Dawn of Chaos
(The following is the tale of how a dream city in another dimension was discovered. After some time this city merged with the city Underlight and brought along it's inhabitants and foes during the Clash of Dreams.)
The Dreamscape: a land existing in multiple realities of time and space, a vast collection of parallel realms created and visited by the minds of the Enlightened. These Dreamers have come for millenia, meeting and merging in the Dreamscape. So it is, and so it has been since the Beginning.
However, a destabilizing force has recently come to the Dreamscape. Entire variations of the Dreamscape are being consumed by it, their lands rent and their inhabitants driven to madness. Only one final incarnation of the Dreamscape exists still whole, but even it begins to show symptoms of the approaching chaos.
The halls are dank, empty, crumbling. The planes scream to be rebuilt. Timelines fold in upon each other here in the aftermath of the Great Convergence--the dimensions of past, present, and future mixing, throwing time itself out of joint. Most chillingly, the minds of the dreamers themselves begin to be touched by the insanity that destroyed the other realms.
Will the dreamers of this last bastion of this Dreamscape be able to unite to turn back the tide of darkness and rebuild the lands their minds share, or will they too be swallowed in chaos?
Imagine the Dreamstate as it was before the first Dreamers manipulated its essence into the halls and strongholds that exist today: chaos, raw and swirling. Several versions of the Dreamstate existed in this fashion, many never to be discovered and shaped by Dreamers. The first variation of the Dreamscape to be discovered and manipulated by the Enlightened became known as the Inchoate Realm, a place of unformed energies.
The first Dreamer to discover the Inchoate Realm was Dynroth, a druid and royal advisor to the king. Fascinated with the worlds beyond the Mists, the power-hungry Dynroth spent years buried in books and ancient meditations as he attempted to breach the Boundary Mists. It was purely by accident that he discovered the Dreamstate: his attempt to astrally project himself through the Mists by means of an ancient ritual called the Ash'tonu flung him into the Dreamstate, and he was mystified by the swirling and untapped energies found in the realm of Dreams.
Upon his return to his home realm, he shared his new discovery with his coven. The six of them, obsessed with learning more of the new realm formed a sacred pact to dedicate their lives to understanding this untapped power. Dynroth and his Ash'tonu Compact met nightly to enter the newly discovered Dreamstate, their collective will amplifying their mental prowess and skill as they unearthed its mysteries and tapped into its unlimited sources of energy. The Compact made an oath of blood to keep the knowledge of this new world from the people of their waking lands, and most specifically from the King. The King could not be allowed to learn of their nightly rituals, for he wished them to use their druidic capabilities for his ends alone.
With the secrecy of the Compact's nightly rituals came extreme paranoia, and this ultimately damaged their clarity within the Dreamstate. As dreamers from other shards were soon capable of reaching the Inchoate Realm, the paranoia of the Compact increased. They feared that any one of these new arrivals could be from their waking kingdom--spies who would bring knowledge of their activities to the King. This paranoia drove the compact to intensify their studies of the nature of the dreamstate, their experiments conducted in secret, hidden from the eyes and minds of the other dreamers.
The Compact looked down upon the others within their newly found Dreamstate, feeling their motives for achieving the metaphysical plane were inferior to their own. Nevertheless, the Ash'tonu Compact, due to its superior knowledge, extended its influence over the new Dreamers, and before long was the sole authority and governing body of the Inchoate Realm. Soon, the new dreamers began to fear that the secretive methods the Ruler of the Compact would be detrimental to the very dreamstate they shared. This, however, did not stop the druid Dynroth's greed for understanding. The Compact disclosed their philosophies, practices and thoughts to no one. Relentless study of the dreamscape was their sole priority. Their shardic kingdom was one of enslavement, and free of the bonds of their waking home, the Compact sought to maintain their position as supreme rulers and manipulators within the Dreamstate.
Because the Compact had maintained a solemn vow that the Dreamstate would forever remain in its purest form, never to be hampered by sensory experiences that restricted true spiritual understanding, the Inchoate Realm remained a place of swirling energy and chaos. It's citizens were unsheltered souls, fully exposed to the forces around them. As Dynroth’s studies in the nature of the Dreamstate became more intense, so too did his obsession and his paranoia. Convinced that the Ash'tonu would carry them far beyond the Inchoate Realm, the Ruler of the Compact delved deeper into the energies of the dreamscape.
One fateful night, as Dynroth consumed the uncontrolled energies of Insight in an experiment that changed all of reality forever: a doorway opened to him in the swirling chaos. He stepped through eagerly, amazed to discover a silent Courtyard, and beyond, a fully realized Dreamscape. As he explored this new Dreamscape, the nature of his discovery became quite clear: he had stumbled into another realm of the Dreamstate beyond his own Inchoate Realm.
The Ash'tonu Compact became obsessed with this concept of multiple planes of existence and time, and their focus shifted towards manipulating the still mysterious Dreamstate to unearth as many breaches in history as possible. Countless Dreamscapes were discovered, and soon the Inchoate Realm was riddled with doorways leading to a seemingly unlimited number of Courtyards. These doorways opened onto dreamscapes filled with nothing but air and sand, lush tropical dreamscapes populated by murderous or peaceful tribes, dreamscapes of toxicity so high, one lost his form upon drawing first breath. There were dreamscapes so densely populated that space was scarce, and dreamscapes so large that one could wander for days without meeting another dreamer. There were dreamstates composed entirely of substances resembling earth, air, water, and the firmament itself.
But with the Compact's greed for understanding came destruction, for the Dreamstate too has its breaking point. On the fatal day, they opened a door upon the realm of fire. This door, the final door, opened onto an area completely engulfed by an abyss of flame, the swirling essence of chaos. The energies from that hellish timeline tore through the Inchoate Realm, and through many of the realms it opened onto.
Dreamers were obliterated by forces of Chaos as Dynroth fought desperately to repair the damage he had caused. But the doors could not be closed. As the Inchoate Realm began to crumble around them, the Compact made one last effort to save the incarnations of Underlight that their experiments, their open doorways, had endangered: the realms must be consolidated. In an incredible ritual of focal energies so powerful that it rattled the foundation of all existence, the Compact collapsed the Inchoate Realm in on itself, and with it, the linchpin keeping all variations and periods of the Dreamscape separate crumbled. A Great Convergence occured as the Inchoate Realm was destroyed and the other variations began to collapse upon one another. Dreamers who were not destroyed by the Convergence were cast from their variations of the dreamscape by the destructive force. The destruction shattered every variation, save one--but even sparing this single variation had its cost.
--I saw the beast with my own eyes. An abomination so powerful, so terrifying, so malevolent, that I cannot begin to describe it in words. I watched it slip free from that hellish City that caused all this destruction. And as I slipped through a remaining Doorway, I too saw it slither towards a portal just before the Convergence destroyed the Inchoate Realm and unleash a monstrous cry of victory before slipping out of sight.
Now we find ourselves in this single remaining variation of the dreamscape, a world where Houses stand empty, and false gods have been crushed under the heels of the Free. Dreamers thought dead emerge from the Mists to discover a world they do not remember or understand, and once again Newly Enlightened arrive in our Courtyard for the very first time. I can only hope those that remain can learn from the sacrifice made by the Compact. I can only hope that this Dreamscape can endure what is to come.
Credit to GM-Independence from Underlight: Shades of Truth