Resumen:Yumi y el pintor de pesadillas

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This page contains a chapter by chapter summary of Yumi and the Nightmare Painter. We hope this summary will make it easier to find specific areas of the book, as well as providing a quick plot refresher for anyone who doesn't want to take the time to reread the entire book.

Note that Hoid is the narrator of this story and thus "appears" in that capacity in every chapter. He has been excluded from the character lists below unless he appears or is mentioned within the context of the story itself.

Part 1

Chapter 1

Characters
Plot Summary

Hoid as the narrator introduces the nightmare painter Nikaro, who usually thinks of himself simply as "Painter", as he is beginning his rounds in Kilahito. Painter, standing outside his apartment building, stares briefly at the star before continuing on to his patrol. As he walks, Hoid describes the hion lines overhead. Painter reaches the western edge of the city and stares out at the shroud, then hears laughter coming from two other nightmare painters: Akane and Tojin. Akane asks Nikaro if he is working the same schedule as them, which he affirms. The pair continue on their way, leaving Painter alone.

Chapter 2

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Plot Summary

Hoid then introduces the yoki-hijo Yumi as she observes the bright daystar, which she considered to be a good omen. Her attendants, Chaeyung and Hwanji enter her wagon and feed her a breakfast of rice and stew. After eating, they step out of the wagon into their getuk and the attendants shield Yumi from the view of villagers with fans as they walk to the local cold spring. They undress Yumi and enter the spring after her. Chaeyung and Hwanji then wash and rinse Yumi's body using a series of soaps and creams, following the pattern of the artist's sequence of progress. When they finish, Yumi submerges herself for 144 seconds to complete her ritual bathing, then emerges and is dressed in her ritual tobok. From here they walk to the village shrine, located in a flower garden. At the shrine, Yumi kneels and begins thirteen ritual prayers before proceeding to her meditations. After an hour, she stops and considers how she hopes to visit Torio City for the Festival of Reveals, dressed as an ordinary person. Yumi's warden, Liyun approaches the shrine and announces they should wait until the next steamwell eruption before proceeding to the place of ritual. Yumi tries to suggest her interest in attending the upcoming festival, which Liyun strongly discourages. Disheartened, Yumi asks to proceed to the place of ritual.

Chapter 3

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Plot Summary

Painter stares into the shroud for a time before turning and walking along the street at the perimeter of the city. He passes Akane's capstone painting, on the outside wall of a windowless building, followed by the blank wall where his own most recent attempt at a capstone painting has been whitewashed. The painting was of "the star," which is actually a planet with living beings on it, inspired by the announcement that a spaceship will voyage to that celestial body. Painter determines he needs to whitewash the wall again before noticing a disturbed area on the surface of the shroud, indicating that a nightmare has passed through. He tracks it into the city, following a few spots of dark, steaming residue, until he finds it down a dark, narrow alley. The nightmare is distracted by its victim, head stuck through the wall and into the building, as Nikaro begins a painting of bamboo. The creature turns to Painter and begins approaching, but is soon transformed into black bamboo. The bamboo evaporates, and Painter gathers his things and continues to patrol.

Chapter 4

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Plot Summary

The local steamwell erupts as Yumi passes by and approaches the "place of ritual". Her attendants follow, with fans withdrawn so that the crowd can see the yoki-hijo. She enters the place of ritual as the crowd watches and three local scribes sing songs, and puts on her knee pads. Yumi begins to stack the rocks which have been collected by villagers as Hoid muses about their strange preferences in art. Over the course of several hours she creates dozens of spiraling stacks, gathering a record number of thirty-seven spirits. The town's supplicants step forward one at a time and Yumi asks the spirits to transform in accordance with their requests for various tools. Liyun approaches to congratulate Yumi after she has granted the final request, but the exhausted yoki-hijo has collapsed unconscious to the ground.

Chapter 5

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Plot Summary

Hoid explains the mysterious past behind the advent of the nightmares, the shroud, and the hion lines, before getting to Painter as he arrives at foreman Sukishi's office. Nikaro turns in two bamboo paintings, takes his wage, and leaves as Sukishi eyes him skeptically and berrates him about not properly tailoring his drawings to the appearance of nightmares. Painter then walks to the Noodle Pupil, enters, and takes a seat at the bar, asking Design for his usual order. As he eats, Painter questions Design about his self-worth, which she mistakenly interprets as a request for a discount. Design encourages Nikaro to socialize with the other painters meeting at the establishment, but he refuses. After finishing his meal, Painter pays for his highly discounted food and exits the restaurant. As he is on his way home to watch his favorite hion viewer program, Painter spots the signs of a nightmare that has passed by. He ignores it at first, but minutes later doubles back in search of the nightmare.

Chapter 6

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Plot Summary

Hoid explains to his audience how he froze when he first arrived on Komashi, and subsequently heard voices, and later images, of Painter and Yumi. He then returns his attention to Yumi, who wakes up in her wagon while it is still nighttime. She wrestles with her varied emotions and an inner sense of coldness, until Liyun arrives and chastises her--concerned that she has either been lazy in the past or that she has overworked herself. Yumi promises to work hard the following day and her warden leaves. Yumi goes to her window and looks out, feeling trapped, when she hears the voice of a spirit in her mind. The spirit says that its kind are trapped like she is, and then offers her a gift. Yumi mournfully rejects the offer, feeling unworthy and insisting that she has already been blessed more than enough by the spirits. The spirit accepts her response, but asks for a boon from Yumi: that she would free the spirits. Yumi isn't sure what this could mean or what she should do, but she promises to do what she can before everything suddenly goes black.

Chapter 7

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Plot Summary

Painter continues to track the nightmare through the rainy streets in the outer rings of Kilahito. He nearly gives up after losing the trail, but looks into a window after he has turned back to his home and there spots the nightmare in the home of two parents and a four year old child. The large nightmare has lupine features and crouches over the boy, and Nikaro realizes that this one is almost fully stable and thus extremely dangerous. He begins to panic, but then hears the child sniffling and realizes the terrified child is awake. Instead of running for help, Painter extracts his supplies. The nightmare notices him and approaches, trying to work through the wall of the building, as he begins to paint. He tries bamboo at first, before realizing it will not work on such a stable nightmare and switching to something resembling the child's mother. This causes the monster to flee, and Painter steps up to the window--which prompts the child to cry and wakens the parents. Painter tries to reassure the father, and encourages them to visit family in another town in case the nightmare attempts to return. Nikaro then departs toward foreman Sukishi's office, but feeling unnaturally tired he returns home instead. He enters his apartment and then opens the windows for fresh air to clear his clouding mind. Painter hears a strange sound, sees something come from the sky and strike him in the chest, and then loses consciousness.

Painter blinks awake, finding himself in an unfamiliar setting with an unfamiliar girl: Yumi.

Part 2

Chapter 8

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Plot Summary

Disoriented by the strange setting, particularly the bright sunlight filling the wagon, Painter assumes he must be dreaming and begins testing this theory as Yumi yells for her attendants. He soon decides that the experience is not a dream, and Yumi calms as she comes to the conclusion that the boy must be the spirit she spoke to. Nikaro then looks out through the window at her alien world, spots the daystar, and concludes he must have traveled to "the star" in his own world's sky. Chaeyung and Hwanji enter the wagon carrying breakfast, walking directly through the incorporeal Yumi. She quickly realizes he must have taken her body, and is horrified as Nikaro begins to break the rituals. The attendants think something must be wrong and flee.

Chapter 9

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Plot Summary

Yumi has an outburst of frustration directed toward Painter for humiliating her and expects to be punished further for it, but Nikaro quickly convinces her that he is not a spirit as she has assumed. She then recalls the spirit told her there is someone who could help her free them, and she assumes Painter must be this help. She asks Painter to tell the attendants what has happened. As she does this, she tries to take his hand and they discover that direct contact between the two of them causes them both to feel a sharp, electric sensation. Yumi tries to leave the wagon to recover and also discovers that she is limited in how far apart they can be before something jerks her back toward Painter. Liyun then enters, and when Nikaro tries to explain what has happened she thinks he is lying. Yumi realizes she should have expected this, and asks Painter to play along. She gives Nikaro the right lines to say and he repeats them and follows all of her orders on the rituals of eating breakfast.

Chapter 10

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Plot Summary

Painter considers how he wants to help Yumi but worries he will not be up to the real task. This fear is eased when Yumi explains they will use "art" to draw the spirits. They then leave the wagon, and walk past villagers to the cold spring for the ritual bath. Here Painter realizes he will have to undress. Yumi insists she must bathe as well, before disrobing and entering the water. She asks Nikaro not to look, and he closes his eyes as Chaeyung and Hwanji approach, also naked, and lead him into the water. They wash him, not seeming to notice any anatomical anomalies. At one point Painter slips, causing him to open his eyes, and he catches Yumi staring at him. She apologizes and they return to bathing. They touch again, by accident, and this time notice an exchange of emotions that comes with it. They finish bathing and the attendants leave. Painter reflects on his situation, recalling he needs to report the stable nightmare still, but decides for now all he can do is help Yumi. They realize she has been able to interact with the water without realizing it, but aren't sure of the implications. One at a time they leave the spring to get dressed, and as Painter is being dressed, he faints.

Painter wakes in his own apartment to the sound of someone at the door. He thinks he must have been dreaming, but Yumi sits up next to him. Painter reaches for her, and realizes that he has become as ghostly as Yumi had been before.

Chapter 11

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Plot Summary

Yumi awakens to a cold dark, world which she imagines to be the "place of dead spirits". She processes her surroundings and shock as the foreman is left knocking on the door and Nikaro urges her to answer it, showing that in his incorporeal form he is unable to. When she answers, Sukishi is shocked to see a girl answer the door, proving that Yumi has not taken on the appearance of Nikaro. The foreman inquires about Painter, who tells Yumi to explain that he is sick, but has been hunting a stable nightmare. He leaves, asking Yumi to pass on the message that Nikaro must report in. The door across the hallway then opens and Akane steps out, whom Yumi believes to be a goddess at first. Painter is concerned what Akane will think about a woman being in his apartment and has Yumi claim to be his sister. Yumi then figures Akane must be one of Painter's supposed concubines. She voices this belief, and Akane leaves, disgusted. As the evidence stacks up, Yumi realizes that Painter is not the hero she assumed he was, which he admits when pressed. In her frustration and anger, Yumi begins to stack miscellaneous items, which impresses Painter. She prays to the spirits for help, and eventually asks for food. Trying to understand their situation better, she asks Painter if anything strange happened before he first came to her world, and he explains about the stable nightmare. Before they get much further, Yumi is overcome with exhaustion and falls asleep. She awakens in her wagon with Painter, incorporeal once again.

Chapter 12

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Plot Summary

Hoid wanderers about the "purpose" of nightmares before getting back to the story. After Painter is fed, Liyun enters and begins to criticize him for collapsing the day before. He begins to push back when Yumi sternly takes control and insists that he do everything she says. Yumi directs Nikaro to apologize to Liyun, and they leave for the cold spring. She continues to berate Painter, who slowly becomes more bitter about the way he is being treated. At the spring he allows himself to be bathed, and afterwards peeks his eyes open to find Yumi directly before him with a stern glare. They have a staring match until Nikaro earns a measure of respect from Yumi, and she explains her plans to Nikaro--they must draw a spirit to make contact. Their staring contest continues until they touch noses and feel the same wave of intense sensations and emotions. Painter leaves the cold spring as they are still yelling insults at one another.

Chapter 13

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Plot Summary

They arrive at the shrine in the village orchard--a strange location, Yumi notes, with shrines usually being found in flower gardens. She bullies Painter into repeating the six essential ritual prayers after her, insisting that he must fulfill the duties of the yoki-hijo if they are ever to be free of one another. After the prayers Painter wants to take a nap, so Yumi pokes him to keep him awake. She explains they must spend some time in meditation, though her method of meditation is foreign to Nikaro. As Yumi meditates, his presence distracts her however. Eventually Liyun returns and they proceed to the place of ritual. While bathing earlier, Yumi had come to the conclusion that the spirits must have sent Painter because he has a natural talent for stone stacking. Her hopes are immediately shattered the moment Painter begins attempting to stack stones.

Chapter 14

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Plot Summary

Returned to his apartment, Nikaro considers his failure to stack the rocks properly as Yumi tries to explain what he did wrong. She decides that their only course of action now is for her to teach him. Painter thinks about the family he saved from the stable nightmare, realizes he didn't have Yumi report them previously, and wishes to find out what happened. Yumi insists they must stay and train, but Painter argues that perhaps the spirits sent her to help him instead. She showers and puts together a strange outfit from Nikaro's clothing, then they head to the foreman's office. Foreman Sukishi deflects Yumi's concerns and Nikaro realizes that the man does not believe the report and has no intention of investigating it. The pair encounter Akane as they arrive back at the apartment. Painter wants to continue to the apartment quickly so they can discuss what to do about the nightmare, but as they enter the building Akane doubles back and asks if she can help Yumi in some way. She offers to take Yumi shopping, which Yumi accepts with grateful tears.

Chapter 15

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Plot Summary

When they arrive at the shopping center, Yumi is concerned when she realizes she needs money to pay for clothing, but Akane offers to pay and make Nikaro reimburse her. Yumi soon spots a blue dress that catches her eye. Akane learns that Yumi has never been shopping--having been led to believe that she has only worn hand-me-downs--and offers to give Yumi a smaller selection of things to try on. The store employees take Yumi's measurements because she doesn't know her size. As they wait in the changing rooms, Yumi and Nikaro discuss Akane and what they like about her. Yumi tries on a bra for the first time, followed by the blue dress. She is concerned that her shoulders are bare, but Akane included an additional cardigan-like top that she can wear. Yumi is enamored with the dress, and decides that she is comfortable having possessions that she likes. They eventually leave the store with several new outfits for Yumi. Akane invites Yumi to join her and her friends for lunch after she has had a chance to drop off her new clothes in Nikaro's apartment.

Chapter 16

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Plot Summary

Painter tries to discourage Yumi from going with Akane, arguing that there will be trouble when people see through their lies about Yumi's identity, but Yumi insists.They walk around the corner to the Noodle Pupil and Akane introduces Yumi as Nikaro's sister to Tojin, Masaka, and Izzy. Izzy asks Yumi some questions in order to determine her dramascope. Painter decides he doesn't want to be around his old friends so he moves to the bar. Yumi approaches moments later, unsure what to order and beginning to rethink her decision to come. Nikaro tries to encourage her. Design emerges from the kitchen and drops a bowl of soup when she sees Nikaro, thinking he has died.

Chapter 17

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Plot Summary

Nikaro and Yumi join Design in cleaning up the spilled soup so that they can talk briefly in private. They explain to Design how they have been switching places, with Nikaro suspecting Yumi is from the star. Design tells them that Yumi is actually in Nikaro's body, and that her highly Invested nature is causing the body to change physically--which is part of the reason Yumi is so hungry and tired. Yumi asks Design if she is a spirit, and explains how the spirits on her world behave. Design confirms that she is similar, but rejects Yumi's reverence as misplaced. The Cryptic promises she will try to help them, but admits that they really need Hoid's expertise because she is not particularly knowledgeable in Realmatic Theory. Yumi is getting sleepy so they return to Nikaro's apartment. Painter tries to delay their return to her world and keep her awake with a hion viewer program, but Yumi is determined to reject all frivolities and get back to work.

Part 3

Chapter 18

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Plot Summary

They two enter the cold spring to bathe and Yumi prepares Nikaro to apologize to Liyun for their failure when she arrives. Painter is frustrated by Yumi's renewed strictness after feeling like they were beginning to connect better. He leaves the spring and Liyun approaches. He bows to her and apologizes as Yumi orders, and Liyun bows in turn. Yumi explains they will need time to practice and restore their skills, so Liyun will go to the leaders of Gongsha and ask for the use of their place of ritual.

Later, at the place of ritual, Painter struggles with the heat of the ground and the stones. Yumi has him squat instead of kneel, and Liyun obtains some gloves he can use to pick up stones. Yumi has Painter pick up a stone and they talk through how to sense the rock's center of gravity and how it can be balanced. Yumi has him pick up another stone, and explains that they will likely spend several days simply picking up rocks to practice getting a feel for them.

Chapter 19

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Plot Summary

Their first day of training comes to an end and Yumi is exasperated because Nikaro was a stubborn student and he has not made any improvement. She doubts her ability to teach him, but feels it is something she must do because the spirits have told her to. Liyun escorts them to the wagon, and Yumi worries she will do something drastic.

They fall asleep and immediately awaken in Nikaro's room. Yumi takes a shower, opting for cold water to avoid getting too comfortable. Meanwhile, Painter learns to manipulate the souls of his clothing, and is able to dress himself. After washing and praying Yumi exits and dresses as well. Yumi is shivering, so Painter touches the hion lines in the thermostat to warm the room. They discuss their plans. Painter insists that he doesn't think it's a good idea for Yumi to go looking for the stable nightmare, and is particularly adamant that she will not be skilled enough to stop it herself. After a knock on the door they receive a letter from the foreman notifying Nikaro that he has been put on one month of unpaid leave for neglecting his duties. Painter accepts that they must do something about the stable nightmare. He agrees to train Yumi well enough to defend herself from a regular nightmare, in an emergency, so that they can hunt for the stable nightmare and alert someone else.

They open his trunk for supplies. Yumi reaches for his portfolio at the bottom of the trunk, but he touches her hand to stop her and makes her agree not to open it. Painter demonstrates his simple process for painting bamboo. Yumi likes how methodical it is, though expresses confusion by the way it doesn't fit with Painter's own proclamations about the nature of art. Nikaro tasks her with painting the bamboo stroke one thousand times, and she begins this without question. Eventually there is a knock at the door, and Yumi answers it after Painter gestures. Akane invites Yumi to dinner, and insists she can't stay in the apartment all day. Nikaro has Yumi pretend that she is studying for exams, and Akane leaves. Painter then teases Yumi about her devotion to practicing the bamboo, and she goes to the window for a break and some fresh air as she tries to cool her frustrations. She enjoys the sights and smells of the rain, and watches the people in the streets, then takes note of the dark shadows in one alley--which unbeknownst to her contain a nightmare--before returning to her practice.

Chapter 20

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Plot Summary

After eleven days, Yumi finally decides that Painter is ready to begin stacking stones, so she begins to instruct him on how to set a good base. Nikaro succeeds in a few small stacks and admits that Yumi's training has actually helped, which is deeply encouraging to Yumi. Painter is less excited when she explains he will need much more complicated stacks to attract a spirit. They continue practicing, Yumi still focused but less overbearing. Painter watches Yumi stacks the souls of stones, which both impresses him and teaches him to respect her artform. He thinks that he can see a passion in her that he identifies with but has never seen in someone else before. He also begins to realize how difficult their situation has been for her, and is able to empathize with her better. Suddenly there is a disturbance nearby, and Painter leaves to investigate. Scholars from the Institute of Mechanical Solutions in Torio City have arrived in Gongsha. The lead scholar announces that they have heard about the yoki-hijo's problems and so have arrived with a machine that can stack rocks to summon the spirits.

Chapter 21

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Plot Summary

Back in Nikaro's apartment Yumi rants about the arrival of the scholars and their machine. Painter defends the idea of the machine, pointing at the precise nature of the yoki-hijo's job and the way machines have improved the lives of people in his own world. Yumi continues searching for reasons she dislikes the machine, thinking it must be part of why the spirits called out for her aid. Eventually she settles and begins to practice painting bamboo, though she feels ready to advance to something new. There is a knock at the door, which Yumi opens to reveal not just Akane--who has been inviting her to eat frequently--but also Tojin, Masaka, and Izzy. They insist that she take a break from her alleged studies and join them for dinner. Painter tells her to send them away, but Yumi can't stand the idea of another day spent painting bamboo and decides to go.

At the Noodle Pupil Nikaro goes to speak with Design, leaving Yumi alone with the other four painters. She pays special attention to Tojin. Nikaro led her to believe his interest in bodybuilding was about being attractive to women. Yumi notes his interactions with his male friends as they discuss their weightlifting, as well as his shyness when Izzy draws attention to him. She asks him why he does it and she learns more about his true motivations. She also notes Akane's apparent interest in the man. Izzy then brings attention to the upcoming spaceship launch. This is the first Yumi has heard of this mission, and quickly moves to speak with Painter. She approaches the bar to see Design working to lengthen his Connection to his body, extending the range they can be apart from one another. Design says she will look for a device that can shed some insight on Yumi's Connection to her world. They discuss the spaceship mission and both wonder if it might be related to what the spirits have done to them.

Chapter 22

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When they next wake up in Yumi's world, Painter insists on feeding himself and rejects Liyun's passive aggressive admonishment. Yumi is flustered and unable to speak. Nikaro explains to her that he has decided to embrace this role, and if the spirits have chosen him then he must do his duty in the way he believes he should. He argues that nothing he does is against his authority as the yoki-hijo. Yumi still feels it is wrong, despite his logic. As they bathe, which Nikaro again insists on doing without his attendants, she grudgingly accepts his decision. Yumi is encouraged, at least, that he seems to be accepting his responsibilities. When they reach the shrine, Nikaro explains that he will be painting during his meditation time. He hopes that painting might catch the attention of the spirits, though he has had no such luck when Liyun arrives an hour later.

As they walk to the place of ritual, they hear the scholars arguing in their tent. Liyun explains that their machine still is not working, and admits that she has heard of the machines before, to Yumi's surprise. Yumi expresses to Painter that she is sure he has been sent because of the machine, but that they must get confirmation from the spirits. Nikaro practices for several hours, feeding lunch to himself. Yumi is concerned that Liyun will declare them unfit, but Nikaro believes she will not make that decision lightly. Painter trains hard, partially as an apology for the distress he has caused Yumi this day, and is ultimately able to get a stack twelve stones high.

They return to the wagon without Liyun at the end of the day and Chaeyung hands Nikaro his nightgown, assuming he will want to dress himself. She leaves, but Hwanji lingers. She bows and asks Nikaro to make sure Liyun knows that his behavior is not her fault. She explains that she was formerly an attendant of the yoki-hijo Dwookim, who was vocal in the reform movement, and fears that Liyun will assume Hwanji shared these ideas with Yumi. Painter inquires further, followed by questions from a shocked Yumi, as they learn that most of the yoki-hijo do not live as Yumi does--the truth having been kept from her by Liyun.

Chapter 23

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Plot Summary

After a day in Painter's world to collect some of her thoughts, spent mostly alone in Nikaro's apartment, the pair have returned. Liyun enters, after knocking, as Painter eats his breakfast. She asks how Yumi learned about the reform movement, which Painter lies about. Yumi asks several questions via Nikaro, and Liyun admits the truth--though she believes Yumi's rebellion will be short-lived. During their bath in the cold spring, Painter tries to cheer her up and help her process the implications this has about her life and the will of the spirits, including sharing some of his own relationship struggles. They float together and Yumi tries to touch his hand, but once again is unable to make physical contact. After this she declares that she wants to do something "transgressive". Painter proposes to spy on the scholars and their machine, which is more serious than Yumi had imagined--but she considers and agrees.

After they have been left alone in the orchard shrine, they cross through the orchard to the east side of town. They remove most of their clothing, to give the appearance of a common worker, and sneak the final distance to the scholars' tent. Yumi passes through the wall of the tent and watches the scholars troubleshooting their machine. Sunjun is working on the machine and believes that the problem is the power source, though Gyundok, the lead scholar, says they never had this problem with the father machine. Gyundok tells Sunjun and the lounging Honam to prime it, but they refuse. They consider waiting for the local yoki-hijo to draw a spirit, but expect this is unlikely to happen. The fourth scholar eventually agrees to prime the machine, so he places his hand on a special plate at the heart of the machine. Yumi observes hion lines appear between him and the plate, and as she looks closer sees an additional pair of lines appear from herself. The machine starts working, and the scholars celebrate--except for Sunjun who noticed the lines from Yumi. He believes a spirit is nearby and alerts the others. They activate a piece of equipment which points toward Yumi, and she flees.

Chapter 24

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While Yumi spies on the scholars, Painter investigates the nearby trees, experimenting with the way he becomes weightless in close contact to the trunk. When Yumi flees from the tent, he urges her to climb on to the tree then releases it from the chain keeping it grounded. He holds the tree close so that the scholars cannot identify him and the tree floats up into the air before they can reach it. The tree floats off toward the orchard, climbing higher into the sky. They break through the layer of plants that float freely in the sky, and witness the breathtaking scenery. Nikaro is especially entranced by Yumi as well. Eventually he leans back from the trunk and they descend into the orchard. Yumi is concerned they will be captured, but they gather their things and return to the shrine. When Liyun arrives she asks about the "hooliganism" that occurred in town, but Painter plays innocent.

They proceed to the place of ritual to begin their daily practice. Nikaro and Yumi talk along the way about the apparent hion lines she witnessed in the tent, and Painter thinks this suggests they are on the verge of an industrial revolution. There are fewer onlookers than usual because the scholars' machine has been activated. They arrive to see the machine working, and Painter is determined not to be outmatched. He is able to do some of his best stacking, and eventually a spirit appears from the ground, halfway between Nikaro and the machine--apparently attracted by the efforts of both. The spirit is unfortunately pulled in by the machine, but Painter is encouraged by the small victory.

Chapter 25

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One week later, in Painter's apartment, they watch the final episode of Seasons of Regret, which closes with a kiss--to Yumi's shock--and a sad ending. They discuss the ending as Yumi looks out through the window. When Nikaro suggests returning to practice, Yumi declares that she is tired of practicing and wishes to go hunting the stable nightmare. Painter tries to discourage her, and has been stalling for a while now, but she insists. She takes the painter equipment and sets out into the city, first working her way toward the shroud. They walk until Nikaro spots the signs of a nightmare, and they follow. Painter becomes concerned that the foreman may have left his wedge of the city unpatrolled, assuming that Painter was shirking his duties for some time and his area was inactive. Eventually they catch up to the nightmare. Painter sees it is not the stable nightmare and urges Yumi to move on, but Yumi wants to take action. She tries to confront the nightmare, but freezes up when she sees it. While trying to coach her, the nightmare hears Nikaro. It draws closer to him and attacks, feeding on his essence. Yumi's scream frightens it away, and Painter is okay, but the noise also summons the attention of Akane and Tojin.

Chapter 26

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Akane and Tojin confront Yumi and realize she is trying to do Nikaro's job while he is on leave. Tojin rushes to find some fellow painters to cover for them so that they can talk more with Yumi. They make their way to the Noodle Pupil and are joined by Tojin, Izzy, and Masaka. They comfort Yumi and she slowly makes her way out of her shell with them. Painter sits at a table nearby and speaks with Design, discussing his attraction toward her. The others eventually begin to explain that Painter is a liar, and Nikaro decides to leave.

Chapter 27

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Akane, Tojin, Masaka, and Izzy explain how they all believed Nikaro would be part of the Dreamwatch, and how he had told them they could be his companions. They became friends early in their training to be nightmare painters, and when the time came he led them to believe he had passed the test. Eventually they became suspicious, and uncovered that he had lied to them about being accepted. When he claimed to be training with them, he had been sitting in a library alone, doing nothing. They learned that he was never accepted in the first place, and claim the only reason Nikaro was allowed to graduate was due to the department's need for more painters. Yumi is confused why they would ever think Nikaro could be a member of the elite Dreamwatch, and they explain he is the best artist they have ever known; they are surprised she, his alleged sister, isn't aware of this, and figure it is simply another of his deceptions. They tell Yumi that his claims about the stable nightmare are clearly false, noting how it should have attacked by now if he was telling the truth.

Yumi excuses herself and returns to the apartment, where she opens Painter's private portfolio--and discovers masterpieces inside. Nikaro enters and explains his side of the story: claiming he simply couldn't bring himself to let them down, with some kind of mental illness playing a role. He says he stopped putting effort into his painting after losing his friends--the audience he loved to share his work with. Yumi is torn between frustration and pity, and decides she simply needs a break from everything. She convinces Nikaro to go out with her, and he proposes going to the carnival.

Chapter 28

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Plot Summary

Hoid describes the carnival as Painter and Yumi approach it. At first Yumi is bewildered by the sights and the purpose of it all, and she asks Nikaro to be her guide. The first thing they do is try the food, sampling pop'ems and a rice puff snack. They pass several performers and then look for a game to try. Yumi selects one that involves knocking down a stack of blocks, which her training with stone stacking helps her to easily win. Her prize is a large, stuffed pink dragon eating a bowl of noodles, which Nikaro names Liyun Noodleface. She gives the dragon away and they move on to ride the Jotun Line--an attraction similar to a Ferris wheel. Yumi and Painter wait to reach the top as they discuss life, and how their goal to temporarily ignore their problems has only been partially successful. They share a beautiful view and an intimate moment at the top, nearly touching hands, then descend. After this they leave the carnival and head back in the direction of Painter's apartment. Yumi expresses forgiveness to Nikaro for his lies to her, and she urges him to forgive himself. She pauses, takes out the painter supplies, and paints the scene from the top of the Jotun Line, but with their hands overlapping. Yumi gives it to him as a memento to remember her by, when they return to normal. Nikaro accepts this, distracted for a moment, then looks up to see Yumi stumbling backward from the stable nightmare.

Chapter 29

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Plot Summary

Yumi and Nikaro flee from the nightmare, with Painter leading the way. They turn down an alley and exit to an open area with a playground. At Nikaro's urging Yumi tries to activate the bell, but the nightmare attacks and she drops her bag. Painter attempts to lead the nightmare away, giving Yumi an opportunity to double back and find her bell, but when she escapes Yumi freezes up. Tojin and Akane appear, having followed her earlier, and realize she has seen another nightmare. Yumi is reminded Painter must be in danger, and returns to her bag to find the bell is broken. The nightmare also has circled back, because it can sense Yumi, and it attacks her by surprise. It stabs her spirit with its claws and begins to drain away her Investiture. Yumi gathers her strength and is able to stack a few chunks of broken concrete, which distracts the creature. Tojin and Akane then appear from around the corner. The nightmare moves to attack them and they try to flee. Tojin falls, but before the monster can reach him, Painter arrives. He summons a brush of his own essence and uses the soul of some spilled ink on the ground to paint. At first he tries bamboo, which the nightmare ignores. Nikaro rallies and begins to paint the form of a dog, which causes the nightmare to flee. Painter then sees that Yumi has been wounded in some way, so he goes to her side and embraces her to share his warmth. Yumi is revived, and Tojin and Akane come to help her up.

Chapter 30

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Plot Summary

Back at the Noodle Princess, Yumi drinks broth to warm herself as the other comfort her. Nikaro feels worn out, after being drained by the nightmare and helping heal Yumi. Tojin arrives to report that the foreman believed him about the stable nightmare, and that the Dreamwatch have been summoned. Izzy gibes that Nikaro probably fled to another city after seeing the nightmare, but Yumi defends him. Design approaches and reminds the group that their spaceship is scheduled to land on the "star". She turns on the hion viewer, and they all witness as the explorers land on the planet and make first contact with the Sho Del living there. Yumi and Painter are shocked to discover she is not from that planet.

Part 4

Chapter 31

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Plot Summary

Yumi and Nikaro relax together in the cold spring, wondering where Yumi's world might be, supposing she lives in the distant past from Painter's world, or perhaps on a world in a different star system. They speculate on whether their task is accomplished or whether they must still deal with the machine in some way. Yumi dreads separation from Painter but fears to voice it. They exit, dress, and move on to the shrine, where villagers wait to be painted by Nikaro while Yumi prays. She is still unsettled after her prayers, and her thoughts lead her to wonder if she lives on the same planet as Painter, beyond the shroud. She moves on to meditation, and at the end of their time in the shrine has come up with a new plan to aid Painter's stone stacking. As they walk to the place of ritual they see a farmer with a flyer that isn't working properly. The attendants explain that the creations of the spirits from the machine don't work as well. Yumi lets Painter set the first stone, but then sets the spirit of a second stone herself such that Painter can imitate her. They continue in this way, sometimes with Nikaro setting a stone first and then adjusting as directed by Yumi, and are able to produce the greatest stack that Painter has been able to achieve. They catch the attention of the townspeople, as well as the scholars, who have their detection device directed at Yumi. They attract a spirit, and it begs them to stop the machine before being forcibly sucked away by the device. Yumi notices that the creations of the scholars are smaller, suggesting that the machine keeps a piece of the spirit's soul to itself, and she wonders why.

Chapter 32

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Plot Summary

Nikaro and Yumi meet with Design at the Noodle Pupil and she insists that Nikaro cannot be time traveling into the past. She pulls out a fabrial that can read someone's spiritweb and checks Yumi first. Yumi's Investiture levels are off the charts and making her spiritweb difficult for Design to read. She explains to the pair some things about the nature of Investiture, and suspects the nightmares should be afraid of Yumi. The Cryptic does take note of a wound suggesting Yumi has had memories excised. Next she checks Painter and finds that he has very typical levels of Investiture. Design does point out that both Nikaro and Yumi have not been traveling to other worlds, and mentions that Yumi has surprisingly few connections. She is able to identify that Yumi is Connected to the other yoki-hijo, but can't say where they are. In frustration, Yumi runs from the restaurant until she reaches the shroud. Painter and Yumi sit and chat, processing Yumi's emotions. As she sits, Yumi begins to stack pebbles, and Nikaro notices that the shroud is reacting to this and points it out to her. Design approaches as Yumi continues to push the shroud back further, revealing the form of a fellow yoki-hijo. Design urges skepticism, noting it could be a nightmare. They discuss what to do about the machine, and how to destroy it. Yumi wants to do some planning first, and asks Design if she has a survey of the planet. Design says she does not, but she does know someone who has traveled the planet extensively.

Chapter 33

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Plot Summary

Design leads Yumi and Painter to a back room in the Noodle Pupil, its walls covered in numbers, and then brings Masaka to the room. They explain that Masaka is not human. She explains to Yumi that she loves her life as Masaka and begs Yumi not to reveal her secret. Yumi agrees, and after confirming the gravity of the situation, Masaka agrees to help. She tells them that her hordelings have explored the wastelands out in the shroud and found several, circular impassable areas. Nikaro thinks these must be Yumi's cities and villages, though she is skeptical nobody would have wondered beyond their borders. Masaka sketches a map, with a scale, and Painter begins working to memorize it so that he can reproduce it once back in Yumi's world. Yumi is hungry and so leaves the back room along with Design and Masaka. She approaches her friends and overhears Izzy explaining to Akane that there was a final, surprise episode of Seasons of Regret in which the protagonist returns. Yumi begins to tell them goodbye for the last time, and Tojin makes a disparaging comment about Nikaro. Yumi lectures them on the way they have treated Nikaro and tries to make them see things from his perspective. The group is not entirely convinced, but Yumi's argument seems to make them consider. Painter enters and they decide it is time to go.

Chapter 34

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Plot Summary

In the shrine, Painter receives a map of Torio from Liyun and shares some empathetic words with her, thanking her for her patience. He sketches Masaka's map over it and they confirm that their worlds overlap with one another. They decide it is time to destroy the machine. At Yumi's urging, Painter approaches Liyun and his attendants with an explanation that the spirits have directed her to destroy the machine. They acknowledge the potential conseqsuences, but agree to help. Liyun sends Hwanji to get the bailiff, and they gather several villagers who will help them destroy the machine if the scholars stand in their way. When they reach the scholars' tent, they explain what they are there to do. The lead scholar is unsurprised, and calls for Sunjun, explaining it is time for a confrontation. He asks for Nikaro's theory on what is happening as the other scholars bring out their machine. His idea amuses Gyundok, who says it is wrong but a good guess. Painter notices that everyone has become very still, and as he watches they all begin turning into nightmares. He tries to destroy the machine but is stopped by Gyundok, who is also a nightmare along with the other scholars. Nikaro asks about the others as their surroundings also disintegrate into the shroud, and the scholar explains that they don't understand their true natures. Liyun transforms more fully and Painter realizes that she is the stable nightmare they were hunting for. Lastly, he turns to see Yumi turning into a nightmare as well. Gyundok apologies it took so long for this to all come to a head, explaining that they had troubles with their power source and needed some time to catch some rogue spirits. Painter begs, but the man explains "the machine is lord now". They flip a switch on the machine which severs the Connection between Yumi and Nikaro. Nikaro feels himself being shot like an arrow back to his own home and into his body, which painfully snaps back into his own physical appearance.

Chapter 35

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Plot Summary

Yumi awakens in her wagon, believing once again that the Festival of Reveals is one hundred days away. She sees the daystar once again, considering it to be an omen, is fed by her attendants, and continues on to her ritual bath--though she has a strange, uncomfortable sense in the cold spring that someone else should be there.

Painter had left his apartment and gathered stones, which he now attempts to stack adjacent to the shroud to see if he can make it recede. Though he builds a stack he is proud of, it has no effect on the barrier because he is not Invested like a yoki-hijo. Akane arrives and asks after Yumi. Nikaro doesn't know how to explain, and flees.

After her bath, Yumi is greeted by Liyun at the shrine. Liyun explains that they have passed over Gongsha, though she can't remember why. She also has a task to deal with in the evening--something else she can't remember the specifics of--and excuses herself. After she leaves Yumi realizes she didn't have an opportunity to ask about visiting the festival, but it no longer seems as important as it once had so she puts it out of mind and proceeds to her prayers.

Chapter 36

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Plot Summary

Back in his apartment Nikaro seeks comfort in memories of Yumi and is lost on what to do, seeing the flaws in every plan he concocts. He recalls the way nightmares often return to the sites of former victims, and so he takes his things and sets off to the location where he last encountered Liyun. She appears and he speaks to her, calling out her true identity. He realizes that the scholars are afraid of Yumi and surmises that they have been holding her prisoner. He stacks stones and tries to remind Liyun that she serves Yumi. She is able to remember, and speaks to acknowledge this and to answer some of Nikaro's questions, as well as express a desire to be human again. Liyun explains how Yumi's memory is erased day after day. He appeals to her strong sense of duty and has Liyun promise to deliver Yumi's drawing from the carnival to her, to help her remember. She also warns Nikaro that the machine will send an army to attack Kilahito, just as it sent nightmares to destroy Futinoro when the spirits contacted humans there. She urges him to flee, and then leaves with the picture.

Chapter 37

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Plot Summary

Yumi dreams, hearing the voices of the scholars discussing what to do with her memories. Then she awakens in her wagon, repeating the day once again. Her attendants never arrive however, and eventually Liyun opens the door herself, looking frazzled. She explains there is a sickness in the town and Yumi must spend the day in her wagon in prayer and meditation. Yumi forcefully asks to attend the Festival of Reveals and Liyun approves, to the yoki-hijo's shock. Before leaving, Liyun pauses awkwardly and drops a piece of paper on the ground. She watches Liyun departs and notices how empty the town looks. She picks up the painting and after a moment of consideration her memories come flooding back.

Painter locates the temporary headquarters of the Dreamwatch who have recently relocated to Kilahito. Hikiri answers the door and brings Nikaro inside when he reports that he saw the stable nightmare. Inside, Nikaro meets Tesuaka and some other Dreamwatch members. Tesuaka tells Hikiri to take his statement and send him along. Painter tries to explain that an army of one hundred nightmares will be attacking from the west, but they don't take him seriously. Tesuaka says some false words of encouragement, saying perhaps he will be good enough to be in the Dreamwatch one day. Hikiri guides Nikaro to the door and Hoid interjects some commentary about heroes not living up to your expectations. Painter asks about what Tesuaka said, and Hikri explains that he simply needs to be content with his job because joining the Dreamwatch is all about connections that Nikaro will never have. He recognizes now that he and his friends never even had a chance to be part of the Dreamwatch, but he is unable to fully appreciate this under the weight of the realization that the city will be under attack and he is completely alone.

Chapter 38

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Plot Summary

Yumi goes searching through the town but cannot find a single person. She decides to try damaging the machine, but can find no trace of the scholars or their machine, at first. She recalls hearing the scholars in her dreams and thinks the machine must be nearby if they were considering using it on her. She finds that she can walk through the walls of buildings, confirming that everything is an illusion. Eventually she finds the machine in the bailiff's house, and the four scholars with it. They are caught by surprise as she bursts in and beats the machine with a stone until it fails, making a whining sound with a release of glowing white smoke. She thinks her mission is complete, but they ask what she thinks she is doing and Yumi realizes the true threat is the father machine they have mentioned before. They explain that they activated the father machine at the Festival of Reveals 1,763 years ago, and instead of creating energy from the spirits it consumed the Torish people. The only beings that resisted the machine were the yoki-hijo, and so they have been imprisoned all this time. Yumi has been reliving the same day ever since. She asks for their help to stop it, but they refuse to help. They transform fully into nightmare forms and move toward her.

Chapter 39

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Plot Summary

Hoid explains to his listeners how the machine was activated seventeen centuries prior, with the purpose of using the spirits as a power source, but it initially consumed the souls of the Torish people to get a start on fulfilling its Command. The shroud was the byproduct of this consumption. Eventually it moved on to utilizing the spirits, and produced hion buds near former settlements--locations where hion lines emerged from the ground. Only the refugees living on the outskirts of Torio survived to resettle the region over the centuries that followed.

Painter stands alone at the western edge of Kilahito, waiting for the nightmares. He considers what Yumi would do, and realizes he has another option.

Hoid resumes his explanations to his audience, moving on to the nightmares. He reveals that he has actually seen through the eyes of a third figure during his time on Komashi: Liyun. Like most nightmares, Liyun was manipulated by the machine while the yoki-hijo are awake, but it releases its grip at night--allowing the nightmares to roam free and, like the spirits, search for the thoughts and imaginations of the living. On the opening day of Hoid's story, Yumi's great feat of stone stacking attracted a single spirit away from the father machine. This spirit followed Liyun into Kilahito and witnessed Nikaro save a boy from her, and this is why it chose to connect Yumi to Painter. Liyun continued to visit Kilahito in the weeks that followed, in search of Yumi.

Yumi flees from the nightmare scholars. Considering what Painter would do, she runs for the trees near their tent, climbs on one, and releases it into the air. She escapes just in time.

At the Noodle Pupil, Painter approaches his friends and apologizes to them for what he did years prior. He continues, explaining about the attack that is coming and how he knows, and he asks them for help. Tojin is the first to agree to help. Izzy is surprised, but Tojin reasons with her that it's the right decision. Masaka agrees. Akane points out that their group alone won't be enough, and they brainstorm some other painters they could ask for support. Tojin explains how he thought he saw Nikaro during the stable nightmare attack, and it has inspired him to try harder and to forgive.

Chapter 40

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Plot Summary

Hoid explains that the spirit who Connected Yumi and Nikaro was simply attempting to protect Yumi from the father machine wiping her memories, and did not anticipate the way they would switch with one another. When the machine realized it was having trouble erasing Yumi's memories, it reevaluated and decided to allow Yumi to continue her narrative on to "new" villages. When Yumi didn't move on from Gongsha, it reevaluated again and decided to send the scholars to investigate and fix the problem.

Yumi now flees from the scholars, soaring in her tree. The tree begins to disintegrate slowly, and the scholars follow. She breaks through the barrier, into the shroud proper, and sees the prisons of the other yoki-hijo, as well as Torio City. Yumi realizes she has mental control over the shroud, and so stabilizes the tree she as on and creates a wind to blow her towards Torio City.

Thirty-seven painters have gathered on the west side of town. They wait, chat, and check their supplies. Akana asks Nikaro again what they are doing, and he explains, but a full hour passes and the painters are getting restless. Akane asks with concern after Yumi's safety, and Painter promises she will be staying away from this fight. Nikaro again insists that the stable nightmares will come and Akane asks him to confront the possibility that he has imagined everything. He does, out of respect, and promises that if the nightmares do not come he will get help. Masaka then notices the shroud is rippling, and the army of stable nightmares begins to emerge.

Yumi lands just outside the city and confronts the four scholars. They attack, and she renders their attacks ineffective; then Yumi forces them into their human forms, freeing them slightly from the control of the machine. They are deeply apologetic, expressing their shame and sorry, but explain that the father machine cannot be defeated. They gave it instructions to produce energy and to protect itself, and it has used Investiture to do so. When it consumed the souls of its creators, they became part of the machine in a way, and so joined with the mission to protect it. The machine has also established a shield around itself. With nothing more to gain from the scholars, Yumi changes into her blue dress and steps into the ruins of Torio City.

The painters form a tight circle to defend against the nightmares, with Nikaro running back and forth to shore up weak spots. Unlike typical nightmares, these don't evaporate once painted, and the painters are barely holding together. Hoid explains that they would be overwhelmed if the father machine were not distracted by Yumi, leaving the nightmares more timid than they would otherwise be. One painter, Nanakai, is wounded and Nikaro steps up using bamboo to freeze three nightmares at once.

One structure remains at the center of Torio City--the grand exhibit hall where the father machine was unveiled seventeen hundred years ago. She finds the machine still there, thirty feet tall with hundreds of legs piling stones. It uses Investiture, taking the appearance of smoke, to repair itself. It is surrounded by thousands of spirits, undulating to a rhythm. Yumi encounters the shield and cannot approach any closer.

Back in Kilahito, six painters have now been wounded, and Tojin shouts that they cannot hold. The painters are running out of canvas and the ground is slick with paint. Nikaro urges them to continue because the city depends on them, and the battle cry "we are the Dreamwatch now" catches on. Nikaro then recognizes Liyun among the nightmares and gets an idea.

Yumi is frustrated as she is unable to penetrate the machine's barrier. She feels a light Connection to Nikaro and can sense that he is in danger. Yumi gets an impression that even if they survive the initial attack, the machine will continue sending nightmares until Kilahito is rubble. She exits the exhibit hall and goes out into the courtyard, then begins to stack--letting loose with all of her skill

Despite the concerns of others who see what he is doing, Nikaro paints Liyun in her original, human form. She transforms and, when he finishes and moves on, she does not revert back. He moves on to the mayor, beginning the painting until he identifies the nightmare transforming. As he fills in the details, the man continues to transform--giving Nikaro more to work with. Others see that Nikaro is having success and they do their best to support him as he paints each of the townspeople. He finishes with Hwanji, then looks out into the shroud--sensing Yumi.

Chapter 41

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Plot Summary

Yumi creates hundreds of towers of incredible height and creative design. Her creations pull spirits away from the machine--first in the dozens, then in the hundreds. The machine becomes increasingly reckless trying to keep up. Yumi realizes amidst her success that the end of the machine will also mean the end of the shroud and the souls it contains, including herself. But she does not stop, choosing to serve her people, to the spirits, and to Nikaro. The final spirit is pried away and the machine falls still, then disintegrates.The freed spirits thank Yumi.

In Kilahito, emergency services have arrived and are taking care of the painters and the Torish people, as the latter begin to evaporate. Nikaro fears they are turning back into nightmares, but then sees that they have smiles on their faces as they fade into nothing. The shroud itself begins to unravel and Painter reaches out with his mind to Yumi. Yumi communicates to him that she has destroyed the machine. Nikaro expresses that he will come to her, but Yumi tries to explain that she will unravel soon to.

Yumi apologizes to Nikaro as she begins to fade, along with the other yoki-hijo. She insists that this is how things have to be because her life is not her own, and Painter argues that it doesn't have to be this way. They each share their love for one another as Yumi evaporates into nothing.

Epilogue

Characters
Plot Summary

Hoid muses about the nature of stories, and apologizes to his audience for having to share this sad ending with them. He says that Nikaro refused to accept this ending, and so picked up paint brush and ink, and began painting on the blank wall that had been reserved for his capstone painting. The sun begins to shine through the shroud, causing the people to panic. Ignoring the sun, Nikaro paints the scene of Yumi as they flew on the tree together. He paints calmly as the shroud continues to evaporate, and feels a touch on his arm. Smoke from the shroud clings to him, though nobody notices amid everything else happening. Nikaro finishes his painting and then turns to the vortex of smoke, with a dark shape inside reaching outward him. He drops his brush and takes her hand, and urges her to believe that she deserves to live on for herself. Yumi emerges fully and they cling to one another as the shroud vanishes completely.

Another Epilogue

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Plot Summary

Hoid emerges from his statue form in the Noodle Pupil, welcomed by Design. He casts off the various things that have been hung and attached to him, though keeps the crown he had worn. He explains to Design that his protection protocols had caused him to turn into the statue when they landed on Komashi and the machine tried to draw his Investiture. Design explains that she started a restaurant, though Hoid tells her he was aware. Outside the window Painter and Yumi pass by and kiss. They decide it is time to leave the planet. Design grabs her recipes and explains her plan for how they can steal the Nagadan spaceship and fly it to the Iron Seven Waystation. Together they leave the planet.

Design has willed her restaurant to Nikaro and Yumi, and receives letters from Masaka occasionally, which Hoid references to elaborate on what happened after. The planet survives the catastrophe, as society is able to adapt. The hion lines continue to be powered by the spirits, which now provide energy in response to viewer programs. Plants in the ruins of Torio City are used to create new strains that can survive the new environment. Painter and Yumi rename the restaurant to the Noodle Princess, which continues to be successful, and add an art gallery of paintings and stacked stones. The couple never tells anyone the full story, having convinced their friends that Yumi is a secret girlfriend from another city rather than his sister. The nightmares never return and the Nightmare Division and Dreamwatch are disbanded. Painter escapes public attention as Usasha--the only painter to die in the attack--is given credit for leading the defense. Nobody knows who Yumi is either, simply thinking she is an eccentric with a strange accent and an uncanny ability to stack bowls.

Hoid's story ends with a nod to the priceless kiss shared by Yumi and Nikaro.

Notes