Another Kind of Treasure

Kazuo calls Seishi in to take a look at the book that followed him out of dreams. Seishi picks up on some phrasing that has an unfortunate echo from her. From a few centuries ago.

Date: 2017-05-26
Pose Count: 24
Kazuo Takeba 2017-05-26 00:52:16 77133
There are certain things that indicate politeness, rather than urgency. Kazuo did not contact Seishi until after Verone let out for the day, and indeed until most of the clubs had finished their activities for the afternoon. There are important things, after all. School. Normal lives. Kendo.

All the same, it's not as if he requests to meet with her often, and meeting was specified -- a text or phone conversation, or a rendezvous in dreams, would apparently not serve the necessary purposes.

Which is presumably why he's claimed a relatively private booth, though he's tall enough that that white hair can be spotted all the same. He's ignoring his coffee in favor of a textbook, and there are two other texts stacked next to him, which mostly camouflages the third book in the stack from casual glances.

It is a tattered old thing, the leather binding worn and chewed-on and on the verge of falling apart. Lettered on the spine is the single word 'Memories.'
Seishi Tamashige 2017-05-26 01:07:04 77134
"This is rare," Seishi observes as she comes to a stop beside the booth he's occupied. She's still in her Verone uniform; her hair has been braided back from her face, still slightly damp from a post-practice shower, and tied with the usual red ribbon. Standing, she regards Kazuo and his books thoughtfully for a few moments, and it doesn't take long for her eyes to settle on the much-abused binding of the odd book out.

Rather than ask about it just yet, though, she slides herself into a seat at the booth and rests her hands loosely in front of her on the table, regarding Kazuo across it with interest. "Something must've happened, for you to ask to meet like this."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-05-26 01:11:11 77137
The open book is folded shut, and trades out places with the oldest one in the stack. That tattered one is placed carefully in front of (definitely not slid across the table to) Seishi, just beside her hands. "There was one of the dreams last night," he says. "With Ariel and her mother. This turned up in the dream. I woke up with it this morning. Thought you'd want to see it. Iced coffee? Or would you prefer something else?"
Seishi Tamashige 2017-05-26 01:22:43 77138
That last question derails Seishi's thoughts a little, enough for her to look up in faint surprise from her contemplation of the book in front of her. Then she smiles a little. "Iced coffee would be very nice. Thank you."

Her dark eyes drop back down to the book again, her expression quickly growing serious as she regards it. "I've mostly gotten over being surprised at things coming out of people's dreams," she comments. "There's only one other time that I've seen a thing brought out of a dream that was still there later, after the dream was over and the dreamer woke up, though." A beat; Seishi looks up at Kunzite across the table. "Could you tell whose dream it was?" It's a question asked without much hope of an answer, and almost as soon as she's asked it she's smiling in vague apology. "Sometimes it's obvious. Sometimes not so much."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-05-26 01:27:01 77140
Kazuo shakes his head, a straightforward no. "None of the people active in it appeared to be the one it belonged to; the only other animate creatures we saw were bats, skeletons, two zombies and another bat of Lacrima's creation by the dream's logic, and Ariel's mother. The unfortunate one. There were, ah. Text boxes. Presumably the dreamer was the one they were intended for, though we could see them." His tone implies the 'unfortunately' as he rises, probably to go and fetch Seishi something to drink.
Seishi Tamashige 2017-05-26 01:35:17 77143
She nods in understanding, and as Kazuop gets up from his seat Seishi returns her attention to the book, unfolding her hands and reaching to open it with all the care the thing's tattered appearance demands.

She'll have a little time to look through it while he's retrieving the promised iced coffee... and no doubt more questions once he gets back.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-05-26 01:42:12 77145
It won't take more than a little time. Most of the book is, or appears to be, blank -- at least for the moment. There are only two pages that contain text. Easy enough to have read through it by the time Kazuo places her iced coffee down, well away from the dreamborn book.

    Once there was a boy...
    Who was so very, very, alone...
    So he dreamed up a friend to call his very own.
    A prince, dashing, daring, and noble...
    On adventures they did roam.
    When he slept, each night they met...
    And in his dreams, delight they would get.
    But it did not last, it was not to be.
    The little boy lost, his will, you see.
    His dreams taken, claimed and devoured... The prince of dreams, his heart did sour...

    His dearest friend lost...
    The Prince learned defeat and its cost.
    All gone, joy replaced with misery, the pain did brew...
    Eventually he thought, 'Perhaps, maybe one day I'll find love anew.'
    High and low he searched and searched.
    But it was all in vain, a thirst that could not be quenched.
    Finally, he found another, or so he thought.
    To him a new dreamer gave call.
    For this one too, he bled and he fought.
    And this is how the Prince of Dreams began his fall...
Seishi Tamashige 2017-05-26 02:12:14 77150
By the time Kazuo comes back with the coffee, Seishi is frowning intently, her brow creased as she studies the lines of text. The grave look doesn't leave her face when she lifts her head at Kazuo's return. "This--" she begins, then shakes her head slightly. "I have no idea where it came from, or how you were able to bring it back, but... doesn't it seem like it's talking about how the Prince of Nightmares came to be? The one we met in that castle, who's been attacking dreams?"

She doesn't reach for the iced coffee just yet. Instead she holds the tip of her finger just over the last line, not quite touching the brittle paper. "'How the Prince of Dreams began his fall,'" she reads aloud. "That has to be the Nightmare Prince. It seems like it's saying that he was a good dream once, before..."

Her voice trails off.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-05-26 02:17:48 77153
"Before something happened," Kazuo agrees, seating himself. "Before the boy who dreamed him fell to something, somehow. Before he went to another -- and we don't know if that one became a victim, or warped the Prince, or something else altogether happened. It puts some of the Prince's statements in an interesting light. And Ariel's unfortunate mother being there ... that's a link to the Prince directly. A greater likelihood that it's some degree of truth."
Seishi Tamashige 2017-05-26 02:22:10 77154
"Things in dreams aren't always straightforward." Seishi's voice has dropped to a murmur. "I could be reading this wrong. But..."

The fingertip that was indicating the last line moves up the page, hovering over the text. "Here," she says. "The boy who dreamed him originally, it says his dreams were taken. Devoured, and he lost his will."

Seishi lifts her head to meet Kazuo's eyes now, and her dark eyes are bright and sharp. "The Eater of Dreams," she says.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-05-26 02:25:35 77156
Kazuo follows the movement of her fingertip, reading upside-down with the casual attitude of someone who spent far too long as a tutor. Her attention lifting catches his, brings it up to her face in turn; he listens --

Almost, he doesn't recognize it. Almost. But an instant later: "The thing that that hunting nightmare served."
Seishi Tamashige 2017-05-26 02:37:18 77159
Seishi replies with a nod. "Yes," she says. "The enemy that my other self fought in the past, who's started to come back. If this is right, he created the Nightmare Prince when he devoured the boy's dreams.

She leans back into the booth and reaches blindly for the iced coffee without really seeing it, still focused on the discovery that Kunzite brought out of someone's dream. "And then the Nightmare Prince corrupted Ariel's mother, like he's been trying to do to the other dreams we've fought him in. She's not the only one, either."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-05-26 02:47:49 77160
"No. That pilot, to begin with." Kazuo frowns down toward the book, focused on it about as much as Seishi is on the coffee. "Her armor," he notes then. "The black-knight armor. The sea witch said that it changed when she did. A couple of the newer people -- Tyrfing, if that name means anything to you, and the girl with the hammer -- were able to combine their own abilities with the dream-logic, and use the dream against her to break the armor off of her. I suggested Ariel take it to the sea witch. If it's connected to her, we might be able to use that somehow."

Gray eyes' turn to flicker up to hers again. "But that only helps one victim."
Seishi Tamashige 2017-05-26 02:56:15 77162
"The Eater of Dreams was sealed during the Warring States era." Seishi's mouth tightens as she speaks. "The seal is weakening, but he hasn't gotten free yet. I think we have to assume the Nightmare Prince has been the way he is for at least that long."

A quiet sound of frustration escapes her; she drowns it in iced coffee, but the drink doesn't do anything to take the tension out of her expression. "I need to talk to O-Yasu about this. We need a better way to purify corrupted dreams without destroying them. There has to be something."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-05-26 03:03:05 77163
Four or five hundred years like that. Kazuo's expression does not mirror Seishi's, but it at least shadows hers. "There must," he agrees. "Not 'there ought to be and I will be angry with the universe if it fails to manifest,' but 'the fact that not all dreams are nightmares indicates that such things must exist.' Not necessarily easy to find. Not necessarily working in all cases. But something exists."
Seishi Tamashige 2017-05-26 03:13:36 77166
Seishi's only immediate answer is another slow nod. It takes another long drink of her coffee and a slowly exhaled breath before she manages to settle herself enough to think more calmly.

"Taking the armor to Ariel's mother - the sea witch - like you said is a good idea, too. If we can get her and O-Yasu to put their heads together, even if it only helps free one victim, it would be a start. We didn't know about this before."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-05-26 03:23:09 77168
Kazuo's nod is silent. He remains that way for a few moments before he asks, "Do you want to keep the book? You'd need to check it regularly; the second page was blank when we found it."
Seishi Tamashige 2017-05-26 03:26:21 77169
Her gaze drops to the open pages again as Seishi considers that question. It doesn't take her very long to make a decision, however. "I'd like to hold onto it at least for now, if that's all right," she says. "O-Yasu should see it. Ariel's been staying at my place, so if it does anything else, at least one of us will be nearby."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-05-26 03:28:28 77170
"Certainly. If it's a personal treasure, it's not my personal treasure, and I'd prefer to see it in an expert's hands." Kazuo pauses. "I did copy the words presently in it, so that I can show the others if they ask. And I haven't seen Ariel to tell her it exists, so it's as well she's close by you."
Seishi Tamashige 2017-05-26 03:43:41 77172
Understanding flickers across Seishi's face and she nods, a little dip of her head by way of acknowledgement. "I'll talk to her about it."

She sets her drink down off to the side, absently dries her hands with a few pats of a paper napkin before reaching to close the book. Once that's done, she ends up sitting in silent discomfort - one of her hands comes to rest against her midsection, as though she's feeling an oncoming case of indigestion.

Presently, though, she cracks a wan half-smile and picks up her iced coffee again. No sense in letting it go to waste. "Thank you for calling me," she tells Kazuo. "I'll be sure to let you know if I manage to find out anything."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-05-26 03:51:33 77176
No comment is made about the placement of her hand. No speculation, either. Reincarnation does interesting things, sometimes.

Kazuo inclines his head to Seishi, and adds, "I'd be interested to know if any more text turns up, too. It seems best not to go ignorant of these things; often enough the small details matter." He hesitates, then drops a hand onto his pile of textbooks, presumably preparatory to gathering them and departing. For some reason he doesn't seem to think it's a moment particularly conducive to small talk.
Seishi Tamashige 2017-05-26 03:55:54 77177
"Of course," Seishi replies immediately. "I'll keep an eye on it, in case it grows any more of the story." Her eyes flick towards the book as though it might even now be sprouting additional lines on its pages.

"It didn't mention what happened to the second dreamer the Prince protected."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-05-26 04:03:56 77181
All Kazuo says to that observation is, "It hasn't yet."
Seishi Tamashige 2017-05-26 04:05:06 77182
"Yet," Seishi agrees with a little nod.

It's a word that never fails to sound ominous.