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Epitaph of Twilight (Poem)

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Epi-aina
Aina with the Epitaph of Twilight
Kuukai2Added by Kuukai2
"Epitaph of Twilight, I see you've reached it as well."
Helba


The Epitaph of Twilight (黄昏の碑文), sometimes rendered Epitaph of the Twilight, or just the Epitaph, is an epic poem written by Emma Wielant. It tells the story of a race of sprites, beings that cast no shadows, who are being devoured by a foe known as the Cursed Wave. When all seems lost, the armies of light and darkness forge an alliance to strike back against it. According to legend, when the Cursed Wave appears, three beings with shadows will set out in search of the "Twilight Dragon," who is foretold to have the power to defeat the Cursed Wave. The main story of the Epitaph centers around a human and two half-sprites with shadows who search for the Twilight Dragon. Halfway through their journey to the Wavering Peninsula at the edge of the world, where the Twilight Dragon is rumored to exist, they are assisted by Fili the White, and Bith the Black, servants to Apeiron, King of Light, and Helba, Queen of the Dark.

The original version of the Epitaph was published on Emma Wielant's personal website, and never completed. The site had special security measures that kept people from normally saving, printing, or copying the text for themselves. Because of this, and because few people noticed the work until after her death, the original was thought to be lost, though some copies and notes, as well as a purported hardcopy, remained. Supposedly, the story of the Epitaph was used as the setting for Fragment, a game by the programmer Harald Hoerwick which later formed the basis for The World. However, since this was still only based on fragments of knowledge, much of The World's setting was created by the CyberConnect Corporation. It is often unknown which elements of the game came from the Epitaph, and which were additions. The text of the Epitaph was also added to a "blackbox system" in the game by Harald for the development of Aura, the Ultimate AI, and was discovered by Aina and Ovan within The Creator's Room.

Since the original Epitaph was lost, it is impossible to know how close the copies are to the original, though small pieces remain. Even in the real world, fan versions of the Epitaph float around. The passage of the Epitaph seen at the beginning of .hack//INFECTION was translated into Japanese by Norikazu Fujii (藤井紀和).

The Epitaph is said to begin at "Navel of Lake", also known as Δ Hidden Forbidden Holy Ground in The World. The following are the known fragments of the Epitaph.

Epitaph Outline

Translated from .hack//analysis and the CyberConnect2 website.[1]
    1. Conversation
    2. Turning Away from the Fields - The conversation between Apeiron, King of Light, and Helba, Queen of Darkness, at "Navel of Lake". Before the threat of the "Cursed Wave", the two form an alliance. Tells of the time until the three travelers—including Saya, the first being with a shadow found by Magi the Black and Bith the White—set off in search of the Twilight Dragon.
    3. Lilith
    4. The Travelers
    5. The Dividing Forest
    6. Shining Eyes - The night sprite, Lilith, who is pursued by the Dark. The reason Kendor the Tall participates in the search. Crossing through the forest where all get lost—the Dividing Forest. In the swamp, the first contact with the ancient monster Cubia. Saved from this danger by Lilith, the three shadowed ones, the seekers of the Twilight Dragon, gather here.
    1. Plaird the Sorrowful
    2. The Crystal Hill
    3. Light's Great Tree - The three seekers, Bith and Magi come to the city of Arche Heyoka. In a reunion with Magi's old friend—Plaird, a sprite who wanted to become human—the reason why Magi serves the Dark becomes clear. The rebellion of the "Crystal Hill". In a meeting with Dorin, who sleeps near "Light's Great Tree", they learn that if they go to the Wavering Peninsula beyond the "End of Land", which is past the "Keel Mountains", they may be able to learn the whereabouts of the Twilight Dragon, and that the only one who knows the way there is Tartarga, who is in the "True Underworld".
    4. Sconk
    5. Reunion
    6. The Bewitching Spirit of the Desert - They obtain Sconk's Tear Jar to protect themselves from Tartarga's guardian, Tortets. In the desert of the Dark, they meet again with Gendor's companions, who have come fleeing the Wave. Tells of the bewitching spirit who dreamed of a desert where the World Tree grows.
    1. The Dark Hearth
    2. (Unknown)
    3. Tartarga - The former inhabitant of the boiled underworld lake called the "Dark Hearth". Meeting with Tartarga in the "True Underworld". They learn that the way to the "End of Land" lies within the Great Temple of Arche Koeln in the "Land of the Beginning of Beginnings", but, pursued by Tortets, become lost in the tunnels of the underworld.
    4. The Dream of Lazeth
    5. The Great Waterfall
    6. Wandering in the Maze - The group has come out of the tunnels in the worst place, the Forest of Everlasting Darkness, and are trapped in Lazeth's dream. Within the dream, they encounter Cubia again. Saya's familiar and Cubia annihilate each other. Opening the seal on the Great Waterfall, they come to the Great Temple of Arche Koeln. Tells of the awakening of Gendor's sleeping powers in the Living Maze.
    1. Gate at the End of Land
    2. The Wave Comes
    3. The Keel Mountains - The group meets the gatekeeper of the "End of Land". At the same time, Helba's palace of darkness falls to the Abominable Wave. Apeiron's army leaves the palace of light. Not waiting to see the Dragon, the King of Light and Queen of Darkness move their armies against the Wave
    4. (Unknown)
    5. The Dragon Sighted
    6. The Night Before - Encounter with an ape wearing a hat, and the formation of the Armies of Light and Dark at the foot of the Rainbow. The Lake of Alba, which perished in a battle, and the riddle-asking dragon Sheraton. The group finally reaches the Wavering Peninsula. There, Saya's group parts ways with Magi and Bith. The retreat of the Armies of Light and Dark, and their formation for the final battle. Ends with the return of Magi and Bith to Helba and Apeiron. Tells of the situation on the eve of the decisive battle.
    1. Twilight Dragon
    2. An Ending (Incomplete) - Finding the Twilight Dragon, and the fife that signals the start of the Last Battle. The Dragon's unexpected words. Before the Wave, Magi becomes a point of light, and vanishes. The sprites who risk their very existence in their hopeless fight against the Wave. Dialogue between Saya's group and the Dragon. (The currently confirmed manuscript ends in the middle of this dialogue.)

Epitaph of The Twilight

From the introduction of .hack//INFECTION and posted by W. B. Yeats

Also partly heard at Δ Hidden Forbidden Holy Ground and read by Aina in the G.U. Games.

Yet to return, the shadowed one.
Who quests for the Twilight Dragon
Rumbles the Dark Hearth,
And Helba, Queen of the Dark[2],
has raised finally her army.
Apeiron, King of Light[2] beckons.
At the base of the rainbow do they meet
Against the abominable Wave,
together they fight.
Alba's lake boils.
Light's great tree doth fall.
Power- now all to droplets turned
in the temple of Arche Koeln.
Returns to nothing,
this world of shadowless ones.
Never to return, the shadowed one,
Who quests for the Twilight Dragon.

The Phases in the Epitaph

Found in an E-mail by Wiseman

Unknown where the Cursed Wave was born…
After the stars doth cross the heavens,
The sky in the East doth darken and air doth fill with mourning.
From the chosen land beyond the forest, a sign of the wave comes.
Riding the wake is Skeith, the Shadow of Death, to drown all that stands.
Mirage of Deceit, Innis, Betray all with the flawed image, and did aid the Wave.
And by the Power of Magus, a drop from the Wave doth reach the heavens, and creates a new Wave.
With the Wave, Fidchell, the power to tell the dark future, hope darkens, sadness and despair rule.
Gorre schemes when swallowed by the Cursed Wave.
Macha seduces with the sweet trap.
Wave reaches the Pinnacle, and escape none can. Tarvos still remains with more cruelty to punish and destroy.
And with the turbulent destruction after the Wave. Only a void remains. From deep within the void arrives Corbenik.
Perhaps then the Wave is just a beginning as well.

Notes

  • This is the only part of the Epitaph to appear verbatim in .hack//Epitaph of Twilight. It is found in an ancient text in Apeiron's archives.

Epitaph 00

Found at Θ Cursed Despaired Paradise

Shunning the field broken by Wave.
The shadowed girl whispers,
"Surely, I will return."
Alas, the truth unbeknownst.
Awaiting her at journey's end;
Eternal mourning for her land.

Epitaph 01

Found at Λ Dying Madness Haunted Land

When the finger points to the
yonder moon,
The fool will not look at the fingertip.


Notes from .hack//analysis

  • It is thought that Harald, who did not realize at first what a daunting task creating the Ultimate AI would be, particularly related to this passage, as felt foolish in his lack of foresight.

Notes from .hack//Quantum

  • A variation of this quote appears in .hack//Quantum. It is shown on the login screen for the World. It reads, When the finger points to the yonder moon, the fool will not look at the fingertip.

Other Notes

  • The third line of this fragment in the English version of .hack is a mistranslation of the original Japanese. It should read, "The fool will look at the fingertip."
  • The translation in Harald's Archetype, volume 3 of the .hack//G.U. novels, reads
When one points their finger to the moon,
Oh ye fool,
Shall gaze upon the fingertip.

Epitaph 02

Found at Σ Chatting Snaring Twins

The whole cannot be changed.
We have already lost that chance.
Because the time left to us was short,
We were mistaken in our path.
But now do we realize,
We should change not the whole,
But the parts.

The probability of this verse referring to "recovering after a fatal mistake and changing some for the better" is sound.

Epitaph 03

Found at Σ Resonating False Grasslands

Wave soars and shrouds the eyes.
No means to fight an omnipresent force,
The shadowless ones just grieve.
Why must it be a Wave?
Divide, if it would just...
Then retaliate, we may.

Epitaph 04

Found at Σ Screaming Wind Sand's Fate Castle

Over the Keel Mountains,
Meets an ape with human speech.
The ape asks,
"What clings to you?
Bear it—you cannot.
Accept it—you cannot.
But hidden—it is from you.
Recite its name."

Answer

Your own name—the name of your shadow, your dark side.

Fidchell's Prophecy

Recited by the Phase Fidchell the Prophet

Like a frenzied horse that is driven.
An unseen wind of plague shrieks across the border.
Pandemonium, wailing, and stench of carnage fills the air.
There is no place to run. No hope of escape.
Those who are mourned will never return.
The hands of time cannot be turned back.

Notes from .hack//analysis

  • Listed as part of the Epitaph, but shown to also be relevant to the events of the .hack Games.
  • "Wind of plague" refers to the virus corruption.
  • "Border" refers to the servers, security zones, and the real world.
  • "Those who are mourned" refers to the belief that computers are infallible and dependable.


"Epigraph"

From .hack//Another Birth Vol.2

:The Keel Mountains traversed at last,
we met a dragon that spoke thus:
"Sheraton am I, who interprets the signs.
An answer to my question, give.
If you can, complete my role will be,
and I will leave this land.
Though equally it exists before everyone's eyes,
grasp it not one person can.
Tell me—what is it?"

Answer

"The moment."

Mia's Words

From .hack//Another Birth Vol.3

Plaird of the Seven Sisters,
falling in love with a human,
Became a Shadowed One and was exiled from the Dark.
Hence, her name came to be called Plaird the Fallen.
At her wanderings end,
she settled in seclusion in Arche Haokar.
However, those days may not last.
A reunion may come, or may not.
Plaird's form vanishes at the coming of the sign of the Wave.

Note

In .hack//Epitaph of Twilight, Plaird was exiled from the Light, not the Dark.

Characters in the Epitaph

  • Apeiron, King of Light - The preserver of order.
  • Bith the Black[3] - An elderly sage. The black guide. A servant of Helba.
  • Bith the White[3] - A half-sprite who accompanies Saya. His relation to Bith the Black is unknown.
  • Crimson Knights - Warriors of the Dark, said to oppose to the Cobalt Knights.
  • Cobalt Knights - Warriors of the Light, said to oppose to the Crimson Knights.
  • Corbenik - One of eight names found in an ancient text. The Rebirth.
  • Cubia - An ancient lifeform.
  • Culhwch - Watchman of the Crystal Forest.
  • Dorin - A qilin (or griffin) who sleeps under the "Light's Great Tree".
  • Fidchell - One of eight names found in an ancient text. The Prophet.
  • Fili the White[3] - A young sage. The white guide.
  • Gorre - One of eight names found in an ancient text. The Machinator.
  • Gendor - A young man from a band of humans who settled in the Dividing Forest. One of the three travelers.
  • Helba, Queen of the Dark - The destroyer of order.
  • Innis - One of eight names found in an ancient text. The Mirage of Deceit.
  • Jinn of the Desert - A solitary sprite who lives at an oasis in the Desert of Dakk. He dreams of one day finding and planting the seed of the World Tree.
  • Lilith - A night sprite formerly loyal to the Dark. After a prank gone terribly wrong gave her a shadow, she was banished. One of the three travelers.
  • Macha - One of eight names found in an ancient text. The Temptress.
  • Magi the Black[3] - A half-sprite who accompanies Saya.
  • Magus - One of eight names found in an ancient text. The Propagation.
  • Plaird is the youngest of a group of seven water sprite sisters. She gained a shadow from falling in love, and wanted to become human.
  • Saya - The "little witch" who lives in the golden field. The first shadowed one found by Bith and Fili, she is one of the three travelers.
  • Sconk - A cowardly monster, and owner of the Tear Jar. Seeks shelter with Dorin when the Wave approaches.
  • Sheradon - An ape who wears a fez and looks down on humans.
  • Sheraton - A dragon who interprets the Signs.
  • Skeith - One of eight names found in an ancient text. The Terror of Death.
  • Tartarga - A tortoise who lives in the True Underworld and possesses ancient knowledge.
  • Tarvos - One of eight names found in an ancient text. The Avenger.
  • The Flying Stag - A six-legged stag with golden horns. After Saya helped it when it was injured, it led her to Bith and Fili.
  • The Traveler of the Dividing Forest - A shadowed one, and eldest of the people of the Chosen Land.

Places in the Epitaph

Trivia

CubiaHiddenOne
Wiseman calling Cubia the "Hidden One."
KulaguyAdded by Kulaguy
  • Though Wiseman says that Cubia is called the "Hidden One" in the Epitaph, no existing pieces actually mention Cubia as such.
  • The Twilight Dragon from the Epitaph is frequently invoked by serious players as a blessing. Wiseman is especially fond of this.
    • In .hack//XXXX, Aura invokes this blessing when she sends BlackRose to rescue Kite from Cubia.
  • In the areas where you find Epitaph 02 and Epitaph 04, Harald's memory fragments activate from floor to floor.
  • In Greek mythology, the Pleiades are nymphs (i.e., beautiful minor divinities of nature) and the seven daughters of the Titan Atlas and the sea-nymph Pleione born on Mount Cyllene. They were turned into stars by Zeus, and the Pleiades star cluster, which is named after the mythological Pleiades, is called Subaru in Japan.
  • While the name of the work is exclusively the Epitaph of the Twilight in the Japanese version of .hack, in the English edition it is more often referred to as the Epitaph of Twilight, although the former name is still used.
  • According to the Epitaph of New Testament, in reality the Epitaph was written by Kazunori Ito while he was working as a production assistant. Later, while writing for .hack, he saw a chance to incorporate his story.

Other Notes

  1. Translations found at http://web.archive.org/20050320101119/homepage.mac.com/murgatroyd314/Epitaph.html
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Japanese version of the Epitaph used the Old Norse words Lios and Dakk interchangeably with "Light" and "Dark". This is where Lios's name comes from.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 An outline of the Epitaph found in Analysis and on the CC2 website refers to "Bith the White" and "Magi the Black". The Epitaph as known by Helba and various others in the series refers to "Bith the Black" and "Fili the White". It seems likely that these are the same characters, whose names differ between drafts of the poem.
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