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Rated: 18+ · Campfire Creative · Fiction · Dark · #2210969
Steph Tsunade wakes up to find out that she was stuck in a rather literal mind palace...
[Introduction] Current theme: Gothic Masquerade.

Notes: May contain endo and soft-vore, dream-logic and lapses in logic. Need some players to roleplay as Olapen the succubus, Akashic and Misako (npcs). As well as mind workers (and body workers). May need authors to play extra characters if needed. This dream is virtually endless and (almost) anything can happen during it. The environment can shift at anytime. The rules are: No teleportation or summoning magic allowed, only elemental spells. Steph cannot be harmed by any environment the dream throws at her, Misako, Olapen and Akashic also can't physically interact with Steph (their host).

Name: Stephanie
Gender: Female

Appearance: Black hair with ponytail and braces. Asian appearance and large nose
Personality: Outgoing, open-minded and very talkative, a bookworm
Religon: Christianity
Long list of Medical conditions: Mild cerebral palsy, severe short-sightedness (-15), small lungs, mild hearing-loss, Asperger's Syndrome, allergies, lactose intolerance and a slow digestive system.

History: Born at 25 weeks premature, those doctors gave me no hopes for me to live, well I sure showed them wrong! I also love reading all sorts of books and anime and am a very good drawer and artist. I tend to talk a lot and never seem to stop talking. Recently I have braces and I like to see what new. I tend to read science fiction and fantasy books. I am also very curious about the world and also tend to be a big eater, because of my many health issues. I love life and would not have it any other way, although if I find something adorable, I tend to want to keep whatever I find as a pet. I also love animals and am used to going to hospitals very often.

         Steph wakes up as she stretches and opens her eyes, finding herself in a misty environment with an organic infrastructure, and a flashing neon sign that said Welcome to Your Mind- Your body's now on autopilot-mode in an MC-Escher inspired labrynith... "Oh..." she responded with a weary sigh, "Is this a dream?"... A gothic castle would be seen in the far distance...
Dante surveys the stone chamber around him. Dreams in castles weren't that unfamiliar to him, but this one felt too...pertinent. The sense of complete lucidity he felt gave him the sense that something was wrong. Moving to a window, he peered out into the unnaturally thick fog. Only one other thing seemed to even exist in this realm, and it looked...fleshy. Perhaps it's for the best that it is far away, he thinks.
Meanwhile, Prince Harlin would be in the middle of a grand masquerade in the centre of the dining hall, that was simply elegance refined as the dark prince wore a Black-Widow spider motif on his mask, his red-hair shining in the gloominess of the hall. "Dance on, my patrons, dance through the night." He speaks in a sombre tone.
Hariti stood on a balcony and looked out at the rest of the castle. She was wearing a crimson dress that concealed her figure and made her look like an aristocrat. Her expression was one of deep curiosity rather than concern. She could tell she was not in a normal place, from a cursory glance at her surroundings, and she wanted to find out exactly where she was.
Steph runs in and out of the maze hapahazardly before making her way slowly to a security room in the middle of the maze that said "BRB" and feigns lack of enthusiasm, shortly before she sees an glass elevator next to the security-room and takes it up to the masquerade hall, where she bumped into several people with masks and strange forms...
"Oh, a masquerade is here!" Steph yells joylously as the Prince Harlin looked rather unamused.

"Please don't address the Prince of the Rajak Isles in that manner," said a meek maid who was dusting a nearby porcelain vase with a feather-duster...
The announcement of a masquerade draws Dante closer, as he navigates the corridors with more ease than seemed natural. His attire, too, is a respectable suit he'ss sure he doesn't own. This may not be a dream, but surely it isn't reality...

There's more than one voice where he's going, but no words he can discern. He slows his footfalls to the point where they're almost silent, allowing him to stop once he's within earshot of the masquerade hall. The nagging feeling that he's some kind of intruder is pervasive...
Dennis, looking like a lost child trying to find his mom, paced across this unfamiliar town trying to follow the poorly scribbled notes to a tee. Suffice to say he wasnt that much used to being outside of big cities. This small little countryside town in the middle of nowhere seemed so foreign to him, it felt like he was light years away from modern civilization. Like he had just stepped in a timewarp and ended up in the 19th century. No phone, no lights, no motorcar, not a single luxury.

Still, the note was all Dennis had to guide him to where he needed to go (he hoped). He asked for help reading certain locations mentioned in the note, but the answers he got from locals were way too posh and verbose for him to understand. Maybe if he watched more BBC, he'd have a better grasp.
"Yeah, thanks, you been much help," Dennis ended his chat with a milkmaid with an outrageously harsh irish dialect and kept moving.
"Forget this," he shrugs to himself and takes another drag of his cigarette, "let's just skip straight to the end... something about a castle? Ok, just gotta find a castle, right? Shouldnt be too hard to look for one of those, right? How many castles could there possible be in this place?"
Steph steps back apologetically as the marble pillars would be seen as Prince Harlin claps his hands, "Esteemed guests, it seems we have several vistors here..." Harlin remarks drolly while sipping on his red wine, "I assume you all are wondering why I brought you here," The Prince said, his spider-mask seen, "Well, it's easy, to forget our current tribulations and worries and dance the night away, since it is festival time for now!"

As if it was predestined, the gothic castle now appeared before Dennis and the milkmaid at the edge of a forbidden forest, inviting them and anyone else in... It looked really misty and black crows would squawk in nearby trees...
The man Dante gathered was their host seemed exceptionally amused. He couldn't help but be reminded of some cliche movie scenes, where a villain is so obvious that their good tidings come off as sarcasm. Still, although he'd never crossed paths with one, people with too much money and a lust for partying definitely existed. Just not magic ones.

He scanned the party from cover, looking for both a loose mask he could take for himself and the host's diverted attention, but surprisingly, a perfectly-fitting mask was already in a pocket of his suit jacket. An item he shouldn't have for a suit he doesn't own, he supposed. Not knowing if they came from his host or his own subconscious made him uncomfortable, though. Pressing the black mask to his face and smoothing its dark purple patterned edges, he slipped into the crowd of the masquerade ball in hopes of picking up more information. There was nowhere to go but forward now.

Hariti slithered down to the masquerade ballroom and looked around at all the guests and all the people in strange costumes. Then she noticed the host and listened to his speech. She nodded politely and smiled at him, despite the fact she didn't believe a single word he was saying. She slithered over toward the other guests and waved at them, hoping to catch their attention.
Upon seeing the castle appear practically out of nowhere, Dennis glanced again at his note, exhaled hard, and rushed to the direction of it. Fortunately, ever since the castle magically appeared, so did the obvious path leading toward it. And what a brightly lit path it was. Very loud and active too. Lamposts lit up, music was playing, people were gathering around in odd costumes chatting amongst themselves.

Dennis glanced around to admire the show as he followed the clearly lit path, trying his best to ignore the oddly dress people as well as the peddlers pestering him to buy their oddities. The music didnt sound too bad and who doesnt love fireworks? All that was missing is a big light-up electrical parade and he might actually enjoy being here. Nonetheless, he kept his eyes not only on the path, but also the note, still desperately following it's directions cuz it's all he had.
"And welcome cordially to our Chinese New Year party," Harlin continued over the whispering of the guests at the festivity party as he gave an audicious bow to everyone else here, "As such we are to party all week long until the festival is over in approximately 15 days time, but you are all welcome to stay at my well-furnished palace full of elegance and luxuries beyond compare, and my sponsor is of course the Marquis of this place. I spare no expense, and will life bless you fairly."

Steph looks around as suddenly fireworks would appear on the castle grounds and a large procession of Chinese dragon dances took place, "Woah, everything is so pretty here!" she had sparkly eyes at all the multicoloured lights as the masquerade would be at full swing. Within a few seconds people with multicoloured kimonoes and cheong-sams would also enter the palace grounds...
Hariti spotted Dante among the crowd, and recognized he was another guest, like herself. She slithered over to him, weaving through the crowd of strangely dressed people. One she was in earshot, she cleared her throat and tried to get Dante's attention, and then asked "Hello; do you have any idea where we are? This place seems highly abnormal."
Dante startled slightly, and turned to face the woman in the red dress, meeting her eyes without noticing the rest of her. "I-I'm afraid I don't," he replied softly, checking the guests around them for signs of suspicion, "I just woke up here, dressed for the occasion. Which is odd, because I was in bed when I went to sleep...I suspected this might be an abnormal dream, to be honest, but with someone else talking to me, I'm less confident in that theory. Do you know how you got here?"
Dennis felt incredibly out of place in this crowd of interesting people celebrating the festivities. With the singing, the dancing, the acrobats, the costumes, the fireworks, that huge multi-manned dragon float that zipped past him, almost stepping on his foot as they went, he seemed so unprepared. Did he miss something? Was this some sort of special occasion he was supposed to dress up for? He didnt have anything but a flimsy note and a free ride in a run down cab driven by an oddly pale fellow with an overly-stretched tongue!

Was there something in the directions he overlooked? He needed to look again... and maybe find an interpreter to help translate the scribbles.

"YIPE!!' Unfortunately he wasnt watching where he was going and his foot came down on something it shouldnt! A loud shriek snapped him out of his trance and by the time he did, there was an angry masked woman facing him... while her masked uh partner glanced your way.
"Oh! I'm sorry!" he quickly apologized as he lifted his foot, "I didnt mean to-" he stopped as soon as he saw what he stepped on. It wasnt a foot. It was a tail peeking out of her long dress! He stared silent and confused.

"Excuse me?" she spoke, offended by his rude silent staring, "Excuse me!" Too surprised by this oddity, Dennis said nothing... and dashed off like a bat out of hell!
Steph appeared excited by the celebrations currently happening on the palace grounds as the celebrations continued, bowing respectfully to the Prince of the Rajak Isles, who smiled in her direction, she then dashed into the countless rooms of the palace floors as on the ground level, there seemed to be countless guests in their bedrooms, before long, she got lost in an elucian maze reminiscent of MC. Escher but then she saw Hariti in a red dress in a nearby room,

"I believe this is my mind, at least." Steph stated shyly, "Or the world of my imagination, similar to lucid dreaming."
The situation was increasingly surreal as Dante noticed that at least one woman in the room had a serpentine tail instead of feet. A chill ran down his spine, but then again, were the mysterious masqueraders with normal-seeming bodies less of a threat? At least he could head to stairs if the nagi and lamia turned hostile.

In light of the sudden yelp that had just rang out, he opted to stay silent and observe the proceedings. There wasn't much else he could do that wouldn't make things more tense.
By the time Dennis finally stopped running and gathered his bearings, he began to notice OTHER oddities regarding the masks guests of this bizarre costume party. A guest with 6 arms. A guest with 8 legs. A guest with 2 heads. A guest that was probably dead standing up. A guest that looked that looked like a gorilla in a fancy tux! The tux was awfully fancy, yes, but GORILLA! The number of normal looking guests he was now noticing, he could count on one hand... after being convicted of stealing in Iran!

This was not what he signed up for. What is up with this place? Who in their right mind brought him HERE to begin with?! WHY is he here?! So many questions and more spawned in his head... he needed answers desperately. He could probably get them out of that Harlin fellow if he didnt have such tight security detail!
Well since he couldnt get those answers at the moment and that anxiety rush wasnt going away on his own, nothing left to do but light up another cigarette!

"Uh... excuse me... s-sir?" said a very shy and nervous voice coming from behind him, "...er... s-smokings' not allowed here... so..."

Irritated, Dennis took a long hard mouth-full of tobacco smoke and turned his head... to the outrageously tall, incredibly pale skinned asian woman in a white sundress and matching hat bending pretty far down to him with a nervous look on her spectacle-worn face.
Dennis stared silently and almost unemotionlessly at the odd giant girl in front of him... but not before turning his head and blowing his smoke completely away from her!
Steph speaks to Hariti from across the room as the festivities continue, but seemed to slow down once night hit,
"Hey, so since we're all inside my mind at the moment, everything's not so bad here, is it?" Steph remarks while lounging on a double-bed, noticing a passageway saying "Security Room" in the distance.

Harlin at the moment was reclining on his throne while sipping from a nearby wine-goblet, looking rather languid as he observed the banquet made in his honour.

"And how are you all enjoying the festival?" Harlin addresses his guests once more as it seemed the palace had countless rooms and dimensional fallacies as he seemed calm for now, his red-hair and beard being most prominent as his pointed ears would be sharply seen. "I trust the banquet is to your fancy and imagination so far." Harlin scoffs elegantly.
Dante watches the announcement with pursed lips. This party's host is clearly not human, and it is becoming clear that that was the norm here, but he definitely is pleased with his machinations. For a moment, Dante considers that this really is simply a party he crashed by accident, but no host acts with such smugness. That's more a behaviour for cartoon villains.

"I don't suppose you know the extremely proud gentleman over there?" he asks Hariti, forgetting momentarily that she's not human.
Hariti nodded to Steph, who was across the room, and said "Hello. If this is your mind then you must have a beautiful imagination!" She smiled at Steph, and then turned to look at Dante.

"I am not certain how I got here. You may be correct about it being a dream, but if so, I do not believe it is your dream." She gestures to Steph, across the room from them, "That woman spoke to me and said she suspects that this is all in her mind. We're simply guests here, somehow."

She looked around at the other guests, noticing Dennis among the crowd, and then turned her attention back to Harlin and listened to him speaking.
"Er, s-sorry," Dennis tried his best (and his best failed him) to not look intimidated or at the very least not on the verge of screaming his head off and running as this colossal ghoulish woman in spectacles kept leaning down at him, "I uh... didnt realize I couldnt smoke here. I'll stop."

Satisfied with his response, the incredibly tall ghoul girl stood back up and sighed in relief, ignoring that she took off some of the ceiling in the process.
"Thank you for your cooperation, sir," the giant nervous woman expresses her gratitude, "you'd be surprised how many guests happen to turn hostile simply for being confronted for this violation."
"That sounds pretty problematic," Dennis replies as he looks around for a quit exit.
""Lord Harlin puts the health of his prized guests in top priority," she goes on, "it would reflect really really badly for him if somebody became really sick through second-hand smoke."
'Well aint that curt of him?' Dennis thinks to himself, getting a bit impatient.

"Well, it's uh... always good to know a host considers the health of his guests," he gets ready to rap up the conversation, "Well, if you excuse me, I gotta get-"
"WAIT!" her nervous shout suddenly got as bone-chillingly cold as her icy cold touch when she grabbed his shoulder! Before he could even register to freeze up, she flipped him around to her with absolutely no effort! That's when both her gigantic hands grasped his shoulders!
'God, her hands are freaking huge!' he thinks to himself, 'god, her EVERYTHING is freaking huge!'
And AGAIN, she looks down at him with a nervous expression, "I'm... sorry. I... havent properly introduced myself."
The whole scenery would waver and glitch for a brief moment, before Harlin finishes his speech, Steph smiles weakly at Hariti. "Thank you, it may not mean much but it does," Steph speaks up as there would be a short break (for a few days) in the partying at the masquerade before things would resume back to its normal pace. Harlin would retire to his room after a brief time. For now, Steph would laze on a nearby bed and rest for awhile, not talking. The guests were free to mill about the whole palace if they wanted...
Dante crosses his arms in thought. "Well, I'm willing to believe that this is someone else's dream," he begins, "but that becomes rather surreal when I'm in it. Even that woman seems to not be aware of what's happening...I suppose I'll talk to her directly. Thank you."

The ominous wavering of the world only confirms the un-reality of the world, but staggers Dante nonetheless. In its time, Steph seems to vanish from sight, leaving him stranded. If he is still asleep, did that mean time was moving more quickly for him? How long could he stay here before his real-world waking drew him out? Or is he technically in a coma now? At any rate, he had to find a way back to his own mind, and that woman the lamia had pointed out must be the key.
Hariti noticed that reality had glitched, and waited for it to stabilize, before slithering over toward Dennis. She didn't know what was going on with Steph or Dante but she wanted to check on the other guests and make sure they were okay.
"W-wow... Yumiko, eh?" Dennis smiled nervously, still hoping for an easy getaway from the colossal ghoul that happened to be part of the staff, "that's uh... that's a very pretty name!"
"Th-thank you..." Yumiko blushed with flattery, "it's actually what the townspeople of my home village called me... I'm sorry, I dont remember my real name." That remark stunned Dennis, but he did his best (again, best failing him) not to look like he was about to panic!
"W-well, I hope you end up finding out your real name soon," he commented, "until then, Yumiko really rolls off the tongue!"

"And what's yours, sir?" Yumiko warmed up to him so much she had the gall to ask HIM his name! His instincts told him to give her one of his many fake aliases, but his brain was warning him that lying to a huge grizzly ghoul like her might not end well for him!
"It's Dennis!" he answered her without hesitation, "Dennis Helgson!"

Yumiko lifted her head a bit, still gazing down at him, "Dennis... a very manly name! ....Um, that is a boy's name, right?"
"Er... yes."
"Oh. S-sorry, I'm rather new here. I havent been part of our Lord's staff for very long." She didnt have to go into detail. He knew exactly what she meant by that.
"Well, I-I can see that a place like this can take some getting used to," he replies as he eyes the odd guests.
"It certainly can," Yumiko adds, "the exotic food here's ok, but the wine they serve here is incredibly bland. I wish someone in the kitchen knew how to brew up some decent fermented sake!" A ghoul with an interest for booze? He'd be interested if he wasnt worried she could crush him to death if she so much as tripped on something!

"Hm? Oh I remember you!" Yumiko suddenly turned her attention to the girl in red slithering toward her and Dennis, "youre the VIP that took a nap on the balcony. Um... please dont do that again. That's against the rules."
Steph awakens again, it seemed that she was much recovered and had a nice nap earlier. She looks around, "Awww, back in the same place, it looks like I'm still dreaming~" Oh well, time to explore around!
Hariti shrugged, and said "Alright then. I don't even know how I got here. It's a very unusual place!" She squinted at Dennis, and said "Hello there! Are you one of the other 'VIPs' here? Do you know anything about this strange masquerade?"
"Uh... cant say I do," Dennis looks back at Hariti uneasily just before glancing at his notes, "VIP? ...Hm... does this say anything about a VIP?" Hariti glanced over at the note in his hand.
"Wow... I... I can barely read a single sentence. Who wrote all this?"

Yumiko leaned over Dennis's shoulder (again, spooking the holy moses out of him!) and adjusted her glances trying to read the note.

"Oh dear, I think I recognize the signature," she examined it and sighed, "that would happen to be Nepskullee's handwriting. Er, TENTACLE-writing to be more accurate. I'm sorry, sir. I hope you understand it must be difficult to write without proper land-worthy appendages." The less he knew, the better.
"Ugh... well thanks to your eldrich abomination you call a friend, I nearly got lost trying to get here!" Dennis remarked before turning his attention back to Hariti, "how about you? You got a crummy note this ball too?"
"Actually no," she answered, "I didnt get any invitation or anything. I didnt even come here on my own. I actually just woke up here." Red flags triggered in Dennis's mind as she continued, "Heck, I dont even know how I got this dress. I just woke up in it!"

"Really?!" he groaned, "I had to buy MY suit! It said so on the note! ...I think."

"It looks very nice on you, sir," Yumiko commented, triggering Dennis to cringe yet again.
Steph decided to eat a cupcake from the banquet table as she noms down on it, before she participates and reads the letter that had eldritch writings on it, "Cool," she remarks, but then she decides to head for the security room, which was currently unoccupied at the moment...

The security room in question was large and vacant, except the screens showed live-feed of Steph's organs and had lots of levers and buttons that flashed on and off, "Cool~"
The half-serpent had apparently found some company on the balcony, so Dante opted to search for the dreamer. If nothing else, meeting the person whose dream he was in might help him decipher the logic of this world. He wasn't willing to intrude in any conversations or approach the suspicious character acting as the host here, so there wasn't much else to do. Moving through the crowd seemed quite easy, as apparently the majority of the crowd was just a backdrop that didn't take notice of him, but the only feature he could spot of significance was the banquet table, which was short at least one cupcake. Perhaps there were crumbs he could follow to whoever had enough autonomy to eat one...
Hariti chuckled slightly, and said "Seems like we have got a couple of options. We can try to solve this mystery and get out of hereā€”or we can just relax and enjoy the strange festitivites! Either way works for me, what do all think? Shall we enjoy the ball, or shall we attempt to bail out?"
Despite Dennis having bad feelings involving the other guests as well as cringing over Yumiko's attentive stare, he wasnt in much mood to leaving after coming a long hard frustrating way.
"Well... it was a bit of a hassle trying to get here," he admits, "it'd be a waste of time just up and leaving after the frustrating effort getting here. He could feel Yumiko's colossal face beam with glee.

"I'm glad to hear that!" she beams, but quickly regains herself, "Er, and I'm sure Lord Harlin will be glad to hear that too."
As if she had sense Dennis's uneasiness around the colossal ghastly woman, Hariti turned her attention to her and gazed upward.

"Hey uh, Ms...."

"No 'Ms', ma'am," she stands all the way up and corrects Hariti, "just Yumiko."

Hariti hms, "Hm. Yumiko, are there any specific exciting events going on this in this place you could recommend us?"

"Quite a few, ma'am!" Yumiko answers just before reading them off, "there's a fireworks show outside in the front, a carnival event in the backyard, a miniature casino a few floors down, a broadway show a few floors up, a special pisswa-I mean wine tasting event about to start within the hour...."
Steph murrs as she turns her back against the security room as she closes it and heads for Hariti, "I say, we enjoy the ball while it lasts, as there are endless things to do while here," she concurs.
The blurred logic of the dream world hadn't complied with Dante's hopes of finding logical evidence, but fortunately, he found the true host of the party anyway, when she crossed his path on her way to Hariti. It seemed as though the snake-woman drew people to her by her very nature, whether it was supernatural, dream-based, or just charismatic.

Dante remained visible, but watched from a short distance, attempting to understand the situation before intruding anywhere. If he was truly in Steph's dream, having her attention directly on him could mean almost anything, good or bad.
Hariti smiled and nodded, and said "Indeed! I want to see how this spectacular event unfolds. It has been quite interesting so far." She waved at Steph, and then turned her attention back to the entertainment.
A brief introduction between them and a courteous hand shake later, it was a breath of fresh air for Dennis to meet yet another guest of this place that seemed human (or at least human ENOUGH). All the while, the tall ghoulish odd girl out merely stared in silence at the newcomer Steph. She didnt say anything, she just stared.

"Wow! You just suddenly woke up here too?!" Dennis says with surprise, "how come I was the only one that actually had to bum a ride here?"
"Beats me," said Steph but then she chuckles, "heh. Well, I think I might have a few guesses, but I'm not sure you'll like them."
"Er, I'll... I'll take your word for it," he replies as he has a good feeling it's best not to ask at the time being. Again, Yumiko stares down at Steph. Whatever emotion she was currently showing was not being seen on her face.

Steph, looking up, acknowledges her, "Oh, is this your date?"
Dennis's scrunches his face up as much as he possibly could as he shakes his head!
"This is Yumiko," Hariti answers, "she's an employee of this place."
"Well, it's nice to meet you, Yu....mi....?"

Steph loses the words the moment the pale-skinned giantess leaned down at her and starts to... sniff her?

"*Sniff*.... You.... smell different..... from the others....."
Steph blushes, but it still seems she has control of her faculties as it seems that she caught the attention of the giantess, as it seems as the "dreamer" that she was immune to whatever the dream threw at her. It does seem that she was still hungry as it seems the dream does not sate her appetite. "Nice to meet you, giantess..." she laughs awkwardly.
Hariti smiles at the giantess and says "Oh wow, you are quite large! That's unexpected, even for me!" She turns to Steph, "Did you dream of a giant woman? Or is this a surprise for you as well?"
I adjust my violet tie, as this tailor uniform makes it hard to move. Still, I am able to push my cart up to where my guests are.

When I meet them, I kneel down, offering both of them a glass of wine or water, as they see fit.

"Welcome, guests. Prince Harlin is pleased to have you all here. I am your servant, and one of the laymen and cleaners of this palace. You may refer to me as Oliver".

I grab the two glasses, offering them to Hariti and Steph, picking another one as the giantess looks at me with... an empty and menacing gaze.

"Would you like one as well, Yumiko? Come to think of it... how long has it been since you're drank something? What about me?"

I look away... have I been woeking here for days? Weeks? Why am I doubting my existence as a waiter here?
Steph drinks down the water gratefully, "Oh, Oliver, have you checked on the security room yet? It's currently vacant." Steph responds as the water did help to soothe tensions, plus it helped her digestion somewhat. "Also, I'm wondering what foods are available here?" It seems that Oliver was in charge of the security room while the tenant was away.
Dante overheard Steph's comment about the security room. Was it a metaphor for something? Did its vacancy mean her defenses were lowered? Perhaps she was missing some natural ward all dreamers naturally had...or perhaps it simply meant that any security cameras weren't an immediate concern. With Oliver now notified of it, though, its vacancy would be meaningless soon.

Ultimately, he decided to investigate the security room. It would be a good way to learn a lot, and potentially gain some influence, as well. He might even have the luck to find a big flashing "EXIT" sign somewhere if this dream was structured like a certain animated movie, unlikely as that was. With fleet feet, he made his way to the door and stepped inside...
The live-feed of Steph's stomach-contents would reveal a vast ocean of brown coffee busily being churned by the residues of a ham sandwich for lunch, the lettuce and cucumbers dissolving. A shot of the intestines would also reveal some sugary desserts (chocolate doughnuts from Valentine's Day) getting fed on by countless gut-microbes... It seemed the whole process was running on autopilot at the moment.
Dennis sipped a bit of the unknown drink that the servant who seemed to know Yumiko served him. It wasnt wine or water. He had no clue what it was. It tasted sweet and awfully bitter, yet it didnt seem like there was any alcohol in it. Probably for the best. Last thing he wanted to be while in the middle of an unfamiliar environment was drunk. Lord knows he didnt wanna suddenly wake up with an awful hangover and a naked colossal ghoul next to his bed!

All the while, he eyed this Oliver fellow carefully as soon as he came back from the security room. He seemed so... uneasy. Almost as uneasy as Dennis. While Hariti and Yumiko were currently occupied with something else, he scooted over to Oliver and whispered, "Penny for your thoughts?"

"Huh?!" Dennis's whisper made Oliver nearly spring up with surprise.

"Youre looking pretty pale," Dennis commented, "not as pale as that asian titan over there, but youre looking like you just woke up from a really bad dream."

Oliver looked away and whispered to himself, "....Bad dream...."
The digestive process on the monitor made Dante wince a bit. It definitely wasn't what he'd expected to see, even on dream monitors. Although he did recall a slightly similar dream he'd had once. After studying the pink churning chamber and its work on its contents for a moment, he scanned the rest of the monitors, finding their similar natures, and was about to examine the rest of the room when he heard Oliver's approach.

Fortunately, hiding behind the doorway was all it took to escape the man's notice. Dante had expected he would have to slip out and forget the room as it was locked or guarded, but whatever the security man did, it didn't seem to pose an inconvenience. Perhaps just ensuring the settings wouldn't be tampered with, or removing a key item. Or just some motion to simulate life; it was vague who was a living being here.
Oliver seemed to be too preoccupied with himself to break the ice with Dennis. It was probably for the best that Dennis didnt try to pry. He understood personal matters being personal.

"Uh, alright," Dennis gives up, "well, if you do wanna talk about it, dont be a stranger. ...In the meantime, where's the restroom in this place?" He didnt really need to go, he just wanted an excuse to step away from the odd crowd... including the odd giantess that was attempting to make herself drunk from the wine!

"Uh, it's um.... just down the hall. The sixth or seventh door to the left I believe," Oliver answers.

"Thank you kindly," Dennis thanks him before heading down that hall. He quickly forgot the directions to the restroom, but it didnt matter. He'd wander around aimlessly if it meant some fresh air from the oddities. After a bit of wandering, he still didnt find the restroom. He did however manage to find the security room... which apparently needed improving because there was another guy standing at the door loitering there!

Well, not so much loitering as he was whispering. Normally Dennis wouldnt pry, but because he seemed to look like one of the more humanish guests, he was gonna pry as much as possible!

"Whose stomach are they even filming in there?" he overheard Dante's whisper which blew Dennis's mind!

"The hell?!"

"HUH?!!" his sudden outburst made Dante jump up with surprise!
I picked up my cuos of water, but a huge noise caught my attention. It was coming from the security room.

I walked there, and opened the door slowly, taking a step back when I see Denis and Dante, inside. The screens showing the functioning of the different organs of... a human?

I fall to the floor, as I recover my breath. Standing up, I enter and close the door, making sure that the giantess is busy and no one else is coming to see us.

"I won't tell you to get out. I need you to listen. I can't remember if I'm Oliver, or how long I've been here. I just know that I shouldn't be here. This... stomach. I feel as if I knew that all of this was... fake".

I hold on to the control panel, making sure to not disturb the controls.

"I just know that I- we, we have to get out of here." A chill shakes my limbs, my lungs filling again, my heart tearing my chest.

"I think that to get out of this state, we must go to the deepest part of the palace: the deepest part of her (Steph's) mind". Her mind? Why did I just said that? It just came out... naturally.
Lloyd holds the invitation paper in his hands as he makes his way across the forest, trying to look for the castle where they invited him for unknown reason. Just an hour ago, he woken up in this dark forest and found this strange invitation in his pocket; no reason how it got in there. The paper said that a party was held in a large castle in the edge of this forest and they invited him to come. Normally, he would just throw it away as it could be a trap, but he was pretty curious on what it was. It's pretty careless to go inside some place that he doesn't even know so he'll just take a peak at what it looks like.

Then again, this is a dream, right?

After minutes of walking, Lloyd finally can see the castle in view and appears that the party has already started. He ran and lean against the stone wall of the castle gates. He takes a peek at a hole on the wall and see a whole bunch of partygoers gathered around the courtyard. Unfortunately, he can't see much view of it due to the size of the hole.

He was about to find a bigger hole to see what's going on at the other side when suddenly, he falls into a pit that was dug there by someone. He tumbled down into the darkness and finally landing on a pile of rubble. He got up from the rubble and look around.

He appears to be in some sort of dungeon; most likely the castle's basement, but why is there was a pit that leads here. His question was answered when he heard a voice in the darkness.

"Ooops, looks like I forgot to close up the pit."

The source of the voice reveal itself as it walked towards Lloyd. It appears to be a rather short girl with long orange hair and wears a blue cloak. However as she got closer, she has green skin and huge ears. Something tells him that this isn't a human, in fact, she actually a small imp of some sort.

"Um..who are you?" Asked Lloyd.

"Name's Jacky." Answered the imp girl. "You may think that I'm some uninvited fool who's trying to sneak inside. Not really, I did got invited here; I just wanna be creative when it comes to entering the party."

"I..see that." said Lloyd, a little unsettled at seeing a mythical creature for the first time.

"Besides, I'm planning to pull a prank on a certain invitational in this castle." She smirked "Her name's Yumiko and I been making her life a living hell ever since I came here in this town. You should've saw the look on her face when I gave a chocolate cake that was actually made of dirt a week ago; she couldn't stop throwing up for days." She laughs at this suppose prank on someone named Yumiko. Jacky looked up at him and asked of he could join her.

"Err...okay..." Said Lloyd as he followed the imp throughout the dungeon. He's not sure if he could trust her, but he can't really stay here all alone, can't he?
While Dennis, Oliver and Dante were all distracted, a certain pitch-black shadow with red eyes would glide into the control room and literally take control of the lever that adjusts the biofrequency of the organic dream. "Bio-sequence activated." A shadowy Kotone states as her tanned skin would glow with black-tar, and her ink-like texture would flucate randomly, and almost cardiacally. She seemed rather pretty, if it weren't for the psychotic grin on her fanged face.

"Bye, bye guests, I hang out in the heart, that's where you'll find me." A pair of blunt bronze sais would appear as she twirls them around.

Current Setting readjusted: Biological arena activated, reconfiguring to organ texture ensured. Mind-Palace melding with cardiological organic texture...

Suddenly, everything was plunged into an organic, humid and motely darkness... The palace was still there, but the environment had definitely changed. The new setting seemed to be Steph's subconscious, melded with her biological organs within the dream simulation.
Someone from the conversation he'd witnessed- Dennis, was his name? -had entered the security room, begun shouting (to himself, given that Dante hadn't left the door frame), and brought the attention of Oliver. Dante, of course, was displeased with the obviously-delusional character, and quickly distanced himself from him, turning his attention instead to Oliver's pleas.

"It's certainly not improbable that these monitors are of some setpieces," he mused, making an effort to sound comforting, "I'm also pretty confident that those of us who aren't a dream are trapped in one. Steph's, I think her name was..." he cleared his throat, "The point is, I believe you. And I have no better ideas than trying to find the nexus of this place, so I just have one question...where do we start?"

Before Oliver could reply, however, Kotone's voice came from the console Dante had turned his back to. He whirled around in surprise, unable to compose a question for the intruder before the environment shifted itself around them. The angle felt a bit childish, but Dante had seen enough video game interpretations of hell-like realms to liken the current area to them, which made the whole thing unnerving enough that he backed out of the security room in hopes of finding that the world outside of it was still of glass and stone.
"Hey!! Where ya going?! Wait up!"

Dennis had the impulse to follow that Dante fellow since he may have seemed to know more about what's going on than he did, but something about him just rubbed him the wrong way. He was not liking Dante's demeanor nor his attitude. HE'S got a problem?! HE'S not the one who had to take time out of his day paying for a fancy tux, blindly following a crummy scribble on a napkin, and having a creepy giant ghoul with spectacles enter his personal space! Nonetheless, he figures the new guy looks like he knows what he's doing, so might as well go on this wild goose chase with him to find Kotone.

Still, people like that drive Dennis to smoke.

"Uh sir... you cant smoke here-"
"Hush up," Dennis cut Oliver off before taking a drag and catching up with Dante.
The palace's halls themselves had changed. Not only were there many different twists and turns from earlier (like they were transported into a whole NEW hallway!), the walls looked organically alive. The human-like veins sprouting out from the otherwise dry painted walls were pulsating. If the crew looked closely, they could actually see Steph's red blood flowing through them from one end of the hallway to another. In the distance, they could already hear Steph's slow heartbeats. Like each wall had it own beating heart!

Then they noticed the carpet was rather wet. Wet and sticky. No one knew what sort of gross and sticky liquid their carpet was now stained with, but their shoes were a huge mess and the oily substance was seeping into their socks. It looked like a potent mixture of Steph's own blood and bile.
"Aw, c'mon! Not my brand new Apt 9s!!!" Dennis whined as his dress shoes were drenched and ruined!
"We seem to be caught in an organic trap and youre whining about your stupid shoes?" Dante remarked unamused.
"These shoes were expensive!!" Dennis snapped.

Dante was about to open his mouth to give this fancy dressed jerk a piece of his mind, but then he realized something was off about his response.

"...Wait. What did you just say?"
"I said these aint cheap!" Dennis answered, "and it was either pay a ton or wait several months to ship these directly from China!"
"...Directly from..." Dante squinted his eyes, "...are you telling me you didnt just wake up here?"
"Er, yeah, I guess?" Dennis was feeling uneasy from the suspicious glance he was receiving from the others.

"Uh.... guys?" the third guy had to break up the moment,"I think we're sinking!" All three looked down and realized too late they were slowly sinking into the wet soggy filthy carpet like quicksand! Kotone could be heard evilly laughing in the distance...
"What, no! This can't be!"I try not to panic and remember what I've learned from my tine in this castle. Sometimes the settings change.

Once, I remember, that the castle had merged with Steph's own stomach for a long time, making the walls look round and slimy, as our feet were covered in acid and food. "Welcome to the belly of the babe," indeed... I looked at Dennis and Dante, before catching my breath and letting myself sink into the depths faster.

"Guys, this is the inside of Steph's heart! It has four chambers, and we have to find the main chamber to find Kotone!" I scream, shortly before my face disappears between the cardiac muscle.

But suddenly, I fall in the middle of a red and warm cesspool, surrounded by crimson cells that move around. I try to breathe slowly; it turns out that I can. We must be inside one of the heart's main chambers, shaking and beating to a slow rhythm. It also seemed that the host, Steph, was deep in the depths of the digestive system, but there was little that I could do to help her at this point in time...
Steph suddenly felt a strange twinge on her tongue, as if a tiny needle has pricked one of her taste buds. The odd feeling went away after a second or so, but it left an unpleasant aftertaste: A flavor that reminded her of mint icecream that had gone sour.

Unfortunately for those below, this odd sensation was not simply Steph's imagination. "Tch... So this is where the Traitor hid..." Misako commented, as she leapt off of Stephanie molars and landed on a warm and squishy surface below- Her host's tongue. Misako was a beautiful green-haired woman who visually looked around 20 years old. She was wearing a formal blue uniform of sorts; It looked somewhat like a police officer's attire, but unlike anything normally seen on Earth. A pair of small antenna emerged out of the top of Misako's head, as she scanned the area of the mouth around her. "It seems my Target is hiding out in the internal depths below... and it looks like they are on the move." she said in a deep voice, withdrawing her antenna.

Misako stached away the police baton she had been holding- It seemed like it was finally time to use lethal force. She brushed some of her long green hair out of her eyes, and withdrew something from a golden-colored scabbard at her side; Out emerges a fierce-looking beam sword, made out of a laser-like plasma. The sword shown with a golden light, and she pointed it straight in front of her as she struck an intimidating pose, facing towards Steph's throat. "No matter where you hide, and no matter how fast you run, I will execute you, Traitor. Prepare yourself... for annihilation!" she yelled, as she jumped down the dark red depths of the esophagus in front of her.

She charged head-first downwards, pointing her sword at an aggressive angle. She had a mission; And anyone who got in her way would become collateral damage.
After a long trek across the dungeon, the two finally got to the door that leads to the party. Lloyd takes a peak into the small window on the door in order to see what is going on. He immediately became surprised to see that all of the guests were nothing like he ever seen before.

They were not even human as many of them are anthros, monsters, creatures, or simply just bizarre humanoids. What kind of party is this? Some sort of weirdo get-together?

"Cool party, isn't it?" asked Jacky.

"Umm...yeah...it's great alright." He said in a rather tone of uncertainty.

"Well what are you waiting for?" Just get inside." said Jacky "Don't worry about me, I have a mission to complete." Lloyd knew that she was referring to her prank towards someone named Yumiko. He wanted to ask her some more questions, but he notices that Jacky is looking rather impatient so it's best to leave her for now.

He opens the door and soon found himself in the middle of the party. By the looks of it, it was Oriental themed as he could see many guest clad in kimonos and many other clothes that were common in Asia. Suddenly, a naga woman slithers pass him and glared at him. He look down and saw a bandage wrapped around her snake tail; it looks like someone must of stepped on her tail and she thinks that Lloyd may do the same.

"Um..hi?" greeted Lloyd, trying to be nice. The naga slightly hisses at him before slithering away from him, ignoring him.

He walks around the room while looking at many of the oddball guests. He wonders when he could wake up soon.

His eyes soon spots on a rather huge woman talking to another guest; he couldn't see who is she talking to due her body blocking her. He also sees Jacky tiptoeing towards the woman in a sneaky way with a mischievous smile.
Steph awakens in an gastric chamber with pink wrinkled walls, it didn't look familiar to her though, but she squints her purple glasses as she squints at the amount of green bile surrounding her. Unfortunately for Misako, Misako can see and hear her host (Steph), but cannot interact with her. Misako however can interact with Hariti, Dennis and Oliver just fine though!

"Uhhh, where is this place, even?! Is there anyone there?!" Steph asks languidly as she yawns, sniffing the vile air as she looks rather shocked at her own surroundings. Being the dreamer, she fortunately cannot be harmed by any environment that the dream currently puts her in. "Oh, I'm still hungry... I guess the proverb really is true then that 'you can get to a lady via her stomach', heh, I made another pun." Steph says, smiling at her own joke.

Meanwhile, Kotone would be traversing the blood vessels, travelling from vessel to vessel, before emerging at one of the heart's chamber. "I see I have visitors to my home," Kotone seethes. Dennis and the others were inside the 4th chamber and Kotone was situated in the 1st chamber of Steph's heart.
And so, Dennis, Dante, and the waiter venture through the dark grimy chasm that was Steph's beating heart. If the wet sticky reddish walls that used to be hallway wasnt enough to prove so, nor were the vast amounts of long colorful protruding veins emitting blood from one area to the next lined against the organy lining, the irritating rhythm clicking in the distance was a dead giveaway!

It wasnt a beating like a drum. It was actually a loud clicking sound like someone was hammering an old sticky sanwa arcade button to a certain rhythm! The clicking not only amplified a hundred fold, it echoed all across the halls! It might as well have just screamed 'HEY! I'M A HEART IN CASE YA DIDNT KNOW!!!!'

It was also awfully dark. Dante's unbreakable flashlight he mustve bought from an As Seen on TV infomercial was all the crew had to light their way.

"Are we almost there yet?" Dennis asked.
"How would I know?" Dante asked.
"Well, I thought you knew the way," Dennis said, "I mean you seem like you know what youre doing."
Dante sighed, "Nah. I'm just playing it by ear."
"Well... youre a real good faker," Dennis relies. Dante just groans, probably unsure whether it was meant to be a compliment or an insult. Sadly, nothing else happened that was remotely eventful until...

"What?"
"Hm?"
"What did you say?" Dante asked Dennis.
"I didnt say anything," Dennis answered.
"I thought I heard you whisper something."
"Nope not me. You, Oliver?"
"Me either."

Then later.

"What?!" Dante asked annoyed.
"I didnt say anything!" Dennis replied.
"Yes you did I just heard you!"
"I didnt say ANYTHING."
"He's right, sir," Oliver agreed, "we were both quiet."
"Really?" Dante got skeptic, "cuz I heard I'm pretty sure I heard whispering."
Dennis shrugged, "Eh, maybe youre just hearing things. The place is pretty gritty and noisy and-" Dennis's voice suddenly stopped.

"...Noisy and what?" Dante got a bit worried hearing his comrade go silent, "noisy and what? Hey! I'm talking to you!"
"Uh sir?" he heard Oliver's worried and fearful change in his voice, "I think he's gone!"
Kotone would be laughing loudly in the 1st chamber as she surveys her new captive, the heart was her home and it definitely showed, what with all the decorations and furniture placed around and scattered all over the first chamber.
"So quaint for you to visit my home," the dark shadow mistress commented, cupping a stray hand around the waiter's chin as she shackles him to the red and throbbing walls with brightly shining golden chains...

"It'll take forever for that dolt, Koko, to visit my home, and toying with everyone is just so much fun! I love living here!" Kotone exclaims with a burst of rare happiness as her dark tan skin would glow with an aura of sheer adoration...

(Cue the song "Kiss from A Rose"... xD)
Dante worried about Dennis' unprompted reactions. He seemed to be projecting a conversation onto others before they could even act. Although, in a dream world, perhaps everyone's perceptions were scrambled? But then why did everyone else seem to respond to what Dante actually did? (But actually please stop moving other people.)

He did his best to not address the disturbed character and turned his focus to the situation, which quickly turned into witnessing Oliver's imprisonment in the pulsating flesh around them. He still didn't know who "Kotone" was or how anything worked here, but at least the gentleman was able to give some clues to the way out before being engulfed. Dante resolved not to dwell on it; death might not even be fatal here.

It seemed that other people had been relegated to other places. He bit his lip upon considering those in the stomach. The idea of being in a place like that had some appeal, but if things were too realistic all he would have for its contents is pity. More pertinently, the walls were permeable. Or just crushed anything that touched them. He did his best to remember the heart's shape before considering that a dream heart could have any configuration. Fortunately, the sounds of Kotone's gloating gave Dante a clue of which wall she was behind, making it just a matter of finding the most permeable point to enter. Given the speaker's joy, he did his best to just listen for the time being; she didn't seem like someone he wanted spotting him halfway immersed in heart muscle.

© Copyright 2020 Birichino, safire_diaz, Hariti Khatri, Aerodeth, Gentleman, G.Harold, CelestialMirror, (known as GROUP).
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