Strange Aeons

Collecting Pieces of a Dream

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After dealing with the statues we moved into the graveyard.  Like the rest of the city, it was broken and smelled of rot.  All of us noticed a wamp eating a corpse to our right, but we had no light to show us the deeper parts of the graveyard.  I moved forward to let my eyes search the rest of the darkness; it's good I did – there were 7 more wamps robbing corpses of their repose.  The fighting started when one of the creatures gleefully squealed "FRESH MEAT!" as loud as it could.

Andrea called out to me as she cast a spell and I willingly let her exert her will on me.  I was lifted into the air, dodging hits from the wamps, and the power she used infused me with the some speed allowing me to strike as I landed.  Many wamps died because of her spell, but I wonder if spells like that were the beginning of the end for Mith.  Drago and Shade covered the rear, attacking those closest to our casters.  Then the wamps surrounded Argo, one of them leaving a necrotising bite on his arm.  After a few more hits he went down, and one of the wamps passed by a statue waking it up.  Eventually we destroyed all of our enemies and harvested the feet of a wamp.  Unfortunately, whatever poison or disease the wamp's carried prevented healing, even magic healing, so Yusei could not return Argo to consciousness.  For that reason we decided to wake from the dream.

I was very fortunate in our battles in the dreamland.  Between the extracts Argo gives me and Drago's spells, my defenses are considerable.  Andrea's magic gives me an edge and Yusei's willingness to accept my wounds keeps me among the living.  We have made progress, I think, in our tactics.  I have seen death twice already and do not wish to see it again, but my life has been thrice-blessed by Milani.  I prayed for Argo to receive such a blessing, for insanity seems a harder path to walk than death.  Instead of a steady crawl down a path of blood you find yourself blind in a muddy forest where all things are foe.

He was awake by the time the others woke me up, and since he did not "die" in the dreamland, he emerged unscathed.  Milani be praised.  I did not make a scene expressing my joy, but I hope my companions know I don't go around asking strangers if they are okay.  I only ask when it matters to me.  They matter to me.

The rest of the day went by slowly.  Skywin came to check on us and relieved the crew on land with some of those from the ship.  We had a tasty dinner for the second night in a row, though much more modest than our fight night.  Seeing the amount of effort a cook must put forth to create a tasty meal makes me appreciate Drago's feasting spell that much more.

The next day we planned to visit the dreamland again.  Argo had a new extract for me – heroism, he called it.  'Can magic make a hero?' I wondered.  'Is it made with the blood of a hero?'  I didn't ask because I'm going to drink it either way.  But him giving me that caused the others to use a few of their protections before we entered the dreamland, just in case we are immediately shoved into violence.

At the closing of the ritual, we awoke in an enormous cavern with phosphorescent fungus covering the walls.  The murmurs and chants of 6 stinking ghouls seated in a circle were mere feet from us.  Beyond them about 20 feet the cavern opened up even wider where we saw dozens and dozens of ghouls strapping on armor and weapons.  Among the army was a small group of leathery-skinned ghouls whose faces were mottled colors of green – Leng ghouls.  One of them identified himself as Wilkins when Mith asked to speak with the leader.  Apparently the circle of ghouls was performing an unholy ritual to a dark cult deity named Nyarlathotep or the "Black Pharaoh" for unholy assistance.  Wilkins said he wasn't sure if we were the answer to their prayers, but that time would tell.  

We quickly learned why they were praying for assistance.  A group of creatures known as gugs were inhabiting the ghoul's necropolis, which was a violation of their territory and ancestry.  Wilkins asked for us to clear out an area known as the Plaza of Bones, which he expected to be guarded.  Our reward would be gems of some kind, but we asked for the skull of a member of their royalty.  I could hear whispers in the crowd watching us.  They spoke of someone visiting a hundred years ago who stole the gemmed skull of the ghoul queen – the Count.  When we agreed to the trade, we headed a half mile in the direction of the "long sun"; the army headed to the left in the direction of the low sun.

Eventually we found a cavern and noticed some creatures hiding among the pillars at the entrance.  They were some type of bone snake that could cause paralysis with a bite, or daze you with a dance.  At the back of the pillars there was a bone golem, according to the others, which was immune to most magic.  It threw a part of itself at some of the others, compressing and hurting them.  We destroyed them all.  Around the corner I noticed bones, thousands of bones several feet deep filling a street with buildings on each side and only one small building in the center; it had a short gray wall around it.  I was very quiet, hiding in the shadows and crawling along the wall, but something noticed me.  A huge create with four arms covered in hair, with a split-open mouth for a head.  It scared me, especially when it started to scream, so I retreated to the others and drank that heroism extract.

The gug rushed forward, extended its neck and arms and ripped Drago in half in a matter of seconds.  Milani, save him.  Shade, attempting to avenge his master, met the exact same fate.  Even with the heroism, I was terrified; Drago and Shade are formidable, so I drank an invisibility potion and attempted to move around the corner.  Mith had others plans, as did Andrea.  She lifted him up with the spell she used on me the day before so he could land some impressive hits on the gug and some type of magic that struck true.  Inspired by his strike, I took advantage of his positioning and my invisibility, though it did seem to notice me, and killed it.

We immediately began to search the area, though it was slow going because the bones made it difficult to walk.  I heard Argo call it that he found a door, so I stopped what I was doing and rushed over to him.  It was a good thing I did because the door was unlocked and mundane… but trapped magically.  It was the most complex and well-hidden trap I have seen yet.  The trap would have sent two claws of blue energy out at the person opening the door, draining them of strength and vitality for each finger that made contact.  I asked the others to wait away from me in case I failed and caused it to spring open; I didn't, but it did take time.

During that time the others heard creatures moving outside and saw some movement.  Argo, ignorant of stealth, called out to see "who's there?"  As I was opened the door, having disabled the trap, Mith made his way over to check on me.  Inside the building was a large skeleton of a Leng ghoul in old leathers.  It was holding a large metal rod with a spiked steel ball at the end; it also had 6 buttons running down the length.  It must be magic, but we did not have time to find out.

I took the rod and the creature's skull and headed back to the cavern entrance, where the others were looking very anxious.  Some wanted to remain in the dreamland to see what was stalking us; others, myself included, wanted to leave and check on Drago.  When I pointed out a giant undead cat with fiery blue eyes moving toward us the conversation ended, because I also pointed out that a large ghoul with a distended jaw carying a nocked longbow was hiding in the cat's wake.  Everyone else was a wake before me.

I tried and tried and tried to wake, but I'm not trained like the others.  The creatures were getting closer and closer, close enough to charge… and then I woke.

Yusei checked us all with his magic and surpisingly, Drago seemed okay.  Thank you, Milani.  The blood I shed and the blood I steal are for you, just keep my friends safe.  I do not fear the Rose.

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