Matt Mann as Laurence Van Drake
Paul Vilbig as Shaden “Leech” Liixe
Derek Romano as Cade “Blindsight” Haarkoth
Greg Mann as Khulvos Hooftorn
Michael Graziano as Daegys Sahii
Christine Scott as T’Saira Behntrilo
As Leech and I raced to save Crossel’s soul from its self-inflicted torment, I felt great unrest seizing my body, and I knew my time drew short. If I could not wrest Crossel back from his rage-induced instability, I knew that I might have had to kill him, one of my Sankatte, in order to save both myself and Adon…
A Dream Within A Dream
Laurence explained to everyone on the raft that everything was not as it appeared. This skiff was a part of the Inner Sanctum, and their real bodies were lying comatose on the actual skiff, with Crodonvos’s catatonic body. Laurence had just himself been attacked by Crodonvos and brought into Khulvos’s Inner Sanctum…
- Upon realizing what was happening, Adon attempted to warn me that I was not within my own Inner Sanctum, but Crossel’s. However, Leech and I were indisposed at the time, doing battle with imaginary savage natives from Crossel’s nightmarish iteration of Paradisla.
- Outside, in my Sanctum, the Riverman’s Skiff ran aground on a sandy beach that Laurence and Adon realized represented my own nightmarish iteration of Freel. Adon reached inward again, and I finally heard his message.
- I told Adon that this was unprecedented (and it was), because my consciousness was occupied and, indeed, trapped within Crossel’s Inner Sanctum, I was not able to maintain my own sanctum’s environment. Now, my worst fears and regrets would be as great a threat to my friends as Crossel’s were to Leech and I.
- The Horns of Agony were seen approaching their position, and heeding my warning, Laurence and the others headed for the cover of a copse of gnarled palm trees. S’zeves, however, decided to confront the Horns, believing that he was powerful enough to face the odds.
- S’zeves was quickly cut down by my mindseye’s version of Kajano, who once upon a time was my best and most trusted friend. S’zeves appeared to be dead, but in fact, just before his life ended in my Inner Sanctum, his physical body roused from its coma on the actual skiff.
- S’zeves made a brief and futile attempt to knock out my body, but in its catatonic state, it was far too reflexive and uninhibited. He reappeared with Laurence and the others, who admonished him for taking such a huge and unnecessary risk.
- Realizing that things were only going to get worse, Laurence asked Adon to contact me and ask what I recommended. I told him that there could be no escape from either Crossel’s Inner Sanctum or my own until I found a way to calm my brother down. Adon interjected that killing Crossel would end our Sankatte and redeposit our conscious minds back into our own bodies. That would mean sacrificing Adon as well, as he had no body to return to. However, he was more than willing to make the sacrifice.
- Laurence decided to have Adon send him and the others into Crossel’s Inner Sanctum to aid me in finding and saving Crossel. Adon rightly said that he had little practice in the technique, and that there were risks that doing so would cause them to remain in a coma for the rest of their days. Laurence said that it was worth the risk, and told Adon to send everyone through one at a time.
My Brother’s Keeper
Leech and I found Crossel in a shallow pond doing battle with a large group of natives. They had ropes tied around his wrists and neck and were dragging him through the water toward an immense stone statue of his namesake, the original Crossel…
- As we approached, the natives turned on us and began to throw spears, one of which sliced into my left bicep painfully. Outside, Adon shrieked in pain. As I feared, wounds inflicted within these unstable Inner Sanctums would manifest on our physical bodies. I now had an open, bleeding wound on my arm, and nobody was conscious to stem the bleeding. I would get weaker and weaker until I bled to death; I had about fifteen minutes to save Crossel… or kill him.
- Suddenly, the statue of the original Crossel began to stir, and it stepped off of its pedestal, roaring down at my defiant, furious brother.
- Laurence made it within the Inner Sanctum and found himself atop a steep cliff overlooking the lagoon. The savages let Crossel go and fled from the animated statue.
- I reached Crossel and tried to get him to listen to reason. I explained to him that this was his Inner Sanctum, and that he had to calm down or he would do something he would regret forever. Crossel was beyond reasoning, insisting that he was a monster, and that meditation and training could not calm his inner rage without a body to hone. He was a monk without a temple, a holy man whose prayers leave him empty.
- One by one, more of our allies came into Crossel’s Inner Sanctum, but despite our best efforts, in this place, he was too strong to keep down. Laurence finally attacked and destroyed the massive statue, then took Crossel by the shoulders and said:
“We have been friends since we were kids, Crossel. I know you’ve always had a big chip on your shoulder. I know that the older you got, the bigger the burden on your back. You found peace by becoming a monk. If you can’t find peace that way anymore, then you find another way, but self-destructing is not the answer! We need you, Crossel. I need you. You are my best friend. Believe me… I could really use that right now.”
Crossel shook his head and tried to calm down so that everyone could leave. Laurence and I said that we wouldn’t leave without him. In fact, we couldn’t leave without him. Crossel tried to fight his rage, but I knew then and there that there was no way to save him from this fate. I could not kill my brother, and neither could Laurence. I looked across the pond to Leech and nodded to him, and he raised his weapon and began to approach Crossel’s flank…
In a fierce battle, Crossel soundly defeated us one by one. Finally, Adon came through into this sanctum, horribly injured by the Horns of Agony. I called out to Crossel, telling him to help me save Adon. Crossel calmed down, and then Regult came up with an amazing idea…
- Regult approached Laurence and asked him if he still had that key we found in the inverted spectral ship en route to the River Styx. Though he doubted it would be here in this dream state, as it turned out, the key was still tied around his neck and tucked underneath his armor.
- Daegys produced the box, equally perplexed that it existed here in Crossel’s Inner Sanctum. With Regult’s prodding, Laurence opened the box.
- Within the box was a pile of glass-strewn sand and an ancient letter written in a strange elven hand, just like the language we had all seen in our shared vision of the World Before a few days ago. Laurence, somehow able to read the note, suddenly told Crossel that he could grant him peace once again.
- Laurence said that the letter revealed a solution to their problems. Regult guessed that the solution involved a mirror, and I recalled seeing repeated visible references to mirrors in the relief carvings we found in the chamber of the Well of Slivered Souls. Regult said that he once used a broken mirror, a relic from the world before, to save the life of Kasai, his then-future wife.
- Crossel calmed down long enough to hear Regult out. When Kasai was stricken by a demonic curse, the only way to save her life was for her to look into something called the Soul Mirror. When one gazes into a Soul Mirror, one sees all one’s flaws reflected back toward them. Then, when they turn away, their flaws remain behind in the mirror, and their lives are inexorably changed. Essentially, the mirror takes the person you are and turns you into the person you are meant to be.
- Crossel said that it was worth a shot, and Laurence dumped the sand into the pond we were all standing within. Unable to resist the temptation, every one of us looked into the mirror and saw reflected up at us something that held us back from becoming everything we were destined to be. In my reflection, I saw my past life, the Horns of Agony tattoo emblazoned upon my chest, and the blood of all my victims saturating my fur.
- Similarly, everyone saw something about themselves that needed to be changed. Crossel, however, shook his head and began to cry. In his reflection, he saw the calm and centered monk he so desperately wished he was again. That meant that his destiny was decided, and that he truly was fated to be a monster…
- Everyone suddenly awoke on the raft, vastly changed from our experience with the Soul Mirror in the Inner Sanctum. Adon not only had a body again, but it was a perfect specimen of physical conditioning… and he was no longer a Felite Weren. Instead, a very human Adon faced Crossel, who was now a Bluespawn Godslayer, and performed a powerful flash kick that sent my former brother airward, smashing through the stony, cavernous roof, and all the way to the surface of Infernia.
The skiff deposited us at a landing that looked very familiar. At first, we all thought it had brought us back to where we got onto the skiff to begin with, but soon, we found our way off of the boat, through a long and eerily similar corridor, past another ancient, yet vacant chamber like the Well of Slivered Souls, and up a spiral stair that led us into the heart of Glyph itself. Most of us had changed much, and we all felt a shared emotional vacuum. We could not bring ourselves to acknowledge the deep sadness we felt in losing Crossel to his cruel and twisted fate, though it was obvious that Laurence and I felt his absence the most.
I was no longer with a Sankatte, a bond that was supposed to carry through until death. Adon and Crossel were gone from my mind, and for the first time, my Inner Sanctum was silent, vacant, and lonely. However, I no longer bore the mark of the Horns of Agony. Instead, I was covered with glowing runes that reacted to the flow of my ki. I felt stronger, yet weaker. I felt relieved, yet heartbroken. I felt closer to peace than I had since… well, perhaps since before I was captured by the Horns as a child, before I became the worst of them, before I was burdened by a lifetime’s worth of deep and unrelenting regret. However, as much as I felt at peace, I was conflicted and torn. I was glad for what I gained, but I questioned whether it was worth all that was lost.
We arrived in a well-guarded tower in the center of the city of Glyph. At long last, after over a month of travel and constant danger, we found ourselves in the heart of darkness itself. As we began to fight our way out of the tower, the main entrance burst inward, and we were rejoined by Tagar and Cackle once more. They were accompanied by Colin Martok, much to Regult’s delight. However, there were three more figures in their fighting crew, including some very inexpected faces indeed…
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Chapter 1: The Dreamers in… Hellbound
Chapter 2: The Dreamers in… Life In The Cauldron
Chapter 3: The Dreamers in… The Waking Nightmare
Chapter 4: The Dreamers
Chapter 5: The Dreamers in… Escaping The Cauldron
Chapter 6: The Dreamers in… Wrath of the Beholder
Chapter 7: The Dreamers in… Hounds of Hell
Chapter 8: The Dreamers in… Hideous Laughter
Chapter 9: The Dreamers in… The Tomb of Caenus Graymane
Chapter 10: The Dreamers in… Allure of the Wispwaters
Chapter 11: The Dreamers in… Goodbye, Impy
Chapter 12: The Dreamers in… Sole Survivor
Chapter 13: The Dreamers in… The Iron Fist
Chapter 14: The Dreamers in… Battle at the Ancient Wall
Chapter 15: The Dreamers in… The Long, Hard Road
Chapter 16: The Dreamers in… Hunted
Chapter 17: The Dreamers in… On Fields of Ancient Dead
Chapter 18: The Dreamers in… The Woods of Woe
Chapter 19: The Dreamers in… Divine Intervention
Chapter 20: The Dreamers in… The Standing Stones
Chapter 21: The Dreamers in… Cherished Memories
Chapter 22: The Dreamers in… Hero of the Night Sword
Chapter 23: The Dreamers in… Well of Slivered Souls
Chapter 24: The Dreamers in… Dreams of a Lost World
Chapter 25: The Dreamers in… What Might Have Been (Part 1 of 2)
Chapter 26: The Dreamers in… What Might Have Been (Part 2 of 2)
Chapter 27: The Dreamers in… Shimekiri Sankatte (Part 1 of 2)
Chapter 28: The Dreamers in… Shimekiri Sankatte (Part 2 of 2)
Chapter 29: The Dreamers in… A Long Black Day
Chapter 30: The Dreamers in… No Justice In Hell
Chapter 31: The Dreamers in… The Soothsayer’s Tower