The Nightmare Plague

Sable's Dream

Emboldened by Stumble’s success in transporting the remains of the dead Dreamfarer into the Dreamscape, Gillian and Rabbit each endeavored to take the smashed barrels at Harper’s Pier and practice their own Dreamfaring abilities. Sable, uneasy about the entire process of Dreamfaring, attempted to stand guard over the sleeping bodies of Gillian and Rabbit, sword at the ready in case they were possessed by some nightmare creature. His efforts were unintentionally thwarted, however, when he was caught in the area of effect of Rabbit’s sleeping spell and was inadvertently plunged into the Dreamscape.

Sable awoke with a start, and looked around himself, disoriented. His eyes took in the familliar grey stone walls and high, narrow windows of the Chapel of Light at the Monastery of St. Cuthbert, and he realized, with a feeling of guilt, that he must have fallen asleep during his Devotionals. Bowing his head, he was about to offer penance when, suddenly, he heard a sound. It was so soft that he could barely hear it at first, but as he strained his ears the sound became unmistakably clear – the high, pitiful sobbings of a small child. Sable stood, wondering when and how a child had come to the Monastery. He began walking around the Chapel, searching for the location of the child. As he walked, although he could see no sign of the child, the sobbing grew louder. “Hello?” he called. “Who is there? Come out where I can see you!” The sobbing grew louder still and, suddenly, a high, thin voice full of accusation and pain and fear seemed to come from everywhere in the room at once. “Help me,” it cried. “Help me! It’s coming after me!” With an icicle of fear in his heart, Sable began to move about the Chapel more quickly, calling out to the unseen child as he went. There should have been no place in the Chapel of Light for anyone to conceal themselves, but, search as he might, he could see no sign of a child. As he ran, growing more and more panicked, the sobbings grew louder and louder, even as the voice became more piercing and accusative. “Help me!” it cried. “Help me! It’s coming for me! It killed them all and now its coming for me! Don’t leave me!” And suddenly, Sable became aware of a third noise, soft at first, but rising in volume – the shuffling sounds of some large creature mixed with a raspy, burbling breathing and the snuffling sound of a beast sniffing for its prey. “No!” cried the voice. “No! Leave me alone! Go away! Leave me alone! SOMEBODY HELP ME!” To Sable’s horror, the voice seemed to be fading, as if the child were running away from him, even as the snuffling sounds of the unseen creature grew louder. “Come back!” cried Sable, running to a wall where the voice now seemed to be emanating. He began to pound on the hard, unyeilding stone. “Come back,” he cried again. “Where are you?” A high, piercing scream rang out, seeming to go on and on, filling Sable’s heart with blood-chilling fear. He turned and suddenly realized that there was a door in the wall only a few feet from where he stood. In a flash, he wrenched the door open. The pale light from the Chapel sliced into the pitch black room, which Sable could see, to his confusion, was some kind of kitchen. There, upon the floor, cowering in fear against the cupboard, was a small child. Tears streaked the child’s pale face, which was streaked with dirt and other grime that may have been dried blood. It was impossible to determine the child’s age or gender. Sable took a step into the room. “It’s all right,” he said, extending his hand to the child. “It’s all right. Come with me and all will be well.” The child looked at him, abject terror and despair mingling in its eyes. “You’re too late,” it said. And then the light in the doorway was blocked by a monstrous shadow, and the air was filled with the rank stench of rotting flesh. There was a hideous, gurgling growl, and the monstrous shape raced forward. Sable tried to react, but he felt as if he was moving under water. He turned just in time to see the creature’s claws and fangs close on the small child, who screamed, a sound like glass on fire that cut Sable to the core of his being. The monster moved again, and the child was reduced, still screaming, to ribbons of gore and tatters of flesh. Sable screamed in unison then, and

awoke with a start, lying on the cold stone floor of Harper’s Pier, drenched with sweat.

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