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E11: Bowled Over

Gubbin and Betula are set to compete in this year’s Grandville Pub League Siege Bowling Championship — but the new team from the Badger & Bucket have some tricks up their sleeve too.

With special guest Sean Howard.

Download MP3 (19 MB)


Episode Transcript

INTRO (ELI)

Hey gang. Eli here with Episode 11 of The Axe & Crown. Yep, we’re almost to the end of this run, but we’ve got more stories planned out. In fact, one of the target levels we’ve set for our Patreon page is making more Axe & Crown. If you’ve been enjoying the adventures of Gubbin, Betula and Stan, look us up at patreon.com/albasalix. You can help us make more episodes and hear them first! That’s patreon.com/albasalix. And now, on with the show.

MUSIC—OPENING THEME

ANNOUNCER

The Axe and Crown. Episode Eleven: Bowled Over.

INT. BAR—AFTERNOON

Gubbin is stacking bricks at one end of the room. Betula enters from the street.

BETULA

Hey, Uncle. What’s with all the bricks? Did Stan finally talk you into putting up a fifth storey?

GUBBIN

It’s for siege bowling. Didn’t you see the posters?

BETULA

Oh yeah, something about a tournament?

GUBBIN

Hundred‐crown prize.

BETULA

Never heard of siege bowling.

GUBBIN

It’s a big pub sport here in town. Back in the army my buddies and me used to play it on our off hours.

BETULA

It’s bowling? Like, with a ball?

GUBBIN

Yeah… So. Listen. You used to play smashball, right?

BETULA

Oh yeah. Left striker.

GUBBIN

You any good?

BETULA

We were three‐time All‐Trølsund champions.

GUBBIN

Hmm.

BETULA

Any particular reason you ask?

GUBBIN

Well… we’re down a guy from last year, so it’s just Hank and me. We need a third bowler.

BETULA

What’s in it for me?

GUBBIN

Glory, achievement…

BETULA

A share of the prize money?

GUBBIN

Commensurate with experience.

BETULA

Pfff. Equal share or I’m out.

GUBBIN

We’ll see.

BETULA

How’s the game work?

GUBBIN

It’s head to head. Each team builds a wall out of bricks. That’s your castle.

BETULA

And then the other team has to knock it down?

Gubbin goes back to setting up bricks and pegs as he talks.

GUBBIN

Little more complicated. Basic idea is, your king is being held prisoner in the other team’s castle. Each bowler gets one throw, and between you, trying to knock down these five pegs. Those are the guards. Your opponents set those up, along with the wall, plus this coin here…

He sets down a big coin.

GUBBIN (CONT’D)

That’s your king. You knock that down, you score zero for that castle.

BETULA

Got it. Sounds pretty straightforward so far.

GUBBIN

That’s the basics. You throw from the line back here. So with this layout I’d go for the two guards on the left—

Betula has already thrown. The ball rumbles across the floor and smashes into the bricks.

BETULA

You were saying?

GUBBIN

Well. Okay. First time lucky.

BETULA

So… equal shares.

GUBBIN

Hang on. We’ve only covered the official rules.

BETULA

There are unofficial rules?

GUBBIN

Yeah. One: cheat like hell. Two: don’t get caught.

BETULA

Okay, now this is sounding like your kind of game.

Stan enters from the street.

STAN

Hey guys! Are you joining the siege bowling team, Betula?

BETULA

Thinking about it.

STAN

Oh, you gotta be on it! You’ll be awesome.

BETULA

Are you playing too?

STAN

Gubbin says I’m banned from the team for life.

GUBBIN

Damn straight.

BETULA

That have anything to do with the hole in the wall by the stairs?

STAN

It may perhaps.

GUBBIN

There’s also the matter of Stan being terrible at lying.

STAN

Yeah, either that—or the best liar ever.

GUBBIN

Oho. So who told the building inspector about our basement tunnel?

STAN

Well, he couldn’t figure out where the smell was coming from and he just looked so bothered about it.

GUBBIN

And where were you just now, Stan?

STAN

I was… not across the street.

GUBBIN

So, not at the Badger and Bucket.

STAN

Yes. I was so not at the Badger and Bucket.

BETULA

I believe you.

STAN

See, Betula believes me.

GUBBIN

Once again, across the street and in bed with the enemy.

STAN

In bed! Whatever! I was there to gain intelligence. Is that so hard to believe?

GUBBIN

Well, I doubt you could lose any.

STAN

Hey, which reminds me… They’re fielding a team in the tournament.

GUBBIN

They’re what?

STAN

The siege bowling. They’re gonna compete!

GUBBIN

The Badger and Bucket are?

STAN

Yeah. I told them they’re gonna be toast! I bet Dorothea a hundred crowns we would win.

GUBBIN

Whoa. You got a hundred crowns just lying around?

STAN

I mean, not exactly… But we are gonna win, right?

GUBBIN

Sure. Well. This ought to be interesting.

MUSIC STING

INT. BAR—NIGHT

A raucous crowd awaits the next game.

STAN

Is everybody having fun?

The crowd cheers.

STAN (CONT’D)

I can’t hear you. I said, is everybody having fun?!

The crowd cheers louder.

STAN (CONT’D)

It’s time for Game Two of the quarter‐final round, my friends. From the Tower District, put your hands together for last year’s fifth‐place team from Ye Olde Pointed Hat!

Applause.

STAN (CONT’D)

Bowling first, it’s Vanevender Piffling! Bowling second: Maisie Wulfenschnaut. Am I saying that right? Okay, cool. Bowling third: Tempesma Chang!

BETULA

Are they actual wizards?

GUBBIN

Yeah. They got no chance. Wizards are crap at siege bowling.

BETULA

You’d figure they’d be great at cheating.

GUBBIN

You can always tell. They’re worse liars than Stan and they can’t hold their beer.

STAN

And squaring off against them, a brand new team on the scene—nice place but you wouldn’t want to drink there… it’s the Badger and Bucket! BOOOO.

Mingled boos and applause.

GUBBIN

All right. Let’s see what kind of team these clowns can field.

STAN

Bowling first, from Fair‐Upon‐Middling in Mediocria, it’s Zenda Bland! Oh yeah, actually, she tends bar! She’s really nice.

Bowling second, hometown boy Spike Macduff!

And bowling third, team captain and former bowler for the Axe and Crown…?

He trails off. A hush falls. Astonished gasps.

GUBBIN

Oh, you’ve gotta be kidding me.

STAN

Johann… Yeoman?

GUBBIN

Son of a…!

BETULA

Uncle… is that your Johann?

GUBBIN

He’s not “my” anything. Those bastards.

STAN

Now, hang on. Judges? Correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t this man be disqualified? For… cheating?

GUBBIN

Okay, Stan.

STAN

As in, cheating on another player in this tournament.

GUBBIN

Stan.

STAN

Specifically, cheating on his former teammate for the Axe and Crown, Gubbin.

GUBBIN

You made your point.

An awkward silence.

JOHANN

I’m just here to play, guys.

STAN

Okay. Uh… great! So. Let’s get this game underway. Team captains, to the bar for the toss, please.

(whispers)

Guys! They stole our chef! And Gubbin’s ex!

GUBBIN

I noticed.

The teams flip a coin.

STAN

And it is The Badger and Bucket to bowl first. Pointed Hat, please proceed to your battlefield and assemble your wall!

BETULA

How much does Johann know about our… setup?

GUBBIN

He knows the bendy floorboard, and the wind vent. And he’s the one who invented the “hollow brick full of sand” trick.

BETULA

Well, maybe you can spot some of his tricks, at least.

GUBBIN

If it comes to that. Let’s hope the wizards can take ‘em down before they get into the final.

MUSIC STING

A ball takes out several more bricks. A peg tumbles to the floor. The crowd is not pleased.

STAN

And down goes the third guard! The Badger and Bucket are the winners, with seventy‐six points to forty.

GUBBIN

Frickin’ wizards!

MUSIC STING

The crowd chants “Axe and Crown! Axe and Crown!” Gubbin throws and bricks and pegs tumble. The crowd cheers.

GUBBIN

Yes!

STAN

That’s the last two guards down. Oh, what a beautiful shot! That brings it to sixty‐five points for the Axe and Crown, who advance to the semi‐finals versus the Parson’s Trousers—

BOWLER

Wait! Wait. Time out! I saw some kinda string attached to the guard on the left, there!

Disgruntled noises.

GUBBIN

A string? Why would you attach a string to your own wall?

BOWLER

We didn’t! It was you guys! You… cheating people.

GUBBIN

We were right over here. Did we move? Did any of you see us move past the line? No.

MUSIC STING

The ball connects, knocking down bricks, pegs and coin. Groans.

STAN

Augh! Down goes the crown. Zero points. A heartbreaker for the Hippopotamus and Castle. Don’t feel bad, guys. I have no idea how, but the Badger and Bucket were totally cheating, I know it.

MUSIC STING

The audience are hopping mad.

BETULA

You heard the judges. They didn’t see any glue on the bricks. It was just a fluke, plain and simple.

STAN

The judges are shrugging. They’ve reached a decision and… yes! The Axe and Crown take it, to advance to the finals! Yeah!

Cheering.

MUSIC STING

The crowd is hushed.

STAN

It all comes down to this one, ladies and gentlemen. The final game of this year’s Grandville Pub League Siege Bowling Championship pits our upstart challengers, the Badger and Bucket, against reigning champions for four years running—The Axe and Crown!

Cheers.

STAN (CONT’D)

Team captains, please come to the bar for the toss. Gubbin, would you be so kind?

JOHANN

It’s good to see you, Gubbin.

The coin flies across the room. Laughter.

GUBBIN

Dammit.

STAN

Uh… let’s try that again.

JOHANN

Take your time.

GUBBIN

Jackass.

He flips the coin again, and catches it this time.

GUBBIN (CONT’D)

Call it.

JOHANN

(suggestively)

Hmm… Tails.

A long pause.

STAN

Gubbin?

GUBBIN

(snapping out of his reverie)

Uh… right. Heads.

STAN

So it’s the Axe and Crown to bowl first. Badger and Bucket, to the battlefield please! Stack ‘em up! Stack ‘em up, like groceries. Yeah! See what I did there?

MUSIC STING

Betula throws. Bricks smash, and a coin rolls across the floor. Great consternation among the audience.

BETULA

Dammit!

STAN

Oh no! The king is down on the first throw. That’s zero points for this round.

GUBBIN

Come on! The middle brick went down before the ball even hit. You all saw it!

MUSIC STING

STAN

All right. No score yet. The Axe and Crown are ready with their first castle. Let’s see if Johann’s team can deliver.

The Badger and Bucket make their first throw. Bricks and pegs fly. The crowd groans and Gubbin sputters incoherently.

MUSIC STING

The spectators are tense.

STAN

Thirty‐eight to thirty‐five going into the last round! I don’t remember ever seeing a game this intense. And by the way, there totally were magnets in that top row last round.

Arguments break out in the crowd.

GUBBIN

Okay, bring it in. This last one looks like a Blaflarney Castle formation. Aim for the second row, one in from the left.

BETULA

You sure? Not the one beside?

GUBBIN

No. That reddish one right above it, that’s not one of our bricks.

BETULA

How do you know?

GUBBIN

I’ve memorized every brick in the pile, okay? It’s gotta be one of Johann’s.

BETULA

Okay. Second row, second from the left.

The Axe and Crown’s fans are chanting “Go Betula go! Go go go!” She winds up and throws. Bricks tumble, and a peg clinks to the floor. The crowd cheers.

STAN

Guard number three is down! But that still leaves a nasty split. This could be tricky… Let’s see if Gubbin can take out those last two, and yes, by the way, he totally can.

GUBBIN

All right, Bucket‐heads.

JOHANN

No pressure, Gubbin.

GUBBIN

Can it.

Gubbin winds up. There’s a clunk and a splatter of beer from Johann’s side of the room.

JOHANN

Oops! I seem to have dropped my tankard. How clumsy of me. Let me just get that.

He bends over, to whistles and catcalls.

GUBBIN

Nice try, Johann.

STAN

Oh, now look, that’s just playing dirty. Gubbin, don’t look. Don’t look, Gubbin. Yeah, we’re all onto you, Johann. You and all your sexy moves.

JOHANN

And oh dear, the beer spilled all over my shirt.

GUBBIN

(agitated)

All right, all right, all right. Time out. Time out!

JOHANN

I’ll just take that off.

STAN

The judges are signalling—oh no, that’s right, the Axe and Crown have used up their timeouts. Oh geez.

JOHANN

You like?

STAN

The clock is ticking… and… Johann has clearly been working out. Wow.

GUBBIN

Put your damn shirt back on.

STAN

Yeah, give it up, Johann. Shake those hips all you want.

The crowd claps in rhythm as Gubbin tries to get back on track.

JOHANN

There’s more where that came from… if you make this shot.

GUBBIN

(groans)

STAN

Five seconds, Gubbin!

Gubbin throws. His shot connects, and cheering erupts.

GUBBIN

Yeah!

MUSIC STING

INT. BEDROOM—MORNING

GUBBIN

(grunts)

Oh, my head.

(beat)

The hell am I doing upstairs?

(then)

Oh.

The door opens.

JOHANN

Room service!

GUBBIN

What is all this?

JOHANN

Breakfast in bed, silly. For the champion. I know, domplinka’s not really a breakfast food, but whatever.

GUBBIN

You bastard.

JOHANN

Yep. Here… hot off the grill.

He feeds Gubbin a bite.

GUBBIN

Ohh. Damn. I will say, I’ve been missing these.

JOHANN

Doesn’t your niece cook?

GUBBIN

In the sense that she puts food on the stove and then puts the remains on a plate… yeah, she cooks.

JOHANN

(laughs)

You poor baby.

GUBBIN

The kid could really use some help.

JOHANN

Maybe I can give her some pointers.

GUBBIN

She’d probably appreciate it.

JOHANN

Mm hmm. Coffee?

GUBBIN

Oh yeah. Yeah.

He pours.

GUBBIN (CONT’D)

You know, sometimes it’s easy to take a good thing for granted.

JOHANN

Yeah. Yeah, it is.

Gubbin takes a sip.

GUBBIN

This doesn’t mean you’re forgiven or anything.

JOHANN

Didn’t cross my mind.

He pours himself a coffee too.

GUBBIN

So. Working at the Badger and Bucket now?

JOHANN

Well, for now. Assuming Dorothea doesn’t fire my ass for losing the tournament.

GUBBIN

What, she hired you just to beat us at siege bowling?

JOHANN

You think Bucket pubs hire cooks for their skill?

GUBBIN

Eh, good point. Well, if she does fire you, you know…

JOHANN

Yeah?

GUBBIN

It’ll serve you right.

JOHANN

(laughs)

Probably.

GUBBIN

All right.

He takes another domplinka.

GUBBIN (CONT’D)

Did you lose that game on purpose?

JOHANN

Of course not. The better man won.

GUBBIN

You got that right.

JOHANN

I mean, you always play fair, right, Gubbin?

GUBBIN

Always.

JOHANN

(laughs)

They clink their mugs.

MUSIC—CLOSING THEME

ANNOUNCER

The Axe & Crown!

Starring Hugo Jones, Art Carlson and Marisa King, with special guests Sean Howard and Sarah Golding.

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.

Looking for your next listen? We’re really enjoying The Far Meridian. Find it wherever you listen to podcasts. And tune in next week for the season finale of The Axe and Crown!

OUTTAKE

BACKGROUND VOICES (WIZARDS)

Huzzah!

Outstanding!

Very, very good. Yes.

Let’s get this party started.

Oh yes.

ELI (DIRECTOR)

Okay. And then they lose the game.

MARISA

(laughs)