The Peril of Sleep (Sanctuary's Lot Supplement)
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The Peril of Sleep
Sleep is not safe. It has not been in more than 4000 years. All creatures that dream in sleep must cross The Verge of Dreams. Since the Visitation began and the Verge was transformed, every night a sleeper enters dreams there is chance they will suffer the Peril of Sleep.
If it is experienced, the Peril most often manifests as either a sleepless night, nightmares, or severe headaches on waking. Even those minor symptoms are relatively rare. But they are not the only manifestations. Rarely, the sleeper will wake with lost or changed memories. Sometimes the Peril will trap the sleeper in dreams, locking them in a coma that could last days, weeks, or even years. More uncommon still, one of the unquiet spirits from the Verge will try to take hold of the sleeper; haunting their dreams, or (extremely rarely) take full possession of the dreamer upon awakening.
It is in this last case, when a spirit from the Verge bonds with a mortal creature, that a new sort of being is created. Some are abominable, true horrors, others, extraordinary in their strangeness. From this union came creatures the people of the first kingdoms called the Duhl Oemenni. Spirit people, blessed and cursed by the threshold of dreams, of whom the sovereigns of dawn are but one example.
The Peril of Sleep also affects the recently deceased, with spirits from the Verge using the departed soul as a tether, drawing them back to the body if it was not properly consecrated. When this occurs, only unabated horror results.
The Mark of Sanctuary
Long ago, before even the first kingdom, the people of the post-visitation world discovered a way to obviate this menace, and the solution was found in none other than the world’s savior, Sanctuary, and in its allied dream gods. A creature sleeping near a symbol of Sanctuary is entirely protected from the Peril of Sleep. The original Fenestra Church was formed explicitly to grant sleepers shelter in dreams and the dead safe passage through the Verge and the Dream onto their final rest. Over time, people inscribed some variation of Sanctuary’s Mark nearly everywhere. On the cornerstones of buildings, on designs sewn clothing (especially sleepwear), over doorways to bedrooms, and on the people themselves. All the faiths that branched from the original Fenestra Church (particularly The Fenestra Orthodox Church, The Mellorite Fenestra Church, and the Ameliorated Church of Lucana) have rituals to protect sleeping children and to permanently secure adults.
The later invariably means receiving a small tattoo of Sanctuary’s Mark on the back of the neck or the left of the base of neck on one’s back. Though the mark could appear anywhere on a person’s body, on an item nearby, or in a prominent place in the room, and it will work without fail. It is usually assumed that priests have consecrated every dwelling in every city, town, and village with Sanctuary’s Blessing.
The Mark of Rune
There are two noteworthy exceptions to the use of Sanctuary’s sigil as a ward against the Peril. The first of these is employed by the adherents of the Illuster Sacellum. Venerating Rune to the exclusion of all other powers, they considered invoking the name of another to be insupportable. They use, instead, a specific variant of Rune’s solar chalice insignia.
Rune’s symbol is used in much the same way as Sanctuary’s, but in function, it is a bit different.
It too will protect from Sleep’s Peril, by only for those in good standing with the faith. Further, it will not protect dreamers from those spirits Rune chooses to manifest in this world. Thus, even more sovereigns of dawn appear amongst the faithful.
The Bridge of Aniath and Aajil
This curious symbol is another alternative to the Mark of Sanctuary. Associated with Celebrants Beneath Braced Skies and the First Advent Churches, this character imparts many of the same protections as the Mark of Sanctuary with a few anomalies. First, it seems to make those under its protection more vulnerable to influence by the gods of the dark, particularly the Violet Emperor and Aajil. Secondly, while the mark of Sanctuary can be drawn on a corpse to prevent it from rising as an undead, the Bridge has no such property. Indeed, the Illuster Sacellum claim it makes the occurrence of undeath more probable (though this last assertion has yet to be proven one way or the other).