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    Roan Unicorn (DEILD)

    by , 04-29-2016 at 06:00 AM (498 Views)
    Ritual: Was working *really* inefficiently yesterday—took me almost eight hours to finish a 22 page article (one with lots of pictures, even!) because I kept looking things up and building my powerpoint at the same time. It was already after midnight before I started reading the 50+ page article (with almost no images) that I was also supposed to finish before bed, so I crapped out at 2:30am without getting it done. I woke at 8am and continued reading in bed, then napped again at 9am—so it became an inadvertant WBTB. Woke at 10:15 after this amazing dream, so I guess all the stress and angst paid off (though it is now 11:15am after writing up my account, and I am no closer to finishing that article! Yikes!)

    Earlier NLD: Some interesting features actually. I'm in what I take to be the sheriff's office of a small lakeside town. The building is rustic and wooden. I am one of the cops, a man like the others. They're all macho, gruff, with mustaches. I notice a small boat in the lake just off shore. Although it looks like an innocent fishing expeditiion, I have a definite premonition of what is coming next. I know that someone is lying prone in that boat with a gun pointed toward us, and there are other shooters positioned strategically nearby, and any minute now they're going to fire. I know my colleagues brought this on themselves so I leave them to their fate, diving into a side room and locking the door. There's a random guy in here so I tell him to get down, we're going to be under fire. Meanwhile I make use of whatever time I have left to arrange the furniture to better blockade us, turning the tables and chairs over so that we can crouch behind them like shields. All of this feels like it has happened before—not in the vague sense of deja vu, but a very concrete and specific way like when you replay an encounter in a video game. For this reason I know that if we just position ourselves correctly and keep our heads low enough, we'll make it through this. The bullets start flying. I feel one zing very close to the left side my body, provoking a strange vibration. Did it hit me? Not quite. My sense of repetition is so strong that after the bullets stop, I predict even before lifting my head that I will see a bullet hole in the lower right hand corner of the window behind me. I turn around and there it is, just as I had predicted (not so astonishing in a dream, after all, but I hadn't realized I was dreaming yet). I pull out my phone and snap a picture of it to document this remarkable event before going back outside. I decide the only sensible thing to do is slip out of town immediately, so I take a side path through someone's backyard.

    DEILD: Around this time the dream destabilizes enough that I become lucid. I wonder if I can restabilize and continue. I remember the principle I've devised for this: don't worry about visuals, focus on physical movement. Tactile integration is what is needed, then the visuals will re-establish themselves naturally. I dance my way back into full dream state. Now what? I remember my goal to continue with the TOTYs, and decide to try the Unicorn task.

    I set my will to summoning a unicorn and soon see a suitable animal galloping toward me down a lane that bisects the fields. This is no ethereal being, but a sturdily built strawberry roan that just happens to have a horn on its head. I found a picture online that gives a good sense of the coat color, only in mine the red hues were more pronounced across the top of its rump.

    blogs/verre/attachments/9235-roan-unicorn-deild-strawberry-roan-2.jpg

    After it reaches me, I realize I don't actually know how to climb on a tall horse bareback, so I command it to kneel so that I can get astride. Now we need to find a portal and travel to another land, but I had a plan for this: I've been wanting to visit the Wood Between the World.

    I canter the roan unicorn back down the path it came from, priming my expectations to see a pool of water as we round the corner. We get halfway around and I still don't see water, but I keep my anticipation high. There it is, after all! I didn't see it at first because it is a very small pond, not much more than ten feet across, but sufficient for my task. "The Wood Between the World," I murmur, imagining what it will look like as I canter up to the pool and have the unicorn jump in. Although I've done my best to maintain conviction, we splash into the pool and... now the unicorn is standing in water up to its knees. We haven't gone anywhere.

    This portal was a bust, so decide to look for another, passing a group of teenagers as I leave. I travel down the road until I find myself in what looks to be a luggage store room, like the kind you might find in a train station. The oddest thing is how familiar it looks: I have the distinct impression that I remember this place from an earlier dream this very night, but I can't tell if it is false memory or true. Nothing useful here, but as I leave I spot the group of teenagers again, and ride up to them. I ask if they know of any portals nearby. They mention the pool.

    "I already tried that one, but it didn't work." The kids confirmed that, yeah, they don't work anymore, the magic is too weak. But the magic may not be gone entirely—one kid points out that if you stand near the pool and the background music fades, you can still hear something. This brings my attention to the music. I hadn't been paying attention to it, but a song has been playing in the background all along since I became lucid, like a soundtrack. It is a woman singing in a foreign language—it reminds me of the second half of the song "Bjarkan" from Wardruna's album Gap Var Ginnunga, which would make sense, because that's the main thing I've been listening to lately.

    The kids can't think of any way to strengthen the portal magic, so I ask if they know of any other portals nearby. They point back across the field and tell me to look for a small shack. I ride over and find the door slightly ajar, so I go in. The door swings shut and clicks behind me—it seems to have automatically locked. Nevermind, I was planning to use this as a portal anyway. How do I pass through? Maybe I should stand here astride the unicorn and let the environment around us shift phase. I begin to try to reimagine my surroundings... but I am interrupted by a cry of alarm.

    It comes from a young couple, a boy and girl, who had apparently been making out in a sort of nook or loft halfway up the side wall of this shack. They are startled by my presence and furious when they discover that I have accidentally locked the door. "We'll die in here!" wails the girl. I look around. This shack wasn't built of terribly sturdy materials, I'm sure we can find a way out, even if we have to dismantle it. Distracted by the unexpected crisis, I forget about portalling and even forget that a locked door should be no barrier to me as a dreamer.

    "This wasn't designed as a prison, we'll find something." I reassure them. I look around carefully and notice an opening halfway up the side wall in one corner. It's six or seven feet up: all we have to do is climb to it, then jump over a gap of a few feet to the low flat roof of an adjacent shed. I dismount and give the girl, Sarah, a boost to help her climb up. Next I go to help the boy, Tom. His head is now attached to a long pole, like a broomstick, instead of a body, so this is easy: I pick up the pole and pass it through the opening to Sarah. Now my cat is here for some reason and also needs rescuing, but there is a paper grocery bag handy, so I put the cat in the bag and try to hand that across to Sarah. Suddenly uncooperative, Sarah threatens to dump my cat out of the bag. I am flabbergasted. Why would she suddenly turn against me?

    "But I showed you the way out and helped you!" I protest. Sarah and Tom are unsympathetic; it is clear that they feel no obligation to return the favor. My annoyance reminds me what I am capable of. After all, there was another way this task could go—that wasn't how I planned to do it, but now that I've been provoked, maybe that's how this will play out. I look back at the door, remembering the classic "Knock" spell from D&D. "Unlock," I command, pointing at the door, and the latch obediently clicks open. I get back on the unicorn and walk calmly out. Tom and Sarah, who have just climbed down from the shed, are astounded to see this. They are even more shocked when the unicorn gores Sarah through the chest with its horn, tossing her body aside like a limp rag. Tom watches in horror, and then his turn comes. Despite my scruples about killing, once I felt that these DCs had justified it by their treachery, I dispatch them without hesitation or remorse. Instead, I find myself wondering if my unicorn will be transformed by this dreadful act—I was envisioning something like the "bog unicorn" in Dragon Age: Inquisition—but it remains a roan horse with a spiral horn protruding from its head.

    Okay, apparently now I'm committed to the murder version of the task, so I need a third victim. [Note: I was mistaken about this; the task only required two.] I remember that earlier in the NLD I had encountered some unpleasant people in town, so I ride back in that direction. On the way, I see a number of people working outdoors. I reflect how easy it would be to pick one at random... but that would be wrong. I can't just run up to a random DC and spear them, unprovoked. I do try to maintain *some* ethical standards.

    The people working outside resemble medieval peasants. Actually the whole scene has become more medieval in appearance. Just past the peasants I see the remnants of an old ruined stone structure, reduced to its foundations and a few half-standing walls. Congregating around it are men that I take to be warriors. They have brown or red hair, some balding, and many flaunt long beards decorated with bands and beading. I ride up without attracting any attention. What if I just pick the most evil one? "Show me a rapist," I instruct the dream. Surely among a band of what appear to be tribal warriors from some feudal period there must be no shortage of those, given that it was a standard aspect of warfare in many early societies. So I'd better be more specific: "Show me the worst one." The results are inconclusive: I look over the men again and there is no clear candidate.

    I recall D&D includes a spell that can be used to check alignment. Maybe I can frame it this way? I instruct the dream to reveal the most evil person by making them glow. Now I see one: the glow surrounds a burly guy with his back to me, looking out over the water. He has short brown hair shaved into a distinctive flat line where it meets his neck, and his head is bare on top, either bald or shaved. As I approach, he moves away and I lose sight of him, the glow fading. I study the crowd but since I only saw the guy from behind at a distance, it is hard to be sure which one he is. I don't want to pick the wrong guy. I attempt to cast the spell again, but now the glow seems to be targeting someone else. While trying to sort out this confusion, I spy something across the field, even better—no, perfect!

    It is a jousting tournament!

    The jousting is already under way, but I ride up and boldly demand to enter the lists. The organizers comply without too much fuss. But I also have demands to make about my opponent: "I wish to find the most immoral among the contenders."

    Meanwhile, the more honorable among the knights point out that without a saddle I will surely be unhorsed. Worse, without the protection of armor or a shield, the lance will surely pierce and kill me. I shrug off their objections, thinking that without saddle or armor maybe I can do some stunt riding and duck down to the side, avoiding the lance entirely. After all, my intention is not to strike my opponent with a lance—my unicorn's horn must fulfill that function to complete the task.

    I continue to insist that I be matched against the most immoral of the prospective opponents. There is some debate about who that should be. A man wearing ecclesiastical robes and a cross seems to be the top choice, which makes sense given everything I've heard about the medieval church. I realize that this is all taking a very long time and add to my demands:

    "Also, I demand to go next!"

    The organizers comply with this too. My bout is set up. But I'm not entirely happy with what I see. Facing me at the other end of the lists is a tall black woman on foot, wielding a club in each hand. This isn't what I had in mind: she is not even a jouster! And I sense that she is clearly not the right match: did they assume she was immoral from a medieval sense of racism or xenophobia? Or is she immoral in the fun kind of way, a free-spirited woman who lives large? Either or both seemed likely. This wasn't what I was looking for. If I have to dispatch someone, I prefer that they be genuinely evil.

    "No, this is not the right opponent!" I protest. "I mean, who is the most immoral to the people?" There is no response at first. I have the impression that people are intimidated from replying aloud, so I ride up close to the audience in the stands and ask again. Listening closely, I hear a whispered name: "Lüsswig." I ride along the stands and the whispers of "Lüsswig... Lüsswig..." are unmistakable, repeated everywhere by people trying to speak anonymously under their breath.

    I return to the center of the lists and announce: "I shall fight Lüsswig!"

    Lüsswig turns out to be a guy wearing a long grey cloak with a hood that is closed in the front, completely covering his face. He removes the hood, revealing himself to be a man with short dark brown hair and full cheeks covered with several days worth of stubble. A smug, sinister smile spreads across his face at the prospect of the coming match. [Note: I've spent a long time trying to figure out who Lüsswig resembled, and the best I can come up with is a badly shaven Jonathan Frakes.]

    "Yes, this is a better choice," I declare. His glee is slightly unnerving—he clearly thinks he will best me. I mentally prepare myself by deciding that it must be his destiny to die by unicorn.

    We take our places at opposite ends of the tilt and... I can feel the dream fading... oh fuck fuck I was so close... hold it together, surely I can... no, I'm in my body, in my bed, it's gone. Lüsswig you bastard... I guess you win after all.

    I can only assume this will augment Lüsswig's dastardly reputation. Stories will spread of the mysterious unicorn rider who disrupted the jousting tournament, arrogantly demanding to fight the most evil of men, but then fled the moment she realized was it was Lüsswig!

    Notes: So close! So very very close to completing the unicorn task! I could have finished easily had I taken the practical (but vicious) route and chosen a third victim at random. But no, I had to be honorable and look for someone who *deserved* it...

    Oh! Oh! I just looked up the terms of the task. For once I misremembered the details to my benefit—I thought I needed to murder three DCs, but now I see it was only two. So I did it after all! And then my mistaken conviction that I needed a third actually led to some pretty cool extra scenes.
    Hirondelle and obfusc8 like this.

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    Updated 04-29-2016 at 07:01 AM by 34973

    Categories
    lucid , non-lucid , memorable , task of the year

    Comments

    1. Verre's Avatar
      It occurs to me that the odd fact that my dream unicorn was roan might have some deeper significance. When I was in third grade I once used the word "roan" in an essay. The teacher marked it wrong, which gave me the opportunity to use a dictionary to demonstrate to her that "roan" was a perfectly legitimate word to describe the color of some horses. I never forgot that tiny triumph.
    2. obfusc8's Avatar
      Love how you use D&D spells for dream control, very cool. (I'm a fan of using Baleful Polymorph on my enemies ) Also grats on the TOTY completion.
      Verre likes this.