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Annabel Lost: The Silence of Walls

World: Annabel Lost
Characters: Quetzal, Rhime
Context: This happens sometime soon after Not the Expert. Quetzal and Rhime (Erradian and Aetherian, respectively) were adopted as young orphans into a Quon settlement and have been living there for some years. Here they are in their teens.

~'.'~|=|:~O~:|=|~'.'~

(QUETZAL sits facing a wall of ruins. Enter RHIME, quietly.)

RHIME: They're missing you.

(QUETZAL starts.)

RHIME: The others, I mean. They can't find you. That's why they sent me out.

QUETZAL: Oh.

RHIME: But if you want to stay here I won't tell.

QUETZAL: Don't bother. (She stands, and makes to exit.) It's not like I'm actually doing anything.

(RHIME stays put as QUETZAL passes her.)

RHIME: Quetzal, don't --- (QUETZAL stops.) --- I don't want you to leave just because I found you. You can stay for any reason that you want, and I won't tell. I'll say you're doing something --- something very important, and can't be back until later. (Pause.) Because you are doing something important, aren't you?

QUETZAL: How would you know?

(RHIME looks hurt.)

QUETZAL: I'm sorry, I didn't mean --- it's not you. I'm the one I should be mad at. (Pause.) Even Jen knows more than I do.

RHIME: Jen is a scholar.

QUETZAL: He isn't Erradian.

RHIME: Oh. I see.

QUETZAL: I've been here for hours, and I still can't remember. It's like . . . I'm empty. I don't understand any of it. I try to listen, like you do, I try to practice, and there's just this nothing. (Pause.) So I started thinking: what if I forgot on purpose? I didn't want other people to assume I was . . . I wanted to belong here, and so I forgot --- I didn't listen, I shut them out.

RHIME: Who?

QUETZAL: The walls! (She gestures.) And it's not just here. They're everywhere.

RHIME: The ancients were great architects.

QUETZAL: They're everywhere, and they're dead. (Pause.) I was the only one who could hear, and now it's too late. (Pause.) I'm sorry.

RHIME: It's all right. (RHIME wanders over to a wall of the ruins.) I forget things too, you know.

QUETZAL: At least you try.

RHIME: I don't have anything else. (Pause.) You do. You really do belong here. And even if you've forgotten, you can always learn again when the war is over. They're still out there. (She traces the etchings on the wall with her fingers). Besides, I don't know if anyone still understands the picture words. It doesn't mean they're dead. (She turns to QUETZAL.) Do you want me to tell you a story?
~'.'~|=|:~O~:|=|~'.'~

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