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E1: Last Call

Gubbin and his loyal regulars make their last stand.

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Episode Transcript

INTRODUCTION (ELI)

Oh yes, oh yes, it’s time. Welcome to The Axe & Crown. I’m Eli, creator of Alba Salix, Royal Physician.

If you subscribed a while back, you might be wondering, what is this new show that’s in my Alba Salix podcast feed? Well, this is a new spinoff set in the same world as Alba—actually, just across the river in a slightly more run‐down part of town. We’re calling this a mini‐series, so it’s six episodes, each about ten, fifteen minutes, rolling out every week from now until early May.

While that’s going on, we’re also working hard on Season Two of Alba, and that, Dear Listener, is why we are asking for your help. As I speak, we’ve just launched an Indiegogo campaign to bring you another season of adventures in fairy‐tale medicine with Alba and Magnus and Holly and the gang. The money goes to paying and feeding our actors, plus studio time, production tools, that sort of thing. It’s a lot of work making this show, so please do consider donating a shilling or two and helping spread the word. You can read all about the campaign, watch the video, and see the perks at albasalix.com/season2—link in the show notes.

In the meantime, pull up a bar stool, and enjoy Episode One of The Axe & Crown.

INT. BAR, NIGHT

A small, hushed crowd of regulars listens to Gubbin deliver a solemn inspirational speech. It soon becomes plain that he is completely sauced, as is his audience.

GUBBIN

Men… Ladies… strange thing in the corner.

MUSIC: STIRRING WAR‐MOVIE SPEECHIFYING STUFF.

GUBBIN

Tomorrow, we go into battle, side by side, as brothers and sisters. Humans and trolls alike. Some might say we’re just a bunch of sorry‐ass losers defending one humble little shack by the river, but it’s more than that. This tavern is home.

ZANE

Yeah!

GUBBIN

Tomorrow morning, they’re gonna be at the front door with their swords and their halberds and truncheons. But I’ll tell you this: They can bring the City Guard with them; they can bring every last stinking lawyer from here to hell—they will never, never take the Axe and Crown!

A sustained roar of approval from the crowd. “Gubbin! Gubbin! Gubbin!”

GUBBIN (CONT’D)

And I just want to say—no, no, shut up, you guys. I just want to say… what was I gonna say?

ZANE

Have another drink, Gubbin!

GUBBIN

Nah, that wasn’t it. But it’s a damn good idea.

Gubbin fills a tankard from a tap as he continues.

ROSINA

Yeah, I’ll have one too!

GUBBIN

Now I remember. I wanted to thank all of you for sticking by me in these difficult times. Serving all of you has been a salve for my wounded heart.

Everybody goes “Aww…”

GUBBIN (CONT’D)

When I started coming here, way back when it was Old Noreena’s place… I was not at my best. And Noreena, she offered me… what’s that thing? That warm, fuzzy kinda emotiony thing—kindness. It’s not something us trolls are too good at accepting. But she wouldn’t say no.

At first it was a place to stay and a bite to eat. Somewhere to have a pint or two with my buddies from the reg. A while later, it was a job pouring the drinks.

ROSINA

Speaking of drinks—

GUBBIN

And since she died, great Yulipaa rest her soul, I’ve done my best to carry on her good work, providing rest for the wicked—

The regulars laugh. “Try again, Gubbin!” “Other way around!”

GUBBIN (CONT’D)

…the weary… rest for the weariked… Rest for the wicked and beer for the… thirsty.

ROSINA

I’m thirsty!

GUBBIN

Nah, you’re one of the wicked. No beer for you.

Laughter.

ROSINA

I’m both! Gimme a drink.

Gubbin relents and fills a tankard for her.

GUBBIN

All right, all right. You’re all friends. And friends stand together. Unlike certain unfaithful, two‐timing kitchen staff who shall remain nameless.

Boos from the crowd.

ZANE

Forget him, Gubbin!

ROSINA

Cheating bastard!

GUBBIN

But us… We stand together! Our enemies would tear down this lovely, homely tavern to build their shiny new block of flats and offices for all the better, finer people of this city. All thanks to our landlord.

ROSINA

Kill all the landlords!

The crowd roars.

GUBBIN

Carlton Gerrard Esquire, that eminent profiteering devil-humper—sorry, that’s “property developer”. Heh heh. So ladies, gents, thing in the corner, join me in raising one final toast to Mister Carlton Gerrard, may he die of the purple cramps and his teeth be used to scrape poop off the floor of a barn.

They all cheer. Tankards clink. Gubbin drains half his beer.

GUBBIN (CONT’D)

Ahh. And with that profound senter—that profound sentiment—I bid you… a fond goodnight.

He falls over and his tankard goes rolling. The crowd cheers louder.

MUSIC: OPENING THEME

ANNOUNCER

The Axe and Crown. Episode One: Last Call.

INT. BAR, MORNING

Snoring from several people, including Gubbin. There’s a knock at the heavy wooden door.

GUBBIN

(half asleep)

Who’s walkin’ over my bridge…

The knocking comes louder.

STAN

(from outside)

Hello? Anybody home?

Another knock.

GUBBIN

(suddenly alert, hisses)

What’s that?

ZANE

There’s a guy outside with some papers. That him?

GUBBIN

Yeah. It’s him. They’re here. Everybody! On your feet!

The regulars rise. Hungover groans.

GUBBIN (CONT’D)

C’mon. Swords out!

ROSINA

Too bad we don’t have any boiling oil.

GUBBIN

Yeah, well.

ROSINA

I tell ya, Gubbin, if you’d just let us in the kitchen—

GUBBIN

Nobody goes in the kitchen.

ROSINA

I know, I know. Just saying.

ZANE

It’s true, though. Woulda been nice to have a hot meal here and there while we’re on lockdown.

GUBBIN

Will you guys shut it?

Stan taps at the window.

STAN

Anybody there? Your front door seems to be stuck.

Gubbin opens the window.

GUBBIN

Carlton Gerrard.

STAN

Hey, good morning! Are you Mister, uh, Gubbin?

GUBBIN

Carlton Gerrard, prepare to meet thy doom.

STAN

No, no, no! I’m not Carlton Gerrard. I’m his son.

GUBBIN

Aha!

STAN

My name’s Stan. Stanway Gerrard. Nice to meet you.

(beat)

Can I come in?

GUBBIN

Nice try. Tell all your men to stand down.

STAN

Sorry… my men?

GUBBIN

Yeah. Where are they hiding?

STAN

I don’t have any men.

GUBBIN

Yeah! That’s weird. Where is everybody?

ROSINA

(whispering)

They gotta be hidden somewhere.

STAN

So, uh… what do you say?

GUBBIN

No. You run along home and tell your daddy he can go find some other place to knock down.

STAN

Yeah, you know, that’s very funny.

GUBBIN

Tell him the Axe and Crown is staying right where it is!

The regulars cheer, then quickly realize how hungover they are and trail off in a chorus of “Ow!” and “Shhh!”

STAN

My father is dead.

GUBBIN

He’s what?

STAN

He died. A week ago.

Whispers: “What did he say?” “Who’s dead?”

GUBBIN

Says who?

STAN

It was in all the papers… How did you not hear about it?

GUBBIN

We’re on lockdown. Nobody gets in or out.

STAN

Oh. Is that why all these newspapers are piled up on your doorstep?

He bends over and looks through the pile.

GUBBIN

Don’t try anything funny.

STAN

Look. It’s right here.

GUBBIN

(squinting, reads)

“Building Boom: Real Estate Magnate… Explodes”?

STAN

Yeah. Some kind of magical accident, apparently. He bought some bogus crystal and tried to cast a spell with it.

GUBBIN

“Royal Doc Chalks Up Pox To Magic Rocks.” Huh. Well. That’s too bad.

STAN

I know he wasn’t the most popular person around here…

GUBBIN

Nah, we’re big fans.

STAN

Anyway, long story short, I kinda own your building now!

GUBBIN

Is that so.

STAN

So, do you want to maybe let me in, and we can talk about our plans for this place?

GUBBIN

What is he up to?

ROSINA

It’s gotta be some kind of trick. Street looks clear, though. I don’t see anyone on the rooftops.

GUBBIN

(calls)

Anyone out back?

ZANE

Negative.

GUBBIN

Hmm.

STAN

Hello?

GUBBIN

All right. Let’s open ‘er up.

They shove the furniture aside, then unbolt and open the front door. Stan strolls in.

STAN

Hey everybody! Geez, pretty big crowd for nine in the morning.

The door slams shut behind him.

GUBBIN

Stan, right?

STAN

That’s me.

GUBBIN

Stan, I’d like you to meet my loyal patrons and tenants. Everybody, this is the Axe and Crown’s new landlord, Stan.

Blades are drawn. Sinister chuckles.

STAN

Hi there!

ROSINA

Kill all the landlords!

The rest give a lusty shout, followed by more shushing and groaning.

GUBBIN

So let’s hear all about these plans of yours.

STAN

Well. As you probably know, my father’s plan was to evict everyone and knock down the building.

Hisses and boos.

STAN (CONT’D)

But! But I’m not going to do that.

GUBBIN

Oh no?

Stan unfurls a set of blueprints.

STAN

Yeah, look! I had my guy do up new plans. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… the Prospect Hotel!

This does not get the expected rousing cheer.

GUBBIN

What the hell is this?

STAN

See, we keep the original building and extend it. Three more storeys on top, with a swimming pool, one of those cool terraces right here…

GUBBIN

And you think this is gonna stay standing.

STAN

How do you mean?

GUBBIN

That much weight on the foundation? It’s gonna be another Leaning Tavern of Paramecia.

STAN

Another what?

GUBBIN

Some duke decided he was gonna build the biggest, most amazing hotel in the world. Eight storeys, terraces everywhere, cute little mini palm trees on the roof. Won all kinds of architecture awards before it was even built. But he put it right on the riverbank, on crappy soil.

STAN

And it started leaning?

GUBBIN

Yup, then it leaned some more. And then, opening night, it tilted right over and fell in the river.

STAN

Oh.

GUBBIN

Which is exactly what you’ll get if you build this.

STAN

Couldn’t we just shore it up? With shoring? Or, like, you know… buttresses?

GUBBIN

Who did these plans?

STAN

Buddy of mine. He’s really good. Studying to be an architect.

GUBBIN

Oh, of course. Frickin’ architects. No, you can’t “just shore it up”.

STAN

Could we maybe lose some of the additional stories?

GUBBIN

Yeah. Try all of them.

STAN

Really? Well… I guess we can keep the luxury suites on the existing floors.

GUBBIN

And where would my tenants go?

STAN

They would, uh, find temporary lodgings somewhere else and then move back in.

GUBBIN

Same rent as before?

STAN

Well, you know, it might go up somewhat.

The crowd is restless. “Somewhat!”

GUBBIN

Why here? Why don’t you build your fancy hotel downtown, where people can afford it?

STAN

Look, downtown Grandville’s getting expensive these days. People are starting to look at places further out. Like Mud Street here! What a great street!

GUBBIN

Uh huh? So why don’t you tell me what’s so great about Mud Street?

STAN

It’s honest. Down to earth. You know. It’s a place for all the little people.

GUBBIN

Little people. So what are we, pixies now?

STAN

No, no, I don’t mean you’re actually little. Heh, certainly not you, you big ol’ troll, you.

GUBBIN

So just small in the metaphorical sense. Petty, unimportant.

STAN

Uh…

GUBBIN

Never mind. You were talking about Mud Street.

STAN

Mud Street! Is a street that’s muddy, because it’s by the river… and it’s of the river… Heh, when it rains I bet it pretty much is the river

(laughs nervously)

This falls flat too.

GUBBIN

Uh huh.

STAN

And like a river, it bends and flows, and it’s full of life, like the way a river is alive with fish and crawdads and bugs…

GUBBIN

Ah, I get it. So we’re not just little, we’re actually bugs.

STAN

Yeah. No! That’s not what I—

Rosina and the others start to pull out knives and swords.

ROSINA

You want me to cut him down the middle, boss?

STAN

Whoa! Hey! No cutting! No cutting! Look, you guys… this place is what it is because of you! Good, hard‐workin’ honest townsfolk. Folks with heart, and soul, and… big pointy knives.

GUBBIN

Okay, let me ask you again. Isn’t there some other neighbourhood you can think of to inflict your hotel on? Somewhere with solid ground? Somewhere that’s not here?

STAN

I would, but, well… this is the only property I got.

GUBBIN

Give me a break. Your daddy owned half the buildings downtown.

STAN

Those went to other members of the family.

GUBBIN

Ahhh. I get it. Poor little Stan, not exactly the favourite son, huh?

The crowd joins him in a sarcastic “Awww.”

STAN

Hey now. That’s not fair.

GUBBIN

Well, Stan, let me introduce you to some of my good, hard‐working, honest regulars. This is Zane. He spent seven years in prison for robbery and assault.

ZANE

How ya doin’.

STAN

Fine?

Everyone leans in. A soft but growing murmur of sadistic chuckles.

GUBBIN

Doctor Hankenberg there, he’s what you might call a poison specialist. And I don’t mean antidotes. Rosina, well, they got her for conspiracy to murder. Woulda hanged her but she escaped. After she slit her executioner’s throat.

STAN

Oh! Well. Wow. Still! That doesn’t mean you’re not all good people, you know, like, deep down…

GUBBIN

Eh. I bet the town guard would beg to differ.

STAN

Is everybody here a criminal or a murderer?

A tense silence—then Gubbin and everyone else bursts into mocking laughter.

GUBBIN

Naw. I’m just messin’ with you, kid.

STAN

What! Really? Aw, you guys! You had me going there.

GUBBIN

Rosina’s a baker. Hank works down at the docks. Zane’s got a little flower stall. He sells pansies

(laughs)

STAN

That’s nice!

GUBBIN

(suddenly close)

But I wouldn’t get them mad, if I was you.

STAN

No, sir.

GUBBIN

Some of them live here, some of them just come by for a pint and a bit of company. I just wanted you to see their faces. Realize these are real people you’re kicking out.

STAN

I’m not kicking anybody out!

A few skeptical snorts.

GUBBIN

You think these folks can afford your rent hike?

A moment passes.

STAN

No, I’m not hiking the rent either.

You’re right, I was never my parents’ favourite. I was no good at business, I was no good at selling things, or bargaining. That’s why they left everything to my sister.

So you guys… you should count yourselves lucky. You’re standing up for each other. You’re more of a family to each other than I had growing up.

I think you are good people. With a hilarious sense of humour! I can’t just go and kick you guys out.

So… the heck with these plans! The redevelopment is hereby cancelled.

Stan tears the blueprints in half. Gasps. The crowd is finally warming to him.

GUBBIN

We got your word on that?

STAN

Absolutely. The Prospect Hotel is dead. Long live the Axe and Crown!

A cheer goes up. This time, no one groans.

GUBBIN

All right. Good man.

STAN

Yeah! Put ‘er there.

They shake hands.

STAN (CONT’D)

Oooh. Ow. That’s a firm handshake.

GUBBIN

These people are trusting in you, pal. You go back on your word and all these good, honest townsfolk will tear your face off.

STAN

You really mean it?

GUBBIN

Course I mean it.

STAN

Woo hoo! We’re pals now!

GUBBIN

Wha? No, I meant—

STAN

This is gonna be amazing. I always wanted to run a bar!

GUBBIN

Now wait a second. I run the bar.

STAN

Best inheritance ever! Look at this place! Think of the possibilities

(backtracking)

…for small and tasteful changes! Eh, pal?

GUBBIN

Crap on a stick.

STAN

What do you say, folks? First round’s on me!

The patrons cheer.

MUSIC: CLOSING THEME

ANNOUNCER (ELI)

The Axe & Crown!

Starring Hugo Jones, Art Carlson and Marisa King.

Written and directed by Eli McIlveen.

Recorded in Toronto at Trench Recordings.

Sound design by Eli McIlveen.

Produced by Sean Howard.

The Axe & Crown is a Forgery League production. To find out more, visit forgeryleague.com.