Nightmare Syndrome

From the Journal of Evannar Tasker Evenwind, scholar and spellworking master

Fifth Harvest Waning, in the Year of Ascension 3

This marks my first official entry into this log with my most recent successful development, psycho-reactive ink. With the ink conforming itself to my thoughts, I am no longer shackled to useless and ignorant students acting as my scribe. No longer will transcription errors plague my work and set back my developments by months.

This further marks a day that will surely be held in renown throughout the Hailene Empire. The new Arch-chancellor of Innovation in War has approved funding for the Nightmare Syndrome. It has only been two months and her reputation for seeking to weaponize discoveries and concepts not originally intended as weapons is already the talk of these halls.

But never did I imagine that my work to probe the veracity of a folk myth would have the potential of turning the tide of this war in the Empire’s favor.

In hindsight, I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, I am brilliant and the process is sound, as demonstrated in the numerous animal tests. There is some truth to the belief that dying in a dream results in death in reality. There is a traumatic response in the brain that leads to disorientation and nausea. A spell structure of my own design was able to strengthen these effects, causing the test subjects to become physically ill and in three known cases, slip into comas.

The major hindrance to our progress was waiting for the subjects to experience night terrors traumatic enough to trigger a reaction. Once again, my brilliance shall light the way: I intend to harness psychic energies and trap them in controllable arrays that target the mind. This will allow me to custom generate the necessary dreams within the subject at the speed of thought.

The Arch-chancellor is most interested in this concept. She imagines slaughtering enemies at extreme range without having to overcome any defenses. To this end, she has placed my in command of the laboratory ship Aspirations of Greatness. She will, no doubt, be greatly rewarded for her faith in me.

Eleventh Harvest Waning, in the Year of Ascension 3

The test subjects have arrived and have been secured in the individual holding cells.

I do wish that my superiors didn’t treat being enrolled in experiments as a punishment. Instead of stalwart and intelligent hailene, they have sent me prisoners of war; humans and half-elves mostly though for some reason the also sent along a minotaur. Imagine, a minotaur in a mental experiment. That beast will be as useless as an ang’hailene in a beauty contest.

And in fact, they have sent me ang’hailene as well. The wretched creatures make my stomach turn with their wings and hair stained in impure browns and grays. I want to preen my own impeccably white ones every moment I look upon them. One is even a mongrel. The tapering of her ears and immobility of her ribs is a constant reminder that some of our lower born brethren debase themselves engaging in depraved bestiality with elves and half-elves.

I believe I shall make her first when we enter the lethal phase of testing.

Second Resting Rising, in the Year of Ascension 4

Difficulty abounds. The subjects actively resist being forced into the nightmare while awake and when they sleep, their subconscious minds reshape their dreamscape faster than we can generate it. Even the minotaur thus far manages to elude the spell’s power; constantly transforming the dream into a memory of his rank hut on the mainland, populated by his cow-headed family.

Seventh Resting, Rising in the Year of Ascension 4

Revisions have fixed half of the problem. We are now able, at the expense of range, to force a subject to begin dreaming at will. The issue of control continues to vex however. We are no closer to correcting this than when we started.

I believe the problem is capacity. None of the staff is able to channel enough psychic energy for my liking. To this end, I’ve sent a petition to the Council of Innovation in War for funding to commission mystic devices for gathering and storing said energies.

And daily, the mongrel vexes me. She and the minotaur do not behave as if they are that the mercy of the Empire. While this is typical of the race of minotaur, pride is not a trait born to ang’hailene. They are inferior and are well aware of this fact.

But the mongrel hums to herself when she’s alone: popular alehouse tunes as if she enjoys her confinement. She attempts to talk and make jokes with the staff, and asks questions about the experiment. Her death will be one of my great achievements.

Fifth Resting Standing, in the Year of Ascension 4

The psi-battery is installed and progress comes in fits and starts. The half-elves are most susceptible for reasons I intend to study more in depth at a later date. The staff have managed to stabilize a nightmare scenario in them for seventy-three seconds before they subjects reasserted control.

The minotaur has proven surprisingly resilient. Twice, he has become lucid during the dream and was able to interact with the staff member working on him. This has led to an interesting discovery: the dream appears to be shared while the spell is active. Not only that, but when the minotaur struck the staffer in the dream, they suffered a reaction similar to the animal subjects.

If we are unable to correct this flaw, I fear for the project.

Eighth Resting Standing, in the Year of Ascension 4

The mongrel broke containment today. She was found in the supply room, drawing airships on all of our parchment. Once discovered, she promptly returned to her cell without struggle. Experiments are suspended until we can rendezvous with a supply ship for more scribing supplies, as ours are all either used or ruined. Even my reserve pots of psycho-reactive ink have bee smashed.

As for the mongrel, she seems to have smuggled pieces of the charcoal we use for safely sketching spell diagrams without triggering the spell back into her room. She is covering the walls in black. I told the staff to allow it, as it keeps her silent.

Twelfth Resting Standing, in the Year of Ascension 4

Some of the staffers are complaining about restless sleep and bad dreams. To remedy this, I have ordered all alcohol except my personal supply and all peppers and hot spices crated to be sent over to the next supply ship.

Fourth Resting Waning, in the Year of Ascension 4

Those on the staff who have taken to using my psycho-reactive ink are reporting errors in the form of missing letters or inaccurate notations. I would normally blame their inferior minds, but another possibility exists: the psi battery.

This may also factor into the issue of nightmares, which has not abated with my dietary alteration. A pity it cannot be helped, as the battery is necessary unless the Council sees fit to send me naturally psychically inclined researchers.

Progress is slow, but steady. We are now able to stabilize the dreamscape for two minutes at a time in all subjects, but the minotaur continues to become lucid from time to time. The staff is begging me to devise a method of cushioning them from the effects of the spell, but I don’t have the time or staff to spare for that. Guards have been posted on the minotaur’s cell to strike him down if he manages to do any serious injury.

Fall, fall the Empire.

Tenth Resting Waning, in the Year of Ascension 4

Insubordination!

The supply order for the month has arrived and it consists chiefly of varieties of hot peppers and brandy. As my dietary restriction remains in effect, it can only be the action of some belligerent wretch, upset that he could not gorge himself on spice.

I will have none of this. I’ve ordered the captain to land on the water and set his non-essential crew to fish rather than give in to these demands. I shall also send word to the quartermaster of the supply ship, instructing her only to fill orders bearing my seal. At times, I feel that I am the only competent being on the planet.

Nineteenth Resting Waning, in the year of Ascension 4

Several staffers report waking up screaming the mood on the ship grows grim. I have lifted my ban on spice and alcohol and have sent a missive the Council, explaining my fears that the psi battery is defective. It may explain the issues with the minotaur as well. It is lucid almost every session now, and actively alters the dreamscape.

At the same time the mongrel broke containment again. They found her in the archives this time, practicing paper folding with our stored notes and spell schematics. We were lucky to discover her before she damaged the master schematic for the Nightmare syndrome. I have posted a guard at her door.

First Waking Rising, in the Year of Ascension 4

The minotaur was struck down today. He managed to render the researcher attending him unconscious through the dream and break containment. The guards slew it and I ordered the body dumped into the sea. We must find a way to make these interactions one-way, or the Nightmare Syndrome will never see the combat.

I am also vexed by the response I received from the quartermaster of the supply ship, Repast. She informs me that the order I sent did bear my seal. Oddly, she continued by instructing me that if I ‘threaten’ her again, she will defer the issue to military justice. I made no threats, what could she have possibly construed as a threat?

Second Waking Rising, in the Year of Ascension 4

Someone is playing a dangerous game of pranks here. The minotaur was alive and in his cell this morning. It would be as if nothing happened yesterday if not for the fact that the research, whose name escapes me, was not still in a coma. An investigation of all staffers to have contact with the creature is under way.

Reading over my entries just now, I am perplexed by my entry of this past Fourth Resting Waning. ‘Fall, fall the Empire’? It sounds seditious to me and I did not write that. Perhaps my own ink supply is not as immune to corruption from the psi battery as I believed.

Sixth Waking Rising, in the Year of Ascension 4

History repeats itself. The minotaur killed the researcher Liva Fogshroud in the dream, resulting in massive cerebral Arrogance hides truth. Truth will set us free. Fall, fall the Empire. hemorrhaging that caused her to expire within minutes. My theories have been vindicated at Fogshroud’s expense, which is the only reason her corpse wasn’t thrown overboard for incompetence when the minotaur’s was. To be certain, I personally beheaded the creature.

Eleventh Waking Rising, in the Year of Ascension 4

Kettering Lightpinion hung himself in the night. I have immediately taken notice that his quarters are directly beneath the storage for the psi-battery.

The mongrel has spent the day harassing the staff over this event, insisting that the experiment is to blame and that they will be next. I’ve ordered a void array chalked on her door that blocks sound. Let her sing and pester all she wishes.

Seventeenth Waking Rising, in the Year of Ascension 4

The crew swear the minotaur is still alive. They have shown me marks on doors they say were made by a hoofed foot kicking them and scrapes in the walls they say are caused by horns. The captain believes them and has threatened to return us to Rekkia Stormarrow. Fall, fall the Empire. airdock on Illium if I don’t remedy this.

I have sent staffers to purge the psi-battery. As I have not heard from the Council, I fear the we are forced to repair what we have instead of hoping for a new one.

Third Waking Standing, in the Year of Ascension 4

I believe the psi-battery purge has failed or made things worse. The other subjects have begun to turn lucid. Two more staffers are in comas with only on half-elf successfully injured through the spell.

Worse, it is not clear that the battery has done some level of damage to our memories. Even I have become lost in the corridors and misplaced items in the archive. The captain tells me that we have twice found ourselves traveling in the wrong direction.

I have sent another missive to the Council asking for help.

More troubling, I have found more strange and seditious phrases in my writing. The experiment is suspended. I have ordered the psi-battery deactivated.

Sixth Waking Standing, in the Year of Ascension 4

I have seen the minotaur roaming the halls at night, not as a being of flash and blood, but a creature of sickly blue light and smoke. I theorize that the rogue energies from the psi-battery have preserved a psychic imprint of the beast.

I don’t know what to do. Phantoms cannot be bargained with or defended against using anything we have gathered here. I have set the staff about chalking up psychic blocking arrays all over the ship, but it seems that fear has made them sloppy. None of the symbols are right. Even when I draw them, they are fundamentally flawed.

Ninth Waking Standing, in the Year of Ascension 4

He bellows out our names and sings the war songs of his people. He names the names of friends and family fallen in battle. He disparages out hero-gods and proclaims us inferior. And every morning, we find another researcher dead or in a coma. There has been no response to my missive or the captain’s emergency beacons.

Yesterday, he scratched off the silencing array on the mongrel’s cell and she has joined in the recriminations with glee. I cannot defeat the spectral minotaur, but I will destroy her. Tomorrow I wiAttempt and fail famously. Fall, fall the Empire.

Tenth Waking Standing, in the Year of Ascension 4

I had a dream last night. A terribly vivid dream. I gathered the remaining staff and went to the mongrel’s cell.

She smiled as sweetly as an ang’hailene can and asked for a glass of water. I obliged, seeing it as a last request, but instead of drinking it she hurled the glass at the wall.

And as the water washed away the charcoal, she produced the ink pot from her rags. One of those I thought were all broken when she got into the supply closet. The water revealed why she’d taken it: symbols or power, symbols of control and gathering energy.

The Nightmare Syndrome.

When I turned back to her, she was armed with a sword of light and armored in plates of steel. With a laugh, she plunged the blade intFall fall the Empire.

From the log of Captain Zamir Thamian of the Wingclipper

First Waking Rising Vishnari Reckoning 2361, Fourth Year of the War of Ascension.

We have captured a laboratory ship in the most remarkable of ways. It practically landed on us.

At first, we feared an attack, spying a hailene on deck, but when she came closer, we saw the brown mottled wings of an ang’hailene and knew she couldn’t be one of them, after all ‘ang’hailene’ means ‘not people’. The only use the Empire has for them is slaves.

She was joined by a small party of ang’hailene and our own boys and girls; Vishnari prisoners of war, apparently delivered for experimentation. The crew and research staff are intact, all but one. Their knowledge will be instrumental in the war effort.

Then she showed me how she did it. Seems the ‘lene were working on a way to attack out minds. She figured the secret out before they did: she says people won’t resist if the dreamworld reflects the real one. I laughed as she explained how she toyed with the commander of the ship for days in his perspective before using his own great creations to slay him.

Someday, I’m certain that Rekkia Stormarrow’s name will go down as the greatest spy in this conflict. Once I’m done recording this, I plan to break out my best wine for she and her accomplice, the minotaur Hashan Thundell. And we will toast the fall of the Hailene Empire.

About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter.

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2 Comments

  1. Michael Worrell

    This was awesome. Is there a forum to discuss these World of Ere one shots?

  2. Yep, the Site discussion forum should have a thread for it. If not,
    I’ll make one.

    Glad you enjoyed it!

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