Tonight My Sleep Will Be Restless

Two magical warriors meet in the park at twilight. Each gives the other a few uncomfortable things to think about.

Date: 2015-07-21
Pose Count: 41
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 00:59:49 5150
Evening comes gradually during the summer months, a long slow fade into twilight. The air over Penguin Park is still and tranquil, filled with the persistent thrumming of a chorus of cicadas; it's still early enough that full dark hasn't fallen, but the sky is dim enough for some stars to be seen, the shadows deep enough that most people have left the park for other things.

Seishi Tamashige is supposed to be at the library - at least, that's where she told her father she was going. Instead, in the deeper shadows of a stand of trees, the sleeves of her red kimono flutter in the thick air of twilight as Seishi - transformed into the magical samurai Akashimaru - brandishes her war fan at an imaginary opponent. A step forward, swinging the closed fan in a sharp downward arc - then withdrawing, re-centering her stance. Then again. Again. Breath hisses out between her teeth with each extension; sweat has beaded on her skin, strands of sleek dark hair sticking to her face. She's been at this for a while.
Runealy Waldia 2015-07-21 01:25:19 5155
Evening might not be the most traditional time to patrol for troubles around Tokyo, but problems can arise at any time. One can even be the cause of some problems, while keeping an eye out for others.

This is the case for Runealy, who has been trying to walk in wide paths around anyone who would see her. This leaves only a few folks around the city witnessing her march, and those who do pass her off as having an interesting costume. Her destination is the park, as it has been the place where so many interesting things have happened. It's a good place to start for picking up leads on Tokyo.

As one foot follows another, she notices something. A tiny flash of light, a glint of the sunset reflecting off of something moving in the distance. The trees are a good hiding place for such training, and it's perhaps luck more than anything that she saw this... but the flash of an arcing tessen did stand out, and she begins walking toward it.

Her wand is stowed behind back, and she's making no secret of her approach. Runealy isn't sure who's there, but isn't going in with magic blazing away and is trying not to immediately spook them.
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 01:38:38 5157
Strike, inhale and withdraw. Strike, inhale and withdraw. The same motion, over and over, drilling into muscle memory. So focused is the samurai girl on what she's doing that even with Runealy making no effort toward stealth, she gets pretty close before it finally registers to Akashimaru that she's no longer alone.

The realization flashes across her face, dark eyes windening a little, but she doesn't break rhythm. She carries the motion through, striking out and withdrawing one more time, before finally she relaxes somewhat out of the combat stance and turns, tessen still gripped in hand, to look toward the princess.

Her eyebrows lift as she takes in the sight of Runealy, there amidst the trees in her full warrior princess regalia. The cicadas hum on, oblivious.

"...Pardon," Akashimaru manages eventually, after some moments of ditheting over what the protocal is for this kind of situation. "Was I disturbing anyone?"
Runealy Waldia 2015-07-21 01:46:33 5158
The alien princess backs off a step as Akashimaru seems to tense up. It's possible the samurai knows precisely what she's up to, and this could turn into a fight immediately.

That doesn't seem to be what happens, though. Instead, Akashimaru is trying to be polite about things. "Not at all. You have as much right to this spot as I do... no, probably more. You're... training? Drilling? It looks like that, but I'v enever seen anything quite like that used for it." She points at the fan.
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 01:54:38 5160
A breathless little laugh hitches out of Akashimaru at those words, and she ducks her head a little, lifting the tessen to look down at it. "It is a little odd, isn't it?"

A flick of motion snaps the fan open to its full arc, revealing (though it may not be visible in this light) the spider lily motif that adorns the metal slats; another flick of her wrist snaps it closed again. This, at least, she's gotten good at. "I'm still getting used to it, a bit."

Should she admit that? she wonders. It'd be the first time she's met another magical warrior outside of battle against a shared foe, but this girl doesn't *look* like an enemy... Closing both hands around the metal bar of the closed fan, Akashimaru offers a shallow, polite bow. "I suppose I should introduce myself," she says. "I'm called Akashimaru."
Runealy Waldia 2015-07-21 01:57:53 5161
"Not at all. Depending on what you're training for, that might be responsible instead of strange." Runealy keeps her distance from the fan, but does lean her head in slightly to try to inpsect it without being too close. "Still getting used to what? The... that is a fan, right? Are you getting used to that? Akashimaru, you say..."

Runealy notably doesn't mimic the bow. "'The Princess' will do for now. Might I ask what you're training for?"
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 02:10:30 5163
"Right," the samurai girl says as she straightens, and if it's perturbed her in the least that the other hasn't returned the gesture she doesn't show it. "'The Princess', huh..." she echoes, with a curious little tilt of her head as she tastes the word. The fan, now in one hand again, just looks like a fan: closed into little more than a bar of metal, red cord dangling from the end where the slats join together.

The question of what she's training for has Akashimaru looking away again, with a lopsided smile. "That's a little complicated," she admits. "Long story short... I have a responsibility. A duty. If I don't make sure I can live up to it, people will get hurt." she looks back to the princess, still smiling with a trace of self-deprecation as she meets Runealy's eyes agin. "So I have to make sure that I'm strong enough."
Runealy Waldia 2015-07-21 02:13:07 5164
"I'm sorry I can't be more specific," Runealy comments on her own introduction. She's trying not to linger on it very much, instead interested - blatantly so, her eyes trying to stay right on Akashimaru's - in the answer on training. "That's pretty selfless of you... admirable, too." Her voice wavers near the end of that sentence, but she regains composure afterward. "Would it be okay to ask for the long story? I have time to listen, and don't mind if you do it while you continue your drilling."
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 02:23:20 5165
The apology gets a quick shake of Akashimaru's head that sends her ponytail swinging - "It's fine," she says, "I'm sure we all have things we can't go into detail about."

Perhaps her own story should remain one of those things, but all the same, something in her expression relaxes a little at the offer of a listening ear. "Well," she says, "if you don't mind... it probably wouldn't hurt to have one more person who knows something about it."

Since Runealy said she didn't mind, Akashimaru resumes drilling - the same pattern of movement, simple repetition, the quick outward flash of the fan and the flutter of her kimono sleeve, then the deep indrawn breath as she withdraws to reset her stance. It adds a choppy rhythm to her explanation, when she begins to speak again.

"There's something - dunno if you'd call it a 'person' or a 'thing'. The Eater of Dreams." Strike; withdraw. The corner of her mouth quirks up wryly. "That's not a metaphor."
Runealy Waldia 2015-07-21 02:31:25 5168
"Only good can come of it," Runealy comments on Akashimaru's thoughts that more people knowing things can't be so bad. She backs up another few steps, stopping once against another tree, to give Akashimaru room to swing without having to worry about hitting her.

"'A monster', perhaps? Would that be the word to call it? Eating dreams, though? I get that you're being literal, but are we speaking about what you see when you sleep... or one's goals in life, what they aspire to?" Either one is an odd thing to consider, and the princess has a raised, confused eye as she ponders this.
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 02:36:06 5170
"They're connected - I think." The fan flashes out, draws back. "I haven't seen what happens myself. But..." Strike; withdraw. Akashimaru's eyes meet Runealy's for a moment. "'Walking corpse,' is what I was told. 'Empty shell.' That's all that's left, when someone's dreams are eaten."
Runealy Waldia 2015-07-21 02:38:50 5171
Those eyes widen, as Runealy hears the blunt summary of what can happen. "I've... I've seen people like that. I think they were okay in the end, but... I've seen exactly what that looks like." For different underlying reasons, but she doesn't realize this.

Clearly rattled, the princess asks, "And you... protect people from that? How?"
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 02:45:43 5172
A soft whoosh of moving air, a hiss of breath as the fan snaps out again. "The Eater of Dreams was sealed," Akashimaru says as she steps back again. "A long time ago. But the seal's weakening." Strike; withdraw. "It has servants, trying to steal dreams for it." Strike; withdraw. Her free arm comes up for a moment, wiping sweat away from her eyes with the loose sleeve of her kimono. "If I beat them, the dreams they've stolen go back where they belong..." Strike; withdraw. "As long as the servants don't get the chance to take the dreams back to their master to eat."
Runealy Waldia 2015-07-21 02:49:11 5174
Runealy makes a low, thoughtful noise as her gaze tilts toward the ground; something Akashimaru said is making it hard for the princess to keep facing her. "I don't understand. How do they steal dreams? Is this something they do in person, like a bandit pulling a blade and demanding your coinpurse? Or something more... 'abstract'?"
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 02:54:59 5176
Akashimaru's rhythm stills for a moment; she lets out a long breath that sounds a little like a sigh. "There's a lot I don't understand about how it works," she acknowledges. "There's magic involved; it's... weird. But what I know is, they start by corrupting someone's dreams into nightmares. The bad dreams get worse and worse, until they overflow into the real world. That's when the servants are able to steal that person's dreams."

She breathes in, then begins again. Strike; withdraw. "It's best if I can get there before that happens. But--" Strike; withdraw. "--the servants mostly hide up until then. So it's difficult."
Runealy Waldia 2015-07-21 02:58:18 5178
"In some ways, it sounds like you have to wait for a disaster to happen because you have no other sensible way to prevent an even bigger disaster." Runealy remains staring at the ground. "Am I about right, when I say that?"
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 03:05:14 5179
The answer doesn't come immediately. The samurai girl chews on the question through several more repetitions of her drill, before at last she speaks reluctantly. "You could put it that way, I guess."

Strike. Withdraw.

"The Nightmares can be pretty bad... but," her breath cuffs out as she swings the fan down. "As long as I can beat the servant before they get away..." Strike; withdraw. " should just seem like any other bad dream."
Runealy Waldia 2015-07-21 03:07:37 5183
"I see..." Runealy is almost whispering at this point, as thoughts race through her head. Their situations aren't an exact match, there are major differences, but she's drawing similarities in her mind.

Her hands ball into fists, and for a few seconds she just stands there with lidded eyes, still unable to bring herself to face the training samurai. "I'm glad you told me all this. You were right, one more person knowing about this couldn't hurt. It's the opposite, actually. You..."

She looks aside, voice still very low and reserved. "You just talked me out of something stupid. I would have done it, just now, if you hadn't told me these things."
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 03:13:15 5184
"Huh?" This time, Akashimaru is surprised enough to stop almost mid-swing, momentum arrested before she can complete the full movement rather than withdrawing back into her initial stance.

The hand wielding the tessen hangs downward at her side as she turns to face the princess, confusion and a note of concern written plainly over her face. "What do you mean...?"
Runealy Waldia 2015-07-21 03:20:59 5186
"..." Runealy can't bring herself to answer right away. She takes a few steps aside, getting a little more distance from Akashimaru. It takes a few seconds for her to work up the nerve. "I mean that I'm... you can think of me as a bandit or a monster, either one is apt. I approach people like you because I intend to steal your energy for my own needs. When I saw you, you looked like the perfect target. And in some ways you are, I'm sure you have plenty of what I need. However..."

She scuffs the ground with a foot. "Every time I do that, I ask myself 'how much evil is acceptable?' I treat it like a math equation. Is it okay to murder someone? Of course not. To hurt them? Maybe. Usually. To permanently hurt them? No. And now, from what I understand... if I strike you down, what does the math look like?"

Fists tighten, wrinkling her gloves. "As near as I can tell, it would replace one problem with an even bigger one, if you're not around to do that. I'll say this... right now, I'm not stupid enough or desperate enough to do that. Maybe some day very soon I will be. Maybe I'll attack you and try to take your energy, and I'm not sure whether I'll give you any sort of warning before I do or not. But right here, right now, with what I understand because you told me about these things..."

Her head shakes slowly, several times, still unwilling to meet Akashimaru's eyes. "It would be 'too much evil.' I'm not going to try to hurt you right now."
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 03:29:37 5189
She'll be able to see it, the moment what she's saying really sinks in. Akashimaru doesn't get it right away; for a moment, her face is blank with incomprehension. But not for long. Realization rushes through her like a dash of cold water, drawing up her spine, stiffening her shoulders. Unconsciously her grip on the metal fan ather side shifts, going from hanging loosely at her side to something a little more wary.

She doesn't fully change her stance - she's still open, not poised for combat. But there's a tension there that wasn't there before.

There's a lengthy silence before Akashimaru speaks, slowly, choosing her words with care. "...Since I did just tell you my whole story," she says evenly, "would you mind telling me why?" A beat. "It doesn't seem like it's something you're doing for no reason."
Runealy Waldia 2015-07-21 03:35:53 5191
Runealy sees that, and starts to reach for her wand... then stops and realizes Akashimaru isn't moving to strike. Just staying on guard. "I can't tell you why. Or rather... I could tell you, and then someone would know. And if one person knows, then a second might find out. Then a third and a fourth. Those four people might not do anything bad with 'why.' But maybe the fifth or the five hundredth would. There are those out there styling themselves conquerors of entire worlds. Those taking so much of a person's essence that they come within moments of dying, and they laugh about it and say it is a kingdom's due."

She holds up a hand, trying to stall any immediate retort. "I am not saying you would tell them. Nonetheless, once that information exists to someone else... perhaps it could be taken, whether they want to do it or not. You've just told me that dreams can be taken and consumed, after all. So..."

Another few headshakes. "So because of that, I can't tell you no matter what and no matter how many times someone asks 'why', even if it's the best question you could ask."
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 03:50:00 5195
Again, Akashimaru is quiet for a while. Her expression has sealed over into something opaque and unreadable - a little thoughtful, a lot guarded. "...the only way to keep a secret for sure is not to tell anyone in the first place, huh...?"

After a little while longer, she seems to come to a decision, and her chin lifts slightly with resolve. "If it's something you can't tell me, it's not like I can make you. But even if it's nothing to do with the Eater of Dreams--" and despite the phrasing there's nothing in her tone to suggest that she actually thinks it is-- "even if you never get desperate enough to attack me like you were going to, if I see you doing it to someone else, I won't be able to just stand by and watch."

She lets a beat pass before she voices the conclusion she's come to. Rather than a warning, the words are quiet, faintly regretful. "The next time that we meet, we might be enemies."
Runealy Waldia 2015-07-21 03:54:02 5196
"That's right," Runealy agrees on the 'only way.' "And I don't expect you to ignore it. You shouldn't. You /should/ see me as an enemy. I am one. When you see someone attacking innocent people who have done nothing to deserve it, you should be upset. You should want to strike me down. So..."

She turns her back to Akashimaru, starting to walk away. Very slowly, so as to finish saying a few things. "So do that. Just know that I'm your enemy, but you aren't mine right now. Maybe if I get 'stupid and desperate enough'," to use odd phrasing there, "...but for right now, I do hope you succeed at what you're training for. Just wish you had someone to train with. Doing it alone isn't nearly as satisfying."
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 03:59:58 5197
Surprising even to herself, a little breath of a laugh hitches out of Akashimaru. "Well, for right now it can't be helped," she says. "Maybe one of these days."

She stays where she is as Runealy begins to walk away... and, once again, she bows, deeply this time as though in great respect. "Thank you," she says. "for listening, and for being honest."
Runealy Waldia 2015-07-21 04:05:42 5198
"..." Runealy looks over her shoulder, staring at Akashimaru. "...You shouldn't bow to someone like me. Save that for Sailor Moon or Mami," no last name mentioned there, notably, "or any of several people who are wonderful heroes deserving the courtesy. I won't insult you by returning the gesture... I doubt you want that kind of compliment from someone far beneath you, after all. Still... for now, thank /you/, for talking me out of a mistake. I will find a... 'smaller' evil to commit tonight. You can try to stop me if you want, but I assure you I am far less a threat than the monster you strive to contain."

And then, she continues to walk away. Back turned, guard as low as her head is.
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 04:18:59 5201
"Princess!" It's not an attack that comes after Runealy from behind, just Akashimaru's voice calling out. "I have one more thing to ask."

And indeed, if the princess doesn't stop, Akashimaru will follow after her, if only enough to stay within earshot. "This 'smaller evil' of yours - is it the kind of thing a person can recover from?"
Runealy Waldia 2015-07-21 04:24:16 5202
This time, Runealy doesn't even look back. "...I try for that. It's one of two reasons I ask people about themselves before I strike. So that I can have some idea as to whether or not they can recover from their energy being stolen, and so I know what to tell historians and scholars about them. What I am doing is wrong, I know that. But..."

Her voice wavers again, composure starting to break as she holds back from crying, "...I do not want my goals realized on someone else's grave. It might happen anyway, but I'm trying to make sure it doesn't. Because if it does... that will be something I can never take back. I could say 'I'm sorry' a million times and give away all the gold in the world, and it would never make up for that. We both know that."
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 04:37:20 5206
"I see." Short, simple words... but although Runealy has not looked back, the resolve that's in Akashimaru's voice is the same that came over her a few moments ago, when she came to the understanding that they might in the near future have to become enemies. "In that case..."

There's a brief pause as she draws in a breath. "Rather than anyone else, I'll have you target me."
Runealy Waldia 2015-07-21 04:42:07 5208
"...Hn?" This time, the princess looks up. She turns around, and faces Akashimaru. "Are you sure? What I do hurts. The methods I'm using weren't meant for this. Once it is over," the princess is already presuming victory, "It will hurt enough that you won't bow to me or thank me. You're probably going to hate me. Any reasonable person would."
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 04:50:42 5210
"Even so," the samurai girl says with resolute stubbornness. She's tucked each hand into the opposite sleeve, any sight of the tessen lost amidst the deep folds of red fabric. "If it's not me, you'll go looking for someone else. That's not something that I can accept."

Perhaps it's a trick of the light, but it almost seems like a hint of a smile crosses her lips. then it's gone again. "I'm grateful that you decided not to attack me tonight. But if it's between me or someone else, I'd rather it was me."
Runealy Waldia 2015-07-21 04:53:02 5211
The princess isn't smiling, even briefly. "What if I don't want it to be you? What if striking you down runs completely contrary to my goals?" She looks conflicted. "At the very least, it's a small gain for a potentially great loss."
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 05:06:18 5216
At this, Akashimaru shakes her head, a quick little jerk of motion. "You're trying to be reasonable, to do as little harm as possible. Right? I respect you for that, but I can't calculate things the way that you do."

That hint of a smile or whatever it was on her face is gone now. She faces Runealy squarely, her expression grave and her eyes bright in the fading twilight. "Whoever you go after tonight, if things don't go the way you hope, there will probably be someone left behind. Someone who'll never get to know the reason, who'll never understand. That's something that I absolutely can't allow. So, even if it's against all of your goals..."

In one smooth motion her hand comes out of her sleeve and her arm sweeps down to her side, the war fan snapping open with a glint of unaccountably red light against metal. "I'll have to insist."
Runealy Waldia 2015-07-21 05:15:45 5218
"..." Runealy blinks, visibly jarred by Akashimaru's words. "Before we begin... tell me something. What you just said..." Her hand reaches over-shoulder to grab her wand, which detaches from her dress' bow.

It's brought in front and aimed at Akashimaru, though no strike comes just yet. "Do those words come from personal experience? Have you seen that firsthand, and asked for reasons you never found?"
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 05:30:38 5222
The tiniest of reactions moves through Akashimaru at the question. It's too small to even be called a flinch, but for half a heartbeat the tessen wavers slightly at her side, and a shadow slips across her expression.

"...Sorry." Her voice is suddenly very quiet, something soft and half-swallowed and low in her throat. "Just like you, there are things that I can't talk about."
Runealy Waldia 2015-07-21 05:35:46 5224
The hesitance is noticed. "No, I think you've just answered my question. I won't pry. Therefore... I'm ready now." Runealy makes a faint nod. "Let's begin."

She expects that Akashimaru might have very good reflexes, and either a way to throw that fan well or some other means of attacking at a distance. The princess preemptively tries to dodge any such attempts, if one even comes, by making a pivoting sidestep while twirling her wand in a wide, diagonal arc. And once the gem end of it is aimed low...

...the princess attacks. The green orb launches, and strikes herself in the leg. The jewel detonates on impact, turning into a sparkling cloud of emerald-colored glitter as Runealy goes hurtling several yards through the air, screaming as she sails before landing flat on her back!
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 18:57:36 5252
--That was not what Akashimaru was expecting.

She began to move a half-heartbeat after Runealy did, a quick sliding sidestep in the opposite direction, bringing the open fan up in front of herself as though as a shield against the princess's opening move, whatever it might be. Whatever her next act might have been, though, is immediately checked when the jewel that Rune fired hits herself and sends her flying.

"What the heck was that?" A misfire, a trick? She's not fool enough to drop her guard completely, but still, Akashimaru crosses the space between herself and where Runealy has landed, quick steps rustling in the short grass, that mixture of confusion and worry on her face once again.
Runealy Waldia 2015-07-21 19:04:14 5253
The princess has landed in a heap, and it's probably wise not to completely drop guard while approaching her. After all... she's still conscious, and propping her wand against the ground to help push herself back up. Teeth grit, Runealy stares at Akashimaru. "That was my solution. I don't want to fight you right now. You don't want to let me go, knowing I'll just hurt someone else instead. And even though you say you didn't want to talk about it... I've seen that answer from people before."

Her wand is now largely pointed at the ground, and she stands with a limp. "It usually means 'yes.' So... I will lose a day. Right now, I can lose a day. Soon I won't be able to, but just this once I can do it. In other words,"

She turns her back to Akashimaru and begins to walk away, though her shifting of weight suggests that causing a magical explosion centered on herself, and on a leg precisely, has her moving oddly. "It looks like I can't go hunt anyone tonight. It'd probably get me killed."
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 19:10:35 5254
Rune walks away, and Akashimaru can only stand and watch her go - eyes wide in surprised understanding, all way guard fallen away from her stance. She lowers the tessen, folds it closed and tucks it away into her belt.

"Godspeed, Princess." Her voice is not loud, but it carries clearly in the still air. "I hope the next time we meet, we won't have to be enemies after all."
Runealy Waldia 2015-07-21 19:17:36 5255
"We will. We'll have to fight, and you'll force me to do certain things because you're in the right. This is the only time I can back down. If I lose any more days..." Runealy pauses, then changes the topic. "You know, if it weren't for the whole 'only technically alive' part of having your dreams eaten? I'd almost welcome what you're talking about."

She continues walking away. Slowly enough that she can be overtaken with ease, but otherwise Rune is trying to leave the area, intending to go 'home.' She knows what kind of dreams she'll have tonight. Akashimaru's words are chillingly familiar. Many of them, Runealy has said to others. In different circumstances, but the similarities cut deep and her usual cycle of dark dreams will have a new wrinkle, a new detail to them this time regardless of whether she is left to do them in the abandoned store, or if Akashimaru opts to push this matter and end things differently.
Seishi Tamashige 2015-07-21 19:21:02 5256
This time, Akashimaru doesn't interrupt as Runealy walks away. She doesn't have the whole story - not yet - but the princess has shown just how deep her conviction runs. Next time, if Rune is correct, things will go differently... but for tonight, at least, Akashimaru won't stop her.

At this moment, there's nothing further to be said.