Gorrister explains the mushrooms

Gorrister smiled weakly. "I don't know the exact biological machinations of the mushrooms," he said. "All we know is from observation of those who passed through. And some who stayed." He glanced around the cavern, pointedly not looking at either Ellen or Julie. "All I know, is the mushrooms repair any damage to your body. Lacerations, bruises, broken bones. And fungal infections... Aside from the Growth, which it only slows down. With the saturation of the spores, that infection grows in and on everyone who sets foot in here." He looked down at his paralyzed, encased body and sighed. "You can see the end result for yourself. The longer you stave off the infection, the faster it will spread when you stop consuming the mushrooms. And I have staved off the infection for a long, long time."

He closed his eyes for a few moments. Julie looked at him with an intense mixture of pity and worry. Ellen merely stared into the green-tinged fire. "Gorrister abruptly stopped eating the mushrooms a week ago," Julie said quietly. "I want to, as well, but... Well..."

"It takes a while to die after the Growth spreads all over your body," Gorrister finished. "A few years, in fact. We've made regular checks to a man named Bennie. He lived with us for a while and decided such a fate was preferable. Something I've recently come to agree on with him." He looked melancholy, forlorn, as he spoke. "We think it must have been about two years before

"Time is funny in the dark," Julie interjected. "We've been saying weeks or years, but it could just have been days. I wouldn't know, none of us would. We just mark a day for every sleeping period."

"And it's not just the dark that messes with time," Gorrister continued. "This place. Nefritia, as some of the conjured ghouls and beasts and apparitions have called it. I'm sure you've heard the name at some point in your journey. It... distorts, everything. Time included. There's a sunrise and sunset outside, but the length of a day changes on a whim."

"Them," Ellen growled suddenly, and spat in the fire.

"Quite," Gorrister agreed. "Them. Those who created this world. Because no world can naturally evolve to be the way this one is. It's filled with portals to our lives long past. That is the most obvious artificiliaty. But it's in subtler elements, too, like the mushrooms."

He looked around at the confused faces and smiled joylessly. "Evolution is a logical process, you see. Every step is an improvement. A species can't evolve to grow wheels, because it would need to grow an axel first, which is useless on its own. Similarly, a species can't grow to consume only a very specific food without that food being a readily available source. People are not generally in abundance in caves. And yet...

...the mushrooms do not grow on stone or sand. They will only grow on the human body."

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