The Hopeless Nightmare

Lacrima, Ariel, and Seishi find themselves in a dream where a Nightmare named Yasumi Yumeji in possession of one of the shards is, in her own words, causing trouble for an unconscious Kotomi. Fortunately, the shard is taken from her, and things seem to be resolved ... for now. But Yasumi seemed so sad ...

Date: 2019-02-03
Pose Count: 26
Yasumi Yumeji 2019-02-03 20:09:09 103338
A little over a week ago, during a meeting of dream defenders, Seishi's book began to write itself right there in front of the group:

    A shard of something happy, a shard of something sweet, bounced from hand to hand like a precious little treat. It wandered near, it wandered far, distant and long, not one carrier could bear it for a time prolonged.
    A fragment of hope ambled this way and that, only now to fall into the grasp of a cat.

This is a dream of a garden in front of an elegant two-story manor. A dark and overgrown garden, to be precise; the sky is overcast, black weeds choke the ground, dark kudzu covers every available vertical surface, and every other surviving plant is all thorns and no blossoms. An unpleasant wind fills the garden with low whispers.

Dreamers will find themselves in a small yard in the middle of the garden, the center dominated by a cracked and dry fountain. There's a straight path leading right to the mansion, the front double doors are open to reveal an indistinct purple glow from within. The atmosphere is chilly and oppressive; it's clear that whatever this dream was before, it has been overrun by a nightmare -- a Nightmare lurking inside the mansion itself, to be precise.
Ariel Theodore 2019-02-03 20:29:29 103339
    What a bleak and overgrown place...
    Ariel has been running herself a little ragged, hunting for the shards of the Nightmare Prince's special something, but it hasn't all been all work and no play.
    Thankfully, some time with Lacrima, just the night before had replenished Ariel's batteries a bit, before she prepared herself to continue the search, especially on such a minimal clue.
    So it is, that Ariel finds herself in the overgrown garden, seated astride her faithful hound companion, clinging to his back thanks to the unsettling atmosphere.
    "Ah... Did I take a wrong turn somewhere...? ... No. No wait, there's a Nightmare here..." Murmured as she pulls out her cellphone.
    And quickly starts dialing for Seishi and anyone else she can think of who are probably sleeping right now.
Seishi Tamashige 2019-02-03 20:37:28 103340
Ariel's not kept waiting long. Even as loosely subjective as time tends to measure in dreams, it can't be more than a minute before the rhythmic dull thudding of hooves against the ground answers the dream defender's hasty call. The familiar shape of the big dark horse looms out of the shadows that choke the dead garden, Akashimaru as ever a bright scarlet figure in the saddle.

"So," she declares, getting a look around at the scenery, "this looks ominous." And then her eyes settle on Ariel, and she smiles, lopsided but warm. "Hey. You rang?"
Lacrima 2019-02-03 20:40:15 103341
Ariel and Lacrima both needed that time. She kind of hopes no one questioned why she arrived home soak and wet from swimming in frigid sea water. Regardless!----

Lacrima is, if anything, intensely familiar with corrupted manor houses now. She answers the call easily enough by stepping onto the dream plane. She looks up at the manor and 'huhs'. "Reminds me of the manor when I first found it...." she says tapping her foot. "I wonder who's dream this is or what the dream is... or-- is this a nightmare?" she sasks scratching her head.

She'll approach the two and gives Ariel a biiiiig smile and then Seishi a nod.. slightly smaller smile, but still a smile. "Hello Ari-chan, Akashimaru-san ---is it just us?" she asks with a blink, looking around and furrowing her brow.

"Huh.." she says.
Yasumi Yumeji 2019-02-03 20:52:11 103342
As the group starts gathering together and starts talking, someone takes note of them. The purple light inside the mansion dims quite a bit, and the whisper of the wind dies down almost immediately.

Hurried footsteps echo from inside the doors, and out steps the Nightmare! It's ... a silvery-white-haired girl with cat-ears and glowing red eyes, dressed in red and black frills. "Oh, goodness gracious me," she says flatly. -- Her eyes don't have pupils, just circular red irises.

Then she blinks suddenly and focuses on Ariel. "... A unicorn!? Ahaha ..." She takes a nervous step back, looks between Lacrima and Akashimaru, and then rises off the ground. "... Well, tally-ho!" she says, before she zips into the mansion at top speed, wildly throwing back a few blasts of dark energy at the group! ... They're really badly aimed, frankly, and probably not much of a threat.
Ariel Theodore 2019-02-03 20:56:43 103343
    Ah there's Akashimaru and Lacrima, right on time. Ariel is practically beaming when the two arrive, their presence allowing her to brighten up in spite of the oppressive atmosphere of the dream.
    "Oh, I'm glad you could both make it so quickly." She chirrups before...
    A girl.
    "It's just u-- looks like it's not just us, hello!" She pipes to the new arrival. "Huh? Well yes, I'm a uni--" bleat!
    Ariel cuts off when they're fired upon, but she rallies well enough, horn glimmering to weave the very gossamer stuff that dreams are made of into a series of kite shields that hover up and soak most of the dark energy.
    "Um. I get the feeling she wasn't too happy to see us? ... Me?" Ventured before she motions for the mansion.
Seishi Tamashige 2019-02-03 21:01:12 103344
"--hey!" It's an indignant bark of sound, as the dark energy blasts come at them; Akashimaru yanks the Shinken from her belt, but between the Nightmare's wild aim and Ariel's quick reaction she almost might not have bothered. Planting her other hand on the pommel of her saddle, the samurai girl kicks her feet out of the stirrups and hefts herself into a precarious crouch, shooting a rather peeved look towards Ariel and Lacrima.

"Can't ever be easy, can it?" With these words, Akashimaru leaps from the back of her mount, launching herself toward the mansion in a rather more energetic pursuit of the fleeing cat-girl.
Lacrima 2019-02-03 21:08:22 103345
Lacrima, despite Ariel's efforts, take a shock of dark energy. She flinches but otherwise seems deeply unhurt. The dark does not fight the dark very well. She imagines whoever this is, is most likely going to have the same response to her own dark energy. She purses her lips angrily.

"Wo--woah!" she's off like a cat outta a --- a um.. ? Like a cat that saw a dog.. unicorn. Thing. "H-hey!" she yells as she begins to jog forward towards the mansion. "W--we don't wanna fight! We wanna talk!" she calls out. "P-promise!" she calls out. She huffs.

She looks to the other two and frowns a little at Akashimaru's look. "Yeah, it's never easy." she says with a heavier frown.

"I guess I need to get into my horrid dark energy mass form next time because maybe these things will see as friendly and we'll get a chance to talk." she says with light frustration.

"Is this your manor!? We're sorry! We didn't mean to intrude! Let us apologize!" she says. "I have a manor too! I hate it when people I don't know barge in!" she insists.
Yasumi Yumeji 2019-02-03 21:24:01 103346
The inside of the mansion looks just as decrepit as the outside; it's fully furnished, giving the impression that its previous tenants left in a hurry, and the kudzu and vines have started creeping inside and covering the walls and floor.

There's an open front hall with a sweeping double-staircase leading up to the upper floor. An elegant four-poster bed sits incongruously in the middle of the hall, surrounded by the eerie purple glow -- which is clearly dark energy. A girl with black hair is lying in the bed -- Hey, wait a minute, that's Kotomi Kobana! And she isn't looking "asleep" so much as "unconscious."

The Nightmare is in the process of flying up towards the upper hallway, bypassing the stairs entirely. She pauses as Lacrima calls out, and turns around and hovers right above the banister. "Well, I can hazard a guess as to what you've come here for," she says, "and you cannot have it!" A bead of sweat runs down the side of her head. "And quite truthfully ..." She gestures to the bed with Kotomi. "... I cannot imagine that this will leave a very good impression regardless."

She flips her voluminous white hair, and affects a thin-lipped smile. It's not a friendly smile. "I am Yasumi Yumeji, the Hopeless Nightmare," she announces. "This night, this nightmare, is mine!"

... In spite of all her talk, Yasumi doesn't really seem all that confident.
Ariel Theodore 2019-02-03 21:32:47 103347
    Into the mansion and up the stairs, Lucky is giving chase. Which means Ariel is too, being on his back and all, and she holds on tight as she joins Lacrima and Akashimaru in bolting after the inhospitable nightmare-girl, up the stairs.
    Annnnd there's a familiar figure on the bed.
    Lucky comes skidding to a halt, and Ariel is nearly launched off the massive hound as a result, but she holds on. "Ah that's..."
    What is she doing here?
    Regardless of what the group has come for, Ariel's focus is on Yasumi, slipping off her great hound's back to dismount. "Oh um. It's nice to meet you, Yasumi." She gives politely.
    "... What makes you hopeless?"
Seishi Tamashige 2019-02-03 21:39:03 103348
The chase ends almost as quickly as it started; Akashimaru pulls up short halfway to the stairs, checking herself long enough to take in the sight of Kotomi lying inert on that misplaced four-poster. Her tessen is ready in her hand, but for the moment the samurai girl just looks up with narrowing eyes to where Yasumi is hovering.

They can try talking first. Ariel might make it work.

"If you've got an explanation," Akashimaru's voice follows Ariel's, words clipped, "we'll hear you out."
Lacrima 2019-02-03 21:45:45 103350
Lacrima comes to a rapid stop and flails her arms. "S--sto--oh she stopped." she says rapidly. She blinks is-- is that Kotomi. Wait. Is this.. Kotomi's dream? She blinks rapidly. She frowns and looks towards Ariel. She'd know better how to handle that.

"Lo--look if you're talking about what I think you are- you really don't want that! It belongs to someone bigger and badder than you probably are!" she says. "-and he's been sending things after them!" she says.

"Loo--look! If you care about 'how it looks' then clearly what we think may or may not be happening isn't the full story right!?" she asks with rapid worry.

"My name's Lacrima." she says quietly. "I'm a vampire."
Yasumi Yumeji 2019-02-03 21:53:13 103351
Yasumi stares down at the trio. Her smile looks slightly strained, and she's looking more and more tense by the minute.

"It ... is meant in the sense of a 'hopeless romantic'," she says, and her voice is suspiciously calm. "Would you like to hear the tale of how I was an ordinary denizen of dreams who was driven to despair and nightmarishness by a certain event?" She seems to brighten, and her ears perk up slightly. "Oh! Or perhaps that of a heroic spirit, who fell to darkness through her misplaced good intentions!" She chuckles. "Ah, such a tale of woe it must be!"

And then she shrugs. "Or not," she says. "Quite truthfully, there was no trauma, no fall. Becoming a Nightmare is simply how I ended up!" She gestures to Kotomi. "And when I saw this child at the carnival back then? I just decided then and there that I had to cause trouble for her!" Her voice sounds very strained as she says that last part.

She pauses at Lacrima's warning. "... Hmph. Of course I know where it originally came from," she says. But now she sounds troubled. "... Quite truthfully ... it so galls me to have that accursed thing anywhere near me ..."

She hesitates for a few seconds. But then she shakes her head. "Pah!" Her thin-lipped smile returns, and she flies headlong into the upper-story hallway!
Ariel Theodore 2019-02-03 22:10:34 103352
    Ariel listens, waiting for an answer. Only to learn that... Yasumi simply is what she is as a matter of circumstance. "Oh."
    Her ears even droop slightly, but Ariel is not deterred. "Why?" She asks at first. Before clarifying. "Why did you choose to do that to her?" A genuine curiosity there without being accusatory. "And if you don't want it near you, maybe there's something we can do to take it off your ha- ah..."
    Oh thereh she goes. Ariel motions Lacrima and Akashimaru to follow. "I'll stay here and check on Kotomi."
Seishi Tamashige 2019-02-03 22:20:45 103353
"Fine." Akashimaru grits the word out through her teeth. "The hard way it is."

She gathers herself, a few strides of running start into a powerful leap after Yasumi's escape path. Catching the edge of the floor, she dangles for a second before she manages to heave herself up and over the balustrade and onto the second-floor balcony, scarcely getting her feet underneath her before she's sprinting for the hallway into which Yasumi vanished.
Lacrima 2019-02-03 22:22:16 103354
'Becoming a nightmare is how I simply ended up'. She frowns a little sadly at this. "I can sympahtize with that too." she says. "Just ending up 'something'." she says curtly. "You don't need to tell us a story." she says. "I don't like talking about mine either but people always wanna know.... ya know?..." she says quietly.

"--an--and I get needing to do bad things! I mean... We're probably not happy about that?" she asks. She's unsure. She doesn't like having people be angry at her when she needs to 'feed'.

"R-right!" she says. Lacrima decides it's time to take off the kids gloves and just sort of melds down into the floor and comes back up as her awful dark shadow self and begins to glide fast after Kotomi.

"C--come back!" she says. "Loo--look we're gonna need to start actually acting against you if you don't stop! W--I mean I'd rather not!" she says. "Besides we'd just pelt each other with dark energy blasts and then what!? Come on!" she says.

She'll move to also help Akashimaru up faster if it'll speed things up. She does look back a moment at Ariel to make sure she's okay before moving forward again.
Yasumi Yumeji 2019-02-03 22:33:34 103355
Kotomi, lying in the bed, briefly grits her teeth. "... ngghhh ..." It's like she's trying to wake up, in spite of ... whatever it is Yasumi did to her.

Yasumi ignores Lacrima's protests, and fires dark energy blasts at the doorways in the hallway ahead of her! A split second after she passes by, they slam open, partly blocking the hallway!

... Which probably isn't going to be that much of a defense. "... seemed like a better idea in my head," she mutters to herself. She darts into one of the rooms off the hallway. A few seconds later, there's the sound of shattering glass, followed by a catlike yowl from Yasumi.

It's some sort of drawing room, with a few pieces of furniture dotted around it. There appears to be sort of jewelry display case that got knocked over; one of the red shards is sitting in the middle of the broken glass, and Yasumi is reaching for it ...

... but it looks like she can't fully will herself to grab it. She's just sitting there, ears flattened against her head and one hand outstretched, and several expressions are going over her face. Hope, frustration, fear, then back into hope, over and over again.
Ariel Theodore 2019-02-03 22:43:06 103357
    As Akashimaru and Lacrima head on after Yasumi, Ariel is left to fuss over Kotomi. It looks like she's trying to wake up and Ariel purses her lips in thought.
    "Hey... Hey wake up... You're having a bad dream." She says gently, trying to shake the girl awake while the other two go on ahead. Hopefully it'll be a nice gentle wake up.
    Because if not, Ariel motions for Lucky, "Here boy..."
    Whether Kotomi wakes up or not, Ariel grunts, heaving her off the bed and onto Lucky's back, where the big dog can shoulder her weight better than the tiny unicorn can.
Lacrima 2019-02-03 22:47:47 103359
Lacrima forms back up to herself in the room that Yasumi has stopped in. She shakes her head. While Yasumi struggles she raises her hand and her arm sort of strecthes in it's black inkyness across the way to try to grab the gem before Yasumi can decide wether she wants to actually grab it or not.

Because sometimes being made of horrid black inkyness and being a horrid awful godawful creature can be a good thing when it's actually useful to people!

Of course there's always the chance that Yasumi might get her nerve to grab or not grab it.
Seishi Tamashige 2019-02-03 22:51:56 103361
The breath huffs out of Akashimaru as she finally catches up to Yasumi, more in exasperation than from exertion. Tessen still in hand, she folds her arms in front of her, regarding the cat-girl from just inside the doorway.

"I don't know what's going on here." Her voice is quiet. "But we can't just leave that thing floating around. I don't know why you'd hang onto it if you don't like having it near you, but either way, it needs to go back where it belongs."

Her eyes flick to the side as Lacrima reaches to secure the shard, just for a moment before she's looking at Yasumi again. "You get it, right?"
Yasumi Yumeji 2019-02-03 22:56:37 103363
Kotomi grumbles as she slumps onto Lucky. "Mrrgh ...?" She blinks awake, and then wobbles. "Oh! Ariel-san!" she exclaims. She clings onto the dog. "I ... think I, uh ... y'know what, I don't ... I don't feel too good ..." And then she vanishes into thin air, in the manner of someone waking up and exiting the world of dreams.

Right before she disappears, the purple glow shrinks down around her, and vanishes with her. Uh-oh ...

Yasumi actually jerks her hand away as Lacrima makes a grab for the shard! "NO!" She makes a half lunge for it, but falls flat on her face, and it takes her a couple of seconds to scramble back to her feet.

And then she just sort of deflates. "... well, then," she says softly. "Goodness gracious me, I don't know what I expected to ... ugh." She shakes her head. "Quite truthfully, it is probably just as well, being that I ... have no way of defending against His Highness." Her voice now sounds utterly ... well, hopeless.
Ariel Theodore 2019-02-03 23:04:43 103365
    Annnnd there goes Kotomi. Probably waking up for real. Ariel heaves a slight sigh of relief, as that means the girl is at least safe for now. But she gets on her way to follow the others.
    That's why... That's why when Yasumi falls flat on her face... That's why there's a small hand reaching down to help her up, just a second later, as Ariel arrives. Whether or not the Nightmare takes it is on Yasumi's choice.
    "The Nightmare Prince is the kind of person no one should have to face alone, you know. That's what we're here for. ... He was a nice dream before he became a Nightmare. Just like you right? You could always help us. And maybe we can help you, too, if you want it."
Lacrima 2019-02-03 23:05:51 103366
Lacrima draws her hand back quickly and suddenly like a strech armstrong doll's limb that's been let go- She draws it back and hesitantly opens her hand. She has it, okay. She looks towards Akashimaru and nods curtly matter of factly. She has it. She is happy she has it. She did a good! Horray! But also rubbing it into Yasumi's face isn't gonna smooth over anything or make a friend. There is a slight twitch at the lips though as she looks to Akashimaru.

She doesn't thank Yasumi because that's also kind of rubbing it in.

She does slide somewhere behind Ariel and Akashimaru now though. Just in case. She watches with wide eyes. Ariel's always better at this than she is.

"A--ariel is sincere. Okay?" she says quietly.
Seishi Tamashige 2019-02-03 23:10:44 103367
"She's also right," Akashimaru puts in, after Lacrima has spoken. She continues to stand back, arms folded, but the hard set of her face softens a little. "If you need help - whether it's against the Nightmare Prince or whatever..."

The words trail off, and Akashimaru unfolds her arms to gesture vaguely, an all-encompassing illustrative sweep of her still-closed tessen. "That sort of thing is what we do, after all."
Yasumi Yumeji 2019-02-03 23:13:29 103368
Yasumi stares at Ariel for several seconds. She looks at Lacrima, then Akashimaru, then back at Ariel.

And then she sighs and shakes her head. "I suppose I cannot mistake you for a liar," she says, "but I have done well for myself by avoiding such groups." She shrugs. "I did poorly enough for myself by falling in with another group, although that one was of an entirely different nature."

She fires a burst of dark energy at the nearest window, and it opens up. "Perhaps we shall meet each other again. But if so ..." Her thin-lipped smile returns. "... quite truthfully, I don't imagine it will be as friends."

And with that, she flies out of the window, and keeps going until she's left the dream.
Ariel Theodore 2019-02-03 23:17:01 103370
    Alas it is not to be. Yasumi blows out the window and takes flight. Leaving Ariel with her hand held out still, for a moment longer.
    The unicorn heaves a tiny sigh. "I hope that's not the case." Uttered at the notion that the next meeting shant be on friendly terms. "She seemed so sad."