As noted previously, Familials are descended from Originals, the humans who come from the waking world. A person could hypothetically be of pure earthborn blood, but this is extremely rare, as it requires two Originals or pureblooded to mate. Such may occur from time to time, but becomes even less likely over generations. Nearly all Familials also descend from dreamborn people, too. Familials are the most common sort of the Oneira.
To be an Oneira, a Familial must be more than 50% earth descent. This can be a tiny fraction over half, though, so more than one Familial has been born of an Original and somebody with a scant trace of real world heritage. Originals are rare, and only occasionally come through into the dream world. Regardless, this has been happening for thousands of years, perhaps even millions, and there are many inhabitants of the dream realm with earth blood.
Over the ages, Oneira found one another, and learned much of their own kind. Some determined that stronger concentration of earth blood led to the birth of Oneira, while weaker blood did not. This led to the intentional forming of bloodlines of the dream-empowered in a manner not unlike classic nobility striving to keep their power intact by marriages of convenience.
Some families are particularly old and powerful, such as the XX (make up name) Dynasty of Middle Kingdom China and the XX (make up name) whose descendants still reside in Egypt. Other familials are the children of a single household boasting two relatively strongly blooded familials, or perhaps even an Original and her thin-blooded husband.
The Gennadi of Gelsostrada
In 1896, Stefano Gennadi traveled from his home in Italy hoping to join the thousands of immigrants entering America. During his medical exam on Ellis Island, he was turned away. Back home, in Italy, he was ashamed, but he would hungrily consume the stories of the ritornati, those men who came back to Italy after a few years. His dream of America consumed him, and one afternoon he awoke from a wine-fed nap to find himself on the patio of a small restaurant in New York. Stefano was confused, but discovered that this was a dream from which he would never awaken. With little to guide him but stories, he set out to make a name for himself in the City That Never Sleeps. Accidentally discovered tricks of Oneira dreaming bolstered his forays into criminal racketeering, gambling, and prostitution rings. He married a stunning woman who gift him with many dreamer children.
Calling the Gennadi a Mafia family is like calling Detroit the Motor City. It may have been true in the past, but the world has changed. The underworld of the dream realm still experienced the diaspora of the Mafia into places like Las Vegas, but the continuing influx of dreams of the mob, often flamed by ridiculous Hollywood imagery, left a chaotic environment where the family has had to fight to survive long after most real world old school mobsters have “gone legit” to some degree or other.
Stefano no longer lives, but his family tries to keep his dreams alive. The Gelsostrada estate lies in the suburbs of New York City nowadays, but its children still flex muscle amongst the Gambino wannabes of the city streets.
Phantasms are beings created via the dreams of real world dreamers or those of the Oneira. Many exist only for a short time, spawned within the scope of a single dream, and lost to time as the dream world moves on to other dreams. Such beings may suddenly disappear when the dreamer awakes, but more often fade in some manner that makes sense. An abandoned phantasm might last long enough to round a corner, and be gone. Another might return to its logical home, never to be seen again. Some endure in various ways:
A dreamer may have similar dreams, and thereby recreate a phantasm that has faded away. This is fairly common.
You might even kill such a dream entity, only to discover it has returned the following evening. There is debate among Oneira scholars as to what effect this has upon the psyche of the dreamer who spawned the dream.
Some dreams last for a very long time, perhaps even achieving immortality. Most are products of the Oneira, but some real world dreamers spark visions which manage to exist beyond the lifetimes of their creators’ dreams. The Oneira are not immortal, although stories claim that some have achieved that state – certainly at the price of becoming a phantasm rather than a dreamer. Dreams of a certain caliber, however, might remain forever, or perhaps only so long as mankind exists. Some may have started as recurring phantasms, whose presence somehow became part of the bedrock of human consciousness. Others may be fonts of dream energy so powerful that they will take centuries to burn away.
Copyright Conrad Hubbard