Chapter Two: The Dreamer with Open EyesEdit
"The dreamer with open eyes will confront him, and
the dreamer shall escape. He lies in wait no longer,
and with the taking of twelve, he shall reawaken. The
world shall fear him soon." ~ Unknown
"Do I know you, boy?" he asked.
Shinnosuke sighed. "I don't believe so. I'm looking for Nerima."
Another man scoffed. "Nerima? You're a ways away from there, boy." He leaned towards him. "This here's Ryugenzawa."
Shinnosuke rolled his eyes. "I know that."
The four men at the Ryugenzawa youth group hostel building looked at each other confusedly.
"Are you going to tell me how to get to Nerima, or what?"
"Sure, kid," a third spoke up. "Nerima is a ward of Tokyo. Just go to Tokyo, hop on any train, and then get off when it reaches Nerima. Most of them run on a loop, so as long as you get on one of them, there's no way you can lose it."
Shinnosuke blinked for a moment. His Grandfather often spoke of things outside of the forest. A train was merely one of them. His Grandfather described them as 'an insult to the feet of every living man'. He also said that they would become obsolete soon. Of course, his Grandfather hadn't left the forest for nearly twenty years.
"Kid, you in there?"
Shinnosuke looked up. "Yeah," he said. "Look, would you know how to get to Tokyo?"
The man blinked. "You don't know where Tokyo is?"
Shinnosuke shook his head.
The man shook his as well. "Look, about four kilometers down the road there's a town. Hop on the train there, and it will take you directly to Tokyo."
Shinnosuke nodded. "Thank you." He turned to walk away.
"Hey, wait a minute, boy." One of the men put a hand on his shoulder.
"A few months ago, this girl came from Nerima, and she was looking on getting into the forest. Not long after, a boy followed her. You wouldn't be looking for them, would you?"
Shinnosuke narrowed his eyes. "And if I am?"
"No problems here, kid. I was just wondering."
Shinnosuke nodded. "I am. I believe they have answers to some questions I have. I don't know how, or why, but I just believe they do."
The man nodded silently. "Good luck in finding him, boy."
Shinnosuke smiled and nodded. He continued on his way.
"You know what?" One man said to the other.
"I hope his Grandfather can take care of the animals as well as he could."
The other man blinked. Realization soon dawned on him. "You mean, he...?"
The other man slowly nodded.
"So, Kuno-baby," Nabiki greeted. "What's up?"
Tatewaki Kuno paid no more than a glance towards her. "Nabiki Tendo," he replied. "I do not know what you speak of."
"Then why so defensive?"
Kuno scoffed. "I have no need to defend myself against the likes of you, Nabiki Tendo."
"Well, either way, Kuno-baby, you've been pretty easy-going all day. Where the hell is your bokken?"
As if noticing for the first time, Kuno cast his gaze towards his side. Indeed, the bokken was absent.
"I have no need to give a reason for my melancholy behavior, Nabiki Tendo," he sighed.
"Look, Kuno," Nabiki said, changing her tone, "something is up. You may act as if there's nothing wrong, but there is."
"Nabiki Tendo, I--"
"You walked right by my sister this morning. You didn't even look at her!"
"If you wish for me to return my affections to Akane, could you have said so in the first place, Nabiki Tendo?"
"I merely decided to give her a rest. Yesterday had to be... disturbing for her. She was nearly forced to marry Saotome."
Nabiki shook her head. "There was nothing forced about it, Kuno-baby."
Tatewaki eyed her suspiciously. "What do you speak of, Nabiki Tendo?"
Nabiki shook her head. "Nothing Kuno. Don't worry about it," she glanced at the clock. "Look, lunch is nearly over. We should meet after school and conduct the usual business." She smiled. "I have some shots of Akane in her wedding dress you might like."
Tatewaki waved his hand dismissively. "I care not for such things at this time, Nabiki Tendo. I am much too troubled by more pressing matters."
Nabiki blinked. This wasn't like Kuno. For him, what could be more pressing than her sister? Or even Ranma's girl form?
Tatewaki continued to sit and stare into open space as Nabiki eventually tore herself away from him.
"Ranma-honey!" Ukyou smiled. "I made you some lunch!"
Ranma froze for a moment. He turned slowly, almost calculatedly.
"That's.. uhh.. great, Ukyou," he said, casting his gaze downward.
Ukyou wasn't blind. "Ranma? What's wrong?"
Ranma shook his head. "Nothing. Don't worry about it, Ukyou."
Ukyou? Why was he addressing her so formally? What happened to Ucchan?
"I said don't worry about it," he frowned. "Look, Ukyou. I gotta go. Akane's waiting for me."
Ukyou frowned. "Akane? Ranma, I thought--"
"Do you know what happened in China, Ukyou?" He asked.
Ukyou blinked. She had heard very little. Something about a dragon and Jusenkyo, but that was about it. She shook her head.
"Akane almost died," he muttered. "She would have died if... if I hadn't been there for her."
"Shut up, Ukyou," he shook his head. "I don't want to hear anymore. Not after what you did yesterday. That was unforgivable."
"But... I only did it--"
"I don't care why you think you did it. It was wrong."
"Ranma..." she stepped towards him. Extending her hand out to him, she continued. "I didn't mean to--"
Ranma pushed her hand away. "But you did, Ukyou," he sighed. "It's funny. I would expect something like that from Shampoo. But I thought you were my friend. And Akane's friend, for that matter."
"Ranma...?" Another voice asked from a small distance away. "What's... what's going on?"
Ranma didn't even turn. "Nothing, Akane."
Akane blinked. Any ill will she had harboured for Ukyou had passed in the last few moments. Now, she felt sorry for what Ranma had said.
"Ranma, can't you--" Akane began.
"Let's go, Akane," he said, and then turned away from Ukyou.
The last sight Ukyou saw before it happened was Akane looking back at her with concern. As she hit the ground with amazing force, she blacked out, and dreamt.
"Ranma!" Akane yelled, running over to the prone figure of Ukyou on the ground. "What happened?! What did you do to her?"
Ranma shook his head. "I didn't do nuthin! I just told her what needed to be said!"
"Help me get her up," she said, lifting her. Ranma helped out with the other arm.
"Ukyou?" Akane asked. "She's out cold. Let's get her to the nurses office!"
"I didn't do nuthin to her! How come she fainted?"
Akane felt her head. "She's got a fever, Ranma. We've got to get her some help."
"A fever?" Ranma put a hand to her head and abruptly pulled it away. "Damn, she's hot. She looked fine a minute ago!"
"Just get her to the nurses office!" Akane yelled.
Ranma shook his head, lifted Ukyou over his shoulder, and complied.
"What's going on?" Ukyou asked, looking around.
"You are one of the dreamers," the voice stated, a cruel, inhuman voice coming from several directions. The same voice, but many tones.
"Who are you?" Ukyou asked.
"I am the one you were born because of, girl."
Ukyou sneered. "What the hell do you want?!"
The voice laughed. Not one, but several. Each source seemed to laugh by itself. "Young one, you have no idea of the fall that is to come."
Ukyou took in a deep breath. "What fall?"
The single voice from many sources screeched with laughter. "You shall find out soon enough, dreamer. I shall find my servants."
Ukyou narrowed her eyes. "Servants?"
"Yes. Saiko and Nekkyo. They have both crossed your path, dreamer. I can feel their essence from within you."
"Who are you?" she yelled into the darkness.
The voice grew colder, more darker and inhuman, if such a thing was possible. "I am the future, dreamer. I am death beyond life. I am the destroyer of planes. The slayer of Gods." It laughed again. "You may call me Rogi."
The laughter penetrated through her skull. It was becoming louder by the second. As Ukyou clutched her head in pain, she doubled over and screamed.
"What happened to her?" Nabiki asked. She often enjoyed her Medical sciences class. All it usually involved was patching up several students, which gave her an excuse to gather and distribute information. For a price.
But sometimes something serious would happen, and she would have to worry about money later. This was such a time.
Ranma shrugged. "I dunno. She just fainted in the middle of the yard. I was walking away with Akane, and she just.. dropped!"
"You didn't say anything to her, did you Saotome?" She raised one eyebrow in an appraising look.
Ranma looked Nabiki in the eye. "Look. If I did this to her, which I doubt, then she deserved it for what she did yesterday."
Nabiki shook her head. "Look, Saotome. I may be the most un-empathetic person you know, but look at it from her point of view. She thinks you don't love Akane, and that Akane doesn't love you," she said, "I'm not making excuses for her, but that's the way it is. When she did what she did, she thought she was doing the right thing."
Nabiki shook her head. "How harsh did you go on her?"
"Pretty harsh." He looked to the ground.
"Look, Saotome," she sighed. "I'm sure she'll recover. But it wouldn't kill you to sit down and talk with her about it."
"No buts, Saotome." She waved her finger around. "If you want to marry my sister, you'll have to do something about Ukyou." She smiled. "Shampoo too."
Ranma nodded. "Alright, Nabiki." He sighed. "How much do I owe you?"
"We'll call this one a freebie, since you're practically family already," she smiled. "The next one, though, is gonna cost you."
"Where is Akane, anyways?"
Ranma blinked for a moment. "She told me she'd meet me here. But I... She would have been here by now, wouldn't she?" He turned around.
"She is here." Akane smiled.
Ranma jumped. "A...Akane?" He stammered. "How long... uhh... How long have you been here?"
She winked at Nabiki. "Long enough."
Ryouga walked down the roadway thinking.
It was something he usually did when walking. When lost. He thought. He thought of his future, of his girlfriend. Of his... failure.
Ryouga had had it with being P-Chan. Since he had met Akari, he had been appreciated. Even more so because of his curse. But with Akane, he was either P-Chan, her beloved pet, or Ryouga. Ranma's 'friend'.
Either way, he was unhappy. A feeling he often knew.
Recently, however, Ryouga had been confused. Not a definite happy or unhappy feeling, but just... in between. The limbo between feelings.
And soon, he came to realize why he blamed Ranma for everything that happened.
Because he was there. Ranma had eaten the bread Ryouga had craved, which had caused him to become angry at him in the first place. It may have been the first blow, but the battle could have been over long before it started.
The meeting for the fight. Ryouga blamed Ranma for leaving, even though he was four days late. Ranma even waited three days for him. It was better than Ryouga could do. Ryouga would have left after the first hour.
And then China. It had been pure luck that he had tracked Ranma down all the way to Qinghai But he did. And he found Jusenkyo. The hard way.
And he blamed Ranma for that. It was partially Ranma's fault. If he had watched where he was going, then he wouldn't have knocked Ryouga into the pool.
But then, as Ryouga recently realized, if he hadn't gotten mad about a simple bread incident, none of it would have happened.
"Mountains out of molehills..." he muttered to himself.
"Excuse me?" A voice asked, from not far away. Ryouga looked up to the source. A strangely familiar man stood at the entrance to a train station.
"Sorry, just talking to myself," Ryouga apologized. And then something clicked.
"You..." he muttered.
Shinnosuke blinked. "Me?" He asked.
The other man stammered some more. "You. Why aren't you in the forest?"
Shinnosuke narrowed his eyes. And then it clicked. He snapped his fingers. "You were with Akane and Ranma!" he shouted, smiling.
Ryouga nodded nimbly.
"Great!" he threw his arms into the air. "You can help me find Nerima!"
Ryouga blinked. "You're going to Nerima?"
Shinnosuke nodded. "Yes, I've got something I need to do. I don't know anyone outside of the forest, so I decided the best place for me to go would be to Nerima."
Ryouga smiled. "What about the forest?"
"My Grandfather can take care of it until I return."
"Why are you heading there, anyways?"
Shinnosuke shrugged. "I must find a bride."
Ryouga blinked. "A... bride?"
"Yes," he laughed. "Don't worry. I have no plans to steal Akane from Ranma. It was evident how they felt about each other."
Ryouga nodded. "I could imagine."
"Could you help me to Nerima?" Shinnosuke asked.
Ryouga blinked. He was just there the day before. He knew he had to find Akari, and after the big incident at the wedding with the Nannichuan, he wasn't sure whether or not he should go back. He looked up into Shinnosuke's face.
"Alright," he nodded. "I'll go with you."
And they went. All the while, talking of things Shinnosuke had missed since he had received visitors in Ryugenzawa.
Ryouga never once mentioned he had a horrible sense of direction.
"Shampoo?" Mousse asked. "Why are you--"
"Great Grandmother asked me to stay," she sighed. "She no let me go see Ranma."
Mousse blinked in confusion. It wasn't as if he minded having Shampoo around, especially this soon after returning from China, but it was somewhat confusing. Cologne always let Shampoo see Ranma, even if the place was busy.
Mousse looked out into the restaurant. And busy it wasn't.
Mousse turned his attention towards Cologne, who was sitting in a corner silently. He stepped towards her. "Great... err... honoured elder?"
Cologne barely flinched as he addressed her. "What is it, boy?"
Mousse narrowed his eyes in confusion. "The place isn't that busy... Why haven't you let Shampoo out?"
"None of your concern, boy," she turned towards him. "I had thought you would be pleased with her presence."
Mousse nodded. "Of course, I'm just... confused--"
"And you will be for much of your life, boy. I suggest you allow me to continue my meditation and get back to your own work."
Mousse sighed. "Very well," he said as he went back to work.
Cologne had been known how to do it for years. However, she had never actually found the need to do it until now.
The Joketsuzoku had called the method 'Kai Kuo Yan Jie De Meng Huan Zhe'. The dreamer with open eyes. Technically, one's eyes were closed during the method, but it allowed one to focus on a dream greatly, and still return to the waking world with but a thought.
And now, she was employing the method. She cleared the area around her, and lost herself in the clatter of noise behind her.
Normally, for amateurs, it would have to be completely silent for the technique to work. However, Cologne was anything but an amateur.
Slowly, she descended into the dream.
Normally, it would take several hours to enter a true dream. There were waking dreams, which were just trains of thought as you woke up, which happened regularly. But true, deep sleep dreams could only be experienced under two conditions. By going into a deep sleep, and by the Kai kuo yan jie de meng huan zhe method.
And now Cologne was in the dream.
It took a lot of her concentration to focus the dream more clearly. During normal dreams, it had been extremely hard to do so, but with this dream, all it took was a thought.
She looked about. She was dressed in a long robe, with a staff at her side. As she stood from her chair, she gasped.
She was tall. In her dreams of the previous night, she had been merely an observer, not directly influencing any of the actions of her dream-self.
Now, she was not only controlling her dream self, but experiencing her.
"Kaoriko," she heard from nearby, "What troubles you?"
Cologne raised an eyebrow appraisingly. Whether it was by her choice or not, she answered. "I know not of what you speak, Midara."
The man appeared from around the corner. He was just as tall as she was, and seemed just as old. But his eyes had a spark of familiarity to them.
He shook his head. "Do not misguide me, Kaoriko. I am just as wise as you, if not wiser."
Cologne smiled inwardly. Obviously not too modest, either.
"I worry of the children," she answered.
Midara shook his ancient head. "Do not worry. Amaterasu Ohmikami will watch over them."
"We are far from our home, Midara. Amaterasu is far from her land of power."
"Even this far from her land, she is powerful."
"Powerful enough to defeat Rogi?"
Midara narrowed his eyes. "Kaoriko, consider what we know of Rogi, and what we know of Amaterasu," he sighed.
"Rogi is a stranger. You nor I know anything of him."
"True enough, but our faith in Amaterasu Ohmikami should be enough."
Cologne thought. All this speak of Amaterasu... and... Rogi? Who was Rogi? Cologne had never subscribed to Shinto beliefs. If anything, she was more of a believer in Tao, although her knowledge spanned many religions.
"Fair enough, Midara. I... I believe we should go."
"To the valley?" he asked.
"Yes. The battle will start soon... I wish... I wish to be there to bear witness to it."
Midara closed his eyes. "Very well, Kaoriko. If you wish it."
"Then we shall." He turned around for a moment, and then paused in mid-step.
Cologne narrowed her eyes. "Midara?" she asked. It was then she noticed that she could control her speech once again.
Midara didn't turn. A low growl was heard from him as the colours and shapes around her began to swirl.
As he turned, Cologne realized that something had gone horribly wrong.
His eyes were no longer the light brown they had been before. They were now a deep, horrible red. His mouth had twisted into an evil grin, with sharp rows of teeth protruding.
"Who are you?" she asked.
He laughed. It came from not one, but several sources.
"A wise one," he continued. "How fortunate for me."
Cologne narrowed her eyes. "Who are you?"
"What, you've forgotten me this easily?" he laughed again. "You hold no memories of me, wise one?"
"Answer me, creature. Why do you invade my dream?"
He narrowed his eyes. "Who said it wasn't my dream to begin with, wise one?"
Cologne frowned. "Why are you here?"
"I am here to return. It seems none of my servants are in the world of dreams," he smirked, "So I shall have to settle for you, wise one."
"You cannot hurt me in a dream, creature."
It laughed again. "Oh, can't I? You will be as easy to break as the other was."
Cologne narrowed her eyes. "Other?"
"Indeed," he laughed. "What a glorious sound, the human scream. A pity she woke up so soon, I could have had continuous fun with her."
"Oh, you have crossed her path. I was unable to see her past as I can see yours. I invaded her as she fell unconscious. But you..." he smirked.
Cologne sneered. "I have not the time to banter with you, creature. Tell me who you are, or I shall leave?"
The creature growled deeply, and then eased up. "You truly do not remember me, do you, wise one?"
Cologne narrowed her eyes.
He laughed. "Your memories have yet to awaken," he smirked, "This, I shall enjoy."
And then he moved.
Cologne had no experience fighting in dreams, and the creature had seemed to be in charge. Knowing full well that she could feel pain in dreams, she decided it best to leave.
And she did. She opened her eyes, and waited a moment for the real world to come into focus. Slowly, the clatter of noise behind her became louder, and overtook her senses. Her sight returned a moment later.
Cologne got up, stretched her weary bones, and then sighed.
"Oh my God!" She shot up.
"Ukyou, whoa girl. Calm down," Nabiki pleaded.
Ukyou was breathing heavily. She looked around in confusion for a moment, before she spoke.
"What happened?" she asked, still looking around.
"You passed out. Ranma brought you in about twenty minutes ago." She reached to feel her head. "Looks like the fever is gone, too."
Ukyou blinked. "Ranma? Fever?" She looked down at her hands... "It was... a dream. It was so real."
Ukyou shook her head. "Nothing... I just... I just had a nightmare."
Nabiki nodded. "Yeah, you looked kinda disturbed when you were under."
"I was only out for twenty minutes?" She asked. "God. It felt like days..."
Nabiki shrugged. "Nope. Twenty minutes." She looked at her. "You well enough to get back to class?"
Ukyou nodded. "Yeah... I... I think so."
Nabiki handed her a yellow slip. "Take this. I hear Hinako can be really strict on lates."
Ukyou took it and nodded. "Yeah. Thanks."
"Oh, by the way. I think Ranma and Akane want to talk to you. Why don't you head over to the dojo after school?"
Ukyou blinked. "The... dojo?" She cast her gaze towards the floor. "I... I don't think--"
"Look," Nabiki said to her, "you want to go through life the way you are now, or do you want to reach an understanding between them?"
Ukyou blinked. "Alright," she sighed. Getting off of the bed, she walked towards the door, opened it, and then closed it behind her.
"I... We... WHAT?!" Akane asked.
"I spoke to Ranma's mother earlier, Akane," Soun said, "We came to an agreement we think both of you will accept."
"You want me to MOVE IN WITH HIM?" she asked.
"Akane," Nodoka interrupted, "it will really be no different than living here. We'll move all of your things into our guest room, including your bed if you like, and it is no further from Furinkan than here."
Akane stammered. "B...but... move IN with him?"
Soun sighed. "Akane, dear. Please. It is very important to me that you do this. If you like, it can only be on a trial basis. You won't be living far from home, and you can visit any time you like."
Akane blinked. Visit her own home? She'd lived here her whole life... how could she just... leave?
"Hey," Ranma said, walking through the front door. After seeing everyones expression, he paused.
"What's... going... on?" he asked, slowly backing away from the small crowd.
"Ranma, my boy," Genma pushed up his glasses. "Looks to me like you'll be returning with your mother and me."
Ranma blinked. "Already, the place fixed up?"
Genma nodded. "Apparently it was repaired while we were in China."
Nodoka smiled. "They were fast workers."
Ranma sighed. He looked up at Akane. The look on her face told him all he needed to know. She was going to miss him.
"Akane... I... uh..." He stammered. "Look, let's not let the same thing happen again."
Akane blinked. "Same thing?"
"You know... misunderstandings, that sort of thing."
Akane shook her head. "What do you mean, Ranma?"
Ranma sighed. He walked over and put a hand on her shoulder.
"Akane," he took a deep breath. "I don't want us to leave each other angrily again."
"Leave?" Nodoka laughed, "Oh my, Ranma. Akane is coming too."
Ranma blinked. "She is?"
Akane smirked. "Yeah. I... I guess I am..."
Ranma smiled. Somehow, it changed things. Sure, he had spent the past year living with Akane and her family, but this was different. It was... closer. No Nabiki or Kasumi. No Soun, just him, Akane...
Genma cleared his throat.
...and his parents.
Either way, he saw it as a chance. He could have an excuse to spend time with Akane.
Akane couldn't believe she accepted. It was practically admittance that she loved him. Something she wasn't sure she'd ever admit to. Then again, she was almost sure that he didn't like her until the incident in China.
That had changed everything. It was only when she'd gotten home from school and learned that she was to be moving to Ranma's mothers home that she realized.
It was all downhill from here. When she noticed another figure walking to the door, she frowned.
Ukyou took a deep breath as she stepped to the door. By every right, she shouldn't be there. But Nabiki had been right, she had to do something about it.
She raised her hand into the air, and then knocked.
A third time. The door opened.
"Ukyou?" Ranma asked.
"N...Nabiki told me you guys needed to talk to me."
Akane showed up at the door next to Ranma. "Ukyou? Are you all right?"
She nodded. "I'm fine. I don't know what happened earlier."
Ranma sighed. "It wasn't because of me--"
"No. It wasn't that. I'm sure of it. Nabiki said I was running a fever, so that may have been it."
Ranma nodded. "Do... you wanna come in? We can talk about this."
Ukyou sighed. "It's hard for me, you know. I spent ten years trying to get my revenge on you."
Ranma nodded. "I understand, Ucchan."
"Why do you have to be so nice, Ranma?" She scoffed. "Ten years ago, you were my friend. You left without a word, and you abandoned me. Then when I found you, I wanted to kill you."
Ranma blinked. "Ucchan--"
"You were so nice to me, Ranma. Nobody was ever that nice to me... except... except you, Akane." She looked towards the ground. "I'm sorry for what I did yesterday."
"Ukyou, look. Don't worry about what happened yesterday," Akane said, feeling as if she was going to cry.
"No," she shook her head. "That was dishonourable of me."
"Ukyou, look," Ranma put a hand to her shoulder, "you're my friend. You were my friend ten years ago, you're my friend now, and for as long as I live, you'll still be my friend."
Ukyou smiled. It did bring some comfort to her. "Thank you."
As much as it had comforted her, there was a part of her that it didn't comfort. The part that wanted Ranma not as a friend, but as a lover.
"Look, Ukyou," Akane smiled, "We've got a lot of things to do. We're moving over to Ranma's mother's home."
Ukyou perked up. "You are?"
"Yes. Would you like us to walk you home?" Akane smiled.
Ukyou sighed. "Yeah. Yeah, that would be nice," she laughed. "I hope Konatsu hasn't ruined the place."
Ranma and Akane laughed along with her.
Deep under the sea of Japan, something erupted.
The news reports would say it was a random volcanic eruption, as they usually happen.
A few eccentric fisherman along the coast said it was Gojira, attacking several fishing boats in the sea.
But the real reason that a small fleet of four fishing boats went missing was neither. Not a volcanic underwater eruption, not an attack by a mythical sea dragon, but instead, something far worse.
The men on the fishing boats died quickly, but did not drown.
The life was sucked out of them piece by piece. The total of twelve people aboard the ship never even had a chance to call for help.
Had they known why their lives were taken, they would have been even more horrified.
Alone, on the deck of one of the fishing ships, stood a man.
Yet he was not a man. He was a thing. A creature with the form of a man. A man unable to invade dreams any longer. A man who had one purpose. To find his servants.
Examining the boat he was standing upon skeptically, he chose his destination.
It looks like he was once again going to visit Japan.