HQ2 Elric: Inception in the Dreaming City

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HQ2 Elric: Inception in the Dreaming City

Postby SJE » 12:19am on 26 Sep 11

Elric: Inception in the Dreaming City

Elric is based off Michael Moorcocks titular novels and describe a baroque and evocative fantasy world of albino sorcerors, soul-stealing black Runeswords, Chaos gods, decaying empires and dreaming dragons in a time of change. I havent read the novels (the prose is too florid and the anti-hero protagonist too emo), but Lawrence Whitakers campaign book is fantastic and inspired me to run. So this is a game for people who havent read the Elric books and is based off the interesting elements. Canon isnt being observed, nor will the characters of the books appear. All I'm using is the setting for your heroes to save, destroy or resolve. If you love the books, this is probably not the game for you!

Background-

History moves in great cycles. Before this cycle, different forms of bipedal life ruled the earth - named the Doomed Folk, they forged 2 mighty runeswords- Stormbringer and Mournblade to battle the Dead Gods. That battle ended their world-cycle, though some eternal forces like the Dragons, Tanelorn and Courts of Law and Chaos survived - as did the 2 runeblades, prophecised to end this cycle of the world too.

In this cycle, the cruel and decadent Bright Empire of Melnibone has dominated the world for ten thousand years! Tall and elegant, the non-quite-human Melniboneans are a long lived and cultured race, whose long alliance with Arioch, and the demon-gods of the Courts of Chaos has led them to cruel tastes - making art of torture and pain, and subjugating and enslaving the human races of the world to labour and die for their pleasure. They achieved their power through mighty sorcery, mastering dreamwalking and dragon taming and their Pacts with various elementals, spirits and demons and their possession of the runeswords.

However, the Bright Empire had exhausted itself in a war against the Joinings and animal Meldings of the foul Dharzi and its Melnibonean overseers and governors have abandoned their duties as colonial overlords and returned to the capital city of Imryrr on the Dreaming Isle (known as the Dragon Isle to some) where decadent drug-fuelled parties, orgies and pageants of pain and torture and lengthy journeys into Dream from magical dream-couches now consume the Melniboneans. The Young Kingdoms of Man now cast off the authority of the decaying Bright Empire (still mighty with its golden Battlebarges and Dragon Princes who might still be able to wake the hundreds of immortal dragons sleeping in caves under Imryrr) and assert their independence and the manifest destiny of the human race.

The Young Kingdoms are a varied lot - some like Vilmar have embraced the Church of Law- worshipping strict and severe deities who reward conformity, obedience and science in contrast to the wild and reckless Chaos Lords of Melnibone. Others like the merchants and sailors of the Purple Towns explore and trade throughout the world, free at last to travel the seas. But in the north, the vile sorcerors of the Island of Pan Tang seek to supplant Melnibone by imitating its way to power- worshipping and pacting with Chaos, launching dreadful demonoc piratical raids and closing the seas with their Dread Fleet.

As ever, Law and Chaos struggle for dominance over the earth - neither side is 'Good' or 'Evil' (though their fervent worshippers would claim so), but for man to prosper its best if some sort of Cosmic Balance is maintained with neither faction becoming too dominant. Champions of the Balance appear and disappear throughout the Young Kingdoms and the strange worlds beyond and in dreams.

Run using the Heroquest 2 system and MRQII Elric of Melnibone setting.

Week 1 of 3


The characters meet in an Inn on the Isle of Purple Towns- hired by Malastair the Merchant Prince- a one-eyed and prosperous looking seadog. He has summoned the following-

Sadic The Dreamthief: this Wanderer of the Million Spheres is a dreamthief par excellence, who cannot resist a challenge. She is small, unobtrusive, dark clad and always carries her dreamstaff.

Avon Astran- a Champion of the White Lord of Justice, Donblas, he appears to be a young and unscarred Conan-esque warrior wielding the rune-marked Hammer of Law. He must have been named after the mighty champion who led the city of Kells in rebellion against the Bright Empire 200 years ago.

Cymoreal the Half-Dragon - this half-Melnibonean is a famed mercenary in the Young Kingdoms, strangely skilled in the Dragon Lord combat style. He is said to be exiled from the Dreaming City where his father was a great noble and Dragon Prince. He fights with a 2m long spear, or a 4m long dragon-lance which he stores in an extradimensional bag.

Yah Chiang, a famed alchemist and sorceror from the Unknown East, he is reputed to brew dreamtea and other potions.

Malastair explains their mission "As you may know from legend, it is said that 2 terrible, black runeswords were forged in the past world by the Doomed Folk to slay the Dead Gods. As their names attest, they were successful, and from that apocalypse the previous cycle of existence ended and ours began- the only survivors being the runeswords, the immortal Dragons and the Eternal City of Tanelorn.
Now it is said that the Age of the Young Kingdoms is to end too, and prophecy says that it will happen when the runeswords are unsheathed in the Last Battle....but... if we can find a way to destroy them, then perhaps we can avert the end of this world. But the swords magics are strong and potent, and they will be difficult to destroy unless we know how they were forged and from what materials. Of this we know- a dragon, the First Phoorn was present at the forging of the runeswords by the Doomed Folk. In its mind lurks the secret of their making, and perhaps their unmaking too.
That is why I need you Sadic, to steal into the dreams of the sleeping dragon and retrieve the memory of that forging. Cymoreal here knows the ways of dragons and can guide you to the forbidden Dragon Caves for he is of the Dreaming Isle. But the way is dangerous and you may need the strong arm of Law to guard you from the forces of Chaos that will beset you- Avon is that great champion. And it may be that the others will be needed to steal into dreams, or magics overcome, thus the presence of Master Yah Chiang."


"Sneak into Imryrr? But isn’t that city forbidden to humans?" exclaims Avon
"It is filled with human slaves, so you may go unnoticed, particularly in the company of a Half Melnibonean overseer"
"And how shall we get there?"
"I have hired a trading ship which is taking a cargo to the Dreaming City on tomorrows tide- they will wait a week for you to complete your mission and return".
"And how much shall we be paid for this impossible task?"
demands the mercenary Cymoreal
"If saving this world and the adulation that goes with it is not enough, I will pay you your weight in gold"
"Twice my weight!"
"Done"

"And I'll have twice his weight!" says the elderly Yah Chiang, nodding at the 6-foot tall Avon.

Malastair readily agrees and tells them to enjoy his hospitality in the finest Inn in all the Purple Towns. Avon retreats to the Golden Pyramid of Law to spend the night in vigil, while Cymoreal and Yah Chiang order in courtesans and retire to their chambers. Sadic, decides to get to know her new companions well by stealing into their dreams as they sleep.

Sadic buys Lockpicking as an ability and sneaks into the inn suite of Cymoreal (asleep at last after exhausting a courtesan). She enters his dream secretly and sees a sky full of longnecked dragon soaring overhead. A younger Cymoreal is running after them, across strange meadows. Two Melniboneans, elegant and thin loom up before him as he runs – an older man, clad in finest silks and jewels who raises a forbidding hand and just says “NO!”. The other is a beautiful Melnibonean woman who points and mocks Cymoreal.

Confused by this scene, Sadic chooses to withdraw and sneaks into the room of Yah Chiang. The wily alchemist has laid around breakable (and noisy) plates on the floor, and strung bells across the window to warn him of intruders, but Sadic easily circumvents such alarums. Yah Chiang has also dosed his courtesan with a sleeping draught, so that she will not disturb his rest with movement. Touching her Dreamstaff to the sleeping Easterner’s head, Sadic slips into Dream. She sees him performing a tea ceremony with 2 places set- him in one seat, the other apparently empty.

Confused by this, she seeks to probe deeper into his mind, but this tips off the experienced dreamer. He notices Sadic and motions for her to take the empty chair.
"I expected you my dear"

"I hope you are not offended"
says Sadic
"Of course not, you simply did what you had to do in order to protect yourself- just as I do what is necessary too. And your skill at entering my chamber would indicate that you possess the necessary skills to complete our mission. Of course, I hope you will not mind allowing me the privacy of my mind from now on"
"Of course not"
Sadic agrees
“It is said the dreams of dragons are potent indeed. And given that you have proven that memories and dreams can removed into the physical world, and that in the dream world we can control and shape things, what would happen if instead of taking an existing dream-memory from a dragon, we created something new in this potent dream world- could we then bring it into reality? What if we could dream a great hero to save the world without having to battle those terrible runeswords? And what if we could bring that hero into the Waking World? Is such a thing possible- creation rather than mere theft? Inception rather than dreamtheft?
"An interesting idea, buts its never been done before" muses Sadic
"But could you do it?"
"Of course I can! I am the best Dreamthief in all the Spheres!"
states the overconfident Sadic.

After that everyone rests, and boards the Dhakan Star the next morning. They meet the competent Captain Cain and settle in for a week-long sea voyage on the cog across the Oldest Ocean. Sadic chats with the sailors about what dangers they face- there are great monsters of the deep that rise, pirates, demon reavers from Pan Tang. But the thing they fear the most is the Chaos Fleet and drowning at sea. If they do drown, they fear the Chaos God Pyaray, the Tentacled Whisperer of Impossible Secrets will drag their bodies down to the black depths to crew the ships of the Chaos Fleet which sail beneath the seas. They clutch elemental charms whenever they speak of the Admiral of the Chaos Fleet, as they believe Straasha, Elemental Lord of Water will wrestle their bodies and souls away from Pyaray’s tentacled grip if they worship him.

For the first few days the journey is uneventful, and Sadic offers entertainment to her companions from her vast collection of dreams. They accept, some more suspicious than others. Cymoreal asks for a dream of blood and violence and battles, and she gives him one that is a mix of Lord of the Rings meets Saving Private Ryan“I don’t now who these ‘Jarmans’ are, but I like their style on the beach. Why did that giant eagle have to fly in and snatch away the machine-gunner?” reviews Cymoreal, though he did enjoy it.

Avon is ecstatic, and his faith renewed when he Dreams of a World without Chaos- its world on which Law has won and everything is peaceful, harmonious, efficient - a dream of Endless Peace. (Sadic passed through that world and kept going as she found it terminally dull)

Yah Chiang requests a dream of foreign magic, so that he might learn some new tricks for Imryrr. He Dreams of 2 young wizard apprentices ducking and diving and firing bolts of power from wands and staves at each other and shouting “Expelliarmus” a lot. He is much taken with this entertainment, but does not think it would work in this sphere.

On the 4th day of travel, black sails are sighted by the crows nest, and the Captain and crew prepare for a fight - a pirate ship has the wind behind her and is heading for the Dhakan Star. The crew sigh in relief that it isn’t on of Pan Tangs daemon vessels, but that relief is short-lived when the pirate gets closer for the sails bear the Red Octopus insignia of the Reaver god. Pirates throng the deck and rigging, reading to swing across or lower spiked boarding planks! Even worse, the pirate brig has a ram, and the pirates are singing hymns to their dark god- Pyaray! Some pirates spot the heroes and shout "The dreams! It is them! For Pyaray"

CRASH!

The pirates ram, and Avon is sent flying across the desk. Sadic fumbles and she is thrown clear overboard as the pirates launch themselves at the crew and Cymoreal and Yah Chiang. Yah Chiang speaks the Rune of Sleep, expecting some of the pirates to fall into enchanted slumber- but clearly their pact with Pyaray protects them, for none even doze. Cymoreal has more luck, his lance sweeping out to knock swinging pirates off the boat. Meanwhile, in the water, a quick-witted Sadic (who never learnt to swim) grabs a floating rope from the star, the current entangling her with it as the water rushes into her lungs and everything goes black!

Then light and air once more surround her face as she is hauled up the side of the ship by the mighty arms of Avon Astran who had spotted her fall overboard. With Sadic recovering, he launches himself into the pirate morass, slaughtering many. Yah Chiang speaks a Rune of Reversal against his attackers and their cutlasses rebound from him and bury themselves in pirate skulls. Sadic’s daggers then complete the victory, sending one pirate joyously overboard to join his god in the depths- this religious ecstasy ruined when a shark tears into his sinking body, forever ruining it from joining the Chaos Fleet! The pirate assault has been defeated.

Then the questors hear a chant from aboard the pirate ship "Great Lord Pyaray- Take this offering! Rise up and consume the heathens!" - the Priest-Captain. A poison blowdart fired by Chiang nicks the priest in his neck, so his speech begins to slur until is saying "Grade Lorb, wraise uhp!". Cymoreal swings across the ships, and a swipe with his dragon lance across the face knocks the stiffening priest overboard- but the priest makes for an eager self-sacrifice.

Things pause a moment. Then bubbles begin to rise up for hundreds of yards around the two ships. They have a moment to prepare - Avon cant remember which Duke of Hell Pyaray is and Cymoreal remembers going to some parties in Imryrr with some worshippers that mentioned him - was he one of the Sword Rulers? Nah.... Sadic who knows better instead looks for a lifeboat, but discovers its been holed in the fighting. Yah Chiang does know what he is facing and starts summoning demons...

Then the whole sea seems to rise into the sky as a vast, endless crimson-skinned octopus-god rises. In the middle of its forehead, a green gem glows with unearthly energy. As Pyaray rises, whispers bubble up from the deep, seeming to speak to each of the heroes, impossible secrets that no one could ever know

“You enjoyed it didn’t you. The look of fear in their eyes whenever you approached” - Avon whitens
“You’ll never live up to his expectations” - Camorra’s grip on his lance tightens
“Do they know about you? They know where you hide it, don’t they?” - Yah Chiang’s face goes even stiller.
“What happened to her? Why cant you remember? It was your fault, wasnt it” - Sadic's face goes red with emotion.

Yah Chiang is the first to act- binding a Fire Crow demon (some offspring of a Fire Elemental and Bird-demon) which flies to Pyarays forehead and starts pecking at the gem. Its soon squashed, but does draw attention to the gem - Cymoreal too tries to lance it, but only does minor damage, before his lance is grabbed by one of Pyaray’s many octopoid tentacles. Sadic throws her daggers futilely (and angrily) at the God before she is grabbed around the waist by a tentacle and hauled towards Pyaray’s beaked maw!

Chiang begins a new summoning and Avon takes a more direct approach- leaping from the ship onto Pyarays head, he swings his Law-marked hammer through the jelly of Pyaray’s eye! The Admiral of the Chaos Fleet, is wounded, but within seconds, his flesh begins to reform and the Champion of Law is grabbed by
another tentacle and pulled towards his doom.

Cymoreal too leaps on Pyaray’s, and swaying, manages to get a direct stab on Pyaray’s soul-gem. His great lance blunts and rebounds from the stone, leaving it unharmed. The half-Melnibonean realises that no mortal weapon can kill this Duke of Hell... But perhaps one blessed by Donblas, White Lord of Justice? "Strike here Avon!" he calls to the ententacled champion.

Hearing this, the others respond. Sadic casts her last dagger at the tentacle around Avon- it buries deep into the nerve and the tentacle rears up, uncoiling and dropping Avon. Still a second tentacle comes whipping out of the ocean spray to grab him - its at that moment that Yah Chiang summons the Mother of Sharks, a sea-demon to leap from the waters of the Oldest Ocean and bury its teeth into the second tentacle. As it convulses, it bats the falling Champion of Law onto Pyaray’s domed head. The stunned Avon lands and begins slipping down the slick hemisphere towards the ocean when the strong arm of Cymoreal grabs his hand and swings him up and over to land next to the glowing green gem!

"TAKE THAT!" Avon Astran shouts, his Hammer of the Law rising up over his head and ending its parabolic arc on the green emerald, which shatters into a thousand pieces! Green energy gouts up into the sky as the whispers of Pyaray coalesce into a death scream! VICTORY!!

With Pyarays defeat, the heroes swim back to the ships. The Dhakan Star is taking on water from the ram, but the crew say that the pirate reaver will be more than suitable for sailing into Imryrr. Yah Chiang gathers one of the shards of Pyarays emerald soulstone. When he puts it to his ear, he hears faint whispers....
Sailing to Imryrr, the rest of the journey is uneventful, though as the near the last redoubt of the Bright Empire, they see one of the massive, city-sized Golden Battlebarge’s, its 3 masts high above a mix of walls, crenellations, towers, keeps and fortifications - less a ship and more a floating castle, easily dwarfing the brig.

Arriving at Imryrr, a half-Melnibonean pilot boards to navigate them through the Sea-Maze or underwater shipwrecks that would hole the keel of any attacker and they at last approach their destination.

To Be Continued Next Week....
"Forth, and fear no darkness! Arise. Arise, Riders of Theoden. Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered! A sword day... a red day... ere the sun rises. Ride now!... Ride now!... Ride! Ride for ruin and the world's ending!"

Exalted Actual Play: Gem City Watch! || Dark Heresy- Silver Dawn/The Castermere Look/The Beiderbeck Investigation || ASOI&F - A Knights Tale || Cold City: BSG || Rogue Trader: Eastern Fringes Trading Co. || Elric: Inception in the Dreaming City || Masks of Nyarlathotep-7e||Super(Mad)men from the Stars||V20: The Red List|| Dracula Dossier @LongCon2016
SJE has received thanks from the following for this post:
Newt
SJE
17th-level
Location: CanWha Corporate Arcology
Thanks: 34 given/920 received

Re: HQ2 Elric: Inception in the Dreaming City

Postby SJE » 7:48pm on 04 Oct 11

Some character backgrounds to explain what is going on. Yah Chiang's player was missing in session 2, so his background hasnt come out in play yet.


Avon Astran - an undying human Champion of Law. He is older than he looks. 200 years ago he was a slave-soldier in service to the Melnibonean Colonial Governor, Earl Sacrath. Sacrath was a cruel governor, oppressing and torturing the humans of the city of Kell. He favoured you though, and as a result often used you to torture those who rebelled or displeased him in some way. One of his cruelest tortures was to have you visit prisoners in the cages hung from his palaces walls and offer them a choice of which digit or limb would be amputated. They would have a day to think about it and decide- and if they didnt choose, you would. Then you would visit them the next day. And the next. Though it was evil and vile, you remember seeing the look of terror and awe in the prisoners beseeching eyes- looking at you as if you were a God - never have you felt so powerful... so Melnibonean. And it is that terrible thought and the shame you feel about it which drove you to action and rebellion.

Eventually Sacrath left to visit the capitol on Melnibonean business and you joined the rebellion sweeping through the land at the time. You made sure free the prisoners in the cages as soon as the palace was liberated - you only regretted not being able to save more, and that Sacrath wasnt brought to justice. As lands liberated themselves from Melnibonean oppression 200 years ago, you joined the nascent Cults of Law and pledged yourself to the White Lord of Justice- Donblas. Since that time, your body has been ageless and immortal, healing over wounds quickly. While you can still die from violence, it is unlikely. You found this out to your cost when you slew a Chaos sorceror in his tower and it collapsed around you - you were trapped helplessly in rubble for nearly a century before settlers used the cut stone for their homes and inadvertantly freed you.

Abilities
Champion of Law 17
Human 13
Sword and Shield combat Style 18
Big and Strong 15
Torturer 15
Hates the Melniboneans and their Cruel Ways 13
Pact with the White Lord of Law- Donblas 20
Gifts of Law-
Eternal Life 20 - cant die from natural causes (including age, asphyxiation or starvation) but can from violence
Healing 20 - your wounds clot and heal rapidly
Hammer of Law 3w- a great hammer marked with the Rune of Law
Chivalrous & Just 13

Flaws:

Cannot Break His Oath 3w
Claustrophobic 13
Haunted by Earl Sacrath's teachings 20


Cymoreal the Half-Dragon - You were actually raised for a while in Imryrr by your father the Melnobonean Dyvim (Dragon Lord) Csar. He already had a pureblood son- Sarel, but begat you on a nameless human slavegirl in order to test a theory of his that only true Melniboneans would be accepted by a dragon as its companion. Still, he was determined to make all other factors in this cruel experiment equal, so you were raised with Sarel as equals- given the same training and education in sword play and lore. While Sarel was quicker, taller and magically apt than you with the many gifts of the Melnibonean people, your determination to impress your father drove you to compete with your half brother, training and working harder and longer to overcome his genetic gifts.

And while true Melniboneans would look down on you with their cruel, cat-like eyes as a bastard half-breed, you reveled in aping their superior ways and exercising your authority over the human slaves of the Dreaming Isle. Your only friends were Sarel and a beautiful Royal Princess called Allea- they seemed to enjoy scandalising the decadent society by associating with a half breed. In time you grew to love Allea, though she did not seem to notice your feelings. In fact she spoke of how prophecy and tradition foretold she would only wed a Dragon Lord.

Indeed you were fascinated by the mighty dragons, whose poison spit is so venomous it spontaenously combusts in fiery gouts. You loved the legends of the Dragons, - a race more ancient than any in the myriad worlds. The Great Dragon, First Phoorn, may even have created the Multiverse as part of a vast and complex dream and all mortals live within that dream. Long did you dream of bonding with a Dragon, flying on ones back to glorious war and sweeping up Allea to soar through the skies with you.

When the time came to descend into the Dragon Caves beneath Imryrr and bonding test to become such a Dyvim, you and Sarel were shocked when the elder Lords barred your way. They had deemed your fathers experiment (and your whole life) disrespectful to the sleeping Phoorn (dragons) as the answer was self-evident that only true Melniboneans could bond and forbade you to test. Your father flew into a rage, but the elders would relent and he turned his anger on you, casting you out as a worthless waste of time and exiling you from the Bright Empire, never seeing Sarel or Allea again.
Since then you have roamed the Young Kingdom as mercenary, ever angry and determined to show the world (and your father) your true quality.

Abilities
Half-Melnibonean 16
Dragon Lord Aspirant 7w
Strong Willed 1w
Superhuman physique 3w
Child of the Dreaming Isle 13
Dragon Lore 13
Skilled in Dragon Lord Combat Style (Lance, or two-handed spear and kite-shield) 20
Sharp Eyes 15
Rivalry with Sarel 13
Dreams still of Allea 13

Flaws

Heavily disguised inferiority complex 7w
Despised as half-breed 13
Exiled by your Father. 3w


Sadic The Dreamthief- a wanderer of the Million Spheres, you have seen many realities and worlds and travelled in the Dream Realms to even stranger places.
As a Dreamthief, when you meditate, you can enter the dreams of those asleep- easiest with physical contact, or magical aid but quick and reliable. Within a persons dreams you can control and shape details of the environment, but they set the overall theme. You can encounter memories (but they are often guarded) and steal them into your cane - they can then be transferred, sold on or experienced in the real world. Another option is to make a memory manifest as a perfect physical object symbolising the dream- a perfect gold ring symbolising the memory of a wedding perhaps.

If you remove a memory or dream it is lost from the sleepers mind- this can affect the dreamers personality when they awake -sometimes you are hired to cure the insane by removing the memories that drive them mad. You can also enter the 7 Dream Realms - the collective dreams of the multiverse and travel from one place to another guided by an instinctive sense, but its impossible to know where you will come out. Strange and fantastic things populate the Dream Realms and its possible to live, grow old and die in those timeless realms in a single night. It is also possible to die or physically waste away if you are harmed in dreams.

Now your greatest challenge lies ahead of you - to do what no dreamthief has done before and survived- to enter the dreams of a Dragon! No one has done that before - legend says that all the sleeping dragons share the same dreamworld- the Namesless and forbidden 7th Dream Realm, from which no Dream thief has returned. But in that 7th Nameless Realm, anything is possible.

Why are you a wanderer? And how did you become a Dream thief? You have memory of a daughter Lily - its been made physical and manifests as lily-flower made of indestructable saphire. When you touch it- you have a brief impression of laughter, beaming smiles and whirling a little girl around and around in a flower meadow. You also know she is dead, but cannot remember how. You suspect that in seeking to have that memory removed from your mind, you became acquainted with dreamthieves. And why did you have it removed? Was it somehow your fault? Its a good thing that you no longer dream yourself - now instead you must enjoy the memories and dreams of others to rest. Perhaps your old mentor (who you sometimes see in the Dream Realms) Raymun has some answers, but something in you has always shyed away from asking how you met.)


Abilities

Dreamthief par excellence 10w
Human 13
Wanderer of the Million Spheres 18
Drawn to the Cosmic Balance 13
Fast on your feet 16
Quick witted 18
Dreamstaff 3w
Sapphire Lily 20
Student of Raymun the Dream Merchant 13
Rune of Slumber 14 (puts people to sleep)
Gift of Tongues. 13
Dagger fighter 13

Flaws

Missing memories 10w
Overconfident 3w
Cannot Dream for yourself. 13
Last edited by SJE on 7:53pm on 04 Oct 11, edited 1 time in total.
"Forth, and fear no darkness! Arise. Arise, Riders of Theoden. Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered! A sword day... a red day... ere the sun rises. Ride now!... Ride now!... Ride! Ride for ruin and the world's ending!"

Exalted Actual Play: Gem City Watch! || Dark Heresy- Silver Dawn/The Castermere Look/The Beiderbeck Investigation || ASOI&F - A Knights Tale || Cold City: BSG || Rogue Trader: Eastern Fringes Trading Co. || Elric: Inception in the Dreaming City || Masks of Nyarlathotep-7e||Super(Mad)men from the Stars||V20: The Red List|| Dracula Dossier @LongCon2016
SJE has received thanks from the following for this post:
Newt
SJE
17th-level
Location: CanWha Corporate Arcology
Thanks: 34 given/920 received

Re: HQ2 Elric: Inception in the Dreaming City

Postby SJE » 7:51pm on 04 Oct 11

Session 2: Imryrr

Arriving in the Dreaming City of Imryrr, the heroes find themselves in the Foreign Quarter, permitted to remain for only a week on pain of Jest. The great city stretches beyond and boggles the mind with its wonder- spire after spire- none uniform, all unique - towers like twisted narwhal horns, others of glass, another like an insect hive made from clay, yet another like a fountain, with molten silver running down the sides. Hardest for Avon to comprehend is the lack of straight lines- every street and wall curves and twists - indeed there are no pure geometric shapes anywhere for they are symbols of Law, and in this bastion of Chaos, there is no place for them. Even worse, Avon will have to entrust the Hammer of the Law to Cymoreals extra-dimensional bag.

Firstly, Cymoreal the half-Dragon, native to this maddening, wondrous places explains how the only role which will suit the others is to pretend to be slaves with himself as their half-Melnibonean overseer. Secondly, they will need to gain access to the Inner City as only 2 routes lead to the Dragon Caves - either across land from the Eastern Gate and down the Wyrms Road- a way known to him but guarded, or underground as it is said the extensive Catacombs of the Dead beneath Imryrr link to the Caves, though he has not passed that way before - they decide to take the low road. Finally they will also need Mandragore Root for Yah Chiangs dreamtea, as mandragore is used by the Dragon Lords to commune and bond with their dragons dreams.

This last task is easiest to accomplish with a visit to an Apothecary. Whilst waiting for their order to be filled, 2 Melniboneans nobles arrive, demanding Bloodfire. Quickly consuming it, they enjoy the warmth that fills their limbs and the heat on their faces and lips as their Melnibonean bodies process the drug safely. Their slave however has displeased them by allowing mud to splash on the Lady's dress, so they order the nearby slave (Avon) to administer it to their slave. Despite the human’s protests that it will kill him, Avon suppresses his reluctance and forces it down the slaves throat. In a human body, the Bloodfire causes capillaries to explode and flesh to cook- as the red (and blackening) slave cooks from within, steam rising from his body, Avon looks on impassively, determined to keep his cover in this evil place.

Avon’s morals are further challenged when the group get to the gate to the Inner City and are challenged by the Melnibonean militia. Cymoreal claims he has just bought these slaves for his master and requires entry. "Look at this savage barbarian- wont he be great as a gladiator?"

"Prove it" is the response from the bored Melnibonean who pick out a passing Vilmiri sailor for a fight to the death. Avon battles the surprised sailor back and forth, but the injustice of it seems to stay his hand from a killing blow. "He's worthless" decides the guard. "No, he's just playing with him- building tension" argues Cymoreal, so the guards throw in 2 more random passing humans to battle the champion, and rationalizing that he is obeying the 'lawmen' of this place, Avon finally whips into killing action, slashing and decapitating until covered in the blood of 3 dead men. Satisfied at last, the decadent Melniboneans allow the 'slaves' into the Inner City with their half-breed 'overseer'. Still Avon feels his connection to Law ever-weakening.

Within Imryrr proper, they encounter divers sights and wonders- down one curling alley Sadic sees glowing outlines of figures walking in spectral patterns. They rush to the side as 4-tusked elephants carry Melniboneans in howdahs, slow slaves crushed under foot. Demons bound as messengers, rush from sorcerers tower to tower, whilst Sadic senses the dream realms are powerful in this place - her eyes drawn to sleeping Melniboneans lounging on couches in their balconies- obedient slaves carefully fanning and shading them so they can sleep deeply.

Cymoreal knows that the Catacombs of the Dead link to 2 places that he knows of- the Imperial Palace and the Cathedral of Chaos. Calculating that the Palace is bound to be heavily guarded, they make for the Cathedral of Chaos, famously empty of learnt.

When they arrive there, it is anything but empty with great entourages of slaves waiting outside

"What is going on? Why is everyone here?" asks Cymoreal of another Overseer.

"It’s a wedding- the Royal Princess Allea is to marry the Dragon Lord Sarel."

"Of course it would be" murmurs Cymoreal, his mind going back to his past. His childhood friends, his love for Allea, and how neither had objected when his father had exiled him.

Nonetheless, they step into the Cathedral, filled with Melniboneans awaiting the ceremony. As they do, Sadic feels a strange tingling. She senses something is missing - the weight of her sapphire -the dream-memory of her child, Lily brought out of the dream realms and made physical.

"There you are mummy!" - A perfect moving sapphire figure of Lily, like a walking, talking jewel statue reaches out a faceted hand. Her daughter- made from blue gemstone. How is this possible? Perhaps here in Cathedral of Chaos, in this place dedicated to the impossible and unlikely, anything is possible?

Holding her and asking her how she is over and over, draws some attention. A harassed look half-Melnibonean approaches "What a wonderful gift!" he says, looking at the sapphire girl "Is it for the bride or groom?"

"Bride" says Cynmoreal quickly, and they are directed towards a rear belfry where the Brides gifts are being stored and the Bride herself is privately dedicating herself to the Lords of Hell.

Avon meanwhile is breaking out in hives, his skin crawling and then some, even finding it hard to breath here in this stronghold of his mortal enemy. He feels the presence of Dukes of Hell - they have walked here and this is the center of the power. As a Champion of Law he cannot bear this place to remain! He CANNOT! His sweating face looks desperately at Cymoreal bag, his fingers curling as if gripping his Law Hammer. Cymoreal notices and grabs him, slamming him into the wall! "Calm down Avon or you will doom us all. Is that what you want? Will dying here serve Law?" The imposition of Cymoreals strong will upon him is enough for Avon to snap out of his rage-fugue. For now.

Quickly they move into the belfry, where the wealth of nations lies heaped about on great tables. Closing the door, they see the sole occupant, a beautiful Melnibonean princess whom Sadic recognizes from Cymoreals dream. But Allea only has eyes for the sapphire girl and rushes forward, saying "How wonderful! Does it talk?"

"I'm scared" says Lily to Sadic who hugs her protectively.

That’s when Princess Allea spots Cymoreal. "You?! But you were exiled..¬!" *BIFF* Cymoreals fist gives her the Indiana Jones treatment and knocks her out before she can raise an alarm. Hoisting her limp form over his broad shoulders, he looks around for another exit.

"You've really done it now" murmers Avon

"There- down those steps into the crypts- that should lead us to the catacombs" states Cymoreal confidently. As they descend, Yah Chiang gazes around with witchsight. At the door leading to the crypts, he motions for the group to stop. He carves the Rune of Leeching across the door, and a second, invisible rune glows and fades out. With the runewards nullified the strange band of bastards, dream thieves, unconscious princesses and sapphire girls head into the Catacombs of the Dead.

Running down long corridors and following the Half-Dragons instincts, they pass many tombs and chambers of the dead. In the first, they see a leathery corpse sat in a comfortable armchair and with an open book in his lap, library shelves groaning with scrolls behind an ancient scholar. In another bedchamber of moth-eaten silk sheets, they have to turn their heads almost to their shoulders as they mentally sort out a series of skeletons whose bones have partially collapsed on the bed.

"I think his .... concubines were laid to... rest... with this one “
murmurs Cymoreal as they take in the necro-coitus.

As Sadic leans over to cover Lily's eyes from this sight, she notices that Lily appears much smaller -shrunk down to nearly 2 feet and getting more indistinct.

They plunge deeper into the depths, leaping over a chasm in the earth as the worked stone passes into natural caves. And far away from the Cathedral of Chaos’ power, the sapphire girl disappears and Sadic finds her dreamstone returned to her grip. Whenever she looks into the sapphire, the memories of her little girl return.

Imperial Princess Allea awakes -

“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE CYMOREAL?!! WHERE ARE YOU TAKING ME?! I DEMAND TO KNOW THIS INSTANT” she yells,

“My love, I am returned for you.”

“But you are exiled! And I’m marrying Sarel”
(love as a concept seems alien to the decadent Melniboneans

“I’m here to take you away from Sarel - I have a … hovel.. in the Young Kingdoms” says Cymoreal, choosing the word that would make most sense to Allea

“THE YOUNG KINGDOMS!? No, I would rather die – they are all savages and barbarians! And the Smell! How do you stand the smell!?”

“You don’t, but you get used to it, I’ll admit”
says Cymoreal, ignoring the scowls of the others

“Well I’m not going and that’s that! I’m a Princess of the Royal Blood and I will remain here in Imryrr, with the civilized people and the drugs! And Sarel will uproot the entire city to recover me- just you see, no matter what dank caves you have hidden me in, he will rescue me!!”

With this, Cymoreal gives Yah Chiang the nod and the Easterner casts the rune of slumber on the Melnibonean Princess and she falls unconscious once more. A gorilla-like Demon of Burden is summoned and tasked with safely carrying round the Princess, as they proceed into the Dragon Caves.

The Dragon Caves are large, labyrinthine and winding. Full of the strong odor of Dragon. The sleeping dragon into whose dreams they must steal into is Flamefang, older and more ancient than the Bright Empire or the race of Man itself.

As they search for the great dragon (the humans continuing their masquerade as slaves, Cymoreal passing as a full-blooded Melnibonean) they meet a pair of Dragon Princes on patrol.

“Halt – what are you doing here?”

“The Princess wishes to dream with the Dragons. Shh.. she dreams even now!”

“But what are these humans doing down here? The Dragon Caves are forbidden to humans”

“They are but Food, in case the dragons need a snack to sleep!”

“Hmmm, well the dragons are well fed, but there is a new hatchling in Birthing Cave 3 which is hungry – take the slaves there instead”

“A new hatchling eh? Err… which way is Birthing cave 3?”

“You don’t know the way? We will escort you.”

“Oh. OK.”
('Damn!' Mutters the player)

They head to the Birthing cave and see the remnants of a great shell and a brown, long necked hatchling, about 5 foot tall, with a forked red tongue flickering out and tasting the air.

As they head in, Avon and Cymoreal simultaneously sucker punch the two Dragon Princes, and Cymoreal finally throws Avon his Hammer of the Law. Desperately trying to kill the two Melnibonean Dragon Lords before they can raise the alarm, they find the pair difficult to defeat, even with Sadic burying her dagger in their back, but eventually manage it.

Worse, they have drawn the hatchlings attention. Instinctively it draws in its breath and then spews out a gout of corrosive brown venom. A second later the venom combusts into hot flame!

Cymoreal, seeing it coming, orders the demon to turn as he leaps between the demon carrying his love and raises up his great Melnibonean Kite Shield, the flame harmlessly spattering off it.

Sadic is midway between casting a rune of Slumber on the hatchling and is caught out in the open. Before she can be burned to the bone, the immortal Champion of Law, Avon Astran steps in the way and shields her with his body. Though terribly burned, the magical healing factor Gifted to him by the White Lords keeps him alive and mobile.

But now he smells like barbeque, the hungry hatchling lunges for Avon. He raises up his powerful Hammer of the Law to stave in its skull, when Cymoreal’s lance swings in and spoils his swing! Avon is defenseless! Then the dragon is in, and with powerful fangs, rends Avon’s arm from his shoulder and retreats back to feast on his charred and bloody hot wing!

“My ARM!” shouts (the temporarily ‘armless) Avon

“My Dragon!” says the Dragon Lord Aspirant Cymoreal. The half-bloods dreams are coming true- as the hatchling feasts on Avons arm, Cymoreal leans in close and begins the Rites of Dragon Bonding with the hatchling.

Communing with it mentally (even as it gnaws the marrow) Cymoreal realises the hatchling needs a name. And what could be more appropriate but to name it “Avon ‘Armbiter’ Astran” after its first meal!

The Champion of Law is less pleased, but even as his shoulder stump starts to regenerate, they realise that the mission must go on. Making their way to Flamefang’s vast cave (for Flamefang is closer to 500’ from nose to tail than the hatchlings 5’) , Yah Chiang begins to brew the dream tea, and Sadic reaches out to sense the most powerful Dream Realms she has ever encountered….!

End of Session 2 of 3.

To Be Concluded….
"Forth, and fear no darkness! Arise. Arise, Riders of Theoden. Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered! A sword day... a red day... ere the sun rises. Ride now!... Ride now!... Ride! Ride for ruin and the world's ending!"

Exalted Actual Play: Gem City Watch! || Dark Heresy- Silver Dawn/The Castermere Look/The Beiderbeck Investigation || ASOI&F - A Knights Tale || Cold City: BSG || Rogue Trader: Eastern Fringes Trading Co. || Elric: Inception in the Dreaming City || Masks of Nyarlathotep-7e||Super(Mad)men from the Stars||V20: The Red List|| Dracula Dossier @LongCon2016
SJE has received thanks from the following for this post:
Newt
SJE
17th-level
Location: CanWha Corporate Arcology
Thanks: 34 given/920 received

Re: HQ2 Elric: Inception in the Dreaming City

Postby SJE » 12:54am on 18 Oct 11

Yah Chieng – Inscrutable Alchemist

To the world you are an alchemist- a brewer of teas and potions to soothe a broken heart, give a good nights sleep or restore energy. You are known for brewing Dreamtea - a rare concoction which allows the drinker to enter the Dream Realms and explore the dreams of nearby dreamers.

This is true, but it is the least of your power. In truth you are a moderately powerful sorceror who was taught his magic as a lad by the spirit of Cran Liret, a Melnibean sorceror known as the "Thief of Spells" and the "Man Who Would Be A God" - a mage so powerful that he challenged the Bright Emperor and would have become a new God in the multiverse if the jealous Dukes of Hell had not conspired against him. Though bodiless, his spirit endures and schemes, and picks apprentices in every generation - he seeks a perfect vessel, a body, ideally Melnibonean which could contain his great intellect and spirit and so give him the physical base and energy to apotheise.

He taught you runes, and how to summon demons of chaos. He even taught you how to remove your heart and hide it in an Opal the size of a hens egg. Unless the stone is broken, you cannot be slain. Unfortunately, you need to keep it to hand as you can only cast magic when it is touching your skin.

Now a scheme has come to your mighty lords attention - a plan to enter the dreams of the sleeping Dragons and steal a memory. But legend has it that the dreams of dragons have great power -that they may even shape reality. If an idea, an inception could be introduced to the dragons dream, then perhaps Cran Liret will have the body he so desires, or you may find the power to become a God your self.

Abilities

Alchemist 17
Foreigner from the Unknown East 13
Summon Demon of Chaos 18
Rune of Slumber (cause a target or group to fall asleep) 13
Rune of Protection (Magical armour) 18
Rune of Leeching (temporarily or permantly drains the power of other Runes) 13
Brew Dreamtea (allows drinkers sleep and enter the Dream Realms) 3w
Rune of Reversal (The Rune of Reflection reflects any physical blow upon the
sorcerer, so that the attacker effectively strikes at themselves. To use this rune successfully,
the caster must be aware of any incoming attacks on their person.) 13
Apprentice of the mighty Cran Liret 18
Heart Hidden in an Opal (Cannot Die unless the jewel is broken) 8w
A travelling chest full of potions and poisons. 13

FLAWS

Seeking route to Godhood 3w
Emotional sociopath 18w
Likes the finer things in life 13
Linked to your Heart/Opal 8w
"Forth, and fear no darkness! Arise. Arise, Riders of Theoden. Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered! A sword day... a red day... ere the sun rises. Ride now!... Ride now!... Ride! Ride for ruin and the world's ending!"

Exalted Actual Play: Gem City Watch! || Dark Heresy- Silver Dawn/The Castermere Look/The Beiderbeck Investigation || ASOI&F - A Knights Tale || Cold City: BSG || Rogue Trader: Eastern Fringes Trading Co. || Elric: Inception in the Dreaming City || Masks of Nyarlathotep-7e||Super(Mad)men from the Stars||V20: The Red List|| Dracula Dossier @LongCon2016
SJE
17th-level
Location: CanWha Corporate Arcology
Thanks: 34 given/920 received

Re: HQ2 Elric: Inception in the Dreaming City

Postby SJE » 12:54am on 18 Oct 11

SESSION 3

Having reached the lair of Flamefang, Yai Chiang brews the Dreamtea, mixing in the Mandragore roots that Cymoreal had obtained. But how many cups to brew? After a torturous discussion, it is decided that Yai Chieng and Cymoreal will accompany Sadic into the dragons dreams, whilst Avon is left to guard their sleeping bodies from discovery by the Melniboneans. Avon seems hesitant to promise to guard their sleeping bodies with his life, instead settling on swearing to "protect them as best I can"

Sadic, Cymoreal and Yai Chieng, close their eyes and sleep - Sadic’s dreamstaff touching Flamefang, the First Phoorns head. To enter the dragons dream, they will have to traverse a number of Dream Realms until they can reach the core of his being and access directly his memories and mind. They also finally compare notes on Dream Lore. Cymoreal tells them that the First Dragon dreamed all of the Multiverse into creation and how the dragons of the Dreaming Isle share a common dream world. And if they dream reality, could that mean that entering the dream of one dragon, such as mighty Flamefang and changing its memories and dreams could create or remove something from reality? What wouldn’t be possible?

INTO THE DREAM


They enter Marador, the Dream Land of Old Desires. It appears before them like some great tranquil city perhaps based on the legends of Tanelorn- here a cherished childhood home for Yai Chiang, there Cymoreal’s private room where he could hide from the world (and his father) as a child- places of comfort and safety. But Sadic spies the inn of Master Raymun, the dream thief who taught her the secrets of the Dream Guild.

"Is this the dragons dream?" Cymoreal asks "because I remember parts of this. Isn’t this my dream?"
"We are all dreamers here"
replies Yai Chieng "and we bring our own dreams and memories with us- they populate the dream realms. Sometimes we need to find a guide to navigate to the next realm- ever deeper into the dream realm until reach the dragons memories."
"Well there is a likely guide"
says Sadic, leading them to her old mentors inn. Some thought of a danger niggles her mind, but doesnt coalesce

Inside they find Raymun the Dream Merchant, a prosperous, red-cheeked man with white hair and bushy mutton chops. "Greetings old friends, sit and rest a while- we have much to discuss" as he puts their favourite drinks into their hands.

Time seems to fly by as they chat- Yai Chieng eager to learn of Raymun’s experiences in herb lore, Cymoreal comparing notes about his travels across the Young Kingdoms. Both are happy, contented, entranced even. Why move on when this place is so welcoming?

Sadic is equally entranced, but she has some specific questions she wants to put to Raymun (even though Raymun is a projection of her mind, so theoretically does not know any more than she does)

"Raymun - how was it we met?" Sadic asks
"You found me, you were in a bad way back then. Distraught"
"What was I unhappy about?"
"You had a memory that troubled you. A nightmare you saw every night. You asked me to remove it"
"Where is it now?"
"You have it still. We made it physical and I believe you carry it to this day"
"Raymun - is there any way to re-insert that physical memory back into my mind?"
"Wellll.... Its never been done before - some would say it impossible, but it may be possible in the most unique of circumstances, but it would require great power and mighty dream magics. But would you really want it back in there? You were so desperate to have it out?"


THE WAKING WORLD -DRAGON CAVES - AVON


Alone with the dreamers sleeping bodies (and a slumbering Princess Allea), Avon hears the sounds of footsteps approaching. With the sleepers hidden behind some rocks, he too must hide to avoid detection. He gets a brilliant idea- the Melniboneans wont look up in a cave, so he clambers up the wall and holds on to a stalactite hanging from the ceiling - they'll never spot him here!

A patrol of 5, led by a Dragon Lord enters the cave below. That’s when the poor agglomeration of limestone gives way under Avon’s weight and the Champion of Law tumbles down to land amidst the patrol, as the surprised patrol reel back, he launches himself to his feet, Hammer of Law in hand and screams "DONBLAS!" Russell Crowe-style, his battlecry echoing throughout the Dragon Caves and alerting every soldier to the incursion of Law into the place. (Fumbles his hide roll)

DREAM REALM MARADOR - LAND OF OLD DESIRES - TANELORN


Cymoreal sips his wine- fine Melnibonean vintages from the height of the Bright Empire. He wonders - didn’t he have something to do. Something to do with dragons. Yes - something that wasn’t sitting and drinking! With great force of will he drags himself out of the lassitude of contentment and starts slapping Yai Chiang out of his happy place too. But when he tries to get Sadic attention, the dream seems to interfere- patrons always getting between him and her as she remains in rapt conversation with Raymun.

"We need a guide" he snaps at Chiang Yai "And this dream of happiness wont give us one"
"I can summon one"
says the sorceror and begins to summon a Dream Demon! The dream realm shakes and shudders as the stress of harnessing its magic’s to summon a demon from Hell directly into it over-stresses the structures of dream. A hollow eyed young girl with dead-white flesh appears, though her presence burns and scars the dream realm with every footprint. "A dragons dream realm? Powerful! I have never been to such a place before!" she hisses, the world seeming to shudder with every syllable. Chiang binds her to lead them to the next realm. Through hook and crook (and some pyromania), Cymoreal and Yai Chiang get Sadic’s attention "Come on Sadic!" cries Cymoreal as he burns down the inn

"No, I need to find out about Lily- I think she was my daughter"
"Raymun is part of you- he has no more to tell you- we need to get on! Its further in, that we can do something about Lily"

Sadic finally remembers the danger of Marador- it is a realm where contentment often strands a dream traveller with happiness and remembered nostalgia, sapping the will to leave. She breaks through the spell this dream realm has cast on her (a spell she willingly embraced) and leaves. They follow the dream demon (OOC- "And nothing bad ever happened following a demonic, white faced Japanese school girl" mutters Yai Chiang’s player) as she leads them to the docks of Tanelorn. A flat grey sea extends outward, and the demons walks across the surface and then into it! They follow, and the world seems to invert- and they are walking on the surface of another mirrored grey sea - Imador the Land of New Ambition

THE WAKING WORLD -DRAGON CAVES - AVON


Avon battles back and forth against the Melnibonean patrol, slaying a few of the patrol with crushing blows from his Lawhammer. He drives the rest back out to the tunnels leading to the cave, before killing the leader. He chooses a narrow place in the tunnel approaching Flamefang’s lair where the enemy can only come at him one at a time and prepares for a long battle. Donblas shall not find him wanting in a test of martial skill!

DREAM REALM - IMADOR THE LAND OF NEW AMBITION - SORCERORS ISLE


The trio and their demon guide emerge from the grey sea to see a grey, rocky isle ahead. In the middle of the island, a great stone tower rises - scorched and damaged by what (to Cymoreal’s expert eye) looks like dragonfire. Overhead great, angry black storm clouds rumble and bolts of lightning flash! This place looks familiar to Yai Chiang - a replica of the Sorceror’s Isle.

The demon says "My task is done! Unbind me sorceror"
"Begone!"
dismisses Yai Chiang, expecting to cast her back to Hell
"Shan't" grins the demon-girl, her mouth full of sharp teeth, as she leaps at the elderly Easterner.
Yai Chiang quickly speaks the Rune of Reversal and she reverses arc mid-jump, bouncing and tumbling back over the rocky ground. THWACK! Cymoreal’s sword parts her head from shoulders in one blow.

"I think we should beware of summoning any more demons" says Chiang "the further into the dream we go, the more powerful they will have to be to guide us- and the more difficult to control"

Then the heavens open and a wild storm drives howling rain at them, they flee for the only obvious point of safety- the tower. Entering it, they see it is a mostly hollow tube, though strange metal machines of gold and iron are all around, placed in the walls and ceiling, they hum and buzz and arcs of lightning spark between them randomly!

A great spectral Melnibonean face manifests in the centre of the tower, it looks down upon them and speaks in a booming voice

"WELCOME MY YOUNG APPRENTICE! YOU HAVE DONE WELL TO FIND THIS PLACE! HERE, WITH THE MIGHT OF A DRAGONS DREAM TO POWER My ASCENSION, WE CAN BECOME GODS! THEN WE SHALL SHOW THE FOOLS WHO OPPOSED ME! WE SHALL RAIN DOWN VENGEANCE UPON THEM ALL! MWA-HA-HA!"
"But my Lord, did you not want a vessel first?" asks Yai Chieng as the others look at him and ask if knows who this sinister madmen is?
"THAT IS NOT NECESSARY IN THE DREAM REALMS - WHAT USE DO WE HAVE FOR HUMAN BODIES IF WE CAN GO STRAIGHT TO APOTHEOSIS- GODS AFTER ALL DONT NEED MORTAL SHELLS!"
"Indeed Lord, to go straight from here to the planes of the Gods, it makes sense!"
murmurs Yai Chieng "What must I do?"
"YOU MUST PULL THE LEVER TO ACTIVATE MY CHAOS ENGINES WHICH SHALL MAKE ME INTO A GOD. THEN I WILL ELEVATE YOU TO GODHOOD TOO, TO SERVE AS MY RIGHT HAND!"
"Yes mighty Cran Liret!"
shouts Yai Chiang, heading towards the lever

"Cran Liret- where did I hear that name before?" ponders Cymoreal. The he remembers- Cran Liret, the Melnibonean sorceror who wanted to become a God himself. A man so arrogant that he challenged the Bright Emperor himself and tried to seize the Silver Grimoire and Ring of Arctorios, until the golden Battle Barges and Dragon-hosts were sent against him.

"Wait, Yai Chiang- how do you know you will become a god if you pull the lever?"
"PULL THE LEVER!"
shouts Cran Liret
"Hmmm.... this could be a dream?" hesitates Chiang momentarily
"This is the Land of New Ambition" reminds Sadic the Dream Thief

Cymoreal acts rather than speaks, thrusting his dragon lance deep into the machinery and causing the tower to shake and fall in response- lightning arcing wildly about!

"PULL THE LEVER- THE DREAM BECOMES UNSTABLE!" screams Cran Liret "THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO FULFILL YOUR DESTINY, MY YOUNG APPRENTICE! BECOME A GAWD!"
"No, the real Cran Liret wouldn’t bluster so much!"
says Yai Chiang, as thunder and lightning crash down into the tower, sparks and masonry falling all around them! The alchemist leads Sadic and Cymoreal down a trapdoor in the tower, leaving the dream projection of Cran Liret to its doom. And with that they leave Imador and enter a new dream realm...

THE WAKING WORLD -DRAGON CAVES - AVON


Avon meanwhile is up to his chest in bodies. His arms ache and body throbs as he parries attack after attack before delivering head-smashing blow after blow. Spears and bolts pepper his chest, and he takes wound after wound from the lightning-quick Melniboneans, but still he stands despite the pain, his Law-gifted healing factor knitting up flesh and staunching blood flows almost as quickly as he takes them. In the moments in which the tunnel becomes blocked with dead bodies and the Melniboneans send demons or spells forward to clear them, he rests for a breath or two before the assault resumes. But he endures - none shall pass the hammer of Avon Astran!

UNKNOWN DREAM REALM - MEADOWS OF LASSITUDE


Coming out of the trapdoor, the trio of dreamers find themselves in a great field of flowers and plants- its lush and colourful, almost too vibrant, much like the oil-painting field in What Dreams May Come. Plants grow to head-height, an intoxicating palette of colours and sensations- whites and reds and purples and yellows and seems faintly familiar to Cymoreal though he cant place the location, nor can Sadic identify which Dream Realm it is - is it Paranor, Land of Lost Belief? Or perhaps Celador, Land of Forgotten Love? Or is this profusion of flowers mad enough to be Falador, Land of Madness?

Regardless, the trio make their way through the vast, overgrown meadows, looking for a centre or a guide. Cymoreal hears the sound of children laughing, and he presses on, Yai Chiang close behind him. Sadic meanwhile hears crying from off to the left and loses track of the others- she finds a river and riverbank, a washing board and discarded clothes and a woman clutching what looks like a bag of rags to her chest. The woman is unrecognisable, distraught, out of her mind, howling her pain to the world "I JUST TOOK MY EYES OFF HER FOR A MOMENT! JUST A MOMENT. AND NOW SHES GONE! GONE!" and clutching the rags, rocking back and forth, body shaking sobs tearing the heart.

Sadic gently tries to talk to the woman, but the grief is too great and she remains unresponsive. She keeps clutching the rags tighter and tighter. Sadic words are having no effect, so she grabs some rags and through some slight of hand and passing clothes back and forth to the grief-blinded woman, she manages to swap the bundles. Opening up the rags, she finds cradled within it a white flower bouquet.

Lilies‘.

She recognises the woman at last.

ELSEWHERE -

Cymoreal and Yai Chiang come to an abrupt halt as they spot a clearing ahead, through the flowers and plants of the Meadow. In the clearing, Cymoreal recognises his half-brother Sarel and the Princess Allea kissing and whispering sweet nothings into the others ear. Both are entranced with the other- gazing deeply into each others eyes, unaware they are being spied upon.

Yai Chiang nudges his half-Melnibonean companion in the ribs, hissing "There" and pointing across the clearing where a small, sneaking form is hidden behind the greenery on the other side of the clearing. It moves away, leaving a trail in the flower stalks. Racing through the clearing (the young lovers still oblivious) Cymoreal pounds after the small shape, easily outdistancing Yai Chiang. Seeing the figure in front, he launches forward in a tackle, grabbing the running figure and rolling head over heel a few times. Finally they come to a stop amidst the narcotic flowers. He has caught a small boy- half-Melnibonean by the look.

Its a familiar face- his own, circa 20 years ago.

"How old are you child?" asks Cymoreal of his younger self as a panting Chiang finally jogs up to join them
"I'm thirteen"
"What were you doing?"
The boy starts crying- a burbling, sobbing "My friends, my only friends, and they don’t have any time for me, always sneaking off and kissing. Its so unfair- Allea should be with me" - total stream of consciousness stuff.
"There, there lad" comforts Cymoreal "We can always kill Sarel and then Allea would love us!"
"No"
argues Yai Chiang - "Women dislike being covered in blood, mid-snog. I remember this!" says the emotional sociopath, (OOC- taking the entire table much aback)
"No don’t hurt them!" shouts young Cymoreal "I might hate Sarel, but they are my only friends - the only ones that talk to me. Its just not fair. Allea should love me, not that big idiot" he says resentfully

Cymoreal turns to Chiang "I don’t understand this. I don’t remember this. I don’t remember Allea and Sarel being in love. I don’t remember seeing them in the clearing. If this boy is a projection of my mind, then why don’t I remember this?"

"Ah so" says Yai Chiang with the inscrutable wisdom of the Unknown East "Perhaps this projection is from your subconscious and it can access what your conscious mind would rather forget?"

Elder Cymoreal considers, realisation dawning....


ELSEWHERE - CELADOR, LAND OF FORGOTTEN LOVES - SADIC


Sadic too is alone with herself. She trembles, knowing that she is approaching an iceberg sized memory of pain. Is this what happened to her child, her Lily? Is this why she went insane with grief and excised the memory of this loss from her mind?

She must know. So she speaks the Rune of Slumber on the projection of her younger, distraught self and raises up her dreamstaff to touch her projections forehead- willing herself to enter her own dream within a dream....

A DREAM WITHIN A DREAM - FALADOR, LAND OF MADNESS


A vast, eternally collapsing Inception-style city, buildings sloughing off and crashing into the sea like icebergs calving off. The sky is grey and strange and reality trembles and ever sight is like through a thousand mirrors reflecting themselves. She travels to the centre of that mad, insane city and finds a sapphire lily flower set on the peak of a rubble-pile.

Clambering up, she touches her dream-memory and it all comes flooding back - her beautiful, wonderful Lilly, days of love and happiness, a smile on both their faces, the warmth of love. But always ending in The Accident. It wasn’t her fault, but neither could she bear that terrible, endless, awful pain. The memory replays, over and over again, such happiness but always ending in such soul-destroying, unbearable sadness and pain. She is lost in her own mind...

CELADOR, LAND OF FORGOTTEN LOVES - MEADOWS OF LASSITUDE - CYMOREAL & YAI CHIANG


After arguing and bickering about whether Young Cymoreal is a guide or not, the pair eventually realise that Sadic is missing. They wont get far without their Dream Thief. Confused and desperate to move on, Yai Chiang suggests a dangerous plan. As their view is blocked by the many flowers and plants as high as corn-rows, he decides to alter the dreamscape with his arcane knowledge. Summoning deep reserves of will, he plants his heart into the earth and grey wilting spreads out, killing all the plants and turning flower and bloom to ash and dead leaf.
The Wilting spreads out, further and further, the Dream Realm shaking and shuddering as its very being is altered. Finally the death of greenery reaches the river bank and they can spot a fallen heap of rags. Getting over there with a thought (for Celador is starting to collapse) Yai Chiang intuits how Sadic has tried to access the mind of her own projection- in fact projecting her consciousness into her own mind and perceiving her own thoughts - trapping herself in an infinite feedback loop

Fortunately he is not bound by such paradox and he too dreams a cup of Dreamtea, sips it and slides into the dream of Sadic/Her projection. He too finds the collapsing city, disorder spreading across order, entropy made real as Sadic’s mind crumbles under the awful stress she is confronting
"Come away" he says gently
"I can't leave my daughter"
"That’s just the memory of your daughter"
"Its all I have left of her"
"No! In the dragons mind, we will be able to shape reality! I will dream a mighty physical vessel for my lord Cran Liret - one strong enough to survive Apotheosis! He will become a god and elevate me with HIM! How hard would it be for you to restore your daughter as well"?
Chiang reaches out for Sadic
"I could have her back?" - hope dawns
"Leave this memory and turn it into reality!"

Sadic is reluctant to leave the sapphire lily, but pulled gently by Chiang, she eventually disengages and they fly high into the air, leaving this realm of madness as skyscraper after skyscraper folds in and falls ever more.

Returning to the now dead Meadows of Lassitude they reunite with Cymoreal and himself as the rotting, wilting flowers and bushes rot into formless grey and their projections fade away into transparency. They have collapsed Celador, it fades away around them and are in a new place....

THE WAKING WORLD -DRAGON CAVES - AVON


After a hundred enemy are slain a great shout comes from a helmed Dragon Prince of Melnibone "CHAMPION OF LAW! HEAR ME! WHY DO YOU BATTLE FOR CHAOS?"
"What do you mean?" shouts back Avon
"Our divinations and augurs say that your actions will benefit upstart Pan Tang" shouts Dragon Prince Sarel
"Oh...." Avon considers. Certain unvoiced suspicions of his crystallising into place. Who was the one-eyed Malastair really? Why had their ship gone untouched by Pan Tangian pirates, yet another rival Chaos cult speaking of prophecies had striven to stop them. And it wasn’t knowledge of the runeswords destruction that Malastair wanted - rather it was the memory of their forging. Could Pan Tang be seeking to create their own runeblades? Long have they sought to ape the Bright Empire of Melnibone in every detail.

"Very well- what do you propose?" asks Avon, the endless fight seemingly going out of him
"Step aside and we will let you live"
"What about my companions?"
"If they have entered the dreams of the dragons, then it is too late for them. They can not leave Imryrr with any secret knowledge in their heads or Pan Tang will have their prize."
"Do you swear you will let me leave alive and unharmed? Do you swear by your Chaos Lords and on your dragons?"
demands Avon
"We so swear, human"
And with that (and to much consternation and protests by the other players who are asking why he's accepting such a low burden of proof) Avon apparently reaches the ends of his oath to "protect them best as I can" and the Champion of Law steps aside, the Melniboneans racing past him and flooding into Flamefang’s cave!

Betrayal indeed, but who would have expected the Champion of Law to be the weak link? If you cant trust the word of a Champion of Donblas, who can you trust?


THE DRAGONS DREAM - THE VOID

The re-united trio, unknowing of the doom racing toward them in the Waking World, find themselves seeming in the night sky- deep black void all around them. Before them, in the endless black, they see a great wall of light like some interstellar aurora borealis. Amidst the rainbow of colours and lights they see strange images - mis-shaped people unlike they have seen before , great flights of winged drakes, seen before, worlds of purple skies and orange oceans.

"I think we have finally reached the Dragons memories" states Cymoreal as they take in the panorama.
"There - look!" points Yai Chiang to a another streamer of borealis light which connects at right angles to this one- joining and crossing. "There- another" - slowly they realise that all these different streams of light and memory meet at nexus points, creating a great, unimaginably huge network of intersecting minds. "All their minds - all their dreams! They are connected!" exclaims Cymoreal
"We can do anything here! Anything we imagine! MWA-HA-HA!" exults Yai Chiang.
"How about we accomplish our mission first?" suggests Sadic. The others consent and Sadic focuses on Flamefang’s memory-aurora. The images and sensations speed along in fast forward, then skip entire millennia as Sadic focuses on the runeswords.

Then the memory plays across the horizon for them, like the ultimate Imax experience. They see the mis-shapen (to their eyes at least) Doomed Folk working not in a forge, but within a great runic pentagram. Dire runes of Chaos are carven into stone by these creatures of Law, and hideous chants uttered. A growing blackness in the centre signals the summoning of the mightiest Sword Demon who is then bound into the shape of a dreadful black sword by the Doomed Folk, who incise eye-watering runes of control into it. Then a vast dragon drips poison ichors’ from its mouth into a vat and they quench the newly-wrought runesword in that terrible poison.

"So that is how the runeswords were created!" exclaims Yai Chiang - not forged, but summoned and bound.
"But what can we do about it?" says Cymoreal "For I see no weakness in that binding- the runeswords were built to last. It has no weakness"
"Then we must introduce one!"
states the wily sorceror
"What?! How?" from Sadic
"My dear dream thief- you must change the dream-memory of that past time. And if what we believe is true, then we will change the past itself, and so the real world today. Here - add this specific Rune of Banishment to the runes the Doomed folk magic into it. When activated by a sorceror who knows its there, it will banish the Sword Demon from this realm! That is how we will save the world!"

So Sadic, greatest of the Dream Thieves enters the memory, not to extract it, but rather to add to it- the impossible act of Inception. Through all her mastery, training, wit and skill, she moulds Flamefang’s dreams of that day, changing them so subtly that none would know (and hopefully avoiding any paradoxes). As she does so, a great pressure falls across the void, as if some great beast had moved, and the universe shudders under the weight of changing the past.

Something in the Void is waking, and their time grows short.

"What should we do now?" asks Sadic
"Now we split up and do what we really came here to do" says Yai Chiang, shooting off into the aurora borealis.

SADIC

Sadic knows what she must do. From her pouch she pulls out the sapphire lily - the symbolic representation of the physical extraction of all her memories of her daughter. To her, it is Lilly. She lets hope and love be her guides and plunges the jewel into the aurora borealis of draconic thought and memory with one urgent thought "GIVE ME BACK MY DAUGHTER"

Once more reality shudders and re-adjusts. A great beating of wings is heard upon the deep. Getting closer. But Sadic has her living, breathing daughter in her arms. With a thought she summons the Moonbeam Roads, and travels out of this place to somewhere she can be safe and happy with her beloved daughter forevermore. Tanelorn....

CYMOREAL


Cymoreal returns to that moment in time in the Meadows of Lassitude where his younger self spies on the kissing couple of Sarel and Allea. As the jealous rears in his heart and the anguish begins to poison his feelings toward his brother, he looks up and see's an older, battle-scarred Dragon Prince gently guide him away from the clearing and comforts him with sage words- "Don’t worry lad, you will always have dragons. Dragons are eternal. Dragons are better than stupid girls. And one day you will have your own dragon! Never give up hope"

The Dragons Dream is starting to fall apart as yet another revision to reality and the past is made and the wing beats draw closer, a great inhaling of breath disturbing the Void. But Cymoreal can rub out his "Rivalry with Sarel 15" and replace it with "True Friendship 15"- he has changed himself rather than reality, and let go of the jealousythat has long poisoned in his soul.

YAI CHIANG


The apprentice of Cran Liret casts his consciousness into the network of dragons minds, and begins to imagine - he sees a boat heading to the rocky shore of the Sorceror’s Isle - within it, a tall, strong Melnibonean - a great hero and magician, but weak of will. A suitable vessel for possession by the Man Who Would Be God. Yai Chiang fixes that image, that desire in his mind and pushes against the resistance of the dream, of reality. Sweat beading his forehead, he pushes...!

But at the last is found wanting - the many changes to reality have frayed the dragons sleep and its dream. The Wings beat closer and the jaw opens- vaster than continent’s, the mouth snaps closed around Yai Chiang, and the Dreamers are expelled from Flamefang’s mind!

CONCLUSION
THE WAKING WORLD -DRAGON CAVES - CYMOREAL/YAI CHIANG/AVON

As the dream collapses, 2 dreamers awake - Sadic (and Lily) having dream travelled to Tanelorn are no longer present. Instead Cymoreal and Yai Chiang awake to meet the angry Melniboneans.

Dragon Prince Sarel raises up his spear to bring down in a killing blow on the seeming Melnibonean traitor who has so defiled the Dragon Caves. Then he catches sight of his foes face - CLANG! The deadly spear diverts at the last moment to miss Cymoreal and ground itself in rock floor "No! I cannot harm my brother. Take this one to my manor instead- he will be under house arrest and guest to my wife Allea and me." Cymoreal knows that while he may dream of his bonded dragon, he will never again see young Avon Armbiter.... Still he has the comfort of proving his father wrong, and being reunited with his only friends in the world.

Another Melnibonean stabs his sword into Yai Chiangs chest. The sorceror attempts the Rune of Reversal, but the sorcerous might of the assembled Dragon Lords of Melnibone are too great and the blade lances through his old body. Still, as he has hidden his heart, he does not die- in fact he cannot die so long as the heart is intact. Still, this powerful magic is well known to the decadent Melniboneans and they search him for the egg-sized opal in which he has hidden his heart, confiscating it. "Take this one to Doctor Jest- its been a while since he's had an immortal to torture- he'll enjoy the challenge!"... Yai Chiang starts screaming and wont ever be able to stop........

The Dragon Lords keep their word and Avon Astran is allowed to leave- heading back to the Purple Towns to settle scores with the Cult of Maluk and Malastair - his adherence to Law and the integrity of his honour now tainted by the corrupting time he spent on the Dreaming Isle....

TANELORN - SADIC & LILY

As for Sadic and Lily, they live happily ever after in Tanelorn, at last able to find some peace in that legendary home for champions of the Balance. Sadic is the last of the heroes free and entrusted with the secret of how to destroy the Runeswords, but now she has re-discovered happiness and contentment, will she ever again leave her reborn daughters side and venture into the Young Kingdoms to prevent their last days?

And one last thought... Sadic found her dream within the dream realms - everything she always wanted- her daughter returned, her pain assuaged, and even a version of Tanelorn in Marador, Land of Old Desires. Did she ever really leave?

FINIS

End of Session 3 of 3.


Comments, questions, criticisms welcome.
"Forth, and fear no darkness! Arise. Arise, Riders of Theoden. Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered! A sword day... a red day... ere the sun rises. Ride now!... Ride now!... Ride! Ride for ruin and the world's ending!"

Exalted Actual Play: Gem City Watch! || Dark Heresy- Silver Dawn/The Castermere Look/The Beiderbeck Investigation || ASOI&F - A Knights Tale || Cold City: BSG || Rogue Trader: Eastern Fringes Trading Co. || Elric: Inception in the Dreaming City || Masks of Nyarlathotep-7e||Super(Mad)men from the Stars||V20: The Red List|| Dracula Dossier @LongCon2016
SJE
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Location: CanWha Corporate Arcology
Thanks: 34 given/920 received


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