Journal of August 15th
After Tallman's patrol returns home, he reports back to his Captain, Rohn, and tells him of the chamber. At the same time, work continues on repairing their fort. Finally, the basement of the tower is cleared of the rocks filling it. Netava is one of the workers, and seeing the cleared chamber, he hurries back to Tallman to tell what he sees. Tallman comes himself and is shocked! The chamber beneath the tower is nearly a mirror-image of the Fountain Chamber from their patrol a week ago. Captain Rohn is called, and seeing this decides they must go back to re-examine the chamber. A 15-man troop is put together. Tallman and 4 scouts, including Netava and Seth; Rohn and Andram; and Hirod with 7 soldiers.
They travel a full day by horse, camping only an hour or 2 away. Along the way, a young Haruz herdsman on horse tries to 'count Ku' (a bloodless form of combat), but Seth shoots his horse out from under him.
The next morning the group enters the familiar gorge leading to the cavern and discovers the corpses of soldiers from the other Free Company. They are identified as members of the 'Rams-Head' brigade. But these soldiers' bodies are also withered, as if long dead and desiccated. Their weapons are rusted to the point of crumbling. Finally the cavern entrance is spotted. The Mercenaries are on-guard for Harpies. But the front is a battleground filled with horses, soldiers, and Harpies all dead and withered. Still the troop presses on.
Inside the cavern, the Fountain Chamber is found, but the 'life' is gone. It is dim and looks long-abandoned. Most of the troop moves on to the last chamber. Seth is the last to leave, and stares long into the painting of Meneltarma, in one of the alcoves. At the top of the Beacon-Tower it appears 2 red points of light shine out, as eyes staring back at him. He is enthralled, and his mind drifts as if he is flying. He is coming closer...
This too is lifeless, and Tallman knows that the 'spirit', which appeared as his mentor, is gone. As he gazes on last time into the Geode Chamber, he is pulled through the window. He is stunned by the fall but is able to fend-off his attacker until help comes. Netava's war-axe slays the creature, which is found to be what remained of a soldier, but now a Ghoul. The troop decides to leave, realizing there is nothing else to be done. Tallman has been wounded by the creature and already the wound appears infected. He must be brought back quickly for the Company Physcian. On the way back Seth rejoins them.
The trip back is without incident, but Rohn still has nagging doubts about these Fountain Chambers. Tallman has disappeared with a Brughan Medicine-man before the Company doc can see him. Quiet and unnoticed Seth stares into the fire, the red flames dancing in his eyes.