The dream is confusing and refreshing, but you feel something change. The dream becomes brighter and brighter. Lathander is gone. The images of Oghma, Waukeen, Lurue, Gond and Lliira, Torrgon Drake-Slayer, Ned Hammerhand, Ryan, Belinda and Theon are consumed by the rising sun. It is an angry red orb that emanates a harsh light and intense heat. The heat is incredibly dry and you block your face with your hands. The burning continues until you feel blinded and can no longer tell if you are standing in the light or in darkness.
Clap. Clap. Clap. You hear slow applause. “My, what a vibrant imagination you have. So many details. So many flaws.” The discordant voice echoes in the darkness. “I look forward to the second act.” The tone of voice is arrogant and grating yet it has an almost hypnotic quality to it.
From all sides you hear a fluttering like 100,000 bats flying in every direction. Materializing out of the darkness like a molten entity is a figure you recognize as Sir Kessler. From all around, the sounds of bats appear to be his cloak drawing back from the world like a curtain at the great theatres in Waterdeep. Sir Kessler rises ahead of you dressed in red and black with piercing grey eyes that make his face look haunting. You stand now on hot ground. Your boots actually catch fire, but you are paralysed. Within seconds, your clothes burn off your body. You stand before Sir Kessler without disguise. A few seconds pass, you try once more to move but chains coming out of the ground and descending from infinity hold you in place. Arms stretched above your head. Feet held in place to the ground. The world a barren wasteland of magma, rock, and obsidian is seen in all directions. The sky looks no different from the ground. Is Sir Kessler on the ground or speaking from the sky. You can’t tell and it makes you nauseous.
“The real you. Lathander Thorne. Pray tell why you were spying on me?” The voice hisses.
Your mind flashes back to the whore house. The Ranseur. A wave of magma crashes against the rocks near your position that highlights a semi-circle of ranseurs behind Sir Kessler where you see the impaled heads of your fellow MUTs. The images of that night in Iriabor flash in your mind and simultaneously right in front of you. You watch the events of the entire night except all those prostitutes where different in this flashback; they were not women at all. Dark-winged fiends working dark magic on unsuspecting patrons. The elites of Iriabor deceived and exploited. Sir Kessler was not there to waste money on whores. He was building a force, summoning devils, and forging alliances for war.
“Yes, know the truth. I am Kessler the Warlock of Belial. You have crossed me and my Master. You were sent to spy on me. Who sent you? Why?”
The chains pull tighter. You see there is a horrible and terrifying man— a devil— covered in chains. He pulls the chains. He is the chains. Your arms feel like they could be ripped off.
This is no longer your dream.
He feels the panic welling up in his chest. A feeling he hasn’t known in years. “Belial?” If he dies now he won’t be missed. His life means nothing to anyone, barely anything to himself. “Belial? You worship a demon? The horrors that live in the shadows. You worship the darkness not the light? You are as damned as I but at least…” He wants to scream but only whimpers… He knows this is the end… “at least I know I’m nothing!” And he spits at Kessler.
“You are most correct. You are a rat. Vermin. Nothing. Lord Belial shall punish you for your recalcitrance.” The voice is metal and burns with wrath. “But you are no threat, vapid and terrestrial. Let it be known that Kessler the Warlock of Belial always dominates those that cross him.”
You hear a thunderous rumble and the rock beneath your feet gives way crashing down in an explosion. You are suspended by hot iron chains hundreds of feet above a river of magma. You smell your own burnt flesh. A Span of rock leads up to you. The chain devil is there sniffing you as are two other devils covered in horrible barbs. Kessler stands on another span above you his cloak draping over the span like gigantic demonic wings. The sky itself seems alive with fire and behind Kessler you see a tower of pure obsidian that rises hundreds of feet into the air that dominates your sight.
“Rat, you have made a powerful enemy tonight. You seen my plans. War is coming to the world of men and Belial will rule over all.”
“Zartous. Miragrog, Viltanar. Go to Greenest. Find him. Finds his friends. Find his family. Find who hired him. Slay them all!”
You watch the devils charge and disappear under the horizon. The world spins again.
The chains wrapping around your arms explode into tiny shards of glass ripping through your naked flesh in a thousand different places. You begin to fall into the crevice it feels like you are falling forever, but the magma is approaching. You see the magma taking shape; Kessler is watching you fall towards him. The magma becomes hotter. It burns. You feel yourself being incinerated. You become…nothing.