The Dreamlands are conjectured to be a shadow realm of Earth, only reachable in dream.
Beyond The Gate of the Silver Key: A slim young woman, her hair a blaze of ebon light, walked among towering granite peaks. The valley was barren and empty, littered only with tall dark gray obelisks. Each tall stone was graven with many images and signs, but the woman ignored them, her deep brown eyes searching the ground. In time, she found what she was seeking, hiding in the shadow of a menhir. A flute of silver lay among the flat stones, glittering like rushing water. She picked it up, smiling a cold and dreadful smile. In her hands, it became more solid, losing some of its translucent quality.
There you are! The woman tucked it away in her dress of gold and samite. Now she turned to retrace her steps, but something caught her eye. Beyond the last of the obelisks, around a curve of the valley walls, a city nestled between twin mountains, wreathed in storm cloud. The city walls gleamed, as if with gold and pearl, and the domes and minarets and windows of that city were very fair. Almost against her will, the woman's steps turned that way and she descended a long series of stone steps to reach a vale of green woods and lithe willows.
She came to a gate, set in high gray walls, and looked upon the keystone there, seeing that it was named Akariel in the old tongue. Beyond the gate house, the streets were filled with brightly attired people, and music and the sound of laughter and running water. The woman yearned to enter, but as she made to cross the threshold, the flute at her breast trilled, a warning sound, urgent and shrill.
The woman stepped back, startled, and the bright vision of happiness was gone. Only bones, cracked skulls and the stench of rotten meat filled the streets of Thalarion. Swiftly, the woman ran away from those accursed walls. High on the Endless Stair, she turned, eyes narrowed, and looked back upon the walls of the accursed city. Something was there, like an inkstain of utter darkness on the face of the world, surrounded by a fringe of sulfur yellow, looking back at her from the parapet of the city. The woman felt a chill, colder than the Ice itself, knowing that her enemy had revealed himself.
The thing on the battlement raised a jaunty hand in greeting. Darkness boiled behind the Yellow Mask and the sky began to change, the slate gray clouds turning a sickly green.
The woman raised the flute to her lips and blew, a gentle trill, barely a breath, only the smallest noise, and wind rushed around her in a mighty gale. The storm rolled down off of the peaks of Throk, the air quaking with deep thunder and the flash of lightning. Zephyrs, swift and strong, snatched up the young woman and whirled her far far away from Dead Thalarion and into safety.
Editor's Note: The woman is Oniko, the Pale Flame.