Note: The answers given to the tree are different every time, depending on the words it chooses in the story.
Black. Pure darkness. Painted over everything.
Words. Scattered here and there across the blackness.
Kind words. Difficult words. Amorous words. All sparkling in the dark like jewels.
The words were few now. But time was shorter.
Grabbing the words in desperation, the tree turned to the sky.
This is wrong, whispered the tree in the voice of wind through the leaves. This is not how it was supposed to be.
...The plan has failed.
Once, long ago, the tree had remembered everything about the world. This was its task. Its purpose. It shivered with something approaching joy as it collected the memories of mankind. This was no accident; emotions were as much a part of the tree as root and bark. Memories collected like dew on the thick green leaves of the tree. And once they had formed a web that spanned the entire world.
Words collapsed into sunlight before passing through the leaves and into the pool of memory. From the pool, the words joined together to form colonies, the colonies united into whirlpools of light, and the light coalesced into stars. Each star was like a child of the tree, and it loved them all.
Look at my memory.
A child is here, brought low by disease. He is far too young to have suffered so. Thin beyond words, the boy's skin is a shade paler than the bleached hospital sheets upon which he lies. His parents no longer visit him, for they cannot bear to watch him suffer. The doctors have long since surrendered his fate to the gods. The boy, too, has abandoned hope. Strange emotions-weariness, hatred-swell within the dark recesses of his young heart. He tries to reject the black terror that germinates in his body, but no amount of effort or tears can drive the invader away. He has long ceased to resent his parents and doctors. Once he did, but now his pain is so great that there is little room in his heart to think of others.
Only one person brings the boy comfort: a healthy young girl with tan skin and deep blue eyes. She is a beacon of brightness and light in the boy's world; her very presence is a comfort to him. But he is unable to look upon her face. Whenever they meet, the boy is filled with loathing for his own state. Soon, this loathing eats away at what joy he receives from the girl's visits. The girl will stop coming. He knows this. His every waking moment is spent in fear of this day. He thinks that if he could take to her, if he could tell her of his feelings, that this might not be so. But this conversation never happens.
The girl disappears.
The boy dies alone.
The tree scoops up this memory and carefully stores it within itself. Etched upon it is a single word: Envy.
Look at my memory.
There is a female warrior. Her greatest enemy is a beast with red eyes that she cannot fully comprehend. When she strikes it with her sword, it turns into a pillar of salt and dies. But when the white smoke clears, a new enemy rises.
The warrior knows that her struggle is folly, but fighting the unending stream of enemies fills her with a sense of joy and purpose. Somewhere deep in the warrior's drug-addled mind lies a vague memory of a daughter. Perhaps the child exists only in her head; the dying remnants of a powerful dream. She does not know. Her friends and fellow warriors come and go. Some flee in terror. Some are eaten. She began the fight with 63 companions, but most are gone now.
The warrior's body shudders. She does not understand why at first. By the time she hears the fierce, low sound, the arena is already enclosed in darkness. Looking up, the warrior sees a beast so large that it blots out the sky. She is laughing. She has been doing so for as long as she can remember. Covered in blood and dirt, the warrior laughs. She laughs and laughs until the town that contains her daughter collapses into a pile of dust.
This memory has been stored for a long time. It is etched with a single word: Loss.
Look at my memory.
A red dragon falls from the heavens...
Ah, that memory has been lost. A shame. It was a favorite of mine.
Continuation of QuestEdit
After many centuries of existence, the tree saw that its carefully labeled memories were beginning to dwindle. Once seemingly infinite, the memories now seemed ready to disappear forever.
The tree did not feel sadness at this; grief was an emotion beyond its comprehension.
It did, however, have the distinct feeling that something was missing.
The mountain of memories it had so carefully assembled had disappeared.
The tree stretched its branches as far as it could, but new memories refused to flow.
The pool of memories was a black, empty pit; a hollow place where life had once flourished.
The tree had lost is purpose.
There was nothing to be done but sift through the few remaining memories littering the ground under its branches.
This is why the tree was pleased when the man and his companion entered the room.
Nier: Well, this place is gloomy as hell.
The room Nier had entered was almost completely empty. All he could see were a few crystals scattered haphazardly on the ground. Picking up one of the crystals and peering into it, Nier suddenly saw a familiar sight. It was the Forest of Myth-its villagers prisoners of their own dreams.
I apologize, the tree thought. That is all that remains.
As Nier stared at the jewel, bewildered, a voice suddenly called out from the depths of his mind. The voice implored them to listen. It was an order. Following it was mandatory. Abruptly, the pair realized they must listen.
They m..us...t li...st...en!
A small, shadowy presence appeared from beneath the floor. It looked to be a Shade. The Shade grasped several jewels in its hand. More jewels tumbled out of its mouth like shards of broken teeth, sights and sounds tinkling from each one before vanishing forever. The creature was abusing the memories, treating the precious objects like a collection of cheap playroom toys.
Weiss: This Shade appears to be consuming the memories.
Nier: That little thing? It's barely worth my time to kill.
The tree extended a branch toward Nier. Without a second thought, Nier brought his blade down on the Shade, tearing its stomach wide. Jewels burst from the Shade and poured across the chamber floor.
Look, thought the tree. There is the Conviction memory I had lost. And Satisfaction. And many others as well. Yes, this is good.
The tree opened its mouth and attempted to speak, but no sound emerged. A millennium of silence and solitude had caused the tree to forget certain things. But rather than be upset, it greeted the development with good cheer. Focusing all its power on the riddle of speech, the tree formed a kind of makeshift vocal cord and tried again.
"Ahem! I... I implore... *HACK*!"
It spat out a glimmering green jewel.
Hmmm... One more time.
"I implore you."
There we are.
"What was the color of the lost envy?"
Weiss: It spoke! ...This Shade has intelligence! And emotion!
Nier: Who cares?
Nier brushed Weiss's comment aside as his sword sliced through the Shade's right arm. The Shade extended its remaining arm to Nier. I must must touch him. I must make contact.
The moment its fingers brushed against Nier, the tree felt a warm sensation begin to burn. Something hot coursed through its fingers, up its arm, and out to its entire body. It was emotion, more than the entity had felt its centuries. The tree cried out in surprise and joy. One thousand years in quiet contemplation. The tree felt like it was going to break apart. For long centuries, the tree had been alone, its heart sealed with heavy chains. But no more. New, powerful emotions began to take hold, causing its heart to lighten. This was more than the simple emotions it had been designed to feel; it was the beginnings of a soul.
And the man was the key.
This was the promise made long ago. This was how it would be released.
The tree's stomach began to throb in pain-a new and unpleasant sensation.
But the time was not yet right.
"I implore you: How many were lost by the warrior who fought the red-eyed beasts?"
Her daughter and 23 friends.
Nier: Okay, riddle time is over. I'm gonna kill this stupid Shade once and for all.
Something round and shiny fell from the open stomach and clattered to the floor.
"The key!" shouted the book. "Grab the key!"
The man's sword slowed.
Time began to dilate around them, stretching and slowing. Time is essential. The next word must be heard.
The words exploded. It became diffi cult to discern their m
eaning. The p ool of memo ies began to c rack as infinite
black ness burrowed its way into the wall. Wei ss: "Thi s
world is fa lling apart!" Nier: "How can a wo
"I implore... most important thing
... ... ... ...
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
The light was complete.
The memories disappeared.
The tree's identity began to dissolve.
As the letters slowly faded, Nier was drawn back to the real world.
And the tree was satisfied.