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Alba Salix 203: Burning Questions

While Alba and Holly tend to Queen Parbel, Ms Pearcey gets some unexpected assistance, and Magnus gets in trouble.


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Starring:
Barbara Clifford as Alba Salix
Julian Sark as Magnus
Olivia Jon as Holly
Elaine O’Neal as Antalia Pearcey

with Mbula Enobong as Loria Berenice
Robert Frances as Jerome
Abbas Hussein as Guy van Fleet
Marisa King as Queen Parabel
George Bertwell as King Gunther
Michael Howie as Travin

Written by Sean Howard
Directed by Sean Howard and Eli McIlveen
Music and sound design by Eli McIlveen
Associate producers: Keiko Kanda, Heather Collins, Julian Sark, Michael Hudson, Jack Pevyhouse and Paul Tedesco
Supporting Producer: Kim Bellinger
Executive Producer: Dave Addison.

Content warning: Fire, flood, confinement, near‐drowning, interrogation and misgendering.

This episode has been brought to you by Anansi Storytime, our favourite spider sharing Fairy Tales and Folklore from cultures all over the world as audio plays. Look them up at anansistorytime.com/.

INTRODUCTION

ELI

Hey! Hola! Salut! What’s up? It’s Eli, co‐producer of Alba Salix, here to bring you Season 2, Episode 3.

And first, I wanted to tell you a little about our Patreon. And that is a way you can support our shows, which helps us pay our actors, pay for studio time and hosting, all that stuff. So for as little as a dollar a month, you can get things like unaired scripts, writers’ notes on each episode, sound design breakdowns, deleted scenes and a ton more stuff. Plus, you’ll get access to our Discord server, where we’ve got a really wonderful, warm, supportive community of fans and creators growing. So we hope you’ll check that out. Find out all about it at patreon.com/albasalix.

This episode is brought to you by Anansi Storytime. So, maybe you’ve heard of Anansi? He’s a spider from Akan folklore, and he’s also known as the keeper of all stories.

So Anansi Storytime is a podcast that spins tales from all over the world into charming short audio plays. They just wrapped up their second season, which was all trickster stories, and you just know we dig a good trickster story around here.

Check them out at spiderstorytime.com. And now: Alba Salix, Season 2, Episode 3.

> MUSIC STING

INT. HOUSE OF HEALING OFFICE

ALBA

(reading)

For colour and lettering standards, see Volume Seven, Chapter Four…

(sighs)

She pulls out a heavy book and flips through it as Holly bursts in.

HOLLY

Hey Alba! We’ve been summoned to the Palace.

ALBA

Is it Her Majesty again?

HOLLY

Yup! Time to check on the royal baby.

ALBA

Which sadly means we have to check on the royal mother‐to‐be. And I was so looking forward to curling up with these interior signage regulations. All right.

Alba tosses the book down.

MAGNUS

(blearily, from under a desk)

What!?

HOLLY

I’ll get your house call bag.

ALBA

Thanks.

She pushes her chair back and stands.

MAGNUS

Ow….

ALBA

Where’s Magnus?

HOLLY

(suddenly dark)

WHO CARES.

(chipper again)

I mean… No, I haven’t seen him all morning!

ALBA

Dammit. Magnus!

MAGNUS

Yes, your Loudness. What is it.

ALBA

Why are you under the desk?

MAGNUS

It’s not my fault. It was those damn fairies… and all their prancing…

ALBA

I need you to cover reception, Magnus.

MAGNUS

Can’t we just close for the day?

ALBA

No, we can’t. What’s wrong with you now?

Holly comes back in with a bag.

HOLLY

Oh, look, there he is.

Magnus came with me to the fairy circle celebration last night!

ALBA

Magnus did?

HOLLY

Yes! He ate all the fairy cakes…

MAGNUS

Well, you guys should have stopped me.

HOLLY

(still smiling)

And then he made fun of everyone, knocked over one of the stones and threw up on my friend Starlight.

MAGNUS

Ughhh. My head hurts.

HOLLY

It serves you right!

ALBA

Magnus, pull yourself together. Holly and I are off to the Palace.

MAGNUS

All right, all right, all right. I got it. I’ll hold down the fort.

ALBA

Thank you.

HOLLY

Yay! You’re going to be an auntie, Alba. Again!

Alba and Holly hurry out. Magnus slumps into a chair.

MAGNUS

Holding down the fort. Just gonna… close my eyes for a sec.

He begins to snore.

> OPENING THEME

HERALD

By Appointment to the King and Queen: Alba Salix, Royal Physician—Volume Two!

MAGNUS

C’mon, keep it down! I’m dying here.

HERALD

(whispering)

Oh, sorry.

The drums kick in.

MAGNUS

Aw, man!

HERALD

(whispers)

Episode the Third: Burning Questions.

INT. PARABEL’S CHAMBERS

Parabel’s footsteps.

ALBA

I can’t examine you if you keep pacing like that.

PARABEL

I think better when I am pacing.

ALBA

Well, if you pace less, you might think less, and it might spare us from any more decrees about pink buildings. Sit. Holly?

HOLLY

Pink is nice!

ALBA

I meant, bring me the Sceptre of Sanela.

HOLLY

Oh right. You got it.

PARABEL

Your snide remarks aside… it’s good you are here. I’ve been thinking about how to serve those in need. How the few must sacrifice so that the many might flourish.

ALBA

(under her breath)

Artena, grant me strength.

PARABEL

How the poor, grubby masses rely on us for their guidance and safety.

ALBA

Mm hmmm.

HOLLY

Here you go, Alba.

PARABEL

How one Queen must rise above her people.

ALBA

Well, you’ve got that part down.

Sound of magic building.

PARABEL

Yes. I have risen to what my station demands of me. With this crown comes great responsibili—ouch!

The magic cuts off with a crackle.

ALBA

Hold still!

PARABEL

I’ve been holding still for you all morning! I need an answer.

ALBA

We’re not calling a coin toss here. It’s complicated at the best of times. And the earlier we do it, the less reliable the scrying.

PARABEL

The scry‐ing or the scry‐er?

ALBA

(mutters)

Well, Your Majesty’s temperament is completely normal.

PARABEL

What was that?

ALBA

Your humours are as well balanced as ever, your Majesty.

PARABEL

I should hire a proper physician.

I need to know if my child is a boy or a girl.

ALBA

All the readings so far are somewhere in the middle. It could be either. Or neither. Which is why we need to recalibrate the Sceptre. It’s a very sensitive piece of—

Another rush of magic. Part of the sceptre falls off and clatters on the floor.

HOLLY

I’m sorry, Alba! It’s like it jumped out of my hand.

ALBA

It’s fine. Just bring me the backup calibrator from the bag.

PARABEL

I’ll cancel my next appointment, shall I?

HOLLY

Here you go, Alba.

Magic builds and then dies with a clunk.

ALBA

Oh, now what?

PARABEL

Well?

A clicking sound.

HOLLY

I just charged it!

PARABEL

(stands)

Enough. I need to know the sex of this child, Alba.

ALBA

Yes, yes. There’s so much planning to do for the baby shower.

PARABEL

(paces to the window)

You don’t know the half of it.

ALBA

Holly, hold the sceptre. I’m going to replace the power stone.

HOLLY

Holding on!

PARABEL

(alone, gripping the windowsill)

I see it coming. A darkness that consumes everything it touches. Kingdom by kingdom it stalks us. Until only we remain, blissfully ignorant as the mouse before the cobra strikes. Their puppet prince hungry to rule and no legitimate heir in sight…

A snap and a shower of sparks.

ALBA

Dammit!

HOLLY

Oh my gosh.

All our equipment is failing. It’s like the baby doesn’t want us to know.

ALBA

It’s an embryo, Holly, not a sorcerer.

All right, let’s do this the old‐fashioned way.

HOLLY

A resonating salve?

ALBA

Yes.

Parabel, the salve we’re going to use tests the physical signs only, so it’s not always reliable at this stage—and you’re not even listening.

PARABEL

Can you see them, sister? My subjects. How they scurry to attend to their duty, ignorant of the predator watching from the shadows. Such mindless little things, grovelling before their queen like… like ants, with those horrid little antenna things.

ALBA

I thought we were mice.

PARABEL

Ugh!

HOLLY

(whispers)

Alba, human babies don’t have antennae, do they?

ALBA

Not typically.

HOLLY

Oh. Phew! I thought I’d missed something.

ALBA

Lie back, please, Your Majesty. And hold the royal garments up over your belly, thank you.

Holly opens a bottle.

HOLLY

Sorry, Your Majesty. I didn’t have time to warm the salve up.

PARABEL

It’s no matter.

(a sharp breath in)

A shimmer of magic, more subtle and stable.

HOLLY

Oh, wow. It’s starting to glow already!

ALBA

So it is.

Well, Your Majesty, you can break out the fireworks and the good napkins.

PARABEL

It’s… good news?

HOLLY

Hooray!

ALBA

It’s a boy.

PARABEL

What?!

ALBA

As I said, it’s not one hundred percent reliable at this stage, but it appears your baby is male in body, with all the dangling bits required by ancient custom to profess your child an heir to the throne.

PARABEL

No. No!

HOLLY

Your Majesty!

PARABEL

Get away from me.

HOLLY

I’m so sorry! Do you want a towel for the salve?

Parabel snatches the towel from Holly.

PARABEL

Alba. Listen to me. You must help me to hide this and speak of this to no one.

ALBA

I know you had your heart set on having a third daughter of a third daughter of a third daughter. But for heaven’s sake—

PARABEL

For once in your misspent life, listen to me! Our kingdom hangs by a thread! We must hide the sex of this child from everyone, forever!

ALBA

What kind of life is that going to be? Parabel, come on. Sit down. Would you like a sedative? Holly, get a sedative.

PARABEL

Ha! I’m just hysterical, is that it, sister?

ALBA

Parabel, what’s gotten into you?

PARABEL

Only concern for my child and my people.

Scurry elsewhere. You are dismissed!

Parabel flows out of the room.

ALBA

(sighs)

As usual.

> MUSIC STING

INT. ANTALIA PEARCEY’S APARTMENT

LORIA

Oh, Madam Minister… are you awake?

PEARCEY

(in her sleep)

No. No! Keep the boats back! Don’t let them come any closer! They’ll eat each other!

LORIA

There’s no boats. Sweetie, wake up.

PEARCEY

What? Oh, goodness.

LORIA

Bad dreams?

PEARCEY

Ministry of Transportation dreams.

LORIA

I got that.

Pearcey flops back down.

PEARCEY

Those are always the worst.

It was the Dragon Boat‐Swan Boat merger all over again. So much blood.

LORIA

It’s okay.

Outside, a bell tolls the hour. Pearcey sits bolt upright.

PEARCEY

Oh no, what time is it?

LORIA

(yawns)

We should probably get up.

Pearcey is already up. She runs around the room getting dressed.

PEARCEY

We’ve overslept.

LORIA

You needed your rest! You were up all night working.

PEARCEY

When is my first appointment?

LORIA

Your morning is open.

Tally‐cakes. Relax. You’ve got to treat yourself better than this. Slow down. You’ve got your shirt on inside out.

PEARCEY

Oh… hells.

LORIA

Or you could leave it off.

PEARCEY

(laughs)

Be good. We have work to do.

LORIA

We tamed a fleet of dragons. Wizards should be easy.

Pearcey pours water into a basin to wash her face.

PEARCEY

Ugh. It’s all the bowing that gets me.

“Ah, Minister, you enlighten us SO with your interesting suggestions.” “Ah Minister, you see with such brilliance and clarity, for a commoner.”

LORIA

Commoner? Did they say that?

PEARCEY

Oh yes. Just yesterday.

They’re all waiting it out, praying that I’m just going to disappear in a puff of smoke. And then they can get back to their incestuous, nepotistic old‐wizard‐club ways.

LORIA

You do like a good challenge…

PEARCEY

I suppose I do.

Who is today’s first audience?

LORIA

Oh… Let me think.

PEARCEY

Or perhaps we should get our little bottom out of bed and check the diary?

LORIA

Well, that’s no fun!

PEARCEY

Exactly. There will be no fun in my department!

She tickles Loria, who springs out of bed.

LORIA

Eek! Help!

(laughing)

No fun! I promise!

Screaming and laughter as Pearcey chases Loria around the room.

LORIA

Okay, okay! I have the diary! Stop!

PEARCEY

And our first audience…?

LORIA

Is… the Office of Dissipation, Viticulture and Profligate Expenditures.

PEARCEY

Well. This has all the tell‐tale signs of a truly stupendous day.

LORIA

(in her snooty, professional voice)

Shall I fetch your robes of office?

PEARCEY.

(snooty too)

Yes. And my reading lenses.

And a ledger, doesn’t matter which. I want them to think I’m reviewing their spending.

LORIA

At once, Minister. You enlighten us SO with your wisdom…

PEARCEY

Ms Berenice. Are you making fun?

LORIA

Nope! No fun.

PEARCEY

Oh, and has King Gunther sent word about my request?

LORIA

Which request?

PEARCEY

To hire an additional staff member? You did send it.

LORIA

I think… Oh wait. Yeah, I did!

PEARCEY

Loria.

LORIA

I don’t memorize every note that lands on my desk. If you’re going to be grumpy, you can write your own requests.

She stalks off.

PEARCEY

(takes a deep breath)

I’m sorry, I’m just overwhelmed lately. The King expects me to overhaul a department I know next to nothing about and refuses to send me any assistance.

LORIA

(clears her throat)

PEARCEY

My little L‐Bear, your assistance goes above and beyond the call of duty.

I speak of a need for one with less fire and duller claws.

LORIA

(purrs)

Meow!

PEARCEY

And less temptation! Now get dressed!

A knock at the door.

PEARCEY

Now what?

We follow Pearcey to the front hall. She opens the door.

TRAVIN

Hey…

PEARCEY

Yes? Oh, it’s… Travin, isn’t it?

TRAVIN

Yeah. Hey. Package for you from Magic Support.

PEARCEY

(with withering sarcasm)

Oh good. What new wonder do you have for me today?

TRAVIN

It’s this…

PEARCEY

A rock.

TRAVIN

Plus a note from the king.

PEARCEY

The king? What’s the note?

TRAVIN

Let’s see…

(clears throat)

He unfolds a letter. Crossfade to Gunther as he writes the message at his desk.

TRAVIN AND GUNTHER

“His Majesty King Gunther the Third hereby acknowledges on the 23rd day of this month of the Rooster, that he has received your—”

PEARCEY

Is there any way you might be able to get to the actual message in this message?

TRAVIN

Yeah, sorry.

GUNTHER

Most rude. Where was I? Oh yes.

The Office of Appropriations has come up with a firecracker of an idea: out‐sourcing! I believe I have that right. We get the people we need but only pay a fraction of the normal costs. This is a great boon, as now we should be able to afford that state banquet next week. And those dancers from Vanyaco I’ve been so looking forward to.

(clears throat, gets back on track)

With that in mind, please accept this new Spectral Assistant, which I trust will serve you well.

His Royal Majesty, Gunther the Third, King of Farloria and benevolent protector of—

PEARCEY

Yes. Got it. Much obliged. Is he sending someone or not?

TRAVIN

Yeah. That’s what this is.

PEARCEY

This is a rock.

TRAVIN

Yeah, so that’s your Spectral Assistant. The rock is just the hardware. Like, the physical thing it’s bound to.

Silence.

PEARCEY

No. No, we’re done. You and your rock are dismissed.

She starts to shut the door.

TRAVIN

Oh no, c’mon, wait. I’m supposed to deliver this to you. If I don’t, my manager is gonna be on my case.

PEARCEY

Fine. Give it here. Just tell me it’s not going to go haywire and knock down the building.

TRAVIN

Uh… it shouldn’t.

PEARCEY

Good. Thank you.

TRAVIN

You’re welcome, Madam—

Pearcey shuts the door in his face.

LORIA

What is that?

PEARCEY.

Don’t ask.

The calm, even voice of Leon Stamatis (of the podcast Greater Boston) emerges from the rock.

LEON

Ah, good day.

PEARCEY

(screams and drops the rock)

LEON

My name is Leon, and I have been assigned to you by the Incorporeal Workers’ Union as part of my afterlife release program.

LORIA

A talking rock?

PEARCEY

Childish. Do I have Travin to thank for this hilarious joke? Or some other short‐sighted, pointy‐hatted imbecile?

LEON

I assure you that this is no prank, Minister.

LORIA

You did say you wanted someone solid…

PEARCEY

Don’t you start too. I need dependable assistance, not a rock.

LEON

There is nothing more solid and dependable than a rock. Rocks have stood the test of time, witnessing the rise and fall of countless civilizations. They are the very definition of dependable.

LORIA

Right. So how do you assist?

LEON

This piece of obsidian has been tuned and updated to run Igneous 4.2.1. It acts as an anchor for my Prescient Outsourced Presence.

PEARCEY

No. I don’t have time for this.

LEON

You are correct. I have taken the liberty of updating your schedule accordingly.

PEARCEY

You what?

LEON

Today, 8 to 8:30am.

Finish getting dressed. Smart and formal attire. Consider wearing that new jacket, but settle instead on the robes of office.

9 to 9:45am.

Answer summons from Queen Parabel about state of the kingdom (anticipated).

PEARCEY

The Queen?

LORIA

What?

PEARCEY

“No morning appointments” indeed.

LORIA

You don’t have an appointment with the Queen. I swear!

LEON

11 to 11:15am.

Stop for food in the kitchens on the way to the Wizard’s Council. Council won’t start on time because wizards.

2 to 4pm.

Summon Alba Salix. Skip small talk. Address her team’s failure to meet each and every touchstone. Be firm but understanding. Guide her to an action plan that doesn’t involve murdering members of her staff.

6:30 to 9pm.

Dinner with Loria. Fettucine Portayo and braised Brassica sprouts. Dancing to follow.

LORIA

Hmm!

LEON

9 to 10pm.

Sex with Loria (anticipated). Suggest a “spontaneous” role‐play scenario: naughty riding instructor…

LORIA

(bursts out laughing)

PEARCEY

All right! That’s quite enough.

LORIA

Oh, I like this rock.

PEARCEY

Very well. Mister…?

LEON

Leon. Just Leon.

PEARCEY

Mister Leon, I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I’m going to try you out.

(lifts the rock)

Oof. I don’t suppose they make any spectral assistant pebbles?

> MUSIC STING

EXT. ROAD FROM THE PALACE, DAY

Sounds of the town fade into the distance as Alba and Holly walk.

ALBA

We’ll have to replace that sceptre too. Hopefully it’s still under warranty.

HOLLY

Alba… do you think the Queen will be okay?

ALBA

She’ll be fine. It’s the baby I feel sorry for. If anything could mess a kid up more than being raised by Parabel…

HOLLY

Humans get awfully wound up about who’s a girl and who’s a boy.

ALBA

It’s true. She flew completely off the handle when little Coralyn decided she wanted to wear trousers.

HOLLY

Is she right about the Balgomarians, though? If it is a boy, is the baby going to be in danger?

ALBA

Who knows? I doubt it. Her Majesty is always being overdramatic. The Theatre Guild should give her a lifetime achievement award.

HOLLY

(suddenly gasps)

Oh no! Something’s on fire!

ALBA

Exactly. Or “Oh no! Which of my hundred dresses shall I wear?”

HOLLY

No, the House of Healing! I think it’s on fire!

Holly flies off as Alba breaks into a run.

ALBA

What?! Oh gods. What’s that idiot boy done now?

CUT TO:

INT. HOUSE OF HEALING

A raging fire. The sound of rushing water and bandits yelling and pounding on the far side of an interior door.

BANDITS

Boss! What do we do? Help!

MAGNUS

It’s working. Ha ha, listen to them!

JEROME

I don’t know, Magnus…

MAGNUS

No, no! Jerome, do not get up! We have to keep the door shut!

The pounding grows weaker and stops as the water on the far side of the door rises.

JEROME

We’re not… killing them, are we?

MAGNUS

It’s just a little water. They’re bandits! Brigands! They can swim!

BANDIT 1

(from inside)

Help! I can’t swim!

MAGNUS

Or I guess that’s pirates. Pirates can probably swim.

Alba throws open the front door.

ALBA

(gasps)

What is going on in here!?

JEROME AND MAGNUS

Alba!

ALBA

What’s burning?

HOLLY

The appointment book! Why it is on fire?!

ALBA

Does it matter why? Put it out!

MAGNUS

It’s okay, boss! Everything is under control!

Holly puts out the fire.

HOLLY

Agh! There we go.

ALBA

Get out of my way, Jerome.

MAGNUS

No no, he’s holding the door closed!

ALBA

Why? What’s going on in the back?

HOLLY

And why is the door bulging like that?

A dangerous creaking. A hinge flies off with a bang.

JEROME

The hinges are giving out! Save yourselves!

He leaps up and runs for safety outside. The door to the operating room bursts open, sending cubic tons of water flooding outwards.

EXT. GARDEN—CONTINUOUS

Alba, Magnus, Holly and Jerome all scream as they are carried out into the garden. All of them cough and sputter.

MAGNUS

Did we get ‘em?

Ahoy! Bandits! Show yourselves!

He runs back in the front door, footsteps sloshing.

HOLLY

Oh, my wings! Alba? Alba, where are you?

JEROME

She’s up in the tree. Alba! Are you okay?

HOLLY

Just hang on! I’ll come and get you!

ALBA

(shouts down)

I’ll be right down. After I finish counting to a hundred.

Magnus emerges from the building again.

MAGNUS

Where the heck did they go? Jerome, did you see any of them?

JEROME

Uh… no, there’s nobody here.

HOLLY

See who? Magnus, were there patients inside?!

MAGNUS

No, they weren’t patients. They were brigands!

JEROME

I guess they got out?

MAGNUS

But how? The window in the lab is tiny!

ALBA

Oh, Magnus… can I have a word with you?

MAGNUS

Oh man. Alba. You wouldn’t believe what happened, but lucky for you, Magnus was here to save the day—

ALBA

Potes volare!

Sound of magic lifting Magnus into the air.

MAGNUS

Whoa! Hey! Put me down!

Listen, it was Guy van Fleet!

ALBA

Guy van Fleet, the highwayman.

MAGNUS

No, Guy van Fleet the undertaker! Yes, of course it was—

ALBA

Guy van Fleet came here.

MAGNUS

Yes! He attacked the House of Healing! It’s true!

ALBA

Magnus, I am done with your lies, your disobedience, your attitude, your disregard for safety and constantly having to—

HOLLY

Alba… there is a sword here. No… two swords.

MAGNUS

See, I told you! Guy was here with fifty men! Jerome, back me up here.

JEROME

Well, I don’t think it was fifty…

MAGNUS

Exactly, it was more like a hundred! It was a siege.

ALBA

Enough.

A whistle of magic as Magnus is carried away, his yelling diminishing into the distance.

MAGNUS

Listen, I’m the victim here! Albaaa!

HOLLY

Alba, what if Magnus is telling the truth?

ALBA

Well, then, he can have a nice, refreshing dip in the leech pond.

In the distance, Magnus yelps as he tumbles into the water.

> MUSIC STING

INT. LABORATORY

Water drips in the background.

ALBA

Look at this mess. We were gone for less than an hour!

JEROME

Oh boy. I’m sorry, Alba. Can I help sweep up?

ALBA

I expect something like this from Magnus. But you, Jerome?

JEROME

I just stopped by to get a refill of that potion you gave me for my insomnia—

ALBA

Save it. I’m done. Finis. Factum. No more nice witch. Clear the lab bench, Holly.

HOLLY

Okay. Do you want me to put all these bottles in the back room, or—

ALBA

Never mind.

She sweeps all the items off the table.

HOLLY

Alba! Are you okay?

Alba begins gathering ingredients.

ALBA

Oh yes. I’m beyond okay, Holly. I’m done being trifled with, dismissed and ignored. Lock your doors and hide your children! The witch is back.

HOLLY

Alba?

ALBA

Holly, go fetch Magnus out of the pond. We’re off to visit Minister Pearcey.

> MUSIC STING

INT. MINISTRY OFFICE

A clock ticks.

PEARCEY

Shall we begin?

ALBA

Yes, let’s. I brought a little something along to aid our investigation.

She places a bottle on the table.

PEARCEY

And this is?

ALBA

A truth potion.

MAGNUS

Why do you not trust me?

I mean, sure, maybe I… stretched the truth on previous occasions. But this is serious! This all really happened!

ALBA

Well then, you won’t mind giving your evidence under the influence of a truth serum.

MAGNUS

If that’s what it is.

ALBA

Minister?

PEARCEY

I’ll permit it.

ALBA

Go ahead, Magnus.

MAGNUS

Yeah? How do I know it’s not, like, fireweed extract?

PEARCEY

Magnus, please do as you’re asked.

MAGNUS

This stuff could be hemlock, for all you know.

JEROME

Alba wouldn’t do that!

MAGNUS

Pfft. Well, you drink it, then!

JEROME

Okay!

ALBA

Jerome, no, don’t—!

Too late. He uncorks the bottle and downs it.

JEROME

Mmm! That’s nice.

ALBA

Jerome, I swear to all the gods…

JEROME

It tastes like that Frinozipax stuff you were prescribing last year.

PEARCEY

What’s Frinozipax?

JEROME

Why, it’s an all‐natural herbal potion made from—

ALBA

(sharply)

Let’s begin our questioning.

JEROME

(feeling the effects and totally enamoured with Alba)

Yes! I’m ready to be interrogated, Alba.

PEARCEY

It’s not an interrogation. It’s an interview.

MAGNUS

Pfff. Yeah, you leave the room and see how fast this turns into an interrogation.

PEARCEY

Come to think of it, I could use a coffee. Alba?

ALBA

Yes please. Interviewing does work up quite a thirst.

Pearcey heads for the door.

PEARCEY

Two sugars?

MAGNUS

No! You can’t leave me alone with her. Look, we’re talking! We have nothing to hide!

She sits back down.

PEARCEY

Good. Then why don’t we begin at the beginning. You say several bandits broke into the House of Healing?

MAGNUS

Yes, I say that, because they did.

ALBA

Why did they have to break in? We were supposed to be open for business.

MAGNUS

Well… okay, maybe they didn’t break in. But they took me by surprise!

ALBA

Were you perhaps asleep at reception?

MAGNUS

I object! That’s not germane to this investigation!

ALBA

(clears her throat)

MAGNUS

Okay! Okay! Yes, I was at the desk. And I may have closed my eyes, just for a second. The next thing I knew, I was surrounded by all these bandits…

CROSSFADE TO:

INT. HOUSE OF HEALING

Footsteps. Several swords are drawn.

GUY

Don’t make me tell you again.

BANDIT 3

Yeah, don’t make the boss tell you again. Drop the letter opener.

Magnus drops it.

MAGNUS

Heh. Okay. Look, let’s just talk this over like good, decent fellow outlaws. You know I’m totally your guy, Guy!

GUY

Bind him and secure the rest of the building.

Guy heads down the back hallway as the bandits tie Magnus up..

BANDIT 4

Hold still, kid.

MAGNUS

Owwww! Really?

BANDIT 4

Settle down or it’s gonna hurt a lot more.

MAGNUS

(shouts after Guy)

A surgeon is always a good thing to have around, right Guy?

What if you get hurt in a daring duel with the King’s guard? Or you have to make a spectacular leap from a tower and break a leg?

GUY

Indeed. Now, tell me… things seem to have been rearranged since I was last here. Where do you keep the most dangerous poisons?

MAGNUS

Poisons? Well, I don’t know if you noticed the sign, but this is a House of Healing, and we don’t—grrk!

He gasps as Guy draws his sword and presses the blade to his throat.

GUY

Such lovely and smooth skin you surgeons have. It cries out to be split open. I am not going to ask you again.

MAGNUS

Okay! Okay! Look, everything’s in the new secure storage. The big metal door off the back hallway.

GUY

That wasn’t so hard, was it?

MAGNUS

Yeah, but I don’t know the password. And without that, it’s pretty much impenetrable.

GUY

Ha!

MAGNUS

Hey, I should know. I’ve tried everything.

GUY

They have yet to make a safe that can keep out Guy van Fleet, the purple thief of Kings, the hinderer of royalty, the people’s most feared champion.

MAGNUS

You can crack safes too?

GUY

Watch and learn, young Magnus.

MAGNUS

So awesome.

INT. MINISTRY OFFICE

PEARCEY

Awesome?

MAGNUS

Yeah. I was buttering him up. Distracting him. He was so busy going on about how great he was that he forgot all about the letter opener. All part of my ingenious plan…

ALBA

Enough. Jerome?

JEROME

(enraptured)

Yes, Alba?

ALBA

How did you get wrapped up in all this?

MAGNUS

You mean, how did he help me save the day!

ALBA

Speak again, Magnus. Go ahead. Just one more word.

Jerome?

JEROME

Your eyes are so beautiful when you’re angry.

ALBA

(groans)

Yes, thank you, Jerome. Why were you at at the House of Healing?

JEROME

To refill my prescription.

ALBA

The one I gave you yesterday?

JEROME

Well… Yeah. I kinda drank it all in one go so I’d have an excuse to see you again. Because, you know, you’re just so smart and amazing and perfect and… did I say amazing?

ALBA

We definitely gave the potion to the wrong idiot.

PEARCEY

Jerome. Jerome.

(taps sharply on the desk)

Over here. Yes. Can you tell us what you saw when you came into the House of Healing?

JEROME

Oh yeah. Magnus was there. But Alba wasn’t! I didn’t see her anywhere. She’s great, isn’t she?

PEARCEY

Focus, Jerome. What did you see?

JEROME

Well, let’s see. I walked in and there he was, tied to his chair…

CROSSFADE TO:

INT. HOUSE OF HEALING

The front door opens.

JEROME

Hello! Alba?

MAGNUS

Shhh!

JEROME

Huh? Who’s there?

MAGNUS

Jerome, be quiet! Get over here and help me.

JEROME

Magnus? Why are you tied up?

MAGNUS

Because I wanted to try out a new magic trick.

JEROME

Oh. Are you practicing escapes now? How’s it work?

MAGNUS

It doesn’t. Never mind! We’re being robbed!

JEROME

Oh no! We are?

MAGNUS

Come on, get me out of these ropes. There’s a letter opener on the desk.

JEROME

Okay. Who’s robbing us?

Jerome sets to work sawing at the ropes.

MAGNUS

Guy van Fleet! And his bandits!

JEROME

(gasps)

They don’t have Alba, do they? We have to save her!

He stands up.

MAGNUS

No, no, stop! She’s not here. There’s like five brigands in there. Now hurry up and cut me loose!

JEROME

Gotcha.

He saws at the ropes, which give way.

MAGNUS

That’s better. All right, let’s go!

JEROME

Okay!

Jerome makes for the door.

MAGNUS

No, no—Jerome, where are you going?

JEROME

To the gatehouse to alert the palace guards?

MAGNUS

No, if we go and get the guards, Guy and his guys are gonna get away!

Come on, no one is going to rob the House of Healing on my watch! That’s MY job!

JEROME

So what do we do?

MAGNUS

I’ve been thinking this through. First priority, we need to jam the back door shut—and that job falls to you, my faithful sidekick.

JEROME

Who, me?

MAGNUS

Now, they’re probably gonna have someone watching the back door, so… toss me that umbrella by the coatrack.

JEROME

Okay…?

Jerome tosses the umbrella.

MAGNUS

In the meantime, I will provide a distraction. Go!

He throws open the door to the back hallway and brandishes the umbrella.

MAGNUS

Ha ha!

BANDIT 1

Whoa! The kid got loose.

The bandits draw their weapons.

GUY

Oho! Perhaps I underestimated you, little man.

MAGNUS

Oho! Perhaps you did!

A bandit runs in from the back.

BANDIT 2

What’s happening?

GUY

Nothing to worry about. You should be watching the back door!

BANDIT 2

Right. Sorry, boss.

MAGNUS

Hah!

Take this! and that!

GUY

With an umbrella?

MAGNUS

Spinning death blow!

The umbrella opens with a pop.

BANDIT 3

Get him!

The bandits draw their swords.

GUY

Impressive. No, my friends, stand back.

BANDIT 1

You don’t want us to thump him, boss?

GUY

No. I have him. I am going to enjoy this. Toss me your sword.

MAGNUS

Oh. You need two swords, do you?

GUY

It is not for me. I prefer not to strike down unarmed children. Catch!

He tosses the sword to Magnus.

MAGNUS

Your last mistake! Vortex Blade!

A whirlwind of blades. Guy defends with little effort.

GUY

I see you have not improved at all since our last encounter.

MAGNUS

Tiger Claw! HA!

GUY

There is no need for you to call your strikes, boy. Especially when your strikes are as pitiful as that!

BANDIT 2

Yeah!

MAGNUS

Hey! That was an awesome Tiger Claw!

GUY

Aha!

His blade zings out.

MAGNUS

(gasps)

Ah! A lucky strike! But you only just nicked me.

GUY

Death by a thousand cuts. A horrible way to go.

MAGNUS

Not today!

BANDIT 2

Boss, I think someone jammed the back door.

GUY

What? You imbecile!

Jerome looks in from reception.

JEROME

Magnus! I jammed the back door. Now what?

MAGNUS

Fall back to the waiting room!

GUY

Oh no you don’t!

MAGNUS

Hell yeah we do!

Magnus slams the door. The bandits beat on it from the other side.

MAGNUS

Enjoy your stay!

(winces in pain)

JEROME

That looks bad, Magnus!

MAGNUS

It feels worse! Oh gods.

BANDIT 1

Hey! Open this door!

They pound at the door.

MAGNUS

Quick! Grab that chair and push it under the door handle.

JEROME

That door’s not gonna hold them, Magnus! We gotta get out of here!

MAGNUS

No, no, sit, Jerome. Sit in the chair. Good boy.

Now, where does Alba keep the matches?

JEROME

Uh… are you sure about this?

Magnus rummages, tossing things out from drawers, as the pounding on the door grows.

MAGNUS

Aha! Now to start a fun little fire…

He strikes a match.

JEROME

Hey! Isn’t that the appointment book? Alba’s not gonna be happy.

A growing crackle of flame.

MAGNUS

Man, my arm hurts! Dammit, all the bandages are in the other room, too.

JEROME

So… now do we run?

MAGNUS

Nope. This is the good bit—see there’s a new fire suppression system in here.

JEROME

A what?

MAGNUS

There’s half a dozen water sprites living in the attic. If they smell smoke from down here…

The sprites burst out singing a shrill alarm as waterfall sounds emerge from the back room.

MAGNUS

They do that.

Supposed to keep the patients and all of our flammable supplies safe or something.

A raging fire now. The sound of several bandits yelling and pounding on the other side of an interior door.

BANDITS

Boss! What do we do? Help!

MAGNUS

It’s working. Ha ha, listen to them!

JEROME

I dunno, Magnus…

MAGNUS

No, no! Jerome, do not get up! We have to keep the door shut!

The pounding grows weaker and stops as the water on the far side of the door rises.

JEROME

We’re not… killing them, are we?

MAGNUS

It’s just a little water. They’re bandits! Brigands! They can swim!

BANDIT 1

(from inside)

Help! I can’t swim!

MAGNUS

Or I guess that’s pirates. Pirates can probably swim.

INT. MINISTRY OFFICE

PEARCEY

So tell us, if there was a band of highwaymen trapped in the back room… where did they go?

JEROME

I dunno! They were there, and then they were gone.

ALBA

Magnus?

MAGNUS

Well… I mean, yeah! Exactly!

We locked the doors. All the windows were still shut. And the water was all the way to the ceiling!

PEARCEY

Hmm. Perhaps we should take another look at the scene of the incident.

ALBA

I suppose we should.

PEARCEY

Jerome, you are free to go.

JEROME

Thanks!

MAGNUS

And me? Am I free to go?

Alba, Pearcey and Jerome file out of the room.

JEROME

Can I come along with you, Alba?

ALBA

No. Go home.

JEROME

Awww.

INT. HOUSE OF HEALING—CABINET

A tiny, enclosed metal space.

BANDIT 3

Ow! Move your elbow!

BANDIT 2

Move your face!

The bandits struggle and grumble at one another.

GUY

All of you shush!

They all fall silent.

GUY

Okay. I think the coast is clear. On the count of three, everyone push. One. Two. Three.

Groans and shouts as they force the filing cabinet drawer open.

GUY

Okay. One a time. Stop pushing!

The bandits struggle to pull themselves from the filing cabinet.

BANDIT 1

That was a brilliant plan, boss! Hiding with all the files!

BANDIT 2

Yeah! Heh heh. I think I got a paper cut.

GUY

I am not so happy right now.

BANDITS

Sorry, boss.

GUY

This is not over. The little surgeon will pay dearly for this.

> CLOSING THEME

ELI

In “Burning Questions”, Alba Salix, Volume Two, Episode Three,

you heard Barbara Clifford as Alba Salix, Julian Sark as Magnus, Olivia Jon as Holly, and Elaine O’Neal as Antalia Pearcey,

with Mbula Enobong as Loria Berenice, Robert Frances as Jerome, Abbas Hussein as Guy van Fleet, Marisa King as Queen Parabel, George Bertwell as King Gunther, Michael Howie as Travin,

and special guest Braden Lamb as Leon.

Leon Stamatis is one of the wonderful characters on Greater Boston, created by Alexander Danner and Jeff Van Dreason. Check it out at greaterbostonshow.com.

Written by Sean Howard. Music and sound design by Eli McIlveen. Directed by Sean Howard and Eli McIlveen.

Associate producers: Keiko Kanda, Heather Collins, Julian Sark, Michael Hudson, Jack Pevyhouse and Paul Tedesco. Supporting Producer: Kim Bellinger. Executive Producer: Dave Addison.

If you enjoy the show, check out our Patreon. Donors get weekly bonus content and lots more. Look for the Patreon link at albasalix.com.

TAG: MINISTRY OFFICE

MAGNUS

So… Is someone going to look at my arm? Alba? Didn’t you take an oath or something?!

OUTRO: OUR SPONSOR

ELI

This episode has been brought to you by Anansi Storytime, a podcast of tales from all over the world. Check them out at spiderstorytime.com.