A Series of Unfortunate Rolls

DREAM INTERLUDE II

Just as the adventures drifted off to sleep in their rooms at Cat’s Cradle in Castaway Cove, they were once again surrounded by a blinding white light — the same light they had experienced before the strange dream about Medivh’s past back in Phandalin. As the light absorbed them and everything in their rooms, they found themselves floating in some kind of blank void and were surprised to see that Medivh was with them as well. Before they could ask their wizard friend where he had been all these weeks, they heard the familiar voice of the celestial woman who had seemed to guide them and speak to them during the last dream. Again speaking in rhyming couplets, the woman’s voice addressed the adventurers in the void:

All things forgotten and all things lost
Rediscovered at great cost
And secrets kept beneath closed lips
Breathe life into the apocalypse
Remember this, remember well
For these events are what they’ll tell

Witness the oath that paved the way
For the life it left in disarray
Help those in need through masked intent
To save the flock from their lament
Decisions made in heat and flame
Will break the bonds that come with names
Through love those hurt will laugh again
And find new life and start to mend
Happiness is not without its faults
But where one hope sails another calls

When the poem ended, the bright light dissipated and the five adventurers found themselves standing in a large, bustling town. Bells were ringing and everyone on the street was well-dressed and hurrying toward the center of the city. The party looked up and saw their destination was a towering, shimmering church standing tall over the rest of the structures in this well-off town. Messages were being displayed in the sky above the cathedral via prestidigitation spells, including a countdown clock sitting at 15 minutes, a slogan about being humble (which seemed ironic given the extravagance of the town), and the church’s name: the Minnie Church of Pelor. Seeing this, Linny Minnie Bumblebey began to panic and told her friends that they couldn’t be here and ran off into a nearby alley. They found her a minute later rocking back and forth covering her face with her hands. Gaius kneeled to her level and asked for an explanation, and Linny said that they were in Solaris, the town she grew up in. Unsure of how or why they had come to this place, the group tried to comfort their gnome friend without knowing how to proceed as the countdown clock above the church chimed to signal 10 minutes remaining. Gaius suggested disguising Linny so that she wouldn’t be recognized while they waited for the situation to play out, so Medivh provided his Redbrand cloak that he had stolen from Tresendar Manor weeks prior and Ye’Kan expertly used his disguise kit to render her completely unrecognizable.

Witness the oath that paved the way
For the life it left in disarray

Just as they finished the makeover, a hulking half-orc in an official-looking uniform strolled by the alley and spotted the five of them. He approached and asked what they were doing, and Gaius presented his scroll of pedigree to avoid suspicion. Seeing this, the half-orc—who’s uniform identified him as Armstrong—picked up Gaius in a loving bearhug and started running toward the church, claiming it would be an honor to escort such a nobleman to “the ceremony.” As they moved away and Gaius’ cries of protest got quieter and quieter, the rest of the group looked to Linny for what to do next. The gnome said the ceremony was important to the town but nothing suspicious or dangerous, and that they should just follow for now and she would try to explain everything later. They arrived at the entrance to the church just in time to see Armstrong put a frazzled Gaius down near the door, and the half-orc told the group to find him later after the ceremony was over.

The party entered and found the church at maximum capacity, with over a thousand people packed into the pews and standing along the walls. Still in their normal adventuring clothes, they got a fair share of dirty looks from the well-dressed attendees as they shuffled to a few empty seats in the back, and even noticed that a few extra security guards dressed in the same uniform as Armstrong began to drift to their position. After a few more minutes of being profiled, ceremonious chanting began inside the church as a very old gnome priest began his procession down the center aisle surrounded by dozens of choir singers. He was followed by three more gnomes—a seven-year-old brightly smiling girl and her parents—and at the sight of them Linny hung her head and started to tremble. When the procession reached the front, the priest took his spot on stage and gave a speech about the values of being humble and giving oneself over to the deity Pelor. He proclaimed that this day was a celebration of his seven-year-old granddaughter Linny Bobinny Bananafana Mo Minnie Throwyrhandsup Atmae getting confirmed before the glory of Pelor, and the young version of Linny that stood before him beamed as this confirmation was bestowed upon her. As the massive crowd applauded the completion of this religious rite of passage, the blinding white light return and whisked the adventurers away from the church.

Help those in need through masked intent
To save the flock from their lament

The light faded and revealed the new scene. The five adventurers were now standing in the foyer of a large home and could hear talking and excited commotion coming from behind the nearest door. Osborne pressed his ear to the door and overheard conversations about someone being late and other inane banter. Ye’Kan turned to Linny, who still looked bleak and worried, to ask what was happening now that it was clear they were in her past. Linny tried to join Osborne at the door to perceive what exactly was going on, but before she could the group heard a booming voice yell out “friends!” and turned to see Armstrong standing behind them. The hulking half-orc picked up Gaius and Medivh in each arm and embraced them, saying that they must be here for the mission. Linny agreed and opened the door as the group shuffled into a room of about 20 people of varying races dressed in adventuring gear.

From the center of the room an arrogant voice scoffed “finally” and they saw the speaker was a cocky-looking gnome standing on top of a table. This gnome introduced himself as Gaston and announced that it was time to begin now that everyone had arrived. Gaston explained that they were on their way to the neighboring town of Nihildeus, which had recently been devastated by a storm, to help rebuild and simultaneously spread the gospel of Pelor. Amongst the crowd the party spotted another version of Linny, now an adult but still young, and noticed that Gaston kept smiling and winking at her during his speech. Young Linny seemed unaffected by these gestures, and Current Linny was outright angered by them. When he was finished speaking, the group turned to Current Linny and asked what the situation was. She responded that Gaston was not to be trusted, as he lied and stepped on people to get what he wanted. Gaius assured her that they would protect her and Ye’Kan pointed out that since this was some kind of dream like last time, they just had to go along with the ride and remember that what they were experiencing wasn’t real. Linny told them that this mission was nothing they couldn’t handle, and that since they were going to Nihildeus that they were about to meet her husband.

After a short journey on horseback, in which other members of the caravan fawned over Gaston but Young Linny continued to seem uninterested, they arrived in the now-rundown town of Nihildeus. Gaston announced that half of the team would be responsible for setting up a base camp in town from which to operate, and the other half would be going door-to-door offering help and religious pamphlets. Current Linny said she was in no shape to help in town, so she went off with the camp group while the four boys were quickly assigned door-to-door duties with none other than Young Linny. This younger version of their companion was instantly happier and bubblier once they left camp and she was out of Gaston’s gaze. She explained that they were to bring food to each home and ask if they could help with any repairs, and then somewhat unenthusiastically added that they were also to give out the Pelor pamphlets when they were finished.

Ye’Kan went first with Young Linny and met an elderly couple who needed repairs around their home and their corral outside, and though they were grateful they had to be convinced to take the religious reading material. Medivh went next and met a sultry woman who claimed the mirror in her bedroom had broken, and when he went in to fix it he found satanic books on her shelf. When he tried to grab one to investigate, a pile of clothes fell off the top shelf and covered the blind wizard in the woman’s undergarments. Gaius was next to go, and when he knocked the door of the home was opened by a young gnome man whose smile instantly swept Young Linny off her feet. The gnome introduced himself as Jeros Bartlebee Bumblebey and said this was his mother’s home he was visiting to take care of her. They made tea for the missionaries and Gaius fixed their roof, all while Young Linny and Jeros were undeniably infatuated with one another. Osborne was the last of the group to go, and he found a home completely collapsed in rubble with weak whimpering coming from inside. He and Young Linny rushed in and found two human children crying over the bodies of their injured parents. With their final breaths the parents asked the adventurers to take care of their kids, and then died.

With the children in tow, the group returned to the base camp and found Gaston telling stories of previous missions and bragging about his own greatness. They told him what had happened and he quickly passed the children off to another woman in the camp. They regrouped with their own Current Linny, who was helping prepare dinner and still looked shaken and weary. As the rest of the campers started splitting off to go to sleep, Current Linny looked at her friends and simply said “be ready.” A few seconds later they heard a scream come from the nearby forest, and heeding Linny’s warning ran off toward the noise and eventually found Jeros the gnome cornered by a large chimera. They sprang into action and defended the gnome, attacking each of the beast’s three heads while Young Linny grabbed Jeros and led him away from the danger zone. The dragon head dealt a significant amount of damage to the party but the monster was eventually brought down with a final blow from Gaius. Jeros told the group he was out in the woods trying to find Young Linny to see her again, and the young gnomes shared a kiss. Just then Gaston rushed in with his sword, far too late to do anything, and as the bright light started to envelop the party again they could see jealousy and anger all over his arrogant face as the scene faded to white.

Decisions made in heat and flame
Will break the bonds that come with names

When the light dissipated the group found themselves outside of a house with arguing coming from inside. They looked into a window and saw Young Linny in a heated debate with her mother, who was yelling that her daughter couldn’t leave the family and the church to marry “that heathen.” Her father was also there trying to be partial, but it was clear what was happening — Young Linny was leaving to marry Jeros, a man of whom her parents did not approve. The young gnome yelled that she had already made up her mind and then tossed her holy symbol necklace and her copy of the holy scripture down at her mother’s feet. She told her parents not to follow her and that they’d never see her again, but her mother scoffed and retorted that she’d come crawling back someday. As Young Linny stormed out of the room, the five adventurers experienced the white light again and were quickly swept away from the tense moment.

Through love those hurt will laugh again
And find new life and start to mend

Their new surroundings were revealed to be the backyard of a nice cottage in a new city, except something felt off for each member of the group. They looked down and discovered that they were in the bodies of young children, and each felt a strange driving emotion: Gaius was very tired and hungry, Osborne was extremely jealous of the other children’s possessions, Ye’Kan had to pee very badly, and Medivh had an overwhelming desire to put everything into his mouth. The decorations on the cottage told them that it was a Candlenights celebration, and also in the backyard they could see Young Linny, her now husband Jeros, and their three children Kasdan, Edric, and Emmaline. Inspired by their new childlike identities, the group played games with the other children in the yard until it was time to go inside and receive presents. They opened their gifts in an excited fury—highlights included a hoverbroom for Medivh, a Grunwyn teenbeat heart poster for Gaius, a Princess Penelope doll for Osborne, and a troublesome fingertrap for Ye’Kan—all while Young Linny and Jeros watched with smiles on their faces, clearly still head over heels in love. As the Candlenights celebration began to wind down, the white light returned and the party heard the final couplet from the celestial woman’s poem.

Happiness is not without its faults
But where one hope sails another calls

They came to and realized they were in the same backyard they had just been in, now back in their normal bodies and hidden underneath the hanging branches of a willow tree. Young Linny emerged from the house, looking almost exactly the same as the previous scene, and began walking toward town humming a tune to herself. Current Linny immediately broke down crying and explained through her sobs that this was the morning that she lost everything — she had gone to the market to prepare a feast for her oldest son’s birthday and wasn’t there to protect her family. Before the other adventurers could ask what she meant, they heard loud banging coming from the front door of the cottage. Jeros could be heard asking who it was, but the banging only grew louder and more aggressive. Frozen where they were standing, the party watched as Linny’s two sons suddenly emerged from the house holding a large basket. They ran to the river just beyond the willow tree and put the basket down just as the door of the house was broken open and sounds of a struggle began. The boys picked up their wooden toy swords and ran back towards the house to help their dad while Current Linny continued sobbing under the tree branches.

The boys managed to distract the attacker for just a moment, and through the window the party saw Jeros strike the large figure’s hand and send two non-human fingers flying out the window. The figure shouted in anger and quickly struck back at Jeros and the boys, killing them where they stood and then shuffling back out the front door. While the group watched on in horror, they began to hear cries coming from the basket that had been left outside. Now able to move, they picked it up and discovered that it was Linny’s baby daughter Emmaline, whom Linny had never found the day her family was killed. Realizing for the first time that her daughter actually survived the ordeal, Linny wept and placed the basket on a small raft in the water. She swore to the baby girl that she would find her again and then pushed the basket down the river, away from the carnage that had just occurred and towards the hope of a new life. As Emmaline was carried away by the current, the white light returned one last time and returned the party to their beds in Castaway Cove.

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