Date: Fri, 1 Apr 2005 00:04:47 -0800 From: StephGrush To: WillShipley, JulieWortman, LoriThomas, EliBogart, ClayHambrick Subject: EoC: Bad news
Today I had a long talk with my art professor about priorities. She pointed out to me that I've already had to drop one class this semester, and I'm looking at having to go on leave if I miss any more work. Yes, I was sick for a long time, but I could still have gotten *some* work done if I hadn't been concentrating what little energy I have on Eye of Chaos.
Even though I consider EoC a part of my artistic practice, I know that the rest of the world won't see it that way. There's nothing in EoC that I will be able to put in a portfolio. It won't impress employers. In the long run, it won't help me change the world.
So I've decided to end EoC now so that I can spend the rest of the semester on real work. I know... I've put a lot of work into it and it seems like a shame to end it now so close to its conclusion, but if it's that or my art major...
It's not that I don't care about it... it's that I care too damn much about it. It's getting a little scary, to be honest. The other day when I was playing stressed-Nolorian, I got so stressed out myself that I had trouble functioning. That's really kind of disturbing. EoC's become the thing I do for comfort when I'm upset. I used to play games, or socialize with people, or read books, but lately, it's just been EoC. Which also isn't fair to my players, because when I'm unhappy and need to be distracted, I go poke at them and make them do EoC instead of studying. So... I guess I need to remind myself that there are other things in life. Ordinarily I'd say I'm going to take a break from EoC for a while, maybe just not DM it for a few weeks, but really there are only a few weeks left before my players go away, so that's just not an option.
I'm really sorry... it's not fair to all of you to end it this way.
I'm attaching the ending cinematic for the campaign, to give you at least some form of closure. It should also answer some of your more burning questions. I don't think I'll want to talk about it in person for a while.
Nightmare... is scary. You travel deep into the Vassen Wastes, and everything just seems to get more and more wrong. Finally you reach the door to Nightmare itself, guarded, as the song says, by Kaiel holding the Jewel of the Western Sea. Beyond that door, there is nothing. Just darkness.
And then you step through into your darkest dreams.
You know how, when you were a child, you would lie awake in bed at night, hoping that if you held very still, THEY wouldn't get you? Or when you KNEW that there was something bad behind the door, and you just couldn't open it to check, because just seeing it would be so terrible you couldn't imagine surviving it?
Nightmare's like that. Except all the time - and the door opens on its own, and you know that holding still won't save you.
Well, you travel deep into Nightmare, to the City of Shadows itself, the heart from which all evil is born. There, the citadel of the Lord of Night waits for you like the shadow of your death. You enter to challenge him...
Only to find that he is not there. He has not been there since the very beginning of the Third War. In the room where he once held councils of war is only locked cabinet and a black table with a map of the United States on it. It is covered in black pins.
There is one in Athens, and one in Sacramento, and hundreds of others. There are large clumps in a few major cities: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington DC.
Looking more closely, you see that each pin has a date on it. The date on the Athens pin: 10-2-02.
There are many other dates. A few are in the past. A number are in the future. Most of the dates on the large clumps of pins are in mid-october. The dates for New York, Washington DC and Los Angeles are all between 10-13-02 and 10-17-02.
Amundsen, in a cold sweat, breaks the lock on the cabinet and opens the door. Inside the door is a shimmering portal to Grand Central Station. At first, you notice nothing wrong. The commuters bustle about, seemingly unaware that they are being watched. Then you notice that their bustle has a dullness about it. And then you see their eyes.
Not one pair of eyes that you see carries any hint of awareness. They might as well all be sleepwalking.
Before you can stop her, Amundsen has rushed through the portal and begun shaking someone. You hear her voice faintly through the astral connection: "Joseph! Joseph, is it you? Snap out of it! Talk to me! SAY SOMETHING, JOSEPH!"
The dullness leaves Joseph's eyes for a moment. You see his lips move, but only Professor Amundsen hears the whispered words:
"Professor... they're... out to get you."
Then the dull, uncaring cold returns to cover his features. In disdainful irritation, he shakes her hand off and walks away.
Professor Amundsen stands for a moment; then, responding to some cue that only she is aware of, her eyes widen. She looks wildly around, then towards the portal. "Don't come through," she cries. "Stay back!" Then her hands come up to clasp her head, and she screams. The sleepwalkers ignore her.
Reid and Rett, of course, immediately rush to her aid. Cylene and Meredith exchange a look, then shrug helplessly and follow.
The entire party hears a booming voice in their heads. "It is hopeless," the voice says. "You, too, will fall, and then you will become like all the others."
The moment the party hears the voice, they know, somehow, that it is the Lord of Night. Only one among them recognizes the voice further.
Meredith knows, beyond a doubt, that he has found his cat.
Amundsen falls first. Then Meredith. Rett and Reid are paralyzed, on their knees clutching their heads, unable to move for the pounding pressure on their minds. Cylene, the only party member able to act, can think of only one thing to do. She calls Trogdor.
There is laughter. The Emissary steps out from behind a pillar. "I don't think you'll find any help there," he says.
"You lie," Cylene responds. "You have always lied."
"I have always lied before," the Emissary responds, "but now I speak truth." He transforms into Trogdor. "I do not think you will find any help from me."
"Is that your true form, then," Cylene says, "Lorashi of the elves?"
"Such a one I was," the Trogdor-Emissary says, transforming into an elf with long dark hair. "But I gave up my alliance with the elves long ago."
Rett forces himself off the floor, eyes blazing and teeth gritted. "To what end?" he grinds out.
"To retain my immortality, dojo master," Lorashi answers with a terrible disdain. "DREAM offered me nothing but death. NIGHTMARE gave me a better bargain."
"Your son," Rett responds, "would not approve."
Lorashi laughs again. "I think he would. Or perhaps you do not know of the deal he himself made for immortality?"
Reid has not moved from the floor. "What deal?" he asks, fighting to hide the pain in his voice.
"Necromancy," Lorashi laughs. "He fuels his life force with the deaths of other elves. He can afford to oppose Nightmare; the wars only give him more power!" He laughs again. "When the front grew quiet, he sent his old friend Volen to stir things up for him!"
"I profited as well as he," the Lord of Night says, appearing as the great cat of lightning before turning into a male elf in a cloak of starlight. "You taught us well, sir."
"And our gifts were well matched for the game," Nolorian says, appearing. "Oh, Edward Reid, give up. Even the Dust of Souls cannot allow you to match our power."
Reid's hand in his pocket jerks convulsively, but he sneers. "Oh, is that so? Then you will not fear to match with me." He pours the entire remnants of the bag into his open mouth and, with an effort, swallows. Then, coughing, eyes watering, he stands.
"We do not fear you, Edward Reid," Nolorian and Volen say in unison. "We have always loved games of skill and strategy."
Lorashi, watching, laughs.
Cylene looks around her. "Is anyone who allied with us NOT conspiring against us?"
Lorashi smiles. "No."
"Intended to use you as a conduit of information between Jonathan Dale, our real-plane informant, and Nolorian. You did well. And they placed the bait of the Hunting Party RIGHT where you would find it."
"David Magus Knight?"
"His drummer was one of Lorashi's pawns. His prophecies were all false, except inasmuch as we MADE them come true."
"Also a plant."
"Told you exactly what you needed to know to string you along - and, you will note, no more."
"My advisor?" adds Reid.
"Not one of our pawns - but when did he ever actually HELP you? He was too useless to bother corrupting."
"Meet the squirrels," says Lorashi. Three beasts with tentacles appear. "They were innocent enough at the time, I suppose, but you remedied that quite nicely."
"THE SERPENT, FOR FUCK'S SAKE???"
"Oh..." Volen smiles. "They are the reason I do not fear your pet necromancer's little bag of dust."
Reid's shoulder suddenly goes numb. The paralysis rapidly spreads down his arm.
"The venom of a god, sleeping in your system all this time, slowly maturing, is more than enough to overcome even the greatest necromancer," Nolorian smirks.
"We never stood a chance, did we?"
"No," says Lorashi.
Then suddenly the doors swing open.
"Yes," a voice says, "They did."
Through the sleeping masses walks a lone figure: the Champion of Reality from your dream. The paralysis retreats. Nolorian, Volen, and Lorashi all freeze, their eyes widening in alarm. Time seems to slow to a crawl.
The next thing you know, you are back in Athens.
Damn... those were some weird hallucinations. For a moment, you thought you were magic.
But why is that epistemology prof over there looking so confused? He looks like he lost something. He seems to have the vocabulary and mental capacity of a twelve-year-old. And for some reason, he keeps muttering distractedly about an armchair and Korea.