I've never seen mercenaries hoard wealth like they do. What do they do with it?
The Mycopolis is a tower of stone and fungi, home to the mercenary-cult of fungi-infected zealots known as the Madcap Berserkers. Surrounded by fields of mushrooms and mires of spore-muck, the Mycopolis dominates the cavern that houses it. Once stone, the Mycopolis has since been encased in fungi and connected to the cavernous ceiling above. Tendrils of fungi burrow into the rock and crawl across the cavern. This spore-choked realm belongs to the Berserkers, and they are bound to it.
Did they find the tower and become what they are? Or was it the other way around?
At once a temple and fortress, the Mycopolis house the Madcap Berserkers between campaigns and give purpose to their mercenary crusades. Mushroom-flesh cover most of the tower, while bioluminescent fungi shine like stars on the ceiling and in scattered patches along the grounds, casting a sickly greenish glow across the cavern.
Three tunnels lead into the Mycopolis cavern, connecting it to the rest of the Inner Shell
. These are seeded with dangerous mushroom to deter attackers and warn the tower's defenders of any breach. The Madcap can traverse these tunnels without fear, but their prisoners and slaves must be guided to avoid triggering the fungal traps.
The fungi-trapped tunnels don't just keep people out, but trap others within the Mycopolis. Escaping slaves or initiates with second thoughts find the way out barred by murderous mushrooms.
The third tunnel lies to the south-west of the central chamber and is almost entirely underwater. The underground lake stretches beyond the reach of torchlight and at the lowest point, the ceiling is only a foot from the water's surface. Past the lake end, the cavern expands and connects with another complex. This route is unguarded, but the fungi-clogged waters aren't without peril.
The cavern around the Mycopolis are covered in fields of mushrooms and dotted with ramshackle buildings. Slaves tend the crops and bring the harvest to the tower - what is not consumed by the soldiers and slaves is moved to the center of the tower. Barracks and workshops are made from stone and treated fungi, providing little more than a modicum of functionality. Rusting metal frames make for crude pens where slaves sleep - those who are not locked in cramped caverns dug out into the ground for that purpose.
The Madcaps are not kind taskmasters. Slaves who toil for the Mycopolis often fall prey to a variety of infections from the spore-filled air while others are brought to the tower, never to be seen again. Those who perish in the fields are left where they lie to feed the mushrooms.
The fields and orchards are haphazardly scattered around the courtyard, with a constant haze of mildly narcotic spores drifting through the air at all times. During sporing season, these become so thick that slaves and initiates must cover their faces when they venture beyond the tower.
While the foundation of the tower is stone, the upper floors are increasingly consisting only of the tough, fibrous flesh of the tower-fungi. The Berserkers would cut their own flesh before they trim the cancerous growth, so the Mycopolis is left to spread according to its own divine plans.
The Mycopolis looms over the courtyard, an ungainly column of stone and mushroom. Bulbous pods and fungal branches sprout from its sides with bioluminescent pulses outlines its shape in the dark. Most of the top of the tower consists of solid mycelium, so the cultist make do with the space afforded in some of the hollow pods that have grown on the tower's exterior. No slave or initiate is ever afforded entry to the heart of the tower, other than as sacrifice.
Some of the cultists are no longer able to leave the tower's damp interior. They've become part of its structure, fused to the fungi as a final, eternal act of worship. These ancients act as advisers and prophets, guiding the cult through acts of war or chanting prayer.
Only the cult truly knows what lies in the heart of the Mycopolis. To the rest of Araea, it is another sign of their bizarre obsession - an infested and unwholesome monument.
To the faithful, the Mycopolis is more than a structure - it is a womb where the cult grow their god to ascension. What began as a spore brought from the Far Deep grew to encompass first the chamber it was enshrined and now the entire tower. Their god is a ravenous one and the Madcaps strive with fanatical fervor to keep it sated with a steady stream of anything edible - anything at all. The tower lives and it is growing. Already its tendrils have begun to stretch out and to claim the fields around it.
The Madcaps pray, chant and sacrifice as their mushroom-godling grows and the fungi-fused elders speak with voices increasingly not their own.
Whatever they're doing, it can't be good. But I don't want to be the one to tell them that.