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
- Emotional distress
- Death and dying
- Loud sound effects
- Stabbing, with flesh sounds
A cat can look at a king. A cat can sit upon an Heir Apparent’s lap and stop him from doing anything useful until he moves. Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio.
Hello Faithful Listeners. So. The past couple of weeks have been, um. A lot. I’ve been trying to think of a way to make it all feel more coherent but I can’t, honestly? I don’t know what to say about any of it. There’s just so much.
And then there’s the trouble of trying to work out what to do about any of it.
Arlo’s been staying over at Anna’s. They’re not up to talking too much about what happened yet, and they’re angry with me. Understandably so. But I hope maybe they’ll be able to speak with me about everything at some point. I don’t know, I feel like it might help me work out what to do, somehow?
And then there’s Oliver. We’ve spent hours and hours talking. He’s tried to tell me everything he knows, everything he can think of which might help. There are no taboos to stop him anymore but, some of it is still difficult, you know? I don’t like to hear about how he’s been hurt, and he has been so hurt, and warped, and twisted. It makes me so. Gods, I’m just so angry.
The more I think about it, the more he talks, the more clear it is that he has been this way the whole time so that when we met, he would be… so that I would love him. And why? Why? For what!?
More than anything, I want to unpick it all. If there was one thing I could change it would be that, to go back and make it so he hasn’t had to live the way he has. When I’ve spoken to Indi, Ingra and Bliss, they were all so detached by what their deals with the Man in the Flat Cap had made them that the horrors they committed barely registered, but Oliver? He felt every minute of it, and he carries it with him, it’s burned into him, with every scar, every memory…
And in the end, he has theories about what’s going on, but really that’s all he has. I think, probably, because he was designed to end up being mine, the Man in the Flat Cap was careful with what Oliver was allowed to know. There are huge gaps and holes in the things we know. It’s clear that the names the Man in the Flat Cap chooses are important,, only why they’re important isn’t clear. For the Sins what they’ve been called defines them, doesn’t it? Or at least it used to. But ‘the Unrelenting’? That’s not a thing that can really be defined. That question is still hanging there, isn’t it?
Oli has a theory about that, of course, one he couldn’t tell me until the taboos were broken, but one you’ve all heard before, apparently, somehow, judging by the forums. He thinks it’s unrelenting grief, that he’s defined by loss, and you know what, that does explain a lot about his general demeanour, but it doesn’t really explain a lot about him. Because he’s not grieving, is he? Not really.
And when he killed Jay and the others, it wasn’t.
[SAM SIGHS UNCOMFORTABLY]
I didn’t know Jay well enough to grieve them, did I? But that happening, it did almost make me take him as a Major Arcana then, didn’t it? But it wasn’t out of grief, I wanted to keep Oliver safe, and I just found a different way to do that. And it was keeping him safe that made me take him the end, too, wasn’t it? And Indi, they agreed to give me their deal because their thoughts on whoever held it were defined by what she is, right? She was Indifferent about who held the deal so long as it remained held. And Ingra, they came along because they had no gratitude for the Man in the Flat Cap’s ‘gifts’, even if they wanted to keep them. And Bliss? She’s came too because she didn’t know what she was signing up for. Or what would happen next.
So I think Oliver’s wrong, and of course, he absolutely hates that.
Maybe Indi is right, and he’s just an unrelenting pain in the arse.
Gods, I love him though.
It’s been a lot, these past two weeks. And I can’t help but feel there’s an axe hanging over us. Oliver’s been trying to tell me anything he can think of that might help understand what the actual Redistribution is going to be, but nothing we can piece together seems to help. He spent all that time watching Madame Marie, and he can remember a lot of it almost perfectly, except it’s hard to hear about it, you know?
She was just some meek little kid, right? She was nobody, and then she was someone because she made a deal, which would result in me. But like Julius and Jay said, M seemed to come from a deal herself, which like Beth pointed out makes me a ‘double deal’. But beyond that, Oliver’s stories about Madame Marie were about her being desperate to find out about the Arcane and being rebuffed. Her Granny would let her dabble but never explained, because that’s not what Arcanists do, and as soon as we get into that, well.
Let’s just say it all cuts a bit close to the bone, you know?
And it doesn’t help any, does it?
Because Kitty was right: I need to find a way to stop the Redistribution from happening. And now we’re a week away from what I saw in the Arcane and I just. I feel further away from working out how to prevent than I’ve ever been.
What I know massively outweighs what I do know and—
SAM: Yes, darling, I know that’s what Arcanism is like, but it doesn’t help me, does it?
SAM: What do you mean, I’m looking at it from the wrong angle.
REVEL: Mrroo. Mrrreep.
SAM: I should be looking for something I don’t know already?
SAM: Great, yeah, except, how do you look for something when you don’t know what it is?
SAM: How do you find a shadow? What does that mean, a shadow isn’t a thing it’s an… absence. Of something. And you only see it when you cast a light on what you do know!
SAM: You’re a genius. Don’t listen to Rhytidia.
SAM: No, I try not to either.
Hmm. So. What do I know.
Gods. I can’t think of anything at all now I’m trying too, bloody hell, this is a nightmare.
SAM: Start with me? Gods. Me. Right. Sam. Samael Apollo Enfield. Heir Apparent of the Blood Rose Crown. Oh! I speak and will be heard. Ummm. Oh, yeah, ‘the gift and the price’ whatever that means. Uhhhh. The man in the flat cap is my dad and Madame Marie is my mum. M dropped a whole house on me when I was seven, apparently to try to do something? And that made the forums, kind of. And I was in a coma for a really long time. And then I woke up and still didn’t remember but as the show grew, I got better, and we’re connected. M used to take me places before all of that and I could make deals, maybe? With people like Mystery, and turn them into ghosts, only that’s not what was supposed to happen. And I also made deals with people’s parents, like Beth’s parents, and took people, too, by accident, with the house on Banemouth Road.
Or, you know. Not the house on Banemouth Road, the arcane image of it that I was making, without realising, to like, hold onto my power, which started coming back when M died? Because she’d held onto the power before. Okay.
So. Out of all of that.
SAM: What do you mean, why Banemouth Road?
SAM: You’re right. Why did M decide to move there? Did she decide.
SAM: Yeah, Oliver was watching her! He’ll probably know, um. Oh I hate waking him up, he looks so cute. Ugh. No this is more important. Oliver. Darling. My love. Oli. Love, you need to wake up. Oliver. OLIVER. FOR THE LOVE OF BATHSHEBA, OLIVER, YOU DORMOUSE, WAKE UP.
OLIVER: Hmm, what?
SAM: The house. The house! Madame Marie! The house on Banemouth Road, did she ever tell you why she went there?
SAM: Well, it’s not a site of great arcane power or anything. Or, well, it wasn’t, not before I made an arcane artefact in it. Now there’s all kinds of arcane threads there. So, why Dyserth?
OLIVER: I don’t know.
SAM: She never told you?
SAM: Some spy for the enemy you were. No wonder all the others rib on you so hard.
OLIVER: Yes, quite. It all happened so quickly, in truth, I’m afraid the precise reasoning behind her choice of location never came up. It’s out of the way, it’s quiet, it’s far away from other arcanists. That seemed like a good enough explanation at the time. I never questioned it.
SAM: Hmm. Maybe you should have.
OLIVER: I’m beginning to understand why you call me infuriating so often.
OLIVER: You’re saying words but not the ones you’re thinking about.
SAM: Sorry, I don’t know what else to say, except that it’s bothering me. Isn’t it bothering you?
OLIVER: It certainly is now. I can’t think why I never asked. It should have come up. We argued, before she abandoned her grandmother’s shop entirely. It had been closed for years and she hardly spent any time there, but it was a consistent place to return to, and it was convenient for me to reach her if I needed. I had already set up the Karpos by then, I was beginning to construct myself something almost like a life. But I never asked why Dyserth, I just accepted it. It was as though it was always going to be there.
SAM: What was?
OLIVER: I– I don’t know, come to think of it. I haven’t the slightest idea.
SAM: But you were sure that something was always going to happen there?
OLIVER: Yes, I think so.
SAM: It’s really bothering me.
OLIVER: It’s certainly bothersome.
SAM: Did you visit? After she moved away?
OLIVER: No. She came to me so regularly, there hardly seemed to be any point.
OLIVER: I was not being a very good spy quite deliberately by then. I hadn’t been compliant for a long while but, I don’t know. Something changed, after Madame Marie took her deal. Something shifted. I didn’t want to watch her anymore. The One was not so stringent about enforcing it, either, because he had a deal directly with her, and so they were more closely connected.
SAM: I wonder if—-
[PHONE RINGS, THEN IT TURNS SOUR, MERGED WITH A FIZZING STATIC WHICH NEVER FADES]
SCOURGE: Hello, little bit.
SAM: Scourge. So, we’re close, then.
SCOURGE: So you finally took him. What a relief, honestly. If I had to listen to him whine one more time–
SAM: Watch your mouth.
OLIVER: Don’t rise to it, Sam.
SAM: I can handle myself.
SCOURGE: Course you can, Little Bit. We’re all pretty used to this by now. You now the drill.
SAM: You’re here because I’m ahead of schedule.
SCOURGE: Very good! Very good indeed.
OLIVER: Sam, you don’t understand—
SAM: Yes, I do. That’s the problem, isn’t it, Scourge?
SCOURGE: Interesting proposition.
SAM: Not going to gloat about how wrong I am?
SCOURGE: Not today little bit. Not today. But you are wrong about something.
SAM: Oh yeah? What’s that?
SCOURGE: The schedule has changed.
[OLIVER’S VOICE IS WHISKED AWAY, AS THOUGH ON THE WIND]
[STATIC RISES, AND THE WARPED PHONE PLAYS IN REVERSE.
SAM: Oliver. Oliver!
[MAGIC HUM RISES]
[ARCANE THREADS SHIMMER]
The True Arcanist Tarot.– the regular deck too! Help me! Show me where he is.
The Unrelenting, the– wait, you’re not a tarot card. The white door. The impossible house?
[MAGIC HUMS AND THRUMS BRIGHTLY]
It’s like the Impossible House. He’s somewhere in the Arcane. It’s— Scourge, Scarcity, Strife, they have him.
Where, where can I find them!?
Three cards around another. They’re all face down– It’s Scourge, Scarcity and Strife again, but, no. Wait the centre card is two cards– no, three. The one on the bottom is the Unrelenting, underneath the Man in the Flat Cap’s grinning face, and… the skull in the crown. Me.
The white door? Oh! Wherever this is, I can get to it from Banemouth Road, right?
[ARCANE SHIMMERING GETS MOMENTARILY LOUDER]
Okay, okay. Let’s– okay. I know what I need to do. Kitty, Indi, Ingra, Bliss! I need you!
[CACOPHONOUS, OVERLAPPING STATIC]
KITTY: Sam? What’s wrong?
SAM: They took Oliver.
KITTY: who did?
SAM: Scourge, but he’s working with the others, I’m sure of it.
INDI: Strife and Scarcity?
INGRA: I thought they wanted rid of him. Why’ve they taken him back.
SAM: No, not his deal, it’s– they’ve taken him into arcane space, I think, but I know how to get there.
BLISS: Will we need knives?
SAM: Maybe. Bring whatever you have.
BLISS: Excellent. When do we leave.
SAM: Now. I don’t— I still don’t really understand how time works in the Arcane. I don’t know how long it will have been for him, wherever he is, but.
INDI: They’ll hurt him.
INGRA: If they keep him too long he could be whining about this for centuries.
BLISS: Right, let’s go.
INDI: Agreed. I can’t believe I’m saying this but let’s go back to Banemouth Road.
[THEIR STATIC COMES AND GOES, OVERLAPPING]
SAM: Kitty, wait.
KITTY: What is it?
SAM: You don’t have to do this.
KITTY: Course I do. It’s what I’m for, isn’t it?
SAM: No. It’s not. None of you are for anything, I– I’m sorry.
KITTY: If Anna catches you apologising for bringing me back to life she’ll behead you or something.
SAM: That’s not the part that needs apologising for.
KITTY: It’s done now, Sam. It’s a bit late for that.
SAM: Do you hate me?
KITTY: Don’t be daft. Come on. Let’s go save your boyfriend. Take my hand.
[WIND IN THE TREES, A NEARBY STREAM BABBLES GENTLY]
SAM: Blergh. You’re a lot rockier a driver than Oliver.
KITTY: Sorry, still getting the hang of it.
INDI: What now, Heir Apparent?
SAM: Well, I think…
[SAM WALKS AROUND A LITTLE]
KITTY: What are you doing?!
SAM: Opening it?
KITTY: But. What if–
INDI: What if what, Investigator? We’re literally looking for the most dangerous things in existence.
BLISS: Well, arguably.
SAM: What do you mean?
INGRA: Hate to say it but Bliss has a point.
SAM: What’s the point?
BLISS: Have you met yourself recently?
SAM: I’m not dangerous.
INDI: Not to people you like. Open the door.
[SAM OPENS THE DOOR]
KITTY: What do you see?
INDI: Up or down?
INGRA: Down to where?
SAM: I don’t know. Just down. This is the right way, though.
INDI: Whatever you say.
[THEY WALK DOWN THE STAIRS, THEIR FOOTSTEPS BECOMING MORE AND MORE ECHOIC]
[DOOR SLAMS, THEY ALL STOP]
INDI: Kitty, can you still see the way out?
KITTY: No. It’s closed.
[KITTY RUNS UP THE STAIRS]
KITTY: It’s just, dirt. It’s. Only dirt.
INDI: That settles it then. Down it is.
[THEY WALK ON, A LOW, STRANGE DRONE GROWING AS THEY DO SO]
BLISS: What is it?
INDI: It’s… I don’t know.
[THEIR VOICES ECHO]
INGRA: It’s some kind of… temple?
KITTY: What are all these lines, on the floor? They look sort of like constellations.
SAM: They look like the lines on the Seeing Glass. They’re not constellations. Or, well. Not all of them are. They’re arcane connections. See?
[A TWINKLING, BRIGHT SOUND]
BLISS: It’s beautiful.
[SAM WALKS, FOOTSTEPS ECHOING]
SAM: All the lines, they come back to here.
INDI: Is that… an altar?
KITTY: I know that sigil.
INGRA: I’ll never forget it. You trapped us with it in Patagonia, remember?
SAM: It’s mine.
KITTY: What are you doing–
[SAM CRIES OUT; SOUND OF FLAMES]
SAM: My hand!
INDI: Don’t touch the altar, something weird is—
[WIND HOWLS SUDDENLY]
[STONES MOVE OVER ONE ANOTHER]
INDI: What in hells is happening?
SAM: I don’t know!
KITTY: What is this place!?
SCARCITY: And nowhere.
[THE SOUNDS SETTLE]
SCARCITY: In the beginning there was darkness.
[BIG BASSY SOUND, LIKE FALLING, ALMOST. THE GROUND TREMBLES]
SAM: Bliss, the knife! Kitty, the stairs, get back to the stairs!
KITTY: I can’t find them, it’s too dark.
INGRA: There’s no opening in the wall! It’s solid, we’re trapped.
SCARCITY: You already have everything you need. Freedom is a concept. Why don’t you step up and take it?
BLISS: Do you not feel this knife on your throat?
SCARCITY: Ah, Ignorance is Bliss. I can’t die; I’ve never lived.
INDI: Do not stand on that altar, Sam.
KITTY: Your hand was just ON FIRE!
SAM: It might be the only way out.
INDI: This place is a place of death.
SCARCITY: Very good. Indifference, isn’t it? Or, at least, it was. Not so very Indifferent anymore, are you?
INDI: Maybe I’m finding something to believe in, not that you’d understand.
SCARCITY: On the contrary. Belief is what I’m all about. Trust your senses, appreciate all you have and all you’ve known.
SAM: Scarcity. What are you for?
SCARCITY: What am I for? What a beautiful question. I am the failed harvest, the missing key, the flood that rises and sweeps away all that you hold dear. When all is lost, and you stand at the ruin of all you once held dear, I am the thing that takes you by the hand and whispers ‘this will not get better’.
[SCARCITY’S VOICE ECHOES]
BLISS: She’s gone!
SAM: It’s about giving up.
SAM: It’s all about giving up, and loss and. And sacrifice. The price is paid in blood.
KITTY: One of us has to die if we want to get out of here.
INDI: Don’t be stupid, Sam.
SAM: The whole thing with the Scarcemongers was that the Heir Apparent was meant to be the sacrament! Following that logic, it has to be me.
INGRA: There’s no way we’re going to let you die here, Sam.
SAM: Let me!? You’re my Major Arcana, not–
KITTY: Sam, shut up. I was meant to die months ago. It’s my place to die here.
INDI: NO. I won’t allow it.
INGRA: You going to volunteer yourself then, Indi? I think this Death is the big one.
SAM: I’m not sure. There’s something… odd about this, I can’t work out what it is.
INDI: Yeah, we have no idea what’ll happen when you get on that altar, what if—
BLISS: Ignorance is Bliss.
INGRA: Bliss, no! You’ll die!
BLISS: I know.
INGRA: BLISS, NO!
[THE SOUND OF FLAMES. HUGE CHURNING, THE SOUND OF STONES MOVING OVER ONE ANOTHER.]
INGRA: Bliss, BLISS!
KITTY: She’s gone, Ingra!
INGRA: Bring her back. We have to go back! I’ve always looked out for her, we’ve always been together. You don’t understand! She– I– I need her!
SAM: It’s Bliss’ knife. She killed me with this.
INDI: Hang onto it.
INDI: Where are we?
SAM: I don’t know.
KITTY: It’s some kind of… cave? I think?
INDI: There are paintings on the wall. People fighting. They have spears, look.
KITTY: Yeah. They’re all pointing in the same direction.
INGRA: We have to go back.
SAM: Ingra, I’m sorry. I think the only way out is through. Please, come with us.
INGRA: We need to go back for Bliss.
SAM: Kitty. I–
KITTY: Come on, Ingra. On your feet.
[SOUNDS OF MOVEMENT]
INDI: It’s getting lighter this way, the direction the spears are pointing.
SAM: Then I guess that’s the way we’re going.
[THEY WALK A LITTLE WAY]
[SAM STOPS AND GASPS]
INDI: What is it?
SAM: You see that man? You see, everyone else’s spear, it’s red, like it’s covered in blood. But his is clean. And you see these lines around him, like he’s standing in the wind?
[A DISTANT LAUGH]
[SAM WALKS; THE OTHERS FOLLOW, A BEAT BEHIND HIM]
[SOMETHING METAL CLATTERS ON THE GROUND]
SAM: A knife.
KITTY: The whole floor is covered in knives.
INGRA: And blood.
[THEIR FOOTSTEPS CRUNCH UNDERFOOT]
INDI: Gods, how many people died here?
STRIFE: Oh, a few thousand, give or take.
STRIFE: Hello again, Heir Apparent. Glad you found the place. Had me worried for a moment that you wouldn’t. What do you think?
SAM: Yeah the blood is a nice touch you’ve got a real flare for interior design and murder.
STRIFE: Oh, dear, no. I didn’t kill these people. They did it to each other. They were all so willing, too, to take up arms. There’s so much tension, crackling away, just beneath the surface. You can feel it now, can’t you? Aren’t you just furious? You come all this way, one of your number is already gone, and you still don’t understand why any of this is happening.
SAM: Yes, I do, actually, and this isn’t going to work.
STRIFE: Ingratitude, there’s a rage inside of you, isn’t there? You loved the little one. You’d only just begun to understand it. Love takes appreciation, doesn’t it? And yet somehow now you know it feels as though you’d really felt it all along. You’d been together, all those years, hadn’t—
INGRA: Don’t talk about her.
STRIFE: And now she’s gone, and whose fault is that? Your once-leader didn’t try to stop her, did they?
INDI: I did, I would have– but–
STRIFE: And you, so long suffering, Indifference. Centuries you guided them both only for them to turn away the very instant an opportunity arose for it. They left you, abandoned you.
KITTY: You never wanted to be in charge, Indi! You told me that, remember?
STRIFE: And you. The Investigator. How intriguing. You’ve always been full of anger but now it burns so hot in your belly. You never asked for this life, it was thrust upon you against your will, and–
SAM: Giving in.
[THE MAGIC HUM OF SAM’S POWER RISES, AND A DISTANT WORDLESS WHISPER. WHEN THEY SPEAK, THEIR VOICE REVERBERATES]
SAM: I know what you’re doing. It’s about giving in. Your whole thing is conflict. You want us to kill each other? Sorry, bud, you’ve got another thing coming.
KITTY: Sam, no!
[TWO CRUNCHING STEPS; ONE WET THWACK]
[THE KNIFE TWISTS, CRUNCHING THROUGH BONE]
STRIFE: Ooof, right in the sternum. Very good, very good.
[STONES MOVE, WIND HOWLS, STRIFE LAUGHS]
INDI: The floor’s caving in!
KITTY: Sam, NO!
[SAM’S POWER IS THE ONLY SOUND THAT REMAINS]