Memory Access

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The Keymaster slowly opened his eyes, awakening to the scent of flowers and the sound of silence. A bright blue butterfly was perched upon his face, slowly fluttering its wings, almost playfully. He stood still for a few seconds, before he shook his head, causing it to fly away fearfully before he sat back up.

As his vision adjusted, he realized he had been lying amongst a sort of beautiful scented flower field. It was then that he had another realization, being that he must have fallen asleep and teleported into another level yet again. This one was not one that he recognized, however, so he knew he would need to be cautious as he explored. It didn't seem too dangerous, at least.

He slowly rose to his feet and began walking through the outdoor flower field. There were all sorts of beautiful flowers all around him — predominantly roses, sunflowers and tulips. He could hear the soft laughter of a few wanderers that were playing across the flower fields, which somewhat eased him of his initial concerns. In the distance there was a large cathedral-like building, from which he could sense a familiar aura emanate. Perhaps another of his kind resided within? It was oddly familiar.

This feeling would only increase as he got closer. He then stepped foot into the majestic building, only to find in his way a lady with long pink hair and a white dress, she was facing away from him. She seemed to be talking to a few other familiar beings. They all resembled those from his fractured memories, but the aura around them said otherwise.

He then slowly approached the mysterious feminine figure. “Excuse me… where am I? And who are you?” The lady turned around to face him. She looked quite surprised at first, almost as if she saw a ghost. Then her expression would soften and she smiled, greeting the newcomer. “How saddening that you don't remember me, though I'll gladly reintroduce myself. I'm Philia, if that rings any bell. These are my Gardens.”

The Keymaster seemed to contemplate this information. “I will admit, your name does carry some hint of familiarity. I suppose I should not be surprised that we had some form of shared past… it has been par for the course for me to have forgotten many from my past.”

Philia curiously examined The Keymaster. “Are you hurt anywhere? You must have gone through a lot of hardships to end up here without knowing where you were going.”
“I fell asleep and by chance found myself in this realm. It's something that happens often.”

Philia approached him, using her pink magic to heal any damage that his body could have sustained, while also helping him feel much more well-rested. “You may not remember, but we were close… you could even say you were someone I cherished dearly.” She appeared to have a sad expression on her face, before looking back at him. “Would you like something to eat?"
After a moment of hesitation, The Keymaster nodded. “Very well, I suppose I should not refuse your hospitality.”

Philia invited him to sit on a bench. The other beings observed him curiously, greeting him one by one. There was one with long gray hair, another wearing armor and one… that looked very familiar. Almost like a reflection in a mirror, even if not physically similar. The Keymaster closely studied them, intrigued by their familiarity. “I must ask, Philia… who are these beings?”

“Oh? Well… they are fragments of those I loved. Fragments that exist within this realm and live a peaceful, ideal life… one where they never suffered. The one you see before you is your own fragment. You always wished to live a peaceful life amongst us and the humans, so I granted that wish… at least in here.”

The fragment would silently stare into The Keymaster's eyes for a few moments, before nodding towards Philia and walking away. “Unfortunately, I am not strong enough to make these fates reality. In the end, I suppose it was a way to stop myself from drowning in grief and loneliness. At one point, this place was all I had left.” She looked downwards, perhaps feeling her heart aching.

For some reason, despite barely having any memory of her, The Keymaster could not help but take pity on Philia. “And why is that?” He asked her.
She glanced at him, her sweet gaze turning pitiful and sad. “Because I lost you and everyone else at the time. All of them — Gudang, Nunca, Allseer too… I was losing my mind. I had nothing else, I was completely distraught. Not even Fengári was left there for me. This place allowed me to escape from the pain, to keep the memories of all of you alive. Without it, I would have surely chosen to never wake up again…” In the distance, a small jester happily frolics about, chased after by a smiling woman with olive skin and long brown hair.

The Keymaster thought back to the argument he had with Blanche in their falling out; one of the few memories from his time as Gatekeeper that he had unlocked. He remembered his own grief from the loss of his companions such as Augustus, Gudang and the others. He could relate with Philia’s pain. “So… this is your way of coping, then?”
“It is and it has kept me stable for so long. Deep down though, my heart still suffers and cries out for the people I lost. I can never show that I'm suffering this way to everyone else, because I need to be there to help them… I don't want them to think I'm so fragile. What use would I be of, if everyone thought I was still a grieving damsel?”

A small dove flew over to sit on her shoulder, curling up against her as it did so. It looked very comfortable, as Philia gently stroked its head.
The Keymaster sighed. “I suppose I can relate to that. So much responsibility rests upon my shoulders with the duty that I've been born into. That's why I feel I must deny certain parts of myself and my life to carry out those duties most effectively.” He found himself surprised with how open and honest he was being. He was never usually this vulnerable around others besides those such as Blanche.

“There is one important thing I want you to remember always, dear. Never force yourself to handle too many burdens, never be afraid to ask for help from others. You should never hide or hush away parts of yourself for the sake of your duty. Your soul and all of you is the most special part that makes you who you are. Don't ever forget that” She attempted to smile for him. She never took her own advice for herself.

The Keymaster contemplated Philia's words for a moment. “I suppose so…” Then he turned towards her again, attempting to change the subject. “So, what sort of dinner did you have in mind?”

She perked up a little, back to her usual cheerfulness. “Do you like meat or vegetables the most?” She summoned a bunch of delicious meals out of nowhere, half were meat based while the others were vegetarian meals. “I do not eat meat, but I figured you may like it! Eat as much as you want”

The Keymaster was startled by the sudden appearance of the food at first, but quickly recovered from the initial surprise as he eyed all the meals before him. He began to eat a bowl of stew, which he seemed to enjoy.
“You're a fan of beef stew, then? Haha, I'll have to note that in case you come visit me again in the future!” She watched him eat, while also occasionally taking a bite out of some fruit and potatoes. She used a napkin to clean his face after he was done. “You ate very clumsily. Were you very hungry?” She holds in a soft chuckle, she wouldn't want to make him feel embarrassed.

The Keymaster seemed to blush somewhat in response to her remark, before shaking his head. “No, I have no need of food. Though it's still a pleasure I do not often experience.”

With a snap of Philia's fingers, all the dirty dishes vanished from sight. She arose from her bench, a sudden look of determination in her expression. “Keymaster, do you wish to remember everything that you have forgotten? Because I can… help you remember. But you need to want it with all your heart and truly try your hardest for it.”

The Keymaster slowly looked up towards Philia, his full attention and interest now having been captured. For so long, he had struggled without the memories of the being everyone called “Gatekeeper”. It had been the source of most of his troubles up to present. To regain them all would lift a massive burden off of his shoulders. “Is this so? Can you truly restore all my memory?”
“They are already there, buried deep within your mind. I can uncover them, bring them back to the surface. But to do so, you will need to relive everything.”

The Keymaster knew from his encounter with Gaius that it was not a pleasant experience. Still, it was a sacrifice he would be willing to make in order to regain his memory. So, he nodded.
“There is just one thing I need you to promise me, if we do this: never force yourself to try and act like him. I want you to be as you prefer. I want you to be you, understood? Whatever you will remember… it's part of you, but you do not have to let it decide who you need to be.” Philia then offered him her hand, to lead him somewhere. The Keymaster stared at Philia’s hand for a moment, seeming to hesitate. But he would eventually take it.

Philia led The Keymaster deeper into the large building. As they walked, the rooms began to rapidly change, until they came to a stop in a simple white room. “Once, you were known as Gatekeeper — avatar of Access,and a great companions of ours.” She moved her hands and an apparition of Gatekeeper manifested, soon joined by those of other gods from the ancient pantheon. “We were once beloved and worshiped…we lived amongst humans in harmony. They even built us a large temple with all of our statues.”

The scene changed once more, showing a busy village filled with humans and soft chatter. A majestic temple stood proud in its middle, with everyone gathered outside of it. “Things were fairly peaceful, until… the massacre happened. A horrible tragedy caused by Y'liad Elyion. It took the lives of thousands of innocents.” Now, all The Keymaster could see was fire, death and fear. He saw some of the gods attempting to protect the humans or help them escape, but it was too late.

“Whatever we did to try and atone for the sins of our friend was not enough. The humans who survived and lost their loved ones wanted us gone. They desecrated our temples, defaced our statues, and demanded we disappear. We had failed them.” Philia paused to take a deep breath, trembling. It seemed to be just as painful for to remember everything as it was for The Keymaster. “Soon, humans discovered iron. And with iron came an even greater massacre. This time, it was not blood that was spilled, but rather ichor. The human uprising was led by someone who was part of our own kind: Kushim. He wanted to free humans from the ruling of the gods…and soon enough, one by one we began to die off.”

He watched as many figures vanished into nothing; a jester, a seer, an artist, a knight…followed by many more. “You were distraught by the loss of your companions and home. You secluded yourself in your own domain, with those you believed were your closest followers… but one betrayed you, for they believed you to have become a cruel ruler in the bitterness of your suffering from grief. And so… your end came.” The Keymaster watched the scene of a human carrying a cup full of a strange deadly drink, and Gatekeeper drinking straight from it, only to fall in agony from being poisoned, his life leaving him so quickly that he couldn't even process it.

Philia faced her beloved friend now. “Do you remember, Keymaster?” she asked, a serious tone in her voice. He seemed to take on an expression of anguish, crumpling at the face of all that he witnessed, reliving it all at once.

His head pounded, threatening to burst with all the information that surfaced and reintegrated. With every scene that he witnessed and everything that she said, the memory of it would resurface in his mind. “I… I remember.” He gasped breathlessly, still kneeling. Philia held The Keymaster in a comforting hug to calm him down, knowing that it was a lot to handle at once. “…What happened then?” he asked.

“Well, your corpse became the cloak you are wearing right now. It was a final attempt to maintain the order of things and select a worthy being to succeed the one you were before. Many have worn that cloak and now you are the latest to do so.” As Philia said this, The Keymaster suddenly found himself standing in a black space. Before him was gathered a crowd of many humans, of all ages, genders and ethnicities. And he realized that they too, like him, were all once wearers of the cloak for a time before it ultimately passed onto him as the latest in this long lineage. “I…I finally understand.”

Philia helped The Keymaster sit down now, keeping him close in a hug. “Tell me how you feel, I'm here to listen. It's only fair to let you let it all out now. It's been such a long time and your heart is probably bursting right now.” She felt much pity for her dear companion, wishing she could have protected him properly and prevented his death.

The Keymaster took time to collect himself, remaining in Philia’s embrace. He was overwhelmed by all the information and emotion, but he eventually calmed down. “There’s been…so much pain. So much loss. So much suffering. And I’ve been the epicenter of it all…” He seemed beside himself, blaming himself for all the tragedies which had occurred amongst the pantheon. If he never died, he could have stopped them.

“No my dear, it wasn't your fault. Please don't blame yourself.” She said in a soft tone, as she pat his back. “These things happened because of the cruel fate of godhood. Times change and people change too… it was never our fault. We only wanted to be happy alongside humans, but sometimes things can turn cruel… it's time to make amends and let go. To look at the future, because continuously chasing after the past will consume us. Whatever form or shape you will take, I will always be here by your side. Just like how you always protected me.” She truly never changed from all those centuries ago, still looking after him and everyone else. Yet she looked stronger somehow, even more resilient.

The Keymaster looked back up at Philia, finding comfort in her words. He threw himself into her arms once again. “Thank you. Your words mean a great deal to me.”
She chuckled very quietly, as they stayed hugging and in silence for a few minutes. That is until Philia got up alongside him, as they both felt better now.

“Well, now you know everything, though there are still many things to catch up on. I'll try to reveal you all you desire to know.”
The Keymaster thought long and hard, before speaking. “I suppose my first question is… what became of the others?”

“Well, most of those who I have previously mentioned have passed away. Fengári has been trapped… for a long time. The one who is above wishes to keep them safe that way, but they are suffering. They have let me go with a heavy heart, I tried to talk to them, but it was useless. Our dear Claudius has been reborn as an undead being, Kirai is okay and still around. I've been working with Argos in redeeming sinful human beings and he's become more empathetic… Kushim has changed, he has made many mistakes and is still on the path of redemption. Lady Blanche is not as lonely as she was before, we still talk. The Sovereign still lives on and reigns, he is still safe… but his sisters are gone. That is the fate of those you knew. And there are even those who arose after your death.”

The Keymaster slowly nodded after taking all of this in. “… I see. Is there yet hope that the pantheon may reform?”

Philia pondered for a while, before frowning. “It won't ever be the same, I'm afraid. If it were to reform, the humans who swore to destroy us would rise in power and destroy us again… The Iron Fist…”

“Hm… I see, then…” The Keymaster murmured to himself, before looking back at Philia. “I believe that will be all for now, then. This is all… so much revelation. I need to find the others too. But I will visit you again if I ever need anything else… thank you.”

Philia summoned a pink flower in her hands, placing it between The Keymaster's hair. “I will never be too far away. Whenever you need me, you may call upon me — always. We will meet again and I will try to reunite all those I have not yet found.”

The Keymaster understood as he hugged Philia one last time. “May you direct me back to The Hub?” She nodded in reply, summoning a pink portal leading to The Hub. She then slowly waved goodbye to him, before vanishing into a flurry of flower petals.

There's always a path to follow, the Keymaster now knew that very clearly. Philia had given him a newfound hope in this darkness surrounding him.

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