Malik and Thorian meet the Devouring Mound in Binaka | World Anvil

Malik and Thorian meet the Devouring Mound

The bog was the last place they wanted to be. It was the last place anyone wanted to be. But Thorian was insistent they had to go through instead of around.   "Everything I've heard and read says the only way to get to the right place is to go through the bog. If you don't, the entrance to the caves is nearly impossible to find."   "I still don't like it."   "Neither do I, Mal, but it's the best we've got."  
  They we're in the bog for about half an hour when they came upon a broad, open space. It was dry (if a bit spongy) and they were wet and cold. In the center was the single stalk of a some plant neither of them recognized. There was a moldy-looking flower at the top of the stalk and the smell…was bearable for as long as it would take to dry of at least a little bit.   Malik, whose mother had imparted some druidic knowledge on her, moved to get a closer look at this lone stalk. "We'll rest here for a bit. At least if any critters get near we're more likely to see them."   Thorian hated being damp like this. So he was more than happy to rest.   As she approached the flower, a wave of nausea washed over Mal. Ugh. "I might be getting sick!"   "Well don't bring it my way. I'm not willing to be sick, too."   Still, Malik wanted to see things in more detail. She took out her sketchbook, drew a quick sketch, taking careful note of the colors and patterns, and then took some notes. As she was writing one last note, she felt the bile rising from the pit of her stomach. She turned and vomitted onto the ground.   "Heh. You weren't kidding. That's quite the mess you've made."   "I'll be fine. I'm just a little…seasick?"   "Yeah. You're not at…"   Thorian sprinted over to Malik as she collapsed. "Mal! Hey, Mal!" She still had a strong pulse, but was unresponsive and pale. The only thing here was the flower, and it's smell was sickening. No wonder she vomitted.   He started dragging her over to the edge of the clearing. As he put his hands around her shoulders he noticed the vomit was no longer there.   "Whaaat‽ I know she vomitted…where'd it go?" That wasn't important, so he started to pull. "Ugh! I know she's not that heavy!" But there were vines wrapped around her ankles. "Shevek!"   Thorian pulled the hatchet from his waist and hacked at the vine. It was difficult, but he finally cut through. He looked up to see vines around her arms and watched as one crawled across her stomach. To his horror, she started to just sink into the ground.   What to do‽ Thorian went over the situation in his head. The flower! It's gotta be tied to this! He ran over to it, and swung against the stem, hard, with the hatchet. It just kind of dented it, but the flower itself shuddered. "I hope that's not the yitil thing getting ready to attack or somethin'!" The stalk was too strong. He ran to his gear and grabbed his trusty sword and the vial of liquid fire. The sword started cutting in. But only just. "Shevek!"   So, Thorian stepped back and flung the vial against the stalk, a couple dozen centimeters from the base. The glass shattered, splashing the thick liquid up and down the exposed part of the stalk. It burst into flame just seconds after making contact with the air. The ground beneath his feet began to shake, violently. As he turned around, the ground opened up, right where Malik had been. And like some lurid dream, Malik slowly rose from the ground. So Thorian grabbed her, the gear, and ran back into the bog.
Part of Spooktober 2023

Cover image: Scotland Cliffs by Frank Winkler


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