The Task Edit
Exhausted after their fight the party made camp in the ruins of the Trading Post and tried to rest. But their rest was far from peaceful. Although they did not know, they each had the same dream. They all found themselves floating alone in the ether, surrounded by the vast emptiness of the Astral Plane. They felt exposed, vulnerable, and stared into the Void, looking for a way out of oblivion. But the darkness encompassed all and soon their heart was filled with fear and despair. Then they heard an angelic voice call out to them:
"Don't be afraid Child. There is nothing to be afraid of now."
The voice was unfamiliar yet there was no hint of ill intent in it. They turned, trying to find the source of the voice, but only emptiness surrounded them. The voice continued:
"The moment of Truth is nigh. Corruption has spread through the lands and the World stands at a crossroad: will you choose Liberation and Truth or retreat further into Lies and Corruption?".
Then suddenly they were standing on solid ground but still in darkness. At this point they noticed a small group of figures to their right but their features were concealed by shadows.
- In Damos's dream one of the figures stepped out of the shadows and looked at Damos. But Damos could not return the gaze as the man's face was shrouded in flames, his eyes radiated light bright as the Sun. Damos fell to his knees as he recognized the avatar of the Shining One, Pelor. Pelor addressed Damos: "Brave Paladin! The evil of the Sorrow spreads throughout these lands and only those pure of heart can hope to oppose it. I know that your past deeds weigh heavily on your heart, but your soul can be cleansed of sin by the Holy Flame. Keep your oath and purge this land of Evil."
- In case of Virginia an old man left the group, his face spoke of venerable age, but his steps were that of a young man. It took almost no time for Virginia to recognize Fharlanghn, the Wayfarer, the Dweller on the Horizon. He addressed Virginia: "Seeker, you have been looking for purpose for years, not realizing that the Road shall always take you to it. Your Road has led you to fight the corruption of the Sorrow. Embrace your destiny, follow the Road!."
- In Chad's case a tall figure stepped out of the crowd and he turned out to be a giant man carrying a sword as long as two men. He took out a whetstone and started sharpening his blade. Chad watched curiously, as the figure looked immensely familiar to him, yet he could not place him. Then the giant noticed Chad: "Warrior, there is evil in this land that needs its ass kicked. What are you waiting for?". (His identity was a mystery to Chad until the next day when Virginia pointed out to him that it was Kord, God of Strength, the deity Chad follows).
- For Haereldor it was a giant tree ent that addressed him, he could have been none other than Obad-Hai: "You have always felt like an outcast among men, but Nature has always accepted you, cared for you. Do you think it was chance that those wolves protected you, the toddler left in the woods to die, and took you to the druids? Now Nature needs your help as a great Evil ravages the land. Balance
must be restored, cleanse this world of the Sorrow!"
- At first she thought she was imagining it but Ravagella heard music coming from the group. Soon she noticed a lonely jester playing his lute. She had never heard that song before yet it felt her heart with so much sadness that she felt it could overwhelm her at any moment. But just before that the jester put his lute down and addressed her: "Do you not hear the silence? Where are the wine, the songs, the laughter? The Sorrow tries to take all the joy out of this world and bring us all down, but we will have the last laugh right?"
But before any of the party members could answer, the gods rejoined their brethren in the shadows. Then they all raised their arms, alarmingly pointing at something. Our heroes turned to see but recoiled in terror as they recognized the terrifying visage of the Sorrow behind them. She extended her tendrils and they heard the coarse, disgusting voice of the Sorrow: "Embrace me and we shall be whole again.". The party awoke screaming. There was no need for discussion they all knew what they saw. The Sun was already rising so the Arrow decided to break camp early and head out into the Waste.
The Promise Edit
After another hard fought day the party retired to rest. But their rest was far from peaceful as they once again found themselves in a strange dream, but this time they seemed to be sharing it. They were standing in utter darkness staring into the cold, empty Void. They felt the cold touch of the Void turn their blood to ice and a profound feeling of desperation washed over them. But then they heard a soothing, angelic voice:
"Don't be afraid. There is nothing to be afraid of now"
They felt a warm touch around their heart which radiated throughout their body, lifting their spirits, filling them with a profound feeling of hope. The voice continued:
"You feel cold because you are empty. Because something vital and precious has been taken from you. But it is not gone, you can be made whole again. Embrace Truth and what was shall be once more."
Suddenly the voice fell quiet and a small group of figures appeared in the shadows. First a six-armed man stepped forward, he was wearing an ornate black armor and a thorny crown (Hextor). He addressed the party:
"Adventurers! You have been given a Task by Our Brothers and Sisters. Although they have many admirable qualities, but they never understood how Mortals think. They preached to you about doing your duty, fighting Evil, following your fate, but is that what you truly desire? We know that more than anything Mortals crave one thing: Power."
(First he turned to Damos): "The Power to always do the Right thing."
(then to Virginia): "The Power to cast off the shackles of the Past."
(to Ravagella): "The Power to live Life to the fullest."
(to Haereldor and Chad): "The Power to command the Respect you deserve"
"Do as We ask and You shall have what you desire."
Then another shape stepped out of the shadow, a skeletal figure covered by a black cloak carrying a scythe (Nerull). His voice was low and provoked a primal sense of dread in the party:
"I feel the Corruption in your hearts, the taint of the Sorrow has marked your souls. Isdalf's weapon is the instrument of your salvation. Purge this World of the Sorrow and all those touched by Her. Do this and you shall be made whole again."
As he finished a giant figure stepped forward, an enormous orc with only one eye (Gruumsh). But as the party met his gaze the eye lit up with fire and they felt his gaze piercing their mind. They heard a frightening deep voice echoing in their skulls:
"Find the Burned Man at the stronghold of the Forgotten. He will let you pass where others have failed. Know that We will be watching. Disappoint us and you shall know the true meaning of Suffering."
As the figures retreated into the shadows the party heard a dry voice whispering into their ears:
"They are all Lying to you. Come to where your ancestors sacrificed to False Gods and you shall learn the Truth." Then the voice chuckled: "But you will have to live with it for the rest of your days..."
The party turned around quickly and they just managed to get a glimpse of a one-armed skeletal figure (Vecna) walking off into the Darkness. The party wakes up to find that the Sun has already risen; it is time to go.
The Reveal Edit
After the party visited the Temple of Vecna and learned the true nature of the Sorrow and the Gods' betrayal of her they retired to rest. The dreams returned for a third and final time. This time the party members each found themselves floating alone in the Void, surrounded by darkness. A cold shiver ran down their spines as they felt a presence behind them, but no matter how much they tried they could not turn to face it. At the same time, they felt the Emptiness in their Souls grow, it was hungrily consuming what was left of their Essence. At that moment, they heard a familiar angelic Voice:
"Don't be afraid. There is nothing to be afraid of now."
The Voice felt like a warm touch that radiated across their body, its touch pushed back the Emptiness and the party sighed with relief. The Voice continued, but its serenity gave way to anger:
"You have finally learned the Truth, but from their mouths every word is Poison, even the Truth is a Curse. Good, Evil, these are just Lies they use to confuse you. They care nothing about your kind, only their Eternal War. When I refused to join, they resorted to Murder and Cruelty, the only language They understand. They took all that had Meaning. And what have they done with that Power? “
At this point the party finally realized that the angelic voice in their dreams is the Sorrow. A long silence followed, as if the Sorrow was lost in her own thoughts. Then she continued, this time the party felt a rising determination in it:
"I am the First. I watched the birth of Time, I saw Light and Dark collide, and of both Light and Dark I fashioned Life. And for this Wonder I was sentenced to Wither and Die. Eons passed as I cried, slowly losing everything I was. I sacrificed more than you could ever believe or understand, but I endured and, when given the chance, I awoke.
Now, my long slumber is over, but in waking I found a World without Love, a World based on Lies, a World that is Irredeemable. The Traitors and the World they made is beyond saving but its People are not. I shall safeguard you all, so that you can see the New World, a place where you shall never be pawns in their Games. Where their Lies can no longer be heard. A World full of Love, where I shall always be with you, on your shoulder, guiding You, protecting you..."
The Sorrow suddenly fell quiet and the party noticed that they are no longer floating, instead they were standing in an empty, featureless room, surrounded by dozens of shadowy figures. The figures addressed them:
"The Curse of the Sorrow is taking your mind. Soon, you will lose everything you have and everything you are. But you won't even care, you shall become a hollow monster, serving a Mad God. We are your only chance of Salvation. Find the weapon of Isdalf, end the Mad God once and for all!"
The party awoke simultaneously. They looked at each other silently, there was no need for words. They knew what had to be done...