Nindra, the Dreaming Cage

It's as good a place for a last stand as any, wouldn't you say?  
Matak Ite, first of the Five
  Once a minor outpost for explorers and settlers that sought to brave the further reaches of Patala, Nindra has become the center of a desperate struggle for survival. After the Plague of Dreams nearly drove humanity out of Patala, a small group of survivors and fighters made Nindra their home and fortress, knowing that the plague and the thought-eating shrikes would come again.   Today, it is a busy hub of roughly a hundred souls, where minds are sharpened into blades and made ready to battle nightmares.    

Geography

Is it a fortress, or a cage? Well, why can't it be both?  
Astor Bata, the Fourth of the Five
Nindra is situated on a crossing of canyon tunnels in Patala's grey halls, clustered around an oasis of water and mushroom. The large, waist deep pool at the heart of Nindra is ringed with a heavy coat of fungi and patches of mushrooms, with algae and weeds coating its floor. Small, make-shift farms and gardens form another ring around that, with chiseled channels siphoning water to the growing crops. It is wet and humid, with the heavy smell of mushroom and wet stone.   As Nindra grows, homes, shopes, and forges have spilled out from the central caverns into the tunnels around it, with maybe half of Nindra living within the oasis and the rest around it.  
Though the foes they prepare for are otherworldly, each tunnel ends with a barricade and sentry post. There are many hungry things lurking in Patala's dark.
 
by Midjourney
Though small, Nindra's center is well organized along the lines of a military or expedition camp, divided into sections for housing, industry, storage, and an isolated cavern for medical treatment. Out in the tunnels, this semblence of order evaporates, and people settle or build where they find the space.   The communal grounds, affectionally called the square for the rectangular boundry carved into the stone, is the heart of most decision-making in Nindra. It is where the leaders of the settlement meet, matters are discussed, and decisions made - not to mention where feasts, games, and general revelry is held, with regular competitions of wrestling, fighting, and Thunk.
At the far east end of central cavern, a small tunnel leads to a long, dead-end drop filled with filth-eating fungi that Nindra use for dumping garbage and waste, tended to by whoever lost the bet that week.
  Through a hidden path only a short journey away lies Nindra's greatest treasure and its most useful training grounds - the Singing Pit. An ancient monument of the folk who once called Patala home, it is a great pit with a web of Thought-Metal at the bottom. Such a concentration of thought-metal has made reality fuzzy there, a place where perception matters as much as reality. Here, would-be Dream-Eaters meditate and train to hone their dream-killing skills, and here they face Shrikes in mortal combat to become a true Dream-Eater.  
The Singing Pit
Building / Landmark | Jul 27, 2022

There, in the darkness, surrounded by singing metal and dreaming choir, the brave and foolish train and experiment with ways to fight within their own dreams.

 

Against the Tide of Extinction

I've seen the bones of those who came before us. We'll join them, if we don't do something to change it.  
In the wake of the Plague of Dreams, most of Patala were keen to put the affair behind them before the corpses had even cooler. Others, especially those who had faced the Shrikes at the heart of their power, knew that the carnage had only been the beginning. Predators had caught the scent of blood now, and would not give it up.  
Lead by Aldara the Dream-Eater, the first to challenge a Shrike within their slumber and best them, and the the Fearless Five, Nindra was transformed. From step on the road for wanderers, Nindra became a training ground for those who saw the coming danger and decided to fight.   Along with its handful of original inhabitants, Nindra is almost entirely populated by well-meaning or well-paid volunteers. Most are survivors from the plague, scarred by the Shrikes attack and fearing what will come next. Others are Kaia, unable to resist the lure of yet another unexplored horizon, while a few are eccentrics. Some are just mercenaries, rarely participating in the dream-eating training or battles, but keeping Nindra safe of more everyday terrors.
Though usually united by a common purpose and terrors suffered together, some in Nindra have their own reasons to be there. A famed Cadaverurgist from far-away Dhanû, Akullur sees not unearthly terrors or the treat of extinction in the Shrike but, as she puts, it 'novel, raw material.'
  Though far from wealthy, Nindra receives support from survivors of the plague and some of the Merchant-Prince that rule Vicitra. Chief among them in both amount and eyebrows raised is Muradov the Merciless, a tyrannical merchant-prince who has seen fit to support the dream-eaters and their home to a degree many other find suspicious.
Patala, the Descent   Nindra is a flickering light in the unknown dark of the recently discovered Patala region. A cavernous realm of great, winding canyon halls and abyssal descents into further darkness, it is home to horror and wonder in equal measure.   As nightmares gather again in the shadows to extinguish humanity's light within Patala, the people of Nindra race to prevent it.   Read More About Patala
by Midjourney

Shrikes

Nightmarish moth-like creatures, Shrikes live within the thoughts and dreams of mortal minds. Awoken again from an ageless slumber by humanity's renewed presence in its realm, the Shrikes threaten to devour every mind there, as they may well have done before.   These are the foes that Nindra were established to fight, no matter how impossible the task might seem.  
Shrikes, the Thought-Eaters
Species | Jul 28, 2022

Hungry things that live in the gaps and shadows of the human mind, dwelling and feasting and spreading through fear.

 
by Midjourney

Plague of Dreams

It began as a rash of collective dreams, where the sleeping mind in the city of Vicitra began share the same dreamscape, night after night. There, unguarded and unsure, secrets were unearthed, illicit affairs and schemes exposed. It didn't take long for violence to follow, and with the blood came the Shrikes.   The Plague of Dreams wracked Vicitra and pushed it to the edge of extinction. Even now, there are parts of the city that lie empty and abandoned, the blood dried and corpses unclaimed. Shrikes still haunt the nightmares of the wounded city, and people find their throughts slip away in the night, gnawed from their mind by lurking Shrikes.  
Plague of Dreams
Military Conflict | Jul 26, 2022

A plague of collective dreams that soon turned into a living nightmares and invited monsters into the minds of every dreamer afflicted by the Plague.

 
For the leadership of Nindra, it isn't a question of if the plague might strike again, but when.
 
The intent and training of the dream-eaters in Nindra have begun to change the camp. The edges of dreams here have become indistinct, blurring close to each other, and sometimes causing dreamers to slip into the slumber of another. There are things in the shadows that even Shrikes fear, caught only in glimpses or in the reflection of the tranquil pool of water. Something is changing about those who live in Nindra, with a growing sense that they stand at the precipice of something great and terrible - something that mankind may never have seen before... Or maybe it has, and the charnel pits of Patala is all that they left behind.



Cover image: by Hanhula / Midjourney

Comments

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23 Jul, 2022 17:03

I'm scared!! :0

26 Aug, 2022 14:02

Just as planned! :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
28 Jul, 2022 14:21

Well. That is very ominous... XD I wouldn't imagine that living so close to the singing pit is good for anyone's health anyway XD And all of your articles are actually making me like Muradov XD I don't want him to be betrayed now!

To see what I am up to:WE list of articles and goals.
26 Aug, 2022 14:03

Mwhahaha!   Thank you :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
25 Aug, 2022 20:10

I love the mental imagery of this settlement built around an oasis like this, it's a really striking concept! The excellent way you describe the layout and the way it's used and populated really bring it to life. And I especially love the way you wove a change towards a settlement built for warriors and those training to become them :D


Cathedris, the world of God-husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
26 Aug, 2022 14:33

Thank you! <3


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.