This/Wayfarers song

From Zaori
< This(Redirected from This/Wayfarers' song)

Heap of bits and stuff

Dinner planning

Roster

  • Corn
  • Arsten
  • Coraline
  • Vardaman
  • Myrr
  • Kyrule
  • Rahah
  • Sherandris
  • Kerris
  • Sphinx

Begin

INT. GROUP ROOM AT SOME RESTAURANT
Several folks already seated at a large, questionably shaped table: VARDAMAN, KERRIS, CORALINE, and SHERANDRIS. Vardaman is nursing a mug of shalott, and Sherandris is perusing an upside down menu.
A few look up and smile as ARSTEN and CORN approach. Arsten picks a seat at random and sits, Corn hesitates before sitting next to him.
Some folks chatter. Arsten tries to unfold his napkin and winds up with a knot in his hands. Corn fidgets uncomfortably. A WAITER materialises behind them.
WAITER
Anything to drink?
ARSTEN
Water.
WAITER
(to Corn)
And you?
CORN
(fidgeting uncomfortably)
Er...
CORALINE
Get him some root beer.
(quietly)
Silly acolytes and your lack of shalott.
Arsten looks confused, but doesn't correct the order. The waiter nods and leaves.
VARDAMAN
Pfft.
The waiter nods and disappears.
KYRULE and the angel MYRR emerge from a shadow. Kyrule sits first, then Myrr next to him.
Coraline eyes Vardaman for a moment, then flags the waiter over when he appears to bring Corn his root beer.
Corn sniffs the root beer and takes a sip.
Everyone sits around awkwardly for awhile. Some folks chatter. Corn asks what's going on and gets vagueness.
Bowls of soup materialise in front of all of the seats and people poke at them.
Finally RAHAH enters, sits down in the remaining seat, and does a faceplant into her bowl of soup, splashing Sherandris and Kyrule.
CORN
Um...
CORALINE
Welp, something tells me we're not getting any opening remarks from the organiser.
Rahah gurgles a bit. Myrr looks at her, looking some sort of concerned.
After a bit, Sherandris reaches over and pulls Rahah's head back out of her soup.
SHERANDRIS
(sticking his face in Rahah's)
Hi. How are you?
RAHAH
I made a flying boat!
SHERANDRIS
That's great.
Sherandris drops her head back in the soup, splashing at Kyrule again, though it sails right through him.
VARDAMAN
Before I get any more drunk, could we maybe clarify who everyone is? I only recognise about half of you, and I'm not sure I want to be right about most of those.
SHERANDRIS
(indicating each in turn)
Soup girl is Rahah, Mr. Grumpy there is Fred, that's Myrr, you're Vardaman...
VARDAMAN
Who is?
SHERANDRIS
(continuing over him)
The lass with the lovely hair and not so lovely skill at staying alive is Coraline...
CORALINE
(indignantly)
Hey!
Vardaman starts coughing.
SHERANDRIS
That's Arsten Dren, the star of his own adventure game, and with him, the esteemed Corn.
ARSTEN
Huh?
Sherandris indicates the seemingly empty seat next to Corn.
SHERANDRIS
There's a sphinx in that seat.
Corn peers into the seat in surprise.
SHERANDRIS
(pointing toward the next)
That's Kerris, great guy, don't dis his mum. Seriously, his mum is a lovely woman and doesn't deserve that.
KERRIS
You know my mom?
SHERANDRIS
I know all. I am Sherandris, the great and powerful Oz.
CORN
Oh, I see.
KERRIS
I don't.
ARSTEN
(indicating Rahah)
Um, is she dead?
Sherandris and Kyrule both reach over and pull Rahah's head back out of the soup in what turns out to be a somewhat conterproductive joint effort.
They give each other annoyed looks, and then Kyrule pushes the plate of soup away, and the soup still on Rahah's face slowly turns to dust and drifts off.
Sherandris shakes her a bit, but it doesn't do much with Kyrule still also holding her.
SHERANDRIS
Oy. Wake up.
Rahah bats him off and finally sits up under her own power, or would if Kyrule weren't still also holding her up.
RAHAH
I'm awake. I'm awake.
Meanwhile Corn is trying to pet the sphinx. It keeps following his hand with its head, trying to get him to scratch it behind the ears.
CORALINE
Are you? Because you look like how I feel.
VARDAMAN
How do you feel?
CORALINE
Dead.
RAHAH
Sorry. I was running an experiment. Was holding the universe in my mind. Turns out this universe is kind of big.
VARDAMAN
Ya think?
SHERANDRIS
It's not that big.
Coraline's order of blood arrives in a tall jug. She scarfs it down really quickly, hisses, and then just sits there looking freaked out and a lot more alive.
Vardaman scoots away.
CORALINE
I think I forgot to eat again.
VARDAMAN
(muttering)
And here I always heard the undead had worse hunger than the living...
CORALINE
Oh, sure. But I'd forget to eat then, too. It's just that now I don't pass out from it as a reminder that I need to eat anymore.
Vardaman gives her a weird look, but she's pointedly watching Rahah.
RAHAH
Yeah, well, the test itself was a bit exponential, but on the plus side it looks like we're a go.
VARDAMAN
Who is?
KERRIS
A go for what?
CORALINE
Huh?
RAHAH
Right.
She straightens up and addresses the table with her full presence, somehow commanding the attention of everyone present. Even the sphinx perks up a bit to eye her curiously.
RAHAH
As some of you may be aware, this universe is falling apart. We're going to put it right.
VARDAMAN
Oh, it's that easy, is it?
RAHAH
Given the nature of the destruction and its lack of substantial cause, it has to be that easy. Otherwise the only alternative would be outright impossibility.
VARDAMAN
This is the point where I'd keep snarking at you if I couldn't hear your thoughts. They're freaking me out.
RAHAH
Er, sorry about that.
Here's the thing - reality is shrinking, and it has been for a long time now. Entire worlds have been destroyed, and the planes are simply disappearing as though they were never there. Even time itself, everything that has happened, is fading away. What is remembered is unremembered, and as a world disappears, it disappears too from the memories of the worlds, and the gods.
(much more quickly)
Unless you're Coraline, in which case it doesn't disappear from your memories and then you wind up hurling heavy objects at Kyrule when he has no idea what you're talking about.
CORALINE
(pointing)
Relevant because that's how we figured this out in the first place.
VARDAMAN
(to Coraline)
Wait, so how did you remember?
CORALINE
Um... magic?
SHERANDRIS
She's an Emissary. Her perspective must be absolute.
CORALINE
My perspective is like a kite, man. Hiiiiigh like... like a kite.
RAHAH
(sort of interrupting)
The universe is dying. And the thing about death is you can't really fight it. You can, however, fight the things that cause it, and even here, no matter how ephemeral and insubstantial the cause may be, it is a cause. A darkness. A hunger, devouring the worlds, so ravenous that it consumes even the memory of the disappeared, writing them out of existence past and present. But it's something all the same.
ARSTEN
How exactly do you fight a darkness, then? Be easier if it were a dragon, wouldn't it?
RAHAH
(smiling)
Exactly. And that's what Coraline's been doing, enacting a plan to give the darkness form, a shape that can be fought. It has been some 200 years. If it'll have worked, we should be able to see something by now. We just need to find it.
KERRIS
A big dragon?
VARDAMAN
And then what, you gonna blow it up?
ARSTEN
Would that work?
KYRULE
No.
RAHAH
Damn, that would be awesome.
KYRULE
That would be stupid.
CORALINE
(insistently)
Awesome.
KERRIS
I'm with Fred. That sounds stupid.
Coraline sighs.
SHERANDRIS
I don't think we should blow it up either. Contrarywise, I think we should coat it in chocolate and serve it with couscous.
KERRIS
What.
Waiters arrive with the rest of the orders.
CORN
Wait, so is it a dragon?

More stuff

KERRIS
So basically you're all insane.
KYRULE
Apparently.
CORN
Sphinx.
SPHINX
Sphinx.
CORN
Sphinx?
SPHINX
Sphinx.
VARDAMAN
We're not seriously taking that thing, are we?
RAHAH
Yes.
VARDAMAN
Why?
RAHAH
To record the story.



----



SHERANDRIS
How do we get there?
RAHAH
Morand.
KYRULE
That world has been dead for thousands of years.
RAHAH
Aye. Its orbit passes through a patch of bad space - takes the whole world into the deadlands for part of the cycle, but the laws of physics at least partially hold, since it always comes back after. This gives us a way in. And potentially a way out.
KERRIS
In six months?
RAHAH
Assuming time holds on the other side, yes.
CORALINE
Why would it do that?
RAHAH
(she sighs)
It probably won't.



----



RAHAH
No horses.
KERRIS
What, you want us to walk?
KYRULE
Technology will not work in the dead lands.
RAHAH
Sure it will. Just need the right kind.
KYRULE
Any right kind will not remain the right kind indefinitely.
RAHAH
So we make it use an adaptive design. Don't worry, I'm like a god. I can totally make something work.
KYRULE
You are a god.
RAHAH
(looking surprised)
Well, isn't that convenient!



----



CORALINE
So who's our party leader?
RAHAH
Kyrule! Be our leader.
He gives her a suspicious look.
RAHAH
...Unless you want Sherandris to take over an turn us all into an insane clown posse?
CORALINE
I could go for that.
CORN
What...?
KYRULE
This is your party.
RAHAH
No it isn't.
KYRULE
Yes. It is.
CORALINE
Okay, party leader is the idiot who started this mess. Excellent, it's official.
RAHAH
Hey!

More planning

ARSTEN
(picking at his teeth)
Does anyone have a toothpick?
Myrr catches Vardaman as he nearly falls out of his seat.
VARDAMAN
If you do that again, I swear, I will... I will... why, I'll... what was I saying?
CORALINE
What do you mean, I can't be a necromancer? I've even had basic training. It's like the only wizarding I know, but I do know it.
ILYANATA
That would make sense. Vampire necromancer. It fits.
RAHAH
No, Sherandris, you can't be a clown. Be a wizard. You'd be a sexy wizard.
SHERANDRIS
But I'm not a wizard.
RAHAH
Learn.
SHERANDRIS
Bu-
Rahah glares at him.
SHERANDRIS
(starting to grin)
Yes, dear.
KERRIS
Do we have a cleric?
RAHAH
No. No, we definitely do not have a cleric.
KERRIS
Oh, well, we probably do want a-
RAHAH
You've never heard of sarcasm, have you?
CORN
Why is there an eyeball in my drink?
KERRIS
Um, what is a cleric, then? It says here 'Alle braive adventeurers should take withe them wone clerick, to tende to the illsome and deathley.'
CORALINE
Clerics is priests and healers. We've got plenty. Coming out of our ears, as me mum might say.
KERRIS
Oh. I knew that.
CORN
Anyone want an eyeball?
CORALINE
Is anyone Sheogorath?
CORN
Who?
RAHAH
What?
CORALINE
I think I'm going to be a necromancer.
CORN
I'm going to be a hairdresser.
ARSTEN
Excellent. Could always use one of those on a trip.
RAHAH
You're a mesmer, Coraline. Mesmers can't be necromancers.
CORALINE
Who says? Ascended mesmers are perfectly capable of taking on a secondary profession same as everyone else!
RAHAH
But you're not ascended.
CORALINE
I'm dead. 'Sclose enough, isn't it?
RAHAH
You could die in Pre.
CORALINE
So? This isn't Ascalon.
VARDAMAN
Buggrit, you damn bird, stop that!
MYRR
Please stop falling over, then. I will not hit you with my wing if you do not fall on it.
SHERANDRIS
You also don't need to be ascended to take a secondary profession - that's just to change it.
RAHAH
Will you stay out of this? You've never even played the game!
SHERANDRIS
Just saying.
CORALINE
Oh, right. Great. I hereby declare myself a necromancer. Just as soon as I figure out how to allot my traits to death magic, vast armies shall be mine!
ARSTEN
Traits?
RAHAH
It's a videogame.
ARSTEN
A what?
RAHAH
Something that hasn't been invented yet.
CORALINE
What, still? At this rate I'm going to die before they are!
KYRULE
Technically you already have.
CORALINE
Shut up.

Deadlands

CORALINE
It looks almost normal.
VARDAMAN
If you ignore the colours, sure.
CORALINE
It's land.
(she points out each bit)
Hills and valleys. Lowlands there. Bits that used to be trees. A horizon in the mist.
VARDMAN
If that is mist.
RAHAH
It isn't.



----



EXT. Boat deck; Deadlands
RAHAH
Hey guys! One of the probes hit a positive. Looks like a town.
VARDAMAN
A town?
KYRULE
Living?
RAHAH
Yeah, actually. Wanna check it out?
VARDAMAN
(standing up suddenly)
Yeeeeees!
(he composes himself)
I mean, yes. Let's.
Kyrule nods. A badger slides off a generator.
CORALINE
I'd certainly like to see life again.
RAHAH
Aiight.
(pointing into the black)
Thataway!
The boat turns accordingly in the direction she's pointing.



LATER:
They come to the place thing. Gliding along through some outlier abandoned buildings, air and stuff much lighter, and possibly breathable, though the shield is still up.
VARDAMAN
Hold on, quick question before we go any further.
(he looks toward the cabin, then back to the others)
Do we trust the badgers?
CORALINE
To do what?
VARDAMAN
Exactly.
Something about who will stay with the badgers...


Town in a bubble

VARDAMAN
We left the other two and the badgers in the boat.



----



EXT. Somewhere in town
Stuff. They're looking for somewhere non-broken for the folks to move.
RAHAH
(monotone voice)
Working...
Working...
VARDAMAN
Er...
He pokes her.
RAHAH
I'm doing a computer impersonation, here. Sod off!
KYRULE
All the resources of the Realms at your disposal, and you're still working?
RAHAH
You ever actually tried being a processor? Only so many instructions per second, young man.
Ah, got something. An Aureless world, generally uninhabited, got some holes, should be patchable.
(to Sinnec)
You'll have to do the bulk of that, I'm afriad.
SINNEC
What will be needed?
RAHAH
You're a creator, right? Create stuff, shove it in.
KYRULE
Really?
RAHAH
Yeah, since we'll be shoving this in the other way first, it should balance out and work.
I think.
SINNEC
You think.
RAHAH
Reasonably sure. Not entirely. Can't be with this. But there's guts and there's bongs and sometimes they align in a good feeling that says, yes, yes, this is the cabbage. Go east along the purple scent.
She gestures vaguely, then shrugs when the others give her weird looks.
SINNEC
(he starts laughing)
Out here, that sounds about right.

More deadlands

RAHAH
We've got to keep going.
VARDAMAN
Where are we going?
RAHAH
Forward and on! Until we find out!
VARDAMAN
That's inspiring. Really. I'm so inspired right now, why, I don't know what to do with myself.
Kyrule looks at him askance before deciding to ignore it.
KYRULE
Is there no method to our search?
RAHAH
No, not really. But given the nature of reality here - or the lack thereof - any plan would probably equate to random squiggles anyway.
VARDAMAN
So we just skipped right to the squiggles.
RAHAH
Precisely.
CORN
Inspiring.



----



EXT. Boat deck; deadlands
Rahah is alone standing watch and steering; the rest are below. Not a whole lot happens for a bit, then she looks around and frowns.
RAHAH
(consideringly)
Hovercraft.
With a gesture, she fills the hovercraft with eels, and happily looks over her her handiwork.
RAHAH
Wait, no, that... argh!
With another gesture, she hastily disposes of the eels, looking decidedly embarrassed.
Later someone finds an eel in their cereal.



----



CORALINE
I'm thinking Kralkatoric.
RAHAH
Zhaitan was cute.
CORALINE
Ey, don't tell me that. I'm not there yet. I shouldn't be getting spoilers!
RAHAH
How is it a spoiler that Zhaitan dies in the end? It was practically written on the box. Hells, it might have been written on the box for all I know.
CORALINE
Wasn't. I bought the box.
RAHAH
Oh. Well, they mentioned it in a press release or some such.
CORALINE
Probably on Facebook.
RAHAH
But I knew about it. How'd I have known if they'd said it there?
CORALINE
You fought him. Of course you knew.
RAHAH
Of course I fought him. It's a damn dungeon, isn't it?
CORALINE
And I'm not there yet.
RAHAH
Well... what about Jormag?
CORALINE
What's he look like?
RAHAH
I dunno, icey?
CORALINE
Never even seen him, have you?
RAHAH
What, and you've seen Kralkatoric?
CORALINE
Saw the Shatterer.
RAHAH
Well I saw Jormag's Claw. Thing even landed on my gal once.
A badger falls off the obelisk between them and they stop and stare at it for a bit.
RAHAH
Er... right.
Can we please not turn this into a videogame?
CORALINE
Why not? The Elder Dragons are about the right size, and it's definitely going to be a dragon. Too late for that.
RAHAH
Because this isn't a videogame? Also that's like copyright violation or something.
CORALINE
So?



-----



VARDAMAN
Why did it have to be a dragon? Why couldn't it be a bunny or something? A nice, cute little harmless bunny.
CORALINE
Have you ever fought a legendary bunny?
VARDAMAN
A what?
CORALINE
It would be just as tough and dangerous regardless of the mask we give it. This way there's no disconnect between what is seen and what is experienced.
Or something.
RAHAH
This way we avoid any resulting cognitive dissonance.
CORALINE
Sure.

Dragon scouting

Kerris and Rahah return from somewhere scouting.
RAHAH
Good news, everyone! It's a dragon.
SHERANDRIS
Excellent. Let's celebrate!
Sherandris pulls a giant tub of cheese puffs from his massive robe.
KERRIS
Gross.
CORALINE
(reaching toward the tub)
Gimme!
Sherandris removes the lid and holds it out to her while she grabs a handful.
VARDAMAN
(musing)
Now that's not a phrase I'd have expected before all this... a dragon as good news.
RAHAH
You need to get out more.
CORN
But we're already so far out there isn't anything left to be out.
RAHAH
Well, you know what they say.
CORALINE
Life is strange, and the alternatives are even stranger?
RAHAH
What, is this an alternative?
CORALINE
You're the dead girl.
RAHAH
You're more dead.
CORALINE
You died first.
RAHAH
You died longer.
CORALINE
No you.
RAHAH
No you.
CORALINE
You.
RAHAH
Your mom.
CORALINE
Your face.



----



CORALINE
You died more thoroughly.
RAHAH
No you.
CORALINE
No you.
VARDAMAN
This again? Really?

Ego play

RAHAH
People dream. Worlds dream. Some dreams I give, and some dreams I take, but in dreams I am always there, with you at every pass, every twist, every terror. I am Dreamer and the Dream; in your nightmares you give me strength, in your daydreams you sing my praises.
So prayer? Prayer is implicit. There is no need for prayer when you are with me every time you close your eyes, every time you let your mind wander. I am beyond prayer. I am Dream.
And I know your dreams too, Kerris of Attrel. It was for them that I chose you for this venture.
KERRIS
You expect me to be impressed by that?
RAHAH
Of course not. I expect you to be you, which is a whole lot more interesting.
KERRIS
Really.
RAHAH
You're an oddity, Kerris. You stand fast on your own, and yet your dreams do not haunt you.
You are well-adjusted and extremely high-functioning despite situations that would put others at risk of PTSD.
CORALINE
Oh, now you're suddenly a psychoanalyst, are you?
RAHAH
(suddenly speaking much more normally)
No, but I played one on TV.
KERRIS
You hired me because of my dreams?
RAHAH
That, and we needed someone who could see the world with eyes unblinded by faith.
VARDMAN
The badgers couldn't do that?
RAHAH
The badgers are badgers.
A badger makes badger noises.
KERRIS
Aren't you god people always going on about how important it is to have faith?
RAHAH
Most god people are idiots. Can't say I blame them, though - idiocy can be quite fun.



----



RAHAH
Don't worry. You can trust us. Anything you do, we'll understand. It's pretty horrible.
VARDAMAN
Does that include the badgers?
RAHAH
This does include the badgers.
VARDAMAN
You're right. That is pretty horrible.

Randoms

RAHAH
I don't know about Kyrule. But Sherandris, he is mine. I know his heart like a piece of my own.
CORALINE
Weren't you guys a thing back in the day? You and Kyrule.
RAHAH
Aye, but a lot can change in a few thousand years, and now my wee little godling is all grown up!
She tears up; Kyrule glares at her.



----



CORALINE
And then there was that time I nearly got raped by a yak during my sojourn in Canada.



----



CORN
Do you ever miss your home? The world where you're from?
CORALINE
Aye.
CORN
What do you miss the most about it?
CORALINE
Probably deodorant.


Engame

The gods gathered in the darkness, in the unnatural glow, in anticipation of the apocalypse.

Alyr there, the lady of temptation, goddess of cats, with spear at the ready...

Kyrule there, lord of death, keeper of souls, waiting, always waiting...

Nausica there, lord of the depths...

Eapherod saw them, and others, and smiled. Almost there. The plan, Coraline's plan, would soon come to pass.

Darkness swirled in the depths of the abyss in which they stood.


Real endgame

"Don't break the world," Coraline said.

Bertram looked back, surprised. "What?" he said.

Coraline smiled. "Don't break the world," she repeated. "It's what we always say to each other, in my family. I told Kyrule and he didn't understand, but of course not. None of us ever do. We just say it and say it and say it..." She trailed off.

Finally Bertram said, "Do you understand now?"

She thought it over. "I dunno." Suddenly she smiled at the Voice again, resonating mirth. "But that's what we're going to do. Kyrule and the other loons, they're'a keep the gods of men safely out of the way, and maybe even kill a dragon in the process. And we're going to wreck everything they represent where they're out."

Bertram stared at her. "You can't be serious." But the realisation nagged. She always did this, wording things in the worst way possible. She was serious. "No," he said. "No!"

"Yes," a silky voice said behind him. A sphinx. He realised the Hall was slowly filling with sphinxes, curling their way inside, weaving about the legs of the Dead.

Coraline smiled at them and whispered something sinister. Then she turned back to Bertram. "That's the thing about gods, at least the ones worth knowing at all. Way smarter than they look." She smiled, and indicated the sphinxes. "Trust in me, Bertram. Trust in them."

A sphinx jumped onto her shoulders and she scratched it behind its ears. Another hopped onto Bertram's feet and helpfully said, "Yes."

"The sphinxes?" he asked. They were generally just considered an annoyance, even when the had filled the city with their hungry voices. The idea of them being important... and what were they doing back? Eapherod had removed them years ago.

"Think!" Coraline pressed. "All these aeons, gathering up the stories of the universes, bringing them all together. And yet their hunger is never sated, because all those stories are little. They're nothing by themselves, nothing to the story of stories, the story that all those stories make up. That is the story they have been waiting for, the story their entire existence has predicated."

She grinned slowly, pinning him with her strange green eyes. "We are going to break the world, Bertram. We will destroy it all, and allow it to fade to oblivion."

"But the dragon..." Bertram began.

Coraline interrupted him, shaking her head. "The dragon is a farce. A face to the consciousness, yes, but ultimately its presence will serve as little more than a distraction. What they would fight is oblivion, and you cannot fight oblivion. It just is. So you allow it to happen." She waved her hand about. "And then you say, 'Okay, you had your fun. I'm putting everything back now.' and it grudgingly sidles off into the next world. Or something."

"That makes no sense," Bertram said.

Coraline shrugged. "Yeah, well, that's how it is."

A sphinx said, "Story," and curled around Coraline's legs.

Bertram stared at her. They were surrounded now, with sphinxes filling every corner of the Hall, even starting to pile atop each other and hang from the architecture of the ceiling, but she seemed completely calm, like this was normal, expected.

She reached down to pet the sphinx, but her hand encountered another one entirely. "Soon, dear one. Soon," she whispered regardless, then turned her attention back to Bertram. "I need you to back me, or this won't work. Think of it like a real dragon, I suppose. A hungry dragon, searching for food..."

He tried to reason it. "You mean you want to get rid of all the food when it shows up so it'll move on? What's to stop it from coming back?"

"The same thing that gives it presense currently," she said. "We just show it we mean business; that this is our existence to wreck, and we would rather do so than allow it."

"Um..." Bertram started to say, then said instead, "What do you need me for?"

The sphinxes were covering the entire floor now, and still flowing in through the front doors like a sort of horrible fluffly fluid. Some were flying around, others climbing each other, others still simply sitting wherever they landed. Amidst it all was a muttering and insistence, and an overwhelming sense of anticipation.

"You're the Deathgod's Voice," Coraline said. "I'm his Hand. He still needs to act for it to mean anything. Right now we're the only things in this verse that are him, and if we can't act as one..." she trailed off, then said, "He'll finish it, as him. He's King. He must. But we still have to start it."

Bertram stared at her for a bit, then sighed in exasperation, as much at the sphinxes as at what she was saying. "I don't understand any of that," he said, but held up a hand when Coraline started to respond, and them jerked it away when a sphinx nearly flew into it. "But I'll follow you because you're you. Ever since you showd up here waving a bottle of whiskey-"

"Brandy," Coraline corrected.

"Ever since you showed up waving a bottle of whiskey issuing demands," he continued, "you've always been onto something. So just tell me what to do."

Coraline glowered at him. Details were important, at least to her, and there he'd just been rubbing it in.

"Well?" Bertram said, interrupting her irritation.

She snapped out of it and pushed a sphinx off her head. "Right, so we, as the, erm, appendages of the god of Death..." She interrupted herself by suddenly snorting with laughter.

"That's not funny," Bertram said flatly.

"It is funny!" Coraline insisted, then burst into outright giggling. "Appendages."

"You know this is serious?" he said. A sphinx sat on his head, emphasising the seriousness, and he swatted it away.

The giggles continued and broke out into full out laughter, despite her struggles, before she finally managed stifle it. "Yeah, sorry," she said. "It's just funny."

Bertram turned away, shaking his head. "If you were not the Hand," he said slowly, but didn't finish the thought when another sphinx fell on him.

"Well, that's why it's so funny," Coraline said, then looked around. They were in a shrinking bubble of open air, with sphinxes encroaching around them. "Anyway, sphinxes," she said hurriedly. "We're wrecking everything, then using the sphinxes to retell the story and put everything back. That's basically the plan."

"Yes?" Bertram said.

"We just stay here and... do stuff." Coraline said. "I'll start, you just join in whenever."

"That's specific." He tried to move, but his legs were buried in sphinxes.

Coraline gave them a worried look, then said, "Yeah, well, as plans go it's not a particularly interesting one. It's Kyrule and the others proper who will be seeing the real action. I... hope."

"Should we move?" Bertram suggested.

"Yeah..."

With a quick shift they transitioned into another layer of the city, another Hall still full of sphinxes, but still with room to move.

Departure

"So I suppose I've got two options," Sherandris said. "I could go with them, or stay with you."

Coraline gave him a worried look, and then said, pointing emphatically toward the others, "I'd go with them."

He smirked and sidled over to the other gods.