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[Week 14, day 6, morning] Nightmare

You're in a large open space, surrounded only by boulders and tall, looming cliffs. The sky matches the dark grey of the rocks around you, making everything seem even more depressing. It could be noon, or evening, or even mid-morning, it's hard to tell here. Only 'day' and 'night' seem to exist, with the days overcast and the nights so dark you can't see five feet in front of you.

You've never been here before, but you've heard the stories and you know what this place is. This is where the old, the crippled, and the feral go. This is the place where the unwanted dragons live.

The humans try to make it sound nice. They say it's like going on a permanent holiday. You get three meals a day, and you don't even have to work for it. You're free to do as you wish all day, so long as you stay within the grounds.

The irony isn't lost on you: you know there's no real freedom here. All the dragons here, they've been abandoned by their country. They're only here because the humans don't want unharnessed dragons flying around the countryside, terrorizing villages and eating livestock. They'll live the rest of their useless lives here, ultimately dying among the rocks and caves.

But you're not useless.

You don't belong here.

You can see them, standing on the cliffs high above. Dozens of men and women, all wearing this uniform, are there, though you can't quite tell who they are. But there is one thing you can tell for sure: they're all looking down at you with looks of shame and disappointment. And you can hear their whispers.

"She won't follow orders."

"She puts her crew in danger needlessly."

"She's one step away from being a feral."

"Her actions have caused the deaths of several men."

"Britain doesn't need a dragon like her."

"Poor Granby, having to put up with someone like her."

"Just leave her, she can't do any more harm here."

Mixed in with the airmen you see the faces of several people from the new land you stumbled into. Rin, Marco, Roy, Allen, Matt, and dozens more. They're looking down too, crushing you with their accusing and pitying stares.

And then, one by one, they all start to leave.

No no no no no! You stretch out your wings and leap into the air, trying to fly up to them, but as you fly up the cliff seems to go higher and higher above you. You never reach the top, no matter how much you fly, and soon your wings give out and you have to latch on to the side of the cliff to keep from falling down. But even then it's just a temporary measure: your claws chip off bits of rock, and for every meter you climb up you lose three by sliding down.

I'm not useless, you cry out, though it's not clear if it's with your voice or just in your mind, I'm not weak! I can still fight! Don't leave me here!

Suddenly the cliff gives out underneath you, and you fall, spiraling down into the darkness below with a terrified roar.

---

[Moments later Iskierka wakes with a start, and she's up on her feet looking around in a panic. Soon she realizes that it was all just a terrible dream, but that doesn't make her feel any better. If anything, that makes it worse: she doesn't have nightmares. Those things she dreamed in her dream, she has never worried about them before. They're valid criticisms of her actions, but she's never been one to seriously listen to criticism. So why would she have a terrifying dream about it now?

She paces around for a bit, muttering to herself as she thinks about this. This place is working its terrible magic on her, and she doesn't like it one bit.]

It is all silly, I am far too valuable to be confined like that. We are in the middle of a war, they would not remove their strongest weapon just like that.

[But she knows that isn't true either, because that's the exact thing that happened to another dragon she knows, though the circumstances were different.

Before she can think about that point for much longer, she notices that the Hitomi is on, and she realizes that everyone has just seen that dream and how much it bothered her. She lets out an angry snarl and a violent puff of steam from the spikes on her back as she swipes at the Hitomi with a clawed hand, which manages to shut it off.]

Comments

revengeisalie
Nov. 17th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)
1/2 [reaction]
[Somewhere in her mind, Rin realizes she didn't think dragons had nightmares.

She doesn't know why. She just assumed they didn't. There's a memory, nearly-blotted out: Isierka telling her that dragons dream of memories. Of things that happened; not phantoms that only exist in one's own mind, where they're more powerful than anything real; threatening to break into reality.

Now she finds she's proven wrong. Not usually one to pry, Rin can nevertheless not help the pull of the nightmares at this time. So she watches, sees the images and feels them permeate her but not quite take hold of her. Still, it's intense enough to give her the shivers, to feel, as if it were her own, the claustrophobia, the sense of failure, of loss, and of rejection.

It scares her a little, because some of those feelings are not unfamiliar.

And Iskierka, she does after all have those doubt within her. Suddenly, Rin feels more connected to her. She can be stubborn, and kind of... a brat, yes. Just a little bit on the arrogant side. Rin didn't think Iskierka ever doubted herself; she certainly seemed adamant not to show any such thing. But apparently, there's some of it beneath the surface.]
revengeisalie
Nov. 17th, 2010 07:10 pm (UTC)
2/2 [action]
[Having been awake anyway (because who can sleep well these days), Rin hears Iskierka's rather loud version of shuffling about, and also her words. Trying for self-assurance? It seemed like it.

Rin is still thinking about how to react, if she's indeed going to show any reaction, when she hears Iskierka stomping away from where they're camping.

She sits up and watches her go.]
flightandfire
Nov. 17th, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC)
[action]
[She actually doesn't go too far away, just far enough that she won't end up hurting anyone with her temper tantrum, which is actually considerate of her since she usually doesn't think of that when she's angry. But she's close enough that Rin might be able to see the sudden bursts of fire as Iskierka sets some trees on fire as stress relief.]
revengeisalie
Nov. 17th, 2010 07:39 pm (UTC)
[action]
[Rin does think she sees some vague red flares some distance away. She squints at them, then decides to get up and slowly go after Iskierka. Slowly because she's not sure yet she actually wants to talk to her.

So she scoots around some shrubbery, intent on making as little noise as possible. Even though Iskierka doesn't seem like she could hear her now, between the hiss of the flames Iskierka is distributing liberally.]
flightandfire
Nov. 17th, 2010 08:50 pm (UTC)
[action]
[By the time Rin gets there, Iskierka has tired of lighting things on fire, and she's scowling intently at the flames. Fire usually makes her feel better, and it's calmed her down somewhat, but she's still very irritated.

She would have smelled Rin long before seeing her, but the sulfur and burning from her fires make it difficult to smell anything. It isn't until she looks back, wondering if she should go back and lay down again, before she finally notices Rin.

Her eyes narrow.]

Here to make fun of me?
revengeisalie
Nov. 18th, 2010 10:03 am (UTC)
[action]
Oh dear, caught!

[Rin mutters that under her breath while her hand shoots to her mouth in a typical "caught at the cookie jar"-gesture.

Still, she sobers up quickly, straightens and comes out from behind her bush while brushing off her kimono. She gives Iskierka an open look.]

No, I'm not.
flightandfire
Nov. 18th, 2010 02:37 pm (UTC)
[action] I CAN GRAMMAR
[She has a hard time believing that, not because she distrusts Rin but actually because she's heard the words before. She never put much weight to them before, and she really did deserve them at times, but still.]

I certainly would expect it. 'Just look at the great Iskierka, always so strong, suffering from a nightmare.' The very idea is laughable.

[The bitterness is strong with this one.]
revengeisalie
Nov. 18th, 2010 02:51 pm (UTC)
[action]
[Rin blinks, not sure how to answer. After all, those were basically her own thoughts just a moment ago. Well, maybe without the "laughable" part.

She doesn't think having nightmares is laughable. So she shakes her head.

And hesitates.]

Well, [she finally, sheepishly, begins] it is a little unexpected. But not laughable, I don't think.
flightandfire
Nov. 20th, 2010 02:19 pm (UTC)
[action]
[She looks back, giving Rin a very unusual look. It's somewhere between a bitter, cold anger and disbelieving curiosity, which really fits with how she is feeling. She is still angry over her dream, and she really doesn't think Rin knows what she's talking about. But at the same time, part of her wants to believe it, because if it really isn't a sign of weakness to be bothered by a nightmare then it would mean that she isn't weak.]

Would it not be silly for a skilled warrior to be disturbed by bad dreams? It is the living, the flesh and blood, which should be feared, after all. A Dream cannot hurt anyone.
revengeisalie
Nov. 20th, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC)
[action]
Mh, I guess.

[Rin finds herself conceding before she really realizes it. A rueful look passes over her, and she swallows.]

But I also have a lot of nightmares. I've seen people who are more skilled warriors than me have nightmares.
flightandfire
Nov. 20th, 2010 02:42 pm (UTC)
[action]
[Well that gets her attention. The anger almost instantly disappears from her, because she really wasn't expecting that answer and hearing it makes her wonder if nightmares really aren't a sign of weakness.

She is turning around properly now and sitting in front of Rin, rather than just looking back over her shoulder.]

Truly? Even the strongest of warriors have nightmares?
revengeisalie
Nov. 20th, 2010 03:04 pm (UTC)
[action]
[That makes her fidget a little; the scrutiny as well as the question. The one person at home she saw having nightmares was Hyakurin, though she suspects others might have them. Manji didn't, as far as she knew, that was true.

In Kannagara, however, she's pretty sure there's no one who has never had a nightmare, or at least a bad dream. Even if it was induced by the environment. She can never be quite sure how many of these dreams are really any given person's, including her own, and how many only come to pass because of Kannagara. At times at these, it's obvious that a good part of the dreams that occur are not entirely natural, but at other times, the line blurs. Rin knows she's had dreams here that she thought a bit outlandish, but not that different from what she's had before.]

I don't know about the greatest of warriors, but I think strong people can have them, too.

[She smiles, and there's hint of bitterness in it.]

I mean, wouldn't that be sad, if having nightmares precluded strength? Some strong people have had bad things happen in their lives, and I don't think all of them forget.
flightandfire
Nov. 20th, 2010 03:21 pm (UTC)
[action]
[Sad or not, it's what Iskierka always thought was the truth. Being strong meant that you were fearless, never lost a fight, and never had any moments of weakness. Being as young as she is, Iskierka just doesn't understand that this ideal of strength is unrealistic and that even people who look strong have faults and worries. This is also why Iskierka is so touchy about her own faults and fears: she sees them as a sign of weakness, and she doesn't want anyone to know that she has them.]

But surely strong people can push through the bad times and come out sane and fully-capable, can they not? Even if they do not forget, surely they are not plagued by nightmares about bad occurrences.
revengeisalie
Nov. 20th, 2010 03:39 pm (UTC)
[action] hellooooo wall of text
[That is a hard one to answer. Rin was pretty confident that she was past the stage of development were a strong person was a fearless one, were she was beginning to realize her own strengths as, maybe, hopefully, sufficient.

But then there was Kannagara, and all that's happened there, and she feels so incapable, so incapable. Mainly, she wants to hope that having nightmares doesn't make one a completely weak and useless person, for her own reassurement.

She plays with her fingers, steeples them together, spreads them against each other and lets loose again. There's a pause before she begins speaking anew.]

... I knew a man who faced every fight with nonchalance, even as every fight meant he could, perhaps, die. [Not a lie; there are ways to kill Manji.] A man who survived all these battles, but who also... really mourned his dead sister. He didn't have nightmares about her, I don't think, but he thought of her.

[She can still feel that hit stinging her cheek.]

I knew a guy who was a leader of thousands and a very capable fighter, but who, when he became sick, still leaned on a woman for support.

I knew a guy who was very tall and very strong, but who only used his strength for defense, and almost exclusively for the protection of a young girl he travelled with. Outside of battle, he actually seemed pretty shy, maybe a little fearful, even. But he'd do anything to protect that girl.

[Rin wonders what became of them, back home. Whether her self-at-home continued living her life as if nothing ever happened, and whether she was able to find them. All of them.]
flightandfire
Nov. 20th, 2010 04:06 pm (UTC)
[action] but walls of text are good
[Those stories are what get to Iskierka. She doesn't know these men personally, but somehow she can understand them, understand their motives. Some of them are easy to compare to people she knew back home, and while the parallel isn't perfect it's close enough that she can finally see things in a way she can understand, and she starts to get what Rin is trying to tell her.]

Everyone has a thing they worry about, don't they?

[This is said with the wonder of a child who's just discovered that the world is much larger than their hometown. If everyone has a weakness, then maybe those fears and worries aren't what separate the strong from the rest.]
[action] Yay. \o/ - revengeisalie - Nov. 20th, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
[action] - flightandfire - Nov. 23rd, 2010 05:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
[action] - revengeisalie - Nov. 23rd, 2010 06:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
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[action] - flightandfire - Nov. 23rd, 2010 09:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
[action] - revengeisalie - Nov. 23rd, 2010 09:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
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[action] - revengeisalie - Nov. 24th, 2010 08:49 am (UTC) - Expand
[action] - flightandfire - Nov. 28th, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
[action] - revengeisalie - Nov. 28th, 2010 06:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
[action] - flightandfire - Nov. 28th, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
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