Update 8.0: "Immortality"
Update 8.0: "Immortality"

Dear Sarnaut,

An Astral Storm is a very unpleasant occurance. It causes ships to be held up in ports, and businesses such as taverns and inns to stay empty. Still, this magical phenomenon has another peculiarity: during the storm, sailors can see the future in their dreams. Recently, a certain enterprising innkeeper walked the docks and offered free drinks to all travellers willing to share their dreams with the public. That same night, his inn was filled to the rafters with people yearning to share and listen to the stories!

First to speak were three fat Gibberlings who were given a table in the center of the room just for the occasion:

"All three of us have dreamt of the very same thing. It was a strangely beautiful dream about time being a river, and we were floating on a raft. The river was flowing right through the Astral, with no banks and no ends! Eventually, we saw an eddy bubbling there, and from it rose an island that started changing right before our eyes! First it was simply rocks with no life on it, yet by the time we blinked, the island was covered in grass, trees and bushes, with various creatures running around. Cute ones, too.

We then realized that the 'island' was actually an entire Allod, and we were giants in this dream. Once we approached it, we were attacked by flying demons — angry, but small like flies — which we smacked with our hook, of course. The demons seemed drawn to the allod: there were dozens of them among the trees, trying to approach the city, and what a city it was! Beautiful, magnificent, columns, marble stairs everywhere, filled with small people that didn't look like any other people we know. We tried listening in on their conversations, but we didn't know the language — all their words were ending in "-os" or "-us.

"Then we noticed another thing in the center of the city that no words can truly express. It was like a well that gathered light. We couldn't turn our eyes from it... Filled with such power! The last thing we noticed, still staring at the well, was a very peculiar creature living within, basking in the gathered power... And while we were gaping at it, the island began to groooow! It sent waves over the surface of the river, our raft capsized, and we woke up.

That's all we remember. If we see something else, we'll be sure to come back. For now, innkeeper, give us the promised kvass! Who's going to speak next? It's your turn!"

The next to approach the table was a gloomy-looking Orc. It was obvious that he didn't want to share his story, but it was equally as obvious that he needed a drink, thus the new speaker cleared his throat and began in a low voice:

"I dreamt about... A resort? There I am, standing like a goof on the beach on skis, in a coat and a warm beanie. That wouldn't do, right? I can't be bothered to dive like that, right? So I find where to change, right, take my clothes off right quick, put on my ace speedos and get out, and it's bleeding cold there!

It's winter, right, everything is white! People going around in jackets, making snowmen! And me, I'm a goof again, standing there in my speedos on the ice, my teeth chattering. And there's a snow castle behind my back — that's where I changed, see. While I was trying to get the hang of what was goin' on, some weird buggers appeared. Looked like elves, too: sticks for arms. Or like sculptures, 'cause they had these grey faces, like... Like made of stone!

So those buggers were flying around on air boards, like, throwin' snowballs at a castle. And at me, too, the bastards! So I started yellin', like, an' goin' after them. Didn't care about having no weapons or armor, too! I'd tear those jerks apart with my own hands. Still, my legs got real numb, like, could hardly move my feet. A step, another one — jus' howlin' with anger, but feet wouldn't move.

I would have probably frozen to death, but here comes this Tekyan fella. Gives me a cuppa, right, and says: "Happy New Year!" he says, "Welcome to the…" - what the heck was it? What All? Bog All? Resort, y'know. Some resort it was, lads!"

The huge Orc growled his last words and crashed his fist on the table so hard, the mugs went flying into the air. This wiped a dozen mocking grins and set a serious mood in the room before the speech of the next dreamer: a neat Xadaganian wearing the stripes of an Imperial major.

"Comrades, I will try to keep it brief. I dreamt that I was leading a squad of green youths. The strongest fighter in the squad was just like me once: just as weak and unhardened, barely received his Motherland's permission to fight in the Holy Land.

My Commissioner gave a decisive order: "You'll have to train them ASAP, so here are all the papers and all the permits you will need — do whatever you need, but get these boys prepared for a real battle. The Empire is in danger!"

So I walk out of the office, open the file heavy with various documents and see that I was given a full carte blanche, with unimaginable permits and royal decrees! I sent my newbies to distortions for some training and in a couple of days we were storming astral islands. We were fully equipped by our Motherland, so the training went as well as it could.

I must say, we have seen some new distortions and islands, too, and those were quite impressive. Soon my men got bored, though. Major, send us to the Arenas — we're dying to give those League bastards a proper beating! Well, that could be arranged! I open my file, take out the permits: Dominion, Witch's Hollow, Deserted Farm, etc. Let's get suited up!

And in the very first battle we met neither elves, nor gibberlings, but some unknown race that looked very much like the creatures from the last story. They attacked in good formation — trained warriors, obviously. Our medics barely managed to resurrect my men. I myself was hit by an artillery shell, lost my conscience, and came to on the deck of my frigate. I barely recognized that it had been just a dream. I regret to have woken up, to be honest."

The last one to occupy the attention of the public was a goblin wearing a shipwright uniform. Despite the soot on his face, this saw and hammer operator had assumed a rather formal air. He elbowed his way through the audience, sat himself on the tabletop and pretended to be extremely astonished at something:

"What are you lot eyeing me for like I owe you something? I haven't decided if I am going to tell you anything or not. Do you know my uncle? He's an esteemed goblin — he's been received by the highest and the mightiest! So should you feel the need to report me, you go ahead, but you'll be making it worse for yourselves.

I'll lift the veil of mystery just a bit. I dreamt I joined a political party and was going for election. Stop that whistling! I remember well that in our beloved Empire, comrade Yasker's word is the law, and comrade Yasker didn't mind. Besides, the people were not choosing a leader or an ideology, but comforts and liberties. If we want more priceless Amalgam, we just have to wish for it. If we want to be more lucky — the same.

Don't ask me how it's possible, I'm no scholar, I am just a regular working man and an intellectual. We all just have to join the party, be active party workers, and, when the time is right, give our votes to the comfort we need most. And that subject also touches upon those aliens the other speakers were so eager to yap about. I am not going to say in which way, though, since this is the area of global politics. You lot are still not in a party, so I am not sure it is right to discuss such things with you."

And this was when the last speaker was brought down in a squall of whistling and roars. "That won't do!", the audience rang, "We want more facts and details!" Fortunately for the sooty faced, yet oddly well dressed goblin, the innkeeper helped ease the atmosphere a bit: "No need to worry, friends! Just come to our inn next week: I will gather all the best prophets in the city for your listening pleasure. If there is anything else to learn about the future, they will certainly tell us!"