Dream a Little Dream
|"Those who play the game do not see as clearly as those who watch."|| Yoshi has this dream after the Day of the Late Bear in the Month of the Tiger in the twelfth Year of the Spider since the Forest Wind changed direction.|
The run takes place somewhere between the World Above and the World of Dreams
At the end of the day, you are very tired and retire to your sleep. It comes quickly and you dream...
The curtain goes up on an empty stage. In the middle of the stage is a yumekui, wearing overalls. It builds a large round table in the middle of the stage out of tree stumps and twine. When finished, he yowls to the empty house and a bunch of little spirits come up on the stage, eight in all.
Each one puts on a mask, sits at a place at the table, and the play begins...
"Order! Order!" yells the robed one in a high-pitched shout over the din. "Speak one at a time, or speak not at all. The master will not tolerate chaos within his own web!"
"Oh, I think He doesn't mind it so much... I'm rather partial to a little chaos myself... It helps keep the mark occupied," replies one of the two suave gentlemen at the table.
"Does it? And in this case, which of us do you think is the mark?" ripostes the other.
"Why, I should think that would be obvious," interjects the warrior.
At this, the elder suave gentleman turns on the grey-cloaked figure, "Exactly. If you hadn't failed at every turn, the great plan would be completed even now, and we could simply relax and enjoy our victory."
The cloaked one responds with some heat, "I don't see anyone else succeeding at the final blow, either. There is a force opposing us, and we all know its source."
At this, the silken master stands, and speaks for the first time since the group has gathered. "The Enemy has some power, yes, but the Master has ensured that this power can not be used directly against us. There must be some agency here channeling that power, directing it against our rituals."
"Stop making excuses for your failures." retorts the warrior. "If someone opposes you, eliminate them. Strike the head of your enemies' forces, and they will wither and die."
"Just like the island cult has withered and died?" sneers the fighter. "Your killings among the Song don't seem to have led us to their downfall."
"They are of no matter. Their Mistress can not interfere without breaking Her own Power."
One of the spirits stumbles, missing his line.
"Impossible! Such could never occur. The Gate is closed, and there is no key," shouts the robed one.
"Closed it may be, but it is not yet guarded. Why did you not stay on the mountain?" accuses the Warlord. "Never leave the way for an enemy to strike unwatched."
One of the suave gentleman brushes off his cloak and stands, "It is not my job to guard the gate. I seized the pagoda as instructed and it yielded nothing. The token was not there. As far as I can see, it's never been there. There was no point in staying any further. Another was supposed to have the pass guarded by now."
"My men guard all of the passes on and off of the mountain. No troops can possibly get by without our knowledge," protests the fighter.
Again a spirit pauses and calls for his line, "Something about a key, wasn't it?
"Impossible. Once my former teacher reveals himself, I will take control of the mountain and none shall pass."
The robed man slams his hands down upon the table and stands. "All of this is besides the point! We have an enemy. One unknown and unseen. You have been pulled out of position, your power has been diminished, your apprentice is missing, and... well, the less said about your disasters the better. We need to find this enemy and destroy him. Who can find him?"
The older of the suave men chuckles, "Are you sure that was in order?" He shakes his head, "If you need to find this enemy so badly, I'll make you a map."
The warrior sneers, "No, I don't think we need another map. The last one you drew to lead us to our enemy led me all the way to the City of Spires and back. I don't think we have time for another wild goose chase. Find me the identity of our foe, and I will deal with him personally."
"No, you must settle your business and see to the Empire. The Master will not be pleased if we are to complete His great work only to see it fall. Powers are stirring both North and South, and your armies will be needed to hold the walls."
"The walls? He's having enough trouble just holding the Empire together. We've got unrest in the south; we're plagued with bandits in the north, and monsters in the seas. Is it too much to ask that the Dragon Army maintain the peace so we can work?" says the mapmaker.
"You dare accuse me of failure? I will have your head here and now unless you bow down before me."
The robed figure raises a hand, "Will you? You know we are forbidden from striking at one another. And as for bowing down, that will not occur until the Council anoints a new Emperor."
"You mean until the Master tells you who the Council must anoint," whispers the one in silk.
"I can tell you who that won't be!" laughs the warrior.
"Enough!" screams the cloaked figure. "I do not have to listen to this. None of you have brought about the fall of the twelfth kingdom, or even come nearly as close as I."
Just as the entire assembly is about erupt into further arguing, the eighth spirit forgets another line, and bursts into tears. It stomps off the stage, saying something about not being able to work under these conditions. A brief intermission is called by the yumekui and the stage is reset.
The curtain rises on a much smaller scene, with just a few of spirits around a much smaller table. They put on their masks and continue.
The scene opens with all the spirits looking at one, who is just standing there afraid to begin. After a while, the rest plow on without him.
"I agree with you. One must be sacrificed. But we cannot act. Should word of our treachery make it back to the Master, He will strike us down for our disobedience, even as He rewards us for our success."
"Then we shall get another to do our work for us."
The third spirit still can't get his lines right and the scene kind of grinds to a halt... The curtain falls.
When the curtain rises, the stage is set as a room in an elegant town house, with only two spirits, one male and a female wearing masks...
"But, Father, I'm in the middle of very delicate business. I can't possibly take the time right now to do a divination of that magnitude."
"Daughter, I indulge you too much. Are you saying you are unwilling to help even your father?"
"Of course not, Father. I want to help you as best I can. It's just impossible with the resources at my disposal."
"I'm sure you can find a way, Daughter. Perhaps I can aid you to ease the burden somewhat. I might be able to offer a favor of my own."
The daughter smiles into her napkin and then clears her face before turning back to her father. "Most generous, father. I'm sure I can handle your request if you might give me just a little aid. What is it you need?"
The father pulls a scroll out of his robe and presents it to his daughter. "This paper lists a number of events. I need to know the name of the one who ties them all together. I need it tonight."
"Very well father. In that case, allow me to retire to my study. I will do this, and let you know what aid I will require of you later."
"Be swift, my daughter."
The curtain falls.
When the curtain rises again, the woman is alone in a much smaller room, surrounded by papers and other implements of her art. She addresses the audience.
"No! I cannot give my father a name so closely tied to my own. Lord Takanata, what have you gotten involved with? There must be another with ties to all of these events..."
She scribbles more on the paper and starts going down a list, "No, not this one either. Nor this one. Surely, there is a name that will not lead back to me."
She studies the papers and makes some more furious notes.
"Ah, finally. Here's one tied to all of these events, whom I have never laid eyes upon."
The curtain falls.
We return to the first set with the large table deep within the earth. The yumekui looks at the eight spirits, gazes deeply at the eighth one, and then sends most of them off the stage... It moves a torch to illuminate just the remaining one, and gives him a soliloquy.
"Brothers, I have the name of our enemy. As decided, you three shall take action to deal with him." He points into the darkness. "You, return to the mountain and await your teacher. You two see to the Empire and the Council. I will stay here and prepare the master map for the final kingdom."
"His name is..."
"Ringmaster Te."The curtain falls.