A planet rolled and moved through the emptiness of space, it basked in the golden glow of the nearby sun as it turned gently. Above the world a deity stared down at the planet with excitement in their eyes, in their hands they held a large rock that a soft green powder was floating out of. With a malicious grin they waved their hand, and all the powder flowed back into the rock. With everything contained they threw the rock down at the planet.
The humans of the planet were unaware of what was to come, they looked up at the sky as this enormous asteroid broke through the atmosphere, the green powder poured out, catching in the wind tunnels that surrounded the planet it covered the world in a fine green mist. As it descended upon the planet the air was filled with green, and small shiny flakes from the metals in the asteroid, it was beautiful. People stood outside with their phones, calling to one another to look at the spectacle, some people saw this as a sign of the end times, and retreated down into doomsday bunkers, sheltering themselves from the green powder, while half of the planet slept, and was unaware that they were breathing their last breaths. The green powder invaded the lungs of everything with lungs, taking root it spread a fungal bloom of mycelium through the intricate aspects of the lungs, their expansive root systems bound the lungs until they were unable to move, suffocating the host. In less than twenty-four hours, almost all mammalian life forms were suffocated, and left to rot where they lay. Then what happened next removed the humans as the top civilisation, overtaken but what the powder did to the fungal, and insect population of the planet Excress.
Down on the surface of the planet, down by where the feet of the humans would have tread, down where their rubbish laid, there is more trash than ever before as the buildings holding everything owned collapsed, letting their goods loose upon the world. Where once they would have been seen as a burden, now they are seen as safety, shelter, even a home. As one civilisation fell, another has grown from their trash, and their bones.
After leaving to find others, the deity returns with a collection of others, they all floated down to the surface of the planet, invisible to any prying eyes from mortal creatures they observed the new civilisations that had started since their departure. The original deity grinned ear to ear, while the others sighed, rolling their eyes at their comrades’ excitement. But despite their desire to bring others to see their creations, as soon as they found what they were looking for, it was almost impossible for anyone to get their attention. Beneath the deities eyes was a small, humanoid mushroom creature, running through the tall grass, where their very life was held in the combat of their own will, versus the will of the things chasing them.
The mushroom leapt and slid its way through the difficult terrain, the heavy pounding of many legs behind them. They could hear the plant life behind them being crushed, and pushed aside where they had just had to volt through it all. It was not long until the mushroom tripped, sliding into the dirt the foot falls surrounded them as two comparatively enormous tarantulas stood either side of him. Under the mushroom man was its pouch, where inside was a small book with strange runes carved into the cover.
“Oh my, look what I just found,” the mushroom said in a bad acting voice. “This looks like one of the books from the great tarantula library, why isn’t it fortunate you two happened to be here at this moment.”
The mushroom humanoid raised the book above their head, keeping his face pressed down into the dirt. The spiders chittered at one another before one of them reached out, taking the book from the mushrooms hand. The Tarantula who took the book wandered off as the other moved around the head of the mushroom, letting it look at the side of his face where once his cap obscured it.
Its voice was low, and spoke with a rumble that shook the mushroom to the core.
“You live, not by anything less than the fact that you were able to acknowledge when you should have been eaten.”
The spiders many eyes lit up with a green energy, telekinetically lifting the mushroom man to his feet the tarantula forced the mushroom to stare into the tarantula’s eyes.
“If your ilk come through our domain again, we will bind you, you will be dragged through your city walls as we march upon your kind, and you shall watch as we destroy everything you call home, and after mangling you, we shall leave you to those that value your flesh.”
The green glow in the spiders’ eyes faded, leaving nothing but black voids for the mushroom to stare into, they swallowed heavily, grasping their bag they nodded slowly, whispering under their breath they replied in the voice of a scorned child.
The tarantula stepped away from the mushroom man, flicking dirt back on every foot fall, covering the mushroom man in a thin veil of loose dirt. The mushroom man stood very still, their body was tense, and shaking. They dared not move until the destructive sounds of the tarantulas disappeared into the distance. They took a deep breath as they realised, they had not been breathing since the tarantula stood them, the breath breaking their tense stance the loose dirt fell from them as they collapsed to their knees crying. Weeping loudly, they made no effort to be aware of their surroundings, their body still shaking as struggled to manage their breathing, their head spun, as their breaths became shallower, and the ability to hold their eyes open became even harder. But just as they could feel their consciousness slipping, they managed to bring their breathing under control, and slowly the black patches in their vision shrunk, and slowly over many minutes they became stable. They wiped the drool and snot from their face as they let out a long sigh, breathing in heavily through the breathing holes on their face, and out of their mouth.
“I can’t believe I am not dead. I can’t believe they didn’t notice.” They said looking back at the groove that the spiders made through the undergrowth. “I need to keep moving, they will be back at their library soon.”
The mushroom man stood back on weakened legs as they began to march away from the spider’s library. The further they moved, the sturdier their knees became, their breath became more strategic, and their purpose drove them. They ran till their body ached, and the sun began to set, painting the sky red. As they passed through the tall grasses, they passed over branch, stone, and bottle caps, and an increasing pile of human refuse until eventually the tall grasses rapidly fell away and they were looking upon a city made of human garbage. The walls were made from a collection of natural woods, and refined ice-block sticks, and chopsticks. The buildings were painted plastic takeaway plastic containers, and the city was lit with a collection of solar powered fairy lights. The inhabitants were a wide variety of fungus that walked around like people, there were some insects that walked among them as equals, and other insects and fungus that had not developed as much that had the mind of animals, and were kept as pets, or pack animals. There were even some bio-luminescent fungi that were still inert like the fungus on Earth, they were dotted around the streets to bring light on the ground level, while all the fairy lights hung far above, illuminating the high-rise buildings.
The mushroom man moved through the entrance of the city with their head lowered, using the large crowds to hide their visage. Their tattered clothes were unassuming, and contributed to him blending into the mix of fungal and insectoid hubbub.
“What are you doing back here Morr?” A voice called out from behind Morr.
He paused for a moment, grasping at his satchel he slowly turned around.
“Hey Amon, I didn’t expect to see you here.” Morr replied, keeping his eyes aimed at the ground.
Morr is a plain brown looking fungal humanoid, while Morr peacocked his vibrant red, and white colours as he approached Morr.
“You didn’t expect to see me in my city? Don’t make me laugh Morr, there are a lot of critters here that want you dead, or bleeding. Why have you come back?”
Morr did not respond, forcing Amon to look over them, spying the tight grasp on the satchel he snapped his fingers, from behind Amon a large locust stomped over, ripping the satchel from Morr’s hands. Morr’s arms outstretched with it until the bag was lifted beyond his grasp.
“Now why do you want to hold onto this so bad ae friend?”
Amon was passed the bag, and he delved his fist inside, pulling out a single piece of paper with a myriad of runes, and minor incantations. Amon’s face scrunched up as he tried to understand what he had, his eyes opened wide as he realised what he was holding. He pushed the paper back onto Morr, but Morr did not take it.
“Take it back, take it back and get out of here.”
The Locust behind Morr squatted down, leaping into the air their wings started vibrating, allowing the Locust to fly off at speed, the sound of their wings fading as the sounds of stomping came from the other direction.
Amon let go of the paper and it fell to the ground.
“I am sorry, but whose city is this Amon?” Morr asked as he grinned.
Amon’s eyes filled with fear as he started to run to the far side of the city, pushing through the crowds that have heard the commotion beyond the walls, but have not yet acted as they try to figure out what is happening.
Morr picked up the piece of paper out of the dirt as the front gate guards called out.
The front gate was struck by an unstoppable force, pushing it flat in an instance as a tarantula stood upon it. The guards on the top of the wall moved to get to position, but were struck down by jumping spiders that leapt from the far side.
“Where is what belongs to us?” The tarantula screamed through psychic powers.
The city dwellers screamed, turning tail and running to the back of the city, only to find that the spiders had already surrounded the city, pouring over the walls like a wave of limbs and fangs. The tarantula eyes started to glow, and the city started to fall. The same-coloured glow from their eyes illuminated the city structures, causing them to crumble. The screams of the civilians were competing with the psychic enraged screams that emanated from the minds of the powerful spider psychers.
“Where is the script, where is the page?” One of the spiders screamed as its eyes darted around the city, trying its best to find Morr. The guards of the city did their best to hold back the torrent of spiders, but despite their best efforts, the most they could do was slow it down.
Morr was in a dark alley, hiding from the cacophony that he brought down upon the city, and while in the muck and grime of the city he started to recite the words that were written, their voice resonating as the magic bound to it. The runes on the page lifted from it, surrounding Morr with light, and strange coloured particles. One of the tarantula’s spotted the familiar glow and charged with everything they had at the faint light leaking from the alley way. They stomped their way through anything that was in their way, friend or foe. Clammering through the entrance of the city the tarantula screamed as it watched Morr finish their incantation, and with one sly look back to the tarantula he smiled, before disappearing from sight in a flash of golden light. The tarantula slammed down where Morr had been standing, repeatedly stomping the ground where he stood.
Upon a nearby hill top there was a small gathering of mushroom humanoids, they looked towards a city being overrun by spiders, fires erupting, electricity sparking, and the occasional flair of psychic abilities. One of them had a crude pair of binoculars, using them to get a somewhat closer look at what was happening, when there was a sudden flash of golden light, and a small gust of wind, and behind them Morr appeared with the page in hand.
“You did well Morr,” the one holding the binoculars said. “We didn’t expect you to make it out alive if we are being honest.”
“There were a few times where I nearly didn’t.” Morr paused, holding the magical piece of paper in his hands he looked down at it with contemplation.
“Well you have served us well, not to mention you were able to escape the arachnids, and use the portal magic bound to that page. It shows good signs for a potential student of the magics. But we will need to make sure it wasn’t a mistake, there will need to be more tests before you can join officially.”
There was a long pause, and the small group of fungus humanoids turned to see Morr muttering under their breath, there was a flash of golden light, and he was gone. The others stood there dumbfounded, staring blankly at the space Morr stood mere moments ago.
“He took the page.” One of the humanoids said.
“We can’t afford to lose that, we need to get him back.” Another added.
They all started to bicker as the one with the binoculars turned back to the burning city, a scowl on their face as they gritted their teeth and cursed Morr’s name.
Morr appeared in thick foliage, and the distinct smell of honey. You looked around with short breath, and a tired throat.
“Where am I?” He asked himself as he wandered aimlessly through the plant life, barely being able to reach the soil below as the plants all competed for the shinning sun above. He pressed forward, heading towards the smell of smoke, faint, barely there, a clear sign of a campfire, or chimney. As he broke his way through the tall grasses he was face to face with a small cottage, made from stones pilled upon one another, and a roof made of layered clay, on one side of the round structure was a chimney letting a small swirl of smoke out. From inside a shrivelled, and hunched mushroom humanoid walked out with a gnarled staff. She looked to Morr and sighed.
“Not often someone gets a page from the spiders. Come inside, let us talk about your options Morr.”
Morr froze, his face scrunched, and confused.
“Magic, how else?” She said with a flourish of her staff, “you are not the first to do it, and you wont be the last. But if you want to be safe integrating with society you will need a hand.”
“Why did the teleport I used take me to you?”
“Because I have a teleport anchor of course, catching all the weak willed teleporters. Teaching them how to use their powers, and sending them on their way, come inside.”
Morr took a few steps forward, but noticed a strange smile on the old lady’s face as she entered her home. He held onto his page and thought of using it to escape but as the thought passed through his mind he felt like it was being removed by an opposing force. Not wanting to risk this interaction he used the paper again, just to phase out of existence momentarily, then returning a few meters from where he once stood, the old lady in the house was leaning out one of her windows.
“I told you, I have an anchor here, and if you want to leave here you have to teleport, the plant life only becomes thicker, and more dangerous the further you get from my home, so walking isn’t a viable option, not really. The choice is yours.”