Dark Sun: The Scorched World of Athas

Nightmares Unleashed

Prologue
Elleandra and Paelias had been travelling together near the villages of Dempsy for some time searching for clues as to the nature of the recent changes that had been occurring in the Lands Within the Wind. In hopes of finding answers, they had visited a mage Bartleby who had sometimes instructed Elleandra in the arcane arts. Although Bartleby had no immediate answers, he asked for the pair’s help in locating an apprentice of his and promised to help research their concerns. The two agreed and went in search of Redra who Bartleby thought might be heading to an old graveyard near the towns…

Kelvor awoke to find himself in a strange and terrifying land. The familiar desert had been replace with tall trees and the hot wind that normally accompanied the morning was replaced with a cooling breeze of evening. He had heard of the forests and even witnessed some from afar. The shock of finding himself in one was an experience he was all together unprepared for. Unsure if the hyper-realistic land he appeared to be in was a dream or real, he pinched himself until it hurt. He decided that it was real, but how he was transported here remained a mystery.

Far off in the distance a flashing of blue light caught his attention. Having no other course of action he hugged his clothes tight for warmth, and journeyed down a small path towards the lights. Along the way he encountered two strangely dressed individuals – a unearthly beautiful woman and a short elf. Both were adorned with items of metal, the likes of which Kelvor had only heard of. The two found him equally strange with his carapace shield and armor and bone weapons.

His fears calmed by the beautiful woman and charismatic man, the three quickly realized that Kelvor had somehow traveled from Athas to the Lands Within the Wind. Although none of them could explain how he got there, they though that Bartleby might be able to help, once Redra was found. The three headed out…

Skitters in the Dark
The trio came to a bank of a gully with a wide river at its bottom. The sides of the gully were steep and thickly overgrown with thorny brush. They exact depth of the gully was difficult to tell in the darkness. A single log bridge provided the only obvious method to reach the other side, but it was far more treacherous than it originally appeared. Paelias was able to cross by using the Way and Elleandra was able to navigate the log with carefully placed footing. Kelvor, who had never encountered such a natural obstacle, fell, and only barely managed to prevent himself from being injured.

With the party split, a half-dozen of large spiders and several swarms of small spiders emerged from the brush below the bank with loud clicking and chittering. Paelias suffered the worst of the spiders attacks, as their bites carried a poison he appeared to be especially susceptible to. His mastery of the Way allowed him to remain fighting and bolstered his new allies. Elleandra used her magic to great effect to stun and push the spiders while also effectively dealing with the small swarms. Kelvor was able to maneuver across the log and join his new allies, making several deadly strikes against the largest of the spiders.

The Crazed Woman and the Dream Portal
After tending to their wounds, the group moved on and the forest opened up to reveal a small graveyard. Around three dozen grave markers of stone and wood dotted the clearing. The scene was lit by the ghostly blue glow Kelvor had seen earlier. The light came from a blue miasma of magical energy swirling above one of the wooden markers. A hazy alien landscape could be dimly seen within the pulsing glow. A young, human woman lay on the the ground near the swirling light, covered in blood. As the group approached, her head tilted toward them, her eyes open wide. Cackling loudly, she spoke with labored breath “Not…dead”.

Paelias moved to aid the woman and tend to her wounds. His healing skill was enough to slow the flow of blood, but it took his skill in the Way to allow the wounds to begin to close. Kelvor examined the scene in the portal, hopeful that it might be his homeland, but it was a nightmarish gray land. Elleandra could not close the portal with her arcane skill, but she did determine that something had recently entered these land through it but had moved on.

The trio began to try and calm the woman, Redra, who was clearly traumatized by her wounds and whatever events had befallen her. Although they were able to calm her suspicions she still babbled answers to their questions and it took some time to deduce what had happened in the graveyard.

Mother’s dead. I saw. Now it’s mine. All mine!

Sleep, die, sleep, die, sleep, die, sleep, die! Two thousand and five hundred nights! Don’t let me die again!

The nightmare is real! It was never only a dream!

The nightmare is here! Red eyes and red death! Red eyes and red blade!

Not alone, Death is not alone! It has friends. Not friends… fiends! They killed mother!

The group pieced together that some nightmare creature had been released by Redra and was now likely moving towards the towns. Hoping that Redra would be safe and nothing else would come through the portal, the group moved on towards the nearest group of homes, hoping they weren’t too late to stop the nightmare creature.

Redra’s Nightmare
Redra's NightmareThey arrived at a small village consisting of small two-story wooden homes. Two fenced areas, one a garden, the other likely a corral, stood next to small, sparsely-decorated houses. What might have been an otherwise idyllic hometown was marred by blood-curdling screams of fear as several villagers fled the scene. Ahead, of the group a pair of humanoids bearing daggers and other weapons were moving through the town, apparently unaware of the trio’s arrival.

A great bellow came from the far side of one of the houses. A deep voice echoed “Flee, little ones, or be the next morsel on my table.” The trio rushed into the middle of the houses, hoping to draw the attention of the attackers. They were successful and Redra’s Nightmare charged into their midst, while the other two creatures moved forward cutting down a villager along the way.

Paelias used his skill in the Way to daze the Nightmare and Elleandra used her magic to immobilize the other creatures. Kelvor attempted to draw the attention of the Nightmare and have it focus on him. The creature kept attacking Kelvor and Paelias, who suffered the worst of his wrath. The group was able to defeat the Nightmare and its allies and prevent more death in the villages.

Epilogue
Paelias, Elleandra and Kelvor backtracked to find Redra still in the graveyard and still alive. They escorted her back to Bartleby and as she became less panicked, they learned more of what had transpired before. Redra’s mother had a nightmare every night for many years and eventually she had succumb to the nightmare and withered away from the fear and paranoia. One night Redra’s mother sprang from her bed and rand screaming into the night. When Redra found her she was being torn to pieces by large spiders, just as her dream her had prophesied.

That same night Redra had her mother’s dream, down to every exact detail. Hoping to avoid her mother’s fate, she sought out Bartleby and learned of magic over the next seven years. Redra discovered a ritual in Bartleby’s library and she decided to end her nightmare. She traveled to her mother’s grave and cast the ritual opening a portal to the dream world and call forth the nightmare and destroy it. Sadly she was not powerful enough and was overwhelmed.

Paelias and Elleandra were determined to investigate this and other strange occurrences in their land, fearful that it is a sign of something larger happening. Bridging the gap between Athas and the Lands Within the Winds was not difficult for Bartleby and after a strange, but good, meal, Kelvor was returned.

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EvanMoreau

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