"Lay Down Them Bones": As he drifts through the realm of death, Swamp Thing struggles to maintain a hold on his identity, forcing himself to think back to his father the florist. Once the Parliament of Decay is assured that his mind is intact, they guide him to
- Abby, I can't have fought this hard just to lose you again. For good.
- -- Swamp Thing
Appearing in "Lay Down Them Bones"
- Swamp Thing (Dies)
- Anton Arcane (Dies)
Synopsis for "Lay Down Them Bones"
As he drifts through the realm of death, Swamp Thing struggles to maintain a hold on his identity, forcing himself to think back to his father the florist. Once the Parliament of Decay is assured that his mind is intact, they guide him to his destination; to before The Rot overtook everything.
Then, in Blestemat, Anton Arcane prepares to take his niece Abigail's life from her, and corrupt her. Alec arrives just in time to tear Arcane in half, and save Abby's life. With Arcane disposed of temporarily, his rotlings and Un-Men can do nothing against them. Still, Abby warns that the reprieve is only temporary. Her uncle will reform, eventually - unless they appeal to the Parliament of Decay. Since Arcane betrayed them, they will be eager to bring an end to his reign as their avatar, but to do so, they will need another avatar, and the only acceptable candidate is Abigail herself. What's worse, in order to become that avatar, she will have to die.
Meanwhile, the Anton Arcane of the Rotworld returns to the present with some confusion, seeing his own body torn in half on the ground. His former self warns that it was the Parliament who betrayed them, and demands to be aided in reformation, so that they can help each other. Rather than help, Arcane devours the body, and rushes down to the tunnel where the Parliament resides.
Alec does not want to accept that he could have fought so hard only to lose her again, knowing that if she became the Avatar of death, they could never be together. As Anton Arcane bangs on the door to the Parliament's chamber, the voices of the dead warn that killing Abby is the only way, and that they must hurry. Sadly, Abby presses against Alec's chest and asks him to do as he used to, to take her back to the swamp. Filled with sadness, Alec pierces through Abby's chest with his vines, killing her.
At that moment, Arcane bursts through the door, as Alec warns that he is already too late. He destroyed the thing he loved most in life just to make sure of Arcane's failure. Playing upon his grief, Arcane urges Alec to embrace his pain, and the meaningless of his life without Abby - while he kills the Parliament. Instead, Alec stays true to her sacrifice, stabbing Arcane in the chest. His arm becomes stuck in one of the infinite mouths of Arcane's body, allowing Arcane to thrust his own spears through Alec's human core. He then turns to the Parliament, only to be stabbed from behind by Alec's antlers. Angrily, Arcane turns on him, intent on finishing the job of killing Alec Holland, and sending him to the Grove of the Dead. At last, Alec's human body dies, and Arcane feels he has won.
However, the Parliament has been busy, and Abigail Arcane is now the Avatar of death in his place. With that, his power is gone, and his body is destroyed by the Parliament with no hope of regenerating. Sadly, Abigail cradles Alec's body in her arms, and sends him to the Grove.
Alec wakes in the Grove, with his Parliament of Trees there to welcome him. He is aware that he is dead, that his plant form is now empty of its human core. Without it, he now feels a powerful longing in his fingers and legs to take root in the grove, and stay there forever as a member of the Parliament. The Parliament suggests that though his body is dead, there is a power greater than theirs who is willing to allow him to continue to be the earth's Swamp Thing, and he need not yet take root among them.
That force is Abigail Arcane, and the Parliament has allowed her to visit for a short while, though she cannot stay long without corrupting them. Taking his hand, she leads him away to show him a gift she brought for him. There in the grove, she has placed both the human bodies of Alec and Abigail, allowing them the chance to lay at rest together at last. From their bodies, the Swamp Thing grows a garden of intertwining vines and flowers. Abby confesses that she will miss the grove, and Alec himself, and they kiss for the last time, as they are torn away from each other by their opposing natures.
Alec finds himself alone again with the Parliament, and the question of whether or not he will stay. He explains that since becoming Swamp Thing, he has learned that the role is centred around constant sacrifice, and to give up so much has made him very tired. However, it is also a role of rebirth, and he would not give up the chance to have a new life.
Despite all the trials and losses Alec Holland has undergone - even death - he will remain the Swamp Thing.
- This book was first published on March 6, 2013.
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