Within the swimming black you see faint images and hear distant sounds but nothing seems real and always at a distance of your senses. Only flashes of dreams or nightmares or other actions that transcend your own will and spirit. There are sounds of faint laughter in the echoing darkness, these sounds are interrupted by screams that seem even closer. But are they your sounds or are they being made by something or someone else? Then the sounds of metal on metal, more screams, but this time of pain and death, then a pause and a blurred vision of mountains and valleys and battlements, but none that you have ever seen. This state of shadowy, unfeeling non-reality seems to continue on and on… but even within this “world” time is of no meaning.
And then it hits you like a hammer to the stomach…LIGHT! EMOTIONS! LIFE!! Cool, dry air burns your throats as you take heaving gasps of air in and out, in and out. Tears stream from your eyes, from the coughing caused by the dryness in your throats, caused by the stinging light burning your eyes and making it almost painful to keep them open and caused by joy, the joy of knowing you are alive.
As the tears subside and your breathing becomes more normal you see that you are in some sort of large tent with five cots in it and a small brazier giving off heat in the center of the temporary structure. The lantern that hangs from a hook on the tent pole in the center of the room sheds enough light to show that you are surrounded by your friends, all together still, but also standing there is a hunched and grey bearded old man, wizened by countless years, dressed in a deep blue robe of very high quality and holding a gnarled and knotted staff in his left hand. The old man looks tired and worn, like all of the weight of the world has been on his shoulders for a very long time.
Suddenly you hear a high-pitching squeak come from Half-Pint as you try to recollect some memory of this old man, and as you look over to the smiling face of Filvan, words trying to come out of his mouth over the squeaking giggles, the old man cuts him off with a stern look, “Not a peep out of that gnome mouth of your Filvan!” the old man states curtly, “I will hopefully answer your questions, my old student, as well as the questions your new friends may have for me soon enough, but for now you must all keep your traps shut and listen very carefully.”
The old man clears his throat and continues, “I am Onoculus and if you couldn’t already guess I am Filvan’s former mentor, and NO, I am not dead! Now…it has been over four months since you saw that pitch black comet streak across the evening sky and you are no longer in Stonesend. The comet was an evil portent of things to come, and those things have and are coming, but I believe it was more than that, I believe it was a vile, evil being returning in some form here to Oerth. This evil is known by many names but the true name, the proper name is Tharazdun.” The old wizard pauses a moment to take off his hat and light a short stemmed pipe he just pulled from a pocket in his robe, “I am aware of what you five did, I have maintained a close eye on my short apprentice; actually I have done more than that, I have been able to see what you all have seen ever since you first set your eyes on that oily, amoeba-like form and it seemed to you all as if the black tendrils pierced deep into your minds. That corruption of the Evil One now knows who you are, where you are and much, much more. As soon as the form made it’s attack on your minds I was able to shield your minds from the most harsh affects of the corruption and to cause enough interference to make it harder to know where you are and what you are doing.”
The wizard pauses again, takes a drag off the pipe, “Then came the night that the comet crossed the sky…because of the shrieking pain you were all attacked with, yes it was an attack on your minds and spirits by the Evil One, and the link that I had created I too was paralyzed, but for a brief moment, but then I had to act!” Another short drag off the pipe, “So when your minds went black and it seemed as if you were in a shadowy, unreal world, it was me. I was able to, with some help, create a link between myself and each of you and in that time you were simply put, only functioning beings on the most basic of levels. Since that night that I took control you have all been soldiers in a series of battles against the evil creatures that awoke and became almost frenzied with the passing of the comet. The first battle was a large attack on Stonesend itself, which was easily repelled due to the chaos of all of the evil forces that came together is too much haste. But now you march in an army of forces from the Ulek States and beyond on the largest encampment of evil humanoids that is left in the region, that is where we stand now.”
“Now,” the wizard snaps, “do you have any questions?” Your minds all flow with every thought that comes to your mind, the wizard attempting to answer each quick fired question as fast as he can when finally he yells, “ENOUGH!”
“I must leave now, but one last thing before I go I need each of you to take one of these amulets and where it at all times. This amulet will protect you from the continue mental attacks and probing that the Evil One will continue with until he has killed you all. I have also been able to get similar amulets to all of your loved ones whose lives are also in danger from the Evil One due to their relationship with you. For now you must complete the job in front of you, but it is nearing an end, and when it is over I will be in contact again, but only when the time is right.” The old wizard looks less old and hunched now, as if years of wear and worry have been shed in a matter of moments. He looks at each of you and smirks before saying, “You all see each other as you truly are, but others will see you differently. Not to worry it is a simple charm that can easily be removed, but for the time being I must keep all of you as well hidden as I can to keep you all alive. Stay safe and be well. And once you have ended this threat I urge you all to join me in Greyhawk City.” And with that he disappears in a flash.