Every corner seems to have something.
It’s to the point that my mind has turned against me. Every fear I have ever had seems to be alive in Grimrock. The torch casts flicking shadows against the wall and it seems like something is always waiting just beyond the shadows; waiting for the torch to be extinguished.
“Do you smell that,” I heard Silvertan hiss behind me. I paused and sniffed at the air. All I could smell was the burning torch. I looked at Silvertan, whose scales seemed to be etched in blackness, with small shadows decorating and accentuating them.
“I don’t smell anything,” I answered.
Silvertan seemed to look at me with a twitch of disgust in his eyes. I am not sure if it was because of who I am, or the fact that I’m human. He’s said things that seem to elude to the idea that he might know who my parents are.
“Truluffs,” he answered.
I looked at him blankly. What he said made no sense to me. “What is Truluffs?”
“Mushrooms,” Blaz’tik answered. “Very rare mushrooms.”
“Extremely rare, except in my homeland, within the Terragrass Marshes,” Silvertan added.
I looked back and forth between them. “So, what’s the big deal with some mushrooms?”
“You humans use it for cooking,” Silvertan answered. “Though, they’re very rare, because of the wild swine within the Terragrass Marshes… the truluff spores emit the same scent as the pheromone that the wild boars emit in their saliva. Thus the wild female swine, sniff them out and devour them. Later, when they excrete the remains, the spores replant themselves within the feces and the cycle begins anew. Truluffs require a dark, dank, moist environment.” Silvertan seemed to smile, “Although eating them raw will have … lucid effects, if they’re not cooked – except to female swine.”
“That’s all good, but I don’t think anyone here is willing to sit down and cook a gourmet meal,” I shrugged.
“They are –tic!- also highly prized as –tic!- magical components,” Blaz’tik said.
“Magical components,” I said. “Now that we can use. All right,” I turned to Silvertan. “Which way?”
Silvertan walked by me, his serpent eyes on me until he passed me by. Taren, the minotaur caught it as well. “What’s his problem?” Taren asked gruffly.
“I wish I knew,” I whispered. “But something tells me it may have to do something with my parents.”
“Your parents?” Taren asked. “But how could he know? You’ve changed your name…”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t know.”
We followed Silvertan through the dungeon until we came into a massive room where the entire floor seemed to be made of mushrooms. “This,” Silvertan’s serpent like hiss was thick, “is not natural. Someone made this.”
“Or something,” Taren’s nostrils flared, as if trying to use his own heightened sense of smell.
“Grab some mushrooms and make it quick,” I said, gesturing to the massive mushroom patch.
Then I heard it.
Coming from the darkness down the hall, beyond the torch light.
It sounded like a herd of angry turkeys.
“What in the seven gods is that sound?” I asked.
“Herders,” Silvertan said, nodding. “Now it makes sense. There’s herders in here.”
“What is a herder?”
“A living mushroom, to make it quick,” Silvertan said. “They’re native to the Terragrass Marshes. I don’t know what they’re doing here. They’re nothing to be fearful of – they’re only a few inches in height. It’s the Spore Herders and Elder Herders that you need to be very mindful of. They’re extremely lethal.”
However, what came bursting through the darkness was hardly a few inches in height. These herders stood nearly four feet tall, appearing to be – as Silvertan noted – living mushrooms, with root like appendages for feet and arms.
I began swinging my torch back and forth, as I stared back at Blaz’tik. “Let me guess, this is kind of like the worm situation? These guys used to be a few inches tall, but the magic inside this place has ‘evolved’ them to these larger species?”
“That –tic!- sounds like the most –tic!- logical explanation,” Blaz’tik nodded as he grabbed another handful of mushrooms.
As we backed away we found stairs that led down a level. A rusty gate was between us and them as we reached the stairs. I looked at Taren, and without a word, he pulled the gate down, and part of the wall with his magnificent strength.
As I turned around I saw a massive blue stone floating, and Blaz’tik was already running his hands on it.
“What is that thing now?” I asked.
“A heart,” Blaz’tik answered excitedly. “This stone –tic!- is part of what gives Grimrock life. This stone helps ignite the torches I –tic!- mentioned. It also helps –tic!- shape the very things we have encountered.”
“We should smash it then,” I explained.
“No,” Blaz’tik shook his head. “Don’t you see. This stone… it’s magnificent. It… brings life… through magic.”
And I saw Silvertan looking at me.
I had made it clear I was not a fan of magic.
“So you’re telling me, if one of us should fall in combat this stone… thing… could bring them back to life?” I asked.
“Hypothetically speaking,” Blaz’tik said excitedly, “That’s –tic!- exactly what I am saying.”
“The Mages here were messing with forces they shouldn’t have,” I said as we worked our way down to the second floor. Suddenly, the explanations, the horror stories of ‘The Undying One’ made much more sense…