These tomes were found in the study of Belak the Outcast on the grove level of the Sunless Citadel. Each is bound in rough brown leather and marked with the Common letters “K D” on the spine. Each volume appears to contain roughly one year’s worth of writings by the Outcast about the Gulthias Tree and his research within the Twilight Grove.
The first volume discusses Belak’s arrival at the Citadel, the discovery of the Gulthias Tree, and the beginning of his self-appointed role as guardian of the subterranean grove. It also contains few paragraphs on the lore he uncovered about the Sunless Citadel and one possible theory explaining the existence of the Gulthias Tree:
“According to legend, the so-called ‘Sunless Citadel’ was once a beautiful temple dedicated to Pelor. The cult of Ashardalon – an ancient red dragon that lorded over the region centuries ago – decided to claim the temple as their own. The assault was led by a powerful wizard named Gulthias, and the death they rained down on the defenders of the citadel was terrible indeed. The cult was victorious, defeating the Pelorans and their allies, and they took over the the stronghold, profaning their altars and replacing them with icons of their draconic patron. Years later, with the help of the Nerath Empire, the Pelorans came back and defeated the cultists. Before they could slay the leader, Gulthias finished a ritual that would doom them all. The wizard’s magic opened a great rift in the earth which swallowed the citadel and all those within it.
“Another tale suggests that Gulthias was an immortal, and that his death curse was what brought about the ruin of the tower. My own research suggests that the wizard was in fact a vampire; I believe that he was defeated in combat by the Pelorans and then had a stake driven through his black heart. However, the existence of this blackened tree, that should not have grown in the absence of all light is a mystery. Perhaps the wood of the stake used was yet green or a clipping from Yggdrasil itself – but now I’m letting flights of fantasy take me away. Whatever the case, if my studies are correct the wizard may yet survive in a sort of suspended animation. I am intrigued by this notion and I intend to prove or disprove the apparent fusion of plant and necrotic life forces.”
For the rest of the first tome and the next two volumes, the Outcast refers to finding the tree as a “breakthrough” that the “graybeards at Ossington” would neither understand nor approve of. They also contain many reports about various attempts to use fertilizers and artificial light sources – and the many failures he endured.
These volumes recount the discovery of the luminescent moss, and the positive results of mixing blood with the water and fertilizer. The tree showed new signs of growth – additional branches, and even a kind of leafy growth. The latter part of these tomes discuss the arrival of the goblinoid tribe in the Citadel above and Belak’s initial attempts at diplomacy. He eventually had to result to what he called “goblin diplomacy” – killing the leader and assuming control of the tribe. He swiftly appointed the biggest and dumbest of the hobgoblins – a brute called Durnn – as the acting leader for most of the tribe, and tasked the bugbears and brightest of the goblins with the restoration of the lower levels of the Citadel.
These volumes discuss the fruition of the magical apples – one each on the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, and the experiments with the goblins to discover their effects on living creatures. The Autumn fruit proved to be lethally poisonous in all cases, but the Spring Fruit had a restorative effect. He also discovered that either fruit could be cut into four slices without losing efficacy and neither ever seemed to go bad. He was willing to keep the precious fruit for his own, but when he discovered the sentient twig blights growing from the seeds of the apples, he had a different idea. He would spread the seeds to the surface world and monitor their progress to determine if the twig blights could survive under the sun. He was delighted when the goblins reported the successful germination of the first surface twig blights. He continued the practice of having the goblins sell the Spring Fruit to locals.
This also funded his further research into plant hybrids, an idea he was becoming obsessed with. The writing style became more erratic during these years, and the Outcast referred to the tree as one would a confidante or co-conspirator. The tone of his entries strayed from that of a scholar of the natural world merely curious about the effects of a the supernatural on mundane forms of life to a man prepared to play with lives like a child with toys.
Belak’s descriptions of his numerous experiments became crueler and his references to the Gulthias Tree were that of a servant to a master. In the final volume, if Belak’s writings were to be trusted, it was the tree that had asked him to have the Hucreles brought to the Twilight Grove. The twisted plant abomination had apparently instructed Belak to bring the first of the captives to join with it in supplication. A week later, the young man was released from the undead tree’s embrace physically changed and subservient. It was during the process that Belak reported the theft of the Spring Apple by duergar robbers. He wrote in detail his findings on Azan-gund, the remarkable magical whistle dropped by the fleeing gray dwarves, though he had no notion as to what the transparent metal could be.
Belak’s final entry detailed his excitement about the boon to his research that the supplicants would provide, but his explanation cuts off in mid-sentence.