Difference between revisions of "Black Book"

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Latest revision as of 20:49, 11 September 2019

How easy it is, and how hard, to write the story when you already have the transcript... all the creative elements removed. So much that needs to be added. Because it's all just words, before you add in the truth of them... the feeling. The experience.

People like perspective, right? Whose perspective do we use?

Prologue

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.
EAPHEROD
They know we're here. They know what we've done.
KYRULE
That's impossible. We've gone back. It never even happened.
EAPHEROD
It did. Memory clings to the spirit even when you remove all. You'll have to be quick.
KYRULE
What are you saying?
EAPHEROD
(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.
KYRULE
From doing what, then?
EAPHEROD
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.
EAPHEROD
(whispering)
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.
KYRULE
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.
EAPHEROD
(raising the scythe)
Fool.
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.
DARU
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.
ORIN
Stop this, sister, please! You cannot win.
LASHALISS AZALL
Trust us and submit. All true justice is tempered by mercy.
EAPHEROD
Mercy? You are fools all!
Daru bears down right past them, striking hard, and it's all Eapherod can do to block him.
DARU
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.
VITOI
(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...
VESHURA
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.
KYRULE
Why?
EAPHEROD
You saw it too. Don't you know?
KYRULE
I saw... you.
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.
KYRULE
Why, my love?
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.
KYRULE
Why?
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.
KYRULE
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.
DARU
It is time. Let us end this, and pass our judgement.
KYRULE
What judgement shall that be?
DARU
She has gone too far. End her.
KYRULE
(kneeling)
I beg mercy. We have wounded her, taken everything from her already. She is no threat.
DARU
No mercy. This is my judgement. End her.
KYRULE
Please, All-Father. Let me take her sins, give...
DARU
You wish to die too?
Kyrule bows his head, and somehow manages to avoid saying 'yes'.
DARU
(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.
AZORRES
(stepping forward)
Orin. Is this justice?
ORIN
It is the will of our Father, and mine.
AZORRES
But is it justice?
Orin turns, looks at Azorres with nothing short of cold rage.
ORIN
My sister was destroyed. There is no justice.
DARU
Azorres, my dear child. You disagree with our judgement?
AZORRES
I do.
DARU
Anybody else?
Nobody answers.
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.
DARU
(turning away)
Kyrule.
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.
AZORRES
(almost a sob)
No...
DARU
It is done. Deathdealer, hold what you have taken, and guard it as you have this day.
KYRULE
(tonelessly)
Yes, All-Father.
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.
Azorres flees.
Kyrule throws back his head and screams.
Sonmi mirrors the gesture exactly, and screams with him.

Chapter 1: House

INT. House entryway downstairs - morning
It's a house. It's not terrible. It's full of plants. Someone upstairs, MORRIS, is yelling at his computer.
MORRIS
(upstairs)
NO! That is not what I told you to do!
There's some clonking at the door, and then a somewhat bundled-up woman, JENNIFER, manages to get it open and stumbles in with some bags, a gust of wind and dust coming in with her. She drops the bags on the floor, pulls a giant witch hat off her head and deposits it on an entire pile of hats, bags, and luggage, shoves her sunglasses up on her head, kicks off her boots, and hangs her coat on top of another coat on the wall.
She's got on a t-shirt and jeans, and two belts with a small purse and some other random bags and stuff, including a sword, clipped to one. She drops that one on the floor as well.
MORRIS
(upstairs)
AGH! What?! No! Don't fucking do that now! Fuck you, don't... on top of... FUCK YOU!
A woman's voice responds, also upstairs, SHANNON.
SHANNON
(upstairs)
Hey, are you okay? What's wrong?
A cat slinks out of another room and sniffs at the bags, nearly trips Jennifer as she starts fishing through them as well, and then wanders off.
MORRIS
(upstairs)
NO I AM NOT FUCKING OKAY! THIS FUCKING DATABASE JUST FUCKING DELETED ITSELF!


INT. House upstairs - morning
The kitchen is also full of plants, mostly hanging, and also some actually useful-looking herbs and such on the counters/sills. The time on the microwave reads 18:59. The time on the stove reads 11:08. Both are wrong.
Morris is at the kitchen island bar-thing with his laptop. On its screen are some tmuxes and a browser with something like a hundred tabs, the current one open to mariadb documentation (the page on something really basic like JOIN or DROP). It shows the correct time as 11:16.
He's staring at a tmux with an expression of confused rage on his face.
Shannon is standing nearby, holding a very ripe home-grown pineapple, staring at him blankly.
SHANNON
(after a somewhat long pause)
That doesn't sound like something that's supposed to happen?
MORRIS
(loudly)
NO IT ISN'T!
SHANNON
(putting the pineapple down)
Okay. Could you please stop yelling?
MORRIS
NO.
Sorry. What?
Shannon shakes her head and pulls some other random fruit out of the mixing bowl, and then gets out a frying pan and some random ingredients.
Jennifer comes in, drops the bags next to the fridge, and comes over and clonks a large book down on the counter next to Morris' computer, the effect of which is only slightly ruined by her having to shove a potted plant and several piles of random crap out of the way first. It's a thick volume, with ageing pages bound in a heavy black hard cover, buckled shut, almost menacing in its size and weight. Its only label is a silvery symbol of a tree set into the spine.
SHANNON
Good morning, Names. Want some pancakes?
JENNIFER
Eh, sure.
(leaning over right next to Morris and yelling very loudly at his head)
HAVE YOU CONSIDERED USING THE RIGHT COMMANDS?
MORRIS
(leaning right back, putting his face right in front of hers, and yelling just as loudly)
NO. NO I HAVE NOT.
SHANNON
Guys, come on.
JENNIFER
(to Shannon)
Sorry, man.
(to Morris)
Why are you up here?
MORRIS
Egh.
(indicating Shannon)
She bribed me. Said she'd make me breakfast if I came out of the cave for a change.
JENNIFER
But you haven't even gone to bed yet.
MORRIS
What's your point?
JENNIFER
It's lunchtime?
SHANNON
No it isn't!
JENNIFER
It's almost noon!
(indicating the stove and microwave clocks)
Those clocks are just... completely wrong.
SHANNON
Not that wrong. And maybe if someone would stop knocking out the breakers, we wouldn't need to be constantly resetting them anyway.
MORRIS
(to Jennifer)
Is she referring to you or me?
Jennifer shrugs and grabs a pair of safety glasses off of another plant and shoves them on her face as she opens the book.
MORRIS
Ah, is that a new i... thing... tablet? Stone age version?
JENNIFER
Yeah, it's odd...
I feel like I've seen it before.
SHANNON
(sounding genuinely confused)
You mean an iPad?
MORRIS
I would never!
Jennifer flips through some of the pages, skimming them, peering at a few very closely. Most of them are blank or don't really have much on them, though others are quite covered in various texts, symbols, maps. She stops on one page, flips back to the index, and then looks back at the page. It's familiar to her, and reads as follows:
: Backstory. Sidestory. Supposition, the antithesis of practice. Nevermind practice. This isn't practice. This is a treatise by the narrator, an examination of could-have-beens, an aside from the GM. We can talk about anything. Let's talk about anything.
: You, for instance. Who are you?
: What do you dream? How far would you go? Do even you know yourself, or will you be just as surprised as all the others when, after all of this, it turns out it was all for jackfruit? You said it yourself, the only true understanding comes from the exploration and discovery.
: Shall we go, then, you and I?
This isn't the important part.
Morris looks over her shoulder for a bit, and then mutters incoherently as he goes back to cloning a backup database.
The frying pan sizzles as Shannon ladles in some batter.
SHANNON
Oh, I never get the first one right. Who likes 'em eggy?
Jennifer turns the page. This one contains even less.
: He was your favourite, your least understood. His world is yours, and yet he no longer is. Can you take his place? They will know you to be him, so long as you don't give up.
She turns the page again, finding only a name.
: Ense Vardaman.
And then all the world is pulled out from under her.

Chapter 2: Arrival

EXT. Abearanoth underhang - day
The air echoes with the sounds of life - a rumble of chatter, the dull hum of simple machinery, the clang of construction and fabrication - amidst the dripping and roaring of water. It's shaded, here, wet and misty, the air a clammy not-quite cold, with strange multicoloured lights hanging from poles, sticking out of beams, affixed to buildings and the stone walls of the cavern itself. The architecture is a mix of fantastical art-deco and several more mundane pre-industrial 'yo we need a house already' styles built on top of and sometimes into each other.
Alleys and roadways snake through it all, lined with bags of stuff, dumpsters, random plant things. Ducts angle haphazardly into and out of the ground. People pass by in various directions, mostly dressed in a garb not quite east-asian, not quite greco-roman in style, though a few wear very, very different sorts, completely out of place, and yet also... not.
In an alleyway, Jennifer suddenly sits up, looking around. Her glasses are fogged up, so she pushes them up on her head, and they bonk into her sunglasses. Most of the stuff she took off upon coming home is also on the ground nearby.
JENNIFER
Ghah, what?
She puts on her boots, stuffs her stuff into a spare bag, and goes to the mouth of the alley, peering down the road, noting the shaded, glowing recesses of the cavern in one direction, and harsh sunlight glinting off buildings past the overhang in the other.
She glances back into the alley. It's a dead-end alley. It has some junk in it. It looks completely ordinary, or what probably would pass as completely ordinary for the rest of the architecture.
She pulls out her phone. Time says 11:19. No service. 22% battery. A fine mist begins to condense on the surface of the phone, too, so she wipes it off. An error pops up, covering the screen ('google play services has stopped working'), and she dismisses it. The same error pops up again, and when she dismisses it again, again. The third time actually works.
She tries to take a random picture, but then the message pops up again, blocking it.
JENNIFER
Right. Good to see you're AS USELESS AS EVER, PHONE.
She stuffs the phone in her back pocket, pauses to stuff her hat back on her head, and heads for the sunlight. Some folks glance at her in passing, but she ignores them, putting on her sunglasses, as well... and then notices a couple have pointy ears. Elves? Really? Elves?
She maybe stares a little too much at those as they pass.
She stops at the edge of the shade, tentatively reaching out to feel the sunlight. It's very warm, but not with the burning intensity she's used to - unpleasant, but not particularly dangerous - and she seems a bit surprised at this. Everything is dripping with humidity.
JENNIFER
(muttering)
The hell is this?
Jennifer briefly considers bothering some locals before just heading on down the street to try to get her bearings, or something.
In the sunlight, the city proper looks much like the parts in the overhang, but with taller buildings and sun and shadow making it all the more dramatic. The stone of the more well-architected older buildings is various shades of pearlescent white, gleaming in the light, contrasting the dark shadows and random colours of the newer construction.
She winds up at some sort of overlook after a bit. Behind her, the higher levels of the city tower in terraced steps of elaborate skyscape, jungled mountains around, waterfall crashing through the middle, but she's looking out over the lower levels reaching out to the sea below. It's a big sea. It has islands and such. It stretches out to the horizon, glittering, and speckled with boats.
Some suspiciously large hovering creatures cavort over the water in the distance. Some suspiciously large insects, much, much closer, buzz around Jennifer's head, and she swats at them.
JENNIFER
Bloody hell.
She turns her back on the sea and looks back up at the waterfall, and around, noting the other landmarks. Several stand out - a group of three towers, connected by an intricate latticework on a level above; a very large singular building with a dome in the middle on a lower level; a bunch of buildings in darker stone across several levels to the... north, apparently? The city faces the sea to the east, in steps down to the harbour levels. To the west, above, is the great plateau, where the wiggle-edged lake sits hidden behind the horizon, from which the river drains.
She knows this.
She mutters, pulls out her phone. Turns it on, and then turns it off again, and then turns it back on and takes some pictures. She flicks back through the pictures, amidst the errors, looking around again, comparing.
Slowly she puts it away again.
This is it. Abearanoth. Cerris. Her story.
And she's probably not dreaming.