HFTH - Episode 36 - Swords




Intro - Two-Edged Sword

You are a two-edged sword. You were forged amidst the fog-filled forests of Northern Europe, not to break armor or shield, but to shatter the agents of darkness. The first to wield you is a knight of great knowledge, but she is seduced by the very creature she set out to slay. Your second bearer was once her squire, but whispers of a church have seeped into his mind, and he swings you to slay both knight and countess. He fails.


You stay in the castle for decades, and are carried once by its master. She wears black gloves so you do not burn her hands. Like the rest of the estate, you fall into the expanse of history, tumbling from owner to owner, until you reach the Groundskeeper. He wields you only when necessary, but there is strength in his gentle hands, and together you face the terrors of the forest at the end of the world, and your blade sings Hello From The Hallowoods.


Theme.


Right now, I’m sitting on a bell in a church tower. From here, I can see three strangers approaching through the fog—each is a weapon, forged by the blazing heralds of the cosmos, here to destroy one who attends the Sunday service. The theme of tonight’s episode is Swords.




Story 1 - On Holy Ground

Mort stared at the tower in the distance. It loomed over the trees like a great predator, watching them, a glimmer of light in its dark window.


“They’re right ahead of us,” Polly whispered, pointing his umbrella into the fog, “lit up like a carnival ride.”

“What’s a carnival?” Mort whispered.


“You’d like them,” Polly said. “I’d take you to one if we had more time.”


“Let us not wait,” Yaretzi growled. “We cannot allow them to escape.”


“For once,” Polly smiled, “I agree.”


The eyes on his umbrella flickered open, burning with a fire that lit up the mist and the black forest around them, and Polly marched forward.


Mort lifted his claw, and on his shoulder, Bert the seagull croaked nervously. On the other side of Polly, Yaretzi grew her teeth and claws to their full length, eyes receding into small black points.


And then, suddenly, Polly and Yaretzi came to a shuddering stop, and Mort felt strange—as though a huge weight was put upon the water in his dome, and in the sky above them, the church bells began to ring violently.


“What was that?” Yaretzi said, rolling to her feet.


“That’s a ground ward,” Polly seethed, rubbing at his temples. “Someone knows we’re here.”


“What should I do?” Mort said. “I don’t feel too good.”


“Have they been expecting us?” Yaretzi growled.


“Maybe. They shouldn’t have access to these things. Not here. Someone’s been dealing under the table,” Polly said, levelling his umbrella. Yaretzi sniffed at the air and snarled. In the distance, between the trees, figures were stepping out of the fog.


“You’ll find you have no purchase on holy ground, devil,” a quiet voice said. Ahead, two strangers were wearing black robes, decorated with ornate crimson patterns. One was tall and bent; the other small, thin and holding a box. Others were revealing themselves as well—between every tree there seemed to be another stranger.


“That’s the one,” Polly said, pointing his umbrella at the bent man, who held a strange object in his hands—an instrument, Mort thought, but could not remember the kind.


“You have long been after me and my brothers and sisters in this congregation,” the stranger said, pushing his hood back to reveal long white hair, a beard, and round glasses. “You have made a great mistake in coming to the house of the lord.”


He played a clear, high note on his instrument, and suddenly there was a woman in the fog, and her face was shattered in a way that made Mort want to cry, and she burned like lightning.


“In the name of the Deep, the Darkness, and the Dawn,” the smaller man said, twisting the golden box, “we cast you out of this hallowed ground and back into the fires of hell.”


The box began to spin of its own accord in the air.


“Now, Mort,” Polly cried. “Human, for your abuse of power, for your transgressions against others, and for your interference in the Economy of Souls, I destroy thee by decree of Syrensyr the Reclaimer of Fire and the industry that burns in him.”


The eyes on Polly’s umbrella burned bright as he spoke, and pillars of fire began to spin outwards from it, growing into a storm of flame that roared across the clearing. Tall horns burned over his forehead, and his feet lifted from the ground. “Mort, get him.”


Mort lurched into motion, marching towards the tall man with his claw ready. All this time, he’d been told about this moment, and he wanted it very much to be over. All he had to do was squeeze, he told himself. He couldn’t be friends this time.


As he surged through the fire, he was suddenly aware of several things happening at once.


The lady with the broken teeth rushed past him and collided with Polly, and lightning crackled in the storm of fire and fog, turning the whole world white. Polly cast her off with a cry, and as he did, the thin little man in the hood raised a hand, and Polly’s umbrella went sailing across the clearing towards him.


The little man caught it deftly, and passed it to the taller man. “Solomon, would you do the honors?”


Solomon took it in his hands, and muttered words that Mort did not understand, and with a smooth motion, he brought it down over his knee. The umbrella bent in a wild frenzy of light, eyes straining and bursting in its fabric, and Solomon cast the twisted skeleton to the forest floor.


“As for you, Apollyon, servant of the devil,” the thin man smiled, “die.”


The whirling cube unlocked, bending outwards into impossible geometry, and for a moment Mort could see nothing as the world was consumed in utter darkness.


When his vision returned, he watched Polly, who looked up with wide eyes. His horns were gone, and he opened his mouth to scream, and dissolved into embers, drifting in the wind like cigarette ash.


“Polly?” Mort said. “Polly, where are you?”


“Brothers and sisters of the congregation,” the man said, “use all that I have taught you. Tear apart these servants of hell.”


Without a word, the figures in the fog began to step towards them, and Mort realized there was nowhere to run. Yaretzi wheeled around, snapping at whoever came the closest, but Mort could see an unusual fear in her eyes. Mort clacked his claw, backing away towards the center of the ring as the strangers closed in. Perhaps, after all this, he could go back to sleep.


Then, Bert the seagull raised his head, and gave out a shriek that echoed across the forest and into the sky above.


There was a pause for a moment as the ring of strangers looked around expectantly, but after a moment they continued their approach, and the daggers in their hands were a black that absorbed all light.


Then, there was a cry in the distance—and another, a wild chorus, and a beating of wings that shook the earth.


And then the forest was trembling around them, and the fog stirred as if in a windstorm, and suddenly, there were seagulls.


A storm of white birds descended like a hurricane, dead eyes and flying feathers. Mort lost track of which one was Bert, and as the whirling column of birds began to condense into a singular mountain in the middle of the clearing, writhing with malice, Yaretzi turned to Mort.


“We need to go. Now,” she roared, bounding back and careening into one of the hooded figures, hacking it down with her claws. Mort followed quickly, watching as the storm of birds pulled a hooded stranger into its maw, a thousand beaks crying out for blood, a thousand wings beating the air like thunder. There were flashes of black from the strangers, and the burning woman was striking with hands like lightning, and Mort lost sight of it all as he was pulled away through the trees.


“We can’t leave Polly,” Mort shouted. “Where is he?”


“He’s gone,” Yaretzi said, dashing through the twisted trees, golden tears streaking from her wolven eyes. “I cannot smell him anywhere, Mort. He is gone.”



Interlude 1 - Silver Swords

Dreamers, no doubt you have witnessed a collection of strange weapons in the stories I have shown you. Perhaps it is strange, you think, that a bit of metal, a naturally occurring element, could harm ghosts or wolves or gods. But look at yourselves. The things that are poisonous to you, that end your life on contact, do not even affect other animals the same way.


I do not think humans would have discovered how to craft these tools on their own, however—one of us is a Prometheus, it seems. It wasn’t me. The easiest weapon to wield against higher forms of life is silver, like the plated daggers at Fort Freedom, or the scissors of Irene Mend. There are, of course, more potent resources available, and the Church of the Hallowed Name has had a thousand years to hone their craft. We go no to one who wields a silver sword.



Story 2 - A Long Day

“Long day?” she said, putting the plate down and refilling his coffee. Walt smiled. Pancakes looked great at midnight after a day on the lawns—and they looked best when Daphne served them. There were five pancakes in the stack instead of four.


“Yeah,” Walt said, and rubbed at his hair. “Long day for you too, I’d bet.”


He pulled a rose wrapped in paper from his bag, and slid it over the table. Daphne grinned.


“You should get some rest,” she said, glancing around the diner. It was empty this time of night. She slid down into the other side of the booth.


“Can’t rest,” he shrugged, taking a sip of his coffee. He studied her face—more a work of art than anything he’d ever sketched, prettier than any song he’d ever play. Her cheeks were always a little rosy pink.


“Too much work to do.”


Walt opened his eyes, and he was alone, and his hair was grey, and his back hurt, and incredible pain pulsed through his shoulder and arm. He lay looking at the ceiling for a few minutes in stunned silence. More than anything, he just felt tired.


He rolled out of bed, still early for the day’s mission, and willed himself over to the bathroom mirror. His arm was worse—the black puncture marks of that darn squirrel had stabbed him good in the shoulder, and black veins stretched across his arm and chest. The skin around them was ridged, with odd growths and lines, highlighting the bones beneath. Something told him he might not heal from that one, not with his own flesh and blood anyway.


He washed his face with his good hand, stared himself in the eyes. His entire conversation with Winona played over in his mind. Today was going to be a long day.


He wrapped his arm up good and went to find Bern in the courtyard, brewing coffee. He gladly accepted a cup, and they sat in silence together until the others woke. Diggory appeared first, quite suddenly, as silent as a shadow.


“Jeez,” Walt said, “a little warning, huh? How’d you sleep?”


“I did not sleep,” Diggory said. “It is not worth the cost of dreaming. Instead I lay and thought about Percy. I miss him very much.”


“Hey,” Walt said, “this all goes according to plan, he’ll be back with you soon.”


Walt looked to find Winona seated on his other side, wrapped in purple robes as dark as the fading night sky.


“I swear one of you is gonna give me a heart attack,” Walt said, shaking his head.


“Good morning to you too, Walt.”


“It’s early.”


“I told you I would see you off,” she said. If Daphne’s eyes had been completely honest, Winona’s were full of secrets. Probably there was a lot they could talk about, if there were more hours in the day.


Hector and Jonah were the last to rise, pulling on clothes as they stumbled out into the courtyard. They took their seats around the fire pit, the dogs padding out to sit beside Diggory.


“Well,” Hector said, accepting a cup of coffee from Bern. “This everyone?”


“Yeahp,” Walt said. “This is it.”

It was true. He’d reached out to just about everyone—he couldn’t get a word out of that darn library receptionist. That’s what you get for being a loyal customer, he thought. He’d gotten a surprising message from Ricou, of all people—he’d gone up to stay at Walt’s place in Northmost. Also asked to knock before entering. Good for him, but one less friend in the neighborhood.


He had no quick way to get ahold of Big Mikey, and he didn’t exactly have Zorgelleck’s mailing address. He’d even tried summoning the Countess, even though she’d probably drain him like a juicebox, but he hadn’t managed to get her attention.


“This is all we need,” Walt smiled. “We have the element of surprise. We have our plan. And we’ve got the tools we need for the job. So. Take a minute, and let’s get rolling.”


“When I sleep tonight,” Bern said, “it’ll be the soundest I’ve slept in ages. Today’s the day we put an end to all this. We lose no more good people. Either the instrumentalist stops singing today, or I do, mark my words.”


“Agreed,” Hector said, shouldering his bag.


“I don’t want to know what we’ll find in that house,” Jonah said.


“I want to stress again, this is a stealth mission. We show up, I talk to the groundskeepers, we wait till Solomon leaves, and search the house. The ghosts shouldn’t be a huge problem without Solomon there,” Walt said. “Stop by my hearse in a few minutes, I have gear for you all. Then we get rolling.”


The preparation was a quiet affair. For Bern, simply a silver-plated dagger. His own crude handiwork, but effective against the Wolf of Gan. For Hector, one of the rarer items in his collection—a flintlock, elaborately decorated.


“There’s two bullets left in the chamber,” Walt said. “They’ll work against scary stuff, but use ‘em well. They’re the only ones I’ve got left.”


“Will do,” Hector nodded.


For Diggory, two wax pellets.


“We can’t have you falling prey to that bell situation again,” Walt said. “When we’re close, shove these in your ears. Might help drown it out.”


For Jonah, he wasn’t sure of the tool. “I’ll just take that,” Jonah pointed. Walt hefted out the shovel, grimaced at it. It had put down the first creature in his notebook. “Good choice,” he said.


He thought, for a moment, about waking Riot—but they had already made their goodbyes. Better to let her sleep. He closed the back doors of his hearse, and left his journal on the front seat.


“Alright,” he said, turning to Bern. “Let’s get this show on the road.”


He watched the woods fly past from the passenger seat of Bern’s truck. Diggory was a bit too large for the narrow back seat, and ended up sitting in the truck bed. Hector left his dogs behind, and Jonah rode in the sidecar of his motorcycle.


The sun had only just begun to rise by the time they reached the twisting trails that led towards Mr. Reed’s property.


“You going to be alright?” Bern asked.


“Yeah,” Walt said, watching the trees. He gripped the pommel of his sword, wrapped in fabric. Bern pulled to a stop in the woods, parking in the underbrush.


She stepped out, and Walt followed. Diggory descended with silent grace, and Hector and Jonah arrived a moment later, the growl of Hector’s bike chuckling through the trees.


“Remember what we talked about,” Walt said. The silence in the forest was unnerving, and the towering wall of trees loomed ahead.


The tunnel was almost lightless, and Walt kept his sword tucked beneath his arm as he shuffled through. The roots and branches that formed it seemed to writhe ever so slightly as he passed. Finally, there was a mote of light at the end of the tunnel, and in the morning fog, the Instrumentalist’s house sat in the center of the clearing, hemmed in by the black wall of twisted pines.


“Is Percy in that house?” Diggory whispered.


“Almost certainly,” Walt said. “Stay close.”


Walt waited at the edge of the tunnel, breathing silently for a moment. He spotted what he was looking for, standing in a bank of sunflowers. A stitched head turned silently towards him, and it approached with frightening speed.


“Leyland, it’s me, Walt,” he said. Leyland slowed as they drew near, pale eyes wide.


“Walt, you are not allowed here. Mister Reed does not permit guests while…”


They looked up suddenly, and Walt realized Diggory was watching from behind them.


“Diggory? Diggory Graves?” Leyland said.


“That is my name,” said Diggory. “I am sorry that I do not know yours.”


“I am called Leyland Blooms,” Leyland gasped. “How do you walk? You were incomplete.”


Diggory seemed to think on this. “I do not know. I am so glad to see someone else like me.”


“There are more of us,” Leyland said, looking around. “But you cannot visit. Mister Reed does not…”


“Is there a boy here?” Diggory asked. “A boy named Percy?”


“There is,” Leyland said. “He cannot leave. We cannot leave.”


“Leyland, why is that?” Walt piped up. “Is it because of that bell Solomon’s got?”


“Our master holds the bell,” Leyland whispered. “They always hold the bell.”


Others were approaching, stalking across the grounds towards them.


“Leyland, is Solomon home right now?” Walt said, scanning the lawn. No trucks in the lot beside the house.


“I have to see Percy,” Diggory said, and stepped out of the tunnel.


Immediately, Leyland was on guard, and spread fingers as long and sharp as pruning shears, eye-to-eye with Diggory. Walt waved a go signal to the others, and Leyland did not seem to notice as Hector, Jonah and Bern crept out of the tunnel into the lawn.


“Mister Reed does not allow visitors while…”


“I am not a visitor,” Diggory said. “I am a rescuer, a helper. For Percy but also for you if I can. You cannot enjoy serving a man like Solomon Reed.”


“It is not a matter of enjoyment,” Leyland said. “We do not have a choice.”


“I want to give you a choice,” Diggory said, face inches from Leyland’s.


Suddenly, there was a crackle of thunder in the sky, and a figure fell through the hole in the trees above—a very short person with a flowing cape, with patterns of rolling clouds. Riot had done a nice little sketch in Walt’s almanac.


“Hey,” they shouted in a shrill voice that echoed across the yard. “Back away! Mister Reed? You’ve got company!”


They hovered over the roof of the house like a comic villain, and as they waved their hands, the wisps of morning fog began to thicken into an impenetrable soup, and Walt lost sight of Hector, Jonah, and Bern as they locked eyes with the rest of the approaching revenants.


“Leave, leave now!” Leyland said.


“I refuse,” Diggory said, and there was a sudden jolt as Diggory clashed with Leyland almost faster than Walt could follow, and then Leyland was stumbling back into the garden bed, and Diggory vanished in the fog towards the house. Walt cursed and let the fabric fall away from his sword.


“Leyland, where is Solomon?” Walt called.


“I have been trying to tell you,” Leyland said, rising from the soil, and fixing their hat. Sounds of a struggle came from the fog, but Walt could not tell who or where. “He does not allow visitors while he is at church.”


“At church?” Walt said, and a wave of panic washed over him. “What church?”


“We had a most pleasant service this morning, Mr. Pensive,” a terrible voice said behind Walt, and he spun to see Solomon step out from the fog. He wore a red velvet suit, and dropped a black robe to the ground. Solomon smiled, as crooked as his bones. A fiddle floated in the air beside him, and he held the bow in his hand.


Marketing - Calibration

Lady Ethel Mallory: Oh, is that? Is it working? Wait, we’re on air, you imbecile, take us off, the calibration isn’t set… This will be…



Story 2, Continued - A Long Day

Dreamers, that was odd, but we’ll investigate that later. For now, let us return to Walter Pensive.


“Mister Reed,” Walt said, hefting his sword in his good hand. “Hope this isn’t a bad time.”


“You shouldn’t be working, Mr. Pensive,” Solomon said politely. His eyes were fixed on Walt. “This is the sabbath. A day of rest.”


“Hard to sleep well knowin’ you’re out here carving good people into pieces.”


“Good people?” Solomon reached out, and the fiddle slid into his grasp. “You’ve got it all wrong, Mister Pensive. There are no good people. Do you know of angels?”


“Sure do,” Walt said. The sword was far too heavy for one hand—his arm was already tiring. “One used to serve me pancakes on Sunday nights.”


“Angels are pure because they have no choice but to bend to God’s will,” Solomon said. “Much like myself. And much like her.”


As he spoke, he pulled the bow across his fiddle, and suddenly there was a pale woman in the mist—Walt realized he’d missed a few details of her face in his sketchbook. She was frozen in a blind scream, and as Solomon struck up a sickly waltz, she dove for Walt with fingers like lightning.


Walt swung the sword with his whole body, a great clumsy arc, and swept wide of the ghost. She was on him then, screaming in his face and blinding white, and Walt howled in pain as she dug into his bad shoulder. He fell to his knees, and Solomon stepped closer with several plucking notes.


“That is a wonderful sword you carry, Mister Pensive,” Solomon laughed. The woman slashed across Walt’s face, and his vision spun, and a swift kick from Solomon knocked the sword out of his grip. “A student of the arts, I see!”


Walt dodged another swipe from the burning woman, and rolled towards the sword, crushing his bad shoulder. His hand seized the grip. And as Solomon drew back for a note that would surely be Walt’s last, Walt swung—not for the spirit, but for the fiddle.


The air seemed to crackle as the strings split, and the wooden frame gave way, and the shattered husk fell to the ground.


“You fool!” Solomon spat, stepping back in disgust. “What have you done?”


Walt watched as a change came over the ghost, and her wide maw twisted into a smile, and peace washed across her face as she disappeared into the fog. Walt stood, lugging the sword in his hand. He steeled himself, and stepped towards Solomon, who was backing away, and tripped over a stray root from the tunnel.


“Wait, Mr. Pensive! You’re making a great mistake...”


“The only mistake I made, Mister Reed, was not doing this sooner.”


Solomon made a quick motion for his inner pocket, and instinctively Walt swung his blade. Despite his exhausted arm, he struck true, and the blade slashed Solomon’s hand, sending a small bone fife flying across the grass. Solomon roared and clutched the wound.


With a final effort, Walt raised the silver blade over his head. He wanted desperately to stop—to ask for an apology, for final words—but too long had he waited, and the lives of so many rested on him. He lunged forward, and brought the sword down, and…


Dreamers.


I wish I could tell you that he struck Solomon Reed, and the Instrumentalist was no more.


If you wish to wake up now, and choose to believe that is what happened, I entreat you to.


But it is the curse of great sight to see what truly happens, in all its terrible weight.


And Solomon was fast.


Faster than any human should be, and as Walt swung down, Solomon raised his arm…


And Walt is still standing there with a fiddle bow through his eye socket.


And the sword falls from his limp hand, and he crumples to his knees, and then to his back. And Solomon rises. He plants his boot on Walt’s face and wrenches the bow free with a vicious twist.


But this is not what Walt sees.


Walt felt suddenly light, as though all the tension had finally gone from his shoulders, and his jaw was unclenched. The fog above him parted ever so gently, revealing a glimpse of the clear morning sky.

And Walt smiled. It was beautiful, and there was something in the sky above—a bird. A huge bird, he realized, bigger than even the eyeless owls, descending for him.


Huge black wings swept close above him like blankets, and the Grackle peered down, and he was worried then. He didn’t have a quarter.


The grackle reached out down with its great beak, and plucked the Stonemaiden pin from his coveralls. It was enough.


And he was floating then, carried in its gigantic claws into the northern winds, and the rising colors of the sun in the clouds took his breath away, and the dawn sky was as rosy as Daphne’s cheeks.


And Walt fell asleep.



Interlude 2 - Last Memories

I am sorry, dreamers. I know it may be difficult for you to do nothing—that you can only listen. This is the burden I carry, and perhaps it is unkind of me to put it on you. I can only watch—and show you these flashing images in your dreams.


I wish, often, that I was a wielder of swords, a gatherer of great armies, a beast of fire and fury, a titanic industry, a black eternity. That I could change any of what I see.


It is not easy to lose someone, and for all the weapons in the world, the feeling always persists that there was more to be done. A thoughtless phrase is often an unexpected goodbye. A normal day suddenly becomes the worst of your life. And the last memories we have of the ones we love are never what we expected. Sometimes they are trying to slay great evil with a silver sword in the first rays of dawn. Sometimes they are serving us pancakes.


Just as stars burn in the universe, just as planets spin and galaxies turn, so does love and loss and memory form part of existence. These private cataclysms, these cosmic griefs are a natural part of our time here, like the rest.


And yet, I am sorry.


We go now to one who has broken a promise.



Story 3 - Cold Head

“Where is Walt?” Riot said, and Diggory had no answer. Behind them, Jonah helped Hector towards the infirmary—the slashes across the grim man’s head were as deep as if cut by Diggory’s own fingertips.


“Where is Walt?” Riot repeated, eyes wide.


Diggory opened their mouth to speak, and Bern pushed past them, pulling Riot into her arms.

“Walt didn’t make it,” Bern said.


“No!” Riot shrieked. The world seemed to twist around Diggory—they were numb. They had been so close.


“Diggory, you promised me,” she screamed, and threw her fists against Diggory’s chest. Diggory stared blankly, and Riot stared up at them. “I can’t believe I trusted you.”


Bern pulled her back, and away across the courtyard as Riot broke down crying.


Diggory found themself walking, images from the morning flickering in their head, and they pulled the wax pellets from their ears.


Running through the fog, making for the house. Swept up by the person with the lightning in their fists, the one who had torn them apart once before. Somewhere deep below, they could swear they had heard Percy calling for them, and for a moment, they had been full of hope.


And then it had all gone so horribly wrong. Claws like theirs lashing out from the fog, a swarm of spirits, and the blaze of lightning, and their friends were hurt, and they were retreating, and in the fog, Walt was falling.


And carrying him back away as they retreated, Walt was cold, as cold as Diggory.


Diggory sat on the log by Lurch Lake, and green eyes flickered beneath the surface of the black water. They looked at their hands—how carefully Walt had put in each new row of stitches.


What was wrong with them?


Why weren’t they crying like Riot? Shedding hot tears like Bern?


Why had they left Walt? Why had they saved Bern instead of Percy? Diggory sat, feeling more dead inside than they had ever before. Perhaps this was just one of their visions of terrible things—but there was no Rizwana this time. And the vision did not end.


And in some reflection of their cold head, Walt was still falling.


The hours might have passed like minutes, and Diggory sat with their head in their hands. No one came for them, and eventually the songs of the crickets and frogs gave way to deep evening, and then to the fall of night.


The fireflies came out, green lights dancing over the lake, but all Diggory could think of was the midnight dance with Percy, and how completely they had lost their chance of seeing him again. I wonder, Diggory thought, if I could sleep like the others. Perhaps it would be easiest to forget.


There was a rumbling then, from the forest. Diggory looked up, scanning for motion in the darkness, finding only distant stars. Then, there was a light between the tops of the trees, and the ground was shaking, and a huge shape passed by the clearing.


It was a train of architecture, golden arches and spires illuminated by gentle orange light. Huge scuttling legs moved beneath the carapace, picking their way through the pines. In an open doorway, standing over a drifting ladder, a thin figure was silhouetted in the light.


Diggory stared at it—a hallucination of some kind? Had they finally unraveled?


The figure beckoned to Diggory, waving more desperately as the gigantic form began to slide away into the forest.


Diggory watched, wondering what to do—but the call was too strange to ignore, and there was nothing left, no one, no feeling in their chest.


Diggory stood up.


And Diggory ran.


They raced between the trees with effort, and caught the swinging ladder, and scaled it quickly, climbing past the gigantic insectoid legs. Diggory reached the top at last, and a warmly lit sign glowed above the doorway, and the thin figure bowed.


“Hello,” it said, and Diggory realized its head was formed of fungus, shelves and mushrooms forming a shrewd face with thin lips and black spectacles. In its arms, it held a baby with sharp mandibles and perfectly round black eyes.


“My name is Mx. Morell. Welcome to the Museum of Broken Promises.”



Outro - Swords

Swords. There is a saying that he who lives by the sword will die by the sword. But Walter Pensive did neither. Why do terrible things happen to good people? Why do we lose the ones we learn to care about? I am not well-versed in comfort, dreamers, but I want you to know that…


*static*


Lady Ethel:

Are we on? Oh, there we are. That is so much better. Not a hint of static. Oh we are going to have a wonderful broadcast from here on out, my happy dreaming family. This is the Botco show.



The bonus story that goes with this episode is called 'Bad Roll', 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!