Vagrant Story is the property of Squaresoft.

Guildenstern after the fall. Just a short piece I found on an old disk.

This is madness, yet there be method in it.

Isn't that what they always say? As though a method, a plan, a strategy, a premeditation were all that is needed to justify an act.

God has a plan. They say that, as well, and I wonder if He's laughing now, laughing at how completely I played into His design. Oh, but they would spit on my grave if I were granted one; how they would drink to the death of the tyrant! But can I condemn them? They cannot help it, change it; they have all been deceived. For we have no free will; none at all.

Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.

What comfort: humor survives the long unravelment. For I know now, at long last, that the living remember the dead only because they cannot bear the thought that they might be forgotten themselves. Or is that true?

But in this interim, my memory seems clear. Yet... how can I be sure?

And it seems sometimes that a bit of cloth, perhaps a hand, perhaps nothing more than a breath, brushes me in the void. Could I reach out, grab an arm, clothing? Look, for here is the painted bird who loved me, here are the men who would have died at my whim. But no, no light penetrates by which I might be seen to sketch their faces on the air, so I shall try to tell you all that has happened to me.

Though how can I tell you, when I am not sure whether these memories are mine, or whether they are memories at all? And you, what of the things you might tell me, that I may find a way to piece the shards together...

But why should you confide in a fox-eyed stranger the intimate secrets of death?

If they asked me now, I could not tell them why I did it. Forgive me, I have an image in my head of myself, tongue-tied, before the vaults of Heaven, before all those piteous, condemning, radiant eyes. Lay down your staff, your crook, as you would lay down your longing for absolution. I would have killed her a hundred times over for just one draught of that wine.

Ah, the closure of sin. So beyond that formality, redemption. Fetch me a confessor! I'll salvage my soul like a charred picture from the ashes of the fire. Bring me a priest, and he will make my sleep a peaceful one.

But no, I forget myself. Who is left to hear my sins, give me my penance? Those fraudulent holy men who weighted a cross with one hand and a blade with the other? I fear they fare no better than I do.

Listen, though, I thought for a moment I heard their voices. When the Dark crashed through me like a revelation. The moon looked like murder, and I had blood on my hands, for I am only human. We understood each other then, the moon and I. Lightning raged on the horizon, and I heard night fall down a thousand flights of stairs.

Then there was silence, more than silence, a barren abyss of sound, like the pensiveness before a wave breaks. And only then could I hear their screams, when I had poured my soul out, made myself as empty as the iniquitous night. That was power. Power like gazing upon the face of God and laughing.

Forbidden fruit is always the sweetest in the Garden, no?

I think it was November, and still warm, yet November is incapable of change. Were vaporous waves of heat to rise from the ground, were clouds of breath to billow from your mouth like steam from the wounds of a murder victim there would still be that last leaf of autumn, not yet fallen, strung gold along the treetops like a bit of ribbon.

And how many autumns past was it a young boy fled his home to join the Order? And how many years now since a girl with eyes brilliant like daggers of light over the water enraptured a youth with her smile? And what does it matter now how many times the fall has come and gone? I am so deep in blood that sin will pluck on sin. I can no longer know that boy, that youth, and they would no longer have me.

Tell me, then… what love is.

I parted her legs beneath the aspen grove in autumn, when the earth smelled sweetly of decay, and the leaves were heavy crimson and gold, crystallized against the cold gray sky. Tell me, if love may be glimpsed in a splash of blood, is it blood that falls on dying leaves or blood that runs over paving stones that is truer?

The light of evening lay gold upon gold upon the aspen tree, and she lay upon me, her head on my chest, one hand delicate on her hair, like a roosting bird. Tell me whether that is truth, or whether truth is lightning that bent the night to its knees, that moved without motion like a dream of pursuit.

Some men are mad, but can't delusions be just another name for sincerity? The faces I want least to remember lurk behind my eyes and grin fit to kill. We share a wisdom now that I did not have in my youth.

But, no, they have not answered my question.

Truth is capricious; and it must be spoken in a whisper, slowly. And in the end it can never be spoken aloud, for the future is as uncertain as the past. And what, then, is the present but the moment of culmination that all moments have led to?

On a cathedral roof I stood, and lightning ripped the black horizon like a blade. In the fresh darkness after the lightning struck, the stars were born once again. Born one by one.

~The End