The Deepest Fear is a faction that first appeared eleven years before the present day. Their emergence was no secret, nor did they make any attempt to be subtle. In fact, their presence was very pointedly made known to every intelligent mortal being, from babies newly born to those on their death beds, who was alive at the time. For on one night they all shared a dream in which they were met face-to-face with a young woman dressed in black clothes that resembled what you might see on a depiction of a god or vashta. This was Kharma, the head figure of the Deepest Fear, the greatest terror that the world had ever known. Her features were masked in unnatural shadow, the only part of her that broke the darkness was her eyes, their colors constantly in flux. Then, she spoke.
“It is time to face your fears. You all live in a world that has challenged you, that has tried to destroy you, and yet still all you can do is grovel. You wait for heroes to defeat the adversity you cannot and when all real threat is gone you act powerful by quarreling among yourselves. It is time for this cycle to end, we are coming to your realm and be assured that there is no hero that can save you from us. When a nightmare comes, all you can do is close your eyes and wait for it to end and then hold on to that feeling of relief when you awaken. Not this time. Soon, your every waking moment will be that terror. Your lives will be that moment of wishing for the panic to end and it never will. This is the fate you sewed. You have only yourselves to blame.”
For each sentence spoken, more eyes opened up from various parts of Kharma’s visage. As if to prove a point, once her message had been spoken the dream did not end. Every single person on Tertia was forced to stare into Kharma’s eyes for the entirety of the night while suffering the sensations of paralysis and lack of breath. Just the panic induced by the night of nightmare was enough to kill a tragic amount of people. Those who survived awoke to beds drenched in cold sweat.
The Deepest Fear is comprised by beings of nightmare that were born in Sleeper’s Parley. Due to the magical nature of the realm and the high concentration of collective unconscious, people’s dreams were brought to life and beings in the vein of Aberration came to be. At first it was only dreams, though very quickly beings of nightmare became occupants of the realm as well. Elma, the realm’s creator, did her best to suppress the nightmares but the collective fear of Tertia’s terrorized people proved to be much too powerful. The nightmares overwhelmed Elma and locked her mind away to play out the world’s nightmares over and over in an eternal torment.
The beings of dream created safe zones for themselves where nightmares could not enter, although they were uncertain as to how long their defenses would hold if not even Elma could stop the nightmares. So they thought of ways to escape the realm entirely, succeeding with a method that merged them with the minds of people in the mortal realm. Yet, too many of the dream folk attempted to escape at once and the nightmares ascertained their method that allowed them to get out of Sleeper’s Parley. While the dream folk only used willing minds in their departure, the nightmares forcibly took the bodies of Tertia’s people to begin their invasion.
In only eleven short years, the Deepest Fear has managed to subjugate a third of Crobayoris and turn it into an empire of terror called ‘Circadia’. Within their territory, they break the minds of people by having them act out the same, dictated day over and over again until there is no sense of self left to resist. Once that happens, their bodies become open doors for nightmares to take hold of. Once they have taken the minds of all beings in any one territory and wiped out those who resist, the people of the next country over are cursed with nightmares that make them unable to sleep at night. When their eyes burn and their minds are exhausted, the Deepest Fear invades and they have no energy left to resist. The number of nightmares that exists now is in the tens of millions and if the Deepest Fear are not stopped soon, they may be the force that finally breaks Tertia for good.
THE THING GODS FEAR – KHARMA IZAYOI
Kharma is the leader and by far most powerful member of the Deepest Fear. Awaiting deep in Circadia’s capital Id, in the very room where Gonel’s throne once rested, Kharma controls all the movements of the nightmares and is the one who allocated the hierarchy that they abide to. The case of Kharma’s manifestation is an odd and exceptional one amid her kind as she was very literally derived from the fears of a deity. When came the revelation of the existence of the true gods, one of them used Sleeper’s Parley as a platform to announce to the world their coming. This was Reyva, the goddess of space, a deity who was once a mortal. She knew mortal emotions and was more than familiar with dreams and nightmares, thus Sleeper’s Parley was able to read and remember things from her mind. From that moment onward, the knowledge of what a deity feared existed within the plane and eventually that knowledge made its way into a living entity. Kharma.
Being a nightmare made from the fear of a deity, Kharma has the means and compulsion to use her abilities against the otherwise untouchable gods. Her will isn’t necessarily to drag them down or slaughter them, what she very much wants to do is terrorize these beings who hold such high and mighty positions. What limits Kharma is her inability to travel between the planes, as of current the only domains she can viably effect are Sleeper’s Parley and the mortal realm. Although, fortunately for her, the gods quiver at the prospect of a mortal world that is wretched from their control and taken down a path of waste. Thus, she aims to turn the mortal realm into one that completely devolves into unsalvageable madness that the gods can only hopelessly look upon as it self-destructs. Then, to have those mortals die and bring their nightmares with them to the afterlife realms as well.
The opportunity that the gods have recently proclaimed to join their ranks is only a means to speed up this process. She has no doubt that if she wishes to win such a contest that the deepest fear could do so effortlessly. What they have done is, in her mind, no different than welcoming their own insanity into their arms. Even if it is bait to draw her in, Kharma is confident that if the gods meet her face-to-face then she will have already won.
‘THE GREAT UNKNOWN’ SUNGELT
Sungelt represents people’s fear of the cosmos and everything that derives from that. The fear of the great unknown and the fear of feeling insignificant compared to the full grandness of the universe. To be in the presence of Sungelt is to feel the smallness of your very being, simply by staring at him you see yourself as the tiny collection of atoms you are. Sungelt, on the other hand, is a being beyond comprehension. His personality, his motives, his power; they are beyond anything your tiny mind can imagine. He is the manifestation of something truly overwhelming, more powerful than several of the other candidates for godhood. When Sungelt eradicates a town or city, the people of those places simply must accept the futility of the lives they lived there. Sungelt is a truly unstoppable force, the only one more imposing than him being Kharma herself.
His role within the Deepest Fear comes down to one thing; a show of absolute dominance. Places that stubbornly resist or get in the way of the Deepest Fear’s spread are faced with the punishment of having Sungelt sent towards them. When he reaches the chosen settlement, he burns it and its inhabitants with heat so harsh that it removes any indication that they ever existed. Not even ruins remain in Sungelt’s wake, only a crater where once something insignificant was.
APHEN ‘THE HOPE’
Aphen represents fear of the dark, of the unknown and aspects associated with these things. There are many reasons why one might come to fear the dark; perhaps they were children who were abused and then locked away in a dark room so that no one would have to look at them. Maybe they’ve heard the countless stories of people being killed and kidnapped and raped in the night, maybe they were the people in those stories. Maybe it’s just the paranoia that comes with not knowing what’s two steps in front of you. Or maybe it’s something silly, like the existence of a make-believe monster. The only difference with Aphen is that it isn’t make believe.
When Aphen came to the world, they claimed to be the modern incarnation of a long lost godlike figure known as ‘The Hope’. Followers of the Hope have been a stubborn breed that have survived through millennia of religious strife, claims of divinity and catastrophe. These followers believe Aphen to be the long awaited coming, the true incarnation of the Hope and the answer to their prayers. Even though Aphen is a nightmare, they share their power with these followers and claim to show them the way of the light. However, those empowered followers have become reliant on Aphen’s guidance. They have come to need the light and have developed a crippling fear of the dark, making Aphen all the most powerful. The Deepest Fear uses these willing followers, choosing not to hollow their minds to be taken over. Since they aren’t nightmares, they can more easily infiltrate and gather information about areas outside of the Deepest Fear’s territories. Then they return, hoping that their tasks will be rewarded by the guiding light that is their Hope, Aphen.
Drudoll represents the fear of the inhuman. They draw from a concept that doesn’t necessarily make people cripplingly horrified, the place in the uncanny valley that people find just disturbing. Things that resemble the ‘correct’ but are just off enough to be creepy. The most terror that Drudoll feeds from is the moment when these disturbing things move, the point at which they shift from just unnerving to threatening.
Drudoll is considered to be one of the purest forms of a ‘nightmare’. Drudoll emits a sense of threat that forces you to need to run away from and escape from them, even if you don’t understand why. Then they’re that heavy feeling in your legs when you just can’t move, you can’t run no matter how hard you try. They are that despair when you hear a knocking or footsteps in your house when you’re meant to be alone. If any member of the Deepest Fear would be called the bogeyman, it would be Drudoll.
Drudoll’s attribute of nightmare allows them the ability to shape-shift as they wish, thus his role in the Deepest Fear usually has him acting as a spy whose aim is to gain information on figures who could pose a possibly threat to the Deepest Fear’s advance. If the threat is confirmed, Drudoll becomes an assassin who either kidnaps the figure to become a powerful, new host or kills them if that is impossible.
Dullahenge represents fears which are tied to certain locations and places. Trauma associated with specific scenes are the main source of his power but fear of generic small or wide-open areas also apply. They are claustrophobia and the feelings of stress and anxiety when it comes to certain locations or situations.
Dullahenge’s manifestation is heavily reliant on traumatic experiences, often through some kind of abuse. They come from people who have been locked up in dank and dirty prisons, maybe even unjustly, and forced to let the life they should have had slowly decay away. People who have been raped and left with their mind shut off, Dullahenge is that feeling of trying to escape from somewhere or something through pure numbness. People who have been trapped in basements and beaten, tortured; just used as a punching bag for some kind of sick sadist.
Dullahenge is particularly special due to their ability to walk between Tertia’s various planes freely. They scout out these different planes and determine the threat that they could pose to the Deepest Fear. Dullahenge will often infiltrate the minds of those researching the planes and warp their perception with horrible images, prompting the researchers to stop their work. His highest priority targets are those who research Sleeper’s Parley in hopes of finding a weakness in the nightmares or even worse finding a way to banish them. If the researchers don’t abstain from their actions, Dullahenge manifests and makes a horrific display of them as an example of what happens when they stick their noses in too deep. Dullahenge is an assurance that no outside factors will get in the way of the Deepest Fear’s spread and that nothing from the other planes can be used against them.
Adira is an odd case among the Deepest Fear. Rather than being a manifestation of fear who forcibly took over a body, he is a druid who purposely channeled a being of nightmare. What this being represents are fears that stem from nature; fear of its deadly monsters and creatures, fear of natural disasters and even fear of water. As of current, Adira is in full control of the nightmare.
He is one of the sage druids and is tasked with warding off great calamities that would hurt the world and its nature. After joining the Deepest Fear, the state of his morals is left grey as it is unsure whether his allegiance is genuine or just a ruse to keep an eye on the threat that the nightmares pose. If so, he is in an extremely dangerous situation and is always at full risk of being eradicated by the nightmares that surround him. The other sages believe that it may be a form of martyrdom, an attempt to briefly slow the panic that is encroaching upon the world.
For now, he plays to his role of fulfilling tasks for Kharma and the government of nightmares. His specialized task is to hunt down the stragglers after each of the Deepest Fear’s invasions. Once all of the settlements have been secured, there are always those who run into the trees and forests and others who hide in caves in an attempt to evade capture. Adira, a specialist in nature and tracking, rounds them up so that more bodies can be offered to the nightmares. Whether he is true to his task and captures all that he finds or if he lets people go is uncertain. What is known is that his mental state is not that of someone who has gone mad. Adira’s endgame is clouded, though if he has truly consigned himself to the Deepest Fear’s takeover then he only makes their forces all the more threatening.
Szuvix represents fears of blood, injury and disease. Taking wounds, objects that can do harm such as blades or needles, seeing blood and aversion to medical appointments are his domain. Even just the body’s natural reaction to recoil from pain fuels him.
Szuvix is one of the more infamous members of the Deepest Fear for often appearing on the front lines of battle when the nightmares decide to expand their territory. He relishes in the pain and despair, every wound making him stronger and, for his enemies, seemingly more invincible. Szuvix is also tasked with personal ‘house calls’ in territories the Deepest Fear has precedence over, going into homes of citizens with the sole purpose of breaking their minds. No nightmare knows pain better that Szuvix, so he acts as an interrogator and torturer as well if need be. Although this is mostly for fun, since nightmares can learn what they need directly from the mind anyways.
Marzena represents a fear of loss of control. The worry that if you aren’t able to control future events then something terrible will happen. A fear that your life is not your own and is just being used by others, in a lesser or greater sense. Marzena also draws from fears of losing sensation or physical control of one’s own body. She is the thing that manifests during sleep paralysis, the demon that dances around your immobile body.
Marzena’s appearance is usually preceded by a supernatural feeling of despair. Something inexplicable and so sudden you probably wouldn’t even bring it up to your friends; but you all felt it. Marzena’s tasks typically involve going outside of Deepest Fear territory to find and bring back certain individuals. Her abilities can make people rather complacent to her commands for if her magic takes effect then your mind and thoughts are no longer your own. She makes you feel like that was always your fate, no matter what you did or where you went you would have ended up under her control. She is one of the most well suited for emptying out one’s head to make way for a new nightmare to manifest.
Gayaom represents the fear of the insurmountable. He is the fear felt when a person faces down a monster ten times their size, the fear that protects people from getting in over their heads but stops them from wanting to tackle any task they perceive as impossible. In a lesser sense, Gayaom also represents the fear of not being good enough.
Gayaom is a war beast of a nightmare, not bearing a lot of the more abstract and subtle fear carried by his peers. He is terrifying through raw power and could be thought of as a lesser Sungelt. Gayaom takes up the front lines of the Deepest Fear’s battles alongside Szuvix as a massive beast that crushes both bones and morale. An almost wild creature with no qualms as to eradicating your life. Most give up and accept their deaths before Gayaom hits them even once.
Qhaggyado represents the universe’s mundane fears. Irrational fears of spiders or heights, or aversions to regular objects like buttons. Fears that aren’t innately threatening but exist everywhere.
Qhaggyado is the weakest of the Deepest Fear’s key members and acts as more of an information gatherer rather than a fighter. Although this does not mean he is to be underestimated, Qhaggyado can still manifest fear in such ways to create swarms of skin-devouring insects and make people terrified of falls that are just a few feet. Qhaggyado himself stays in the background, watching how people act and react and gathering knowledge for the rest of the nightmares to use. As with the fears he represents, he could be anywhere and make no mistake, he’s just as capable of killing as the rest of his kin.