While Vortamos is inside the city gates with Zanry, the party is settled beneath a grove of trees, waiting for his return. Zanry, an artificer, discusses a way to get all of the party back inside the gates without the guards knowing. Levitating a large wooden crate behind him, with Vortamos hidden inside, Zanry exits out the city gates towards the camp under the pretense that he is going out for supplies. Zanry and Vortamos arrive at camp, and after some persuasion and discussion of trust, the party climbs into the back of the cart. Zanry sets up an illusion to protect the party, but reminds us that it is not going to silence us, so we should be sure to be quiet and make no noise. When Zanry arrives at the gate, the guards question is outing as well as how quickly he was able to pick up supplies. The guards insist on checking the truck and the party is almost discovered, but makes it into the city without notice.
Once inside Zanry’s house, the party exits and Zanry shrinks the cart down to rubik’s cube size, which he places in his pocket. It is a large room with one whole wall dedicated to books, and a large robot is seen in the corner of the room, who Zanry explains is the soul of his brother Alphonse. Zanry explains that he was attacked by the dreaming dark while trying to keep Aaliya and Vortamos alive. Zanry and his brother suffered greatly and in order to save his brother, Zanry had to bond his brother’s soul to the suit of armor. Zanry himself has a metal faceplate and a mechanical arm. A heated discussion between Zanry, Aaliyah, and Kahn about ‘what is natural’ is quickly quieted with a quip from Anna that one person’s definition of natural may not, and does not have to, be shared by others.
The party begins to explain the current situation to Zanry. Intrigued, Zanry climbs a ladder along the wall of books to retrieve a small red book, which not only explains the dreamlords but also talks of a prophecy. This prophecy proclaims that Heroes who would defeat the Dream Lord Aetherion would separate the dream realm from the material plane forever. These heroes include the Protector, the Bringer of Light, the Bringer of Darkness, the Harmonizer, the Outlander, the Pathfinder, and the Purifier.
Many of the party members begin to realize that they themselves aren’t fully aware of the whole story, especially the stories of Aaliyah and Vortamos. Vortamos is cornered into telling his version of the story, which begins with him being trapped by Vors. The previous party saved him and they took revenge and saved Hyran. Aetherion was furious and began a feud with Vortamos, following him to Elmhurst. In Elmhurst, Vortamos discovered that Aetherion was the advisor to the King. Vortamos was intercepted by John Doe, who led him into the dream realm and ultimately betrayed Vortamos. He faced certain doom at the hands of Aetherion, to which his former companions fell prey to. Lured in by absolute promise, Vortamos’ companions were changed and recruited by Aetherion. Vortamos did lose something, his shadow, after John Doe brought him to the dream realm. In the Realm of Shadows, Vortamos defeated the Twilight Lord and his shadow chose to take over the role.
At this moment, while Vortamos is discussing the fates of his companions, Zanry pulls back a curtain along the wall revealing a corpse Zombie, “something like this?” he states. “No, they retained their selves, but lost their freewill”, explains Vortamos. Zanry becomes worried, repeating over and over, “Bad, bad, bad, he has grown in power”. Zanry reveals that this means that something has happened in the dream world, that Aetherion may have entered the material plane and shut the door behind him. The party begins to discuss the best way to fight Aetherion and ultimately decided fighting in our current reality is safer, there are too many unknowns in the dream realm.
But there are still many unanswered questions, questions that begin to test the trust amongst the party. Anna asks Vortamos and Aaliyah managed to survive when the rest of their companions perished. Vortamos simply states his own power of will and Aaliyah states that she is just stubborn. Not willing to take that as an answer, Anna and Kahn begin to question the two further, “Why couldn’t the others resist?”, “What did he offer you?”, “Did he figure you wrong when he offered an absolute promise?”, “Do you have a better offer?”. Kahn is especially suspicious of Aaliyah, who refuses to answer a question regarding what she actually wants. Meanwhile, Vortamos reveals that Aetherion offered Vortamos’ family, honor, and sister’s soul; but that was the past, she was possessed by a demon and killed his family, he did not want her soul. Aaliyah finally opens up, stating that she didn’t trust Aetherion because he was giving her something she had only ever dreamed, not something real or tangible, especially something the dreamlord has no dominion over. Kaz is quiet much of this time, focusing solely on Aaliyah (which only Aaliyah notices).
The group decides that there are too many secrets among the members, and if Aetherion wishes to grant an absolute promise, it could be dangerous for the mission. DM asks each member to come up with 5 questions to ask the group and/or individual party members.