Ziedon opened his eyes and tried to remember why they were shut. 'Everything is white - no, yellow. Now it's green. Yes, green, but blurry. It's becoming clearer. There; something moved. Something big. No, it's gone. It's hot; oh, so hot. Yes, I was just in a fire. But I couldn't feel anything.' He tried to move his arm. 'It hurts, but I can move it.' He felt around. 'Wet. Very wet. Is it raining? No, I'm not outside; I'm in a tunnel. Oh, my head hurts!' He felt his leg: bare skin. Part of his clothing was gone. 'Must have been the fire. Well, I didn't roll on my backpack. Actually, I might have. It's hard to remember.' He could see clearly now. His face was buried in slimy moss. He tried to raise his head and failed. He tried again. 'There, it's up.' He slowly moved his legs. 'How do you stand up again? Ah. There.'
He struggled to his feet. He was in great pain, but he could stand. He looked at his hands. The skin had not melted. Some of the hair was frayed, and there were some burns, but nothing serious. He was thankful for the moss. He slowly and painfully reached his hand up to his head. The hood was gone – burnt completely – but his hair and scalp were intact. He felt as if his fever had spread to his whole body. Much of his equipment was lost – belt pouches, money, chalk, one of his daggers, his quarterstaff – and all but his crotch, lower legs, and upper chest were uncovered. His backpack remained intact; apparently made of fine material and well-protected by the moss, but his precious book of magic was burnt. The covers were charred, and ten of the pages had to be torn out so as not to color the others.
The fire was five feet or so behind him. That must have been why he was so hot. It seemed to have died down some. Maybe his roll put some of it out. He looked at the tunnel ahead. The moss was three or four feet thick on the floor, a little less on the walls, and the tentacles from the ceiling hung to about a foot from the slimy mess on the floor. He knew that he could walk through the moss if he wanted to, even if he would almost have to swim. He saw gentle movements under the moss. Occasionally, a green creature popped out and dipped back in. Most of them were larger than those he had seen before. Some were two feet tall or taller. He could not see very far down the tunnel, but could tell that it continued. The heat was nothing compared to that within the fire, but it was still quite hot, and he was anxious to get away from it. He was glad that his clothes had thinned.
Looking back, Ziedon hoped there was another exit. He did not look forward to returning this way. He went through some relaxing breathing tequniques and looked around again. Suddenly he remembered falling and hitting bare stone. “Bare stone?” he thought to himself. He puzzled over this and concluded that either the flames were magically fed and maintained, or they were part of a powerful illusion. The necromancer looked back at the flames with a level of concentration that only one who had spent years studying the Magical Arts could maintain. Nothing happened, meaning either that the flames were not an illusion, or they were beyond his power to destroy. “Perhaps I have made a mistake in coming here,” he thought to himself.
He continued down the tunel. It was difficult to walk through the moss that covered him up to his chest, but the cool wetness of the plants soothed his burnt skin. It was very discomforting to feel those creatures moving past his legs. At one point, one of them popped up right in front of him and stared at him for a moment, before dipping back down. He almost fell back in shock, but the thickness of the moss caught him. At times, it felt like something was nibbling on his toes, but that could have been the burns on his bare feet. 'All this for a rock?' he thought, moving his weakened legs tiredly through the wet plants.
He walked on for a long time, moving so slowly that he could not tell whether he'd gone ten feet or a mile. He was too tired to turn around and check if the fire was still right behind him. His burning head and reddened skin made him feel hot even though he could feel the cool moss and damp air around him.
Finally, he came to a dead end. He was dismayed at the sight. All this way for nothing? Well, it might not have been a dead end, but it was solid moss, which was just as good. He looked at it and inwardly his spirits plummetted. He stood there for a long time, ready to collapse and suffocate in the wet moss. The air was almost humid enough to suffocate him even if he did not let himself fall. He was weak, tired, and in terrible pain. Here would not be so bad a place to die. His travelling companions would not miss him if they thought he was still adventuring on his own. He could just sink down into the cool, soothing moss and end his life in peace.
There was movement in the wall. The small creatures around Ziedon begin to swim about rapidly, waking him from his depressed stupor. He was almost tripped several times by movement around and between his legs. The entire wall started to bubble.
Ziedon was afraid, but was too weak to try to run through the thick moss behind him. Suddenly, a giant head flew out from the wall, identical in all ways to the heads of the smaller creatures, but was four feet tall from rough, pointed chin to spiny cap. Only its head protruded from the wall, and Ziedon was glad that he did not have to see its body. He knew that he was helpless. He was too tired to fight, and his fever prevented him from thinking clearly enough to use magic. He tried to move backwards through the moss but found it too much of an effort. With one hand resting on the hilt of his dagger and the other holding the remaining bits of his tattered cloak, he decided his only choice was to parley.
“Do… do you speak?” Ziedon stuttered, “I s-seek a magical stone. I… I am Ziedon.” He was thankful for the support of the thick moss that kept his shaking knees from buckling under him.
The giant head watched Ziedon menicingly, as if to make him wait as long as possible for his death. As Ziedon spoke his own name, the creature caught his gaze. Ziedon found himself staring directly into its huge green eyes. In their reflection he saw the old woman who had followed him until the bend in the tunnel. He watched the creature open its gigantic mouth and hold in place. Inside, Ziedon saw a rock tunnel. The little creatures around him slipped occasionally into the drop of the mouth.
'Enter!' Ziedon heard from an unfamiliar voice. Whether this was a hallucination caused by his fever, a trap, or an actual tunnel, Ziedon would have to decide on an action quickly. He shook his head to clear out the cobwebs, and then pinched his arm. Looking back at the head, he saw that its mouth was still in the form of a tunnel entrance. Trying to control his shaking, Ziedon wondered inwardly what role the old woman played in this. He moved forward to enter into the tunnel, tumbling through the entrance and landing hard on the solid rock of the tunnel floor. He closed his eyes and waited for the pain to die down.
Some time later, he felt himself wake up. How long he had been sleeping, he could not tell. There was no sun here by which to measure his hours, nor moons to measure his days. He tried to look up, and collapsed back down. He was almost completely buried in moss. He looked up and saw the inside of the creature's mouth slowly closing. It seemed that moss has been dripping from it the entire time he slept.
He lit another torch to make up for the minuscule amount of light seeping through the ever-narrowing slit. The tunnel was cool and small. It was only four feet wide, and equally high. He saw no form of life other than the moss piled on top of his weakened body.
Ziedon stood as high as he could under the low ceiling. The stale air hurt his nose, but otherwise, he felt better than before. His muscles ached, and his skin hurt, but at least he felt he could walk.
He walked for a few moments with his head and back bent over before he heard movement behind him. Unable to turn just his head in the short tunnel, he turned completely around and saw the pile of moss moving. Creatures ranging from a quarter of an inch to a foot tall were jumping out from the pile. Ziedon's skin tingled as similar, smaller creatures jumped out of the sticky mess on his tattered robe and reddened limbs. The creatures ran around madly on various pointless tasks. Some of them attacked the walls and tried unsuccessfully to dig through. Others spit green globs into holes in the wall, and some just ran around aimlessly on the floor, walls and ceiling. Ziedon watched as the last of the puddle of moss formed into a creature, and the last of the moss on his own body jump off.
Ziedon watched the creatures in fascination, mentally comparing them to a hill of ants, or a hive of bees. As he watched, Ziedon dropped off the torn bits of cloth that hung loosely on his body, and donned his spare cloak, pulling the new hood over his head. As he did so, the mouth closed completely, and sealed off that end of the tunnel.
They seemed harmless enough, so Ziedon walked down the new tunnel. Just to be certain of their pacificity, he turned around once more, just in time to see one of the larger creatures jump onto his leg and bite into it. The mage gave a yell of pain and looked again at the creature. It was holding on to his leg with four sharp claws, irritating his tender burnt skin.
He pulled at the creature, inflaming his wounds as its claws tightened on his skin. Remembering the moss he had tried to set fire to before, he then put his torch near the creature and watched it dry up and shrivel. As it began to lose its grip on his leg, it spit a blob of green moss into the tooth-marks it had made. To be sure of its destruction, Ziedon stamped on the creature after it fell off, spraying flakes of dry moss in all directions.
Ziedon was surprised that the moss creatures would attack him now and not when he was in their moss-filled abode. He thought on the subject trying to figure out why they attack now and not before. Perhaps, he thought, because he was covered in moss and they thought he was one of them.
Not knowing what effect the regenerative moss might have upon him in an open wound, Ziedon used his hands to remove as much of it as possible. He then heated his dagger in the flame of his torch, and dug out what was left. The hot dagger inflated the pain he already felt in his leg, but he felt it necessary to destroy the moss. Ziedon almost screamed at the intense pain, but he continued to work carefully at cleaning the wound until he was reasonably satisfied that the moss was gone. He could not be sure, however, as the tunnel was narrow and poorly lit.
Having fun yet? Part three is coming up!
Edit 1/8/2013: Not sure what day exactly this turn was played until, so I'm pretending it was the first of the month.