Shared Nightmare

All of a sudden, the room is covered in a dazzling flash of light and you instinctively close your eyes…

When you open your eyes again, you find yourselves standing suspended weightless in the air overlooking Sandpoint and what appears to be the old church that got burnt down in place of the new cathedral.

The door to the church furtively opens as a beautiful little girl with silver hair and violet eyes pokes her head furtively outside before timidly walking outside. As she daintily walks down the steps, a stone flies out of nowhere and hits her head. Boyish giggling can be heard in the distance as someone yells: “Freak! Go back inside!” Clutching the bloody welt on her forehead, she runs back inside crying.

You are transported to what looks to be a quaint, old-fashioned schoolhouse. The same sad, quiet girl sits alone in the corner, reading a book. Cruel whispering and giggling can be heard all around her, before she gets up and excuses herself to go use the restroom. Three other giggling girls follow behind her and wait for her to walk into the outhouse before piling tables and chairs outside her door. Several hours later, a little girl’s frightened screams of anguish pierce the dusk.

A teenage girl walks back home to the church from the school house. Immediately, the air is filled with lewd catcalls and hooting from the adolescent boys in the area. Extremely uncomfortable with the inappropriate attention placed upon her, she quickly runs back to the church, with her head hung low.

A young woman holding a basket is browsing through vegetables at the market, when suddenly, she feels someone yank at her hair followed closely by a loud “snip” sound. Whirling around, she sees an old woman gleefully hobble off with a handful of hair the color of the stars.

A mob of petitioners approach her. Many of them have rashes and boils, others have warts. Some others claim to hear spirits in their head. They ask her to bless them. They ask her if she could cure their maladies with her touch. One of them calls her “the Blessed of Desna.” Another asks her to drive the evil spirits out of his head by singing to him. Too much for her, she runs back to the church. They give chase.

A stern voice of an older man can be heard: “On your seventeenth birthday, I am taking you to the highly prestigious Windsong Abbey to become a nun. The Abbess expects all young applicants to be perfectly versed in their catechisms. You may not leave this room until you have memorized all of your scriptures.” Hours later, a young woman looks out the window gloomily as the sun sets and another warm summer day spent cloistered in her chambers.

A handsome Varisian boy, who recently arrived at Sandpoint from Magnimar, takes her on a picnic for a date. It is her first picninc. They sit on a grassy knoll and watch the sun set. She falls in love.

Weeks pass. The boy throws a stone at the church window. The window opens and the girl looks outside. She smiles happily at him before clambering over and climbing down on a cloth rope. He takes her hand and takes her to the moonlit beach. They walk for awhile in the sand until they come upon a strange cave nestled within the cliffs underneath the newly built Glassworks. Giggling softly, they both go inside.

Months pass. The two young lovers sit shoulder to shoulder at the mouth of the cave overlooking the waves at night. The girl turns to the boy and says that she has something important to tell him. “What’s the matter?” the boy asks tenderly. “I’m pregnant.” The girl says. “You’re lying!” “No, I swear it’s true.” “How could this happen! I thought your kind was infertile.” “But…what are we going to do now?” “What do you mean we? I will be going to Magnimar with my caravan next week.” “I thought you said you were going to stay here with me.” “I lied. I knew I should never have gone out with a sad little fool like you.” With that, he turns on his heel and walks away with barely a glance backwards. Mouth agape, too stunned to speak, and hurt beyond measure, the girl quietly watches her so-called “lover” disappear into the darkness.

Kneeling before the altar, she prays for repentance that she does not feel. Her foster father yelled at her harshly and had called her a “harlot” when he found out about her condition. He forbids her from leaving the church in fear public ridicule. Bitterness and rage clouds her heart like a thick poison and festers…

Eight months later, she undergoes a painful miscarriage. Through the haze of pain suffusing her entire body, she catches a glimpse of her baby – a horrific and deformed monstrosity, which the blanching midwife immediately swaddles up and takes away. In one awful moment of clarity, she realized that she had been carrying a fiend in her belly all this time. She falls into a deep coma.

Her coma-induced sleep is filled with fevered dreams. In them, a pregnant woman with three jackal heads and a serpentine tail beckons to her. She approaches slowly and falls into the demon goddess’ embrace. In her other dreams, she dreams of burning the old Desnan church – her home and prison – down, with her foster father in it. She dreams of masked men who revel in the act of hunting and killing other men. She dreams of hunting down and murdering the boy who brought her so much pain. She dreams of a hidden shrine underground shrine, where she meets her tiny new mentor. She dreams of a monstrous goblin wolf – a chosen of Lamashtu – that paces restlessly in ravenous hunger in a small chamber. She dreams of Sandpoint being overwhelmed and razed by a ravening horde of monsters, and she vividly sees herself standing amidst the ruins, reveling in the act of offering the souls of the dying to higher, more terrible beings beyond the understanding of mere mortals.

The collective vision ends here and you find that you are once again inside the heart of Thistletop.

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