Living as Kuromu Dokuro

Chapter 9

Illusions turned out to be so much more complicated than Kuromu thought.

Firstly, only those with a wave balance dominated by Mist wave energy had the potential to become true illusionists. But even among these people, only those who could consciously or subconsciously access their flames would have been taken into consideration by other illusionists as potential apprentices.

This was because even the simplest illusion required at least two to three layers of weaving, and those that could access their flames would have been able to strengthen their illusions through the excess Mist wave energy radiating from their body. This leaking of energy simplified the process of building illusions, from 'bit by bit', into simply 'layer by layer'.

Skilled illusionists did not have to believe in their own illusions, merely having to possess a strong enough mental image during the process of weaving an illusion. However, amateurs or beginners most often have to start with convincing themselves that the imagined object was 'existing' before the illusion could ever start forming. This process would be long and arduous for inexperienced minds, for they had to not only trick their minds into believing that something supposedly non-existent was real, but deceive their life energy into assisting them with forming the illusion of that 'something'.

As a result, the effects of people with a realistic point of view on their illusions were often extreme, especially if they did not have a strong and versatile imagination. For example, when overcoming established perceptions through sheer force of will, it was possible for them to over-distort their understanding of what was real and what was not, inadvertently creating Real illusions. Of course, more likely was that these rational, unimaginative people would repeatedly fail until they eventually gave up, but the ones that persevered would have to learn at the same slow rate as the people with inaccessible Mist dominant wave energy.

This resulted in an extremely strict selection whenever any of most illusionists chose to take in an apprentice, as it was frowned upon to give up on a disciple once chosen. This was likely because the long-term process of grooming an illusionist was considered as intimate, particularly dependent on trust and understanding, leading many to take on students rather than a formal disciple.

However, having an accessible flame was not always an advantage. This was because to have access to flames, whether consciously or not, equated to an absence of the main limiters on the subject's dominant wave energy. This, as previously mentioned, allowed the subject to effortlessly radiate wave energy and use it in the forming of an illusion. Mist flames were more potent than Mist wave energy, thus were much more effective. As everything else, this was beneficial as much as it was not at times, maybe even dangerous.

For beginners, their unrefined minds could wander as they attempted the delicate art of illusion making, and at that point, their wave energy could indiscriminately encourage the illusion formed from a disrupted thought process, causing the illusion to spiral out of control. Moreover, a Mist user's wave energy often worked against himself or herself by enhancing any enemy's illusions that were in range of said energy. This meant that the average person with accessible Mist flames, illusionist or otherwise, would be more susceptible to illusions than the others.

This may be the reason why many had claimed that in a battle between fellow illusionists, having one's illusion turned against oneself was the first sign of defeat. There was logic behind the common saying.

Of course, one's own wave energy could be conditioned to never respond to foreign illusions, but it involved traumatizing the Mist conduits by means of repeated illusion poisoning and the monitored infusion of hostile Mist flames. In short, a torturous and dangerous process. A slight miscalculation could burn away the conduits, or cause the conduits to seal themselves off as a defensive measure. As the characteristics of the conduits were different for every individual, the mentor illusionist would be required to respond to the situation within his or her disciple with little prior knowledge of what might occur. Trust was greatly important, as the conduits might began reacting aggressively to the foreign flames earlier than effective if the mentor was mistrusted by the subject.

Other than that, certain gifted individuals possessed special Limiters within their channels of wave energy, allowing the amount of energy leakage to be controlled as willed. These unique Limiters were usually something they were born with in place of the usual limiters, laying dormant and only intuitively controllable until discovered and fine-tuned. The Limiters were not achievable through any form of training, but the Estraneo Famiglia was said to have accidentally discovered a method for creating artificial Limiters in a person.

Or, so Mukuro claimed, stating himself as an example, a dark expression flashing across his face.

Such was one small part of the lecture he gave her on about the theory of illusion casting, as she had fallen asleep for the rest of it. Apparently, the part she had missed was the one of a detailed theory on the construction of illusions, with explanations of the basic structure, the weaving in of details, and the method to intertwine illusions of sight, sound, touch and emotion. He later explained that Real illusions were of the highest level, a minimum requirement of creating hundred-and-over layers in a few seconds, melded together with Mist flames in order to deceive reality. Timing was 'crucial' it seemed, and Kuromu should 'do well to remember that!'.

"Timing... Hn. What about emotion? What do you mean?" Kuromu inquired, a puzzled expression on her face.

There was a flicker of annoyance over his visage before he schooled his expression back into a patient and wise one. (A/N: All hail his patience! All hail mine too!)

Speaking slowly as if she was hard of hearing, he clarified that an illusion of emotion referred to projecting an 'impression' or 'aura' onto the illusion by capturing into several layers the illusionist's feelings and interweaving it into the final product. This influences the atmosphere around the illusion, causing those who are affected by the illusion to feel what was intended for them. For example, the emotions of hate, depending on its intensity, could either make the victim wary of going near the illusion, or terrify the victim into hyperventilation. Also, the illusionist could project the 'hate' into the victim instead of around or onto the victim, thus allowing the illusionist to temporarily direct the aggressive actions of the victim at the expense of exhausting more flames. He arrogantly claimed that although this was a higher level technique, he really did not think it was that complicated although he had to practice feeling the more positive emotions.

Blah.

Blah.

Blah.

She could barely stand lectures, being more of a reader than a listener. Long speeches actually tended to have the effect of making her either sleepy or hungry.

Her stomach then growled at this opportune timing.

See?

"Mukuro... I'm hungry..." Kuromu whined, a frown crossing her features.

Her head was swirling from the information overload, and she couldn't seem to recall one fact without mixing up the concepts. Comprehension seemed to leave her now that he stopped speaking, and all that remained was the lightness in her head and the emptiness in her stomach. Perhaps she would retain perfect understanding later, but now, before she digested the knowledge, she craved for digestion happening in her system.

Food...

Her ears rang with his hypnotic voice and the long-winded but effective explanation. Effective, most likely as in how it had fascinated her and compelled her to keep her ears on it, at least until it grew to be a little too long. There was too much information for her to remember in such a short time, and thus she only managed to absorb the part about Mist wave energy. The rest could be compared to muddied water within the banks of her mind, reflecting just how muddled her recollections of his lecture were.

She did not think it was a mistake on her part, as she had never really dealt well with verbal instructions ever since her previous life. Keeping up with Mukuro's impassioned speech for this long and this much was an achievement! She was aiming to be a combat illusionist, not an illusion theorist!

But she had been mesmerized by his words and the genuine interest within his tone as he spoke of illusions. There was a spark in his dream self's eyes, a fiery spark of passion that captivated her, and kept her listening to his words, not just hearing. She could have sworn that she spotted some resemblance of a smile whenever he thought she wasn't looking, the foreign and unguarded tilting upward of his lips. At times like this, when his face unknowingly brightened, she would force down her own puzzling contentment, but savor the moment none the same. He always caught himself just in time though, schooling his features impassive before a sincere grin could mar his image as a sociopath. Even so, she could see that he truly enjoyed the art and science of illusions, perhaps even loved it.

She briefly wondered if he was pleased or displeased to have had an easy way out forced onto him. Estraneo had been inhumane, but their end products were truly ingenious. Those artificially induced Limiters that resided within Mukuro might have made illusions simpler to the already prodigious him, but had that fact perhaps dimmed his enthusiasm? Had the knowledge of the assistance provided by those Limiters become a taint on his passion?

A pang of sympathy hit her like a ten-ton hammer, summoning a strange, distasteful feeling in the pit of her stomach. The feeling was out of her tiny comfort zone. She swallowed, her tongue tasting something bitter, but she shook her head and forcibly got rid of the mini torrent of emotions. Must've been the hunger, yes.

"Hey Mukuro, how do I get out of here?" She uncomfortably gestured around the dreamscape. "I don't think I'm in time for breakfast, and to trust the two to cook is... Just no."

He lifted an eyebrow at her, unaware of her thoughts and her true motive — escape. "You obviously haven't been listening to me." He sighed, then continued, "Since we share this mindscape, theoretically, we hold equal control over this place. Thus, you merely have to think... Yes... Kufufufufu, imagine a way out. We'll see if you've been doing your homework obediently and practicing." He gestured towards nowhere in particular, an amused and mocking tilt to his drawl.

Kuromu flushed and sputtered at his tone, slightly angered at his teasing. She would prove that she could find a way out without his help!

Closing her eyes, she drew a deep breath in (although she had no need for air) and focused on the feeling, visualizing the air as it filled her lungs. Her mind relaxed at the familiar exercise, and tenseness left her body.

Yes, she had been practicing...

She thought of nothing in particular, concentrating on her thoughts of wanting to return, and eventually, visualizing where she laid down on the couch. A vision of the doorway formed, its design surprisingly tasteful to Mukuro's eyes.

She crossed the flowery metal grate door, turning back a little just to flash him a smug look. "Bye-bee~"

She felt a wave of vertigo, and eventually, her vision dimmed into black before she could pursue a reaction from him.

Training... 15% completed.

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