Chapter 15: "Answers and Wounds"

 [big panel. Shot of the Moonblade forest.]
Zota: [off panel] I've never seen you lose control like that.

[Shot of the felines. They are setting up camp. Kih is setting up a tent.]
Kih: I 'ave never been so angry before. You should know the feeling, wanting to punish someone who 'as 'urt you.
Filthy traitor.

Zota: [is making a fire] Still... Please don't do that again.

Kih: I will not.

Zota: [looks at Kih] Are you... okay?

Kih: I am fine. Please stop being polite. It is frightening.

Zota: [smiles] 'Eh.

Kih: I reckon Anowa will meet us 'ere.
Zota: Are you meeting the pixies later?
Kih: As soon as I 'ave talked to Alan, yes.

Zota: It feels weird, you returning like this. It's like you never left.

Kih: You are disappointed?

Zota: No. I just meant...

[silent panel]

Zota: Did you ever tell 'im?
Kih: What?
Zota: About your parents.

Kih: No. I did not.

[silent panel.]

Kih: I am sorry I scratched your face.
Zota: 'Eh, I've 'ad worse.

[K finishes the tent]
Kih: When Anowa returns, will you keep an eye on 'er?
Zota: Sure.

Zota: Kih?
Kih: Yes?

Zota: Did you really, y'know... crush on Luvo?

Kih: Yes, I did.
Zota: But 'e was, like, twice your age!

Kih: I guess 'e was the better alternative.

[K walks through the trees]

[Big, vertical panel. Alan is sitting on a grassy slope, looking contemplative.]

[Kih shows up behind him.]

[Alan sits motionless. Kih sits next to him]

[They sit in silence]

[Same panel as before.]
Alan: She is dead.

Kih: 'Ad you grown close?

Alan: Yeah, I... I guess so.
She was sweet.

[silence. They are both looking out into the air.]

[silence. Kih looks at Alan.]

[silence. they look into the air again.]

[Alan suddenly starts crying.]
Alan: I... I'm sorry...

[Kih looks at Alan, like she doesn't know what she's supposed to do]

[She reaches out, hesitating, puts a hand on Alan's shoulder]

[Alan grabs her and hugs her tightly]
Alan: I... I... All those people died, and...

Alan: He just ripped out her throat... I thought he'd... but he just killed her...

[Alan cries into her arms]
Alan: And you're back, but there's all this death and pain, and Annie's gone, and it's my fault, and... and...

[She awkwardly strokes his hair]
Kih: I know, kitten. I know.

Kih: When that tainted attacked us... You were very brave. Befriending the strange girl, 'elping us get away. It must 'ave taken strength.

Kih: You need to refind that strength, kitten. You need it now.

Alan: I... I can't...
Kih: Of course you can. This challenge is no different from the rest.

Alan: [looks up] But it is.

Alan: I thought we were fighting monsters. But our allies are every bit the monsters we believe the others to be.

Alan: How can I justify fighting a fight like this?

Kih: I believe there is a difference. The 'umans kill to grow. We kill to survive.

Alan: But from their perspective... We kill to avoid fleeing already lost homes. They kill to avoid civilizational collaps and possible all-out war.

Kih: In that case I guess you need to choose between monsters. Between survival or innocence. There are no easy solutions in a war like this.

Alan: You didn't use to be this blunt.
Kih: You do not deserve to be treated like a child. Not anymore.

[silence. Alan looks appreciative]

Kih: On that note...
I think I am turning Tainted.

Alan: [scared] What?!

Kih: I will speak to Jay about this, as I am not sure. But something is 'appening to me.

Kih: [gets up] I feel stronger, lighter. My senses are 'eightened. I 'ave gotten a strange affinity with magic.

[K starts walking. Alan follows quickly.]
Kih: My 'eadache 'as grown disturbing for my thought process. And many emotions seem... distant, somehow.
I feel stronger and more perceptive, but fragmented.

Kih: [smiles at Alan] Do not worry, kitten.

Kih: Go find Jay. I will join the fey in their discussion.

[Alan looks in Kih's direction]

[He turns around to walk away. He looks concerned]

[Alan walks through the forest. The hut comes in sight.]

[Jay comes in sight. The hut is not very far behind her.]

[Shot of Jay. She's sitting with A's flute]

[Alan stops next to her]
Alan: Can I have that back?

Jay: [looks up] Oh. Sure.

[Jay hands Alan the flute, as he sits down]

Alan: So... You orchestrated everything?

Jay: Some things, yeah. Most happened on its own.
Alan: What were you responsible for?

Jay: Making Luvo bring you here. Tipping the Emperor off about where to find Toke.
I'm sorry, but he would've taken the jewel for himself.

Jay: The rest you know. I contacted Zota those months back, and I guided you to the Emperor yesterday. That's all, I swear.

Alan: [calmly] So it's your fault the colony was destroyed. It's your fault Toke is dead. It's your fault my sis... is...

Jay: It's my fault you found the jewel and has a fighting chance.

Alan: It's your fault *that all those tainted and fey died*!

Jay: Yeah. And it'll be my fault when more death and pain happens.

Jay: And when everything turns out all right in the end.

Jay: Please believe me when I say all of this needs to happen. For the good of the world.

Alan: [sits in silence]

Alan: [bites his lip. Looks angry]

Alan: [suddenly erupts] That doesn't make it all right!

Alan: [gets up] You're not some noble leader or someone whose ends justify the means! You're just a cold, cruel manipulator!

Jay: I'm being cruel so others don't have to.

Alan: Cruelty breeds cruelty!
Jay: Who are you so angry with?

[A stops, surprised]
Alan: I...

Alan: Everyone. Mostly myself.

Alan: I keep thinking I'm stupid for being this optimistic. Naive. Everyone else is fine with killing and destroying their way to peace. Am I completely wrong?

Alan: Annie died to protect me. She shouldn't have done that. I'm thinking maybe I'm a burden for everyone involved. Maybe I put them all in danger.

Alan: But I still don't *believe* I'm wrong. I'd like to choose naivite over cynisism.
You probably don't understand.

Jay: I think... maybe I do.

Jay: I have to fullfil an imperative, just like the Emperor. I rarely think twice about my decisions.

Jay: I'm not a regular human, either. I have lived before, many many many times. I have memories of fighting for my imperative thousands of years back.
But I'm a new person every time.

Jay: Maybe I get... reincarnated somehow?

Jay: I'm definitely not a regular person. I'm free to choose, but within boundaries. I guess it's... hard for me to understand the concept of free will.

Jay: And then I can answer any "what if" with complete certainty. Limited will, limited omniscence.

Jay: But yeah... If I could, I would definitely choose naivite.

Alan: [slightly shocked] You... you've been working on this for thousands of years?

Jay: I think... sometimes my personality has opposed it. Mostly, I haven't known the right questions to ask.
Knowledge doesn't come from nothing.

Jay: But yes, I've worked hundreds of lives towards this one.
Alan: What's different now?

Jay: [smiles] I'll tell you when it's all over.


Alan: I'm sorry I yelled at you.
Jay: It is all right. Truth is good to hear sometimes.

[silence. Alan's anger has completely disappeared]

Jay: [looks at Alan] I've been looking forward to meet you. I know so much about you, yet we've never talked.

[huge panel. They sit, side by side. Jay smiles and nods at Alan's flute]
Jay: May I hear you play?

[Bigish panel. Zota is sitting, looking into the flames.]

[smallish panel, Zota looks around]

[Big, vertical panel. Anowa lands behind him (she's been flying).]

[Zota doesn't move, but his ears move towards An.]
Zota: I need to speak with you.

[It's Anowa.]
Anowa: [smiles] Finally asking me on a date, Zota?
I couldn't be happier!

Zota: [gruff, getting up] Come along.
Anowa: Hehe. Sure thing.

[they disappear into the forest]

Anowa: So... I guess you want my story now?
Zota: Yes.

Anowa: One thrilling tale of a traitor's life, coming right up!

[they keep walking. Anowa doesn't continue.]

Zota: Anowa?
Anowa: Sorry, I just... need to collect the pieces.

[Anowa walks over a root]
Anowa: I was born a regular girl, to wealthy parents, some half a millenium ago.
Zota: Half a millenium?!
Anowa: Yes.
Zota: I thought... I thought the kid 'ad gotten it wrong...

[Camera shows a young Anowa, nearing the fortress]
Anowa: As a young girl, I was chosen by the Emperor personally to serve him. I was thrilled.

Anowa: He granted me the gift of magic and a massively expanded life span. For centuries, I've been a chosen, a special.

Anowa: I created the birdmen. I was among those who refined the technique of Tainting instead of letting it spread chaotically. I created you and the snake people.
Zota: Wait, us?
Anowa: Yes, the felines. You didn't think such strange creatures could evolve on their own?

Anowa: Neither snakes nor felines were as obedient as we'd hoped, so you were left to your own means. It wasn't until you grew in size and threat that the raids started.

Anowa: I didn't regret that, though. Creating sustainable, sentient races seems more like charity than sin to me.

Anowa: However, we did....

[picture of Kenemi]
Anowa: You haven't met her directly, Zota.
My biggest sin.

[Kenemi researching with Anowa. She looks happy and lively.]
Anowa: She is the culmination of centuries' research into the Taint.
All the determination and the magic immunities without the chaotic powers and madness. She's the perfect soldier, and all it cost...

[black Kenemi-silhoutte, having ripped its heart out. Very dramatic panel.]
Anowa: All it took was tainting her to the core, then ripping it all away.

[shot of zota]
Zota: I don't understand.

[Anowa looking solemn.]
Anowa: Imagine trading all your memories of Luvo for getting a new, better brother.
Then having the new brother ripped away, forgotten, as if he'd never been.

Zota: But....
Anowa: Most tainted choose the taint on their own. They want the power, a second chance, or simply to serve the Emperor.

Anowa: No one would choose to do to themselves what we did to Kenemi. She is, in all aspects but the physical, dead.

Anowa: [angry] We went too far. I tried speaking to the Emperor, ask him to stop the research branch. But no, it was in "humanity's interests" to continue.

Anowa: So I burned all notes and instructed Kenemi to never help anyone recreate the experiment. With me gone and her uncoorporative, there was little chance they'd succeed.

Zota: Then why return?

Anowa: Because I met her again. Stronger, faster and in possession of a weapon with origins I could not conceive.
Because I learned that I was expendable.

Anowa: I don't know why they trusted me again. I guess I'm too valuable, too much of an authority there.

Anowa: I think of myself as a good person, Zota. I believe in knowledge, loyalty, charity, all that jazz. As do most humans.

Anowa: However, the world is constructed in such a way that I can't always afford to hold on to those ideals.
You of all people should understand.

Zota: I do.

Zota: So, why didn't you just 'elp us - and Kih - when we got in trouble?

Anowa: Because, I'm sorry Zota, but protecting the world from my achievements takes priority over helping three beasts.

[big, vertical panel. An looks very solemn.]
Anowa: And if crushing the Emperor is the only way to ensure that protection, so be it.

Zota: I guess that makes sense.

[silence (less awkward than the Kih/Zota silence, though). They are both thinking about different things.]

Zota: You told me you didn't 'ave much to do with her back then.
Anowa: I lied. It was easier than explaining.


Zota: I wonder what they'll decide.