This/Survivors song/Part 1
Part 1: Initiate precursor events
Everybody is running from something. They may not know it, and they may not fear it, but still they run. Some even run from running itself.
And yet the bullet you're running from is almost never the one that hits you.
- Not everything is translated from the original tongues.
- Everything is translated.
- Notes may provide meaning, but not context.
- Insert metaphor as indicated in the instructions.
- Small events gain traction. In time, they may demolish nations. Catch them as they start, and you may miss the true design.
- This is not a kids' story.
EXT. Tree overlooking the Molstead market - morning
Autumn leaves linger on the trees, blow down the streets, into corners, curling up in little whirlwinds. The market is bustling with autumnal bustle, especially as people prepare for the upcoming Harvest Festival. A stall is occupied entirely by gogs.
It is very autumn now.
Overlooking it all, among others, is a tree. Nolan is in it, watching, unnoticed.
EXT. Molstead Market - morning
On the ground, a BOUNTY HUNTER stands in a corner, watching, waiting. Townsfolk whisper, greeting him, avoiding him.
The town hamstery guy spots him and scuttles over.
What time is it?
Quarter to five, I s'pose?
What time is it?
The hunter doesn't respond, and heads over toward the gog stall.
The hamstery guy follows the hunter, staring at him suspiciously.
The hunter continues to ignore the hamstery guy.
The hamstery guy makes an angry noise almost, but not entirely, unlike something that would come out of a hamster, and then, finally, sidles off to pester someone else.
The gog stall is full of gogs. Gogs are piled up on the table. Gogs are behind the table. Gogs are hanging off the top. Over half of them appear to be asleep. Stacks and rolls of paper are shoved in between them, and piled underneath.
A couple of gogs hold up signs, upside-down, as passerby approach, and hold them up toward the hunter as well. They say 'paper' and 'sale' and 'give'.
The hunter stops in front of them.
The gog with the 'paper' sign holds it up at him.
Are you... selling paper?
The gog holds up a sign that says 'sell paper'.
Is that a yes?
Another gog holds up a sign that says 'paper'.
So if I want this paper...
(he taps a pile of paper)
A gog holds up a sign that says 'give'.
You'll give me the paper?
You give them something, and then they give you paper.
The gogs hold up several more signs, mostly repeats of what they were already holding up.
The bounty hunter places a coin next to them.
A gog slides the coin under another gog.
Another gog entirely passes him a small stack of papers.
INT. Molstead inn - afternoon
The inn is set up for the evening. Some patrons are there, doing inn patron things, drinking and socialising. A group of travelling elves are in a corner, chatting. The table hazard sticking out of the ceiling has three gogs on it today, one of them dangling a sign off that says 'eels'.
Coraline is at a table with a glass of cider and a sketchbook, drawing cats: Tress loafing on the table in front of her, with Onpahanvaanlampi sitting on Tress. A book of magic and some other bits of paper are shoved off to the side.
The cook, MALLA, comes over.
Lady Zidane, there's something dripping in one of the rooms upstairs.
Alright, I'll go stab the responsible.
INT. Molstead inn upstairs - afternoon
Coraline goes up to investigate, torch and staff weapon in hand, not really expecting to need either. Agata pads after her.
Coraline heads over to the indicated room and peers inside. It's a simple setup: bed, table, chair. On the floor next to the bed is a small puddle.
Another drop drips out of the ceiling and lands in the puddle with a small plop.
Coraline eyeballs the puddle, and then heads up to the attic.
INT. Molstead inn attic - afternoon
The attic is low and warm and full of things. There are a lot of boxes, and everything is covered in dust and bits of insulation. Some logs are shoved into a corner. A pile of shoes is piled up almost to the roof.
Coraline shines her torch about as they come up, hunching over to fit. Ash demons drift away from her torch.
Agata trots ahead, poking about.
They head toward the general area over room 2.
Coraline checks behind boxes as they go. Shadows jump away from her torch, a few hissing in irritation. Wintersday decorations sparkle sharply. A broken rocking chair throws jagged shadows. Crystalised beads of pitch glitter on the rafters. A well looms up out of the gloom, a bucket on a rope spilled next to it in a large puddle.
Coraline scoots up to the well and stares at it blankly.
Agata hops up on the edge and peers inside, and Coraline half-sits and leans over and peers inside as well, shining down the narrow beam of the torch.
There is no sign of the bottom.
Agata and Coraline exchange looks.
It's a well.
In the attic.
I'm not hallucinating?
Coraline looks down the well again, but it just looks like a well, so then she makes a magelight, forming the spell in her mind. When it twinkles into being in her hand, she leans over the lip of the well again and drops it in, watching as it drifts a few dozen metres, illuminating the bricked walls, before hitting water and disappearing silently.
What do you see?
A well. And I'm not just being snarky, either. There was no sign of this below, even though it clearly is going... below.
There was water.
Well, yes, and a bucket.
Coraline rights the bucket, and then sticks the end of the staff in the puddle and flash evaporates most of it into steam.
When she looks up, she finds a large TENTACLE MONSTER staring her down from across the well. It looks like a collapsed pile of tentacles covered in eyes.
Coraline points her staff at it, but shines her torch back down at the well just to be sure that's the same as it was. It is.
Coraline shines her torch back on the tentacle monster on the other side, which is also still there.
The tentacle monster blinks a long row of eyes, in sequence.
Agata, verify I'm not hallucinating.
That's probably really there.
Okay. Good. I guess.
(to the tentacle monster)
Hi. I don't suppose you speak whatever this is?
The tentacle monster blinks another long row of eyes, also in sequence.
I don't suppose you speak? Perkele.
(in a voice not quite there, but also all around)
(lowering her staff)
Oh, good. I was worried we'd have to try signs. Or worse.
(raising some tentacles)
We are fluent in multiple sign forms if that is what you require.
She meant literal signs that you hold up. We have gogs that use those. Why are we speaking deslau?
It is the language.
Maybe in Deslan. You're in Soravia, dumbarse. They speak Soravian here.
You appear to understand, and reciprocate.
We're special. Is this your well? Were you trying for somewhere else, maybe?
We were trying for sanctuary. Is this sanctuary?
Sure. I don't know.
Come on, then.
Coraline turns toward the door, hunching over again in order to avoid banging her head on the rafters, and gestures for the tentacle monster to follow.
INT. Molstead inn - late afternoon
The inn is getting a little busier now. Two kids, OLAF and EVERRUSCIAS, are playing swordfighting between the tables. Everruscias jumps on an unoccupied table, and slashes at Olaf.
Dors is watching from the bar, looking amused.
The gogs on the table hazard hold up signs saying 'hide force' and 'lower'.
Coraline comes down the stairs, followed by a cat and a now much more upright tentacle monster.
Nobody really notices it yet.
Oy! Get off the tables!
(dodging a return attack)
But Dors said it was fine!
It is fine, right up until you break one! Then he breaks you.
Everruscias and Olaf look uncertainly at Dors.
Dors grins, with too many teeth.
Everruscias hastily jumps off the table.
Coraline heads over to Dors, the tentacle monster still following. The kids stare at it in wonderment. Conversation amongst the patrons winds down as they stop and stare at it as well. The elves eye it with particular interest, two of them even going so far as to get up.
(she glances at the tentacle monster uncertainly)
Whatever this is wants sanctuary.
Dors rubs his chin ponderously.
The Old Ones awaken. There is no escape in the held lands.
Everruscias comes over toward the tentacle monster and stops hesitantly nearby.
The tentacle monster blinks a long series of eyes at her down what might be its back.
Interesting language. Not one I know.
It's deslau, apparently. Isn't that from the other side of the planet?
Not bad, if it at least got the planet right.
Yeah, no kidding. Except that doesn't really help us much, since why would anyone around these parts know deslau?
You mean besides us?
(to the tentacle monster, in deslau)
Okay, so who are you, what are you, what exactly constitutes 'sanctuary', and are these 'Old Ones' likely to pose us any threat here?
We are lhjuathgn, all in one. Here there is escape, for these lands are not held.
So... that's a no?
Your time spans are infinitesimal.
Malla pops out of the kitchen and then stares at the tentacle monster in utter horror.
(sinking to her knees)
What... gods, what...
(indicating the tentacle monster)
Found the thing causing the drip. I think.
Everruscias reaches out to poke the tentacle monster, and it reaches out a tentacle toward her. Finger and tentacle meet in the middle.
The elves, meanwhile, are chatting excitedly amongst themselves, in another language entirely.
An alien, probably from the outer planes. Not too unusual.
Says an alien.
Pfft, we're all aliens.
(to the tentacle monster, in deslau)
Okay, so we can get you set up with a room, or stuff. Just... if you ever need to come up through a well again, please don't leave a puddle on the floor, okay? It's hard on the wood.
Where did you learn to talk like that?
I'm a witch. It's a witch thing.
No it isn't.
Are you a witch?
Then how would you know it's not a witch thing?
A room would be acceptable.
ERIK MAYER, a son of one of the town's larger families, pops in.
Hey, Lyra. We need the council.
Eh? But I've got a tentacle monster!
Erik stares at the tentacle monster for a moment in confusion before recovering himself.
It... it's important. There's been an incident.
(to the tentacle monster, in deslau)
This guy will get you set up.
Get the lhjuathughah... tentacle... thing a room. I don't think it poses any threat or anything, unless it wants to. But we can sort that out later. Figure out some way for it to pay, I don't even care what.
(she picks up Agata and shoves the cat at Dors)
Use this cat to translate.
Dors takes Agata and Agata stares at him.
Will you translate?
If I must.
Coraline hurries out after Erik.
Dors holds Agata out toward the tentacle monster.
INT. Mayer house - evening
The town council gathers in the Mayer sitting room. EDINE MAYER is hosting; others present include EVERTON JAMES, DAVIS, NARAN, MOIRA, GWYNNE ENORI, MERLIJN, Granny Höhrmann, and Coraline, who shows up last and covered in bits of insulation and cat hair.
The coffee table is set up for tea, with tea, coffee, and a proliferation of cakes laid out. Some of the teacups are weirdly small. Several half-completed craft projects are stowed against the wall. One of them is covered in eyeballs. A housemite peers down at the gathering from the top of another.
Davis is eating a cake.
Granny Höhrmann is sitting in a rocking chair in the corner with a cup of tea and Samaritan on her lap.
Okay, finally, we're all here, mostly.
So what's the big emergency all of a sudden, and now of all times? Half the folks couldn't even make it what with the festival.
Why are we being all hush-hush?
Coraline plonks down and starts mixing the Cerrisian equivalent of Irish coffee, pulling an entire bottle of whiskey out of her pocket.
It's not the tentacle monster, I can tell you that much.
What tentacle monster?
The one that crawled up out of a well in the inn's attic.
There's been a murder.
Now? Who? Who would do that?
Yink. The... guy who keeps following people around asking them what time it is. Feldman found him in his shed. Throat was slit, and this was... there.
Merlijn holds up a black soulstone.
Coraline stares at it, suddenly forgetting the very hard coffee she was in the middle of tasting.
The voices rise and twirl about.
Most everyone else in the room also stares at it.
What does it mean?
(forcing herself to look away)
Yink wasn't a Carrier.
Some of the folks look confused. Davis and Granny Höhrmann look at Coraline possibly a bit too intently.
(gesturing with the whiskey)
That's a black soul gem. You get that when you try to capture the soul of a Carrier of the Death of Souls so it doesn't spread. Except Yink wasn't a Carrier. Whatever happened to him, that was something else.
Right, been like that for years, Yink has.
What, you're saying whoever did this just left that there?
I dunno... maybe? He might have wanted to cover his tracks, or make it out like Yink was a Carrier even though... he wasn't...
(she shrugs blankly, trying not to look too freaked out)
I know Deathdealers often use these to track down Carriers in the first place, so if it was some sort of hunter, that would at least explain why he had it.
And there is a hunter in town. Rough-looking sort. Was watching the market all morning.
So what, he messed up?
Do we care?
What? Might as well put it out there. Yink was nuts. Useless. Couldn't even help himself. We don't even know if he's happier dead.
That isn't our decision.
But we don't have any Carriers, do we? Why is this guy here? What if he's right, even if not about Yink?
No, we'd know...
Except suddenly Coraline isn't so sure. Something feels off, the voices different. She shakes her head, trying to clear it.
I find that unlikely.
Not knowing the first thing about any of us, who do we expect this guy is gonna go after next?
Oh gods! Nolan!
Gwynne runs out of the room.
So what, now he's gonna kill a kid? Where's the sense in that?
What, you think it makes sense killing someone and leaving him in a guy's shed?
Wasn't Feldman's the one that got hit with that cow?
Clearly it made sense to him.
Of course it doesn't bloody make sense! What about the children? First Nolan, then who?
Coraline sighs and has at her coffee, which has mysteriously turned into whiskey, and proceeds to pay no attention whatsoever to the ensuing yell-fest.
Half an hour later, it's still going on, though Merlijn at least has since gone off to go do something useful. Coraline is completely drunk, just sort of sitting in a fuzzy stupor.
Edine yells stuff.
Davis yells stuff.
Naran says something in a completely normal tone of voice which is quickly drowned out by Everton yelling stuff.
The voices are silent.
Moira looks irked.
Coraline pours her some whiskey.
A bit later, Moira looks a bit less irked.
At some point Samaritan winds up on Coraline's lap, and Coraline strokes the cat's fur.
Granny Höhrmann rocks idly, knitting.
Idiots, all of you.
Edine yells some more.
Everton yells at her.
Davis and Edine yell right back.
I should do something, shouldn't I?
There is more yelling.
Coraline sets the cat aside, gets up, sets her whiskey on fire, and drops it on the coffee table.
The yelling takes a moment to stop, during which the coffee table gets well and truly on fire.
Granny Höhrmann stands walks over to the coffee table with the deadly certainty of an iceberg, and holds a hand over it.
The fire goes out.
(glaring at Coraline, mostly just because they're facing each other across the table, and then at everyone else, too)
There has been a murder. Doesn't matter who it was, doesn't matter now why. We assign a judiciary and we handle it.
Everyone just sort of stares at them. Some look decidedly embarrassed.
Lyra, will you be our judiciary?
Get to the bottom of this. You know more about these matters than anyone here, so make your assessment and decide for us all.
(glancing about the room)
Lest there be more. Lest he find his Carrier whether there is one or not.
(indicating Granny Höhrmann)
But if I wind up feeding this guy to a tentacle monster, blame her. And someone tell Merlijn we'll need the militia... something.
I need to go sober up after all of you.
Coraline rubs her head as she leaves.
Naran leans back, chuckling to himself.
INT. Molstead inn - night
It's later. The place is busy, with quite a few folks in from out of town and the outlying farms. The gog hazard ceiling table has an entire pile of gogs on it, plus two sort of hanging off it. Coraline is tending bar. Dors is making rounds ensuring nobody gets too rowdy, and striking poses at some of the patrons.
Neither tentacle monster nor elves are anywhere to be seen.
Coraline passes off another set of drinks to one of the waitresses.
Could we get a refill over here?
Coraline fills a pitcher and passes it over, and adds a tick to the sheet under the bar.
Another guy, THOMAS, is standing at the bar when she looks up.
Yeah? What... don't call me that.
You're a captain.
The Commander sent me. We got the guy.
Oh! And I'm mostly coherent. What are the odds?
(she looks around at the rather busy inn)
Coraline grabs Agata under an arm and shuffles out, grabbing her staff with her other hand.
Dors vaults over the bar to replace her, doing a flip over a somewhat startled patron.
INT. Militia house - night
The militia house is full of militia, who are all basically just random folks in bits of armour with swords and shovels and the odd bow and crossbow.
Merlijn greets Coraline as she and Thomas enter.
Thomas sort of salutes Merlijn.
Merlijn nods at Thomas.
He's in back. Davis says you're the judiciary?
Yeah, I don't know.
They head over toward the cells in the back. In one cell is a chair, and tied to it, the rather muscular, rough-looking bounty hunter. In the next cell is a small pile of weapons and armour.
Coraline gives him a dubious look.
I'm almost afraid to ask, but how, exactly, did you manage to capture this guy?
Nolan dropped a rock on his head.
...of course he did.
Are you in charge?
Apparently. Who are you, why are you here, and why did you murder Yink von Jummerlund?
MILITIA GUY NORMAN
Er, Yink's name wasn't...
Coraline glares at the bounty hunter.
The name is Dalric. Dalic of Forst.
There's an empty pause while he looks at Coraline expectantly.
You might have heard of me.
A few of the militia helpfully point out that they have.
I brought down the Tethremaine liche. I singlehandedly saved the Kingdom of Bourlenon. And now you're holding me here like some sort of petty criminal?
You murdered a guy. I think that means you are a petty criminal.
So you didn't murder the guy?
I am here for your protection! The threat he might have posed... you do not want to see that unleashed upon your village.
So... you did?
Coraline and the bounty hunter stare at each other for a bit.
Some of the militia shuffle about around them.
Agata belches, and Coraline drops the cat on the floor.
Do you really think you can hold me here?
Right now? Sure. You're surrounded by at least some sort-of-competent armed men, and you were brought down by an eleven-year-old with a rock, so for the moment, at least, could I ask you to please take this seriously? Pretend to take this seriously?
Coraline sighs and leans on her staff.
Did you kill the annoying hamster man who follows people around asking them what time it is?
(peering back at Coraline)
Weren't you going to kill him at one point?
He was a Carrier of the Death of Souls.
No, he wasn't, and you know he wasn't.
The black soul was rather proof of that. Now if you'll please, I really should be going now.
The bounty hunter slips his bonds and starts to get up.
Coraline points her staff directly at him.
And what are you going to do with that?
I'll shoot you.
The bounty hunter gives her a curious look and sits back down.
Yink was not a Carrier. That gem did not come from him.
He showed all the signs. Voices, hunger, darkness. It was the early stages, but the transformation was imminent.
Imminent? Yink's been like that for years.
MILITIA GUY DUSCHESK
After that thing up in the mountains. But he wouldn't talk about it. And then he wouldn't talk about anything.
MILITIA GUY GNARLY
Did we ever find out what happened? The witch... er, the other one looked into it, but...
(still looking at the bounty hunter)
Did you find a glowing soul gem in his things, by any chance?
MILITIA GUY GNARLY
In... oh, yeah, there were a whole bunch. I'll get it.
Gnarly scoots off toward the other cell.
Coraline watches the bounty hunter carefully while she waits, holding her staff steadily on him.
Agata washes her face with her paw.
You're the local witch?
One of them.
Gnarly comes back and holds out a small sack.
Gnarly does so, and then dumps the contents on a nearby table. It's a pile of soulstones, several of which are glowing in prismatic pastel shades.
Coraline glances toward the table.
The bounty hunter jumps up.
Coraline shoots him, clipping one of the bars, hitting him in the leg.
The hunter falls over in front of the bars, suddenly at eye-level to Agata.
Agata doesn't move, peering at him curiously mid-paw-wipe.
(to the bounty hunter)
How many people have you killed? How many times have you even been right?
Are you crazy, lady? What the fuck are you talking about?!
Lyra, I really don't think you should be...
(going up to the bars, and setting the staff head against them)
Shut up. Those glowing soulgems, those are people killed, their souls trapped. Normal ones, not Carriers. In this world they would call that necromancy, and it is not used for anything good.
That's ridiculous! Those aren't... that's what soulstones are like!
He's a surprisingly bad liar. I'm surprised. Are you surprised?
Do you take me for a fool? I will give you one last opportunity to explain yourself, and I suggest you stop trying to lie to me.
(indignantly, to the rest of the militia)
Is this how you handle justice?
Leave them out of it. These men may be simple farmers and tradesmen, but they do what they can and fight to defend themselves, and are not your pawns to manipulate.
I am your judiciary. Answer my questions.
The militia remain silent. Some of the ones with crossbows raise them at the bounty hunter again.
And what guarantee of fairness am I supposed to get when one stupid bitch holds all the power?
None whatsoever. Sucks, doesn't it?
Did you fill those soul gems?
There's a long pause.
Enchanted dagger. Stick them with it, it puts the spell on them for you.
Who were they?
Does it matter?
You tell me.
The bounty hunter doesn't respond.
So why are you here, really? The rich bounties? The hot ladies? Bode?
The bounty hunter scoffs.
Answer the question, hunter.
You're all going to die. When the Death of Souls comes, and it will come, you will be defenseless. Let me go, and I may forgive...
(he gives Coraline a pointed look)
...this and help you.
The militia start to look a bit worried and uncertain.
What do you think?
Dubious. If that were true, why not bring it up in the first place?
He's dangerous. Dangerous to you, and to others. Protect yourself.
Do you have anything to back that up?
The bounty hunter rolls his eyes.
We have rather fuzzy rules on murder around here, seeing as it's not something that comes up very often, so you should know that right now, my decision is kind of teetering on one thing: how likely you are to do this again. And right now, I'm not liking your odds.
Then you should kill me now.
I don't think you have it in you. All this talk, but you're not going to take a life, now are you? You have someone else actually do it, because...
(he grins, shaking his head)
Because you're just like all these other simpletons, all high and mighty with your morals, but utterly weak like the woman that you are. Exile me and be done with it.
Something in Coraline snaps.
You are witnessed. You have killed our hamster man, and others too. You admit to it, and provide no defense for your actions.
By the right of the Molstead council, I am your judge in this life, as Kyrule will be in the next. May he weigh your soul fairly in the eyes of all gods.
Coraline shoots him, this time in the chest, and he falls backwards, banging his head on the chair, collapsing in a heap.
Some of the militia act a bit surprised.
You shouldn't doubt a witch.
Damn. That's not how I would have handled it.
Coraline plonks the bottom of her staff down on the ground, hiding her own surprise that she'd seriously just done that.
How would you have?
I... I don't know. I wouldn't have just... but a lot of other soldiers I knew would have done the same. The things you see...
I've seen a lot of things.
Look, I need a drink. Anyone else wants one, first round's on the house.
The militia perk up at this.
Listen up, men. First thing's first...
Coraline hurries out while he directs them to deal with the mess. Her heart is beating entirely too quickly.
EXT. Tree overlooking Molstead - night
Nolan is up a different tree now. He watches as Coraline and her cat head back down the road, then looks down at an unexpected noise beneath the tree.
Jora is standing below, looking up at him.
Nolan stares at her.
Please come down. I know you have your reasons for being up there, but your parents are worried about you. Come down, eat dinner with them, sleep in your bed for a night, and come back in the morning.
Nolan considers this for a moment.
Nolan drops out of the tree, landing right next to Jora, his nose about two inches away from her elbow.
Jora heads off and leads him back home.
EXT. Soravian foothills - afternoon
Days pass. In the woods, the prevailing colour is brown, with hints of fire. Long shadows dance through falling leaves. Bare twiggage crowns the sky. Brown grass rustles in the breeze.
A bear-moose nibbles on some twigs and grass, poking around, foraging. It's brown.
The bear-moose looks up at a noise, and gets an arrow through an eye.
The bear-moose stands there for a bit, and then falls over.
Several soldiers in dark armour, which is, for some reason, not brown at all, run over to it and haul it off.
EXT. Temporary camp; Soravian foothills - afternoon
More soldiers are all about, waiting around, horses resting, equipment dropped to the ground. The bear-moose is stowed with the other supplies. The men speak in hushed voices; others stand silent.
Amidst this, two priests, DORANIS and EDRIC, are speaking in perfectly normal tones.
This is a bad idea. Have I mentioned this?
Yes. You've said.
Well, it's a bad idea.
I just want this to be absolutely clear that it's a bad idea for when it all kills us. Because it's probably going to kill us.
Oh, I do. I also think this is a terrible idea and we're going to die. That's all.
NURUNN, the Deathdealer leading the operation, comes up behind them.
Enough. You're helping nothing with this.
Okay. But if this kills us and we all wind up dead, or worse! This may have turned out to have been my last chance to be right.
Nurunn gives Doranis a flat look.
Doranis raises an eyebrow.
I mean, if our souls get eaten, this really could be it. I'm just saying.
There is a horn call in the distance.
(announcing to the camp at large)
The soldiers around erupt into activity, picking up their gear, mounting their horses. A SCOUT rides in a bit later, heading straight to Nurunn and the two priests.
We've got the Carrier pinned, sir. Party standing by.
Good. Take us there.
The scout takes point as guide, leading the main group out, with Nurunn and the two priests right behind him.
EXT. Soravian foothills - afternoon
The CARRIER is a balding man with a scruffy beard and matted salt and pepper hair, pinned against the base of a tree behind him by a spiked net hooked into the wood. He struggles vaguely, but makes no particular moves to escape. He is filthy, and smells of filth. His eyes are pure black.
Several soldiers hold crossbows on him, and several others stand ready nearby. They part as Nurunn and the priests approach, the soldiers following dismounting behind them.
The horses shy away, fretting uneasily.
The Carrier hisses and strains against the netting.
Keepers help us.
Well, he's really far gone.
Hopefully not too far.
Doranis nods and casts a soulbinding on the Carrier, forming intricate weavings with his fingers to shape the spell as patterns of light dance about them.
The spell trickles over the Carrier like glimmers of heat.
Nurunn leans on the Carrier, pushing him back against the tree, an arm across the guy's dirty chest. His face is inches away from the Carrier's, and he studies it closely.
The Carrier doesn't seem to see him, and gibbers a bit.
Edric passes Nurunn an amulet, which Nurunn presses to the Carrier's neck.
The Carrier stops struggling, falling back against the tree, and Nurunn fastens the amulet in place.
For a moment, the Carrier just sits there. His eyes clear slightly, bits of white showing around the edges.
Nurunn gets up.
That feels like something. Is it working?
Nurunn taps the side of the Carrier's head.
Anyone in there?
What? Where am I?
You're safe. Can you tell me your name?
Kessel. Kessel of Trom.
(he pushes a bit against the net)
Why am I... I'm so hungry.
Edric hurries over, notebook in hand.
Almost as one, the horses bolt, several of those still ridden throwing their riders.
Nurunn looks around, hand on his sword.
The woods are silent. A soldier coughs, quietly.
Something clinks and explodes out of the Carrier, black and shadowy, full of hunger and voices. Nurunn is sent flying, and bounces off a tree, collapsing in a heap.
Doranis throws up a ward, which forms an energy shield in front of him that flickers but holds as the darkness subsides.
Edric falls to his knees, clutching his head, as do several of the soldiers. Others just stand there, arms going limp at their sides, staring slack-jawed as their eyes change, darkening. A few collapse outright, dead.
A moment later it's gone. So is the Carrier, and several of the soldiers.
Nurunn gets up, drawing his sword with its dark emblem, taking quick stock of the situation. He casts quickly, raising his sword over the group.
(casting over everyone)
Guäïn adëaka käïkä.
He cuts down the turned men, efficiently moving from each to each. He stops in front of Doranis and snaps his fingers in the priest's face.
Doranis looks up to regard Nurunn, looking shocked.
You know I... was joking. I was joking.
Nurunn goes to Edric and kills him with a quick thrust into the back.
Guardians, reassemble! Those of you who remain, your mission is now more important than ever. We must refind this Kessel of Trom, and quickly.
And should you find any of your companions turned, do what you must.
EXT. Molstead market square - morning
It is lively and festive. People are setting up for the festival throughout the town and around, readying food, decorating, putting up stalls, and building up the foundation for an enormous bonfire in the centre of what would normally be the market square. Some gogs are getting in the way, holding signs. Children are running through it all, sometimes getting in the way, sometimes helping, sometimes tripping over gogs. Elven tourists mingle about in a few small clumps.
Coraline is seated on a stack of kegs, like an empress on her throne. It's even shaped a bit like a throne.
Agata is sitting on Coraline's lap.
Onpahanvaanlampi is sitting on Agata.
Coraline pets them both awkwardly, feeling oddly tense, not really paying attention to where one cat ends and the other begins.
Barney comes over and bows before Coraline and her keg throne.
Coraline peers down at him imperiously, as do four cats.
Behind him, Keller strolls over toward the bonfire pile and throws a large fireball at it, setting it aflame.
And there was fire!
People around stop what they're doing and applaud. Coraline gives it a couple of polite claps as well, then picks up the two cats on her lap and jumps down off her keg throne.
Joining us now?
I think I'm gonna to head to bed, actually.
What? But it's not even noon.
Do you really think anyone's getting any sleep tonight?
Er, well, no.
Exactly. And I never actually went bed last night, so... yeah.
EXT. Elven ruins - afternoon
Kit, Jora, Erry, and Nolan march into the ruins, much like the previous time, but now with purpose, and geared up for an expedition. Kit has a whole bag of gear. Erry has a sack of food. Jora is heavily armed. Nolan is holding a stick, a thin branch whittled down to its core, straight and even.
Erry jumps up and climbs onto a rubble.
Kit ignores her, strolling on, taking the lead, and Erry jumps down and runs after to catch up.
Nolan examines some stones as they pass, making absolutely sure they're not sheep.
They stop in front of the Edifice, tall and white and gleaming, carved and adorned with flowing motifs, though the basic architecture is fairly simple. It seems to sparkle in the shadows.
They look at it, look some more, look around, look at it some more, and then look at each other.
Some fairies look at them curiously, peering around from behind the rocks.
Can you open it?
They say nobody's been able to open the Edifice since the Exodus.
We'll be the first. And we have it. A mystery to unlock the mystery within. It will all be mine.
We have a stick.
(he holds up the stick for emphasis)
It needs runes.
Nolan pokes the door with the stick.
(motioning for Nolan to hand over the stick)
Nolan passes him the stick.
Kit holds it aloft like a wand and points it about in various arcane-looking motions, generally directed at the door.
Nothing continues to happen.
Kit pokes the door with the stick.
Nothing continues to continue to happen.
Erry makes a face.
On the stick?
What did it say in the book?
Didn't. It's secrets. Things in books aren't secrets, or they wouldn't be secrets anymore.
All right, all right, which ones?
(counting off on his fingers)
Fish. Tree. Hunger. Chaos. Hazard.
Nolan turns slightly and stares at Kit intently.
Kit quickly looks away and scribbles the runes down the length of the stick.
Kit then, hesitantly, tries poking the Edifice door again with the stick.
The magic sealing the entryway bursts into brilliant sparkles, which quickly fade. With a click, the door unlatches and opens slightly.
Erry tip-toes forward and pulls the door open the rest of the way, revealing a dusty mass of darkness.
(grabbing Erry by the hood of her jacket)
Hold up. Let your brother put a light on you first.
Kit casts magelights on everyone, starting with Erry and Jora.
Kiuen, kiuen, kiuen adëaka...
Jora lets go, Erry charges inside, and Jora draws her sword and marches in after.
Kit and Nolan exchange completely meaningless looks and head in as well.
INT. Edifice - afternoon
The entry chamber is grand but simple, with a high ceiling and dual staircases leading up to higher rooms. Doors lead to other rooms off to the sides. Elaborate light fixtures, emitting no light, hang from chains on the ceiling, aside from one smashed on the floor. An empty desk faces them. Dead plants and paintings line the walls, along with some disintegrating sofas and low tables. Stickers with ancient text and pictures are stuck to a few of them. A large pile of bones is heaped up against one of them, and dust coats every surface in little dunes, marred only by the girls' tracks.
Jora is standing at the base of the stairs, looking up, though she glances back as Kit and Nolan enter.
The door quietly booms shut behind them.
Erry slides down a banister and lands in a dust-covered heap in from of him.
Keep an eye on her. We don't know what we'll find, or if the place might try to fall down on us now that we're inside.
What'd you let her run in for?
Where are the sheep?
Why would there be sheep?
Kit said there might be sheep.
There might have been a lot of things. That was sort of the point.
Nolan frowns, looking about, and then fixates on the pile of bones.
Maybe... there are sheep in there.
EXT. Woods outside Molstead - darkness
Darkness. Everything is darkness. Shapes looming, careening, drifting in and about, but still, only darkness. The Carrier runs through it all, oblivious. It is only darkness, only everything, black and close, enveloping, consuming.
Sometimes there are lights, and the Carrier goes to them and puts them out, inviting them into the darkness, bringing them home.
Sometimes the shapes fade away. Movement stops, and he is alone, entirely alone in the quiet, the black, the whispers tickling the edges of the void. Then the shapes return, and the lights beckon, beckon, begging him onward.
Everything is hunger. The darkness is hunger, empty, necessary, comforting.
Something is out there now, and he fixates on it, feeling it calling to him with its silent delirious voice, so cold, so empty, so sweet and comforting, so hungry. It is so dark, so far, but so close, and his hunger pales in comparison. His darkness is too bright. He needs to find it, to join with it, before the darkness goes entirely...
The Carrier runs on, onward through the woods, hungering, unseeing.
INT. Molstead Inn - evening
It is cold. You aren't anywhere in particular, just snowy fields, rural, vague. The snow is trampled, frosted. The cat is seated by your boots, and you're not moving either, but you need to be somewhere. You need to run, but the train isn't coming, and the wind is bitter, and it's getting dark already. You need to be out of here. The trolls are coming.
You spin around, but there is nothing there, only the wind, the voices whispering, drifting on the surface of the snow. It is cold, bitterly so, even trying to get in through your hat. You wrap your hood tighter around it.
"Is this Finland?" the cat asks.
"Huh?" you say.
"Seems cold," the cat notes. "And dark."
"I don't recall Captain Obvious being here," you say, peering around. What are you even doing here? You can't remember. The station is run-down, abandoned, the tracks covered in snow.
"Troll," the cat says.
It falls on you like a pile of bricks.
Coraline is lying in bed, covered in cats, staring at the ceiling, the voices rising around her. Outside is a general racket of music and singing, punctuated by cheering and explosions.
Something is very wrong.
A horrible noise squelches through the walls. Coraline starts to react, accidentally jostles a cat, and decides to just lie there instead.
The horrible noise squelches some more, getting louder, rattling the ceiling.
What the hell is that?
Tress sticks up a paw.
Argument of Hags slides off the windowsill.
None of them answer the question.
You all are useless, you know.
Coraline tries to slide out from under the cats and falls out of bed.
At least we're not drunk.
Perkele, cat, that was your fault.
Coraline gets up and finds herself face to eyeballs with a tentacle monster.
Did you know knocking is a thing? Also not coming in through walls?
That was you, right? There isn't something else in the walls. Right?
The tentacle monster blinks a long row of eyes at her in sequence.
We wish to partake of the polluted essences of fruit and flesh.
There is an ongoing soiree.
Coraline gives the tentacle monster a blank look, and then starts pulling on some proper clothes right in front of it.
If you want to go to the festival, just... go? We've already got gogs, so I dunno how much weirder you could possibly be...
(she picks up a bottle of vodka and opens the door, indicating it with the vodka)
This is a door. In the future, please open it and go through it, as opposed to the wall. The gogs couldn't figure that out either, but it's really quite simple.
Ask Scoffle if you need help. Or any of the other cats.
Coraline heads out, and the tentacle monster follows scuttlingly, raising itself slightly on an array of tentacles while simultaneously pulling itself along on others.
EXT. Molstead - evening
It is very noisy. The festivities have clearly been going on for awhile already. There is rubbish scattered about, and people who look like rubbish. Many are already quite drunk. Many are singing, and waving torches and fireworks. Some do not take well to the tentacle monster, avoiding it, staring, something screaming in surprise and disgust. Others do not even seem to notice. One guy gives it a bottle of shalott and claps it on what would have been a shoulder, were it a humanoid. Two elves who see this cheer it on excitedly.
Gogs run through with signs, some of them right-side-up. Kids run through as well, some also with signs, some following the gogs.
Coraline scoots over toward the slightly dismantled keg throne and starts contributing to the chaos.
The bonfire, for some reason, is bright green, shooting sparks up into the sky, where they swirl and die amidst the fireworks.
INT. Edifice - evening
Kit, Erry, and Jora explore the building thoroughly over the course of several hours, losing all track of time as they go. Erry opens everything. Jora clears each room they come to. After finding the one sheep bone in the pile (a rib), Nolan joins in, and helps open a few doors the others couldn't, fiddling at their locks, set into the walls as opposed to the doors themselves.
Much of it is offices, filing rooms, closets. Lots of desks, lots of papers, and stranger consoles too. The chairs are all broken, and not like anything they've seen. Kit sits down on the floor with some of the filing, casting spells to translate the ancient Torini script, and after the first few papers crumble in his hands, spells to preserve the paper as well, and reads with fascination what turn out to be little more than requisitions and reports, but which unlike anything he's ever dealt with.
Dead potted plants are everywhere. Nonfunctional light fixtures protrude from walls and hang from ceilings.
Erry and Nolan are standing in the entry chamber, facing a pair of large doors behind the staircases up. Something that looks suspiciously like a warning sign is plastered to one of them.
Erry is eating some cheese and moose on bread.
Nolan frowns at the doors.
According to the forms, they were trying to evacuate through here. But I haven't seen any signs of how. You?
In the basement.
Jora comes over as well.
Nolan sticks a long wire into a hole and pushes a button by the door, and it pops open.
Erry pulls the door the rest of the way open and leans inside, illuminating a wide set of stairs down.
I see... stairs.
Kit pulls her back by the hood and starts down in front of her.
The others follow after, Jora taking the lead again, sword out.
INT. Edifice basement - evening
The basement is completely unlike the upstairs. It's one large room, sectioned off by a half-height wall dividing it in two, a slit in the middle acting as a doorway to the other side. Several black screens are affixed to the half-wall, peering down on them like dead eyes. The floor and walls are bare stone, unadorned. Luggage and boxes and bags are heaped in piles, abandoned. Striped tape affixed to the floor partitions out boundaries and walkways.
There is a stale smell of not quite decomposition.
Their magelights cast jumping shadows between the piles. Kit and Jora just stop, staring.
Erry takes a few steps between the piles and pokes one uncertainly. It crumbles a bit, settling.
Nolan heads over to the slit.
Besides them, nothing moves.
In the Exodus, the elves left their homes too. Not all the cities had fair warning.
So they just left their stuff? For two thousand years? It was just... abandoned here?
A silent, sealed memorial.
Erry picks up a small stuffed moose and holds it uncertainly. Bits of fake fur fall off.
This was someone's toy. Someone like me...?
She holds it up to eye level and stares at it, and then shrieks at it.
The moose doesn't respond.
Nolan stops in the doorway slit, and after a bit, the others pick their way over to him. Erry tucks the moose under an arm.
The other side of the half-wall has more luggage, piled up and shoved out of the way into corners even more unceremoniously. Other bits, too, smaller bits, seem to have been simply dropped on the floor and trampled.
Rising up out of all of it is a Gateway, a huge ring set into a base in the floor, propped up with clamps and stilts. Cables stream out of it, connecting to stacks of crates nearby, and a large crystal on top of the crates is connected to it as well with more cables.
Nolan goes over to the crystal and taps it a couple of times. Nothing happens.
Can you turn it on?
Er, I don't know. Maybe?
Kit goes to investigate.
Nolan nods and goes to stand in front of the Gateway, looking up at it blankly, turning the sheep rib over in his fingers.
Erry pokes about the luggage in a sort of fearful fascination, gathering up small things and secreting them away with her food.
Jora strolls about, checking for hazards. She glances toward the Gateway uncertainly from time to time as she does.