Prologue, Part Two
Now, we return to the present. Please read the description of your character's nightmare before you continue with the remainder of the prologue.
Spoiler: Roland Nauta's Nightmare
As you crawl onto the black sands of the shore, you are gasping for air and violently coughing up the bitter algea you swallowed when your head went under the water. A fiery sting is set all round your body as the wounds you took from the many rocks of the shore are filling with salt. You plan on just lying there on the black sand to rest, but then you something in the corner of your eye. You hastily lurch up and draw out your revolver as soon as you notice the four shadowy figures moving towards you.
At first you can’t identify any details about them due to a complete lack of light caused by the malevolent clouds that smother the light of the stars. But then lightning flashes, and you can see the troop of soldiers in all of their hideous detail. Slippery teal scales which shine in the moonlight are their replacement for skin. But you far more notice the distended and fishlike eyes and writhing gill slits cut into their neck, both of which are torturously bulging. At noticing you gasp, they respond with a kind of howling croak unlike any you have heard before. Eventually you muster the bravery to point your revolver and fire, only to realize too late that it is rendered useless after being clogged with water. Then, in an act of foolish bravery brought on by adrenaline and a need for immediate action, you rush towards the leading legionnaire, planning to use your revolver as a club.
In a moment you feel a terrible piercing pain as a trident from out of the dark, presumably held in one of the monster’s webbed paws, drives into your abdomen. In less than a second the others follow suit, as the last thing you feel before fading to black is something like a migraine as one of the otherworldly polearms goes into your skull
Spoiler: Ulysses Lomax's Nightmare
As you trudge through the sweltering and swarmed jungle, you must use your scimitar to cut past all of the cumbersome vegetation in your path. You have finally gotten used to the rhythm of the constant slashing and marching. It has taken you a while, but you find that the conditions are not so bad when they are so constant and predictable.
That is part of why you are so shocked when you cut through a vine and hear a horrendous shriek coming from. It doesn’t sound like anything you have heard of before, but the closest thing you could think off being similar is if a bear cub where to roar inside of a giant turtle’s shell. Then the vines around you seizure maddly and seem to almost crawl past you, to a destination you cannot yet see. You start looking all around you for the creature you may have injured, but can only see the vines slithering and brushing past your legs like snakes.
Without warning, you feel your throat being compressed with a violent force. The scream sounds off again, but this time it is directly in front of your face, almost deafening you. You slash wild in front of you at your attacker, doing so without aim because you can only hear and not see where they are , only to find it making contact with vines to the sides off you instead of hitting your assailant… But suddenly you come to the realization that this cannot be what is actually occuring. Your sword swipes are hitting at the person choking you: and the person is constructed entirely of vines.
The screaming continues, but it now almost sounds like if you where hearing it with your head underwater. You continue to slash fruitlessly at it, but only after a few seconds you find that you cannot move your arm forward again. The vines are wrapped against your arms. As your senses numb due to asphyxiation, every stimulus seems to become less real as your mind and soul falls into oblivion…
Spoiler: Madeiline Sonderholme's Nightmare
You step quietly towards the watering hole with your bow drawn out, and carefully survey the area. The tracks you saw looked like that of a landfowl, and they where leading directly towards this area. Your examination proves to be fruitful, because you can see a group of about seven animals, fairly reminiscent of chickens, bathing in the water. What sets them apart from the average chicken though is the fact that their feathers were red with orange strips, and they seem to be holding their feathers outwards in front of them rather than folding them against their sides.
You load an arrow into your bow, and ready to launch it at the unsuspecting exotic junglefowl. But before you can fire the arrow, all of their birds heads turn to you, and stare menacingly with cruel yellow eyes. They unleash a whooping screech, which surprises you so much that you accidentally release the arrow. It slams into the area just below the neck on one of the terrifying birds, pinning it to the ground without another word.
This proves to be your undoing, as the whooping now descends into a mad cacophony from the birds, each of which now sound like a woman screaming. The landfowl now bound towards your location across the lake, and show themselves to be able to use their wings to fly short distances as they hop across the lake.
You pivot around to run away, but as soon as you turn around you feel an army of vicous claws piercing into all areas of your body on the back of you. A great deal of weight is on your body now that wasn’t there before, and you realize with a shock that they must have briefly flied to jump on top of your and latch in with their talons. Your entire body convulses with fiery agony as they peck into your skin like woodpeckers would do to a tree. You try to swat some of them off, but there are just too many to remove quickly enough. The sensation ends when you realize that you cannot breathe, because one of them has knifed through your lung.
Spoiler: Valafar's Nightmare
You can hardly hear the sound of your own footsteps on the charcoal sand of the beach before you, gossy in the brilliant moonlight. The only thing that stands out to you on the pale plain in your sight is what appears to be the patches of dull and hazy biege of abandoned canvas tents, gathered together just ahead of you. That camp is your destination. You saw the fire around here glowing last night, and are hoping to see if there are any survivors like yourself on the island within that camp.
As you get closer to the ruin of collapsed tents though, you come to the sudden realization that the last thing you want to do is meet with the denizens of this camp. Although it is apparently deserted now, the air is still trembling with the pressure of the ghastly massacre which happened here. For laying about the camp, you see the skeletons of several humanoids with only threadbare flesh left, evidently the cause of death being devoured. But the most disturbing part about this is not this fact, but that it was evident they where cooked over the fire by an intelligent being and then eaten. You are witnessing the cannibal’s art.
You noticed the oversized mushroom growing from a bloodstain in the sand next to a corpse, but you didn’t really give it much attention. Now your head is turned there though, because that mushroom seemingly jumps from the sand and reveals itself as a devil. Some creature mimicking an ugly old man the size of a small dog now stands in the place of the mushroom. It’s heavy steel boots and oversized sickle radiate menacingly in the moonlight, drawing your eyes to their wicked and savage design. A crimson mushroom cap is on the creature’s head like a nightcap, and you come to the shocking realization that the cap’s color is crimson because it is slick with blood.
Immediately you try to run away from the horrid thing, but you can hear the heavy pounding of its iron boots catching up to you. You assumed that you could outpace it because its heavy boots would weight it down, but you are realize too late how wrong you are. A crushing weight slams against the back of your calf and sends you falling down to your knees. The fey spirit’s red eyes glitter and carry the same murderous tone its cruel giggle reveals. You quickly try to get up, but the monster proves to use its sickle with impossible speed as it brings its sickle down over the top of your neck…
Spoiler: Zuu Greenbrook's Nightmare
As you stand knee deep in the shore, you prepare to cast out your fishing net in hopes of catching the school of decently large sized fish you just saw. Just as you are about to throw it though, all of the fish in front of you suddenly zoom away. You have been waiting there and standing completely still for hours now, so you don’t understand how you could have possibly alerted them.
A sudden screech from behind though suddenly reveals that you may not have been the thing that alerted them. You go to turn around, and you immediately regret this decision. Some flying creature you cannot see well directed its claws towards your head and raked them across it. As you scream in pain from the profuse blood welling out of your skull, you realize that you cannot see out of your left eye. A second later, you feel a nauseating and agonizing pain in the spot where your eye used to be.
You deftly take out your spear and whirl around to where you say the beast fly past you, and are immediately stricken with horror. What you behold is something like that off a terrible scaled bat, with a spearlike beak and matching crest, dyed red with your blood. You feel yourself almost paralyzed by its cruel yellow gaze as it dives towards you once again to deliver the killing blow.
You cannot bring up your spear in time to strike the monstrous flier as its talons tear through your jaw.
Spoiler: Elbalar Beiwaran's Nightmare
You are breathing at a torturous rate as you are running away as fast as you can. No matter how tired and out of breath you are though, you know you can’t stop. The baying of the mad hounds behind you bars you from doing any such action. You only wish that the horrible sounds they made sounded more alien though, because the way that their whooping howls sound like a drowning wolves makes you more than nauseous than anything you have heard before.
It is only too late that you realize that you should have not tried to outrun these hounds. Before you take much time though to reconsider the soundness of your actions, you are knocked to the group with the force of a boulder thrown by a giant. One of the terrors has pinned you to the ground underneath its massive oversized paws. With the speed only a man who is about to die can perform, you roll yourself over and place your hands out in front of you. Instead of the Thanatic Dog’s teeth snapping your ribs, it instead crunches your hand, delivering a pain so deep you nearly faint.
In your pain caused daze though you can recognize the monstrous creature in all its hideous detail. It’s tight hair sheet of hair is light brown like dying autumn leaves, but scarred with black stripes. Although this creature may sound like a canine, it’s paw are clearly something closer to that of a tiger’s. But its humpebacked head is far more threatening than its claws, which has teeth so numerous that its snout must be extended like a crocodile’s to contain them all.
You never get to recognize what dread its eyes might have held before the beast buries its teeth in your chest, eager to feast upon your then half living body with ghoulish and sadistic vigor. Only a few seconds later, the anesthetizing pain daze is replaced by sensory oblivion.
You all are awoken from your disturbed sleep by the sounds of the roaring ocean, which apparently is in just as much distress as you all were. The winds are roaring at the ship’s creaking boards in a manner that is almost taunting, and the rain pounds on the decks above with leering disdain. The darkness is so pervasive where you all are that most of the crew can see nothing but silhouettes in the room until the lightning flashes outside to breathe color into the world. You can feel the hammocks you were sleeping under rocking back and forth, as if to shake you awake, as the ship is being tossed about. What is the most vulnerable victim to the storm’s wrath though is most definitely the sails, which you can hear flapping fretfully about over your head.
Currently you are within the hull of the Tempest, in the communal cabin. This is where all of the crew except for the Captain sleep in, but as of now only half the crew is sleeping and the others are working on the deck above. The only thing remarkable about this room is how many hammocks they managed to shove into such a small space. It’s not like anybody here without darkvision can actually see the other dozen and two (14) people down here clearly, but you all have spent the nights of the past six months below decks here, so you are all too familiar with how crowded it is.
Upon hearing a series of footsteps marching down here, one of the healers in the ship conjures forth some garish red lights to emanate from his staff. Moving down the ladder of a ship during a storm is already likely to result in injury, but in the dark it is even more hazardous, so the healer seems to want some light present so that he can lessen his workload some. It looks like almost all the members of the crew from above deck are rushing down the ladder in a single file line, seemingly to avoid the storm.
The door leading the captain’s cabin swings open frustratingly. Laceille voice is uncharacteristically enraged as he booms out “Damn you all! Why does it sound like a half dead condor has landed on our decks! By the gods’ bleedy nails, you bastards didn’t reef the sails did you! I can hear them snapping about up there, probably getting holes torn in them and tugging to break down the mast! Why the hell did you all not reef the sails!”
The Third Mate Gwendolyn, who was already down the ladder, seems to be the only one to have the courage to respond. “The storm came in too quickly for us to get to reefing sir! Just a literal minute ago the sky was clear, but it wrapped up into this cyclone in less than a minute. ”
“Bull****!”, hisses the Captain, “Storms don’t come that quickly, and you and I both know it. You all were too lazy and ignorant and didn’t reef the sails in time and are making up excuses! I have half a mind to make the lot of you go up there and furl the sails, knowing very well that it may kill your lazy asses!”
“No sir, I swear the storm grew that quickly! You are right that storms don’t come that quickly by nature, but this isn’t natural. A sea fiend is at work out there!”
Almost in response to hearing the word “sea fiend”, the wind scoops up one of the sailors at the top of the ladder and contemptuously throws him in the air with an almost intentional force. His screams merge with the maddening wind as you can hear him being thrown towards the sails and wrapped into them. But only a few seconds later, you notice that the sails could not stop the momentum of his body from reaching the mast as you hear a revolting crunch. You can’t hear anything after that, so you can only conclude that the sailor whom you had yet to see the face of is either dead or too injured to call out.
“Once everybody gets down, I would advise you all to close the hatch. We wouldn’t want anybody else dying before we reached the island, should we?” The same wood elf who apparently snuck in at your meeting in Baharna has now once again somehow got herself on this ship. She apparently hasn’t changed out of her funeral clothes, and her facial features seem to be oddly content despite the clearly present danger the ship is thrown in. You have no idea how she got here, because at no point in your voyage have you ever seen her on board.
You suddenly feel your body involuntarily lurch towards the Port side, and the rest of the crew and equipment apparently moves with you. Some unfortunate people are slammed up against the sides off the boat, and the cannons on the Port side clang against the metal reinforced hull as well. Only the ropes specifically meant to prevent such disasters from occurring prevent the cannons on the Starboard side from crushing the people underneath them as the ship tilts.
After the initial crash, the ship doesn’t seem to balance itself out as it should after tilting. Instead, you can feel everything about you rapidly moving as some unseen force pulls the ship by its port side towards some destination in the darkness. The flashing of lightning reveals to you that this location is the silhouette of an ominous island, guarded by an army of rocks pointing out of the water like obsidian pikes. With each flash, you realize that the deathly rocks are coming closer and closer.
“Well, that appears to be my cue to leave.” The enigmatic and goulish elf deadpans, seemingly still on her feet despite the momentum off the ship. “Thank you all for coming to the hunt, I will be with you all again shortly.” Without another comment, she hops on the ladder and climbs above decks, seemingly careless towards the obvious dangers on deck.
“It is there fault!” one of the engineers on the ship, Midshipper Cardiff, declares while pointing accusedly at the magic users of the party, seemingly especially venomous with Sonderholme. “We shouldn’t have brought those slithy witches with us! They have gone and turned on us, intend to kill us and sell our souls to some wicked thing! This storm out there is magic, and there ain’t anyone on this boat except for those mutineers who could have pulled off such a trick. I say we kill ‘em before they kill us”
Another one of her partners in the maintenance staff though, Midshipper Liliwen, seems to have had enough of Cardiff’s behavior though. “Shut up, you ignorant bastard! Did you not see that phantom just materialize on the ship? Clearly some other sea devil is at work here wrecking our ship. You are just as likely to be a blackguard to some wicked spirit as they are, so I would advise you to keep your mouth shut lest you run the Tyburn jig”
Tensions are running high among the crew, both with fear of the ship wrecking on the island and of a fight breaking out in the galley. Both of which are beginning to seem likely, the former explicitly, and the latter more implicitly by the fact that people are brandishing weapons and staring angrily upon one speaker or the other.
You have about one minute, if even that, until the ship crashes. Prepare for danger.