“What...no, it can't be… Freneskae?” Ptolemos' words reverberated all around him, slicing through the silent air like dragon metal through flesh. It scared him. “This is...impossible? No... No!”
Fiery smoke erupted from Ptolemos' hand and struck the ground before him—or so he thought. Looking again, he saw the smoke hadn't struck the ground at all but hovered over the ground. As if feeling his gaze upon it, it condensed into a ball of smoke before rocketing off into the turbulent sky above and vanishing.
That wasn't right.
“None of this is right,” he mused. “I shouldn't be here. Think, Ptolemos. Think.” His attempts to concentrate and remember, however, were fruitless. He couldn't think clearly in this environment.
Without warning, everything around him started to spin. He fell forward and slammed onto the ground. His mind didn't properly register the pain that shot through him as raw slate bit into his flesh.
His eyes tried to fix on his outreached hand but they encountered some kind of resistance. Why was it so hard to focus, he wondered? Ptolemos fought for several minutes before the opposing force relented. He rejoiced at this small victory. Immediately afterward, upon seeing his hand, Ptolemos recoiled in shock.
He had flesh; its dark brown pearlescence stood out against the earth below where already blood from his cuts slowly pooled. Ptolemos' gaze slowly dropped to his visage reflected in the blood: red eyes looked back at him beneath striped skin-folds. It was not only a haunting sight...
It was him—rejuvenated!
A clay golem’s clubbed arm caught him in his throat. The ferocity of its attack hurled him through the wreckage of a bazaar, over a demolished kiln, and into a rubble-strewn street. Dazed, Ptolemos righted himself, and after spitting out the blood welling in his mouth, gaped at his surroundings. “The city of Uzer,” he mouthed, numbed. “But I was…” His thoughts failed him. Instead, he could only watch as his assailant lumbered toward him with the grace of a lame duck.
What the clay golem lacked in speed, however, it made up in strength. Stopping a few yards away, the construct bent down and hoisted a slab of wrecked stone from the street. It promptly lobbed the slab at the bewildered Ptolemos, who had just enough sense to erect a magical ward before it struck him. The slab shattered and showered him with dust and debris. Staggered, he straining to see through the cloud that obscured his vision.
A rounded clay fist parted the cloud of dust and caught him square in the jaw. He reeled from the blow but was prepared this time. Even as he fell, Ptolemos issued out a torrent of air that effectively cushioned his impact with the ground. In the same movement, he twisted his body to face the construct and released a miasma of pestilence towards it.
The clay golem was immediately engulfed by the sickly green cloud and lurched backward. It began to corrode its exterior at alarming rate, until only a mound of powdered clay was left. Ptolemos stood and wiped the blood from his lips. He prided himself with this victory.
A cacophony of victory cries resounded in the sky above him. He looked up and witnessed hordes of demons soaring through the clouds, spreading their message: the siege was a success! The city of Uzer was now under the Elder Demon Thammaron’s domain! Ptolemos was ecstatic. His confusion momentarily forgotten, Ptolemos raised his voice and prepared to joining with the victory cries.
A concussion resonated throughout the city, followed by a bright flash of light. The shockwave threw Ptolemos off his feet and sent him slamming into a wall. He couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. An intense wave of heat washed over him, setting his robes aflame. He heard screams—screams of pain, of death, of suffering. Above them all, though, he heard the tortuous laughter of a vengeful spirit, one whose lust for revenge could never be sated.
Only after he felt his skin peel off, after his bones cracked and splintered, did Ptolemos realize that the screams he heard were in fact, his own...
Pure, unadulterated fear shot through him. His arms shook and trembled, his shoulders slackened in stunned disbelief, and his legs became jelly. If it were not for the binding magic that supported him—held him—Ptolemos would have surely fallen.He didn't feel any of this, however, not even the fierce cold air biting at his exposed skin. He was too absorbed on the thing in front of him.
The Ritual marker.
Unconsciously, his eyes flashed upward: the syzygy was fast approaching. It would only be a few minutes before…
“You can’t! I deserve more than this!” His cries fell on deaf ears.
The Dreams were arranged in a half circle around him, their faces smeared and indecipherable. Someone mimicked his plea in a high pitched voice eliciting cruel laughter from the rest. One voice rose as the others fell away. “You deserve nothing, Zamorakian filth!” More laughs. “You’re a joke, Ptolemos! Our kind will be better off without you!”
“You'll regret this,” he shouted in return, his voice trembled, seething with anger. “The void cannot contain me!” Only silence answered. He felt it as the others had.
It was time.
The ritual site was engulfed in a dark energy that coalesced around the Dreams. They struck him simultaneously, and although Ptolemos tried to fight his restraints, it was pointless. He could feel them leeching away his life essence. His felt his power sagging away, lost to those around him.
It was over within a matter of seconds; the ritual culminated with a silent chorus. Ptolemos felt his body rupture and the wave of power—his power—abandon him. His vision grew dim as his mind slipped into darkness… His last thoughts were of his homeworld.
Ptolemos blinked. His reflection stared back at him, its expression taut. What color there was drained from his face. He was having trouble concentrating again as his mind reeled from the horrors he just experienced. Or had he? They felt so real...
"Snap out of it," Ptolemos said aloud. "You must focus." He tore his gaze from the pool of blood and examined his environs. It was definitely Freneskae. No Dream born there could ever forget it. And if they did, Ptolemos told himself, they were no true Dream.
As Ptolemos got back onto his feet, unbidden memories of his time on Freneskae came to mind. He faltered beneath their weight and the intense rush of emotions that followed. Images of the hellish landscape appeared, broken only by unfamiliar scenes and faces. He couldn't make out much; they were all fractured and hazy. It reminded him of a cracked and cloudy crystal ball.
Pressure started to build up in the center of his forehead. It was firm and wouldn't yield. It quickly reached the point where he couldn't endure it anymore. Clutching his head, Ptolemos screamed.
All at once, the pressure was gone. A strange calm descended over him. He recalled everything now. Letting go of his head, Ptolemos gazed about. The corners of his mouth twitched.
Ptolemos burst out laughing.