This/Survivors song

From Zaori
< This(Redirected from This/Survivor's song)


Lace mask.svg
Survivor's Song: Introduction

(heaps: heapheap2heap3)
Part 0Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7 • ...

MIDNIGHT... BUT NOT
After. The Void. The Nothing. The universe of Arling Tor has been destroyed. Only sphinxes remain, 3.8 billion winged cat creatures, hungry, immortal, lost. They barely move, lingering, hovering, balling together, forming a nearly solid moon-sized sphere of roiling cat matter. They do not hurtle.
Gaze, sweetling, upon the sheer impossibility.
Instantiate. The centre of the sphere. A pocket, not of air, but of space. In it are two humans, or at least entities who had once been human. Bertram is in grey, dark and concealing, unchanged from his ancient role of Voice. Coraline is in blue, light and summery. They are the same. They are nothing alike. Together, they form something else entirely, but not. She is no longer the Hand.
Cat eyes stare at them from all sides. Cat noses crinkle. Cat butts flash.
They speak over the purring, too loud to hear, but to their ears, meaningless. "Good job," Bertram says.
A sphinx drops onto Coraline's head, seemingly unplanned, but impeccable, draping itself over her face like a deep cowl. Its eyes supersede her own. Together, they look like Batman, and together they glare at him unimpressedly.
"Really, I'm impressed," Bertram goes on. "I did not expect that when we destroyed the entire universe, this would happen."

Part 0: Present introductions

In the year 2028, by the Cerrisian calendar, the crown of Soravia fell, sending the kingdom into chaos and turmoil. Years pass. The ruling Houses struggle for power and influence, making alliances and sending their armies to march and engage in terrible battles. The devastation only spreads, with no end in sight.

But Soravia is large, and many areas remain almost unaffected.

But Soravia is small, and there is no escape within its shores.

Notes:

  1. Coraline is a librarian.
  2. The story is always told from perspective. Translations are built in, even gestures.
  3. A 'universe' is an artificial construct.
  4. Notes may provide context, but not meaning.
  5. Coraline Henderson is dead.
  6. Sisu.

Narrow Escape

EXT. Country road; Soravian wilderness - afternoon
A small Finnish woman with light brown hair, Coraline, is fleeing unseen hunters. She's in the autumn woods, leaves blowing down around her, sprites dancing in their trails. There's a road, though she cannot quite seem to decide whether to avoid it or stick to it. Behind her, the sound of horses and dogs and shouting men gains imminence. Slung across her back is an ornate golden staff with a large, stylised phoenix built into its end, with wings outstretched.
There is another chatter of voices, too, somewhere else, getting louder, but these are unfocused, uninterested, all around.
Everything has failed her. She is desperate, and has little hope, but still she runs, finally making up her mind to stick to the road, sprinting down its dirt pack with everything she has left, breathing hard, in and out, in and out. Every stride jolts through her bones.
She can feel her strength failing, but she tells herself, at each of the road markers, get to the next, get to the next, get to the next.
She doesn't stop.
Even as she unwillingly slows, and the world darkens, she does not stop.
Even as the dogs make the road, even as the horses clatter into hearing, even as the shouts become clear, she does not stop.


EXT. Soravian town - evening
It is earlier, a few days, still autumn. The town is full of soldiers, hanging around the bars, loitering on the streets, tenting on the outskirts. It is not quite an occupation, but almost.
Coraline hurries through, avoiding them but not. She needs a place to stay, food to eat.
She heads into an inn.


INT. Some inn - evening
It's crowded inside, more so than out, and smokey, and noisy, full of ash demons hovering about the ceiling supports.
Coraline heads over to the bar and finds the INNKEEPER.
CORALINE
Hey.
INNKEEPER
Get you something?
CORALINE
Meal and some vodka for the road... and I don't suppose there's any chance of a place to stay?
The innkeeper looks at her, surprised.
INNKEEPER
We're booked, obviously, but... you're travelling alone?
CORALINE
Yeah...
INNKEEPER
Hold on.
(he yells over his shoulder, toward the kitchen)
Gemma!
(he heads back, continuing)
Gemma, got a question...
He shuffles into the back room, leaving Coraline at the bar. Other bartenders bustle around in his stead.
Coraline looks around.
It's mostly soldiers in here, too. Their insignias are one of the noble houses. One of them squeezes past Coraline to talk to another guy at the bar, and she steps aside.
SOLDIER ANDRE
Hey, check this out.
Andre pulls out a small soulstone and sets it on the bar. It's perfectly black.
The other guy, ROB, reaches out to pick it up, but then recoils from the touch.
SOLDIER ROB
Agh, what is that?
SOLDIER ANDRE
Black soulstone. Was talking to the Deathdealer, and he gave it to me. You can use them to detect Carriers even before they turn...
Coraline is holding the soulstone in her hand, staring at it in utter fascination. Her eyes have gone completely black. The voices around her have risen to a roar in her head, drowning everything else out in black, even as the stone forms an impossible brightness in her mind. It's perfect. Safe. Necessary. Needed.
The voices rise to a scream.
The floor drops away beneath her, swirling in green.
A moment later, everything is normal again. Coraline is still holding the stone, her knuckles white. The inn's loudness is nothing more than the chatter of dozens of men all crammed inside one common space. Rob and Andre are staring at her.
Coraline forces herself to drop the stone and flees in utter terror, pushing into the crowd, darting through the tables, out onto the open street. Nobody really tries to stop her, not really knowing what's going on.
The stone bounces off the floor, once, and then stops, sitting still on the ground, gleaming.
SOLDIER ROB
What, does that mean...
Andre leans down and picks up the soulstone.
SOLDIER ANDRE
She was a Carrier. The Death of Souls.
The two soldiers exchange glances and hurry out after her.
The innkeeper comes over a moment later.
INNKEEPER
Yeah, my wife thinks we can...
(he realises Coraline's not there anymore)
Where'd she go?


EXT. Soravian town - night
Coraline walks quickly, trying not to draw attention, but still hurrying as much as she can as she squiggles down the cluttered streets, holding her staff low, looking around for anything to help, any way out.
She spots some horses, and manages to get over to them without anyone really noticing, and soon she's properly off, keeping the horse at a trot, whispering to it to be calm.


EXT. Clearing - morning
A few days have passed. Coraline is slowing now, letting the horse longer to rest, walking more along with it. She lets it graze now, as she lies down in the grass, staring up into the red-orange trees and bright blue sky above. There has been no sign of pursuit.
Clouds drift across the blue.
The wind shifts. The horse smells something, its nostrils twitching, ears following. Faint sounds drift in from the way they came. Clatter. Barking.
Dogs.
Coraline jumps up quickly, readjusts the tack, and mounts, hurrying the horse back into a trot.
She hurries now, pushing the horse harder than before, forcing herself to slow only from time to time, dismounting and walking quickly beside it. They pass through the woods covering good ground, vaguely downhill.
The horse slows further, stiffening, no longer getting up to speed, as the day goes on, and into the night, and morning.
The first time it trips, she heals it, placing a hand to the hurt leg and letting it mend, even as the voices rise around her.
The second time, she abandons it, continuing only on foot.


EXT. Country road - afternoon
Coraline is about to fall. She has been running too long. The rhythm in her stride is breaking down, her arms and legs no longer rising as they should. She is like the horse, but worse. She has less to trip over, though the road only barely stays beneath her feet as the trees around bounce crazily in her periphery.
The pursuers are all but drowned out by the voices.
It was a good go. A solid fight. She knows this. She accepts it.
She slows, and stops. Exhaustedly, she turns back the way she came, pulling her staff off over her head, planting her feet, fighting her trembling arms. She points it vaguely, levelling it back down the road, and waits.
Someone nudges her elbow, lightly, insistently. A young boy, NOLAN (8), is next to her.
Nolan takes her arm and pulls at her, unrelentingly, toward the side of the road, before wordlessly shoving her off down a side path.
Then he turns back toward the road, just as the pursuers round the bend, and steps toward them. They slow as they approach.
The dogs avoid Nolan entirely, shying away, stopping. They do not seem to like him at all.
The DEATHDEALER leading the group addresses Nolan.
DEATHDEALER
Where is she?
NOLAN
Who?
DEATHDEALER
The woman.
Nolan stares at the Deathdealer blankly.
DEATHDEALER
Have you seen her?
NOLAN
No.
DEATHDEALER
Nobody has come this way?
NOLAN
You should have sheep. Show me to your sheep.
The Deathdealer reins his horse away, looking down the road.
SOLDIER
What?
NOLAN
Those are sheep dogs.
SOLDIER
Dammit, kid, this is serious!
They hurry on around Nolan, continuing on.
As the clatter and barking dies down again, Nolan turns back down the path to the temple.


INT. Molstead temple - evening
Coraline opens the door slowly, peering inside, then stumbling in as the heavy door closes behind her.
The temple is still, lit dimly with late sunlight trickling in through some of the high windows and candles at the shrines to the many gods around the walls. At the far end, facing the door and the other shrines, is a single large STATUE OF AZORRES, who looks nothing like Ganesha, looking down on the space.
Some offerings are laid out at its base.
CORALINE
(quietly)
Hello?
STATUE OF AZORRES
Welcome, wayfarer, to this house of the gods. You have need of sanctuary, I suspect.
CORALINE
Yes, gods... yes. Are you Ganesha?
STATUE OF AZORRES
You will be safe here. My priests will provide a place to rest.
CORALINE
But the soldiers... they won't give up. They know what I am.
STATUE OF AZORRES
They will not take you from this house.
Two priests, DAVIS and CORMITH, come over and help Coraline toward one of the back doors.
CORMITH
Here, come with us.
DAVIS
We'll keep you hidden until they leave. It'll be fine. I'm Davis, and this is Cormith.
CORALINE
Lyra. Lyra Zidane.
DAVIS
All right, Lyra. You're among friends now.


INT. Molstead temple - night
The main room is empty now, aside from Nolan, who is lingering by one of the shrines, looking strangely at home.
The Deathdealer and some of the soldiers enter the temple. They pass Nolan by, not paying him heed.
DEATHDEALER
(approaching the statue purposefully)
Where is she, statue?
STATUE OF AZORRES
Who, dear Deathdealer?
DEATHDEALER
You know exactly who I mean. We have covered the village. This is the only place she could be. Where is she hiding?
STATUE OF AZORRES
And what do you intend to do should you find her?
DEATHDEALER
You know that too.
STATUE OF AZORRES
And you should know that no aspect of Azorres would ever aid you toward that end.
DEATHDEALER
She is a Carrier of the Death of Souls! She may look like a person now, but she is cursed, and you know what will happen if she goes free and finishes her transformation. That woman will break down into a mindless monster, devouring and destroying all souls in her path, and the curse will only spread.
Surely you must see reason. She must be destroyed, now, before it is too late.
STATUE OF AZORRES
She is under my protection.
DEATHDEALER
(starting toward the back door)
I will find her. I will dismantle you piece by piece if I must.
The statue's voice changes, becoming larger, stranger.
STATUE OF AZORRES
(quietly)
You would threaten a god in his own temple?
NOLAN
I think you should leave now.
The Deathdealer turns to regard Nolan.
NOLAN
(stepping out of the shadows)
Unless you wish to lose both life and soul in one slow, agonising process.
DEATHDEALER
Really?
NOLAN
Do you intend to try me, little man?
The Deathdealer (who is decidedly not little) and soldiers stare at Nolan.
Nolan stares impassively back, not blinking.
DEATHDEALER
You will be witnessed.
NOLAN
Okay.
The Deathdealer nods at the soldiers, and they all leave.
Nolan tilts his head slightly.
The Deathdealer draws his sword. On its blade, by the hilt, is a dark emblem of a skull and mask.
Nolan doesn't move.
STATUE OF AZORRES
Theramon sa Tgomi, stand down. If you will not listen to me, then listen to Kyrule, your own god, who has given me your name as proof. Stand down, and let this matter go. This Carrier you seek does not concern you.
The Deathdealer stops and relaxes, turning to regard the statue in surprise.
DEATHDEALER
I... understand. I will obey.
STATUE OF AZORRES
Tell your men she is dead, the matter handled before you even came. This is over.
The Deathdealer bows shakily and then very hastily leaves.
After, Nolan strolls over to the statue looking almost curious.
NOLAN
Interesting.
STATUE OF AZORRES
Very.

A day in the life

INT. Molstead Inn - morning
Coraline Dreams.
In the dream, you are running, fleeing. The sky hangs grey and low. The ground is dull and rocky, simply there. The wind is furtive and blustery, coming in wet bursts, whistling in the trees' leaves. It's going to rain.
A noise trickles out of the wet, a hint of warmth drifting around you. Trolls. They are hunting you. They have always been hunting you, and you don't remember any point in which they haven't been hunting you, and now they are getting closer. Dull leaves shift underfoot, muffling you footfalls, but it doesn't matter.
You trip. You fall. You are down, underground. A passage, a tall shaft above, open to the sky, shows little light from so far. The first raindrops fall wet and heavy, but only from time to time, only on one side, thrown by the wind above.
Down here, though, the walls are already wet. Seeping moisture hints at life within the ground, of strangeness, of alien forces silently at work, always changing. You cannot linger. You have to run. So you do, and the walls run with you. You run, and the walls change, widening the corridor, opening out into a grand cavern. Further on, jagged rock gives way to strange formations, pillars and columns, almost too precise, but right here, in front of you, is a car, some ancient Soviet model, poking its hood from the wall. It grins at you, all bumper and headlights, and says, "Whaddya know about that?"
"I'm sorry," you tell the car, "But I can't stop. I need to keep moving. The moment I stop, everything goes horribly wrong and the trolls find me, so I need to keep moving, okay?"
"I won't ask him," the car replies, withdrawing back into the wall.
That's good enough. But then you realise you're stopped.
The dream falls away.


The inn is a rustic preindustrial affair, wood and stone, but with glass panes and reasonably straight edges to its architecture. Coraline is sprawled on her bed in a back room. Her hair is a silvery white-blonde now, and considerably longer. A fluffy tortoiseshell CAT is on her face.
A bell is mounted on the wall nearby, attached to a contrapture leading back into the main room. A bottle of brandy is on her bedside table. Her phoenix staff is leaning against the wall, wings now folded. Books are piled up on shelves.
The voices are a disorganised chatter, roaring in the background.
Coraline shoves the cat off her head and then sits up, eyeing the cat confusedly.
The cat slides onto another pillow. There are a lot of pillows.
CORALINE
Mwaaagh?
The cat purrs.
CORALINE
Perkele. You're not one of mine. Who the crap are you, cat, and what are you doing in my bed?
The cat doesn't respond.
Coraline gets up and grabs the brandy, drinking some straight out of the bottle, and the voices die down to a murmur. Then she pulls on some proper clothes and heads into the kitchen.
The kitchen is empty, the stove cold. A few ash demons are floating over the wood, like little puffs of ash.
Coraline shoos the ash demons aside and grabs a chunk of bread.
CORALINE
Jess? Hello? Anyone here?
Another cat, THIMBLE, is sprawled at the base of the step into the tavern proper looking very angry, and Coraline steps over him without even paying attention.
The tavern proper is almost completely empty, the floor swept, the tables stacked (aside from one missing a leg and nailed to the ceiling as a rather peculiar hazard). The shutters are open, sunlight streaming in.
An ELVEN TOURIST is seated primly at the bar, patiently waiting.
Coraline hurries over to the elf and give him an uncertain look.
The elf eyes her curiously.
CORALINE
Uh, how long have you been waiting?
ELVEN TOURIST
Oh, not long, an hour or two.
CORALINE
Riiight. Sorry. Day gal should have been here, but apparently isn't...
Coraline heads back into the store room, and is back a moment later with a small cloth package in hand. She cuts off the ribbon and passes it to the elf.
ELVEN TOURIST
(opening the package)
Your day gal, does this happen often?
CORALINE
Not at all. But if it does, and there's noone here, just ring the bell to get me, will you? That's what it's for.
The elf pulls out a weird piece of bread, sniffs it deeply, and smiles serenely, closing his eyes.
CORALINE
I'ma go see if I can find her. Need anything else before I go?
The elf starts nibbling at the bread and shakes his head very slightly.
CORALINE
Right.
The tortoiseshell pads over as Coraline moves to head out, and she picks up the cat and hefts her at the elf.
CORALINE
Is this your cat?
The elf turns to look, and then shakes his head again, again very slightly.


EXT. Molstead - morning
It's a bright summer morning. The sky is mostly clear. Loud birds are everywhere, on the buildings, in the trees, being loud. Some townsfolk are out and about, doing townsfolk things.
Coraline holds up the cat like a sack of potatoes.
CORALINE
(to the cat)
Any of this yours? Hmm?
The cat hangs limply in her hands. This is decidedly un-catlike, and yet at the same time, incredibly catlike.
CORALINE
(irritably)
Great. Do you see Jess anywhere? She should be here by now.
CAT
Who?
Coraline lowers the cat and eyes her suspiciously, but then decides not to press the matter.


EXT. Molstead market square - slightly later morning
The market is a messy combination of open square with stalls and buildings around with shops, with folks pitching and buying and just passing through in a horrible mish-mash. The folks are mostly human, but a few elves and stuff are mixed in.
Coraline is still holding the cat, and now has a small HAMSTERY GUY following her very, very closely repeatedly asking her what day it is. She attempts to ignore him.
HAMSTERY GUY
What day is it?
The hamstery guy circles around to follow her from the other side, except now he's actually slightly in front of her.
Coraline attempts to refrain from punching him in the face with a cat.
HAMSTERY GUY
What day is it?
A blacksmith, BARNEY, spots Coraline from near the smithy and scoots over, holding a scabbarded sword, just as Coraline is about to shove the cat claws-first into the hamstery guy's face.
BARNEY
Lyra! I've got this sword. You know I've got this sword. It's got your name written all over it, and for the absolute steal of a price of five silver it's all yours, all yours!
He holds the sword up in her face.
CORALINE
(pushing the sword away with the cat)
Now, look, I really don't...
She's interrupted by the hamstery guy pushing Barney aside and getting in her face.
HAMSTERY GUY
What day is it?
CAT
(hissing)
The day you die.
The cat slides out of Coraline's hands and settles around her shoulders, instead.
Barney pulls the hamstery guy aside again in order to reclaim his rightful place in Coraline's face. The hamstery guy attempts to retaliate, and Barney elbows him in the throat.
Foiled, the hamstery guy sidles off to bother someone else.
BARNEY
Five silver. Once in a lifetime deal. Just five, and it's all yours!
Coraline glares at him with the full force of Finnish Death.
Barney smiles at her disarmingly.
CORALINE
If I wanted to buy a sword, I would have commissioned one and you know it.
Barney gives her his best crestfallen look. Coraline continues to glare at him.
The cat watches curiously from Coraline's shoulders.
BARNEY
(breaking into a wide smile)
Fine, take it as a gift, then. Made for you, perfectly balanced, utter steal!
Barney bustles around her and fastens the sword to her belt, then hops back and nods.
Coraline continues to glare at where he was for a moment, and then just looks confused.
CORALINE
What?
BARNEY
Aye, yes, that's the look. Utterly dashing, the lady wizard.
Before Coraline can respond, Barney backs away entirely with a weird swagger, not unlike that of a used car salesman, still nodding, and retreats back into a bunch of passersby.
CORALINE
What... just happened?
Her hand falls to the sword, which has somehow been added very neatly with another belt opposite her bag.
CAT
You got yourself a sword.
CORALINE
Thank you, Captain Obvious. You're real helpful, aren't you?
CAT
Meh.
Coraline heads over to some various folk to ask around about Jess, though nothing really comes of it. She buys some lunch while she's at it.
After, she heads off down the road.


EXT. Molstead road - late morning
CORALINE
All right, cat, what's your deal, anwyay?
CAT
Obviously I'm a cat.
CORALINE
One that speaks. And has a sense of sarcasm.
The cat doesn't respond.
CORALINE
Why show up out of the blue? You even planning to stick around? Or are you some kind of alien or something trying to suck out my brain juices?
CAT
I'm a witch's cat. I needed a witch, and you seemed witchy.
CORALINE
What, did something happen to your old witch?
The cat purrs.
CORALINE
You got a name, then?
The cat purrs some more.
CORALINE
Cat, I got five cats already and I call them all 'cat', so please, something a bit more specific would be nice.
The cat stretches out a leg and sticks a claw up Coraline's nose.
CAT
Maybe.
CORALINE
(removing the cat paw from her face)
Maybe?
CAT
I'm Agata.
CORALINE
Agata. Okay. Good. Do I look like a witch to you?
CAT
(purring)
They all think you're a wizard. It's the same thing, really.
CORALINE
(she sighs)
They also think I'm from Ord.


EXT. Eslinger farm - noonish
Coraline comes up the road to find one of Jess's sisters, TEMMIE, mending the fence. Temmie stops and waves upon seeing Coraline.
The voices are getting louder again now, but Coraline just ignores them.
The cat, AGATA, trots over and rubs against Temmie's legs.
TEMMIE
What brings you these ways?
CORALINE
Hey Temmie. Was Jess coming to work today?
TEMMIE
Oh, aye. She left same as usual, hours back. Why?
(confused)
Did she not... Lyra?
CORALINE
She was here and then she left?
TEMMIE
Er, yes.
CORALINE
Right. So clearly something happened between here and there and there and... I need a new brain.
Coraline turns and leaves without saying anything more, and Agata pounces after her.
TEMMIE
Hey, hey, wait!


INT. Molstead Temple - noonish
Coraline pulls the doors open rather forcefully, causing them to swing open to either side of her while she stands there dramatically. There is no sign of Jess.
Agata ambles inside and sits down in front of the main large statue of Azorres, peering up at it.
Coraline hops inside right as the doors are swinging closed again and nearly gets hit in the foot by one of them, and scoots up behind the cat.
Agata swishes her tail.
CORALINE
(getting out a bottle of vodka)
Hey statue.
STATUE OF AZORRES
Welcome back, wayfarer. How are you holding up?
CORALINE
Miserably. Like a miser. I'm miser-able.
STATUE OF AZORRES
It is a difficult burden you carry.
CORALINE
What else am I going to do with it, drop it?
(she takes a drink)
So I'm looking for Jess. She went missing somewhere between her parents' farm and actually showing up to work. Where would I be looking if I were looking where I ought to be looking?
STATUE OF AZORRES
You have your answer there. Follow the path between farm and town, and perhaps the clues will reveal themselves.
Coraline nods, but doesn't go, holding the bottle like a shield.
Agata peers up at her curiously.
CORALINE
(quietly)
And if I'm dying... what would I be doing to stop?
STATUE OF AZORRES
You're getting worse.
CORALINE
It's slight, but I can feel myself slipping more and more. I thought if I didn't use magic, maybe I'd be okay. It'd stop. But it's winning. Slowly it's winning.
STATUE OF AZORRES
Four thousand years and there has been no cure to the Death of Souls. You know it will not simply go away.
CORALINE
But what can I do?
STATUE OF AZORRES
Find Jess. One problem at a time.
AGATA
You're oddly intelligent, for a statue.
STATUE OF AZORRES
I will take that as a compliment, little one.
CORALINE
Cat, after some of the people I've dealt with, I'd say it's oddly intelligent for anything, really.
AGATA
I thought you were going to quit calling me 'cat'.
CORALINE
Dammit cat, I call all my cats 'cat'.
Agata peers up at Coraline imperiously.
Coraline narrows her eyes.
CORALINE
Sassmaster.
Agata closes her eyes contentedly.
Coraline scoops up Agata.
CORALINE
And seriously, thanks, statue. You're a wonderful replacement for a working brain.


EXT. Molstead outskirts - noonish
Coraline strolls back down the road with all the care of an angry zamboni, Agata padding ahead, oppressive heat and sunlight bearing down on the both of them. Some mushroom sprites bounce alongside the road, keeping pace until one of them suddenly bursts into flame, and the others scatter. Heat waves rise off the road. Bugs buzz in the trees.
Coraline is now much more drunk, and the voices practically silent, drowned out by the resulting fuzziness.
She stops at a bend and sights down a footpath heading into the trees through the mostly-empty bottle, using it like a telescope with the lid off, which is completely ineffective as she cannot actually see anything through the bottom. Some of the remaining vodka splashes on her face. She blinks, and dumps the rest on her head.
CORALINE
Damn. Alcohol is lovely in this heat.
AGATA
Smooth.
CORALINE
(indicating the trail)
There's some ruins out this way. Maybe... I dunno.
AGATA
Do you have any leads at all?
CORALINE
None whatsoever.
AGATA
Do you have anywhere you need to be?
CORALINE
Nope.
AGATA
Well.
CORALINE
Right.
They head down the path.


EXT. Elven ruins - early afternoon
The ruins are a large quasi-clearing in the woods, the only remainder of an ancient elven city. Mostly the white stone blocks and columns lie scattered throughout the ferns and grass, trees growing through and over them, with only the odd wall or pillar rising against the green, clusters of buildings now almost totally reclaimed by the forest. Only one building stands out as intact - a solitary Edifice, still sealed after all these centuries, and nearly untouched by storm or moss.
Coraline comes out on the path, looks around, climbs onto a particularly large white block, and glares out over the ruins.
An alarming amount of spider webs glare back at her from some of the trees on the far end.
CORALINE
(squinting unhelpfully)
...gogs?
A beige and gloopy PORRIDGE gloops past Agata on the ground, and she hisses at it.
Coraline hops down and heads over into the webby trees.


INT. Gog tunnels - afternoon
It's webby, and a bit messy. There's no real path at first, but then one seems to grow almost organically out of bits of web.
As Coraline and Agata progress, the webs get thicker.
At one point she sees a gog hanging off a bunch of webbing on a tree. It looks a bit like a large dog-sized spider, and appears to be asleep.
At another, she passes a tree with a large circular hole cut exactingly through the trunk, except the hole is almost as big as the trunk is, and the top of the tree is held up almost entirely by webbing. Through the hole is shoved a door.
She continues on, and the webs thicken. The trees are swathed in webbing, until everything is covered.
Ahead, the webs converge entirely, leaving only a single round tunnel, maybe a metre in diameter. At its entrance are two more gogs, also asleep.
Agata hops up onto Coraline's shoulders.
Coraline walks up and pokes one of them.
The poked gog startles and legs at the other gog, which also startles and legs back. They prod at each other a bit with legs and then slow, and then stop. After a moment they collapse back onto each other, vibrating.
Coraline scoots past them carefully into the hole and walk-crawls very awkwardly through it.
AGATA
(next to Coraline's ear)
I hope you know what you're doing.
CORALINE
I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, or what's going on. Gogs aren't... this isn't what they do.
AGATA
Looks like they did.
CORALINE
Mostly they're just an annoyance. Steal some sheep. Web over a door. That sort of thing.
AGATA
Mostly?
The tunnel abruptly ends, and Coraline spills out into an oddly circular chamber, completely bound in spun white webbing. The ceiling glows with diffused light. A couple of other circular tunnels are scattered about the walls. A weird sweet, sticky smell permeates the space.
It is completely empty, aside from the centre. In the centre is a solitary wooden door, standing upright without a frame or even hinges. It is in perfect shape. It has a knob.
Coraline stares at it blankly for a moment.
CORALINE
I don't even want to know.
She scoots very carefully around the edge of the chamber, keeping her back to the wall, watching the door carefully until she gets to the next tunnel.
AGATA
And yet you're continuing.
Coraline gives the door one last worried look before scooting into the new tunnel and hurrying away.


EXT. Gog clearing - afternoon
This tunnel opens up into a clearing that is much less webbed over, with only odd swaths netting down from branches, and a decent carpet underfoot. Old trees tower overhead. Afternoon sun trickles down in motes of dust. It is surprisingly cool.
Coraline is sobering up a bit as they come out, but the voices are still quiet.
Gogs are all over, mostly in groups of 3-10. The nearest group are gathered around a bunch of doors, all fairly beaten up. One of the gogs pokes a door with a stick, then drops the stick and starts jumping on the door in aggravation. Another pulls a door upright and then, along with two others, headbutts it.
Coraline watches curiously for a moment.
CORALINE
You know you need hinges, right?
The gogs all freeze exactly where they are: the ones with the doors, quite a few others just hanging out in the clearing, a large group doing some sort of choreographed march around the perimeter, and also a smaller group holding up paper signs around a very confused looking JESS.
A few of the gogs in the paper signs group are also holding sticks. One appears to have been in the process of poking Jess with its stick, but is frozen mid-poke.
JESS
(also not moving)
Lyra?
Coraline threads her way through the groups of gogs, trying not to run into too many, but they don't respond even when she does.
CORALINE
You okay? Kind of need you at the inn. We do have elves.
JESS
Um... yeah, mostly, I guess?
Jess pushes aside the stick uncertainly, and then pushes through the sign-gogs. The signs say things like 'door problem' and 'what knob' and 'show force??', and they are all very consistently upside down. She hurries over to Coraline and collapses into the older woman's arms, sobbing.
CORALINE
(patting Jess awkwardly on the shoulder a couple of times)
There, uh, there?
Jess takes a few minutes to calm down, during which Coraline slowly pulls/nudges her toward the edge of the clearing. In the meantime, the gogs around appear to do absolutely nothing.
JESS
They kept poking me. They seemed to really want me to help them with their doors. Except they couldn't explain very well. They just have signs and broken doors everywhere, and then they ran out of paper, and I don't even know. Lyra, what is going on?
CORALINE
They wanted help with the doors, apparently.
Coraline looks around at the motionless gogs. There seem to be fewer now.
CORALINE
We should probably get out of here. If they let us.
JESS
What did you do?
CORALINE
Uh...
AGATA
She mentioned hinges.
A nearby gog collapses.
Jess jumps, and winds up behind Coraline, clinging to her shoulder.
Coraline turns around, pulling Jess with her.
All the gogs that had been behind them are gone.
JESS
What? They're... They're...
CORALINE
Meh.
Coraline marches off into the woods in what she hopes is the general direction of the ruins, or at least town, and Jess follows closely, not letting go of Coraline's sleeve.


EXT. Molstead woods - afternoon
Coraline and Jess get back out into the open woods without too much trouble, but an odd stillness follows them. A disquieting quiet.
Coraline grumbles irritably and draws her sword, and Agata climbs around onto the opposite shoulder for a better perch. The name 'Lyra Zidane' is written down the blade in flowing patterns, with engraved leaves dancing out around it. The whole design comes across in surprisingly good taste.
JESS
What is it?
CORALINE
I don't want to alarm you, but I think we're being followed.
A bush shudders nearby.
CORALINE
Definitely being followed.
JESS
Run?
CORALINE
We don't even know who it is. Maybe it's someone who could tell us which way to run.
JESS
What?
AGATA
She means to say we're lost.
CORALINE
I would never say that. But if I would, well, yeah. We're lost.
(loudly)
Hello we need directions can you help us?
The trees rustle overhead, and leaves drift down.
A scuttling skitters in the underbrush around, over the hillocks, behind the trees.
The first few gogs appear, running toward them, and then gogs are pouring in from every direction, over the ground, covering it. The trees shake, and more gogs come down those, from all sides, all around, converging on Coraline and Jess.
Jess clings to Coraline.
The nearest gog bites at Coraline, and she stabs at it with the sword.
The gog bites at the sword instead, to no effect. The other gogs all just sort of stop.
Confused, the gog bites at it again, but this has no more effect than the first time.
The gog hops backwards several metres, and then all the other gogs start converging on it, streaming around the two women, grouping, building a heap, piling up, and up, and up, until they have all just sort of conglomerated into a big, quivering conglomerate.
A gog tumbles off the side and rolls away, only to scamper back to the pile and climb back on.
There is a very long, awkward pause as gog pile and humans face off. Coraline looks a bit creeped out. Jess just looks terrified, clinging to her.
Then Coraline lowers her sword very suddenly. Jess jumps.
CORALINE
Damn arm was getting tired.
(to the gog pile)
Hi. Gogs. Or whatever you call yourselves. Can you tell us which way to town?
There is a shuddering in the pile, and then one of the gogs in front hops forward slightly and pulls a stack of paper out of somewhere unspeakable.
It makes and holds up a sign. It reads, 'door problem'.
CORALINE
Really? We hadn't noticed.
The gog drops the paper and scribbles on another one, 'cannot into'.
CORALINE
(shaking her head)
No, this is not polandball.
This goes on for a bit, but it eventually unfolds, amidst many signs and drinks, that the door problem, specifically, is that the gogs cannot figure them out. As a result, the gogs have become obsessed with doors, stuck on how to get them open, how to get past them. So they kidnap humans, learn their language and how to write things down on paper to communicate, trying to get the humans to teach them how to door. But it doesn't work. The humans don't know what they mean, and then the gogs run out of paper. So then they need to break into humans' nests again, this time to get more paper. Except they can't, because doors are in the way, and they still can't get past them. They don't have the right appendages to use the knobs. They don't have the mass to just tear them off their hinges. Covering them with webbing does nothing. So they use other means. Throw Keith in through windows when they can. Tear the thatch off roofs and drop in when they can.
But inside are also doors.
CORALINE
So... door problem.
The gog holds up the 'door problem' sign in agreement. Or possibly a new 'door problem' sign. There are a whole lot of signs on the ground now.
The pile also quivers in agreement, or something.
CORALINE
Right. I'm really not sure how to help you with this.
The gog holds up a sign that says 'open door'.
Coraline sighs.
CORALINE
Which one of you is Keith?
A gog pries its way out of the pile and holds up a sign. The sign says only, 'Keith'.
CORALINE
Hi, Keith. What are you after when you get inside a... human nest?
Keith holds up a sign that says 'paper'.
CORALINE
Because you need paper for your signs. Of course you do. Look, we need to get back to town, but we'll send some, erm... specialists out here when we do, okay? They might be able to actually do something about your door problem. Or whatever it is your problem really is.
Coraline strafes around the pile to the side, and the entire pile rotates to face her. She backs away, and the pile stays put, watching with many, many eyes.
CORALINE
Great. Could you by any chance point us in the direction of town? Human nest nests?
A gog pries itself out of the pile and holds up a sign: 'show'.
Coraline gestures for it to lead the way, and they follow it back to the road, and then town.


EXT. Molstead Inn - evening
Coraline and Jess get back to the inn in the late evening, Coraline now carrying a snoring Agata under one arm. It's pleasantly cool, and several patrons are hanging around outside with mugs. They greet the women as they approach, but then go silent as they notice the gog.
CORALINE
It's a gog.
PATRON
Um.
The gog holds up a sign. It says, 'gog'. It's unclear where this came from.
CORALINE
See?
The inn's door is propped open, and Coraline tries to shoo the gog in, but then it just stops and pokes at the door. And then the door prop. And then the door some more.
CORALINE
(ushering Jess inside instead)
Yeah, let's just leave it at that.
(to the patrons)
It's friendly. Don't do anything stupid.


INT. Molstead Inn - evening
Inside is fairly busy. Folks are all about, filling the tables, standing around, drinking. DORS, the orcan bouncer, is tending bar. He waves at Coraline and Jess cheerfully as they come in, baring too many teeth.
Another cat, ARGUMENT OF HAGS, yowls from a shelf in welcome.
CORALINE
Right, I think we need food. And then we need to get you home. You good to work tomorrow?
Jess nods.
Coraline pushes a very drunk guy off a barstool and he wanders off, oblivious. Then she plonks Jess down on the stool in his place, and dumps Agata in her lap.
CORALINE
Stay.
Dors pours Jess a drink.
DORS
I expect you've had a day. How about some poses?
Coraline heads to the kitchen to get some food, and grabs her staff while she's at it.
When she gets back, plates in hand, phoenix staff slung over a shoulder, a small crowd has gathered around one of the tables.
Dors is striking ridiculous poses at Jess.
Coraline deposits the plates by Jess and goes to investigate the crowd.
The gog is on the table. Several guys are attempting to give it beer.
The gog holds up a sign that says 'inside'.
GUY
Yeah, put the beer inside. You drink it. You getting this?
(to the others)
Am I saying this right?
ANOTHER GUY
Sure, look, it seems to get it.
The gog drinks some beer.
Coraline backs away very quickly, grabs her plate, and leaves the inn entirely.


INT. Keller's place - evening
Coraline shows up to Keller's place, still shovelling food in her face, and pounds on the door with an elbow. This doesn't entirely work, so she stops eating and uses her fist instead.
A moment later, KIT, Keller's apprentice (he's about 12), answers the door, peering up at her curiously.
KIT
Need something?
CORALINE
Got a job, if you're interested.
KIT
Yeah?
KELLER, dressed in stereotypical wizard robes, swoops the door open entirely before Coraline can respond.
KELLER
Miss Zidane! So good to see you again. Do come in, come in!
He ushers Kit out of the way, and Coraline inside.
Having lost access to Kit, Coraline comes inside.
Inside is rather messy. There is a stuffed moose hanging from the ceiling. Scrolls and notes are scattered across every surface. An entire wall is covered by something that looks like an elaborate chemistry experiment. Stacks of books line the other walls.
Coraline eyes the books curiously.
KELLER
So what brings you out this way this fine day, hmm?
Coraline takes another bite of her food, still eyeing the books.
KELLER
Ah, yes, I suppose I have amassed quite the collection over the years, haven't I? If there's anything you'd like to borrow, I suppose I could part... for a small fee.
Coraline painfully drags herself away from the idea of books and gets back to what she actually came here for.
CORALINE
I actually...
(she notices the moose)
Is that a moose?
KIT
Wondered that myself. Not a sheep, though. Nolan checked.
KELLER
It certainly is.
CORALINE
Why?
Kit shrugs.
KELLER
Oh, you know. You need the right space.
CORALINE
Right. I actually need to borrow your apprentice.
KELLER
(disappointedly)
But I have so much to give!
CORALINE
Unless you want to investigate a bunch of possibly insane gogs?
Keller stares at her for a moment.
KELLER
I've got research. Very important research that I must attend to.
CORALINE
Of course. I wouldn't mean to ask you to do anything beneath your station.
Keller hastily flounces off into another room.
Kit raises an eyebrow.
KIT
Insane gogs?
CORALINE
Well, maybe. There's a bunch of them out past the ruins, at least. Maybe you lot can figure out what the hells their problem really is?
Overtly, they're having problems with doors. And paper. The thing I'm really not clear on is why. They're communicative, though. Sort of. They use a lot of paper signs.
KIT
Sounds like you want Nolan.
CORALINE
Hey, if Nolan can translate gog signs, great. But you'll still need to translate Nolan, and you'll probably want to bring a sword with you just to be safer...
KIT
And I'm sure we can find a use for overloud shrieking.
Coraline shrugs.
CORALINE
Out of curiosity, what would Keller be likely to charge for some of those books?
KIT
More than they're worth. They're just manuals, and half of them are completely wrong.
CORALINE
Damn.
Kit pulls one out of a pile and hands it to Coraline.
KIT
Here, this one's a good starting kit. Just take it. He won't even notice.
CORALINE
Er, thanks.


EXT. Molstead - evening
Coraline escorts Jess home later, dropping off her plate at the inn and decidedly not investigating the gog table, which has an even bigger crowd now.
Outside, the voices are almost completely drowned out by the clatter of insects. Almost.
Jess is much calmer now. She glances toward Coraline periodically as they go as though about to say something, but then doesn't.
Coraline either doesn't notice or doesn't care.
Finally they get out of the town proper and onto the environs road through the woods.
JESS
I wish I could be like you. Nothing ever stops you, does it?
Coraline gives Jess a confused look.
JESS
I just froze. I had no idea what to do, but then you showed up... thank you. Thank you.
Coraline nods.
CORALINE
You want to do something, you just do... something. It won't always help, you won't always know what it will do, but if you know that doing nothing won't get you out, then try something else and figure out what will.
I used to do that too. Freeze. Not know what to do, hope it would blow over and just fix itself. Especially with people. But you get practice. You learn. You realise everything follows the same patterns, you learn how to test it and continue from there.
(quietly)
I still sometimes have no idea, though, and I put it off, don't deal with it. It just gets worse in the meantime.
JESS
You talked to the gog.
CORALINE
I talk to a lot of things. But it's often not a bad place to start.
For some reason they continue past the turn off to the Eslinger farm.
JESS
I'd like to stop at the temple first.
CORALINE
Sure.


INT. Molstead Temple - late evening
Davis is lighting candles at the shrines as Jess and Coraline enter.
Jess goes to a few of the shrines and does shriney things.
Coraline wanders over to bother Davis, standing right behind him.
CORALINE
Bother.
DAVIS
Oh, hello.
Davis looks at Coraline expectantly.
CORALINE
...that was really all I had to say.
Davis gives her an amused look and moves onto the next shrine, and Coraline follows. This one is to Kyrule, the god of death. It features a thick stone disk, with a skull wearing an elaborate filigree mask carved in relief.
CORALINE
Does it ever seem strange to honour a god who is such an antithesis to your own? Azorres is life and compassion, Kyrule death and judgement. On one hand you have the pain and struggle and solace of trying to survive at all, and the other... cold finality. The ultimate failure that awaits us all.
DAVIS
Where is the antithesis? These things go together perfectly, each giving meaning to the other.
CORALINE
But aren't they at odds? That very meaning comes from the opposition.
Davis remains silent as he finishes lighting the candles, and turns to face her when he's done.
DAVIS
This opposition is how they come together.
Azorres' compassion tempers Kyrule's blade. But where compassion fails, where order breaks and the hells would reign free across the lands, we need that blade and all the ruthlesseness that backs it. The world is a question of scales, balanced between all: life and death, order and chaos, needs and desires. The gods reflect this, each one a piece of the balance, and so we honour all.
CORALINE
I guess I just don't much care for some of them.
DAVIS
You don't need to care for something to see the value.
CORALINE
Value, yes, but...
She sighs.
DAVIS
You can't fully hold the god responsible for the actions of his followers.
CORALINE
They've been very consistent.
DAVIS
Do you blame them? Would you earnestly prefer they not try to contain...
(he glances over at Jess; more quietly)
This? Though their means are merciless, would you prefer it spread?
CORALINE
Gods, no.
DAVIS
I'm so sorry. I didn't mean...
CORALINE
Davis. It's okay. You're right.
DAVIS
Kyrule doesn't want you dead. If he did, you would be, despite all our efforts. Trust in that?
Coraline shakes her head, smiling confusedly.
Davis winces and goes onto the next shrine.
Coraline plods over to the statue.
STATUE OF AZORRES
Have you considered what you will do from here?
CORALINE
Not really, no.
Here's a question for you. Would it be wrong to turn an entire civilisation of a sentient species of spiders into raging alcoholics?
STATUE OF AZORRES
Yes.
CORALINE
Oh.
STATUE OF AZORRES
Were you really considering this?
CORALINE
Not particularly, but if I don't do something soon I might not be able to stop it, either.
STATUE OF AZORRES
There is a distinction between causing something and failing to stop it.
CORALINE
There's also a distinction of I live here and have to deal with the consequences, whether it had anything to do with me or not.
Jess comes over to the statue as well, kneeling before it.
STATUE OF AZORRES
Rise, dear child. You will always find solace here.
JESS
Thank you, my Lord. Thank you for watching over me.
(she puts a cake with the other offerings)
You sent Lyra for me, didn't you?
STATUE OF AZORRES
I did.
CORALINE
Normally I'd argue, but... yeah.
(to the statue)
Why didn't you just tell me where she was?
STATUE OF AZORRES
I did not know. A god may see their faithful as existing within the world, and know them how they are, but this comes with no precise knowledge of location or status. I knew that she was alive and in need. I heard her prayers and sent you the only direction that made sense.

Gog handling

INT. Molstead inn - morning
It is morning. Coraline is in bed again, happily asleep, this time with no cat on her face, but two cats next to her. A soft, polite dingling rings through the room, and then stops.
CORALINE
Nnnrgh.
The polite dingling of the bell contrapture repeats, and Coraline suddenly realises what it is, attempts to get up, and falls out of bed.
CORALINE
(yelling from the floor)
Coming, give me a moment!



A few minutes later, she grumps into the tavern proper holding a bottle of whiskey, mostly dressed, staff and sword under an arm, holding another cloth package, looking like a very angry videogame character. Several cats watch her from the bar as she enters: Thimble and Argument of Hags, as well as TRESS, SCOFFLE, and ONPAHANVAANLAMPI. Thimble looks particularly angry today.
The spare gog has cocooned itself on the hazard table sticking out of the ceiling. An argument is happening outside the main door.
The elf is again sitting at the bar, waiting primly.
Coraline puts down her whiskey, drops her weapons on the floor, cuts the ribbon on the package, and passes it over to the elf as before, this time muttering a particularly choice string of finnish profanities.
The elf pulls out a piece of bread, sniffs it deeply, and smiles serenely, closing his eyes.
Coraline grabs her weapons again and grumps over to the door and tries to open it.
Coraline tries to open the door again.
Behind her, the gog reaches out and holds a sign off the hanging table. The sign says, 'rote system'.
Coraline kicks the door, mostly out of sheer annoyance.
JESS
(yelling from outside)
Lyra? You in there?
CORALINE
(yelling back)
Yeah, what's wrong with the door and why aren't you in here?!
Agata pads over and peers up at the gog.
AGATA
It's called a hangover.
KIT
(also yelling from outside)
Gogs webbed it over! Hold on, I'll get it off.
CORALINE
Kit? What... voi paska.
KIT
(outside)
Wind fire burn!
There's a FWOOMPH outside, and a moment later, JORA, the kids' young elven sword-nanny, opens the door and peers inside, sword out.
Jora nods and sheaths the sword.
Nolan (now 11, though he's hardly grown in the meantime) and ERRY, Kit's little sister (8), are also there.
Jess heads inside and then stops, staring at the gog on the table.
CORALINE
Just... ignore it. I don't know.
The gog holds out a sign that says, 'hangover'. The sign is right-side-up for a change.
CORALINE
Get it some coffee maybe?
Jess gives Coraline a confused look.
Coraline shrugs blankly.
KIT
So. Gogs?
CORALINE
Gogs.
Coraline picks up Agata and hangs the cat around her neck like a very warm, stuffy, purring scarf.


EXT. Elven ruins - morning
Erry runs out into the ruins first and climbs up a particularly upright chunk of wall. Nolan climbs after her not long after.
Kit, Jora, and Coraline all walk in like normal people.
Agata walks in a bit behind them, peering about.
KIT
I think I see where the gogs are.
CORALINE
Yup.


INT. Gog tunnels - morning
The tunnels are empty. There is no sign of any gogs actually in the area.
Coraline and the kids come to the tree with the hole cut through the trunk, and the door shoved in it.
CORALINE
So they did that.
KIT
I don't get it. What possible purpose could that serve?
ERRY
They didn't get that something has to actually hold up the tree. Or maybe they did?
Coraline shrugs.
Jora stalks ahead, listening for something.
NOLAN
We're coming.
They continue on, into the tunnels themselves, and come to the circular chamber with the solitary wooden door enshrined in the centre.
There's a rustle in the other tunnels.
Nolan strides up to the door and peers up at it.
Jora draws her sword.
Coraline readies her staff.
Nolan puts a hand on the doorknob.
A shiver whispers through the webbing around and overhead. The ceiling thrums.
Nolan turns the knob.
The walls tremble. Gogs poke out of the tunnel openings, peering in.
Nolan opens the door, swinging it open on missing hinges.
The vibrations in the webbing are almost constant, now, jarring, humming. Gogs climb over gogs, peering in, watching. A couple topple down into the room itself.
Behind the door is a space, empty, black, silent. Echoes drift outward, countering the hum around. Behind it is a rhythm, almost like a heartbeat.
Nolan closes the door.
Several more gogs tumble down to the floor.
NOLAN
I see.
The gogs all still around them. The vibrations cease. The humming quiets.
KIT
You do?
ERRY
In the darkness, silence waits. It's listening. It hears us, even now.
Agata pads around the door, peering at the back.
Nolan turns around slightly.
More gogs fall into the room, pushed out of the tunnels by gogs behind them.
Nolan holds up a sign. It says 'Door'.
Several dozen gogs all around them also hold up signs, which also say 'door'.
Nolan holds up another sign that says 'interminable darkness'.
A couple of gogs hold up signs saying 'talk' and 'signs' and 'alive'.
Nolan holds up a sign that says 'sheep'.
KIT
Well, that didn't last long.
There is a shuffling in the tunnels.
Some other gogs hold up signs saying 'open door' and 'darkness'.
AGATA
Oy, human. Open that door again.
Nolan holds up a sign that says 'a master'.
The gogs still and lower their signs.
Nolan turns and opens the door again.
The heartbeat reverberates against the dark. Echoes whisper.
Agata sniffs at the darkness, her ears back.
AGATA
Witch.
What do you see?
CORALINE
(coming a bit closer)
Darkness, and a door with no hinges or frame.
AGATA
Wizard, what about you?
KIT
(also coming over)
Concur with the witch?
AGATA
(shaking her head like an irate cat)
Close your eyes, both of you, and look properly.
CORALINE
Eh?
Regardless, they do.
At first nothing stands out, but then, without eyes, the doorway comes into focus. There is a frame, and beyond it, not darkness at all, but light. Humming. Pulsating.
The voices whisper strangely around, distorted. Something else lingers behind.
KIT
I see a frame.
CORALINE
It's bright. Alive. There's something... familiar...
Kit opens his eyes.
KIT
It hears us. Feels us.
Agata hisses.
ERRY
(shouting)
Close it, close it put it away get it away out out out of my head it's in my head it's... in...
Erry collapses behind them.
Jora hurries over to Erry.
Nolan shoves at the door, but it doesn't close.
KIT
I hear...
Kit starts to walk toward it, but Coraline knocks him down and shoots at the door with her staff. The first blast disappears into the dark, so she shoots the frame, instead, narrowing the blasts, intensifying the heat, making them resonate with the same energies as the frame itself.
The frame begins to unravel, and she finishes it, slicing it to pieces with the bladed wings.
The brightness fades. The voices return to normal.
Coraline opens her eyes.
The open doorway is gone. The strange hum is gone. Only a burnt, bent, gashed door remains on the ground, torn off its imaginary hinges.
Hundreds of gogs stare silently.
Nolan holds up a sign that says 'irrelevant'.
NOLAN
You don't need to open doors. You need paper and a purpose. I will teach you.
Nolan walks over to a seemingly random gog tunnel and stares at the gogs occupying it.
One of them holds up a sign uncertainly: 'forward'.
Coraline glances over to Agata, who simply sits watching.
CORALINE
What was that?
AGATA
A teaching moment.
Kit gets up, looking confused.
KIT
What? Erry?
JORA
She's alive, but unconscious.
Nolan continues to stare at the gogs in the tunnel. Slowly the gogs in it shuffle about, and then start to get out of the way. The gogs in the other tunnels, too, begin to disperse, pouring out into the chamber and scuttling after Nolan.
Nolan heads into the cleared tunnel.
JORA
Get your sister back to town.
Jora hurries after Nolan.
KIT
I suppose we can just let him do his thing.
Kit peers after them longingly.
CORALINE
Oh, just go. See what happens, blow everything up if you have to. I'll take care of your sister.
Kit runs off almost immediately.
Coraline kneels next to Erry and places a hand on her chest, using her healing senses to give the girl a proper go-over. Overall, she seems to be fine. There's a general sense of exhaustion and a bit of a darkness lingering in her mind, but no real sign of overt damage or anything particularly alien.
AGATA
Well, he clearly cares.
CORALINE
He's what, twelve? What do you expect?
(she picks up Erry)
Ugh, she's heavy.
AGATA
Or perhaps you're just weak.
CORALINE
I'm definitely weak. But she's also heavy. These are not exclusive things.
Coraline tries again, this time hoisting Erry across her shoulders in a fireman's carry.


INT. Molstead temple - late morning
Coraline pries the temple door open with a mostly free hand and sidles in.
Davis and Cormith are in a corner talking to their intern, KILBETH.
KILBETH
Are you sure about that?
DAVIS
Yes.
KILBETH
Are you sure you're sure?
Davis turns to look at Coraline pleadingly.
CORALINE
Cormith! You're a real healer, right? Could you give me a hand with this girl?
CORMITH
(hurrying over, looking relieved)
What seems to be the matter?
Coraline passes Erry over to Cormith, and he takes the girl, holding her much more gently than Coraline had been.
CORALINE
Something up in her headbrains. I didn't want to try anything for fear of making it worse.
Tai jotakin sinne päi.
CORMITH
I... see. I'll see what I can do.
(casting over Erry)
What brains?
Cormith carries Erry off into the next room.
CORALINE
Great. In the meantime I think I'm going to get myself reacquainted with your floor.
Coraline lies down heavily on the floor, sprawling across the stone.
CORALINE
(mumbling)
Hello, floor. You're a nice floor.
Davis looms overhead.
DAVIS
Are, um, are you all right?
Kilbeth looms from the other side.
Coraline lethargically holds up a thumb, and then tries to actually put it up relative to the rest of her hand, though it only sort of works due to the angle.
Agata climbs onto Coraline's chest and sits down, a paw very firmly on Coraline's boob.
CORALINE
(recoiling)
Agh, cat!
AGATA
She's fine.
CORALINE
Well, I was, back when I could actually breathe!
Davis picks up Agata.
Coraline very hastily gets up and then nearly falls over again immediately after, grabbing Davis' arm to stabilise herself.
DAVIS
(sounding very concerned)
Are you sure you're all right?
CORALINE
I'm just tired. And blood pressure.
(she takes Agata off him)
I'm fine. Nothing to be worried about. You know the gogs in the woods had a door to horrible black nothing? Because the gogs in the woods had a door that opened up to horrible black nothing. Is that normal?
DAVIS
There are stories of Gateways opening to other realms. Often the entities beyond them are less than friendly.
CORALINE
Sure, except this was a door. Like that one.
(she indicates a completely ordinary door to a back room)
Wooden. With a knob. It had a heartbeat.
I kind of maybe slightly sort of destroyed it.
DAVIS
The heartbeat or the door?
CORALINE
The... door.
Davis nods slowly.


EXT. Granny Höhrmann's place - noonish
Granny Höhrmann's place is a cottage on the other end of town. It is suitably rustic. It has extensive flower gardens. It has grass and a small tree growing on the roof. A goat is tied to a log.
Coraline wanders over and knocks on the front door, Agata slung under an arm.
There's no response.
Coraline heads around back. Agata hangs limply.
GRANNY HÖHRMANN is sitting under a tree with a cat on her lap. They appear to be having a staring contest.
Coraline walks over and stares at both of them for a bit.
CORALINE
(finally)
What are you doing?
GRANNY HÖHRMANN
Arguing with my cat.
AGATA
Are you winning?
Granny Höhrmann looks up in surprise at Agata and squints a bit.
GRANNY HÖHRMANN
Mad Anna's cat, isn't it?
AGATA
Not anymore.
CORALINE
So you know each other?
GRANNY HÖHRMANN
Knew Mad Anna.
CORALINE
What about her cat?
GRANNY HÖHRMANN
Might be it.
CORALINE
She says I'm a witch.
GRANNY HÖHRMANN
Might be.
There's a long silence as Granny Hörmann goes back to staring at her cat.
CORALINE
So... who's winning the argument?
Granny Höhrmann frowns.
AGATA
Apparently the cat.
GRANNY HÖHRMANN
What do you think, Samaritan?
Granny Höhrmann's cat, SAMARITAN, turns to regard Coraline and Agata.
SAMARITAN
(yawning)
What is it, then? What are your knacks?
CORALINE
My what, now?
SAMARITAN
You're a witch, you got knacks. What are you good at?
Coraline glances at Agata.
AGATA
Drinking, mostly.
CORALINE
Hitting things with heavy objects?
AGATA
While drinking.
CORALINE
Yes.
AGATA
Possibly hitting things with objects drinking out of.
CORALINE
I do that sometimes too.
AGATA
I'm not surprised.
CORALINE
Still want me for a witch?
AGATA
Will you stop carrying me like a pile of logs?
CORALINE
Maybe. Depends on your answer.
Granny Höhrmann bursts out laughing.
GRANNY HÖHRMANN
Oh, you two are perfect for each other. And here me and Samaritan just argue all the time, but you... you'll spend a lifetime cracking each other up.
There's an awkward silence.
GRANNY HÖHRMANN
What's the matter? Spit it out.
Coraline puts down Agata.
Samaritan jumps off Granny Höhrmann's lap and the two cats sniff at each other.
CORALINE
Let's pretend I have much of a lifetime left. Is this where my magic is from? Do cats just... normally show up? What exactly are witches?
(quietly)
Will this... help?
GRANNY HÖHRMANN
Witches are. You're born to it, to your knacks. What you do with it is up to you, but it is yours.
As for whether it'll help you or not, I rather think that'll be up to you.
Don't screw it up.
CORALINE
So it's a tool.
GRANNY HÖHRMANN
Exactly.
CORALINE
And I've got a cat who is also a tool.
AGATA
Appropriate, for you.
SAMARITAN
A cat and her witch, you're bound together. You'll share all your power and knowledge. You'll be allies whether you want to or not.
Samaritan stares at Agata.
AGATA
I chose her carefully.
Her knacks are... different. She can heal, and I bet we could kill. Anything.
Agata bares her teeth for a moment, and then it turns into a yawn. Samaritan yawns as well.
GRANNY HÖHRMANN
(to Coraline)
And Anna was all about the fire, so you might find you've some skill with that, too, now.
CORALINE
And what about our snark? We get to share that, too?
Agata's voice resonates in Coraline's mind, like the constant voices around, but different.
AGATA
(mind voice)
Always.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
Agata? How... we just talk. And nobody else hears?
AGATA
(mind voice)
Mostly.
Coraline stares at the cats.
CORALINE
Perkele. I get all the worst and best things in my life. Horrid luck. Great luck.
Ghaaah.
GRANNY HÖHRMANN
(nodding)
Sounds like life, that.
Go on and learn.
Granny Hörmann waves dismissively.


INT. Molstead Inn - afternoon
It is later. The elf has wandered off for the day, and the spare gog is likewise nowhere to be found. Coraline is doing inn-y things, setting up for the evening, coordinating with Jess. Tress rubs against her legs from time to time, almost tripping her occasionally.
Agata watches from a shelf.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
Agata?
AGATA
(mind voice)
Yes?
CORALINE
(mind voice)
Are you okay with this? With me, what I am?
AGATA
(mind voice)
I knew. Soon as I smelled you, I knew. You're a Carrier, but there's more to you than that. You've got darkness in you, and secrets. But also sisu. What is sisu?
CORALINE
(mind voice)
It means a lot of things. In this case, I guess it might mean survival.
AGATA
(mind voice)
Yes. Your courage, your grit. Determination and focus, even against impossible odds. The hallmarks of a good witch. Sisukas.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
I'm going to die. I may kill a lot of others, and worse, in the process.
AGATA
(mind voice)
And when that happens, I'll find another witch.
Coraline looks up from scooting out a table.
Agata peers down at her imperiously, purring, and closes her eyes.


Lace mask.svg
Survivor's Song: Introduction

(heaps: heapheap2heap3)
Part 0Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7 • ...