Dreams in a Jar
21 Sar Eyre?
Now with the key, the group prepares to explore the laboratory level of their dream prison. Zinnia discovers something interesting about the door—a psychic barrier that keeps things of pure dream to one side. “Likely to keep their dream subjects from entering,” she said cheerfully. This explained why the gnome Banra had yet escaped to a higher level, or why the dream creatures had not passed the threshold.
Climbing slowly up the stair, they entered a large chamber of pillars and carvings in archaic giant style. But also, they found the dream of a drow still guarding the ancient domain. It called out loudly for help, and the battle was joined.
Moving from cover to cover, Xendrohs attempted to remain unseen, but others the the group followed him for the same reason, drawing unwanted attention towards the drow. The dream drow was engaged by Jak, only to discover too late the looming presence of the dream of a fire giant sorcerer who bellowed at the minotaurs intrusion. Soon, Jak, Valna, and Humphrey discovered that the dream of fire burns as fiercely as the real thing on the Plane of Nightmares.
From a door on the other side of the chamber another giant began to emerge, but Jak pinned it, trapping it within the smaller doorframe. Meanwhile, two more dream drow guards came from hiding, sniping Xenhros as the others. Humphrey managed to severely wound the trapped giant, and Jak’s hammer smashed at it as well, but the sorcerous mastery of the enraged foes was quickly taking their tool.
“Quickly, get below! I’ll trap them!” Zinnia had a plan.
The gnome led the withdraw, with Valna and Jak following soon behind. Humphrey and Xenhros managed to fell one of the giants before heading below, but the drow was caught by his ancient relative’s crossbow bolts as he retreated. The dreams of drow followed, and soon Zinnia strung her trap, using the barrier at the door to trap the insubstantial creatures below. Trapped and funneled through a killing zone of minotaur, warlord, and wizard, the drow guards were soon vanquished.
Taking a quick breath, the group ascended once more, knowing only one more of the fire giant sorcerers remained. It was ready for them, standing upon a dais that granted it magical protection. But five on one are poor odds, and soon the dream of a giant was ended.
Free for the moment, Zinnia and Xenhros began to search their surroundings. Apparently, the chamber and its attached sleeping quarters were where the giants and their drow servants rested. Better yet, it is where they transitioned between Xen’drik and the dream laboratory. But Zinnia could tell the magic was twisted, perhaps blocked—the transition would not work for them. They still needed to find the dream machinery and disable it before they would be free. But, the beds were still beds (even if they were just dreams), and the group needed rest.
22 Sul Eyre?
Separated from true rest, no one slept particularly well. Everyone felt out of sort, and the ominous feeling in their rest that they were being watched, that a voice whispered “You cannot leave yet. I am not done with you,” did not instill confidence.
Xenhros and Humphrey had discovered some giant and drow artifacts during their rest, and they were quickly taken for later study. From the map of the laboratory Zinnia acquired from the library, the main machinery was beyond the resting area. Going through a metal gate, the group came to a split. To the south was a hall towards the library, but the short corridor to the east as a barred cell—and its occupant, the fading dream of the shifter druid Redclaw, one of Banra’s companions.
The shifter had suffered much, and her mental state was deteriating fast. Zinnia and Valna attempted to calm her, but her fractured mind made it difficult. Jak attempted a more direct threatening method, but the druid’s shattered psyche was beyond traditional threats. Humphrey’s keen insight and some arcane healing that solidified the shifter by Zinnia managed to gather Redclaw’s thoughts, but Xenhros’ directed deception finally brought the shifter’s focus back to the present.
Redclaw remembered little since her flight from the dream creatures. The dreams of giants had captured her. They had been another as well, but he had stopped screaming some time ago. She also warned of some “protective measures,” but even focused, her rants were cryptic.
Knowing what they had to do, the group prepared to head south to the machinery, leaving the druid for later when their job was done. But Redclaw had other ideas, turning into a cat that escaped the bars. Zinnia took the cat with her, and they set off for the Dream Machine.