Little Ice’s Nightmares: Darkness.

A few months back I shared three nightmares I wrote for my warlock player, one for each cantrip he got from his Pact of the Tome. The warlock liked it so much that he wanted me to write him nightmares for every spell he learned, and he refuses to use any new spells without first having suffered the appropriate nightmare.

I decided to use this opportunity to do some world-building; Little Ice’s nightmares have become an integral part of the campaign’s plot-line, and a pivotal way for my players to receive exposition. They have become a story-in-a-story of sorts. Here’s the nightmare I wrote for Darkness, one of his 2nd level spells.

One of the factions in our setting is called the Lullabists. They are a sect of monks who believe that their world is but the dream of a sleeping god, a world that would be destroyed should that god ever wake up, which is why they labor tirelessly to keep it sleeping. This nightmare details an encounter the founder of the Lullabists had with Little Ice’s patron, millennia ago.

Be sure to catch the first three nightmares here: Nightmares 1-3.

You are a handsome prince from an affluent kingdom. You are loved by your people – especially the girls – and a master of the martial arts, terrible in battle; respected by your students and feared by your enemies. Not once has life left you wanting; your every need has been provided, every expectation met and surpassed.

Yet, it is not enough. There is an emptiness in your spirit, a void that seeks fill. What good is being the strongest warrior if you have no one to compete with? What good is being clever when there is no longer anything to learn? What good is being loved when there is no one worthy to love in return?

You are a small fish in a smaller pond that yearns for the sea; your endless potential stifles here. So you embark, alone, on a journey of discovery, in search of a greater destiny you know lies in wait.

You travel from kingdom to kingdom, from monastery to monastery, in search of worthy opponents to compete with, sages to learn from, women to love. Yet, again and again, you are disappointed. There is no one that can match your peerless skill; there is no sage capable of teaching you something you do not yet know; no woman worthy of your affection.

Dejected and lost you decide to climb the tallest mountain of the known world. Perhaps there, on the doorstep of the heavens, someone will listen and answer your prayers.

You have not encountered another soul for days. Up here, above the clouds with your kingdom so far down below, you are truly alone.

It is here, in total solitude, as the sun rises on the longest day of summer, that you reach the peak.

To your delight, you were not the first.

Carved into the mountain is an ancient description in the mother-tongue you have not heard spoken since you embarked on your travels.

He who seeks the absolute power must be prepared to make the absolute sacrifice.

Thankful for the message your ancestors left you, you sit down to meditate, ready to receive the their ancient wisdom. At last, something out of the ordinary; here, at the peak, you will finally pierce the zenith and enter into legend.

You breathe in through your belly, through your chest, and breathe out again, deliberately, slowly. With every breath the world around you seem to darken, although the sun seemed to be rising, not setting. When all but your own body has gone completely black, a looming figure takes shape in the darkness.

“Paozi Wulong,” says a voice, “as you have called, so I have appeared before you. I am the spirit of your ancient lineage. Rise, so that you may receive my boon; but know that no boon is given freely, and mine, too, will come at a price.”

You look upon the spirit, but do not tremble. You rise to your feet and face it, looking it straight in its black eyes.

“Paozi Wulong,” continues the spirit, “you seek enlightenment. This I shall bestow upon you. But in return, I will take your legs, so that you will no longer be able to stand. You will go trough life kneeling, you who forced others to kneel for you, and forever humble yourself before your lessers, as they carry you on their backs as burden, secretly loathing you for it”.

The spirit pauses for a moment, before asking: “Do you accept this?”

Without hesitating, you answer: “I do”.

You scream in agony as the spirit breaks your legs. In great pain, you fall head first to the ground, presenting your crown for the spirit to leer at. Yet, with great strain, you push yourself up with your arms to look at the spirit, for your resolve has not yet been broken.

“Paozi Wulong,” the spirit continues, “Now you can no longer walk or stand, as your legs are broken. Next I will tear your arms off. Without your arms, you will no longer be able to block or deal blows, and be forever forced to take beatings, with no way of retaliating.”

The spirit pauses for a moment, before asking: “Do you accept this?”

Without hesitating, you answer: “I do”.

You scream in agony as the spirit tears your arms off. Once more you slump to the ground, no longer having anything to support you Yet, even without your arms, you manage to tilt your head to face the spirit, for your resolve has not yet been broken.

“Ah…Paozi Wulong,” the spirit continues mockingly, “Without arms or legs, all you can do is lie there. Now, I shall cut off your ears and tongue. Even without arms or legs, you could still dedicate your life to merry song and philosophical rhetoric, but without ears, you will no longer be able to hear others sing or speak, and without a tongue, you will no longer be able to sing or speak yourself. You will be alone with your thoughts, unable to receive those of others, or to express your own.”

The spirit pauses for a moment, before asking: “Do you accept this?”

Without hesitating, you answer: “I do”.

You feel a great stab of pain as your ears and tongue are cut off; you try to scream, but no sound escapes your throat, as you have gone dumb; nor could you have heard yourself cry even if you had, for you have become deaf. Yet, you look the spirit in its eyes, for your resolve has not yet been broken.

By forming floating words in the black mist, the spirit continues its trial.

“Paozi Wulong,” the floating letters read, “Without hearing or speech, you are isolated from others. Next I shall gouge out your eyes and feed them to the crows. With them, you can still see and appreciate nature’s splendor, and though you can no longer hear their joyful cheers, you could still watch the children play. Without your eyes, you will live in eternal darkness, forever cut off from the beauty of this world. Without sight, this too will be lost to you; and you will be properly alone.”

The spirit pauses for a moment, before asking: “Do you accept this?”

Without hesitating, you nod your head.

You feel a great stab in your eyes as the spirit gouges them out. Now that you can no longer stand, speak, see or hear anything but the voice of your own thoughts, the spirit continues by speaking directly to your mind. Yet, your resolve has not yet been broken.

“So, Paozi Wulong!” the spirit says, “Now I can only communicate directly to your mind, as your thoughts are all you have left. In the end, I will take that, too, though you probably don’t want to allow that, do you? You need only to speak up for me to stop. Just say no, or shrug your head.

The spirit pauses for a moment, before saying: “So…You cannot answer? You cannot speak? You cannot see me or hear me, and you cannot even move? Are you sad? Are you lonely? If you lose your mind, you will also lose any feelings of sadness and loneliness. Do you accept this?”

The spirit pauses for a moment, before saying: “I will take your mind, Paozi Wulong! Know that I will forever posses it…”

How much are you willing to sacrifice for power, little one?

Previous Nightmares:
Nightmares 1-3

Next Nightmare:
Mirror Image

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