The Book of Deeds, Earth dreamers. Tenth Entry
Michael falls asleep in his bed, sure tonight is the night he will True Dream again. But, instead of awaking in Arastia where his Avatar was before. He comes to on a raised dais surrounded by statues of an elder age. He is once more in the dreamer’s hall. Before him The Portal Master smiles, his disarming half smile, but a tightened brow gives away his worry.
Anthony, for many nights has not dreamed the True Dreams of Arastia or elsewhere. Now he begins to think of Arastia as he drifts away. Just as he settles in expecting to awaken there, he is wrenched firmly away. Once more he is in on the Dreamer’s dais before a worried but calm The Portal Master.
Joel, is tired when he falls asleep. He drifts off realizing he feels the True Dream coming on. Just before it does he sees a reflection, a shadow, something not him but connected to him somehow. He hears a disembodied laughter and sees hands that are not his own, or his avatar’s cutting a goblin and laughing as it tries to squirm away only to be held by Orc allies. As the goblin dies a gentler force takes him firmly and pulls him away. When his eyes open he is in the dreamer’s hall. The Portal Master’s eyes are wide, Joel knows that The Portal Master as seen what he has seen.
Nancie, is in much anticipation of a night of the True dream. As the world of her birth slides away from her and she project her fragile conscious into the maddening gulf of the multi-verse she feel a tightening as if someone is playing the thread of her spirit like the cords of badly tuned instrument. Something unfriendly has become aware of her. It turns from some grisly task it has just performed, green blood everywhere. She sees only a laughing face in her mind. A cruel smile and wicked unfriendly eyes mock her. A floating silver dagger appears in her nightmare. She feels it reaching for the connection between her and Earth. It is then that a familiar presence invades. The darkish nightmare is driven back and the dagger evaporates as if it was a reflection in a pond and a strong rock disturbed it. The Portal Master draws her into his fold, she awaken in dreamer’s hall. She is not alone. Others are already there.
Kelsey, falls asleep, deeply. But immediately she senses something is wrong. She feels the expansion into true dreaming but it is wrong, all wrong. The way is usually pure and straight. Like a perfect pitch held for an eternity that she follows through the great void until you reaches the symphony of which her instrument is a part. Now all she feels is a cacophony of tortured sounds. She is just barely able to make out which one represents Arastia. She pulls on that place. Not drawing it to her but her to it. Even a world as dark and fraught with peril as Arastia flared like a beacon to her in previous true dreams. Now there is a cancer upon it. She think perhaps it was always there but it hides itself from her no more. It seeks her. Its corruption fouls the Dreamscape and tendrils of it reach out seeking her. The vision of Arastia fades as she throws yourself this way and that avoiding the grasping tendrils. For the first time she is lost. She can go neither forward nor back. The tendrils become engulfing darkness. All around her now reaching in. There is nothing and she feels her essence fading. Is this how it ends she think, in a place between the places within none to see but whatever hunts her. There is a flare like a star suddenly birthing before her. The darkness is cast away and now she senses only the familiar spirit of the The Portal Master guiding her to his way station in the hall of worlds. She awakens on the Dreamer’s Dais.”
The Portal Master speaks, “My friends and fellow dreamers I am sorry to intrude on your Dream Walk. I know you have much ahead of you to do but it is necessary now to draw you out and warn you of a great danger. Will you take your ease with me in the room of preparation while we discuss this new threat?”
The group nodes and follows.
As he walks he says “The hall of worlds is in time out of time. Nothing will transpire in Arastia or on Earth for that matter while you are here. For now you are safe here. Please come with me and let yourself be appraised of the threat.”
The party arrives at the room of preparation.
The room is different than the last time they saw it. This time there are no piles of equipment nor items of interest from Arastia, merely a warm, crackling fire in the hearth with the hint of sandalwood and pine in the air, familiar and comfortable chairs around the great table and their favorite drinks waiting for them. A few pieces of choice fruit and sweet rolls await to nourish them. Each has a feeling of comfort, safety and warmth. They are with friends and in a peace that they have not felt in some time.
There is a pause as everyone relaxes and then he speaks. If not for the calm extruding from him and the peace of the surroundings they’d be more alarmed.
“You are not the only dreamers from Earth. At least one other has found his way to Arastia. While he is connected to you because of your shared origin he has rejected the fellowship of this hall and your company. I wish that were the worst of it but it is not. Some of us, given access to the Dreamscape see it as a chance to lead lives we have not or cannot in the place of our birth; to take risk we otherwise would not. While this can be liberating it can also be dangerous. While you have thus far chosen to serve the world you visit another must see it and its inhabitants as mere playthings to be toyed with. I have studied your world and much has changed since the last survey. Apparently you have a weave semi-analogous with the Dreamscape . A place between places and in no place at all where the dreams, nightmares and the utterly ordinary compete for attention. In this place as with the Dreamscape the visitors are anonymous, and unknown. Free to express their innermost thoughts and desires. The whole of your psyche is laid bare in this thing you call The Web. And even more so it is with the Dreamscape because the palette of the dreamer is even greater. More can be done for good or ill.”
He takes a drink and looks out at the gathered heroes.
“When you first came here I told you that what you do was your choice for good or ill. And while that is true I would not have opened the way for you had I known you would treat Arastia as some sandbox you could casually kick down and mangle at your pleasure. I sensed you would take seriously the roles you would find yourselves in within Arastia and you have. You have brought hope to a community on the verge of falling forever silent. Though the threat to them remains because of your actions it begins to diminish. Your actions remain yours to take. But because you have chosen fellowship and service I may aid you and can and will do so. ”
He smiles warmly at all and then sighs.
“So that brings me back to the threat itself. He is a creator of Nightmares. He cares not for the beings he toys with nor the damage he does in fact he revels in destruction and in undoing your work. In your world he is little more than poacher, a fisherman who takes your great fishes even though their hunting is proscribed. He would be quite content to take the very last of a kind, to cut short the thread of life not merely for a single animal but for the entire line. Where others would justify this as they weren’t taking the last one or merely trying to make a living and shield themselves from what they are doing. He revels in it and would do it for merely for the sport of it. In the Dreamscape he is far, far worse. He has followed your threads and found himself in a place where he can do as he wishes without consequence to himself. Or so he thinks. He knows about you if not who you are exactly. He thinks he acts on his own behalf but as I am here to guide you carefully there is a counterpart dark and malignant force that recklessly whispers the secrets of the Dreamscape without care for whether he is ready or capable of handling the powers taught to him. What guides him deludes him into thinking it is merely an aspect of the Dreamscape revealing itself to him as a mastership grows. He doesn’t yet know that there are costs for what he does. He is losing himself to it and at some point his essence will suffer for it. ”
He looks pained.
“But it cannot be your task to save him. For his redemption is within himself or not as he chooses. With each step down the path of darkness he is farther from both light and hope. You need to know that he can sense you. He knows when you are in the world. Something within you that need to understand, As true dreamers you use your perception to sense other dreamers and if you truly discern them before you, you can sense their world of origin. When you are in the world you can get a dim sense if other dreamers are in it and if sensed well, whether they are close or far from you. You already know that you have the capabilities of inserting yourself in the place you left as you left it. But there is one more feature I have had to keep from you until now. You can sever the link between Dreamer and Avatar. When facing a dreamer’s Avatar if you render the Avatar unconscious you perceive the link, then you use your will to sever it. The Avatar fades and the Dreamer is sent back and may only return with a different avatar at some future point. If you succeed greatly then the dreamer connection to the Dreamscape itself is severed. Know also he can do this to you and will if given the chance, be wary. ”
His surety fades.
“The greater force that dogs all our efforts is the thing, that deludes the other dreamer. It is what sought you. Even when you saw the dreamer’s face it was the shadow that acted to allow him to see you. It is the shadow that attempted to snare you before you arrived in Arastia. I can shield you from it as you come and go for now. I will guard your comings and goings as long as I am able. I will do my best to answer any questions you have.”
Player: Who is this?
The Portal Master, “I think you already know who he is. He was a Dwarf you ‘rescued’ and he is no such thing as well. I have found his Earth name. He is known there as David Bakanoff. Offshore fisherman, off season hunter and wanted poacher.”
Player: How do we find him?
The Portal Master,”You will find him in the world. Ask those who seem to know him where he is but don’t trust that they will see him for what he is.”
Player: How can he be stopped?
The Portal Master,”Find him. Knock his Avatar unconscious and sever the thread that binds him to his Avatar and if possible to the dreamscape. ”
Player: Is he the only one?
The Portal Master,”From your world he is the only one at this time. But the shadow that works against us may draw others if it is able.”
Player: What do you know about the shadow that works against us?
The Portal Master,”It is a mystery to the Council who it is but we think it is either a fallen Portal Master or the Exharch of a dead or dreaming god. Perhaps it is both. Uncovering it and stopping it will be much harder. You do not yet have the power to face something with the powers of a Portal Master . For now find clues about what or who it is and what it can do. As you grow in power one day perhaps you will be strong enough to face and finally stop it. Let hope and courage guide you more surely than I ever could. ”
Player: How do we get safely into Arastia.
The Portal Master,”Now each time you begin your true dream I will draw you here. From here we will send you safely to your destination, directly from the Dais. It is within my abilities to shield you during this. ”
He asks permission to awaken Darkel from Kelsey.
The Portal Master, “Darkel You have made a pact with a being of the Forgotten Realms. His agents have come calling, their blood and broken forms dot the entryway. There are a dozen dead creatures of various strengths from Imps to Clay Scouts that seek you on its behalf. I have blocked their transgressions but mine is not the only portal hall or connection to Arastia. There are others. Eventually you will be found. Be prepared.”
He turns to face the group.
The Portal Master, “I have not trained you as I should. I thought you would have time to learn gradually the ways of the Dreamscape. But it is obvious now I was mistaken. Let us begin.”
The Portal Master, “Pick up a fork in front of you. Concentrate on the fork and make it a spoon.”
Darkel speaks first after concentrating for a few minutes, “I was unable Master.”
The Portal Master, “In order to change the fork to a spoon you must realize there are infinite worlds and in some you hold a fork and in others a spoon. Use your Dream Weave talent to feel the worlds in which you hold a spoon. And weave the spoon into this one.”
And so the training continued for many hours, until finally they understood. At that time the following handout was given.