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E6: What’s Cooking

The Axe & Crown’s kitchen is back in business… but for how long?

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Episode Transcript

INTRODUCTION (ELI)

Hi everyone. Eli here, your writer and co-producer. So. We’ve got some good news and some bad news. The bad news is: this is the last Axe & Crown episode… for a little while.

But the good news is: there will be more—because we’ve met our funding goal! Thanks to the generosity of our wonderful listeners and friends, we are charging on ahead with Alba Salix, Season Two AND six more episodes of The Axe & Crown. And we’re going to have a few more little surprises for you too, so stay tuned to this feed!

The other good part about meeting our goal is that it means we can continue to accept donations past the deadline. So if you haven’t, please do consider pitching in if you can. Every little bit helps us to make the show better: things like paying actors, upgrading our gear and software, and hosting and other incidentals.

And to everyone who has donated and helped spread the word so far—we can’t thank you enough. You’re all awesome.

And now: on with the show.

MUSIC: OPENING THEME

ANNOUNCER

The Axe and Crown. Episode Six: What’s Cooking.

INT. BAR—NIGHT

A nasty squelch and the clatter of a spoon in a bowl of something slimy. The bar is full of disgruntled customers.

CUSTOMER

I ain’t eating that.

STAN

Sir, I’m really sorry if it’s not up to your… see, we’re currently working on perfecting our menu.

CUSTOMER

You call this chicken feet soup? What’s this green stuff?

STAN

Well, I know what it looks like, but it’s actually a garnish—

CUSTOMER

It’s mold. That’s what it “actually” is. Also, it’s disgusting.

STAN

I’m sorry about that, sir. We’ll get you another one right away.

CUSTOMER

It’s disgusting.

Stan takes the bowl and retreats to the safety of the bar.

GUBBIN

Another one, huh?

STAN

Yeah. That’s six meals sent back in one night. I thought you said your customers weren’t discerning.

GUBBIN

They aren’t. If they were, they’d be burning this place down.

STAN

(whines)

GUBBIN

What’s the matter? All your dreams of fame and fortune in the restaurant biz going up the creek?

STAN

What are we gonna do, Gubbin?

GUBBIN

I dunno. Maybe… fire the cook?

STAN

We can’t do that!

GUBBIN

‘Cause you’ll be taking away the only job Betula’s ever gonna land in this town? Or because you’re sweet on her?

STAN

Also she is bigger than me and can mash me into pulp.

GUBBIN

She can’t cook.

STAN

She can! She’s still just getting used to cooking for humans.

GUBBIN

Hah. Still getting used to cooking, period.

STAN

What about all those special troll dishes that she cooks for you?

GUBBIN

Tell ya a secret. The kid’s pretty bad at those too.

STAN

Oh.

GUBBIN

Time for you to get in there and get firing.

STAN

Wait—me?

GUBBIN

I’m running the bar.

STAN

She’s your niece.

GUBBIN

You’re the one that hired her.

STAN

You run the place.

GUBBIN

And you own the place, so I think there is no higher authority on this matter, Mister Gerrard, sir!

STAN

Look, I’m not that kind of manager! See, I’m a “carrot” person more than a “stick” person.

Gubbin shoves a rejected plate into Stan’s hands, and starts steering him toward the door.

GUBBIN

Well, Mister Carrot, time for you to learn some new tricks. Good luck!

STAN

No, no! She’ll wring my neck! Gubbin!

GUBBIN

Yes, she will!

STAN

No no no!

Gubbin pushes Stan into the kitchen, and slams the door behind him.

CROSSFADE TO:

INT. KITCHEN—CONTINUOUS

Food is frying in the background. Betula is busy chopping something with a massive cleaver.

STAN

Hey, Betula!

BETULA

What do you want, Stan?

STAN

Just… checking in and seeing how you’re doing back here.

BETULA

Fine. I’m absolutely fine.

Something boils over and catches on fire. Betula beats down the flames and goes back to her work.

STAN

Oh, that’s… Whoa!

BETULA

Everything is fine.

STAN

Oh, okay. Good. So. Anyway. There’s something I have to tell you.

BETULA

Yeah. Okay. What?

STAN

I have to tell you… You… uh, we…

BETULA

Yes? Get to the point, Stan. Come on.

STAN

I’m afraid a couple of dishes got sent back.

Betula stops in her chopping.

BETULA

Sent back why?

STAN

Various reasons.

BETULA

Like?

STAN

Ehh… that’s just it. I guess they didn’t like.

BETULA

Why the hell not?

STAN

Well, the pancreas poppers had some burnt bits in them…

BETULA

What is the problem with burnt bits?

(she eats one)

Look. Nothing wrong with that. Delicious.

STAN

There was mold on the soup.

BETULA

Yeah, and? Mold is one of the five basic flavours.

STAN

I tried to tell them. Oh, also this, uh… steak.

He picks up the steak and lets it fall back onto the plate with a clunk.

STAN (CONT’D)

They ordered rare.

BETULA

You said rare means burnt.

STAN

Other way round.

BETULA

What?! Okay, fine. So well done is burnt—

STAN

Not quite burnt.

BETULA

—not quite burnt, and rare means raw.

STAN

Not quite raw.

BETULA

You humans are so picky.

STAN

I know. I know. It’s terrible. We’re terrible. But it’s like Gubbin says: the customer is always right.

BETULA

My uncle said that?

STAN

Yeah, okay, it was someone else. But listen, I… have some difficult news.

MUSIC STING

INT. BAR—LATER THAT NIGHT

The bar has quieted down.

ZANE

Night, Gubbin!

GUBBIN

Night, Zane.

Zane exits, gagging, as Stan emerges from the kitchen.

GUBBIN (CONT’D)

Hey, Carrot Boy. You’re alive.

STAN

Yeah. No thanks to you.

GUBBIN

You were in there a long time. How’d she take the news?

STAN

Uh, surprisingly well, actually.

GUBBIN

You actually fired her.

STAN

We… came to kind of a mutual agreement.

GUBBIN

Yeah?

STAN

So. Betula gets a second chance, and an opportunity to develop new dishes that are more in keeping with her established style.

GUBBIN

Her what?

Stan slaps a sheet of paper down on the bar.

STAN

Behold our new menu! Farlorian favourites and home-cooked troll food! Eh? Eh?

GUBBIN

I should save our patrons the trouble and burn the place down myself.

STAN

No, it just makes sense, you know what I mean? You’ll be serving the native cuisine of your homeland… We’ll be famous! We’ll make our culinary mark on this city.

GUBBIN

Listen, I’ve been running this place eight years. You think maybe I know a thing or two about what people wanna eat?

Betula comes out of the kitchen with a plate.

BETULA

All right, boys. Check this out. Kling klangs.

STAN

Awww yeah. What are these, like cookies?

GUBBIN

Yeah, like cookies.

They each bite into one. Stan’s teeth stick instantly.

STAN

(unable to chew)

Mmm! That is really, really interesting.

BETULA

You like ‘em?

GUBBIN

Eh. I’ve had worse.

STAN

(teeth still stuck)

I wasn’t expecting them to be so sour. Um, is there a trick to chewing these things?

GUBBIN

Yeah. Have troll teeth.

BETULA

So? Have you looked at the menu?

GUBBIN

Yeah.

BETULA

And?

GUBBIN

Where are you gonna find any of this stuff in town?

BETULA

I know some guys with a boat.

STAN

See? Betula’s got it all worked out. Look at these appetizers!

GUBBIN

Zenyarfüsk? Really?

STAN

What’s zen-yar-fusk?

BETULA

It’s a fish—I think you call it pike?

STAN

Pike! Sure.

GUBBIN

It’s not really pike.

BETULA

Which you bury in the ground for ten years.

STAN

Okay, why?

BETULA

In a special kind of dirt. That preserves it and infuses it with a certain…

STAN

Flavour?

GUBBIN

Texture.

BETULA

Little mineral crystals that make it crunchy.

STAN

Well, that sounds…

BETULA

It’s the best. Right, uncle?

GUBBIN

Sure, it’s good. But you do realize no human is going to eat it.

STAN

I’ll eat it!

GUBBIN

(thinks)

All right, keep it on the menu. I want to see that.

STAN

Um, does this say “vulture”?

BETULA

Yep. Vulture pie.

GUBBIN

Vulture!

STAN

I’ll bet no one else in town has that.

GUBBIN

We are not serving vulture pie.

BETULA

Why not? What’s wrong with vulture?

GUBBIN

Nothing. But pigeons are free.

BETULA

So? Stan, how much would you pay for a nice vulture pie?

STAN

I… I don’t know if I could eat a vulture. They’re kind of…

BETULA

Big?

STAN

Gross.

BETULA

Oh, for heaven’s sake. At least we don’t eat them raw.

GUBBIN

Welcome to the wonderful world of human cuisine.

BETULA

What about gatsenpfeffer?

GUBBIN

They don’t eat cats either.

BETULA

Yes, they do!

GUBBIN

Okay, in Melluria they eat cats. But Farlorians don’t.

BETULA

That makes no sense.

STAN

Cats are so cute. And they hunt mice too.

BETULA

So do ferrets!

GUBBIN

Not a lot of ferrets in human cooking either. Just saying.

BETULA

What? But they have that musk! You mix that with something lighter like fennel, and it’s just… no?

STAN

Um…

GUBBIN

Farlorians eat mostly anything apart from cats, horses and dogs. Except for the Orthodox Dufferites. They eat horses but they don’t eat pigs.

BETULA

So much for my famous One Of Everything Stew.

GUBBIN

And the Church of the Redeemed Bachelor folks won’t eat anything that has the letter A in the name.

STAN

Including meals and snacks.

BETULA

I give up. No one gets any more food. From now on, everyone gets beans. Cold beans.

GUBBIN

Or you could just cook the food on the menu we already have.

BETULA

Nope. Forget it. I’m done.

STAN

Wait… what do you mean, done?

BETULA

Seems like none of my ideas are good enough. Oh well. Bye, guys. Have fun serving your boring human food to your boring human customers.

STAN

No! Wait! I thought they sounded great!

BETULA

Except for gatsenpfeffer and vulture pie. And obviously you didn’t like the kling klangs.

STAN

No, no, they’re good!

BETULA

You don’t have to pretend, Stan.

STAN

No, really! I want to make this work! Gubbin’s the one that wanted me to fire you.

BETULA

Fire me?

GUBBIN

Well, we can only kill so many customers before people get suspicious.

BETULA

You want me gone, huh? Well, surprise, surprise.

GUBBIN

You don’t seem happy here.

BETULA

Sure, I’m happy.

STAN

That’s why he sent me in. He wanted me to be the one to fire you.

BETULA

But you didn’t.

GUBBIN

Yeah, like that was ever gonna happen.

STAN

Wait… You sent me in to not fire Betula?

GUBBIN

Call it a social experiment.

BETULA

So, what… you wanted me to stay all along? You just wanted me to take an interest in my work so I’d do a better job?

GUBBIN

Well, if you’re not gonna beat Stan into the ground and quit in a huff, I guess I’ll take it.

BETULA

Uncle. Stop playing games.

GUBBIN

Games? Who’s playing games?

BETULA

Do you want me to stay or leave? Tell me.

GUBBIN

What? So you can do the opposite?

BETULA

No!

GUBBIN

You just want to do the exact opposite of what I want.

BETULA

Tell me what you want and we’ll find out.

GUBBIN

Oh, I know. Why don’t you follow your heart?

BETULA

Why don’t you fire me?

GUBBIN

Why don’t you act like a grown troll for once? Damn stupid kid.

BETULA

Why don’t you—why don’t you go stick your face in a fjord?

Betula pitches the plate of kling klangs full force into Gubbin’s head, smashing it to bits.

GUBBIN

Ow!

STAN

Betula!

BETULA

“Social experiment.” You just love jerking people around.

She hits him with another plate.

GUBBIN

Nah, I just think you should—Ow! Dammit. Stop breaking my things.

STAN

Please, Betula. Your uncle’s just being a jerk because… I don’t know why! Just ignore him.

BETULA

Yeah, I’m gonna. Even better, I’m gonna ignore him from someplace far away.

She storms upstairs.

GUBBIN

Aw, you going to go pack your twunky-wunky and leavey-weavey?

STAN

Betula, wait!

Stan moves to follow her, but Gubbin puts a hand on his shoulder.

GUBBIN

Oh, I wouldn’t.

STAN

Let go.

GUBBIN

You got little thin human bones, and she’s in a mood.

STAN

Yeah, she is. I wonder why.

GUBBIN

What? You want to experience troll culture? Well, here ya go. This is a typical night with a typical troll family.

STAN

Where you insult each other and throw things.

Gubbin dusts himself off.

GUBBIN

It’s how we show love. Ugh, good aim, that girl.

STAN

Serves you right. Here she comes. You need to apologize to her right now.

Betula reappears, dragging her trunk down the stairs—wham! wham! wham! and then heads out the door.

GUBBIN

Yes, you’re right, Stan. I’ve been a fool and I should apologize.

(to Betula)

Hey! You owe me a week’s rent and two new plates!

BETULA

Go to hell!

GUBBIN

And stop scuffing my floor!

STAN

Wait! Betula!

She slams the door behind her.

GUBBIN

Thank the gods that’s over. Hey kid, pass me the broom.

STAN

Uh-uh. I quit too.

GUBBIN

You can’t quit. You own the place.

STAN

I quit!

He follows Betula into the street. The door swings shut.

GUBBIN

Finally, some peace and quiet.

(beat)

Yeah.

MUSIC STING

INT. BAR—LATER STILL

Tools rattle in the front door lock. After a couple of tries, Betula manages to open the door. A cold wind whistles outside as she sneaks in and sets Stan on the floor.

BETULA

(whispers)

All right, we’re here.

STAN

(shivering and barely conscious)

Yaaay. Wait, isn’t this the Axe and Crown?

BETULA

Yeah.

STAN

But… I thought we were running away.

BETULA

I’m running away. You’ve got a life here, helping Uncle run this place.

STAN

Your uncle is a stupid stupid head.

BETULA

Whoa, whoa. Careful! You almost set off the booby trap.

STAN

What booby trap? Whoa!

Betula carefully trips a tripwire. There’s a clunk, a twang, and an arrow thunks into the door.

She sets him down in the kitchen.

BETULA

Just lie down here by the stove and warm up. You’re freezing.

STAN

Why can’t I come with you, Betula?

BETULA

Because you’re fragile. Like a baby bunny. You won’t be able to keep up.

STAN

I can so. How many miles did we just walk?

BETULA

Lots. Look, Stan, I’ve gotta get going before Uncle hears us and comes down.

STAN

I can’t come with you?

BETULA

No. Take care, Stan.

STAN

No, I’m good, just let me rest for a minute and I’ll… be…

Stan trails off as he falls asleep.

BETULA

(sighs)

Sleep tight, little bunny. I’ll miss you.

GUBBIN

“Bunny”?

Betula whirls around.

BETULA

Wha! Uncle!

GUBBIN

Did you just call him “little bunny”?

BETULA

“Buddy”. I said “buddy”.

GUBBIN

Sure you did.

BETULA

I did.

GUBBIN

Why’d you have to go and bring him back?

BETULA

He belongs here. This is his place.

GUBBIN

Eh, technically. What about you?

BETULA

I don’t have a place.

GUBBIN

(grunts)

Your room’s still vacant, if you need it.

BETULA

No. I’m going.

GUBBIN

Suit yourself.

Betuula opens the front door.

BETULA

You take care of him, you hear?

GUBBIN

Sure.

BETULA

Bye, Uncle.

GUBBIN

Night.

She heads out into the windy night.

GUBBIN (CONT’D)

Stupid kid.

MUSIC—CLOSING THEME

ANNOUNCER

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.