Click for Content Warnings
- Background sounds and music
- Stereo audio (audio will sound different in right and left speakers/headphones)
- Mentions of death and dying
- References to implied child abuse/neglect
Do not forgive or forget; just find a way to move forward. Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio.
Hello, Faithful Listeners. Welcome to another episode of wacky adventures with a freak of the arcane! In today’s thrilling instalment, we’re going to my great-grandmother’s apothecary, which it is actually not that far away from where I’ve been living for the whole part of my life that I remembered. Yeah, that’s just. It’s wild, isn’t it, that Madame Marie would bring us back here and never take me, or apparently any of us, to this incredibly important place from her childhood, but like, at this point who is even surprised?
I only found out because someone on the forums posted a picture of that same newspaper clipping Jay Magnum had in their file about Madame Marie, of her outside the shop as a child, and I realised, I recognised the buildings either side. So I just thought, what the hell, it’s right there! Why not go? Why not just go there right now, so here I am.
You’d think, right, that someone would have mentioned this. Prime candidate for this is, of course, Oliver. If you’re listening to this, love, like, for real, was there nothing you could have done to give me heads up about this? Really? Nothing at all?
I mean for gods’ sake. Ugh.
Other potential people who definitely knew about this and don’t even have ‘there’s a spooky man who has bargained my freedom to speak away’ as an excuse, of course the headline act for this one being none other than Rhytidia Delphus, who I know isn’t listening, because she never listens to the show. She’s been spending a lot of time with Anna, since what happened with Guy, and whenever I talk to her it is just so abundantly clear she does not care about anything I have to say, honestly. I wouldn’t mind, only she’s clearly a bigger player in this than I realised, and she just. Won’t speak to me.
I know, I know, I could just command her to speak or whatever. I could just do that, couldn’t I, sit her down, force her to sit down and make her answer my questions, fully, properly, in a way that’s actually useful. But then what?
I do that, and then what?
I’ll have answers about the things I need to know from her, but I’ll know something else, too, won’t I?
It won’t matter where I come from, what made me, how I was made. Because if I did that. If I forced Rhytidia to speak like that, deliberately planned it, made her sit there with the intent of extracting every last thing from her. If I did that, I’d know exactly what I am, wouldn’t I?
Maybe it’d be more straightforward.
At least I’d have an answer. At least I’d know what I was, even if I didn’t like it. At least that would be something.
We’re… here. This is it. Every time I’ve walked into town, I’ve walked past this place. It’s just a boarded up house. It doesn’t look like a shop at all. The building is small, it doesn’t look like it belongs here, or… no. it’s more like, it makes everything else on the street look like it shouldn’t be here, like it’s the oldest thing here besides the dirt and rocks it’s standing on, like maybe it just… grew up out of the ground and the rocks all by itself.
I wonder if—
[WOOD CREAKS AND BREAKS, PLANKS FALLING TO THE GROUND]
Ah, it does come in handy, doesn’t it.
[SAM STEPS INSIDE]
[THE ARCANE SHIMMERS]
I– I know this place.
I don’t remember it, not exactly, but.
Yeah, I can see, in the Arcane, I’ve been here before.
Something happened here. Something big.
There are marks on the floor. A pentagram, and…
Oh. On the wall. There’s a space. It’s like. There should be a door here. The walls are black around it, like soot, but. There’s a gap in the middle, like there’s a door, except it’s just the wallpaper.
[MAGIC HUM FADES A LITTLE]
[A GUST OF WIND RUSTLES PAPER]
The wallpaper is coming loose.
[PAPER RUSTLES MORE INTENSELY]
There’s something underneath.
‘It starts when the door opens.’
[A CHILD LAUGHS]
Did you hear that?
SAM: Oh, hello, stripey friend. What’s wrong?
SAM: You want me to follow you?
SAM: What is that?
Old photographs. It’s Madame Marie, as a kid. She’s cute, actually! Her little pigtails. She looks so happy here. There’s more, a birthday party, maybe. Her grandmother looks so serious, but she has kind eyes. And. Oh. This isn’t a photograph. It’s a drawing. Of the white door. It’s… it’s really, really old.
SAM: Someone’s coming.
[A HUM, A FAINT CRACKLE]
SCARCITY: Hello, Heir Apparent.
SCARCITY: Greeted by name, how personable you are! And there’s Scourge implying you’re nothing but a little lout.
SAM: Why are you here?
SCARCITY: Same reason as you.
SAM: And what’s that?
SCARCITY: I’m looking for answers.
SAM: Like you don’t know the whole plan already.
SCARCITY: Scourge was right about one thing at least; you do wear your heart on your sleeve. Tell me, where is dear Unrelenting? It’s been a while since we’ve spoken.
SAM: It’s none of your business.
SCARCITY: It is you that’s hiding him, then. I did wonder about Strife…
SAM: Gods, don’t you three talk about this stuff? Shouldn’t you fill each other in on who you’re holding captive?
SCARCITY: We work together on occasion, of course. When the will of the One commands it.
SAM: When the Man in the Flat Cap tells you to, you mean.
SCARCITY: You make interesting inferences, if not correct ones.
SAM: What answers are you looking for?
SCARCITY: What is it about this place, do you think? This is where it all started, where the deal was made. Right here, in fact. Can you feel it, the arcane energy? Can you see it?
SAM: Yes. That’s where Madame Marie made her deal.
SCARCITY: Not just hers, though. Yours too.
SAM: I wasn’t born, then. I wasn’t even conceived.
SCARCITY: And yet, all those threads, tying you here, then, now, and then again.
SAM: I suppose it’s where my fate was sealed.
SCARCITY: Fate is an interesting word.
SAM: Yeah. Real fascinating.
SCARCITY: I’ll tell you what the trouble with Marie was. She never appreciated what she had. Not you, not her daughters, not her own life. She had so much, and she bargained it all away.
SAM: Aren’t you on the Man in the Flat Cap’s side? Shouldn’t you want him to make deals?
SCARCITY: That’s a lot of assumptions, Heir Apparent.
SAM: Am I wrong?
SCARCITY: Yes and no.
SAM: Gods, I hate you lot. Can’t you ever just answer the question?
SCARCITY: Well that wouldn’t be very arcane, would it?
SAM: I am so done with this.
SCARCITY: You already have all the answers. You were born with them.
SAM: You must have missed the memo. Apparently another thing Madame Marie didn’t appreciate was my ability to remember my childhood. If I knew when I was born, I don’t know it anymore.
SCARCITY: Oh yes, the partition.
SAM: The partition?
SCARCITY: You two, you made an arcane space, didn’t you?
SAM: A what?
SCARCITY: Come now, you’ve visited. Tore the place down. Caused quite the drama. Dear Scourge had his feathers all ruffled.
SAM: The Impossible House?
SCARCITY: Call it what you will. That place was created when you and Marie performed that ritual–
SAM: Excuse me, I was seven years old and she was splashing blood onto me whilst I was tied to a wonky pentagram–
SCARCITY: A wonky pentagram? Is that what it was? Fascinating.
SAM: I’m just going to go.
SCARCITY: Oh really? Where to?
SAM: Away from here and away from you, more importantly.
SCARCITY: You came for answers, didn’t you?
SAM: And you’re not going to give them to me. You never do.
SCARCITY: My dear Heir Apparent, this is the first time we’ve met.
SAM: You’re all the same.
SCARCITY: Are we?
SAM: You don’t give answers, you just make annoying remarks. There’s no point even trying.
SCARCITY: Like mother, like son, I see.
SAM: What are you talking about?
SCARCITY: Scourge, Strife, Scarcity. You’ve seen the deck, haven’t you?
SAM: The— the true arcanist deck?
SCARCITY: You’ve seen our cards.
SAM: What about them?
SCARCITY: There are two other gilded cards. Haven’t you wondered why they’re inlaid with metal?
SAM: To distinguish them from the other Major Arcana?
SCARCITY: We’re not Major Arcana, Samael. We shine. Don’t you see?
SAM: I— see. The arcane. You’re a part of it.
SCARCITY: One with the One.
SAM: See? You are the same as Scourge. You’re incapable of answering questions.
SCARCITY: There are rules at play and a story to tell. But you know that. You started this conversation by telling me that very thing.
SAM: And you said you were here for answers.
SCARCITY: And I’ve found them all, apart from one.
SAM: At least that makes one of us.
SAM: Oh, for crying out loud, what do you mean?!
SCARCITY: You already have everything you need; if only you could look, you’d understand completely, and you’d know.
SAM: Understand what.
SCARCITY: Who you are, what you are.
SAM: Heir Apparent?
SCARCITY: Heir Apparent to what?
SAM: This fresh hell and all its dominions. The Blood Rose Crown. Whatever all of that means.
SCARCITY: What is the One Who Walks Here and There? The broker of deals?
SAM: King of all the things I’m the heir to! This does not help.
SCARCITY: You don’t need help. The stones have been laid. All you need now is to walk the path.
SAM: I– wait!
SCARCITY: Time is scarce, Samael. The clock is ticking. It’s coming, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
SAM: Stop what!? The end of the world? Because– I don’t think—
And she’s gone, she’s GONE, you see Faithful Listeners, I’m right, they’re all one… and the same. One with the One. The One Who Walks Here and There? He’s. He’s them? They’re him? What. No. He’s just another part? Maybe? What.
And they mentioned the gilded True Arcanist cards. But. There isn’t four of them, there are five. Scourge, Scarcity, Strife, the Man in the Flat Cap and… me.
But. But I’m not the same as Strife and Scarcity, I’ve seen seen the way their arcane threads look, and it’s not like– it’s not like a halo around a whole galaxy, like what I saw when I looked in the mirror, it’s like a cluster of knots, threads pulled from a million different places, like they’re tied together out of millions of pieces of something else, like they shouldn’t be there at all.
But. Ingra and Bliss said I haven’t always looked like this.
That it changed after I—
After I brought Kitty back.
And it shouldn’t be possible to bring people back from the dead, what I did, I don’t understand it, I don’t know how I was able to do it, and it’s not like it was–
I didn’t mean for–
It doesn’t matter, I just don’t know how it worked, only that it sort of did, and after that, I’m different, now. And it’s in everything I do, isn’t it? I can. I can just make stuff happen now. Like. I don’t know, in theory, I could just, I could just make people talk to me whenever I want and—
[PHONE RINGS DISTANTLY]
Is that the studio phone? What?
[RINGING CUTS OFF AS SAM ANSWERS THE PHONE]
MARIA: Samael! How wonderful to finally, actually speak with you!
SAM: Maria Gillespie.
MARIA: As I live and breathe. I thought it was time we had a little chat. You know, anti-christ to anti-christ.
SAM: Neither of us is the anti-christ.
MARIA: Anti-christ adjacent, then. Doesn’t really matter what you call it, does it?
SAM: Maria. Do you understand what they’re going to do to you?
MARIA: Of course I do. I’m not a total fool, am I?
SAM: You’re going willingly, I think that counts as pretty foolish.
MARIA: Maybe. But you’re so focused on the details, you’re missing out on the big picture.
SAM: So enlighten me.
MARIA: Do you know who my favourite artist is?
MARIA: Monet. I’ve worked so long for so many years and yes, it’s easy to replicate his style, there’s an energy to his work that is inimitable. Did you know he was incredibly short sighted? Not in terms of planning, I mean that literally. He couldn’t see. He was painting the world as it appeared to him. That’s what gives his work so much power, I think. It’s the most arcanist of painting styles. No answers, only vibes. When you look closely, it’s not as though the details have been skimped, either. Each brushwork is deliberately chosen, positioned and arranged. The details Monet focuses on are different, abstracted from the details of the world right before our eyes.
SAM: Why’re you giving me a lecture on art theory?
MARIA: Do you have a favourite painter?
SAM: I don’t know. Rembrandt?
SAM: Did she tell you to call me?
MARIA: Oh, my dear patron! No. I just had a feeling this was the right time.
SAM: The right time for what?
MARIA: To call you. You really aren’t very bright, are you?
SAM: I have my moments.
MARIA: Well what?
SAM: What do you want? You can’t have called me for no reason.
MARIA: I have a feeling, somehow, that you’re going to make things difficult. And I want you to know there’s no need. I have my patron, and you have yours.
SAM: I have… what?
[MARIA LAUGHS MEANLY]
MARIA: Oh come on, I’m not a complete airhead, Sam, I know you’ve been talking to Scourge.
SAM: Scourge isn’t my ‘patron’ or whatever. They’re just a pain the arse.
MARIA: Maybe you just don’t know how to appreciate good counsel.
SAM: I don’t– good counsel– are you serious?!
MARIA: Serious as death, just like you.
SAM: You’ve been spending too much time with Scarcity. You’re starting to sound like one of them.
MARIA: One of what?
SAM: Our patrons as you put it.
MARIA: Oh, really!? Maybe it’s already started.
MARIA: Becoming one with the one.
SAM: One with the One. I—
MARIA: Listen, sweet-pea. We all know it’s coming. You just need to accept it and find what you can in the last days we have of this world before we’re all born anew. Come on Sam! The end of the world! Wake up and smell the roses! The end is nigh!
SAM: I– the end of the. But. It’s the passing of the torch, right? You’re supposed to inherit the throne!
MARIA: Throne of what?
SAM: Blood roses! Heir Apparent to the Blood Rose Crown!
MARIA: How have you not go there yet, my gods! This is the kingdom! And when the King falls and is replaced, it will be born anew. We’ll all be born anew.
SAM: You– you think that there’s going to be a new world?! That’s why you’re not worried they’re going to eat you?!
MARIA: That ritual is only the first part of the Redistribution is just the first stone in the path. After that, all I have to do is walk it.
SAM: The first stone… Maria, wait. Who said that to you?
MARIA: I always knew it in my blood, I think, Scarcity just showed me the way.
SAM: But, they told me–
MARIA: Keep your own counsel, Sam. I don’t want to hear it. I know my path. I’ve known it all my life. I hope you make it through the Redistribution. I get good vibes from you.
SAM: Maria, wait–
SAM: The first stone has already been laid! I don’t know what that means, but. It’s. It’s too late, somehow, or—
I am getting ahead of myself. Right. All I know now is that Maria is pretty confident this thing with the Scarcemongers is legitimate. That the Redistribution is going to happen. And, you know. Based on what I know already. Eight weeks from now, it’s not hard to imagine that’s what they’re planning. So maybe that’s it. That’s the thing that’s coming.
I know basically the same amount as I did before, except now everything is worse, yeah, thanks for that, I just. UGH.
I came here for answers. But not like this.
Not like this.
I just. I want it to stop. All of it. Everything. I want it to just stop. Just so I have time to think. So I can work out what I’m supposed to—
How I’m even meant…
And this, this drawing of the White Door. What’s it doing here? It looks like one of mine, but… I don’t know.
Huh. What’s this?
[PAPER RUSTLES, DUST AND DIRT SHIFTS]
It’s a photograph, I think… I think it’s me? Little me. Madame Marie must have come back, and left this here. I think there’s something on the back.
‘Beware, Heir Apparent’.
I think I’m going to sign off, Faithful Listeners. I’m just going to sit here a while, I think. Yeah. I’m just going to think for a bit. Goodnight.