Note: This story is based in the Sorceress' garden universe of Naga's Den.
The red-haired young man took hold of the rope and repelled his way down the high brick wall. The task did not take much effort, but heat mixed with humidity stained his tight camouflaged t-shirt and jeans with sweat. When he reached the bottom, he peered into the wood in front of him. Convinced no one was around to challenge his intrusion, he waved to the two women who were watching him from the top of the wall. One was a pony-tailed blonde, around the man's age, dressed in an olive tank-top and long khaki shorts; the other was tall and slim, in her middle years, with long flowing black hair, wearing a black shirt and jeans. They slid down the rope to join him.
The older woman addressed the other two. "Ok, let's get in, get what we came for and get out. No dawdling and no heroics. The first sign of trouble we run for it. In and out, understand?"
"Sure thing, doc!" The blonde said with a smile.
The man looked concerned. "You sure we should be doing this, Dr. Taylor?"
The older woman nodded. "Pete, three top organismic biologists say this place has the most exotic fungi yet undiscovered by science."
Pete frowned. "Yeah, and those three top organismic scientists have also disappeared without a trace."
Dr. Taylor shook her head. "It's dangerous work to hunt for rare mushrooms these days. Their work--our work--takes us to places that have become dangerous. You've got rebels in South America, kidnappers in the Central America, hell, drug cartels are growing pot in our own national forests and they won't think twice about murdering you if discover their operation. Whose to say what happened to those scientists and where it happened? We just have to be careful. That's all."
The blonde turned up her nose. "If you're so afraid Pete, you can always wait here. Just don't expect to be named in any of the research from the fungi we collect."
Pete's frown descended into a deep scowl. "I'm not afraid, Anne, I'm just saying burglary is not in my job description of research assistant." Anne was a research assistant too. They both knew Dr. Taylor would only be able to keep one of them at the end of the year. Their competition to be that one was fierce. The tension between them brought a smile to Dr. Taylor's sensual lips. She believed competition insured good research from her assistants, which ultimately redounded to her own reputation. She also took a perverse pleasure from seeing how far her assistants would go to stay in her good favor.
"We're not burglars, we're trespassers." The doctor replied casually. "Come on, let's go. Remember, in and out."
The trio jogged into the forest, finding their way between a dense growth of oaks and laurels, the branches and leaves of which blotted out the sun, preserving the dampness from a recent shower. The group scanned the trees around them for any signs of guards or guardians.
Pete halted abruptly. "Wait!" He barked, holding up his hand to stop the others. "There is someone in that clearing up ahead."
Dr. Taylor peered at Pete's discovery. "There is something there, it looks like a person but it's not moving. Lets take a closer look."
The three crept forward, keeping the figure in view, ready to bolt if it so much as lifted a finger. As they got closer, they could hear the gurgling of falling water.
When they reached the clearing, Dr. Taylor sighed in relief. "It's a fountain statue!" She declared.
The statue they found was a nude woman, curvaceous and busty in the extreme. Her pose had her looking behind her, an expression of surprise fixed on her face, with an arm raised as if something had startled her. A white liquid spurted out of her nipples, falling into a circular pool in which the statue stood.
"A milk fountain?" Pete said surprised.
"The owner of this place has some weird taste in art." Anne added.
"All we know is that the owner is a 'her' and she is so reclusive that no one has ever seen her--or least no one has seen her and lived to tell about it." Dr. Taylor said, putting theatrical emphasis on her last sentence.
"Oh great!" Pete complained, slapping a hand against his forehead in disbelief, a vision of the newspaper headline "Three Scientists Mysteriously Disappear. Foul Play Suspected!" floated through his nervous mind.
"Losing your nerve?" Anne teased.
"No!" Pete growled. "I just like my field research to be a little less strange."
"We're not here to admire the the lawn ornaments, you two" Dr. Taylor told Anne and Pete. "Remember, in and out. Lets go!"
The three moved deeper into the estate, where the woods became even thicker and darker. Mud tried to capture their shoes and drops fell upon them like tears from wet, wind-trembled leaves.
About ten minutes past the statute, something on the ground caught Pete's attention. He sank two his knees and lowered his face close to the muddy earth. "Holy shit!" He cried. "This is a species of mushroom I've never seen before."
Dr. Taylor knelt down beside him, inspecting the find. "You're right!" She exclaimed with excitement. "And look over there, there is a new shroom too!"
Pete and Dr. Taylor set down their packs, removed their tools and set about gathering samples of the strange fungi.
"That's about it." Dr. Taylor said after they had collected their finds. "In and out. Let's get out."
Pete looked around. "Hey, where's Anne?" He asked.
Dr. Taylor shrugged. "Damn, I was so focused on collecting samples, I lost track of her. Look, there are her footprints. She must have gone ahead."
Pete stepped forward but Dr. Taylor grabbed his shirt. "Where are you going?" She demanded.
"To look for her, of course." Pete replied, surprised that she was holding him back. "She may be a total bitch but we can't just leave her here."
"Remember what I said. In and out. If she can't follow instructions, she deserves to get left behind. We can't jeopardize all the samples we've taken by getting caught!"
Pete shrugged off her hand. "Take your samples and go if you want to. I am going to find her and let her know we are leaving."
Dr. Taylor paused. Her instinct was to leave but there was also safety in numbers.
"Okay, have it your way. But we are only going to spend five minutes tops looking for her and then we go. Understood!?"
Pete did not agree but he nodded to shut the doctor up. He was creeped out by the place and also didn't relish being alone here.
Unbeknownst to Pete and Dr. Taylor, Anne had walked ahead but not by accident. Any research on the samples they collected would have to be shared, with 99% of any prestige from the work going to Dr. Taylor as principal investigator. Anne wanted to sneak some samples for her research alone. They would be her ticket to a tenure track position and her own lab.
After shuffling along a short distance, Anne found what she was looking for--a patch of mushrooms unlike any she had never seen in nature. They were about a foot tall with wide and fat caps, each a hue of cartoonish color dappled with white polka-dots. They reminded Anne of an obstacle from a video game she had played as a kid. This fit the bill for the kind of sample she was looking for, in spades!
A light childlike giggle interrupted Anne's excitement. She stood up and looked around pensively, "Who's there!" She hissed.
"It's just a shroomgirl, have no fear. Take a look, right down here." A high pitched voice beckoned to her.
Anne looked down at the mushroom patch. A purple-capped mushroom tilted back to reveal a human face.
"Holy crap!" Anne cried in surprise. She fell on her butt and scrambled backwards.
"I did not mean to give you a fright. You'll find that shroomgirls are quite alright." The mushroom laughed.
Anne regained her composure and crawled toward the mushroom for a closer look, eyes wild with disbelief as they ranged from cap to stem and back to cap again. The face was that of a pretty Asian woman, perhaps about Anne's age. Inexplicably, she had hair, which matched the purple color of her cap, which was tied into a pony tail. The human features continued into a long gorgeous, deep breasted, feminine body. A lack of any arms accented her snaking curves, adding more definition to the already deep sweep down her waist and ascent over the hips, making it a cross between a shroom and a busty Venus de Milo. A thick crevice of cunt ostentatiously added to her femaleness but farther below her waist the body resumed its fungi-like appearance. Legs were molded together forming a long stalk that descended into a ball like vulva. Her "skin" was a blank white dotted with purple polka-dots, the same color as her hair and cap, a hue shared by her nipples as well.
The creature's voice was high-pitched and clear, what you would expect from a cutesy animated anthropomorphic critter.
"What the hell are you!" Anne gasped when her voice finally returned to her.
"I'm a shroomgirl, that is so. Shroomgirls are the best, you know."
Anne shook her head quickly to clear it. "I'm hallucinating! I have to be!" She told herself.
The shroomgirl chuckled, "Oh shroomgirls are very real. Part shroom and part girl, that's the deal."
Anne concluded after enough shaking her had and pinching her skin that she was not dreaming and the shroomgirl was not a figment of her imagination.
"Do you, like, have a name or something?" Anne asked with a stutter.
"I have three names that others call me. Shroomgirl, Harumi or shroomgirl-harumi."
.... There is more of this story ...