As a whole new host of undead poured from The Jade Dancer, Hadjit and Thom took the air again, drunkenly floating about, while Sydney backed across the square, fighting drunkenly for balance. Gorstag charged the door, intending to keep the host at bay with his sheer size.
The group held the door for a few moments, Gorstag cleaving through enemy after enemy in a wild whilrlwind, until the horde also began to pour through a number of broken windows on either side of the entrance, with a large group heading straight for Sydney. As the square began to fill again with shambling, hateful undead, Hadjit brought Thom’s attention to a figure on the rooftop of a nondescript building adjacent to the festhall. A loud shout, thick with Aglarondan accent, cut through the night, followed by the rhythmic jingling of coins, increasing in volume.
“Get them, Nika!”
A rain of crossbow bolts hailed down onto the horde, dropping several roaming zombies with well-placed shots, as Nika the Dancing Bear charged from the darkness into a crowd with a loud roar.
Moments later, the group began to perceive a shifting, wavering, in the boundaries of The Moonsphere. Hadjit wisely descended while Thom remained in the air, despite the pulsing of the magic. As the last of the horde was dealt with, The Moonsphere suddenly shrank down into a bright pinpoint, stretching quickly towards a rooftop on the west side of the court. Thom was cast from its perimeter, falling nearly 60 feet straight onto the flagstone court, where he tumbled relatively harmlessly. The beam of light lasted only a few seconds before disappearing from sight with a bright flash, leaving the group momentarily blind. A maniacal cackle cut through the air as Borovik leapt from his rooftop and approached the others.
After a short discussion, Gorstag, hadjit, and Thom flew up to the rooftop where the beam was pointing, leaving Borovik and Syney on the ground. On the rooftop, Hadjit found a dagger in a jeweled scabbard, which they returned to the ground for inspection.
“We should be gone, before the guards arrive. We will have much explaining to do, and this does not look good on our end. This way.”
Borovik lead the group through a few alleyways, away from shouts as the City Guard and Watchful Order agents arrived at the scene. Minutes later, they were back at the manor. Filo was introduced to Borovik, though he was more interested in Nika. For a long while, he refused to speak of anything but the bear. After much coaxing, he was convinced to summon his favored beast, the celestial bear, to play with Nika so that the rest of them could hold a conversation. Shandri explained that Filo’s medications may be having some adverse, though temporary, effects on his clarity.
As the group finally discussed what had happened with Filo and Borovik, a quiet knock sounded on the front door. Gorstag left the others to investigate.
Outside of the door stood a gnome, dressed in a shining breastplate and carrying a shield bearing the symbol of Selune. He seemed frantic, stuttering and begging Gorstag to let him in to speak in private. After an ocular pat-down, Gorstag allowed Flargan Stumblestep Riverstone IV entrance into the manor.
A short introduction between all of the characters preceded Flargan explaining his story to the group. Due to his specialized divine abilities, he was given the jeweled dagger and a private room to commune with his deity. As the rest of the group prepared to retire, Borovik declined an offer to remain for the night, promising to downplay any rumors of any of their involvement in the night’s events.
The following morning the party nursed harsh hangovers while awaiting Flargan’s revelation. Shortly after lunch, he emerged from the chamber provided to him and gathered the others. Through a small hand-mirror that he produced from a sleeve in his robe, he showed the group a smoky image. Beginning as a bird’s eye view of all of Faerun, the view in the mirror began to descend, gaining in speed as it went. The mirror zoomed down to a mountainous area west of The Evermoors, along the River Surbrin. Beginning to slow in its descent, it eventually came to rest above a dark crag in the snowy, gray mountain rock.
“This is what I was shown. I think that whoever, whatever, this dagger belongs to is connected to this crag somehow. As it stands, we’re leaps and bounds ahead of the Watchful Order on this one; we’ve got the only clue right here! The way I see it, you’ve got two choices: either you be the opportunist heroes and claim this one as a victory for your Fortune Seeker’s Society, or we hand this dagger over to my superiors. Before I decided to come here, I consulted the Lady of Silver. Her response was favorable towards my following you. Whether that’s because I am to help you reclaim The Moonsphere, or because I am to return the dagger is unknown. I am but her servant, though I favor the first option.”
The party reclaimed the dagger and digested the news. The decision was made to leave immediately on Flargan’s intuition. A course was plotted, northeaast on The Long Road to Yartar, passing north through Red Larch, and heading east at Triboar. Gorstag purchased a stagecoach for the party to ride in, and Flargan got their coach hired out to a caravan carrying raw steel directly to the fortified city of Yartar. A fortnight later, Ches 18th, 1378 DR, the caravan arrived in Yartar and Gorstag stabled his horses and stagecoach at Stendever’s Stables for one month.
The group stayed one night at a local inn while Thom gathered information about the nearby mountains. He found an old, grizzled trapper who told him about an old hunting grounds to the north, on the west side of the River Surbin, that was near the mouth of an enormous, dark, icy crag called ‘Ice Canyon’ by the old hunting folk. The hunters never had reason to go very far down into the crag, since there was little wildlife and it was dangerously iced over. The hunting grounds were a treacherous journey, and had become less and less used as more folks never returned from expeditions. He uncovered numerous old legends and wives-tales regarding Ice Canyon, of dragons and ghosts and curses; nothing substantial.
The following morning, the group pulled on their cold-weather gear and set out on magical steeds summoned by Sydney, following the river to the north. After a full day’s ride, they reached the landmark where they had been told to cross the river. Deciding to ride overnight, the group flew over the river in various ways. Gorstag flew the horses over one at a time, and the ride continued. By midnight, the party had reached the mouth of the crag, where the salt bed that they had been following descended sharply into the stone mountainside. Here, they camped for the night, preferring to enter the canyon with the advantage of the sun’s light.
The canyon descended sharply, and soon the stone walls towered overhead. With great difficulty and much slipping and sliding, the party eventually noted a small, black dot on the horizon, blacker than the shadows cast into the canyon by the towering walls. After a full day’s travel into the icy crag, the party decided to rest one more time (inside of a rope trick) rather than approach the tower under moonlight.
The jagged, black tower stood 300 feet above the canyon’s floor (dwarfed by sheer, icy stone cliffs five times as high), wider at its base and narrowing towards the apex. From the rim at the top of the tower thrust a number of jagged stone splinters, like teeth. The walls of the tower appeared to be carved with numerous gargoyles, porticos, ledges, and other baleful textures. A squat stone structure leaned against the tower on its western side.
The party approached the squat hut, expecting to find an entrance. Inside, they found a number of dead animals and humanoids in various stages of decay, along with a strange vine which emitted a magical, sleep-inducing song, which Thom had no trouble countering with his harmonica while the group searched the area for loot and an entrance to the tower. Finding none, they abandoned the hut, but not before destroying the Blightvine.
After making a full circle of the structure, Thom decided to use his magical slippers to help him scale the side of the building. Arriving at what from the ground appeared to be a dark-windowed balcony Thom discovered that it was nothing more than a cleverly-worked carving providing no entrance and very little ledge to stand upon.
Signaling down to the others, he continued his climb to the apex, taking note of the light sprinkle of frozen rain that had begun to blow on the wind. The top of the tower was hollow, a narrow rim opening down into complete darkness. Jagged stone teeth stood from the rim, varying in height from 5-15 ft. Suddenly, a fleshy tentacle flicked from the darkness, wrapping itself around Thom’s neck and pulling him into the darkness.
From the ground, the others watched as he signaled and continued to climb. Near the apex, they lost sight of Thom due to his sheer height. Several moments passed, as the frozen rain began to increase in density.
“I can’t see ‘em, guys. I don’t like when I can’t see ’em,” boomed Gorstag.
“M-Maybe we should, uh, maybe g-go up there?” Flargan asked as he nervously passed his glance around the rest of the party.
“I wonder what’s—” Sydney’s response was cut short as an enormous, other-worldly roar cut through the cold air.
Wide eyes exchanged glances in four directions, and magic was in the air. Sydney cast flight on Gorstag first, while Hadjit summoned his Ebony Fly. Sydney and Flargan were hurtling through the air afterwards, bringing up the rear.
As they rose towards the top of the tower, taking a wide outwards sweep, a huge mass of tentacles erupted from the opening, and the whole thing took on the appearance of some enormous alien sea anemone. The mass of tentacles writhed about, struggling against the tower, until with a sickly pop a huge brain-shaped mass emerged from the opening. The creature had huge bat wings and glowing white eyes. A beak could be seen from beneath the creature’s writhing mass of tentacles as it whirled around in the air to face the party amidst the now-stinging sleet.
Gorstag and Hadjit charged the creature, and were met head-on by the Mooncalf‘s grasping tentacles. Hadjit was pulled almost immediately from the back of his fly, and Gorstag received a nasty bite from the creature’s beak. Still entangled within its mass of sticky tendrils, the two heroes brought the fight directly to the beast, attacking it for all that they were worth.
Soon after, Sydney and Flargan ascended to the height of the battle.
“Wh-what do I do? Wh-where is T-Thom?” Flargan spouted.
“The best you can!” Sydney shouted over the roar of the now-hailstorm as she let rip a crackling lightning bolt, which cut through the darkness of the crag and left the beast sizzling. In the flash of bright light, she saw Hadjit and his Ebony Fly already wheeling around for another attack.
“Hey now, watch all that crazy stuff! And where the hell is Thom?” Gorstag screamed, having barely escaped the creature’s grasp moments before.
The grappling battle continued as huge bolts of lightning began to rain down on the party in the midst of the hailstorm. Through the heat of the battle, Thom was nowhere to be seen. Suddenly, after a burst of divine energy from Flargan, the moonfalf’s brain-like form began to deflate. Its wings and tentacles froze in place and it began to fall, bouncing off of the edge of the tower and down into the depths. For a moment, there was celebration, until Flarghan’s tiny voice cut through the noise of the thunder and wind.
“I-it’s not d-dead! M-man, I-I n-nev-never tho-thought t-that would w-work! I-it’s no-not d-dead, j-just KILL IT, g-go d-down, go down!!!”
Somehow, the others deciphered the meaning of his excited stutter and descended into the tower quickly. The mooncalf had fallen onto a stone surface some 80 feet below the opening, and was still frozen and deflated. The decaying corpse of a large black dragon lay against a wall, and the light from their spells reflected back at them like glitter from the stone floor. Gorstag and Hadjit descended on the beast, hacking away, as it regained consciousness and began to grasp at them furiously.
Sydney and Flargan descended behind them, Sydney excitedly pointing out Thom cornered against the tower wall by some sort of undead creature. The two landed nearby, Flargan attempting to turn the creature and Sydney blasting it down with magical energy.
Weakened to futility by the loss of aerial superiority, the Mooncalf was quickly dispatched. As the creature died, a booming, telepathic voice roared “Though I have failed to ward the door, Gulthias known that you have come, and has prepared his revenge! Let the world weep at his return!”
Thom appeared to be weakened significantly. He had escaped from the Mooncalf’s grip, only to featherfall to the rooftop below and land next to a group of wights. Before they had noticed him, the undead below seemed to be digging through the treasure on the rooftop, as if looking for something. When he’d landed, he quickly quickly dispatched two weaker creatures before being nearly overtaken by a more powerful one.
The cavernous rooftop was then silent. A quick search of the area found various treasures and a large hole in the stone roof, seeming to have been melted through by intense heat or acid.
Among the treasure was a bone plaque, apparently ripped from some sarcophagus or mausoleum door. Inscribed, in draconic, were the words, “The Vow: With my brothers and sisters, I abide the centuries, until such time as Gulthias awakens the relic at the core, and we rise together into unlife.”
Complete darkness and silence awaited them in the tower levels below.