The Isle of Dread

Inspiration, the Deathwatch Beetle

“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” – words I heard one afternoon while dreaming, drifting through the void on righteous sedatives.

My vision narrowed as the primordial beast bit through gleaming, polished steel. The world of shouting companions and the weight of my armor seemed to fade away, even as the jaws released me and I held my feet somehow.

I regret to admit that I haven’t been meditating like I should. Adventure beckons, and a life spent snuffing the candles of the hapless and working on pruning Livinia’s family tree allows me little time to suss out truths of morality in a world full of conflicting theologies and even less time to attempt to figure out where we even are within the limitless atlas of the planes. Directories that point out ones location are few when you get into worrying about absolute location.

As such, my epiphany came to me not during a session experimenting with Blue Haze in one of the speak-easies down by the docks, but during a different sort of disassociation: the throes of impending death.

All of the weight of my equipment and fatigue had gone away. I wasn’t in armor anymore at all, it turned out, nor on a beach. Somehow I was standing in a library, but not like the ones the nobles brag about back in Sasserine.

I stood in a library with no shelves and no chairs; no lamps or tables or inkwells. The ceiling must have been hundreds of feet above and the stone walls were damp and covered in a creeping moss and ivies and an entire flourishing ecosystem of toadstools and fungi. Shafts of light streamed in through an oculus in the ceiling, illuminating a towering hanging tapestry of shifting words and shapes, wafting gently in the updrafts and hanging all the way to the floor.

If fanatics can be said to pray in tongues, maybe they can write in tongues as well.

Somehow, I could understand them, and instead of reading words, I was reading ideas. The great bolt of cloth correlated the contents of my mind and showed me the connections that I couldn’t make on my own. I experienced epiphany and, as I prepared to exclaim my joy, I was wrested back to the beach of shouting companions and the curious thing whose mutations I envied which sought to undo me.

Only moments had passed in what had felt like hours staring into the tapestry. Vendrik’s spell had restored me to wakefulness and our sortie with the incredible mutant beast eventually came to a close. Elated and running on a river of blessed midnight, I cleared the collapsing bridge without ever setting foot and made sure of my friends’ safe return.

Our next decision, once out of harm’s way was to jump immediately back into it. As we stare into the worm-riddled mouths of more mutant sailors, I’m reminded that iron isn’t tempered by flame alone and wonder: Will we be quenched eventually or will we simply melt?

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