The demonic spider now defeated, the party set to exploring the great cavern floor. There is a sickly green glow at the base of the chamber that lights the cavern and the party can make out that the stone walls are worked and smooth. To the north is a strange sight, a pure-black “hole”, floating just above the ground, with wavering, luminous edges. In addition, a large symbol is carved into the floor on the western side of the cave: a two-tiered, inverted ziggurat, black in colour, with a flaming sun etched above it. Rising from the middle of the cave, a pillar supports the black-and-violet mass of the enormous obelisk on whose surface the characters recently stood. On the other side of the cavern, water spills from above and collects into a pool.
Examining the symbol, Walter is unable to recognise what it represents, and decides that it will require further research to determine its meaning (Rumour: What is the symbol?).
The characters turn their attention to the pillar. Impossible though it seems, the huge obelisk comes to a very narrow point that is balanced atop this 30-foot-high pillar. The pillar has been carved from the rock itself and appears to be quite solid. Iron rungs, mostly free of corrosion, have been hammered into it, allowing anyone to climb to the point where pillar meets obelisk. Intrigued, Sisu climbs the pillar and finds that a the point where the pillar meets the bottom of the obelisk, a unknown purple-coloured gem rest between the two. Sisu tentatively reaches forward to touch the gem and as he does, the rest of the characters see his body grow ridged, even to the point where he no longer breaths.
(Sisu) – Sisu finds himself in a perfectly spherical room of black walls with purple veins. No light is present, but even without darkvision, Sisu finds that he can “see” within the darkness here. Then he finds himself elsewhere:
The catacombs lie quiet and abandoned, clay urns broken and scattered about the floor, the ashes of the dead spilling out from their final resting place. Meryel crouches before you frantically sifting through the ashes of the dead with her bare hands. “Where is it? I know its here somewhere.” She looks back over her shoulder at you, her eyes glazed and bloodshot. “The Moonstone, where did you put the Moonstone?” Then a deep, ominous voice rumbles from the shadows of the catacombs. “You will not find it here. Look to the sky, where the land touches the clouds.” With that the image fades and you find yourself once again perched on the top of the iron rungs beneath the towering obelisk.
Concerned for Sisu’s safety, Halvard climbs the pillar and manages to rip the rogues hand from the gem and they both climb down to the safety of the cavern floor, Sisu visible shaken, as he recounts what he had seen. Intrigued, Walter decides to climb up to the gem, although they take precaution to tie a guide-rope to him, and Sisu climbs with him to hold him secure at the top of the ladder. Walter touches the gem in an attempt to attune to it, but is unable to sense what power is within the gem, realising that he will need to give it a week of contemplation before even attempting the attunement again. As he touches the gem his body freezes, like happened with Sisu.
(Walter) – Walter finds himself in a perfectly spherical room of black walls with purple veins. No light is present, but even without darkvision, Sisu finds that he can “see” within the darkness here. Then he finds himself elsewhere:
The entrance archway into the University of Magarnist towers above you, the buildings of the Conclave of Jalesh’rah’s place of learning dominated by the Tower of Souls at the campus’ centre. You stand, forlornly peering into where you had hope to nurture your talent, but had been rejected so often. And before you, a group of High Mages laugh and point at you. “You were never fit to grace these halls”, one mage states, his words tumbling out with the laughter. “Perhaps you should find the Moonstone? Look to the sky, where the land touches the clouds.” Then the mages face contorts, the flesh burning away to leave only the skull, a crown of gold upon his head and the image fades and you find yourself once again perched on the top of the iron rungs beneath the towering obelisk.
The party discuss what Walter and Sisu saw and are intrigue about finding the “Moonstone where the land touches the clouds” (Rumour: Finding the Moonstone).
The group proceed to examine the stone arch that nestles against the eastern wall of the cavern. The large arched stone doorway has an inner metallic ring. Strange runes decorate the surface of the arch, what appears to be part writing and part pictorial representations of fauna and flora. The lower-right side of the stone arch has a smooth area with a receptacle, about an inch across and three inches deep. Scattered about the floor in front of the archway is a pile of gold coins, a spear, a shield, and a strange crystal which would appear to be the same size as the receptacle in the arch. Intrigue, Sisu slots the crystal into the slot, at which the archway shimmers and a oily film appears, covering the inner section of the archway. As the portal shimmers into life, Walter notices that the stream of energy that linked the black rift with the obelisk seems to dim somewhat, but before he can study this further, four skeletons, shrouded in mist that seeps from their ice-shrouded bones, lower from the obelisk and attack the party.
Defeating the Ice Skeletons, the party finally examine the archway, deciding that it must be a portal, as it is possible to just make out a room beyond. Halvard and Sisu decide to step through and find themselves in a towering, circular chamber, balconies spiralling upwards against the walls, each level filled with bookshelves and writing tables. The room is filled with the sound of a cacophony of whispered voices and as Halvard and Sisu stare at the spectacle, the sound of two talking individuals approach the chamber. Grabbing a book nearby, they step back through the portal and return to the natural cavern, removing the crystal from the archway to close the portal. Discussing what they had seen, Walter realises that the room they described was the Tower of Souls at the centre of the University of Magarnist, in Alstrum.
Deciding not to activate the portal again, the party turn their attention to the black rift. The two-dimensional black hole is about 15’ in diameter, and is relatively immobile. The “hole” appears the same from all vantage points, but from any one direction it appears two-dimensional (flat, face-on). This creates a disquieting effect for beings with depth-perception vision like humanoids. Walter is certain that this is the portal to the Arachnia Demonic Plane, but cannot determine how to close the rift (Quest: Closing the Rift). Tolan decides to experiment and ties a bone to his rope, tossing it into the rift. The rope goes taut and with a struggle Tolan manages to pull it back. The bone and rope are covered in cobwebs.
Deciding they can do little more, the group decide to return to Shadycreek Town with the intention of returning got close the rift at a latter date, once Walter has researched this some more. After three days travel they finally arrive back in the small walled town and escorting Rulias back to her home, they find that the herb was delivered and has cured her father. Alicela informs Halvard that two Northman had come asking about him a couple of days back, the rumour being that a ship from the Skaros Islands somehow managed to make it though the mist to dock at Alstrum (Rumour: Skaros Islanders). Halvard is pleased to see his bear cub is doing well and is encourage to see that it is please to see him.