The landscape began to shift again, smoky blues, purples and reds swirling in a liquid maelstrom of twilight. Landscape was probably not the best word to describe the scenery, for landscape is usually comprised of some sort of, well...land. The surroundings were, in fact, very close to ephemeral; just enough shade to determine an outline but lacking the density to define actual mass. A barren land of haze.
What was he doing here? The question would surface every now and then, but it was quickly pushed to the back of his mind while other thoughts came to bear. No conscious line of thought, but rather a stream of emotions that filled him with a great ecstasy and a horrid dread somehow at the same time.
A tiny splotch of darkness stood on the horizon. The only real thing to focus on, it seemed, he immediately took an interest. The slowly shifting colors began to blur, and the distance between him and the smudge closed almost immediately. An impenetrable orb of blackness loomed in front of him. Something tingled in the pit of his stomach as he gazed upon the large spherical entity. The hazy colors seemed to be drawn slowly towards this point, moving sluggishly into all sides of the orb. Indeed, he also felt drawn to it, although not in a purely physical sense. He longed to step inside and see what power source, if any, maintained the spherical void. Maybe it was an exit from the wasteland, or even an entrance to something entirely different. Something, however, felt undeniably wrong.
The orb began to increase in size, and it seemed to flex and pulse almost rhythmically, the jet black outline retracting for a short time only to expand to a slightly larger sphere. Suddenly, he realized that it wasn't growing; he was moving towards it. Panic gripped him, but at the same time he felt a euphoria of power growing in his chest. The closer to the sphere he got, the stronger the vacuum became; physically he could not grab on to anything, and mentally his desire to see the inside of the orb,to join with the orb, became a driving need. All of his doubts and fears replaced with determination, he reached his arms out in front of him. His arms slowly began to lose their flesh tones and for some reason this did not bother him. Drunk with power at this point, he could only focus on the orb. They began to elongate, losing their shape entirely, while at the same time they began to darken to a shadowy black consistency. Finally, all that was left of his body was a vaguely human wisp of shadow. This is what I've been searching for. This is what Halaster could never give me. He laid the path for me, but I had to travel it alone.
Then he plunged into the orb, immediately aware of what it was, how it came into existence. His psyche (for he no longer had eyes with which to see) came to rest on a book that hovered in the exact center of the orb. The tome itself was ancient, liquid black clasps holding a cover of the purest ebony he had ever seen. While the orb itself was black, this book seemed to be the complete absence of color, so much darker it was.
A voice suddenly trembled his whole being. Follow the path.
A piercing pain shot through his temples, and sweat stung his eyes as they snapped open. Jalahon grimaced, and began to massage his head. This was the third time this week he had dreamt of the same shapeless plane, but the events of this dream were unique.
The dreams had started coming soon after the defeat of the Demon Prince Orcus. The exact cause of them, Jalahon had discovered, was his uncovering of the Shadow artifact at the site of the battle. As far as he could determine, the gathering of shadows was a piece of the Demi-plane of Shadows. Wearing this mask of Shadows heightened his senses far beyond ordinary, and it also enhanced his magic many times his regular skill.
The dreams were another effect. Technically, they couldn't even be called dreams, since he never slept. While wearing the Shadow mask, he simply did not need to sleep. The visions often came to him while he was meditating, which he did frequently to organize his thoughts. The hazy atmosphere, which he thought to be the Demi-plane, intrigued him, and he often kept the mask on if only to catch another glimpse of it. Usually, nothing happened while he "wandered" around the slowly drifting haze. The events of the past dream were truly a surprise to him, and exactly what he had been waiting for. His recollection of the tome was exciting; he had come across its existence in another book. Il'yvex, The Book of Night, had been lost for eons, reportedly destroyed after a wizard used it to tap into the Demi-plane of Shadow, gaining a tenuous control of the Shadow Weave through it. The wizard, thinking himself omnipotent, challenged Mystra for her seat in the pantheon. In the end, it was the book that destroyed him, before Mystra even had a chance. The events surrounding his demise were unclear, but it was also said that Mystra destroyed the book, rather than let it plague her with would-be contenders.
He had clearly seen the book, he thought excitedly, and it was exactly like it had been described. Getting to its plane of existence, however, would be quite a chore; he had no idea how to get to the Demi-plane.
Reaching into the dark corner next to him, he grabbed a staff-like shape of shadows. The dark wisps writhed along his wrists and hands, finally joining into the large stout pole of umbra. Closing the door to his Silk Street dwelling, he began the arduous trek to Baldur's Gate. The library there was the most complete that he had access too. He would need to find any reference of this book and the Demi-plane he could.
The guards only saw a slight disturbance in the night's darkness as Jalahon moved past them and through the gates.
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