The Festival of Dreams

Date: 05/23/2013 at 18:48
From: Anonymous
To : Everyone
Subj: The Festival of Dreams

Silver sand sparkled beneath the soft footfalls of Ashavarti Wildfang as
she strode between an assortment of brightly decorated tents, keenly
watching the preparations for the upcoming festivities and making small
changes here and there. The entire Order of Sleep and Dreams had been
busily preparing for the 350th anniversary of the goddess Valnurana's
return to the waking world, and Ashavarti wanted everything to be
perfect. The market was stocked, the pavilions constructed, the guests
invited from both the waking world and from the Dream...

At last, the hour of midnight fell, ushering in the auspicious
mid-summer month of Valnuary, and a haze of shadowy mist momentarily
gathered in the darkened sky. Tongues of jade-hued flames flickered at
its edges, crawling inward and burning away the murk, coalescing at a
single point above central Sapience. With a final burst of vibrant
emerald fire that cleared the sky, the ruins of an ancient temple
standing above the Mesmerium were brilliantly illuminated, a swirling
dream gate appearing in its midst. The Festival of Dreams had begun.

As the days passed, visitors came and went through the dream gate,
milling about the festival, where they were entertained by talented
performers, participated in contests and games, and were honoured by the
presence of Lady Valnurana herself. Some presented themselves before the
seer Apollonia, imprinting vivid visions upon the Dreamrealm for all to
share, while others succumbed to the temptations of the Serpents' Kiss
Pavilion in order to experience the world of Dreams.

Few heeded the ravings of a madman who stood near the dream gate. "Flee
the Festival of Terrors!" he would cry. "The dream children have
summoned the Grey Queen's wrath!" Patiently did the Order of Sleep and
Dreams explain to festival-goers that he was a member of the Brotherhood
of Nightmares, a cult of fanatics who lived in terror of dreams,
depriving themselves of sleep and spreading their ignorance. The
reappearance of the cult was a bad omen, perhaps, but generally the
madmen were harmless.

Not until the closing of a tournament of champions, a competition among
divine orders, would trouble encroach upon the festival. As Logistics
Ta'sa announced to the world the victory of Lothiac Gothfraidh, who
fought on behalf of the Order of War, an ear-splitting roar tore across
the firmament with unbridled ferocity.

"Pitiful mortals!" came the mocking voice of Noxuron, the Dreamscourge,
a vengeful being known for his hatred of the Dream. "You strive like
ants to be the best, only to be impaled upon the thorns of the rose!
Were you not warned of the dangers of dreams? Terror and panic follow
when the Midnight Queen walks this world. Look, for She sends Her devils
into the world!"

At these words, the Mesmerium shuddered and quaked, and the unearthly
wails of dream horrors rose up as whirling shadows twisted and twirl
through the world, disappearing as soon as they appeared.
Uncharacteristically perturbed at the unsubtle ruse, the voice of the
goddess Valnurana whispered across the firmament in reproach.

"This is no plot of mine, Noxuron," she admonished him. "Do not cast me
as villain in your artifice."

~ ~ ~

In the coming days, the Festival of Dreams drew to a close as scheduled,
and a call was put out for the destruction of the strange beings
released by Noxuron. As hunters scoured the land, the flickering shadows
weakened under repeated attacks until they could be banished from the
waking world.

Those who walk the Dream remain uneasy, however, for they know well that
the Dreamscourge only bides his time.

Penned by My hand on the 24th of Miraman, in the year 626 AF.