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E201: A Taste of Something New

It’s time for another round at the Axe & Crown!

Gubbin and Betula try to lift Stan’s spirits by plotting to beat the Badger & Bucket at their own game.

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Starring Hugo Jones, Art Carlson and Marisa King
Written by Eli McIlveen
Directed by Sean Howard and Eli McIlveen
Sound design by Eli McIlveen
Produced by Sean Howard
Supporting producers: Kim Bellinger, Ryan Cushman and Kona

Content warning: gross food, poop jokes and crime.


Episode Transcript

ELI

Hi everyone! It’s Eli here, your writer and sound designer, back with long-awaited season 2 of The Axe & Crown.

We’ve got six shiny new episodes, one dropping every other week for you. Plus we’ve got a whole bunch of bonus episodes too. If you’re a and up supporter on Patreon you’ll get to hear those too.

For the first time, we are recording this thing at home, here on our attic studio where we also record The End of Time and Other Bothers, as well as our sci fi show Civilized. That makes it easier to record, and that means it’s going to be less of a wait between seasons, so that’s awesome. The only drawback is, there’s no control room so Sean and I have to keep quiet and not laugh all the way through the takes, because our cast are wonderful. Thanks to them. Thanks to our supporting producers, Kim Bellinger, Ryan Cushman and Kona. And thanks to all our supporters on Patreon. We are so grateful and so excited to be bringing this new season to you. We hope you enjoy it.

Theme music plays.

ANNOUNCER

The Axe & Crown, Round 2!

Episode 1: A Taste of Something New.

MORNING

The bar is empty, but a big crowd is milling around outside. Stan is watching them out the window.

GUBBIN

(hums to himself)

Hey, Stan! How you doing?

STAN

(distracted)

Huh? Oh, morning Gubbin.

A moment passes.

GUBBIN

Stan.

STAN

Yeah.

GUBBIN

Stan, no.

STAN

What?

GUBBIN

Whatever it is, we’re not doing it.

STAN

What are we doing?

GUBBIN

You’re staring out the window at the Badger and Bucket.

STAN

Well, yeah, look, it’s across the street. If I look out the window, there’s not much else to see.

GUBBIN

Uh huh. But that always means they’re doing some stupid trendy new thing that you’re gonna want us to do too.

STAN

Yeah, probably. I mean, that’s what they do, they beat us to every cool new idea.

GUBBIN

Okay. What is it? Fondue? Peanut butter tacos? 24-karat gold pie for a limited time only?

STAN

It’s… brunch.

GUBBIN

Huh?

STAN

It’s a cross between breakfast and—

GUBBIN

Yeah, the word is familiar to me. Are all those people actually lining up to get in?

STAN

I mean, I guess.

GUBBIN

You guess, Stan? What’s the matter with you?

STAN

I dunno. It’s like you said, I’m always trying some stupid new thing here and it never works out.

GUBBIN

Yeah, but it livens up the place.

STAN

I just feel like maybe I should do something else, and leave this place to you and Betula to run. You’ve been here forever. You know what works.

GUBBIN

I know what used to work. Business is changing around here. We’re sure not packing in patrons on a Saturday morning like we used to be. Look at all those people.

STAN

Yeah, look at them. They’re really our crowd. All those hoity toity downtown hipster types.

GUBBIN

Like you’re not one of them! Come on.

STAN

Hanging out on the patio, eating their delicious-looking food.

GUBBIN

Yeah. Just imagine all those hoity toity downtown folks coming here instead, with all their hoity toity cash and showering me in it. Heh heh. That’s a good dream.

The door opens.

GUBBIN

Say, that could be one now!

BETULA

Hey Stan. Hey Uncle.

GUBBIN

Or not.

STAN

Hey Betula.

BETULA

What’s going on across the street? I’ve never seen it so packed.

STAN

They’re serving brunch. It’s the new big thing, apparently.

BETULA

Wow. Why aren’t we getting in on that action?

GUBBIN

Good question. What do you think, Stan? This is your specialty.

STAN

What is my specialty?

GUBBIN

You’re all about this kinda trendy bullcrap anyway—um, I mean, opportunity. You’re our… let’s call it Head of Innovation.

STAN

I am?

BETULA

Yeah, you’re the one always trying out new ideas around here.

GUBBIN

If it wasn’t for you, Stan, this place would just be a dusty, forgotten little hole in the wall. Like it used to be.

STAN

Aw, thanks, guys.

I guess we could try serving brunch. We’re not gonna get that many people to fit in here, though. That’s the problem.

GUBBIN

Course not. Brunch at the Axe and Crown will have to be a smaller affair. More intimate.

BETULA

Yeah! More laid-back.

STAN

Yeah, more cozy. We should have candles.

BETULA

Maybe put up some work by local artists.

STAN

Oh! That sounds so nice. How about a special craft beer? A breakfast beer!

GUBBIN

Yeah! Yeah, see? That’s the Stan I know.

STAN

Something with some real Axe and Crown flair. We could have pancakes shaped like little shields and things.

GUBBIN

(with difficulty)

Yeah. Sure.

STAN

Betula, you could make kling klangs!

BETULA

Ooo. Or bone waffles. No! Seagull on toast.

STAN

Oh yeah! I can see it now—sorry, did you say seagull?

GUBBIN

Maybe Betula can hook us up with some of that unicorn coffee.

STAN

Oh, unicorn coffee, wow! Where the unicorns, like, eat the berries and daintily spit out the beans?

GUBBIN

Yeah, that’s how it’s made.

STAN

Have you had that stuff? It is delicious. But how are we gonna get a hold of some?

BETULA

I may have had a little something to do with bringing unicorn coffee to Grandville originally.

STAN

Wait, what?! Why aren’t we serving it right now?

Silence.

BETULA

Oh, Stan.

STAN

What?

GUBBIN

(starts chuckling)

STAN

What? What’d I miss?

BETULA

See… a couple months ago, this buddy of mine was due to get a coffee shipment in from Niamondu, but the caravan arrived two days early, in a total panic. Somehow the horses had gotten into the bags and they ate everything.

STAN

Oh no!

BETULA

Yeah. They did a three-day trip in one night. But all the coffee beans were gone. All he had were four really grumpy, really twitchy horses and a giant pile of poop.

STAN

Oh man, wow!

Wait, what does this have to do with unicorns?

BETULA

I’m getting there. Anyway, the poor guy was in tears. So I had to help him out. I took the, you know, shipment off his hands, added a little fake vanilla flavouring, and got some friends to come by and package it up. Sold most of it to different Bucket pubs.

STAN

I know! They were serving it right across the street. But wait, if the horses ate everything…

GUBBIN

(goes on laughing)

STAN

Then how… there wouldn’t have been… no. No, no, no.

That means that the coffee was…

BETULA

Wait. Did you go there and drink some?

STAN

Well, of course I did! It’s unicorn coffee!

BETULA

(groans)

GUBBIN

(cackles)

STAN

Think about it! When you hear the name “Unicorn Coffee”, are you gonna pass that by? I had to try that. It tasted really good!

BETULA

Oh no, Stan, I’m sorry.

STAN

Oh man.

BETULA

I mean, at least they boil the water there when they make coffee.

GUBBIN

(laughs harder)

STAN

Wait. Did Dorothea know it was… not really from unicorns?

GUBBIN

Yeah! And that the horses weren’t spitting out those beans?

STAN

(groans)

BETULA

She probably figured it out. I don’t think she cared either way.

STAN

What? Really?

BETULA

Nah. For her, it was just the latest hot new food trend.

GUBBIN

Yeah, they always gotta have some weird new thing on the menu.

STAN

Yeah, well, you know what? We’ll show them. As Head of…

GUBBIN

Innovation.

STAN

Thank you. Innovation—I say we’re gonna give that crowd a taste of new sensations like they have never seen!

GUBBIN

That’s it, team!

Music sting.

NEXT SATURDAY AFTERNOON

The last of the brunch crowd filters out, leaving the bar empty.

STAN

Bye guys! Thanks for coming! Tell your friends! Axe and Crown… brunchy brunch.

He shuts the door behind them, and drops the cheery façade.

STAN

(sighs)

Oh, man.

GUBBIN

You all right there, kid?

STAN

Yeah, I’m fine.

GUBBIN

What’s the matter? Brunch was a big hit.

STAN

I guess it was.

GUBBIN

You guess?

Betula emerges from the kitchen.

BETULA

Well? How did we do?

GUBBIN

(still talking to Stan)

Kid, we must have made eighty crowns!

BETULA

Wow! That’s almost worth getting up early with a Saturday morning hangover.

GUBBIN

Yeah. And that’s eighty crowns after the decorations and Stan’s cask of crap beer.

STAN

Craft beer.

GUBBIN

Craft.

STAN

Craft. Say it with me.

GUBBIN

Craaaaft. Craft beer. Geez, I keep getting that wrong.

STAN

I know.

BETULA

Hey, what’s going on? What’s up, Stan?

STAN

Me? Oh, nothing. No, listen. I’m glad it went well.

BETULA

This was your idea! Your first big idea as Head of Innovation. And it went great! Especially for the first time doing it.

GUBBIN

Yeah! You sure told us.

See, this is where you’re supposed to rub it in our faces and dance around like an annoying little twerp.

STAN

Look. There’s just something missing here, you know? I don’t know what it is. I can’t put my finger on it.

BETULA

They got a patio.

GUBBIN

And about ten more tables than us.

STAN

Yeah, but it’s more than that. Something special.

GUBBIN

Signature cocktails?

BETULA

We had crabgrass smoothies. And our famous Mud Street Marmalade.

GUBBIN

Okay, you gotta tell me. Is there some kinda gristle in that for the special ingredient?

BETULA

Nope, my lips are sealed.

STAN

Wait! I know what it was! Live music.

GUBBIN

In the marmalade?

STAN

No, no, across the street. They had that awesome fiddle player.

GUBBIN

Yeah, roaming the patio and bugging everyone at their tables.

STAN

Everyone was super into it! They were all laughing and clapping along, and that little girl was passing around the hat collecting coins—she was so cute. I guess she’s his daughter or something?

BETULA

Granddaughter.

STAN

Oh! Do you know him?

BETULA

Yeah, Cinnamon Ted! He really knows how to work a crowd.

GUBBIN

Heh heh.

STAN

If you know him, why is he playing across the street? Why can’t we get him in here?

BETULA

Well…

GUBBIN

Well, let’s see. Given the choice between playing this charming but tiny little bar and the whole Badger and Bucket with its expensive patio, which would you choose?

STAN

I guess that makes sense.

There’s a complicated knock at the back door.

STAN

What’s that?

GUBBIN

Oh. Sounds like one of yours, Betula.

BETULA

Yeah, I’ll get that. One sec.

She heads off to answer the door.

STAN

One of her what?

GUBBIN

Nothing, nothing.

Betula opens the back door.

BETULA

(from the back hallway)

Hey Ted. Hey Jessie.

TED

(from the back hallway)

Well hey there, Miss Betula!

STAN

Hey, I think that’s the guy!

GUBBIN

(feigning ignorance)

What guy?

Stan is halfway across the room.

STAN

The fiddler guy! Aw, I gotta go say hello.

GUBBIN

Wait, wait. Stan. I got an idea!

STAN

Hold that thought. I’ll be right back.

GUBBIN

A brunch idea, Stan! This one’s really good!

STAN

I’ll be right back.

GUBBIN

It’s gold! It’s got mocha!

STAN

Hold on!

GUBBIN

Doh! Dammit.

We follow Stan to the back door.

BETULA

(hushed)

Oh yeah, this is a great bracelet, but it’s a little too unique, you know? It might have to leave town if it’s gonna sell—

STAN

Hey guys!

BETULA

(startled, guilty)

Stan!

STAN

Are you Cinnamon Ted, by chance?

TED

Why yes, I’m Ted and this is Jessie.

STAN

It is so good to meet you. I’m Stan.

BETULA

Yeah, this is Stan, our fine and law-abiding landlord.

TED

A pleasure, my friend.

STAN

I just wanted to say how great you were.

TED

Oh! Well, thank you very much.

STAN

Listen. We were really groovin’ over here across the street listening to you.

TED

Too kind, too kind.

STAN

Hey, your granddad’s pretty talented, isn’t he? Eh, Jessie? Hi! Hi there Jessie! Hello!

Silence.

TED

She doesn’t talk much.

STAN

That’s okay! My name is Stan. How do you do, Jessie?

BETULA

You don’t have to shake hands if you don’t want to, Jessie.

STAN

Up to you. Hey, there ya go!

BETULA

Oh boy.

STAN

That’s an excellent handshake. High five! Down low—too slow! Heh heh! That was pretty funny, wasn’t it, Jessie? No. Not funny. Wow, tough room.

BETULA

Well then, if that’s everything, Stan…

STAN

Yeah, hey, listen. I just wanted to say, just while I have you here, that was a great job, Ted. I wish that we could get someone like you for our weekend brunch.

TED

Oh! Well, I’m afraid my weekends are booked up for the next little while.

STAN

Whatever Dorothea is paying you, I’ll double it!

TED

Oh, she’s not paying me. It’s all passing the hat, plus a pinch of petty pilfer…

BETULA

(clears her throat)

TED

…I mean, a pinch of passing the hat some more. Surprisingly lucrative.

STAN

I’ll make up the difference.

TED

I hate to say it, but that’s gonna be a pretty big difference.

STAN

I don’t care.

TED

Especially if we’re, you know…

(he catches another look from Betula)

Doing things above board.

STAN

Above board? I don’t—

(dawning realization)

Oh. Oh my gosh.

BETULA

There it is.

STAN

Are you telling me that all the while you’re busking at these places, you’re… you are not declaring your income?

TED

Yeah. Heh. Yeah, exactly. Promise you won’t tell?

STAN

Oh, well, sure. Yeah, that’s cool. Cool cool cool cool. Listen, I’m down with you. I know. It’s hard making a living as an artist.

TED

That it is. So glad you understand.

STAN

Oh, a hundred percent. So… what would it take to convince you to play at the Axe and Crown?

BETULA

Uh, Stan, can we talk about this later?

STAN

Oh, sorry, sorry! I totally barged in. That is my fault. You guys were talking about—hey, that’s a nice bracelet.

TED

Yeah. This belonged to my mother. I was just asking Betula what I might be able to get for it.

STAN

Wait. Isn’t that a Louisa Shilman piece? That knotwork is totally Shilman.

TED

It is? Gosh.

BETULA

Wow.

TED

I had no idea.

STAN

This thing is probably worth a thousand crowns!

TED

Whoa!

BETULA

Really!

STAN

I know just the place to take it. You won’t get a better price for it anywhere. I guarantee it!

TED

Really? That’s… that’s awfully nice of you.

STAN

Oh yeah. Super honest folks. They do appraisals and everything, they’ll register it and make sure it’s not stolen…

TED

Okay! I’ll have think about it.

STAN

Would that perhaps be worth maybe a show or two for brunch?

TED

I’m not completely sure I want to part with this just yet.

BETULA

Oh, yeah, a family heirloom like that, I get it.

STAN

Oh, I get it too, completely. If you change your mind, just come and find me.

TED

Will do.

BETULA

Yeah, for sure. No need to sell it today.

STAN

Are you okay, Betula?

BETULA

Why? Pffft. I’m fine. You! You’re—what?

STAN

Are you sure you’re fine?

BETULA

(scoffs)

Yes.

STAN

Ted? Did this bracelet really belong to your mother?

TED

Yeah! Course it did!

STAN

‘Cause I’m getting the feeling, and I’m just spit-balling here, that this belonged to somebody else until recently, and found its way into your possession through unknown means. Am I wrong in that assumption?

BETULA

Oh boy.

TED

I swear, my old Ma got it as a wedding present…

STAN

No, no, no, no, it’s all good, it’s all good. Cool, cool, I’m down. I’m down with that. I’m all about supporting the regular people. That’s the way it works, I’m just putting one over on all those rich snobs, yeah. Share the wealth, just get it around there. That’s what I’m—

BETULA

Yeah. Stealing.

STAN

Yes. Stealing. That’s—yes. Betula, I wasn’t gonna say it out loud, not in front of the girl—where’d she go?

Whoa! Hey, sorry. Almost stepped on you. Sorry, Jessie!

BETULA

It’s fine, Stan.

STAN

Jessie, do you want a lollipop?

(silence)

Jessie, do you want glass of lemonade?

Jessie, do you want to go in and see Gubbin? So us grownups can go on discussing this extremely boring topic?

BETULA

Actually, Ted, why don’t you two head out, and I’ll catch up to you at the hmm-hmmm-hmm.

TED

Gotcha. What time?

Betula makes a subtle hand gesture.

TED

Okay. See you then! Nice meeting you, Stan.

STAN

Oh, hey, nice meeting you too…

(whispers)

What just happened?

BETULA

Never mind.

TED

Jessie? Do you want to give the nice man back his wallet?

Stan pats his pockets frantically.

STAN

My—Jessie! You thieving little…!

(he snatches the wallet)

I mean, thank you, Jessie, that was a good thing you did, giving it back.

TED

Farewell, my friends!

BETULA

Bye, guys.

Jessie and Ted slip out into the alleyway. The door shuts.

STAN

How did she do that?!

BETULA

She’s good.

STAN

When did she take my wallet, though? Was it when we shook hands?

BETULA

It was while you were high-fiving her.

STAN

Oh, damn. That’s impressive.

Hey, that little hand-wavy thing you and Ted did? Was that like, code?

BETULA

The less you know, the better, Stan.

She heads back to the bar. Stan follows.

STAN

Aw, but… no, Betula! I’m cool with it. I’m cool cool. Everything’s cool cool.

GUBBIN

Oh, he’s cool now. Huh.

Well, how’d that go?

BETULA

He knows.

GUBBIN

I tried.

BETULA

Sure.

STAN

Wait. Hold on. Pause. You two do this a lot? Why didn’t you tell me you had like, a super secret thieving operation?

BETULA

There’s no “operation”.

STAN

How does the sign language work? Do you guys like, hold up three fingers for “Look out for guards”? Or waggle your eyebrows for “Meet me behind the lodge at midnight”?

BETULA

Stan. You know I can’t tell you.

STAN

You can tell me! I can keep a secret! I’m so good at keeping secrets! Secrets are the—

I totally can’t keep a secret.

BETULA

I know you’re curious, but… remember the last time, with that lady who was a were-cow.

STAN

Yeah, it kinda slipped out. But at least no one got trampled that badly…

Look, you know me. I just wanna be a part of whatever it is you’re doing! Because you guys, I think of you like family, you know? You’re always good to me, and I want to help.

GUBBIN

(sighs)

There is one big thing you can do.

STAN

Yeah? Yeah? What?

GUBBIN

Run a good, honest tavern.

BETULA

Exactly. Make this place look legit.

GUBBIN

Like we’re just keeping up with the Badger and Bucket and everybody else in town.

STAN

Okay!

GUBBIN

And that will really help Betula with her “business dealings”.

BETULA

Oh, my “business dealings”? What about your “business dealings”?

STAN

You have business dealings too?

GUBBIN

I just pour the beer.

BETULA

(scoffs)

Yeah, you pour the beer.

GUBBIN

That’s all, just a little bit here, a little bit there… heh heh.

So, Stan? What do you say?

STAN

Yeah! Run a tavern? I can do that.

BETULA

Thanks, Stan. I appreciate it.

STAN

Whatever you need, I gotcha.

GUBBIN

Good.

STAN

First order of business: brunch planning for next weekend!

BETULA

Perfect. I have one seagull left.

STAN

There’s a little cafe downtown—no, skip the seagull—they serve toast with this weird new kind of squishy green fruit and sea salt on top. Mmmm. So good.

GUBBIN

All right, all right. Serve whatever the hell you want, just leave me out of it.

STAN

Oooh, and I want one of those cool little griddle things for making crêpes…

GUBBIN

I am gonna go find a horse and see if it will kick me in the head.

STAN

You do that. I am gonna get down to business, because we are gonna take down the Badger and Bucket once and for all.

CREDITS

Closing theme plays.

ANNOUNCER

The Axe and Crown!

Starring Hugo Jones, Art Carlson and Marisa King.

Written by Eli McIlveen. Directed by Eli McIlveen and Sean Howard.

Written and directed by Eli McIlveen and Sean Howard.

Sound design by Eli McIlveen. Produced by Sean Howard.

If you enjoy the show, check out our Patreon. You can get early access to episodes, plus all-new bonus stories and an invite to our wonderful fan community on Discord. Look for the Patreon link at AlbaSalix.com.

OUTTAKE

GUBBIN (HUGO)

Given the choice between playing this charming but tiny bar and the whole Badget and Bucker…

Marisa and Art break out laughing.

GUBBIN (HUGO)

And the whole Budger and Bucket…

MARISA

The Budgie and Backet.

ART

The Budgie and Bugger.

GUBBIN (HUGO)

All right, let’s see.

Music sting.

ANNOUNCER

A Fable and Folly Production.