Preludes & Nocturnes is the first trade paperback collection of the comic book series The Sandman, published by DC Comics. It collects issues #1-8. It is written by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones III, colored by Robbie Busch and lettered by Todd Klein.
The first seven issues of this collection comprise the "More Than Rubies" storyline. The eighth issue, "The Sound of Her Wings", is a self-contained story that serves as an epilogue to the More Than Rubies plot. It was first issued in paperback in 1991, and later in hardback in 1995.
The next volume in the series is The Doll's House.
In 1916, Dream is captured and encased in a glass globe in a failed attempt by a fictional Edwardian magician (very much in the vein of Aleister Crowley) named Roderick Burgess to bind Death and attain immortality. Dream bides his time for decades until Burgess dies. Afterwards, his son Alexander becomes Dream’s new captor. Finally, in 1988, Alex inadvertently weakens the containment spell when the wheel of his wheelchair crosses over the circle drawn around Dream allowing him to reach into the dreams of his guards who fall asleep in his presence, allowing Dream to use the sand from their dream to his benefit. When the guards awake and break the seal Dream was in, he is then able to escape. Dream punishes Alex by cursing him to experience an unending series of nightmares. Morpheus (an alternative name for Dream) weakened after his captivity, is forced to make the journey to his realm via the dreamscape.
The rest of the story concerns Dream's quest to recover his totems of power, which were dispersed following his capture: a pouch of sand, a helm and a ruby. The pouch is being kept by a former girlfriend of John Constantine's (Constantine is a character from Alan Moore's series, Swamp Thing and the Vertigo (DC Comics) Hellblazer). Once that is recovered, Dream travels to hell, where he is guided by the demon Etrigan past a cage of torture, where he meets an old face of someone he loves but has not yet forgiven for their past sins. Upon meeting Lucifer (an enmity that will have major repercussions later in the series), a sharp dressed man in all white but deep dark black wings and whose shadow reveals a huge beast, Dream discusses that one of the demons in Hell has his Helm, a gas-mask looking helmet that the demon Choronzon is currently in possession of, and offers to give it back to him if he accepts a challenge. Not strong enough to fight yet, Dream accepts a different kind of challenge, the traditional game of metamorphoses. Dream defeats the demon by taking the form of Hope, which cannot be killed, in the game, but as Dream leaves Hell, Lucifer promises to his hosts that one day, he will destroy Dream. Lastly, the ruby is in the possession of John Dee, a.k.a. Doctor Destiny, a supervillain from the Justice League of America series. Dee has warped and corrupted the ruby and when Morpheus touches it, it drains his strength and he passes out. When Dream comes to consciousness, he is still very weak when attacked by Dee. The fight nearly tears apart Dream - Morpheus puts up a brave fight but is losing. However, thinking that it will kill Dream, Dee shatters the ruby, inadvertently releasing the power that Dream had stored in the ruby and restoring Dream to his full power.
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