Content warnings for this episode include: Abuse, Animal death (Dogsmell as usual), Suicide (spiritually implied), Violence, Kidnapping and abduction, Death + Injury, Blood, Strangulation/suffocation, Emotional Manipulation, Drowning, Body horror, Drowning, Ralph saying the words ‘treasure trail’
Intro - The Seed
It is at first a sharp pain, the first moment you realize there is something stuck in your skin. What hurts afterwards is only the knowing. At all times it is just beneath, and you can only try to forget it for so long. It is there, almost visible sometimes. You try to pull it out with a pair of tweezers. Pierce the flesh to remove it so you can be unblemished. But each time you try, it drives it deeper, like a gardener’s spade packing a seed into the earth.
And it is a seed, of sorts. For soon it begins to spread into transcendent roots throughout you, grow comfortable in your body, make itself undeniable. When the spring comes, you will bloom, mouth and eyes and lungs with flowers, as the roots in your palms spell Hello From The Hallowoods.
Right now I sit beside an empty nest. It is formed of great jagged tree trunks, withered and bent by ancient frosts, and filled with a bed of shiny items that, like their owners, once held meaning. The tokens of a thousand passages lay still as the breeze carries through the wastes in the great dark north, and beside the nest, a Groundskeeper sits and waits for the next broken spirit to arrive. The theme of tonight’s episode is Splinters.
Story 1 - The Last Glow
The Grackle appeared suddenly, as it always did, and Walt raised his eyes to the polar sky, watched the shimmer of those phantasmal black wings flicker like flame, a gleaming beak, a grim eye as it released a soul from its talons. The spirit writhed on the windswept ice, while the Grackle hopped several times up to the twisted reaches of its nest.
“How’d it go?” Walt called.
“What does it look like?” Riot said, and shot a murderous look at the bird. It croaked back. She drifted up to join Walt on the stoop of ice where he maintained his vigil.
“I know better than to tell you something is impossible,” Walt said, raising his translucent palms as she approached. His scars were etched in silver, and he could see them through the backs of his hands. “But I haven’t seen anyone escape the Grackle yet.”
“Oh I’m just getting started,” Riot said, and would have dusted herself off if the snow had any hold on her anymore. “So now I know it will know you’re leaving even if you go under the water. Next up is to see if it can track two escaping targets at the same time.”
“I trained you too well,” Walt said, and shook the shadow of his head.
“Does that mean you’re proud?” Riot said, and half grinned as she postured to sit beside him.
He shoved her shoulder, although his hand went right through.
“Always,” he said.
Riot did not respond, and he studied her gaze; she stared past him at the horizon. Daphne was in the distance, a phantom wind blowing in her aprons. She twitched back and forth in repetitions.
“Daphne?” Riot called. “Are you okay?”
“Riot, wait…” Walt began, but she was already floating away across the ice to where the once-waitress hovered. Walt muttered a curse under his breath, and rose after them. He could hear Daphne’s voice echoing like a song across the barrens.
“Can I get you anything else, hon?” Daphne said.
“Riot, hold up!” Walt called, but she was beside Daphne by now, peering up at her, and Walt drifted to join her, boots passing through the ice.
“Can I get you anything else, hon?” Daphne said, and smiled at a blank horizon, eyes fixed on an unseen table. She mimed a motion as if reaching for a plate. And when she reached the end of the gesture, she said the words again, and it was not so much that she repeated the gesture as that she appeared again at the start of it, a VHS tape skipping backward, a scratch in a vinyl record.
“Walt? What’s wrong with her?” Riot said. She waved a hand gently, but Daphne’s eyes did not follow it.
“She gets like this sometimes,” Walt said, and sighed. He watched Riot with a cautious eye. “Just give her a little time to snap out of it. She’ll find her way back.”
Riot watched Daphne reach, and reach, and reach. Walt looked down at the ice, hands on his hips. Anything else hon, anything else, anything else? Riot raised a quizzical eyebrow at him.
“She’s been here a long time,” he explained. “Twenty years longer than me, you know. She might have been one of the first ones up here. And, uh. Ghosts don’t die, exactly. But I think they fade, given enough time.”
“She was fine before,” Riot said, and shook her ghostly head. “Just a little while ago, she was talking about your high school days. That janitor you liked. She was fine.”
“And I enjoy the times I get with her,” Walt said, and looked up to her, “When she’s here. Other times she’s… somewhere else. At a breakfast diner in North Carolina, if I had to guess. I think a soul is a cigarette, Riot. It’s lit with passion. And when you die, there’s nothing feeding the flame anymore. Uses up all its paper. And the stub burns out eventually. This is what the last glow looks like.”
Riot was quiet for a moment, and Walt could not quite read her heavy expression.
“I thought this place was like heaven,” Riot said. The wind could no longer freeze the electric tears that hovered in her eyes. “What, are you going to flicker out too someday? Am I going to have to fucking lose you twice?”
“Aw. Kid,” he said, as Daphne asked if he needed anything else. “We’re both in the same boat here. This place isn’t Elysium. It’s not forever, yeah. That’s why some people go up, into the sky, who knows where they go after that. Go out with a little more dignity, I guess.”
“It’s just, for a little while, I hoped…” Riot whispered, and her face crackled with streaks of light. “This was what made it alright, you know? That sure, I fucked up and I got killed out here, but at least it meant getting to see you again, meeting Daphne. I don’t want you to die. I don’t want you to be really gone. Everyone misses you.”
“Well, I’ve been gone,” said Walt. He studied Daphne; the scars across her face that he hadn’t been able to prevent, the warmth of her smile nonetheless. “For everyone I ever knew, I’m long gone. Sure, I’m a ghost, but what good is a ghost in the arctic, miles away from them? Hell, for that matter, even if I could get past the Grackle, what good would it do if I floated up back to the Scoutpost? What would that accomplish? I gave all the advice I have to give. I did all the work I set out to do. Besides, I was just the landscape guy. They’ll forget about me by the spring.”
“That’s not true,” Riot said, and she shook her hint of a head. “Walt, you should have seen it. We had a funeral for you. Everyone came. Not just the Scoutpost. Everyone. All sorts of people from the Hallowoods who thought of you as a friend. The Scoutpost celebrates Pensive Day now.”
“Paha,” Walt said. “That’s ridiculous. I…”
“It’s not just that,” Riot said, and clenched her sparking fists. “You changed the way they… felt, about the whole forest. Because they’ve been trying, really trying, to understand like you did. To love it like you did. They figured out a way to live with the Froglins. There’s a tree that’s grown up around the Scoutpost. They do it like they want to make you proud. So don’t act like your life didn’t matter. Like it didn’t matter that you died. It mattered to me.”
Walt sighed; his eye sparkled with light. Daphne was still caught in her cycle.
“You’re gonna get me all choked up,” he said. “But what is dead, then? This is my point. You die, and you leave something behind. I’ve left two things. I’ve got this ghost, and that’s here a little while. But I’d dare say the memory the people at the Scouptost have of me, very kindly, whether it’s my books or my advice or just thinkin’ of me from time to time, that matters even more. It might outlive the rest of me. And both things, ghost and memory, are going to fade out in the end anyway. That’s the truth of it, kid, and it hurts to hear. But that’s life. Learning how to deal with impermanence. It ain’t all bad. After a lifetime of work, you know, I’m ready for a little rest. There’s this quiet now, and I am enjoying it. It’s a nice epilogue.”
“Walt,” Riot said, after another quiet moment. “I missed you for so long. I wish you’d seen what I did, you know? The Instrumentalist died, and I rescued my mom, and I got a sister along the way.”
She steeled herself, and looked up at him. Daphne’s features were blurred, the letters on her name tag spelled nothing.
“You’ve earned your rest,” she said. “But as much as I’d like to sit around and wait for us to fall apart, I can’t. I’ve got friends who might not be dead yet. The world’s pretty much about to end. My job’s not done. And I think I can help more as a ghost than as a memory right now. So please. Help me.”
“Help you not be dead?” Walt said, gently.
“I’ll figure it out,” Riot said. “I need help with Grackle Test number twenty-three.”
Walt nodded, and shrugged.
“Alright, kid,” he said. “I’ll help you. Just give me a second with Daffy, alright?”
Riot smiled weakly, and vanished. Walt drew close to the glitching waitress.
“Can I get you anything else, hon?” said Daphne. When he stood just in front of her, it felt like she was really talking to him.
“No, Daphne my darling,” he said, and reached for her hand, breathed in pancakes and syrup. “Couldn’t eat another bite.”
“Any plans for the rest of the day?” she said, miming the collection of another plate, a fork. She shot him a look that was worth more to him than anything. He grinned.
“Well, when do you get off your shift? I want to show you the gardens I’ve been planting. Maybe take a little stroll in the twilight.”
Interlude 1 - As Below, So Above
You do not have to try hard to notice it now, dreamer, if you dwell in the Northern Hallowoods. Or any of the Northmost stretches of the world.
The heart is loud. It shudders in the earth, rattles the soil. But it is not a strange thing for these trees, not an ill omen. It is a song in their roots and boughs, that shakes the snowflakes from their needles.
As below, so above. As below, so above. As below, so above.
What beats now beneath the earth will rise, as all seeds, all roots do. The earth will erupt and burst as the spring buds breach the frozen soil, for they have grown long and deep in the waiting for the season to blossom.
And if the burst itself does not bring you harm, dreamer, and it will for many, then the spring that comes after will. And your flesh will turn to earth in the soil, and feed the seeds to come.
We go now to one who wishes to uproot the seed before it splits.
Story 2 - The Soul Thing
A long-nosed hound, a dozen hounds, wrapped into one ethereal glimmer of roiling fur, eyes slick and black as the ice beneath her feet. It stood over a body that Clara could not from this distance identify. She was not sure she wanted to.
Please, thought Clara. I can’t close my eyes without seeing my mother’s face. Who else can I afford to lose? Her glasses would not stop fogging up in the cold, and so it was a blurred wasteland that she traveled through as she approached. The only thing not so veiled was Percy, who drifted in a fine clarity through the arctic wind.
Winona had been afraid. You were concerned for someone who you thought was in over their head. You were afraid for someone who might actually do it. She could do this mission. She had all the details that Downing Hill had been able to give her, a location to travel to, spells to cast, runes to draw. All she needed to do was reach the engine.
“I’ll go,” Clara said, and nodded to Percy. “So you don’t have to look.”
“I stayed in a room with my own dead body for weeks,” Percy replied. “And then watched my dad turn it into an arts and crafts project. I can handle this.”
He floated towards the snow-covered body, and she hurried afterwards, drawing her hovering broom behind her with a gesture of her hand. There were no more tears left in her to shed, which was good, because they would have frozen immediately in the cold.
It took her only a glimpse of a frost-encrusted cheek, a curled hand, a freckle, to know who she was looking at.
“Percy,” Clara said, trying to force out words. “That’s not the other girl, is it? There was a girl who looked just like her…”
“Clementine,” said Percy, and shook his head, hair drifting as if underwater. “No. She stayed home.”
“Riot?” Clara said, and knelt beside her in the snow, felt her hands, which were as cold as the air around. She felt Riot’s wrist for a pulse, only felt frost. The contours of a face that she had seen a hundred times in early campervan mornings, lain inches from for months of her life, looked like a stranger’s now. Unrecognizable now that the North had claimed her.
“Clara?” said Riot’s voice, but it was not the one she remembered. This one was far away, was deep in her skull and behind her. Clara turned to look past Percy, and found that there was a silhouette of white light on the near bank of snow, one which left no footsteps. A buzz cut and a winter coat outlined in starlight.
“Hey guys. What do you think you’re doing to my corpse?” Riot said. “You need to go find the others. Because we are so out of time.”
Marketing - The Protection Paradox
Lady Ethel Mallory
I’ve made it out of Toronto. There’s really the one long highway, and just as soon as you get out, there’s a nice little rest stop sort of thing on the roadside. It’s all demolished inside of course, it looks like if I’d let my flies loose in there. Smells like rats, but I don’t see any around to eat. Anyways. It will do for a little resting, and then it’s onwards. I’ll hit the trees before too long. I’m almost there, and I feel like this chapter of my life is really about to begin as soon as…
*static cuts in*
Welcome back everyone. This is actually pretty serious stuff we’re covering on the dreamstream today. I’m sitting down to the table in our live studio in Box Cassiopeia with Dashiell Spade and Ralph Campbell to talk about the Stonemaid crisis. And by the time we leave this table, I hope, this will be over for good.
Hello. My name is Dashiell Spade, one of the leaders of the peaceful protest movement the Stonemaids. Cindy, if you can hear this on the outside, please don’t kill me for doing this. Thank you Ralph for making it on such short notice. How was the flight from New York?
Ugh. Funny how I’ve been laying down for most of the last twenty years, but I still feel tired from flying. Hi I’m Ralph, Ralph Campbell. You know me. I’ve been on half the reality shows in here.
Hope I didn’t wake you.
Not at all. I’ve actually been up for about a month, but you knew that.
Why don’t you tell the audience why that is.
We sometimes have to take a Happy Dreaming Family member out of the Prime Dream for sensitive surgeries or other healthcare that can’t be performed directly in the Dreaming Pod.
Are you familiar with the details of Mister Campbell’s operation?
My chart here says gastrointestinal distress, with… complications that would be too personal to mention on this broadcast…
Personal? That’s one thing to call it. Riot, I just want to say if you’re out there, Daddy’s very proud of you wherever you are. Valerie, I miss you, please call me if you can. Everyone else, well, take a look at this.
*a short shriek*
That was exactly the sound I made when I saw it too.
Ralph, for the sake of the record, could you please describe to us the state in which you found yourself.
Well it’s my belleh. My midriff. My treasure trail.
How are you not dead?
Beats me. So across the middle, I’m, uh. Open. There’s a great big mouth from one love handle to the other. And all these little teeth growing out of the skin. Good news is, it’s only a little uncomfortable from time to time. Bad news is, Docs say it’s a part of me and there’s no way to remove it.
Ralph, how did you come to have this rather horrifying maw in the middle of you?
I’ll tell you the answer, but you won’t like it. Box Pisces is contaminated with black water. And it has been for a long time, because these sorts of mutations don’t happen overnight. I’ve been stewing in my dreaming pod for years. Like a nice slow pot of chili.
That’s impossible. Our filtration systems have been specifically designed to get rid of all contaminations. There is no blackwater in our Dreaming Boxes.
Melanie, the man has a mouth in his gut.
Could you please… put your shirt back down.
Fine. But this isn’t just happening to me. I got in touch with Dashiell after that, he was still living in the walls at the time. This is happening to thousands of people. Maybe millions. Nobody’s noticed yet. Nobody’s been allowed to wake up.
If that were true, it would be just the worst for our Happy Dreaming Family.
It would be a violation of that very same clause in your terms and conditions.
I tried for months to get help with these stomach pains. And now I’ve found that even though you promised I would be safe, well, look at me. I’ll be eating for two for the rest of my life. Botco has failed to protect us from this emergency. Because it’s in here, with us. And you can’t just pretend the problem isn’t there. Not anymore.
Dashiell. Please. Don’t do this. You don’t know how much panic you're going to cause…
It’s the truth. And it’s time people heard it. I don’t know if Lady Ethel Mallory knew about this when she turned off Box Aries, tried to set us up as villains. But it’s the reason that Box Aries has never been allowed to return to the Prime Dream. They’re all like Ralph. You’ve got one emergency outside, so you’ve locked us in here. And you’ve got an emergency inside, which according to your contract, says we need to evacuate. So what is the Botulus Corporation going to do, Miss Flores? What are you going to do?
*takes a deep breath*
Okay. I understand.
On behalf of the Botulus Corporation, I, chief marketing officer Melanie Flores, am going to make this right. Because we at the Botulus Corporation do value our Happy Dreaming Family. We are committed to your safety and your well-being. And if you are worried about the health conditions of our Dreaming Boxes, you will be allowed to leave.
Leave. Leave the Prime Dream? Leave the Dreaming Boxes?
That’s what ‘leave’ means, yeah. Sounds like your buddies are going to get to stretch their legs, pal.
For the first time in twenty years, we will allow customers to terminate their agreement with the Botulus Corporation on those grounds. Yes. You will be allowed to go. And if you want to die out there, so be it.
Story 2, Continued - The Soul Thing
You know what they say. Too little, too late. If they emerge, it might only be to watch the arrival of the spring through their own eyes.
We return now to Clara Martin.
“Riot?” Clara said, and blinked in the breeze. “What happened to you?”
Dogsmell dashed over to her immediately, and floated around Riot’s feet as she spoke.
“A bird stole my sword,” Riot said. “Were you there for my sword? I learned how to use a sword, which was really cool, but I guess you never visited after you left for witch school, so you wouldn’t have seen my cool sword skills in action. But yeah, I had a sword, and the bird stole it. Also I froze to death.”
“Oh no,” Percy said, staring at Riot from beside her corpse. “Oh no. Oh no oh no…”
“Percy?” Riot said, drifting closer to them both. Dogsmell drifted behind her happily. “Where is Diggory?”
“We got separated,” Percy said. “We had kind of a falling out. Which is why we can be separated now? They won’t stop, Riot. Obviously the mission is screwed…”
“Have you seen Olivier?” Riot said. Clara drew up calculations in her mind, focused on her math. “What about Mort or bossy lady?”
“I don’t know,” Percy said. “We haven’t seen anyone. It’s so hard to go anywhere around here. It leads…”
“Clara?” Riot said, and drew closer to her. “Why are you here? Did wizard school send you?”
“Riot,” Clara whispered, and rubbed her face with her gloves. “Mom is dead.”
Riot blinked. “Your mom? I thought she…”
“I tried to fix her. It didn’t work,” Clara said, and grit her teeth. “The Director… the Library says they’ll help me save my dad. Only if I complete this mission to go all the way North. Stop this engine.”
“Oh great,” said Riot. “They really roped you into Olivier’s whole thing, didn’t they?”
“It’s my thing,” Clara said. She returned to the side of Riot’s frigid body. “Or, it was. How long have you been out of your body?”
“Uh, I don’t know. Hours. Or days. I can’t remember,” Riot said, and tried to rub her head, but her hand passed through its surface. “You can hear that sound, right? The sort of rhythmic earthquake? I was saying, you should go. The others might still be out here, and we’re supposed to stop that thing, or at least make it home…”
“It’s not so simple,” Clara said, and breathed deeply, formed a fist tight enough to clarify her thoughts. She looked up to Riot’s shadow. “Souls are my thing. I’ve learned a lot at Downing Hill. And even more in the Compact. I think I can work with this.”
“Work with what?” Riot said.
“Getting you back in your body,” Clara said carefully. “If it’s still intact. Preserved. But the longer I wait the harder it’s going to be. I need to take you home.”
“What are you talking about?” Riot said, burning bright and close. “Don’t be stupid. You’re up here to stop the heart so that everybody…”
“You can never save everybody,” Clara said quietly. It was surprising how easily her father’s words rolled out of her mouth. She pulled off her coat, shivered in the wind. She threw it down on the snow and dragged Riot’s frostbitten body onto it. “Only the people you care about. And you have to fight to protect them. I know things will never be the same between us, sure. I’m sure your sword was great. And I spent a few years in hell. But I am not going to let you die.”
“Clara,” Riot said, and hovered beside her, white light burning in the frost. “Please don’t do this. There’s more than me on the line. We have people to save. Everyone’s in danger…”
“You can’t help anyone if you’re dead,” Clara said, and tied the sleeves of her coat around her hovering broom, lashed Riot’s body to it like a floating sled. “Please. Just let me do this for you. Just one more thing.”
Riot looked away uncertainly.
“If you have a choice,” Percy said, speaking up. “Not to be dead? Take it. I mean no question. Take it. Nothing is worth this. Go with her. But I’m not going back. I need to find Diggory. Make sure they’re alright. Stop them from doing something stupid. And if everything goes right, we’ll see you back in the Hallowoods real soon.”
“You really think you can do it?” Riot said, looking back to Clara. Dogsmell looked between the both of them nervously. “This sounds an awful lot like Solomon stuff…”
“I’ve read his books, but no, I’m not going to tie your ghost to a ukelele. I’m going to try and put you back in your body, where you belong,” Clara said, and her fingers danced across Riot’s corpse, a burning white glyph appearing in each place she touched. “That’s for preservation. We need to go.”
“Okay, okay,” Riot said, and gave Percy a ghostly hug. Clara did not wait to take off, floated high over the ice and into the arctic winds, found that Riot hovered in her wake. Just once, Clara thought, can I get to keep something. Just once, she thought, can I keep someone alive? She turned her back on her education, and her future, and her family, and flew for home.
Interlude 2 - Desecrate the Name
Only a moment, now. Until the end. Or the beginning. What happens here is beyond my control, but nevertheless, I have done my best, dreamer. I will not deny it. We are beyond that. I have done my best to interfere. For the survival of your kind in ten, in fifty years. Whether your world remains only kissed by the black rains, or consumed by the Garden of the End.
I can still hear it. The beat of the machine. To you it is a heartbeat, to me it is a song, a call, a melody that echoes the soul of the one I loved. Perhaps it is inconsequential to you, what it sounds like. The future of your species is at stake, after all. But it will bring a unique pain for me.
This is what the Industry wanted. To silence his work, and let him be forgotten. Am I desecrating his name? Am I yielding to his murderers? Dare I silence the last work my love put in motion? It will break me, dreamer, to do it. But I, too am choosing who to protect.
We go now to one in pieces.
Story 3 - How Things Change, Reprised
Hector felt a song, and it was the sun, trickling through the dark curtains onto his arm. They had removed his shirt to wash his wounds, and so he could see now just how much of him was a mat of gnarled roots.
They were not an invasion, he knew, for they caressed his neck and mind gently within. They were desperately trying to keep his organs functioning. And failing at that. Everything was shutting down; he felt it like a wounded dog feels death at its neck. The only thing left was a song—the blessing of light and photosynthesis and a far-off melody, beating like Jonah’s heartbeat against his own.
Hector nodded to himself. Inventory: one dying man. No dogs. No knives. No grenades. No shiny black motorcycle.
He closed his eyes, and breathed in. The world around him was a hazy miasma of sounds and sensations--objects moving of their own accord as his invisible host gave up on treating him, a green scaly face hovering close and full of teeth.
But then there was quiet; with the morning light came a commotion outside, guests and survivors returning, and his hosts went out to greet them, and for a minute Hector was alone, entirely alone. He had been planning for that moment for what seemed like days. He exerted his arm of twisted bark, his overgrown foot, and rolled out of bed, stumbled to his feet. He trailed bedsheets and bandages. He was not going to need much in the way of decency where he was going.
He stumbled, one step at a time, across the creaking floors of Zelda’s old house, paused a moment by the front door where once she had poked a shotgun at him and told him that her son had gone missing. His life had begun, in a way, on the other side of this door. Jonah was down in the basement helping her move, she had said. And then he was gone.
He turned, and took a step down the basement stairs. The black water of the lake spilled up them to pool against the rotting floorboards of the halls. He descended, one step at a time, into the frigid water.
His foot of flesh and his other of wood, stepping deeper, deeper, until the water climbed over his neck. He almost held his breath, but did he even need to now? How much of his lungs had survived the deathly altitudes of the Shuddering Peaks, avoided being overgrown with roots? They drank in the water greedily as he took his last breaths.
His father had kept a painting of Holy Jesus walking on the water. Hector walked beneath it, trailing bandages like grave linens, felt the hum of the heartbeat of the world in the waters of the lake. Jonah’s heartbeat, now, and his own.
He walked through the algaic darkness until he came to a door, small like the opening of a mausoleum. It was unlocked, and he stepped inside. The room was lightless, and yet it glowed within his vision, unknown strings of algae lighting with emerald green. Behind a desk, masked by mud and drifting papers, sucking in the lake ever so slowly, was a cabinet with a key in its lock.
Hector crossed the grave office, and reached for the door, a hand of flesh and a hand of the same twisted wood as the cabinet. Its carved flowers and rolling waves seemed to reach for his hand, and he pulled the door free, momentary pressure of the lake easing as the water began to pour in.
The world beyond the cabinet glowed green, flame that burned in ancient heavens, and a song that echoed in every part of him, like the howl of desert coyotes or the baying of his German Shepherds, like the humming of his lover. And Hector stepped into the cabinet, and was pulled through immediately by the torrent of water, and the door flew shut behind him.
There was no telling how far Hector fell, except that he could breathe again as he plummeted into an ever-green abyss, and knew the song of the sky as intimately as he had come to know himself, and that he found himself suddenly in the arms of a man he loved, standing atop a mountain of little stones.
He smiled, as Jonah wept and kissed him, and wreathed them both in emerald flame. It was funny, he thought, how some things never changed.
Outro - Splinters
Splinters. That is how all of this is being presented to you, you must understand. It always has been. In reality things happen quickly, and simultaneously, and it is part of my task to curate its presentation. But we are almost don e with them now.
The last fragments are coming together, and with them we shall know what picture they create. I cannot claim that it will make a difference, dreamer, but I ask you to hope. As Diggory and Mort stand before the great spire of black ice, and prepare to plunge into unfriendly waters.
I hope you can forgive me, dreamer, for playing god. I suppose it was only in my nature. I hope you can someday forgive me. I hope you know I have only ever wished to be your loyal host Nikignik, waiting destroyed for your return to the Hallowoods.
The bonus story that goes with this episode is called 'One Flesh' and is available on the Hello From The Hallowoods Patreon. Consider joining for access to all the show's bonus stories, behind-the-scenes and more! Remember, if you get a splinter, soak it in water. Soak your entire body in water. Stay there for hours. Every part of it. It is better than living with the splinter.