From Whence Nightmares Come

by Hendle the Lesser in Dark Ages

In the beginning we did not know the nightmares. Our dreams were filled with light and happiness, for our souls had yet to be drenched by the eternal darkness. In the beginning we were ignorant of evil, and our ignorance was bliss.

The time of happiness is short and little known of in the modern age. Perhaps it is no more than a fanciful legend told by elders to entrance the young. Perhaps the tale is told to instill in us some glimmer of hope that we were not always plagued by the darkness, and that someday we may return to the light.

Others believe that we are the darkness that it seeded within us an epoch ago, and now in our day, has blossomed fully. If indeed the legend of the beginning is true, then we alone are to blame for the coming of night. The price of our power and knowledge was our cloak of innocence, and by shedding it, we were no longer sheltered from the nightmares.

A seed of darkness lies within each of us, a connection to the fifth element that we must struggle to overcome with each day. Rage, fear, and hatred all are fertilizer for this seed, and if we feed it too much, it shall bloom and we devolve into the monsters we strive to defeat.

When those we call the dubhaim crawled from their abyss, it is said by some that they came not for any reason, save that we had called them. Others say that we did not only call them, we created them. Within us breeds the nightmare and the darkness, and there are those who connected to it, by power of the fifth element. Whether they did so by embrace or unknowing, it is irrelevant. That they did so caused their fears and their prejudices to take form within it, and embody themselves in a twisted mockery of life. And though we call them demons and monsters, and strive to fight against them, we can never truly be rid of them. We can drive them back into the shadows or quell them for a time, but in the end they will return, because they are us.

It is true now that we live in a time of darkness. It can be seen through the world by great wounds wrought upon it; yawning portals that reach back into the underworld. These places of corruption feed from that abysmal realm, though it in turn feeds from us. These are not mere places of danger, where beasts may lurk. These are places of true power, and though that power may be of darkness, they are of power nonetheless. All who live and breed within them are corrupted, and so those things we face within them are evils of a great magnitude...their veins are filled with the darkness about them and forever are their forms tainted by it.

We who are the Aislings have sought to rise above the common man. Though often we profess to be nobler and purer, their lurks still that darkness which breeds inside of our hearts. Perhaps even we are more susceptible to it, for our power is greater...and power without wisdom and temperament breeds corruption and tyranny.

Each of us who have risen to this level holds a strong connection to the great elements. A Wizard seeks to master this connection, but it is there within us all—even the connection to the fifth, the element of eternal night. However small our connection is, however great our light shines, the shadow still lurks within.

And so when we march into those places which are great with the dark, we feel the seed within us churn. All of our own horrors and fears begin to seethe with life, and with them come the waking nightmares. Only when our minds are strong enough, our wills cast in iron, can we extinguish those nightmares and journey on into the heart of madness.

Not since the fabled beginning have we been free of the nightmares. For we have learned to fear death, we have come to cling to our mortal lives...we hold onto the last bit of breath even in dying lungs, for it is hard to see the light beyond through the thick veil of darkness. And in so fearing death and the unknown, which may lie beyond, we lost all innocence, and in so gave birth to the nightmares and to the darkness.