A Series of Unfortunate Rolls

DREAM INTERLUDE III

Drifting to sleep after their emotionally draining experience in the Ivory Tower, the five reunited adventurers suddenly found themselves being engulfed by the now-familiar white light of the dream journeys to which they were started to become accustomed. As had happened twice before, the light washed their bedrooms out of existence and brought all five of them together in a blank void. There they heard the voice of the mysterious woman speaking to them in couplets, beginning with the same refrain as before and then foreshadowing the scenes they were about to experience:

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

Seeds of hate began to grow
In broken home left broke and alone
The broken pair, now the broken one
Inspired by adventure, decided to run
He soon learned to ride the waves
And found complacency reaps watery graves
An unlikely friendship and heartfelt goodbye
Stir an old grudge he cannot let lie
The answers you seek lie in-between
The life you were born and the one yet unseen

When the poem finished, the void swirled around them and suddenly the group found themselves standing in the kitchen of a modest cottage. Nothing stood out to any of them right away, but they could make out two voices arguing in the living room. They peaked through the crack of the slightly open door, and when they did Ye’Kan gasped — he realized he was standing in the home in which he had been born in the village of Florin, and was now staring at the face of his mother Mara.

Seeds of hate began to grow
In broken home left broke and alone

The party watched as Ye’Kan’s mother argued with a man who was visibly drunk and disheveled. She was very emotional and asked the man what he had lost “this time,” and the man blurted out that he had lost everything — he had taken everything of value from the house and lost it all while gambling, though he argued that he had been trying to win money to make a better life for her son. Just then the group noticed Ye’Kan as a toddler on the other side of the living room, also watching the scene unfold from behind his bedroom door. His mother then lost it, screaming at the man and telling him to get out of her house and never come back. The man briefly tried to apologize but with no effect, so he glumly shuffled out of the house. Mara broke down and started crying, so toddler Ye’Kan emerged from his room to hug and console her. Back in the kitchen, Current Ye’Kan noticed a portrait on the table, one he never remembered seeing before. It was clearly of his mother, looking just a few years younger than she did now, and an elf man standing together. He didn’t recognize this man and started to wonder if this was perhaps his real father, but before he could examine the portrait any further the white light returned and whisked the group away to their next destination.

The broken pair, now the broken one
Inspired by adventure, decided to run

They now found themselves standing in a courtyard in front of a small old building. The rest of the party turned to Ye’Kan for an explanation, and he told them this was the elf orphanage he spent many years in after his mother died. Just then the doors burst open and dozens of pointy-eared children ran outside, starting a rambunctious game of tag with each other and even including Linny, who was about their size. Just behind them came a stern and sturdy-looking woman, who Ye’Kan recognized as the matron of the orphanage and who walked directly toward the group. She asked if they were the adventurers she had sent for, and when they hesitated unsure about what to say, she asked again and called them all by their real names, except for Ye’Kan who she addressed as Kanye. Having never been addressed directly as themselves in these strange dream sequences yet, the group was confused but confirmed their identities. The matron asked them to hurry up and come inside as they were late for their Career Day presentations, and before they could object or ask any questions, she turned around and huffed back inside. Knowing they had to go with the flow, the adventurers shrugged and followed her into the building.

As they walked through the halls, they noticed one boy sitting on a bench reading a large book instead of being outside at recess. The boy’s ears were a bit shorter than the other elf children’s, and Ye’Kan recognized him as his eleven-year-old self. Inside the classroom, the party found four other Career Day presenters standing at the front of the room — an alchemist, a blacksmith, a druid named Pip, and a historian named Sol. The children began shuffling back into the room after recess, and while some were interested in the blind wizard and the bard with the lute, others were afraid of the masked rogue in all black and the badly scarred paladin with an empty sword hilt for a hand. Three of the other presenters had already gone before recess, so Pip the druid was next and explained to the children her connection with nature and animals and showed off her transformation powers. When she finished the matron turned to the five adventurers asked them to go, so Medivh volunteered first and quickly showed off his levitation powers. His speech got a bit out of hand when a girl debated with him over the difference between a wizard and a mage, and after some back and forth teasing he was ordered to go sit on a stool in the corner. Gaius was up next, nervous both about his appearance and being in a classroom again after his own difficult childhood experiences, and tried to read a hastily prepared speech about the virtues of commerce and being a good salesman like his father. After stumbling through it for a few minutes, he finally threw the paper down and ignited the light blade attached to his arm to show off, which delighted the children.

Ye’Kan pushed Osborne forward to go next, and the rogue showed off his abilities by stealing pencils right out of the kids’ hands and replacing them before they could realize what was happening. He then went over his thieves’ tools and talked about how they could help you take anything you want, which made the matron a bit uncomfortable, and then brought out his disguise kit and changed one of the children’s appearance to look like Child Ye’Kan in the back row. It was then Linny’s turn to present, and though she had some difficulty being in a room full of kids and thinking about her own children, she recovered enough to show off her cleric powers by healing a boy with a black eye and then presented her pet fox. Ye’Kan was the last to go, and he explained that he had been inspired to become a bard by reading so many heroic tales of great adventurers and their feats, which caused Child Ye’Kan in the back to perk up for the first time. He then pulled out his lute to play and provide bardic inspiration for the kids, and as he started to pluck the strings the white light returned and washed the scene away.

He soon learned to ride the waves
And found complacency reaps watery graves

Gaius, Medivh, and Osborne found themselves in a large mess hall surrounded by dozens of men dressed like pirate ruffians. None of the pirates seemed to notice them as being out of place, so Osborne joined a game of knucklebones while Gauis and Medivh debated on whether or not they should help themselves to the cheese platter. After a few moments the door opened and a man appeared who the other pirates addressed as Puke, the First Mate. Puke yelled to the entire room that the ship they were after was in sight. Meanwhile, Linny and Ye’Kan found themselves in the cargo hold of a different ship altogether, and Ye’Kan quickly recognized it as the first merchant ship he had joined to pursue adventure on the seas. As he explained this to Linny, a crackling voice called out “who’s there?” and startled them. Putting the pieces together, Ye’Kan realized that the other voice was himself, as he had always gone down into the cargo hold to write music on his lute.

Back on the pirate ship, Puke the First Mate announced the arrival of Captain Söze on the floor. The captain entered and immediately earned the full attention of all the men in the mess hall. He quickly went over the plan they were about to enact, assigning Gaius and Osborne to the team that was supposed to capture the other captain and Medivh to protect their own ship with magic from the crow’s nest. He also said waves of fighters and archers would be boarding and attacking the other crew, and the group realized they were about to do a pirate raid. Söze led the men out of the mess hall and up above deck, where it was nearly pitch black in the middle of the night. On Ye’Kan and Linny’s ship, the bard listened to his younger self begin to write a composition on his lute, which triggered his memory about what day this was. He psychically communicated with Linny that this was the night his merchant ship was attacked by pirates, and that they were about to be boarded and slaughtered so they needed to get his younger self—Lil’ Y, he called him—to safety.

Söze’s ship pulled alongside the merchant ship, and Gaius and Osborne swung over on ropes to begin searching for the captain but also for Linny and Ye’Kan who they knew had to be nearby somewhere. Medivh engaged the merchant ship’s mage in a magic battle high above the decks while Linny and Ye’Kan grabbed Lil’ Y, who had fallen and broken his lute, and brought him up to the second deck. They arrived just as Gauis and Osborne were coming down, and the group reunited. The rest of the pirates still had their own mission to carry out however, so Söze’s bard Bile rushed at Lil’ Y with his sword drawn. The group teamed him to bring him down, and as sounds of violence and explosions increased from above deck, the group debated about how to proceed. Just then another man came down the stairs directly toward them, but not to engage them in a fight — it was Sol the elf historian from the Career Day presentation, and he calmly told the group that they needed to do everything he said and that he would explain later. He instructed Ye’Kan to give Lil’ Y his lute, allow him to be captured, and told them all to grab the captain of the merchant ship and reconvene upstairs.

They followed Sol’s instructions, and soon the pirates had control of the ship and all of the merchant crew rounded up on the top deck. The party stood to the side as Söze boarded and paced around the captives, calling them frightened and weak. He grabbed the captain and slit his throat, which made Gaius, Linny, and Medivh start to react but Sol stopped them before anyone noticed. Söze continued pacing through the rows of prisoners and taunting them until he stopped at Lil’ Y. Noticing the lute on his back, he asked the teenager if he was any good. When Lil’ Y nodded, Söze said his bard Bile had been killed during this battle and now he needed a replacement. The captain ordered Lil’ Y to join his crew, and said that if his performances were disappointing he would kill him in the morning. Satisfied with their haul of stolen goods and now a new bard, Söze ordered his men to kill the rest of the crew and return to the pirate ship. Just as the grizzly scene was about to begin, the white light took the group away to their next destination.

An unlikely friendship and heartfelt goodbye
Stir an old grudge he cannot let lie

The impending violence was replaced by a raucous bar, full of men shouting and drinking and playing piano. The party recognized some of the men as the pirates from Söze’s ship, including Puke the First Mate who was dancing the night away. Far in the corner they also recognized Sol again, who was sitting calmly and also did not look a day older than the last scene. Ye’Kan informed the group that this night was his going away party for when he had left Söze’s ship after ten years of service, making it about a year prior to when he had met them all to work for Gundren Rockseeker in Neverwinter. Fed up with the lack of answers thus far, Gaius started walking directly toward Sol but the elf stood up and disappeared into the crowd before the paladin could reach him. Just then the music stopped and Söze stood up on the bar to give a goodbye speech for their friend Ye’Kan, sharing a series of shots with the slightly younger version of the bard (one of them being for “the revenge you seek”) before sitting him down in a chair to get his pirate tattoo.

Suddenly, the entire scene froze in time except for the five adventurers. They looked around unsure of what just happened when Sol emerged from behind the bar with four beer mugs and a wine glass and spoke the final couplet of the poem they had heard at the beginning of this sequence:

The answers you seek lie in-between
The life you were born and the one yet unseen

This was the first time the group had heard anyone else address the couplets or anything to do with the dream journeys except for the celestial woman they had briefly seen the first time, so naturally they were in desperate need of answers. As Sol approached with the four full mugs for all the boys and the glass of wine for Linny, Ye’Kan realized that he was also the man from the portrait he had seen in his mother’s kitchen. Sol asked them to take a seat at a table, and when they did the entire scene faded out of existence except for the six of them. Medivh asked him how he knew the poem, and Sol told them that their meeting each other and becoming a group did not happen by chance. He said that this was not the first time they had met, and that all of this has happened before and all of this will happen again — or at least that’s what they used to say. He told them that they had all lived their lives multiple times before, but had always been brought back and reunited with each other by the woman from the poems, whom he was an agent of. Sol talked about the future Medivh came from, the one they visited in the first dream journey, and said what caused such a desolate future is exactly what they are trying to stop. They are at war, he said, but they were not ready to know the exact circumstances just yet. This was why they were experiencing these dream sequences — in previous cycles Sol and the woman had told them everything up front or too soon and they had failed each time, so this time they were trying to reveal it slowly to help the group better understand both the situation and themselves. And this was going to be the last chance they had at it, because the woman was dying from using so much of her power to bring them back time and time again.

Sol assured the group they would know more as time went on, and told them that in three days they would receive a sign about what to do next. He then asked the rest of them if they could give him a moment alone with his son Ye’Kan, revealing that he was in fact the bard’s father. He told Ye’Kan that he had had to leave him and his mother to continue his duties as an agent of the celestial woman, but that he had never stopped watching over him or looking out for him. He said he had all the answers his son may be seeking, including the whereabouts of the man who stole everything from his mother and eventually led to her declining health and death, the man Ye’Kan had been searching for his entire life. Sol offered to take him to the man, but said that he first must say goodbye to the group, as he would be joining his father to meet the woman and also become an agent for her. Ye’Kan said his goodbyes, promising to find out everything he could and to return to help them in future dream sequences (he also gave Gaius his gold and Osborne a noogie).

Gaius, Linny, Medivh, and Osborne then woke up in their beds back in the real world while Sol and Ye’Kan were transported back to the village of Florin where they had started. They walked through the town at midday while Sol explained that the man who had ruined his family, whose name was Colin, had left to clean himself up and put his life back together. He had returned a year after being cast out with enough money to repay for everything he had taken, but Mara had already died and young Ye’Kan was already in the orphanage. Flooded with guilt, Colin had started making donations to the orphanage to do what he could for the boy, then started a new family and became a respected member of the community. Current Ye’Kan struggled with this news that Sol delivered, having lived his entire life wanting to kill this man but not wanting to murder a now-good person. Ultimately he decided he would let Colin live—for now—but still keep an eye on him just in case he made a wrong move. With this decision made, Sol led Ye’Kan away and said it was time for him to meet the woman who had brought them together.

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