Rhaan 27, 1027 YK
The party arrives in the hamlet of Carbuncle, deep in the Shadow Marches. In pursuit of information about the missing House Tharashk mercenaries, they question various people. They learn that Carbuncle is full of devout Lharvionists, and that there is a tower that appears as if from nowhere for a three-day period when Lharvion is full. The tower’s appearance coincides with strange mutations in the people of the hamlet, which they consider to be a blessing.
A wizard of the Twelve, Grammond the Mauve, is in the hamlet seeking an item from inside the Moon Spire, which is going to manifest in the next three days. A diviner by specialty, he offers to track down the missing mercenaries for the party if the find the item, called the Oracular. They agree, and spend the night in a guest house.
Rhaan 28, 1027 YK
The next day, their horses are dead, and one of Galorax’s henchmen is missing. They investigate this and discover the henchmen dead as well, and attribute these strange happenings to the appearance of the tower in insubstantial form the night before. They await nightfall, when the tower appears in the moonlight, and enter.
They traverse the odd interior of the tower, where each “level” appears to be its own dimensional space. After making their way through the various dangers, many of which suggest the tower is fey in origin, they make it to the final chamber, where the Oracular is kept. They contemplate destroying it, but decide to take it back to Grammond as agreed. Using an enchantment on the cradle which held the Oracular, the party teleports out of the tower and returns the Oracular to Grammond, who in turn tells them that he can trace the mercenaries no farther than the town of Yrlag to the north.
Rhaan 27, 1027 YK
After two days of traveling, the party arrives at the destination given to them by Doria Veledaar: the hamlet of Carbuncle. Like Blackroot, Carbuncle is not accessible by any roads, so the party has been journeying through swampy wilderness again, and is running low on supplies by the time they arrive in the village.
Carbuncle is a tiny hamlet, even smaller than Blackroot. It is based around the Stump, the appropriately-named public house carved out of a giant blackwood stump in the middle of the settlement. Homes are shabby, and the hamlet is surrounded by paddies for a mile in all directions. The most notable feature of Carbuncle is its people: every single person here has some sort of oddity or mutation, which the locals believe are blessings of some sort.
Shortly after they arrive in Carbuncle, the party goes to the Stump for information on the missing House Tharashk mercenary band. Here, they meet Martin, reeve of Carbuncle, and three other potential contacts. One is a wizard, by the name of Grammond the Mauve, who is brusque in his conversation with the party and seems reluctant to reveal much information. Another is Crushal Verd, a burly man who is said to be the best hunter in Carbuncle, who seems abrasive but is actually quite willing to converse with the party. The last is a dwarf named Bharmun Londurak, who claims he has come here following Lavrenti, the Shining Blade who leads the Hammer of St Derli.
Martin, the reeve, reveals to the party that he assumed his position after wandering into the hamlet more than two decades ago. While he cannot remember how he got there, he explains that he knew it was his duty to spread the faith of Lharvionism to the people of Carbuncle. To his surprise, he learned that the village appeared to be blessed by the moon; when Lharvion Prime is full (which occurs once every four months or so), there is a three-day span in which a ghostly tower appears in the Bitter Heath, the field of weeds and brambles just north of the town. When the tower appears, he says, it bestows “blessings” on some of the people of Carbuncle, which explains the physical oddities and mutations the party noticed on entry. Martin tells the party that they are fortunate — Lharvion Prime has been full for three days, which means that the tower is about to appear again.
When the party speaks with Crushal Verd, they learn that not everyone is as excited about the appearance of the Moon Spire as Martin is. The tower itself had little influence until the arrival of a man calling himself the “Second Prophet of the Moon” came through a few years back, at which point its power appears to have multiplied. Crushal claims to have felt particularly negative effects from the tower’s influence, although there are no abnormalities visible on him. When asked about the Tharashk mercenaries, he claims to recall seeing them on the outside of Carbuncle, but not entering, informing the party that they went northwest. He then leaves the party to go on a hunt before the tower reappears in the evening.
Bharmun, the dwarf belonging to the Hammer of St. Derli, is not a native of the town and does not share the insights of Martin or Crushal. He tells the party that he came here with a man named Lavrenti, who leads the Hammer. Lavrenti led a small number of crusaders, including a pair of the legendary steel-skinned Endless Wardens, to investigate some matter. Bharmun is not willing to divulge many details, but notes that the area has an association with some sort of “ancient evil.” He offers to introduce the party to Lavrenti when he returns, but the party declines.
After speaking to the others, and learning little about the whereabouts of missing Tharashk mercenaries, the party meets with Grammond the Mauve. Though he brushed them off on their introductions, he has been listening to their inquiries with the others in the Stump, and is willing to make them an offer. He doesn’t know anything about the mercenaries either, but he claims to be a very capable diviner. A mage of the Twelve, he has come to Carbuncle for the appearance of Moon’s Spire seeking an artifact rumoured to be within: an ancient relic called the Oracular. If the party retrieves this for him, he says, he will find where they have gone. The adventurers tell him that they will consider his offer.
They speak with Martin once again, who invites them to stay overnight in an empty shack on the edge of Carbuncle, which is normally left open for any visitors coming through. The party debates among themselves as to whether they should stay and glean information from Grammond, or follow Crushal Verd’s vague lead. Ultimately, they decide to stay.
Galorax hitches his horses outside of the shack, and leaves his bodyguard Trex to keep an eye on things. The others prepare to bunk down in the shack. A celebration begins outside on the top of the Stump, but the party declines joining it, and instead rests for the night.
Rhaan 28, 1027 YK
The next morning, Trex is nowhere to be found. The horses he was assigned to guard lie dead, appearing to have been mauled to death by some vicious beast.
While examining the carnage, the party meets again with Crushal Verd, to whom they sell the dead horses for meat. Galorax and Reardon then follow tracks to locate the missing Trex, and are led to the north edge of town. Here they find the Bitter Heath, the field mentioned by Martin and Crushal previously, where the Moon Spire allegedly manifests. A body is seen among the weeds, possibly belonging to Trex. Reardon decides to venture in, and finds that, in the field, outside sound is muted and focusing is more difficult. He decides to withdraw before going much further in.
The adventurers meet again with Grammond, who tells them to wait until evening and look for an opening at the base of Moon’s Spire. He admits to not knowing precisely what the Oracular is, nor what it looks like, but he believes it will be at the very top of the tower and that they will know it when they see it.
They wait as instructed, and in the night the tower manifests in the Bitter Heath as promised. The tower is a thin spire of opalescent stone, standing roughly 120 feet tall. With the full disk of Lharvion staring down at them like a watchful eye, they enter the Bitter Heath, noting that humanoid shadows appear to be flickering at the edge of their vision, and seem to be moving closer to where they walk. They move quicker and find a shadowy portal at the base of the tower. After a moment’s consideration, they step inside.
In the first chamber, blue light shines from a hole in the ceiling. A staircase, fragile-looking, winds around the room, ending at the source of the blue light; a portal, resembling water suspended above. They ascend the staircase and pass through the portal.
The next chamber has no portal corresponding to the one they entered through. Here, a pillar of blue fire occupies the center of the room, spanning floor to ceiling and giving off no heat. Another staircase, similar to that of the last chamber, climbs up to another portal at the top of the chamber. As they climb, Galorax cautiously touches the blue fire, and vanishes as a result. There is no indication of pain or damage to the goblin — it appears that he was just transported elsewhere. His henchman Drex follows out of obligation, but the others decide not to risk doing the same, and climb up to the portal.
The ones passing through the portal — Duine, Peril, Samson and Reardon — arrive in a level where soft earth covers all surfaces, and fungi of all kinds sprout everywhere. At the center of the room is a huge mushroom with a red cap. A hulking creature, looking like a mushroom itself but somewhat humanoid in configuration, hunches down behind the giant mushroom, worshiping it like a god. It occasionally rises and moves before worshiping again, describing a circle around the mushroom. In an attempt at diplomacy, Duine approaches the creature, with quickly rises, picks him up, and hurls him across the room. It then breaks into a frenzny, attacking the party.
Samson keeps his distance during the fighting, and chooses to investigate a larger mound of dirt nearby. The mound covers the remains of a humanoid creature of some sort, but when he attempts to inspect it more closely, the fungi around it come alive, revealing a swarm of small but vicious mites that leap onto him and begin trying to consume him. The party now fights the fungal hulk and the tiny mites, and after some amount of time and not-insignificant injury, they clear the chamber of enemies. Once this is done, they examine the mound again, finding a long-dead creature resembling an elf. Its rotten leather pouch contains 3 silver coins, as well as 2 potions of healing and what appears to be a gold and silver mapping compass. They distribute these items amongst themselves, with Duine taking the compass.
In a different chamber of the tower, Galorax and Drex arrive in a room where a sphere of hot blue plasma hangs in the air. A glowing green portal occupies a section of the wall, and there are six oddly-shaped glass panels set within bronze frames spread out around the room. Drex is sent out to probe the glass panels to be sure moving them is not dangerous, and they experiment with them for a time before trying to move one of the panels between the plasma and the portal. Doing so changes the colour of the portal, at which point both of them decide to pass through.
They then find themselves in a room where a ring of white curtains hangs from the ceiling, heavily obscuring the center of the room. Drex is ordered to peek behind the curtains, where there appears to be two statues of nude elf-like humanoids: one male and one female, their hands extended towards each other. The two goblins enter into the center of the room, where one of the statue comes alive, transforming into a horrid creature. They manage to slay it, leaving its body on the ground. They quickly work out the secret of the room, and take the male elf statue’s hand. Galorax arrives alone in a room with a black stone obelisk standing at the center, and a floor strewn with round, glossy black stones.
Back in the Fungi Garden, the others have been resting to recover after their last battle, and after a set amount of time, they all vanish out of the room, carried elsewhere to seemingly random locations in the tower. Samson joins Galorax in the room with the obelisk, Laxus finds himself in the Room of Whispers (holding the torn-down curtain, deceased monster corpse, and elf statue), Reardon finds himself in an frigid and shadowy room, and Duine and Peril are returned to the Fungi Garden.
From here, the distorted flow of time in the tower and the tendency for the various chambers to lead to other chambers at random lead to events becoming somewhat disjointed. Much time is spent just moving through empty rooms and trying to regroup after random teleportations. Notable happenings during this phase include:
- Peril and Duine discover eating the mushroom in the Fungi Garden forces teleportation, rather than having to wait a set duration.
- Galorax is nearly eaten alive by scarabs which spring to life when the obelisk is approached, but is saved by Drex who rejoins with him after being missing for a time. Both survive, but sustain injuries.
- Conlon and Peril are nearly killed by ravenous shadows in the Gloom Chamber before escaping.
- The party manages to discover a way out of the Dreaming Chamber, where all entering are put to sleep by some sort of incense. A secret door leads to a tall chamber full of doors, leading elsewhere in the tower.
- Multiple run-ins with the “Guardian of the Tower” in a room with pink and orange waterfalls.
After what seems like a very long time, and a great many ordeals, the entire party groups up in the “Cluter Room,” where furniture is stacked high around a wardrobe. The room is accessible only from the Gallery of Doors, and here they find a trapdoor to the Guardian chamber. The handle of the wardrobe holds a magic pendant that enhances the senses, taken and worn by Peril. The party feels this is their destination, but in unsure of what to do; the only door here (other than the trapdoor) belongs to the wardrobe, which is empty. As a last-ditch effort, Galorax climbs inside and closes the door, revealing another door on the other side. He relays this to the party, and they climb in one side and out the other, one-by-one.
They find themselves in a room with a bronze tripod, on which there is a glowing glass orb that fills the area with light. There are images of stars and planets being projected onto the walls and ceiling. The orb is cool to touch, but contains some sort of fiery substance. They experiment with it, lifting it off the tripod, which extinguishes the light and reveals another staircase. They climb this staircase, and find themselves in a level that houses a glowing sphere of crystal, three feet in diameter and filled with whisps of blue smoke. The sphere sits on a bronze cradle with five legs.
Before touching the item, they closely inspect the cradle, where there is inscribed what appears to be an incantation of a teleportation spell of some sort. Samson works to decipher the action of the cradle, and decides he can carry up to six of them out by using its power, only once. They take the orb from the cradle, which shrinks to a manageable size, and the tower begins to grow unstable. Samson uses the cradle, taking the party out but leaving Drex behind.
Dragging themselves back to Carbuncle, the party delivers the Oracular to Grammond the Mauve. In exchange, he gives them a minor magical item — a magic monocle, given to Galorax — and he then uses the orb to divine the last traceable location of the Tharashk mercenaries: the town of Yrlag, to the north. From there, he says, he cannot follow where they went. The party decides to rest and set out for Yrlag the next day.