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The Dreamers

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We want to see more. Release us. Wake us from the Sea. Wake us all, and you can live the Dream forever...
~ The Red Sargassum Dreamer

The Dreamers are the central villains of the dark fantasy MMORPG The Secret World; a pantheon of primordial cosmic horrors kept dormant by Gaia, the divine biocomputer at the center of Agartha, they are the source of the The Filth and the direct antithesis of all Gaia's forces. So named for their eternal slumber within the Dreaming Prison, they are forever seeking an escape - the consequences of which would break reality on a fundamental level. As such, the Dreamers are the ultimate Bigger Bad of the game, and the schemes of almost every single faction revolve around them sooner or later: the Templars, The Illuminati and The Dragon all have vested interests in fighting them; the Orochi Group and its topmost executives seek means of siphoning or even stealing their power, and the Morninglight worship the Dreamers as gods, viewing their awakening as the dawn of the ultimate stage in human enlightenment.

In an attempt to further their plans for escape, they have occasionally tempted mortals into their service with offers of rewards; throughout the game, the Dreamers make similar offers to players, tempting them with offers to unlock their true power in exchange for their loyalty. Regardless of whether players accept or refuse these overtures, the Dreamers' ultimate goal remains the same: escape and total cosmic disassembly.

Description

To date, the players have never seen the Dreamers face-to-face: even on the occasions where they find themselves transported to the Dreaming Prison, players never see the entities incarcerated there, only their restraints. However, the Bees imply that they resemble cephalopods, making reference to tentacles and other examples of mollusk anatomy, though they also state that they have event horizons for mouths. It's been suggested that the Ur-Draug was created as a scaled-down facsimile of one of the Dreamers - the "terrible thing dreaming beneath the sea" - and that their creations in general bear close resemblance to the creators. The nearest players have gotten to meeting a Dreamer in person is during their encounters with the Black Signal: though he is essentially a highly-advanced Filth entity, Lilith claims that he has become a new mind in their collective, indicating that he is essentially a proto-Dreamer, a lesser form of his Lovecraftian masters - a "little dream," as she puts it.  

Though they are asleep, they are still capable of planning and influencing the world to a certain extent: from their prisons, the Filth coalesces into our reality, their desire to escape and dominate made manifest as a physical substance; those infected by it are open to the mental influence of the Dreamers, and often inspired to spread their infection further into an army sufficient to unearth the Gaia Engines and destroy them. However, the Dreamers are also capable of reaching out to minds not corrupted by the Filth, usually those especially receptive to their psychic emanations; tempting them with the chances to see their fondest wishes to come true, they gain generals and prophets to act in their stead.  

Personalities among the Dreamers are a rather hazy issue: it isn't yet known if any of them actually possess individual identities, for many of them refer to themselves in the plural rather than the singular - though some can be occasionally heard referring to themselves as "I." It is not certain if the range of personalities demonstrated by the Dreamers are real or simply performances to ensnare new worshipers; whatever the case, personality traits vary: some, like the Aten and the Antarctic Dreamer, appear to understand the world outside their dreams enough to converse with humans on a somewhat grandiose level, at least enough to pose as gods or issue threats. The Red Sargassum Dreamer is much more abstract, communicating through a mixture of childish whispering, warped nursery rhymes, stuttered robotic speech, and the occasional lucid explanation. Overall, however, they appear to enjoy recreating the brief glimpses of the world outside their prison, recreating their hazy glimpses of birds, dogs, boars and spiders as creatures of the Filth, and - in the case of the Red Sargassum Dream - recreating Kingsmouth from the memories siphoned from the minds of Tyler Freeborn and the other infectees on Solomon Island. The Red Sargassum Dreamer in particular seems anxious to learn more about the waking world, actively encouraging players to invite their friends along to sharpen the Dream with new thoughts and new memories.  

Apocalyptic circumstances surround the release of any one of the Dreamers: according to the Bees, they feed upon astronomical bodies like stars and planets, though their conversation with Emma suggests they also enjoy devouring human lives if they get the chance. While they have yet to demonstrate their hunger in person, dead planets and dying stars can be found in both the rifts torn in reality around the Gaia Engines and within the Dreaming Prison itself: it's not certain if these were conjured by the Dreamers themselves or if they were already present within the Prison when they were first incarcerated, but the Bees indicate that they are at least real enough to be fed upon - claiming that the Dreamers will often idly lick at craters in dead moons, dreaming of the feasts they can enjoy if they ever escape.  

Fortunately, they are safely contained by the Gaia Engines, a network of ancient First Age machines specifically designed to keep the Dreamers under control and ensure that the world keeps turning. These miraculous devices serve as multiple lines of defense: on the simplest level, they are music boxes lulling the Dreamers to sleep; on more complex levels, they contain and cleanse the Filth (when they're working properly); Lilith hints that they can draw theoretically infinite energy from the captive entities, easily providing Samael with limitless energy to replace modern fuel sources - and, if arranged properly, can even force the Dreamers to follow orders. The Bees confirm that Lilith's claim is essentially correct - and indeed, it's the only reason why the universe still exists.  

In the event that the End of Days does come to pass, the Gaia Engines have been designed to interface with the minds of the Dreamers and influence them to follow a very specific course of action: by directing their will, they can harness the Dreamers' reality-warping powers and rebuild the world. Unfortunately, the world will essentially be reset to factory settings, leaving most civilizations wiped out except for a few rare artifacts and individuals, hence the Ages that have defined the world. Doubly unfortunately, this function has begun to break down in recent eons, and the Bees imply that the Engines might not be able to manage another reset if the worst comes to the worst...  

History

In Past Ages

As of yet, nobody is entirely certain how the Dreamers came to be imprisoned or even why; it is possible that they were ensnared while trying to invade reality, but little concrete information has come to light. Even the Bees have yet to explain their origins. However, the Gaia Engines have existed through all previous Ages of history, drawing upon the powers of the Dreamers to remake the world in the event of an apocalyptic disaster, so it can be assumed that they have been kept asleep since the construction of the world - if not earlier.

However, the Dreamers were not always as active as they are in the Fourth Age: known studies of the Filth extend only as far back as the Third Age, and the cataclysms that ended the First and Second Age are believed to have stemmed from members of the Host rather than the Dreamers. It can be assumed that the Sleeping Ones spent much of this time completely suppressed until the dawn of the Third Age, though it's not known what gave them the power to resist their enforced slumber. However, in their entries on the Filth, the Bees mention how some Gaia Engines have lost their capacity to cleanse the area of the manifesting dreams, allowing the Filth to spill out - suggesting that repeated reboots of the universe were already starting to damage the Engines, thus granting the Dreamers a means of influencing the world beyond their prison.

It is not known if the Filth drew Lilith's attention to the Gaia Engines or if the Gaia Engines drew Lilith's attention to the Filth; one way or the other, the Mother of Monsters and her husband Samael found themselves in pursuit of the Dreamers' power for use in their plans for world domination. Having lived through the First Age, the two of them knew of the Gaia Engines and that they could be used to enslave the reality-warping abilities of a Dreamer for their cause; so, once they were able to unearth one of these ancient machines, they quickly set about mastering its arcane mechanisms. However, Lilith found herself being unexpectedly contacted by the device's current prisoner; psychically reaching out to her, the slumbering deity promised to grant her every wish in exchange for disabling the Engine and allowing it to escape. Though she recognized the danger and knew that the Dreamer was almost certainly lying, she went ahead and tampered with the Engine anyway, believing that she could find some way of backstabbing the Dreamers once she'd gotten everything she wanted from them.

Unfortunately, she'd gravely underestimated the power of the sleeping prisoners: roused from it's slumber by Lilith's sabotage, a Dreamer arose just long enough to smother the world, obliterating all human civilization and leaving a death toll somewhere in the billions. Then, just as quickly as it had awoken, it drifted back to sleep and the Gaia Engines sprung to life, restoring the ruined world to square one. So it was that the Third Age ended and the Fourth Age began.

Dawn Of The Aten

It was during the Fourth Age that the Dreamers reached new heights of activity as more and more Gaia Engines began malfunctioning; though none of them ever completely broke down, many of them failed to effectively cleanse the Filth from the surrounding area, and the corrupted Anima spilled out into reality. As the centuries went by, its liquid form gathered into great reservoirs and lakes deep beneath the earth: while other variants plagued the surface as storms, pollution and even viral memes, the black oil proved to be the most common form of infection and the most popular means of converting unsuspecting humans to the service of the Dreamers.

However, the Dreamers themselves did not remain idle: though the Filth helped ensnare many victims into infectious slavery, the Sleepers actively sought out those who would serve them willingly. Those they could contact were usually close to a Gaia Engine or possessed some kind of psychic ability, and as with Lilith, they usually had unfulfilled ambitions: the Dreamers offered to grant their wishes, promising them immortality, wealth, political power, artistic ability, oratorial skills, or anything else they might desire. In return, these anointed ones gave their Lovecraftian patrons unwavering loyaly, many of them going on to form cults that worshiped the Dreamers as gods and sought out methods of disabling the Gaia Engines wherever they could be found.

A popular trait in these religious movements involved exposure to the Filth - willingly or otherwise; however, equally popular was the repeated motif of the Sun: sun-worshipers were inexplicably drawn to the service of the Dreamers, perhaps because of their wish to devour the sun. Indeed, one of the earliest known epithets for the Filth is "Nergal's Rot," so named for the Sun-god worshiped throughout the kingdoms of ancient Mesopotamia. In the case of some later cults, this obsession with the sun and the light progressed to actively emulating the Dreamers themselves, with meditating worshipers encouraged to imagine eating the sun and "the light at the end of the universe" one bite at a time.

Most of these cults were relatively small-scale and rarely rose to prominence in affairs of state - perhaps in order to avoid being destroyed by those who recognized their true nature. One notable exception to this rule appeared in Egypt in 1348 BC: here, one of the Dreamers extended a hand of friendship to Pharaoh Amenhotep IV, introducing itself as a deity known only as the Aten (the Sun Disc) and promising him power in exchange for his loyalty and worship. Eager to make his mark on the world, the Pharaoh accepted the blessings of his new god: renaming himself Akhenaten, he went about converting his entire kingdom to Atenism, banning the traditional polytheism of Egypt and all other competing faiths. Deaf to anything but the Aten's whispering, he ignored the protests of his people, his vizier, his family, even his wife, conducting one sacrifice after another in the name of his new god.

At the insistence of his patron, Akhenaten pursued numerous construction projects across Egypt, often costing the lives of thousands of slaves, even gaining him eternal infamy as the Pharaoh of the Bible's Exodus. The first of the projects was the Ankh, an immense well fed by underground reservoirs of the Filth; it was here that the Cult of the Aten truly formed, as Akhenaten's followers bathed in the toxic fluid and gave themselves over to the will of the Dreamers. Though they never uncovered the Gaia Engine that was feeding the reservoir and though Filth was still too weak to be removed from the well without dissolving in the light of the sun, countless pilgrimages were made to the Ankh year after year, all of them drawing more people into the ranks of Akhenaten's elite - some of them willingly, some of them not. No less famous was the construction of his great capitol, the City of the Sun God: though never completed, it was comprised almost entirely of temples to the glory of the Aten, including a vast black pyramid intended to house Akhenaten's mortal remains.

It was in the temples such as these that the worship of the Aten became truly hideous: compelled by the whispers of the Dreamer, Akhenaten's priests conducted rituals to trap the souls of the dead in their embalmed bodies, cursing them with a particularly ghastly form of immortality - especially in the case of those unwilling sacrifices doomed to become Vessels of the Aten. Unlike the debonair mummies of the Kingdom, these undead were sentenced to eternal torment as conduits for the Dreamers themselves: their minds assimilated by their new masters, they were condemned to channel the wishes of the Aten and his fellow deities into the waking world.

In the end, Akhenaten's atrocities grew too great for his people to endure. His son Tutankhamen rebelled, gathering an army of warriors, mages and disenfranchised priests into a group known as the Marya (the Young Warriors); together, they were able to turn Egypt against Akhenaten and - despite the monstrous strength the Dreamers had given him - finally slay the corrupted pharaoh in battle. However, as the rest of the Marya went about restoring the worship of the old gods to Egypt and sealing the Ankh shut, their leader Ptahmose took drastic steps to ensure that Akhenaten could never rise from his tomb at the heart of the Black Pyramid - knowing that it would eventually mean the arrival of Aten on Earth and the End of Days.

So, sacrificing the lives of his children and channeling their souls into seven great statues overlooking the Pyramid, he created the Sentinels and gave them the means to suppress the man forever known as the Black Pharaoh: as long as their song continued, he would remain forever imprisoned in his sleep - much like the Dreamers themselves.

The Unconquered Sun

However, the Dreamers were not so easily deterred. While the Atenists retreated from the limelight, the Sleeping Ones sought out other worshipers to exploit, gradually turning their gaze from one mighty nation to another, and as Egypt slipped from the hands of the Pharaohs, attention slowly turned to their conquerors in the Roman Empire. In turn, as the citizens of the Empire grew prosperous and increasingly decadent, cults pandering to the disaffected Romans found themselves unexpectedly corrupted from within. According to Templar scholar Iain Tibet Gladstone, one such religious movement was the Cult of Mithras: a god popularly depicted banqueting with the sun, Mithras' worshipers had already been ensnared by the Dreamers in Persia; in Rome, however, new layers of secrecy and initiation surrounding the cult allowed worship of the Mollusk Gods to continue in peace, though progress towards escape was still limited.

More famous among Dreamer-controlled cults was that of Sol Invictus - the Unconquered Sun. Though it never commanded the same demented reverence as the Aten, it still was still greatly respected by the citizens of Rome: much more publicly accepted than Mithras, Sol Invictus eventually became known as the Roman Empire's official sun deity, its worshipers acknowledged as an official imperial cult, its face even featuring on coinage throughout this time. In turn, as people left Rome for other provinces of the empire, many of them brought Deus Sol Invictus (as it came to be known) with them. In 100 AD, the cult gained a foothold in a small Roman colony buried in the Carpathian Mountains near Transylvania: primarily populated by outcasts, embarrassments and other undesirables, this outpost only became noteworthy thanks to the unexpected discovery of a Filth wellspring - believed to be directly connected to one of the Gaia Engines.

With some grudging aid from Lilith - as always trying to twist events to her benefit - the cult began a modest excavation project below the bathhouse where the Filth had first emerged. At the very last moment, an aging centurion by the name of Octavian suddenly realized the danger lurking in the caverns beyond: in the end, he had no choice but to kill every last one of the Filth-infected cultists, effectively depopulating the colony in the process. Though the act earned him Lilith's immortal punishment, Octavian's work was done and the attempts to unearth the Engine ended. Given that they were only an official sect and not a government unto themselves, the cult didn't have the resources to continue the excavation on their own, and so the ruined colony and the bathhouse were left abandoned until the 21st century.

Ultimately, the baptism of Emperor Constantine spelled the end of Sol Invictus in Rome. However, a splinter of the cult managed to escape total dissolution and formed a new colony in 329 AD; in a somewhat appropriate twist, they set their new center of worship in Egypt, less than a mile from the Ankh, and recruited many new followers from the scattered remains of Aten's worshipers. Their city, Sol Glorificus, was intended as the perfect launchpad for spreading the worship of the Dreamers across the known world: though they never quite achieved the same heights of success that their forebears among the Atenists reached, they did make enough human sacrifices to draw the attention of Filth Arachnids from the depths of the Ankh, including Solifugae the Devourer. In imitation of their Aten-worshiping predecessors, the cultists also mummified the dead in an attempt to force immortality in the name of Sol Invictus. However, like many of their countrymen in Roman-occupied Egypt, they gleefully plagiarized local customs without any idea as to their importance, and too many details were lost in their attempt to "modernize" the ancient rituals: in the end, all they achieved was another form of undead. Though they were charged with the Filth, they couldn't channel the voice and power of the Dreamers as the Atenist mummies had.

It is not known what became of the Sol Invictus cult in Egypt, but it can be assumed that they were eventually wiped out - either by Constantine's legions or the ever-vigilant Marya. By the 21st century, all that remains of Sol Glorificus are the desiccated husks of buildings half-swallowed by the sands of the desert.

The Darkness War And What Came After

Many centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, the Dreamers were able to once again acquire the worship of an entire civilization: the Mayan culture, with its pantheon headed by a sun god and its rituals of blood sacrifice, seemed perfect for their purposes. However, rather than having their worshipers delve beneath the earth in search of Gaia Engines and Filth wellsprings, the Dreamers instructed the Mayans to travel north to a tiny island just off the coast of what is now Maine: Solomon Island (as it came to be known) was home to one of the Gaia Engines, and unlike so many others of its kind, it wasn't hidden beneath impassable mountain ranges or buried within inhospitable wasteland, but was almost within reach of the surface. The only obstacle in their path were the native Wabanaki - easily outnumbered by the forces the Mayans were able to muster.

So, eager to please their patrons, the Mayan prepared for war: bringing together their warriors, their mages, and even their infamous flying hordes of Ak'Ab, they set out for the Island aboard their massive war-barges. Arriving in their thousands, they quickly went about massacring the Wabanaki, drawing upon superior numbers and cataclysmic blood magic. However, the native defenders refused to give up: they knew of the Dreamer imprisoned by the Gaia Engine and they knew of the disasters that would ensue if the Serpent were to ever escape. So, they fought on valiantly, even as more and more Mayan cultists arrived on the Island, even as monstrosities of the Filth joined the fray.

However, the Wabanaki found themselves with unexpected reinforcements: a fleet of Viking warriors arrived on the shores of the island, driven by messages from Odin himself; along the way, they had looted a powerful magic sword from a monastery - a sword later identified as Excalibur. A piece of arcane Third Age technology, the sword was not only a potent weapon in battle, but actually capable of forcing back the powers of the Filth; together, the Wabanaki and the Norsemen were able to defeat the Mayans in combat, even slaying the beast Wayeb-Xuul, the Hound of the Nameless Days. However, as the Mayans fled the battlefield, it was discovered that a dense cloud of unnatural fog had surrounded the island, having apparently followed the passage of the sword across the oceans.

With the Island now at peace, the two allied forces fortified the defenses surrounding the Gaia Engine through powerful magical rituals, containing the fog within Excalibur itself. After staying for at least a year in the company of the Wabanaki, the Norsemen finally left the island, ensuring that the ritual protection would never be lost.

Unfortunately, the Dreamers did not end the Darkness War empty handed: as the Vikings returned home, they happened to cross an area of the ocean known only as the Sargasso Sea; there, many ships of the victorious fleet simply vanished into the ocean, taking Excalibur with them. It is not known exactly what caused the ships to founder there, though the presence of Filth deposits in the North Atlantic suggests a Gaia Engine and a Dreamer stirring to life, perhaps reacting to the presence of Excalibur. Whatever the case, only a handful of ships returned to friendly shores, and the Vikings who crewed them were deathly sick: they had been exposed to a unique strain of Filth found only in the Sargasso Sea, and it altered them in new and terrible ways.

Ever anxious for new information on the world outside their prison, the Dreamers rifled through the thoughts of the infected Vikings and discovered the tales of the undead Draug. Overjoyed and inspired by this new source of data, the Sleeping Ones remade the corrupted Norsemen into a new strain of Filth creature made in homage to their folkloric dreams - the oceangoing species known as the Draug.

The transformation process was slow enough to allow the infectees time enough to return home, and more than enough time to spread their infection to anyone who made the mistake of helping them; not even the dreamspeakers and mages of the Norsemen could hold back the plague. One by one, the veterans of the Darkness War succumbed to the otherworldly pestilence, and took their families and friends with them: days later, villages would be found deserted, with no trace of their inhabitants save for the rows of footprints leading out to sea. There, the newborn Draug formed monstrous societies beneath the waves, attacking ships that strayed too close for their territory and dragging them back to the Isle of Lost Ships at the heart of the Sargasso, forming the basis of many a nautical ghost story in the process.

Back on Solomon Island, the Wabanaki fared little better: dispossessed by the arrival of white settlers in the 17th century and decimated by plague, they faced constant mockery from those they tried to protect from the island's secrets. Fortunately, those attempting to mine the Blue Mountain quickly found themselves subjected to the monstrous presence of the Serpent: accidents and spates of madness were enough to close the Blue Ridge Mine at least twice in a row - first in the 1870s and again in the 1970s. Unfortunately, the second foray into the Blue Mountain resulted in Edmund Franklin spiraling into Dreamer-induced insanity and murdering a Wabanaki shaman in cold blood.

Red Hands And Screaming Stars

During the Cold War, Russia and America often competed to see which of them could reach the furthest in space exploration: though Yuri Gagarin went down in history as the first man in space, the race to the moon was ultimately won by Neil Armstrong; in its attempts to outdo the Americans, the Soviet Union's Red Hand decided to explore a much more ambitious front in the form of dimensional travel. Not content with delving into outer space, they formed a project to explore the inner-outer reaches: seeking out astronaut candidates with psychic potential, the scientists of the Red Hand taught their recruits to detect and channel Anima, hoping to create a "Phantom Cosmonaut" capable of expanding the reach of the Soviet Union into other reality.

Unfortunately, the results were too limited on their own, and so the Red Hand also infused their test subjects with the Filth. In the ensuing carnage, almost everyone in the research facility was infected or killed, forcing the survivors to abandon the project and seal the base shut. However, unknown to the fleeing scientists, their laboratories were not entirely vacant: out of all the recruits to have been subjected to infusions of Anti-Anima, the young Halina Ilyushin was the only one to survive and transcend physical existence to become the first Phantom Cosmonaut. Unfortunately, she could not continue the project in its current condition, and was left to haunt the abandoned facility with only the base supercomputer for company. With Halina psychically gifted and touched by the Filth, it wasn't long before the Dreamers reached out to her as well.

As a child, Halina had dreamed of seeing the stars, and that wish had led her into the ranks of the Soviet Union's space program, and eventually into the torturous experiments of the Red Hand. With so many sacrifices made already, she refused to abandon her ambitions even with the Phantom Cosmonaut plan in ruin, and the Dreamers naturally exploited this obsession: they promised her an opportunity to travel the stars as she'd always dreamed in exchange for doing their bidding on Earth, and Halina eagerly accepted. Empowered by their blessings, she was able to restore the base to functionality and continue the project over the next few decades. Throughout this time, she continued infusing herself with Anima and Filth, eventually conjuring two vast doorways at the bottom of the facility: one led to Agartha, her source of Anima; the other led to the Dreaming Prison, her source of anti-Anima.

It is not known how long it would have taken for the Phantom Cosmonaut to accomplish her goals undisturbed, nor are the true specifics of the Dreamers' instructions; one way or the other, Halina is still continuing her project well past 2012 - decades after the Soviet Union and the Red Hand have collapsed.

Into The Morninglight

At some point in the early twentieth century, Lilith was driven to new extremes in her search for a Gaia Engine: in her attempts to create an army independent of her husband's Orochi security forces, she not only drew upon her vampiric allies in Transylvania, but even created a Dreamer-cult of her own. Called the Morninglight, she gave them a doctrine, a purpose, and even gave them a messiah in the form of Philip Marquard; however, though she taught them to worship the Dreamers through the rewritten tenets of Sol Invictus, she also ensured that they would serve her without question; Marquard was her puppet, commanding the servants of the Dreamers on her behalf - or so she believed.

Unfortunately, Lilith had once again underestimated how far the Dreamers could reach even in their enforced slumber: contacting Philip Marquard, they converted him wholeheartedly to their worship with promises of immortality and godhood. Having already caught a glimpse of one of the Dreamers buried deep in the heart of the Congo, Marquard eagerly complied. Over the course of the next few months, he completely rewrote the doctrine of the Morninglight, slowly whittling away at the mechanisms that would have allowed Lilith to control the cult, until they once again served the Dreamers without interference.

By then, the Morninglight had spread across the world, fueled by the resources Lilith had channeled into it and sped along through its inspiring mixture of self-help lessons and religious teachings. For the first time in centuries, the Dreamers had an empire at their fingertips - all without the need for military conquest or mass-conversion. Enthused by the new information their followers fed them, the Dreamers slowly began directing the cult against those who might disturb their continued expansion.
John meets Marquard

The Dreamer-touched Marquard anoints John as the Messenger of the Morninglight.

Their first target was Lilith: knowing that the fabled Mother of Monsters could not be trusted despite her sponsorship of Filth cults throughout the centuries, Marquard arranged a plan to eliminate her in a suicide attack on Orochi Tower in Tokyo. To that end, he had his allies among the Phoenicians provide him with a rare Third Age Class-1 device, capable of immense destructive power. At the same time, he instructed his subordinates in the Fear Nothing Foundation to provide him with the perfect messenger to deliver their "message" of destruction to Lilith; in the end, they selected John Copley, a friendship-starved young man infatuated with the head of the FNF. With John having been indoctrinated to serve the Morninglight without question, Marquard personally tasked him with carrying the Great Message to Orochi Tower - but also warned him of Lilith and the many horrible things her many names could do to him if he were to fail.

On the day of the bombing, John carried the device into the Tokyo subway with the intention of delivering it directly to the Tower; however, despite the Morninglight's best efforts to remove any obstacles from rail security, a suspicious guard stopped John some distance from the station at the base of Orochi Tower. Panicking at the thought of what Lilith might do to him and suddenly imagining her everywhere, John detonated his device in a fit of terror.

Though the Tower escaped the resulting explosion, the Filth spread through subways and sewers of Tokyo, infecting Kaidan district and much of the harbor beyond. And while Morninglight had not eliminated Lilith in the attack, the new wellspring of the Filth and the flood of infections that followed fed the Dreamers new information about the world, expanding their influence throughout Tokyo. In a final unintended victory, John had been transformed by the Filth blast, transcending physical mutation to become a being of pure Filth signals haunting the electrical systems of Tokyo - a new mind in the Dreamers' collective.

Bees And Dreams

You will see the End of Days. You will see the dawning of a new age. To be a monarch, or a beggar. To lose everything, or become a god. To stand with us, or against us. The choice is yours. Remember this.
~ The Dreamers In The Ice, during the introduction

It is at this point that the game begins: once players have finished determining character design and allegiance, the introduction will begin with the newly-created player character asleep in their apartment, oblivious to the Bee flying around their apartment. One of the fabled biomechanical Bees of Agartha, it zeroes in on the player and crawls slowly into his/her mouth: as the Bee begins the bonding process, players find themselves dreaming of a unknown realm of rough gravel beaches under a midnight sky studded with floating asteroids and ruined planets; all around them, the ominous shapes of the Gaia Engines lie half-sunken in the lifeless ocean, later identifying this place as the Dreaming Prison. As players survey the scenes, a mysterious voice whispers to them - later revealed to be one of the Dreamers - promising the End of Days and the dawning of a new age in which players might achieve godhood or be ground into nothingness, all depending on whether the players side with the Dreamers or not.

Moments later, two figures abruptly invade the dream: a woman in white and a man in black, they are representatives of the Grigori and the Nephilim respectively, and they offer overlapping instructions on what to do. The two offer similar arguments, but where the Grigori insists that it is not her place to interfere, the Nephilim insists that the player must be guided to the light. Tellingly, the Nephilim claims that the "voices that whisper in your sleep" speak the truth. Conjuring a swarm of Bees and a swarm of flies, they direct the mingling insects down the players' throat - and a moment later, players awaken to discover that the Bee has given them magical powers.

The Dreamers

A rift to the Dreamers' dreams.

Soon after, players will be visited by a representative of their chosen faction, and directed - forcibly or otherwise - to their faction hub. Shortly after arriving, they are provided with another vision of the Dreamers, this one taking place in Tokyo during the initial disaster. The exact circumstances vary: listening to the rantings of the Fallen King induces a trance in Templar players; Dr Zurn's post-hypnotic workout for Illuminati players includes a looped recording of the Tokyo disaster; Dragon players find themselves unexpectedly propositioned by a mysterious woman in red, and the pleasure of the sex that follows temporarily blacks out the players' brain - allowing their minds to travel into the past. One way or the other, players find themselves playing the part of another Gaia-touched operative named Sarah, as she and her fellow agents fight their way through the subways of Kaidan district.

Immediately, the players are attacked on all sides by the Filth (their first encounter with the substance prior to Solomon Island); for a time, they are able to fight their way through the infectees and make their way through the collapsing train station. However, after being cut off from the other agents, players find the subway walls abruptly dissolving away into the depths space, where dead planets and tumbling asteroids orbit the dying bulk of a Red Giant. This is the first of many encounters with rifts into the Dreaming Prison, one that is seen at numerous points throughout the game. However, as she approaches the rift, Sarah collapses, the vision ends, and the players promptly awake.

Dawning Of An Endless Night

Following brief training sessions and interviews with their faction handlers, players are promptly dispatched to Solomon Island, Maine: a supernatural fog has rolled in from the sea to surround the island, cutting off all mundane access. Players quickly discover that most of the locals were entranced by a "siren song" emerging from the Fog, driving them to march off into the depths of the ocean, where they promptly drowned - only to return as zombies. The few townsfolk not affected were either asleep, trapped, incapable of hearing the song, or under some kind of magical protection. Furthermore, the zombies now infesting the town are under the control of the Draug, having returned to Solomon Island en mass to spawn on the beaches, using the vast ranks of the dead as living incubators for their spawn.

Following the trail of clues, it's revealed that the Fog was drawn to the Island when a fishing boat unexpectedly blundered into the Isle of Lost Ships and retrieved Excalibur: bringing the sword back to the island brought the Fog - and the Draug - with it. However, they are not the only parties drawn by the sword: a group of Morninglight hippies have made camp north of Kingsmouth, and their leader Freddy Beaumont is attempting to claim the sword for himself - with the end goal of using it to seize control of the Gaia Engine under the Blue Mountain for his own ends, likely freeing the Serpent in the process. With the help of the Wabanaki, players are able to confront Beaumont in the depths of Blue Ridge Mine and defeat him even with Excalibur's true power unlocked; however, before they can claim the blade for their faction, players are unexpectedly whisked away to another dimension, leaving Beaumont's ex-underling to steal the sword for herself.
The Dreamer's prison

The Antarctic discovery site.

As soon as they regain consciousness, players once again find themselves in the Dreaming Prison, this time taking the form of a cavern deep in the ice of Antarctica: here, they see visions of Roald Amundsen and Aveline Belmont - previous explorers - making their way through the caves. However, the Dreamer chooses this moment to begin seducing the player, providing visions of other great men and women who accepted the help of the Dreamers, gaining vast wealth, the crown of a powerful nation, the ability to captivate the world through beauty, the power to enthrall with words and rhetoric - all paling to what they can offer the players: the true power within themselves.

In the final stages of the dreamscape, the player will be presented with a choice: accept the gift of the Dreamers - a literal gift-wrapped present sitting on the edge of a cliff overlooking infinite void... or jump to certain death. The decision is ultimately up to the player: if the player accepts the gift, the package itself is revealed to be an empty representation of what can be granted; the Dreamer is pleased, explaining that this will only be the beginning of a long and profitable partnership - so long as players remain true to them. However, should the player choose to jump, the Dreamer will contemptuously dismiss them, coldly informing them that they won't be able to escape the end of days. Regardless of the players' decision, they will be teleported back to Solomon Island shortly afterwards.

Black Sun, Red Sand

After dealing with various leads in the hub areas, players will then be sent to Egypt in order to deal with the unexpected return of the Atenists: here, in the small desert village of al-Merayah, the Cult of the Aten are locked in battle with the Marya. Though the Young Warriors having blockaded all exits from the area and contained the threat, the cultists clearly have the upper hand; under the guidance of the cult's current master, a local merchant by the name of Abdel Daoud, the Aten-worshipers have managed to expand their ranks by contaminating the water supply with the Filth. With superior numbers on their side, they have not only been able to besiege and infiltrate al-Merayah, but are also sending Aten pilgrims deep into the barren mountains north of the town - where it quickly becomes clear that the Dreamers have far greater influence on the crisis than they did in New England.
Aten

The manifestation of Aten, the Black Sun.

Past the zombie-infested ruins of Sol Glorificus, past the newly-opened depths of the Ankh, an earthquake has unexpectedly unearthed the long-lost City of the Sun God: here, the Aten itself manifests above the Black Pyramid, indicating that Akhenaten is stirring in his grave. Further investigation reveals that growing despair among the Sentinels, coupled with the theft of a Song by inquisitive Orochi researchers, has allowed the Black Pharaoh to awaken from his deathly sleep and rally the Atenists under Abdel Daoud's banner. With the ancient sun-king poised to summon the Aten to Earth, the situation is quite clearly on the verge of an apocalypse.

Fortunately, with the help of Ptahmose and Samael, the player is able to recover the Song and unlock the gates to the Pyramid: backed up by a small army of Marya and cooperative Orochi forces, the player fights their way through the Atenists defending the inner chambers and finally confronts Akhenaten himself. Aided by the powers of the Sentinels, the player successfully kills the Black Pharaoh for the second time in his unlife - only to be knocked out by the Orochi security team, having turned on the players solely for the sake of stealing Akhenaten's trident staff.

Immediately afterwards, the player is once again transported to the Dreaming Prison - this time finding themselves wandering a network of icy roadways suspended above a sea of Filth. This time, the Dreamer is furious - especially if the player chose to accept their gift: Akhenaten was, of course, their agent in the region and Aten was one of their own, and the Dreamers do not appreciate "ungrateful" meddling in their affairs. Once again, the Dreamer provides visions of the past to educate the player - this time elaborating on the fate of those foolish enough to oppose them: some were driven mad, some fell to supernatural infections, some were struck down by their Filth-infected allies, and a few died of spontaneously combustion.

However, the Dreamer offers the player one last chance to make amends: at a small altar set into the ice, an enormous Bird of the Zero Point Pathogen appears before their players, as the voice of the Dreamers insist that they show humility for their misdeeds. If players chooses to ignore the voice and attack the bird, the Dreamer will furiously snarl that the riches of the new world will be forever lost to them. On the other hand, if players choose to worship at the altar, the Dreamer forgives them for their misdeeds in Egypt and gives them another chance.

Unfortunately, it later becomes clear that the permanent suppression of Akhenaten wasn't such a blow to the Dreamers after all: in Issue #6, the Aten simply turns its gaze to Abdel Daoud instead, offering him immortality in exchange for taking the Black Pharaoh's place.

Mortal Sins

The third chapter of the main storyline sees the player sent on a new assignment to Transylvania, where the vampire armies of the infamous Queen Mara Dracula have been gathering for a massive assault on the region. Unknown to the players at the time, this crusade has secretly been organized by Lilith in an attempt to access the Gaia Engine recently unearthed in the Carpathian Mountains. Out of all the story arcs in the game, "Mortal Sins" demonstrates the least amount of Dreamer involvement: though the Roman Baths and Red Hand facilities still display evidence of Dreamer activity in the region, the action is largely centered around the activities of Mara and Lilith.

Transilvanya Rift

The Transylvanian Rift

However, once Mara has been finally defeated, the player goes to investigate the Gaia Engine excavated by the Orochi Group: here, past the tunnel dug in the side of the mountain and the fortifications keeping the dig site stable, a vast fissure has been torn in the fabric of reality, weaving around the Gaia Engine and forming a bottomless pit. Guided by the escaped test subject Emma, players make their way through the area's defenses just in time to hear Samael demanding to know what Lilith is up to; on the edge of a nearby cliff, a mysterious woman teleports away without a word. Moments later, a tentacle reaches up from the depths and yanks Emma into the void. With no other option, the players jump after her.

Once again, the players find themselves in the Dreaming Prison, this time in the form of the Filthy shoreline they witnessed at the start of the game. And this time, the Dreamer is panicking: with no further pawns or back-up plans ready, the Engines that restrain the Dreamers as a whole are now at the mercy of the players. As such, the Dreamer spends most of the mission pleading for the player to sabotage the Engines and widen the rifts in their prison. Once again, the decision is up to the player: they can repair the Gaia Engines damaged over the course of the game's story arcs so far, or they can repair them with their own Anima.

The Host- Nephilim
If the players choose to sabotage the engines and widen the rifts, the Dreamer thanks them, informing them that they have assured their place as an asset to the Sleeping Ones - ensuring their eventual return to wakefulness and a reward of infinite power. Shortly afterwards, the players are visited by the Man in Black, now positively identified as a Nephilim. Amused by this course of events, he states he can never predict how humans will act and the concept of free-will is utterly beyond him; however, he also congratulates the player on making the right choices, and the Dreamers are now in the perfect position to be harnessed for their powers. Idly remarking that he looks forward to working with the players in the future, he departs.

However, if the player chooses to destroy the rifts, the Dreamer explodes with fury, swearing untold cruelties on Earth - before suddenly falling silent. Moments later, the Woman in White appears again, having now been identified by the Bees as one of the Grigori: in sharp contrast to her Nephilim counterpart, she does not wax poetic on grand futures, but instead remarks that she can only interfere in order to stop the Nephilim and the other rebellious members of the host. Though she congratulates the players on making the right choice, she warns them to return to their world and prepare for dark times.

The Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn

Row, Row Row your boat, gently through my dream. Terribly, terribly, terribly, terribly, this is all I've seen.
~ The Red Sargassum Dreamer

Returning to Solomon Island will reveal the trail of a man called Tyler Freeborn, a lapsed Wabanaki and devoted conspiracy theorist; having survived the arrival of the Fog and the monsters brought with it, he had devoted himself to discovering the truth behind it at all costs. While following his leads, players discover that the Fog is actually an airborne strain of the Filth: given that the Fog itself briefly covered the entire island before gradually retreating to form its current barrier, it's likely that almost every single surviving resident of Solomon Island has been infected by the Filth; though tests conducted by the Orochi Group confirm that the strain is presently dormant within the bloodstreams of its hosts, this period of dormancy will not last forever - and the effects of the completed infection will be nothing short of devastating.

Following the trail of clues eventually leads the players to Tyler's last known location: in a video-diary, he dons a gas mask and ventures in the Fog wall surrounding the island, vowing to discover the truth of what lies behind it. With no other option but to follow him, players find gas masks of their own and wade into Fog. Hearing the Siren Song of the Fog all around them, they follows the music deeper and deeper into the murk - until they simply pass out.

What dwells beyond The Fog

What dwells beyond the Fog.

Players regain consciousness in a dream version of Kingsmouth, known only as the Red Sargassum Dream. Once again, they are contacted by one of the Dreamers, but this one seems significantly different from the one encountered in the main story arc: for one thing, it speaks in Tyler's voice and speaks in a much more disconnected manner that its Antarctic counterpart. One moment, it can be heard singing in nursery rhymes, the next it can be heard issuing stuttered commands like a malfunctioning machine; as the players continue through the dream, however, the Dreamer slowly becomes more coherent.

One way or another, it becomes clear that the Dreamer's model of Kingsmouth is based on the memories of those claimed by the Fog, including Tyler: the Dream town is a preview of things to come once the residents' souls are completely overtaken by the Filth. Indeed, many of the player's allies on Solomon Island appear in the dream as Filth-infected replicas: Sheriff Bannerman, Deputy Andy, Norma Creed, Headmaster Montag and Scrapyard Edgar all emerge from the shadows of dream-Kingsmouth to attack the player - just as their real-world counterparts will when they finally succumb to the Filth.

The Dreamer gloatingly remarks that the survivors can not be saved,that their minds are condemned to an eternity within the dream: more disturbingly, it claims that this is actually a good thing, as none of them have to age or change ever again. It even offers to make the players into governors of the dream-town, suggesting that they can even be made gods if they so prefer. Finally, the Dreamer states that the player's consciousness strengthens their constructions with new thoughts and memories to build with, and gleefully advises you to "tell all your friends to visit" so they can help sharpen the dream further. Moments later, the player's journey through the dream-Kingsmouth leads them off the edge of a cliff, sending them plummeting into the Filthy ocean below.

Soon after, the player awakens on the beaches of the real Solomon Island: nearby, Tyler Freeborn's corpse has washed ashore. His last recording seems to suggest that the Dreamers claimed him and assimilated his memories to top-off their rudimentary construction of the dream double just outside the Fog, waiting to overshadow the town. Contacts from the Templars, Illuminati and the Dragon all confirm that the town is all but done for: 99% of the survivors will become Filth and likely kill the remaining 1%.

A Dream To Kill

The lullaby must never end. If the Dreamers wake, all that is... won't.
~ Emma Smith

In Issue #7, players return to Transylvania to investigate reports of unusual monsters in the area; however, the trail of clues eventually leads them on a search for Emma - and from there, into a confrontation with Lilith. After Lilith captures the unconscious test subject, she pauses just long enough to slice the players' legs off, before departing; soon after, however, the players find themselves unexpectedly healed of their wounds and drawn into Emma's mind.

As they progress through the various memories of Emma's time under Orochi confinement, players hear her informing them that "You're not dreaming: if anyone's dreaming, it's me... and them." Players soon find themselves wandering through one of her earliest recollections: being rescued from a house fire and hearing her name mispronounced as Emma by the firefighters - her real name being "Anima." To date, the rest of Anima's past remains unknown, particularly how she was first touched by Gaia, who her real parents were, or if she even lived in the house prior to its destruction. However, the preview comic for this episode may shed some light on why the house burned down in the first place: as Anima lies asleep, Filthy tentacles ooze through the corridors of the house and reach down from the ceiling to ensnare her - all while the voice of the Dreamers sing ominous lullabies to the child they're about to capture. It's not certain if the Dreamers' agents burned the house down in an attempt to kill her or if Anima tried to fight them off and sparked a fire in the process. One way or the other, the Dreamers seem very interested in the Gaia-touched girl.

The reason for this is likely the same reason why Lilith and the Orochi Group first inducted "Emma" into the Prometheus Initiative: as Lilith herself eventually reveals, the girl's powers not only opened the Breach in the Carpathians, but would have allowed her to activate the Gaia Engine - chaining the Dreamers to Lilith's will. However, Emma's escape quickly ruined those plans, forcing Lilith to improvise in her attempts to recapture her prize subject.
Filth vs Emma

"You are all made of stars!"

After awakening Emma with the knowledge of her true name, players find themselves returning to the real world - arriving in Agartha just in time to stop Lilith from making her escape; in the ensuing confrontation, Lilith is blasted back through the portal by Anima, where she decides to stay for the time being. Unfortunately, the Filth explosion in Tokyo has spread into Agartha via the portal, and the Filth pooling outside the gateway quickly forms into Filth Shades - all of them reaching out to Anima, hungrily whispering her name. Terrified, Anima asks what they could want with her, remarking that "you eat stars." Through the Shades, the Dreamers reply, "You are all made of stars!"

Teleporting away from the ravenous Filth, Anima firmly warns the player that the Gaia Engines must keep the Dreamers asleep, before mysteriously departing. However, the Filth-infestation of Agartha remains as a harrowing reminder of the Dreamers' current foothold in previously safe territory.

Reaping The Whirlwind

You... I smell the Dreaming Ones upon you. They offered you gifts. I smell your choices. Reap what you have sown. Reap what you have sown. Reap what you have sown...
~ The Nephilim

In Issue #9, players are finally sent to Tokyo: as expected, Kaidan district is almost overwhelmed by the Filth. In previous combat zones, mass conglomerations of the Filth, terminal infectees and other Dreamer-controlled entities could only be found in specific areas like the Moon Bog and the Ankh; in Kaidan, they're everywhere. More disturbingly, John is still haunting the airwaves of Tokyo, and continually reaches out to the players in the form of his own Lore entries, trying to seduce the player to the service of the Dreamers.

Following the trail of clues, players are led from the abandoned Fear Nothing Foundation headquarters to the Morninglight clubhouse, before finally winding up at the Dream Palace, a love hotel in downtown Kaidan: here, John's memories of his indoctrination have been imprinted on the hotel's A/V suite, allowing players to experience the events for themselves - despite John's best efforts. However, the memories are vague and dreamlike at best, and the lack of proper context misleads players into believing that Lilith was to blame for the Tokyo bombing.

Soon after, having decided turnabout is fair play, John invades the players' mind and begins forcibly rifling through their memories. However, when he reaches the memory of the player's encounter with Lilith in Transylvania, John panics just long enough to loosen his grip - before realizing that the player followed Lilith to Kaidan despite everything she did to them. Inspired and more than a little humbled by their courageousness, he agrees to let the players into the tower, giving them a chance to finish off Lilith once and for all.

In the following Issue, the way to Orochi Tower is opened, inciting a massive attack on the Tower by all the allied factions in Kaidan; while they hold the line at the lobby, the player ascends the tower and - after fighting their way through the defenses arranged by Samael - confronts Lilith on the balcony of the penthouse suite. However, at the last minute, players hesitate, allowing Lilith to explain the situation: despite John's best efforts to interrupt them with all the Filth-bodies at his disposal, she explains how she first met Samael, how she first became fixated on seizing the power of the Dreamers, how the Morninglight turned on her, and even a possible means of cleansing the Filth from Tokyo - though she'd need Emma and a working Gaia Engine to do so.

(TSW) The Host

The Nephilim descend

However, despite being reduced to smear of Filth across the balcony, John has the last laugh: he knew all too well that he'd never be able to kill Lilith on his own, and had only been distracting her until his backup could arrive. Moments later, the Nephilim descend from on high, surrounding Lilith: though she tries to fight back, she is quickly suppressed and bound by all seventeen of her names - including her hidden eighteenth original name. As the others slowly carry her away, the lead Nephilim turns to the players: sensing their interactions with the players and the many offers made to them, he waves a hand, telling players to "Reap what you have sown" as they lose consciousness.

When the player awakens, they find that they have been given the first true reward for their interactions with the Dreamers - an ultimate attack, during which they manifest angelic wings of pure energy; the color of the wings depends entirely on the level of allegiance shown to the Dreamers over the course of the main story arc, with darker hues indicating loyalty and brighter hues indicating disobedience.

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