The Peninsular War
Dreams of the Sunken Land
Dreams of the Sunken Land
Dictated by Drees, Transcribed by Ingatius the Scribe
The First Dream
The sound of rushing water, but only darkness all around. Suddenly, a spark of light revealing alien architecture, strange columns with disquieting creatures carved upon it, arches of an unknown stone vaulting overhead, and a slimy, withered hand clutching the stone as a voice begins to speak. "Hear me now," the voice says, each syllable sounding strange, as though it is unused to speaking in the Deep Speech tongue – or perhaps unused to using its tongue at all. "I present to you the final chronicle of The Empire, the only record our mighty civilization's might that shall survive our downfall." A deep breath, followed by unsettling chittering as the eyes witnessing this dream glances over its shoulder at bodies of Drows and Duergar clad in rags littering the floor behind it. The one witnessing the dream shuffles awkwardly towards the nearest body and kicks it, quickly leaping backwards in case it proves more alive than it appears. Another deep breath, and the figure begins to pace the room as the voice resumes.
"Little time remains to detail the full account of our glory, of the battles we fought and the Lesser Races we enslaved… I shall speak only of one event in our history, that those who come after may know of the wickedness we created here. In an ancient time, the elders of our Empire wandered the Underdark… we were weak then… strong of mind, but few in number, and without a home. But in the dark of the forsaken depths we then roamed, our greatest ancestors discovered the Spark of Genius… a flame, unburning, and black as the darkness which fills these caves – but with a corona of brilliant white light revealing where this dark flame burned."
The hand not holding the stone comes into view, gnarled and grotesque as it weaves a spell, chittering under its breath until an illusory flame of darkness appears in its claw-like hand. There's a sharp intake of breath, and the view fades for a moment as lids cover the eyes. A moment of reflection. And then it carries on. "Carrying this Spark, our leaders found power unimaginable, and with it we conquered our first enemies, a city of Drow so ancient and so thoroughly annihilated that no record survives of its name even among us. But none among the ancestors could agree which among them should bear the Spark forevermore, and as they argued, they grew older and more feeble. Many died due to betrayal, as every one of us desired the Spark for ourselves, no matter the cost. Then, however, the Spark found one more clever and more wise than the rest… with the Spark in his possession, this ancestor proposed a new plan: Create an amalgamation of all the minds of any who died, and bestow upon that great, ancient consciousness, that Elder Brain, the Spark of Genius. In death, all might reap the benefits of the Spark, and with its power to sustain the Elder Brain, true death would never claim any of us."
Clenching its fist, the black, illusory flame is extinguished, and the witness begins to stalk slowly towards a strange door, his hand once more weaving magic as it dispels the wards placed upon the gate. As it steps through the threshold and onto a balcony overlooking a massive circular chamber, a colossal, pulsating mass of cerebral flesh comes into view. The massive brain is ensconced upon an ornate dais in the middle of the room, and a clear crystal dome protects it from anyone peering down from the balconies above. "The Elder Brain sleeps now, and dreams for us all…"
At this point the dream ends.
The Second Dream
Unlike the last dream, this vision begins in almost near silence. Once again there is only blackness for the first few moments, but as a strange humming sound begins to echo through the chamber, the eyes open and stare upwards. Once more the witness is within the chamber of the Elder Brain, but this time it stares up at the unsettling mound of flesh from the base of its dais. On the balconies surrounding the room are innumerable Illithid, all of them almost perfectly still as they raise their grotesque hands in the air. Slowly the witness ascends the steps of the dais, moving nearer and nearer the Elder Brain – and revealing the unconscious body of a Drow as it reaches the top of the stairs.
Stopping as it reaches the summit, the witness glances at the Elder Brain in its dome, then back up at the Mind Flayers upon their balconies. A small nod from the witness hints that there may be more going on than any dreamer can perceive… and then the witness stoops and picks up the sleeping Drow with one hand, lifting the figure towards its face. The Drow's eyes flutter weakly, and are filled with fear as he stares into the witness' eyes – your eyes. Whatever drugs the Elf is effected by prevents him from doing more than pleading with his terrified eyes as tentacles rise up from around the witness' mouth and wrap around the Drow's skull, pulling him closer. The humming ceases as a sickening crunch of bone is heard from the tentacle-covered head, followed by a nauseating sucking noise.
The noise continues for a few moments, and then the body slumps to the floor – the Drow's face shredded beyond recognition, and the forehead now the site of a gaping hole into the empty skull. The humming resumes now, rising and falling almost musically as the witness and all the other Illithids turn back to the Elder Brain and wait. A portal opens slowly before the crystal dome, and out of it floats an imp, curled up in a ball as though it were still in its mother's womb. Slowly it uncurls itself, eyes empty as they focus on the witness, who reaches out and touches the imp's forehead with one clawed finger. A single word is hissed out of the witness' mouth. "Gryl'kan…"
The dream ends as the imp's focus sharpens and its mouth curls into a fiendish grin.