The ground squelches beneath your feet. A damp and clammy sensation greets your every step. Humid, dank air fills your lungs with each breath and leaves you feeling light-headed and unsteady.
Everywhere is green.
As you sidestep a mephitoad happily chewing on what might have been a ravel's leg, its dim-witted smile broad and simple, you realize just where you are.
The Viviria District
It's hard to shake the feeling that this part of the city was grown. Veins crawl and slither across the surfaces of buildings like lacework, and insect-choked vines hang between rooftops like clotheslines. Where lights would be, you're greeted instead by pods and buds that glow with an eerie luminescence, some of which even have what could be larvae squirming within.
Insects buzz to and fro along the streets, harassing citizens that either wave them away or ignore them utterly. Some land on buildings and sup from boils and dimples that dot the surfaces, while others nestle down on wriggling bushes and fungi in shimmering droves. One takes flight in your direction, only to be snatched from the air by the sticky tongue of what appears to be a snail half-submerged in the spongy ground.
A creature with a dozen eyes looking in almost every direction waddles by, its slimy body naked but for the clasp of an ego bracer, while a krudge clad in visceral robes and oozing fungi of all sorts disappears into a doorway that looks a bit too much like a mouth. You duck beneath a hanging bulb that sprays a silent puff of purplish spores, only to nearly tread on a brightly-colored slug that squeals up at you.
Before long, you find yourself arriving at a large, circular area. It slopes downwards towards the center with rows of shops and stalls set in concentric rings. Lichen-covered steps and slopes connect each tier to the next, and in the very center you can see what appears to be a toothed, cavernous mouth. Thousands of insects fly in and out of the hole, ranging in size from that of a gnat to larger than a nurk, and large poles that could be flower stamen stretch up into the air above it. Related to the insects, perhaps?
As you make your way into the strange 'plaza', you start to make sense of the shops as their owners call out their wares.
There's a restaurant where one can dine on all manner of plants and insects. As you draw close, you see that there are even seating arrangements for patrons. Each one has a small bud in the center, glistening with some kind of sap. A Ravel with a drooling erection sits on a stool, staring blankly at his food as the seat underneath him pulsates and undulates slowly, a thick vine-like bulge in his belly squirming in sync with the seat.
Not far from the restaurant, you encounter a stall offering all manner of ointments and salves, each designed to counteract the effects of a different parasite or symbiote. None of them, you notice, claim to remove the parasite in question. One ointment boasts the ability to prevent Addleworm-afflicted from wandering to their dooms, but nothing more.
A lonely yet clearly more established store set into floral chambers with a membranous 'door' claims to be a place one can go to be deliberately exposed to parasites, each one offering a unique set of boons and drawbacks. The proprietor, a nurk with something wriggling beneath the surface of her left eyeball, takes great pains to give you her most charming smile. You're left uncertain if the store is isolated due to the goods on offer, or the species of the shopkeep.
A small store near the center claims to sell seeds for plants that will defend one's chambers from intruders. Yet another store offers perfumes guaranteed to attract certain creatures. Another boasts tanks for housing creatures both great and small.
The stores seem to be almost without number, each one more wild and bizarre than the last. The only place that seems to be truly devoid of shops is the space around the center where the plant-like, toothed maw dwells. As you gaze toward it, you can't help but wonder if it mightn't be related to the red stains that mar the edges of the hole.
Picking your way among the shops, you see a lehlt with a painfully swollen belly and bite-marks on every unclothed part of her body. Despite the obvious pregnancy, her mucosal finery has a bizarre sort of appeal to it and you can almost feel the envious eyes upon her as she passes you by.
You find yourself so distracted by the sight of her that you nearly walk directly into a food cart by the name of Slucky's Sloach Shack.
"Careful, ditch fodder."
A fish-like chimera stands wall-eyed within a small and humble food cart. The creature stands nearly motionless whilst waiting for orders to be placed. One of its large, bulbous eyes twitches and gives an audible squelch as it blinks halfway shut, then slowly opens. Other than its slow-blinking eye, the creature stands so still that you find yourself beginning to doubt if it actually spoke to you.
The smells wafting from within don't immediately register as nauseating, suggesting relatively fine cuisine for one of Nodd's street vendors. As the name implies, the menu features mostly sloach-based dishes. Some of them even seem possibly palatable.
Just as you start considering that you may have genuinely imagined the vendor speaking, it suddenly does so again with a swivel of its ocular orbs.
"You want to order somethin' to eat, or are you just keeping me company?"
With nobody else around to be the target of its stoic speech, you approach the cart and take a closer look at what's on offer...
After finishing your perusal of the foods at Slucky's, you take your leave and begin weaving through several streets and alleys. The so-called "streets" seem to have grown (or overgrown) rather than to have been paved or intentionally laid down, with the paths and alleys defined as much by the various plants and flora that dominate the district as by the buildings. It gives a strange illusion of the streets growing in around the buildings after the fact.
Of the insiders you pass you notice several have glistening, bulbous things attached to the backs of their necks, suddenly making their strange gaits and blank stares seem less unusual. One you notice - a lanky chimera of some kind whose head bobs jerkily side to side in a manner that looks nearly broken - is particularly hard to look away from. They drool vaguely as they shamble forwards, clearly just a passenger in their own body.
As you're exploring, you hear the low roll of thunder overhead. The skies above look as dim as ever, almost like a muted facsimile of a stormy day. Before long, you notice that citizens seem to be vanishing from this area.
You notice an establishment by the name of Tender Tuffets. It's a squat structure, squashed between larger buildings. Through the window, you spy what appears to be a nurk feverishly pounding an ottoman.
Regardless of what this place has to offer, it should at least serve as shelter from the rain - or whatever is about to fall from the clouds above.
By the time you conclude your touring of the shelter, and surely considering the ramifications of fortifying your abode with furniture, citizens seem to be filtering back into the streets once again. Whatever strange weather event occurred seems to have passed, but looks to have veritably transformed the streets outside. New growth in the form of bushes, polyps, and fungi seem to have sprouted en masse, filling the district with new life. At several points you are forced to duck beneath or step over large vines that seem to sprawl to and from a variety of structures and plants alike.
The thick haze that lingers in the air within the entire district is not entirely unfamiliar given the foggy nature of many parts of Nodd - save that it's moist and heavier to breathe. You slowly come to realize that you've stopped noticing it - but whether you've simply grown accustomed to it or whether breathing the air itself is starting to affect you somehow, you can't say.
You decide that you should find your way to wherever you're going as swiftly as possible and begin to pick up the pace. It's made more difficult by the countless fronds, vines, shrubs and growths that seem to have emerged from every nook and cranny in response to the 'rain' that passed, but you do your best to make your way purposefully beneath the buzzing atmosphere of the Viviria District.
A bit wobbly in the aftermath of your encounter you stumble back out into the street, leaving a slime trail in your wake. The slow squirming of your new passengers leaves you feeling queasy and uncertain. You don't know what they're doing to you, but from the way the nurk acted, you have your concerns.
In an effort to distract yourself from whatever just happened you gaze around and notice a rather expansive establishment not far off. It appears that the alleyway that your "friend" dwelt in empties out quite close to some noteworthy location.
A series of symbols over the gate resolve from afar despite the distance, filling your thoughts with the knowledge that the vine-coiled walls contain Pundlepox Gardens. No further information makes itself known however, and you make your way towards the entry to the gardens where the perimeter walls nestle up to the sides of the gate. As you approach it becomes even more difficult to tell which parts of the gardens were constructed and which grew or were cultivated into place after the fact. Strange plants, even by the city's standards, loom up beyond the wall ahead.
Thoughts of moving with purpose now left to the wayside, you make your way beneath the arcanogram sign and into the gardens.
As you step back into the streets your gaze turns down the road to the one building you have seen countless times since entering the district. In the distance, the twisted and gnarled shape of an enormous spire towers over everything, its petalled chambers and ichor-coated walls surely visible from every street. Its shadow looms over every creature, its chambers occasionally pulsing as though it were the literal living heart of the district.
Almost every major road seems to lead towards it. You have seen it peering down at you over the top of and from between other buildings. Even when not perceiving it directly you have almost felt it there during your time in the area, constantly aware of its presence. As if it's been calling you. A building with gravity, drawing all inhabitants slowly inwards... Perhaps it's why you've had difficulty making your way through the district. You turn your gaze down the street and simply stare at it for a moment.
The Viviria Citadel.
The Council of Nodd thanks you for indulging in this experience. Please update your ego file accordingly.