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Folklore of the Eighth: The Secret History of Trapdoors. (By Johan Janssen)

I've heard the tales of the dungeons that lie beneath the ground of our wonderful land. Tales of destruction, danger, and death are in every sentence. Many a cleaner has come to me and told tales of trapdoors, elements that can create havoc if not dealt with properly. Many mysteries lie behind the workings of the trapdoor, but I have learned their secrets.

If you really want to know what a trapdoor is, ask any Tar Technician, Mud Coordinator, or any other unknown mineral substance managers. Trapdoors are the native stock from which all these creatures were grown.

Their native life cycle is as follows: A trap spore attaches to the wall above a pit for proper ventilation, and expands its thin, sticky threads to connect to another neighboring support, which may be a wall or an adult trapdoor. Across this webbing of threads, a sticky goo forms, spreads, and hardens. This is an adult trapdoor. Contact with the acidic roach blood on a delver's boots triggers the next phase of their life-cycle. In this phase, the adult body drops away, leaving a deposit of spores attached to the sticky threads that will form the next generation. This is why trapdoors have returned to a room whenever an exterminator reenters it. If, however, an exterminator (and, if rumors tell me right, doubles of an exterminator) dies while on the trapdoor, the adult has a good meal, a good laugh, and life goes on.

But now you ask me, "What does this have to do with rumors of sticky mineral life below? Well, the Empire discovered a mutant form of trapdoor that failed to produce sticky threads. Because of this it formed a strange gloppy goo on the edges of pits that never really expanded much, and tended to drop off at random intervals. It couldn't release its spores, couldn't spread over pits, and generally seemed doomed to extinction.

Through careful breeding in controlled environments using artificial roach blood and captive exterminators, the Empire developed several strains of threadless trapdoor that didn't need ventilation from below and so could live on flat surfaces, like floors and normal trapdoors. These mutant trapdoors were unable to reproduce by themselves (due to a lack of sticky thread production), but instead clumped together to form large masses of hardened, sticky goo. These sticky masses had different properties depending on which strain they were from, but became known generally as "Tarstuff", of which "Tar" and "Mud" are the most well-known. Further breeding experiments crossed these new Tarstuff strains with Evil Eyes and normal trap spores to create a new, sentient, mutant trapdoor. It could sit within a mass of the same Tarstuff strain, spread sticky threads over the entire mass, and when it detected an intruder, cause the spores on the end of the threads to grow, and expand of the entire mass of tarstuff. Such mutant trapdoors are called "Tarstuff Mothers", again with the most well-known of these being the "Tar and Mud Mothers".

While this explains a lot in the lands below, even the group in charge of these substances, known secretly as the Tarstuff Management, does not understand the function of the Red Door (a door that opens when all trapdoors in a room are removed). They did, however, copy the technology so it would work with their mutant breeds of trapdoors. Their version is known as the Black Door, which is therefore also a Black Box. Tar Technicians speculate that these doors were created by a mysterious race lost in the depths of time, while Mud Coordinators continue to hypothesize that Tar Technicians smell funny.