I like evil epilogues. Or “stingers” as I’ve heard them called. I wish more novels would use them; the only evil epilogue I can remember reading is at the end of The Stand by Stephen King.
They pop up in films and video games way more frequently: usually after the credits. It can be as simple as Skeletor’s head bursting out of the water stating “I’ll be back!” Or, in the case of the film The Wolverine, it can be a scene so powerful that it can overshadow the entire story that came before it.
Some people might argue that having a new threat emerge right at the end is in bad taste. I mean the heroes fought hard! Why ruin it? But I believe an evil epilogue compliments the “roller coaster” feeling of being rushed between high and low emotional states. The ending is usually the biggest “high” of the story so the epilogue is the perfect place for one last dive.
But I don’t want to do it just to gut-punch the reader; I want to present relevant story material as well. In the previous book I used the epilogue to set up the sequel by having the villain Pinada appear. It also served to settle the loose end of what happened to Mackaba after the crash. I don’t like to shock people for no reason. Every shock MUST have a purpose.
I hope you enjoy this final scene. Shoot–this is it, isn’t it? Draft two is over.
I’m not sure what I should do next. Should I start the final draft? Should I just go ahead and begin the third story? Let’s have a vote! Sound off in the comments, my thousands of fans! And if I get no votes I’ll just assume you want me to prioritize my completion of all the Disgaea games and Skyrim instead!
It Stretches as a Ceiling
A red sun pulses in the void; vapid streaks of matter bleed out from its form. The plume trails across miles of black space, dipping below the horizon of a shining, glass plain. And the surface is glass; clouds of all colors writhe in an endless crawl beneath it.
A shrine with great walls and columns stands on the glass: statues of people are carved into reliefs, and their faces are all obscured with thick tar. Other, distant buildings stand atop the bare landscape; they appear as stark shapes against the black sky. A figure is lead into the shrine as two more remain by the door.
Three sets of doors lead to a room with a glowing fireplace. Three instruments hang from the hearth and beneath them, the man known as ‘Templetine’ sits. His hair hangs past his shoulders and curves across his chest in a long beard. The tip is still white, with the rest of the length woven with grey. Several people in masks surround him–stoking the fire, carving fruit into pieces–and the features on their masks are all blotted out.
“Hello, dear friends!” the visitor exclaims. A thin veil covers her wide eyes. “How are you all doing? Are you all doing well?”
Templetine takes one of the fruit cubes with a small fork, growling. “Don’t address them,” he says. He takes a bite, speaking while he chews. “Actually, don’t address me either; go back to your angle.”
“But my news is quite thrilling!” the veiled girl says. She dips her head in a bow and back up again in a cycle. “My lady Shirka has given up all claims on her world; any of us may now take whatever we want from it.”
“A worthless gesture;” Templetine says, “a piece of nothing is nothing.”
“But all you need do is help my lady with a few tasks,” the veiled girl says, gesturing with her hand in a continuous circle.
“Help her?” Templetine scoffs. “For a dead world of no use to anyone? Do you think it’s funny, wasting my time with this?”
“This is a generous offer;” the girl goes on, “two of the others have already decided–”
“Generous!?” he booms back. “Tell her to keep it! Go! Get out!”
“I will go do that,” the girl says, spinning on her toe and walking away.
“By Zonz, she’s annoying,” Templetine utters, accepting a cup from another masked person and taking a gulp. A muffled word slips out from one of the others, and Templetine slams the cup down. “What? What is it?” he demands, waving his hand and sending one of the masks falling apart into three pieces.
“I heard–I heard them talking before I opened the doors,” the unmasked individual tells him. She covers her face with her hand. “The people came back.”
Templetine stares with his sunken eyes, his mouth slack. “Eh? People?” he asks. “What people?”
“The ones from her world,” the servant goes on, looking away. “They said everyone that disappeared came back. As quickly as they vanished–years ago.”
“Came back!?” Templetine repeats, slamming the tray with the fruit and sending pieces and peels to the floor. “And who’s they!? Who else is here!?”
At the end of the hall, the veiled girl speaks to another woman: garbed in a black dress and wide-rimmed hat atop red, curling hair. Flecks of rust mar the sleek surface of her clothes, and a circle is strapped against one eye with a band. She turns to gaze at ‘Templetine.’
“You ‘respectfully decline my most generous offer,'” she purrs. She crosses the room, halting at the pieces of spilled fruit on the floor. A stocky, smooth leg slides out of a side slit in her dress.
Templetine chuckles, wiping a hand across his long beard. “Shirka! I didn’t–I was just having a bit of fun!” He gets up from his cushioned chair, pushing aside one of the masked attendants. “I’m quite interested in helping you with your world; you know I have to keep up appearances for these dregs! I was going to come by later, alone; talk it out with you–”
Shirka pinches the rim of her hat; drawing it down over her eye.
“See, I don’t think you were,” she tells him. “I’m not like you. I don’t need magic or separate facts from lies. I don’t need slaves to peel the truth out of something rotten.” She smashes a fruit with the tip of her shoe. She turns her back to him, holding the brim of her hat over her eye. Templetine frowns, snorting.
“You aren’t fooling anyone, you know,” he says after her. “You’re the greediest out of all of us! You wouldn’t just give your world away!”
Shirka puckers her red lips. “Now you’re right about that–I wouldn’t,” she tells him. “I asked a very high price for my world. The highest price that Elder Sain would pay, in fact.”
The veiled girl turns to them with a shadow of a grin beneath the fabric. She hops once with a clap of her hands. Templetine’s foot hits the chair’s leg as he stumbles back.
“The highest–no, Shirka! You wouldn’t!”
He dashes for the fireplace, shoving a servant out of the way. The three ornaments on the hearth snap together. He makes a quick swipe for the device that is formed: falling short and slamming to the ground. Metal tinkles at his bound feet; a chain holds him to the chair. A grin spreads above Shirka’s flat jaw as she watches him thrash.
“Shirka, please,” he begs, brushing at the chains as the interlocked rings twist and wind up his leg. “I’ve been no harsher to you than the others. Please–”
“Your punishment has nothing to do with Shirka’s wishes,” a deep voice states. The masked faces turn to a man striding in: his armor sleek, showing no seams as it wraps across his body. The color is a deep maroon with scattered splotches. A harness holds a monstrous spoked gear at his back. His dark complexion glares out at Templetine through a transparent visor.
“Elder Sain, no,” Templetine whines. “Punishment? No, no–”
“You stole the Nameless’ prototype,” the armored man accuses. “You intruded on Shirka’s world. You have ignored the highest law of Arsiling.”
“I had to–” Templetine chokes out through the chains encircling his torso, arms, and neck. “They broke my world. I couldn’t get it all back together.”
Elder Sain speaks. “And if I didn’t punish you then the world we have here would break. I’m sorry.”
The chains cover Templetine now and the ends of the various lengths snake into the hands of the veiled girl. She swings them to and fro: clanging them together.
“You can’t do this,” Templetine pleads. “It is also law: we can’t–we can’t harm each other!”
The veiled girl goes to the masked slaves, handing each one a chain.
“One last fruit to peel,” she tells them.
Shirka lifts the brim of her hat, both eyes wide with laughter as screams fill the shrine. The armored man looks on with stern continence until the slaves finish with ‘Templetine,’ tossing the heavy chains away. They mumble through their masks at the body.
“After I return them to their world, I’ll prepare the Nameless for her maiden voyage,” the armored man tells Shirka. “If all goes as planned we’ll take it to your former world. Suppress the populace at an appropriate spot. Redistribution will begin from there.”
Shirka turns her head away from the fireplace. She looks up at him through the ring strapped to her eye. “And the other part of my payment–?”
“We’ll pass the other planet on the way; take her and whoever else that you wish.”
He gives a long sigh and beckons to the masked people. “I don’t understand you and your grudges, Shirka; she only destroyed your avatar; we won’t even need them once this is done.”
Shirka stares at his back as she watches him leave with the slaves. “Grudges are all you’ve left me with, dear Elder Sain,” she admits. With a nod to the veiled girl, they exit the shrine: out onto the glass plain where clouds swirl far beneath the transparent surface.
And a weeping, red star hangs in the sky.
His hair hangs past his shoulders and curves across his chest in a long beard.
Ah. Hair. Good ol’ hair. Nothing announces the passage of time quite like a long beard. He’s too lazy to shave himself, anyway. And I’m guessing he doesn’t trust his slaves to come near his face with a knife. This is why Templetine was always frowning at fruit and having trouble with it in the earlier chapters, by the way; his slaves weren’t there to carve it for him! And here you thought he had a bitter rivalry with pears.
Speaking of the masked slaves, I decided not to give them the faces of the other characters from the tournament. Templetine didn’t look them in the eye anyway so how in the world would he remember their features?
A stocky, smooth leg slides out of a side slit in her dress.
Man, my google history must look so strange. I’m always looking up dresses and skirts for my female characters. Y’know, just to make sure I’ve got the descriptions right. Now with these new characters I’m looking up leather straps, veils, harnesses–and we haven’t even gotten to the weirder ones yet.
Matt, if you ever work on my computer again just remember–that stuff in the browser history was for SERIOUS book research. Yes, even the catwoman costumes. They are vital to the plot.
“I’m not like you. I don’t need magic or separate facts from lies. I don’t need slaves to peel the truth out of something rotten.”
I was trying to find an appropriate thing for Shirka to say after she reveals that Templetine is lying to her. The original line in my head was “separate the truth from the <bad word>.” Yeah, you know the one. But as you can tell I’ve found a line to get the point across in a much more poetic way. Now all you parents out there can let your children read this dismemberment scene without fear of naughty language.
I’m very excited to get started on the next story but I should probably get the final draft for this one done first. The only problem? There wouldn’t really be enough material for blog entries. There are no major changes worth mentioning; everything would just be about swapping sentences around or putting punctuation marks in a different place. Man, I just don’t know what to do. Hm? What’s this!?
Zounds, of course! I should stall for time by writing more music blogs! Thank you, Mr. Champloo from Disgaea 3! I will never forget your inspiring words! ONWARD! TO COOK!