In search of answers to their many questions, the organisations of the world turned to their own people for assistance. In the city of Hallifax, Researcher Inix Aalin conducted a series of experiements, assisted by Chairman Zitto Shevat, Force Commander Elanorwen Pavok, Shedrin Shevat, and several others. The city of Celest, meanwhile, attended a sermon in the Deep Blue Cathedral – where Squire Conleth, Ainsell and Chorist Laur listened to the priest speak of Raziela and the Cursed Child.
In the commune of Serenwilde, the Hartstone tutor Dain led a trance in search of answers. Whether the hopeful group spoke to the Keepers of Dreams, or merely echoes of them, they were not certain – but it galvanised their desire to assist. Their counterparts in the southern forest of Glomdoring gathered to hear the words of Glumki, King of the Redcaps, as he instructed them on the ways of nightmares and the dangers inherent within.
Yet the basin remained still quiet; unnervingly so.
Almost a month later, the Engine of Transformation were called to a piercing scream from near the city’s stage. Rushing to aid, they found Jinlu Ilithyia, the Boneseer, in the throes of a vision. Rendal d’Murani and Ventidius De’Unnero led her to the inn to rest and recover from her vision, and sought out Mistress Jezebel of the Geomancers for insight into what Jinlu had seen.
As the citizens of Magnagora gathered to seek the earth for guidance, the Contemplative Miseoki Tleeth stirred to speak to the slumbering city of Gaudiguch, pondering in what would later be known to be a prophetic manner on the way that dreams might become a real part of the world.
Deep in the mud, Mistress Jezebel led her charges to look down through her power, down through the connection to the earth, down below the Balach Swamp, down below the nightmares and the ash and the destruction. Together they used their earth sight to look past a veil of power that made them for a moment think to turn away – but girding their loins, the Magnagorans pushed on until they found themselves in a marble series of corridors and rooms.
Great murals swathed the walls in history, but there were no residents within the hidden Enclave to grant them further insight. Though they searched and searched, they found little but empty corridors, machinery without engineers, chairs without owners. Resigned, they began to return their thoughts to the world…but just as they did, something in the Enclave shifted.
As Dreamweavers throughout the lands began to hear the rush of water in their ears, Magnagora watched as the marble walls of the Enclave seemed to turn to liquid that cascaded down to the ground. Iridescent motes began to wink into being in the night sky, and as the ritualists realised that it was not the walls of the Enclave melting but some magic upon the Enclave itself, a great rush of power surged up from the Inner Sea.
Then a voice spoke through the aether, saying that it was time, time for the wardings to be lowered as they had not been since the time of Vestera, the Dreamer – and the adventurers of the world began their search. Many went to the Balach Swamp, the site of the vortex from months before, whilst others went deep inside Great Muud Himself. Some went to the depths of the Inner Sea, whilst others explored its surface.
It was Xenthos An’Ryshe who found the manifest dream that promised to lead them to the Enclave, though it flitted through the water far too fast to be followed. Yet eventually it was found by Tau Llaewell, also of Glomdoring, who along with Xenthos was the first corporal body to set foot into the Emerald Encalve since the Vernal Wars.
Joined by Rancoura So’hthae, they began to search. The Enclave appeared deserted, but they had a sense of being watched, as if someone was there that they could not see. Eventually, they placed their hands upon the staff planted into the marble floor at the entrance to the Enclave…and something jumped to attention.
Communicating through the staff was difficult, but eventually they managed to glean that one of the Keepers of Dreams was speaking to them through it – that there were other Keepers within the Enclave, also able to speak through their own focal objects. The Keeper at the entrance begged them to assist, and so the Glomdoring made their way to the heart of the Enclave to battle the nightmares of Great Muud.
Entering into the construct known as the Aegis of Vestera, to a land where the dreams of the Sleeping Child and the nightmares of Great Muud were eternally in conflict, they began to fight. As the Glomdoring assisted, others still tried to locate the Enclave, but it was some time before they made it through. When they did, the other organisations proved to be less secretive than the shadowed forest, and soon adventurers from around the world poured into the marble corridors.
Soon a number of Dreamweavers arrived: Dinae De’Unnero of Magnagora, Adracunin of Hallifax, Viynain Erid’in of Gaudiguch and even Chairman Zitto Shevat himself separated from their corporeal bodies and began to search. In their dream forms, they saw that the Enclave was not empty at all; finally, the Keepers of Dreams saw them and looked upon the first new faces they had seen since the time of the Vernal Wars.
Ecstatic, the Dreamweavers began to speak to the Keepers, to glean what information they could. They met Kilmea Vertare, a loboshigaru follower of Tosha who had been pledged by him to assist Vestera and defend the Enclave. Todbo Palipih, a warm-hearted tae’dae who served as counsellor to the Keepers. The stern faced elfen known as Caelain Arnoia was less helpful to them, but the lucidian engineer Xoik Aquik and the head of the Keepers herself, Ladae Mistskimmer, were more forthcoming.
As the Keepers conversed with the mortal dreamweavers, Xenthos An’Ryshe pushed on, assisting each of them in turn. But as he moved from one Keeper to help another, Chairman Zitto Shevat, who in dreambody was able to communicate more smoothly with Keeper Caelain, usurped the ascendant’s control of proceedings. He promptly began to investigate the dreamcatcher he had been given, travelling within the Aegis to seek out the new dreams that had appeared there.
Unfortunately for the Chairman, he met a swift end at the short temper of Celina of the Glomdoring, sparking a political debate that would cloud the rest of the proceedings. Eventually, Xenthos resumed control and began to continue to assist the Keepers, who were a mixture of perturbed and confused by the commotion.
As Xenthos completed the last few tasks to re-empower the Aegis of Vestera, some travellers persevered in conversing with the Keepers through their focal objects. Tridemon Regalis of the city of New Celest engaged the attention of Keeper Caelain, whose rude manner and perplexed the polite demigod. Others still tried to assist the Keepers, but to no avail.
Eventually, despite an uphill battle against spinning wise words and a skill for puzzles that had onlookers worrying that they would be for all eternity, Xenthos An’Ryshe succeeded in re-empowering the Aegis of Vestera. Praising his name, Ladae Mistskimmer conveyed upon him the title of honourary Keeper of Dreams, and blessed him for his assistance.
Before they departed, King Siam Star-eyes of the Shadowdancers shed his corporeal form to speak to Keeper Ladae personally. After conveying her thanks, she asked the King if she might pose a question – to ask what had become of Vestera, the Dreamer. For though they had felt Him fade, they still felt His presence even still. So it was that the King delivered to Ladae the sad but triumphant news of the fate of the Last Nine.
As she turned to pass this news onto her fellow Keepers, the King returned to his waking body, a comment of the trill’s still lingering in his mind. What had caused the Aegis to weaken in the first place, after so many centuries of strength?
Something was out there, in the Dreaming. Something far more insidious than the nightmares of Great Muud. Something that was watching the First World.
It was not a comforting thought.