S1E13 Transcript

[SFX forest noises]

[Asha] “If he tries to betray us, you run into the forest and let me deal with him.”

[Rena] “He won’t betray us.”

As agreed upon, Rena and Asha were waiting near the road that led away from the plains, a few steps into the forest so that the trees hid them from any prying eyes. Logan and Rodrick had stayed with the caravan which they had stationed further down the road so that it wouldn’t be visible from far away.

Even though Rena really did believe that it was rather unlikely Finn would betray them, she still couldn’t keep herself from being nervous, and Asha’s attitude definitely wasn’t helping.

[Asha] “It still doesn’t make any sense to me why he would help us.”

[Rena] “It’s easier to work on such a big mystery together than to try to solve it on your own, especially since we might know different things than he does, so it’s interesting for the both of us to work together and exchange our knowledge.”

[Asha] “But why us? He doesn’t know us, he barely knows what we are looking for. I barely know what we are looking for. At least I can go back to Rancor and continue on with my life whenever I feel like it, but by coming here and deserting his post he’s giving up on that privilege, so why risk it? Why not look for allies in his own ranks instead of running away with some vagrants?”

            [SFX footsteps, brush against foliage]

[Finn] “Because none of them can be trusted.”

Finn appeared from behind them, emerging from deep inside the forest. Rena spun around in astonishment. She hadn’t noticed him at all before he approached them. How long had he been there? Had he been observing them? She looked around to see if anyone else was hiding behind some trees, but the sun was already setting and she couldn’t see very far into the forest anymore.

[Finn] “I see you got out without any problems. I hope the guards weren’t too much of a bother.”

[Rena] “None at all! I … was actually a bit shocked to see that they didn’t lock the town or even the building down.”

[Finn] “Yeah well, I convinced the guards that I knew who you were and that I was handling the situation on my own. Once they notice I’m gone though, they’ll come after us.”

[Rena] “Don’t you have to report breaches like that to the administrator? O-or someone else?”

[Finn] “Sure, but before they realise that I never reported anything to anyone we’re already long gone. How many people saw your faces? Ten? Less than that? Maybe two of those could point you out in a crowd? It will take them a while to figure out what exactly you were looking for and deduce through that who you might be and what your next steps will be. If we advance fast enough they won’t be able to catch up. That’s also why we should head to Miller’s Knee right away since we aren’t far away from it, before they figure out this is what we’re interested in.”

[Rena] “You think there’s something there for us to find.”

[Finn] “Who knows, but it’s best to go check it out before we can’t return later because they are guarding the region.”

[Asha] “So why should we agree to work with you if you’re about to put a target on our back?”

[Finn] “Because I know much more about the Royal Council and the rest of the nobility than any of you do. And the target is already on you, no matter what. You weren’t exactly subtle in the archives.”

[Asha] “But like you said, barely any of them know what we look like. I bet every single last one of them knows what you look like, however.”

[Finn] “Trust me, they’ll figure out who you are no matter what. At least with me by your side, you’ll know what to look out for.”

[Asha] “I know how to keep myself safe. What kind of information is so valuable anyways that we should risk our lives travelling with you for it?”

[Finn] “We shouldn’t discuss this here. The longer we stay here, the higher the chances are of being spotted.”

[Asha] “Convenient, isn’t it? To not tell us anything but have us take you to our hiding spot.”

[Rena] “Asha, please. I know you don’t trust him, but he’s right that we shouldn’t waste too much time. There’s no reason for him to try to lure us into a trap, he basically already had us captive in the archives. I think we can trust him, at least enough to see what he has to say, okay? We can just make a little detour to Miller’s Knee and then get back to the city of Rancor afterwards. If you don’t like what he has to say you can just stay with your uncle and we’ll continue on this journey on our own.”

[Asha] “I don’t think Cas will be happy to see us drag someone like him into the camp.”

[Rena] “We can also just drop you off and continue on without you. Or I’ll stay outside the camp with him while the rest of you gather information inside.”

[Finn] “I’m not a dog.”

[Asha] “Could have fooled me. Let’s go, if you’re so afraid of being spotted here.”

They walked back to the caravan and introduced Finn to Rodrick and Vincent, although Finn seemed to be much more delighted with meeting Rodrick than with meeting the dog. Finn explained his plan to go to Miller’s Knee first to the rest of the group and so, without any fail, Rena, Logan and Finn were loaded into the now cramped back of the caravan while Asha stayed in the front with Rodrick and Vincent. Rena and Logan sat with their backs against the door, their arms intertwined so their elbows wouldn’t hit against each other constantly, with Finn sitting on the opposite side of the wagon. He looked around suspiciously, as if he wasn’t sure whether some of the furniture was about to fall on him or not. 

            [SFX caravan]

[Rena] “The caravan is safe to travel in, you don’t need to worry about it. Just don’t touch the oven or the pipes, those are pretty hot.”

[Logan] “First time travelling like a commoner, hm?”

[Finn] “I’m not sure commoners usually travel in such a contraption. You don’t even get to see many of these self-drawn carriages around in Mellahen, let alone the rest of the province. I don’t know who your friend is, but he’s definitely not from around here.”

[Rena] “He’s a scribe of the land, and I think he mentioned he used to be a tinkerer, so I’m pretty sure he created it himself.”

[Finn] “Northerner, then. Even from its … design … it looks more like something from Menakala. I’d say, even almost from the Kano-Raeki federation.”

[Rena] “It just looks like an affluent merchant’s caravan to me.”

[Finn] “No, the darkened holly oak wood used in combination with the dark green panelling is specifically used in the North, which of course takes some inspiration from the countries bordering it. Granted, he could have also just bought it there, but it does look like something that has been … home-made.”

[Logan] “So you’re also an expert in furniture design now? We’ve really caught ourselves a big fish here.”

[Finn] “I just have an eye for detail.”

[Logan] “Like all the suspicious details you notice while snooping around in the administrator’s correspondence.”

[Finn] “I’m not the one who broke into the archives to snoop around.

[Logan] “No, but you had to find all of your super important information somewhere.”

[Rena] “What exactly is it that you found?”

[Finn] “How about you tell me what you know and then I’ll expand upon that.”

[Rena] “Ehm, yeah, sure. So, ehm, about a week ago, a bit less, I went out to gather some mushrooms in the forest and then I came back to find my entire village … burning. And, ehm, I tried to go in to see if I could still help anyone but I couldn’t, ehm, I wasn’t strong enough to stay there and do much. I had never seen a dead body before, especially not one that was burnt, so I-I just had to run away. But I did pick up one of the little bird figurines that were lying near the church. There’s something carved into its front, some lines that might be a word. I think Rodrick said that it was an old script but he couldn’t read it either. He might know someone who could read it, though. My hometown’s called Oceansthrow, by the way, it’s in the South near the cliffs, kind of between Hollowtooth and Mattak, next to Halvint, if you know where any of those are. A-and then I found Rodrick and Logan and Asha, and they’ve been helping me ever since, and we’ve been working together a bit to figure out what happened. We found out about Miller’s Knee only after arriving at the plains. So we were looking for more information about any of that in the archives, and so we went down a bit of a rabbit hole because all the documents we kept finding were cut up to remove some important stuff in it, and then we ended up in the room in the basement where I found some letters between the administrator and one of the High Lords talking about the incident.”

[Finn] “What did they say?”

[Rena] “Wait, I’ve got them here. [SFX paper rustling] So, it’s between the administrator and High Lord Armanic Harkid. It mentions a few things. Ehm, it mentions the town being destroyed and how they’ve been clearing up the place and then it says something about ‘the complete elimination of the town’s memory’, which I don’t really understand.”

[Finn] “With major incidents like this they want to avoid a mass panic so they minimise the risk of news spreading too far.”

[Rena] “O-ok, but shouldn’t people know that something is going on?”

[Finn] “It doesn’t help anyone if the rest of the province or even the kingdom starts freaking out. It’s easier and faster to deal with this sort of incident while it is still unknown.”

[Logan] “‘Complete elimination’ doesn’t sound like just making sure people don’t panic. Sounds like you’re trying to completely erase it from history.”

[Finn] “I can’t tell you more than what I’ve been told. These sorts of things are under the jurisdiction of the historical academy and I don’t know the intricate workings of that organisation.”

[Logan, mocking] “Hmm, then what are you even good for?”

[Rena] “Shouldn’t the job of a historical academy be to write down history the way it happened? Why would they want to eliminate some things?”

[Finn] “Writing down history isn’t the only thing they do. They also deal with the spread of information and public communication and similar things. What else do the letters say?”

[Rena] “Ehm, well, they mentioned ‘the Lynx’ and ‘the Crow’, and I don’t know what those are, but apparently the Royal Council had an agreement with the Lynx about the Crow and that the Crow is responsible for the fires and I think this has already happened a few times in the past?”

[Finn] “Hmm, yeah, I have heard of them.”

[Rena] “Do you know who they are?”

[Finn] “I know they’re old. If I remember correctly the Crow is an offshoot of the Lynx. They are religious organisations.”

[Rena] “Religious?”

[Logan] “Oh, so they’re old old.”

[Finn] “Yes, definitely a few hundred years. I don’t exactly know what their deal is, or why the Council has accords with them. They probably have power from back in the day.”

[Rena] “But … why are they burning down towns?”

[Finn] “I don’t know, that’s what we need to find out, I suppose.”

[Logan] “Probably aren’t very happy that no one prays to the Gods anymore.”

[Rena] “What does that have to do with burning down towns and killing hundreds of people.”

[Logan] “Who even knows. We’d probably have to ask them about that to find out.”

[Rena] “Where do they live?”

[Finn] “I don’t know.”

[Logan] “You can’t actually go there and just ask them.”

[Rena] “Why not? No one else is going to be able to tell me why they are doing this. They must live somewhere, right? So why not find out and go talk to them?”

[Finn] “Sounds dangerous.”

[Logan] “I have to agree with the traitor on this. Although, … I do like a dangerous plan.”

[Finn] “We don’t actually know where they are though.”

[Logan] “I’m sure we can find out. We’re five very smart and charming people, finding out where some murderous secret organisation sleeps can’t be that difficult for us, can it?”

[Rena] “I’m sure someone in Rancor can help us.”

[Logan] “Oh definitely. For a price.”

[Finn] “Even if we know where they are, that doesn’t mean we know how to approach them.”

[Logan] “Hey, one step at a time, buddy, ok?”

[Finn] “That’s how you get yourself killed.”

[Rena] “But he’s right. We can’t make a plan for how to approach them if we don’t even know where they are or who they really are or what they want. So we need to gather more information no matter what. I think going to Miller’s Knee is a good first step, since we’re so close by, but I would say we also need to go back to Oceansthrow, even if it’s going to be difficult for me.”

[Logan] “You sure you wanna go back? We could also just drop you off in Rancor and go to your town without you and report back what we found.”

[Rena] “[sigh] No, I wanna come with you. See what actually happened and what remains of the town.”

[Finn] “The town will probably be crawling with guards and people from the historical society. I don’t know if it’s a good idea to go back there.”

[Logan] “We can be sneaky.”

[Finn] “The way you were sneaky at the archives?”

[Rena] “So you don’t think we can go back to Oceansthrow?”

[Finn] “I’m just saying it might be dangerous. I don’t know if they’ve already started with cleaning up the place or if they have already finished it. We won’t know until we get closer to the town.”

[Rena] “But we first need to find Miller’s Knee, right?”

[Finn] “If we want to know how thorough they are with clearing the debris away.”

[Rena] “Right.”

            [SFX caravan sounds fade out; forest sounds fade in]

Rodrick had a knack for talking to people and making them tell their whole life story to him, which was extremely helpful when you were trying to find a town that didn’t exist anymore and that no signs or maps pointed towards. It took them longer than any of them were really comfortable with, considering that they were on the run and it was the middle of the night, but they had already spent so much time on the task that abandoning the search without having found any new information felt like a complete waste of their precious time. 

They abandoned the caravan in a small town near where they suspected Miller’s Knee used to be. Rodrick convinced an old farmer in town to look after his vehicle and then the companions set out to hike through the woods in hopes that they would stumble upon anything that could indicate that a town used to be there. 

They found a clearing between the trees, long lanes of grass and underbrush which could have been roads once. Rodrick had brought the lamp that was usually attached to the caravan with him and was illuminating their path with it, which only made the rest of the forest around them seem darker and more sinister. The moonlight, even though bright, barely managed to reach them through the treetops that had reclaimed the space above them.

At least the dog seemed to enjoy the walk in the forest after the long journeys in the caravan they’d been on over the past few days, unbothered by the darkness surrounding them. He ran ahead on the path before running back to them, circling each of them, and then # running off into the distance again. They all seemed to delight in this little game, even Asha had a small smile on her lips, except for Finn, who stepped away from the dog each time Vincent ran up to him. 

[SFX dog noises]

[Logan] “If we get eaten by a wolf, we know whose brilliant idea it was to come here first.”

[Rena] “There aren’t many wolves around here. It’s more boars and things like that.”

[Logan] “Well, maybe we’ll get eaten by one of those, do you know how dangerous they are?”

[Asha] “Shut up, Logan, I think I hear water.”

            [SFX river noises getting closer]

[Logan] “Shut up, yourself, Asha. Why should we care about water?”

[Asha] “You don’t think that a town called Miller’s Knee might have a mill in it? And what do mills need?”

[Rena, excited] “Wind or a river.”

[Asha] “Exactly. So if I can hear water it means there’s a river nearby which means the town might be somewhere nearby.”

[Rodrick] “What an astute observation, Asha. Very well done.”

Although the sound of flowing water got louder the further they got, they never quite reached it. Of course, with the darkness that surrounded them, they didn’t see very far into the forest, so it felt to Rena like the path they were on ran parallel to the river that must have been only a few metres away from them. And then, as predicted, they stumbled upon a wide clearing. Vincent ran ahead, darting across it, darting back, sniffing the ground wherever he went. 

It didn’t look to Rena like there used to be a town there. The ground was covered with grass and bushes and even some young saplings, but the shape of the clearing also looked too deliberate for it to have occurred naturally. Finally the moonlight was bright enough that they wouldn’t need Rodrick’s lamp anymore, and Rena thought she could even see the river to their left. 

[Logan] “So this is it? A bunch of nothing?”

[Finn] “Let’s split up and search for clues. We’ll cover more ground if we don’t stay together.”

[Logan] “Sure thing, captain.”

[Asha] “I’ll stay here and make sure no one’s approaching us from behind.”

[Rena] “Thank you, Asha.”

They fanned out onto the clearing, keeping their heads bowed towards the ground to catch any glimpses that could indicate anything other than vegetation used to be here. Rena couldn’t really believe it, couldn’t imagine shops and farms and homes standing all around her, couldn’t imagine that in a few years her own home town would look like this. Vincent came running up to her and she absent-mindedly ran her hand through the fur behind his bitten-off ear as she looked out over the clearing. As Rodrick got further away from her, her eyes got increasingly used to only seeing with the light of the moon. She tried to make out any patterns in the ground from far away, to see where the foundations of buildings could have been, but there was nothing there. Her eyes caught on to something at the edge of the clearing to her right, something that looked too regular to have occurred naturally. 

She walked up to it, Vincent following her, and saw what looked like six, flat stone slabs set into the dirt. She crouched down and noticed that names had been carved into the stones. Some slabs with only one name, some with two, and one even with three names. The cuts that formed the names looked older, worn, with moss growing over them, but underneath the names something else had been carved into the stone, something newer.

[Rena] “Hey, Rodrick?”

[Rodrick] “Yes, my dear?”

[Rena] “Do you know what that symbol means?”

She let her fingers run over the deep grooves of two triangles, one right side up, the other reversed, their tips intertwined with a dot in the space they formed, and a thick horizontal line running through the dot and the points where the triangles met.

[Rodrick] “Hmm, let me see. [SFX clothes rustle, groaning] Well, how odd. The intertwined triangles usually represent Tavuu’Moda, the god of Chance. Well, people say chance, but Tavuu’Moda is heavily connected with survival and with perseverance and those concepts. He actually has a twin sister called Kaepi’Pari who is the god of good fortune. Very interesting distinction, but that is a story for another time. You usually only find these symbols on old buildings, such as churches or monasteries or such. I’m not quite sure what it is doing here on gravestones. It doesn’t seem likely that the people around here were still praying to the old gods, but you never know, it might be possible. There sadly isn’t enough left of the village to indicate if that theory could be true. Although the symbol is a bit odd. I have seen this variation with the line through the triangles before, especially here in more southern and eastern regions, but this dot in the middle is new to me. Quite peculiar that they added this, I wonder if it could be a local variety. Logan! Come here, my child.”

            [SFX footsteps]

[Logan] “What’s up?”

[Rodrick] “You’ve wandered through these parts of the kingdom quite a bit, right?”

[Logan] “I’ve been here and there, sure. Why?”

[Rodrick] “Have you ever seen this symbol before?”

[Logan] “The triangles. Not sure. Hmm. Maybe. It does look a bit familiar but I’m not exactly sure where from.”

[Rodrick] “Maybe you’ve seen it on buildings? Are there any bigger churches in the area? Ruins of old monasteries maybe? Anything in that direction?”

[Logan] “Well, most buildings like that were either torn down or repurposed for something else around here. In the north they treat these buildings differently, right? More like historical artefacts? Don’t touch them and keep them how they are? Here you don’t see many of them anymore. Although, now that I’m thinking about it, there’s some old buildings on some hill formations above the border in Baedan if I remember it correctly. Might have been a monastery before but I’m not sure, I’ve only been to that region a handful of times, not much going on there. I only went up to those hills once like 5 years ago. If I remember correctly there were weird symbols on them, and I think they might have looked similarly angular, but I don’t remember if they were specifically like this one or different.”

[Rodrick] “I will write it down in my notebook and then we can ask around, see if any other people recognise it. [groaning]”

Rodrick stood up with some difficulty, faltering, and Rena shot up to stabilise him. He pulled a leather-bound notebook and what looked like a small, cylindrical piece of wood out of his breast pocket and flipped the notebook open to an empty page. Rena wasn’t sure what he needed the piece of wood for, but when he dragged it over the page it left a mark, almost like charcoal although lighter in colour, and with ease he drew the symbol onto the paper. She had never seen such a simple writing tool before, something that didn’t stain your hands when you held it and didn’t need to dry after you applied it. She realised how many things she had never even been aware of that had already been invented in the cities, even such small things as this, something she had never even heard about yet seemed so natural to Rodrick. 

[Rodrick] “We could ask some of your friends, Logan, I’m sure someone has seen it before.”

[Logan, hesitant] “Sure, we can  …”

            [SFX fast footsteps]

[Asha] “We need to leave.”

Asha jogged up to them, quickly followed by a tense Finn.

[Rena] “What?”

[Asha] “Someone’s coming. I’m not sure who, but we shouldn’t stay here to find out. Follow me, we’ll go the long way around to get back to the caravan.”

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