Sleeping late on the morning of the 8th September to try to catch up on the broken night, the group finally get going after a snack of freshly butchered wild boar. Regretfully leaving the majority of the carcase to the scavengers, the group retrace their steps, and finally find the lake again, this time completing their treck to arrive at the ruined tower they had spotted from the opposite side of the lake. The area in front of the tower had a number of earthy mounds, some seemingly freshly dug, some older with weeds growing on them, though nobody seemed very keen on investigating them.
With the afternoon mostly gone, the group decided a quick exploration was in order, starting with the tower from which Slarti had seen a glowing light a couple of night earlier. The tower is half-collapsed already, one side of it having fallen away to reveal the remains of a spiral staircase acending to half-a-platform at the top. Deciding the stairway looked too dodgy, Kurell uses a grappling hook to secure an easy ascent on the outside of the tower. As he climbs it becomes apparent that the entire structure is very unstable. Near the top, the stone holding the grappling hook comes loose, and he only just manages to catch hold of the wall itself and cling on as a massive lump of stone falls past him, barely missing him.
Clambering the rest of the way, he find only one thing of interest up there – a lantern. Taking it down, he decends by the remnants of the spiral staircase, nearly coming a cropper, but managing to make it down in one piece.
As Slarti throws stones at the odd rat seen down in a large collapsed pit, the others start to examine the lantern, which seems to pulse and glow. Symbols are noticed on the glass, engraved on the inside – minute magical runes which finally attracts Slarti’s attention and he wanders over to have a look, determining after a few moments that it is some form of abjuration, and possibly summoning type magic. The concensus seems to be that opening the lantern would be dangerous, but – when glow starts flashing in a discernable pattern, Katerina starts to ask questions, suspecting some intelligence behind the flashing (though Kurell seems more interested in keeping the lantern as a free, albeit unreliable, light source!)
Through yes-no type answers, the lantern seems to indicate that it wants to be released and that it means no harm. When Tregarin peers more closely at the runes he finally recognises some words in Celestial written on the inside, and hearing that, Katerina comes to a decision and flips open the lantern’s door. A ball of light bursts out, a Lantern Archon, who explains telapathically to them that it had been tricked into the lantern 100 years ago by an evil spirit that still haunts these woods – a will-o-wisp – the same one that had been giving the party such restless nights. The Archon explains that it had modified the lantern so that it would act as a trap (“who-you-gonna-call?”) to destroy the will-o-wisp, but that it needed the will-o-wisp to manifest first – which it would only do when someone was near death, as it feeds on the emotions of those in dire peril.
Healing the party of all their various injuries, the Lantern Archon bids them farewell, and departs to the Celestial plane, but not before warning them of some other evil that festered in the ruins below the tower.
Deciding to investigate, the party decended into the pit, where an archway into darkness could be seen. Using a light spell cast on Kurell’s shield to see by, the four entered the passage, which after a flight of stairs down, split into three directions. To the left, the group found a partially collapsed room with numerous small bones scattered everywhere. As Slarti approached to investigate the hilt of a magical dagger he’d detected, rats swarmed out of the rubble, scratching and biting as they crawled all over them before they could burn/stomp enough of them to disperse the swarm.
To the right, the group found another partially collapsed room, with a further passage leading off, choked with rubble. A magical aura hinted at something buried in the rubble beyond the blocked doorway, but as Tragarn had a closer look, again, rats swarmed out of the rubble and attacked them for disturbing their lair.
As the rats were finally destroyed, Kurell was surprised by a figure that came out of the darkness, an undead creature slathering as it tried to claw and bite him, though luckily he manages to fend it of and hack it down before it could do any damage. Deciding it was getting late and they didn’t fancy exploring this place any further when it got to night time, the group returned to the surface, gathered the two ponies and headed a half-hour’s walk away from the tower before camping for the night. Katerina takes first watch, and is disturbed by the moaning of what sounds for all the world like a zombie shuffling its way towards the camp. The halfling wakes the elf Tregarin, who casts light on a crossbow bolt for Katerina to illuminate the area. Whatever was making the noise cannot be seen, and Tregarin, assuming the will-o-wisp, returns to his tent. Other noises come and go in the night, disturbing the sleep of all bar Kurell.
In the morning of the 9th September, they have another long lie in to refresh themselves, before returning to the tower…