Doppelganger Toadstool
Doppelganger Toadstool

Doppelganger Toadstool

Doppelganger Toadstool

I was passing through the burg of Esper in the Outlands, near Ilsensine’s underground lair. It’d been a hard slog through the mountains, and I was looking for a comfortable place to kip. Esper wasn’t it – there was something wholly unnatural about the place. Seems everyone there’s got strange mental powers, probably curses from the Brain God. They should’ve called the burg ‘Migraine’ if you ask me. Hoping to get some respite from the buzzing in my head, I ventured out of town to the wilderness…

Once again I was hungry. Seems to be one of the great problems of adventuring, hunger. No sooner do you get a bite to eat than all the fresh air and tramping about gets your stomach thinking its time for another meal. So there I was, splitting headache, starving tummy, night drawing close, when what should I smell but freshly baked onion bread!

“Well,” said I (for I’d even begun talking to myself – anything to escape the psychic drone), “Seems like some kind fellow’s looking to share a meal with a ravenous traveller.” ‘Course, even if he wasn’t willing to share, he was certainly about to.

I beat my way through a thick gorse bush, and stumbled into the clearing beyond. There wasn’t a hermitage, like I’d expected, but just a hot loaf of onion bread for the taking, sitting on a tablecloth of leaves looking at me. I stood very still for a long time, expecting a trap, but no nets dropped on me, nor were any trip-wire triggered arrows fired at me.

“Hello?” I called. “Mind if I share your meal?”


“No? Jolly good!”

I sat down next to my prize, found a knife and a block of cheese in my knapsack, and picked up the loaf. It was cold as a rock.

“Funny,” said I. “It smells fresh. It even tastes fresh. Especially with Arborean gorgonzola.” Paying this curiosity no mind, I continued to munch on the bread. The texture was just how I like it, and there was just enough onion too; almost as if someone had baked it from my own recipe.

Absentmindedly I picked up a handful of stones from the ground, and slipped them into my pocket for later. My hunger sated by some mysterious benefactor, I wandered away to find somewhere comfortable to sleep.

I’d have forgotten about the whole incident had I not woken up later in the night with a pain in my side. I soon realised there were several small rocks digging into my side through my pocket. “How did these get in here?” I pondered. I was about to throw them away when I noticed some of the stones were germinating; they were seeds.

My famous curiosity piqued, I examined the tiny seeds more closely by the firelight, trying to remember where I’d got them from. Slowly it returned: I’d picked them while I was eating, then completely forgotten about it.

I lit a torch from the fire’s embers and wandered back to the clearing. The scent of honey scones was heavy in the air; mmm! As the light from my torch chased away the shadows, I spied a pile of delicious-looking scones lying in the clearing.

I’d almost finished the third one when a small voice inside me asked “What d’you think you’re doing, leatherhead?” I told the voice to go pike itself and leave me alone, but it was persistent. When we’d stopped arguing I realised the voice had a point. I’d been hoodwinked into eating more goodies, and now both of my pockets were brimful with these stones. Things began to come clear.

“Listen plant!” I demanded, for I know the work of a crafty plant when I see one. “Stop playing me for a Clueless sod. It’s plain insulting, when I’m a proper druid and all. It’s an elaborate plot you’ve got here, for sure, tempting me with morsels and getting me to spread your seeds around for you, but I’ve got a few problems with your plan, see?

“One, you’re making me fat, and heavens know I’m plump enough already. Two, I resent doing your dirty work for you. Find some animal to carry your sodding pips around. And three, erm…d’you think you’d make me a brandy apple pie if I promised to plant a seed somewhere nice for you?”

The scones rotted away real fast and then, quick as Sensate downing a mug of wine, an apple pie grew from nothing. “Thanks, plant,” I said, picking up my prize. “Say, what do you really look like anyway?”

The leafy creature shuddered and became a dull green toadstool, studded with white fungal pseudopods. “I get the point. Who’d be a mushroom when you can be anything I’d like you to be? Well, I’ve got an appointment with a pie. Goodbye.”

I could’ve sworn the plant waved a leaf at me.

Source: Jon Winter-Holt,

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