I woke up to the sight of a wooden ceiling over me and the feeling of a soft bed underneath me. “Was that just a dream?” I asked, reaching my tentacles out above me. Only, I didn’t have tentacles. I had normal, fleshy, Chosen arms. I even had a normal voice! A relieved sigh left my lips as I ran my hand through my hair. “That was… one of the weirdest dreams I’ve ever had.”
“Nn… what are you talking about?” the woman next to me in bed asked.
I had no idea she was there, but I didn’t feel any surprise to discover her presence.
All I saw when I looked at her was her sleepy face and brown hair. Something about her looked extremely familiar… but I couldn’t place it.
I still couldn’t place who I was, either.
“Hey… do you know who I am?” I asked.
“What a silly question,” the woman answered. “Of course I know.”
“Right. Of course you would know. Sorry.”
“It’s alright. Don’t forget about the egg race.”
“How could I forget about the egg race?”
Everybody knew about the egg race, after all. It was the world’s most famous race! It was when everybody gathered around at the very tip of the world’s tallest mountain to roll eggs down it to see whose reached the bottom first! Of course, all of them cracked within seconds, so it didn’t really make much sense.
The fact that I was no longer in bed and instead hovering over the mountain didn’t make sense, either.
“Papa!” a small girl who barely reached up to my waist shouted, flying up to me and clinging to my leg. “Come on! You’re late for the egg race!”
“Right… right. Sorry,” I apologized again. “If your egg wins, I’ll go and get you your favorite dessert from that one little shop you love. Alright?”
The little girl’s eyes widened as her hair flowered all around her. It was as if a strong gust of wind came to blow her hair, but there was none I could feel. More importantly, the mountain was gone and replaced with a large body of water.
And I was all alone.
Well, I was alone until an ocean-dwelling beast with rows upon rows of sharp fangs leapt out from the water to try and bite me!
I smacked my tentacles at it out of instinct and—
“Wait… tentacles?” I asked. “Something’s…. something’s not right.”
I thought I had woken up from a dream, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was inside of a dream.
I woke up to the sight of a wooden ceiling above me and the feeling of a soft bed underneath me. Only, when I reached my limbs up to check on them, they were the same tentacles as before with the addition of white bandages wrapped around where the thorns stabbed me. Not only that, but I was aware of all my sensations instead of only a couple I was limited to focusing on in my dream.
Voices, dozens of them, came from below the floorboards. They sounded like grown men for the most part. There was endless laughing and bantering. In addition to that, I could smell something delicious. That scent alone could never be realistically replicated in a dream, so I figured I had to actually be awake this time.
Where am I? If I’m in bed and bandaged… somebody must have rescued me, but who?
Looking around the room, it looked like the average inn room that could be found in basically any city. Well, maybe it was a bit more homely than that.
Nobody else was in the room with me, either. I was alone.
Well… if I’m in a room like this, I must be back with civilization. I don’t know how, but I won’t complain. The only thing I can complain about is why didn’t I ask that woman in my dream who I was if she knew?!
Unfortunately, while I might have had some control at the beginning and end of my dream, I gave in and enjoyed the ride for everything between it. I had no conscious control over anything I did or said.
Who even was she? She looked familiar. And she was cute. Really cute.
Then there was that other girl in my dream—the little one. Only, when my mind thought of her… I felt crushingly lonely. Pain throbbed throughout my body as I thought of her and I felt like I was about to vomit if that was even possible for my new body.
Why… why were they so familiar?
I leaned up and rubbed two of my tentacles against my body next to my eyes.
Do I know them? Were they even real? There’s the chance I’m just so lonely and worried about my situation that I’m making up people in dreams to get attached to who don’t even really exist. I don’t know. I don’t understand anything that’s happening! I’ve never heard of anything like this before! What even am I?! Am I a beast—a soul beast? Soul beasts aren’t supposed to remember anything from the soul they take over! There’s never been a single recorded case of anything like this happening before! And they’re supposed to feel natural in their bodies, not confused how they ended up in them! I don’t even know how I know any of this!
Maybe it was because I felt safe from being back in civilization again, but every single other tiny little concern and question I had came surging forth all at once now that I didn’t have to worry about survival and finding people.
One could say that I was on the verge of having a panic attack. Or a nervous breakdown.
Or both simultaneously.
It was only when I heard the door to the room creak open that my racing mind came to a screeching halt.
Whoever was behind the door didn’t open it all the way. They only opened it just enough to poke their head in to check on me.
And I instantly recognized the face of the one checking on me.
She was the woman from the forest, but she now wore a gentle smile as she said, “Good morning.”