Holes/Session 8

From Zaori


EXT. Car over dry, dusty woods - morning
The party, now with an extra Amadi, is headed back to the sinkhole.
Amadi starts drawing something on Greibel's back.
Greibel twitches uncomfortably, but doesn't stop her.
RHU
You can't drink with gills. That's like drinking with alveoli. It doesn't make sense.
Radek chuckles quietly to himself.
They pass over a zombie and park above it. It's kind of big, rotting, wearing torn clothes, and lurching around aimlessly. It looks like it was probably a villager, and has something of a hole in its head, which is glowing ever so slightly.
GREIBEL
Poor guy. It's probably really hard for him to play guitar.
RHU
We'll get him a double bass.
AMADI
He remembers.
RADEK
...What?
AMADI
Kyrule likes threes. Optimist. It'll bite him in the arse.
RHU
(to Amadi)
Who's Kyrule? Hazz'ridan spoke of him when we... communed yesterday.
Amadi starts giggling.
AMADI
The Hazz would know! Of course it would. The Hazz knows lots of things, has a thing for knowing, you know, knowing things. Lots of things. But not here. Here it's not so much about that. It's much more subtle. Threads.
Rhu nods sagely.
Amadi hums the Star Wars theme song.
RHU
Oooh, that's dramatic.
Greibel pantomimes music conducting.
GREIBEL
Time travel zombies...
RHU
(yelling down at the zombie)
HELLO DOWN THERE!
The zombie walks into a tree and groans horribly.
GREIBEL
Awww, he likes you!
RHU
It's disgusting. I think we should put it out of its misery.
RADEK
I never did understand why some wizards prefer to animate organic bodies. It's simply lazy, it is. Sure, they might be able to move if their muscles are intact, but for how long, and how well?
RHU
We should kill it.
GREIBEL
Well that would just be redundant.
RHU
We should kill it again. Kill it further.
RADEK
Certainly.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Burn it. Ashes don't have muscles. Anyone have a flamethrower?
Or... let's drop it into the rift. I can use Mr. Grapples.
RHU
EW! Bring that THING on board? It SMELLS.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
No, have it dangle.
GREIBEL
Pfff. You can't smell it from here.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
This way we don't bet bitten or clawed or gooked.
RHU
What if it climbs up the rope?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
It's going to have a grappling hook going through it's body. I doubt it's going to be agile enough to ninja it's way up.
RHU
...Okay.
But if it does anything funny, I'm landing the car on top of its head. And then I'm doing that again
GREIBEL
But just think. "Zombie Ninjas"...
RADEK
We could also just cut the rope at any point.
RHU
Yeah, that's true. Okay.
RADEK
You're not crashing this vehicle into anything while I'm aboard.
RHU
It might be useful to see what the pool is up to today vis-a-vis bodies before jumping in.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
All righty. Time to snatch up some dead meat.
RHU
Not crashing, landing. You won't feel a thing. Well, maybe a squishy sort of thump.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Sure. This guy will keep. A squelch.
Greibel sings cattily "We're gonna catch a zoooombie. We're gonna catch a zooooooombie!"
RHU
That's the one.
The Gravedigger throws his grappling hook at the zombie, but misses. (rolled 8 vs AC)
Radek shoots a look of disappointment at Gravy, though it may be a bit hard to read through all the chrome.
The Gravedigger tries again, and this time hooks the thing. (rolled 17 vs AC) It winds up with a bit of a large tear through it, but doesn't fall apart.
RHU
Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew.
They raise the vehicle enough to pick up the zombie by a metre or so and carry it toward the hole. It dangles and makes funny noises. Waves its arms a bit. Tries to grab a passing tree.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
HELLO DOWN THERE MISTER ZOMBIE.
GREIBEL
It's so nice that we can have pets like this.
Greibel strokes Rasputin.
The zombie doesn't appear to notice. It grabs a tree and clings.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Radek? Take off it's arm.
RHU
I can't see from up here! What's going on?
A moment later it falls off the tree, losing an arm in the process.
RHU
is it holding onto anything?
AMADI
Never.

EXT. Hole at Vermai - day
The hole is as it was, a sinkhole partially full of water, a dead tree overlooking it with a smaller tree grafted on, rocky and dusty land and trees all around.
They feel the allure of the hole as soon as they see it, but then the feeling passes.
There is no sign of Aziraphale.
RHU
...is it just me, or is that pool kind of... alluring? I'm not sure I've ever been allured by a pool before.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
NOPE. NOT A LITTLE.
RHU
That was odd.
They park the car over the centre of the pool. The zombie, hanging below with the Gravedigger still holding the other end of the rope, struggles, seeming to be trying to get away from the water.
Amadi leans out and peers into the hole.
AMADI
Interesting. I can almost see my house.
RHU
(to Greibel and/or Radek)
Ekka the Guardian told us that the little glowy tree up there was magicked by "Genri Hodgeson's boys". Could you check to see if you can figure out what kind of magic it is?
GREIBEL
Anyone for a swim?
Greibel dons a previously unseen pair of swim trunks.
Radek momentarily becomes Greibel. (rolled 20 reality)
GREIBEL
Weird. I don't remember taking any acid today.
Well... I'm keeping the swim trunks.
Radek sits Greibel's stoner ass right back down and then begins to examine the tree through stoner eyes, but then the moment passes and they're both back to normal.
Radek rubs his temple.
RADEK
It's... it's a wonder he can even talk like that.
AMADI
Talking is easy. Words come cheap. I had to pay a whole three euros. And then the waiter took it away before I finished.
Greibel stares blankly.
RHU
That's awful. What is a 'euro'?
AMADI
Very shiny, like death.
The porridge purrs.
Rhu looks at Amadi askance.
AMADI
Rasputin knows.
RADEK
(to Gravy)
Drop it now before it has the chance to struggle free.
They lower the zombie into the water slowly. It writhes and thrashes and spashes a lot, trying to get away. And then it explodes, zombie bits flying everywhere.
The Gravedigger takes a splat to the face and wipes it off with a spare cloak.
Then he pulls up the rope to check out anything that might still be atached. There turn out to be a few zombie bits still attached.
RHU
So, I guess we're staying out of the pool today.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Radek, you want one of these bits? For science?
AMADI
No! Don't! Bad! Lettuce.
RADEK
Oh yes, definitely.
AMADI
Don't touch it. Don't. Just don't. Wrong wrong like a wrong in a wrong wrong wrong.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Here. Take your pick.
Radek takes some samples, and the Gravedigger shakes off the rest and puts away the grappling hook.
AMADI
Went right through the rubber, right through the glass, right through the brain, through the wall through the sun through the world and it all ended with the shards everywhere the trees were shards broken shards shattered shards amidst the black with no glow, no shine, no gleaming amidst the black, only black and cold and no silence.
Amadi clutches her head and starts whimpering.
RADEK
Would this be a horrible blackness, perchance?
Amadi sits up slowly and stares at Radek
AMADI
IT IS ALL BLACKNESS!
She starts mumbling inchoherently.
Radek doesn't respond to that.
RHU
(to Radek)
What happened? Is she okay?
RADEK
Am I the expert on crazy people now?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Is the crazy babbling senseless girl okay? She's breathing. That's about our diagnostic limits really.
RHU
You were talking to her right before she... you know...
(he gestures something about craziness)
And you are the expert on most things.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
That's true.
AMADI
(shaking)
It didn't happen. The world ended and we couldn't stop it, so we broke it all, we broke it, and we said it would be okay, it would work out different this time, but we didn't mention the sacrifice, that it would take a sacrifice to work and even then it wouldn't work, and he would be the sacrifice because we loved him and we knew him and it'd work, except it wouldn't work because we lost the dreamer and the madness and the cat. Catman is really a cat, man.
There are no cats. I don't want to go back.
YOU CAN'T MAKE ME.
GREIBEL
Woah woah woah. You need to center yourself, let out the bad energy.
RHU
...what sort of sacrifice?
Amadi very suddenly stops and looks around, confused.
AMADI
I'm sorry, did someone say something?
Rhu sighs.
RADEK
One might infer that she knows something, but if so, it would be next to impossible to distinguish it from everything else she says.
AMADI
(to Rhu)
And who are you? You're rather cute, now aren't you!
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Let us just get to that tree, eh?
Greibel cracks his knuckles theatrically.
They park by the tree. The large tree is very much dead. The small tree seems happy enough, glowing slightly, and growing sideways out of the dead tree.
RADEK
Yes. Now magic, there's something I can make sense of.
RHU
She is very deep. But sometimes she is very shallow. There's a truth in there somewhere, though, I can feel it.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
I dig holes in dirt, not in words.
AMADI
Oh, how interesting! Looks almost like magic, that.
RADEK
(poking at it)
Yes... but what kind, I wonder?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
That's not like any tree I know. It's not naturally sustained.
GREIBEL
HELLO TREE! DO NOT FEAR US! WE COME IN PEACE! EXCEPT... WELL, WE WANT TO EXPERIMENT ON YOU!
THE GRAVEDIGGER
EXPERIMENT PEACEFULLY THOUGH.
The tree doesn't really move or do anything in response, but Greibel gets the impression that it did indeed hear him.
RADEK
This is a mutation of... something. Er, a magical mutation, that is. Whatever it once was is obfuscated by what it's become now.
GREIBEL
Hey man, don't call it a 'mutation', man. That's offensive!
HE DIDN'T MEAN IT, WEIRD TREE!
RHU
Why does it glow?
RADEK
It's not purposeful, I can tell you that much. In fact, I can't even begin to guess what purpose this tree was supposed to have.
RHU
Weird.
AMADI
It's pretty. Think they sell them?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
From what we heard in the village, I don't seem to recall it having ANY purpose.
RHU
We could try to find "Genri Hodgeson's boys" and ask them, I guess. But they were apparently drunk at the time.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
A prank, I think the innkeep said. Do we think this tree is relevant to anything?
RHU
(he shrugs)
It went all shiny and glowy when we drained the pool yesterday. I think.
And there was that weird graffiti that suggested it might 'guard' or be a 'guard' or whatever.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
You rely on the scribbling of these villagers? They don't seem to be the most sound people.
GREIBEL
This tree means something! This is important!
RADEK
All I can say is that it isn't doing anything it was made to, if it was made to do something at all.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Is it currently related to the rift at all?
AMADI
Excuse me, I don't think I caught your names? Are you scientists, perhaps?
RADEK
I am, among other things. The others are goons working under my employer.
GREIBEL
Hey! Goon Druid, thank you very much.
RHU
I think it might be related to the pool, not the rift. Last night when we came back here, the pool and the tree were glowing strongly.
AMADI
Oh, fascinating! You must be researching something very dangerous to need so much muscle.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Maybe we should remove the tree? Or pop it into the rift?
Maybe ask the villagers which came first.
Amadi taps the Gravedigger's arm appreciatively.
AMADI
Very sexy.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Thank you, small lady.
Amadi beams.
RHU
The tree came first. They said the rift only showed up three years ago. Shreds things, explodes zombies.
We should have checked if the zombie was combustible before it went in.
AMADI
Oh, it's not. Zombies are strictly... not combustible. It's a zombie thing, I'm sure.
RHU
The zombie didn't cause the pool to drain out like Azir did. I wonder if that was 'cos it wasn't alive? Or if Azir was just more magical?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
He looked a bit soggy to burn well.
Maybe the pool drains based on something other than what goes into the rift.
GREIBEL
Maybe it only drains the first time you throw stuff in it.
RHU
I think we should poke around with the pool a bit more. It seems a bit of a waste to come all this way just to dump an exploding zombie into the pool.
Darned if I know how, though.
RADEK
We hardly know enough to conduct proper experiments on it. Its nature could have changed since yesterday and we would be clueless.
GREIBEL
I dispute that. Any chance to explode a zombie is by definition the opposite of a waste.
AMADI
Ahah, so this is the science!
THE GRAVEDIGGER
We'd need a stack of zombies and drop one in every day to see if results match?
RADEK
If that's all you want to do, I have prepared a bomb or... five.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
To guess what sort of stability its effects have?
RADEK
Certainly. If we can prove that its effects are reliable, that's progress. Though I admit to being less than optimistic in that regard.
RHU
Yes, but I'm not a scientist. I'm an adventurer. We can make with the balanced factorial analyses once we run out of other options; I say we go follow the river and see where that gets us.
RADEK
I agree, on the basis that there are no more zombies in sight.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Sounds fair. Let's go find some water, then.

EXT. Car over open wilderness - day
They head out over the open wilderness, back in the direction of the river's passage, seeing what's around.
While they drive, Radek examines and studies the zombie samples.
RHU
(to Amadi)
So you said you knew Hazz'ridan the Great?
AMADI
Oh, of course. Why do you ask?
RHU
Hazz'ridan spoke to me yesterday. He wants me to close that hole, but he doesn't know how. Him! The Great Hazz'ridan!
AMADI
Oh, don't worry yourself, dear. Even gods can't know everything. I should know. I don't think I know anything.
Isn't that strange?
RHU
How would you know? Are you a priest? A scholar?
AMADI
Hah! Not hardly! I mean... I don't know! Oh, what a mystery this is.
RHU
Hmm. Indeed.
Rasputin tries to crawl into Greibel's ear, and he scratches it absentmindedly.
The porridge falls back onto Greibel's shoulder.
There's a dragon flying in the distance.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
DRAGON, GUYS.
RHU
Woah! A dragon!
RADEK
Amadi, how do people treat dragons on this planet?
AMADI
This planet? Which planet is this?
RADEK
I don't know.
AMADI
Oh! Well, that doesn't sound good.
Why don't you know what planet you're on? Is this an expedition?
RADEK
No indeed. I'd enjoy knowing where we are nearly as much as I would being somewhere I know.
AMADI
Oh. I'm sorry.
RADEK
We arrived under dubious circumstances and the civilization here seems rather... under-developed. I suspect they haven't even tamed dragons yet.
AMADI
So is there civilisation here, then? I don't feel anything. Shouldn't I feel something? I feel like I should feel something.
They continue on down the river.

EXT. Coffle environs - afternoon
After a few hours, the party comes to the ocean, and, nestled at the river's mouth, a city of sorts. It's fairly small, haphazardly walled, and really low to the ground. All in all, it's rather primitive-looking.
RHU
Woah!
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Let's go be friendly.
Greibel resists the urge to sing "You Keep A Knockin But You Can't Come In" again.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCKING ON DWARVES' DOORS.
Amadi looks around curiously.
AMADI
Is this it, then?
They look for somewhere to land and find an abandoned roofless farmhouse not too far away from the city's gates.
As they move to land inside, they find it has a ghost sitting in the middle of the floor. He appears to be an old man, and doesn't look up.
They hover overhead.
RADEK
Hello there, spectral entity!
The ghost looks around trying to find where the voice came from.
RADEK
Above you, my good former-man!
The ghost looks up and says something, but no words are audible.
RADEK
Hm. That could be a problem.
RHU
SPEAK UP.
AMADI
(calling down)
Why do you say that?
RHU
(to Amadi)
You can hear him?
AMADI
What? Of course! Can't you?
The ghost perks up slightly and says something else.
AMADI
Well whyever not?
RADEK
Could you repeat what he's saying, for us?
AMADI
Ah, well, it seems he thinks we should leave. Nobody ever hears him anyway, but he tries to warn them. It's quite peculiar, don't you think?
RADEK
Quite. What are these people being warned about? Arthritis?
Gods know I could have used that one.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
That sounds a bit iffy.
AMADI
(to the ghost)
What are you warning them about, then?
The ghost says another silent something.
AMADI
Oh, nothing, it seems. He just wants to leave. Stuck here. Everyone thinks its haunted so they stay away. Nobody can hear him, so he just tells them to leave. Easier that wasy. Like they really are listening.
The ghost says something else and sighs.
AMADI
(to the ghost)
Right?
RADEK
I don't suppose you would know anything about exorcism, would you Rhu?
AMADI
It's not an exorcism he needs. He says it's...
He needs us to remove the mark on the door.
GREIBEL
Time-travelling maintenance men. Excellent.
AMADI
Can a mark really do that, keep someone outside?
Amadi jumps down out of the car and goes to the door and tries to rub it off.
Radek follows suit.
Amadi's attempts to rub it off don't really do anything.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Why don't we just remove the door?
Amadi looks back to the ghost, who rolls his eyes and says something.
AMADI
(to Radek)
Shiny, can you unmagic this?
RADEK
It's Radek.
AMADI
Oh! I'm sorry. Good to meet you, Radek.
Greibel drops out too and pats Radek on the back while walking by
GREIBEL
Cheer up, shiny!
RADEK
Radek J. Fulvius, and the only things I cannot do are those not worth doing. I'm a genius, you know.
AMADI
(nodding)
That must be wonderful for you.
Radek has a go at demagicking the door, and the mark fades. (rolled 24 arcana)
The ghost guy looks really blissful and fades away.
RHU
Take care, ghost guy.
Greibel salutes vaguely.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Well we could have kept him around to scare people off, but his memory should be enough.
AMADI
So this is what you people do?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Well, I dig holes.
AMADI
Oh.
GREIBEL
And I dig drugs!
AMADI
What... kind of holes?
RADEK
In truth, I mostly build things.
Tinkering with machines and magic are my twin passions, though in an official capacity we're all here as investigators. I'm... not sure that has much meaning anymore, however.
AMADI
Ooo, the intrigue!
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Holes in the dirt. To put dead people in. No-one else does it where I come from. It's all fire and pulping.
AMADI
Fascinating.
Ghost and such cleared, they park the car and head out.