This is the prose segment that appears during Ending E in NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… (context)
In the game, you encounter this over several screens, represented here by horizontal rules.
When Kainé’s eyes flutter open, she sees a dozen villagers quizically staring back. After a moment, she realizes she’s collapsed on the ground, where sharp stones dig at her flesh like—
Whatever. That’s not important right now..
She pulls herself to a knee before rising on unsteady feet and sparing a glance at her surroundings. “The fuck?” she mutters. “What happened? Wasn’t I just fighting Shades?”
Her mind races as her hand gropes unconsciously for the blade that has been her constant companion for so very long. Though she can’t explain it, it’s clear she has somehow been transported to an entirely new world.
[Background picture: the Aerie, intact.]
Well, not entirely new. She recognises the hawk-shaped weather vane twisting slowly in the wind above her, as well as the small, round homes with wisps of smoke drifting into the air. And of course, there are the villagers currently staring at her with a mixture of fear and disgust.
Oh yes. They are a familiar sight indeed.
She is in The Aerie. She is home.
“Is something the matter, girl?” Kainé spins around at the voice, and sees a woman ravaged by time. Her narrow hips barely seem strong enough to hold her body upright, while the shawl wrapped around her thin frame appears ready to fall apart at any moment.
“…Grandma? Is that really you?” Her grandmother’s eyes grow almost comically wide before blinking several times in succession. “What’s wrong, you fool girl? Is your head lost in dreams?”
Dreams? Could this be a dream? But it feels so real.
But she’s dead. Grandma’s dead. I watched that goddamn Shade kill her. So if this isn’t a dream, how the hell is she here?
Unless those Shades killed me too.
“That must be it. I’m dead. I’m dead and this is he—”
“Oh, stop with that nonsense already!”
Kainé flinches as her grandmother raises a hand in the air, expecting pain to come as correction for her foolishness. But instead of a blow, her grandmother simply places the hand upon her granddaughter’s cheek. The warmth of it instantly spreads from her cheek to her face before filling her entire body with a kind of beautiful light. “What’s wrong, girl?” asks her grandmother. “Are you upset? Do you want to go home?”
Kainé feels tears coming to her eyes and struggles to hold them back. Though she still has no idea what is happening, she knows one thing for certain: This is her grandmother.
“S-sorry, Grandma. Not sure where my head was at there.”
“Well, just make sure you keep it attached,” her grandmother chuckles as she pulls her hand away.
Maybe this IS a dream. Or maybe I’m already dead. I don’t know.
But either way…I’m not alone.
As long as Grandma is with me, that’s enough.
“Didn’t I just tell you to stop spacing out, girl!?” her grandmother says with a cackle. “Here, now. Hold this.” She hands Kainé a large sack filled to bursting with all manner of fruits and vegetables.
“Damn, Grandma. This is a lot.”
“Well, it’s important to treat yourself every now and again. ‘Sides, these villagers may hate us, but the bastards are more than willing to take our money. We’ll lend support as we can, even if they have to hold their noses while we do it.”
Her grandmother trails off as if trying to remember something, then slowly turns around. “Well, what do you know? In all the excitement, I forgot to buy my medicine.” A thin smile wavers on her face for a moment before vansishing into a lifetime’s worth of crevices and wrinkles, causing Kainé to take a concerned step forward.
“No, Grandma, that’s fine. You go home and rest. I’ll get the medicine.”
Her grandmother hesitates, clearly trying to weigh her own need for rest against her granddaughter’s odd behaviour of a moment before. Before she can start to argue, Kainé charges ahead, ignoring the small voice in her head that’s telling her what a bad idea all of this is.
“Really, Grandma, it’s fine. Go home. I’ve got this.” She pulls her gradmother’s ancient wallet from her fingers, an act that requires a surprising amount of strength. “Besides, you know how stubborn I am. Once my mind is set, there’s no changing it.”
“Hmph! I wonder where you got THAT from!”
Seeing that further argument will be useless, her grandmother slowly turns and begins the long jouorney home. Kainé watches the figure recede from her vision, waiting for what seems like an eternity to ensure everything is all right. Once the frail shadow finally vanishes over the horizon, she turns on a heel and makes for the apothecary.
“Ho there!” says the elderly apothecary as Kainé enters the store. “Here for Kali’s medicine, are you?” Though few villagers had ever bothered to learn her grandmother’s name, she and the apothecary were old friends. Perhaps that was the reason he’d always showed her kindness when so many others did not.
“Uh, yeah, if it’s not a bother.”
The shopkeeper immediately sets about his work, deftly pulling bottles and herbs from the shelves and mixing them with a practiced hand. Soon, a pecular smell begins to drift through the store, one that immediately reminds Kainé of her childhood.
“There you are,” says the apothecary as he holds out a small cloth bag. “Sorry for the wait. Oh, and say! That’s a fine portrait you drew of your grandmother. Looks just like her, so it does! Honestly, I’ve never seen Kali so over the moon about anything. She brags about it every time she stops by!”
“You…saw that?” says Kainé, her eyes narrowing. Said “portrait” was something she had whipped up one day after getting her hands on some crayons, and to call it rough would be an act of purest generosity. The idea her grandmother was displaying it around town makes Kainé’s stomach want to sink down to her feet before slinking off into a hole somewhere.
“You bet I saw it!” the pleased apothecary says. “She brought it all the way here just to show me. My, but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen something so wonderful.”
Kainé’s mind begins to whirl. The picture was shit—she was sure it was shit—and yet, the man’s reaction displayed the exact opposite opinion.
Is he just being nice to me?
The apothecary, as if sensing her skepticism, doubles down. “I could really tell you put your heart into it. It was simply wonderful.”
“Um…thanks,” offers Kainé, who just wants the entire conversation to be over. She briefly considers how she’s going to make her grandmother cease her little travelling art show, but then realises that train has likely left the station.
Shaking her head to banish her increasingly shrill thoughts, she grips the bag of medicine tightly and turns to leave. But just as she reaches the door, she hears a loud thud from somewhere in the back of the shop.
Kainé turns around to see the apothecary crouching on the floor.
“Uh, hey there. You okay?”
When the man does not reply, Kainé moves toward him. She assumes he just slipped on something, or perhaps hit his head on one of the low-hanging shelves in the crowded shop, but the moment she draws close to him, she hears him begin to scream inside her mind.
“MY LEG! MY LEG MY LEG OH GOD WHERE IS MY LEG!?”
Panicked, Kainé looks down and discovers that the man’s leg…is gone.
“HELP ME!” screams the voice in her head. “HELP ME!”
As Kainé looks on in horror, the man’s fingers begin to shimmer and vanish. He reaches out for her with his other hand, only to find that it, too, is no longer there.
Soon his arms go.
Then his legs.
Then the side of his face warbles out of existence, causing a stray eyeball to roll out of its socket and onto the floor.
“Heeel…” says the voice, if it could even be called that anymore. “Iii caaannn…” A moment later, what remains of the pitiful shopkeeper collapses into a heap of ash, releasing a small puff into the suddenly silent air.
As Kainé stumbles back in horror, she hears a cacophony of terror rising up outside.
“Oh god, what’s happening!?”
“My arms! Where are my arms!?”
“WHY CAN’T I SEEEEEE!?”
Kainé bursts out of the store and finds herself in a nightmare. Homes sluff off the sides of cliffs, taking out pieces of scaffolding as they fall. Screams echo out everywhere, creating an opera fit for hell. Villagers run in mad circles before exploding into dust, their clothing drifting this way and that as it floats untethered through the air. As she stares at the scene, wide-eyed, a single thought suddenly inserts itself into the forefront of her mind:
Kainé breaks into a run, the crumbling world around her suddenly forgotten. She leaps from one piece of falling debris to the next, using them as stepping stones to cross a world that is increasingly losing cohesion.
As she continues her mad dash, flecks of ash are blown into her face. Her mouth. Her eyes. Ash. Ash, ash, ash. Buildings and people, all reduced to so many cinders in the wind.
Background: the tunnel near to Kainé’s house.
Soon she arrives at her childhood home. It was once a place filled of precious memories—a place she regarded as an oasis in an increasingly mad world. But now, it is nothing but a pile of ash. As she gapes unbelievingly at the sight, a faint sound suddenly reaches her ears.
She’s alive. Grandma’s ALIVE!
With a speed borne out of panic, she leaps into the giant pile and begins shoving it aside. It stings her eyes and burns her lungs, but she continues on, heedless of the danger. Finally, she pulls a small, blackened form out of the darkness.
“Come on, Grandma,” she whispers. “We’re getting out of here.”
Without waiting for a response, Kainé gathers her grandmother in her arms and breaks into a mad run, hoping to escape the chaos. But the wave of ash has become a tsunami, and before she can make it more than a few desperate steps, it reaches out with a cruel hand and overwhelms them.
Kainé stumbles and falls, sending her and her grandmother tumbling into the ashes. One glance at her feet is enough to reveal the culprit: her right leg has vanished at a point just below the knee.
“Oh, it’ll take more than that to stop me,” mutters Kainé as she slings her grandmother over her shoulder and begins to crawl away. “We’re going to make it. We’re going to LIVE.”
As she crawls, her grandmother seems to grow lighter, as if trying to magically reduce the weight of her own burden. And as Kainé continues to struggle, she hears a small, soft voice enter her ear.
“Th-thank you, Kainé… Thank…”
As the voice drifted away, the last of hte pile of ash that used to be her grandmother drifts away on a soft breeze.
Kainé screams—an impossibly sad and lonely sound—and begins trying to pull the ashes back to her.
This can’t be happening… It can’t be happening!
But the ashes are mingling with all the other detritus from the collapsed village, and sdoon she can no longer tell which particles belong to who.
Come on. Come on! COME THE FUCK ON ALREADY!
As she continues her frantic digging, her hand suddenly closes around a piece of soft, ragged fabric: Her grandmother’s shawl.
I knew this place was a lie.
I knew it, and I STILL couldn’t do anything.
I couldn’t save anyone. I couldn’t even escape. I just felt the peace in the place and I…accepted it. I WANTED it.
That’s why there was nothing here.
No reason to live.
So this is why I’m…
“…say…” [voiced by Grimoire Weiss]
Suddenly, a new voice enters Kainé’s world.
“I say, can you hear me?”
After a moment, the voice calls out again. Louder. Clearer.
“Now then! You wish to get him back, mmm?”
“Him…?” replied Kainé. “Who are…you talking about?”
“Oh, for the love of all the heavens. I always did know you were a handful.”
Though the voice immediately begins to grate on Kainé’s nerves, there is something else, as well. A kind of warmth. Almost a…familiarity.
“Are you truly so daft that you have already forgotten one of your beloved traveling companions and friends?” says the voice, which causes something deep in Kainé’s memories to surge forth.
THat’s right. I had friends. And I was fighting to get one of them back.
At this realization, a blinding, radiant beam of light shoots out across the ash-covered world. Covering her eyes with one trembling hand, Kainé reaches for it…
“Do hurry back now…
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