I yawned and sat up, enjoying a luxurious stretch as the last wisps of dream floated away. It was my “odd” dream as I call it. It’s odd because it occurs on a semi-regular basis, and in it, I am a venerably old cat. Now the odd part isn’t being old, we all get old eventually—people, places, societal mores—but comes from the circumstances of my old age. I am surrounded by fellow cat folk of all ages (though none as old or even close to being as old as me) and all wear the black skull of the mighty Taanmrow tribe woven into their multi-hued locks. And all these various feline folk treat me with the highest respect as though I were a tribal elder. They ask for my guidance or judgement, bring their kits to me for blessing and abide by my suggestions. Confusing, no?
The Taanmrow only exists in me now. But the dream always leaves me feeling very positive and refreshed with my chi flowing as freely as the air around me. I do not understand it. Have other members of my tribe managed to survive? Or am I to travel the Horde Lands again someday, gathering together the “strays” of other tribes and resurrecting the mighty Taanmrow from the very dust of my ancestral lands? Whatever the case may be, I shall continue to endeavor learning all I can as I travel the realms, but I think I shall start to save as well for a wealthy tribe is (or can be) a powerful tribe as well.
I rubbed at my eyes, rose from my blankets and began my morning meditational stretches. Groans, farts and Cazimir sitting suddenly upright gasping “Mother!” attended my friends’ waking. After dining and gathering our things together, we went to the lowest part of the crater’s rim, which was about 20 feet above us.
It was decided that we would activate Ibid’s invisibility sphere and use a length of spider silk rope to keep us together and under the spell’s power. We began our ascent, but half-way up, Ibid stumbled and tripped. As I felt Ibid going down, I tried to reach out and steady him, forgetting that he’s shorter than me, he’s more mass-y than me as well as being weighed with packs and a heavy double ax. So I went down too (so much for the mighty Taanmrow’s famed grace and agility). Lemmy, doing his best to avoid stepping on our invisible selves, turned his ankle and went down as well. After carefully sorting ourselves out, we finally made it to the top of the crater’s rim.
Violetta cast her Detect Magic and explained to the rest of us that the mist was the result of a conjuration spell, the sort usually found in conjunction with planar portals. While Violetta explained, I gazed into the mist which seemed to be swirling faster. Suddenly, Violetta’s and Lemmy’s faces formed before my eyes and I cried out and pointed. By the time the others looked, the faces has faded. Lemmy glanced at me and then leaned over the edge. And fell. Four pairs of hands and Violetta’s spiked whip tried to save Lemmy, but he went down like a lead pig’s bladder. My chest began to tighten as I stared down in horror, until I saw Lemmy’s head and shoulders pop up above the layer of fog. I sagged at the release of tension.
As we were dragging Lemmy back up, he was “followed” by an ever-growing, green-tinted ship. Just as it filled the crater and looked to burst among us, it disappeared. Lemmy agreed to go back down and explore the area before we ascended. He reported that 30 feet below the mist layer was another realm—Dreamspace.
Dreamspace is the only realm that all sentient beings share in common excepting the Elves who do not sleep. Ibid cast an oracle that came back negative. Violetta shouted down but we only heard the echo of Violetta’s lovely voice. We decided to focus on Thalus as a group mind. The mist slowly coalesced into the image of an older man sporting a fu manchu with a neutral expression on his face and carrying a crystal encrusted staff. Was it the real Thalus or just an emanation of our collective wills and desires?
It’s decided that we will enter the crater. Violetta starts to sing Inspire Courage (". . . and kicks to my face but I’ve come through. . . "). Then she tripped, but her Gods obviously love her for she didn’t miss a note as she tumbled through the mist. Naturally, I tried to grab for her and fell myself again. Taking Lemmy with me, again. Ibid tried to cut the line but was unable to in time, thus tumbling in after us. I slowly dragged myself to my feet and tried to get my bearings. And I couldn’t! A flat, grey landscape with tendrils of mist surrounded me with a visibility of about 200 feet. Above me, the fog layer lazily rotated on an invisible axis. As brightly as possible I said, “Well, at least we didn’t have to deal with the anxiety of actually crossing the fog layer!” Violetta nodded in agreement.
Once we regrouped, we tried to decide what to do. Do we explore? Should we group focus on Thalus again? Would it be the real Thalus or only a figment of our collective imagination? This was Dreamspace after all. As we argued, Cazimir began to pace about looking at us with an ever-growing irritation.
“To hell with it!” Cazimir exclaimed and used the portal key before any of us could stop him. My yowl of protest slowly faded into nothing as I saw we were on Cormir outside the city of Arabelle. After walking to the ship and stashing our stuff, Cazimir offered to buy us dinner. We settled ourselves in a comfortable private dining room and ordered a round of drinks. As I sipped my kumis, Caz came back with a broadsheet tucked under his arm. “I have good news and weird news. But let’s start with the good shall we?” With a roguish grin, Cazimir said, “The good news is that dinner is on its way.” Even more roguishly, “The weird news is that we have lost about 3 1/2 weeks,” and he flourished the broadsheet. I grabbed for the broadsheet and looked at it greedily. Uktar 5! Though only a lowly Seeker 1st Degree, I’ve heard that one of the Great Questions concerned matters of chromomancy—“Does time run the same or differently on differing planes?”
I immediately began to mentally composed a letter to Tsing Cho, Seeker 5th Degree and nearly miss the fact that we are only two days from Lemmy’s prophetic Battle in the Tears of Selune. Aaaiiiii! I’ll have to send a post to Master Cho about the time shift I experienced before I leave. I do not want to die in battle with this knowledge unspoken to others of greater understanding on my soul.
More mundane things temporarily take my attention. My share of jewels turn out to be worth 1000 GP and I tithed 100 GP to Ibid. We went back to the Voidskimmer and Xrng took the chair. En route, Xrng calls back “Something’s weird,” and vibrations shuddered down the length of the ship. “Helloooo?” Xrng yells louder. The ship suddenly jolted. I went down in tangle with Cazimir. I felt a familiar playful tug. “Nice tail,” purrs Caz. I shot back to my feet, snatching my tail free with a short hiss. Not a very serious one as I know how Caz is an equal opportunist when it comes to women and if he sees a chance at a nice tail, he’ll likely grab it. A third jolt and I fell again along with Cazimir, who hit his head on his oh so precious cheese board, knocking him unconscious.
Disgustedly, I laid there a moment, fighting the urge to scramble up, find a quiet corner and groom myself into a state of dignity. Me, of the mighty graceful Taanmrow, fell four times today. I am sure my ancestors are shaking their heads in collective disgust. My sense of humiliation dissolves into puzzlement as I tried to figure out why the ceiling suddenly looked so far away. I rolled over and got to my feet, rubbing my eyes and staring about me. The ship has doubled in size though I was the same height (I checked, sliding up next to Lemmy. I still came to his elbow.).