The Dreamlands

Natasha sends a bird of desire — a vampire bat — to locate Lowen and get a message from him.

Lowen finds himself in front of three Sorcerer Kings. He tries to break the summoning circle from within it. There are explosions and blasts of color. He wakes up pinned to the wall, silver pins adorning his arms, legs and various other places.

Expanding his consciousness behind the pins, Lowen attemps to push the pins out. There is wet tearing noise, the sound of his soul ripping apart. "He is remarkably resilient," he hears them say as he passes out again.

Waking up, Lowen sees a bat clinging to his face. It carries a message from Natasha: "I am coming for you. Tell me how to find you."

He is wearing a tunic and sandals. He decides to explore the area. Coming to the crest of the hill, he sees ocean ahead. Just over the crest he sees an elfin girl in a white tunic. She is watching two titan leviathans fighting in the distance. "They're coming," she says.

And then he wakes up.

Together, Natasha, Jericho and Isabelle seek out Lowen's reply message. Using Trump and hunting takes the group into the hinterlands of shadow. They find themselves quite tired as they notice an inn nearby. The locals welcome the travelers as they partake of food and drink and slumber.

Lowen realizes that in his dream, he is dreaming of reality. He asks the elfin girl if he is really there. They talk in circles. The conversation is dizzying.

The trio wakes beside a pool of golden liquid, each dressed in a tunic and sandals and surrounded by black and silver grass. They hear talking over a nearby hill and walk towards it. Over the hill, they see Lowen debating his dream state with the girl.

The bat leaves Lowen's shoulder and lands on Natasha's. Jericho introduces himself to the girl and asks her name. She shares her name in the form of a thought, not a spoken sound. ('Nmacchra' is the best translation.) She says that we are in The Dreamlands, the dream of all consciousness.

Lowen tries to bring the group to his cell… or his dream of his cell… by thinking of it. Suddenly they are all in his cell where he is pinned to the wall in 13 places. The scene flashes intermittently to the gory vision of him being tortured. Natasha finds a floor tile with a handle on it. Under the tile are Natasha and Jericho's swords and 5 cards from Isabelle's Trump deck.

"I know your physical body is in terrible peril, but… could we go into the Sorcerer King's dream and kill him?" Jericho suggests to Lowen. The group debates the feasibility of the idea.

After careful consideration, Jericho is fairly certain that given their lack of knowledge, it is disadvantageous to pursue it. From what Isabelle remembers from her own experience, she thinks that if someone was killed in a dream, they would wake up in reality.

Isabelle draws a trump of the white tree in The Dreamlands and slides it in with the rest of her cards. Then she trumps everyone to Erewhon-in-Dreamlands. Natasha uses her pattern sword to cut through to the real Erewhon. Natasha and Lowen go through. Injury alarms sound and heal-bots come to Lowen's rescue.

Isabelle waits on Jericho, who considers staying to learn more. After fighting the inner turmoil, both decide they simply must know more about this magical place. Armed with 5 trumps: Amber, Erewhon, Corwin, and 2 blanks, they set out.

Scrying with her trump, Isabelle sees that Corwin is fighting up the stairway on the side of the Cabra sea. He falls off the cliff. A deck of cards is throw at him, but they are just out of reach. Isabelle pushes Jericho's card toward him. Corwin looks at the card and frowns. SPLAT. It seems he'd rather die than talk to Jericho. Funny, that.

Jericho becomes aware that he is going to wake up soon. Isabelle still has a grasp on the dream state.

Natasha begrudgingly accepts a Chai latte before heading out to rescue Jericho and Isabelle. In the emergency room, one of the robots says, "I have to know!" and jabs a needle in Lowen's neck. He is suddenly paralyzed, though his mind is still active. He summons the abyss and uses it to blast the robot's torso off. The robots are working faster and faster trying to set bones back in place before he heals, which is happening much faster than expected.

On the hillside, Jericho inspects the tree. It is warm and soft with a surface more like skin than bark. A butterflagon flutters around the tree. Jericho moves closer to it.

Natasha sends a butterflagon of desire to find Jericho and Isabelle with the message, "Where are you?"

Jericho and Isabelle sense that they are being followed. There are 3 or 4 sinewy creatures in the treetops tracking their movements. Jericho again feels that the dream is waning. He grows wings and flies up to one of the creatures, which turns out to be a serpent man.

"You are in our lands. You do not belong here," it hisses. "Why are you here?"
"I'm lost!" Jericho exclaims.
"No you are not."
The serpent men grow tired of arguing and slither off.

Just as the two start again on their path, a magical effect goes off. Jericho turns and goes toward it. Curious, Isabelle follows. He goes up to the group of serpent men and asks for directions. They say this is not his dream. That is the way out. They point to the way from which Jericho came.

Isabelle, watching from a distance, is approached by a serpent woman. "Is he your pet?" she asks. Isabelle grins and replies, "In a sense." Jericho fights to stay asleep and makes his way down to meet the serpent woman.

Lowen wakes up in recovery and asks Dr. Daliito what happened to him. The doctor is happy to tell him that the experimental treatment was not supposed to be given, but there have been no adverse effects for him. Yet, anyway.

"Hello. I'm Jericho."
"I'm Sophia."
"So this place is yours?"
"No," she replies.

It turns out that she is not in control of this area, but she does know that Jericho is about to wake up and leave the dream. At that moment, he wakes up in the inn. Seeing Isabelle beside him, he shakes her.

A gigantic monster, shadowy and bloody, storms through the jungle straight toward Isabelle. "Well. That is inappropriate," says Sophia. Isabelle looks helplessly at Sophia. "What do I do?!" Sophia reveals a dagger and stabs Isabelle through the heart, in an almost compassionate gesture.

Isabelle wakes up, gasping.

J: 5, N: 5, L: 5, I: 3

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