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Alba Salix 205: A Blueprint For Success

King Gunther’s outlandish plans for a new school of medicine require Minister Pearcey and the House of Healing crew to throw a gala fundraiser.


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

with George Bertwell as King Gunther
Marisa King as Queen Parabel
Abbas Hussein as Neighbour 2
Hugo Jones as Lord Croncible

and special guests:
Neighbour 1: Jack Pevyhouse of Misadventure by Death, Jim Robbie and the upcoming Forest Guide
Edgar Preston: Alexander Danner of Greater Boston
Lady Jonewood: Sarah Golding

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

Content warning: Knife violence, panic, magical pregnancy, icky diseases, things going bang.

INTRODUCTION

ELI

Greetings! Kamusta! Góðan daginn! It’s Eli here, your writer and co‐producer, bringing you Episode 5 of Alba Salix, Royal Physician, Volume 2.

Somehow we are already up to Episode 5, because time flies when you’re making podcasts, apparently. We’re coming up on our crazypants season finale next week. But don’t worry—there are more stories to come, believe you me.

First off, The End of Time and Other Bothers! If you haven’t heard it yet, that’s our improvised role‐playing game spinoff, set mostly in the same world as Alba, full of fairy cakes and demons and utter lunacy. We’ve got a holiday special on the way, and a new season starting in January. Look for “Other Bothers” in your favourite podcast app.

Next up, it’s another season of The Axe & Crown. Gubbin, Stan and Betula will be back in the studio in the new year. We’ll have more about that soon on this podcast feed too… and in the meantime, if you support us on Patreon, you might catch a little scene featuring our favourite trolls, coming soon. And we’ve already begun planning Season 3 of Alba, of course, and it’s going to be a wild ride too.

So, tons of stories coming at you! If you want to help us get them made, and you’re able to, do consider joining us on Patreon. You’ll get regular updates, plus a ton of bonus content and other goodies, and you’ll get to hear all those new episodes first. Look for the Patreon link at albasalix.com.

That’s all for now. On with Episode 5!

MUSIC STING

INT. PALACE THRONE ROOM

A big wooden door opens and Gunther enters.

GUNTHER

(excited)

Hello, Minister. Hello, Alba.

PEARCEY

Your Majesty.

ALBA

Your Majesty.

GUNTHER

I’ve just been reviewing your proposal for this new School of Medicine.

PEARCEY

You read it?

I mean, thank you for reading it, Your Majesty.

GUNTHER

And I agree. We need to begin training a new generation of healers to keep this kingdom fit and well. A state‐of‐the‐art facility for research and education. And I believe we should begin as soon as possible.

ALBA

That is good news.

PEARCEY

I can have my staff draw up a list of requirements for the building design…

GUNTHER

No need.

PEARCEY

Your Majesty?

GUNTHER

I’ve designed it already!

ALBA

(to herself)

I’m not going to say anything. I’m not going to say anything.

GUNTHER

It’s over here.

Behold!

Gunther strides over to a corner and whisks away a sheet.

ALBA

(sighs)

PEARCEY

It’s… very nice.

GUNTHER

Isn’t it? I’ve been using a brand‐new tool—a gift from the Gnomish ambassador. It’s a kit with all these parts you can snap together to create “visualizations” of buildings, or whole streets… Look, there’s even little trees.

ALBA

Yes, the trees…

PEARCEY

…are lovely, Your Majesty.

GUNTHER

And now, we can simply pop down a piece of paper, and the quill magically draws up all the blueprints and the budget for us.

He does so. The quill begins sketching and writing at high speed.

PEARCEY

Why is it such a strange shape?

GUNTHER

It’s a unicorn! Known for their legendary powers of healing.

ALBA

Give me strength.

PEARCEY

Oh, it’s lying down. I was confused. So this tower here…

GUNTHER

Yes, that’s the head! I thought perhaps the horn could even light up magically.

ALBA

Ahh.

PEARCEY

Mmm.

They regard the building in silence.

ALBA

Well, I’m quite certain there’s no other building like this anywhere in the world.

GUNTHER

I know!

I have already signed a decree that construction will begin in the spring.

PEARCEY

Really! Your Majesty has the funding all ready?

GUNTHER

Ahh. In fact, that is why I’ve brought you here. We need to find the money to get the old shovels in the ground.

ALBA

Hopefully there’ll be more than just shovels.

GUNTHER

Oh, indeed. Shovels in the ground, bricks on top of the ground, a… roof on top of the bricks…

ALBA

Spoken like a brilliant architect, Your Majesty.

GUNTHER

So you two will need to coordinate and… uh, raise the funds from private sources.

PEARCEY

How much?

GUNTHER

According to the budget calculator… five hundred and forty thousand crowns.

PEARCEY

(a strangled noise)

ALBA

And perhaps there might be a few pennies left over for repairs to the existing House of Healing?

GUNTHER

Oh yes, we can throw that in too.

What I thought we could do is to hold a great big gala. The Queen herself will be the royal patron, and lead the fundraising campaign.

ALBA

Isn’t that lovely of her.

GUNTHER

And as Parabel is the founding patron, it will be called… the Queen Parabel School of Medicine.

ALBA

Of course it will. Why don’t you make a building that’s shaped like her, then?

GUNTHER

(gasps)

Alba, that’s brilliant. What was I thinking?

Ha! Unicorns indeed. I’m going to go and find Parabel right away!

He rushes out.

ALBA

And tell her to ask all her friends for money!

OPENING THEME

HERALD

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

Episode the Fifth: A Blueprint For Success.

INT. HOUSE OF HEALING—RECEPTION

Pearcey’s heels echo around the room as she paces.

PEARCEY

(sighs)

Loria warned me there was something like this coming, but I had no idea it would be this bad.

Have you heard anything from the Queen yet?

ALBA

Nothing. She’s barely gone out in public lately, since, well…

PEARCEY

Since what? Is something wrong?

ALBA

You didn’t hear this from me, but she’s pregnant.

PEARCEY

Oh no. Is it far along? Do you think she’ll be able to carry out her duties as patron?

ALBA

She’ll be fine. The baby’s not due until April. But that doesn’t mean she’ll actually lift a finger to help us.

PEARCEY

It’s down to us, then. Half a million crowns for a building we didn’t ask for.

ALBA

I thought you’d be used to this sort of thing by now.

PEARCEY

And you know I’ll be the one to blame when it all goes horribly wrong.

(slowly building panic)

Oh gods, the swan boats. It’s the swan boats again…

ALBA

It’s not the swan boats.

PEARCEY

It is. I’m responsible for building someone else’s terrible idea, and I’m going to be the one who has to clean up all the blood afterward…

ALBA

Let’s keep it together. We just need a plan.

PEARCEY

(calming breaths)

Yes. A plan. All right.

Who is our main demographic? Wealthy patrons, I suppose. The nobility?

She takes out pen and paper and begins to jot notes.

ALBA

Her Majesty is still our best connection there.

PEARCEY

We might be better to focus on the wealthy merchants and industrialists, then.

ALBA

Looking to put their names on a prestigious project.

PEARCEY

And after all, they benefit from a healthy workforce.

ALBA

(sighs)

I didn’t become Royal Physician to go about begging for money.

PEARCEY

It wasn’t part of my job description either. But here we are.

Could your staff be any help to us?

ALBA

There’s a first time for everything.

MUSIC STING

EXT. DOORSTEP—DAY

Magnus knocks on the door. After a moment, it’s opened by a nervous old woman.

NEIGHBOUR 1

Yes? Can I help you?

MAGNUS

Hey, how are you, ma’am? My name is Magnus, and I’m here on behalf of the Ministry of Magical Affairs and Health…

NEIGHBOUR 1

Never heard of it.

MAGNUS

Yeah, it’s a new thing. We’re raising money to build a new school for healers…

NEIGHBOUR 1

That all sounds very nice, but I haven’t got—

MAGNUS

Okay, look. Do you like being healthy?

NEIGHBOUR 1

I suppose so?

MAGNUS

Yeah, you do. Eating, breathing, having teeth? Not dying? All that good stuff?

NEIGHBOUR 1

Sure.

MAGNUS

Now, do you know what the number one threat to your health is?

NEIGHBOUR 1

Pony pox?

MAGNUS

Nope.

NEIGHBOUR 1

Goblin fever?

MAGNUS

Wrong again. It’s Liqui‐Melt… ibium Syndrome.

NEIGHBOUR 1

You what?

MAGNUS

You haven’t heard of Liqui‐Meltico Syndrome? It’s a tropical disease from the south. It’s transmitted by spiders.

NEIGHBOUR 1

Ugh!

MAGNUS

Right? Did you know that the average human inhales up to sixteen spiders every night?

NEIGHBOUR 1

No! We inhale them?

MAGNUS

They’re sneaky little bastards. And now that the disease is on the move, every one of those spiders might be a carrier.

NEIGHBOUR 1

How do I know if I’ve got it?

MAGNUS

Oh, you’ll know. Trust me, you’ll know. The disease actually starts liquefying soft tissues like your brain and eyeballs and all your organs. That’s why it’s called the Squirty Plague, see? And then all that goo starts leaking out of every orifice on your body.

NEIGHBOUR 1

Gods above.

MAGNUS

Of course, before all that happens, it starts with soreness and flu‐like symptoms. Do you ever have soreness in your arms and legs, or your back, or…?

NEIGHBOUR 1

Well, yeah. I’m on my feet all day at the store. I just assumed it was from working long hours…

MAGNUS

Never assume. When you assume you make a soup out of your soft tissues.

NEIGHBOUR 1

Oh dear. I need to see a healer.

MAGNUS

You should. And you know what else you should do? Donate generously to the Queen Parabel School of Medicine. We take pledges, but cash is faster and easier.

NEIGHBOUR 1

Yes. Absolutely. Wow.

MAGNUS

Just know that you may well be saving a life. Your own.

MUSIC STING

INT. HOUSE OF HEALING—RECEPTION

PEARCEY

Good morning, team.

HOLLY

Hi Ms Pearcey!

ALBA

You have a “bad news” look. Don’t tell me.

PEARCEY

I just found out we won’t be able to use the Great Hall at the palace.

HOLLY

Aww! Why not?

PEARCEY

They’re still cleaning up from the ball they held in honour of Prince Aquarelian and his entourage.

HOLLY

Oh, I heard about that! Didn’t they have a great big water fight? That sounded like so much fun!

ALBA

It is an honoured custom amongst the mer‐people.

HOLLY

Traditions like that can be so wonderful for bringing everyone together.

PEARCEY

Not to mention costing several thousand crowns in water damage. They’re still wringing out all the tapestries.

ALBA

Well, next time the mer‐people visit, perhaps His Majesty will think to host them down at the harbour.

PEARCEY

(sighs)

They brought hoses.

ALBA

So do we have another venue?

PEARCEY

The only place that’s available Friday night is the Old Coach House.

HOLLY

Yay, that’s a pretty building!

ALBA

A bit… rough and ready.

HOLLY

It has a simple home‐spun charm.

PEARCEY

They’re still charging us a fortune for the booking. We’re hardly going to have anything left for food and drink.

HOLLY

No problem! I love cooking. And I can bring some of my fairy friends to help out as well!

PEARCEY

Hmm. How many friends are we talking about?

ALBA

No. Minister, think about what you’re saying.

HOLLY

It’ll save us money. We fairies are experts at foraging for wild food. And we can sing and dance while we cook!

ALBA

Can I also add: no.

PEARCEY

Well, we should still consider it, given our budget.

Holly, if you and your friends would provide us a full ingredient list ahead of time. We have to be aware of dietary restrictions.

HOLLY

Oh, but I always improvise. You know, add a little bit of whatever’s in season…

ALBA

Which is how we ended up having to fix a dozen people who ate your ginger snaps and suddenly grew tails.

HOLLY

The tails were cute!

PEARCEY

(alarmed)

Or perhaps you can help with decorating instead.

HOLLY

I can do that! We’ll fill every corner of the Old Coach House with flowers.

PEARCEY

As long as they aren’t poisonous, allergenic or covered in thorns.

HOLLY

Well…

PEARCEY

Nothing’s going to go wrong. Is that clear? No tails! No swan boats! Not again!

ALBA

I will provide a list of safe flower varieties.

PEARCEY

Good. Good.

HOLLY

Okay. Is there anything else I can do to help? Please?

PEARCEY

Let’s talk about the gala later. How has the door‐to‐door campaign been going?

ALBA

We’re up to forty‐five hundred crowns.

PEARCEY

A bit slower than I’d hoped.

ALBA

Well, there were a few hiccups early on… but we fixed them.

MUSIC STING

EXT. DOORSTEP

Magnus knocks on the door. It’s opened by a gruff older man.

NEIGHBOUR 2

Yes? Hello?

MAGNUS

Hey, how are you, sir? My name is Magnus, and I’m here on behalf of the Ministry of Magical Affairs and Health…

NEIGHBOUR 2

Yeah, I have no idea what that is.

MAGNUS

We are building a brand new school so we can teach lots more healers and heal lots more people. Sounds great, right? Right. They’re gonna be out there fixing bones and smacking babies and removing unwanted tails…

NEIGHBOUR 2

Removing what?

MAGNUS

So you can see why your donation is so important.

NEIGHBOUR 2

“My donation.” Yeah, right, buddy. Let me guess, you only take cash.

MAGNUS

(he struggles for a moment)

Why… no. I am not allowed to accept cash donations.

NEIGHBOUR 2

Yeah? Why not?

MAGNUS

Because my boss doesn’t trust me not to steal the donations for myself.

Wait, what the hell is going on?

NEIGHBOUR 2

What kinda scam is this?

MAGNUS

Yes, I totally came here to scam you. Dammit! Stop asking me questions!

NEIGHBOUR 2

Is this some kind of weird double bluff?

What’s your name, kid? Who do you work for?

MAGNUS

Magnus of Hezelford. I work for Alba Salix, the Royal Physician… who apparently slipped me a truth potion before I went out this morning. The damn witch!

NEIGHBOUR 2

You work for the Royal Physician.

MAGNUS

Yes! I’m her apprentice. Look, I’ve taken up enough of your time—

Magnus starts backing away, but the man grabs him by the arm.

NEIGHBOUR 2

Not so fast. I’m turning you in, you little fraud.

MAGNUS

Ow! Let go!

NEIGHBOUR 2

“Ministry of Magical Affairs”. What kind of fool do you think I am?

MAGNUS

A big one, I figured, but apparently you’re much smarter than you—ow! It’s true! Everything I’ve said is true. The Ministry, the school thing…

NEIGHBOUR 2

You said it was a scam.

MAGNUS

No, the fundraising part is real, I was just stealing donations.

NEIGHBOUR 2

Well, you picked the wrong guy to try and rip off.

MAGNUS

No argument here!

NEIGHBOUR 2

I was a sergeant in the town guard. You know what we did with little creeps like you?

MAGNUS

Ow! I warn you, I know many unarmed moves that I hope look intimidating but actually kind of suck in a real fight—dammit!

NEIGHBOUR 2

I guess the question is, do I report this to your boss, or should I turn you in to the town guard?

MAGNUS

Town guard, definitely town guard.

NEIGHBOUR 2

All right, back to the witch it is.

MAGNUS

I’m begging you, man! Turn me in!

MUSIC STING

INT. BALLROOM

Holly flutters across the room as she works. We hear rustling, like leaves, and an unsteady creaking sound.

HOLLY

(singing)

Welcome, welcome, you’re just in time… to help us build a brand new school, la la la!

Magnus is working, closer at hand.

MAGNUS

Argh! Dammit… Holly, are you sure these are the “safe” flowers?

HOLLY

Magnus! I’m ready for the next garland. Come on! We need to finish!

She touches down beside Magnus.

MAGNUS

Just hold your horses. I’ve got blisters from stringing all these stupid garlands.

HOLLY

Well, if you didn’t want to be stringing stupid garlands in the stupid ballroom, you shouldn’t have tried stealing money from our donors.

MAGNUS

Stupid donors. Stupid retired cop donors.

Here’s your garland. Are we done now?

HOLLY

Stay put. I’m not supposed to let you out of my sight.

Holly flies up and starts tying the garland.

HOLLY

Wait, it’s not going to reach. Magnus! The garland’s too short!

MAGNUS

Yeah, well, I ran out of twine! Look, just tie it to one of the arms of the chandelier.

HOLLY

But then it won’t be symmetrical.

MAGNUS

So, do the same thing on the other side.

HOLLY

We can’t waste any more time. Ms Pearcey’s going to be back here any minute.

MAGNUS

I know! Look—go ahead and tie it off and we’ll fix it later.

HOLLY

Okay, okay.

Holly flutters about.

MAGNUS

See? It’s fine. It’s on the far side, so she won’t even notice.

Holly finishes and touches down.

HOLLY

There.

MAGNUS

Nice.

HOLLY

All right. Let’s start setting up the tables.

MAGNUS

Sure. Give me a minute. I just want to enjoy the feeling of having arms, while I still can.

HOLLY

The garlands do look pretty good from here!

MAGNUS

Right?

Well, I guess we better get on with—

Part of the chandelier gives way with a groan. The garland rustles, and metal and cut glass smash on the floor.

HOLLY

Aaaa!

MAGNUS

Oh boy.

HOLLY

Get a broom!

They run around trying to clean up.

MAGNUS

I told you we shouldn’t have tied it to the chandelier.

HOLLY

You…!

She hits him.

MAGNUS

Ow! Hey! Physical assault in the workplace!

The door opens, and Pearcey enters with an armful of flowers.

PEARCEY

Holly, Magnus, I’ve brought the flowers for the centrepieces. How are you doing with the…

(she notices the mess)

…tables?

MAGNUS

Hey… hello, Madam Minister.

PEARCEY

(icy silence, then)

Well. There’s another five hundred crowns down the privy.

HOLLY

I’m sorry, Ms Pearcey!

MAGNUS

It’s all good. This gala is supposed to bring in money. That’s kind of the whole idea, right?

PEARCEY

Yes. We’re expecting fifty of the richest people in the kingdom to come and give us money. And look at this place. Honestly. A broken chandelier. Stems and leaves and glass everywhere.

HOLLY

We’re cleaning up!

MAGNUS

It’s all under control, your ministerialness.

PEARCEY

All right. Deep breaths. Let’s take it one step at a time—

The other arm of the chandelier falls off with a crash. Everyone gives a shout of alarm.

HOLLY

Aaa! Watch out!

PEARCEY

(sighs)

MAGNUS

Well hey, at least it’s symmetrical again.

PEARCEY

Get. This. Cleaned. Up.

HOLLY

Yes, Ms Pearcey.

They start sweeping up.

MAGNUS

So… those new flowers sure look nice.

PEARCEY

Yes. The rest are on the way from the florist. For the love of Loxsyn, don’t break all the vases as well.

MAGNUS

(under his breath, mocking)

“Don’t break all the vases as well…”

HOLLY

Wait… these are orange vipertongues.

PEARCEY

That’s right.

HOLLY

They’re not on Alba’s list!

PEARCEY

Yes they are…

HOLLY

No they’re not! Who ordered them?

PEARCEY

I did. It was… a special request.

MAGNUS

Vipertongues, huh? Do they cause swift and painful death?

HOLLY

They can cause mild sinus allergies in some humans.

MAGNUS

Boo. You can’t name something that lame after a viper.

PEARCEY

All right. We don’t have time to change them. Just set up the tables, please.

HOLLY

All right, but if someone sneezes themselves to death, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

MUSIC STING

INT. PALACE CHAMBER

GUNTHER

Parabel, darling…

PARABEL

Yes, dear.

GUNTHER

Why aren’t you getting ready for the gala tonight? I thought you’d be excited to spend the evening with your friends… see and be seen, enjoy yourself.

PARABEL

I don’t think I can.

GUNTHER

Why ever not?

PARABEL

I’m not feeling well.

GUNTHER

Because of the baby?

PARABEL

Yes… the baby.

GUNTHER

You could put in a brief appearance, surely. You had that lovely pink dress picked out…

PARABEL

It doesn’t fit any more.

GUNTHER

We just had it adjusted! Come now. Let’s see.

PARABEL

It doesn’t fit.

GUNTHER

Surely the baby’s not growing that fast. Is it?

PARABEL

Look.

She stands up.

GUNTHER

Oh. Oh good heavens. I could swear you were half that size only yesterday.

PARABEL

Why, thank you, darling.

GUNTHER

I didn’t mean it as a criticism! That is a royal baby in there, after all.

PARABEL

As I said, the dress doesn’t fit.

GUNTHER

This is happening rather quickly, isn’t it? Should we be worried?

PARABEL

No, no, Alba says it’s just a… super‐expansionary pregnancy, I think she called it.

GUNTHER

Oh dear, that does sound dangerous.

PARABEL

Oh, no. She says it’s nothing to be worried about.

GUNTHER

Ah, good! Then you can go to the gala.

PARABEL

It’s just so uncomfortable.

GUNTHER

Just for a few minutes.

PARABEL

Very, very, uncomfortable.

GUNTHER

Then we’d better get Alba back here to see you.

PARABEL

Not that uncomfortable!

GUNTHER

Parabel, dear, your people need you. It’ll be your name on this new building, and your face, smiling down at every bright young student, every loopy old wizard who steps through its doors!

PARABEL

(softening)

Yes.

GUNTHER

Not to mention the rumours that will spread if you don’t show up.

PARABEL

(sighs)

All right, darling. I’ll go.

GUNTHER

Thank you. We’ll get the tailors in here right away to see to that dress. You’ll look magnificent.

PARABEL

I always do…

GUNTHER

Courage, my treasure. You’ve done this twice before!

PARABEL

Yes, that’s true.

(to herself)

Though this one’s turning out a little bit differently.

MUSIC STING

INT. BACK HALLWAY

PEARCEY

Where is everyone? The musicians are late…

HOLLY

I’m sure they’ll be here any minute.

MAGNUS

Pff. Musicians are always late.

PEARCEY

The Palace caterers are nowhere to be found. To say nothing of—

The door opens. Alba hurries in from the rain—it’s pouring outside.

PEARCEY

Ahh, there you are.

ALBA

Yes. Sorry, there was an emergency back at the House of Healing.

HOLLY

Oh no! What happened?

ALBA

An outbreak of pony pox.

PEARCEY

Well, get changed. Holly, I need you to fly up to the Palace and find out where on earth the royal caterers are.

HOLLY

Sure thing!

ALBA

No, no, don’t bother. I know exactly where they are.

PEARCEY

Where—oh no.

ALBA

Yup.

PEARCEY

Oh, no, no, no…

HOLLY

Well, don’t keep us in suspense. Where are they?

ALBA

At the House of Healing, recovering from a massive bout of pony pox.

HOLLY

Oh my gosh! All of them?

PEARCEY

I don’t suppose any of them are well enough to cook?

ALBA

And infect all our guests?

PEARCEY

Oh no, no, no.

(to Magnus and Holly)

Well, don’t just stand there, you two—get to work. Cooking!

MAGNUS

Us?

HOLLY

You got it! Cooking is my most favourite thing ever.

MAGNUS

Couldn’t we just make the dinner appear by magic? Like the Sorceror General used to do for banquets and things?

ALBA

That was all illusion. Someone had to actually make the food first.

MAGNUS

Great. So we’re screwed, in other words.

ALBA

Magnus, I have had a long day that is only getting longer. I need you two to go into that kitchen, find something on the menu that you think you can cook, and cook it.

HOLLY

You got it! We’ll take it from here.

PEARCEY

Good. Alba, get dressed. Our guests will be arriving soon, and then we’ll have to… mingle.

(she shudders)

ALBA

Yes. Good luck with that.

PEARCEY

Oh no. You’ve got to do your fair share too, Ms Salix. Come on. I’ve written out some sample donor conversations to practice.

ALBA

Fine.

CUT TO:

INT. KITCHEN

Holly hums as she fetches pots and utensils out of cupboards.

MAGNUS

“Asparagus Galinoise with a truffle infusion over steamed mastodon sprouts”?

Holly, do you understand anything on this menu?

HOLLY

Forget the menu. Let’s make it up as we go!

MAGNUS

Because that usually ends well.

HOLLY

The important thing is to have fun!

MUSIC STING

INT. BALLROOM

A refined crowd chatters and laughs. A string quartet plays in the background.

PEARCEY

Mister Preston!

PRESTON

What a terrific evening, Your Ladyship. Best party of the year.

PEARCEY

Thank you. It was so good of you to come.

PRESTON

Say, is something burning?

PEARCEY

I’m sure it’s fine.

Holly flies by.

HOLLY

Good evening, Your Ladyship! Hello, unknown gentleman!

PRESTON

Fairy servants! That’s a nice touch.

(to Holly)

Hello, darling.

HOLLY

Would you like a glass of sparkling wine?

PRESTON

I would love some.

PEARCEY

Thank you, Holly.

(whispers)

Is everything all right in the kitchen?

HOLLY

Perfectly fine!

PRESTON

(drinks)

Whew! That’s certainly different. A bit… I want to say, cabbagey?

PEARCEY

(sniffs)

Good heavens. Yes, there are certain… vegetal notes to it.

Holly, what on earth is this?

HOLLY

Fairy moonshine! It’s wholesome and nourishing. Contains twelve essential nutrients required to build stronger wings and add shine to your hair. If you had wings, I mean. Only the best for our wonderful donors!

PEARCEY

(whispers)

You made moonshine out of our dinner?

HOLLY

We had a problem with the hors d’oeuvres. Magnus is moving on to the soup course.

PEARCEY

(sighs)

PRESTON

(another sip)

Boy, this stuff does kind of grow on you, doesn’t it.

PEARCEY

Indeed! Well! I’m sure our good chef will have plenty more wonderful surprises up his sleeve tonight.

HOLLY

Yes! Yes, he will.

PRESTON

(tipsy already)

Whew! I could swear it’s getting a little hazy in here. Or is that just the wine?

PEARCEY

(whispers)

Holly? What is on fire?

HOLLY

I’ll be right back!

PEARCEY

Oh dear.

ALBA

Good evening.

PEARCEY

Ah, Ms Salix. Please meet Mister Edgar Preston. Mister Preston, this is Ms Alba Salix, the Royal Physician.

PRESTON

It’s an honour, Ms Salix.

PEARCEY

Mister Preston is one of our most generous donors.

ALBA

That’s wonderful.

PRESTON

Well, magic is our business, you know, and we’re very interested in giving back to the magical community…

ALBA

What business would that be?

PRESTON

I am the head of Mysticorp Energy, ma’am.

ALBA

(suddenly dark)

Mysticorp—oh. Yes.

PRESTON

The kingdom’s largest exporter of mystical energy!

ALBA

I’m aware. Extracting energy straight from the loo lines isn’t the safest of practices.

PEARCEY

(whispers)

Ms Salix…

PRESTON

We take every precaution—

ALBA

What was it now? Two major spills in the last year?

PRESTON

Now listen, those were sabotage by our competitors.

ALBA

Not to mention the earthquakes, and the rain of skunks back in April.

PEARCEY

Well! I must say, it was very good of Mister Preston to attend our little fundraiser, especially on such a stormy night.

PRESTON

Oh, it’s my pleasure. At least it’s only raining water, eh? Heh heh.

PEARCEY

We are certainly very grateful for his presence and his company’s generous donation. Aren’t we, Ms Salix?

ALBA

Yes. Yes, that is very good of him.

PEARCEY

It’s been lovely chatting with you, sir.

PRESTON

Likewise!

PEARCEY

(laughs politely then, to Alba:)

Why do you have to provoke our donors?

ALBA

Force of habit.

PEARCEY

Can you wait to do it until after our school is built?

ALBA

Yes, you’re right, I’m sorry.

(over her shoulder)

Aren’t those flowers lovely, Mister Preston?

PRESTON

Oh, yes, gorgeous.

He sniffs at one and begins sneezing violently.

MUSIC STING

INT. KITCHEN

Hissing steam and crackling flames.

HOLLY

Magnus! What happened in here?

MAGNUS

(coughing)

Nothing! Everything’s under control now.

HOLLY

I think the guests are getting hungry.

MAGNUS

I’m working on it! I’m trying to get an assembly line going here. So we just place the vegetables here. The knives chop them and lift them into the pot…

HOLLY

What, by themselves? Oh no, Magnus, don’t you dare try cooking with magic.

MAGNUS

We can’t feed all those people by hand! Watch, it’s gonna be fine.

(tries to remember)

Uh… so it’s… Nimis multi pomari!

Shing! Several knives spring into the air and hang there, clinking softly.

HOLLY

Aaa! Magnus, if you’re going to use magic, use it for things that don’t involve knives!

MAGNUS

It’s okay! It’s okay. Um… I dunno why they’re just floating there.

Nimis multi… pomarii?

The knives all begin chopping violently. Magnus and Holly both shout in alarm.

MAGNUS

Okay! That worked better than I expected.

Holly makes for the door as the knives pick up speed.

HOLLY

I’m going to deliver more drinks!

MUSIC STING

INT. BALLROOM

PEARCEY

Ms Salix, this is Lord Croncible, the shipping magnate.

CRONCIBLE

(a hearty older man with a southern US accent)

Oh, it is a pleasure to meet you, fair lady!

ALBA

Lord Croncible. It’s so good of you to lend us your support.

CRONCIBLE

It is my duty and pleasure.

(chuckles)

ALBA

(feigning great interest)

So. How is the shipping business? Sail any good ships lately?

CRONCIBLE

Oh, it’s about more than just ships these days!

ALBA

You don’t say!

CRONCIBLE

Yes, you see… these days the smart money is in carpets.

PEARCEY

Oh dear.

ALBA

What, shipping by carpet?

CRONCIBLE

Absolutely! Those Niamondese flying carpets are the wave of the future.

PEARCEY

Ah, how fascinating!

ALBA

Ms. Pearcey, didn’t you issue a report on freight carpets while you were Minister of Transportation?

PEARCEY

Oh, yes, just some preliminary findings…

ALBA

I think the conclusion was “inefficient and a risk to cargo and crew”.

CRONCIBLE

Oh, no, no, no, now there ya go. These modern ones are perfectly safe, dear lady. They’ve got bracing and active damping. We’ve even got side rails… No more being dumped overboard when a breeze comes up!

PEARCEY

Yes, you see, Ms Salix? Probably worth another look.

ALBA

Yes, I’m sure you’re right.

My, aren’t these flowers lovely?

PEARCEY

(instantly)

Don’t smell the flowers.

Does that mean you’ve solved the weight ratio problem, Your Lordship?

ALBA

Yes, didn’t I read that the bracing is so heavy they can barely carry a single banana?

CRONCIBLE

Bah! Simple technical challenges. The fourth‐generation carpets use hollow bracing, so now we can carry a substantially much greater payload!

ALBA

Two bananas?

CRONCIBLE

That’s about right.

MUSIC STING

INT. KITCHEN

Knives chop and vegetables plop into a bubbling pot.

MAGNUS

There we go! Yeaaaah. This is going to be easy.

HOLLY

Wow! Magnus, you actually got it working.

MAGNUS

Of course I did! Turns out I’m a master at this. The magic was in me all along.

HOLLY

How does it taste?

MAGNUS

No idea. But hey, there’s enough for everybody!

HOLLY

Well, can you stop all the knives and things so I can try some?

MAGNUS

Yeah, see if it needs some spices or whatever.

Quiescite!

The knives keep right on going.

MAGNUS

Hello, that’s enough onions! Quiessi… Quiessita? Quiessita? Stop!

The pot starts to boil over and the knives chop faster and faster.

HOLLY

Magnus!

MAGNUS

Quiesco! Quiesto! Quiesque? Help! Help!

MUSIC STING

INT. BALLROOM

Alba and Ms. Pearcey approach the Jonewoods, a pair of frivolous nobles.

PEARCEY

Lord and Lady Jonewood, may I present Ms Alba Salix, the Royal Physician.

LORD JONEWOOD

Delighted.

LADY JONEWOOD

Charmed.

ALBA

Thank you both for being here.

LORD JONEWOOD

Yes! Well, it’s such an important cause, you know. I think it is such an imperative to care for the most vulnerable in our society, and orphans are among the most—

LADY JONEWOOD

(whispers)

Dearest, this is the House of Healing gala.

LORD JONEWOOD

Oh yes, of course. It’s Friday. Silly me. Uh, yes! Orphans are among the most likely to contract horrible diseases.

ALBA

Well, I suppose you’re not wrong.

LORD JONEWOOD

What’s that dreadful one with the eyeballs? And the extra teeth all over the place?

ALBA

The Biting Blight.

LADY JONEWOOD

Ugh! That does sound horrid.

LORD JONEWOOD

Horrid!

PEARCEY

Well! Speaking of horrid, how about tonight’s weather?

LADY JONEWOOD

Oh, it’s frightful out there! I was just saying—

A hush falls.

PAGE

His Majesty, King Gunther the Third!

Her Majesty, Queen Parabel!

A smattering of polite applause, and a few sneezes.

PEARCEY

Oh my. That’s odd.

ALBA

Isn’t it, though?

LORD JONEWOOD

Oh. Good heavens, I didn’t realize Her Majesty was… with child again.

LADY JONEWOOD

No, she’s isn’t—oh! She is! Dear me, when did that happen? I saw her only a week or two ago and there was no sign whatsoever.

LORD JONEWOOD

I say, this isn’t some wild new fashion in dresses, is it?

ALBA

No, that’s all her. Well, her, plus what looks one very big baby.

PEARCEY

Oh dear. I’d have postponed the gala if I’d known. I had no idea she was so far along.

ALBA

(under her breath)

She wasn’t.

GUNTHER

Ms Pearcey. Ms Salix.

PEARCEY

Your Majesties.

GUNTHER

Ready for the big unveiling?

ALBA

We simply can’t wait.

GUNTHER

Neither can I! I’d better check on the model.

(hums to himself as he bustles off)

PARABEL

(perfectly gracious, but barely holding together)

Ms Pearcey, what a perfectly splendid gala.

PEARCEY

Your Majesty is too kind.

PARABEL

Alba. Lady Jonewood, Lord Jonewood.

LADY JONEWOOD

Your Majesty.

LORD JONEWOOD

Your Majesty. I say, does this serve as an official announcement?

PARABEL

Announcement?

LORD JONEWOOD

Of your happy state? Of expectancy? Of a third child? Oh dear. Ha ha. Unless it’s some kind of dreadful bloat. I know women of a certain age are particularly susceptible to hyperinflation of the—

PARABEL

It’s a baby.

LADY JONEWOOD

Ah! Congratulations, Your Majesty.

LORD JONEWOOD

You must be so relieved! How far along are you?

PARABEL

Eleven weeks.

LADY JONEWOOD

(laughing)

Eleven weeks?!

LORD JONEWOOD

Oh my. Is that a lot?

PARABEL

…away. The baby is eleven weeks away!

LADY JONEWOOD

Oh, of course, of course.

They all laugh awkwardly and at great length.

ALBA

(whispering)

Your Majesty, a word if I may?

PARABEL

(whispering)

Not now. It’s almost time for the speeches.

ALBA

To hell with the speeches. I need to examine you, immediately!

Parabel!

Alba hurries out after her.

GUNTHER

(clears his throat)

Ladies and gentlemen, honoured guests.

The crowd falls silent. Someone sneezes.

GUNTHER

On behalf of the Queen Parabel Health Foundation, we extend our warmest thanks to all of you for your generous support. I know you’re all keen to find out what this building is going to look like, and believe me, I’m keen to show you! But before that, I want to acknowledge the patron of this vital project: Her Majesty, my dear Queen Parabel Salix.

Applause.

GUNTHER

Parabel, if you’d like to step up here and… um… Parabel?

A growing buzz of concerned whispers.

GUNTHER

Parabel? Has anyone seen the Queen?

INT. CORRIDOR

Rapid footsteps echo down the hall.

ALBA

Parabel! Where are you going?

PARABEL

I just need to catch my breath.

ALBA

That’s not all you need. Come back here.

PARABEL

Nothing is wrong.

ALBA

Yes, your being nine months pregnant, two and a half months in, is perfectly normal.

PARABEL

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this…

ALBA

What wasn’t?

From down the hall comes a smash and clatter of cutlery. Magnus pokes his head out the kitchen door. Parabel takes the opportunity to slip away down the hall.

MAGNUS

(breathless)

Alba! There you are. Boss, we got problems.

ALBA

Sort them out. I have a medical emergency.

MAGNUS

And I really, really need your help! Alba!

ALBA

Why? What have you done this time? No, don’t answer that. Just deal with it. I need to examine Her… Majesty. Oh no.

(shouts)

Parabel!

Magnus screams as something drags him back into the kitchen. The kitchen door slams. Muffled crashing.

ALBA

Magnus, did you see where the Queen went?

Magnus! Parabel!

Dammit.

INT. STOREROOM

Thunder rumbles and rain patters at the roof as Parabel stumbles in, panting for breath, and closes the door behind her. She gives a sudden, wrenching gasp of pain.

PARABEL

Oh no. Oh no, no, not now!

CREDITS

CLOSING THEME

ELI

In “Blueprint For Success”, Alba Salix, Volume Two, Episode Five, you heard Barbara Clifford as Alba Salix, Julian Sark as Magnus, Olivia Jon as Holly, and Elaine O’Neal as Antalia Pearcey,

with George Bertwell as King Gunther, Marisa King as Queen Parabel, Abbas Hussein as Neighbour 2, Hugo Jones as Lord Croncible,

and special guests:

Neighbour 1 was Jack Pevyhouse of Misadventure by Death, Jim Robbie and the upcoming Forest Guide;

Edgar Preston was Alexander Danner of Greater Boston;

and Lady Jonewood was Sarah Golding of nearly every audio drama on the planet.

Script, music and sound design by Eli McIlveen.

Directed by Sean Howard and Eli McIlveen.

Associate producers: Julian Sark, Michael Hudson, Jack Pevyhouse, Paul Tedesco, Keiko Kanda and Heather Collins.

Supporting Producer: Kim Bellinger.

Executive Producer: Dave Addison.

If you enjoy the show, check out our Patreon. Donors get weekly bonus content, early access to episodes, and an invite to our wonderful fan community on Discord. Look for the Patreon link at albasalix.com.