Holes/Session 9

From Zaori


EXT. Coffle - day
The city is much bigger than anything they've seen before on this particular world, nestled around a harbour and possibly something of a trading hub, or what passes for one in these parts. Low meaningless walls line the perimeter, holes filled in with fencing, from the look of it largely only intended to keep out wildlife.
The buildings are fairly uninteresting, but the city's lamps appear to be somewhat advanced - either magical or electrical.
The party comes in on a main road. It's a short walk into the gates. A guy passes on something that might be a horse on the way in, but he's in too much of a hurry to acknowledge them.
RHU
(muttering)
Egotistical city person, thinks he's too good for everybody...
Two guards stand by the gate and give the party strange looks, but don't say or do anything else.
RHU
(to the guards)
Hello! Do you know where we are?
GUARD ANDRE KELSOF
No! I have no idea!
Kelsof backs away slightly. The other guard looks at him suspiciously.
AMADI
(muttering)
I know where we are.
RHU
Ah, well. Same here, I suppose. Is there a good inn in town?
GUARD DARIEN VERSOUSS
This is Coffle, seat of Deslan. Which I'm sure you've never heard of.
GUARD ANDRE KELSOF
Ugh, more?
RHU
Pleased to meet you, Seat of Deslan. My name is Rhu, and I am a servant of Hazz'ridan the Magnificent. My companions and I are from normal places via Sarathi, which is full of holes.
Kelsof gives Rhu one look, groans, and leaves.
AMADI
I'm not from there. I'm from elsewhere.
RADEK
Well, I'm sure you've never heard of electrical power, so perhaps we can both be disappointed.
GUARD DARIEN VERSOUSS
Coffle is the seat of the country. Deslan is the country. Ignore him. He's tired of visitors... like you.
GREIBEL
Why does a country need to sit down?
RHU
Oh! My apologies. Why so? Have there been a lot of visitors lately?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
(muttering)
Hrmph. Visitors have a choice.
GUARD DARIEN VERSOUSS
Not so many. Just enough to try the nerves with these questions. Each time, always the same. 'How do I get home?' 'Where is this?' 'Do you have a gate?' 'Excuse me, but where's the terminal?'
AMADI
Questions are important. You shouldn't... should...
Questions. Ask questions.
RADEK
Oh? Interesting.
GUARD DARIEN VERSOUSS
We actually did have a gate, you know. Went down shortly before you lot started coming in. Fancy that.
AMADI
What time is it?!
Amadi fidgets.
GUARD DARIEN VERSOUSS
20 to seven, my lady.
AMADI
Oh.
Amadi turns from the guard sullenly.
RHU
When did 'we lot' start coming in? And, err... where is the terminal? Do you have a satellite uplink around these parts?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
They don't have one. Wrong world. We're at the other end of the cosmic drain.
RADEK
Does that mean you've never encountered outsiders who seemed... less than educated?
GUARD DARIEN VERSOUSS
Woah, slow down, will you? This was about three years ago, and if I even knew what a terminal was... satellite, now there's a new one. As for 'less than educated', you could work for the council. And yeah, there's been a few. That's why we got so many guards here, mostly. It's like some had lost their minds, others never even had them...
RADEK
Not surprising.
GUARD DARIEN VERSOUSS
Why, we got a guy just last week who seemed convinced he was a dog. Mighty hairy, too. Maybe he was a dog!
RHU
Any cats?
AMADI
(muttering to herself)
Tastes like burning. Minds wandering off, answers without questions... There's the taste. Burnt. Cut off the tongue.
GUARD DARIEN VERSOUSS
My lady, are you quite okay?
Amadi turns her head to the guard.
AMADI
(dryly)
Are you?
And then she turns back.
RADEK
Would you say that you've never seen someone like us who was impressed by whatever passes for high technology in this, er... "city"?
GUARD DARIEN VERSOUSS
Hah. High technology? And what might that be?
RADEK
How should I know what you consider advanced? I arrived here yesterday.
GUARD DARIEN VERSOUSS
I'm a guard, not a technologist. They pay me to look pretty and drink.
RADEK
(he sighs)
Do they all ask about 'terminals' and 'computers'?
GUARD DARIEN VERSOUSS
Some.
RADEK
And the others?
GUARD DARIEN VERSOUSS
Quite a few on about 'proxies' and 'avatars', too. Usually it's just home or passages.
HAZZ'RIDAN
(such that only Rhu can hear him)
Mind the present. There's something here.
Rhu looks around.
RHU
Who said that?
HAZZ'RIDAN
(such that only Rhu can hear him)
You know. You have always known.
Rhu looks astonished, and his eye go wide.
AMADI
(to Rhu)
Voice. Did you ask a question?
RHU
What? Sorry? No. Yes. Hang on. I think I just heard Hazz'ridan's voice inside my head. He said "Mind the present. There's something here."
(Rhu looks at the guard again)
He must mean you.
AMADI
I can hang. Swing. Ropes and ladders and air and dancing.
HAZZ'RIDAN
(such that only Amadi can hear him)
Mortals... useless, the lot of them.
AMADI
(she giggles)
But they're fun!
Wouldn't be half so fun if they knew everything. Questions are... answers. Important.
HAZZ'RIDAN
(such that only Amadi can hear him)
Try not to have too much fun with these, dear sister.
AMADI
It's not my fault! I... was dreaming... Now I'm here.
RHU
Tell us more about yourself, Sir...? Are you a native of this town?
GUARD DARIEN VERSOUSS
No, I'm a native of the moon.
Versouss looks at Rhu suspiciously. Rhu looks around to see if there's anything important that they missed. (rolled 25 perception) It's mostly just normal city. Some folks are watching, others doing... city folk things. There's a guy with a pigeon on his head standing in the middle of the road further down.
RHU
(not really paying attention, since he's distracted by his search)
Mhmm, is that right? Which moon would that be?
GUARD DARIEN VERSOUSS
Brains, you heard of them?
GREIBEL
Ouch. Burn!
Rhu keeps looking around, although every once in a while his eyes drift back to the pigeon man.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Excuse him. He's a little insane and people can live on moons where we come from. Is there anyone that can tell us about the Cataclysm? Scholars or magisters?
RHU
Ah, yes. What? Sorry? Oh. Not right now, please. Yes, you're clearly not who Hazz'ridan is talking about. Thank you all the same.
AMADI
Shouldn't live on moons. Bad dreams.
Versouss looks up at Gravy, startles slightly at the sight of his head, and then nods gratefully.
GUARD DARIEN VERSOUSS
You can try the temples, or the College. Philosophers might know more, but they're generally pretty... well...
(he looks skeptically at the guy with the pigeon on his head)
Loony?
AMADI
Asking questions. Always. Nothing good can come of it. Knowledge is bad for you.
RHU
(to Amadi, not taking his eyes off pigeon man)
Knowledge is good for you. An unknown path is just a road. You can't discover the dead end until you know the whole road.
Amadi shakes her head sadly at Rhu.
GUARD DARIEN VERSOUSS
There's also Nadrine - a newcomer like yourselves, who speaks of wayfarers and rarely makes much sense. But she's still alive, if you want to give her a try.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Thanks.
Versouss nods again and turns to yell at the guy with the pigeon on his head, who runs off into an alley.
RHU
(shouting after the fleeing pigeon man)
WAIT!
RADEK
We have a diverse selection of madmen at our disposal. Of what consequence is another to add to our collection?
AMADI
You don't know. Be glad.
RADEK
You're not turning me off knowledge, girl. Just the company of lunatics.
A pigeon lands on Greibel's head. He looks up cautiously.
GREIBEL
PIGEON HEAD! YEAH!
Greibel strokes its beak.
The pigeon leans foward and pecks at the porridge.
GREIBEL
Hey now, you guys play nice.
The porridge opens up and eats the pigeon.
GREIBEL
Hmmm... hungry little fella.

Amadi (smiling at the porridge)

Tastes like burning.
The porridge beams at Amadi without eyes.
RHU
I think we should go after that guy!
The Gravedigger shrugs.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Then you better get running.
RHU
Okay. Don't leave without me!
Rhu takes off after the pigeon guy and chases him into an alley.
The others follow after Rhu at a walk.
Amadi frowns, and nods to Greibel and the porridge on his shoulder.
AMADI
Your friend has the gist of it, you know.
The porridge jiggles.

EXT. Dead end alley - day
Rhu corners the pigeon guy at the end of an alley. It's a bit dark because the buildings are pretty close together here.
The guy is just sort of staring at the wall, with pigeons landing all around him.
RHU
...excuse me? Sir?
The guy doesn't respond. Then a pigeon lands on Rhu's head as well.
PIGEON PHILOSOPHER
(screaming)
HEAD PIGEONS!
RHU
Excuse me. I... I think you might be important to my ques-
The guy suddenly starts trying to claw through the wall.
RHU
Hey!
(yelling)
GUYS! A LITTLE HELP HERE!
Rhu tries to restrain pigeon guy.
A guard pushes past Rhu and grabs the guy, pulling him away from the wall.
GUARD ALEX KAREKOV
Again, Freidel? Really? You know the mushrooms aren't good for you...
RHU
Hey! Be gentle! He's... important!
GUARD ALEX KAREKOV
Sure, sure, he is. He's also due for a nice lie in the dungeons to sleep it all off.
The guard pulls the guy past Rhu.
RHU
Where are the dungeons? What's his name? Who are you?
The guard ignores Rhu and heads off, half pulling, half-dragging the guy.
The pigeon philosopher mumbles about pidgeons and holes and the nature of spinach.
The rest of the party catches up.
GREIBEL
(after the philosopher being dragged away)
Pigeon head guy! Shame, we had so much in common.
PIGEON PHILOSOPHER
Waffle head moose!
He waves at Greibel.
Greibel smiles.
RHU
Holes! He said holes! Something about holes!
PIGEON PHILOSOPHER
Ooooo, that sky. What a sky. What a...
Rhu follows the guard/pigeon guy combo to the end of the street.
Amadi yawns.
RHU
I think we should follow the guy! I think he's important!
The porridge gurgles.
AMADI
He had head-pigeons. If I gave advices I'd... flowers? Why isn't this a dream?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
So we're gonna follow voices in your head? Eh, whatever. Let's go talk to the guy with pigeon-poop hair, then.
RHU
To the dungeons!
GREIBEL
Espionage!
RADEK
Surely this will be productive!
Radek grumbles.
The party heads after the guard and the pigeon philosopher guy regardless. Hawkers try to hawk random baubles and food and crap at them. There are no cats.
Amadi frowns, watches the others going, turns to start in the other direction... and then comes along after all.
Then a woman bumps into Radek and then hastily moves away.
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN
Excuse me!
The Gravedigger turns his soulful gaze to the woman and notices she seemed to be messing with Radek's bag. (rolled 39 perception) Somehow she managed to put something in it, even past the chrome stuff.
The Gravedigger grabs her and picks her up. (rolled 17 vs reflex) She tries to twist away, then punches Gravy in the eye. This hardly hurts him, but she is clearly very annoyed.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Do that again and I'm gonna put this shovel to use. Explain yourself.
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN
What in the hells do you want?! Are you trying to get yourselves killed? Release me!
RADEK
What's wrong?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
She put something in your bag. Check your stuff.
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN
I did nothing! You clearly are ahead of yourself. Now if you do not put me down...
Radek checks his bag and finds a small paper-wrapped package. It's covered in chrome, though the chrome seems to be getting... thinner. He opens it. Inside he finds a small stone with a mask symbol carved into it.
Amadi strolls slowly up to Gravy and the lady with a wistful smile.
AMADI
I think I'm ahead of myself... but I'll probably catch up someday.
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN
What?
The woman stops struggling and stares at Amadi.
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN
You... no, this is impossible.
Amadi narrows here eyes on the woman, staring long and hard.
AMADI
(with utter certainty)
Apple pie.
The woman looks at Amadi for a long moment.
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN
Oh.
Amadi suddenly breaks out in uncontrollable giggles.
Meanwhile Greibel begins haggling with a merchant for a weird used hat to put on the porridge. He offers herbs, and the guy nods.
HAT MERCHANT
Yes, yes, something like that would be great, but do you have... well, you know. Good for the dreams, nice... herbs. Not ones that put you to sleep, though. You know what I mean?
Greibel nods and gets out some specific ones.
GREIBEL
You can definitely uh... become enriched and... enlightened by these, uh... materials. Man.
HAT MERCHANT
No, no, these aren't so extraordinary, just simple herbs, absolutely nothing wrong with wanting them, of course.
GREIBEL
Yes, this is a transaction that may mutually benefit us.
HAT MERCHANT
They're just for... well, you know...
He turns bright red with embarassment, hastily makes the trade, and shoos Greibel away with the hat.
Greibel walks back to the others, putting the hat lovingly atop Rasputin's non-head.
Meanwhile a random woman who may or may not be the guy's wife puts her hands on her hips and stares disapprovingly at Greibel.
GREIBEL
Hmmm.
RADEK
(holding the stone)
What's the meaning of this?
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN
It's a rock. Let me go!
The Gravedigger lifts the woman, leaving her legs dangling in the air, and says nothing.
Some random passersby stop and watch.
RADEK
It's a rock you wrapped in paper and put in my bag.
Amadi stops giggling just long enough to look at the symbol on the stone, then breaks into even harder laughter.
The woman says nothing as well and just glares at Gravy.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Listen. I'm tired of all the crazy. My guys are either on drugs, talking to voices in their head, or talking gibberish. So if I don't have some clear answers for once I'm gonna take it out on you.
The Gravedigger starts walking out of town, still holding the woman up off the ground. Two guards follow at a distance.
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN
That's great. Really. But I don't have them.
RADEK
Just because you're an uneducated rube doesn't mean I'm talking gibberish!
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Shut it, Radek. So you don't know why you put this... whatever it is in his bag? It just seemed like a good idea or a slug was controlling your mind?
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN
If you would put me down, perhaps we can talk. Or, if you would simply learn how to read...
Radek checks the paper to see if it had anything written on it, but it's completely wrecked by the chrome substance.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
You're clearly fully able to talk up here. Start now or see what happens when I run out of patience.
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN
You mean like you getting arrested, for one?
RADEK
(holding what may or may not have even been a note)
This is absolutely illegible.
The guards draw some sort of magic rods from their holsters.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
(to the guards)
Don't mind me. Just doing your job for you.
The guards hesitate slightly.
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN
Will you just put me down?
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Nope, not interested anymore.
The Gravedigger keeps walking.
RHU
Maybe we should take this to a bar or somewhere. Somewhere less quiet but less threatening. May... be... the dungeons? There's a man I want to see about a pigeon.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
I'm gonna need open space for this. A nice big open patch of dirt...
Amadi lies down on the street, laughing. She calms slowly, still shaking a little. And then she disappears.
The guards raise their rods. At first one points his at Radek and the other at the Gravedigger, then both point them at Radek.
Gaurav (Rhu): Some hostage.
Ganelon (Radek): Ooh, big mistake. Nobody likes Radek.
GUARD AMARIN STREL
Stop now.
THE GRAVEDIGGER
Sure. As soon as the lady says why she was messing with his stuff.
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN
Oh, for the light, will you all stop this!
RADEK
What are those, wands?
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN
(to the guards)
Put those away! I'm with the Order! In the name of the Council of Ancients, I command you to stand down!
The guards hastily put their rods away.
RHU
What is a breakfast?
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN
I was delivering a message. A warning. I don't know what it is and I don't know why, but that is what it is. Now. Put me down.
The Gravedigger lets out a long, drawn-own sign and then puts her down.
As soon as he lets go, she vanishes.
The guards make warding gestures as soon as she does.
RHU
(to guards, pointing at the space hitherto occupied by the woman)
Does she do that often?
GUARD TELMIN SMITH
The Order... they... do as they do.
Radek points at the guard's rod.
RADEK
That's a weapon, right? Who made it?
GUARD AMARIN STREL
Rorik. Or his sons.
RADEK
Magical in nature?
GUARD TELMIN SMITH
(calming down)
Standard two-length quickshot, shoots magic. Does that make it magic?
Look, I'm sorry, okay? It's your friend you should worry about.
RADEK
No, no, I don't even care about that. Tell me where I can find this Rorik.
A pigeon lands on Radek's head.
GUARD TELMIN SMITH
Down Enth Street. There's a really big sign. Between that and the odd explosions, you can't miss it.
They guards eye Radek and especially the Gravedigger worriedly, but then they leave them alone.
Radek tries to grab at the pigeon and throw it off, but then it just tumbles off and hits the cobbles, dead.
RHU
Huh. Don't touch it, it might be sick.
RADEK
Blasted vermin.
Greibel picks up the dead pigeon and feeds it to Rasputin. The porridge eats most of the pigeon except for the feet, which it breaks off with a crunch and spits out on the ground.
The mysterious woman reappears out of nowhere, hands Rhu a package instead, and disappears again, muttering to herself irritatedly.
RHU
Thank you.
Rhu looks down at package. It's another letter-wrapped stone. He unwraps it carefully.
This rock has a slightly different symbol on it - some sort of bird, and an extra little note stuck to it that says 'extra, not sure what this goes to'.
Rhu shows it to everybody, then puts the rock away.
The larger note appears to be a set of instructions with what may or may not be bad poetry at the bottom:
To progress:
• Take closest care.
• Do not stand out, or get noticed.
• Go to the juncture of 5th and Salma, and the way will open.
The shoulders in the sand on the repeats of the world...
There's a blisters of something memory...
Look at the characters whip thy bum...
Kumquats devouring mundial smiley-faces.
RHU
Oooooh.
I still think we should head to the dungeons first.
Greibel is enraptured by the poetry and ponders at its layers of significance.

INT. Coffle constabulary no.2 - day
The place is full of a guards. There's a desk at front with one asleep with his feet up on it. Another bunch of guards are at a table. Several others are loitering around. They all seem to be quite bored.
A couple look annoyed at the intrusion, another smiles amiably, and the one from the pigeon philosopher incident just sighs.
GUARD ALEX KAREKOV
You here for Freidel?
RHU
Yes! Him. The guy with the...
Rhu gestures over his head.
GUARD ALEX KAREKOV
(indicating a hallway)
Down there. Just... don't let him out. Or anyone else. Or do anything stupid. Please.
I don't want to get up.
RADEK
I refuse to be held accountable if any of these three do something stupid.
RHU
I fully understand.
Karekov snorts. A couple of the others now look slightly concerned, but clearly they don't actually want to get up either.
The party heads down the hall into the prison.
The philosopher is passed out face-down in a cell. The cell door isn't even locked, just shut.
RHU
Hullo? Mister? Pigeon-guy?
The pigeon philosopher fails to respond on account of being passed out.
RHU
HULLO?
The philosopher continues to be passed out.
RHU
...maybe we should go check out that mysterious address until he wakes up. Now that we know where he is.
RADEK
What exactly makes you believe his insight is valuable?
RHU
Hazz'ridan spoke to me earlier and said that there was something important around somewhere. I think it might be him. I'm not sure. Also... I wonder if he's a druid? If so, he might know something about the little tree on the big tree above the rift, which might tell us something about the rift.
RADEK
...This is why I don't deal with druids and priests.
Ganelon (Radek): Visions and pigeons.
RHU
Look at this man in this cage, and tell me that Hazz'ridan has not lead us to a glorious dead end.
The Gravedigger sighs.
GREIBEL
Well... no arguments there.

EXT. The Garden - Nightmare
Amadi Dreams.
The dream is of the moon. Or a moon, anyhow. Or something that would look like a moon at a distance - a crescent moon, to be exact. Some lady is sitting on it, dangling her feet over a black pond that is full of stars (unless they're not stars). She's dressed in a white fur. She speaks in a language I do not understand, or perhaps she's just making up nonsense words, since there's no language I don't know.
Black birds with eyes in their talons circle around us, making me aware that I'm actually present. I'm standing on the lake. I must be, since there's nothing else. I feel naked, with the stars watching me from below, and small, very small.
"I chose this," I tell the lady on the moon. She looks at me with pink eyes and answers with her gibberish words. Frustrated, I repeat myself: "I chose this!"
One of the birds lands on her head, crushing the eyes against her skull, spilling vitreous humour into her hair.
I flinch away as another one comes for my own head.