…to the Well of the Worlds…
…goes better than the first.
“Damn Imps,” Andrea Ravn swore as she woke up from the dream of Korvosa.
She had been determined to beat them this time. She had convinced Jaz and Nox to think about Korvosa as the Chaniri priests performed the ritual that would allow them to all be in the same dream.
But the result was the same: The mad prophet foretold of doom involving a plague and Nox — who appeared as a vengeful friend in this dream — was once again able to heal himself of the madman’s disease; the imps attacked again, drawing the attention of the Korvosan Guard; once again, the guards found the queen’s broach on her and carted them all off to the castle…
…and once again their sleep was less restful than it should have been.
“So we’ll have to go through the World Gate tired and angry,” she told the others.
They took Krasire’s mount, but not their own. Jaz rode it, while Andrea and Nox would try to make it to the door. Even without opening it — “Who knows what’s on the other side?” — they might be able to wedge themselves into the vestibule and avoid the worst effects of the Astral Mist.
Jaz decided against entering the dream as a drug addict. It was what Andrea wanted her to do, but it sounded just a little too dangerous. As they meditated on the mythical city of Korvosa, she imagined herself as the friend of a drug addict who was strung out on Shiver. Gaedren Lamm, her friend’s drug dealer, would still have to pay for his crimes, but she would be just a little more Streetwise. It turned out that meant that Andrea didn’t even recognize her in the dream. And Gaedren Lamm was already dead. On his body Andrea found a broken broach. They took it to a jeweler who refused to fix it. He recognized it as the queen’s stolen broach and he didn’t want to get caught with stolen property.
Jaz awoke from the dream, feeling less than fully refreshed.
But they still had to go through the World Gate — through something called the Sovereign Gate — to the Well of the Worlds.
“The Alliance needs to know what the emperor plans to do with all this extra magickal energy they are pulling from our world,” Bejam told her. The Wizard from Nefelus was convinced the Githyanki would not be increasing their risk of discovery if they were not expecting to use the Material Plane’s magickal energy for something important.
That meant they had to go back to the Well of the Worlds soon, even though Nox and Andrea had been forced back the last time they tried by some kind of Astral Shade. They expected it to be even stronger this time.
“It hadn’t been attacked in thousands of years the last time,” Andrea told her. “This time it may be expecting us.”
The Dreamer found himself once again escorting Andrea through the streets of Korvosa. The riots were still going on all around them, crazies screaming about dooms coming down on the city. Once again, one of them rushed at the Dreamer while shouting about some plague which was coming to the city in the future. Once again, the disease he carried was very real … very much in the present. Once again, the Dreamer shook him off and was infected himself. Once again, he healed himself. Once again, they made their way through the Academae District. Once again, he and Andrea looked at each other — the drug addict’s friend was not paying attention — and he fired at the imps who were attacking them. Once again, he missed and the imps got the broach. Then the Queen’s Guard showed up. Once again, they clubbed the imps, found the broach, and hauled them off to prison for possession of stolen property. The Dreamer awoke, as Nox Rhasgar … once again, rested … but not well rested.
Nox Rhasgar knew what his job was: Blast his way past the Shade and get his back to the door. The vestibule by the door was the only place he could make a stand without getting swept by the Shade into the Astral Mist which surrounded the Sovereign Gate itself.
Jaz was coming through on Krasire’s mount — a hippogryph which could fly out of the mist. Andrea could fly — a bit — using her vestigial wings.
But Nox would have to rely on the others if he should find himself swimming in the stuff. As much as he like casting in the room filled with arcane energies, he didn’t want to find himself adrift in the Astral Mist again.
Getting the Shade out from between him and the door wasn’t as hard as he expected. He hit it with an Elemental Bolt — this time it didn’t turn substantial — it teleported to another location and hit them with an Astral Shockwave.
But he didn’t get his back all the way to the door, and the thing’s next teleport put it right between him and the door.
Eventually he was able to work his way all the way to the door and pour on the damage. Jaz was getting the hang of her Backstabs and Sneak Attacks.
The Shade got Andrea down several times, but her regenerating armor kept bringing her back to her feet. Nox downed his own Potion of Regeneration just in case it was able to knock them both out.
Then the creature started to work on Jaz as well. If it got them all three out simultaneously, it could finish them off, one by one, even with their regeneration going full blast.
They managed to kill it just as Jaz was bloodied for the first time.
“Not a lot of time to spare,” Nox thought to himself as they sent Jaz out to explore the next room.
Andrea Ravn swore she would never again try the streets of Korvosa in her dreams. But she had to admit she had to sleep sometime. And that meant the possibility of dreaming. “What was it that Jerath always said about that?” she asked. “I remember: ‘Aye, there’s the rub’.”
Jaz remembered the trick she and Maggie used to play on their teachers.
At the Black Dragon Society Enclave, they were each taught to impersonate the same people — sort of stereotypes, Maggie liked say, although their teachers called them “archetypes.” One of these archetypes was named Jasmine. They practiced Jasmine with each other so much their Jasmine voices became indistinguishable from each other.
Eventually their physical Jasmine disguises become so close the pictures their teachers gave them that Maggie — who was much better at disguise than Demyse — was able to duplicate her Jasmine disguise.
So perfectly their teachers often mistook one for the other. This enabled one of them to sneak away for various forms of mischief while the other pretended to be the other … as Jasmine.
She thought about this as she slipped through the door of the domed room where the Sovereign Gate was located.
“Just a curving hall,” she thought as she worked her way around to the right. Then she found a kind of lounge, filled with couches.
Beyond the couches, the dome opened into a window. Out of the window, Jaz could see the Astral Sea. Floating there were other globes. She was able to imagine that the dome she was in looked much like those, if she could view this one from the other globes.
Lounging on some of the couches: Githyanki, Warmongers and Mindlashers; the one who seemed to be the leader was armed only with a silver dagger.
“They don’t seem to be expecting us,” she told herself, noting they had left their weapons — except that silver dagger — piled on their gear nearby. “I better report back to the others.”
They seemed to be gathered around a pool of water in the center of the lounge.
“Might be just the thing that Andrea was hoping to find when she brought that bottle.”