Livrerêve: Deceptive World
There lies a barrier between dreams and truths, one that all are aware of, few can see, but none can truly cross.
Those were once my thoughts before I entered this world that happened to be simultaneously familiar and unknown. In years past, I caught glimpses of this world and turned myself towards it. I descended further and further away from reality, pressing myself towards this fantastical window in hopes of reaching paradise, of escaping life. One day, it finally opened, and the breeze forced me into the window.
It is only then, and in those moments of my descent, that I truly realized how much I would ultimately regret that decision.
Long ago, I had been transported to the alternate world of my dreams, but I at first suspected nothing. I could see this world through my writings, so my greatest wishes had been fulfilled when I finally got to meet my characters. My existence was no longer lonely and dull with them around.
Every day, I would wake up and look out to the landscape of another universe. Ever since I had entered, I had been treated like royalty, sleeping in lavish rooms and waking with equally lavish style. Nevertheless, I knew that such feelings would not last if I did not protect them, or at least, so the inhabitants of this place told me.
I had been transported here at least two years ago, and had not once entered the outside world since. While I had never exactly wanted to spend a career writing, I still enjoyed dreaming of a better land, and often thought of the people who lived there. Before long, I began to notice this world more than the one I dwelled in. And then, one day, I found it.
It was quite an unlikely portal, I must admit. I had gone to the bookstore on my own to pick up some items for the new Neohome that I had just purchased. Spending life dreaming of this alternate existence had taken a toll on me, as I had few companions, but that was something I rarely thought of. So, I was just looking for a few simple guides to tasks when I began to wander through the store. I noticed that I was beginning to lose sight of what I was really there to do and turned back, but all of a sudden, a book landed on my head.
It was a book like no other.
This tome was marked with a single title: 'Livrerêve.' Even though I had always considered myself to be a scholarly type, the word was still rather unfamiliar and strange. Curious to see what it held, I opened to a random page to find... absolutely nothing. This was simply a blank notebook.
Perhaps it would've been better to assume that, but I wondered why such an ordinary object would have such an exotic-sounding name. Continuing to peer over at it, I found that there were only a few paragraphs of print in its otherwise empty pages, entirely filled with instructions. According to this passage, all you had to do was write basic details about one's fantasy world and some of the characters that inhabited it. Then the Livrerêve would take care of the rest and transport you to the place you imagined. Just through tiny details, it could even duplicate and recreate entire planets that once could have only been conceivable in dreams.
Still a bit skeptical, I thought for a few moments about what this could mean. To finally be able to enter the world that I hoped—no, desired so much to see. To finally put an end to the double life I'd been living and to choose a single fate. Blinded by excitement at these ideas, I quickly forgot what I'd been doing before, bought the book, and began to write in it. Within days, my new life in my new land had begun.
I was awakened by a gentle beam of sunlight cascading through my opened curtains, yet again in the world of my dreams. A Strawberry Kacheek, identical to me in every way but color, walked up to my bed and flashed me a tiny, yet comforting, smile.
"Hello, dear sister," she whispered. "I am sure that you have been looking forward to this day for quite a while."
"Indeed, Cassiopeia," I replied, "how could I not await this wonderful event? It is the culmination of my greatest efforts, after all. The day of my coronation."
"As always, I am glad to know that you have returned to your true home," Cassiopeia continued. "When I saw that you had finally been found after your long disappearance, I could not contain my immense pleasure. Though it meant that I was no longer first in line for the throne of this fine land, it was quite worth it to have my older sister back."
"Even though it means giving up the joint leadership with King Liam?" I questioned. This was part of the story—according to it, I had been abducted as a child and taken to the regular world, and once I found the Livrerêve, everyone there saw me not as a first-time visitor, but as a member of the highest nobility who had vanished at a young age. It was somewhat clichéd, but fun to imagine.
"Well, that was the most difficult part," chuckled Cassiopeia. "After all, he is quite the gentleman. But alas, living as an only child was getting rather boring in my opinion, so it was a worthy sacrifice to make in order to find you again, Abalone." She quit talking for a moment, only to realize, "Oh! King Liam wanted to speak with you before the ceremony. You are supposed to meet him by the lake, just outside the castle. He wishes to discuss some matters of concern with you. Why do I have to be so forgetful all the time?"
"That's okay, Cassiopeia," I answered. King Liam was the perfect sort of Neopet that I had always imagined, and so far he had acted just as I had created him... but something about him lately had seemed different. Already running towards my destination, I called out, "I'm likely late enough as is!"
I raced outside to the lake, only to find that the world around me was different from it had been before. An ominous fog surrounded the entire sky, and an unexplainable dark presence abounded throughout the area.
Making sure I had not made a mistake, I opened the Livrerêve, which strangely followed me wherever I went, even if it had transported me to an alternate universe. My descriptions of the land clearly stated that such weather was highly irregular here: it was normally sunny and picturesque, but somehow looked polluted, not by smoke or other materials, but by something much darker. Thunder and lightning struck where the sun should've been, and for the first time ever, I began to wonder where I truly was.
When I first saw his face on that day, I thought the misery would all disappear. If only I had known that this was just where it got worse.
A Purple Bruce had come over from behind the lakeside bench where I sat and questioned, "Now, what brings a lady like you outside in weather like this? It should be a crime to force someone of your standing into such things."
"Then you'd be thrown in the dungeon, Liam," I chuckled, "for you were the one who called me here. And I suppose I ought to ask the same question: for what purposes did you summon me forth?"
His answer was short: he smiled at me and held out a small tiara. But I knew more than anything what this could mean. As if I wasn't confused enough, this had to happen.
"I've decided to hold the coronation here," he continued. "Most inhabitants of this realm do not know this, but it is actually a rather quiet ceremony and is far from extravagant. Despite today's weather, I have still decided to hold it here, as this is the site where countless monarchs of this land have risen to the throne. It has been a long wait, Miss Abalone, but you are finally suitable to become a true queen. But first..."
He hesitated for a few moments, as if trying to find the correct wording, and finally whispered, "I must tell you the secret."
"Wait," I replied, "what secret?"
"The secret of this entire kingdom, of course," explained the king. "I could've made you queen long ago, yes, but I chose to wait. It is better to attack one's prey when they still have innocence, after all. Let them get attached to their surroundings. Lure them into thinking they've found paradise."
"Liam, what are you talking about?"
"It is quite a long story, yes," he resumed, barely paying any attention to my question. "But first you must realize that the planet you once dwelled on is not entirely stable. Of course, that's what the inhabitants like to think. But, ah, that makes them so much easier to fool."
"You know about my former home?" I questioned in shock. "But that's impossible. There you're just a figment of my imagination. The only reason I ended up here is because of the book I'm holding—"
"Ah, yes, the Livrerêve," he interrupted. "It is an artifact created by my kind, one that appears to wield the power to create entire worlds at will. But the truth is that these places have always existed. For, you see, we are far from imaginary, and the storm came because this act has come to an end."
"Act?" I repeated. "What do you mean by that?"
Instead of answering, Liam merely concentrated. At first, I wondered if he was deep in thought, until a black gust of wind came forth, blocking my vision. The next thing I knew, Liam no longer looked like himself, but like a Faerie Kacheek—like me.
"The king you knew was merely a role, young one," he answered. "Similar to the sort you see in plays and stories. I have the ability to change these 'roles' at will—like I just did. I also take on their complete personalities, mannerisms, and such. So, it's just like seeing an actor; only it's real and you regular people lack the capability to tell the difference. No matter how badly I play my charade, you'll always think it's the person you created. You'll always think it's your dream come true."
"Then if you're not Liam, what are you?"
"Allow me to introduce my true self," he replied. He underwent the same transformation as before, only—to my surprise—he was merely a mass of shadow. His shape changed by the minute, but never quite went beyond the silhouette of an object.
"I am a nameless being," he continued. "My only shape comes from those I portray. And if you think I'm the only one—you're horribly wrong. Cassiopeia is one as well, and so is everyone else in this world, which is called a Drashift. It is, how you say, a hole in existence, invisible from the outside and otherwise impenetrable. A Drashift's sole identity is to mimic the fantasies of others through the details recorded in the various Livrerêves scattered throughout your world."
Trying to take everything in, I asked, "So I just found one of the Livrerêves? There are more?"
"Here's how they work," he explained. "To transport someone to a Drashift, you must first need its essence. That is acquired by luring innocent people here and promising their dreams, only to reveal the truth when it's too late. Drashifts are like black holes: once you enter, you cannot escape. Your soul stays inside forever, but your body is a much more complicated matter.
"At first, it's merely unconscious. However, each person has a different perception of the Drashifts, and for every perception, there is a different artifact that can be used to truly complete the process. As soon as that person finds that artifact, their body in the regular world dissipates and reforms itself into another Livrerêve, which then travels to an unsuspecting bookstore, looking for its newest victim. And within the Drashift, that trapped soul takes its first role as the main character of the target's story, and the perceived 'world' changes accordingly."
"Then you were the Livrerêve I found?" I questioned, now near tears. "Why are you doing this? If my only purpose is to create a new portal, then what's the point? When will it end?"
"The process is never-ending," whispered Liam. "Because the Drashifts are amorphous voids in the universe, chaos is the sole thing that we can take for our own and thrive on. Otherwise, our existence is nothing. That is why we trick those like you: so that they realize what it is truly like to be us."
For what seemed like an eternity, he was silent until he held out the beautiful tiara, lined with precious stones, a priceless treasure. But now, I knew the truth. It was just like this world.
"Now, you shall be added to our ranks," he muttered, placing the crown atop my head. The sensation was instant and colder than anything I had ever felt. It was as though all light had been extinguished from my life. My life that would now last forever. My life that had been tricked and corrupted as a price for my new immortality.
I wasn't a queen. I wasn't a writer, a dreamer, a thinker, a believer. I was now deceptive, cold, ruthless, heartless. I was nothing.
My name is Abalone. I now live in a corner of the world that many would never imagine. I will never die. But I paid a price for this new life, the price of everything that made me an individual. I am now a being of chaos with no shape, no true personality, and most of all, no friends or allies. All I do now is roam for those like me, those looking for a fantasy, taking on numerous personas in order to lure them in. I take them to the world of dreams, but drop them off at the world of nightmares.
That book I found so long ago was blank. But it changed my entire fate. We all succumb to those urges for a better life, and I suppose that's why those of us in Drashifts are able to fulfill our purpose. In the end, though, each and every one of us chose that purpose as soon as we picked up our Livrerêves. I am one of the few who remembers my suffering, who is still conflicted. So that is why, while I wish to create more Livrerêves, I hope a day will come when those with wishes in their hearts are no longer fooled by our tricks. Because, as clichéd as it may sound, everything is not always what it seems.
(Especially when it comes to one's dreams.)