After a moment, the Adventurers stuffed the bags Varghul had found with their possessions and stepped over the dead dog into the hall.
“Let’s go up,” Golgh said and walked to the stairs. With no traps and no magic detected, Golgh slowly ascended the spiral steps to a second floor. The attic.
Air dust swirled and settled. The long, vacant room spanned the length of the small hut. To the far end of the room, tucked back into a small corner stood a mirror. Its blue and clear glass shifted and moved like water. Slowly, the Adventurers approached the mirror.
“Whoa,” Varghul said as they approached the glass.
“What is is?” Benison asked.
Golgh shook his head. “I don’t know.”
They were silent for a moment.
“Here,” Golgh said extending his hand to Varghul. “Give me the Eye.” Varghul reached into his pants and withdrew the Eye, then placed it into Golgh’s outstretched palm.
Golgh raised the Eye to the mirror and waited.
The Eye glared angrily at the mirror. And did nothing.
“Benison, try your compacts,” Golgh suggested and Benison took out his mirrors.
“Hold them up,” Golgh instructed then held the Eye up to Benison’s mirrors.
The Eye glared angrily through the mirror back at Benison through the second mirror.
“Alright,” Golgh said, “Now hold them up the full mirror.”
Benison did so.
Benison’s mirror revealed Benison standing before the mirror holding a mirror up to the mirror.
“This isn’t getting us anywhere,” Varghul said. “Let’s get out of here.”
“Alright, fine,” Golgh growled handing the Eye back to Varghul, who returned the Eye to his pants. “Let me grab some of this stuff.”
Carefully, Golgh dipped one of the small jars into the blue glass and scooped up a jar full. “Let’s search the kitchen.”
* * *
The kitchen was mostly uninteresting. The found a bag of ordinary apples, some strips of dried meat and a case of Eladrin Wine before the Adventurers were through with their search.
“What do you see?” Varghul asked of Golgh who peered through the windows.
Golgh shook his head.
“Well…We’re not in N’Urd.”
“Where are we?” Benison asked.
Benison and Varghul exchanged glances.
“There’s black dirt with a black road. And black air. I can’t even…” Golgh quieted as he stared harder into the distance. “Looks like there’s a green forest up ahead.”
“Green forest?” Benison asked.
“Yeah,” Golgh said. “Not green like green. Green like…glowing green. Like the vat of stink in the Homunculus room.”
“Is anyone out there?” Varghul said.
Golgh shook his head. “No.”
“Well, let’s go then,” Benison declared and slowly, opened the door.
The night air supported a heavy warmth that weighed their muscles down. No monsters. No enemies. No bodies.
The forest was clearer from outside and they could make up the faintest shape of mushrooms in the distance.
“How far do you think that is?” Golgh asked.
“Hundred…May one-twenty yards,” Varghul guessed.
“We run?” Benison said.
From the house, they ran down the black road, toward the mushroom forest ahead, eager to leave behind their cells, the dead dog, and the mysterious mirror and boiling vat of stink.
Within a matter of minutes, they neared a massive grove of green glowing ‘shrooms of all shapes and sizes. Tall mushrooms reached high into the black sky. Like spiraling steps, runs of self-mushrooms lined the wide stems and filling the air with the warm smell of roasted chicken. At the mushroom’s base, clusters of fungus grew in on themselves, folded over like ocean shells. And stark white umbrellas, growing in clusters lined the black road where dusting of spores glowed green in the mushroom light.
“Hold up,” Varghul gasped and stopped mid-sprint. “There’s someone.”
In an instant, the three Adventurers dashed behind the nearest mushroom and peered, cautiously around the stem.
Her silver hair glistened green in light. He voice lulled among the spores, enchanting them, possessing them, and forcing them to arousal. Her hand reached up and caressed the frills, releasing the next run of green spores she caught with a basket.
Humming and lulling, her voice coaxed the tension from the nerves and she swept her foot around in a hypnotic dance-like position. Fighting the lust she called from them, the Adventures stood their ground, hidden behind their mushroom stem. Her voice lilted and trilled before they realized she had spoken to them.
“You think it is wise to hide from me?” she asked in her sing-song way.
Golgh battled his hand to his sword and won. Varghul forced an arrow notched to his bow. Both their hands shook and Benison fell to his knees.
“Fools, be gone!” she hissed and turned to reveal her hideous, old, wrinkled face. Black where eyes and teeth should have been, age distorted her face where youth was expected and she shrieked and howled and lunged.
Releasing a shrill, she was on them and Varghul stopped out to meet her. Releasing his arrow as quickly as he notched the next one, Golgh swung his blade and the Howling Hag slashed the air with her clawed, shriveled hand.
From his knees, Benison unleashed a spell that struck the Howling Hag in the stomach. Back she spun and stopped as she slammed into the stem of a mushroom. Green spore dust exploded into the air as the mushroom stem broke in half.
An arrow whizzed by, catching her cheek and she howled and lunged, landing herself onto Varghul. With his bow, he tried to strike her as Golgh stepped in, slamming the hilt to her mouth. Shrieking, she fell and moved to fly just as Golgh sank his hand into her hair, knuckle deep. The hag dropped to her back in enough time for Varghul to grasp and bind an arm.
“Argh!” she shrieked and Golgh kicked, landing his foot in her mouth. A snap confirmed her broken jaw as Benison rose to his feet.