- 1 Main(主线)
- 1.1 1-1
- 1.2 1-2
- 1.3 1-3
- 1.4 1-4
- 1.5 1-5
- 1.6 1-ZR
- 1.7 1-7
- 1.8 1-8
- 1.9 1-9
- 1.10 2-1
- 1.11 2-2
- 1.12 2-3
- 1.13 2-4
- 1.14 2-5
- 1.15 2-D
- 1.16 2-7
- 1.17 2-8
- 1.18 2-9
- 1.19 V-1
- 2 Side(支线)
Her first impression was that she'd awakened to a cloud of glass butterflies.
"How pleasant," she thought, "that these figures can move as well. Where are the strings?"
She sat onto her knees, fixed her dress, and found that there were no strings, and these were not
butterflies. Glass shards, flying on their own. "Delightful!" she felt, and so she said it.
The glass reflected another world than the one in white surrounding her. In it she could see reflections
of seas, cities, fires, lights; she rose her hand to scatter them, and laughed in joy.
She didn't know these pieces of glass had a name: Arcaea.
To tell the truth, they were so beautiful that it didn't matter the name.
She entertained herself by touching them, swirling them, watching them. That was enough, no?
There were six questions to ask: who, what, where, when, why, and how.
Of these questions, she asked none and desired no answers, content instead to bask in the glow of Arcaea.
This was her meeting with a new world.
But questions come inevitably.
The girl stands amidst the spiral of glass and wonders, "But really, what are these?"
Portals? Windows? Memories?
This last answer, "memories", strikes a chord with her. "They're memories," she says, faintly. And like that,
her questions stop.
For some reason, this is a place all full of memories. Whose memories, or of what, she can't tell for certain,
but her questioning has already ended.
For some reason the glass follows her. She can't hold any of it, but it comes to her nonetheless. On a whim,
she decides she will begin gathering it.
Piece by piece.
For no reason at all.
Without a clock, she has no sense for how many days or hours she has walked, but there is a new certainty
in her head...
There is beauty in a memory, that's what she finds herself believing. Thinking about it, a memory is never
certain, can change with the times, and yet is the nearest thing to a concrete piece of the past. It can be
bitter or sweet, and she thinks in either case they're quite enchanting.
For now she will see what memories she can, of these other places and people, and appreciate them for
their beauty. In the first place, these Arcaea flicker and glow splendidly in this strange and ruined world.
It's easy to fancy it all, and that they show memories makes it easier.
Humming, hands aloft, and stepping down broken paths, she brings what seems to be memories fit for an
entire world with her, following behind in a shining stream. Memories of an ugly, pretty world...
"How nice..." She sighs, she smiles, and serenity becomes her, it seems, too well.
But there’s nothing to worry about.
A pleasant, simple world like this need only be pleasant. Nothing more.
A joyous landscape. For so long, she has walked through a ruined yet beautiful world, finding things and
For so long she's traveled shepherding glass that the sky has become a mirror bending light as far as she can
see, and shaped almost geodesically. The fantastic and glittering roof never leaves her, and with her
surrounded by only fancies and goodness, the world has become endless bliss.
She traipses down a spiral staircase that once led into a manor, but the walls have now all fallen and
memories replace them. It is all the better: she leaps out ahead and dashes the memories everywhere,
basking in sparkling Arcaea that, when she finds them, float up to join the others in her artificial sky. So
enraptured now, she laughs with cheer.
A flower, a kiss, a love, a birth: a life followed by a new life in a river of glass flies past her eyes and blends
into the rest. She has seen this reflected countless times, and it still pleases her.
She gazes at the wall above. As they’ve come together, they’ve grown more vibrant.
She smiles, satisfied, before she wanders on again. And, as ever, heedless of all consequence.
They say that this is true: anything in excess is a poison. She either didn’t know, or hadn’t cared.
The girl now walks past what seemed to have been an old concert hall, the impact of its grandness dulled
as it had been split perfectly in twain, as if some higher power had willed it so. Out of the tomb of sound
drift memories again: of dances, of performance, hopes, victories.
Her mouth twitches. Has it simply become boring, or is this something else? She lifts her hands and the
Arcaea come to her, gently weaving over her palms and through her fingers. Blankly she notes them. How
many times has she seen the last hurrah of a retiring band? How many times has she seen two brothers
embrace? Too many times she’s seen the formation of a love, so frequent it was apparently standard in old
and forgotten worlds.
She lets the memories go, and genuinely thinks nothing of it.
They rise. They fly to join with the memories she’s still been gathering, and she looks at their destination
now. It’s grown much brighter since she began her collecting. It seems to grow brighter every day…
How many days has it even been? She winces, and a grimace twists onto her face. She shakes it away.
Maybe she only needs more, then whatever is missing will be found. She calms herself and carries on, not
letting it bother her that no matter what, she cannot push the Arcaea following her away.
“Heaven” is a kind of hell.
The truth is, idle peace and thoughtless pleasure are anathema to passion. Imbibing and imbibing of happy
things endlessly dulls the senses and makes “happiness” indistinct, blurred, and ultimately without
purpose. Now nothing has a purpose. She’d never had a purpose.
The sky is almost blinding.
She may be wandering, or she may be standing still; she isn’t sure and it doesn’t matter. The sky she’s made
has her attention, but the memories within it can’t be sorted out.
It has all become an opaque and overpowering haze compelling emptiness. She is losing her self.
And as she is losing her self, she remains numb to the encroaching dissolution. Though she did not
remember, she invited this pleasurable and suffocating cage, and she locked herself within it. Now she
lacks even the will to worry.
The sky grows brighter and she loses more of herself. With little time for her left, she stares upward as if
waiting. Bright, bright, bliss, beauty above: effulgent memory overtakes her.
Her mind whites out.
And, without meaning, light fades away.
Without meaning, time passes.
And a girl stares up into an empty sky, her mind ended, and thus her story along with it.
The girl is on her knees, her chin brought up, and it is soon that her jagged and pervasive creation will
consume her in its light coaxing oblivion. Above her it pulses and glows, gentle but insufferable. She lets it
nearly take her, thoughtless.
And from that vast nothingness, something catches her eye.
Distinction alone breaks her from the lull of uniformity, and her gaze swings to it: a single, special piece
of glass, just a bit red, and absolutely noticeable. Perhaps in reality or through a trick of her mind, the
rest of the sky that it begins emerging from dulls in its intensity. She thinks, it’s becoming easier to see.
She thinks, and realizes she hasn’t thought at all in ages.
The heavens wobble and distort, and a crack seems to run through them, the whole thing twisting around the
creation of a new memory: a shard of memory that should not exist. It breaks from the whole, and breaks
Both violently and calmly the roof of her making falls down, choking the air in scattering light. The spectacle
would be magnificent to her, but she remains stuck on the newest piece, which floats toward her amidst
the frightening chaos of joyous memories.
It, too, is a memory of joy: that of herself that she has forgotten.
“When was— Did I—?”
She speaks in a fractured voice, her vocal chords having been long neglected of use.
Now in her hands, the odd shard that came from zero revolves, and in it she sees the time when she awoke,
dancing alongside glass, traveling the mirror world, and happy. Tears fall from her eyes, and she remembers
that happiness left her long ago.
Twinkling glass pieces fall in an unevenly timed rain while reflecting dead worlds as they always do. The girl
at the center of it all focuses on a piece reflecting something new, however, and of this world still existing.
Tears fall from her eyes, but the reason is yet grasped by her. Her mind still recovering, she agonizes over
the loss of everything she had before, falling all around her. But, also, she agonizes over the loss of her zeal.
The memory reflected shows a better and ignorant time, as she walked into a trap she’d created for herself.
Even if she knew where it would lead — these shiftless travels inviting senselessness — would she have
done it all again, just to be happy?
The red in the glass is that of the red in her clothes, and she grasps the shard tightly to add the red of her
hand to it, blurring past and present, running warm over the shimmering surface. She feels, again, but she
feels so much more than before. She feels, overwhelmingly, regret.
These were times that, almost with pride, she had moved meaninglessly. She had gathered the Arcaea to
enjoy them,and not thought even a bit as to why. She had brought on herself a torturous and tedious
hedonistic existence,a manufactured and blinding prison. She had done it all for nothing, and nearly lost
And to a question of “Why?” there was never an answer. Just to be happy? That hadn’t been it either.
Collapsed on her knees, choking through cries with the memory over her breast, she knows the weight of
her errors. She had surrounded herself in love and life so much that it came to disgust her, and that truth
In grief the girl cries, thinking as much as she can, about everything that has happened, and what anything
A few small pieces of old times falling down intermittently break this, but the girl’s anguish has settled.
She no longer openly weeps, sitting among shimmering glass with dried tears on her cheeks and dried
blood in her hands. Fear, worry, and regret have ended, so she now has to look out ahead.
What she had done was misguided. It was, in fact, not guided at all. With the idea of “more happy scenes
would only be better”, she had filled the sky with good memories, not wondering if there might be any
danger in bringing so many of the mysterious shards together in one place. She realizes now that they had
threatened to swallow her.
If she wants to press on, she must have a reason.
She needs to answer those old questions that she had forgotten. What does this world mean, and why is
she in it? Why are gentle memories attracted to her, although she sometimes saw flashes of hardship in
pieces that refused her? Who was she?
Light comes back to her eyes and she stands on shaking legs. As she does so, the Arcaea surrounding her
shift. She looks on at them curiously, and lifts her hand. They lift too, and she ponders. She realizes this is
different, but that there’s also something different within herself.
The Arcaea will not come to her unbidden again, and she will not allow herself to be caged. She wipes
away her tears with the back of her bloodied hand, and lets the shard that has turned her onto this new
path go to follow behind her. She will let that be a memory, and face this strange world anew, and she will
find all that it is for, be it good or bad.
This she swears, and she is certain.
She'd awakened in a ruined tower, first noticing pieces of glass floating in the air. They led her outside, and
into a world of white.
White, white, and more glass. It seemed attracted to her, so she examined the shards with piqued curiosity.
She could see glimpses of something else in them, like looking through the windows of a train car. In one
flash she saw rain, in another sunlight, and in another death. She grimaced, and pulled away.
Although it seemed attracted to her, at her attempts to reach out and shatter the glass the shards were
naturally repelled. Her grimace deepened into a glare, and she turned her attention to the pale sky.
However, as she gazed into it, her expression melted away. Her mouth opened, but she was too shaken to
Glass: churning, glinting, and turning far overhead. There seemed to be a storm of it.
She regretted giving it attention, as now it seemed to notice, and was coming down to greet her.
It's difficult to describe that sensation which overwhelms her now. A riptide of glass that doesn't shatter,
cut, or reflect her face, pushing past her in powerful amounts, turning up and swirling as if pulled by a great
wind. She stands fast, and watches.
Watches... ...Memories...? ...Of a filthy world.
"What is this...!?" She reaches out. "This...!"
A memory of pain, betrayal, envy.
When she stops it, she stops the rest. They stand still in the air around her, frozen. She whips her head this
way and that. "They're only..."
Dark? Are they only dark? Wherever it is these shards reflect... she sees little light there. Whatever small
sparks she sees fade away in an instant. She bites her lip, and then smiles a smile with no humor. "What
kind of joke is that?" she mutters, "A world filled only with misery..."
As she says this, even her bitter smile fades away.
Without a clock, she has no way of knowing how long she's picked through memories, but she's sure it's
been quite a long time.
For a while, she'd searched the fragments for more happy memories, just to see if they were there. They
were, in small number, but the more miserable shards never ceased to hound her.
So, she's come to know places she now loathed.
She now stands at the middle of a vast spiral of glass that turns about her slowly and resembles cosmos.
She thinks there are two possibilities here: either the world or perhaps worlds these shards envision were
entirely terrible, or since only terrible memories are here...
In any case, she's decided to be rid of it all.
Something inside her has switched. Now when she looks at painful memories, she looks pleased. She
gathers such memories, it seems, gleefully.
"If I can be rid of this trash, or even better the places it represents..."
These places full of chaos and even light.
That will make her happy.
It had been a while, and so she'd grown confident.
In the time since she began she'd explored much of this glass and mirror world, and she'd gathered
countless shards. Like an unending scarf they formed around her neck and trailed long behind her. Now,
she stood atop a fallen tower and looked out ahead with a smile. The terrible memories of other places
twisted behind her menacingly.
She was gazing at a place that had always caught her eye, but she'd refrained from ever going toward it. It
was some sort of distant labyrinth turning into the sky with insane geometry. Of course, it was more glass.
Of course, she could feel its filth pulsing all the way out here.
Although she still had no idea how to go about it, she intended to be rid of the terrible fragments that
followed her eventually. To that end she was gathering them. She at least took comfort in having the bad all
in one place. That would make clearing it away one day all the more easier. This labyrinth was particularly
bad, and she felt confident in gathering its fragments too.
The maze was surrounding by a glittering and ever-shifting sea of good memories. As she made her way
toward the maze, the sea parted, only a few shards coming to join the trail behind her. However, while
walking the path and scattering the good shards she suddenly hesitated. Now flanked by hope, with
despair before her, she chewed on her lip...and her heart wavered.
Once upon a time, surely, things had to have been better.
The girl remembered nothing. and since awaking in the world of glass she'd only ever known other
memories. Because of this, she'd drawn many conclusions and had few second thoughts. She'd been
assured of the idea that nothing in the glass and nothing in this world held any worth. Filth and awfulness,
tears and pain, a small smile, and death.
But once upon a time, things had to have been better. Simple rules are often true: shadows are begotten
from light. Shadow lurked at her back, and now she was surrounded by light.
When she'd stepped into these waves of joy and purity, she hadn't given it a second thought. She'd become
so absorbed in evil that she had forgotten simple good. To be honest it was more than her heart simply
wavering, now. She was overwhelmed. For every glint of hope that caught her eye on the way to the jagged
maze, she paused and questioned everything. There was an answer she did not want to acknowledge,
immersed in this scene of light and chaos. She didn't want to think about it. She wouldn’t allow herself to
think about it.
And, before she really could, she stood before the entrance to the impossible labyrinth.
On impulse, she reached out to the better glass and memories of flowering fields came to follow around
her in a ring. She didn't know why, nor if they would help.
She didn't know it, but she had a name. If she knew it, perhaps she wouldn't have entered the twisted
black maze. It may have been a meaningful name that may have made her doubts much stronger. But she
didn't know, she ground her teeth, and she reaffirmed her beliefs. The light from before would not shake her,
the light of the flower ring would not shake her.
She entered the dark structure and started tearing it apart.
Each wall pulled away was made of misery, each facet held horrors, and the corners were comprised of fear.
This was a castle of iniquity. Simply put, it was grotesque. It was powerfully grotesque.
And that girl, her grin returned. This was it. Climbing through it, running through it, this was the kind of
disgusting monolith that had compelled her into action in the first place. She hadn't been wrong. The glass
should only be shattered. The mirrors should only be destroyed.
And as she gleefully pulled away great swathes of the maze, hallways tumbling into the air, her smile
became warped. She winced; something was wrong with her head. At the heart of the maze, there was
*something* worse than any memory before. She could feel it, close now, calling to her. Her enthusiasm
had drained, and her progress had slowed, and she saw a wicked shard of glass turning in space,
containing the memory of the end of a world.
With a hand on her face, she looked into the mirrored world. She remembered the sea of pleasant realities
below her and the flowers now circling around her. She'd taken down part of the maze's roof and the walls
had subsequently fallen away. Dark glass rained slowly around her, and in the distance the better memories
She looked into the end of the world between her fingers. She swallowed, and with newfound strength,
removed the hand from her face. She reached out, and dragged the end of the world into her collection of
memories. With this monolith toppled, she felt an honest and genuine surge of bliss. However terrible the
memories she faced from now on would be, it couldn’t possibly matter. She was certain now that she was
strong, and she would definitely destroy them all. And so, with a genuine smile and a tired laugh, she came
down from the sky, and the tower along with her.
Perhaps she should have worried, because her heart was suddenly in pain.
She drew back, covered her mouth, and her eyes went wide in confusion. She had been standing on the
floor of a gigantic and bitter maze that doubled as a tower, but she now began to fall to her knees. Before
she hit the ground, the structure began to break and fall first.
The memories of sorrowful days that she had gathered came around her like a cloak, the tower's memories
turned from a falling slow rain into a downpour. She and the maze fell like stones, and although she should
have been terrified to drop so far and so fast, all she could feel was confusion.
She splashed down into a sea of the fragmented happiness of other worlds. The waves she and the crashing
labyrinth caused were immense. Glass pushed against glass in a way that could be described as both ugly
and beautiful, and she knelt at the center of that storm.
She was confused because she was hurting. Everything hurt. Her heart was bursting. The cloak of memories
that she'd collected turned into a grotesque sphere and surrounded her. The world of white disappeared
from her vision, leaving only horrible things. Heaving, sweating, and trembling, she looked into the glass,
into the Arcaea, deeply. And as she came to realize that her heart was breaking,
That her sanity was breaking,
The memory of the end of the world that she'd seen earlier slowly drifted into view.
The girl had felt many emotions since her waking into the white and ruined world. Mostly, she'd felt anger,
but she'd been able to turn that anger into a strange sort of hope. True, she didn't have much of a plan. In
fact, she was only walking forward because she believed at the end of her steps there would be something
good. She had hope. She was certain that this chaos was leading into light. She was certain that the
torments she was facing, that the horrors she was holding, could be completely shattered.
Yes, she was emotional. She felt so strongly that when faced with the idea that no, in fact, nothing had a
purpose...she began to suffer.
The cruelest fate is to have hope and see it crushed before your eyes. And so the girl sat on her knees in a
malformed circle of death, looking at a world coming to its end. This was the first time she had felt the
emotion of sadness, and it was quickly turning into despair. The world of Arcaea was a pointless world. It
was the manifestation of worlds gone. It had no substance, only the reflections of such. Even the glowing
and joyful memories she had sometimes encountered on her way were still only memories of the past. Like
night comes after day, they had to have led into the end she now saw spinning slowly in the air before her.
Her eyes welled with tears.
She had felt so much since waking up.
She'd felt joy. Joy left her.
She'd felt felt fear. Fear left her.
Anger left her.
Hope left her.
Even sadness and despair now left her.
Her eyes went dark and she could feel resonance with the glass. The shell of memories around her began to
crack and split open. She emerged from it and stood in the blinding light, and couldn't feel anything at all.
Like an ocean stained with oil, the memories of a cursed labyrinth and the memories she had brought with
her all fell and muddled into the soothing glass around her. Most of them churned into a gray mass, some
would suddenly jut up from the ground like spikes. She went still, and slowly looked over every shard,
just...counting them. Even when memories came shooting up sharply near her eyes, she continued to count.
Eventually she lifted a finger, beckoning some of the shards toward her. And, with a simple thought, the
fragments came together in the shape of a fragile butterfly. She commanded it into the sky, to reflect the
world of white, and when it came down again to tell her what it had seen, with a simple thought she slowly
tore off each of its wings, and let it fall into nothing. Then, she walked forward from the corrupted sea,
willing each pillar of lost time that entered her path to explode and shatter.
Time passed. She changed.
She no longer sought to collect memories. She walked through the world mostly absently. She discovered
things about it and about herself, but she had no ambitions.
Now she walked beside an old and crumbling building, twirling a parasol she had found in the ruins some
day. Silently, a creature formed of glass reflecting bitter days glided down toward her from the sky. It
resembled a glistening and jagged crow, and it was something she considered no more than a tool. After
that day at the now-fallen tower, she'd become more in-tune with the chaotic Arcaea and was able to call
upon things like this. In its own way, it whispered to her of places beyond her reach in the blinding white
world. Glaring at it, she had it burst and fall apart, and she moved on.
These crows of hers sickened her with news. The world was empty, that's all they said. That she knew.
She'd never find anyone else here.
She wanted to. She needed to. But, it was not because she hoped to have someone to share her fate with.
She needed to let this frustration out on something alive. She needed someone to hurt.
The ruin is as common a sight as any other, but the girl in light
nonetheless pays it attention as she steps through.
She's been wondering what the ruins are and why they're there—
wondering if this world she wanders has a past,
or if its decimated landscape is only coincidental.
She feels she has to think about it, not to succumb to the bliss of ignorance.
If she wants a reason, then it might help to know the world, too.
Perhaps this is a reflection of another world?
She has seen things like it within the Arcaea, but that also makes her wonder if in this place
there might be standing towers and buildings that are not in ruin.
Maybe she’s only yet to see them...
This ruin seems like it was once large, grand.
It must have been a beautiful place where many people came, she thinks.
If it did have such a past, then it is a shame.
There is only her, now, moving through pews and broken candlesticks.
There is only her, and she blinks, seeing that there is in fact somebody else.
Somebody else stands still at her left, before a broken wall.
Once, she would have grinned happily, but carelessly at this person.
As she is now, she looks at the shadow-covered girl in confusion,
but certainly not without a fluttering, insuppressible feeling of elation.
Outside of a memory, here in the world and before her eyes, is a person.
All this time she's walked alone, and here is somebody else:
one other living, breathing person.
The other girl doesn't notice her. She is standing in place, holding her parasol, and sleeping.
Her dark figure cuts so strongly against the rest of the world, which shines so bright in the distance,
that she thinks this must be a dream or perhaps a waking memory.
She opens her mouth to speak, and the other girl opens her eyes to consciousness.
She who heralds sad and evil forgotten things opens her eyes
and witnesses the changed and white-clad girl before her.
That breathing the light-bearer found so relieving stops short,
and the dark girl squints, lips parted as if she means to question.
But she swallows instead and raises her brow, tightening her grip of the handle.
Her own twisted elation flows out from her heart, just as unstoppable, but so much more eager.
It climbs to her face, and the girl of chaos offers the girl of light an honest, irrepressible smile.
Another awakening, and her first.
Each one awakens in the world of memories with nothing in her head. She is no exception.
However, as light filters through her cornea the sensations that grip her are unusual. Her heart stirs first,
passionate, and she almost snarls at the building frustration. She grips the clothes over her stomach, and
thinks her ears might be deafened. Her eye squints involuntarily, and she realizes with that that she only has
a single eye rather than two. She feels around her face.
She coughs, and pushes herself up. What she felt through her glove was something almost soft, surrounding
something very solid in the place of her right eye. She realizes she’s wearing gloves. Looking over her body,
she wonders why she’s wearing these clothes. She wonders next why she knows what clothes are at all.
She had been sleeping against a wall, and upon an inspection of her surroundings sees that there are three
others to make a four-cornered place around her, and every one of them is in extreme disrepair. Looking up
she sees that there’s no roof, and questions why it is she’d expected to find one in the first place. In fact, she
recognizes where she is... vaguely. She trudges along the wall she’d slept against until she finds one she can
step over. As she clears the bricks, she notices that they are entirely white. Looking up, she sees that it isn’t
only this wall, but the entire world that’s white. It is an infinite landscape of an old, defeated, human society,
or rather a pastiche of several societies. It’s bizarre... Moreover: it is bizarre she finds it bizarre. Why?
Before she even stumbles upon any reflective glass, she has already bet on tens of theories behind what
she’s seeing, and who she is. Even that she is alone, and that she doesn’t know her name, tells her much
about the potential truth.
And, over time, she finds more reason for one theory in particular.
She was born with conviction and curiosity. The world of white presents questions but no answers. Days
pass, and there are no answers within the ruins. Weeks pass, and there are no answers within the glass.
Indeed, the world is full of glass, taunting always with views of other, more vivid and varied places. Echoes,
imprints of something real, exactly the world itself, so full of what must be copies of human invention.
After two months, though it could be more, she feels she has seen enough to believe something, and
While atop a broken stairway someplace far away now from where she’d awakened some time ago, she
gazes at an undulating and segmented portion of the sky: a seemingly broken window to nothing, crafted
from over a hundred shards of Arcaea. She becomes sure of herself in this moment. She can bet her
judgment is the truth.
But it’s not enough, and never enough. It can’t be settled with speculation.
So she vows: this realm is a mystery, telling nothing and offering little, so she will solve it and find its reason.
As the only being of this realm, it seems, this will be her first duty.
And as she fully accepts the Arcaea...
So too do the Arcaea fully accept her...
...as a vast and seemingly endless archive, not only to be read, but to be lived through.
It’s early evening. Outside, the twilight amber flowing out from the sun tries to slip by without pause, but
the devices within the surrounding meadows catch and spool it, changing it to rays more similar to what
might be cast from the moon.
The party has a certain atmosphere. Though there are no eyes without the manor, the fact is that
maintaining an image is paramount to those of upper echelons. She knows this, all of this, innately. Sitting
in a darker place, with sunlight captured and held at ceilings and staircases presently beyond her reach, she
considers the implications of this knowledge in calm and in silence.
She looks up from her wine glass. The fiancé (dressed very well, almost stuffily, but in casual posture) is
standing before her.
“There isn’t actually wine in that glass, is there?”
She looks at it through her one proper eye. She answers: “It’s cider... Donovan.”
“Good,” he says with a smile, looking out toward the rest of the room. She looks at his expression blankly.
He smirks. ”Mum and the rest say a little wine is good...” he says, glancing at her again. “It’s a load of
nonsense, I tell you. Have you ever seen a drunk man?”
She thinks, wincing. “I haven’t.”
“Well then, let it remain that way.” He chuckles, then turns away. “I’ll go speak with Morgan. Join us
whenever you like.”
She nods, and Donovan moves to their mutual childhood friend near the fireplace.
As always, images need to be maintained. The fire throws its light only a few feet out from the pit before the
threads of it are wound away, stored into lanterns on the floor. The rest of the room is dark, but comforting.
It’s a setting to relax within. A few lanterns above give just enough illumination for reading, seeing each
other’s faces, and the spread of carefully selected portions of food along with bottles of drink. Just outside
the room, through half-glass walls, an almost untame scene of wildflowers, stones, and streams is dimly
visible: wrapped in a midnight blue, almost like satin. There are twenty guests at the party, half in this room,
the rest in the halls or somewhere in other studies—perhaps the library. This is as much as she knows.
She drinks her cider, tastes it. She notes that it has a taste at all, not having had much experience with cider
herself. She recalls something about a better taste and sensation, but in the moment now she is compelled
to focus on the burn along her tongue. Overall: quite unpleasant. That is her determination.
She puts the glass down on the fanciful doily of the short table beside her. She sits, listens, and watches,
touching the flower petals blooming from her other eye rather absently.
She hears Donovan say, “But to think they’ve done so much already. When I first heard of the idea, I was
sure it wasn’t possible.”
“Well, Charles is quite sure it is,” says another of the guests—not Morgan, but Nathalia.
“Astounding,” Donovan grants, running his fingers through the top of his hair.
“A whole entire world, made by human hands,” he says. “Mankind is quite something.”
Her eye had wandered to the flickering of a lantern, and now it seeks the expectant husband. She reaches
for her glass and takes a sip; it’s enough to make her remember why she had put it down in the first place.
The matter of a created world is only really a fickle fancy of theirs. They do not discuss it much. They do not
much understand it. What little they might have to say of true interest, she can’t, in fact, properly remember.
Irritating. At times, it even feels to her like they aren’t speaking at all.
The girl grows impatient. She stands and passes out of the sitting room into more lavish, more evening-
themed halls, passing rooms with which she’s familiar, but only vaguely. She explores, finding stretches of
unlit, pitch-black paths, and doors that seem to be locked though their knobs bear no holes for unlocking.
What doors are open show rooms of a few men and women each, chatting too quietly to discern. If they
ever notice her presence, they only look her way a moment before returning to conversation or rest.
She wants to go outside.
The manor has some technological sophistication to it, but is married to its ideals of old “class”. Yes, the
dimming canisters are curious, and the manufactured wilds are peculiar, but what interests her the most
are the light-transforming machines in the gardens. She knows of them, but has yet to see them firsthand.
In a word, she is “curious”.
The humdrum of a social gathering so often repeated that this day feels like a thousand identical others is
not something she wishes to dabble in long. Lives and creations are too fascinating to ever take either for
But as she approaches the doors to the front driveway...
As her fingers slip upon the wood of the grand handles before her...
She knows, innately, that there is nothing past there, nothing for her. In the entire world, there is nowhere
else she could be. Her place is not in the meadows admiring mechanisms, it is in the sitting room with the
“Outside” is only an idea. A fruitless, ephemeral concept.
That is not a favorable realization.
Dropping her hand she turns and stands below the chandelier, each of its shards showing an image of
somewhere else in the world, at this moment. Shifting, always, and speaking of places she cannot go.
Fading, almost celestial illumination hangs around the fixture, giving this place and that object a too-unreal
quality. Her eye, her lips, say nothing. She trudges back into the mansion, with a small fire of discontent
born within her.
A windstorm scatters petals around terrain behind the walls.
Glints of white and sapphire catch the eye, and the youths of the party speak of the change favorably.
Like magic. Wonderful.
She comes back into the lounge and witnesses the swirl of artificial nature,
the splendor of a farce.
She remembers the first time those flowers were scattered and thinks:
she’s rather had enough of "remembering".
During the past several hours, she’s tested the boundaries.
The windows were locked, the patio doors were barred, and the ventilation ducts were bolted.
The question she had to all this was:
"Are these shut because people shut them, or because I’m trapped in here?"
Metaphor and emotion often swayed the hearts of young girls, she found.
It was difficult to determine the reality.
When she’d had enough of poking, prodding, turning things over, and wandering,
she began to prattle on with other guests she knew to be acquaintances or friends.
"You know, the week before..."
Tedious, and uninformative too.
Certain lines of questions were met with incredulity or with nothing at all,
as if the questions hadn’t been asked—as if she hadn’t spoken.
What she mainly wanted to know about—engineering, technology, progress—
seemed to especially draw out nothing from the other guests.
With her frustration growing, she took to listening in instead, and eventually heard:
"It’s little more than a globe of dirt now. We’ll terraform it soon, I’m told."
And asking about that... led nowhere as well.
That was quite enough to know, however, and so she entered the lounge again.
She stands in it now, watching the storm, and relating to it.
The girl steps past the fiancé, who smiles at her presence.
He greets her with, "Lavinia, you’re back," and she rests her gaze on his lapel.
He takes no particular notice of this.
The players always seem to act in such a way.
What stands out, what’s unusual, is given no mind.
Bolder and bolder she’s gotten, but they remain always steadfast to their routines.
To maintain the image, correct?
She decides to ask, outright, one question she burns to have answered.
"The man-made world... it isn’t made of glass?"
"...Hm? What on...? Of course not, Lavinia. It’s not a bauble."
Her eye goes wide. Her pupil constricts.
Of all the things, that had been it.
Donovan looks over her shoulder and through the walls, saying,
"At any rate, isn’t it lovely? Almost as lovely as you..."
But she doesn’t reply.
Recognizing his answer as confirmation, she settles on a decision.
As the spiral of flowers beyond flow almost serenely through the air,
she moves to the table of foodstuffs, and stops before the breads.
"I’m told the world they’ve made will have shows like this across sprawling, endless valleys.
Right now, it’s only barren. A concept, you know?"
She stops her hand over a handle, listening.
"But it’ll surely be a delight in time, for those who can afford a spot on it.
And think of the potential, Lavinia."
She exhales. It’s been another fruitless trip.
Her hand closes on fine, smoothed wood.
She turns swiftly and steps to the awaiting husband,
swinging her hand out toward his neck.
The bread knife’s teeth stop in his skin.
Without feeling—without even a spark of animosity—she wordlessly cuts across the boy’s throat,
and watches closely to see what comes out.
It isn’t blood.
It isn’t anything.
The gentleman’s throat is cut in what should be an awful way... but the memory lacks a concept of what
“awful” would be. Instead of a shredded, vicious image, his neck now looks akin to torn and crumpled
paper. Inside is not “shadow” but “negative space”: a void inside his body. The edges of the wound flicker
weakly with some white light, and off the blade of the knife she’d used to strike him, vibrant shards float
aloft... simply hanging in the air.
And Donovan can’t comprehend it. Many of the patrons, too, are in awe and horror of her act. People fall,
women faint, and Donovan reaches for his neck. Some men leap for her, pull back her forearm and hold her
at her neck. She grips the knife tightly, and with a dull expression stares into the husband’s bewildered eyes.
While she hardly struggles with the guests apprehending her, she spots behind Donovan a girl in absolute
hysterics on the floor. The sound of her voice becomes increasingly distorted, beginning to crackle and
fluctuate in volume. Already, then: the memory has broken.
This wasn’t how it went. Even the most time-changed memories could not be altered so. For a wife to,
unprompted, attack her husband this way during a moment of peace...
She’d hoped to provoke a reaction, and is thus satisfied by this result. Although a few of the other people in
the room are unfazed by the commotion, and some even seem to have lost their faces entirely, alteration of
a memory to this extent is a veritable first. This, at least, has been a success.
The world begins to crack, fractures appearing wherever she can see. Reality afterward looks almost
wrinkled from it.
She says to herself, “Making entire worlds for vacation... Surely there would be better uses for that.”
She lets go of the bread knife and sighs, seeing how it can’t move from the space where she’d abandoned it.
“Not a peep about ‘memory’, ‘echoes’, ‘reflections’—importantly, not ‘glass’...”
The room constricts.
“This was another worthless dream.”
The planet divides.
White blears and obscures, briefly flashing everywhere as the image is demolished. In a rush of every
remembered sound contained in that recollection, in that slip of glass, she stands with her eye shut until
luminescence and noise fade. She opens her eye to faintly glittering empty space, her mind twists, and after
another wave of effulgent pain she sees again the world with which she is both most familiar, and most
The world of white and ruins. The memory-shaped realm of Arcaea.
“I’d had a good feeling about this one,” she mumbles, watching the rotation of a shard just above her palm.
“But it wasn’t responsible for this world’s creation, and it was almost empty to boot. Hmph. If I can watch
them, let me remove them too...”
She dismisses the glass, not looking as it returns to the space where she’d found it: a glinting, sharpened
river flowing above the ground. The girl named Saya stares off into the plain horizon, stepping forth while
touching her lip absently, and reviewing the events of the recent memory, comparing them all to the wealth
of a thousand others.
“In these other places, humans can act as gods.”
That is what she learned.
The girl with a flower in her eye closes the book of that memory in her mind. It hadn’t been completely
worthless, only mostly.
It had frustrated her at first: the world she had visited was one she had quickly deemed frivolous, but the
frivolity revealed something important to her about the potential of mankind. Still... for now... that wasn’t
More than theories on “how”, theories of “why” compelled her onward. This had been another of her
journeys out through the ruins of the world in a scattershot hope of discovering that answer, or to even
brush against it tangentially. That was always her focal drive, but a secondary one had been made manifest
after she’d witnessed about two hundred of the memories.
“It didn’t have anything new for a potential reconstruction,” she whispers, beckoning a shard from a nearby,
sparse stream of glass, “but I suppose it’s good that it had some sort of value.”
She lets the gleam of the new piece catch her eye, and she scrutinizes the vision of the past it offers,
muttering absently, “Almost home...”
She carries the fragment over her palm, crossing a bridge with which she’s become very familiar. On her left
is a haphazard pile of what once might have been cities, on her right is a chaotic mass of glass and stone—
recognizable as nothing. She marches the long way back to the place where she was “born”, uncaring of
how many steps it takes.
She takes however long she needs to reach and stop before a place of four fallen walls, between them an
immense sphere of shimmering crystal—an unfinished sphere broken apart, like a cracked shell. Smiles,
tears, deaths, and celebrations flicker in and out its facets. Flowers, plains, deserts, oceans... Animals,
She doesn’t know if she can recreate a world by piecing together memories. She doesn’t even know if she
can truly “connect” them at all by gathering them together like this... But she can try.
She squints lightly to the gleam of the new piece she’s brought. “Let’s see how much you can show me,” she
So it opens, and the girl fades into a new time. In short order, she sees a world brimful with artificial glow,
crowded by endless and nigh-infinite towers of man reaching through clouds of an evening sky, and dark
vehicles roaring through the air. An unpleasant atmosphere flows into her lungs. Cacophony fills her ears. As
she assumes an identity, assumes a new past, she looks on, unmoved. A hundred questions rise in her
mind... She will have them answered. No matter what that takes, no matter what needs to be done.