THE RAILWAYS END-PROLOGUE
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I don't own the Sandman series or Neon Genesis Evangelion
In which we must Face the past to see the Present,
In which the Present must be seen to know the Future,
And in which we begin our journey into the Future
The Kindly Ones had wreaked havoc upon the Dreaming. They had killed one of the Prince of Stories' most magnificent creations, leaving a wasteland behind.
The Prince of Stories, known to all as Dream of the Endless—but also as Daniel, for sake of his predecessor having an alternate name as well—could not bring Fiddler's Green back. The jocular Britannic giant would never be seen again, except for brief glimpses in the Shifting Zones, where one could be lost for decades and have only been missing for five minutes or one could sit for five minutes and find himself in the next decade.
It was in this wasteland that Daniel stood, his white robes rippling about him. His face was neutral, his eyes full of the night sky.
Daniel looked up to see a black raven, caught in a violent swirl of wind, flapping his wings frantically.
Around the neck of the Lord of Dreams hung a long chain of gold, at the end of which was a medium sized emerald. A star shined in his eye and his emerald glowed, and the wind blew the bird toward him. The long white arms caught the little bird and Daniel held the bird tightly as he returned to his observations.
"Thanks, kid. Damn, what a wind!"
"Indeed," Daniel agreed unenthusiastically, "You must take great care when flying around this region now, Matthew; after we have left you must go around to my other flying subjects and warn them away."
Daniel nodded toward the subject of his observation. Matthew's little black eyes widened as he saw what appeared to be a whirlpool on solid ground. Stirring within the mix were rocks and trees, roots and the bones of dream-animals; all being tossed about like in a blender.
"Oh my God, it's a…"
"Vortex, Matthew, and as you can see it has already grown to its smallest stage…and growing rapidly."
The bird looked at the edges and indeed saw that the Vortex was slowly growing, though at a snail's pace.
"Jesus," Matthew whispered, "When did it start?"
"Two hours ago,"
"Huh? But this thing's the size of a kiddie pool!"
Daniel said nothing, merely staring out at the Vortex as it whirled and sucked, the winds tugging violently, insistently at his robes. With a snap of his cloak, Daniel jumped off the rock column he stood upon and began walking toward the palace.
"The rapid growth troubled me as well, Matthew; upon investigation I found that this current Vortex is…mentally unbalanced."
The bird's head snapped up and he looked into the Dream Lord's face.
"'Mentally unbalanced'? You mean he's nuts?!"
Daniel smiled slightly, and placed the raven on his shoulder as the vacuum-like wind faded away.
"No, Matthew; he is not insane, though he teeters on the brink of it. The slightest tip could send him into my youngest sister's arms. To put it better, he is under a great deal of emotional strain. To be specific, he suffers from what I believe is called the 'Hedgehog's Dilemma'."
"A rather poetic affliction; the hedgehog wants to be closer to others, but every time he gets close he hurts the ones he loves."
"Oh," Matthew craned his neck to look at one of Mervyn's boys tramping over toward the shores with a large pepper grinder, "That's kind of sad."
"It is," agreed Daniel, "A most terrible existence. It speaks much of the boy that he has gone on this long."
Matthew shivered as he remembered, "Hey, will he have to…?"
Daniel sighed, and looked down as a three-inch purple ant in hippie garb wandered across his path.
"I…am afraid so, Matthew, unless Desire is playing it's tricks again—which I doubt it is—I will have to take…action."
And with that, the Onieromancer held up his hand, where a globe of pure white flame appeared. The flames parted to reveal a young man walking, dressed in school uniform, briefcase in hand. His sad deep-blue eyes revealed nothing as he stopped and looked up, puzzled, into the sky, as if he could sense the eye of the Third Eldest of the Endless. Presently, a red-haired girl appeared, yelling at him. The boy was startled out of his stare, and seemed to be apologizing to the girl. She grabbed his wrist and pulled him away. The vision followed for a while before the flames dissolved.
"Make your last days worthwhile, Shinji Ikari," said Daniel softly, "This is my responsibility, though it is distasteful."
*Special thanks to Lord Legato Deathscythe for helping me while I was trying to edit this prologue.