Deep down in the worm-riddled heart of the earth there was a tribe of men. Fierce they were, angered by many things, though especially by being lost. And indeed, lost they inevitably became, and their anger was stoked by frustration, and they set about butchering whatever they found. Men were reduced to meat, worms withered to rubbery husks, and the tunnels ran with fluids. But the men were not exempt from harm themselves. Soon they too were ran about with cuts and bruises, and blood loss and fevers were beginning to set it. Sepsis was not a name they knew, but it wouldn’t have helped if they had.

They were slowly dying, bleeding and rotting from within. There was nothing they could do, not for all their steel and rage. But a voice came to them, which had settled in their wounds, took root in their flesh. “Let me in,” it whispered into their nerves, “Let me glut upon you, fill you up, and never will you hurt again.”

Now, they too are among the servants of the Fecundity. Their skin is green and pitted with roots. Their bellies are grey, sagging and swaying. Their mouths are meshes of fungal flesh, and their backs are crested in mushroom crowns. They run hunched over, nails scratching on the cold stone, and their eyes are glazed over with fibres and grain. They have forgotten their tools and weapons and clothes, and even had they not, it would have corroded long ago.

In battle, for they are feral creatures now, they strike from ambush, invisible amongst the fronds and stalks of the underworlds Fungus-Jungles. They sweep and slash with rotten nails, bite without teeth, though the pressure is enough to break bones and mash flesh, and grab and wrestle and grapple. It is once they are wounded however that the real damage is wrought. The wounds the Mycellids inflict are not themselve particularly deadly, but they do open up flesh and bare open bloody gashes, and it is through them that the new spores spread.

Once a Mycellid has been wounded, it is scarcely to its notice. They are too hazed with rage and drunk on pestilence to notice the wounds, and besides, the Fecundity is upholding its bargain, and it knits together separated flesh with sclerotic webs and binds broken bones with stalk-like splints. The more alarming part however, is the sudden burst of spores, like a thin greyish-green mist. The spores intoxicate and embolden the Mycellids, and sicken and wither those unblessed by the Fecundity. The most usual symptoms are weakness, nausea, dizziness, loss of balance, fainting, vomiting, and occasionally even cardiac arrest. Even those who can fend off the insidious nature of the spores will find their eyes cloying with grime, and their lungs thick with muck. Indeed, even those who emerge victorious from battle with the mushroom men will find the hardest trials yet ahead of them, as the sickness spreads throughout body and mind, and they are pursued by the fungus-boys they thought dead but were sewn back together by their saviour, and all the while the words of the Fecundity whisper promises of salvation…

The final tragedy of the Mycellids is that their saviour is also now their prison. The more wounds they sustain, and the more they are healed, the more the spores spread their mycelium throughout their flesh, and the more their thoughts become replete with fungus. They are forced to rely on their mushroom saviour, and the more they rely, the more they depend on it. In the end, the entire being is lost to the spores, and all that is left is the Fecundity.

There are some cures to the sickness the spores spread, but they involve willful ingestion of potent venoms to burn and purge the victim’s system free of spores. Magic may halt the disease’s progress for a time, but only mighty magic will destroy the spores as well. If a creature so infected should die without submitting to the Fecundity, and spores are allowed to remain in the corpse, then the resulting abomination will be utterly bound to the Fecundity’s will. It may appear human for a time, and even act it, though in a basic and clumsy manner, but eventually the spores within will bloom in a vibrant and deadly canopy of musk and fungus flesh, a raging beast which ignores mere wounds and weapons. Such a beast can eventually be destroyed, with the help of unconventional weapons and magic, but it must be hacked to uttermost pieces, and even then the damage is already done, and the spores of the Fecundity spread far and wide on the wind. And heaven’s all help you if you burn a corpse ripe with spores; they will not burn, and will be carried up on the wind.

The Fecundity itself is secretive in the extreme, and no records from the surface will know its name or purpose. In person, it fills a mighty cavern with itself, spread and grown over everything, a forest of great stalks and fronds of fibrous flesh, and a single beating heart-stalk at its centre. It may once have had a single home, but now all Mycellids are linked to its mycelium mind, and even if the central stalk of the Fecundity were to be somehow utterly obliterated, then if even a single Mycellid were to survive and escape, nursed and nurtured with the full attention of the Fecundity, then it could again, with time and nutrients, be restored. Its ultimate purpose is nothing higher or grander or more profound than any other fungus, it merely will grow and thread itself amongst the whole world. Its survival strategy is merely better than most.

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