Forgotten Runes Logo
Recent Lore
Lore with Images
World Map

Archmagus Soran of Dreams (#2876)

Owner: 0x24D7…e52b

Chapter 1: Rats in a cage

Archmagus Soran of Dreams stared sourly through the floor-to-ceiling bars of the Citadel’s dungeons at the two small islands far below, out in the glassy grey-green waters of the Brine. White caps ruffled the surface of the ocean. The wind mocked him.

He clenched his fist and turned his back on the scene, stalking to the far recess of his cell. Once more he tried to conjure Zephyr’s Laugh. A puff of air burst from his fingertips and died… that, too, had deserted him.

He cursed under his breath. Dark smudges under each eye paid testament to the success of the Charmer’s magic. She had laid her traps well: each time his mind drifted to the edge of the Dream Realm the enchantment flung his mind painfully back to wakefulness. It was incredibly hard to bring himself to fall to sleep again – the pain lingered in his mind constantly, an ache that came back forcefully each time he thought it was abating.

The Dream Whisperer grated his teeth in frustration. The spell itself seemed to taunt him, deriding his attempts to break his mental shackles. He had tried everything he could to circumvent the woman’s sorcery. The last time, he had felt as though a revelation was close, but the thin membrane between realms had managed to keep itself just beyond his grasp.

Next time, if he got close enough to the membrane, would he be able to touch it? A touch was all it would take, and the Dream Realm would be his again. Then she would have no way to stop him. Not again. Insolent whelp. How dare she imprison the Dream Whisperer?

This was all that meddling Adept’s fault. Soran glowered at a damp patch on the wall. If Baptiste hadn’t arrived in the Valley of the Void Disciple and messed everything up, Soran would be helping the Great Lord of the Void advance his preparations in the Quantum Shadow right now! Instead, he found himself here, at the mercy of a jumped-up hypnotist who thought to style herself empress. And most likely in the Voidlord’s displeasure, if Soran ever made it out of here.

Adept Baptiste had interrupted him just as he was delving into the dreams of Circe of the Abyss – the ruler in Calista’s Citadel. The Lord of the Void had tasked him with ensnaring the young Charmer while she slept, to bring her over to the Void Disciples – yet another magic-maker to swell the Voidlord’s hordes.

The Citadel was a strong strategic position, a foothold for the Great Lord’s armies in the west, within striking distance of Alessar’s Keep and Red Wizard Capital, and an impenetrable coastal fort to control shipping routes between the lands to the south and Alchemist’s Archipelago. It would have been a triumph for Soran to bring Lord Voidoth the Citadel and its army.

But then the youthful Adept had projected himself into the melding Soran was weaving to insert himself into the Charmer’s dreams. Baptiste should not have been capable of accessing the Dream Whisperer’s mind-meld… it had startled Soran, and his distracted mind was caught between the realms as his concentration wavered.

He had been too distracted to notice that Circe had seen through his dream web, until it was too late. She had cast a web of her own around him and expelled Baptiste. Soran’s face reddened at the indignity of it all… the great Dream Whisperer, an exalted Archmagus of the Bastion, trapped by this conjurer of cheap tricks… this… this Charmer.

An animalistic growl escaped his lips, sending Morpheus squealing and scrabbling into a dark corner of the cell. The wizard’s plague rat trembled; the memories of his master’s displeasure were surely still fresh in his bright rodent mind.

If the Adept had survived Crackerjack’s displeasure, Soran would find him. And Soran would not end him quickly. He would suffer. The Voidlord would see Soran’s true worth. Maybe he would even be raised to Second Disciple. From there it would only be a matter of time before he could usurp Crackerjack in the Great Lord’s favour. The Dream Whisperer had so much more to offer the Void than a common half-man Necromancer.

Soran paused in mid-stride, rewinding his thoughts. His bright rodent mind… He laughed out loud and clapped his hands together gleefully.

“That’s it, Morpheus! Do you see it?”

The plague rat eyed him cautiously from the shadows, nose twitching uncertainly. Rubbing his hands together, Soran approached his familiar with soothing murmurs. It was time for them both to take a nap and win back their freedom.

Chapter 2: Welcome to the Weird House

Footsteps echoed in the corridor outside the cell. Morpheus woke with a start. He sniffed the air. The sweet scent of roses was wafting through the gap under the cell door. The rat glanced at his master, who stirred fitfully… it could not have been more than a few minutes since they had fallen asleep.

Morpheus floated towards the door, enraptured by the odour. The door opened and he gazed lovingly up into his mistress’s brilliant emerald eyes, ready to do her bidding. He did not fear the fox at her heels, for she would let no harm come to him, so long as he obeyed. The alabaster skin of her heart-shaped face shone as she smiled down at him and tucked a lock of auburn hair behind her ear. Morpheus felt as though his chest would burst with joy as she bent down and coaxed him towards her.

The deep crimson colour of her long, pointed hat perfectly matched the lustrous rose nestled in the palm of her left hand. As he approached, she stroked the oversized flower and a large petal floated lazily up into the air and drifted towards the Archmagus, who still lay curled on the floor of the cell, smiling serenely now. The petal draped itself over his forehead and he slowly opened his eyes, turning his loving gaze onto Morpheus’s mistress. Morpheus felt the jealous rage burning inside him and he made a dash for the old wizard, teeth bared.

In a flash the fox was upon him, worrying him with sharp teeth.

“Now, now Finn, he only wants to show his devotion to his Empress,” she said with a musical lilt. “I’m sure we can all be friends.”

The fox reluctantly released his grip and returned to his mistress’s side, but he continued to eye Morpheus hungrily.

She crossed the cell towards the Archmagus and offered him her hand. He took it reverently and allowed her to help him to his feet, the rose petal still draped over his head. “I am happy to see you doing so much better my dear,” the lady said in a half-whisper. “I do feel bad for having to keep you locked up in here. But you realise that I only did it to protect you?”

“Yes of course, Empress Circe…” he stammered as anger briefly clouded the Empress’ face.

“Puh-P-Please forgive me, Empress Calista, it won’t happen again! I am here to do whatever you may ask… I do have some knowledge of the Citadel, in fact I studied the Chronicles of Calista back when I was a student, and I’m sure I can be of service,” gabbled the wizard. The Empress, her serenity restored, smiled kindly at him and patted his hand. “Why thank you Soran, that is very thoughtful. In fact, I have a visitor here who says she knows you. She would very much like to speak with you.”

“With pleasure your majesty! I must apologise again, I am not really equipped to entertain…” the wizard trailed off as he stared around the cell, as though he wasn’t quite sure of his whereabouts.

“That’s quite alright, my dear, this shouldn’t take long… here she is now.”

The Empress stepped aside as a teenage girl strode into the cell wearing a purple velour tracksuit, a heavy gold medallion hanging around her neck. Her dusky face was lit by the warm glow of the torch she carried in one hand as she stared haughtily at the two captives. A second fox trotted past her into the cell and snuggled up to Finn, who was now sitting on his haunches cleaning his forepaws.

The Archmagus was dumbstruck by the girl’s entry; Morpheus could see him struggling to process what was happening. Morpheus himself could feel his emotions at war – his complete devotion to the Empress wavering in the face of the terror that clasped him in its icy grip.

They were both very well acquainted with Hex Mage Bathsheba. Yet somehow Morpheus could not bring himself to feel distressed about the fact that their day was about to get a whole lot worse.

Chapter 3: Welcome to the Weird House

Bathsheba regarded the wide-eyed wizard impassively. “Remember me, Soran?” she waved a hand as though he would try to answer, although the wizard continued to just stand there slack-jawed.

“Well of course you do, old man, don’t be ridiculous, I’m a celebrity at the Bastion, aren’t I? Eeee-verybody wants to be the one to bring Bathsheba crawling back to answer to the Council. So many feeble attempts… It’s really quite tiresome.”

Bathsheba walked up to the wizard until she stood staring up into his face, hands on hips. Despite only coming up to the Archmagus’s shoulder, the girl radiated a presence that seemed to fill the entire cell. She narrowed her eyes, tapping a forefinger against her pouty lips.

In the background, the Empress watched on, naked devotion in those large green eyes. Morpheus was cowering in a corner, trying not to draw any attention to himself.

“Sit down, old man, you look exhausted,” said the Hex Mage. She spun her body in a half-crouch, pirouetting on the toes of one foot, and in one fluid motion shoved the wizard in the chest with her outstretched arm and whipped the torch around as she continued to spin. The flame streamed forward and began to rotate around the wizard, forming a whirling Rune of Mercury. The glowing rune distended as Soran fell back into it, but then held his weight, curling small rings of burning light around his ankles and wrists.

Bathsheba clasped her hands behind her back as she paced slowly back and forth in front of him. “What are we to do with you, old man? Empress Calista believes that given a little bit more time with her eternal rose, she can mould you into a good little lapdog… I’m not so sure.”

She stopped and turned to face the Archmagus, narrowing her eyes. As she took a step forward her face took on a menacing aspect and the Archmagus cringed, struggling against his bonds.

“I know what you did, Dream Whisperer,” she hissed. “Would you beg for forgiveness if I gave you the chance?”

The wizard began to blubber incoherently. Bathsheba rolled her eyes and examined her nails. “So pathetic! Even if I wanted to kill you… No, that’s not right. I do want to kill you. But old Rainbow Cakes has asked me not to kill any more of you wizards.” Smiling devilishly at the Archmagus, she continued. “He’s right, you know. It’s much more fun to extend your discomfort indefinitely.”

“Umm, Rainbow Cakes?” Circe - Calista - cut in.

Unexpectedly, Bathsheba giggled. Soran couldn’t explain it, but the girlish noise somehow made her all the more terrifying. She walked over to the Empress and crouched down to ruffle the fur of the two foxes. “Sacred Key Master hates it when we call him that. Says it undermines his ‘authority’.”

“Anyway,” she continued, straightening up, “he wouldn’t leave me alone to get on with my wizard killing. He just kept going on and on about it. So eventually I agreed to help him out with his key predicament – far easier than having him constantly popping out of thin air, slowing down time, yelling ‘Behold My Quantum Style’, and being a general nuisance. It was all getting a bit tedious. Honestly… hostile work environment.”

Bathsheba turned back to the wizard, who was rotating slowly on the glowing Mercury Rune. “Well, let’s get on with it. Haze!”

The vixen’s eyes sparkled. She gave Finn’s face a lick, then trotted after the Hex Mage, who had already begun tracing intricate patterns in the air in front of her with the first two fingers of her right hand. The rune spun faster and faster, pinning the Archmagus’s beard flat against his face, until it formed a radiant sphere in the middle of the cell.

The wizard was nothing more than a blur of colour streaking through the sphere. Morpheus the rat, mesmerised by what was happening to his master, had no time to react as Haze approached. The vixen fixed him in her gaze – his clawtips scrabbled against the floor as he was lifted off the ground. Squeaking in protest, the rat flew across the chamber, straight into the glowing sphere of magic, which gave off a piercing shriek and then suddenly imploded into a bright spark that guttered momentarily and then winked out.

Archmagus Soran of Dreams opened his eyes with a groan. The echoes of whispers in the Void reverberated in his mind. Morpheus lay on the damp grass next to him, a dazed expression on his thin rodent face. A shadow loomed over them, blocking out the hazy, pale light of the sun. Dazzling motes of dust sparkled in the air around his head and a silky voice insinuated itself into his consciousness.

“Ah, Dream Whisperer, so good of you to join us. Welcome to the Weird House, we’ve been expecting you.”

Story Arc Index:

Prologue: Wizard #777

Part 1: Wizard #4298

Part 2: Wizard #292

Part 3: Wizard #2261

Part 4: Wizard #3911

Part 5: Wizard #1177

Part 6: Wizard #2876

Entered by: 0x24D7…e52b and preserved on chain (see transaction)