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They could not have stumbled upon a better landing this morning. Although it was late winter, and the frost of the early dawn still had the gall to muster a vicious bite, Tala could sense this garden cemetery hid a bountiful winter harvest waiting to be unearthed. They thought how lucky they were to reside at the edge of Keystone, but that did mean they were a fair walking distance from the local church - and Tala wasn't quite set on seeing a church in full this early in their morning. The wind shook at their layered robes as if scolding their quiet disdain. Tala put little effort to brace against and was left unperturbed. For whatever reason, it only made them hope magic users who live in wildly tepid climates with distinct seasons, as is the case for Mythril, do not take it for granted. Not including the peaks of the northern most mountains, their homeland was almost always hot and humid. And though a lush island, finding cold and frost temperate plants was near impossible.
For now, Tala was looking for anything of interest: hearty herbs, stones, wood, even dead insect carcasses; but especially mushrooms, one of the most fascinating species among any flora and fauna, the indicator of a region's natural balance. Just as Tala was tempted to clear away dead vines from the entrance to a tomb, voices - like the soft, idle ringing of singing bowls - resounded as a choir in their head, "Here. Over here. Come here." Tala quickly turned the corner at a large, vine-covered headstone to find a group of moths resting on a fallen eastern hemlock tree. And on the dead hemlock tree were mushrooms ingrained in the bark like a spiral staircase, with kidney shaped caps colored deep red like wood varnish. Grabbing a knife from their bag, they cut out a large fruit body along with, most importantly, the mycelium beneath. Tala could feel the moths eyeing them with intense interest. Tala spoke, "These, little ones, are Reishi mushrooms, quite common in the northeast. Dubbed the 'Soul Mushroom,' or the 'Numinous Mushroom', and sometimes the 'Herb of Spiritual Potency' - sounds flashy in English. But anyway," they extended their arm forward and every moth gently came to rest on it, "Good find, all of you."
Suddenly, Tala could hear the inner voices of the moths chime brightly as they circled around them, their master, in celebration, "Good find. Good find. Good job." Tala couldn't help but laugh and dance along with them. Their moths were always so easily pleased and it was always sweet and endearing. After the brief celebratory dance, Tala had the winged insects scout the inner garden cemetery whilst they cut more mushrooms into their sling bag. Reishi mushrooms were known to have incredible medicinal powers, having been used by shamans and monks all over for thousands of years. They're not psychoactive, so one needn't worry about any flights of fancy when ingesting them. But all fungi have an ability to create networks connecting different plants and trees - and the dead. Tala took in the view of the massive cemetery, their breath misting like a ghost in the cold mid-air, "The majority are probably buried in caskets. Too bad. They're missing out." Or so they were thinking. Connect and become a part of the collective in the earth…Tala looked distantly at the fungi, lost in thought, "'Collective,' huh? Could it be that I actually don't understand what that means yet?" a slight cackle escaped them, "Says the one who has a collective of moths as a familiar..."
Tala moved on. As they headed toward the heart of the cemetery to meet up with their said familiar, suddenly, a raucous rustling from a thicket of dead vines and leaves nearby rebounded through the necropolis; and every moth almost instantly took to their master's side in a defensive arc. With utmost calm, Tala announced to whatever may be hiding in the wintry shrubbery, "If you're looking for fungi, I don't mind sharing a part of my findings. After that, you're on your own." They were only half joking.
(OOC: Open! I hope you don't mind a little lesson on fungi. Please disrupt my moth boi[s] and their day off.)
“Oh…yeah, these are reishi, actually,” Tala said, with a tone more casual than surprised. With that said, Tala lifted a hand in front of their familiar, a gesture prompting them to relax. Still, they maintained their defensive arc around their master, but the fierce glow surrounding each individual moth dimmed. Tala gave their abrupt visitor a stare that was equally quizzical as much as it were incredibly inquisitive. Eyeing the mask, the gloves, and his overall features. Actually, the mask was very, very vaguely familiar. Perhaps they were mistaking it for something they’ve seen in passing in the past. In yet, Tala couldn’t shake the feeling that there was a whole other entity hiding beneath the persona in front of them. In the back of their mind, they heard their moths advising them to take caution. Tala wasn’t expecting anyone to take their offer seriously. But hey, they should make good on that. They literally made an offer to share – half-joking, indeed – and Tala wasn’t someone who flippantly backed down on their word.
“I can give you a little less than eight ounces of what I’ve found so far.” Reaching into their sling cross body bag, Tala retrieved a separate small, burlap pouch. As they held the pouch open, the moths quickly put the said amount of brown-red mushrooms into the pouch. When sliced, this would only be a little more than a cup’s worth; even less so if you only made use of the cap. “I don’t know how much you or your friend need, but if that’s not enough, I’m positive there’s more to find around here, and not just reishi. If you have the nose to find them, of course.” And Tala had an exceptional nose – a trait master and familiar shared equally. Some half dozen of larger moths picked up the burlap pouch together, lithely floating in the air. They intended to deliver it to the masked figure in the grove rather than have their master do so personally, mainly to ensure the distance between the two. Slowly, they began their approach.
Tala then, without using direct verbal communication, directed other moths to continue scouting and for the rest to stay nearby to maintain their defensive formation. Admittedly, the mangkukulam felt a hint of disappointment having to part with their red-capped fruits, but it meant that they had an excuse to enjoy the garden cemetery longer. “I’ll be staying here longer to forage, so if you’re sticking around…well, do whatever,” Tala boldly announced, ready to turn back to their work, “I’m no mycologist, but I know enough for what’s practical.” It was an invitation. So much for their “you’re on your own” remark.
((OOC: Sweet, savory, medicinal 'shrooms coming your way. Slowly. Cautiously. calvin st. caruthers))