The Fates chose to align with the mushroom king.
Have you ever heard a story about an amnesiac knight who swore fealty to a mushroom? No? NO? Well, there’s a good reason for it! Oh Fates, truly you act in mysterious ways. Nonetheless, my duty is to entertain and delight no matter what hole you dig me into. Let’s see how this pact pans out, shall we?
The knight hesitates as he considers his options. There’s merit in aiding the usurper and securing Dawn’s survival, but little wisdom in trusting a traitor without knowing more. And while Dawn is correct about finding the oar and leaving this cursed continent, her plan is driven by childish optimism — finding a ship will most likely prove difficult, not to speak of surviving this wicked, dangerous land without allies.
“Your majesty, I don’t know whether it’s possible to save Ferax,” the knight says, bowing his head, “but I, Ren Londaar, swear to do everything in my power to defeat the Noxis curse. As proof of our alliance, I will face the Noxis monster in this tower and banish it.”
Perhaps this act will not directly address the curse, but it ought to be good enough for now, Ren thinks. His quest for vengeance will serve more than one purpose.
The mushroom king nods in response. “I, King Zwiglet Noxspain, accept your oath of allegiance and grant you the title of Metal Man, leader of the expedition force sent to defeat the Noxis! We’ve shared our home with the cursed creature for long enough!”
“Thank you, your majesty. Now, if you’ll allow, I have a monster to slay.”
“Before you go,” the mushroom king smiles slyly for the first time, “the Royal Warpack will ride inside the Metal Man’s empty armor. Metal Man will carry Royal Warpack past the dark nest of Khalam-Zhu. Then Metal Man and Warpack will attack the Noxis together. There will be a big boom! There will be a big battle! At the end we will prove victorious in the name of all fungi!”
“Your plan is to transport warriors inside my armor? And what is this Khalam-Zhu?”
The murmurs in the cavern quiet to a frightened whisper. All eyes are on the king as he strokes his beard and answers: “Khalam-Zhu is the darkness of tormented souls. It resides within the castle, between us and the monster. Nothing goes past it. But Metal Man can protect the invasion force hiding inside him.”
The knight turns to Compie. “You neglected to mention we’ll be facing tormented souls on our way up.”
“I have a way of getting past them. There was no need to burden you with unnecessary information — after all, you have no brain and the elf girl’s not much better in that department.”
“Hey,” Dawn bristles, “that’s not tr- Oh, look! What’s that?”
A half-rotten, decorative table leg travels over the mushrooms’ caps, making its way toward the knight. The fungi lift it to Ren’s left shoulder like a ramp and white warrior mushrooms line up at its base.
“Very well.” The knight sighs and begins unscrewing his helmet. “Dawn, would you get the screws at the back? You can use the knife in my bag.”
They proceed to take apart the seam at his neck and soon the knight lifts the helmet off his shoulders. His vision floats up with it. Ren half expects the rest of his armor to drop lifeless to the floor, but his fingers keep a tight hold on the helmet, and his hands and body remain under his control. Disoriented, he holds his head in his lap as mushrooms march up to his shoulder and yelp war cries as they jump down his neck and bounce around his insides like little rubber balls.
“Fungi!” the mushroom king lifts its tiny arms when the last of the warrior mushrooms is inside Ren’s armor and his head is secured to the torso once more. “We have concluded our war planning! Now we must celebrate our new champion by awarding him with a ceremonial gift: the sacred Symbiosis!”
At this, a group of green mushrooms prance into the throne room, dancing and singing to a jolly tune played on lichen trumpets. The Eternal Knight looks at the procession darkly, but Dawn’s eyes light up at the sight.
“I’ve never seen anything so adorable!” She sighs. “Oh, it’s a good thing cuteness can’t kill, otherwise I’d die on the spot. I can’t wait to tell Cato all about this! It’ll make a fantastic story, don’t you think?”
Distracted by the warrior mushrooms’ chatter inside him, the knight almost misses the arrival of the next ceremonial group. Dawn taps his arm as the mass of mushrooms around them erupts in a high-pitched chant: “Symbiosis! Symbiosis! Symbiosis!”
Like ships through a storming sea, three pedestals float closer to them, carried forward on top of the audience’s bouncing caps. On each pedestal is a larger than average mushroom, one yellow, one blue, and one purple.
“As a sign of trust,” the mushroom king says, “I present you with our most valued Proto Mushrooms — you may choose one, Metal Man.”
“Erm, thank you, your majesty.” The knight hesitates. “What are they?”
“They are the first mushrooms brought to life by our creator — each with their unique powers of protection. They are the eldest of our species and we have worshipped them for generations. We call the first one you see Yellow Sun — it will illuminate the dark and radiate warmth. The second is the Blue Mist — it will envelop you in a smokescreen, confusing your foes. And the third one is Violet Alert — it will tell you when Noxis are nearby. They have kept my clan safe since the creation of our species, but it is time we stop using them merely as a defense...”
And now, my supreme divine beings, I ask you to put your omnipotent communal intelligence to good use! This might be the most important decision that you will ever make, so consult your inner eye on what the future might bring, choose with extreme care, and get your friends to vote with you. If we’re going down this road, we might as well do it with as large an audience as possible.
Option 1: The knight chooses Yellow Sun — the mushroom that illuminates the dark.
Option 2: The knight chooses Blue Mist — the mushroom that can create a smokescreen.
Option 3: The knight chooses Violet Alert — the mushroom that will alert of nearby Noxis.
The chapter voting closes every Monday at 8:00 AM WEST (Lisbon, Portugal time).