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Beyond the mirror and beneath the Veil of Ash lies the quiet, slumbering realm of Somnus, the Otherspace of tired memories and dying reflections.
Somnus is a cold, desolate world, a tired mirror of our own. The air here is chill, not cold enough to be biting, but enough to wear warmth away slowly and steadily, and erode the spirit as well. All plants and trees in Somnus are leafless, almost skeletal. Signs are worn down and incomprehensible. There are no cars here, just empty roads. And the roads always end abruptly right outside of town, leading right up to the edge of the chasm which seems to surround the town completely. Thick fog obscures the view around the town's edge, and it's impossible to know if there's something on the other side of the chasm.
Time remains at a standstill here, an endless gray of an overcast day, without cheer or hope, only emptiness.
The Veil of Ash is the name travelers have given to the rolling, slumbering clouds covering this tired world. Ash falls endlessly from these clouds, falling gently like snow, but it seldom piles up more than a foot or two. Every few minutes lightning faintly flickers from the Veil's depths, and even the accompanying thunder rumbles weakly, as if tired and without purpose. Apart from the faint rumbling overhead, Somnus is eerily quiet, adding to the lonely atmosphere.
The buildings in Somnus mirror those of our own world, but seem old and worn, and provide little shelter from the cold. Most buildings in Somnus are empty, with the exception of rooms containing mirrors. There's furniture in these rooms, uncomfortable rusty metal frames covered in dusty white sheets. The mirrors themselves reflect weakly, and if you put your ear to one of them and listen hard enough, you just might be able to hear whispers from the other side.
The quiet, tired atmosphere of Somnus quickly begins to affect its visitors. Every two hours spent here requires an isolation check, rank depending on how few people you brought along. Every additional day spent in Somnus raises the check by one rank.
Sleeping in Somnus
While traveling through Somnus, fatigue is quick to set in, and despite the chill conditions and uncomfortable furniture (or lack thereof), sleep comes surprisingly easy. As one begins to drift off, one becomes numb, unfeeling, and falls into a dreamless sleep. Every hour of sleep drains 2 point of Soul, 4 if the sleeper fell asleep in the ashen drifts. A successful Soul roll at a -20% shift is required to awaken (if you wish to); you're completely comatose during your sleep, and can't be awakened by any outside means. Those who sleep until their Soul reaches zero are slowly covered in drifting ash, and once covered turn to ash themselves. However, if one does manage to awaken, one gain 1 hit point for every hour slept. Lost Soul points do not start to return until one leaves this bleak place.
Somnus's appearance is desolate and empty, and rightfully so: Somnus is the graveyard for forgotten reflections, a lonely resting place for those reality forgot.
Unreflected who finally give in to their loneliness and give up their will to continue are pulled to this place, and wander the empty streets until the fatigue becomes too much. These tired reflections finally let their worries and cares go free, curl up into the ashen drifts and let the soft flakes cover them like a comforter. Some say the Veil opens for them, and they find peace at last. Others believe reality simply wipes them out of existence, snuffing them out forever like a candle flame. The only thing known for certain is that once an Unreflected is completely covered in the falling ash, nothing but ash is left where they once lay down.
The Unreflected pose no threat to visitors, and though they are visible, they cannot sense or interact with anyone. To those passing through Somnus, the Unreflected are like ghosts, transparent, pale, and devoid of substance.
There are other...things...however, which stalk Somnus's empty streets. Shatterfreaks, walking abominations of jagged glass shards, haunt this Otherspace as they stalk their prey through cold mirrors.
They are intruders in this normally somber place, and their suffering and rage scar the atmosphere. Lightning dances in the clouds more frequently when a Shatterfreak is nearby, and the very light seems to dim. The air grows even more chill, biting, and yet pale, phantasmal flames seem to ignite and cover the surroundings. These flames emit no heat, only flicker unnaturally slow. However, passing through these flames burns one with the rage and loneliness which festers within the Shatterfreak, prompting a violence or isolation check of rank-4 or greater. Shatterfreak are very dangerous, but are thankfully rare, and are seldom seen. Chances of encountering a Shatterfreak during a trip through Somnus are usually less than 10%. No one has ever encountered multiple Shatterfreaks at once, nor is it know how they would interact, if at all.
All Who Wander 2 minor charges
To enter Somnus, you need a mirror large enough so you can lay down completely on the glass. You will need to lay this mirror flat on the floor. You will also need two pennies minted the year of your birth. Lastly you will need to prepare a mixture of the following:
1. Water from melted snow, collected on an overcast day from a place where there is no living person (except yourself) in a 10-mile diameter. The return trip must be made in absolute silence.
2. Tears of sorrow from an alzheimer's patient who has lost children but cannot remember their names.
3. A pinch of ashes from a cremated child with no family left to mourn.
The mixture must be placed in an old-looking crystal vial.
On an overcast day, with this mixture in hand, stand over (but not on) the mirror, and close your eyes. In silence, trickle a small stream of the mixture upon the mirror. Turn around, and place the pennies over your eyes, face up (but no peeking!). Anoint your forehead with the water, spread your arms, whisper "I still remember you" in the native tongue of the cremated child, and let yourself fall backward toward the mirror (without trying to catch yourself), spending your charges.
If the entry ritual works, you should land in a small pile of ash, in a cold, empty room which mirrors your own.
The mirror you use to enter Somnus has no counterpart in Somnus itself.
You can only leave Somnus through a mirror, positioned in a room so you can see your entire reflection. First, coat the entire surface of the mirror with the mixture. Then, rub the two pennies with ash collected mid-fall from Somnus's skies. Once more, anoint your forehead with the water, say "if only I could forget", once more in the native tongue of the cremated child, and throw the pennies at the mirror.
The room will seem to shatter, and you (and anyone else in the room) should be returned to the room's equivalent in the real world.
Those witnessing your entrance will see the corresponding mirror shatter, then see you and your party appear out of nowhere. The pieces of the shattered mirror have changed from glass to ice, and melt quickly. The pennies are nowhere to be found.
Of course, because every city or town in Somnus is surrounded by an impassable chasm, you can only use Somnus as a means to travel within your own city.
Other ways to use the mirrors in Somnus
If you coat one of Somnus's mirrors with the mixture, and add ash collected from the drifts outside, you can faintly hear the voices of the reflected room's real-world occupants.
There are rumors that you can use the mirrors to see into the real-world as well...
What you hear...
Leonard Ashe swears that if you look deep within the Veil of Ash as lightning flashes, you just might see winged silhouettes, almost human in shape, circling like vultures.
So... it's an incredibly dangerous and difficult to get to way of maybe spying but a decent way of getting past security, if you can avoid the killer mirrors. At first I thought it was also a way you could rescue an Unreflected if, somehow, you knew (irrationally or not) that someone was missing from your life. That you were supposed to have a boyfriend by now or a child or a wife and you don't, but you can't remember why... but it's not.
Well now, that's up to you. I pretty much wanted to describe the place, capture the feeling, and provide some of the more well-known info about Somnus, but I didn't want to cover everything. The way I see it, everyone has their own take on these ideas, and sometimes an incomplete canvas can provide the most inspiration.