Many nightmares are caused by beings of raw dream called Anju. Anju are mutable, shadowy beings that are characterized by six glowing red eyes, and usually manifest huge gaping maws filled with needle-sharp teeth and massive clawed limbs. However, beyond that, they can vary widely in shape and size. Most anju vary widely in appearance, but keep the consistent features of being comprised of shadows with six glowing red eyes and a maw full of sharp teeth. Proportions, mobility styles, face shapes, body styles, presence or lack of a tail, etc can all be different. While they can modify their appearance much the way they shape shadows, most have a “resting” state or default appearance (though not all). The more powerful the fear, the physically larger they tend to be, but most can bolster their shapes with shadows from their surroundings.
Anju are, at the core, basic creatures. All of them live for the purpose of feeding off of fear of mortal victims. They gain pleasure from this feeding- and they gain more pleasure and more energy if the fear garnished corresponds to their specialty (every anju is the embodiment of a different fear.) The simpler ones merely travel from dream-bubble to dream-bubble, their presence shaping the dream of the host into a nightmare- causing fear, which they feed from. The host wakes up, the bubble disappears, and the pleasure is over. From there, they travel to another dream, and so on. They are either in a state of gaining pleasure/energy, or they are seeking it out. Aside from that, they gain pleasure (though less so – and no actual energy or sustenance) from actual eating of flesh- though this is generally not quite the same- they can eat the dream-echoes that manifest in raw dream (or someone’s specific dream.) To them, they are comprised of the same dream-reality that they are, and seem mostly “real.” They can also eat unfortunate fae, if they are lucky.
More powerful anju have motivations that go beyond this, but still have the basic desires that motivate them: seeking out pleasure, though they will go to further efforts of gaining better pleasure. They will mentally torture a victim in order to produce their specific type of fear, seek out people who are more susceptible to their fear, or find ways to extend that sensation.
Since they are of dream fabric (dream-physical), and interact with dream, to them dream seems real. But because they are shadowy creatures, they cannot really be “injured” by most things- an “injury” caused by an object that pierced them would fill in as soon as it left. This is a necessary characteristic as things can suddenly be generated in the chaos of dream or the unpredictability of someone’s dream-bubble. Anju have no concept of time and are ageless, virtually immortal beings. Their only real weakness is Iron, which cannot exist in raw dream. They have no reality-physical form, and mainly travel from dream bubble to dream bubble. As they exist in raw dream, they themselves neither sleep nor dream. All anju can, however, enter the dream-bubbles of others, pushing through the boundary between dream and near-dream. The magic of a dream bubble, while that of reality is affected enough by the chaos of the surrounding raw dream to sustain them and their magic. But, they cannot pierce the second barrier between near-dream and reality. Their mere presence in someone’s dream-bubble will start to twist the dream of the sleeper into a nightmare. They feed from the fear that results, gaining energy and pleasure from it. But, because they only have access to the person’s consciousness in near-dream, they only get a fraction of the fear-energy they exude, filtered through the near-dream/reality border. There is one anju for each mortal fear. There is also a very wide range of power level between them. The stronger, more universal, and more “intellectual” the fear, the more powerful the anju. Stronger ones can consciously shape the nightmare of the sleeper. A lucid dreamer has a greater resistance to their meddling, and it becomes a contest between the anju and the will of the dreamer, instead of their passive subconscious.
Also, each anju has abilities that reflect their own
specialty. They are magical creatures, and the more powerful the anju, the
wider range of abilities they have. In addition to the anju-specific
abilities, there are a set of general abilities they all have access to (though
some are only held by the most powerful ones- such as Dream Trap.) These
generic abilities include: Shadow manipulation (varying degrees thereof),
Generic dream travel and shaping it around them (again, varying degrees
thereof.) ((The “elite” anju (see universal fear document) are able to
manifest into reality similarly to the way that humans manifest into dream when
they sleep.)) Generic Fear spells (the more powerful the anju, the more
powerful the fear- and more powerful anju can effect lesser ones with this
spell, but not the other way around.) Also, while anju can have varying
levels of intelligence, they are still very specialized creatures, and their
emotions are not very far developed. They are limited to the simple emotions
of pleasure, fear, anger, pain, and the like (they do NOT feel things such as
guilt, remorse, love, camaraderie, etc.) They do, on the other hand, (well, at
least the “greater” anju) have distinct personalities. (they DO have souls,
they’re just bonded to their magic and Dream-body.)
Even though Anju cannot fully pierce the barrier between near-dream and reality, very powerful anju (see the list of Umbrella fears) are able to manifest into reality similar to the way people manifest into dream or spirits from the echo manifest in reality. They are not exactly “physically” there, but their consciousness stretches the border of dream or near-dream and reality like the opposite of what a person does when they dream, though they do not form a “pocket.” Physically, whether they know it or not, they travel into near-dream, though there is no obvious bubble-barrier, just a gradual fading that is virtually indistinguishable from raw dream; only the magic-flow would tell it apart. An anju can manifest in reality anywhere they have a strong mental image- thus moving into near-dream that corresponds with this location from raw dream. As a crutch, the near-dream takes on the appearance of where they are manifesting into reality. Alternatively, they can manifest into reality from a dreamer’s near-dream bubble to wherever they are physically located. Their consciousness then stretches the barrier between near-dream and reality even further, thin enough to visually appear and to some degree physically and magically effect the real world. They stretch the border, and can interact through the border, sort of like reaching through a stretchy piece of cloth- you can manipulate the other side, and can be seen from the other side, but you’re still physically on your side. Thus, they function similarly to how a manifested spirit creature does. However, they would not be able to affect at all an actual manifested spirit- they are too “far away” – on the other side of Reality’s spectrum. An Anju’s “body” cannot be separated from their consciousnesses (they do not dream) – and so it is more like they are expressing themselves though the border. While manifesting into reality, they can use their abilities to a limited degree on reality, and have limited physical contact. They appear as beings of shadow, with six glowing red eyes. They are very indistinct, mutable forms, though frequently manifest clawed limbs and gaping maws full of sharp teeth. These are NOT for show. They can control how substantial they are (not every body part the same if they don’t want, and can switch between being a 2-D or 3-D shadow.) Remaining in reality requires energy from them, though, and the only thing that feeds that is fear-energy of others’.
Unfortunately for them, since they are still in near-dream, the fear is still filtered through the border, and not pure as it would be if they were somehow physically in reality, though it is a bit stronger than just a sleeper’s fear- as they are stretching the border thinner (though ultimately still just a fraction of the total fear exuded.) Also only the more powerful anju can manifest through near-dream like this, and it takes a good deal of energy. Even though manifesting into reality is very similar to how spirits operate, they are not naturally able to possess people (unless through a specific spell.) This is because a body has a natural place for a spiritual being to exist within it, not a dream-physical one. As the fear anju gain from dreams is very diluted, they only receive a fraction of the fear energy produced- only that which filters into the dream world. Even when they manifest into reality, the fear has to cross the threshold into near-dream and thus still diluted (as the anju doesn’t actually physically travel to reality, just manifest across the border)... if an anju were able to physically get into the real world, it would make a difference by an order of magnitude. But, if a being from reality physically travels into the dream world, or visa versa, they could not remain for long at all. Dream-matter and Physical/Real-matter are very different and contrastive substances. One will eventually fade back into their home-plane. For someone from Reality who is physically in dream, this can be potentially very bad. As dream is not a mirror of reality, there is no place-to-place tie. Someone who fades back to reality will fade back into a completely random location somewhere on the planet.
If an anju is hurt by iron in reality, it will hurt them in dream- it is not just a manifestation, but an extension of themselves. Iron burns through them, destroying them wherever it touches. Weaker anju will be killed even by a minor iron contact (think how fire burns through paper – the iron burns straight through and then crumbles and flakes expanding outwards. More powerful anju will need more substantial iron wounds to be destroyed. Iron wounds leave lasting damage/holes. As long as they are in contact with the iron, they cannot pull their manifestation back into near-dream (or dream for that matter.) The iron has some way of when touching a manifested anju to temporarily pierce the barrier, hurting them and keeping them from withdrawing. If they are completely destroyed by the iron, they cease to exist; they’re destroyed. Though, another anju is created to take over its role (though will not have any of the “memories”/perspective of the original. They are borne from the wandering, mad souls in raw dream dreamtrapped by an anju some indistinguishable time in the past, and eventually find themselves falling into the niche left by the vacancy of the destroyed anju. All dream creatures have a common weakness of Iron. Iron burns them on contact. Iron does not exist in dream or dream-bubbles. One of Dream’s few physical laws does not allow for its existence carries over into the bubbles- one individual’s will cannot overpower that. Iron does not just fade back to reality like any other physical matter if brought into dream, it is destroyed, dissolving and heating/bubbling away to nothing. The only exception to this rule is the Fey realm.
The intelligence of anju is widely varied. Anything from a very basic animal-like intelligence of the lower anju, who just wander from dream to dream seeking out fear, to very conniving, manipulative beings (though even the most intelligent only have very rudimentary emotions: pleasure, fear, anger, etc, and are highly specialized.) They gain the most power from causing their own specialty of fear. Some of the especially powerful anju have an ability called “DreamTrap.” With this ability, they can sever the tether keeping a dreaming soul from their body. (remember- severing the tether can only be done from the realm that the soul is currently in.) The soul is then effectively stuck in dream or near-dream, leaving the body behind in an unwakable coma. This happens because the soul has more of a pull to dream than reality: a soul cannot exist by itself in reality, though it can in dream. The soul would remain in the bubble, though with the tether cut, any anju could easily pull the soul into dream itself much as it travels between dream and sub-dream itself. Once the soul leaves the dream-bubble, though, it would ‘pop.’ Anju can receive a bit more fear from those they have dream trapped, as their consciousnesses are wholly in dream and no longer interconnected with the body (though still not as much as they could if they were somehow in physical contact with a person on the same plane- because fear isn’t entirely mental.) They have been known to torture the poor soul for as long as they possibly can (which can seem like MUCH longer to the odd time-sense in dream with nothing to relate to.) The soul is split from the body entirely, and stuck in dream pretty much permanently (unless somehow pulled out.) As the soul has no connection to the body, even if the body dies, the soul is still stuck in dream, isolated from the spirit world. The remainder of the energy of the body cannot even rejoin with the spirit, and it would disperse into reality ((normally when a person dies, the soul and magic is released from the body entirely, and they fade “back” into the spirit realm unless something keeps it there. But in dream, it is different- souls go there all the time- dream is adapted for it. There is no direct link between Dream and the Spirit world.)) Souls trapped in dream do not take long to go completely mad – forgetting themselves/their identity – surrounded by the chaos of raw dream, being tormented by anju, etc. Eventually, when there is need for a new anju (a new fear is discovered thanks to new discoveries in reality or another anju is killed) a soul is “tapped” to take its place. They find themselves gravitating to dreams, their presence corrupting it to a nightmare… which makes them feel good…. After some repetitions of this cycle, the soul has become a full anju with no memory of their previous life.
Anju don’t have much sense at all for passing time. They do remember things, but they are more or less a collection of memories, even sequential order is a foreign concept for most of them. Though the more advanced, “intellectual” ones (who represent a more intellectual or universal fear) do have a better-organized brain/memory, and are capable of sophisticated planning and manipulation. In fact, better than most people because to them, time is no concern. Anju are all very individualistic, though they are fully capable of communicating with each other (with their own whispery-spidery language.) Their language is very complex, and not only contains a vocal aspect, but when they speak, it seems to trigger appropriate emotions and ideas along with it... needless to say, there are thousands of single words for various kinds of fear (the names of anju) and concepts that are easily expressed in human language (like nice, or cute or some such) would be very difficult to do so in anju- they would have to be talked around and explained using various synonyms or descriptions. It would be virtually impossible for a human to learn to speak the language- not only is it completely different from any other language on a conceptual basis, but a human would not be able to “speak” it correctly with the morphology of their speech apparatuses. More “sophisticated” anju are also capable of learning human languages (to better drive fear into their victims if they tell them various things) though it would always be spoken in that same voice, that is like a crawling whisper in the back of your mind (they do not form words with their mouths, they project the words.)
Anju however, while they have a language, are not social creatures. Luckily for people, they do not work together – they are highly selfish, independent creatures. When two come into contact, it is generally more of a contest/hierarchy and the more powerful anju (the one with the more universal fear) typically scares off the lesser ((more powerful anju can affect lesser anju with their fear-gaze)). They view social bonds as a trait of their prey – humans (and sometimes fey) – and a complex network developed to protect the weak, and cause all kind of opportunities for different social fears and anxieties. If an anju finds a method into reality (finding a place of power/fear to tether themselves to to remain expressed across the dream threshold, they are much more likely to guard it and be territorial against the approach of other anju than to advertise).
Sabin’s Anju, the fear of being controlled/ losing control had been around for quite some time, not that it really noticed- anju don’t have much sense at all for passing time. The fear of being controlled/losing control (from hereafter referred to as “creante” as the English language can not appropriately transliterate its real name) was a very power-hungry, creative, driven and motivated risk-taker. (Much like Sabin, it was rash and didn’t think too far past the relatively immediate desired result.) Like any anju, it got wonderful pleasure from causing fear, and when it wasn’t, it wanted to be doing so. But, unlike many others, it did want more. At one point in time, this particular anju encountered a very lost (possibly banished- and if it was banished here it must have done something REALLY wrong) Fae in raw dream. This was something new and different. (This anju also enjoyed new experiences.) It, well, tortured this fae for a long (indiscriminate) amount of time, feeding from its fear (which was only really a little more fear than it got from mortal dreams, but it lasted so much longer... it was physically there... it could not escape. When it finally tired of its plaything, it killed it, eating its flesh. After this, though, the idea nagged at it that it had an idea of where the fae lived... that it could travel to this realm physically (not just like manifesting in the world – which it also did fairly frequently) and it could do similar things to the residents there. So it attempted to do so. It traveled into the bubble of Fae (this was ages ago- while the doors between fae and reality were still mainly there... and before QUITE so much guard was put up along the edges of the realm.) For a time, it had a field day... causing chaos, fear, eating... then things took a turn for the worse. It got fairly far into the realm, and efforts were organized against it. With Iron. It KNEW iron... instinctively. It knew that things were not going as it had meagerly planned, and it fled... but the edge of the realm was too far- instead, it found a gate, and went through. Suddenly, it found itself somewhere strangely familiar, and yet entirely different. It was the actual realm of reality where it had manifested before so many times before... but now... now it was THERE. Its senses were alive... it was tingling... The first human that it encountered provided SUCH a rush of pure... sweet... undiluted fear... it was more than it had ever felt before... it was high with the fear that just one man provided it... it seemed to be a hundredfold the muted fear it felt in dream. But, within minutes, it felt itself fading away, like when it pulled its manifestation back from reality... but this time being pulled back physically. It couldn’t stay there. It tried the borders of Fae again, this time it found them guarded with fae with Iron... it knew it couldn’t get through... It was pissed. But, it was also determined... it had a motivation that drove it... It WOULD get back to reality... and it would find a way to stay there. Anything would have been worth it...
It spent a long (time) manifesting into reality... looking around... but it didn’t care... time was no object... a year was as a day. It knew that Fae were part dream but also part reality... they could traverse between the realms. It hated them for it... seethed with jealousy. They did not feed from people like it... they got their energy from dream. Why did he and his kind get the shaft when they did not even realize the gift they had. It scoured the land for years, looking for a portal directly to raw dream... no luck... but on one of its searches, it did find something else... It found a book in a very remote, dilapidated old library of sorts. Most of the rest of the books there had long since crumbled to dust, and the place itself seemed to be forgotten. This book struck an odd chord of recognition. The book felt strongly of dream, and yet it was there. It inspected it closer, to be shocked to realize that it was written in its language. The book contained many truths... the way dream worked... the anju... fae...magic... It read it, intrigued... and thought about things for a while. It knew the value of what it found... and the fact that it existed... meant that somehow things could be taken from dream... given a physical form. If it could happen to the book... why not it?
Again, it thought for a long time... observed the mortal world... driven to find answers... when an odd idea occurred to it... some mortals used magic to affect their world in ways it should not be. It knew this book was valuable... maybe they might know how it was formed... or better yet... how it could take flesh to remain in reality. It visited many dreams... looking for people who might know these things... feeling their magic as it did... (it would be able to do this). After a long while... it found a powerful naming mage... and began to speak with him through his dreams. The anju was not used to “bargaining”, but understood manipulation well enough, and the mage was promised power in this book of answers. This mage in particular was incredibly interested in oneiromancy... the information the anju promised it was exactly what he desired. The mage, in exchange, was to develop a spell to bring it flesh. To make it stay in reality. A bargain was struck, and much time later (not that the anju really cared.) Then they met for the first time in a discrete location (the anju manifesting, and then puppeting a poor passing bandit) to make the exchange. When the anju got its hands on the spell it wanted, it was pissed. (So was the mage – it was given a book in a language he could never read. The anju knew this, and thus felt no danger in any “secrets” getting out.) The spell could not be cast by it; it had to be cast by a mortal mage. The spell would not just give it a body, but it would bring it to an existing body. Essentially, a permanent possession spell tailored for a being from dream. It didn’t want a simple possession. It wanted a body of its own. A free body. In its fury and jealousy that it didn’t want any other anju to follow it, it memorized the spell, destroyed it, and then sought out the mage, dreamtrapping him, torturing him. All records of the development of the spell were destroyed, and eventually the book fell into the hands of a magical society that got passed down through hands and generations, meeting equal frustration wherever it went. The anju then sat back again to think. It knew of the basics of magic... the difference between the styles... it knew that the person to cast this spell had to have at least some natural magic... it was a naming magic spell. It knew that the caster would be the one who would take the anju into themselves... but if that were the case, then the anju would then have to deal with their consciousness. It knew that if a naming mage cast the spell then IF the mage could even comprehend the spell, they would survive it.... but if it found a will-user, then the mage would draw on his own energy... this was a POWERFUL spell... if the mage wasn’t strong enough... and if he could understand it... it would destroy his soul... leaving a perfectly healthy, vacant body.
By this time, though, magic was becoming more and more rare as it was, and will mages especially so. It also knew that the mage couldn’t be too powerful, or else it might survive... and that whomever it chose, that would be the body it was stuck with... it could afford to be picky. Also, if the mage it chose had a natural propensity for its sort of magic, then things would probably be easier- both for it to cast an effective spell and for the anju to use its abilities once it got there. Once again, it scoured the world... scouring dreams... Finally... finally it found someone to meet its expectations. A young boy in France, born with latent will magic... more specifically, a magical bias for shadow magic (and a touch of air-magic.) He hung around the area for years as the boy grew, whispering to him, putting ideas in his head, coaxing him through discovering his abilities, filling his mind with ideas. It was perfect, almost too perfect. The boy was intensely curious, and despite his parents’ superstitious fears, he had a yearning for magic and the supernatural before he ever knew of his gifts. He was gullible, and intrigued with monsters of all things... he was so easy to manipulate... He whispered ideas into his dreams, encouraged his obsession with magical creatures, monsters. Spoke of power and wonder... and watched him closely as his power slowly built. Eventually, when he determined that he would be able to comprehend the spell, but not quite strong enough to cast it, he started whispering the spell into his head. Every night, emphasizing it, going over it again and again... making sure he completely understood. There was no room for failure.
Eventually, the boy went out, and followed the instructions he was given. He performed the spell flawlessly... and then fell unconscious. The anju felt himself being pulled into the world- was ecstatic- it worked! The boy appeared dead- as the last of the energy pulled itself from the boy’s soul, the boy’s body convulsed, his hair blanching to white at the strain. And the anju felt a rush, the world around him shifting, dream, wind, then flesh... and then things went dark.
Things slowly slurred to being again... and it knew something was wrong. It felt other there... The boy was not dead as he should have been! It was trapped... it had never been trapped before. It slowly began to piece together what had happened with growing fear and anxiety. The spell had almost killed the boy, but not quite. It would have been better if he wasn’t spiritually hurt at all! At least it would have been separate then! No, he began to realize their souls were bonded... joined at the hip almost. He was scared, the body was moving itself, and all it could do was watch and think. It saw why its fear was so “universal”, tasted its own medicine. It raged at the bit, but it was groggy and weakened. It realized that the spell was gone from his memory... something really messed up... ((Sabin walked back homewards, not knowing what was happened. As he got scared, agitated when he encountered his mother..)) the fear, both from Sabin and his mother bolstered the anju, strengthening it, the bonds keeping it back broke and it surged forward taking control. It was furious with the mistake, knowing partially the consequences it was facing, it was upset at humans, stuck in a human’s mind, it raged at the person it knew its “host” was attached to... killing her... very gruesomely. After that, the anger and fear faded, it slipped back, trying to figure out what had happened... what it could do.
For a long period, it raged, pissed, taking every opportunity it could to break free and cause damage in its frustration. Yes, the fear was sweet, but it was not free. It didn’t foresee this. It also had this strange sinking feeling that even if it escaped this body through the mortal death, that it was still connected to this soul... and then it would have both lost its freedom AND the link to this physical world. The thing it had worked so hard at. The knowledge of the spell was gone, and it was restrained to this body- it wasn’t the mutable shadowy body it was used to... everything felt so restrictive, tight. Even when it had control, and the magic of the body shaped it to fit a bit more what it was used to, it was not nearly the same. It savagely protected the body- it couldn’t lose that too. Another aspect it hadn’t foreseen was that when it took control it was hurt by things that mortal men were. It was not used to pain. Before, the only thing that really harmed it was iron, and it tried to avoid that whenever possible. Now, things hurt. When the body was injured and the host couldn’t adequately defend itself, it seized control, but the pain drove it mad, and it rarely did anything aside from lashing out violently(not that it had any other intentions to begin with.) But if the body would be ultimately knocked unconscious, the anju lost its grip. It found it couldn’t be in control of the body when it was unconscious – anju do not dream or sleep, and it was forced back to the back of the mind.
((Note: The spell the anju gained was a spell that would draw the anju into the body of the person who cast the spell. The anju utilized an unpracticed will mage, because they would draw their own energy to cast the spell. If they could draw enough, they would kill themself in the process. This is what it wanted, because this wasn’t a normal “possession” effect like spirits are able to do. (Also, a dream creature usually does not have the ability to “possess” in the first place- that is generally only in the realm of abilities of spirit creatures.) But, it would do more than a possession anyway. It would give the anju the “living link” to the body it was drawn into, essentially making it just as connected to the body as the original soul, unable to be exorcized, and able to regain magic the same way the body could in life. It would have only its memories and abilities to go by, and a good portion of its magic would be tied up in maintenance of the body, but it would have the link to the world it wanted. If the body were ever killed, the anju, being a creature of dream, would just go back to dream. But, the anju would be unable to leave the body until it was killed.
If this spell were to have been cast by a Namer mage, then the host’s soul would be untouched, and would have resulted in a case of duality- but complete duality. Both souls would have had equal “standing” to the body, but their magic pools would be separate, their memories entirely separate as well. There would be constant fighting for control as each soul is completely independent and has an equal connection with the body. And, it would be an “all or nothing” – in control or not. It wouldn’t be able to perform subtle movements while otherwise not in control like a normal possession.
In This case, the original soul was injured, and when the anju entered, the souls partially fused together, making a rather interesting, if unique, mess. Part of the anju’s spirit was used to “patch” the dying human’s, and thus neither could exist without the other. Thus, they couldn’t be separated (through any means.) Also, there was a partial spilling over of thoughts/feelings/etc of the 2 souls, and the souls through time would be pulling together since this is a very unstable state, and each is a small part the other. Gradually, the two souls will pull themselves into one, combining and adding up. Their magic pools are shared, as is their potential. Eventually, their memories will combine, as well as capabilities (emotional, physical, lifespan, etc.) Ironically, this is ultimately more powerful, as they will get the best of both worlds, and even some of the anju’s physical capabilities will be transferred to the body it is trapped in. BUT, this means, since the souls are bonded, that if the body dies after the merging (once the souls are bonded, then to the body as well), that it will take out the soul(s) with it. This is no longer just a body it is inhabiting, but its body, that has been combined with its “physical” anju body.) ))
The human also began to learn some of its tricks- they were sharing a magical pool... When it took control, it utilized the time to try to do what it had wanted to do- cause fear and panic... manipulate and lash out at its restraints. It learned quite well of its host. Watched his actions, his speech, his interactions with people. And slowly it began to realize the tool it was given. It could watch humans, walk among them, and mimic them... and better yet, it was beginning to understand them more... and thus how to better manipulate them. It felt its awareness expanding, it understood concepts that always eluded it... from thinking with its host, it was gaining a human intelligence. It began to start to see a silver lining. But, the human’s resistance built up over time as well, keeping the wall between them strong. He watched, and the more he watched, he began to actually understand, even if he didn’t want to understand some of the things. He got annoyed when Sabin did when he made mistakes- after all, it was his body, too... It watched and learned with him- learning of their condition... of their fate as Sabin figured it. “Merging”. At first the concept terrified it, angered it. It wanted to be RID of this soul, consume it, something, not be stuck with it forever. But it saw the logic. Time went by, and it saw pleasantly as Sabin was changing... making decisions on his own that it was proud of. Often times, when Sabin’s anger bubbled over, it was him reacting violently... but blaming the anju. He was fascinated with the abilities he learned from it. He was fiercely defensive of them to the “companions” he picked up in France and Germany. He was changing. The anju began to get confident, thinking that since Sabin was in control more; that it must be him that was changing to become like it. It just had to be patient, encourage things. It was used to waiting. And in the meantime, it could enjoy itself. Sabin was acting out its whims with less and less encouragement.
Then, things changed. He met up with a different group of people. It assumed things would go along the same... but Sabin, instead of further withdrawing from humanity as it hoped, started to see hope again. He wasn’t abandoned and alone anymore... he had other people to turn to... not just it. And those feelings grew stronger. These people were straightforward... honestly didn’t care... Sabin found friendship... and eventually love. The anju grew restless and worried again. One night, Sabin’s guard dropped, and it scrambled through, seeing the opportunity to take away that connection Sabin had been forming. Cut him off entirely; make him withdraw. He’d never forgive himself; he’d lose. It attacked Samantha. With the first blow, she was down, but as it went for the kill, its hand stopped... Sabin was in the back of his mind... couldn’t move. IT couldn’t move. WHY? WHY??! IT didn’t care! Right?? Suddenly, emotions swelled. Things it had never felt before struggled forward, it was confused, didn’t understand, and pulled back. (Sam was taken to a hospital and came around.) It hoped she wouldn’t be able to forgive Sabin, that when she had seen that side of him, she would abandon him like everyone else had. But she didn’t. It didn’t understand. Why couldn’t it hurt her. Later, Sabin went to talk to her... it needed to know. It didn’t understand; it pushed through. It confronted her, demanding to know why. She was a human! She was nothing to it! She was a source of food! How could it be attached to her?? It tried to lash out again, it assumed Anjuform (thank God it had figured out how to do that again! A taste of its old physical freedom at the very least!) intimidated her, threatened her. It had to scare her off! But it wasn’t working! She turned his logic against him- pointed out (painfully) that it wasn’t just Sabin becoming like him, an anju. He was becoming human. It was furious, and terrified, it left the room, tried its hardest to hurt Sabin’s other friends... ones he didn’t love like Sam... but once again, couldn’t finish things... it bolted, confused. It hit the streets, furious at humanity in general and lashed out; it killed... lots of people. It wouldn’t be like them! But with every life it claimed, that hurt inside grew. Balled up, hurt more, confused its emotions. EMOTIONS! Its mind twisting in on itself, trying to make itself feel better through its old ways- terrorizing people, scaring them out of their wits, dealing out death and the potential there of – and while the pleasure was there, it was so fleeting... and for every ounce of pleasure, there was a tidal wave of guilt that back lashed. It’s PURPOSE, it felt like it was stolen from it. All it knew, everything it was meant to do, it was no longer purely “good” to it... it got pain where it had gotten purely pleasure. It was confused, every emotion seemed to ignite a slew of others, memories of past things ignited more guilt, and it was befuddled as to why it should feel this guilt from hurting people it never knew! It was an emotional wreck. It clung to the shadows in the alleyways, driving itself crazy with looping thought processes. Until it noticed Sam’s presence. It drew itself to her, demanding answers- finding out that humans even did not quite understand emotions. It was frustrated; THIS wasn’t supposed to happen to IT! It didn’t want to be human! It wanted things simple, easy, the sweet, pure fear. Not THIS. But, it realized that this was virtually unavoidable. If that was what was happening, what could it do. It had to see what it entailed. So, instead of relinquishing control to Sabin- that never solved anything! Only pent it up, drove it crazy, and NOW it saw, didn’t even succeed in keeping itself untouched by him. It should have realized that the advanced thought processes were a curse in disguise- a promise of more deep scarring from that Human! But it had to see.... see what it would entail... so instead of relinquishing control, it took his form, tried to pass himself as him. Stayed with his “Friends”... his “love”... questioning.... they did find out... but didn’t immediately lash out even... they spoke with him... said that they would help HIM! It was baffled, but, though it didn’t want to admit it to itself, slightly heartened. They promised that there was more to humanity than pain. It spent time learning... its pain seemed to lessen as it spoke to other humans... as low as it felt to speak on even terms with beings whom he had never even considered their emotions before. It hated to admit it, but it could feel it... its own connection with “other” humans... and speaking to them...lessened the pain... that’s why people spoke with each other... It felt that connection strongly... and it scared it... but it heartened it at the same time. It was upset, it was an anju, not a mortal! But....
Most importantly, it felt a connection with the woman. When she asked it... earnestly, to have Sabin back... it felt a desire to please her... make her happy. But, while it did comply, it set up a connection. It kissed her as it was “leaving” to make her feel guilty- to have her manipulate Sabin for it. Give IT its time.... It started to see how it MIGHT work. But.... the kiss shocked it almost as much as it did her. Because it felt something...
And the amazing thing is it was working. Sabin actually did start to relinquish control willingly to it now that he knew that it wouldn’t hurt his friends... It got its time, its control- it was no longer a slave in a body it tried to steal. It learned to sleep, and how humans regained energy that way – though it brought it nowhere near the sort of pleasure fear did, and it took longer. But it was definitely interesting. And it actually dreamt!
It found ways to gain fear energy without inciting the pain – things that challenged it- making the fear that much sweeter- by making people psychologically afraid. Playing mind games instead of just getting a quick rush of irrational fear when it showed itself in true form to people. Plus, that was dangerous. And too easy... It spoke more... found itself wanting to be around people... more specifically the people whom Sabin (and he was growing to) called friends. He leaned of the concept of “happiness” – and the difference between that and the mere pleasure he was getting before. Happiness, he was told, was like a permanent pleasure. No matter what went wrong- despite the pains of emotions and regrets, happiness still remained. He then began to strive to find his happiness.
During this, while it was becoming more human in the ways that count- emotions and stemming from that conscience and morals, it was by no means a “nice guy.” Old habits die hard, and it is an incarnation of Fear.
It sometimes drilled people, asking question after question- making the person them self question their own standpoint on an issue they thought they were sure of. In one sense, to manipulate, cause doubt and/or fear and upset the status quo; making people uncomfortable and manipulate their feelings. It reveled in manipulating people (its specialty in a way) and it wanted to learn to use its new thinking to do so better. On the other, because it sorely wanted to understand people and why they do things that it couldn’t make sense of. It would drill until either they get frustrated or it hit on a point it never heard of, then would genuinely start to ask curious questions.
It enjoyed going out and causing fear- but more discretely. It didn’t like to be considered helpful by others, but somewhere it feels a connection between itself and people- and it HATES for that to be pointed out. It was far from understanding everything, and almost didn’t want to – but it was curious... and knows that it will have to. It wanted to understand what was happening to it... for better or worse... and hopefully keep as much of itself while finding a happiness in the end – ideally to pick and choose what to keep and what not to get as it merged, though it seems to more it gets the more it needs just to be able to understand, and not go crazy with the illogical and confusing thoughts that are developing. The more answers, the more questions. It still gains pleasure from fear, and does not plan too far ahead past an immediate goal (single-minded to a degree- though that’s less bad now.)
Also, it enjoyed intellectual discussion. As it was always one of the more powerful and intellectual anju, this is a branch-off of its previous tendencies (manipulating people through words) with its new, expanded intellect and awareness. This is a way it can change the way people think – for better or for worse- by merely talking to them. It is an offshoot of its domain of Control. It also understood concepts better- friendship, happiness, dealing with Guilt and emotional hurt. It is prioritized its goals – understanding that emotions are just like it was before – it did the things that bring it pleasure and avoided the things that give it hurt- it just had more restrictions now- but also more benefits, and such a wider range of actions even with the new restrictions. It is trying to find out how to integrate its old self, its old pleasures and enjoyments with the new restrictions imposed by the new emotions linked with its growing humanity. It did not regret what happened- it would not want to go back to the simple lifestyle of an anju now that it knows what else it had been missing. Not that the old things aren’t still nice, but no longer things that it focuses on for its entire enjoyment.
At that point, Creante’s true form has also changed from that of a normal, pure Anju. A normal anju is essentially a largish, malleable patch of Shadow with six glowing red eyes (that can close and it still “see” around it though, when it is trying to be subtle), often manifesting a gaping maw filled with teeth and sometimes-clawed limbs. Creante’s form, on the other hand, had a base humanoid shape- two arms (with clawed hands,) two legs, a torso, head, etc. While the proportions are rather off (the head is large, the maw was huge by comparison to the rest of the body, it may not have the proper number of fingers), the arms probably proportionally longer, etc- it still has this base human form for its natural state. ((See the “anju” picture.)) Also, there were definite pointed ear protrusions on the side of its head, and long, even more ephemeral shadowy “hair” on the top of its head. Its constituency is also a lot more “Solid” than most anju- it would be very “wispy” for the first few inches, but if pushed on, the pressure would make it feel more solid after a few “inches”- but if quickly slashed/damaged, the shadows would close back up... it is solidly semi-consistent. It also had shadowy “tracers” as it moved. To the touch, it feels warm (another reaction of the human side – think sheets fresh from the dryer)- and kind of soft. Also, as time passed, its proportions are became more “human” – the head size relative to the body and limb length, and more humanoid features evident (such as a nose on the face, five fingers/toes (though clawed), and a tongue. ((See “anju curled up on bed” picture))
It can fairly easily lose its consistency, becoming purely sentient two (or three) dimensional shadow. It can also to a limited degree control its consistency- becoming more or less solid, or having specific parts of it become more or less solid, though the form described above is now its natural “resting” form.
Eventually, Creante and Sabin kept growing closer- especially as they loosened the “wall” between their consciousnesses that they both have formed. As they began to “trust” each other with their own time, and did not have to strain to keep them back. As the wall lessened, more can traverse between the minds. Memories and knowledge started to surface that were from the other sides. And from there, control may slipped back and forth between them quickly. Not only was the repressed one be able to feel through the dominant, but the dominant was able to “hear” the thoughts of the repressed. This was a difficult and confusing time period. It got to situations when neither of them really know who responded to something.... for longer and longer durations. He slipped between speaking his “human” (more natural: French and English) languages and Anju involuntarily in the final stages.
As the final stages of the merging began, not only were they mentally be going through a lot of stress, but it will be physical as well. Anju consist of magic, spirit, and dreamstuffs, all bonded together. Humans have the three distinct pieces with magic being the tie. As they are merging, not only will the souls be becoming one, but the physical body as well. Before, with Sabin’s True Form, it was only Sabin’s magic projecting on the body a reflection of his mental state (proportion.) There was no real physiological below-surface change, and the shifts were painless because it was just the magic changing his appearance. The magic is a tie between the mind and the body, and Sabin’s will magic was thus highly responsive to psychosomatics. The “half” of the soul that was Sabin was becoming more anju, thus the magic thought the body should reflect that. Especially when he was knocked unconscious, drunk, totally relaxed, etc and could not stop that natural reaction. (The same way the Anju was able to manifest claws or fangs automatically back when it first started taking control- before Sabin was powerful enough to take full anju form. After a while, it learned to hide them by tricking the mind to better manipulate people.) His genetics, and Physical aspect/body were still innately human. His will magic reacted to what he had expected to occur. If he had been killed before the merging, his body would revert to Human, not trueform (because the body in and of itself was human. It was the consciousnesses that were changing. Reverting to trueform would make no more sense than reverting to anjuform- as that was the “trueform” of the other consciousness.)
When the final merging process began, Sabin was bedridden. Sabin’s soul, body, and magic began to merge those aspects of the anju, because in an anju, they all are one. Reflecting this, Sabin’s body now was physically shaped into a new Actual True Form. It reflected the single persona that will be resulting from the merging process. Like a fae, it will be part real, part dream. This was also be an excruciatingly painful process. The body’s genetics restructured themselves, his claws grew, his ears were pulled and lengthened, his teeth grew, and along with that his jaw restructured to accommodate the new long, pointed teeth so that his jaw could close properly. The hair was painless, but what will be probably the worst external feature was the eyes... His skull reshaped, eyes will grew and developed, along with them the nerve connections. Even after this process, he was incredibly sore for days, his eyes swollen shut. And that’s not the worst. His blood also changed... losing all the iron, and red blood cells- replacing with a shadowy dreamstuff. His respiratory system and circulatory system were in great flux. He ached all over, his body straining to accommodate the changes. For a while, he passed out from sheer exhaustion- mental, physical, and magical (which would definitely be helping fuel the change, and keeping him from dying.) After the respiratory system had finished changing, he would cease breathing while he sleeps- no longer needing oxygen (no red blood cells...) (This was quite a fright for his friends watching over him.) His body now more than ever depends on the magic to keep it going. Again, the process was incredibly painful, and what thoughts he could articulate contained many questions as to whether he was dying... if his body can’t take the merging process and was rejecting the anju, and other fatalistic thoughts. Even after it finished, he was unconscious for a while. It took DAYS for the soreness to subside, and a day or so until he could even open his eyes. He was mentally disoriented. It felt VERY odd... not having that other presence... realizing that he WAS the other presence... having 2 full sets of memories, no gaps in memory from the possession onwards, and he thinks of himself as Sabin and Creante. It wouldn’t be like he had lost much from either mentality... more like what one was missing was added to the other until they both had them all... and then was the same person.
His initial reaction to his new appearance was shock, which was very hard to overcome. This appearance is “unnatural” to both viewpoints- to Sabin, he looks like a monster (which is both good and bad). To Creante, he is still in a limited form. Sabin’s reaction was not only more extreme and based on personal opinion, but also that it would limit his interaction with other people- which would still be a major consideration for him. So, therefore, it leaned more towards the horror side initially. But, he did not view it as “ugly” per se. Also, there was the added problem of him not being able to figure out how to change forms for a good couple weeks. For a while, he thought that he is stuck in that form permanently. After the initial soreness, though, his body felt MUCH more comfortable and natural than anything before. It was essentially a tailor-made body patterned after his soul.
He still has the mutual qualities of rashness, reluctance to plan for extenuating circumstances, overconfidence, risk-taking, and curiosity. He has full human emotions and understandings of them- the personal bonds that he had made would remain. He also has major fascinations with fear, though not seeing himself as a bad person- and generally not wanting to hurt people (on one side because of guilt of consequences, and on the other a natural connection with people in general.) He might not go out of his way to help people, unless they pleaded to his conscience. He still is argumentative, and enjoys a good verbal bout. He relishes in surprising people, revealing what he is- to see reactions- to a degree (not dangerous situations.) His opinion of himself: the fascination with the mysterious and magical and monsters is still there, and that’s what he IS. This reflects sometimes both as a sort of big ego, and general amazement and fascination with himself (though no surprise of his abilities.) He also can be somewhat showoffish. He is also definitely still excitable.
Physiology After merging:
· Iron is a different matter. In either shadowform or physical form, it burns him, almost like solid acid. These wounds will damage both flesh and shadow (ie, wounds made by iron will not leave a shadow in the place of missing flesh.) His shadow/anju form is more vulnerable to iron because there is no flesh substance to physically slow down the blows – it would travel right through him like a hot knife through butter. In Anju/shadow form it would also potentially continue to spread a bit – the areas around the “wound” falling away like singed paper. If a vital part of Sabin (that corresponds with a vital part of his human anatomy – such as a portion of his head/heart) is destroyed, he cannot assume a flesh form again. Once damaged, subsequent iron attacks are more likely to destroy larger portions of his body until nothing is left/he is destroyed. A dead anju leaves a permanent two-dimensional “shadow stain” on the ground. Iron wounds would only be able to be healed by very powerful, specialized healing or dark magic, or a strange blending of the two. Sabin does not heal iron wounds well. The wounds will close if they were non-lethal, but tissue that was destroyed stays destroyed, and they leave nasty scars.