A new beginning, a strange place, a cold isolation...
Malevolent follows Arkham Investigator Arthur Lester as he unravels the mysterious circumstances that have befallen him.
In the twenty first episode of Malevolent Arthur finds himself in an unknown place with an unfamiliar voice in his mind. Overwhelmed by loss, and with no one to turn to, he struggles to find the power to move forward as he comes head to head with the fighting spirit within. Will he push forward and find the strength he needs to survive...
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PART TWENTY-ONE: THE UNCONQUERABLE
Original transcript by Croik and Jack! Reviewed by JD and Tony.
(BEGIN Part 21.)
(A fire roars in its hearth. The cabin creaks in the wind. Fabric rustles.)
ARTHUR (aggrieved): Who is this?
(Sad piano music starts to play.)
ENTITY (gentle): I’m a friend. The only friend you have right now. You’ve been through the wringer, it seems. (Arthur shuffles around.) Do you remember what happened?
ARTHUR: No. What happened?
ENTITY: We were in an accident, but it’s going to be okay. There’s a bag next to us. Open it.
ENTITY: Because there’s something in there I need.
ARTHUR: You don’t know what’s in the bag.
ENTITY: Oh, don’t I?
ARTHUR: Listen. (He exhales, frustrated.) I know you. I-I know who you are, o-or what you are. I know what you want.
ENTITY: Do you?
ARTHUR (sighing): Fuck.
ENTITY: What’s your name, friend?
ARTHUR (shaky): Jesus, it’s – it’s Arthur.
ARTHUR: Yeah, look. I-I just need a second, okay?
ENTITY: Of course.
ARTHUR (sharply): No, you don’t! God damn it. (He pauses.) Look! You need to listen to me, alright?
ENTITY: Do I?
ARTHUR: Shut up! Just – just fucking listen. You… we… (Arthur breathes shakily, trying to collect himself.) You are a fractured piece of something called the King in Yellow, alright? You may or may not remember that, I-I don’t know. But this isn’t the first time we’ve met.
ENTITY: Is that so.
ARTHUR: Just. My name is Arthur Lester. Okay? Four months ago, you and I, w-we met. (Faroe’s Song starts to play.) I-I opened a book that had a symbol on it, that-that-that that looked like one of these. (He hurriedly digs through the bag, withdrawing a book.) One of these. Okay? At first, we – we hated each other. You having control of my eyes. We tried to find a way to separate us, follow a trail of breadcrumbs that led us to the north of Arkham, which was the city we met in.
And there we found an underground city that revealed who you were, and it sent us to the Dreamlands. After three months we escaped, but you and the King were… were bound together. S-So I made a deal to bring you back. (Softer.) To bring us together again.
ENTITY: With whom?
ARTHUR: I don’t know, but – but listen! You need to listen to me, please. This creature you were, this – this elder god, you… you didn’t want to be him. (Near tears.) You wanted to be so much more. You… you wanted to be human. You found your humanity, John. Please, tell me you remember.
ARTHUR: Yes! John. My friend.
(The Entity starts to cackle amidst suspenseful strings.)
ARTHUR (despairing): No.
ENTITY: So the game is up, then.
ARTHUR (sighing): Sure.
ENTITY: You’re clever. How foolish to think that I tried to play you.
ARTHUR: It worked before.
ENTITY: Did it.
ARTHUR: I – look. Fuck. Look, I-I need you. To be my eyes. To survive this, wherever we are.
(He moves around.)
ENTITY: So, this isn’t your cabin?
ARTHUR: No, you – you kicked me out into this frozen hell. I can’t even see the interior of this place. I, I managed to feel my way to the fireplace.
ARTHUR (curt): Thanks.
ENTITY: Your leg is covered in blood.
ARTHUR: Yeah. Also care of you. I think it’s frozen to the… (He pulls the fabric. It sounds wet.) Oh.
ARTHUR: It doesn’t hurt anymore, that fucking – he – my leg, it’s fine.
ENTITY: There’s a lot of blood.
(Eerie piano music rises.)
ARTHUR: No, it’s… he wanted me to live through this, to feel this way. Knowing you’d forget everything.
ENTITY: Well, friend, I think we need to –
ARTHUR: Don’t! Don’t fucking call me friend. It’s just –
ENTITY: Calm down.
ARTHUR (determined): Fuck this.
(Arthur stands up.)
ARTHUR: Where’s the door?
ENTITY: It sounds like a blizzard out there.
ARTHUR (furious): You fucking – I don’t want to be here right now. (Suspenseful strings start to rise.)
ENTITY: If you go out there, we’ll both die.
ARTHUR: I don’t care! You’re not fucking John, you’re not my friend, you’re a goddamn parasite!
ENTITY (barking): Arthur!
(Arthur inhales sharply.)
ENTITY: Stay here and sit the fuck down. I am not going to die because you threw a fucking tantrum!
(Faroe’s Song starts to play.)
ARTHUR (grieving): Lilly. Tell me, how could you forget Lilly? She was the reason, John, she... She was the reason you cared, you… she changed you. How could you forget her?
ENTITY: I don’t know what you want me to say.
ARTHUR: Say you remember!
ENTITY: I don’t. (Ominous music rises.) Now listen to me, I have your fucking eyes, so you’re going to do exactly what I say. You separated me from my body, and you are going to put me back. I am the King in Yellow, and I will tear your soul apart if I have to!
ARTHUR (bitter): You’re not going to do shit, you fucking asshole.
ENTITY: Excuse me?
ARTHUR: I know who you are, you prick. I know what you are. And you’re going to do whatever the fuck I want, or I’m sending you back to the Dark World. (Dark piano music begins to play. Smugly.) Oh, yeah, didn’t think I knew about that, did you? See this? (He rustles through his bag again.) See-See this? This is called the Glass of the Cana. It has the power to send you back. Do you understand me?
(The Entity growls.)
ARTHUR: Now, you’re going to play nice and tell me what we see, or so help me, I will send you back to that empty void you came from. Understood?
ENTITY (beaten down): Yes.
ARTHUR: Good boy. Now, tell me what’s in this room. (More rustling of the bag, presumably to return the Glass of the Cana.)
(He starts to walk. Investigatory piano music plays.)
ENTITY: It’s a cabin. The walls are plain, dark wood. The floor is the same. There’s a stone fireplace made of gray cobblestone, with a dark cement binding them together. (Arthur walks around, slowly.) The fire there is almost out.
ARTHUR: Good, what else?
ENTITY: To our left is a bed. The sheet on it has been pulled off and stripped. At the foot of the bed, there’s a chest. Beyond that, a wardrobe. In the corner, there’s a small writing desk, and above it, a rifle mounted on the wall.
ARTHUR: A rifle?
ENTITY: There’s snow all over the ground and a great deal of your blood.
ARTHUR: Good. Thank you.
ENTITY: Now, you tell me! How did you bring me back? Why did you bring – ?
ARTHUR: I told you why. We were friends, and you were in trouble. And so I saved you.
ENTITY: You tore me from myself! You removed a piece of me, from my kingdom, my –
ARTHUR (impatient): Yes, yes. Look, I know you, too well.
ENTITY: You know nothing of me. Or what I’m capable of.
ARTHUR: Untrue. I beat you, Yellow. A mere mortal. I went face to face with you, and I won.
ENTITY: So, you’re not going to send me back.
ARTHUR: If I send you anywhere, it’ll be the Dark World.
ENTITY: You don’t know what that place is.
ARTHUR: I know exactly what it is. A dumping ground for everything that dies. Believe me, I know.
ENTITY: A dumping ground?
ARTHUR: From all the worlds, all splintered timelines, a catch-all for the unwashed masses that fall in the heat of battle or the still of night. Look, they all end up there, I get it. And you will, too, unless you play by my rules.
ENTITY: I will make you suffer.
ARTHUR: I expect as much. The desk, where is it?
ENTITY: In the corner, to your left.
ARTHUR: This way? (He continues to walk.)
ENTITY: No, a little more. There. (Arthur breathes in exertion and walks around.) What are you doing?
ARTHUR: Trying to find out who this cabin belongs to. (He opens wooden drawers.)
ARTHUR: Because I want to know if it’s abandoned, if someone is coming back, if the owner is dead. Why was it unlocked?
ENTITY: What does any of that matter?
ARTHUR (weary): It’s… what I do. Or what I did.
ENTITY: What you did? What did you do?
ENTITY (again, angrier): What did you do?
ARTHUR: What do you care? Now, is there anything in this drawer?
ENTITY: Some paper, a few writing implements: a pencil, an inkwell that’s long since dried up.
(Arthur flips through pages.)
ARTHUR: Anything written on the pages?
ENTITY: Not in the drawer, but on the top of the desk there is a note.
ARTHUR: Why the fuck didn’t you say that?
ENTITY (growling): I owe you nothing!
ARTHUR: Jesus Christ. (He closes the drawer.) You weren’t this difficult the first time.
ENTITY: You said we hated each other.
ARTHUR: Yes, but we had a mutual goal. We both didn’t know why we were together. We both felt lost. Or at least I thought we did. We didn’t find out who… or what you were until much later.
(A somber piano theme plays.)
ARTHUR: It doesn’t matter. This time, I jumped the gun, I had – I had hoped it would jog your memory, or… whatever that means. But it didn’t. You’re not John. You’re just Yellow.
YELLOW: Then send me back.
ARTHUR: I can’t.
YELLOW (angry): Why not?
ARTHUR: Because I owe you.
YELLOW: You owe me?
ARTHUR: I owe my friend to try and save you.
YELLOW: I don’t need saving. You said our goals were aligned.
ARTHUR: They were because we didn’t know each other!
YELLOW: I don’t know you. I owe you nothing, and you owe me nothing. I am a prisoner, trapped in your eyes.
ARTHUR: You really don’t remember? Nothing? Nothing about our time together?
ARTHUR: Then I’ll send you back. As soon as you help me find someone.
ARTHUR: A girl. A woman, by the name of Anna Stanczyk.
YELLOW: Anna Stanczyk.
ARTHUR: Yes. She has what I need.
YELLOW: What is it you need?
ARTHUR: It doesn’t matter. If you help me get to her, I’ll send you back.
YELLOW (urgent): Swear it!
ARTHUR: I swear it. You’re not my friend. I was foolish to hope that you were anything but a monster.
YELLOW: And you’re nothing but a mortal.
ARTHUR: Now, what does the letter say? (He rustles the paper.)
YELLOW: It’s from Larson Mining Company, or at least the letterhead is. The body of the text, it’s written in... well, I mean. I can barely read it.
ARTHUR: It’s faded? Not English? What –
YELLOW: It’s illegible. Whoever wrote it didn’t have a grasp of the English language, that’s for sure.
ARTHUR: Can you make out anything?
YELLOW: ‘Leaving now, sorry Mum.’ Something like that.
ARTHUR: Fuck. Larson. Mining, I don’t recognize it. I don’t recognize anything.
YELLOW: Alright, so what now?
ARTHUR: I don’t know.
YELLOW: You said this is what you do.
ARTHUR: It was.
YELLOW: What do you mean?
ARTHUR: I was an investigator, okay? I would look into problems, solve them for people.
YELLOW: Solve the problem of how the fuck we get to Anna Stanczyk.
ARTHUR: Relax, I will. (He sighs.) If we have any chance, we’ll need warm-weather clothes and a fire. Plus, I wanna keep searching. Is there anything else on the desk?
YELLOW: Yes, there are some more drawers.
YELLOW: Well, which do you want to do first?
ARTHUR: Let’s just search the place.
ARTHUR: I’m chilled to the bone, and it feels like it’s getting colder. Let’s come back to this desk. Where’s the wardrobe?
YELLOW: Near the foot of the bed.
ARTHUR: Right. (He starts to walk.)
YELLOW: Opposite the chest. (Arthur walks over to the wardrobe.) Here.
ARTHUR: Ah. (Opening the wardrobe, he starts to rifle through clothes.)
YELLOW: A number of jackets, some well-worn clothing.
ARTHUR: Well worn?
YELLOW: Yes. They’re covered in dirt and mud. Their knees, especially.
ARTHUR: Knees? What kind of clothes are they?
YELLOW: What kind? Who cares?
ARTHUR: Just fucking tell me.
YELLOW: I don’t know how to answer that, Arthur. They’re pants. Blue, dirt-covered pants.
YELLOW: Denim, sure.
ARTHUR: Well, that tracks with the mining company.
ARTHUR: Denim is strong. Miners wear them. The knees don’t wear out, the seams are riveted.
YELLOW (bored): Jesus Christ.
YELLOW: Nothing. Why do you know all of this?
ARTHUR: I knew someone who was a garment maker once, okay?
ARTHUR: No. Not doing that again.
YELLOW: Doing what?
ARTHUR: Doesn’t matter. (He starts to rifle again.) Anything else? Anything cleaner or warmer?
YELLOW: Yes, one of the jackets is fairly warm. Two rows of buttons on it.
ARTHUR: Double breasted? Very warm. Alright. (He pulls out the jacket.)
YELLOW: What the hell happened to your hand?
ARTHUR: What do you mean?
YELLOW: Your finger.
ARTHUR: Oh. Yeah. I, uh. There’s a forest in the Dreamlands. I had to remove it there, to leave.
ARTHUR: Yeah. Is the wood still sticking out of it?
YELLOW: The wood, is that what it is? It looks like dark bone.
ARTHUR: I suppose.
YELLOW: Does it hurt?
ARTHUR: You’d like that.
(Yellow chuckles darkly.)
ARTHUR: Fuck. (He shifts the clothing.) Damn, I suppose I could use a complete change of clothes.
YELLOW: There are pants in there too. Clean ones, I mean. As well as undergarments.
ARTHUR: Right, okay. (Arthur starts to change.)
YELLOW (in surprise): You’re thin.
(Sad piano music plays.)
ARTHUR: Yes, well, I was near starved to death.
YELLOW: Oh, really?
YELLOW: Sounds like something I’d do.
ARTHUR: Fuck you.
YELLOW (laughing): You really beat me?
ARTHUR: And I’ll do it again.
YELLOW: Hmph. (Arthur continues to get dressed, wincing in pain.) How many pairs of pants do you need to wear?
ARTHUR: As many as will fit. (He sighs.)
ARTHUR: I need a bath. And a shave.
YELLOW: Good luck.
ARTHUR (exhale): Okay. Better, at least. Warmer… though this room is getting quite cold. Or was it always this cold?
YELLOW: The fire’s dead.
ARTHUR: Right, well, anything left in the wardrobe?
YELLOW: Nothing of importance.
ARTHUR: I’ll decide what’s important. Is there anything else?
ARTHUR: The chest?
YELLOW: Behind you. (Arthur walks over and opens it, grunting in exertion.)
YELLOW: There’s a lantern, dust covered, a stack of papers, a pair of mud-crusted boots, gloves, coil of rope, and what looks to be a broken bottle of oil.
ARTHUR: Hm. The boots and gloves, for sure.
YELLOW: Left side.
(Arthur takes off his shoes.)
ARTHUR (fondly): Goodbye, shoes. You’ve kept me well.
YELLOW: Those things are worn through.
ARTHUR: I had many miles to go. (He grunts and tosses them to the side.) Let’s hope these fit. (He pulls them on.) Good enough.
YELLOW: Your finger, you can feel it still?
ARTHUR (sighing): I can feel when the stick is moved, yes.
ARTHUR: You know, our survival is linked. You can try to take less pleasure in my pain.
(He rifles through the papers.)
ARTHUR: The papers?
YELLOW: Various forms, most with Larson Mining on the top.
ARTHUR: Alright, so this is some sort of mining office. Though whomever was here left… and apologized to their mother.
YELLOW: Familial connection.
ARTHUR: Yes, actually. Possibly. (He scoffs.)
ARTHUR: Nothing, just – John once said that he’d… he used to be more appreciative of this aspect of the job.
YELLOW: He was weak.
ARTHUR: Literally the farthest thing from it.
YELLOW: Is that so.
ARTHUR: Weakness isn’t wishing to be mortal, or to enjoy life, it’s-it’s… it’s thinking that power makes you more valuable. (A thoughtful piano tune plays.)
YELLOW: Doesn’t it?
ARTHUR: No, it doesn’t.
YELLOW: You have the power to send me back. That makes you valuable to me.
ARTHUR: That’s not power making me valuable, that’s you needing something of me. That’s called needing others, or in this case, needing a mere mortal.
YELLOW: Your logic is stretched. Whatever power you hold makes you valuable to a number of people. Not because of who you are, but because of what you’re capable of. I don’t need you because you’re Arthur. I need you because of what you can do for me.
ARTHUR: So weakness is needing someone for no reason than who they are?
ARTHUR: Funny, that’s exactly what happened to John.
YELLOW: Which is why he was weak.
ARTHUR: And yet you are him. (He moves around.) Does no part of you wonder why? Why he yearned for these things?
YELLOW: Because he had no other option.
ARTHUR: That’s a convenient answer. Easy to just handwave a solution than try to figure it out.
YELLOW: Unless that is the answer.
ARTHUR: You’re wrong. And the mere fact that you don’t have the capacity to question yourself, or what you believe, it shows how limited you are compared to him.
YELLOW (mocking): But I thought he was me?
ARTHUR: He’s a better version of you than you could ever be.
YELLOW: You’re sure about that?
YELLOW: Now who’s not willing to question their own beliefs?
ARTHUR: Alright, enough.
(Yellow laughs in triumph.)
ARTHUR: Look, is there a name here? On any of these pages.
YELLOW: No, but these seem… old. Maybe filed away.
ARTHUR: Alright, back to the desk, then. (He grunts in exertion.)
YELLOW: The blood is frozen over now. It looks like it's gotten a lot colder.
ARTHUR: Yeah, I can feel it through my clothes. (Arthur slides open a drawer.)
YELLOW: More papers, some signed.
ARTHUR: What’s the name?
YELLOW: Again, it’s written very childish, but I think it says ‘Jack Larson.’
(A sad piano tune plays.)
ARTHUR: Jack. Well, that’s the family connection.
YELLOW: There’s something sad, almost pathetic, about the way he writes. As if…
ARTHUR: You pity him?
YELLOW (flatly): No.
ARTHUR (scoffing): Of course not.
YELLOW: There’s something else in the drawer.
ARTHUR: What? (Rustling of paper.)
YELLOW: A box of .22 caliber rounds, and some money, I think.
ARTHUR: Right. Well, we’ll take the money. (He takes the bills.) So, if this is a mining office, which it seems to be, there’s possibly more things around here. It also doesn’t guarantee that this place is vacant, the way it seems to be. It could only be used during the summer, or while the mines are working. Is it even dark outside?
YELLOW: I don’t know. There are no windows in this place.
ARTHUR: Right! Okay, okay. (He closes the drawer.) I don’t want to be here if someone is on their way now. We should leave. We have warm clothes. What’s the outside world looking like?
YELLOW: To your right.
(Arthur walks and grunts in exertion as he opens the door. Cold winter wind howls outside.)
YELLOW: It’s dark. Not pitch black, but either early evening or early morning. I think there may be some light in the distance.
ARTHUR: How distant?
YELLOW: I don’t know. I’ve never had to worry about distance before.
ARTHUR: How – fuck! How remote are we? Is there anything else around?
YELLOW: Not that I can see.
ARTHUR: Fine. (He shuts the door, keeping himself inside.) I heard wolves when we arrived. Damn! Okay, okay.
YELLOW: We can just stay here. There’s a bed and a fireplace.
ARTHUR: But we’ve taken clothes and money, we’ve torn the bed sheets: all of which we needed, but. If we’re found out, there’s a slim chance that we’ll be welcome to take these things. We’ve essentially stolen them.
YELLOW: So, kill anyone that arrives.
ARTHUR (offended): No! I’m not a fucking murderer, Yellow! Look, we’re either on the outskirts of a town or in a small mining village. If there’s a light on close enough to see, then there’s a good chance that the mines are still running, which means this office is in use.
ARTHUR: So we leave this place behind, find where the light is coming from.
YELLOW: And the wolves?
ARTHUR: This is the only question for me: do we bring the rifle? (He rifles.)
YELLOW: If you insist on going, then yes. Bring the rifle.
YELLOW: Yes. We need it, so take it.
ARTHUR: You can’t think that way, not anymore. You can’t just take things.
ARTHUR (sighing): But I agree that it would be beneficial, more beneficial than heading out there alone.
YELLOW: I’m glad.
ARTHUR: This isn’t me being convinced by you. (Arthur walks and grunts, reaching upward.)
YELLOW: A little higher. There.
(The sliding of metal as Arthur takes the gun.)
ARTHUR: Alright. Where was the ammo?
YELLOW: The drawer to your left.
(He picks up the ammo and loads the gun.)
YELLOW: Don’t you think it’s possible he was just manipulating you?
ARTHUR: This is hard for you to accept, isn’t it?
YELLOW: I just think it’s a bit… pathetic.
ARTHUR: You know what I think is pathetic?
ARTHUR (fiercely): This. All of this. Sincerely. (A thoughtful piano tune starts.) You come out swinging, claiming to be knowledgeable about stuff you are completely unaware of, and then you fight me tooth and nail over every insignificant thing, unable to let the smallest argument go unless you’re the winner. It-it-it-it – it’s honestly incredible.
YELLOW: It sounds like you’re projecting.
ARTHUR: It sounds like you’re a petulant child who, for the first time, is being told no. (He chuckles.) It’s – it’s funny. You know, I had so much more respect for you the first time around. Though looking back, I… I realize that was just fear. You scared me, and that's how you like this power dynamic to go.
YELLOW: Is that so?
ARTHUR: Yes, and now you’re just trying to throw everything you can at me, hoping something sticks, hoping something gives you the smallest bit of attention.
YELLOW: If you think –
ARTHUR (interrupting): Don’t. Just – just don’t. You know what? Here’s my honest desire, and take it or leave it. I don’t want to fight you. I don’t have the energy right now. If you are as powerful and god-like as you truly believe you are, recognize that the smartest thing you can do – genuinely! – is to get on side with me. It is the absolute most logical, straightforward way to get what you want. Gods shouldn’t care this much about arguing with a mortal. (He sighs and continues to load the gun.) There. Loaded. Let’s get the fuck out of here. (Grunting, he starts to walk.)
YELLOW: There are… snowshoes, next to the door.
ARTHUR: Oh. Thank you.
(Arthur sits down and buckles the snowshoes on.)
(Groaning, Arthur stands. He pushes the wooden door open and steps into the harsh wind.)
ARTHUR: Which way?
YELLOW: A little more to the left. The light has faded a bit now.
(He shuts the door behind him with a grunt, and starts to walk.)
YELLOW: It seems darker out here, as if evening has set in. I don’t know how good of an idea this was.
ARTHUR: We can always turn back if there’s nothing for us out here.
YELLOW: You keep saying ‘us’ as if we’re one.
ARTHUR: It’s an old habit. (He walks through the snow.)
YELLOW: The light is just ahead of us now. It’s near the ground.
ARTHUR: What is it?
YELLOW: I don’t know. Keep going. It’s a lantern, on its side: fading. (Somber music starts to play.) A kerosene or oil lamp.
ARTHUR: Out here?
YELLOW: The snow melts as it falls on it. It’s still running, hot.
YELLOW: Next to it, the snow is trampled. As if… as if something fell.
ARTHUR: Fell? From where?
YELLOW: Maybe while running. The tracks lead off.
ARTHUR: What? Where’s the lantern?
YELLOW: Near your left foot. (Arthur picks up the lantern. The metal clangs softly.)
ARTHUR: Do you see where they lead?
YELLOW: They lead deeper into the forest, towards our left. Not very far, I-I don’t think.
(Arthur walks in that direction.)
YELLOW: Here, stop. They fell again, and, uh… and…
YELLOW: Blood. (Suspenseful strings rise.) Deep red, frozen arcs of blood dot the snow around a large, flattened area.
ARTHUR: Jesus. Is there anyone around –
YELLOW (interrupting): No. But whatever fell didn’t get up. It was dragged away.
ARTHUR: Dragged? This – this could’ve been me! I pulled myself through the snow when I arrived, I –
YELLOW: How long ago?
ARTHUR: I don’t really know. Hours, maybe.
YELLOW: This isn’t hours old. The lantern is still lit, for fuck’s sake.
ARTHUR: Alright, alright.
YELLOW (in horror): Wait.
YELLOW: There are marks here, around whatever fell here. I think they were made by whatever dragged it away.
YELLOW: Tracks, maybe.
ARTHUR: An animal.
YELLOW: Not one I recognize. It's almost… star-shaped.
YELLOW: But wide, like an elephant.
ARTHUR: For the King in Yellow, you don’t have a very extensive knowledge of animals.
YELLOW: I didn’t even know that I was the King until you told me. Even then, I’m stretching my mind to remember or understand what that fully means.
ARTHUR: What!? You don’t even remember being the King?
ARTHUR: You mentioned being torn from your kingdom! You – you said, starving me sounds like something you’d do!
YELLOW: It was a long time ago, before the Dark World. Need I remind you that I’ve been at your mercy since you imprisoned me?
ARTHUR: Hold on, then – then why are you trying –?
(At a distance, a group of wolves howl.)
YELLOW (scared): Fuck!
(Arthur starts to move.)
ARTHUR: Wolves aren’t dangerous to people. They’re – they’re more scared of us.
YELLOW: You seem awfully certain, despite the bleeding person that was dragged away in the snow.
ARTHUR: You think it was a person?
YELLOW (deadpan): Oh, do cows carry lanterns here?
ARTHUR: Just – just keep my eyes open.
YELLOW: I’m trying – keep turning your head.
ARTHUR: I am. Jesus. I can’t believe all of this, and you don’t even remember being the King.
YELLOW: What difference does it make!
ARTHUR: I told you! You chose this life. (Mournful piano music.) I was helping you. Why didn’t you even try to hear me out?
YELLOW: You imprisoned me within you.
ARTHUR: You think you’re the one imprisoned?
YELLOW (growling): You brought me here. You’re holding me against my will.
ARTHUR: If you'd just tried to work with me, I –
(The wolves growl and bark, closer.)
(Arthur breaks into a sprint amidst suspenseful string music.)
YELLOW: There’s a large fallen tree. Here! Get down! (Arthur crunches along the snow.) Hide!
(Arthur forces himself underneath the tree. The wind quiets. The wolves growl close by.)
YELLOW: You may need to use that rifle.
ARTHUR: I will, when they get –
(A wolf lunges forward, growling in attack.)
ARTHUR: Jesus! Fuck!
YELLOW: Run, Arthur!
(Arthur groans in pain.)
ARTHUR: Damn it!
(He hits the wolf, which whimpers and retreats.)
YELLOW: Leave the lantern. Go!
(Arthur runs, panting softly.)
YELLOW: They’re following! There’s a pack of them, their black fur dotted with freshly falling snow. They skulk as if ready for a meal. You need to fire on them.
ARTHUR (pained): I… we could miss!
YELLOW: Just fire!
(Arthur fires the rifle. The wolves whine.)
YELLOW: They’re scattering. Running off. (A pause.) Move.
ARTHUR: Okay. (Arthur starts to walk.) Are they – ?
YELLOW: I can’t hear them.
ARTHUR (breathing shakily, brandishing the gun): Look, maybe I’ve… maybe I’ve been too unreasonable, okay? (Faroe’s Song starts to play.) Not being able to see your perspective of things.
YELLOW (hesitant): Okay?
ARTHUR: I… I did what I did because of our friendship, and maybe I haven’t tried enough to focus on that. It’s been easy for me to chew out the pieces of my friend that I hated. Okay? Especially because he hurt me near the end of our time. The parts you represent remind me of that pain, and – and the pain that the King caused me, but… but maybe I’m not being fair. I-I-I’m sorry.
YELLOW: You’re… sorry?
ARTHUR: I don’t know what you know, or – or if you’re telling the truth, but… but you’re right that I brought you to me, against your will.
(Wolves howl, at a distance.)
YELLOW: We need to move back to the cabin. Swing wide to your right. We can move around them.
ARTHUR: Okay. (He continues to walk.)
YELLOW: They’re stalking us. Not as aggressive as they were, but… we need to be careful.
YELLOW: Wait. A light! A lot more light than the lantern.
ARTHUR: How? What?
(The wolves snarl, closer. They’ve found him.)
YELLOW: Quickly, Arthur!
(Arthur runs, out of breath.)
YELLOW: We’re almost past the tree line. Move!
(He runs, brushing along the branches of the teeth.)
YELLOW: Stop, stop!
ARTHUR: What? Why?
YELLOW: They’re not following.
ARTHUR: But why?
YELLOW: When we broke from the tree line. They stopped. There’s light here.
YELLOW (in awe): There’s a building, with lights on. Snow piled high on either side.
ARTHUR (puzzled): Where the fuck are we?
YELLOW: Three dead wolves are hung by their feet just out front.
ARTHUR: Oh, god.
(A mysterious piano melody, slightly jaunty.)
YELLOW: It’s a tavern: the Red Right Hand. Head inside.
ARTHUR: Here? Okay.
(He walks forward.)
ARTHUR: Do we tell them about what we found in the snow? The blood? I guess someone could be hurt, and – and lost out there. Or should we just play dumb? I don’t know who these people are, or where we are. What do you think?
YELLOW: So what if someone is hurt?
ARTHUR: If they know we were out here, and we don’t tell them –
YELLOW: Why would they care?
ARTHUR (exasperated): Because people care about other people, Yellow. It’s important to us. Look. We’re gonna tell them what we found. Beyond the chance of helping whomever was hurt, I think others would like to know something is out here if it’s deadly.
YELLOW (impatient): Fine, fine, just get inside.
ARTHUR: Yeah. (He walks forward.)
YELLOW: The steps are well worn. A path trodden into the wood seems to have been carved over time. I think the building was painted blue at one point.
ARTHUR: Okay. Thank you. Are the wolves… recently killed?
YELLOW: They’re frozen solid. (Suspenseful music.) It looks like they were hung by their feet, and their throats were slit, letting the blood drain out. Red icicles are hanging from their open throats.
YELLOW: There’s a frozen circle of blood on the ground beneath where the bucket must’ve collected it.
ARTHUR: Hunters, then.
YELLOW: Based on the wolves we encountered, I’m glad there are experienced hunters out here, especially if the people inside are fool enough to try and head back to where we came from.
ARTHUR: I don’t know, but a warm fire and a hot meal sound dreamy.
(He opens the door and walks inside. There’s the murmur of conversation at the bar. As Arthur enters, it all falls quiet. Wooden furniture creaks. Someone coughs awkwardly.)
YELLOW: There are close to thirty men in here. Large men, most in cold-weather clothes. Some wearing suit jackets, though the elbows are worn through. The floor is covered in salt and sawdust. These men all have dark facial hair, it’s as if they’re all related. And every. Single. One of them is staring at us.
ARTHUR: I… Uh.
YELLOW: Say something!
ARTHUR (awkwardly): Uh. E-Evening… Evening.
YELLOW: Move to the bar. It’s to your left, up a few steps.
(Arthur walks forward.)
YELLOW: Be careful of the table to your –
(He bumps into a table, rattling the dishware on it. A man grunts at him.)
ARTHUR: So sorry. So sorry. Sorry.
YELLOW: Keep going. This is the bar. There’s a man: a strange-looking man standing opposite you behind the bar. His face is long, and his jaw sticks out as if it’s been broken many times and was never set properly.
BARTENDER (unfriendly): What’re you doing here? (He breathes heavily.)
ARTHUR (uncomfortable): I, I-I’m – I'm sorry.
YELLOW: Arthur, everyone is still staring at you.
ARTHUR: I –
YELLOW (growling): Order something!
ARTHUR: Blood! Um, out in the snow. Out in the woods, uh. (YELLOW (disapproving): Jesus fucking Christ, Arthur.) (He clears his throat) Blood, it. I, um. I-I was, I was set-set upon by wolves, but uh… but I-I saw a lantern. S-Someone f-fell. I-I think someone may be lost or-or-or-or-or hurt out there.
YELLOW: The bartender is staring at you blankly. Expressionless.
ARTHUR: S-Should we…? Uh, d-d-did you…
BARTENDER: Order something. (He breathes heavily.)
ARTHUR: P… p-pardon?
YELLOW: Order a drink, Arthur.
ARTHUR: Uh. Just, a-a-anything. A water would be…?
YELLOW (angrier): Order a drink, Arthur!
ARTHUR: A pint, or whatever you have.
YELLOW: Jesus Christ. He’s stepped away.
ARTHUR: Oh, thank god.
(The conversation resumes.)
YELLOW: I think they’ve stopped watching you for the time.
ARTHUR (quietly): What the fuck is wrong with this place?
YELLOW: I don’t know. Everyone looks at –
(A glass slams down on the wooden counter.)
ARTHUR: Oh. T-thank you.
BARTENDER: Five cents.
ARTHUR: Of course. (Arthur jostles some change in his palm.)
BARTENDER: Ten cents.
YELLOW: He just said five, and then he changed it when he saw your money, Arthur. Don’t leave –
ARTHUR: Here’s twenty cents, a-and I’ll start a tab.
YELLOW: He’s staring at you. He’s wearing a dirty, striped linen dress shirt and suspenders that look about to break. His chin has thin gray hairs on it that hang down. His eyes have a brownish-orange hue, and his pupils seem –
ARTHUR: Thank you.
(He shifts away from the counter.)
YELLOW: Turn back! I was studying his face!
(Arthur hums under his breath.)
YELLOW (petulant): Turn back, Arthur! Stop ignoring me.
ARTHUR (almost inaudibly): I don’t want to put our back to this bar. (He clears his throat.)
ARTHUR: And I don’t want to be seen talking to myself. (He clears his throat, slightly more aggressively, and takes a drink. Arthur coughs it up and spits it out. A few men around him laugh.)
ARTHUR: What is this?
YELLOW: I don’t know. It looks like murky water.
ARTHUR (hoarse): Oh god. It-it tastes like motor oil and salt. Jesus fucking Christ. (He spits.)
YELLOW: Arthur! The people are looking again, just drink it!
YELLOW: Drink it!
(Arthur inhales deeply and takes a few gulps.)
ARTHUR: Oh, god. What was in that?
YELLOW: Just calm yourself.
YELLOW: Looks like the bar has settled. There’s a large mounted wolf's head over the fireplace. (Yellow’s voice starts to grow muffled as the sound of high-pitched ringing grows louder, accompanied by strange, unintelligible whispering.) The fireplace looks like it’s made of black stone, or maybe soot-covered stone. I’m not sure from over here. There’s also a number of horns hung on the far wall. I think some of the patrons may be using them as hooks.
ARTHUR (woozy): Mm.
YELLOW (still going in and out): Along the wall of the bar, there are a few pictures of some sort. I can’t see them clearly from here, but they look like they might be newspaper clippings.
ARTHUR (distracted): Okay, okay okay okay.
YELLOW: Also, there’s a piano along the wall of the bar.
ARTHUR (louder, snapping): A piano?
YELLOW: Yes, quiet your voice!
ARTHUR (breathless): Sorry. I don’t feel good. I feel – feel a little strange, I –
BAR PATRON: Piano!
YELLOW: Someone heard you.
(As some repeat ‘piano’, there’s the creaking of wood furniture as people turn around to stare. They all murmur together, growing disgruntled.)
ARTHUR: Oh, no no no, I-I don’t want to play, I –
YELLOW: You play piano?
ARTHUR: Yes, of course! Yes, I – b-but I don’t want to, I – I can’t –
YELLOW: I don’t think they mean you.
(Everyone falls quiet in the tavern. Someone gets up from their chair.)
YELLOW: I don’t know. It seems like someone is getting up from one of the tables. A thin, older man with a wiry frame and a loose-fitting suit is approaching the piano.
(He walks over. The piano bench squeaks as he sits on it.)
YELLOW: He’s sitting down.
(The man mashes the keys at random, discordant, eerie, and unsettling. Eventually, it focuses on a slow, ominous dirge. In slow rhythm, people bang their fists on the table.)
YELLOW: They’ve all started banging their tables. (Wooden furniture scrapes across the floor.) A few of them are getting up.
ARTHUR: What are they doing?
(The tune melodizes into an eerie, discordant jig. The stomping and pounding continues.)
YELLOW: They’re… dancing.
YELLOW: I suppose. They’re rocking back and forth on their heels. Their arms are out to their sides. It’s a facsimile of a dance. Even the bartender is rocking back and forth.
(Arthur laughs, sounding giddy.)
YELLOW: What are you doing?
(Arthur continues to laugh, as it grows into a cackle.)
YELLOW: Shut up! They’re looking at you.
(The jig quiets. The pounding noises stop, along with a few more piano key mashes.)
ARTHUR (panting): S-Sorry, sorry. What – what did – what did they serve me?
YELLOW: What was what?
ARTHUR: Did they – did they poison me?
YELLOW: What? No! Shut up.
ARTHUR (babbling, amidst piano mashes): I’ve been poisoned. I need to lie down. I need, I need a bed, I need a place to sleep, I need…
YELLOW (snapping): Arthur, snap out of it!
ARTHUR (ears ringing): I need a bed, I need to – I need to lie down, I –
YELLOW: You’re fine!
BARTENDER: The room above is vacant. A dollar for the room and a bath.
(The piano music comes to a close and the bar applauds.)
YELLOW: Do not sleep here!
ARTHUR: Is there anywhere else in town?
BARTENDER: This is the town.
ARTHUR: I’ll freeze to death outside. I’m sure of it.
(The normal tavern conversation resumes.)
YELLOW: Arthur! We cannot sleep here!
ARTHUR: I – Yes, yes. I-I’ll take the room.
BARTENDER (voice slightly distorted): Up the stairs. Last door on the left.
YELLOW: You idiot!
ARTHUR: Shut up! I don’t feel well.
BARTENDER: Did you just tell me to shut up?
ARTHUR: No, no, sorry, I–
(The bartender growls in anger.)
YELLOW: The key is on the bar, to the right of you.
ARTHUR: Yes, yeah.
(Arthur knocks a glass over, spilling it on the floor. Another patron growls at him.)
ARTHUR: Sorry! Sorry.
YELLOW: You’ve just knocked over someone's drink, Arthur! (PATRON (growling): Fucking tourist!) There! The key. Move before you manage to piss off everyone in the bar.
(Arthur walks, ears still ringing.)
ARTHUR: Ugh, I feel terrible. What did I drink?
YELLOW: The stairs are to your left. More. More!
(Groaning, Arthur slowly starts to ascend.)
YELLOW: God damn it, you fucking human. People are watching you. Just keep it together; we’re almost there.
ARTHUR: Where is…?
YELLOW: Almost at the top. Here, turn!
ARTHUR: Oh, oh –
YELLOW: There’s a man in the hallway; stick to the right.
MAN (scratchy): Evening.
ARTHUR (weakly): Evening! Evening.
YELLOW: It’s a tall, heavy-set man who looks like the people downstairs: black hair, a heavy brow. Just stay to the right.
ARTHUR: Thank you.
MAN: For what?
ARTHUR: Sorry, I mean. (He finds his words.) Where… where are we?
MAN: What do you mean?
YELLOW: Just go to your room!
ARTHUR: What town is this?
ARTHUR: Addison? (Abruptly, Arthur vomits.)
MAN: What the fuck!
YELLOW (disappointed): God damn it.
MAN: You fucking piece of shit!
ARTHUR: Oh my god, I am so sorry. I am so sorry.
MAN: You idiot! Get the fuck away from me.
YELLOW: Move, you idiot. Last door on the left.
(Arthur continues to walk.)
(He grunts in frustration as he tries the lock.)
YELLOW: The key!
ARTHUR: Right, right.
(Arthur unlocks the door and walks in. His ears are still ringing.)
YELLOW (exasperated): It’s a small, simple room with a wash basin and a bed.
YELLOW: To the right.
(Arthur walks over, splashing some water.)
YELLOW: Yes, splash some water on your fucking face.
(Arthur does so.)
ARTHUR: Ugh, what?
YELLOW: Your face. I hadn’t seen your face.
ARTHUR: Let me guess: The cold, calculated demeanor of –
YELLOW: You have vomit all in your beard.
ARTHUR (surprised): What?
YELLOW: Lock the door. If we’re going to stay here, I’d rather try to stay alive at least through the night.
(Arthur walks to the door and slides the lock shut.)
ARTHUR: Where’s the bed?
YELLOW: The far end of the room.
(He falls onto the bed, creaking the bedsprings. He groans at the impact.)
ARTHUR (dully): The room is spinning.
YELLOW: This is embarrassing.
ARTHUR: Distract me.
ARTHUR: I can’t focus on anything. I feel the room moving. I… I can’t keep my mind still. (He sniffs.) Distract me.
YELLOW: Distract you with what, Arthur? I’m not a fucking radio.
ARTHUR: I’m going to vomit.
YELLOW: Good. Whatever’s in you needs to come out.
ARTHUR: Just tell me something!
YELLOW (growling): Fine! I find you humans frustrating. I find you petulant, disgusting creatures that don't know –
ARTHUR: Shut up.
YELLOW (fed up): What do you want from me!
(Arthur moans softly. Yellow sighs.)
YELLOW: I… appreciate the life I saw. I… am at a loss for words.
(Thoughtful music plays.)
YELLOW: The bar, Arthur, the people. Dancing. It was…
YELLOW: Yes. But also… interesting.
ARTHUR: What do you mean?
YELLOW: I don’t know. To see people again, to watch them move without reason. Where I came from before… there was nothing. No sense of life or belonging. To see people move for no reason, to express…
ARTHUR: To express?
YELLOW (agreeing): Yes, to express themselves. The music was…
ARTHUR: You like music?
YELLOW: What? I don’t know. Sure.
ARTHUR: I played music.
YELLOW: Yes, you said.
ARTHUR: No, I – I played music.
YELLOW: I don’t care, Arthur.
ARTHUR: I know, I know. But I can hope that you will.
(A more hopeful, slower tune starts to play. Arthur occasionally rustles in the bed.)
YELLOW: Humans put so much stock in hope. Hoping for a greater outcome, hoping for a better result, hoping for a brighter tomorrow. You waste away the hours, waste away your lives. Watch as the sea beds dry up, as hope takes the water away from you. Hope is unique to you and your kind. Even animals know that hope is a wasted feeling. It's why you’re so weak.
ARTHUR: You’re wrong.
YELLOW: Animals hope?
ARTHUR: You’re wrong that it’s what makes us weak. Hope is what gives us strength. It’s what gave him strength.
YELLOW: You don’t know what strength is. You have no comparison to what true power is.
ARTHUR: That’s not strength. It’s about not giving up, about having the will to press on.
YELLOW: Will that you believe you have.
ARTHUR: I know I do!
(Faroe’s Song starts to play as Arthur recites. Occasionally, the bed squeaks.)
‘Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.’
YELLOW: What is that?
ARTHUR: A poem.
YELLOW: You wrote it?
ARTHUR (yawning): No. Someone much more human than I.
YELLOW: Why did you share that?
ARTHUR: Because… it’s beautiful. It makes me feel strong. It makes me… feel. (He sighs.) Doesn't it make you?
YELLOW (uncertain): I suppose.
ARTHUR: I feel so sick. I ca…
YELLOW: Sleep it off.
(He yawns again.)
YELLOW: This too shall pass.
(END Part 21.)