Ill Met By Moonlight

Date: 2018-09-03
Pose Count: 11
Seishi Tamashige 2018-09-03 21:52:59 96946
Encounters in dreams, encounters in the waking world - not to mention the promise she made to Kunzite which she still has yet to follow through on. All in all, there are too many questions Seishi doesn't know where to find the answers for, and too many problems she doesn't know how to resolve just yet.

Right now she's not really working on any of them. At least, not in specific. Lacking any real direction, while her body sleeps in her bed at home she's ventured out into the dreamscape, searching for... something. A clue, perhaps.

It's a way of assauging the feeling that she ought to be Doing Something, even if she doesn't end up accomplishing very much.

At the edge of a high clifftop, mounted on that big dark horse of hers, Akashimaru surveys the landscape of dreams that's unfurled below. It's a fantastic patchwork of colors and shapes: a bamboo forest of jade and ivory gives way to the airy white spires and towers of a cloud-castle, a river of vibrant indigo and glittering silver winds its way through a futuristic city of glass and steel and neon, before vanishing under a blanket of shifting fog in which indistinct flying shapes move in lazy half-seen circles.

There are darker places, too, but even from this vantage there's nothing that throws up a sign reading 'NIGHTMARE HERE'. Reaching up to push her hair back from her face, Akashimaru lets out a sigh.
Youichi Mariyama 2018-09-03 22:25:41 96948
How the world of dreams has changed since his death. When he was last alive, people dreamed simply, of the lands and villages they knew. Perhaps peppered in were unfamiliar magics, or gods, or folk heroes buried in their minds through story, but as we walked the skein of dreams stitched together, it looked like one land. One noble Japan, seen through a mirror of possibility.

Now it is a patchwork mess of the past, of the future, and of worlds that will never exist. The winds that guided him once have changed; he knows as little about this new dreamworld as he knows about Youichi's waking world. Nightmares are aplenty and unfamiliar. They have more nooks in which to hide, and every time he thinks he scents one, he turns around only to find it gone.

Maddening. But he was not reincarnated to make excuses.

The red thread of destiny is a mysterious guide. Once knotted, it can never be undone, and the same people will find themselves drawn together, against all odds, against their wishes, over and over again. He believes such a string binds him to Renge, the love he couldn't protect. But, in truth, the red thread leads him somewhere else entirely.

It leads him to a cliff, behind a stalwart black horse and a figure that is both infuriatingly familiar and unreachably foreign. Shouhamaru does not know how a friend, an enemy, and a stranger can all bear the same face.

For the sake of the stranger, he does not strike her from behind.

"It's loathsome, isn't it?" he says, his voice as familiar as it was centuries ago, a smooth silver wind not quite false, but not quite sincere. "This new landscape of dreams. As disorganized and undisciplined as the people who create it."
Seishi Tamashige 2018-09-03 22:37:36 96951
The horse startles, a mirror of the rider's surprise - with a sudden burst of motion it crow-hops and wheels, perilously close to the cliff's edge and the long drop beyond. If Akashimaru were a lesser rider (or, more aptly, if she were riding a real flesh and blood horse), she might have lost her seat; as it is, she has to grab hold of the saddle, and faces Shouhamaru half-bent warily over the pommel.

Seishi's met the man only once before, but the memories of another life resonate as powerfully as they did the last time. "Shou."

The dream-horse stamps and jigs uneasily, but Akashimaru straightens in the saddle, regathering her self-possession as much as she can. Shouhamaru's words prompt a glance back over her shoulder, at the endless expanse of the dreamscape. "People dream farther now," she says. "There's nothing wrong with that."
Youichi Mariyama 2018-09-03 23:21:52 96955
In his past life, Shouhamaru was known as a man of few words -- he disagreed with this title. His words were not few as much as they were chosen with care, and he never replied a second before he was ready to. He does not act any differently now that he is reborn. When Akashimaru starts and refutes him, he doesn't speak immediately. He merely narrows his eyes, and strides over to the nearest edge of the cliff, careful not stand directly next to her, lest he give her the impression he approached in friendship.

"The people of the world dream farther because they have grown to loathe reality. They retreat into themselves and become the slaves of their own thoughts. They give the Nightmares more fruitful hunting grounds, more room to hide. And there is nothing wrong to you about this?"

He throws his hands out over the mish-mash of dreams spread beneath them, wholly indecipherable in its structure, as though it were a quilt sewn together with random fabrics and thread, unable to fulfill its purpose.

"I could say I'm surprised to hear such things from you," he says. "But lies are distasteful things. And you know me too well to be fooled." His grey-blue eyes flick to her from where he stands. "Or, at least, you did once."
Seishi Tamashige 2018-09-03 23:36:44 96957
When he glances back to her, he'll find Akashimaru watching him with an expression of growing confusion, bewildered by his speech. "That's not--" she begins, fumbling a little over the words. "People's dreams have always reflected their will. They dream father because they reach farther when they're awake. Isn't that why the Eater of Dreams is so terrible?"
Youichi Mariyama 2018-09-04 00:05:46 96962
"Reaching farther towards what?" Shouhamaru shoots back, the faintest trace of disgust polluting his voice. "Towards dreams they can never achieve? Towards a world of fantasy, because they lack the will to make their peace with reality? What are those dreams down there but unfulfilled wishes, just satisfying enough to dream that they will never be fought for, never brought into the world?"

He doesn't know why he's belaboring this. In truth, his distaste for modern dreamers is nothing but an annoyance; he has not given up on his vow to protect them, if only because he swore it to a higher purpose than their misguided fantasies. Once again, he's arguing with Akashimaru for the sake of argument. Truly, some things will never change.

He shakes his head.

"You do not need to remind me why the Eater of Dreams is terrible, *Akashimaru*. Unless cruelty has become your amusement."
Seishi Tamashige 2018-09-04 00:15:37 96963
Akashimaru flinches involuntarily at that, a shudder moving through her as his point strikes home. "No," she murmurs, unconsciously curling her arm around herself against the twinge of remembered pain. "I spoke badly. I just... don't understand why you feel that way."

A beat, before she turns her eyes askance, looking out across the dreamscape with a humorless half-smile twisting the corner of her mouth. "About them, I mean. I know why you hate me."

She can't find it in her to argue that particular point with him. Her memories of that other life are still fragmentary - an incomplete picture viewed through a cracked glass, and Shouhamaru seems to remember a lot more about Akashimaru than she can claim to remember about him - but the memories of her failure in that other life are fresh and vivid. She can't very well claim that Shouhamaru doesn't have reason to resent her for it.
Youichi Mariyama 2018-09-04 01:01:27 96968
He opens his mouth to respond -- he doesn't hate them, he only wishes they would do better -- but his tongue tenses and his face stills in the way that it does before he tells a lie. Funny. He'd not yet come to his conclusion about humanity yet, or at least, he didn't think he had. But Akashimaru has turned the mirror of truth on him.

The least he can do is return the favor.

Shouhamaru doesn't speak a word as he moves forward, drawing his sword as he goes. A part of him idly considers that he's leaving his back vulnerable, but the other samurai should know better than to strike him while he's armed, from behind or otherwise. He would respond without mercy.

But, for now, that is not why he drew his blade.

Shouhamaru stirs the view below them as he would stir a still pond, and as so often happens in dreams, it behaves just as the waters would, rippling and distorting until the land below them is no longer a distant dreamscape, but a mirror to another time, frigid and gray.

A man with thinning white hair and sallow skin walks along a dirt road, his only shelter from the snow a rough blanket that he holds tightly around his shoulders with one hand. The other, his left, hangs limply at his side.

The road is narrow. When a wagon comes rumbling behind him, a man in armor jumps out, screaming for him to get out of the way. He calls him many names: cripple, mongrel, vagabond. When the white-haired man keeps walking, the other man draws a dagger and hits him in one temple with its hilt, knocking him off his feet into the dirt. The wagon crunches over his leg as it rolls on.

The images that follow that one are not so clear. Jeering faces, clenched fists and aimed kicks, prices that are always too high and inns that are always empty. All against the backdrop of a grey sky, and snow that will not stop.

Shouhamaru looks stoically on, unaffected. He has had centuries to absorb the misery of these memories. There's nothing more they can do to him. But, to Akashimaru, they must be fresh. As the tide of images continues, he turns to see how she will react, unwilling to fight his voyeuristic satisfaction.

"Hatred is not something so terrible," he says. "It is an emotion, like any other. Born of the world we've seen, a rational response to hateful circumstances. I cannot change what I hate, but it would be irrelevant, even if I could."

He throws his sword arm out to the side, and the echoes of his memories cease, bringing the patchwork of dreams out under the cliff once more. Akashimaru has seen enough of this; she will have the full truth when she deserves it, and that will only be the moment before he gets his revenge.

"I may hate them. I may hate you. But I hate the Eater of Dreams more."
Seishi Tamashige 2018-09-04 01:20:27 96971
There's a moment, little more than the space between reflex and thought, in which the sight of Shouhamaru's sword as he draws it has Akashimaru's hand dropping towards the tessen tucked into her belt. She arrests the motion before she can actually grasp the Shinken, though. He's not facing her, and while that doesn't mean he couldn't attack her in a moment if he wanted to... that doesn't seem to be his purpose now.

Instead, she watches - and he'll hear the strangled noise that escapes her throat as she sees his memories reflected in the dream.

When he looks toward her again, the hand that had begun to move toward her weapon is pressed over her mouth instead. Her face above it is white, her dark eyes wide with horror. It takes her a bit before she dares try to answer, and even when she lets her hand fall, she still looks a little like she might be ill.

"...Then we're on the same side. Shouhamaru." Her voice is quiet, her eyes searching as she looks at him. "I won't ask you to fight alongside me... after what happened. But I don't want to be your enemy."
Youichi Mariyama 2018-09-04 01:54:35 96974
He'd long wondered how it would feel, to show Akashimaru the true fallout of his actions. He wondered just how strong the vindication would be -- or, perhaps, if the Eater of Dreams would claim him once again, and rob him of all empathy. He had not anticipated what stands before him now, a girl wearing his former friend's face, speaking with a voice that isn't his. It mars the perfection of the moment, and where he should be feeling satisfied, he feels only confused, and vaguely empty.

How much Akashimaru truly made it to this life? If this girl responded to his name and carried his weapon, did that make her the same as him? Was her horror Akashimaru's horror, or the bland sympathy any young girl might feel when made to witness another's suffering?

Shouhamaru does not look pleased, but given the circumstances, that shouldn't appear odd.

"It is many centuries too late for that," he says, coldly. "You are my enemy. You will be my enemy until the day I die, as the Eater of Dreams is my enemy. And soon, I will claim from you what you owe me." His grip on his katana tightens -- before he slides it back into its sheath with a languid hiss. "But I will not forsake my first vow for my second. Stay out of my path, do not try and stop me, and I will not come for you until our mission is complete."
Seishi Tamashige 2018-09-04 02:05:59 96975
"I can't promise that." How much of the Akashimaru he knew is there in this girl? It's hard to tell - but that tone, at least, is familiar, and so is the lift of her chin, the way her mouth tightens stubbornly even though her face is still pale and haunted. "I have a job to do, myself. Beating the Eater of Dreams won't be enough if I don't protect them--" with a sweep of her hand she gestures out over the dreamscape "--along the way."

She draws in a deep, unsteady breath, and presses her lips tightly together. "If that means our paths cross..."