The Labyrinth of Dreams is a literally nightmarish mirror of Sugiyama-shi, that exists because of its connection to a being known only as the "Nightmare Emperor". A baku (A type of youkai that eats nightmares, and resembles a tapir), who refuses any name but "Baku", claims to have assisted miko nearly a century ago in trying to fend off the creature, but only succeeded in sending it elsewhere. So, he wants to help both shrines as a form of penance for his mistake.
Regardless of what one youkai says, though, the strange creatures from the Labyrinth - some merely duplicates of true youkai, and others taking all sorts of bizarre forms - know how to bring normal humans into a deep sleep, capturing them to feed off of in their nightmares. It's entirely possible these incidents will escalate if something isn't done...
But something can. In his instructions on what to do about this problem, Baku has written that purifying the essences of each main mirrored place can steadily irritate and disturb the Nightmare Emperor. By harassing it and sealing parts of its power like that, it will eventually become possible to flush out the Emperor itself, and face it personally - and thus destroy its Labyrinth and end the threat to Sugiyama-shi.
Labyrinth-Real World InteractionEdit
There are only a few, but still varied, ways in which the two worlds can interact.
Through sleep, humans can touch on the edge of the Labyrinth. The nightmare beasts that live there know this, and when a stronger and better-formed nightmare wishes it, it can force a human to sleep and then pull their spirit into the Labyrinth. They can then proceed to violate the person in their dreams, while their body remains asleep. However, mikos and other spiritually-sensitive people can sense youki emanating from them, and using some other method, can enter the Labyrinth to try to expel the nightmare affecting the victim.
As the Labyrinth starts to gain power and definition, nightmare creatures can start to corrupt reimyaku much like normal youkai would. But, instead of evoking lesser youkai at will from the emanating youki, the nightmares instead use it to form a gateway out of the Labyrinth, which they travel through to enter the real world. Through this, they usually enter the world in an attempt to find lost and defenseless humans to capture and take bodily into the Labyrinth, where they are more vulnerable than if only their spirit is pulled there. However, these gateways can be sealed in much the same way as a normal reimyaku corruption.
Holy relics created nearly 100 years ago, the two Dream Keys are the means to fight back against the Labyrinth's denizens. They require a brief, but simple ritual that anyone with spiritual power can perform, and when completed, this ritual can pull those willing to participate in it, into the Labyrinth. It can also be used at will to return to the real world, from the Labyrinth's depths.
However, there are limits to the keys' abilities. The first, is that they may only be used either near a sleeper who's been abducted, or a Path. A Path refers to a place of crucial significance to people's idea of where it lay, and is used to travel to that area's mirror. The main shrine buildings of the two shrine complexes are an example of a place that holds a Path. The second limitation, is that unless a Waypoint - a significant place inside the Labyrinth - is purified, entry into a region of the Labyrinth essentially has you "Start at the beginning", the outermost part of that area. Though once a Waypoint is active, it can be chosen as a destination during the ritual. The third and final limitation is that significant amounts of youki impede its use, meaning that once engaged in battle or rape, it's impossible to escape via the Keys. However, as a safety feature, those who have been polluted and then discovered by the survivors, can be sent back to the real world individually if desired.
Geography of the LabyrinthEdit
The Labyrinth of Dreams is divided into 6 spiritually-significant areas, based on the structure of Sugiyama-shi and its neighboring wilderness. Each area - save one, which will be noted - contributes power to the Nightmare Emperor and allows it to continue to hide from direct attack. At the beginning, little will be known about many of these areas, including their names - but that will change with time.
Illusionary Capital (Mirror of the City Itself)Edit
The Illusionary Capital is the mirror of Sugiyama-shi. However, it is a mirror mostly in name, for it is actually a massive city whose architecture defies convention, and sometimes common sense. It is also fabulous in many senses of the word. Either way, it is known that the Palace of Blades and the Inverted Pyramid reside there. If there's any other place of interest, it will have to be discovered in the future...
??? (Mirror of Shizen Shrine)Edit
This area has not been visited yet. It is likely to be a large structure or complex of structures, that reflects a twisted version of Shizen's atmosphere.
The Wilds (Mirror of the Surrounding Woods and Plains)Edit
This area has been visited. It's easy to guess, though, that it's composed of various types of verdant wilderness. Plants, beasts, and worse live there, and there was a strange shard dropped by one of its beasts...
The Sacred Bridge (Mirror of the Anmori Trail)Edit
This area has not been visited yet, but has been seen briefly from afar. It is the sole truly-safe area, as the reputation of Anmori's divine protection of the path between shrine and city has apparently reflected on the Labyrinth's idea of it. As such, this area does not need to be purified.
??? (Mirror of Anmori Shrine)Edit
This area has been visited briefly, but its name is unknown. A large stone slab, akin to a western mausoleum in design. While it was not directly entered, the personal nightmare entered during the mikos' first venture into the Labyrinth partially took place in it. It tends to be dank and musty, and extends an unknown depth into the earth.
??? (Mirror of the Mountains)Edit
This area has not been visited yet. The only guess, is that this is supposed to be some form of mountain.