EXT. Garden of Remembering
It's a wide space, with stretching horizons and open skies, and distance, in every direction, a sense of unending distance, even beyond the horizons themselves. It's not so much white as the idea of white, all colours, unseparated, waiting for a seed, a reason to form. Everything here is ideas, dreams about to happen, happening all at once, and not at all.
But it's also a garden. The ideas of trees loom around a notion of a courtyard in shapes and volumes, and beyond them, glittering concepts of buildings, cities, and giant floating babies. A fountain lingers at the courtyard's centre, utterly still, full of sea cucumbers. Flowers drift and change in a not quite breeze, in arrangements as shifting as the flowers themselves. Through everything drifts notes, discordant melodies, fragments of conversation, half-formed thoughts, forgotten dreams, and the bones of memories, huger than anything. Sometimes the dreams and memories touch the landscape, sometimes the trees, sometimes the statuary, sometimes each other, and for the briefest moment, become Real.
Scattered about, loitering on various unreal surfaces, pouncing after melodies and dreams, are sphinxes, no more real than the dreams themselves. Too real, almost, for this place. Half transparent, catlike, winged, changing, masked: tragedian, comedian, fool, doll. When the masks fade out entirely, behind them are no faces, only the blankness of a hungering void. There is something about them, something important. The feeling you get in a dream...
The drifting fragments shift and turn, dreams bubbling outward, memories taking immediate form, songs bursting into focus. The current shifts its flow. Eddies form. Shapes dance, almost.
For a moment holes bubble out of the membrane of the space, small, black, gaping, all around the courtyard, forming, and then unforming almost as quickly. Sphinxes hiss, and shy away.
The moment passes. The holes cease.
A much larger hole forms next to the fountain, and then twists on itself, unforming even as it deposits two figures on the brilliant, crystalline, chromatic, white, not-quite-idea-of grass. One is a woman, an elf in dark dress, black but glittering, shifting in fragments not unlike the Garden itself: EAPHEROD. The other is a man, an elf of another sort, in a leather greatcoat and wearing jeans and a t-shirt that says 'I'M WITH STUPID' with an arrow to the side: KYRULE. Both are wearing masks. Both are gods.
Everything has quit moving around them, frozen, thin, dark. Time has stepped out for the moment.
They know we're here. They know what we've done.
That's impossible. We've gone back. It never even happened.
It did. Memory clings to the spirit even when you remove all. You'll have to be quick.
What are you saying?
(she smiles sadly)
They sense it, the spirit of my duplicity, how I betrayed them all. So use that. Prove your innocence and stop me.
From doing what, then?
I don't know. We'll find out? We can't have both of us fall...
Eapherod takes off her mask and presses it to Kyrule's face instead, pushing aside his mask and replacing it, leaning forward almost as if about to kiss him as she does.
Make it good, my love.
Eapherod pulls back, drawing out shapes of magic in front her, her fingers tracing glowing lines and intricate forms in the air, speaking softly the words of creation.
Kyrule backs away as well. He understands. He readies his stance...
Time resumes, almost with a crack, as the not-quite world comes crashing back. Dreams and memories drift around them. The sphinxes rouse, watching curiously, peering over, stirring on their perches.
Eapherod presses her hand against one of the glowing shapes in front of her, pressing her will upon it, as the shape builds upon itself and grows... pieces drift away...
Kyrule doesn't draw his sword, it simply appears in his hand... but then he hesitates before he strikes.
Eapherod. Don't do this, I beg of you.
Eapherod just smiles, flicks at him with a spare hand. He's pushed back, and then he's right there next to her anyway, striking suddenly, immediately, full of force and power. But Eapherod is ready, her black scythe in her hands as well as she blocks him, pushing him aside once more, still focusing on the shapes sketched out in the air before her. They flicker, waver. She whispers words to maintain the spell, but Kyrule attacks again, disrupting it entirely, and the shapes vanish as the power is released.
Her attention no longer divided, Eapherod now focuses entirely on Kyrule, attacking, deflecting, swinging, slicing. She doesn't bother with magic. The blade of her black scythe cuts through his spells immediately. The force of her onslaught pushes him back relentlessly. It's all he can do to keep her from even hitting him directly, to keep that black blade from reaping him like the last piece of the harvest...
Eapherod hits hard, twice, yanking his sword out of his hands and knocking him down.
(raising the scythe)
A blast of sheer power knocks her down before she can finish, sending ripples through the entire realm. Another god, DARU, is there, now, standing over them.
I am not blind, Eapherod.
Around them, the other gods are appearing, in their many forms and unreal shapes, all embodying their various functions and values to varying degrees and literalness. Most attack immediately, getting in front of and protecting Kyrule, focusing their terrible wills on Eapherod. DIS, GHAURAN, ZEAHNE, ROSHAR, AUGH, AKKAI, LASHALISS AZALL, LIRIA, SONMI, ORIN, NAUSICA, DARU. Gods of order and chaos, wisdom and knowledge, war and fury, suffering and betrayal, of all of the elements of the seasons and growth, come to take down one of their own: the god of dreams and death who had betrayed them all.
They don't know how she betrayed them. Only that she had. Only that she was still doing it.
Eapherod reacts immediately, shifting back, and attacking the entire lot of them right back, hurling the full power of her unreal realm in their faces. Dreams shriek, memories unfurl and become real, sphinxes hiss and growl.
Kyrule, too, recovers his sword and his focus and rejoins the attack - no longer alone, he is spared the brunt of Eapherod's wrath, and can now actually hit her.
Three gods, though, do not attack, simply observing: VESHURA, AZORRES, VITOI. Together, they look stranger than strange: two gods of failure, dead ends, eternal suffering, the hunger for power, and impossible loss, and between them the very embodiment of goodness and life. They understand, perhaps, what's really happening. Or they're not so sure. Or they just don't care. They don't comment.
The attacking gods push Eapherod back, breaking through her defenses.
Orin stops, relenting, to try to reason with her. Lashaliss Azall, Zeahne, and Augh also pause, following his lead, standing in the way of the others.
Stop this, sister, please! You cannot win.
Trust us and submit. All true justice is tempered by mercy.
Mercy? You are fools all!
Daru bears down right past them, striking hard, and it's all Eapherod can do to block him.
You're right. There can be no mercy for betrayal.
He strikes again, but this time all he hits is an image, which shatters. Dozens of other images of Eapherod are scattered about, all around them, attacking in figments and fragments. The gods fight them all, and the other images shatter too, one by one.
(nudging Azorres and pointing)
Look, look. A dead end.
Azorres turns away, and Veshura takes him into her arms, embracing him gently, sadly. But she turns him back toward the others...
You must look, little brother. Feel her pain. Take it into yourself, and understand...
The battle continues. It is violent and flashy. The attackers don't hold back, though a few others hang back as support. Akkai is destroyed, and then Lashaliss Azall, and especially for the latter, Eapherod is heartbroken, but nor can she stop. She is backed into the corner, a dead end (Vitoi points again, looking terribly pleased with himself), no way out, and so she fights with everything she has, even as the other gods strip it all away from her, piece by piece by piece, the garden becoming progressively more unmade around them as well.
Eapherod flees, slipping through the spaces between the planes, but the other gods pursue her into the black, missing nothing.
The three observers follow, too, on scuttling tentacles.
In desperation Eapherod brings down the entire idea of herself upon the other gods, shattering her own remaining vestiges of power. Nausica is blown away, broken, and Kyrule and Augh are also wounded. Azorres steps forward to shield Veshura and Vitoi, and is hit as well.
But the rest do not stop, tearing at Eapherod, beating her down.
And then there's nothing left, and Eapherod finally falls, defeated, before them, stripped of all.
Infinite blackness surrounds them, but in this space, all they need is foreground, and Eapherod is the centrefold.
Kyrule picks up the scythe, bleeding starstuff, moving as much by idea as actual motion. He looks at it, looks at her.
You saw it too. Don't you know?
They're good actors. Very good. They're also... not acting. He doesn't know. He didn't see. That's sort of the point.
Except there's also the slightest instant, where he sees something else. The truth in his words. Just what it was that he did see...
And then it's gone.
And he still has a part to play. He knows this. He looks to the others, all around, the gods of this yet unnamed realm...
The other gods draw away, forming a circle around the two of them. This is Kyrule's right, his burden, his responsibility. His trust betrayed most of all, his insight that had seen it through to try to stop her even when he would have known he could not succeed. He knows that this is what they believe, and he knows that this is how it must be.
He is judgement, finality, and now, holding Eapherod's own weapon, he is death itself.
And there is nothing in all the worlds he wants less.
He doesn't hesitate. He simply stalls. Binds Eapherod in will and power, speaks words of making and unmaking into the black around her, around them all, and they crash back into the garden in a horror of light and sound.
Chains bind her to the shifting ground, more real than she is, wounding the very reality of this place by their presence.
Eapherod doesn't answer. She doesn't even look at him. Looks, instead, to the ground. Looks, for a moment, to Vitoi.
Vitoi wiggles a tentacle, and then just sort of shrugs it.
Veshura gives him a weird look.
Kyrule holds out a hand, drawing forth from Eapherod layers of memory and dreams that drift and dissipate into the space around.
She gasps. Shudders. Doesn't answer.
A flick of his hand. More layers. More memories. More substance, simply gone. He's hurting her, and he knows it, but she hardly even responds to the pain, let alone the questions.
What were you trying to do?
What did you hope to achieve?
And so it continues. The questions, the removal of her very being. Slowly she fades, gets smaller, as the other gods look on. Still it continues, and still she says nothing.
And then all that's left is the naked dark shape of her, faceless, colourless, empty.
Kyrule just stares at her, expressionless. He's buried his anger, his revulsion and disgust. He's buried his love, his compassion and regard, all feeling, because otherwise it isn't her he'd attack, but all the others around them, watching, forcing this terrible charade.
He buries his confusion, too. Why is she allowing this? He's seen her true power. He's seen how the mask of the god was a limit to it, not the source, knows that by removing that, she is made far, far more dangerous. And the other gods have no idea. No idea at all.
He looks around, watches them as they watch back. Watches as they search the dreams, dismantle the very realm around them, shoo the sphinxes out beyond its borders, looking for any clues, any hints as to her actual intent.
And he takes her followers, for he is now death. Searches their souls, for he is now judgement... but they, too, know nothing.
Eapherod says nothing, only sits and waits, powerless, unmoving, a silent, empty form.
It is time. Let us end this, and pass our judgement.
What judgement shall that be?
She has gone too far. End her.
I beg mercy. We have wounded her, taken everything from her already. She is no threat.
No mercy. This is my judgement. End her.
Please, All-Father. Let me take her sins, give...
Kyrule bows his head, and somehow manages to avoid saying 'yes'.
(to the assembled other gods)
Does anyone else wish to argue? Or shall this be our judgement for one who has betrayed us all?
They generally Aye.
Azorres shakes his head, looking at the rest of them a bit incredulously.
Veshura and Vitoi exchange rather more disdainful looks, and Vitoi flat-out rolls his eyes. Quite a few eyes. All over the place.
Orin. Is this justice?
It is the will of our Father, and mine.
But is it justice?
Orin turns, looks at Azorres with nothing short of cold rage.
My sister was destroyed. There is no justice.
Azorres, my dear child. You disagree with our judgement?
Sonmi, who even in her great cruelty, had hung back only as support through all of this, turns her empty face toward him, looks between the two of them. But she doesn't remove her mask. She doesn't speak.
Vitoi disappears in a squelch of tentacles.
And Kyrule obeys. He raises his weapon (is it his sword? Eapherod's scythe? Both, now?), his face wet with tears.
Eapherod just smiles up at him.
The others look on in utter silence. Deafening.
He slays her. She falls, one last time, to the floor, an empty form, unanswering, unseeing.
Sonmi lets out a laugh, a single, mad cackle, almost unreal even in this unreal place.
Azorres falls to his knees, and Veshura catches him, holding him close.
(almost a sob)
It is done. Deathdealer, hold what you have taken, and guard it as you have this day.
Kyrule doesn't even look at Daru.
Daru nods, and then he's just gone.
The other gods depart as well, returning to their varied reams, picking up their own scattered pieces.
Sonmi stays. Watches. She always watches.
Azorres just weeps.
Veshura is expressionless as she hugs her little brother, the god of life, who has never seen such suffering. But she, too, is angry.
And then the others are gone. Only Kyrule remains, shaking, as he kneels over the ruined shape of his beloved, and Sonmi, pitiless as the sun, and nearby, Veshura and Azorres, hesitant, uncertain...
Veshura pushes Azorres toward Kyrule, and vanishes as well.
Azorres, finally, goes to him. Touches his shoulder, tries to...
Kyrule looks at Azorres, and in in that look says far more than he should, for he is too hurt himself to prevent it, and suddenly Azorres, too, understands.
Kyrule throws back his head and screams.
Sonmi mirrors the gesture exactly, and screams with him.