Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 197,091,448 Issue: 962 | 17th day of Relaxing, Y24
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The Distorted


by fallingdaybreak

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In the hidden forest glade, Rei was beset with indecisiveness. They finally had free time, a luxury the brown Kau almost never had.

     Instead of a traditional Neopian home, Rei made their home into the trunk of a massive tree, hidden away from the rest of the world. From the hollowed-out windows, they could make out similarly sized trees in front of and beside them, belonging to other Neopets. Though such homes were often considered a fantasy to everyday Neopians, to Dreamwalkers, they were their designated homes, their realm as they made happy dreams a reality.

     If one were to ask about Dreamwalkers, more often than not, the everyday Neopian would usually respond with a confused look. Though it wasn’t a commonly asked question, it was a testament of the obscurity of Dreamwalkers, mages tasked and trained by the Dream Faerie Sienna to create pleasant dreams for all Neopians. Sienna herself was a nearly forgotten figure as well, having vanished after the fall of Faerieland years ago. Her presence was only known to the mages she trained and Queen Fyora, who swore to keep the Dream Faerie’s presence a secret.

     But as Rei grabbed a book from a nearby shelf, out of the corner of their eye, a hanging lantern near the door suddenly alit with an azure glow. To the Dreamwalkers, it was a sign that Sienna was calling them. But it was too early in the evening for the Dreamwalkers to go about their duties. If their patron faerie was summoning them, it had to be important. But just what could it be about?

     Putting their internal questions aside, Rei set down the book they had grabbed and made their way to the door. Upon opening it, the Kau could see several other Dreamwalkers leaving their glades and making their way down a path leading to a cave, which led to the glade where Sienna usually resided. What were several Dreamwalkers quickly became a small crowd of fifty or so, all walking towards the darkened cave adorned with glowing vines.

     When Rei and the rest of the Dreamwalkers made it through the cave, what greeted them was a massive glade, surrounded by luminescent trees and vines. Similarly glowing flowers of various colours adorned the ground and in the centre of the glade, where a patch of bare grass was, Sienna was already waiting for them. Despite being a mostly forgotten figure in modern Neopian lore, this did little to detract from the Dream Faerie’s radiance - long deep blue hair with a single white streak fell to meet tan skin, and her almost star-speckled wings gave off a faint glow with each gentle flap. When the Dreamwalkers approached, the sides of her mouth raised in the smallest of smiles.

     “Welcome, Dreamwalkers. I’m sure you’re all wondering why I’ve summoned you here today.”

     Murmurs of confusion and curiosity arose in the crowd, a sight that wasn’t unexpected to the Dream Faerie.

     “Now, today may seem like any sort of day to you all. But myself personally, today is a reminder of something I had to do years ago.” The Dream Faerie’s usually serene expression slowly fell into a more solemn one. “Something that haunts me to this day.”

     Rei raised an eyebrow slightly at Sienna’s words, silent, but otherwise curious as to where she was going with this.

     “That said, have any of you heard the story of Toumei the Distorted?”

     The Distorted? The name, though soundly vaguely familiar, ultimately had Rei shake their head. But beside the Kau, an island Lutari tilted his head.

     “The Distorted? That’s just a legend, isn’t it? About how a Dreamwalker like us, unable to make pleasant dreams, turned to the darkness to create the worst of nightmares?”

     “It is no legend,” Sienna answered with a shake of her head. “Nor did she willingly turn to the darkness. But I suppose every story in history is prone to losing their meanings somehow.”

     Pausing, Sienna put her hands together only to part them, and what was a small orb of light slowly grew into a flash as an azure light quickly engulfed the glade. The light was bright enough to make Rei raise an arm to cover their eyes, as everything and everyone was engulfed in white.

     “Now, I will show you all the true story of the Distorted.”

     - - - - - -

     When Rei opened their eyes, they found themselves in a vast, yet empty white plane, with neither Sienna nor their fellow Dreamwalkers anywhere in sight. But when Rei turned to look around, what greeted the brown Kau were a pair of figures in the distance, a royalgirl Bori and a skunk Korbat. Though the Bori appeared to be a perfectly normal Bori, what was interesting about the Korbat was a pair of deep black, almost crokabek-like wings in place of the typical Korbat wings. Neither of them looked familiar to Rei, but they appeared quite happy.

     The story of the Distorted begins with Toumei the Korbat and her friend Miki the Bori, when they first started as Dreamwalkers. For a moment, Rei was caught off-guard by Sienna’s voice echoing in their ears. The two were as close as sisters, and nothing appeared to shake their bond.

     Befitting Sienna’s explanation, the pairs’ smiles were wide in silent laughter. Though Rei had seen countless smiles in the pleasant dreams they created, there was something about Toumei and Miki’s smiles that seemed almost…pure. They couldn’t exactly put a concise description on it. But slowly, the image of the happy Bori and Korbat faded away only for a new image to appear, showing only Toumei this time. One arm was outstretched as if to cast a spell, but from the palm of her hand, several darkened flames burst out. It was clear to Rei that she had cast a dark spell, magic that was often looked down upon by both Dreamwalkers and regular Neopians alike.

     But as their training intensified, for reasons unknown, Toumei could only conjure nightmares for slumbering souls, and her repeated failures led to her losing what control she had over dark magic. Gradually, her fellow Dreamwalkers started to distrust her, and it was undoubtedly harrowing for her. For a moment, Rei thought they could hear a sigh in Sienna’s voice as the image in front of Rei faded once again, with the new image showing a desperate Toumei in front of Sienna herself.

     She came to me to ask for help, but despite my best efforts, what caused her to create nightmares eluded me. As a result, Miki sought to try and help her friend without me knowing.

     The next image showed Miki with a tome in hand, one hand extended as if to cast a spell. In front of Miki was Toumei, appearing slightly anxious as Rei noticed her somewhat fidgety posture. Gradually, a bolt of light shot out from the tome, through Miki’s hand, and then to Toumei.

     Miki sought the help of a forbidden spell, one doomed to become a curse to those too unskilled to cast it. But to Miki, it was no curse, but something that could save her dear friend. But unfortunately…

     When the next image came into view, Rei felt their heart immediately drop to their stomach - the bolt of light from Miki's hand was now jet-black, and Rei instantly knew what that meant. In front of Miki, Toumei’s eyes were winced shut and her mouth open in a silent scream as the darkness shrouded around her. But most horrifying of all, her skunk colouring was practically melting away, revealing the Korbat’s skeleton and internal organs.

     The spell would ultimately distort not only Toumei’s appearance, but her mental state as well. The darkness that she once was able to control nearly consumed her, and to ensure the safety of Dreamwalkers and Neopia as a whole, I had to seal Toumei away in the void realm. Only there can her power be contained, but unfortunately... Sienna’s voice trailed off as she shuddered slightly, as if speaking about it was difficult for her.

     ...In the void realm, aside from Toumei herself, nothing and no one can exist. So despite being unable to harm anyone, it brings me no joy to say that she is completely and utterly alone. That kind of loneliness, I would not wish on even the vilest and despicable villain in all of Neopia. But understand this - Toumei is no villain. It was for the safety of Dreamwalkers and all of Neopia that I sealed her into the void realm. However, it is a choice I still struggle with. There are days when I think if there was another way to save her, a way that didn’t subject her to that kind of suffering.

     With that, the white light that surrounded the images Sienna was showing Rei grew brighter and brighter, until white once again completely engulfed everything in the Kau’s sight.

     - - - - - -

     When Rei opened their eyes again, they found themselves back into the glade, with Sienna now standing in the circle. Looking around, Rei could see their fellow Dreamwalkers and their expressions of shock, horror, and disbelief.

     “I understand what you all must be feeling. But that is the truth behind Toumei the Distorted.”

     Now Rei understood what Sienna meant by stories losing their meanings somehow. Toumei’s story was at its core, a tormented one, but along the way, her sadness somehow got distorted into her embracing the darkness within her. How sadness could become warped into evil, Rei would never know.

     “However, this story also showcases an important lesson to you all, not just as Dreamwalkers - even the best of intentions can go horribly wrong. Miki couldn’t have predicted that by trying to help her friend, she would damage her beyond recognition. However, this doesn’t mean we should stop doing good. Even if there’s the possibility of good deeds turning on us, we must always strive to bring happiness to others, whether it be creating pleasant dreams as Dreamwalkers or even performing small acts as regular Neopians. Understand?”

     Despite the previous murmuring amongst the Dreamwalkers, gradually, all of them came together in a collective, yet hesitant agreement.

     “Very well, then. You are all dismissed.”

     - - - - - - -

     Returning to their personal glade, despite Sienna’s message near the end, Rei still felt their heart sink into their stomach. What they had seen…it was undoubtedly harrowing. Despite not having many friends themselves, Rei couldn’t bear to imagine doing a nice deed for them, only to turn into something truly traumatizing. But like Sienna said, no one could’ve predicted Miki’s help going horribly wrong. After all, if someone did predict it, then the story of the Distorted would’ve never come to exist at all.

     But the one thing Rei wished could’ve turned out differently in the story, no one saw coming. What were once good intentions become a certain Dreamwalker’s worst nightmare, sealed away from the rest of the world.

     Thus was the legend of Toumei the Distorted.

 
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