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 Post subject: What can Never be Learned
PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2011 2:24 am 
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They walked the gray streets, a boy and a girl -- the boy of average height, with ear-length black hair and a lean figure, dressed down in his favorite black jacket and jeans, with the shorter girl by his side having long, dark hair, wearing a pink jacket and her favorite slacks. The girl had a look of apprehension on her face, while the boy was composed and confident. Determined.

"You really think he'll be here?" asked the girl with audible doubt.

"Yeah. This's where he always is," replied the boy.

"But the Maestro said no one's heard from him since . . ." she trailed off.

The boy hesitated. ". . . I know."

Kyla and Hugh stood before the library of Memoria, the only place of learning left in their Unreal City. Hugh knew a friend was in there, someone who hadn't come out for awhile. He knew he needed to, though. Rotting away wasn't an option, not for people like them. He looked to Kyla standing by his side and gave her a reassuring smile, took her hand, and pressed the double doors open with the other.

They passed nearly an hour within the library, Hugh checking every corner, every table, and every chair. The library was massive and multi-layered. A person could reasonably hide there and never be found, even after a search through every visible nook and cranny. Hugh passed and checked every aisle, every pile of books, and called his name -- Emil's name -- nearly every five minutes.

Kyla, on the other hand, ran her hands over the books. She didn't look quite as hard as Hugh, if only because she wasn't as convinced that Emil was there. A half an hour in, she affirmed this belief when she found a workspace filled with open books, a quill pen, and mounds of paper. She ran her hands over them, sat in the perhaps recently emptied chair on the second floor, and flipped through the pages of the open book set immediately before her. She couldn't understand the symbols there, just like she couldn't understand the symbols on the papers, but she knew enough that Emil wouldn't just abandon this without reason. Touching the paper, though, gave her an idea. It was . . . reaching a bit, maybe, but her intuition was always reliable, even when the conclusion was vastly off kilter.

"Ergh," Hugh groaned as he returned to Kyla, still seated at the table, "I guess you're right. I couldn't find him anywhere."

"That's because he's in the Hall," Kyla whispered as she looked up from the paper.

"The . . ." Hugh trailed off, "The Hall of Remembrance? Why would he be there?"

Kyla shook her head, "I don't know. But I think he's there."

"You can feel that?" Hugh lifted a brow.

Kyla nodded. "Mm."

"Well," Hugh smiled at her and reached down to take her hand, "I guess that means we know where to go."

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 Post subject: Re: What can Never be Learned
PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 2:09 am 
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Kyla's intuition would prove to be correct. When they arrived at the hall, it was empty save for the solitary figure of Emil. In a way it was ironic that given what they were this place wasn't visited more frequently.

The serious expression he wore looked completely foreign on his face. He was usually a bright person, happy to talk about anything and everything he knew, and equally happy to listen. Knowledge was said to be a burden sometimes, but Emil's never-ending quest for enlightenment had never so much as caused his smile to disappear.

Until now that is. Now, he stared solemnly at one of the markers, not acknowledging their presence in any way. The name on the memorial would come as little surprise, though, when Hugh and Kyla got close enough to read it:

A K I Z E T S U M E I

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 Post subject: Re: What can Never be Learned
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 8:07 pm 
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Once they entered the Hall of Remembrance, they saw Emil on the far side. At first, they both continued to walk for him, hand in hand, but then as they got closer, Kyla saw the marker he'd been staring at, prompting her to quickly slow to a stop. Hugh kept walking until he realized he was tugging on Kyla's hand. When he looked back to her, all he received was a shake of the head. He released her hand, confused, and turned his attention back to Emil--only to see the marker, himself. A small pain burned its way into his chest.

"Emil . . . hey," Hugh called to him softly.

Hugh walked slowly until he stood by Emil's side, staring at the markers of the Terra Clan. It was only recently that Toushikyo's name appeared here, across from Akizetsumei and Oboreru. With Gestahl and Lynavleder's name upon the wall, that meant there was only a single living member of the Terra clan left. Hugh made a mental note to visit her and do what he could to console her, even though he knew the relative danger involved.

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 Post subject: Re: What can Never be Learned
PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 1:17 am 
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Emil didn't say anything at first. Instead, he reached out to touch the grave before him...however, stopped with his finger just an inch away. He stood there, virtually frozen in place for a time, before he let his arm fall back to his side. Only then did he turn and regard the pair.

Dark circles marked his eyes, as though he hadn't slept in days. "Perhaps you can help me; this doesn't seem to be a puzzle I can solve myself. I need to touch it-" he gestured at the marker "-for my research, and possibly for something more urgent. However...I can't. Every time I try, I can't bring myself to. Why is that?"

He shook his head and began pacing back and forth. "It makes no sense. This has never happened before. I've had no problems doing the same with any other Memory, including ones I've known personally. Why is it different with her?"

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 Post subject: Re: What can Never be Learned
PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 1:30 am 
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Kyla's head and shoulders sunk when she watched Emil fail to touch Akizetsumei's name. She wanted to slink away, shy off somewhere into the distance, away from the empathy flooding her body, mind, and soul, and filling her with innumerable horrid sensations. It didn't take Hugh nearly as long to get it, though. It seemed he'd been feeling it since the moment he walked in--he just had to recognize the details. Hugh lowered his eyes, but remained by Emil's side.

". . . because she was the most important one to you," Hugh replied with forlorn whisper.

Akizetsumei of Terra was important to all of them, really. There wasn't a single person in their city that didn't feel the pain of her loss. She was eternally bright and cheery, a living, breathing sigh of relief from the dismal gray world they knew as their own. Even Illorex was pained by her death, even if only a little.

"And . . . she's gone." He paused, only this time, when he went to speak up again, he spoke for all three of them: "And it hurts."

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 Post subject: Re: What can Never be Learned
PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 1:48 am 
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"But that's-!" Emil looked ready to protest, but suddenly stopped, his shoulders sagging as he came to an inescapable conclusion. "No...if you say so, it must be true."

It was unusual. He always assumed he'd just know if he ever started to experience something like this. How could he, of all people, be blindsided by a realization? Perhaps his abilities were not as far reaching as he thought.

He began to pace again.

"It's strange...I've never been afraid to learn something before. How is it possible? To both want to know something, and to not want to? It's a contradiction. I know I have to. Time is running out. Toushikyo is gone, and the Reaper will soon be coming here. Before that, I have to know."

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 Post subject: Re: What can Never be Learned
PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 2:04 am 
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"Sometimes, knowledge can be a burden," Hugh replied, frowning at the thought, "Especially the painful things. People tend to want to forget the painful memories."

Which was in itself cruel and something almost completely taboo to those in their city--"forgetting" was the ultimate write-off, the conclusive way to eradicate an event's existence. Though all events were decidedly precious, even the hurtful ones, they, Memories, were not without a personal hypocrisy. Even they were apt to avoid painful experiences. Perhaps not forget them, but avoid the burden of knowledge all the same.

"Emil," Hugh continued after a moment, a grim look upon his face.

He'd heard that last part, the issue of time being short and the Reaper en route, and though he preferred to speak first about personal issues, he had to address public safety eventually. Preferably now.

"You said the Reaper is coming?"

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 Post subject: Re: What can Never be Learned
PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 2:43 am 
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"Knowledge...a burden? No, that's impossible. It is not that knowledge is a burden, it is that people are weak. I see...then...for all my knowledge, I too am weak." Another conclusion he was forced to draw, even if he did not like it. While there were greater minds than his even in Memoria, none could boast his memory or thirst for knowledge. But it wasn't the mind that resisted knowledge, he realized. It was the heart.

"Yes. The Reaper is coming. When Toushikyo died, Illorex took something from the Reaper, and he's coming to get it back. Before he does, I have to know. When she died...why was she smiling?"

He knew that Akizetsumei had fallen for the Reaper. That...hurt, he realized. It was why he did not want to touch her grave; part of him did not want to know the extent of her feelings.

And yet, her feelings were what he needed to know most. Not the general, but the specific; her interactions with the Reaper were different than anyone else's. He suspected that she had gotten to know the Reaper better than even he had by spying on him, and right now this was the best and perhaps only way to find that out.

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 Post subject: Re: What can Never be Learned
PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 3:04 am 
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That was . . . that was horrible news. Coming from anyone else, Hugh would have asked him if he was certain--but this was Emil. Emil was never wrong about things like this. It wasn't that he had some manner of precognitive powers, he simply knew things. He could tell where you'd been and where you planned to go to, just by examining you for a brief second. Any knowledge passed down from him was regrettably absolute--regrettably, here, because this was not at all good news. This was something Hugh was going to have to deliver to the Maestro.

Sadly, this meant he'd have to wait a little longer before going to see Katalyna. But first . . .

"I . . ." Hugh trailed off, only to shake his head, "I don't know."

That was a horrible question to think of, too. How could anyone smile, staring down eternity and knowing you had no place there? But . . . if anyone could smile despite that, it was Akizetsumei.

"I'd like to think she did," Hugh spoke up at last, "She had a smile that could brighten a whole room. It . . ."

. . . would've made it easier for her to pass, he concluded, but only in his head.

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 Post subject: Re: What can Never be Learned
PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 3:12 am 
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"She did," Emil confirmed. That part he was certain of. "But why? She had every reason to be upset. She'd stopped her brother, yes, but it killed him, and she was dying, being taken away from the one she'd...she'd come to love, and what was left of her family as well. So...why? Why was she smiling?"

He turned away from them, back to the marker. "I need to know...I need to." He reached out again; once more his hand stopped just short. He trembled. He needed to...even if it meant knowing something his heart did not want to accept.

"Please..."

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 Post subject: Re: What can Never be Learned
PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 3:19 am 
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That's . . . right. Emil was there. He . . .

Hugh shook the notion off, put it out of his head again. He didn't want to go back to those thoughts. None of this was Emil's fault. If anyone could be blamed, it was the Reaper. While the ones that went after him weren't necessarily delicate with him, he concluded nearly every conflict with them by killing one of them, rather than disabling or incapacitating them. Perhaps he had the right to kill in self defense, but such a quantity was hardly justifiable--especially when it came to Akizetsumei, who, as far as Hugh knew, in no way sought to raise her hand against the Reaper. She'd only gone out looking for her brother.

The burden of knowledge would have been too great upon Hugh. He knew very well he wouldn't have been able to handle inheriting the memory of his friend. He knew it'd just set him off the deep end and he'd convince himself to do something stupid. Get himself killed.

"Would it set your heart at ease?" Hugh asked and took a breath, "Would you be able to handle knowing . . . all there ever was to know about her?"

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 Post subject: Re: What can Never be Learned
PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 3:29 am 
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"I..." The answer should've come without hesitation. Of course he wanted to know; he wanted to know everything about everyone, and the only thing that stopped him from firing rapid barrage questions at everyone he encountered was that his time was limited and he had to prioritize what knowledge to pursue.

But would it set him at ease? That he wasn't so sure on. "I'm beginning to think that I don't know as much about my heart as I thought I did."

Perhaps that was the answer. "Hugh, Kyla...if I do this, will I learn more about my heart?" He wasn't sure which answer he hoped to hear. His heart and mind were locked in battle, each a vessel that wished to have its own way at the others' expense. Normal people dealt with that kind of conflict on some level every day of their lives...but Emil was hardly normal, even by Memory standards.

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 Post subject: Re: What can Never be Learned
PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 3:41 am 
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"I . . ." Hugh trailed off.

He didn't know the answer to that question. Honestly, he couldn't say he really understood his own heart all that well. It could lead him to so many impulses, both stupid and productive alike, just because of the slightest whim or whisper of emotion.

Rather than Hugh, it was Kyla that replied to Emil: "You'll understand her heart."

Kyla had been mostly silent for the entire conversation, too overwhelmed by the hurt to speak. But she fought through it all the same, stood her ground and took a step forward, standing them on the opposite side of Emil to Hugh--Kyla on one side, Hugh on the other. Kyla lifted a warm smile to her friend.

"And if she was really so close to you," she paused to look at the name, "Then maybe you'll understand your own heart a little better, too."

Akizetsumei of Terra was not a secretive person, after all. If she could remember it, she would rattle it off like it was the biggest news of the week. And it had nothing to do with her condition, either. She was simply an open book. That was just the kind of person she was. Emil did not stand to defile her memory. Were she alive to explain it all herself, Kyla had no doubt Akizetsumei wouldn't have let a single detail go unsaid.

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 Post subject: Re: What can Never be Learned
PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 1:38 am 
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"To understand her heart...for all my knowledge, I don't believe I've ever understood another's heart. Perhaps that's why I'm so unfamiliar with my own." He took a moment to steel his courage. "I want to understand."

And his hand moved forward, crossing the last few inches to the marker. He closed his eyes in concentration--this took longer than the little glimmers he occasionally received elsewhere. Those he had no control over; this took effort.

When he was finished, he slowly withdrew his hand. Opening his eyes again, he was surprised to find tears in them. "Hope," he stated. "In the end, she placed her hope in the Reaper, that she might live on in his heart. Perhaps then, with this, she'll live on in my heart as well." And even though it wasn't a true life, it made him feel a little better.

"Is it truly possible?" he wondered aloud, as he began to walk out of the hall. "To live on in-"

Suddenly, he stopped. "Wait...could it...?" Whirling around, he ran back toward her marker. "How could I have---because I was watching him! If that's the case...." He shook his head. "I have to be sure."

He ran to three other markers in turn, three of Akizetsumei's family, and touched them. The matter of hearts was put aside for the moment--this was once more about knowledge.

Once he was finished with the last, his eyes widened. "It wasn't the intended result! It was merely the byproduct. Which means...engh!" He'd slipped, and was overwhelmed by the feeling again, falling to his knees in a kind of pain he wasn't used to. The same feeling he encountered every time he dwelt on the mystery, that longing to give up.

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Last edited by Zach Kaiser on Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: What can Never be Learned
PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 2:02 am 
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Hope? In the Reaper? It was a strange concept, but they couldn't question it. If that was how Akizetsumei felt in her last moments, then no one had the right to question it. She felt hopeful, and she was smiling. It was the best passing any of them could ever dream of.

Soon, though, Emil turned and made his way back to the memorials. Watching Emil rummage it over in his head, Hugh couldn't help but wonder what he was looking for. What the purpose of this all was. Now he wasn't just trying to understand the heart--now he looked the same as he always did when he had something new to learn about, something not quite as introspective. Hugh wanted to ask, but he decided to wait on it. Once Emil had an idea, he'd ask. However, word about the Reaper needed to get out. Deciding to stay, Hugh turned to Kyla.

"Hey, Kyla?" he asked.

"Yes?" she smiled back at him.

"Could you . . . could you tell the Maestro for me?" he forced a smile, "About the Reaper."

". . . oh," Kyla looked between Hugh and Emil, "Weren't you going to . . .?"

"I'm going to stay here. With Emil." Hugh looked back to his friend, "If that's okay."

"Mm," Kyla nodded, "All right. I'll come right back when I'm done."

"All right."

"I love you."

"I love you, too."

And with that, Hugh turned his attention back to Emil, rapidly changing from one marker to the other, as Kyla made her way out of the Hall. Near the far end, the north end, she felt slightly faint and had to clutch the door to keep from falling. Were Hugh to have seen, she knew he'd have carried her around on his back all day. She was kind of glad he hadn't.

Hugh remained silent until Emil fell . . .

"Emil!" Hugh caught him before he could hit the floor.

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