Dakkon

Family Ties

In which the party returns to the Tower of Dream

The following day, we meet up with Kellen so he can take us to the Tower of Dream. He mentions that he used to visit Cora every year, but eventually he stopped going because it came to be too much and he could not interact with her since she was locked in a dream. He tells us that House Iorathen will host us at any time if we ask.

Kellen is planning to take us by portal and asks for permission to join us, which we are more than happy to agree to. He opens the portal and when we step through, we arrive at the Tower. We hesitate a moment beyond the bridge that leads to the Tower as we make our way closer and see that there are no doors leading into the Tower.

As we approach, we are met by a couple of eladrin who ask us to state our business. I defer to Kellen and he tells them that we are here to learn the fate of one of the prisoners, one Cora Moonghall. The eladrin invite us to follow them and the Tower melts away to allow us entrance. It’s very clear we’re in the presence of powerful illusion magic; we hear birdsong and babbling brooks even though we cannot see any birds or running water. We are led further into the tower and it’s very clear that we would not be able to find our way out with assistance because the route keeps moving and there are paths that seem to lead nowhere.

As we are led to our destination, Jack tries out his new slippers, attempting to walk on the wall, but he is unsuccessful and slides back down to the floor. We get the sense that Jack’s inability to walk on walls when he would normally be able to—as well as the maze we’re walking through—is too deliberate to be chance.

Finally, we are led to a seemingly normal chamber. The illusionists with us tell us to step back and when we do, an eladrin appears out of nowhere. This is the Dreamwalker.

He is not terribly welcoming, given our last escapade is still well within memory, but he’s not as unwelcoming as that encounter would lead us to believe. He smiles and greets us, telling us that Cora is still in the tower. We’re surprised—poor Kellen looks momentarily stricken—but a moment’s thought helps us understand that, of course, in the dream state a person can survive longer than they might otherwise.

The Dreamwalker seems surprised by our surprise; he tells us that the Tower takes, but it also gives. In this case, Cora still lives, but she will not wake. This is the bargain, he continues, that Cora’s father struck with the Tower about 150 years ago.

Before I have a chance to ask about that bargain, Kellen demands to be taken to her and the Dreamwalker acquiesces. The hall dissolves around us and we are left standing in a room that looks much like a hospital ward or boarding hall. The cots are mostly empty, except for one that contains an old woman who is sleeping.

At this moment, we are reminded of what Viri told us the last time we were here. She told us that we shouldn’t trust a single thing that happens in the Tower, given that these are the best illusionists in most of the known world, second only to Sehanine herself. We also would do well to remember that no matter what else it is, this is a prison.

We approach the old woman in the cot and, as we draw nearer, we can see that she is shivering. The Dreamwalker has vanished, as have the other illusionists, so there is no way to ask about the Dreamwalker’s cryptic comments. What bargain is he talking about?

Still, I ask Kellen if he knows anything about it, but it’s clear that he really doesn’t. He explains that when Cora’s father brought the family to Astrazalian, he lost all of his status and fell into a deep depression. Kellen and Cora had fallen in love and planned to marry, which would have raised the status of the family, but Kellen’s father found out about it and forbid Kellen from marrying Cora. Instead, he was married to another woman. Not long after, the family vanished and it was only some years later that Kellen discovered where they were.

As Kellen repeats this, Cora begins to move a bit more and make a few more sounds, as if she is living what we’re talking about right now. She begins to mouth the word ‘no’ and look slight more distressed.

Kellen looks to me and tells me that we need to free her, which I agree with, even if I’m uncertain how to accomplish that. Kellen tries to wake her by gently shaking her, and he even lifts one of her eyelids, but she does not react at all.

I move closer to Cora as well; she looks frail and old, but not unnaturally so.

The party talks for a bit and recollects that we did enter a dream before, to retrieve information. At the time, however, we had Viri to send us in the dream. While we don’t have her with us now, we are far more capable than we were the last time we were here, so Aideena thinks back to see if she can recall what Viri did to put us in the dream. She remembers that Viri laid hands on Lord Darishel when she sent us in and surmises that Viri must have pushed her awareness into him and took us with her.

She realizes that she should tunnel in and Targoth volunteers to help by engineering the tunnel that will bring the rest of us through.

With little warning, Aideena grabs my wrist and lays a hand on Cora, beginning the process of pushing us into the dream. Kellen says that he’s going to stay behind and keep an eye on Cora and he does something to monitor and keep her stable. Before the room dissolves around me, I notice that his intervention is necessary; Cora’s breathing has become more labored and she’s grown more agitated since we’ve come closer.

Aideena begins the process of boring into her subconscious and Targoth and I appear in a room. It’s clearly part of a massive estate and it’s recognizable from when we visited in reality, though before it was destroyed. There’s a sad feeling permeating the room and a lack of permanence in that things move around and change subtly, like a familiar room remembered from different moments in time.

In the room is a girl and a woman; the girl is weeping about not wanting to leave and about wanting to say goodbye to her friend. At this point, she runs out of the room weeping.

I immediately follow her as she runs out, while Aideena reaches out and attempts to pull Jack and Eben into the dream. The attempt is moderately successful; they both make it into the dream, but Jack is weeping uncontrollably and insensate, while Eben is completely unconscious.

Targoth stays behind and tries to shake some sense into Jack, but he doesn’t respond except to cry harder. None of this makes an impression on Cora’s mother, who remains in the room.

I make it to the hallway where I see three servants packing. The flicker and jump oddly, their movements at times smooth and continuous and at others erratic and strange.

As I move further from the hall and closer to the servants, one of them looks at me and then all of a sudden all three turn into strange attenuated creatures and attack.

One reaches out to touch me and as it gets closer, I can discern a horribly disfigured face, as if the creature has been tortured. I duck away from the creature.

Meanwhile, Targoth succeeds in waking Eben and hears me call frantically for help. He and Eben run towards me as I change to my true Changeling form. One of the ghosts falls forward and vanishes while I order one of the others to begone.

I change my form to look like Cora’s mother and ask one of the spectres where Cora went. As if she were a servant, she points which way Cora ran. I then convince the spectre to vanish.

As the party moves down the hall, Jack begins to recover himself and Cora’s mother turns to him. She asks him to “help her”; she’s actually speaking of Cora, but Jack thinks she means Kaiva and rushes off after us to help.

Jack catches up with us and we continue down the hall, noticing shadows and movement ahead. We then encounter two servants at a table. When I ask them if they’ve seen Cora, they say they haven’t. I turn to Targoth and ask him to check the room behind him while I move into the room ahead. Aideena follows me.

Targoth finds more servants who stare at him distrustfully; he tries to bluff them that he belongs, but fails, and they turn to spectres. He attacks them and strange fractures appear; it seems he’s done something to the state of the dream, but there’s no way to know if that’s a good thing or not.

It turns out to be a bad thing as one of the spectres possesses Eben and forces him to attack Targoth.

Aideena and I, hearing the commotion, come racing into the room. We get a quick rundown of what’s happening and I scream at the spectre possessing Eben, which causes it to tumble out of him. Eben doubles over in pain and Jack suddenly ages 30 years when he is attacked and touched by one of the spectres.

The party defeats the spectres and we head to the kitchen, which is where one of the servants pointed us.

Jack leads us in and spots Cora hiding in a corner of the kitchen. The rest of us head slowly towards her, but before we can approach, she runs away through the wall. The servants that had been in the kitchen turn towards us and become spectres. Eben is able to scare them away, and the dream dissolves around us. It reforms quickly and we find ourselves outside in Tas Tarsel. Cora runs away from us, dodging around buildings and ruins that seem to move and flicker.

I race after Cora, dodging shadows and creatures, and yell at her to stop and wait, but she screams at me and keeps running. I follow her until her trail dead-ends in a half-destroyed building. I try to peer into the gloom, but I’m not able to see anything. The rest of the party follows after me, but they are momentarily occupied with creatures that attack them from the shadows.

I move in hesitantly and try to speak to her, but she doesn’t trust me and won’t talk to me. I try to tell her that I know where Kellen is and that he wants to see her, but she doesn’t believe me. I’m at my wits end when Targoth makes it to where we are and I beg him to switch places with Kellen, to get him into the dream so he can talk to her.

Targoth is able to leave the dream and Kellen is pulled through. We are around the corner from Cora when he arrives and I ask him to go into the building and talk to her since she doesn’t trust any of the rest of us.

Kellen approaches her slowly and when Cora sees him, she’s shocked. He gently tells her that he promises to protect her and that she can trust him. It’s clear that she does, as he is able to get her to approach and take his hand.

When she does, the dream dissolves away and we find ourselves in the room we were in before entering the dream. Shockingly, however, Jack still appears to be 30 years older and has white hair.

Cora and Kellen are holding hands and Cora is awake. She looks frail and is too weak to sit up. She immediately asks after her family. At this moment, the Dreamwalker enters. He tells us, “I see you woke her.” He then waves his hand and all of the hurts and strange conditions that followed us from the dream—including Jack’s sudden age—fall away and we appear as we always do.

Cora asks after her family once again. The Dreamwalker states that her father wanted them to stay in the tower.

As he says this, I wonder why her father would want that. The family remained in the tower and the Dreamwalker says that they were kept there to fulfill an obligation. What obligation? The family’s dreams would power the tower as a result of her father’s request.

Cora wants to know what her father wanted and the Dreamwalker says that he wanted the Moonghall line to end in the tower. This is particularly chilling to me, and somewhat confusing as well, since the Dreamwalker goes on to say that Cora is the last of the family left and that her younger brother Althor died as a boy and is buried on the prime plane. This is even more disconcerting.

Cora thinks back to what she can remember of their life after leaving Tas Tarsel; they ran in shame, made it to Astrazalian, and worked to survive. Then her relationship with Kellen didn’t work out because Kellen’s father decided to marry him off to another, more prominent eladrin—she knows it wasn’t Kellen’s choice—and her father finally brought them to the tower.

At that point, Cora notices the rest of us, particularly me. She comments that I look like I’m related to her, which I have thought was true since finding the journal and the ruins in Tas Tarsel, but Cora mentions that they didn’t have any distant family or any other relations with a different name.

The Dreamwalker says that Cora’s father’s obligation has been fulfilled and that Cora is free to leave and live the brief remainder of her life, but only if someone else is willing to take on the obligation to the tower in her stead. If no one is willing to do so for her, or if she chooses to stay, then she may remain and stay a dreamer, perhaps for decades yet. The Dreamwalker adds that he can ensure that, should she remain, her dreams will be filled with whatever she desires until her last day.

Kellen and Cora both look at me, but it’s not a difficult choice to make since they deserve to have some happiness in their lives. I volunteer to serve the will of the tower in her place. The others ask if I’m sure that I want to do that, so I ask to know what he means. The Dreamwalker says that I will have to take on the task of keeping illusion magic in the world and serving the cause of it and the tower.

I agree to those terms. Kellen and Cora, who have decided to remain together, are grateful.

The Dreamwalker then approaches me and places his hands on my head and, with the air of swearing an oath, asks me a series of questions that set the terms of the oath I’m swearing the tower. I agree to all of them.

After the last, I lose my form and blood drips from my nose and ears. I am barely able to hang onto consciousness, but I fall to the ground and feel power unlike anything I’ve ever experienced rushing through me. I’m not able to move and I’m inundated by visions, overwhelmed, and lose touch with the outside world.

Targoth and Aideena both check me over, but there’s nothing they can heal. Jack carries me and the party leaves the tower with Kellen carrying Cora. Some time later, I come back to myself and I feel very wobbly, and very different. Aideena stares me down as I take stock of what feels different. I’m a font of illusion magic and feel a pull towards the tower; I have the sense that I owe it and must repay a debt.

Furthermore, I have a new awareness of and a connection with illusion magic and a sense of an obligation to preserve, defend, protect, and spread it.

Lastly, the tattoo I had previously is now gone; in its place, I have the tattoo of a dark crescent moon that sticks with me, no matter what shape I take.

We’re all exhausted from our experiences, particularly Cora, and we make our way slowly back to Astrazalian. Kellen and Cora clearly care deeply for each other, despite how little time they have left, and the party wants them to take advantage of the time they have together. Once we reach Astrazalian, we all rest.

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