Part 50: Freedom of Choice
Oh. I was just thinking, we can't really call it Sunny Hill anymore.
I am so tired. That was a long walk. And a long fight.
See where the grass is all worn down there? That's my spot. No-one else ever came up here. I always thought that was weird.
Right here. Behind the monolith, so I didn't have to look at Rhoan, or anything but blue sky and green fields. This is where I'd go for a few hours to pretend I was the only person alive.
In my cottage, I slept with a hard bed, a thin blanket, and memories. Here...
I knelt down and ran my hand along the grass. Still as soft as ever. Even now, nothing reached my ears but birdsongs on gentle winds. And once I closed my eyes, it didn't matter if it was sunny or not.
The perfect resting place. Just lie down in the little rut you made and forget everything.
There'll be plenty of time to sleep when this is over.
I mean, after you beat Kullervo. When that's over.
Will there be?
I don't think an hour or two would matter much. We can wake you if anything happens.
I can manage. Really, I've spent most of my life trying not to fall asleep.
Because of the dreams?
Maybe. That's the obvious answer, I suppose. I don't know.
Maybe it's just from worrying about what might be gone when I woke up.
You know, you can't be sure if your family just left. It could be something forced them. Or-
Mieli. It's been years. There is nothing you can say here that I haven't already thought about.
I wasn't talking about them anyway.
I always knew. She wasn't just a little sick. I knew every time I knocked on her door, there was a chance she wouldn't be there anymore. I just kept myself busy, tried not to think about it.
But when you're lying in bed, all you can do is think.
Do you think she'd forgive me if I brought her back?
Technically she has nothing to forgive you for. She doesn't know what happened.
Yeah, but I'd tell her.
Does it matter? If you're going to do the right thing, you'll just have to accept that it might be a while before she can trust you again. I'm sorry, but that's the way it is.
What if this isn't the right thing, though?
You don't want to see her again?
No. I mean, I do, but that's just it. I only want to see her because I want to see her. This isn't about me.
Let's say I do it. I get her out of the book, make her healthy. Keep her safe from the monsters. Maybe eventually she stops blaming herself for her parents. She finally gets a chance to be happy. And then the world ends and she can't appreciate any of it. It's all for nothing.
She should be able to come back. But not to this.
I want her to live a long, happy life, without ever being sick or losing her family or having a selfish friend. I want her to see the world at its best. And I want the world to see her at her best.
So if I'm here to ask for a miracle, one miracle, that's what it should be.
Think you can manage that? You're the one who took her. Not me. You have to make this right.
Haven't you destroyed enough? Isn't it time you fixed something for once? Maybe then you can sit there and judge us.
Can I tell you all something?
When the book showed up, I didn't want anything to do with it at first. Rempo had to stop me leaving it in the field and going home.
To be fair, that was after a dude tried to kill you for it. Understandable.
Yeah. But even so. If I could go back to that moment, knowing everything I do now, I'm still not sure I'd keep it. I know it's important and all, but honestly?
I kind of hate this thing.
That makes two of us.
Five of us.
I've been meaning to ask. When the world is destroyed, it's because there's something wrong with it. Right? You said it'd been "corrupted" or something.
Yes. To wipe the slate clean. That's what this is for.
So what if the new world was good enough that it didn't need to be destroyed?
Is that the point of all this? Or are we just meant to keep getting swept away with the dirt when we make a mess?
I suppose an ideal world is the goal. I'm not certain it's possible, though.
But if it was, what would happen? There'd be no need for the book anymore, right?
And what would happen to you, then?
...I don't know.
Look, don't worry yourself about this now. Just do what you can.
Don't tell me not to worry about it. How can I not worry about it? It's the only thing anyone'll care about in the end.
You said "I don't know if it's possible." Not "I know it's not possible." Isn't it worth a try? Don't you wish you didn't have to do this anymore?
Of course, but...
But what? That's good enough!
This is the problem! I'm supposed to have been doing this for the new world, for the people there, but I'm never even going to see them. How can I give my life to that? How can anyone?
This whole time, I've had the ones I should have been fighting for right in front of me. And I've just been looking through them for people who don't even exist yet.
Fana deserved better than this, and so do all of you. And I've already done what I can for her. So now I just have to make a good world for you four.
...so we can see it at its best.
And so it can see you.
Well listen, we can talk about this all day, but it's kinda moot until Kullervo's ass has your boot in it.
Go get that done first. Then we can worry about...
What happened to your arms?
Why is he screaming?
Look! Everyone, look! No more chains! Yumil!
I need to shake hands with someone. Everyone. Right now. Stick 'em out, people.
What? What's wrong?
...I can see.
I can see! I can see, I can see!
And my eyes hurt. Ow.
Wait, no. I'm not keeping them closed. I can see.
Wait, so...did I do this? I don't get it.
Say again? You're too quiet!
Oh, sorry. I'm too high up.
...I'm too high up.
Look how high up I am! I'm not even trying!
Where is everyone? I can't tell what anything is.
Rempo! Come here! I want to look at you!
I'm right here, man. Waving at you. Because I can wave now. Hello, you beautiful bastards.
Okay. And you're...Mieli?
Are your shackles gone? Can you speak?
Did you hear that? Was that her?
Try saying something!
Neaki, can you say your name?
Come on, try it! Neaki. You can do it. Ne-a-ki.
N. Nuh. Nn-nee. Ki.
Well done. Well done.
Listen to that. Doesn't she have a lovely voice?
God. I'm sorry. I think I'm going to cry.
Yes I am. Excuse me.
Why did this happen? Are you all leaving?
You're not shackled to the book anymore, right? What does that mean? You're not going away, are you?
...I suppose we could, couldn't we? If we wanted to?
Let's say that's true. Let's say we could all bail out now, without being chained right back up, and leave Yumil. This kid who wants to make a perfect world for us. We all just go on our way and leave him to fend for himself.
Does that sound good to any of you? Is that even in the realm of maybe?
Exactly. So big fucking deal. I have hands. I have my goddamn hands back. That's all this means to me. I've still got a job to do, and so do all of you. Let's make it happen.
That's why we're free. We don't have to be told anymore. We have a reason now. We chose.
How do you know that?
I don't. We've never known why the book does anything, have we? Perhaps this is all just a whim.
Right now, though, I'm sticking to the first theory. Because it is a much happier one and I like it.
My god. This really is beautiful.
Hey, let's see a show of hands!
NOTHING, ANYTHING, WHO CARES
Big thanks to moongardener, who provided this awesome picture and my new avatar free of charge. You are a queen, madam. Be sure to click for the full-size version!