[A CLOCK TICKS, SLOW AT FIRST, BUT APPROACHING NORMAL SPEED. AS IT EVENS OUT, THERE IS ARE INDISTINCT SOUNDS OF MOVEMENT. DISTANTLY, WOOD CREAKS, GROANING ALMOST LIKE AN OLD SHIP.]
SAM: [DISTANTLY] The microphone. It’s here. The red light is still on. Faithful Listeners, can you hear me?
[THE TICKING BEGINS TO GET QUIETER, SPEEDING UP AS IT DOES SO. THE CREAKING DOES NOT]
SAM: Hello? Is there anyone there?
[SAM SCOFFS AT HIMSELF]
SAM: God, you can’t— Even if you can hear me, I can’t hear you!
[HEELS CLATTER IN ONE DIRECTION, PAUSE, AND DOUBLE BACK AS ANNA SPEAKS]
ANNA: Sam! Oh my god! We’ve been looking for you for hours. Thank goodness you’re alright.
SAM: Hours, what do you mean? Where’s Kitty? Where’s Oliver? Where am I?
[FLOORBOARDS CREAK AS KITTY STEPS FORWARD]
KITTY: Well, I’m here, I don’t know where Oliver is. But I know where we are. This is the old house. The impossible house, whatever you want to call it.
ANNA: I barely recognise it. I mean. I know it but. It’s… wrong. I don’t understand what happened to it.
SAM: Is this my old bedroom?
ANNA: Well nobody else’s bedroom would be covered in pictures of the front door, would they?
SAM: The front door?
ANNA: You draw it all the time.
SAM: The white door. It’s the door to this house?
KITTY: The drawings have changed. Last time I was here, the door was shut.
SAM: [EXASPERATED] Yeah, it’s always shut. Except for that one time…
KITTY: Not anymore, look.
[PAPER RUSTLES AS KITTY TEARS A PICTURE FROM THE WALL]
ANNA: Looks closed to me.
KITTY: There’s light around the doorframe.
SAM: I’ve seen it like that before. Once. But. Drawings can’t change.
KITTY: I don’t think this house is… normal.
SAM: No, you’re right, that’s what the Styklers said. It’s not the house we grew up in. It just looks like it. And these drawings aren’t really drawings they’re—- They’re just part of the arcane.
ANNA: But we’re inside it. How can we be inside it.
SAM: Kitty was in here before. Uh, what happened then?
KITTY: I— I don’t know. I came back to see what had changed. Before it was like… Well, it was really remarkable, it was like it tricked you into thinking you couldn’t go inside but it was with warmth, with an idea of familiarity. It was repelling me but it was never like… it wasn’t ever sending me away forever. Now I think about it, the main thing it felt like was… like I knew that now wasn’t the time.
SAM: Not the time?
KITTY: Yes, a sense of ‘come back later’. it’s the best defence mechanism of any haunted house I’ve encountered.
SAM: But this isn’t a haunted house, it’s not even a house. Haunted houses, they are occupied by arcana, this is more, the house is arcane. It’s the house that’s doing the haunting. I don’t know.
ANNA: [WITH DAWNING REALISATION] A thing that shivers.
KITTY: I’m sorry?
ANNA: M used to say that. A house could be a thing that shivers. If its just a manifestation of arcane energy then—-
SAM: We can’t expect things to make sense here.
SAM: Where’s the window?
[THE HOUSE CONTINUES TO GROAN]
ANNA: [SCANDALISED] Sam, what’s in your jacket— is that a microphone?
SAM: [AWKWARDLY] Yeah. I must have hung onto it when the floor collapsed.
ANNA: The red light is on. But, oh, that makes no sense, it’s not connected to anything!
[THE HOUSE GROANS AND CREAKS, AND WIND BEGINS TO WHISTLE, AS THOUGH FROM UNDER A DOOR]
ANNA: Sam, are you even listening to me?
SAM: The door.
SAM: The white door, it’s right there.
ANNA: Should we… go through it?
SAM: [FEARFULLY] No! It wasn’t there before.
ANNA: It makes no sense—
KITTY: Nothing makes sense here. We need to be quiet. Or the sins will find us.
INGRA: [SING SONG] Too late.
SAM: Kitty, Anna, go!
INGRA: [WITH MOCK ENTHUSIASM] No, stick around! It’s going to be wild.
[DOOR SLAMS, FURNITURE SHIFTS, THE WHISTLING WIND STOPS]
INGRA: Draw up a chair and lets have a nice long chat, shall we?
ANNA: Who are you?
SAM: Don’t bother, these things never answer that question. What do you want from us?
[INGRA PACES BACK AND FORTH STEADILY AS THEY SPEAK]
INGRA: We want to strike a deal.
INGRA: Oh, come on. We’re not like the One Who Walks Here and There. No catch involved.
SAM: There’s always a catch.
INGRA: And they say I’m the embodiment of Ingratitude. All we want is for you to let things be. Can’t you just leave it alone?
SAM: I haven’t done anything!
INGRA: No need to be so modest, Ghost Maker. You’re already gathering your own followers. We can all feel it, you know.
SAM: My own — what are you talking about?
INGRA: You’re insufferable. Look. It’s not that things are great, or anything. But I would like to continue to exist.
SAM: I– but. What?
INGRA: Playing dumb? Maybe I should let Bliss deal with you, this is much more her thing than mine.
SAM: What are you talking about?
INGRA: Course, I could just kill you myself. That’s probably quicker. Ugh, but then Indi would complain, and I’ll never hear the end of it, will I?
[INGRA’S PACING PAUSES VERY DELIBERATELY AS THEY SAY ‘hmm’]
INGRA: Hmm. I know. Your little friends! Indi won’t mind if I take them, I don’t think.
SAM: Don’t touch them!
INGRA: Touch them? I don’t need to touch them.
[INGRA STOPS PACING]
[A LOW, FIZZING STATIC RISES AS INGRA SPEAKS. WHEN THEY SPEAK AGAIN IT IS WITH DEEP, ECHOEY REVERBERATION, SIMILAR TO THE WAY SAM’S VOICE CHANGES IN THOSE INSTANCES WHERE IT HAS SEEMED HE HAS COMPELLED SOMEONE TO DO SOMETHING AGAINST THEIR WILL]
INGRA: Kitty and Anna, is it? Ekaterina Erzabet and Anastasia Morgana, much maligned daughters of the Illustrious Madame Marie. Always a disappointment in your mother’s eyes. Ever cast in the shadow of the younger brother who had everything you didn’t.
KITTY: You have no idea what it was like growing up with Madame Marie. You have no clue what she did to him.
INGRA: Well, aren’t you a picture of gratitude?
[INGRA STRIDES AWAY FROM KITTY, TOWARDS ANNA]
ANNA: [FUMBLING] But— I—
INGRA: Poor little Anastasia.
ANNA: She always liked you best.
INGRA: She never got what she deserved, always overlooked, invisible next to your siblings.
ANNA: I was never good enough.
INGRA: And for what? Seeing sense?
KITTY: For god’s sake, Anna, can’t you see what they’re doing to you!
INGRA: The others just went along with whatever Madame Marie wanted, and you worked hard to build yourself a life, didn’t you?
[OBJECTS BEGIN TO RATTLE QUIETLY]
SAM: [VOICE STERN, BUT WITH VERY LITTLE RISING POWER BEHIND IT] Enough. Leave her alone.
INGRA: They’ll never understand you, Ghost Maker.
[SAM SPEAKS AGAIN WITH TREMBLING REVERBERATION AND A LOW RUMBLE BEHIND HIS VOICE]
SAM: Get. Out.
[THE GROANS OF THE HOUSE DEEPEN AND INTENSIFY WITH A RESOUNDING CRACK]
[IN THE DISTANCE, OLIVER CRIES OUT IN PAIN]
SAM: Oliver! No!
KITTY: Sam, wait, come back! There’s still something wrong with Anna!
[SAM RUNS, PANTING, FEET DRUMMING AGAINST THE GROUND AS THE HOUSE CREAKS AND GROANS, CONTORTING AROUND HIM]
[HE TRIPS, CRIES OUT AND TUMBLES AUDIBLY, PAINFULLY DOWN THE STAIRS, WINCING, GASPING IN PAIN AND THEN HITS SOMETHING SURPRISINGLY SOFT]
[SAM HISSES THROUGH THEIR TEETH, AND RELEASES A TENSE, SHUDDERY BREATH]
SAM: A mattress? Good thing that was at the bottom of the stairs, or I’d be—
[BLISS’ TONE IS BRIGHT AND FULL OF LEVITY]
BLISS: How thrilling for you. Sometimes, when I see the light leave my victims eyes, I wonder what death is like. And then I remember I don’t care.
[BLISS DANCES AS SHE SPEAKS, HER FOOTSTEPS RHYTHMIC AND BOUNCY COMPARED TO THE EVEN STEADY TREAD OF INGRA’S PACING BEFORE]
SAM: [FLATLY] Which one are you, then?
BLISS: [PLAYFULLY] Which one of what?
SAM: The Inconvenient Sins. I think we just met Ingratitude.
BLISS: Ugh, typical Ingra, keeping you to herself like that. I’m Bliss, and it is bliss. I’m going to kill you now.
[BLISS PULLS OUT A KNIFE WITH A WHOOSH OF METAL]
SAM: Wait! Why do you want to kill me?
BLISS: Don’t know. But I do! [BLISS SAYS THIS AS THOUGH TALKING TO A KITTEN] Enough with the small talk.
SAM: [HIS VOICE WITH RISING POWER] Tell me why you are doing this!
BLISS: We have to stop you. Oop! That just tumbled right out of me. My my, you are powerful.
SAM: [STERNLY, WITH RISING POWER] Stop me from what?
BLISS: Don’t know, don’t care. It’s more than a title, you know. Ignorance. It’s who I am. What I am. It is the only thing I deign to know, and it’s more than you can muster.
[THE LOW HUM OF SAM’S MAGIC LINGERS BETWEEN EACH QUESTION, RISING A LITTLE AS HE SPEAKS AND FALLING AS HE IS ANSWERED]
SAM: What are you talking about?
BLISS: You don’t know what you are.
SAM: I’m Sam Enfield.
BLISS: You are the Heir Apparent. And you must be stopped.
BLISS: Because when the Heir takes the throne our time is ended.
SAM: I… what?
BLISS: I’m getting a sense here you’re going to ask questions. I don’t like questions. I like fun.
[BLISS PULLS THE KNIFE AGAIN]
BLISS: And you’ve got ten whole fingers and ten whole toes and I could snippity snap each little one, one at a time, until they’re lots of exciting new shapes! Wouldn’t that be just bliss?
[BEFORE BLISS’ SENTENCE ENDS, THE LOW HUM OF SAM’S MAGIC BEGINS TO RISE, PEAKING BEFORE HE SHOUTS]
SAM: GO AWAY!
[THE GROANS OF THE HOUSE DEEPEN AGAIN AS WOOD CRACKS AND ROCKS MOVE LIKE A DISTANT EXPLOSION AS SAM SPEAKS. THE LOW RUMBLE OF HIS POWER RISES AND FALLS WITH THE GROANS OF THE HOUSE]
[AS THE HOUSE CHURNS, SAM CRIES OUT]
[THEY LAND CLUMSILY, SPEAKING IN BARELY MORE THAN A MUMBLE OVER A WHISTLING WIND, JUST LIKE THE WIND IN HIS OLD BEDROOM BEFORE]
SAM: I’m alone.
SAM: The door. It’s back.
[SAM TAKES A FEW STEPS TOWARDS IT, FLOORBOARDS CREAKING, AND THEN CRIES WITH HORROR]
[SAM RUNS AGAIN, FEET POUNDING, BUT ONLY FOR A FEW STEPS]
[DISTANTLY STILL, BUT CLOSER THAN BEFORE, OLIVER CRIES OUT IN PAIN. THIS TIME THERE ARE ALMOST WORDS IN IT]
[SAM’S STEPS FALTER]
[SAM STARTS TO RUN AGAIN]
SAM: OLIVER WHERE ARE YOU?
[SAM STOPS RUNNING]
SAM: [HALTINGLY AND PANICKED] Ah, no, that’s not going to work. I– he said I could invoke him, but how? HOW? GODS! Come here! I need you!
[THE LOW HUM OF SAM’S POWER RISES AND HE SPEAKS WITH TREMBLING DESPERATION]
[OLIVER’S JITTERING STATIC WITH IT’S LOW, UNSTEADY PULSE FIZZES BRIEFLY]
[OLIVER MAKES A SOUND OF PAIN AND RELIEF]
OLIVER: [WEAKLY] Best invocation… of my life…
[OLIVER THUDS TO HIS KNEES, AND THEN TO THE GROUND]
OLIVER: [WEAKLY] Magpie. Come here.
[SAM RUSHES FORWARD]
SAM: You’re covered in blood.
OLIVER: I can’t— I can’t see.
SAM: [HORRIFIED] Your eyes. These are… scratch marks. No. Gouge marks.
OLIVER: You’re safe. How? It’s been hours, I…
SAM: What are you talking about? It’s only been a few minutes since we fell.
OLIVER: Don’t be preposterous. Takes hours for. Exsanguination. [OLIVER’S BREATH FALTERS] Twice already…
SAM: Shh, you’re burning up.
OLIVER: I will be fine, magpie. The amount of times I have been through this is truly hilarious. No need to sound so stricken.
SAM: I’ll stay with you.
OLIVER: Yes. I think that will make things easier.
SAM: Please don’t die on me ever again.
[OLIVER STARTS TO LAUGH BUT IT DESCENDS INTO A WHEEZING COUGH]
SAM: Sh, it’s alright, don’t try to move to much, Oliver.
OLIVER: It’s — [HE COUGHS] It’s usually brief. Time doesn’t— I think time is broken in this house. I think. The past, the present, they’re all sliding together here. And you. You’re at the centre of it.
OLIVER: You destroyed this house. It started to grow back when– There was a day when I’d, uh— Something’s wrong.
SAM: You’re not making any sense.
[OLIVER SPLUTTERS WITH A CHOKING LAUGH]
OLIVER: [AS THOUGH WITH GREAT EFFORT] You do say I talk in riddles. I’ll be… right as rain.
SAM: No. You’re trailing off.
OLIVER: Yes. Oh. I don’t think I…
[OLIVER RELEASES A SHUDDERY BREATH]
SAM: [WITH QUIET SADNESS] Oliver. Oliver?
SAM: Oh Oliver, OLIVER!
OLIVER: [STILL WEAKLY, BUT STRONGER AND MORE COHERENT THAN BEFORE] Ugh, goodness, three times in one day. I am going to feel that in the morning.
SAM: Oh, your eyes. They’re back. Oh, thank Bathsheba.
OLIVER: You see? No need to worry. I’ll be right as rain.
SAM: You said that before and you died.
OLIVER: [BACK TO NORMAL NOW] In my defence I was delirious from blood loss. The others. Your sisters. Where are they?
SAM: I don’t know. I left them to look for you.
OLIVER: So they’re alone?
SAM: [SCOFF] I’m more of a hinderance anyway, they’re better off without me.
OLIVER: Between the… death. I heard the Inconveniences talking, explaining the house, what it’s like to be trapped here. How it grows and changes. Sometimes they could hear a voice. Your voice. This house, Sam, I think it’s a part of you. It’s your past. It shifts when you shift. As your understanding of yourself and who you are changes, so does this place. That’s why time is so strange here. Haven’t you noticed?
OLIVER: The clock.
SAM: It’s broken.
OLIVER: It’s not real. It’s an abstract construct. You are sustaining it. But you can’t control it.
[WIND BEGINS TO WHISTLE AS THOUGH AROUND A DOOR]
OLIVER: You need to embrace that this is you. This is what you are. What that means on a grander scale, I’m afraid I don’t know. But you need to stop believing the lies you have been told about yourself. Sam. You are not weak. All of this is you. Even though you have no idea how to control your power, it’s there, and you cannot hide from it any longer.
SAM: Ah– uh– that’s not true. I’m useless. I’m an idiot. I’m a foolish little boy and I need to stay away from this stuff or I’ll get myself killed, Oliver.
[SAM DRAWS A PANICKY BREATH]
SAM: Madame Marie was right. This isn’t me, it can’t be, because I can’t do anything. I never could. I’m nobody.
OLIVER: [SCOFF] She was nobody. A try-hard witch with no discernable skill. Then all of a sudden, she was the most powerful Arcanist in the Northern Hemisphere, overnight. I knew Madame Marie had brokered a deal, and I knew she was trying to circumvent it. I had no idea what the terms were. She wasn’t a Major Arcana; I’d have felt that happen, as I felt the creation of Ingra and Bliss, and Indi felt the creation of me.
[THE WIND GETS LOUDER]
OLIVER: The moment you walked into my shop, I understood. Madame Marie was promised the key to the greatest Arcane power that has ever walked this earth and she thought it was her crystal ball but it wasn’t. You are the gift, Sam. And you are also the price.
[THE WIND CONTINUES TO HOWL]
OLIVER: Sam? Are you listening to me?
SAM: The white door. It’s here.
OLIVER: I think you need to go through.
SAM: What if they find you while I’m gone?
OLIVER: Have I not just demonstrated it takes more than death to keep me down?
[A PAUSE WHILST SAM CONSIDERS THIS]
SAM: [DEFEATEDLY] I suppose.
OLIVER: [FIRMLY] You must go through the door. I’m certain of it.
SAM: [SIGH] Alright.
[SAM STEPS TOWARDS THE DOOR, FLOORBOARDS CREAKING, THE WIND GETS LOUDER AND LOUDER, ALMOST LIKE THE RAGING SEA, AND THEN THE DOOR HANDLE CREAKS, AND THE HINGES CREAK TOO, AND THE WHISTLING WIND ROLLS INTO NOTHING AS SAM STEPS THROUGH]
[THE DOOR SLAMS AND SAM GASPS]
[SILENCE FOR A MOMENT]
[SAM DRAWS A TINY, STEADYING BREATH]
SAM: It’s just a hallway. A dark hallway, but just an ordinary hallway with a carpet runner and an umbrella stand and… was I just here, with Bliss?
[SAM TAKES A FEW STEPS FORWARDS, AND WHISTLING WIND HOWLS]
[THE HOUSE CREAKS LIKE AN OLD SHIP]
SAM: The white door, again, but.
[SAM PUSHES THE HANDLE AND IT CREAKS OPEN AND AS BEFORE THE WHISTLING WIND ROLLS UP INTO NOTHING AS THEY STEP THROUGH]
SAM: It’s the same hallway. The door isn’t there this time, it’s just.
[FOOTSTEPS, AND THE HOWL OF WHISTLING WIND]
It is here, it’s just by the stairs now and—
[A DIFFERENT WIND, HOWLING SINISTER AND LOW]
SAM: Oh. My old bedroom’s here.
[FOOTSTEPS. THE WIND HOWLS LOUDER]
SAM: The window. The new old window. Kitty’s right, it’s here, but…
[SAM STEPS TOWARDS THE WINDOW]
SAM: There is someone outside, on the street, under the streetlamp.
SAM: Is that. Is he—
Under his hood, I think— I think that’s a flat cap.
I don’t know. I can’t—
It’s like… I can’t look at him directly, he’s always… it’s like those little dots that appear in your vision, always stuck at the periphery, impossible to look directly at because they’re behind the lens of your eye, no adjustment you could make would allow it, it’s all…
A trick of perception.
[SAM GASPS AND RUNS FOR THE DOOR]
[THUNDER RUMBLES, A STORM RAGING OUTSIDE]
[AS THEY SPEAK, THE DOOR HANDLE RATTLES AND POUNDS THE DOOR]
SAM: No, no! Let me out, let me out!!
[SAM SLUMPS TO THE FLOOR]
SAM: [BROKENLY] Let me out.
Ow, splinters… gods. This door is. It’s been, clawed. There’s blood. Old blood. I. Anna said. Anna said M used to lock me in here. She said she talked to me, tried to get me out, but M never left the key.
[THUNDER CRACKS, RAIN GETS LOUDER]
The window is gone. Everything keeps moving and shifting but it makes no sense.
Oliver said it was to do with me but I can’t make sense of it–
[THUNDER CRACKS LOUDLY]
SAM: It’s an Arcane Maze! This is what M was asking for Nagisa’s advice about. A maze to hold Arcane power, to stop it from getting out by confusing it, holding it here and. Nagisa said that there was no way to hold Arcane forces forever. That eventually it would fail. So whatever this maze is designed to hold, it’s going to get out.
[LATCH CLICKS, DOOR CREAKS OPEN]
[THE RAIN CONTINUES, THUNDER IN A LOW, NEAR CONSTANT RUMBLE]
[A WOMAN CRIES OUT IN PAIN, DISTANT BUT DISTINCT]
[AN AWFUL BLOOD CURDLING SCREAM IN THE DISTANCE]
Gods, what? Hello? Do you need help, hello?
[HOUSE GROANS LIKE AN OLD SHIP]
The white door. But. It’s open.
[SAM STEPS THROUGH]
[A TINY MOAN OF DISCONTENT]
Is there anybody… oh.
[A BABY CRIES AS THUNDER CRESTS OVERHEAD]
MM: Hush, little one. It’ll be just fine.
[BABY CONTINUES TO CRY]
MM: There, there, little one.
SAM: The floor, it’s covered in blood. Are you alright?
MM: What are you doing here?
SAM: It’s me, M. It’s Sam. Your son.
SCOURGE: Now, now, Marie, you must spare us a glimpse at the little bit?
MM: Please don’t take him.
SCOURGE: Silly Molly. We wouldn’t do that. He’s no use to us now. Look. He can’t even hold up his own little head.
MM: When he said I’d bear the seed of unforetold power—
SCOURGE: Silly, silly Molly. You thought it was you, didn’t you? What is it about humans? You’re all so self-absorbed.
MM: Well you’re just one of his stooges. Just a footman.
SCOURGE: Oh, Molly, I’m so much less, and so much more than that.
MM: What will happen to him?
SCOURGE: He’ll grow up into the most powerful Arcanist that’s ever walked the earth. You know that.
MM: Yes. But why? Why do this at all? Why design a threat to his own power?
SCOURGE: A threat? Oh, dear me. No, no. The King of the Blood Rose crown has made himself an Heir Apparent. When his time comes, this little bit will sketch out a new world, and he’ll walk here and there, just as his father once did.
[THE THUNDER HAS FADED INTO THE BACKGROUND, REPLACED BY A LOW RUMBLING, NOT SAM’S MAGIC, BUT NOT DISSIMILAR FROM IT]
MM: You won’t explain what it means.
SCOURGE: No. Besides. You always ask the wrong questions, Molly.
MM: At least that’s one thing we can agree on. Was there anything else?
SCOURGE: His name. Samael Apollo.
[AS SCOURGE SAYS SAM’S NAME, THUNDER BREAKS]
[AS SCOURGE SAYS ‘LITTLE BIT’, THUNDER BREAKS]
SCOURGE: Oh, little bit. What are you doing here?
SAM: You can hear me?
SCOURGE: This again? I’m everywhere and nowhere, little bit. And if you wish it, I could be your staunchest ally.
SAM: But there’s a price.
SCOURGE: Very good. Yes. There is always a price.
SAM: In that case. No. I have friends. I have people who love me.
SCOURGE: You don’t mean that pathetic excuse of a Major Arcana, do you? Of all of our Father’s creations, the Unrelenting is the one I see as his worst mistake. What’s the point in that? All he does is cry, alone, in his little flat. He hasn’t claimed anyone for years.
SAM: Claimed anyone? What?
SCOURGE: As allies. Or fuel for the fires of the Arcane. In his time, the Unrelenting was as his name suggests. He claimed thousands of souls for the Arcane and built our Father’s power out of their blood and dust.
SAM: Who are you?
SCOURGE: All in time, little bit. All in time.
[SCOURGE’S VOICE ECHOES AND MELTS INTO THE WHISTLE OF THE WIND AROUND THE WHITE DOOR. BURIED DEEP WITHIN THE WIND, A DOG IS BARKING. A BABY STARTS TO CRY.]
[SAM OPENS THE DOOR, AND ONCE MORE ITS CREAKS SWALLOW THE WHISTLING WIND, THE BARKING DOG AND THE CRYING BABY WITH IT]
[SAM STEPS THROUGH THE DOOR]
[ANNA BEGINS TO SPEAK BEFORE SAM IS ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE DOOR]
ANNA: Sam! It’s been hours, I was so worried!
SAM: Kitty, Anna! Are you alright?
ANNA: You look terrible.
KITTY: She’s a bit spaced out, they had us cornered for a while but then the cupboard under the stairs…grew some new stairs and as we started going down, the door sealed up.
ANNA: I hated it.
KITTY: She’s still out of it. But, you do look rough. Is that blood on your hands?
SAM: Where’s Oliver? He was here. He was right here.
ALL AT ONCE:
*KITTY: Wait, don’t—
*ANNA: We heard them planning, it’s a trap—
[OLIVER’S STATIC FIZZES]
INDI: Well, well, well. If it isn’t the Heir Apparent.
BLISS: I told you if we took his little boo he’d call us right to—
[SAM’S VOICE RESONATES WITH POWER]
SAM: Anna, Kitty, get out of the house!
[ANNA AND KITTY BOTH CRY ‘SAM’, THEIR VOICES WHISKED AWAY IN THE WIND]
INDI: My, you are a live wire, aren’t you, Samael?
INGRA: I’m bored of this. Can we kill him now?
INDI: Ingra. We’re not just going to kill him, not in his own home. Not right away.
OLIVER: You’ll leave him alone.
INDI: Well, it’s pretty clear why they call you the Unrelenting, isn’t it? Do you ever shut up? Bliss and Ingra never complain this much when they die.
OLIVER: It seems unlikely you’d torture them beforehand.
INDI: Hmm, perhaps you make a point. Perhaps you don’t. Either way, doesn’t matter. We have what we want. The Heir Apparent is within our grasp, and you are at our mercy. Not that it matters.
[SAM’S VOICE IS STILL REVERBERATING WITH POWER, BUT LESS SO THAN WHEN HE DEMANDED ANNA AND KITTY AWAY]
SAM: What do you want from me?
INDI: We have to stop you.
SAM: From what?
INDI: Taking over.
SAM: From who?
INDI: He who walks here and there. He who can be sought only when left unsearched. The Broker. The maker of Arcana Major and Minor. The King of the Blood Rose Crown.
[SAM’S VOICE RETURNS TO NORMAL]
SAM: The man in the flat cap and shell suit.
INDI: Doesn’t have as nice of a ring to it if you ask me, but it’s not inaccurate.
SAM: Why are you so afraid of me?
INDI: Afraid of you?
[INDI LAUGHS NASTILY]
INDI: Oh, heavens no. It’s what you mean. The end of an era of the Arcane. What do you suppose it means for us, if you take over from your dear daddy? We’re made by his hand. We brokered deals with him.
OLIVER: [IRRITATED] They believe that if you take the throne and come into power as the most powerful arcanist who walks the world, we all die.
SAM: But you can’t die.
OLIVER: I am sustained by Arcane energy, on the power of a deal I made with the one who walks here and there. I am suspended at the moment of death. But if you take the throne, there is a chance my sentence is ended.
SAM: [APPALLED] You knew? This whole time? You knew I’m some kind of… prophet or… I don’t know, you knew and you said nothing?
OLIVER: [PLEADING] I didn’t know. I couldn’t have known. I knew you were important. I knew you were bound up in this. I’m sorry I couldn’t say more, I’m sorry I couldn’t explain.
OLIVER: [WITH SHAME] I am forbidden.
INDI: We’re all forbidden.
BLISS: What a blessing.
INGRA: Ugh, don’t be ridiculous.
INDI: It doesn’t matter! We have you now. And we just need to kill you.
SAM: [BITTERLY] Like you killed Madame Marie?
[INDI BREATHES OUT A PROTRACTED SIGH OF BORED IRRITATION]
INDI: An… unfortunate mistake. Madame Marie was an interesting ally, at times. It was a shame. But due to a… clerical error, we thought it was her who would be taking over. And we’re not ready for a change in management just yet, are we?
BLISS: I’d rather not.
INGRA: It’s a chore either way.
[INDI’S TONE IS DISINTERESTED, INDIFFERENT]
INDI: So we sneaked in, and we didn’t mean to kill her, you know? I mean it wasn’t off the cards, per se, but I like to keep my options open. There she is, with that ridiculous crystal ball just sitting there. I thought it was odd, no protection spells on it, not so much as an algiz, but I thought hey, what does it matter? I don’t understand you humans. You seem to think everything is so important. But she started pleading, begging, and I thought, well, this is a bit of a pain in the arse, isn’t it? So a whacked her a bit to shut her up. And then in the last moments of her life, she scratches into the floor your name.
[STUTTERING STATIC BEGINS TO BUZZ, GROWING STRONGER AS INDI SPEAKS]
INDI: And as soon as I see it, I realise I’ve made a mistake. Heir Apparent to the Blood Rose Crown. He wasn’t just going to pick some random witch and bequeath her all his powers…
Well. Either way. Easy mistake to make.
SAM: What are you talking about? What is the Blood Rose Crown?
BLISS: Ugh, so many questions!
INGRA: I should have killed him when I had the chance.
INDI: Perhaps. Perhaps not. The One Who Walks Here and There has ascended as far as this domain will allow. He has accrued all the power he can here. He wishes to move on.
SAM: [CONFUSED] He wants to die?
INDI: Hmm. Yes and no. He wishes to transcend this realm. To walk on the Other Side. This has long been his ambition, not that I understand it. To do this, another must take his place, he thinks. One as powerful as he is. You can see why we overlooked you and made the mistake of assuming it was Madame Marie.
Perhaps it is a pity. I do not know.
SAM: You murdered her and you don’t care!
INDI: [SOURLY] Oh, goodness. You know. After all these thousands upon thousands already dead by my hand, I don’t think one more little human makes any difference at all, does it?
SAM: You’re a monster.
INDI: Precisely. And I’m going to stay this way as long as I can. So, what? You churn the house again, scatter us to the four corners of this ‘pocket dimension’ you’ve made for yourself and we reconvene again in a few years? If we could skip over that I’d be much obliged, I’m getting bored of torturing your little friend.
SAM: Please. Leave Oliver alone. I’ll do whatever you ask.
OLIVER: Sam, no.
INDI: Hmm. Disappointing. I did think you’d be up for a fight. Oh well. Whatever works.
OLIVER: [SOUND DESPERATE FOR THE FIRST TIME] Sam, please.
SAM: Oh, shut up! Do you want them to keep torturing you?! If they want to stop me from… whatever. I’ll let them if it means you’re safe.
BLISS: Oh, how delightful. He doesn’t know!
INDI: I’m sorry?
INGRA: [SNIFF] You’re right. He’s not any stronger.
INDI: [FRUSTRATED] You said he’d come into his power, you said it was too late to bargain, and he’d destroy us all.
OLIVER: [WITH FRENETIC EXCITEMENT] He went through the door. He knows who he is now. Don’t you?
SAM: I— I— no. I don’t. I’m sorry.
OLIVER: [HORRIFIED] The door didn’t… it didn’t work. You can’t control your power.
INDI: Well, as I say, whatever works. Bliss? Slit his throat.
[BLISS DRAWS HER KNIFE]
BLISS: It would be my pleasure.
[A KNIFE CUTS INTO FLESH]
[SAM’S BREATH CUTS OFF WITH A GARGLY CHOKE]
OLIVER: [GASP] NO! No.
INDI: Ehh, let him go, Ingra. Nothing he can do for him now.
[OLIVER THUDS TO THE GROUND AND SHUFFLES OVER TO SAM]
OLIVER: Sam. Sam?
OLIVER: [DARKLY] He’s dead.
[OLIVER’S JITTERY STATIC WITH IT’S ARHYTHMIC PULSE RISES, DISTORTED, LOWER PITCHED THAN WE’VE HEARD IT BEFORE, THE ERRATIC THRUM OF A STRUGGLING HEART BEAT RESONATING DEEPLY THROUGH IT. IT CLIMBS IN STRENGTH AS OLIVER SPEAKS WITH SHAKING FURY, HIS VOICE ALMOST A GROWL, HALF THE WORDS SPIT OUT]
OLIVER: I will reduce you to a paste so fine it will take millennia for you to put yourselves back together.
INDI: [WITH QUIET RELISH] Oh, I’m almost excited.
[OLIVER’S STATIC MAGIC RISES AND PEAKS]
OLIVER: By arcane power, I evoke—
[SAM GASPS, CHOKES, SPLUTTERS]
[OLIVER SPEAKS IN A TONE OF UTTER RELIEF AND DEVASTATION, THE STATIC FALLING IMMEDIATELY]
SAM: [cough] Oliver?
[SAM CLEARS HIS THROAT]
SAM: I’m– I’m fine. In fact, I feel. I feel great. I feel. Powerful.
INDI: Oh, for crying out loud.
SAM: I think I— I know. I think Madame Marie— She bound my power. Madame Marie. To hide me from the man in the flat cap and shell suit. She thought she could contain my power but she couldn’t. It’s too much. I was made to be this. I can feel it.
[SAM GASPS. SPOOKY WIND HOWLS LOW AND SINISTER, THE SAME WIND AS THAT WHICH HOWLED FROM THE WINDOW IN HIS OLD BEDROOM. OBJECTS SHAKE AND RATTLE. THE LOW HUM OF SAM’S POWER BEGINS TO RISE]
SAM: I could always feel it but I never knew what it was, just beneath the surface, threatening to break free.
There was no hope of Madame Marie controlling this, it’s too much. How can I… How can I do this… I can’t, it’s too much, too fast, it’s too much!
[THE HOUSE GROANS, THE WIND HOWLS, AND THUNDER BREAKS OVERHEAD]
OLIVER: [DESPERATELY] Sam! You are still yourself.
[THE WIND GETS A LITTLE QUIETER]
SAM: [WITH FEAR IN THEIR VOICE] Who am I, Oliver? Who am I!
OLIVER: You are good. You are compassionate. You are thoughtful and kind.
SAM: I’m a monster. I can feel it. I can’t control it.
OLIVER: You don’t have to; it’s a part of you.
[THE RATTLING OF OBJECTS GETS A LITTLE QUIETER. THE HOWLING WIND GROWS QUIETER, TOO]
SAM: It’s too much. I can’t contain it.
OLIVER: No. You are it. You don’t need to contain it, do you understand me? It is you. You are it. The power and yourself are not separate. It’s all one and the same.
[THUNDER CUTS ACROSS EVERYTHING ELSE]
SAM: [SOFTLY] It’s… me. It’s all me.
[ON THE FINAL ‘ME’, ALL THE CREAKING, THE WIND, ALL OF IT GETS BRIEFLY LOUDER AND BLENDS TOGETHER UNTIL THERE IS NOTHING BUT A LOW, DEFINITE HUM, THE HUM OF SAM’S MAGIC, CLEARER, LOUDER, STRONGER THAN IT EVER HAS BEEN, INCONSTANT, PITCH SHIFTING AND CHANGING AS THEY CONTINUE TO SPEAK]
SAM: In this house I was born in blood and then I was bound by it. The son of the King of the Blood Rose Crown, a child born of lies and broken bonds, by an unwitting mother who thought she’d outsmarted the darkness itself. But that was the plan all along. Madame Marie wasn’t having a baby who’d beat the Man Who Walks Here and There, she was bearing his Heir Apparent, the one who’d rise up from his shadow and replace him when he finally can ascend, and he can only ascend when there is someone to replace him.
He told her she would bear the seed of Arcane Power. She thought that meant she had been chosen. But the Crystal Ball, fickle and fragile, was just a sick joke left to taunt her, and the powers he bestowed upon her necessary to withstand the child he planned to use. She would be regent to his strength, nothing more. The tenacity she thought was keeping her safe and in control was exactly what he saw in her that made her perfect for this task. She would do everything she could to keep me safe once she had me, he was certain, if only because she thought it was her best chance to outwit him. But in the end he got what he wanted.
And what he wanted was me.
[OBJECTS BEGIN TO RATTLE, BREAKING INTO THE STRANGE FUGUE SPACE THAT SEEMS TO HAVE FORMED AS SAM SPEAKS. HIS NEXT WORDS REVERBERATE. THEY SPEAK WITH DELIBERATION AND STEADY INTENT; A DECLARATION; A REALISATION]
SAM: I am Samael Apollo Enfield, Heir Apparent to the Blood Rose Crown. And you will do as I bid!
INDI: Ah, bollocks.
SAM: What was it you said I’d do, Indi? Oh, yes. Scatter you to the four corners of the globe? Well. Let’s see. Leave. Now. And never come back.
SAM: I SPEAK AND WILL BE HEARD. LEAVE NOW AND NEVER RETURN.
[AS SAM SPEAKS THERE IS A MIGHTY CRACK, A DISTANT BOOM AND ROLL OF THUNDER, IT’S EDGES BLURRED WITH THE COLOSSAL FALL. SCREAMS MINGLE WITH IT, INDISTINCT, LOST IN THE NOISE OF IT ALL]
[THE LAST SOUND IS ROCKS OR RUBBLE FALLING]
SAM: [LAUGHING] Oh. Oh I feel sort of dizzy.
OLIVER: Sam! What are you doing?
SAM: I don’t know. [Laughing again] Wow. I can feel… everything. I can see. So many points of light. No. Not light. Life. Little twinkles. Sparks. [GASP] And you. You’re like a candle in a jar. You shouldn’t be burning at all. How beautiful and rare. Wait.
SAM: No. This means you’ll die. Oliver, I don’t want you to die.
OLIVER: [gently] I’m not going to die. You’re not the King of the Blood Rose Crown yet. Besides, I’m not entirely sure that’s how it works.
SAM: Good. Yeah. Good.
[RUBBLE FALLS AROUND THEM]
OLIVER: Sam, the house is collapsing, we need to get out.
SAM: Oh, yeah. There’s nothing holding it up anymore. Bliss destroyed the key.
[MAGIC HUMS QUIETLY]
SAM: Let’s get out.
[SAM’S VOICE SHIFTS AND REVERBERATES, REMARKABLY LIKE THE WAY SCOURGE’S DID EARLIER WHEN THEY SUMMONED THE DOOR. AS THEN, SAM’S VOICE ECHOES AND BLENDS INTO THE WHISTLE OF WIND AROUND THE WHITE DOOR’S FRAME. SAM PRESSES THE HANDLE. THEY STEP THROUGH THE DOOR]
[SILENCE, LIKE A DEEP BREATH]
[BIRDSONG, AND A NEARBY STREAM, JUST AUDIBLE BENEATH IT]
KITTY: You found him?
ANNA: He’s over here.
KITTY: You big idiot, what are you laughing for?
[SAM continues to laugh]
KITTY: What’s wrong with him?
ANNA: Don’t look at me! Ask him!
OLIVER: I’m not entirely sure.
[SAM laughs again]
OLIVER: I think he… I think it’s because he opened the door.
SAM: No, my throat! Bliss! She slit my throat. The algiz. It was the key, it wasn’t a coincidence. It was the centre of the maze, the thing locking it all together. The binding spell Madame Marie used to try and suppress my power. The formation that she sent to Nagisa? The maze? She used my strength to keep the whole thing together. But when Bliss cut it, she destroyed the key, broke the binding. The maze is gone. I feel so alive.
KITTY: Is he drunk or something?
OLIVER: He’s fine.
SAM: [LAUGHING] I’m the Heir Apparent.
ANNA: What? What does that mean?
KITTY: More importantly. Who are you in line to get this crown from, exactly?
OLIVER: The Man Who Walks Here and There.
KITTY: More extremely unhelpful titles. Who is this guy?
SAM: I… [LAUGH] you know. I don’t actually know.
ANNA: How is the phone fine. The house is a pile of rubble and the phone is just sitting there, fine.
[PHONE CONTINUES TO RING]
[SAM WALKS TOWARDS THE PHONE]
ANNA: Oh you’re just going to answer it, of course you are. Right.
[SAM LIFTS THE PHONE]
[THERE IS FAINT STATIC, LIKE THAT ON AN OLD FILM]
[A DOG BARKS]
THE MAN IN THE FLAT CAP AND SHELL SUIT: You’ve done well, son. But there’s still a way to go before you’re ready.
SAM: Ready for what?
THE MAN IN THE FLAT CAP AND SHELL SUIT: Your crown.
[THE STATIC AND DOG BARKING GET LOUDER, AND CUT OUT ALL AT ONCE WITH A CRUNCH OF BREAKING GLASS AND A SMALL PUFF OF AN EXPLOSION, LIKE A BURST LIGHT BULB. THE BIRDSONG GETS FASTER, AND VANISHES INTO NOTHING]
ANNA: [DIZZILY] Oh… what was that?
KITTY: Did anyone else… hang on. It’s night time. I swear a minute ago it was broad daylight.
SAM: It’s Thursday witching hour.
KITTY: That’s impossible. We were in there for hours, at least.
OLIVER: About a week, by my reckoning.
SAM: A week? No. Half an hour. Maybe three quarters of an hour at the most.
OLIVER: Maybe for you. But not for the rest of us.
ANNA: Who was on the phone?
SAM: It was… unknowable, nobody.
SAM: Oh, my microphone. The red light is still on. Huh. You don’t suppose we were… broadcasting?
KITTY: I’ll look at the forums on my… phone. Oh. Yep. We have been broadcasting, from the state of the forums they heard pretty much everything. And Oliver’s right. It’s been a week!
ANNA: A week? [GASP] Oh, god, my job!
SAM: [FONDLY] Faithful listeners. Thank you for sticking with us through… [SUDDENLY SAD] Whatever that was.
OLIVER: Sam. Are you alright?
SAM: It just… hit me. My whole life. Madame Marie lied to me about who I am and what I’m capable of. Everything I thought I was, none of it is real. It’s just a story she told me. Even if it was to keep me safe, I don’t know. I don’t know if I can forgive her.
OLIVER: Nobody is asking you to.
ANNA: I’m bloody not.
KITTY: Me neither.
SAM: I… thank you.
OLIVER: What you said is not strictly true, however.
SAM: Wh- what do you mean?
OLIVER: You’ve been given new information but you’re still you. And there is one piece of yourself you have made entirely on your own, which remains completely unchanged.
SAM: What part is that?
OLIVER: [WARMLY] Sam. You’re still broadcasting.
SAM: Oh. Right! I get it. I… Thank you for tuning in, faithful listeners. This has been Spirit Box Radio. I’ve been your host, Samael Apollo Enfield, Heir Apparent to the Blood Rose Crown. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. And goodnight.
| Content Warnings |
– Themes of grief, death, and trauma throughout
– Background Sound effects of various volumes, with panning effects (meaning audio may be different in left and right speakers/headphones/earphones). These sound effects include: creaking/groaning wood; thunder; ticking clocks; objects rattling; static.
– Threats of violence, including murder
– Door slamming
– Depiction of attempted emotional manipulation (of a major character by a non-major character)
– Vocal distortion (slight echo effect and reverberation)
– Relatively loud sound effects of explosion/destruction (these are slowly introduced and do not happen at random)
– Sounds of pain and physical distress (distant screams; gasping; wheezing; coughing; spluttering)
– Sound of a knife
– ‘On-screen’ major character death (temporary)
– Negative self-talk (light, infrequent, but persistent)
– Crying infant
– Sounds of a storm (thunder; rain; wind)
– Implied child neglect
– Complex mourning (not lingered on, but present)
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