Border and Dream
Touhou Project is the property of Team Shanghai Alice and Jun'ya Ota (ZUN). The Sandman is the property of DC/Vertigo and Neil Gaiman. I do not own anything in this fic except what i thought of.
The day all starts the same way in Mayohiga. The sun unfurled itself from the eastern horizon, casting its rays to warm this world. Ran got up from her comfort of her futon, ready for another day. As she walked past the door, out into the terrace, she saw her charge. A cute cat-girl with two tails was just sitting there, soaking up the warmth of the morning sun.
"Morning, Chen," the nine-tailed fox-girl called to the cat-girl, "You're early today."
The cat-girl turned to Ran, before springing up and giving the she-fox a hug.
"Feels like a wonderful day," remarked Chen, "I feel more rested than usual, so I woke early"
"Have you woken Lady Yukari?" Ran asked.
"Not yet…" answered Chen, "Should I?"
"Ah, she'll wake in a bit," Ran said a bit dismissively, "Let's prepare breakfast, shall we? I'm thinking of cooking chicken soup with carrots and potatoes…"
"Okay! I want to peel the carrots!" Chen shrieked in joy.
A few moments later, Ran rapped the frame of a door leading into her mistress' private chamber. Mostly the knock's just for courtesy, since she usually went in to wake and clothe her master anyway.
"You may come in, Ran. I've clothed myself, if that's what you're here to do…"
Ran hesitated for a bit. It's not like her liege to be this diligent in the morning hours. Not for once in Ran's eternity of service, has Yukari Yakumo woke up and clothed herself. Never once but today. But Ran is sure that probing the matter is of no use, so she dropped the subject and opened the door respectfully.
"Breakfast is ready, Yukari-sama," Ran said slowly, as carefully as she could afford to.
"Mmm… I smell a piece of heaven! Come, let us eat," Yukari said cheerily.
Breakfast was rather uneventful save her mistress remarking that the soup tasted well, and Ran went on to do her simple chores dutifully. As the Shikigami of Yukari Yakumo, bound with a lawful contract for nigh eternity, she was responsible for many things. Cleaning, cooking, and laundry were some, as with caring for her own shikigami Chen the Nekomata. Her dish-washing done, she would now sit on the terraces overlooking the garden of Mayohiga, if only for a few minutes before her master wishes for things to be done.
As she sits down on the terrace, she found herself staring at two little girls playing in the lawn. One was Chen, and one was her mistress wearing one of her child-like form. This does not surprise Ran, for she know fully what her master is capable of: as the Master of Boundaries, Yukari Yakumo could alter and erase boundaries at whim; now, she wears a cute toddler form because she had manipulated the boundary of age and form.
Her transient desire seemingly satisfied, Yukari runs towards Ran, before changing back to her original, motherly form in what felt like a dozen heartbeats by Ran.
"Do you want me to fetch you water, milady?" Ran questioned, reading her mistress' desire with her common sense.
"Naah. Say, Ran, I've been thinking…" Yukari answered, a smile wide upon her face, "Why don't we all go in a trip somewhere? The day is pleasant, the wind is cool…"
"As you desire, Mistress," Ran answered dutifully, "Should I pack sandwiches, snacks and drinks for this trip?"
"Nay. We'll visit an old friend of mine, and he'll treat us with food and refreshments," Yukari said lightly as Chen joined them, "What say you, Chen? Ready for a trip?"
"Whee! Let's go, let's go!" answered Chen joyously, a child forever in her actions.
"Well then, away we go!" Yukari said jovially, while invoking her powers and creating a gap between dimensions for them to travel.
"Hey Lucien, whattaya reading?" a crow said while perching on a wall ornament.
"Hell Recovered, by John Milton. Never written, merely dreamed," Lucien the Dream-bound Bookkeeper responded courteously, "This man sure thinks of colorful essays. What can I do for you, Matthew?"
"Er, not much really," Matthew the crow responded, "thought I'd come here to talk a bit. Eve's cave felt kind of musty this time of day."
"I see. Any particular book you're interested in?" Lucien asked genially, "Or do you desire dead rats?"
"The dead rats are teasingly delicious, but no thanks. Say, Lucien, do you believe me if I say that there are powers stronger than our Master?" Matthew responded.
"Well… that's highly improbable I guess," Lucien answered Matthew's inquiry, "When we talk of powers greater than our lord, Lord Destiny and Lady Death comes to mind but nothing else. Why would you ask?"
"I had this strange dream while I napped…" Matthew started his story.
"Yep, we're here," said Yukari as she stepped out of the dimensional fissure, "Watch your step, Chen. It could be slippery."
"Forgive my rudeness, Lady Yukari, but this is…" Ran inquired cautiously.
"It is my friend's place," Yukari answered quickly, "Heart of Dreaming. My friend resides here."
"Surely you jested, Lady Yukari," Ran said unsurely, "Are we inside the realm of our sleep?"
"Well, you could say that," Yukari responded while stifling a small giggle.
"Lady Yukari! Ran-san! Look! A castle is up the stairs!" Chen shouted joyfully.
"Come Ran, we better present ourselves," Yukari finally said, while her shikigami just nods.
"Who presented themselves here, at the gates of The Castle of Dreams, home to The Lord of Slumber, Dream of The Endless?" the gate guardian griffon hollered aloud as the trio approached the gates. Chen, startled by the voice, jumped behind Yukari to hide.
"Tell your master that an ancient friend and sister who is named Yukari Yakumo has come to visit," Yukari said while twirling her parasol, "I am also known as The Forgotten First."
The griffon, dragon, and hippogriff quickly convened, and after a few argumentations warily opened the gates. There stood a pale, imposing figure of many contrasts. His skin looks pale, almost as white as bleached bones, but he is dressed in clothes that are primarily black in color; he is tall, but only little intimidation was garnered from his presence; and finally he is silent, yet the wind seemed to whisper things of him. He is Dream, third of The Endless, lord of all dreams and slumber.
"My profound greetings, Yukari Yakumo, Lady of Division, One who Separate All. For what do I owe you this pleasure?" Dream greeted the trio, his voice calm and courteous.
"Well, you could say I'm here on a vacation," Yukari Said while smiling, "And let's just say I needed a different vacation. It's so good to see you after all those years, Dream."
"Come then, let us enter the castle, my relative. We welcome you with open arms and hospitality," Dream responded, "although I'm afraid my abode is in a little mess from a recent meeting."
The gates closed, and for a few moments the three gate guardians shifted uneasily on their places.
"Er… I may have thought over this too much… but she did say that she called herself the Forgotten First, right?" the hippogriff wondered warily, "She could not have been... Lord Destiny in a female form?"
"I am sure she is not," answered the griffon, "Lord Destiny, as far as I know, is the least mobile of all The Endless. He just courses his gardens while turning the pages in his book."
"Her age, we could hazard an approximation," the dragon shared its thought, "I wager that she is very old. She had an ancient air around her; almost as old as Lord Dream, maybe a tad younger or older but not by much."
"It can't be," responded the hippogriff, "For somebody to be in that range of age…"
"My wager goes with the dragon, if you ask me," Matthew cuts in, "It may be a long shot to convince you guys, but let us think of this notion…"
"So… er, Dream-sama, I've been wandering, what do you do around here?" Chen asked as polite as she could. It was lunch time, and they all sat on the long table enjoying a lunch of risotto and glazed chicken wings.
"Well, from my name you could have inferred that I have the power over dreams, little Chen," Dream answered after drinking some wine, "I maintain this realm of dreaming, where all living souls come while they sleeps."
"So… I came here too in my sleep?" Chen inquired further.
"Well, that a certainty," Dream responded, "Some may remember their visit to The Dreaming, some may not."
"My dreams had always been about my friends… Cirno, Rumia, and the likes," Chen went on, "Perhaps we carry on playing, even to here."
"Certainly a possibility, little one," Dream mused, his face decorated with a thin smile.
"You have cheered up somewhat," Yukari remarked, finishing off her umpteenth chicken wing, "Usually there will be just you, your librarian, your crow, and nothing much else."
"The name's Matthew, milady," Matthew cuts in while landing on a stag wall decoration.
"Ah, Matthew it was," responded Yukari, "the name slips out of my grasp the last time you mention it, I see. Thank you for reminding me, Matthew."
"At your service, milady," Matthew said politely while bowing.
"A talking raven, how cute! I want to play with you!" Chen called in joy, before turning to Ran for approval. Ran only nodded a little.
"But little miss, I am…" Matthew said unsurely.
"I suppose it's okay, Matthew," Dream cuts in, "Show Chen around the Dreaming, will you? I would hate it if she got lost."
"Well… okay Boss," responded Matthew, before taking flight. Chen also took off after him.
"I suppose I'm better off looking after Chen," Ran added, "The meal was most delicious. I thank you, Dream-sama."
"Nice caretaker you have, Sister," Dream remarked after he lost sight of Ran, "I can't believe Death told me that an entity unlike her once butchered scores of the Kauravan soldiers on the closing stages of the Great War…"
"She may be her, she may be not," responded Yukari airily, "Have you any stronger spirits, Brother?"
"Of course," Dream responded, "What would you prefer? Fine sake or strong wine? Or perhaps something more… exotic?"
"Ah, wine would be fine," Yukari said, "I had drunk sake for quite some time… it was getting repetitive."
Dream clapped his hands, and Lucien came with a chilled piton of wine.
"Gaulish Ancient," Dream said while the wine are being poured, "There were never one in the world, but connoisseurs often dream it as Vercingentorix's favored."
"The great Gaul warlord, yes," Yukari responded with mirth, "I once flirted with him. Nice guy, but a real-life bullhead. Not to mention a drinking demon, too."
"I would not put it beyond you," Dream remarked while sipping her wine.
"How was everyone?" Yukari asked passingly, while marveling at her wine glass.
"Well, Old Sister," Dream said rather bemusedly, "We had a meeting earlier this month, and everyone was well."
"Except for the passing one," Yukari remarked.
"Except for Destruction, yes," Dream remarked, signaling for another helping of wine, "He seems to be swallowed up by his quest."
"He must be getting to new places. Never before had I witnessed so much devastation on Earth," Yukari mused, while drinking her wine.
"No, Sister, I assure you that those are not his handywork. His brand of devastation will surely have meaning, unlike the human brand of wanton demolition," Dream responded, standing up for his younger brother.
"Of course… He really distanced himself from us, Destruction," Yukari said while twirling her hair, "I was hoping that he'd chance into my realm."
"Ah, Gensokyo," Dream responded, "A secluded demiplane, but otherwise accesible from the mortal world. Tell me about it, Sister."
"Nothing much different fom yours, really," Yukari started her explanation, "Only it's distinctly Japanese. All ins and outs are done according to my whim. Most are from Japan though. We have assimilated some members of the Far Eastern pantheon, even. Recently it was Takeminakata-no-mikoto and Yasakaotome-no-mikoto who joined our ranks."
"Really… How peculiar. Susanoo-no-mikoto told me recently that the Children of Izanagi was annexing modern gods to bolster their faith," Dream inquired as he took one more sip from his glass, "What does it feels like, Sister? Having someone in your realm who actually has the power to stand up to you?"
"Nah, not that different," Yukari answered her brother's question lightly, "They may be powerful, but we still get to set the rules, no?"
"That is certain, Sister," Dream said while exhaling.
"Hello, Boss," Matthew cuts in as he flew into the same stag wall decoration as the one he perched on earlier.
"Ah, Matthew… Where is Chen and Ran?" asked Dream.
"Not far behind. We played near Cain and Abel's place, and Eve joined us for some storytelling. Afterwards, Chen showed us some fireworks. We went back because Chen got tired and fell asleep," Matthew delivered his report.
"Then it is time for me to bid farewell, Dream," Yukari said while standing up. Ran, carrying Chen on her back, showed up a few moments later.
"It has been a most refreshing company, Sister," Dream responded, "Safe journeys for you and all of your followers."
"Thanks," Yukari shortly replied, before creating an interdimensional gap to facilitate her travel.
"Er, Boss, if I can ask you something…" Matthew piped up, just after Yukari left.
"Yes, Matthew?" Dream replied.
"Is that woman… one of The Endless too?" Matthew asked.
"Yes, she is. In fact, she is almost as old as Destiny," answered Dream, gesturing Lucien to call in maids, "She is The Forgotten Endless, Division."
"Division? I thought there are only seven of you… Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium?" Matthew inquired further.
"Let's put it this way," said Dream, "Every thing has a destiny, and that's why Destiny came to being. Every thing then had the potential to experience death, and Death came to being. And so on, and so on. But we missed something in this equation."
"I can't understand, Boss," said Matthew, flicking his wings uneasily.
"Most tales of creation begins with that," Dream baited the crow further to conclusion, "The Story of Ta'aroa was one."
"Ta'aroa, huh? Let's see… he's that Pacific guy who separated the sky from the earth… Holy smores…" Matthew whispered audibly, "Boss, did you mean…"
"You are correct, Matthew. She is the representation of borders," Dream explained with a meaningful smile, "Without her, we are as good as nothing. Without borders to define and separate us, nothing will come into being, and nothing will have any distinction. There will be no oil and no water. There wouldn't even be a world, to speak of."
"If I'm permitted a question, lord," Lucien cuts in, "If she holds so much power, why didn't she given the same treatment with the seven of you? You didn't even have her sigil in the meeting room."
"Well, Lucien, nobody really knows, not even us Endless," Dream concluded, "Perhaps because her power is not as stable as it used to be? Or maybe because separation is the aspect most would just take for granted? We'll never know for sure…"
Chen stirs in her sleep, leading herself into wakefulness. She then got up slowly, finding herself wrapped in a thin blanket. A few paces from her own place, lay her mistress' mistress, Yukari Yakumo.
"I've dreamed a very pleasant dream," Chen mused cheerily, before walking towards the kitchen to get some drinks.
There you are, my attempt at a Touhou and The Sandman crossover. I am aware that i took much liberty in creating this work, to the extent that even Dream and friends felt OOC to me LOL
If you are new to the Touhou fandom and would like to know more, Touhou Wiki (now a wikia site) is a good place to get started. It had the most complete collection of informations regarding Touhou and its characters.
Critics and commentary will be welcome. Flamestorms will be ignored, though.