The First Day Is The Hardest: Nightmares

By James Walker


Partasah chuckled. "So another newly made Sister, trapped in Hell, so desperate for a Vessel that she's thinking of offering herself to Andrealphus as payment. Haven't you been warned, little one, of how he'll bend your mind, and enslave you with your own passions?"

Trinitite jumped. She had been deep in own thoughts, and to have her own fears voiced was a shock. She stepped back, and gazed at the speaker, an older Lilim.

"Well? Can't you speak? I don't have all day!"

Trinitite took a deep breath. 'Yes, I was warned about the Prince of Lust. But I was also told that he's one of the better Prince's to get a Vessel from; and the tricks to keep control of my mind...'

"Better? Better than many, true. But you are unpractised - to pit your mind against a Prince, as your first test of your resolve, is insane. Scores of Free Lilim have ended up binding themselves to Lust - generally by making the mistake you are considering. This is something my Word screams against, and I seek to prevent it."

'And you are?' Trinitite asked.

"Captain Partasah, Demon of Nightmares Of Being Trapped In Relationships. When I have the time, I like to warn my new sisters of the threats to their freedom, and so serve both Lilith and Beleth. Now, why are you so desperate for a Vessel."

'I hate Hell.' Trinitite confessed. 'I hate being surrounded by Damned Souls, obnoxious demonlings and psychotic demons. I want to be somewhere that I can have fun - I want to go to the Corporeal.'

"Understandable - but don't let The Game hear you complaining about Hell, they might be able to use it as an excuse to have you executed..." - she smiled to herself as the youngster began to sweat - "although most of the Sisterhood would agree with you. So you want to leave Hell, and want a Vessel so that you can go to the Corporeal - why not earn a Vessel while serving in The Marches? That way you can leave here Hell immediately, and get your vessel without endangering your freedom." She smiled at the girl.

Trinitite looked suspicious. 'So, you're trying to recruit me into the service of Nightmares?'

Partasah laughed. "Child, I LOATHE relationships - including being bound to a Superior. If you want to sign yourself over to Nightmares, go down to the bargaining room - you can enslave yourself there. What I seek is to terrify people out of enslaving themselves - a task that keeps me very busy, I can assure you. And a simple rule I have learnt is this: if you wish to remain free, encourage Freedom around you. And that is not something you will learn from Lust: they want everyone enslaved to their passions. Freedom requires a healthy dose of fear - to always wonder how people are manipulating you, how they seek to control you: and to flee from your enemies. And to free others - even if they don't remain free, it makes it harder for those who enjoy enslaving you - and the harder their job, the easier it will be for you to stay free."

Trinitite nodded; this was similar to what other Free Lilim had said. 'But how do nightmares free people?'

"Usually, nightmares are better at warning humans of threats to their freedom. But it's not just humans who are slaves - humans keep slaves as well, and not just of their own kind. In every dreamscape there are dream spirits, Ethereals who have been created by the human to serve until destroyed. And humans do whatever they please to their slaves, using them as toys, or killing them, or blaming them and punishing them for things the human has done in the Corporeal. These Ethereals do not even know that the rest of The Marches exist; they believe that their universe ends at the borders of the humans dreamscape. They are only a thought away from the freedom to roam The Marches, yet will remain slaves forever: unless destroyed - or rescued."

'And Beleth pays for these rescues?'

"No, of course not: she is Nightmares, not Freedom. What she does pay for is Ethereals who will serve her; many Ethereals do contract work for Nightmares. It's a good idea - or haven't you been warned about Heaven, and their bloodthirsty Malakim? Heaven hates Freedom; and just as they enslave humans to themselves, as they attempted to enslave Mother, they slaughter Ethereals who break free from being the slaves of humans. Nightmares has the power to protect them. And it is a free choice; for the Ethereals have their own organisations, so a newly freed Ethereal can choose from many choices - whether to go it alone, or join a pantheon, or to do contract work for Beleth. Working for Beleth is the safest option, and the only one which involves doing contract work rather than swearing allegiance; but the other options are important."

'So how do you rescue these spirits?'

"There is a Song known as the Corporeal Song of Dreams which allows you to enter a dreamscape; while there you persuade them to leave - which is fulfilling one of Mother's Rites, of course. They're not normally terribly bright - humans don't like the idea of them freeing themselves - but you can usually get the idea into their minds without to much difficulty. They have the ability to follow you out; once free, you can show them around The Marches and introduce them to potential employers - in return for them owing you a Geas, of course!"

'But I don't know that Song...'

"Of course not - you need permission to learn it. Beleth offers it for the lowest price anyway, so you just include that cost in your contract; generally, getting a spirit to do contract work for Nightmares covers the cost of the Song - or of a simple Vessel. Tougher Vessels require more spirits, of course. Make sure that as part of your contract with Nightmares, you get permission to do deals with the Ethereal pantheons; that way, no matter who a freed spirit decides to live with, you can charge both the spirit and it's new employer."

As Trinitite headed down to the main bargaining hall, Partasah leaned against the wall, feeling sick. Her Word screamed at her - the newbie was doomed! Would owe to much, would end up swearing allegiance to Beleth! Trinitite did not understand how many dream spirits were too stupid to flee their dreamscape, or too frail to survive outside it. She lacked the skills to negotiate with the pantheons, and would be obliged to push the handful she rescued towards Nightmares. She did not realise that she would end up owing Nightmares for protecting her from roaming angels, or for rescuing her from constricting dreamscapes....

Partasah sobbed softly as a Word Force burned away; and with it a mighty life-geas. She wished - -that she hadn't chosen to serve Beleth when she had first been created. Had had a chance to be Free. But she had been afraid; Beleth had chosen the Forces well, and Partasah had been to afraid to be Free; had chosen to serve Nightmares. She hated - feared - needed the relationship with Nightmares; that was how she had finally earned her Word. She would never be able to persuade Beleth to trade her back to Mother, she knew. She was trapped in a relationship with no hope of escape. Her desire to flee was also her greatest fear, so Beleth played apon it, demanding Geases in return for hiding Partasah's desire to go Renegade from The Game. One was gone, but there were so many... Wrapped in her own terrors, she returned to her Nightmare relationship in Beleth's realm.


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