This is basically a collaboration with Tarlin’s player – setting the scene for Tarlin’s upcoming dreamquest in search of guidance from his god.
The night after Tarlin unwittingly released his demonic doppleganger, he dreamed uneasily – finding himself in the demon realms of death, wandering the endless shadowy corridors and grounds of castles too numerous to count.
The last was by far the most extravagant, if not quite the largest. It’s gate was a massive shadow that loomed over everything within several miles. It seemed insubstantial, as though you could walk right through it – but was as solid as adamant and as magic resistant as nightiron if you tried.
He passed within, but there was a terrible tearing sensation, and a sense of loss – as if he had left a vital portion of himself entrapped in the shadowy portal. Unlike the other castles, however, he seemed to know this one – walking the dark halls and not missing the benefits of vision, eyes closed, yet seeing in his mind well enough to never miss a step.
He was approaching the back door of the throne room before he looked at the hand he raised to open the door. He had been comfortable enough earlier – but that sensation of loss was troubling. Why hadn’t he looked at himself before? Had he not wanted to see? Was the darkness within as well as without? For he, himself, was a mere outline, a faint image without substance. Like the gate, yet unlike, the hand of a ghost, yet suggesting still a solid form.
The throne room felt… homelike and right. More a place belonging to him than anywhere where he had ever been. His – and not his, for, as he approached the throne, he saw that another sat there. An amorphous, if vaguely-humanoid, darkness – and another, unknown, figure, or perhaps the same one, stood beside the throne and reeked of treachery.
He stepped across the space, fading in one spot as the ethereal essence of his self flowed into another place, crossing the space without moving along some secret route of the soul approaching it’s home. He struck with all his terrible power, and then stood alone beside the throne.
He should have known what he struck, but that knowledge was buried in the darkness of the gate, and lost to him. He smiled, and was honored by the presence which filled the room. Unreal and yet a terrible force. The walls and structure of the castle fell away, leaving him alone and yet surrounded by unseen multitudes within the walls of darkness, the maze of night.
Tarlin rememberd little of the dream when he awoke. Despite the heat of the tropical climate, he was chilled to the bone and filled with a strange emptiness. Still, he sought out Fredronon to inquire about demons… If he came closer to his other self, could he meet – or become – the avatar of Death? That passion – the elemental force of the Death Thunder ran in his blood and bone, as their own thunders ran in every thunder dwarf.
If only he understood more clearly what Haerun desired of his priests! But he had never been good at divining that… Haerun surely would not have accepted his service if he had no use for an assassin, but what was he a weapon against? What was his target? Had Haerun had a hand in the creation of his demonic self?
There had to be a way to find out more – perhaps a way to obtain guidance from his god.
He lay back down for a few moments before starting his usual routine, and tried to clear his mind in preparation for the coming tasks.