A dying man, a lost soul, a life of memories...
co·da /ˈkōdə/ noun "A musical Coda is often necessary after the climax of the piece, or when an idea is brought to its structural conclusion. The coda allows the listener to look back on the work and allows them to take it all in, in order to create a sense of balance."
This is the Coda of our tale, but it is not the end. Part 21 will release May 1st, 2022. However, more of this story is available now via subscribing to our Patreon. Additionally, you get to make the choices as to what happens next. https://www.patreon.com/TheINVICTUSStream
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Original transcript by Croik and Jack! Reviewed by Tony.
(Someone coughs, hushed. An audience erupts into eager applause, accompanied by whistles. Someone walks onstage, shoes squeaking against the wood, and sits at a piano bench. They start to play a now-familiar tune: Faroe’s Song. The audience goes silent.)
CHILD: You’re going to die.
(The piano bench squeaks – the player falls to the side, melody stopping. Arthur chokes on his own blood as the audience bursts into laughter, cheers, raucous calls, and whispers. The noise fades into a bitterly strong wind. Arthur stumbles through snow, still choking, while a despairing tune plays in the background.
He continues to gag and whisper in pain. A wolf howls, somewhat distorted, in the background. Arthur pounds against a wooden door, eventually managing to pull it open through sounds of effort. Still bleeding profusely, he forces himself inside and immediately knocks something over. Arthur lies on the ground. There is a soft ripping noise, and then silence as the wind fades.
Jazzy music plays, slightly tinny, on the radio. A toddler gurgles happily. A piano bench creaks.)
BABY: Nnh? Nyah nah? (Arthur continues to chuckle and fake gasp at every small noise.) Hey, Dada… hey! Da… bah?
ARTHUR (chuckling): Hi? Hey? How are you? (BABY: Yee?) Are you having a good time? (BABY: Yeh?) Yes? (He continues to chuckle.) Faroe.
(In another time, Arthur jerks awake. He coughs and rummages through his bag, flicking on the lighter. The wind still howls outside; Arthur can scarcely catch a breath. He starts a fire. More ripping noises amidst a melancholy piano piece.
The sound fades into another memory. Thunder rumbles in the background; rain pours outside. Arthur hums a soft lullaby to Faroe, rocking her to sleep. She breathes softly.)
ARTHUR (whispering): Sleep, little girl.
(Arthur again jerks awake, breathing hard. Faroe’s Song starts to play. Wincing and crying out in pain, Arthur presses down on his injured leg. It makes a squishing noise. Arthur’s leg crunches and he cries out in pain as he sets it. Another crunch of pain, and Arthur winces and cries out again. He starts to whimper.
The sound fades into another memory. A piano bench creaks. Deliberately, Arthur plays the first few notes of Faroe’s Song. Faroe hits one note.)
ARTHUR: Yeah. And… here. (Slowly, in a lower register, Faroe plays five notes. Brightly.) Good job! Like this. (Arthur plays five notes.) No, no – yeah. (Faroe hesitantly plays five more, in a lower register.) Right there. And then… (He plays five more. Faroe plays them.) Yeah? Good job! And then… (He plays the next five notes. She plays them too, slowly.) What do you think? Do you like it?
(In another time, Arthur wakes with a gasp. Faroe’s Song continues to play. He sniffs and rummages through his things, tearing something. Something squishes. Arthur sobs. As he rummages, something falls out of his bag and hits the ground with an eerie echo. A more hopeful tune begins to play.)
KAYNE (quiet, echoing): But when all is said and done, you can always flip a coin. Two heads and all that.
(Arthur flips the coin. Kayne’s electric woosh sounds emerges.)
KAYNE (enthusiastic): Well, call it! Heads or tails – call it!
ARTHUR (gasping): Heads.
KAYNE (sucking air through his teeth): Nope. Nope, nope, nope. (Mock shock.) Arty! Oh no, what’s happened!?
ARTHUR: Help me, Kayne.
KAYNE (laughing maniacally): What a pickle. So, you used the dagger, I see, I see, I see.
ARTHUR (miserably): Where is he?
KAYNE: Of whom do you speak?
ARTHUR: You know who.
KAYNE (laughing maniacally): Wow! You popped that right back in there, didn’t you? Or you tried. So you’re still blind, I see! Oh, sorry! Poor choice of words. (He continues to walk as he speaks.)
ARTHUR: Tell me!
KAYNE: He’s… well. Ah, um, they’re not really getting along, it seems.
ARTHUR (desperately): What do you mean?
KAYNE: Look, Blondie has a lot more power than your fair-weathered friend. Seems like the King is content to hang out in the Dreamlands while John gets wise over… oh, a couple thousand years, probably.
ARTHUR: He said he’d fight him.
KAYNE: I know, I was there! Way up in the nosebleeds, mind you!
ARTHUR: Help him.
KAYNE: Help him? Why?
ARTHUR (through tears): Because.
KAYNE (buzzing his Zs): Becaussseeeee… what’cha got? What’s on the table?
ARTHUR: I have nothing.
KAYNE: Oh, you got something. You got your fighting spirit! Look at you! (Announcer voice.) Pulled yourself in from out of the cold to this abandoned cabin, set a fire in the hearth, all while blind! What a champion!
ARTHUR: I have nothing to offer.
KAYNE: Well. (Begrudgingly.) Yeah, I suppose that’s true. Hm. (He pops his lips.) You want him back.
ARTHUR: I want him safe.
KAYNE (come on now): You want him back.
KAYNE: Knew it! And there’s nothing in it for me?
ARTHUR: I –
KAYNE: You know, someone oughtta tell them that coins don’t land on their sides. Your friends suck at following the rules.
KAYNE: Look, I like you. I like when you shoved my dagger into your throat, I enjoy our little repartee! I’ll make you a deal.
(A thoughtful piano melody.)
ARTHUR: A deal?
ARTHUR: What kind of –?
KAYNE: I’ll put him back, right where he belongs! I’ll even give you your arm and leg back. But, not your eyes. (Dramatically.) You only have eyes for him!
KAYNE: And? (He hems.) Hm, good question. I have to think of a catch, right? What malevolent entity appears and offers a trade that only benefits? (He laughs maniacally.) Huh, huh, huh, huh, hm. Oh. (Euphorically.) Oh, yes!
KAYNE: John comes back, owns your eyes, as he always did, you get your body back… but! He. Remembers. Nothing. (The piano tune picks up.)
KAYNE: Nothing. No first meeting, no memories in the Dreamlands, no path towards humanity. Nothing.
KAYNE: He is as you first met him: a lost and confused, fractured piece of the King in Yellow.
ARTHUR: But I…
KAYNE (mocking): But I…! (Normally.) What?
KAYNE: Look, I get it! You don’t want to lose your friend! But you aren’t! Not really. If you stay like this, you really lose him. But this way, he has the capacity to grow! Just as he did before. Can’t you just start again?
ARTHUR: I… I don’t know, I.
KAYNE: Huh. Well, it’s a timed offer.
ARTHUR: How long do I –
ARTHUR (broken): Let me –
ARTHUR: Fine! Deal.
KAYNE (celebratory): Oh, Arthur! (He whispers.) This is going to be so much fun. Say hi for me.
(Another electrical woosh of energy. The coin hits the floor.)
ARTHUR (cautious): Hello? Is anyone there?
ENTITY (kindly): Don’t you remember?