The World of Mhaab in Q's Spooktober Challenge Hub | World Anvil

The World of Mhaab

WA Prompts   Nnie's Spooktober Prompts  
I'm doing these slightly out of order to better create the narrative. I hope you enjoy and if you have any questions about the process or world, please let me know :)
 

The World of Mhaab

 

Moon

Mhaab is a moon, lush with life - fungal jungles, hills of mold, glittering fields of bioluminscent mushroom, connected by roots into an nearly unbroken whole. In times past, the people of Mhaab lived on the planet they now orbit, known now only as Ruin. It is a grey, forboding view in the night sky, the scars of the disaster that drove humanity from it's surface clearly visible from the Mhaab.   Mhaab is hot and humid, the air thick with spores and rot. Most who live here have no sense of smell, lost in the omnipresent stink. The sponge-soft surface is uneven and often treacherous, firm enough to walk on in some places but yields easily in others.    

A Mysterious Mushroom

Mhaab is covered in thick fungal growth, shrouding the grey lunar stone in a carpet that is at places meters thick. Mold and mushroom bundle together to form hills, with complex root networks rising to the skies like towering mountains. Multicolored spires of cordycept victims belch spores into the air, while lakes and oceans pool in depressions along the uneven surface. There's no running water on Mhaab, only the stagnant and spore-filled discharge from the mycelium roots.   Few realize that, despite the multitude of life that have sprung from the fungal fecundity, the vast bulk of mushroom root that have claimed Mhaab belong to a single entity; the world-shroom.    

Intriguing Implication

Humanity have right to be proud of their survival. Through tenacity and ingenuity, they have found a way to thrive among the fungal wilds of Mhaab. Kings proclaim divine favor or inspired genius, but others, more humble minds, wonder. How is it that they can drink the water with so little effort to filter it? Why does some of the mycelium growths seem so... Habitable? No matter where humanity settles, edible crop and bioluminscence seem to follow. Life is hard, of that there is no doubt, and without their efforts they would be extinct... But is there more to their success?  
Blasphemous whisper claim so; the world is helping them, but to what end? Is it a kind parent to desperate offspring, or a herder, fattening the flock before slaughter?
   

Blood

The mycelium soil of Mhaab reacts with hunger to blood. Bleeding prey animals find roots and tendrils reaching for them, and even a drop can awaken dormant fungi. Humanity on Mhaab call this magic - shedding blood to manipulate their fungal world to do their bidding. Skilled blood mages can coax the mushroom to grow walls to shield them, strangling vines to entangle enemies, or a bloom of edible cropf or their communities. Blood nourishes the land when shed in moderation, and blights it with ravenous hunger when in excess.  
This hunger for blood mean most combatants use blunt weapons when they can. To wear a blade when the very world hungers for blood is a statement of vicious intent.
   

An Ancient Art

Scarrification is an old art in Mhaab, born from the many cuts required by their fungimancers to do their magic. Supplicants who give it willingly adorn themselves with elaborate lacerations that show their devotion and sacrifice, usually highlighting particularly artistic cuts with piercings or daubs of paint. Bleeding for ritual magic has become part practical matter, and part artistic performance, with some counting their cuts as some might coin.    

Hunt

Bloodletters are hunters of the cruelest sort, preying upon their fellow man for the blood in their veins. Where other mages may use only their own or the donations of willing supplicants to perform their rites, the Bloodletters have no such concerns. Those captured by them can expect every drop of blood to be drained from their bodies, or kept enslaved and 'on tap'. Mercenaries of the darkest sort, Bloodletter's sell both blood and service to the highest bidder.    

Mist

The Devouring Mist is a sentient, mobile discharge of spores from fungi that bloom only in places of great bloodshed. Careless magi or cruel bloodletters sometimes create areas so saturated with blood and suffering that the soil grows impatient for more. The mist takes the form a swirling, quick-moving mass of crimson and green spores, always on the move towards the nearest warm body. The closer it gets, the faster it moves. Only cold can deter it; or a greater meal.    

Ominous Omen

A rot has begun to spread on Mhaab, a corruption of the fungal flora that transform it into a slick, blood-red stone. Hard as metal and hungry for blood, it devours the native soil to replace it with fields of sharp crystalline formations. All wild life flee from the rot, and humanity grapple with the new disease of the land. The farmer worries for his crop, and the warrior sees a new weapon with which to conquer all.  
Weapons made from the rot-crystal draws blood and gnaws at flesh, making weapons of unusual cruelty.
   

A Macabre Memorial

The city-state of Lagash was once mighty and proud, but a thirst for glory saw it crushed beneath the weight of its ambition. Great and terrible rituals were performed, rivers of blood shed, all meant to raise monuments to their king. Instead of making him a god, the land turned on the city and it's bloody magi. To this day, the fanged, crimson mushroom that cover the city hunger for fresh bodies - something the king's vault, untouched and abandoned, assures will come.    

Glow

Mhaab is illuminated in the night by millions of mushrooms, glowing with blue, green, and white. They grow in mile long streaks along the land where they attract animals - some to graze, others to hunt. They spring up almost unbidden around human settlements and are easy to coax into new places. Some artists make patterns of bioluminscent, using entire buildings as a canvas. Most glowing mushrooms are no larger than a fist, though some grow long and slender with dipping lanterns.  
Many of the common glow-shrooms can be harvested and reduced to a thick paste that continue to glow for hours after it is applied, making it a popular decoration for festivities.
   

Hollow

The moon of Mhaab is not as solid as it should be. Impact craters that once dotted the landscape are now covered by domes of fungi and mycelium roots, creating a cavernous world beneath the surface. Many are flooded by mushroom run-off, slow-moving subterranean oceans of sludge, home to blind, pale things that have never seen sunlight. In other places, explorers find symmetrical shafts that burrow into the world for miles. It is a cursed, haunted realm, where explorers claim to see distant lights or hear bizarre noises admist ancient wreckage and metallic rooms. Relics from the deeps fetch a high price among the wealthy and curious, so adventurers brave the ghoulish labyrinthe beneath again and again, no matter how many fail to return.  

A Sinister Secret

The rot is no accident, but a gamble made in hopes to rule all of Mhaab - or whatever ruins of it remains.
   

Grave

Ruin is the dead world around which Mhaab orbits. In times past, stories say, it was the home of humanity, a lush paradise world ruined by folly and greed. Few agree on caused its demise - a vengeanceful god, terrible weapons unleashed in anger, or the creeping, inevitable ruin of uncheck industry. Those who have visited the tomb-world speak of the ravaged surface, with miles long craters, poisonous air, and monstrosities of metal and wreckage, wearing the ruins of the past like shrouds.    

A Ghastly Gamble

On Mhaab, it is not always easy to tell where one life ends and another begins. Fungi and mold bond to animals and mankind, as parasites or symbiotes. Cordycept infection steal away minds and bodies, transforming their unfortunate victims and merge them with the land. But many are more benevolent, exacting a price of blood in exchange for power. Some have been grown and cultivated by human magi through careful trial and error, and at great cost in sacrifice.  
Others seem to have sprung from the world unbidden to aid humanity.
  Almost everyone has some sort of minor symbiote or parasite sharing their flesh, while others have become host to so many that they no longer resemble humans.    

Stone

Stone is a rare and valuable material, accessible only through dangerous tomb-tunnels or by cutting through meters of mycelium to hit stone. The lunar stone of Mhaab is grey and chalky, hard but fragile. The wealthy use it to accent their villas and estates with smoothly polished pillars, obelisks, and magnificent, carefully groomed stairways - only the most opulent would dream of building a home entirely out of stone. Not only for the cost, but the effort to keep the ever-encroaching fungi and mushroom away. Smaller crafts are common enough among the middle class, with brisk trade between quarry-towns and the city-states.    

Dust

Mhaab's sky shimmers from an oppressive shroud of spores, belched out from towering spires across the moon. Even on clear nights, stargazers look out at the void through a veil. Where the shroud is thick, day becomes night, as every ray of sunlight is devoured by hungry spores. As the outer layer of spores die or eject out into space, fresh spores rise from the surface.   Without the shroud, it's unclear if Mhaab would have an atmosphere at all, or if the spores trap life and air to the moon.    

Ice

As Mhaab's spore-shroud atmosphere grows to its thickest, light dims and temperatures drop. With all sunlight absorbed by the shroud, a chill spreads across the moon and the mycelium discharge freezes. Great sheets of frost and ice creeps across the fungal lands, choking the life out of the spires that feed spores into the air. As they slumber or die, the shroud of spores dissipates and light returns. The world warms once again and the spore-spewing towers awaken from their cold prisons. The cycle continues.    

Beginning of the End

No one, not even its creator, have yet to recognize how far the dangerous rot have spread or the danger it represents. As spore-spires are claimed by the Rot, they become points of terrible infection and spread the taint further than ever meant. Already, the cycle of dark and light have become disrupted, with each lasting longer and becoming more severe. Tiny shards of rot-crystal rain from the skies where it has infected the shroud, hungry for blood.    

History Repeats Itself

Even as the land itself grows sick, the king of Akrotiri remains blinded by illusions of his own glory. To him, only his legend is worthy of consideration, no matter how many refugees that flood into the capital or how far this curious blight of the land seem to spread. Such matters are for peasants and bureaucrats, not a god-king. Those who argue the point find themselves lashed and enslaved, made to work to raise monuments or bled dry to empower them. People whisper of Lagash and the fate that befell it, but all such worries fall on deaf ears. Those with power remain enthralled to their sovereign, doing whatever it takes to remain favored.    

Creation with a Horrible Price

Not all of Mhaab's symbiotic life-forms have sprung from the wild. In blood-soaked laboratories and forbidding dungeons, magi have bred, blended, and coaxed symbiotes to emerge. None do so without a price measured in lives, as failures turn into parasites or worse. Many of the abominations that haunt Mhaab were once men and women, infected with foul contagion meant to give them power above their fellows, but twisted them beyond all reckoning. Despite the risk and every gruesome failure, there is always another attempt. The symbiotes are too useful, too vital for mankind's survival, to set aside, no matter the cost.    

Regeneration

The Jakkooi fungi thrives on dismembered flesh. When a human body falls to claw or sword, ripped asunder and broken, magi infect them with the fecund mold to replace what was lost. Even the most gruesome injury, so long as the victim still lives, can be healed, as the fungi grows and fills the rent spaces. It knits to flesh, staunches bleeding as torn veins are bound to it, reaching across jagged gashes to pull limbs back apart. Eventually, it becomes part of the injured, fungi turning to flesh - but not all. Many wounded still carry the Jakkooi on them, ever-regenerating in what was once a wound to end them.    

Rot

The boiling marshland of the Rot is a vision of things to come. Here, all natural order has fallen before the crystalline infection. It has turned stagnant pools into unstable cauldrons, red like blood and witing to explode. The land is slick, hard, and unforgiving, encased in hungry crystals and poisonous vapors - a dead wasteland, a growing tumor upon the living moon.    

Study of the End

An reclusive order of sages, the Apocalyptologists study the End. The mystery of what drove humanity away from its birthplace and to the refugee of Mhaab, why the dead planet is still so scarred by unimaginable carnage, is theirs to solve. Only by knowing, they hope, another End like it can be averted. And so they send adventurers into the poisonous Rot on Mhaab and to the dead planet below to find answers.    

Wild

From the world-shroom, a thousand different lifeforms have emerged. Tall mushrooms reach higher and higher, their roots tangled into dense underbrush shared with fungi, parastic mold, and lichen. Some roots of the world-shroom itself rise like mountains to cut across the skyline, blooming with color as mushrooms take root and drink from its heavy nectar. Entire fields are sprung from a single, massive fungal life, battling with encroaching lifeforms seeking to burrow into its flesh. Everywhere, Mhaab is vibrant and filled with life - beautiful and dangerous.    

A Funeral Rite

When most die in Mhaab, their bodies are turned to the soil from which they were sprung. But to the wealthy, to the powerful, the idea of sharing the same mulch as the poor, common man will not do. They go on the Journey - a funeral rite towards the stars. Their corpses are sealed in heavy stone caskets and sealed tight before they are set upon a pyre of highly combustible fungi, then ignited. As their tomb rockets towards the stars to find their place among the gods, the dead inside realize their mistake only when it is too late and no one can hear the screams from inside the casket.

Comments

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Oct 7, 2021 20:25 by JRR Jara

So spooky, mysterious and fascinating! Great job connecting the prompts. We'll read more of this world? <3

Creator of Hanzelot and many more.
Oct 16, 2021 13:32

Haha, I'm probably done after Spooktober!


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Oct 16, 2021 16:45 by JRR Jara

let's thank Spooktober and your talent for this creepy world :D

Creator of Hanzelot and many more.
Oct 16, 2021 12:34

I love it!

Author of Ion Tides and more!
Oct 16, 2021 13:31

Yay! :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Oct 24, 2021 09:56 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

This is a lovely worldbuilding, I really love how you've gone through all the implications of the world being made of mushrooms would have :D This makes for a really fascinating world!   Notes I took while reading:   I love the detail of all the inhabitant having non sense of smell left :D   What do all the mushroom eat? - oh wait, the moon wants to eat them now XD What aout before humans arrived was there already animal life on the moon that the world mushroom was cultivating?   Battles being though with blunt weapons is also an amazing worldbuilding detail!   Scarification is a good point regarding consequences of using blood magic. Something I need to think about more often...   I'm wondering about the technology level, and if it regressed when they moved to Mhaab. I guess there were lots of stuff they didn't need to know anymore with the different building material for example. But you say they can still go back to Ruin, so how do they do that space travel. Some teleportation magic rather than by using spacecrafts?   "the dead inside realize their mistake" are they already dead by that point? And some kind of zombie? I'm curious about why that would be a mistake, what advantage there could be in being absorbed by the world mushroom...   Having read everything, it seems that the real danger is the human rather than the world mushroom who seems really benevolent after all... With the humans having created the rot, threatening to shed too much blood and destroy their cities once again, or to do again whatever caused Ruin to be destroyed (I'd guess pollution and war, so really a combination of the previous two).   When you go back to that world, I'd be interested in learning more about the world mushroom itself (if you don't intend to just leave it be mysterious). Seems like it has some form of sentience, so I'm curious how it would react to the rot and the humans having caused that as thanks for letting them stay on the planet... Is the mushroom angry and vengeful? Does it has nay plan to stop itself from dying?

To see what I am up to: World Ember 2023 list of articles.
Oct 24, 2021 17:56 by Sloqush

Awesome work Q, it was a joy to read this :D   Also, the last line of the "Funeral Rite" prompt hit like a truck. I love it ^_^

Author of Cenorad ; a bleak-dark sandbox of creativity.
Dec 1, 2021 18:17 by Angantyr

That gives some nice chills, Q. And reads very smoothly, almost as if I went quickly through a novel. Wonder if you would pursue that? The descriptions are very vivid.

Playing around with words and worlds
Dec 1, 2021 20:54

I don't plan that far ahead. Maybe, if there's interest, I might expand it and flesh it out some more, and maybe that leads to some stories. I have no idea!   Thank you very much <3


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.