Chapter 1:

The Old Man and the Nearby Sea.

A Reverie for Another Eternity

“What is abject freedom without purpose?”Bookmark here

“Hint: it’s boredom.”Bookmark here

- Lost TimeBookmark here

I heard a voice in the distance.Bookmark here

Extrapolating subject data into possible alternative options.Bookmark here

A voice neither comforting nor overly garish.Bookmark here

Option 191390 selected. Release in t-minus 10 seconds.Bookmark here

Simple fears of the unknown that beckoned my soul from beneath the very depths of this incorrigible, frightening feeling of doom.Bookmark here

A hopeless, crushing pressure that blotted out any light there may have been in the unlit sky.Bookmark here

Three.Bookmark here

No… Flat, tasteless words couldn’t describe the intensity of this… feeling. Perhaps the right word to define this is… Despair.Bookmark here

He couldn’t feel his arms, legs, toes, or fingers; his orientation and directional senses were nonexistent, and above all, a feeling of horror stuck with him. He opened his mouth to scream, but all that met him was the void.Bookmark here

Two.Bookmark here

The darkness of the abyss clung to his very skin, the very pores on his face, and his eyes which couldn’t see anything but pitch blackness.Bookmark here

A heavy feeling, a fear that grew at every passing millisecond, a fear that suffocated his body under a sickeningly sticky mound of flesh; constantly burning and reshaping at what seemed to be the lowest circle of hell.Bookmark here

It was suffocating, warm, and most of all: terrifying.Bookmark here

One.Bookmark here

A groan escaped from his lips. He could feel his very body contorting under the strange pressures arising from everywhere around him; the lukewarm liquids oozed onto his body, which didn’t help in the slightest.Bookmark here

Then it grew hot. Unbearably so.Bookmark here

It was as if a thousand suns were pouring their torrential flares onto his body and into his vulnerable organs. His very brain felt like it had melted away under the genocidal sun, blinding and as harsh as something supposedly bright and comfortable couldn’t be. There was no warmth, no joy to be found in this scorching illumination. It felt as if this very light was all he knew and all he would ever know, in life.Bookmark here

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A wave of warm seawater splashed onto their face, drowning out any thoughts or feelings they had. Bookmark here

Coughing up the stinging saltwater that got in their nose and mouth, they opened their eyes and saw the warm sun basking him, filtering through the various leaves and branches of a lone tree that stood on the sandy shore at which he laid on.Bookmark here

Out of habit, they lifted their hand from the water to block out the remaining sunlight directly hitting his eyes, only to see something much more ajar.Bookmark here

Focusing their bleary eyes, they could see that their hands were very dainty and pale. Plus, it looked so much smaller than before.Bookmark here

Standing up and looking around, they could now see that they were in the shallow waters of a warm and sandy beach. In front was an expanse of blue nothingness surrounding their immediate vision; the shimmering ripples reflecting the sunlight that fell upon it. They stood still, mouth agape, as the shining sea of intangible grandiosity swiftly sunk his mind into the watery depths below, claiming another victim in all of its meretricious glory.Bookmark here

So this is the ocean.Bookmark here

After a few short moments of regaling the sea from under the shade, they decided to look behind them. In the distance, there was nothing more than a simple dirt road that stretched from one endless beyond to another, and across a soothing, grassy plain that swayed without a care in the wayward winds.Bookmark here

They peered down into the crystal-clear waters, where the ocean droplets from his clothes and front bangs disturbed the very surface among the ever-rippling waves. They soon caught a moment of its stillness and were met with a reflection of a young beauty: a childish, cute face, with large, turquoise irises, and long, white hair that was half-submerged in the clear, shallow waters. A tall, well-proportioned build with slender limbs and neck, with a healthy white color composed her figure.Bookmark here

The face of a young girl, who looked no older than twenty, was soon distorted in the passing seconds, as the waves started to pull in and out a little more rapidly, slowly encroaching on the grassy plains afar as the tides started to rise.Bookmark here

With one hand pinching the front of the dress away from her chest, she peeked downwards, past the two slightly-more-than-moderate lumps of flesh that filled her vision, to see if there were any new developments in her body. She didn't dare to check her other region for double confirmation. So as of now, she came to the undoubted conclusion that she was, indeed, female.Bookmark here

Her flushed face attempted to hide away the embarrassing diagnosis, as she began to assess the situation and the causes for what led her to this moment. She recalled her last moments being in front of a blonde girl; the unknown girl’s face was a bit hazy within their memories. She remembered a feeling of a deep-seated unease that was soon proven to be right as a veil of darkness fell over her existence right after their rendezvous. However, that was all she could remember.Bookmark here

The lukewarm water, as if to agree with her assessment, suddenly splashed onto her white, frilly dress in a giant, one-person-sized wave.Bookmark here

At least it was wet to begin with.Bookmark here

The beach sand grating against her buttocks was very uncomfortable, though. She wondered if there were easy ways to rid the intrusive grains.Bookmark here

While attempting to wring out any remaining water and sand that was stuck under her dress, she heard the faint rumbling of heavy footfalls in the distance. She turned around to see a lone wagon riding up the treaded path behind her.Bookmark here

Taking this as a chance to intercept a ride, she headed up from the seashore, feeling the sand beneath her bare feet turn to grass, which soon got between her toes; the blades of grass tickling her soles with every step taken towards the road ahead.Bookmark here

The driver stopped once Takumi stood in its path, his eyes hidden by the frontward tip of his yellowed straw hat.Bookmark here

“Hey little missy, where’da come from?”Bookmark here

Up close, she could feel her stature, her build, smaller than before, in front of this very carriage. No, the world itself felt a tad bit too large for her, a bit too strange, and a bit too beautiful. With the ocean waves roaring in the distance, the salty tinge hanging in the air, and the red crabs skirting around the very tree she was under, they could only wonder if this simply was a hidden paradise of her other world - a paradise that stripped her of her very existence, and replaced it.Bookmark here

She understood this as freedom, a new beginning of some sort.Bookmark here

Luckily, before the Old Man began to question her even more, she quickly snapped out of her thoughts and faced the old man.Bookmark here

“From the sea. Hey, may I ask where you’re going?”Bookmark here

Looking down, he could see her frilly and white dress, sodden with ocean water and grains of sand that dirtied her feet and backside, as if to vouch for her claims of being a denizen of the sea.Bookmark here

He shook his head.Bookmark here

“Just running a business. Why? You need a ride ‘er somethin’?”Bookmark here

“If you don’t mind of course.”Bookmark here

”You’d wanna ask the lady in the back fer permission then.”Bookmark here

Just then, a light thud could be heard from Takumi’s left.Bookmark here

“And who might you be?”Bookmark here

Another young girl, more petite but just as pippy as Takumi’s current body, sprung out from behind the wagon. Her auburn curls were slung brazenly over her crimson dress, her shoulders exposed in the warm sunlight, and black laces that crisscrossed the white cloth on her front chest. Her eyes were full of green mischief and simple curiosity.Bookmark here

“I, uh..." She stuttered, the consonants and vowels of her name bouncing around in her mind. She finally came to a conclusion after the words ku, ta, and mi were assembled without delay. "I’m Mikuta!”Bookmark here

“What a strange name, perhaps you came from a faraway place.” Mikuta flinched as the unknown pretty girl reached in, her face only a few millimeters away from Mikuta’s. “Maybe you are of royalty, perchance?”Bookmark here

Suddenly, she closed her eyes and pinched her nose in disgust as she hopped a few steps backward. “You certainly don’t smell like one."Bookmark here

Peeking at Mikuta's confused reaction from her left eye, she dropped the act and burst out in unhinged laughter for a few seconds, her hands on the sides of her hips, with her head tilted backward.Bookmark here

She then stopped as abruptly as she laughed, looking directly at Mikuta's somewhat bountiful chest region, and back at her own.Bookmark here

“This one’s no fun. Gramps, just leave her and continue on.”Bookmark here

“You sure?”Bookmark here

“Positive.”Bookmark here

Just as she began to walk back, Mikuta hastily grabbed her hand. For some reason she was sure that this was the first and last one that would pass through the otherwise rural location, seeing as to how unmaintained the road and the surrounding grass were.Bookmark here

Mikuta bowed her head in hopes of increasing her chances of catching a ride.
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“Wait wait wait wait. Can you please take me? Pretty please?”Bookmark here

Heaving a light sigh, the girl promptly snapped her head to the left, her back still facing Mikuta. Bookmark here

Her gazeful eye was dulled with the tint of red jealousy.Bookmark here

She turned around and disapprovingly pointed at Mikuta's pleading face.Bookmark here

“You know, you really ought your place. Do you really expect a random nobody to be able to hitch a ride on some stranger's wagon?”Bookmark here

“That courtesy bow of yours isn’t helping your case by the way; it just shows how insincere you are in asking.”Bookmark here

In one clean motion, she swiped at the air and instantly shook off Mikuta’s sweaty grasp; her now sparkling eyes adding to Mikuta’s confusion further.Bookmark here

“However, if you really want to show how sincerely you would like to get on this wagon with me, then there is something you could do.”Bookmark here

She took a pause, an evil smile forming as her lips contorted. She began to take off her tights and shoes, slowly and steadily exposing her lightly colored thighs and dainty feet. Bookmark here

Mikuta looked up in even greater puzzlement.Bookmark here

Stripping the last of the tights past the small outlines of her toes, her foot suddenly flung upwards at Mikuta's head level.
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Beyond her smooth and hairless leg, her hands delicately held the sides of her dress up, the top fringes of her garment pressed together by her thumbs and fingers.Bookmark here

With a malignant grin, she cast her excited gaze downwards. Bookmark here

“There. I made it easier for you.” Her words were inaudible to Mikuta's ears. Had it been possible, literal question marks would be floating en masse around Mikuta’s head. “...What is it that you wanted me to do again?”Bookmark here

Her expression grew even more exhilarated at Mikuta’s question.Bookmark here

"Kiss it."Bookmark here

Immediately a heavy thud could be heard behind Mikuta; its presence was so menacing that she didn’t dare to look back.Bookmark here

“We don’t have time for this nonsense m’lady. I’d advise you to get back on so we could make haste to our duties.” The gruff voice somehow grew even gruffer as Mikuta flinched. "Besides, having another girl under our care wouldn't affect our journey unless you would forbid me from doing so of course."Bookmark here

The girl stared past Mikuta for a time with an annoyed glare before chuckling to herself.Bookmark here

“So we shall.”Bookmark here

She pulled her tights back on and slipped on her shoes, her left hand placed against the side of the wagon as the slightly bent figure tapped their feet individually on the ground, making sure that her shoes were solidly in place.Bookmark here

She slowly rose up and faced a baffled Mikuta.Bookmark here

The girl's hands were spread open as she held them against her cheeks, her open palms facing Mikuta as she let out a radiant smile with closed eyes.
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“It was just a joke! Bwahahahaha!”Bookmark here

She let down her arms, her hands fidgeting as her index fingers circled around one another in close proximity as she pondered.
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“I guess if you sit in the back, I wouldn’t mind letting you come along with me.”Bookmark here

Mikuta let out a sigh of genuine relief. This whole encounter seemed pretty over-the-top; it was not good for her heart.
Bookmark here

“Now that’s an offer I can’t refuse. “Bookmark here

The girl nods in satisfaction and starts walking to the back of the wagon.Bookmark here

“I never caught your name, by the way.”Bookmark here

The crimson beauty twirled twice before turning around, fully facing Mikuta. With her hands behind her back, her dress flared out, and her upper torso bowing slightly to the front, she smiled faintly. The lulling sea let out a soft breeze under the setting sunset, swaying her hair from side to side.Bookmark here

“My name is Miyori.”Bookmark here

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