Issue Seven | 22nd April 2004
by Joe Zottola
Joe says: “This dream occurred after a gaming night in 2001. The dream was so vivid I had to write it up the following morning.”
2371, 13th Trantor
árjai awoke in a cold sweat.
He looked to his right and realized Chitlásha was gone. He looked around the room in an attempt to find her; however she was not within the chamber. árjai put on a kilt and went to the door. He tried opening the door, but it would not open. He looked closer at the door and it appeared that the seam of the door was sealed: the door appeared to be melted into the frame. árjai began to panic. He went to the balcony and looked out over Tummísa. It was mid-morning and the city was deathly deathly quiet.
árjai realized something terrible was wrong.
He looked down from the balcony into the courtyard. It looked to be about twenty-five feet to the ground. árjai attempted to cast an Aireality spell. The spell was weak, almost as if the power needed was being siphoned off.
árjai rose slowly in the air and over the side of the balcony. Halfway down from the balcony, árjai felt the spell running out. He attempted to re-energize but to no avail. He looked below and noticed an awning off to his left. árjai maneuvered towards the awning. Without warning, the spell stopped and árjai fell. Luckily for him he had moved closer to the awning. árjai fell catching the outside edge of the awning. He landed in a heap tangled in the fabric and supports of the awning. When he finally freed himself he looked around the courtyard. There were people in the courtyard but they seemed to take no notice of him. He approached a servant. The servant looked at árjai smiled and kept going. árjai attempted to say something but the servant kept walking.
In the Red Mountain Clanhouse, Arumél awoke from a relaxing sleep. He noticed that Iyéna was already up. He went to the baths and soaked for awhile. Soon, Kagór joined him. Kagór asked, ``Arumél, where are the servants?''
Arumél who had been enjoying the bath now noticed that the usual servants were missing from the baths.
Arumél looked around the room and noticed that other than he and Kagór, it was empty. Arumél also noticed that the atmosphere was almost suffocating. Arumél lay back to think this all through. As he did this he noticed the carving in the ceiling seemed to be getting closer. Arumél suddenly realized that something was coming out of it. He quickly leapt from the bath, grabbing Kagór as he did. Arumél and Kagór exited the bath just as a large reddish thing crashed into the pool. The water boiled turning bright red and then dark brown. In a matter of minutes the bath was empty. The water was gone and on the bottom of the bath was a reddish-brown smudge. Arumél and Kagór were un-nerved by the event that had just occurred. They proceeded back into the main chamber.
Arumél proceeded to put on his armor. Kagór began looking for others of the party. Kagór found Arjutmé sleeping soundly. Kagór reached down to wake him. When he touched Arjutmé he felt his hand passing through what seemed like a thick gooey substance. Kagór moved his hand some more and it seemed as if Arjutmé was covered with the invisible substance. Kagór began removing the substance from Arjutmé. Finally he was able to actually touch him. When he did, Arjutmé awoke slowly. Kagór asked Arjutmé if he was okay. Arjutmé told him that he had been having a wonderful dream concerning Hrü'ü. Kagór told Arjutmé what had happened in the bath and that he should get dressed. Kagór waited, admiring Arjutmé’s form as he slid on his kilt. They proceeded back into the main chamber finding Arumél coming out of Hórsu’s chamber. Arumél informed them that Tára and Hórsu appeared to be encased in a ruby eye. He tried using his ruby eye but it seemed to have no effect.
The trio proceeded into Ba'ísa’s chamber. There they discovered her to be covered by what seemed to be a ruby eye. Arumél tried again to free her using his ruby eye with no visible results. The group discussed what to do next. It was decided to go find árjai.
They went to the door. Kagór discovered that the door was sealed shut. Kagór informed the rest of this. Arumél told Arjutmé and Kagór to stand back and he would try a spell. Just as Arumél was about to do this Kagór reminded Arumél he was wearing steel armor. Arumél did not seem to hear this and continued casting. The door simmered with a feeble red glow and stayed in place. Kagór again tried to open it with no effect. Realizing they were trapped, the group went to the balcony. Once there they discovered Drichánsa also encased in the same material as Hórsu, Tára and Ba'ísa. As Arjutmé looked out from the balcony, he noticed for the first time that the city not its normal noisy self. Arjutmé looked into the courtyard and saw people but no sound was being made.
While Arjutmé surveyed the courtyard Arumél and Kagór looked for a way down. Luckily the interior wall of the clanhouse was built as a terrace with the lower balconies jutting out farther than the ones above. The group slowly made their way down by climbing from balcony to balcony. Soon they found themselves in the courtyard. Numerous attempts were made to speak to the various persons there. But to no result the only response the group received was a smile. Arumél lead the group through the main gate, which strangely was open to the outside. They made their way to the Cloak of Azure Gems clanhouse. As they walked Arjutmé noticed for the first time a low chanting coming from the direction of the governor’s palace. He mentioned this to Arumél and Kagór. The people they passed all seemed passive and no sound emitted from them. Kagór too noticed that all of the people they passed were members of the change temples. Kagór began looking for people wearing stability markings.
When they arrived at the Azure Gems clanhouse they discovered the gates wide open and unattended. Inside they found árjai attempting to get a reaction out of the people there. árjai was busily placing things in front of people. The people would simply walk around the objects and smiling at árjai as they passed. árjai even placed himself in front of a guard, the guard simply walked around him. Arumél approached árjai and said hello. árjai jumped back startled. It had been several hours and had not heard a human voice for some time. Arumél explained to árjai what had transpired at Red Mountain. Arjutmé and Kagór told him what they had discovered. They group discussed what should be done. They decided to find the source of the low chanting sound.
Once again Arumél led the group out of the Azure Gems courtyard. As they exited the chanting became louder. Immediately, Kagór noticed the streets were now deserted. As the group proceeded closer to the governor’s palace they passed the various temples. Suddenly Kagór noticed that the great Stability temples were encased in what appeared to be the same substance as what Ba'ísa, Tára, Hórsu, and Drichánsa where coated with. The Change Temples were undisturbed, yet seemed deserted and looked old. For the first time Arjutmé noticed that Arumél’s armor was glowing, a soft orange color that seemed to cut the air. Arjutmé attempted to go towards the temple of Hnálla.
But as he stepped from behind Arumél, Arjutmé found the air was like thick honey impeding his progress. He stepped back behind Arumél and the air thinned back to normal. Arjutmé asked the party to stop. Arjutmé told the group his findings.
árjai tested the theory by stepping away from Arumél. árjai found he could move about four feet away from Arumél in any direction. Any more than that and the air became thick.
The group resumed their walk towards the palace. As they came within sight of the palace, they noticed for the first time a large black oval hanging over the palace. It was decided they should not enter via the main gate. The group went to the side of the palace. The chanting became more pronounced as they came closer to the walls of the palace. árjai found a servant’s entrance and the group entered. Inside they found the hallways deserted. Everything seemed covered with a fine dust, making things seem old. The followed the passages using the chanting as a guide. As they got closer Arumél’s armor began pulsing orange and red hues. The air seemed to be charged with magic. They reached the central courtyard.
árjai looked out and saw a shocking scene. In the center of the courtyard constructed of black stone was a giant circle with a raised circular dias in the center. He observed that the circle was positioned beneath the black spot in the sky they had noticed earlier. Arumél pointed to the dias.
To árjai’s horror, tied to the dias were Chitlásha, Iyéna along with Oyáka and three other priests árjai assumed they were from the other change temples. Standing over them was a priest in black robes the priest turned to face them. Before árjai could react, Arumél charged the dias. árjai recognized the priest as Mengán, the renegade Ksárul priest who really worked for the One Other. Mengán stood defiantly readying a spell. With the flick of his wrist, a black pulsating orb flew towards the on rushing Arumél. The orb struck Arumél full in the chest. The armor flared brilliant orange almost blinding árjai and company. When they looked again, Arumél was standing back up looking a bit tarnished but still mobile. Arumél continued his advance. As he did so he palmed an Eye and fired it at Mengán. Mengán was engulfed in a bolt of flame which burned brightly as it struck him. Mengán simply made a gesture and the bolt was redirected towards the sky. Arumél continued on. Mengán again flicked his wrist this time. Arumél was encased in what appeared to be a black glossy substance.
árjai realizing this lull would not last. He attempted a spell, casting 'Antechamber of the Blue Room' on Mengán. Once again Mengán was encased. Slowly the blue light of the spell was repulsed and defused. Once again Mengán stood un-harmed. Suddenly there was a loud cracking noise. Kagór looked to the source of the sound. It was coming from where Arumél stood. Kagór yelled get down just in time. Arumél exploded in a blaze of orange light. The black material became flying knives. As Arjutmé lay on the ground he saw a servant cut in half by the flying black substance. As people recovered from the explosion, Arumél with his last bit of energy rushed Mengán. Out of nowhere, Mengán produced a sword. Arumél and Mengán closed to engage each other. árjai noticed for the first time that other than Arjutmé, Kagór and Arumél, Mengán and himself, no one else was moving. This puzzled him; he looked up and noticed that they were within the influence of the black circle which seemed to be slightly larger than the symbol on the ground. árjai stood completely still drawing upon what power he could and focusing it into one spell.
árjai cast the spell. The black circle in the sky simmered and for a brief moment became translucent. This event distracted Mengán allowing Arumél to drive home his sword into Mengán’s chest.
As Arumél stood over the dying form of Mengán, the black circle began to dissipate the black stone circle began to dissolve along with the dias. Kagór, Arjutmé and árjai rushed forward to untie the sacrifices. árjai released Chitlásha who embraced him. He also released the other sacrifices. Iyéna went to Arumél and hugged him. As they celebrated their victory a loud voice resonated through the courtyard: ``Fools, do you think it would be so easy?''
To the horror of the party the black circle reconstituted in the sky. The black stone circle did the same. Those in the middle by the dias found themselves unable to move seemingly frozen in place. Mengán reappeared, the hole from Arumél’s sword slowly closing.
Mengán laughed as he approached he looked at Arumél and told him the circle is now complete and drove a jagged dagger into Arumél’s chest. Arumél became translucent and dissolved. Iyéna was next: she burned a bright flame orange and then became translucent and dissolved. árjai noticed a white haired woman standing behind Mengán, smiling. She seemed to be enjoying the carnage. Slowly Mengán made his way around the circle sacrificing each priest in turn. Finally he reached árjai and Chitlásha. Chitlásha vainly tried to fight but was unable. As the knife entered her chest she raised her hand touching Mengán’s arm. For a moment his arm flared with the blue light of Ksárul, but to no effect. Mengán smiled at Chitlásha twisting the knife as it went in telling her: “This is for your little act of defiance!'”. Finally Mengán came to árjai. árjai tried to fight but found himself unable to. The knife slid in just below his breast. He felt his life energy flowing out of him and he died.
árjai awoke in a cold sweat. His bedding and blanket were soaked through. He immediately looked to his left. To his surprise he found Chitlásha sleeping there. He woke her. He told Chitlásha his dream. She listened to his tale. When he finished she told him he was simply dreaming and perhaps he should not have those sweetmeats before bed anymore. Chitlásha left the room.
árjai looked down at his chest and noticed a faint scar that was slowly fading away. With that he passed out. Later Chitlásha woke him. Strangely he remembered nothing of his dream...