Every night before bed, before sacrificing myself to the gulf of limitless dream, I have a ritual. There are wards – symbols and sigils and herbs known to only a few, only spoken about in books that should have been lost to the pyres of darkest history. The Gellspachen, the Uurza, burned leaf of Tinzane, the sigils of lost Lemuria. They are known to me, oh yes – they have come to me in dreams, or sent by other travelers who have come to know me. The wards are powerful – they make the very air hum with their power, yes – and they have kept me safe for these long months. Safe from harm, safe from ‘other’, safe from the black wings and the piping and the gate… Safe
Last night sleep came fitfully, I tossed and turned and sweat drenched the sheets as I was swallowed by black and venomous dreams. I felt the pull, felt hot winds blowing across my skin and sharp rocks under my feet as I walked, disoriented, uncertain of where I was. I heard a sickening hum that filled my head with cold writhing tendrils that made me shriek. I looked upon the black stone landscape and my eyes burned with the wrongness of it all.
A figure approached, it’s outline swimming in the heat haze, and as it got closer I heard a chorus of blasphemous voices crying out, a cacophony of wailing and shrieks. I tried to escape, I wanted to run away, but I was held transfixed by the faceless figure, it’s yellow robes flowing irregularly as if caught in an unseen tempest. I couldn’t even look away as it came closer, and as it reached me it looked up and I stared into the vast black abyss of frozen worlds and distant galaxies wreathed in red fire, a limitless vastness that tore at my very soul.
A horrid, charnel smell filled the air and I retched, choking into the burning air, my ears ringing with sounds no sane person has ever heard. Every part of my dream-self hurt and I wanted nothing but to awaken and escape the nightmare I was dragged into, but the spells and incantations I was taught to escape the dreamworlds were not working and I felt myself being dragged deeper in, felt myself being pulled apart by things I could not see.
As a last ditch effort to save myself, I grabbed a sharp stone and cut the Isildin and Gasulien, sigils of the Uurza, into my forearm. The heat seared me and then I felt an icy grip, then I awoke gasping and thrashing. As I lay in the darkness panting, feeling the burning heat on my forearm where my dream-self had carved the sigils I used to escape. I know there will be repercussions for using them in the way I did, but what else could I do?
When the daylight broke I saw that somehow, my wards had been broken, one of them even shattered. What power could do such a thing? Shatter and burn protective sigils and wards? Something terrible, a shadow of malevolence that reached into my inner sanctum and tormented me, maybe even tried to kill me. It sounds like paranoia, of course – they always called it paranoia, my fears about the dreamworlds and the evils that reside there. They never believe me, even with such proofs as these.
I do not know what it is that’s out there, but I need to guard myself against it, and I need to do it soon…