Below we present the complete text of Of Swords and Magic; episode 4 of Predator’s Row.
EPISODE #4 – OF SWORDS AND MAGIC
by Philip Craig Robotham
Cover Illustration by Miyukiko
Edited by Margaret Wilkins
Copyright 2013 Philip Craig Robotham
Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Edition.
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Serial #1: Predator’s Row
A reporter for the Star City Tribune, Claire Templeton, uncovers a pattern of grisly murders that look like the work of a strange new predator and presents her findings to Detective Tony Wells. When Tony finds a seven-year-old witness to one of the murders, her unbelievable story sets him on a path that will shake his hard-boiled certainty about the nature of reality to its core. Caught in a web of intrigue between faery courts, a nightmare world where Trolls fight for scraps beneath the bridges of the modern world, and a magical sword that has an agenda all its own, Wells must work to uncover a murderer in order to prevent a war among the immortals from spilling over into the mundane realm. Can he solve this mystery in time before the world of nightmares becomes a reality for all humanity? Tune in to “Predator’s Row” and marvel at a world of magic and intrigue that lies just beneath the surface of the world you know.
Episodes in the Host Your Own “Old Time Radio Drama” series are designed to provide a fun dinner party experience for 6–8 participants. Read along, taking on the role of one or more of the characters in the story, and listen as the exciting drama unfolds. This is the theater of the mind, where the special effects are only limited by your imagination, and your participation will build a memory that you’ll treasure for years to come.
NARRATOR: The Narrator
TONY WELLS: Police Detective
CLAIRE TEMPLETON: Reporter
FINBARRA: Fae Prince of the Darkened Realm
EBERON: Fae Prince of the Realm of Light
COBLYNAU: King of the Goblins
TROLL: Troll (Monster)
JENNY SHELBY: Missing Girl
TULLY BING: Academic
SWORD: Magical Talking Sword
SFX: SFX operator (1 required)
SCENE 14: INT. THE COURT OF COBLYNAU (COBLYNAU, EBERON, FINBARRA, FROST, TONY, JENNY, CLAIRE, TULLY, SWORD)
456. MUSIC:  OPENING THEME – LET IT FINISH
457. NARRATOR: Tony Wells, Detective of Star City, has found himself trapped in a realm of magic, standing trial before a Goblin King, in his attempt to rescue his friends and discover the identity of a killer who has been plaguing his city.
458. MUSIC:  (WALLA) FADE IN WEIRD CARNIVAL MUSIC; ODD JEERING LAUGHTER; OCCASIONAL SHRIEKS ETC. — ESTABLISH AND UNDER
459. TONY: (NARRATING) There I stood in a place carved from a child’s nightmare, being threatened by the king of the goblins with being skinned alive. All this courtly talk was getting on my nerves. The goblin king was almost comical, but I still know when someone’s bluffing and when they’re not. Coblynau wasn’t bluffing. If I was gonna avoid being added to his human-skin rug collection, I was going to have to come up with something fast.
(TO COBLYNAU) Hang on just a moment. You want to know who’s trying to undermine the covenant and start a new war, don’t you? I was sent here to expose the traitor.
460. COBLYNAU: More lies? Skinning is too good for you.
461. TONY: No, I can prove it. We recovered this from the troll’s lair. It instructs the bearer to kill the mortal Protector of the Covenant.
462. COBLYNAU: (ROARING) What? Finbarra, examine the document! Is it genuine?
463. FINBARRA: Hmmm! Eberon, look at this!
464. COBLYNAU: (IMPATIENT AND EAGER) What does it say?
465. SOUND:  TWO SWORDS BEING DRAWN — LET IT FINISH
466. COBLYNAU: What is the meaning of this? Finbarra, Eberon, put away your swords. Do you realize what you are doing?
467. FINBARRA: Yes, my liege, I do, and as you know I am sworn to protect the covenant above all things. The document is real and reads, “By order of the king of the darkened realm, you are freed to retrieve the covenant sword. Destroy the Protector of the Covenant and bring the sword to my emissary.”
(BEAT) My liege, it bears your seal.
468. COBLYNAU: Impossible! It is a forgery! And this mortal who bears it — he is probably the assassin himself!
469. TONY: I am no assassin! I am a mortal detective, investigating the death of Phineas Talbot. He was torn apart beneath the Star City suspension bridge by a troll. To cover its crime, the troll kidnapped this little girl who accompanies me. I was put on the creature’s trail by a man named Frost, who claims to be from the realms of the fae.
470. COBLYNAU: (ENRAGED) Frost? Jack Frost?!! The trickster who almost stole my throne before I had him exiled to the mortal realm?
471. TONY: (IMPATIENTLY) I don’t know anything about you or your history with this creature, only that he calls himself Frost and that he claims he is an exile. Beyond that, politics doesn’t interest me.
472. FINBARRA: Then you are a greater fool than you appear, Tony Wells. The fate of all the realms, yours not the least, is sealed by a careful balance of political alliances and obligations.
If you are truly in league with Frost, then this changes things.
473. TONY: How?
474. FINBARRA: Frost is one of the few who could effectively forge a royal decree.
475. TONY: Huh? Hey! Who’s tugging at my arm? Tully, what is it? (NARRATING) Tully was virtually jumping up and down on the spot.
476. FINBARRA: He can’t speak without the permission of the king… (AMUSED) Excitable little chap though, isn’t he?
477. TONY: Your Highness, it is obvious that something is wrong here. May he speak?
478. COBLYNAU: Worms! Witless fools! What is one more idiot yammering in our ears? Speak!
479. TULLY: I was taken by the troll after I accidentally saw it receive that document from a man it called Frost.
480. TONY: What? But Frost sent me here to rescue you.
481. FINBARRA: From a troll you found sleeping? I begin to see how this fits together.
482. TONY: Well, that’s one of us anyway!
483. FINBARRA: Your Majesty, the exile Frost is the one seeking to overturn the covenant. He is powerful enough to take on one of the covenant protectors if he does so indirectly — say through the agency of a troll. He has sent this mortal here, knowing we would not believe his tale of defeating a troll in its own lair, to find the document that points to you as covenant breaker. In this way, I believe he wanted to start the ancient war anew. The troll is Frost’s real co-conspirator and feigned sleep to allow the mortal entry and egress from its lair. These are but dupes in his plan.
484. COBLYNAU: An interesting theory, Finbarra. But how to test it? Perhaps I should recall Jack Frost to my court to answer the charge. (BEAT) Exile! Frost! Answer the summons of your king and return to the darkened court!
485. SOUND:  A RINGING CHIME — LET IT FINISH
486. FROST: Your Majesty! You call and your humble servant appears. I take it the traitor has been revealed?
487. COBLYNAU: Isn’t it enough that I had you exiled? Must you still vex me from a distance? What is your game this time, Frost?
488. FROST: What it has always been, O king! The unleashing of chaos and the striving for mastery.
489. FINBARRA: So you admit it! It was you who orchestrated the death of the mortal Protector of the Covenant.
490. FROST: None other.
491. FINBARRA: But why? You have been exposed. You cannot suppose that this could have ended in any way other than your being summoned to court to answer for your crimes.
492. FROST: No, you are right. When the sword was transferred here by the mortal’s dying wish, I thought I had been thwarted. After all, there was no way to pursue it whilst an exile — but, thanks to these witless mortals, here I am in the court of the goblin king once more and the sword is mere feet away.
493. FINBARRA: What? Eberon, it is the sword he’s after. To the throne.
494. FROST: (LAUGHING) Oh dear. You still think you can thwart me! You must realize that I am not alone in this. (CRYING OUT) Step forward, my allies, and make your presence felt!
495. SOUND:  CRASHING OF ICY WALLS, ROARING AND GRUNTING, AS A DOZEN RENEGADE TROLLS CRASH THEIR WAY INTO THE THRONE ROOM — LET IT FINISH
496. TROLL: We here, Frost! We fight!
497. FINBARRA: Trolls! A dozen of them at least! I promise you, Frost, you will purchase your prize dearly. The power of the combined swords of the Protectors of the Covenant is far and away in excess of your own.
498. FROST: As usual you fail to see the whole of the game. The mortal sword is without a master… and it yearns for one. I am now of the mortal realm, exiled as I am from the realm of darkness and the realm of light. I claim the sword as my own.
499. GOBLINS: (GASPS AND MOANS OF DISBELIEF)
500. COBLYNAU: Always so inventive and devious, Frost! I almost hate to have to punish you anew.
501. FROST: Ah. And I remember your gentle punishments so well from the last time. It took me almost a century to re-grow my skin, if I remember rightly.
502. COBLYNAU: I was too easy on you last time, Frost! I won’t make the same mistake twice.
503. TONY: (NARRATING) As I watched this exchange, my brain was rapidly playing catch up. I’d been set up and used to facilitate some kind of power play among supernatural beings and, like the sap I was, I had walked right into it.
Reaching into my pocket I once more gathered some iron nails into my fist.
504. FROST: Sword! To me!
505. CLAIRE: (NARRATING) It was like something out of a dream. The sword obeyed Frost’s command and leaped into the air, flying across the room towards him, but Wells was even quicker. He threw something small at Frost’s outstretched hand and Frost caught it. The sword sailed on past.
506. SOUND:  CLATTER OF SWORD HITTING THE FLOOR — LET IT FINISH
507. FROST: (SCREAMING) Aaargh! It burns.
508. TONY: I threw more nails and Frost crashed to the ground as if pinned there by a boulder.
509. TROLL: We are undone. Away. Away!
510. SOUND:  SOUND OF TROLLS RAPIDLY RETREATING — FADE
511. TONY: (FALSELY APOLOGETIC) I’m sorry, had you forgotten we were still here? Or were the mortals in the room so far beneath your notice that you didn’t care?
512. FROST: (INCREDULOUSLY, AND THROUGH THE AGONY) Cold iron? You brought cold iron? Here?
513. TONY: Yes, that’s right. A little library research turned up the fact that you near-immortals had one weakness. Cold iron. Now I believe this sword was what all the fuss was about…
(NARRATING) I reached for the sword lying on the ground nearby… (BEAT)
There are times in your life, usually when committing a major blunder, that everything seems to slow down. As my hand closed around the sword’s hilt I could hear Claire’s cry of warning, the intake of breath around the court, and most ominously yet…
514. SOUND:  A RINGING CHIME — LET IT FINISH
515. SWORD: (ECHOING) You know? I rather hoped it would be you!
516. TONY: (NARRATING) I was still reeling from the shock of the voice which had echoed through my head when everything started moving at normal speed once again.
517. COBLYNAU: Kill it! Kill it! It brought poison to my domain. Kill it before the world breaks!
518. FINBARRA: No! He has taken up the sword and the sword has accepted him. He is now the mortal Protector of the Covenant!
519. COBLYNAU: He’s what???
520. FINBARRA: He has taken up the sword. If you attack him you will shatter the covenant and Eberon and I are sworn to prevent you from doing so.
521. SOUND:  SWORDS BEING UNSHEATHED EVERYWHERE
522. TONY: I mean no disrespect, Your Majesty. I merely sought to prevent Jack Frost from claiming the sword.
523. GOBLINS: CRIES OF “INSULT!” — “INSULT!” — “KILL THE MORTALS!”
524. COBLYNAU: (ENRAGED) Out of ignorance or no, you have committed a grave insult against my kind. Remove that material from my world post haste. Do it or I will kill you, mortal Protector or not and Covenant be damned!
525. FINBARRA: At once, Your Majesty… but what of Jack Frost?
526. COBLYNAU: (GRINNING) Leave him to me!
527. FINBARRA: Tony Wells, gather up the cold iron and be sure you do not miss a single piece. It is time for you and yours to leave.
528. MUSIC:  (BRIDGE) TIME PASSING SCENE ENDER — LET IT FINISH
SCENE 15: EXT. THE PETRIFIED FOREST — LATER (TONY, EBERON, CLAIRE, TULLY, FINBARRA, JENNY)
529. SOUND:  (WALLA) WIND MOANING IN THE DISTANCE — ESTABLISH AND UNDER
530. EBERON: You are lucky to be alive, Tony Wells. In fact, all of you are. It is not often that a group of mortals is allowed to leave the throne room of the goblin king with their skins. The insult of bringing cold iron into his very throne room is not one that will be easily forgotten I think — even if you did bring down Jack Frost as a result. If we had not intervened when we did, I do not know what the outcome may have been.
531. TONY: I owe you one, then. Thanks.
532. FINBARRA: We will not forget your debt to us either, mortal. Have no fear of that.
533. TONY: That sounds ominous.
534. EBERON: You are a newcomer to our world, Tony Wells. We do not trade in gold but in favors, promises, and obligations. You are now in our debt. This is something that we take very seriously and the consequences of failing to repay that debt when called upon to do so can be very severe.
535. TONY: Uhuh. I guess I’d better keep that in mind.
536. CLAIRE: Eberon, you said something at the end that I didn’t understand. Something about the sword being Tony’s now?
537. EBERON: That is right. When Tony took up the sword, and was accepted by it, he also took up the mantle and responsibilities of a Protector of the Covenant. He is now bound to the purpose of the sword and the provisions of the covenant. Like us he must fulfill the duties required of his new station.
538. TONY: But, I don’t have any idea what that means!
539. EBERON: (LAUGHING) The sword knows and will tell you everything.
540. TONY: The sword?
541. FINBARRA: That’s right, the sword. It is both tool and teacher. You will use it to help protect mortals, and it will teach you your duties and enforce the requirements of the covenant upon you.
542. TONY: Now hold on a minute. What do you mean, enforce the requirements of the covenant?
543. EBERON: By taking up the sword, you are committed to protect the covenant whether you will or no. This means that, should you willfully attempt to frustrate the terms of the covenant, the sword will see to it that you fail.
544. TONY: (SCOFFING) What? By taking me over or something?
545. EBERON: Precisely.
546. TONY: Hold on. I never chose this. I have free will and I refuse…
547. FINBARRA: (LAUGHING MALICIOUSLY) Oh, what fools these mortals be. Your “will” is of no consequence. This sword is an object of power and can override your will as easily as you can blink an eye — more easily.
548. EBERON: But have no fear, Tony. It will not do so unless you actively oppose your duty.
549. TONY: Well, right now my duty is to get these people back to the mortal realm. Thanks for bringing us back here. What about the trolls?
550. FINBARRA: You needn’t worry for the moment. They are being pursued by emissaries of the goblin king. It will be some time before they can resume activity in their hunting grounds — though again they will not forget you, I should think.
551. TONY: Great. And what happens to Jack Frost?
552. FINBARRA: That is a matter for the goblin king. As immortals we cannot be killed and, as the goblin king is now all too aware, exile is not a safe option for a creature as dangerous as Jack Frost. I think it is safe to assume that whatever punishment he devises for Jack, it will be something extremely unpleasant.
553. EBERON: Yes. Extremely.
554. TONY: You know something? I don’t think Jack Frost was working alone.
555. EBERON: What?
556. TONY: It’s just a feeling. Like the memory of a dream that is just out of reach and fades the harder you try to hold on to it. But I’m as sure as I can be that he wasn’t alone in this.
557. EBERON: Are you suggesting he had an ally besides the trolls?
558. TONY: Yes, I am. But I’m also very tired and have had enough of mysteries for one day. How do I go about creating a circle?
559. EBERON: I think that if you would not be further in our debt than you already are, you should address your question to the sword. It is, after all, your teacher in all these matters from now on.
560. SWORD: And I would be all too happy to assist.
561. CLAIRE: That is just so creepy!
562. TONY: It’ll take some getting used to I admit. (BEAT) Alright. How about it? What do I do?
563. SWORD: Use me to draw a large circle in the snow. Yes, that’s right. Now have all those who are travelling with you stand within it.
564. TONY: Uh. Okay folks, if you’d just step inside the circle. Tully, that means you and Jenny too.
565. FINBARRA: We will bid you our goodbyes at this point, Tony Wells. You have done the realms a great service with your actions.
566. EBERON: Yes. We will see you again when next the terms of the covenant are in play.
567. TONY: Uh. Right. Goodbye then. (BEAT) Nothing’s happening.
568. SWORD: You need to focus on where you wish the door to open onto. Picture it in your mind.
569. TONY: Oh I see. So if I want to go back to the alley I just think about…
570. SOUND:  A RINGING CHIME — LET IT FINISH
571. MUSIC:  (BRIDGE) NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER — LET IT FINISH
SCENE 16: EXT. PREDATORS ROW — MOMENTS LATER (TULLY, CLAIRE, JENNY, TONY)
572. SOUND:  (WALLA) FLICKERING STREET LAMP, OCCASIONAL CAR ETC. — ESTABLISH AND UNDER
573. SOUND:  LOUD CHIME — LET IT FINISH
574. TONY: … the alley and we’ll be… Oh!
575. CLAIRE: (THRILLED) We’re here! I never thought I’d be happy to see this place again.
576. TULLY: Hey! This is Jenny’s home, you know.
577. CLAIRE: (CHASTENED) Oh, of course. Sorry, honey!
578. JENNY: It’s alright. I want to see my mommy!
579. TONY: We’ll organize that right away, but…
580. JENNY: Mr Wells?
581. TONY: You’re going to have to promise me something, Jenny?
582. JENNY: What’s that, Mr Wells?
583. TONY: You have to promise you won’t tell anyone about where you’ve been. You can say it was somewhere dark and that we came and found you… but that’s all. Do you understand?
584. JENNY: No…
585. TONY: Jenny, honey. We were there with you and it was real… but if you try to tell people about it, mostly they won’t believe you. And some will think you’re mad. I’m just trying to protect you from that. Do you believe me?
586. JENNY: Yes, I do.
587. TONY: Good. Come on. I’ll take you to see your mom.
588. CLAIRE: (NARRATING) I watched Wells gather the little girl up in his arms and take her over to the door. I hate tearful reunions. They make me feel sappy, so I took a few moments to tell Tully in no uncertain terms what I thought of his decision to go hunting around in a suspected predator’s den alone. He gave me one of those adoring, worshipful looks that some of the more sappy guys around the place get on their dials and I kissed him, hard, more out of pity than anything else. It was definitely time to go.
589. TONY: (NARRATING) Bringing Jenny back got me off the hook with the police commissioner, at least as far as my suspension was concerned — and the good publicity provided by Claire Templeton didn’t hurt my cause any either.
As it turns out, life in the big city is weirder than anyone could have imagined. Once I thought the worst kind of predator walked on two legs and that the bogeyman was a story for children. Now I know better, and anytime I forget I’ve got a talking sword in my closet to remind me.
590. MUSIC:  CLOSING THEME AND CREDITS
CASTING SHEETS — MAJOR CHARACTERS
NARRATOR: Hello, I am your narrator. I introduce the cold stormy nights on which our stories take place, the dark alleys, and darker personalities who inhabit the lonely city. It is my job to set the scene and establish the serious tone of suspense and intrigue that will carry the story forward. It is also my job to remind listeners of what came before in a calm, trustworthy voice and ensure that everyone is oriented to where we are and where we are going.
TONY WELLS: I’m a detective in a city full of liars, cheats, killers, and con-men. You’d think that would have made me a cynic. And I guess it has a little. But underneath the hard-boiled exterior, I actually give a damn. I do this job because I want to keep people safe from the animals and predators who roam the dark side of the city. I believe in heroes, or at least I want to believe in them. Right now I’m not the most popular detective on the force — the Commissioner’s got it in for me — but I would never have guessed how much more complicated my life is about to become.
CLAIRE TEMPLETON: I’m the crime reporter for the Star City Tribune. I know everyone in this town from the mayor down to the guys who pick up your garbage at four in the morning. I’m good at my job too, which is why I get myself into so many scrapes and tight corners. I’m fearless, determined, and always get my story — even when there’s no one with the courage to print it!
LAWRENCE JACOBY: My name’s Jacoby and I represent the law. As a detective I don’t make the rules but I do enforce ’em. And in a town full of lowlifes and creeps — some of whom carry a badge — that’s saying something. I’m also a friend of Tony Wells. He cuts corners and that gets him in trouble, but he’s good people and I’ll have his back when he needs it.
JACK FROST: My name’s Frost, Jack Frost. I was, until exiled, a member of the dark realm of the fae and vassal to the goblin king. Those days are gone of course. In the mortal realm, I am reduced to living among these short-lived and petty creatures called humans. I still find my amusements though. There are many of these creatures who will happily trade their souls for a few magical trinkets and gewgaws. Oh, I don’t expect you to believe me… at least, not yet. But after you’ve seen exactly what I have to offer, perhaps you’d like to make a deal?
EBERON: I am Eberon, Protector of the Covenant, and son of Oberon, high king, and lord of all the light realms of the fae. Perhaps you have heard of me. Even in the mortal realm, my father’s name is still known — if only because of that English bard. My fate is bound to the protection of the covenant between the dark, light, and mortal realms. For thousands of years the covenant has kept the animosity between our various peoples in check, but now something unheard of has occurred. The mortal protector has been murdered and I have traveled to the dark realm of the fae to find out why.
FINBARRA: I am Finbarra, Protector of the Covenant, and son of Finyarra, high king, and lord of all the dark realms of the fae. I care not whether you have heard of me any more than I care what a mortal’s opinion is on any matter at all. Like Eberon, my fate is bound to the protection of the covenant between the dark, light, and mortal realms. Unlike Eberon, I chafe under the restrictions this places upon me. For thousands of years the covenant has kept the animosity between our various peoples in check, but now something unheard of has occurred. The mortal protector has been murdered and I have traveled to the kingdom of Coblynau, the goblin king, to find out why.
COBLYNAU: Of course I’m cranky. You’d be cranky too. Fools! Layabouts! Idiots! I am surrounded by witless worms and encounter stupidity at every turn. The damned “pig sticker” has turned up. Here! In my realm! That means those dratted Protectors are going to turn up as well… and who knows what else besides. I just want to get back to my flayings and other entertainments. It’s bad enough I have to rule a realm full of stinking trolls without being intruded upon by the politics of the high fae.
CASTING SHEETS — MINOR CHARACTERS
TULLY BING: My name’s Tully Bing but the sooner you forget that the better. Give me data to crunch, a puzzle to solve, and a map to draw and I’m happy as a pig in mud. I met Claire Templeton at the university recently. You don’t meet too many women in my line of work but she’d come to interview someone who wasn’t available and ended up sitting down with me instead! You know, I almost died of fright? She’s real nice and real pretty too. I don’t know what she sees in a guy like me but I’m willing to do anything to stay on her radar.
JENNY SHELBY: Mommy, Mommy. I just saw a troll and a knight fighting outside my window. No really, Mommy. It was big and blue and tore the little old man with the sword to pieces. No, Mommy, I’m not making it up. No! It’s the truth. Aw, Mommy, okay, I’m going back to bed.
TROLL: I troll. I eat mortals. I catch under bridge. I skin. I chew. I crunch. Miss the old days, I do. When a troll could fight and kill all he want. Today I must stay near bridge. No exceptions. Stupid covenant!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Philip Craig Robotham grew up in a house full of books and has held numerous jobs as a teacher, computer programmer, graphic and web designer, e-learning consultant and, most recently, writer. He currently lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and two sons. When he was younger and fitter he enjoyed martial arts, but in recent years his hobbies have tended towards more sedate fare (board games, movies, books, and role-playing games).
He is extremely grateful for the encouragement he receives from his biggest fans — his wife and two boys — all of whom read and enjoy his scripts and in general make his life worth living.
You can contact the author regarding performance rights (or simply to say hello) through his website: https://www.weirdworldstudios.com.
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