Co-written by Jæn, the artist behind the dream world of 0nir0, and Boffin as the Lone Wolf.
Guest writer for the Chief of Mischief: Avi900
0nir0 is a narrative shared world where dreamers go on a journey of self-discovery and self-remembrance to become lucid dreamers. In their oneiric pursuit, they come across Morpheans, sentient beings who gradually became independent from the consciousness of dreamers, and emerged as natives to 0nir0, the dreams that would prevail if all dreamers were gone.
0nir0 is currently live as an NFT project.
More details: https://jaen.art/0nir0
The Dreamer woke up in a dream - in an open space, devoid of any place to feel the comfortable and warm embrace of the dark. Soon, a strange bazaar grew up from nowhere, and people started to flock in wildly. The noise seemed to reverberate from everywhere, and no words could be understood. The colours of the scene unapologetically lived their own life, going from dull greys to a crazy chromatic cocktail in waves.
A three-eyed, cat-like creature started to shed its hair, losing its colours along with it. Then, everything became more crowded, blurry, grey, and the undefined echoes filled up the space until there was no room left for any sense.
The Dreamer slimed away from this bloated landscape, finally reaching a small forest. With a sigh of relief, they slowly walked up to a moss-covered tree trunk, which was going through a tranquil chromatic tide of anthracite and purple hues. They sat on it, and found a white and shiny artefact laying on the ground. A wolf-shaped mask.
It wasn’t so much of a mask, though, but rather something like an organ, a face that had been lost ages ago. The Dreamer lost sight of it as they became one.
🌜 You cannot own what you are 🌜
They remembered something intimate, a peculiar taste, a hunger for a comfortable solitude and an adventurous independance. This soothing reunion with bits of oneself came with a rather bizarre aftertaste: if reality was a candle, the flame had just vanished.
The Lone Wolf decided to take some time alone, to breathe and heal the heart. The moss on the trunk was growing bigger and smaller with every breath. Soon, the whole forest was quietly, subtly expanding and shrinking in unison, appearing significantly deeper than before. Further away, a warm yet shaky light painted an orange glow on the trees. Intrigued, the Lone Wolf cautiously and silently walked towards its source.
**Extract from the Lone Wolf’s dream diary -**Things here feel foreign yet familiar. Having not been here before, the thickets surrounding me provide a strange comfort. I feel one with them here. There is a sense of belonging similar to meeting an acquaintance again after eons. With each step I take, the forest knows where I must go, and lays the path ahead of me. Why do I feel a pull towards this flickering light? My guts start to feel heavy. There is a level of anxiousness which grows as I get closer to the light, yet like a moth I can’t fight the urge to keep on walking. I stop for a moment to take a deep breath and the forest shimmers around me in unison. My mind feels clear even in this uncertainty, and even before I’m ready to walk, the path reveals itself clearer than before. I know I must keep on walking, and so I walk.
After walking a long time, the Lone Wolf realised that while getting closer to the warm light, it was at a speed that grew slower and slower, to the point they began to question whether they would eventually reach it. Maybe the speed wasn’t the problem. Were time and space silently conspiring against the reunion?
Finally acknowledging the failure in progress, a bittersweet realisation came: the warm embrace might never come, but there was something to be found in the walk towards it. The hunger for it, the burning longing. It wasn’t the destination, and it wasn’t the journey either.
🔥 The Lone Wolf was the orange light waiting to happen 🔥
They continued bathing in the paradox for a while, excited by the hunt, facing the dreadful abyss of never coming to a close.
Once both flavours seemed to have settled in their heart, the fiery hues vanished suddenly, in a whimper. Or rather, they seemed to be subtly infusing the whole forest, now.
Looking back, the black-hooded dreamer found a stone well painted in blue to the left, and a red swing to the right. Both had a smokey petrichor scent.
Self-acceptance. This feeling, it feels new. I’m going to be ok, no matter what happens. I know I will be ok. I could try to run from my anxiousness and distract myself enough to forget about it for a little while, but I know that this nagging feeling isn’t going to go away. It has power over me until I keep avoiding it. When I’m not facing it, it’s gaining a grip on me. The forest around me seems calmer, less erratic on my realization. I gave it power, and now I no longer want to give it power. No matter what I do, no matter what decisions I make, no matter what circumstances arise or where I find myself, I am going to be ok. Why miss futures that have yet to happen, when I can enjoy the now. From this thought, my surroundings seem brighter and I see that I’m the epicentre of this. I am fine. Breathe. I slowly take it all in and breathe out. I see a well in front of me, and I realise that I don’t know what I look like. I haven’t seen myself yet. As such, I head towards the well with new found excitement.
The well was empty. It was quite shallow, though, and one could clearly see its bottom. There were two wolves standing there, staring back at the dreamer. A young red wolf, fiercely playing with a calmer and older blue wolf. They slowly turned around the circular well, and they eventually morphed into water, which rose until the well was filled. On the surface of the liquid mirror, the dreamer discovered a white wolf mask - a blue eye and a red eye that couldn’t seem to decide on which side of the face to dwell, a black snout, and a small round black circle on the forehead.
The Lone Wolf slowly took the mask out, only to discover the same mask behind it. For now, they felt like a binary glass ceiling had been reached in terms of knowing themselves. Excited and scared, they acknowledged they couldn’t go further alone. That sweet, familiar solitude would have to be put away as it was time to find someone else. As they gazed mindlessly at the surface of the water, they suddenly realised they were underwater. A softly glowing landscape full of ancient ruins, gigantic seaweeds, at the bottom of the Sea.
Being underwater brings along a calmness that is hard to describe. I’m free to go wherever I want to, do what I want to or move as much as I want to. There is a gentle reminder of resistance, a small price to pay for moving. You get used to it but it’s always there. A gentle reminder forever looming. I move through the underwater forest, brushing past the seaweed with every stroke, and it seems to be getting thicker the deeper I go. I keep pushing along until I see a clearing when I finally reach the ruins.
In the ruins, the physics of water did not apply anymore, which felt even stranger when the Lone Wolf realised there’s no air bubble to be seen. It was like the surface, albeit with a submarine light. The stone walls turned out to form a labyrinth, inhabited by huge glowing sea slugs, paying absolutely no attention to the Dreamer. The black-hooded oneironaut walked for a while, taking turns randomly, until they found a red-hooded silhouette, pulling the antennae of a sea slug. His face was a mask, just like them, but made of pointy shapes and a large evil grin.
«Who are you?» cautiously asked the Lone Wolf. «Who gives a fuck?» answered the red-hooded man. «The Chief of Mischief feels about right, so you can call me that.»
Even though I’ve just met this man, I’ve gotta say, he is pretty fucking rude. Has he earnt this brash attitude through even brasher means? I dunno, maybe but either way this is the first person I’ve seen since the forest, and what a way to meet someone. I’m curious as to why he seems to be pulling antennas of the glowing sea-slugs. Not that the slugs seem to mind, but still quite peculiar regardless. Finally getting my words together as I ask «What are you doing here and why are you pulling antennas of these slugs?»
"I live here, duh! Can’t you see the house above us? I’ve lived here for about... well, I don’t really know - I suppose one loses track of time when they’ve been banished. But enough about that - apparently I’m such an ass that no one from Balterian really wanted to be friends - even though I prefer the term "mischievous".
It seems I can’t help but talk about myself, can I? Well, there are five of us, so it only makes sense - allow me to introduce myself - some call me the Chief of Mischief, but I prefer the name "Gravitus" - I live in the house above us, and I have five, errr, wonderful personalities, if you can call it that."
"Yeah, I’m Gravitus too - "Oh, won’t you shut up? You’re always talking out of turn, Gravitus. Anyways, let’s talk about the slugs" says the demented red hood before licking the dew from the slug’s eyestalks."They secrete what’s called "persona deminish", it helps me mold all five personalities into one - when the five of us are all tugging at one another, we can be very unpleasant to be around.
When we meld, however, that all fades for a while. So I set up shop here - it only makes sense, as I’m trying to figure out how to synthesise their goop - let’s go up, shall we?"
Then, Gravitus farted.
That truly did take a pleasant turn. Gravitus, that’s a name befitting the wearer of the mask, as you can’t help but gravitate towards them. I’m left to wonder which Gravitus was the rude one because seriously, fuck that guy. The one who I just spoke to seems nice though. Thinking about persona deminish a bit more... Have I passed such items which I didn’t know possess peculiar properties? That begs the question, how did Gravitus figure this out? Were they taught, or did they do their own research? How did they even know where to begin? Who else is out there who knows the answers to questions that even Gravitus has? In wondering these questions, I must admit that I am infact the rude one now by not responding to Gravitus’ invitation to their abode. Cautiously optimistic, I accept the invitation and follow their lead.
The red and black silhouettes climbed the labyrinth’s wall, helped by a few stones sticking out. As they walked on the narrow walls, the labyrinth felt like a living organism: its paths shifted, its walls subtly expanded and contracted, in an unintelligible symphony of crackles and mineral tones. The Lone Wolf focused on their feet to avoid falling down, until they reached a narrow staircase.
The Chief of Mischief looked back, with his immutable sharp grin, and warned the Dreamer: «we’re going up, but we’re also kinda going down.» Then, with a high-pitched voice sounding like a rusty blue tit «It’s on, I’m fucking down!».
As the Lone Wolf climbed up the stairs, they ended up moving down. The more they went up, the more they went down. Soon, their feet were engulfed by the wall, going through it as if it were nothing. Well, a kind of slightly dirty and greasy nothing, if one was honest. They reached a dimly lit, yellow ochre room. With an awkward half-proud half-embarrassed gesture, Gravitus pointed out the strange workshop. «The fucking ‘shop, in case you’d be stupid - şørrý før thi§ rude Ğ - sorry not sorry»... anyway, the Lone Wolf quickly lost interest in the monodialogue going nowhere, punctuated by an occasional belch, as they got lost in the contemplation of the goop synthetising contraption - an absurd collection of glass vessels, in which all sorts of colorful liquids interacted with each other, sometimes the glass itself stretching out. At the end of the chain, a yellow and blue thick liquid looking like it was expanding in other dimensions, hurting the brain and the eyes just looking at it. Persona deminish. «Almost done, but there’s something missing that doesn’t allow it to be really real.» Gravitus looked down, almost sad and serious - «Thi§ płace is phøneý anýway.»
He looked up instantly, grabbed a jar on the side, filled with the authentic slimey substance, and without further notice, threw the goop at the Lone Wolf’s face, yelling «WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON’T NEED PERSONA DEMINISH BUT GO WITH IT ANYWAY?!»
Everything turned black for the black hood.
The black robe of the Lone Wolf was just an empty pile of cloth, now.
“To be honest, we like the lingering nature of being alone any- wait, what’s this?”
Gravitus saw something white and shiny under what was left of the dreamer.
“This is new… No one’s ever left a mask before - but enough about that, let’s add it to our trinket bucket.”
The weird red-hooded dreamer picked up the wolf mask and threw it in a big rusty bucket, and pondered about the absurdity of it all. Them included.