The cold steel floor sends jolts down your spine, rumbling with an irritating irregular rhythm. You get up to examine your surroundings and discover that you are in a train floating in an empty black void. There are no stars out, no moons, nothing outside to use as a point of reference to note that the train you are in is moving, yet the rumbling tells you otherwise.
You look up and see advertisements featuring people you met before in this horrible and wild yet enlightening journey.
The respectful rabbit that bet everything on black to live a new life.
The overworked lady that wanted something brighter than the grey sky.
The selfish girl that traversed the vermilion hallways every day.
The shy mechanic that found love out of the blue.
The energetic being that never seemed that mauve.
The ignorant dollmaker who was surrounded by emerald life.
The yearning woman that searched for something as flavourful as saffron.
The antiquated royal that believed in a future enchanted with turquoise.
The hesitant judge who decided that your fate was indeed white.
All of these memories stay strong, close to your heart. There are many other characters beside the ones you do know about. Would you meet them one day? These thoughts permeate your mind as you take a seat on the dark bench to ponder how they would react to your behavior.
Despite there being nothing outside of the train, the hallways are still lit brightly. It is hard to imagine that you may have been sleeping in this train for the past however long you have been here.
While you sit around, a lady walks down the hallway. She wears a blue tabard with a white dress and when she sits down next to you, her nine soft fox tails strangely fits comfortably.
You look towards her and try to say something. Nothing comes out of your mouth.
"Oh, hello there." She smiles and blinks with her blue eyes.
More trying to talk, more nothing coming out.
"I can understand you." She flips her short blonde hair. Her fox ears tense up, then relax.
You look down, depressed that you can't figure out what you're saying.
"I don't read your mind, I just listen to what you're saying. That's all."
Overjoyed that she knows you can talk (but that you don't know that you can talk), you try to ask her some questions.
"The train's destination? The train does not have a destination."
You look shocked.
"Is it that frightening? Folks do say it's the journey rather than the destination that you get your best memories from."
You tilt your head at the last part.
"Folks? Yes, the humans at the Human Village."
You point at her and nod at the last part.
"The Human Village is a place in Gensoukyou. You did not know that?"
You look down again with your hands on your knees.
"You did not even know about Gensoukyou?"
You shake your head sideways.
"But you did ask me who those folks are. Why?"
You get up to point at the ads hanging on the ceiling of the train.
"You met those people?" She giggles. "Yes, they are very interesting characters! I have also met them before."
You look shocked once more.
"My master can go anywhere she feels like, so she takes me along sometimes. It's enjoyable."
You move your hand about.
"Master's a nice person. She's also very strange."
You rub your chin.
"You're wondering what the tanuki woman said about the outside world? I can explain all of that." She settles her tails in place.
You cross your arms over your chest as you lean forward, eager to listen to this fox lady's story.
She sighs. "What she speaks of the outside world is true. In the lives of humans in the outside world, they have managed to advance technology far enough to control everything so no unknown variables existed in their general area. They are still looking farther, but where they currently live they are comfortable with how it is."
You look around the train.
"If there is no uncertainty, there is no point in change. That is how you got here in the first place."
You panic for a moment.
"You did come from the outside world. It was a bit jarring, was it not?"
You nod unenthusastically.
"You are still alive though and I would think that is good enough for you."
You clench your teeth.
"Be thankful! I'm starting to think that that is just a trait you could not get rid of from your outside world memories."
You look straight in the lady's eyes.
"Don't get angry at me, I'm not the one who brought you here."
You calm down and take a deep breath.
"My master did."
You suddenly stand up and grab the lady around the neck.
"Stop it!" She flinches, gasping for air. "Put me down right now!"
Your mind says stop, but your body rages on. Suddenly, the rumbling of the train drastically increases, prompting you to let go.
The lady clasps her neck. "We are here."
You almost go for her neck again, but instead you fall down on the floor.
"I said the train did not have a destination, that was what I was told."
You try to stand up, but the rumbling intensifies. The lady remains in her seat.
"It is my master's doing and I cannot stop her."
You start sliding downwards as the train starts tilting downwards.
"What will happen to me? I will be fine. As for you?
...I don't know."
The rumbling hits its peak, becoming unbearable at this point. The train tilts nearly vertical, heading nose first wherever the ground is. The fox lady stares at you helplessly clawing for a grip on anything.
Finally, you hear a loud crash with the train colliding with the surface. The sharp cracking of metal follows very swiftly.
Your right fist involuntarily flies straight into her face, causing her to crumple on the ground. You rub it gently, worried that you may have killed her.
The spotlight turns off, but you can see a little girl running towards the body. You can slightly see her short blonde hair and she's dressed with a short sleeve blouse and a bright blue skirt with straps over her shoulders.
"Adeph, you idiot!" She scolds you. "You broke it!"
Another lady's footsteps approach. She wears a capelet and a long dress, draped in red. Her silver locks are tied on one side with a string and two red spheres.
"It was one of my daughter's ... more involved projects." The lady sighs. "You're not supposed to be here anyway."
"What do you mean? I'm standing right here. I didn't di-"
"You did die." She smacks you firmly across your cheek. "Things got mixed up and instead of the Netherworld or Higan, you got dropped in Makai. My daughter Alice would have been content with you being stuck in this dream world forever, but you were brave enough ... or foolish enough to follow my instructions and wake up."
"Mother, did you really sabotage my project!?" Alice throws a light tantrum.
"Ugh." You rub your cheek gently. "So what are you going to do with me then?"
"Well, Adeph," The lady puts her arms on her waist with Alice hanging on, "I, Shinki, am going to insert you back into Gensoukyou with all your memories intact."
"Why didn't you do that in the first place!?"
"I wanted to know if you were capable of handling yourself in the first place. If I threw you out in the beginning, you'd die and then go straight to hell immediately! That wouldn't be fun!" Shinki giggles.
You groan, then breathe a sigh of relief. "I get a second chance then. I don't know what else to say."
"Have fun then." Shinki waves. "By the way, I'll leave a gift with you when you get there. You only get one of those, so don't lose it!"
A blinding light surrounds you as you feel yourself fading away.
"I'm sorry for everything I did to you, Adeph." Alice cries.
"It's okay." You forgive her as the light engulfs your vision.
You wake up on a grassy plain. In your hand lies Shinki's gift, a book with a feather pen.
You open the book up and on habit, you turn to the last page and find it... completely blank. When you turn back to the first page, you start to read the story.
A dream is supposed to be something created in our minds. A way to explore our fantasies in ways that are otherwise impossible for us. That's what I beleived, and for nineteen years I had no reason to doubt that.
When you finish the passage, it abruptly stops. There were a few boxes, each with different outcomes listed beside them. Upon reading the instructions on the inside of the cover, you discover that what you pick magically continues the story until you reach its ending. You flip back to the page with the choices listed and then you walk towards the human village, staring at them in deep thought. It was difficult to decide, but if the story were to continue, you have to choose.
That was the gift you were given, to choose your own adventure.
The beginning was very bumpy, but when the rules were established it was just slightly less bumpy. The rules were easy to follow at this point, although I stopped following them for the ending. Since it's the ending, that could justify it.
The original schedule for this story was 60 days, but it lasted over 3 years! I'm surprised the story was able to end, I thought I'd never get it finished.
Ran's correct, isn't she? "If there's no uncertainty, there's no change." Unfortunately, that became too real for real life and that's why it took so long to finish this story! I can't blame her for being right.
Just because I finished a story doesn't mean I should get awarded for it though, I should keep at it and get better at writing so I feel better about writing and maybe I'll write a story I'm proud of. Maybe.
Anyway, this is the end of this story. I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, thanks for sticking with me. If you didn't, well, I'm sorry for wasting your time. Adeph would be interesting if he or she had a story outside of the dream world, but I can't imagine writing any more for that character... yet.
At first I thought this was going to be a very original way to choose the MC of a new story. After a few years, I began to reconsider... but it was still very fun. That said, you really can't imagine a story with an oni fighting against its nature by seeking enlightenment and inner peace by learning courtesy and trying to balance its temper? Please, even I can think of a few ideas and I can't write for shit.