Bottomless vales and boundless floods, And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods, With forms that no man can discover For the tears that drip all over; Mountains toppling evermore Into seas without a shore; Seas that restlessly aspire, Surging, unto skies of fire...
Sooner or later, you will rest. Sooner or later, you will sleep.
And when you sleep, the dreams will take you.
The following events will take place some time after you found the haunted mill. Whether they take place directly after you met the Red Man, or whether they do some time later, we won't know.
You don't remember when you began walking, and when you got up and packed your bags. You start to come to yourselves when you notice the sky.
It's not the sky of your Earth, most definitely not. The skies are quiet now, not like before. The calm twilight of an evening in spring, and the shadows of the firmament above.
But around them, the horizon is not calm. Lines of fire, and of light cross the sky, like the Arctic rainbows that are said to happen in the utmost North. And you can see the stars, many stars, closer than you ever saw them. And cosmic clouds of stardust, beyond the sun, and beyond your Earth's pale moon. As if the heavens had broken up, and opened.
This chapter of our story will be an attempt at almost complete free-form storytelling.
Since not all of us have the same experience with "DM-less" moments of gaming, and since Radio Dask and doctorx might be unacquainted with this method, I will summarize the rules below.
You may start with this episode even as the other thread is still open - simply because its situation in the timeline is not really cleared, and because I hope to be able to clear up any possible misunderstandings while I'm still available.
In this chapter of our story, FIVE things are supposed to happen, and in the following sequence:
The party, still accompanied by all the NPCs that were with you at the end of Part V, gradually realizes that have entered some sort of magic environment; the laws of physics don't necessarily apply to these new lands around you, and the power of whatever sort of magic you may possess is augmented thousandfold; you don't know more spells, but the effects of your spells are simply exponentially stronger. To give a most practical example, your magic missile has now the power of a Death Star beam.
The - strangely treeless - highland area that the party has stepped into, out of whatever dream that held them, soon becomes the setting for a battle between two giant, primordial armies: One is most distinctively Elven, and the other one bears all the traits of a horde of hellish demons. The party may decide to join, on any side, but will, sooner, or later, be forced to give way. These creatures are, if not simply too powerful, then too many to overcome.
As dragons and titans, as tall as mountains, wage war against one another below a burning sky, the party will take shelter in a stone building that appears to be some sort of astronomic observatory. Inside, they'll find a structure vaguely resembling an astrolabe - with pieces identical to those Sveinki found in Enver's notebook.
A group of men, wearing Moongold armor featuring bird motives, and the symbol you saw on the Red Man's coat, will attack the observatory. They will prove difficult to beat, but will finally let go of the party as another titanic dragon arrives, scorching the skies, and apparently deciding the battle in favor of - the Elven army.
As the highlands around them burn away, the party awaits nightfall under the shield of protection that the observatory seems to grant them, and, if wanted this way, the characters get some time for themselves, to develop their relationships, and to do some more relaxed in-character roleplay. With the nightfall, this chapter will end...
How exactly we get there, I leave to you. So everyone gets roughly the same share of the story, I recommend that you a) keep this sequence, and b) post in a certain order - basically, the best thing you can do is to post, and then wait until at least TWO other members of our group have posted. That way, you will get the most out of this little collaborative exercise.
For those NEW to this kind of text game, here is what you may not do: Do not assume the actions of the other PCs. Do not try to harm/kill/"write out" the other PCs. Do not add elements to the story that I, the DM, have not introduced yet. Do not touch the metaplot, or somehow solve secrets that have been part of "my" portion of the game. That all said, DO write this as freely as possible, and communicate with the other members in the group as much as possible.
It was a strange dream, thought James. Walking and walking, without knowing where he was going. There were others too, those who seemed vaguely familiar, but nobody spoke. As sometimes happens in dreams, James tried to make sense of what he was seeing, but it all seemed ... wrong.
Then he looked up, and the sight of the horizon jolted him awake, and that scared him - because he remained in this strange landscape with lines of fire, waves of light flowing across the horizon. Looking around, he recognises the others, sees the look of awareness return to their faces, and a grim certainty grips hold of him. Bending down, he pulls up a handful of grass and dirt, then lets the earth flow through his fingers.
He clears his throat. "I hate to suggest this, my friends, but it looks like someone has been messing with the time again. This isn't a dream, like I thought. I think this is real, somewhere, somewhen. The sky, those stars ... this is just not right."
Cailín looks up, blinking away the road-daze, rubbing her eyes when they show her the chaos-ridden horizon. She pinches herself. Then she pinches James.
"I have dreamed, at times, of this sky, but never seen it over this unfamiliar horizon," she says. She turns a full circle, but the landscape is not familiar, either in the dreaming world or her waking one.
"I was following you. Just where have you taken us?" she asks her old friend.
James jumps at the pinch, and rubs his arm ruefully. "Well, that didn't wake me up, unfortunately. I have no idea how we got here, I thought I was following ... well, someone, the way you do in a dream."
Carefully he looks around. "I don't think it would be good for us to get separated. Who knows what magic brought us here, or what magic will take us back."
He looks at Cailín and smiles. "It doesn't look like there's anything you can set on fire just yet. I've seen you do different things though. Do you think you can take us home with magic?"