Upon leaving the Majuro, Astra informed the others that a storm was brewing but they struck out south nonetheless. They had to furl sails that night to keep from being blown off course, but the storm did not prove too bad; more rain than wind. First light found them shrouded in a dense fog bank, however, and Shid Na provided a very light wind to help them creep through it (Astra being concerned about running aground without being able to see shoals ahead).
As it happened, it wasn't rocks they nearly ran into. The Jade Serpent was leading, and they just seemed to be emerging from the fog when it heeled about sharply. Following suit, the Sea Pansy pulled up alongside to confer. Jade explained that her lookout had sighted three ships anchored offshore a new island, just ahead. What was more, she had recognized the pennant on the largest, a full size warship: it was that of the notoriously ruthless pirate Rastafarment the Horrible. If this was the reputed pirate fleet gathering, she wanted no part of it with him at its head.
There was some interested discussion of how to approach this obstacle; Walliss even performed some manta reconnaissance, returning to report that while well-armed and manned, the crews seemed bored, as though they'd been anchored there for some time. The island ahead, smaller than the Majuro's, was just as thick with jungle, and some wondered what the pirates might be up to, ashore. It was decided to skirt them for now, landing on the southern side to find out more, but Kyler—salivating at the sight of the warship—swore that it would either be leaving this island in their hands, or remain here as a permanent addition to undersea habitat.
They found a break in the rocky shore to the southeast, after giving the pirate ships a wide berth. The landing party this time included Kyler and Durzo, Mabruk and Ellara, Javelin, Akos, and Achu. While Mabruk was picking up some largish stones, Kyler found an overgrown path, which they followed about a mile before coming to an area where the underbrush turned to a mushroom paradise, with fungi of all sorts and colors grew. A number of peculiar humanoids approached from a stand of remarkably large mushrooms, but made no move to attack, or communicate. The party observed them warily (and Mabruk climbed a tree for a good vantage point) but the somewhat vegetative-looking natives seemed impassive.
They were joined a moment later, somewhat alarmingly, by the huge mushrooms themselves, which proved not only mobile but intelligent. One of the larger offered a greenish soup to drink, which at first only Kyler accepted... and when he recovered consciousness, he had greenish tendrils growing out of his ears and nose, but could hear the speech of the Kamorro before him. They explained that they had learned fungal alchemy from the Great Fungus, and this was a potion that allowed spore-speech with the non-Kamorro. At this, Ellara and Javelin also drank out of curiosity.
The humanoid creatures were explained to be "vegepygmies," formerly aggressive humans which the Kamorro king had "pacified" and "adopted." Discussion of trade they insisted must be taken up with this king, but offered to provide an escort once they were able to finish their "melding time" for the day. Thereon, they resumed their meditative circle, joined now by a fascinated Kyler. He soon learned that this was a sort of social, religious, and entertainment time bound into one, in which the participants experienced a shared hallucination that left him rather euphoric, and very fond of his new fungal friends.
The others found it a rather boring four hours.
After, the village elder who had first greeted them gathered some workers and vegepygmies and they set off for the king. They hadn't gone far, however, before they were accosted by another group of Kamorro, who set on them without warning. The elder seemed frightened, but the human mercenaries had no hesitation about laying about them with their swords. In short order, Javelin was in a pacified stupor but most of the enemy Kamorro lay beheaded.
In the rear, a pair of animated piles of rotting vegetation attempted an ambush, dragging the elder off the path. Shid Na engaged in a tug of war over its (fortunately) very flexible body, while Achu began hacking at its viny tentacles, and Akos set the other alight with his homemade oil-pump flamethrower. Once the elder was out of danger, it began using its own pacifying spores on the shambling mounds, while up front the attacking elder fled the defeat of its forces, Ellara in hot pursuit....
"Vegepygmies, assemble!" -- Kyler's warcry
"I stop cuddling the dead mushroom and get out my lute." -- a pacified Javelin tries to bring a little peace and culture to the fight