Lechku and Nechku: Darkscapebypinkgothic©
Note: This story is the result of a private roleplay on IRC and is, at some points, mildly disjointed, where I was unable to rearrange sentences to suit the chronological flow of content. Of course, my sincerest thanks goes to Lechku (Elizabeth), for not only allowing me to share this piece of work with the world, but encouraging it. Bless you, girl. - Nechku/pinkgothic
This night's dream seems to find Elizabeth shrouded in a strangely textured darkness, as though it had been drawn directly onto her sense of vision with crayon over a gray background.
As her dream senses begin to creep into conscious grip, it adopts a different quality - a moisture seems to lie in the air, and the ground feels mossy and wooden simultaneously. Slightly curved, in fact, like a broad, sturdy tree branch. As she glances around to inspect the area, she finds that the area is shrouded in a thin mist, though that she seems to be carrying a bit of light with herself, since the area immediately around her is thinly illuminated.
The blackness beyond it is not inky, the wisps of mist breaking up the otherwise uniform colour, giving it a life of its own as they shift. Below her, half in darkness, is indeed what seems to look like a tree branch. It's unusually detailed for a dream, as though it were inspired by a particularly intricate design she had spotted in real life - organic, palpable, real almost. Far more vivid than her dreams are on average, even in being only a slight fleck of the world so far.
Curious, she finds herself squatting to get close to the ground, fingers trailing against the tree branch look-alike. It feels so ridiculously real that her fingers quickly snap back, eyebrows knotted in slight surprise. She's half tempted to pinch herself, using the classic test to see if this is perhaps real, but she resists the urge, as though doing so might make a fool of herself to some unseen dream-spectator.
Satisfied with the physical inspection, she pushes herself back into her original standing position, eyes darting back and forth over the gray-scale landscape. It's beautiful, in its own melancholic way, and the artist in her can only hope that she'll remember the sight long enough to attempt to recreate it on paper.
In hopes of seeing even more that might kickstart a burst of creativity upon awakening, she begins to carefully trek down the branch-like ground beneath her, steps slow and careful, if only because she can hardly see a thing.
The branch must be a good metre thick, at the very least. It doesn't seem to give way under her stride at all, firm under the bare soles of her feet - it seems she has not been granted shoes in her dream, though she seems otherwise fully clothed. The hint of light letting her see seems to travel with her as she walks across the moistened wood.
In the distance, the vague hint of pitter-patter of rain sounds, coming to her like a whisper, adding life to the silent world. Silent - and perhaps more complex than she might like, as is hinted at by the branch forking in figure of a Y, both ends vanishing into the thick, smothering mists.
Her toes curl curiously against the damp branch with each step, still fascinated by the fact that she can feel each tiny groove and each degree of wetness. Perhaps dreams as vivid as this are always forgotten? She mourns this possibility, not wanting to forget something so ridiculously real. This place is nearly the embodiment of some fairy-tale land, a hint at the worlds she's always longed to get lost in.
The soft sound of rain hits as she reaches some sort of crossroads in the thick, enormous branch, and she listens closely, trying to decide which path the soft trickling seems to be coming from. After all, a cool walk in the rain is always ideal. Eventually, she decides to head down the fork to her right, not even thinking twice about the possibilities she may be leaving behind by not going the other way.
The air seems warm, tasting like jungle, though there are no leaves on the trees that you have seen so far - and the branch you're walking on seems to be neither thinning out nor thickening consistently, merely changing as part of its mimicry of reality. She seems to be alone in these mists, travelling by herself across and through this world, unsure even about her destination.
Another sound joins the distant drumming of raindrops - the shnick of a knife wielded against a piece of wood. Someone seems to be carving something, from the sounds of it, the cuts coming in rhythmic succession, wearing at whatever is being worked on.
Her head tilts slightly to the side at the soft sound of carving, reminded slightly of the sounds of her grandpa's basement. Often, she would sit outside his workshop, reading books from Hemingway or flipping through the Bible while listening to him gently scrape and carve at blocks of wood, morphing them into masterpieces. Warmed by this thought, a smile adorns her face as she picks up her pace slightly, a touch excited to see what might be waiting.
Closing in on the sound, the outlines of a figure materialise in the mists, sat on the branch with its left leg stetched casually out and downward, right angled, foot up near the actual spot of sitting, gaze cast down on the hands that are indeed working on a piece of wood. As she comes closer, the silhouette fading to reveal a tanned man in his thirties, dressed in black slacks, he shifts his gaze up almost lazily, setting his eyes upon her, expression one of pleasant surprise.
"Hey there." The voice is soft, quizzical, evidently perplexed by her appearance, but not bothered, though perhaps a bit concerned for her well-being. His left brow has arched subtly - and after a moment's hesitation, he's slowly pushing to his feet, seeming like he's resisting the urge to scramble. "Are you lost?"
She meets the stranger's gaze of pleasant surprise with one of her own, although what reason did she have to be surprised? She was dreaming, after all, so everything should be expected. "Hello," she muses in reply to his greeting, and when he moves to get up, she almost steps forward, as though to insist he not rise for her. She decides against it, though; his actions are his alone. Instead, she answers, voice a touch soft and mousy: "Ah... I wouldn't say lost, per se. I don't know where I am, and I don't know where I'm going, but I wouldn't say lost is the right word." The smile she offers is bemused and rather carefree.
Having finally risen to a stand, the crude blade passes from his right hand's palm to being pinned against the slab of wood in his left by the thumb of that hand, and, right hand thusly freed, he extends it to her in friendly gesture. "I'm Dakarai - and... well, if you want to get anywhere in this realm, I can probably help you. ...I've been here forever and a day - wasn't expecting someone else, to be honest, but it makes for a nice change."
She takes his hand in hers, seeming to hold on a little longer than is normally appropriate. It's simply that she's fascinated, once again, by how insanely real everything looks and feels. The warmth of his hand against hers is something she's never before experienced in a dream, and it seems to drive her senses wild. She quickly realises what she's doing, though, and hurriedly shakes his hand, before releasing it, expression apologetic. "Ah, Elizabeth," she returns, smile still a touch shy. "As I said, though, I don't exactly no where I'm going, so I can't exactly ask you to help me get anywhere specific." She doesn't mean to brush him off but instead doesn't want to bother him for help when she doesn't know what she needs help with.
"Do you get yourself stuck in labyrinthine branch worlds often, Elizabeth?" he asks, hand giving hers a friendly squeeze before his fingers drift from her, tips brushing her palm in the process. His lips are upturned in half a smirk, eyes glittering with a strange brand of friendly mischief, suggesting that he was simultaneously trustworthy and dangerous to be around. His aura seems full of youthful energy, his demeanour one of casual pride, of confidence - but not arrogance.
She laughs, shaking her head side to side. "Oh, absolutely. It's a hobby of mine, Dakarai," she teases, quickly slipping into a fit of comfort around this man. She wasn't necessarily tense to begin with, seeing as the knowledge that she was in a dream certainly equipped her with a sense of immortality and fearlessness, but the man's friendly, casual demeanor simply helps.
Her thumbs find themselves slipping into the waist line of her pants, and blue eyes dart again over the landscape, eventually resting upon her new-found companion. "So, is there much to see in this gray-scale wonderland, or is this pretty much what goes on forever?"
"Pretty much all there is to it. Gloriously dull, this place," he remarks, grin not fading despite that, even if he does shake his head slightly to emphasise the point. "Though there are some interesting branch structures that way," he twists to gesture with outstretched arm into the distance, a certain fondness touching his features. "They resemble a dreamcatcher - if that tells you anything."
"A dreamcatcher?" she echoes, interest obvious in her voice as her gaze trails in the direction of Dakarai's outstretched arm. She had one of those hanging above her waterbed at home, and while she hadn't been prone to bad dreams before she'd bought it, the young woman still liked to think that it did her good. Curiousity wins her over, and she turns her attention back to Dakarai, grinning. "I think I'll go take a look at that. Thank you for pointing me to it."
She begins to resume her pace, intent on walking right past the older man, obviously expecting him to sit himself back down and go back to his previous carving job. After all, she'd made it this far on her own. No need to have him escort her now.
"It's a bit tricky to get there so you can see the whole thing," he remarks, casually, even before she has fully begun walking and thus flaunting her intention to walk that way on her own. As he catches it, his brows are tugged by a hint of incredulousness and confusion. "...unless you would rather I stay here, of course, ma'am," he remarks, a touch of humbleness in his demeanour, an oddly out of place gesture of courtesy, seeming not to suit him very much, genuine though it may be. Evidently, he is not sure if he has perhaps tread on her toes with something he said or implied.
She slows to a halt, looking back at him, expression quickly becoming apologetic. "Oh, I... I really didn't mean to imply that," she struggles, tone extremely earnest. "I just didn't want to bother you or anything - I mean, you were preoccupied when I showed up, and I figured you'd rather go back to that..." She trails off, nibbling gently at her bottom lip as her eyes dart to the ground, toes digging into the dampness beneath her. The young woman seems to emotionally withdraw a little bit, not having meant to insult Dakarai at all, until she remembers that this is merely a dream. No point in beating herself up over the situation, right? Perking very slightly, she adds, "You can go ahead and show me the best way if you'd like, but please, don't feel obligated."
Both his brows arch as she reveals her desire not to bother him - and as she finishes, four syllables of laughter spill from him, hearty, friendly, though he shakes his head. "Let me repeat the implication from earlier - I've been alone for a while... you would have to try much harder to be a bother to me, miss. I'd love to show you. Forgive my enthusiasm at spotting another human being."
The last sentence is delivered with a touch of irony and eye-roll, blatantly fond in intention, before his expression adopts a warm smile and he casts his gaze toward her to settle on her shape. Said, he suddenly bounds into motion, gaze darting between her and the branch's path, stride overly energetic, as though barely contained.
She seems to smile rather awkwardly at Dakarai's initial laughter, obviously not sure as to whether she should be insulted or not. Very quickly, though, she realises that it's a kind and harmless laugh, and her smile grows into a comfortable grin, expression relieved. "Well, I certainly won't complain," she laughs, stepping off to the side and bowing graciously, beckoning for Dakarai to step ahead of her. "Please, my dear gentleman, lead the way," she says, again with her teasing tone, before standing upright and moving quickly to keep up with his enthusiastic pace. His brand of excitement is contagious; Elizabeth quickly finds herself grinning pleasantly, just as excited as he.
As they wind their way through passageways - in fashions that would suggest randomness were there not the confidence this man carries himself with, as though he knew this area blindly, able to keep his attention almost entirely on Elizabeth without faltering in his stride or taking a wrong turn - it is revealed that he has lost track of the days he has spent in this perpetual darkness, though he estimates having slept a hundred times, which would explain knowing this world like the back of his hand.
The wisps of mist wind around their shapes, seemingly dissipating on contact, like ghosts.
She follows behind him rather devotedly, chirping out questions about the area and himself at a steady and constant rate, making for a verbal machine-gun like embodiment of her curiousity. It's obvious that she's the type hungry for knowledge about anything and anyone, and it's equally obvious that she's pleased with her company, ecstatic that Dakarai seems so willing to answer the questions she throws at him. In fact, she becomes so engrossed by the conversation that she nearly bumps into Dakarai when he comes to a halt.
Teetering to a stop, his hands snap up, fingers fanned out, his expression lit up in a glee reminiscent of a child stumbling across presents under the Christmas tree, and then his left hand folds, all but the index finger curling about the palm, him pointing upwards and forwards, tip of his lower lip trapped briefly between his teeth, before he grins across at her. "There it is."
"Gah, sorry," she laughs, and her gaze follows to where he's pointing, moistening her lips subconsciously. Her eyes hungrily take in the entire structure, and her smile becomes less of an amused one and more one of pure appreciation. Absolutely... stunning. "Heh," she mumbles to herself, voice soft and humble. "You asked for a piece of art, Elizabeth? There you go."
The motion is not swift, per se - but a shadow slides across the landscape behind Dakarai's proud shape, the softest rustle of feathers piercing the silence, spattering the scene confusingly, and palest, spidery fingers find the boy's shoulders in a breeze-like touch, tracing down his arms seemingly with no rush, but without lethargy. Simultaneously, Dakarai is twisting his head around to take a look at the source of the bizarre change of scene - and a soft sound of surprise comes from him - enough to snap the creature into an abrupt motion, right hand's fingers flying sideways to seize the knife from Dakarai's right hand, hiss surfacing from beyond gritted teeth - curley, black strands of hair lashing the air, obscuring what would be a face - and the air protests as black wings snap apart and back from Dakarai's shape, spread as if they belonged to a banking bird of prey that had just seized its prey, arched impressively behind the bundle of flesh - and a cry from Dakarai dies down as the blade that had previously been his rests against his neck with an almost natural ease. With the feathers settling, all falls silent, leaving only the breathing of the assailant and Dakarai's own slightly erratic gasps, shaken by shock.
Engrossed in the site of the dreamcatcher, Elizabeth doesn't notice at all the soft rustles or the near-breeze caused by wings that happen behind her and Dakarai. In fact, if it weren't for the soft, surprised sound that came from the older man, she may very well have remained oblivious to their new company, too caught up in trying to permanently ingrain the gorgeous landscape into her mind.
Thankfully, the sound was enough to catch her attention, and she twists around half-way, glancing over her shoulder mostly, expression questioning. It quickly twists into concern, though, as Dakarai's knife is taken from him and placed swiftly against his neck, some magnificent and winged stranger suddenly holding him captive. Slowly turning herself completely toward the two, she makes no movement to come closer, obviously not willing to put her new-found friend at any risk. Instead, she asks, voice quiet and tense: "What're you doing?" Even as she speaks, she thinks back to her knowledge on lucid dreaming. She's dreaming, she knows she's dreaming, she should be able to take control of what happens in the dream. Could she just concentrate this winged thing away?
The silence persists a little longer, the shape remaining half-curled against Dakarai as it is, revealing him dressed similarly, but with a ghostishly pale skin that seems unnatural and a more exaggerated frailty unfitting for something evidently currently in charge. His gaze rests unmovingly before Dakarai, piercing into the void at no particular point.
"Tell me, Elizabeth, if this is your dream..." - the voice is offendingly casual in tone, corners heavy with a dark brand of malice, the cheerfulness, though, remaining the foremost feature - "...do you think he will... bleed if I cut him?" Almost lazily, his gaze drifts sideways toward her, revealing eyes with enough darkness to their brown to pass almost as black, glittering with a dangerous curiosity. The blade's edge pushes against Dakarai's neck as though he were asking her for permission to pierce the skin, though that is obviously not the case.
Almost immediately, her bottom lip is enclosed between her teeth, biting down hard in attempts to keep the rest of her body from growing tense and revealing. Pale blue eyes lock with the winged man's, a stark contrast to the near-black of his.
Her expression is searching, confused, as though wondering why he won't just disappear. Was she not concentrating hard enough? Were thoughts of her and Dakarai back at their original meeting ground not enough? What more did the dream want from her? In a way, all those questions are right there in her eyes, as though expecting this winged beast to know the answers and offer them to her.
Answers don't seem to be his forte, though, and she releases her bottom lip, tone taught and trying hard not to plead. "What's the point of finding out?" she challenges, eyebrows knotting, almost aggressive.
His lips. His lips are painted in a royal blue gloss of lipstick, a glaring splash of colour against his face, chilling his features further, enhancing the shadows of his face, the smooth planes of skin. The smirk is subtle, almost as if it were personal to him, rather than something to share with her, though he is glancing toward her.
Dakarai is frozen, only motion that of his chest, heaving visibly at each breath; his gaze is locked down at the hand holding the knife almost gingerly to his throat, fingers curled against it just enough to be a real threat, able to wield it to cut with only a millisecond delay if it became necessary.
"Don't you want to know if it's your lucid dream... or mine?" he asks, his tone dipping to a seductive darkness, rich, but seemingly slightly roughened at the edges, unpolished, and judging from his level of confidence, entirely without intention of polishing it.