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Annotated Script: Alba Salix Season 1, Episode 1

It’s hard to believe, but we recorded the pilot episode of Alba in 2011. That’s three years before we got the rest of the series recorded and released the whole thing to the world. By the time we recorded Episode 6, two of our actors had had a baby, and that baby was already walking and talking.

As with most pilots, this one’s a bit rough around the edges. For one thing, there are more characters than I’d ever try to introduce in an episode now. If it works at all without being too confusing, I suspect it’s because I leaned on a lot of familiar fairy‐tale tropes. And there were other issues with the way I directed it, but we’ll get to that.

All in all, though, I’m proud of it, particularly the production work, and our actors did a splendid job. We hope you enjoy it too.

You can listen to the episode here. Or read on for the original recording script, complete with deleted scenes and lines, plus commentary on the writing and production. We’re releasing annotated scripts as a reward for our supporters on Patreon, but this first one’s available to all!

—Eli


Alba Salix, Royal Physician
Season 1, Episode 1: Well Met

SCENE 1—PALACE CHAMBERS, MORNING

PARABEL

Good morning, Millie.

MILLIE

Good morning to you, Your Majesty. Tea?

PARABEL

Yes, please.

MILLIE

Beautiful day out today.

PARABEL

The girls are off to their riding lessons?

MILLIE

Yes… though it took a bit of doing. Willemina is still unhappy they don’t have unicorns.

PARABEL

Well, Mummy and Daddy can’t afford unicorns this year.

For Season One, I had vague ideas that this might be aired on the radio, and so I kept the running time to a precise 28 minutes. The first episode ran far longer, so many things had to be cut—usually but not always for the better.

MILLIE

I tried to explain, but she just started screaming.

PARABEL

She’ll be wanting one with wings next.

MILLIE

(to herself)

Like mother, like daughter…

PARABEL

Where is Gunther, anyway?

MILLIE

His Majesty’s still in bed, I think.

SOUND: Wooden door opens

SOUND: Soft hissing

My first cameo! As three dozen snakes.

GUNTHER

(emerging, sleepy)

No, not in bed. I’m awake.

(yawns)

Or almost awake. I swear, it must be something in that tonic Alba gave me for my…

I spent a while flinging around some old cookie tins in the basement for this cue.

SOUND: Tea service crashes to the floor

MILLIE

(horrified)

Oh, my word! Your Majesty!

PARABEL

Millie… oh, do take better care. Look what you’ve—

(screams)

Gunther!

GUNTHER

What? Parabel, what’s the matter?

PARABEL

Your hair! Gunther!

GUNTHER

What about my hair?

PARABEL

It’s—it’s all snakes! Look in the mirror!

SOUND: Snakelike hissing grows louder and louder

GUNTHER

Oh, for heaven’s sake. Get Alba in here!

MUSIC: OPENING THEME

HERALD

By appointment to the King and Queen: Alba Salix, Royal Physician! Episode the First: Well Met.

SCENE 2—HOUSE OF HEALING

SOUND: Quiet bubbling, stirring

SOUND: Book page being turned

ALBA

(mumbling)

Grind and add seven leaves dried catnip. Is that per dose, or the whole cauldron?

SOUND: Door opens

JEROME

Alba!

ALBA

Hi Jerome.

JEROME

I wonder if you could help me out.

ALBA

(barely paying attention)

I’m a bit busy this afternoon…

JEROME

Oh, I understand. This won’t take long… I’ve just been having a touch of the old rheumatism again.

ALBA

(sighs)

Mm hmm.

JEROME

I was wondering if there was anything you’d recommend for it.

ALBA

The copper bracelet not working any more?

JEROME

Nope. Tried copper rings and a copper neck brace too, but it’s just not doing the trick. I was wondering, since you’re so good with potions and all, if you could mix up something.

ALBA

I’ve got three prescriptions to fill right now, Jerome.

JEROME

Not to worry, I can wait.

The sound of hooves here is made with a couple of wooden salad bowls knocked together.

SOUND: Door opens, shuts

SOUND: Hooves clop in, then desk bell rings

ALBA

Excuse me a moment.

(to new patient)

Yes, can I help you?

VALTAR

Yes, I needs must see someone about my back.

ALBA

You’re in luck… our visiting chiropractor, Balthig the Ogre is in today. Have you seen him before?

And here’s Julian, in a rare cameo as someone other than Magnus.

VALTAR

No, I have not.

SOUND: Clipboard

ALBA

All right. You’ll need to fill out this patient information form.

VALTAR

(moving off)

Certainly.

SOUND: Hooves clop

JEROME

Boy, a centaur. Don’t get many of them around, eh?

ALBA

(distracted)

No, we don’t.

JEROME

Tall fella, he is.

ALBA

He certainly is.

JEROME

So, you coming to the Palace tonight?

ALBA

The Palace?

JEROME

To see the show. The Dragon Mountain Monks are in town to form astonishing feats of acrobatics and martial arts!

ALBA

Nah, not interested. I really don’t need to see a bunch of bald weirdos jumping around and chopping firewood with their hands.

JEROME

But Alba! They’re doing the Great Sword Dance. The Monks only perform it publicly every eight years.

ALBA

Yes. Very exciting. Seen it.

SOUND: Hooves approach

VALTAR

(wandering up)

Hold on, what’s this about a consultation fee?

ALBA

I’m afraid chiropractic isn’t covered for centaurs.

VALTAR

How is that fair?

ALBA

You’ve got twice the vertebrae and two ribcages.

VALTAR

It’s discrimination!

ALBA

I don’t set the prices. Take it up with Balthig. He’s right through there.

VALTAR

(wandering away again)

I believe I will.

SOUND: Hooves recede, interior door opens and shuts

ALBA

Where was I… one pennyweight of powdered parchment leaf. Bring to a boil…

SOUND: Stirring

SOUND: Door opens, shuts

Alba was pretty strait‐laced to begin with, but she started to come to life when I gave her some pranks to pull on her clients.

KID

(running in)

Albaaa! I have the hic hiccups!

ALBA

Do you really.

KID

They’re terrible awful. How do I hic make them stop?

ALBA

That’s easy. Just stand on one foot… no, the left one. That’s it. Now, give me your hand, and put out your pinky finger…

KID

Like hic that?

ALBA

Just like that. Good. Now, hand me that big pair of shears.

KID

These she—hic—shears here?

SOUND: Slight clatter of shears, and the soft noise of the blades opening

ALBA

Hold still now… keep that finger out nice and straight…

KID

No, wait wait wait!

ALBA

What is it?

KID

They’re gone! The hiccups! They’re all gone!

ALBA

Are they? Well, that’s a relief. I guess you get to keep your finger then.

KID

Whew!

ALBA

But if you ever have bad hiccups again, you just come and talk to me. Okay?

KID

O—hic—okay.

ALBA

You sure they’re gone?

KID

Totally gone! Um, th‐thanks Alba!

ALBA

Don’t mention it.

The sound of Valtar the centaur getting a chiropractic treatment was created by banging a couple of horse‐vertebra‐sized rocks together. Actual centaur bones are surrounded by more centaur, which tends to dampen vibrations and dull the sound, which I simulated by wrapping the rocks in cloth. I strung together about five impacts to make a fairly convincing crunch.

SOUND: Door opens, shuts

SOUND: Distant crunch

VALTAR

(from the other room)

Aaaaa!

BALTHIG

(from the other room)

Now other side, please.

JEROME

That was sure lucky, wasn’t it?

ALBA

Are you still here?

JEROME

If those hiccups hadn’t stopped, he would have been down a finger.

ALBA

Yes, he would.

SOUND: Another crunch

VALTAR

Aaaa!

JEROME

Supposed to rain again tomorrow, I heard. And the day after that. I dunno how they tell. D’you know how they tell? Being a witch and all?

ALBA

Jerome. I’m supposed to cure the ills of an entire kingdom here, and you are wasting my time. All you people are wasting my time.

JEROME

Oh. Well… so, about my rheumatism…

ALBA

Yes. Yes, you’re right. Sorry. Here. Take this. Drink a mouthful with every meal. Don’t bug me any more.

JEROME

Oh! Well, thank you kindly then. And this will work?

ALBA

Absolutely. Guaranteed to get rid of constant ongoing pains.

SOUND: Door opens, shuts

HERALD

(entering)

Miss Alba Salix.

ALBA

(ready to snap)

Yes.

HERALD

His Majesty the King requests your presence at the Palace.

At this point in the post‐production, I was stumped. I’d written Alba brewing potions at the reception desk, for a start. Here, I wanted a little something to indicate that she was packing up to leave, so would she extinguish the fire? In fact, what was heating the cauldron? I went with the sound of a gas stove being shut off. Maybe it’s some kind of magical Bunsen burner.

ALBA

Oh?

HERALD

’Tis a matter of some secrecy, he says, and most urgent.

ALBA

Now what?

(sighs, then, leaving)

Tell him I’m on my way.

JEROME

Bye, Alba. Thank you!

SOUND: Door opens, shuts

SOUND: Crunch

VALTAR

Aaaaaa!

SOUND: Interior door opens

SOUND: Hooves, unsteady

BALTHIG

All done.

VALTAR

(winded)

Yes, thank you, that’s much better.

BALTHIG

You pay now.

VALTAR

Yes, yes of course… Very, uh, very reasonable rates indeed.

SOUND: Largish bag of coins handed over

BALTHIG

Remember stretching. Take care bye bye.

SCENE 3—PALACE

HERALD

Miss Alba Salix to see you, Majesty.

GUNTHER

Show her in. Hello, Alba.

SOUND: Door closes

ALBA

Hi Gunther… did you try out that hair tonic I gave you?

GUNTHER

Yes, about that.

ALBA

What’s the towel for?

(proudly)

Washing your new head of hair, were you?

GUNTHER

Look.

SOUND: Hissing and slithering

GUNTHER (CONT’D)

Notice anything different?

ALBA

Oh, um… well, yes, you have a lovely full head of, um…

GUNTHER

Snakes.

ALBA

That’s the word I was looking for. How did this happen?

GUNTHER

Clearly a result of your little tonic.

ALBA

Clearly not! There’s no way it could have caused anything like this…

(to herself)

Unless there was medusa weed in the mixture and I certainly didn’t have any of that…

(to GUNTHER)

Can I have that bottle back?

GUNTHER

By all means.

GUNTHER

Alba, what am I supposed to do now?

I’m still quite pleased with “Gorgon chic”.

ALBA

Well, the… uh, serpentine look is very in this year. Gorgon chic, they’re calling it.

GUNTHER

I will not live with snakes on my head. What if one of them bites me?

ALBA

Oh, they’re only garter snakes. They’re quite harmless.

GUNTHER

Parabel won’t come near me. I can’t go out in public like this!

ALBA

(sighs)

Well, let me see about… detaching them.

GUNTHER

I was looking forward to the Dragon Mountain Monks show this evening, too. The Great Sword Dance! And now I can’t even be seen in public.

ALBA

Well, you’ll be seen, I imagine…

GUNTHER

Along with my unexpected collection of snakes.

ALBA

Yes. Sorry, Your Majesty. I’ll see what I can do.

GUNTHER

And what am I supposed to do in the meantime?

ALBA

I’d keep the towel on. Snakes like the warmth.

SCENE 4—PALACE GROUNDS

And here we have the troublesome Monks. If you first downloaded this episode before 2017, you’ll remember what I mean…

I’ve blended a bunch of cultures in my worldbuilding, and when I made Magnus a wannabe martial artist, I was thinking of the Frantics’ classic sketch “Ti Kwan Leep”, and a bit of the inexplicable Scottish monks in the Doctor Who episode “Tooth and Claw”. Being half‐Scottish and half‐Japanese myself, I’d originally intended to play Laing, and chose his name to be ambiguous—it could as easily be Scottish as Chinese.

On the day of recording, however, we realized that I was spreading myself too thin, and got John to double up. And then, worried that his voice would be too recognizable so soon after hearing Jerome, I asked him to do an accent. “You really want me to do the Asian Cookie Monster voice?” he asked, slightly nervous. “Yeah, it’ll be funny.” “Ooookay then…”

I really should have listened. It bugged us long, long after the episode dropped. Finally, some years after the show premiered, we spent a bit of money to get John back in the studio and re‐recorded his lines in his own accent—to everyone’s relief. We also took the time to restore a few lines that got cut for time in the original.

Yup, “exotic”. DANGER WOOP WOOP DANGER

MUSIC: Exotic lute and cymbals, distant

SOUND: Rhythmically rustling robes, dozens of bare feet stamping

MONKS

(in the distance, synchronized)

Hyaaaaa—foo! Hai!

LAING

Good work, brothers. Let us take fifteen before we rehearse the second half.

MONK

Yes, Father.

Enter Magnus. We had a Magnus before Magnuses were cool. Nyaah.

MAGNUS

Father Laing! Can I show you my moves now?

LAING

Not now, Brother Magnus.

MAGNUS

But you promised to let me show you. I’ve been working hard!

LAING

Magnus…

MAGNUS

Please. I want to be a warrior‐monk.

LAING

I’ve told you before, you are young still, and have not the proper energy and attitude to pursue the art of combat.

MAGNUS

But I wanna learn to kick through walls and kill people with just my eyelids. Why the hell else would I join your stupid order?

SOUND: Smack

MAGNUS (CONT’D)

Ow! I mean why the heck.

LAING

You only prove my point.

MAGNUS

Okay, sorry, I renounce all worldly things and I promise to use my powers for good and I don’t have an ego and stuff. Can I be a warrior monk now?

LAING

Magnus, your skills lie in other areas. You have it in you to be an excellent healer.

MAGNUS

Stupid healing. Can’t you teach me, like, one secret pressure point? Like that one that makes your ribcage explode?

SOUND: Big door creaks, distant, and booted footsteps

LAING

Hush, boy.

(calling)

Miss Salix? Excuse me, are you Miss Alba Salix?

ALBA

(approaching)

That’s me.

LAING

A pleasure. I am Father Laing of the Order of Dragon Mountain.

ALBA

Nice to meet you. Look, is this going to take long? I’ve got an important matter to attend to on behalf of His Majesty—

LAING

I understand you are the head of the new House of Healing, and as such I wonder if you might have a place for a young man who shows great potential as a surgeon.

ALBA

A surgeon?

LAING

Yes. Permit me to introduce Brother Magnus.

MAGNUS

Are you a witch?

LAING

Magnus, this is Miss Alba Salix, the Royal Physician.

Magnus wasn’t originally so sexist, but I needed him to be annoying enough that Alba might plausibly (spoilers!) want to kill him later. My headcanon is that living among monks gave him some weird ideas about women.

MAGNUS

A woman physician? You gotta be kidding.

ALBA

An apprentice? This kid?

MAGNUS

I’m not a kid. I’m seventeen. And I know martial arts.

ALBA

I can’t say he sounds of much use to anyone, let alone me.

LAING

He does have some skill, and he’s… got great potential.

ALBA

I don’t need any assistance.

MAGNUS

You heard the witch.

ALBA

I certainly don’t need him. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some herbs to gather.

SCENE 5—PALACE

SOUND: muffled hissing throughout

PARABEL

Gunther?

GUNTHER

Yes, Parabel.

PARABEL

Did Alba get rid of the snakes?

GUNTHER

No, dear. She’s working on it. Though I may as well give in and get Krankel in here to have a look.

PARABEL

You said you weren’t going to ask him.

GUNTHER

Well, what choice do I have?

PARABEL

Well… maybe I can help?

GUNTHER

(skeptical)

What do you propose to do, dear?

PARABEL

Well, you know how I have mystical powers too…

GUNTHER

Yes…

PARABEL

I am Alba’s sister, remember.

Third daughter. What the heck, Last‐Minute Me??

PARABEL

The third sister…

GUNTHER

…of a third sister.

PARABEL

Uh huh!

GUNTHER

Do you know any snake‐removal spells?

PARABEL

Well, not spells… I haven’t studied the way Alba has, of course, but if I concentrate, and picture you in my mind without the snakes…

GUNTHER

Yes?

PARABEL

(nervously)

And then, um… if I kiss you…

GUNTHER

You’ll have to come a bit closer for that, dear.

PARABEL

Uh huh!

(braces herself, then kisses him)

…Anything?

GUNTHER

Not yet.

PARABEL

(disappointed)

Kissing always works.

A hint of their backstory here… but it just seemed kind of confusing.

GUNTHER

It was worth a try.

PARABEL

I mean, we wouldn’t be standing here, either of us, if it weren’t for me kissing you…

GUNTHER

Perhaps if you were to kiss each snake individually?

PARABEL

(squeamish)

Nnnghh…

GUNTHER

Go ahead.

SOUND: Towel unwrapped, louder hissing

PARABEL

All right, here we go. Nghh…!

(tries mightily… then gives in)

Okay, you’d better summon Krankel.

SCENE 6—MEADOW

In an old, old draft of this episode, Holly arrived at the House of Healing inside a crate of herbs, having fallen asleep while packing it. But flitting about a meadow seemed more her speed.

SOUND: Birdsongs and other forest noises. Humming wings, like a dragonfly’s, zoom all about, and so does the voice of…

HOLLY

(singing)

Good morning, meadow, good day! You’re the loveliest meadow of all, I dare say…

(fading into the distance)

Hello, Mister Hedgehog! Hello, Bumblebees! Hello, daisies and blackbirds and sycamore trees…

SOUND: Footsteps through underbrush

ALBA

(approaching, from the other direction)

Snakeweed. Why can’t I find any snakeweed?

HOLLY

(approaching at top speed, still singing)

Swallowtail butterflies, grasshoppers too…

SOUND: Holly zooms in; thump of impact and crashing of bushes, clattering of bottles

ALBA

Augh!

HOLLY

Ooof!

(picking herself up)

Oh, I’m so sorry! I didn’t see you there. Hello, strange witch I’ve never met before!

ALBA

(winded)

Why don’t you watch where you’re flying?!

HOLLY

Here, let me help you with your basket… My name’s Holly, by the way.

ALBA

Bloody fairies!

HOLLY

I said I was sorry. Yeesh!

ALBA

Look, I can manage my basket just fine.

HOLLY

Oh, choke cherries. Are you making a liver tonic?

ALBA

No.

HOLLY

A poultice?

ALBA

No.

HOLLY

A charm against thieves?

ALBA

No, it’s for removing snakes from someone’s—who the hell are you, anyway?

HOLLY

Snakes? Ohh! Choke cherry doesn’t remove snakes, that’s just an old wives’ tale. Sorry! Didn’t mean it like that—being that you are, you know… um…

ALBA

An old wife?

HOLLY

I didn’t mean it like that…

ALBA

I’m neither, thank you very much. Now excuse me.

Holly’s wings are so expressive that there was no way a purchased effect would do the trick. To get the right sound I tried fluttering paper, cardboard, plastic bags, and all sorts of cloth. In the end, it’s the sound of a synthetic‐cotton blend shirt being frantically flapped about, then sped up by about a third.

SOUND: Footsteps, followed a few seconds later by humming wings

HOLLY

You know what’s better for removing snakes, is silverbark.

ALBA

Did I ask?

HOLLY

(miffed)

It seemed like the best way to help you out. You know, to make amends for bumping into you and calling you an old wife—

ALBA

That’s very kind. I don’t need your help.

HOLLY

(flying away)

Fine!

(catches herself, and returns)

But really, you should try the silverbark. There’s a stand of it right over there.

ALBA

All the books I’ve ever read say choke cherry.

HOLLY

Who are you going to believe? A bunch of books, or an expert herbalist?

ALBA

Expert? You? You can’t even fly straight.

HOLLY

Well, that’s probably just the rainbow‐cap angel mushrooms I was trying earlier. Seems like they mess with my sense of direction. I should make a note of that…

ALBA

Uh huh.

HOLLY

It’s my big research project, see. I’ve been working my way through the native fungi of Farlora, to find out their effects on fairy physiology.

ALBA

And suddenly all is explained.

HOLLY

Can’t I at least carry your basket or something?

ALBA

No thank you.

SOUND: Wings

HOLLY

Please? I need to do you a good deed to set things right. It’s what we fairies do. Here, let me. Let me!

ALBA

No! Let go, you. Don’t make me smack you!

HOLLY

It’s really nothing! I can always—

SOUND: Crack of wicker, crashing and clinking

HOLLY (CONT’D)

Oops.

(flying away)

Sorry sorry sorry!

SOUND: Wings receding, followed by a thrown bottle, which smashes

ALBA

Bloody fairies!

SCENE 7—PALACE

HERALD

The Sorceror General and his executive assistant to see you, Majesty.

GUNTHER

Ah, Krankel.

KRANKEL

Your Majesty.

Jade? Who?

JADE

Your Majesty.

GUNTHER

Do you know anything about snakes? Removing them, I mean?

KRANKEL

Are they getting into the palace gardens again?

GUNTHER

No. They’re on my head.

SOUND: Towel, hissing snakes

Yes, Krankel originally had his own sarcastic intern, mostly so he could have someone to explain his plans to. But we already had too many characters, and the episode was running long, so out she went—after we had recorded it.

JADE

Wow.

KRANKEL

Oh dear. And how did this come about? Let me guess—was it perhaps that “physician” of yours?

GUNTHER

It was supposed to be a hair tonic…

KRANKEL

Oh dear me. How terrible.

GUNTHER

Is there anything you can do?

KRANKEL

Mmm. It’s a tricky business, this. Do you have any more of the tonic, so‐called?

GUNTHER

Alba took the rest of the bottle.

KRANKEL

Hmm. Without being able to perform an analysis on this preparation, I will require more time to formulate a suitable remedy. Jade, please record the number of snakes and their identifying markings.

JADE

Sir.

GUNTHER

I hope you’re enjoying yourself, Krankel.

KRANKEL

Not at all, Majesty. But I did warn you, if I recall.

I think it’s funnier with Krankel poking at the King’s snakes.

GUNTHER

Yes, yes. Stop poking at my snakes.

JADE

Sorry.

KRANKEL

With respect, Majesty, it is a consequence of allowing, if I may be so bold, a self‐taught hedge witch to minister to the health of yourself and the kingdom at large…

GUNTHER

Thank you, Mister Krankel.

KRANKEL

Doctor Kra—

GUNTHER

Doctor Krankel. Just look for a remedy, please.

KRANKEL

(leaving)

Of course, Majesty.

CROSSFADE TO:

SCENE 8—PALACE CORRIDOR, CONTINUOUS

SOUND: Door shuts

KRANKEL

I think that went rather well.

Thankfully, Jade was played by Marisa, who also plays Parabel, so it’s not like we tossed out an actor’s entire contribution. Marisa stepped up to play Jade when the original actor wasn’t available—and was cool with the cut, bless her.

JADE

You do? Do you have any idea what the remedy is?

SOUND: Small vial of liquid, shaken

KRANKEL

Already prepared. A simple preparation of wormwood and operatic acid.

JADE

You already have it made? Why didn’t you give it to the King?

KRANKEL

Do keep your voice down. My dear young Jade. Magic is an art, healing magic even more so, and the subtle nuances—

JADE

(tired of this speech)

Nuances, details, blah blah. Why?

KRANKEL

In curing a patient, especially a king, it is often wisest not to solve their problem too quickly.

JADE

Wait… This is about Alba Salix, isn’t it? You’re still mad about the new House of Healing.

KRANKEL

Nonsense.

JADE

The Alchemy Bureau used to look after the sick until the Royal Physician took over and you’re trying to show her up.

KRANKEL

Jade, I really don’t know where you get these ideas.

JADE

You put something in the tonic of hers, didn’t you?

So it was all a plot! I’d totally forgotten about this detail by the time we got to later episodes.

KRANKEL

Absolutely not.

(then, smugly)

I performed a small but rather clever enchantment on his crown. And now, let us return to the office and relax for an hour or two, before saving the day at the last possible moment.

SCENE 9—HOUSE OF HEALING

SOUND: Bubbling and fizzing, spoon stirring metal pot

ALBA

…Two parts tincture of rosehip to three parts dragon scale oil. Reduce heat and add three leaves of cow parsnip… drat.

SOUND: Spoon set down

SOUND: Door creaks open

ALBA (CONT’D)

You!

HOLLY

I have wronged you, Miss Alba Salix, and now I must—

ALBA

What are you doing in my pantry?

HOLLY

I must do three good deeds for you to set things right. Look! I brought you a new basket.

ALBA

How did you get in?

HOLLY

Um… through the window.

ALBA

Oh gods…

HOLLY

Yeah, sorry about that, by the way. I already swept up though, and I can put up a bit of wood or something.

ALBA

You broke my window!

HOLLY

I know! I’m sorry! I’ll fix it. Okay, so that’s four good deeds. But look, I’ve been sorting your pantry. Look!

Ivar is an Ikea shelving system. I haven’t done much with Farlorian gods lately—but we’ve got some troll ones in The Axe & Crown.

ALBA

You’ve been… Oh, great Ivar, what have you done? I had everything filed away…

HOLLY

It was a crazy jumble! I don’t know how you could ever find anything.

ALBA

There’s a system! I had a system. And now I’ve got about two minutes to come up with a potion for the King!

(sighs)

Cow parsnip… cow parsnip… look at this! They’re not even in alphabetical order.

Almost all the plants named are real, even the more fanciful‐sounding ones. Silverbark is the only exception that I can recall. Only on future episodes did I think to start inventing funnier‐sounding plants.

HOLLY

No, see! Alphabetical doesn’t make sense. I mean, if you’re looking for cow parsnip, is that under C for cow or P for parsnip or H for Heracleum? (hare‐a‐CLEE‐um)

ALBA

You tell me.

HOLLY

Look, I’ve organized them all by their Glade‐Miles Herbal Catalogue Number.

ALBA

Oh gods help me.

HOLLY

This is the eight hundreds, which is everything with a hollow stem… here’s your hemlock, fennel, parsley and look… cow parsnip! You want the greens or the flowers?

ALBA

Give me that!

HOLLY

You’re welcome!

ALBA

And put my shelves back the way they were.

HOLLY

But I have to do a good deed so that we can—

ALBA

Here’s your good deed. Put everything back, and then get out of my pantry.

HOLLY

Geez, okay, okay.

Ah, subtle foreshadowing.

ALBA

If there’s one thing I don’t need, it’s more “help”.

SOUND: Door opens

GUNTHER

(entering)

Alba, for heaven’s sake, I’ve got half an hour before I have to be back at the palace for the Monks’ show!

ALBA

There you are, Gunther! I was just, ah, finishing up the mixture… here. Drink this.

GUNTHER

This will cure my snakes?

ALBA

Absolutely.

ALBA

Here, get that towel off.

SOUND: Towel removed, hissing of snakes

GUNTHER

Thank heavens.

(drinks)

Ugh. How long will it take?

ALBA

It should be instantaneous.

SOUND: Continued hissing

GUNTHER

Is there a particular instant you had in mind?

ALBA

Just give it a minute.

GUNTHER

I don’t feel anything.

HOLLY

(entering)

Hey, Alba, what should I do with this pumpkin extract? Oh hey! You look kind of like the King except with snakes on your head!

GUNTHER

I am the King!

This little exchange was restored when we re‐released the episode. Do fairies not concern themselves with the affairs of humans? Or was Holly simply trying out too many new fungi around coronation time? The answer is yes.

HOLLY

Oh! Well! In that case, hail good King, uh…

ALBA

Gunther.

HOLLY

King Gunther. I like the snakes!

GUNTHER

I don’t!

ALBA

(mutters)

Damn, they’re not shifting…

HOLLY

(quietly)

I told you, silverbark…

ALBA

Well, I don’t have any!

HOLLY

Not to worry. I brought some from the meadow.

SOUND: Rustling leaves, then chopping and clinking

HOLLY (CONT’D)

Look—just grind it up finely, squeeze out the juice into one cup pear cider vinegar…

GUNTHER

Who is this person?

ALBA

Her name’s Holly. She’s… she’s helping out.

GUNTHER

You trust her?

ALBA

She’s an expert herbalist.

(mutters)

So she claims.

SOUND: Stirring, fizzing

HOLLY

You can always trust a fairy. A dash of nutmeg… and here you go.

GUNTHER

And it’ll work this time?

HOLLY

(improvising)

Oh, the one Alba did was just the first course. You need both for it to work.

GUNTHER

(drinking)

Mm, actually not too bad. Oh my word! It’s working.

SOUND: Hissing and slithering, receding

HOLLY

Here, bend down quick.

ALBA

No, no, use the basket! Take them outside.

HOLLY

See? It’s the oils in the silverbark. They help the snakes’ tails grow out and detach from your head.

GUNTHER

Dear me. I’ve never been so glad to be bald.

HOLLY

Bye, little snakes!

ALBA

Great. They’re all going under the furniture…

GUNTHER

That’s the last of them. Thank heavens. I must get back to the Palace. Thank you—Holly, was it?

HOLLY

Any time, your Majesty!

GUNTHER

Alba, I do hope you’re keeping her on.

Fooooreshadowing…

ALBA

(under her breath)

No. I’m holding out for someone even more annoying.

SOUND: Door closes

ALBA (CONT’D)

Rrrr!

HOLLY

What did I tell you?

ALBA

It was the choke cherry. A delayed reaction.

HOLLY

Nuh uh! Was that a good deed or what?

ALBA

And now I have three dozen snakes living in my office.

HOLLY

Oh. Right. I can help with that. Hey… if they sprang from the King’s head, does that make them all princes and princesses?

ALBA

I don’t care. Chuck ’em out.

HOLLY

(to a snake)

Hi cutie. I’m gonna call you Princess Coily… and you, you look like a Tyrone…

ALBA

Holly. The basket.

HOLLY

Yes Ma’am!

SCENE 10—PALACE GROUNDS—STAGE TENT

I should have put drums or bagpipes in the music, too. Perhaps someday we’ll do a special edition…

WALLA: Excited anticipation, applause

MUSIC: Monkish accompaniment, dramatic

HERALD

Your Royal Majesties! Ladies and Gentlemen. We proudly present, from the far Western Reaches, the warrior monks of the Order of Dragon Mountain!

SOUND: Pounding footfalls

MONKS

(kiai/battle yells)

Yah! Hah! Oooo… hah!

(continues under)

GUNTHER

Impressive, aren’t they?

PARABEL

Mmm, I like that one.

GUNTHER

Parabel!

PARABEL

You had your belly dancers last week. Let me have my fun.

GUNTHER

You insisted they wear robes. Look, what do you call that?

They are a bit horrible, aren’t they? But George and Marisa are so loveable that I seem to forgive their characters.

PARABEL

It’s traditional garb.

GUNTHER

It looks drafty.

PARABEL

That’s rich, coming from Mister “Ooo, the Sultan of Svingaliland Has a Harem, Why Can’t I?”

GUNTHER

I didn’t say that.

PARABEL

Oh yes you did.

GUNTHER

Well, I didn’t say it like that.

KRANKEL

Your Majesties.

PARABEL

Krankel!

GUNTHER

What are you doing here?

An unfortunate side effect of Jade’s disappearance from the show was that this plot never had a chance to fly before it trailed off into nothing.

KRANKEL

I have been seeking Your Majesty high and low. I have found a remedy for the snakes that have been plaguing your royal scalp… er… your snakes—what’s happened to them?

GUNTHER

Alba took care of them.

KRANKEL

Did she?

GUNTHER

Well, she and her fairy.

KRANKEL

Which fairy would this be?

GUNTHER

The one who’s been assisting her.

PARABEL

If you please, Mister Krankel…

KRANKEL

Doctor Krankel.

PARABEL

…the show is about to start and you’re being most distracting.

GUNTHER

Indeed.

KRANKEL

Yes, my apologies, Majesties. A good evening to you both.

(leaving, to himself)

A fairy, eh? Hm.

MONKS

(finale)

Wooaaah… HAH!

LAING

Your Majesties. We humbly offer you: the Golden Sunflower Head Slice Technique, demonstrated by Brother Coe and Brother Fang.

WALLA: Applause.

SOUND: Clashing swords

MONKS

Heee‐yah! Hah! Rah!

PARABEL

Ooh, that looks dangerous.

GUNTHER

Nonsense… all those swords are blunted so no one gets hurt.

MONKS

Hyah!

SOUND: Swish, chop and a clattering of lumber

WALLA: Gasps and applause

GUNTHER

On the other hand… perhaps they’re razor sharp and capable of slicing through a six inch plank with one stroke.

MONKS

Hyah!

I didn’t access to a big wooden stage on which to run around barefoot, so this is the sound of me thumping my fist against a guitar case.

SOUND: Running footsteps, frantically whooshing sword blade

MAGNUS

(approaching)

Haaaaaaaaa! Hah! Yah, Hai!

(continues under)

WALLA: Laughter and excited chatter

PARABEL

Who on earth is that?

GUNTHER

That boy’s going to take someone’s head off.

LAING

(furtively, to Magnus)

Brother Magnus, what are you doing?

(aloud)

Your Majesties, I apologize! This is not part of the…

(to Magnus)

Get off the stage!

SOUND: Sword swinging

MAGNUS

Yaaah! Look, Father Laing! The Spiral pose! Torch bearer pose! Harvesting the grain! Tiger claw!

LAING

Magnus! Not around the tent poles.

MAGNUS

Hurricane blade! Cannon kick! Hah!

PARABEL

Shouldn’t we call the guards in?

GUNTHER

And let this idiot chop them to pieces? The monks should be able to handle it. He’s one of theirs, after all… and not a very good one.

MAGNUS

Yeah, bitches! C’mon, I’ll take ya both on! Hoo! Hyah!

LAING

Magnus! Come away from that pole!

SOUND: Crack of wood

MAGNUS

(falling)

Whoa, woah, whoa!

SOUND: Crash and thump

WALLA: Gasps and groans, a few laughs and cheers, then screams of panic

LAING

Magnus!

PARABEL

Oh dear!

GUNTHER

Idiot’s gone and gutted himself.

MONK

Way to go, Magnus!

PARABEL

Oh dear, there’s blood everywhere…

I loved having Magnus reflexively sanitizing his own swears. Soon, I too started regularly saying “dangit”.

MAGNUS

(weakly)

Ow! Dammit! I mean… cursèd… I mean… doggone drat in a hat…

SOUND: Wooden beams creak and then cave in

WALLA: Gasps

MAGNUS (CONT’D)

Augh!

GUNTHER

The fool’s gone and destroyed the stage!

MONK

(running over)

Brothers! Father Laing! Are you all right?

LAING

Perfectly well, thank you.

MONK

When the tent came down, I thought…

LAING

Find the right place to stand, and the violence and troubles of the world shall pass you by.

MONK

Of course, Father.

MAGNUS

(muffled)

I’m fine too!

LAING

Your Majesties, Ladies and Gentlemen, there will be, um, a short break in the performance.

SCENE 11—HOUSE OF HEALING

HOLLY

I’m telling you, it makes perfect sense! It’s all in the book.

ALBA

It would help if either of us had this book.

HOLLY

What’s next?

Or echinacea, if you prefer.

ALBA

(wearily)

Purple coneflower?

HOLLY

That’s in the nine hundreds. No, wait… rats, it should be right here between sunflower and ragweed…

ALBA

Never mind. I’ll just get some from the garden.

HOLLY

I know it’s here somewhere…

ALBA

Thank you for your help.

HOLLY

I can sweep the rooms too. Organize your office?

ALBA

(firmly)

No.

HOLLY

But I haven’t made amends properly yet.

ALBA

We’ll call it even.

HOLLY

No, no, that’s not how it works! Upon my honour as a good fairy, I have solemnly…

SOUND: Door opens

LAING

(entering)

Set him down there. Miss Salix!

ALBA

Yes? What’s happened?

LAING

A boy has been injured.

ALBA

Oh, dear. One of yours?

MAGNUS

(weakly)

Hey, Doc.

ALBA

Ah, it’s you.

LAING

He ran out during the performance, fell on his sword and brought the stage tent down on himself.

ALBA

Least he could have done is finish the job.

(sighs, then calls)

Holly!

HOLLY

(entering)

What can I do?

ALBA

I need fresh bloodwort. Lots of it.

HOLLY

(running off)

Coming up!

LAING

Miss Salix, I would entrust young Magnus to your care.

ALBA

What for? I’ll bandage him up and you can be on your merry way tomorrow.

LAING

He is badly hurt, and we are, um, leaving town early.

ALBA

King didn’t appreciate the impromptu renovations, huh?

I hadn’t listened to any Decoder Ring Theatre when I wrote this line, but it’s a catchphrase uttered by several of their characters (usually phrased, “That’s tough, but fair”). I’m happy that it serves as a sort of unintentional shout‐out, though, and there’s a deliberate one in Episode The Fifth.

LAING

He was tough but fair.

HOLLY

(hurrying in)

Here’s the bloodwort.

(gasps)

Oh, geez, the poor kid!

MAGNUS

’M seventeen…

HOLLY

What happened to him?

ALBA

Nothing he didn’t deserve.

HOLLY

Ick. We gotta clean up that gash and close it up.

MAGNUS

They let women and fairies work as physicians here? What kind of a place is this?

HOLLY

Hey!

ALBA

Magnus? Hold still, this might hurt a bit.

SOUND: Swat

MAGNUS

Ow! You’re supposed to be healing me!

ALBA

I know. Women, eh? Can’t trust ’em.

HOLLY

Oh juniper that’s a lot of blood.

MAGNUS

Eee, ee, ow… dammit to… golly gee darnit that stings.

HOLLY

Sorry, I gotta staunch the wound.

LAING

As well, I was hoping that you might give more thought to taking on young Magnus as an apprentice.

ALBA

Are you serious? Look at the damage he’s done in one night.

LAING

(lowering his voice)

I think of it this way… he is young, and hot‐tempered, and has great interest in seeking the powers of dark magic. Something that I understand you yourself have experience in.

ALBA

(hushed)

Who told you that?

LAING

Magnus needs a guiding hand such as yours to set him on the right course.

ALBA

You want me to teach him dark magic?

LAING

No. I mean that you have made the journey into the darkest places of the soul and come back to the light. You have overcome your sins against others and found a way to help heal your family and your people.

ALBA

Not interested. I’ll fix the kid up, sure, but his karma is your problem.

LAING

Miss Salix. I hope you’ll reconsider.

HOLLY

Alba, you’re gonna have to bandage this one up, I’m feeling all woozy.

ALBA

Great.

The instruments are me rummaging in an actual toolkit.

SOUND: Drawer opened, rattle of instruments

MAGNUS

Don’t you have Threadstrong brand sutures?

ALBA

Stitch in Time are far better.

MAGNUS

Not on a wound this deep.

ALBA

Yes. These are the D series sutures. They’re double‐enchanted to prevent infection and promote healing.

MAGNUS

I’m telling you, Threadstrong is the way to go.

SOUND: Rummaging in drawer

ALBA

You want Threadstrong? Fine. But don’t blame me when you come down with drill worms. And they always leave a scar.

MAGNUS

Excellent. Ow, ow.

ALBA

Hold still.

MAGNUS

Ow! Who did you sleep with to get this job? Or are you bestest friends with the Queen or something?

ALBA

Her sister, actually.

MAGNUS

Oh, that explains it.

(pause, then with growing glee)

Wait a second. You’re the Queen’s sister?

ALBA

Quick on the uptake.

Early drafts of this episode started with a big “Once upon a time” prologue that outlined this story, but it dragged. Instead, we had someone come down with a weird ailment in the cold open, like it’s an episode of House.

MAGNUS

That means it was you… You tried to marry the King! Isn’t that how it happened? Three sisters tried to save the King’s life, and the youngest actually cured him and married him.

ALBA

There are a lot of different stories out there.

MAGNUS

So does that mean you failed? Or did the King just think she was prettier than you? Heh. OW!

ALBA

You should lay still and not talk when I’m trying to stitch you up.

MAGNUS

What, ’cause I might hit a nerve?

(proudly)

Oh yeah.

(pause)

Hey, is that what he meant about how you’ve been to dark places of the soul?

ALBA

Who said that?

MAGNUS

Father Laing. He said you know dark magic.

ALBA

He was only trying to get me to take you in.

MAGNUS

I bet you do. Show me a trick. Show me. Disintegrate something!

ALBA

No.

MAGNUS

Please?

ALBA

Give it up. Laing, tell your young monk here that I don’t do dark magic.

(nothing)

Father Laing?

MAGNUS

He snuck out.

ALBA

Bloody monks!

MAGNUS

I know, eh?

(pause)

Alba?

ALBA

Yes, Magnus.

MAGNUS

Are you evil?

ALBA

You don’t want to know.

MAGNUS

Yeah I do.

ALBA

No, you really don’t.

MAGNUS

C’mon, you can tell me all about your sins. I’m a holy man. Hey, where are you going? You haven’t done my leg yet. I’m still bleeding.

ALBA

(leaving)

Good. Keep it up.

MAGNUS

Ha ha, funny.

(pause)

Alba?

CROSSFADE TO:

SCENE 12—PANTRY, CONTINUOUS

HOLLY

Hey, Alba. Get you anything?

ALBA

No, I’m fine.

HOLLY

Sorry about ducking out… whew! All that blood. I had to make some tea and calm down a bit.

(guilty)

I kind of used the last of your camomile, but I’ll get you some more…

ALBA

Mm hmm.

HOLLY

Whatcha looking for? I can find it for you.

ALBA

Found it, thanks.

Fennel, hemlock, parsnip and carrot are indeed related! This has been another Botany Corner with your host Holly.

HOLLY

Alba, that’s not wild carrot, by the way, that’s poison hemlock…

ALBA

I know what I’m doing, Holly.

HOLLY

Alba? What are you doing?

ALBA

Just taking care of my patient.

HOLLY

You’re not going to… I mean, I know he’s annoying and all, but he’s just a kid! You can’t just kill him!

ALBA

I’ve got motive, means and opportunity. The monks all up and skipped town. Who’s going to know? Or care?

HOLLY

I can’t let you do this.

ALBA

Get out of my way, fairy.

HOLLY

Alba, I thought you were nice!

ALBA

(grimly)

Ha.

HOLLY

Or at least, I thought you were a good witch, but you’re…

ALBA

Yes?

HOLLY

I don’t know.

(beat)

Alba? Are you evil?

And I love how Barb plays this little retreat. This line’s become one of our most‐quoted.

ALBA

(pause, then)

No. But I like having the option.

HOLLY

(lets out a breath)

Well, thank all the twinkly stars for that.

ALBA

Now get out of my way. I’ve gotta stitch up the idiot kid.

HOLLY

(clears her throat)

Hemlock. Hand it over.

ALBA

(sighs)

HOLLY

Thank you.

SCENE 13—PALACE

GUNTHER

Will the defendant please stand.

MAGNUS

Yo.

SOUND: Chair pushed back

GUNTHER

Brother Magnus of Hezelford, late of the Dragon Mountain Order. This court finds you guilty of endangering the public, destruction of royal property, causing a disturbance and making a complete mess of the new curtains.

MAGNUS

I object, your Kingship.

GUNTHER

Don’t get smart with me. I, Gunther the Third, King of Farloria, do sentence you to five thousand hours of community service.

MAGNUS

What?!

GUNTHER

Did I say five thousand? I meant six thousand.

MAGNUS

Dammit.

GUNTHER

To be served at the House of Healing under the care of Miss Alba Salix, Royal Physician…

ALBA

What?!

MAGNUS

(suddenly seeing the bright side)

Heeey…

GUNTHER

…in the hopes that she will be a good influence on your character and keep you out of trouble.

ALBA

Gunther, what are you thinking?

I was trying to get a bigger bang here, but this is what I managed to get from the random bits of lumber in the basement. But I like the idea of Gunther with a tiny ceremonial gavel.

SOUND: Gavel bang

GUNTHER

Court is dismissed.

(to Alba)

Alba, I’m counting on you.

ALBA

Gunther! Wait!

MAGNUS

Hey there, boss.

ALBA

(sighs)

Hello, Magnus.

MAGNUS

You ready to rock?

ALBA

Fine. Let’s get back to the House of Healing.

MAGNUS

Sweet. You can give me my first lesson in black magic.

ALBA

All right, all right.

(leaving)

Have you ever had hemlock?

MAGNUS

(following)

No, is it good?

MUSIC: CLOSING THEME

CREDITS