Welcome, to the Heart Pyre. This is the first episode in a little bonus story about Logan a few years before the event of the first season. It’s actually based on a sort of game I’m running on social media where each day I post a poll detailing a scene and followers can vote on Logan’s next actions. If you would like to join, head over to either tumblr or twitter.
It had been a long while since Logan had worn clothes of such fine material – which told you a lot considering what he was wearing had been out of fashion for at least a decade and sported several tears and burn marks. But he had found – in an assuredly legal manner – a cape of such beauty and fine quality, that the shoddy condition of the rest of his outfit was surely not to be noticed. It was black velvet on the outside, with a golden seam, and a brightly patterned red and golden lining on the inside. It was inevitably going to distract from his wide, once black trousers that he had laced to his knees with a red, satin band, as the fashion of the time dictated.
He had been invited to the feast for Lady Ined’s 20th birthday – or more precisely, he had invited himself to the party. She was the only remaining child of Count Yonec – ruler over the province of Mohregi, at the centre of the Kingdom of Kal-Hemma. Logan had arrived in Mohregi with his crew only a few months ago, joining up with the city of Rancor which had set up camp near one of the great lakes. It was a strange feeling to finally have something resembling a home again, but he thought he might like it. A place he knew he could always return to, a place where someone was happy to see him, a place where he could feel useful. But it also meant caring for people and their wellbeing, and that care had been what drove him to this feast.
Count Yonec was a mysterious fellow. With each new hardship in his life, he withdrew further from the public eye – first the death of his eldest son in battle, then the death of his wife to illness, and one couldn’t disregard the rumour that it was supposed to be him, not his brother, on the Royal Council, but something nefarious must have happened to change that fact. The inhabitants of Mohregi didn’t mind him much as a ruler – though distant, taxation was fair under his rule, and the public administration was more helpful than cumbersome. People grew even more appreciative after he started building the new sickhouse that was supposed to be staffed with the best doctors from far and wide.
The last brick was laid, and people waited patiently for it to open. The first doctor arrived, and people kept waiting. Winter came around, children started to get sick, the elderly needed more care than before, and people became less patient. But still, days and weeks and months passed, and the doors to the sickhouse remained closed. Rumours started coursing through the province that the sickhouse had only been built for the rich and powerful, but no one actually ever saw anyone enter or leave the building. Something strange was going on, and Logan’s interest was piqued.
Logan approached the castle of Count Yonec on foot – a square, white building with an inner court that was rumoured to have one of the most magnificent gardens in the kingdom, but, of course, no one of Logan’s status had ever seen it. He weaved his way through the crowd, blending in with the rest of the aristocracy to draw as little attention from the guards as he could. He entered the main ballroom – frescos of local sceneries adorning the otherwise white and yellow walls, while the long tables that usually stood in the middle of the room had be pushed to the sides to make space for the mass of guests. At the back of the room were wide, arched windows, revealing the lush green of the prized inner court.
Logan recognised a few of the guests – children of the aristocracy who liked to frequent the same sites as him, although they were usually there for very different reasons. He let his gaze wander over the crowd until he spotted Lady Ined. She was a short, plump girl with curly, light brown hair pinned into a updo with a few strands running down her neck and shoulders. She was wearing a long-sleeved, dark green, velvet dress that complimented her fair skin perfectly. The red wine in her almost-empty glass had clearly already had its effects on her – visible by how rosy her cheeks were and how her laugh carried through the entire room. She was standing next to another girl her age, who was giggling along to whatever so amused Lady Ined.
Logan spotted a waiter carrying a tray of wine glasses and stepped forward, flashing the waiter a charming smile as he grabbed two of the full glasses and drifted through the crowd towards Lady Ined. As he approached, their eyes met, and Lady Ined paused her laughter. He smiled at her and held one of the glasses out to her.
[SFX loud crowd]
[Logan] “My dearest Lady Ined, only the best wishes for your birthday. It is so pleasant to see you again.”
She looked at Logan for an instance with a polite smile – clearly unsure if she had actually seen him before or not. He nodded amiably to her companion before turning back to Lady Ined.
[Logan] “We met at the opera in Jodash a while ago – oh, it must have been almost three years now. My name is Havac Ghaded. You might remember my father, the supervisor of the mining district in Red Hill.”
Of course, none of it was true, but every person of a certain standing had been to the opera in Jodash in the last couple of years, and a Lady like her was introduced to so many new people on such an outing, that it was rather unlikely she remembered them all. The trick was to use the names of the lower nobility – people she might have heard of before but who weren’t important enough for her to remember.
She slowly accepted the glass Logan was offering her – her mind still trying to remember him – and he held out his newly-free hand for her empty glass. She snapped out of her confusion and smiled back at him, handing him the second glass. He turned around and flagged a waiter down, who hurried over to take the empty glass away.
[Lady Ined, politely cheerful] “Yes, of course. Sir Ghaded. We went to see The Daughter Of The Sun if my memory serves me right. Such an unusual piece, if I dare say so.”
[Logan] “Just call me Havac, my dear. And yes, it was quite … innovative. But it is always interesting to hear what new approaches these artists find to music.”
[Lady Ined, fading into the noise of the background] “You are quite right, but I do have to say that I might prefer the more long-established pieces. The familiarity of them is rather pleasant to my ears.”
Lady Ined had presented the key to her trust on a platter to him without even noticing it, and Logan knew exactly how much he needed to agree with her and how much he needed challenge her assumptions for the conversation to engross both women. He didn’t know much about the current trends in the operatic world – not having had the opportunity to frequent the scene in a long while – but he knew enough about the traditional pieces to have a long and deep discussions with his new companions.
After a while, when he felt that he had built enough familiarity between him and Lady Ined, he leaned closer to her to whisper in her ear.
[Logan, whisper] “My dearest, would there be a place away from this crowd where we could talk in private. This noise is starting to give me a headache, but I would only reluctantly leave your company.”
Lady Ined held Logan’s gaze for an instance before quickly looking away – a blush creeping up her cheeks. She handed her glass to her friend.
[Lady Ined] “Don’t wait for me.”
[SFX crowd fades and becomes muffled, light sound of wind blowing through leaves, night time sounds]
She held out her hand so Logan could offer his elbow to her and then led him towards the back of the room. They stepped out into the inner court. A path lead along the outer wall of the castle, covered by a balcony on the first floor. Round columns stood along the path every few metres, connected by intricately carved arches. The centre of the inner court held the famed garden. The area closest to them was flat – mostly comprised of flowerbeds and benches to rest – but the further away from the main entrance, the higher the bushes got, and the more trees could be spotted, providing more space for privacy.
[Logan] “You have such a beautiful home, and this garden is truly breath-taking, but, my dear, which spot would you consider your favourite?”
[Lady Ined] “Surely you must think that the garden is the most interesting place in our palace. It is the perfect place to rest and have a conversation.”
[Logan] “If it truly is your favourite, I would be pleased to stay here. But I wish nothing more than to get to know you better.”
Lady Ined remained silent for a while, as they strolled along the side of the building, a row of rose daphne shrubs separating them from the inner garden.
[Lady Ined, hesitant] “There is a room that I am quite fond of.”
[Logan] “Would you show it to me?”
[Lady Ined, with a bit of a fake chuckle] “Oh, but this part of the castle is so much nicer. My parents have invested so much time and money into making it perfect.”
Logan stopped and turned to face his companion.
[Logan] “Lady Ined, I am not searching for perfection. Isn’t connection what makes a place important? Isn’t it the memories and stories we can tell about it, that make it worthwhile to stay in? I am certain that the inner garden has its merits, but if we only had one last place we could visit before our passing, which one would you choose?”
[SFX fades to almost nothing, slow footsteps on stone/marble]
She looked out over the garden, then smiled shily and looped her arm around Logan’s again. She led him further down the path towards the southern wing of the castle. They headed back inside the building, past the guards stationed around the ground floor, and up a flight of stairs towards the third floor.
[SFX low gas hissing]
So high up, the castle was calm, as if they were all alone – the only noise accompanying them the low hissing of the gas lamps. Lady Ined led them to a brown door that looked exactly like any of the other doors in the corridor, as if there was nothing special behind it. But what they stepped into definitely took Logan’s breath away.
It was a greenhouse, no bigger than two adjacent bedrooms, packed to the brim with various plants and flowers. The ceiling and far wall had been replaced with glass panes – although they were covered in moisture from the humidity present in the room. It smelled delightful. Logan hadn’t known he had missed the sweet scent a greenhouse emitted until then – having gotten too used to the rotten smell entrenched in cities.
Lady Ined let go of his arm and stepped up to a column of shelves attached to the wall on their left. They were filled with small pots with various seedlings. She reached her hand out and gently ran her fingers over a fresh leaf.
[Logan, softly] “Did you grow these?”
[Lady Ined] “These ones, yes. The bigger plants belong to my mother. I’m just trying to take care of them for her.”
[Logan] “It is truly an enchanting place. You can feel the love coursing through it.”
[Lady Ined] “I don’t know if I’m doing a good job at it.”
[Logan] “The plants all look lush and cherished, I’m sure your mother would be proud of what you have accomplished here.”
[Lady Ined, with a sigh] “Some of them have brown spots, and I had to dispose of an azalea bush last week because bugs had gotten to it.”
[Logan] “Even the most prolific of gardeners has to say goodbye to a plant here and there.”
[Lady Ined] “There used to be more plants in here, but when my mother couldn’t take care of them anymore, and I had to take over, a lot of them died. It took me a while until I knew how to look after them correctly.”
[Logan] “You truly must have loved your mother.”
[Lady Ined] “Yes, a lot. We spent most of our time after my brother’s death in here. She taught me everything I know about taking care of plants. We were even able to grow a few medicinal herbs when she started getting sick.”
[Logan] “I’m deeply sorry for your loss.”
[Lady Ined] “Of course the herbs didn’t help much and mother’s condition grew worse by the day. Even after father sent for the rare and expensive plants from far-away places. All they did was alleviate the pain. The longer it went on, the more lethargic she got, until she seemed like nothing more than a life-sized doll.”
[Logan] “It must have been a dreadful time for you.”
[Lady Ined, almost a whisper] “I just want to make her happy, that’s why I don’t like it when the plants die.”
[Logan] “My dear, I’m sorry I brought you somewhere so heavy with somber memories.”
[Lady Ined, snapping out of her sadness] “Oh, no. I should apologise, I didn’t mean to grow so melancholic. The wine must be getting to my head.”
[Logan] “Should we take a little stroll? I’m sure there are other wonderful places to discover in this wing of the castle.”
As previously mentioned, if you want to help guide Logan on his journey, head over to the show’s tumblr or twitter page to vote in the daily polls.
Follow the show on social media for updates on when season two will launch, and on when the book adaptation of season 1 will be released.
If you want to support the show, head over to the ko-fi or patreon page, where you can also vote on the alternative path for season one.
The Heart Pyre is written and produced by me, Audrey Martin.
Thank you for listening.
Welcome, to the Heart Pyre. This is the second episode in a little bonus story about Logan a few years before the event of the first season. It’s based on a game I ran on social media where each day I posted a poll detailing a scene and followers could vote on Logan’s next actions, so the way the characters act and react in the story was entirely decided by fans. The ending of the story goes into darker themes, so please check out the content warning in the show notes if you think you might need them.
Logan opened the door to the hallway, cold air flowing in from the windows across the hallway and mixing with the damp heat of the greenhouse. Lady Ined took a long, deep breath, stood up straight, and smiled at Logan. He smiled back and gestured for her to walk out first. They interlaced their arms again before striding down the hallway.
[Lady Ined] “I’m truly sorry my sorrow took over. I shouldn’t put such a heavy burden on you.”
[Logan] “Nonsense, my dear. I told you I wanted to get to know you better, and I meant it. What scoundrel would I be if I told a lady something like that and then ran away at the first signs of vulnerability.”
They continued the path they had taken before, away from the stairs they had come from. Logan glanced at each and every door, wondering if Count Yonec’s study was behind any of them. He wasn’t even sure they were in the correct part of the castle. He either needed to get rid of Lady Ined’s company, or get her to tell him where her father’s study was. But it was unlikely that she would lead him to her father’s private documents, and if he just abandoned her, she would start looking for him, and she might even send some of the guards after him.
Maybe he should try to stay the night and look through the building when everyone was asleep, but then he would have to avoid any social function Lady Ined attended in the future. Although, he might have already crossed that line. They had spent too much time with each other, she would recognise him from now on.
[Lady Ined, cheerful] “We should get back to the feast. I’m sure they are already looking for me. It’s my birthday after all.”
[Logan] “Of course, my dear. I wouldn’t want to keep you from your celebration for too long.”
Logan considered his options. If he want down to the ballroom with Lady Ined, and tried to sneak away and back up here again, it would be difficult to get past the guards on his own, and then he would have just wasted his time talking to Lady Ined and getting her to bring him inside the building. He would have to accompany her down a floor or two and then pretend like he had forgotten something in the greenhouse, and convince her to go back to the feast without him.
As they approached the end of the hallway where the building bent to the left, Logan noticed a door in front of them. It looked like any other door, but faint notches had been etched into the wooden floor in front of it, as if something heavy had been dragged across the floor. It didn’t seem like much, but it was strange enough that it tugged at Logan’s curiosity.
[Logan] “I’m sorry, Lady Ined, but may I ask what’s behind this door at the end of the hallway?”
[Lady Ined, a bit nervous] “Hmm, oh, that? Just … just a storage closet. We should really get going.”
She picked up her pace and tugged lightly at their interlinked arms, keeping her gaze decidedly away from the door and the notches. As they turned to the left and walked past the door, Logan noticed that, even though the notches were faint, they looked uneven and aged, as if something had been moved in and out of the room repeatedly over a longer period of time.
Logan stopped and freed his arm from Lady Ined’s. He frowned down at the notches, a feeling of unease creeping its way into his mind.
[Lady Ined] “It really is just a closet. There’s nothing important behind it.”
[Logan] “What are those notches?”
[Lady Ined] “What? Those? Oh, someone probably wasn’t careful while placing something in the closet. I should really inform my father of it, so we can find out who damaged our floors.”
[Logan] “Those notches weren’t all made at the same time. And some of them look rather old.”
[Lady Ined, stuttering] “Well, we don’t walk past here very often.”
[Logan] “But your favourite room in the building is almost next door. Wouldn’t you have notice.”
[Lady Ined, forceful] “But I didn’t.”
Logan glanced back at her, but she wouldn’t meet his eyes.
[Logan] “What’s going on?”
She turned to the window opposite the door and looked down at the garden, her arms tightly wrapped around herself. She didn’t say anything for a long while, before her shoulders started to tremble and the first sob escaped her lips. Her hand shot up to hide her face, but she couldn’t stop herself from crying.
[Logan] “My dear, I didn’t mean to upset you.”
[Lady Ined, crying, mumbling] “This isn’t right. Father said to not tell anyone. But it can’t go on forever. I don’t even understand why he started it. She doesn’t deserve a fate like this. We should have never kept it a secret for so long, I should have never kept it a secret for so long. Why did I never say anything? Why did I just accept his decision? I don’t deserve to call myself her daughter.”
[Logan, while Lady Ined is mumbling] “I shouldn’t have asked. I didn’t know it would upset you so, I’m truly sorry. If you would prefer, we can go back down to your feast, and forget I ever said anything. You’re right, they’re already waiting for you, you shouldn’t miss your own birthday celebration.”
Logan lightly touched Lady Ined’s elbow to get her to look at him, but she firmly shook her head instead. She pressed her lips together, then took a deep breath, and wiped the tears from her cheeks with the tips of her fingers.
[Lady Ined, shaky, but resolute] “There’s something I need to show you. My family has a secret that we’ve been hiding for too long. I know my father doesn’t want me to tell anyone about it, but I can’t take it anymore. What we’re doing is cruel and wrong. It might be the wine talking, because I know on any other night I would have simply pushed down these feelings, but I’ve wanted it to stop for a while, and I don’t know how to mend it on my own.”
[Logan, stunned] “What is it? I don’t really understand. What has your father done? He isn’t… mistreating you?”
[Lady Ined] “No, no, no. Nothing so horrid. I, uhm… I think it’s better if I show you. I wouldn’t know how to put it into words.”
Lady Ined pulled a long, silver chain from a small, barely noticeable pocket on the bodice of her dress, a small key dangling from it. She walked over to the door and unlocked it, before stepping inside. Logan remained in the hallway for a moment, too stunned to move, then followed her into the room. Instantly a wave of sweet, floral smell hit him, with a strange, sour scent underlying it, something that settled on his tongue and made his stomach tighten. The room was only lit by a two, weak gas lamps, and it took Logan’s eyes a few seconds to adjust to the dim light. In front of him was a long, white curtain which ran from one side of the room to the other, creating a sort of antechamber at the front of the room that was only about 2 metres wide. To Logan’s left, was a table filled with neatly organised gardening tools, and jars of milky liquid. To Logan’s right, was a second table, this one holding piles of documents, parchment rolls, and books. But the strangest part about the room, were the thick vines poking out from underneath the curtains.
Something caught Logan’s attention on the table to his right, a medical drawing of a body with various notes across it. He stepped closer, Lady Ined letting him explore the room on his own. Logan rifled through the documents, not understanding what he was seeing. They all seemed to be medical records pertaining to Countess Marled’s health, Lady Ined’s mother, but, to Logan’s confusion, most of them had been written only a few days ago. Logan didn’t understand most of the language used in them, being too specific in their medical terms, but what he gathered from them was that they spoke as if Countess Marled was still alive, just very sick. But Countess Marled had been dead for a few years, he knew that to be a fact. There had a well-attended funeral. Logan picked up a letter, the paper having been crumpled up and smoothed out again, dated only two days ago. It urged Count Yonec to finally transfer his wife to the new sickhouse, as her condition did not seem to be stabilizing.
[Logan, confused] “I don’t understand. These documents are written as if your mother was still alive, but your mother died four years ago, didn’t she?”
[Lady Ined, quietly] “She did.”
[Logan] “Then what is this about?”
Instead of answering, Lady Ined stepped forward and pushed the curtains aside, revealing the rest of the room. A bed stood in the middle of it, surrounded by cluster of vines crawling over the ground and the bed, only a passage of the floor between the bed to the entrance free of the plants. On the bed lay a body with translucent, greying skin, its loose, white dress much too wide for its frail frame. A wig of luscious, brown hair had been placed atop her head, but with the position of the body, and the slenderness of the skull, it lay more next to the body, than on it. The body’s face had been concealed with a porcelain mask resembling the features of a sleeping woman.
As Logan stepped closer, and the acid smell lingering underneath the floral scent clawing its way down his throat, he could notice that the vines weren’t simply climbing over the body, but that some smaller tendrils had burrowed their way underneath the skin.
Lady Ined walked up to the body of her mother, careful not to step on any of the vines, and sat down on the ground. She placed her arms on the bed next to her mother, and rested her head on them.
[Lady Ined] “She died, but my father couldn’t let her go. I don’t know what the doctors did, and I’m sure I wouldn’t understand it anyway, but she’s been here ever since. In the beginning we still took her outside to the gardens, so she could smell the flowers and see the stars, but she has become much too fragile for that now. Father still insists that she will be better soon, that one day she’ll be back to how she used to be, but I don’t think that day will ever come.”
[Logan] “I … don’t know what to say.”
[Lady Ined] “What my father did is selfish. I know it was because of love, but I also think it’s cruel and unjust. My mother isn’t gaining anything from this, and it’s clear to me now that I will never truly have her back. Not the way I want her to.”
[Logan, after a pause] “What do you want me to do?”
[Lady Ined] “Will you help me stop her suffering? She deserves a better death than this.”
They looked at each other for a while, before Logan nodded and slid a dagger from behind his back. Lady Ined stood up and leaned over her mother, murmuring something that Logan couldn’t understand. When she stepped away again, Logan brought the dagger to the first vine and carefully started to free the bed. He started with the larger vines, then went for the thinner ones, until only the tendrils burrowing into Countess Marled’s skin remained. He tried cutting the first tendril close to the body, but the skin was so loose that it detached from the body with the faintest pull. Logan’s stomach tightened and he could feel bile rising up his throat, but he pressed on. For the rest of the tendrils he cut them further from the body, curving them around his blade and cutting the loop.
Soon, the body laid uncovered, only the ghost of a dearly beloved woman who had been bound to a mockery of life remaining. As Lady Ined stepped closer to take her last goodbyes, Logan started worrying that someone might come looking for them. There was nothing much he would be able to do if a guard stumbled upon them while transporting the body, except hope that Lady Ined could take control of the situation.
Lady Ined stepped back, and Logan carefully wrapped the body in the bedsheets the Countess was lying on, making sure they would hold tightly. He picked up the body that hadn’t moved in years and felt just how light she had become, as if she had been fading into the plants over all this time. Lady Ined led the way out of the room, making sure no one was waiting for them in them hallway. Logan took the few steps towards the greenhouse and carefully placed the body on the ground.
It felt as if Lady Ined had thought about this for a long time, as if everything had already been planned out in her mind. She led Logan to a wide pot near the back window, a pot long enough to hold a human body. Together, they removed the small fig trees from their pot, and hollowed out most of the pot. Logan’s hands ached from the effort, and his clothes were covered in dirt, but it didn’t really matter. Lady Ined’s velvet green dress looked like it would never recover from that evening, but she didn’t seem to mind either. Logan went back to the body and placed in into the hollowed-out put. They carefully shovelled the dirt back into its place, the white bedsheets disappearing little by little underneath a brown blanket.
Lady Ined patted down the earth, before standing up and walking over to the shelves that held her saplings. She gathered a few of the nicer ones, then dug little holes into the dirt they had just shovelled, and planted the saplings over her mother’s body.
The rest of the evening became like a blur to Logan. He knew that they remained seated in silence in front of the pot for a while, until one of the guards did come looking for them. Logan remembered that he told the guard something about Lady Ined needing help to repot her plants, but he never remembered what exactly he said. The lie must have been believable enough however, because he was led to a guest room and brought new clothes, and then accompanied back down to the feast. He must have remained there, talking about platitudes which other guests, for a while, because he only remembered coming home as the sun was rising.
He didn’t dare tell everyone in the city of Rancor what had happened that evening. He only told them that he found out very little about the sickhouse, that it had been built for the Countess when she was sick, but that he didn’t know why it had been closed all this time. And he truly didn’t, he could only speculate that Count Yonec had wanted to keep it empty in case his wife’s condition got too bad to be treated at home anymore, but he had been stuck in the illusion that she had never gotten that bad, and therefore never needed to be transferred to the sickhouse. But the reason didn’t matter anymore to Logan. Not during the days following his visit to Count Yonec’s castle.
Only the person closest to him got to hear the entire story, and she only believed him because of the honesty in his voice and the uncertainty in his eyes. He never heard from Lady Ined afterwards, never got to find out how her father reacted to what they did, and even though he was curious to know how she was doing, deep down he hoped he would never have to see her again. He wouldn’t know what to say to her.
I wanted to thank everyone who joined in in our little game and voted on Logan’s actions. I think it was really fun and the story didn’t play out at all how I had envisioned it in the beginning, but that’s what makes this format so interesting. I hope everyone else also enjoyed this story.
I wanted to mention that on the 15th and 16th of April I will be at the Luxcon convention in Luxembourg, mostly to help out and host a few panels. We have actually invited some exciting audio drama creators this year, and the guest announcements should be released in the coming weeks. I will definitely mention the announcements on my and the podcast’s social media accounts, or you can follow Luxcon’s social media accounts to find out more. If you are from Luxembourg or close by, come join us! It will be tons of fun.
Also, follow the show on social media for updates on when season two will launch, and on when the book adaptation of season 1 will be released.
And as always, if you want to support the show, head over to the ko-fi or patreon page, where you can also vote on the alternative path for season one.
The Heart Pyre is written and produced by me, Audrey Martin.
Thank you for listening.