozen blooming floral outgrowths began to turn. Towering above the party, these Myconids slowly extended their limbs, releasing a flurry of hallucinogenic spores. Nowhere was careful to cover her mouth as she tried a hasty escape with the recovering Lingis over her shoulder.
As she grasped the line, however, the fungal spores settled on her skin, around her eyes, permeating her soft, unarmored, porous flesh. The spores weren't filthy, though, not like the rest of this dungeon. They felt quick, dashing, a thrill in the stomach like butterflies. She lost her train of thought as she tried to place the feeling. Her mind's eye settled on her favorite memory; her first theft. The feeling of pick-pocketing some crusty old so-and-so, in broad daylight, amidst a huge crowd- That was precisely what this feeling was.
Lingis and Carsus both felt the affects of the Myconid spores as well, longing deeply to stay with them, learn with them, live with them. The wafting scent of freshly baked bread, the warm comfort of woolen garments- But no! Lingis sprang to her (thankfully and kindly recombobulated) feet, and upon seeing Carsus' absent minded stare, struck him across the face. She clambered quickly up the line, seeking an escape from the spores. Carsus, whose cheek was now a bevy of colors, left from his waking dream. Not one to argue with a good plan, he struck Nowhere likewise, then ascended as quickly as he could. As he left, however, Carsus began to consider the matter from the Myconid perspective. Were they truly dangerous? He took one last look as a fungal outgrowth lifted itself before Nowhere.
Desperate for some sign of progress, and worried at what silence might suggest, Callie stopped her barrage of bolts and blasts against the far off Jelly, turning round to grasp the line and descend. As she turned, she saw a second Jelly had been silently stalking from the other end of the hall and was now almost on top of her.
To make matters noticeably worse, she could feel the line strain as she joined it. The line was already heavy with bodies- Could the party members be on their way up? She leaped from the line, landing on the ledge of the crater on the floor below. From here, she could see the party ascend and would be personally safe from the Jellies above, but she worried what affect they might have on the piton that carried all their hopes.
Her face, still burning from Carsus' slap, appeared ecstatic- A bizarre confluence of a deep, sincere smile and closed eyelids. Within herself, Nowhere was still revisiting her first pick-pocket. She had made her way from the crowds and arrived at the rooftop where her urchin brethren awaited her. She expected praise and pride, but was instead met with pain and pummeling. Even after she capitulated, offering up what she had stolen and even more if they'd just leave her alone, the blows continued, wailing on her face.
Lingis continued, hand over hand, passing floor after floor. Unlike her trip down, there was now time to make out the structure she was in. Like the tunnel they came from, the tunnels she passed extended far in either direction. Most were littered with bombastic traps; Grand slashing blades, brambles of fierce razorwire, that sort of thing. She reckoned the empty floors must have some recessed traps, like pressure plate triggered arrows. As she continued her ascent, she realized the wallpaper spoke to the types of traps within. Crude depictions of men sliced in half dotted the second tunnel from the top, in a pattern of unsettling mundaneness. The image was horrifying, yes, but the precision of the repetition spoke to the psychopathy of whomever built this place. There were comforts to speak of, however; Callie's reassuring presence, not being surrounded by 20ft fungi, standing on stone instead of clinging to a dangling rope. Lingis took the opportunity to heal herself some more.
Carsus kept climbing, but shouted down at Nowhere, begging her to wake. As he looked below he felt a syrupy mixture settle on his neck. Instinctively he wiped at it with his free hand, as the rest of the Ochre Jelly it had come from fell from dozens of meters above him. It crashed below, intermingling with the plant life. Its acids burned away at the Myconids, leaving a most noxious odor and smoke.
Longing for an escape from the fists and feet of children wailing on her, Nowhere opened her eyes. It was a comfort, however weak, that those times were behind her. She now had a means of escape. She latched on to the rope, casting all manner of offending magicks from her free hand. As she climbed, a splash of Ochre Jelly scattered across the floor, coating the Myconids (and an unfortunate inch of Nowhere's clothing).
The party ascended safely and took inventory in the top tunnel. They finished crossing it, and found an entry room with a solved riddle. A gold colored platform had ferried some other group of adventurers long ago, but the platform led below to the slicing-people-in-half floor, which these dungeoneers were in no rush to revisit. Instead, they retraced their steps, eager to renegotiate their fees or at least inquire about some reinforcement.
As they crossed the area where they had been accosted by the first Ochre Jelly, they made a rather unsettling discovery: A withered finger bearing an ornate magical ring. The inscription read "Family Stonehewn - In defense of a Good Mind -". Callie and Carsus both sprang for it, but there was no quarrel between them- Callie wanted the ring and, for some reason, Carsus wanted only the finger.
After doing what little they could to wring out their soaked clothes, the partied made their way in search of Randall. Luckily, Redsun was a small encampment despite the size of the structure it took refuge in. With only a couple taverns to speak of, it was not hard to find the man.
Upon confronting him, however, the party wished it hand been harder. Perhaps, if he had been hiding, this misadventure might have an obvious conclusion. Instead, he was genuinely mystified that such a grand dungeon laid beneath Redsun. Matters were made much worse when he was confronted with the withered finger. Although it appeared to have been the digit of some octogenarian, the finger fit Randall's stump perfectly. After some thought, it occurred to the party that the Jelly might have had some effect on the dismembered member.
Stunned and more than a little shook, Randall sat with his returned digit and held a vacant stare. The rest of the party considered how to proceed when the table next to them erupted in a vicious quarrel between lovers. The only words the begrudged could shout before being interrupted were "You'll never", upon which the bartender whistled and bellowed "GET OUT!". Across the street a lightly sloshed minstrel chanted along with a song, muttering through the verse until arriving at the chorus, "....Aaaliiiiiveeeeee!".
The timing could not have been coincidental. Even just moments after, the lovers were apologizing and weren't sure what had led them to say such awful things. The message was clear to the adventurers, though. Something- Something POWERFUL- had intent to kill them. Callie, concerned about being able to escape this wretched place, made clear her intent to check on the ship, to see how widespread the matter was. Nowhere accompanied, wondering if they shouldn't just hop on the first boat out of here. Lingis and Carsus stayed behind, hoping to gather information from the locals.
While draining his cider, Carsus rubbed the condensation from his brass stein. As his thumb streaked away the droplets, the lustrous metal shown him a reflection of the true world behind him. Collapsing beams, rotting wood, plumes of smoke and ash, gore and cobwebs surrounded him- Right up until he spun round to check. Upon firsthand inspection, every timber and tile appeared perfectly... normal.
After sharing this information, Lingis looked for a mirror or reflective surface to reproduce the attempt with. Every place she looked, however- Every window, above each sink, in front of each clock- Had only the remnants of shattered glass.
Finally, Callie and Nowhere reached their destination. Using their weapons as pry bars they popped open the locked gates of... The local warehouse? They entered, came to some disagreement about the number of sacks of flour, and turned round. They returned to the tavern confident that everything was okay.
Upon entering, however, Lingis asked what news they had of the docks. Just as Nowhere opened her mouth to ask "What docs?" Callie's brain strained under pressure. Two jigsaw pieces were joining, but needed some hammering into place. Callie set off running, shouting "THEDOCKS! CAN'T FORGET DOCKS. DON'T FORGET. DOCKS. MUST GO TO DOCKS. DOCKSDOCKSDOCKS". Her party pursued, and as they left the Redsun gates, they felt a load off their shoulders- One quickly replaced by another.
It took them a moment to recognize that they ship had not left them. In fact, it was still there. Its sails had been eaten away by moths and it sat far lower in the water given the weight of thousands of barnacles which had made it their home. This disarray can only have happened after months of being abandoned.
The party stepped aboard. The below decks were flooded, but at the helm was the captain's bloated corpse. It's eyes had gone glossy in the humid air, and the engorged, mal-proportioned tentacle that killed them was still gripping its neck. A brief investigation of the scene suggested that, after a brief struggle, whatever massive beast owned this tentacle found it would be easier to detach and regrow than to uncoil itself.
Looking on at the settlement they had come from, the party saw plumes of smoke and collapsing edifices- Completely unfamiliar from the place they had left. What was happening?