A Dream and a Nightmare

Maboroshi no Manako meets with Ariel's mother Amalthea. The conversation takes ... a surprising turn.

Date: 2018-10-08
Pose Count: 12
Ariel Theodore 2018-10-08 23:10:45 98768
    It is a peaceful dream. A quiet dream. It used to be a lonely dream. A quiet forest nestled against the lapping waves of am eternally sunset beach. And though it seems, at first as though there is no one there, that could hardly be the case.
    The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, though she was hardly alone anymore. She was not the vain creature unicorns tend to grow into. Amalthea had long since grown past that age. The old knight now spends her time at the border of this forest, lingering close to the sea. It is a quiet night, and she sits alone upon a hunk of driftwood some distance away from the water, staring off to the horizon.
Narumi Nendai 2018-10-08 23:24:51 98771
A shadow quietly slips into Amalthea's dream; or to be more precise, a mass of shadows, filed with glowing purple eyes, and cat ears directly above a single fuchsia eye.

Maboroshi no Manako quietly waits quietly at the boundary of this dream; her form is ... well, more spread out than it might have been when she got into fights with the dreamers and defenders of the waking world, but not in a threatening manner. Relaxed, maybe.

Rather than simply imposing herself on this dream, Manako stops where she is, and simply waits for Amalthea to approach her.
Ariel Theodore 2018-10-08 23:34:27 98773
    It is a sensation the likes of which does not come normally to an immortal creature like a unicorn. The feeling of hairs raising on the nape of one's neck. In an instant, the old unicorn is, instantly, alert to the presence at the boundary of her home.
    Floppy ears prick up, and she sits upright; hand automatically reaching for something at the belt of her tunic that isn't there, before she quietly grumbles, before composing herself a tad.
    "Well now. That's a presence I haven't felt for... A long, long, time." She murmurs, canting her head to better face her good eye.
    "I'll have you know that I've retired from hunting your kind. So I'll do you no ill in this dream as long as you do me none, aye?"
Narumi Nendai 2018-10-08 23:56:31 98777
Maboroshi no Manako inclines her 'head'. "Certainly, old friend," she says, in that triple-voice of hers. "Notwithstanding His Highness's ambitions ..." (This isn't the first time she's implied that the Nightmare Prince is neither her only nor her primary master.) "... we feel that you've had enough trouble in your own home-realm."

She pauses, and then ... perhaps for the first time since Amalthea encountered her, Manako sounds hesitant. "We ... encountered your daughter in the waking world, two fortnights ago," she says. "Well. Encountered others around her, we should say."
Ariel Theodore 2018-10-09 00:08:28 98780
    "His highness' ambitions are a thorn in my side that makes an old, old, wound ache." The ancient unicorn replies, one hand clutching to her side, feigning holding an old ache. "Beginning to think arthritis is setting in, in my old age. But I'm going to guess that's not what brings you paying me this... Cordial visit, old friend." Amalthea says with a mild snort.
    But then she senses it. That mild hesitation. A pause that is so unlike the creature of nightmare before her. And then her child is brought up.
    "Did you, now?" Amalthea replies slowly, measuring her response and giving no indication of shock, nor potential outrage.
    "My daughter is a gentle soul. I tried to teach her my ways when she was a wee one and she rejected them. I'd warn you those she hangs around can be less gentle, but I don't think I need to be telling you that, then do I?"
Narumi Nendai 2018-10-09 00:16:14 98782
Manako nods again as Amalthea describes Ariel; there's no hesitation there. "Indeed, indeed," she says. "We found that the Guardian of Mars is a much more fiery soul, and the vampire Lacrima ... has a sharp Device, and a sharper tongue." The shadows ripple in an approximation of a shrug. "But your daughter has virtues, too. We would not be surprised to learn that she has learned ... precisely what we were doing in the waking world."

There's another moment of faint but significant hesitation. Then Manako says, "If I were to return to being a more pleasant dream, I am certain she and I could become friends."
Ariel Theodore 2018-10-09 00:29:34 98784
    "Where my horn's sharp and my wit's dull, she's just the opposite." The unicorn replies. "She may just have figured something out from what you were doing. When and how she acts on it will be on her though. I'll not be giving you any hints now, no matter how nicely you ask." The old unicorn says with a cheeky smile. "Mostly because I'm in the dark there myself."
    As casual as can be, Amalthea folds her hands on her lap, lips pursing into a thin line as she falls into a somber silence for a moment before she speaks again. "That child... Some kind of special breed all her own. Where it comes from I don't know. She certainly doesn't take after me, and definitely not like her other mother. But were that the case? If you were to one day return to being that way? Of that I have no doubt."
Narumi Nendai 2018-10-09 00:37:53 98786
Manako shrugs again. "Indeed, I would not demand hints from you," she says. "As yet, you have every reason not to trust 'us'." Her voice actually has no small amount of ... regret? Sorrow? "But even so ..."

She turns her fuchsia eye towards the sunset. (Although the rest of her eyes are still staring in the same directions.) "'We' have been a nightmare for six hundred twenty-seven years. 'I' was a pleasant dream for a mere sixteen -- less than one part in forty of my entire existence."

The eye turns even further away from Amalthea. "In all candor ... I would not know what to do with a return to form if I received it."
Ariel Theodore 2018-10-09 01:19:53 98791
    "Nor would I give you a hint." Amalthea says without malice in her tone. "That would be unfair to both you, and her." The elder unicorn points out. "But even so." She agrees to move on, her own eyes returning to the sunset that she had been staring at before Manako's arrival.
    "You were but a babe when you were turned, aye." The old knight says with a solemn nod. Before her eye turns back to the Nightmare. "I'm sure you'd figure it out. Plus I have no doubt you'd have a new friend to help you, eh?"
Narumi Nendai 2018-10-09 01:28:07 98793
"Yes," says Manako, simply. "... Perhaps I shall take Lacrima-san's offer of a meeting. She is the one whose words struck my heart. I didn't even realize I still had a heart, as t'were."

Her form seems to shuffle about a bit. She doesn't need to turn around to get anywhere, but ... "In the meantime, I shall take my leave," she says. "For the sake of appearances, should the Prince ask where 'we' were ... 'we' shall tell him we said this to you: 'Should you choose to serve His Highness willingly, you might profit greatly.'" She makes another shadowy shrug. "But ... a first step has occurred to me, in terms of actions I might do to restore myself. I should take this step, posthaste."
Ariel Theodore 2018-10-09 01:47:52 98794
    Silvery brow quirks and the unicorn now turns her head to better peer a the Nightmare. "Oh? The vampire made you an offer? Hm." Murmured before she snorts again. "Keeping up appearances. Oy course. Though you, I, and the His Highness know that he will not have a hold on me again as he did in the past.
    That said, she pats her knee. "Leaving so soon? Well then don't let me keep you. But. Do consider that first step, aye. Even if they say the first step is often the hardest, old friend."
Narumi Nendai 2018-10-09 01:57:16 98796
"We must say we agree, on all counts," says Manako dryly, switching back to plural forms. "It was only an offer to speak, but ... well." She hesitates, then says, "Perhaps when you see 'us' next, 'I' shall once again be called Yozora no Yumemi."

And with that, she silently leaves Amalthea's dream.