SBR 1.19: Testimonial

Falling is like flying, until you hit the ground. Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio.

[INTRO MUSIC]

Hello faithful listeners! It’s wonderful to have you back, but before we get properly in to today’s Advice and Community Segment, I have to discuss something very serious with you all. Yes, Madame Marie is still not here. But I really don’t appreciate the way some of you on the forums are beginning to discuss the issue. There has been an implication over the last few days that I ought to be calling the police and reporting her missing, and I think that’s a massive misrepresentation of the situation.

You see, though Madame Marie has never before missed an episode of the Advice and Community Segment, she did often go off on mysterious research trips with one or other of her Loyal Assistants. As I have mentioned previously, Madame Marie doesn’t believe it’s good for me to leave the house, so I avoid it wherever possible, so I’ve never been on any of these trips with her and so can’t really comment on what happened on them.

When Madame Marie is back, I suggest those of you with queries direct them to her, instead of me, because I can’t provide you with the answers you want, and I as much as Anna and Kitty the Investigator, my sisters, may be able to provide answers to these questions for you, I doubt they’d be willing to do so in contradiction with Madame Marie’s wishes. Or. Well. Kitty wouldn’t. Anna would probably be more likely to tell you if you said it would upset Madame Marie, to be honest. But she’s difficult to get hold of and she’s not a big fan of Arcanism, or, indeed, Madame Marie.

A few of you on the forums have expressed discomfort with the way I always refer to Madame Marie by her proper title, but she was always extremely uncomfortable with maternal nicknames like mother, and things like that. When we were little we used to call her M but that’s as close as things got. She loved us all very much. She worked very hard to keep us safe, warm and fed, I believe, though as you know my memories of childhood are, at best, hazy.

There’s a bit of a divide on the forums, it seems, between those of you who think Madame Marie was some kind of fraud – which I assure you is not the case – and those of you who think she was infallible, and both sides of this debate have been very angry at me this week and it’s really quite upsetting.

I know those of you directly yelling and hurling profanities in my direction are actually in the minority but to be quite honest with you the gentler expressions of frustration are just as upsetting. I am aware she has been gone a very good time, thank you for reminding me. I have no t forgotten this. Hosting this show does not come naturally to me; it would be very difficult for me to be living this life that is so radically different to the way things were before without constantly noticing how wrong everything feels.

Not that hosting the show feels wrong. I can’t think of anything that’s ever felt so right in my life. I spend the time between hosting episodes so excited for the next opportunity I have to speak with all of you, faithful listeners. I’m certain that even those of you have been pointing out that Madame Marie told me not to do this on multiple occasions are well-meaning in your reassurances, but.

I can’t tell you what a difference hosting this show has made to my life. Before all I did was hang around, waiting for Madame Marie to come out of the Studio, for Kitty to come back from her investigations, for Anna to come around spoiling for a fight. I would organise the P.O. Box letters, but that was all. I’d sit beside the closed studio door straining my ears for sounds of conversation and tune in to the segment on the battered portable radio I keep hidden under my bed.

Kitty and Anna bought me the portable radio for Christmas some years ago. I’ve always been fascinated with radios and microphones. The idea of radio waves is so exciting. Words spoken in one little corner of the world travelling invisibly across impossible distances, to be heard by people you’ve never met. It’s always seemed almost like an Arcane Art in and of itself.

Madame Marie was down in the studio that Christmas day, and Kitty and Anna took me out to Kitty’s shed. Madame Marie didn’t like me going out there too often. Kitty has wifi and a TV and everything, and we put on a film, I think it was called ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’? It was fantastic, so heart warming. And afterwards, Anna and Kitty gave me this battered old radio. Kitty told me to make sure Madame Marie didn’t find it; even though she was sure it was completely broken, Madame Marie would probably have been furious if she knew I had it. I stuffed it under my shirt and hid it under the loose floorboard in my bedroom. The funny thing is, though, Kitty was wrong! The radio works perfectly. Well, it picks up Spirit Box Radio, if nothing else! And faithful listeners, that’s all I’ve ever needed.

I know she might be angry with me when she gets back but a part of her has to at least be grateful that I stepped up to make sure you faithful listeners were well-looked after. Nothing bad has happened at all! I’ve had far fewer nosebleeds and I haven’t woken screaming for weeks! It’s amazing. I know she’s only ever done things to try and keep me safe, but clearly she was wrong about this, if nothing else.

A couple of you have also pointed out I’ve mentioned leaving the house several times since Madame Marie left. Of course, I avoid going out where I can, but there have been some things that have been unavoidable, and finding out about the rose was one of those things. Kitty wasn’t here, Madame Marie is gone, and I couldn’t get hold of Anna, so I had to do it myself. I think that counts as important enough. But I’ve mostly been sticking to the rules Madame Marie laid out for me.

I hope she’s not too angry with me. I’ll be so upset if she decides to stop talking to me for weeks again as soon as she comes back. It’s one thing to not hear from her whilst she’s away, and another thing entirely when she doesn’t speak to me and we’re moving through the rooms of this same, small house.

I hope she’s not too angry about Revel. She’s never liked cats, funnily enough. And maybe I did order too many cat trees but like I said I really wasn’t using the living room before and she hardly ever used it, either! And it’s just Revel and a couple of his smaller, scrawnier friends. They just looked so small and cold, faithful listeners. I couldn’t just leave them. I’ve named the orange one Eggroll and the white one with one blue and one golden eye Cosmo. They look like a great set, Revel in his fluffy obsidian glory and these two little things set beside him. Madame Marie will warm up to them. They’re so soft! And sweet! No trouble at all. And they keep me company.

[SIGH]

What if… what if she doesn’t come back?

No. She will. She always does! I should stop dwelling on all of this, faithful listeners, and so should you! No more theorising about her on the forums. She’ll be back before we know it, faithful listeners! Now. What else is there to do today?

Oh yes! We received a fascinating letter in the P.O. Box this week! I’ll share it with you now:

Dear Madame Marie,

I apologise for how long it has taken me to respond to your previous request. Communication in the mountains is slow, and it takes several days to walk down to the nearest village to retrieve post, and then, of course, any response takes weeks to get from the village into the city, and then travel across several seas to get to you, and of course, I have taken some time to look into the issue you described, and have found that there are some potential issues with your plan as previously presented.

The design you suggest for the containment of a large amount of arcane power is elegant, yes, but it does indeed have the suspected crucial flaw in that whilst it will be contained, it will most certainly not be inert. Algis is a powerful symbol, and combined with a binding spell, it can keep a lot of raw power contained. But it’s not an infinite resource, as you say. It is only a matter of time before those bindings break and whatever you are attempting to hold back breaks through.

I assume from the tone of your letter and the level of detail supplied that we are not talking in mere hypotheticals. I know you to be a powerful witch with a surprising amount of raw talent for someone who never apprenticed and only in the last decade or so took an interest in the study of the arcane.

I recall the day when I first encountered you, a plucky young witch with two daughters barely out of infancy, reading fortunes from a most peculiar crystal ball in a tent on Brighton Pier. It was late evening in July. There were still a few children on the beach. To my memory your girls were sitting in old fashioned deck chairs on the boardwalk. They watched me with wary eyes as I peeled back the tent flap.

You were not at all what I had pictured from your rapidly growing reputation. Small, unassuming, a head of mousy hair half-hidden under a silk scarf decorated with stars. There was great power in that tent. I could smell it. You caressed the crystal ball on the table, though it was nothing like any other I’d seen. In its depths, the static twinkles shifted under my gaze and I found myself transfixed.

I confess, Marie, I do not bring this up to simply reminisce.

I know that crystal ball is more than it seems to be.

If you have truly done what you described in your last letter and trapped some kind of arcane creature which is now seeking to break free of those bonds, I must warn you, Marie, that though we meddle in great magics, there are some forces that should not be tampered with, that are beyond our control. We need to recognise them when we see them or risk falling prey to things we are incapable of comprehending.

You’ve been a part of the community long enough now to know that there are rumours of a witch who walks here and there, who can be sought only by relinquishing your agency in that search and giving in to desire alone. They say he wears a flat cap and shell suit. If you are reaching points of desperation, Marie, and are seeking to control things which cannot hope to be controlled, he may find you and offer you something you will be hard pressed to refuse.

Do not accept his offer, Marie. I say this as a friend, but I do not say it lightly. Whatever you have done, take what steps you can to make it undone, and stay as safe as possible. I know you are in communication with the bog witch Rhytidia Delphus and that you have at least met the Hedge Witch Oliver Boleyn, so perhaps with their help, and that of your assistants, you might be able to right whatever wrongs have been done.

Per arcanum vires circa nos,

Nagisa

//////

I doubt Nagisa is listening, given the extensive effort that they seemed to have to put in to communicate at all, but I would like to thank them anyway! I’m sorry this didn’t reach Madame Marie yet – I’ll make sure she gets it as soon as she’s back! However, I can’t help but wonder. Nagisa never said it directly but a lot of attention was drawn onto the strangeness of Madame Marie’s crystal ball and so I can’t help but speculate that possibly this is the thing that Madame Marie was using to trap an unknown arcane force?

There are several things about this letter that are really interesting. The mention at the end of a witch in a flat cap and shell suit making offers with terrible prices. I don’t know. It seems like this man exists, and that maybe, somehow, he is connected to me, and the strange rose I got at Christmas. But, if he is, like I thought he might be, uh, responsible for me somehow, you’d think someone who seems to be an old friend of Madame Marie would know about it? I don’t know. It’s very odd.

And of course, the idea of trapping arcane power at all is… well it’s a confusing thing to suggest. Arcane power is just the energy that makes magic work; it’s what ghosts are made of, it’s how tarot decks answer questions and how normal crystal balls crystallise possible futures. Kitty once said that arcane power is essentially vibes, but like, in a big, profound way. Vibes that hold atoms together. Everything has a bit of arcane energy running through it, from human beings to rocks and dirt. I heard Madame Marie once say it’s the energy that leeches out of black holes but I’m not sure what she meant by that.

Anyway, I wonder if the crystal ball here in the studio is so different because Madame Marie used some kind of experimental binding spell on it? Nagisa didn’t go into details here, but there is a diagram on the back, a complicated system of interlocking pentagrams and algis symbols, linked up like a strange, unfamiliar stellarium. It’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before in my life. And yet I can’t help but feel it’s somehow familiar… I don’t know.

But I don’t know what it could mean, to trap an arcane power in something. That’s not what ghosts are like and I know there are other things, hypothetically, more malevolent things that were never alive and are made of the arcane itself, but…

Oh. Faithful listeners. The heavy velvet cloth I’ve had over the Crystal Ball these past few weeks has… slipped aside.

I…

It’s not like before. It’s… it’s calling me but it’s not pulling me like it has before. It’s just. I can. I can see something, Faithful Listeners. There, in the sparkling depths. Something is… shifting. I can’t quite look at it, when I try it moves out of sight.

[door creaks]

SAM: Hello?

OTHER: Hello

SAM: Who are you?

OTHER: Who are you?

SAM: What is this?

OTHER: Who are you?

SAM: I’m Sam Enfield.

OTHER: I’m Sam Enfield.

SAM: No, I’m Sam Enfield.

OTHER: No, I’m Sam Enfield.

SAM: This is getting stupid now, please, just, who are you?

OTHER: I’m dying

SAM: I’m sorry.

OTHER: No, you’re Sam Enfield.

SAM: Yes, that’s right.

OTHER: You’re dying.

SAM: No, you just said you’re dying.

OTHER: I am dead. You are Sam Enfield.

SAM: You’re… dead? What? You just said you’re dying.

OTHER: You are dead.

SAM: I’m definitely not.

OTHER: What is dead?

SAM: You are not making any sense.

OTHER: Death is the opposite of living.

SAM: Arguably, yeah.

OTHER: I am Sam Enfield.

SAM: You are not!

OTHER: The door is open.

SAM: I’m sorry?

OTHER: The door is open.

[door slams, loud thud]

SAM: Oh no, the crystal ball!

Wow, it’s so heavy. How did Kitty manage to lift this thing? I suppose she’s always been… arcanely strong. It doesn’t look broken. Huh. Not even a crack.

[thud]

Okay. I’l just going to… tuck it back in.

Phew.

What on earth?

Did you hear that voice from within, Faithful Listeners, or was it only me that could hear it? I am so sorry. That was. I don’t know.

Oh, it’s left me feeling a bit woozy, faithful listeners. I think I’m going to make myself a mug of strong tea and lie down, see if I can get some sleep.

[cat meows]

Yes, Revel, I’ll get you a snack, too.

Thanks for tuning in tonight, faithful listeners! Remember to check in on the forums if you want to use Spirit Box Radio to commune with the dead, and let us know if you’ve got any information about the man in the flat cap and shell suit. I’ve been Sam Enfield, this has been Spirit Box Radio’s Advice and Community Segment, I bid you all a restful goof night!