Hesper’s Web Pt. 2

Mariel, Dimitri, and Asher bought the supplies at the local herbalist and made their way back to the house. The whole way back, Asher jokingly complained about footing the bill once again. He was the wealthiest member of their group by far even before they had become successful adventurers. Dimitri and Dina had come from a wealthy family but they had each forsaken their birthrights for different reasons. Asher’s fame and intermittent concerts kept him fairly well off. He never spent too much beyond good food and drink for the party and held much of it in reserve for emergencies and supplies. When they arrived at the house, Mariel appropriated the kitchen table to set out all of the supplies.

“All of that’s necessary for the ritual?” Luther asked. He really had no mind for magic but he was always curious.

“Well, we had to make do with some substitutions due to being in a small town,” Mariel said. “I think it should all still work. What really matters is the prime ingredient.”

“What is it?” Luther asked. “Is it dangerous?” He trusted Mariel but he also mistrusted a lot of the world of magic.

Mariel fished a vial from her bag of holding. The dust inside was gray but when it caught the light, it had a rainbow shimmer to it. “It’s dream powder,” Mariel said. “It’s very important.”

Luther’s eyes nearly popped out of his skull. “Dream powder!?” he hissed. He looked around desperately to make sure nobody else was lurking close to the kitchen. “You know that’s an illegal drug in most of the world, right? Do you know how many authorities we’ve dealt with while you’ve held onto that?”

“I know,” Mariel said. “I’ve been ready to ditch it at a moment’s notice but it’s really hard to come by. I just couldn’t ditch a good reagent.” Mariel was mashing the ingredients into a thick paste with mortar and pestle. She was efficient and careful about her work.

“I dealt with a lot of people addicted to the stuff in my past life,” Luther said. “It was no joke.” Luther’s criminal past was not a secret as he was an open door as part of his atonement.

“I’ve seen a few addicts myself,” Mariel said. “Near the orphanage. I wouldn’t even suggest this ritual if it wasn’t the only thing I can think of to help that girl and stop Hesper.” Mariel’s past was not much brighter.

Luther thought about that for a few moments. “You’re right,” he said. “I’d do just about anything to help that innocent girl. We have to do this.”

Mariel nodded. “We do,” she said. “Sorry. This is going to be one of our strangest adventures. If it helps, I’ve really researched this a lot. It’s a very interesting ritual that I am repurposing from worshippers of Somnus. They used to use this to dream walk in order to connect with each other and bond closer as a community.”

“They regularly used dream powder?” Luther asked.

“Well,” Mariel said. “Somnus worshippers are rare. As you would think, they spend a lot of time asleep or in a waking dream state. They end up being really disconnected from reality.”

“None of that really makes me feel better about what we’re about to do,” Luther said. “Please assure me that this will go well.”

“I assure you that this will go well,” Mariel said. “We’re in this together.” The two of them smiled at each other and almost shook their heads in unison. They had all done a lot of dangerous things together. This would be no different.

“Well, any adventure we can walk away from is a good one,” Luther said. “As long as everyone can walk away. That includes little Gwen.”

“We’ll do our best as always,” Mariel said. “That will have to do.”

Dimitri entered the room. “I just need to get my armor on and I’ll be ready,” he said.

Mariel shook her head. “No armor and no weapons,” she said. “This is a purely psychic journey. We’ll be in the Plane of Dreams, specifically in the corner dedicated to Gwen.”

Everybody else had filtered into the room by that time. “Well,” Dina said. “Are we going to do this thing?”

“Let’s do this before I have to think about it too much,” Luther said.

They headed upstairs and stood around Gwen’s sleeping body. Mariel smeared the paste in designs on each of her friend’s foreheads and then her own. Finally, she drew a design on Gwendolyn’s forehead. She was so gentle. She started to intone an ancient prayer to Somnus and then everybody slumped to the floor at once. Their bodies lay sleeping where they had been standing. Though, to the adventurers, it felt like they were all water and Nina was the drain. They swirled around and around and then sank into her and then there was blackness.

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