The Tale of Woe: The Musical! - Part Four
[Gilly, Bruno, and Sophie are wandering along a branching path in a frightening forest. The stage is just barely lit, indicating heavy tree cover. Sophie and Bruno are dejected, having almost given up hope, but Gilly is still optimistic (somewhat annoyingly so).]
Gilly: Come on, friends, let’s sing a song
And then this trek won’t seem so long.
La di da, tiddle de tup –
Sophie: Won’t somebody shut her up?
Bruno: Come on, sister, let her sing:
It can’t really hurt anything.
Sophie: All right, she can sing, that’s fine.
But what’s she doing with those vines?
[Sophie has a point – Gilly is picking vines off the ground for some reason.]
Gilly: They could help if things get rough;
Look at them, they’re strong and tough.
They may come in handy if things get gritty.
Besides, just look at them: they’re pretty!
[Gilly smiles and begins to skip. Sophie slaps her palm to her forehead in disgust.]
Bruno: Quiet, both of you! I am sure
That we have passed these trees before.
We’re going in circles! This path has no end!
Gilly: Wait, what’s that around the bend?
[The trio starts as a two headed Hissi slithers out from the undergrowth near a fork in the path. Both heads bow to the adventurers in greeting.]
Hissi Head One: Welcome, travelers to these woods.
If you’re willing to continue, they hold a surprise.
Hissi Head Two: But which path to take? Which direction is good?
You’d better be careful, for one of us lies.
Hissi Head One: I tell the truth –
Hissi Head Two: What he says is wrong!
Hissi Head One: He’s an imposter!
Hissi Head Two: Do you like our song?
Hissi Heads One and Two: Yes, we’re quite a duo,
Hissi Head One: One bread,
Hissi Head Two: And one butter!
Hissi Head One: I’m Chias...
Hissi Head Two: I’m Lupes...
Hissi Head One: I’m neatness...
Hissi Head Two: I’m clutter.
Hissi Heads One and Two: Yet we get along, we’re the greatest of chums.
We complete each other like fingers and thumbs.
Like apples and oranges, we’re quite a pair.
Hissi Head Two: But one of us lies, so better beware!
Hissi Head One: So which path to take? Believe us, we know.
Hissi Head Two: You get one question of us. Ready? Now go!
Bruno: What should we ask them to figure it out?
Gilly: I have no idea!
Bruno: You don’t need to shout.
Sophie: Enough of this muddle, it’s making me sick.
[to Hissi] Tell us the way, or be poked with a stick!
[Sophie picks up a sharp stick from the ground and brandishes it menacingly at the Hissi, which recoils in fear. For, as everyone knows, two-headed Hissis have a particular fear of pointy things.]
Hissi Head One: You’re not playing fair, that’s not in the rules!
Hissi Head Two [to Head One]: Just tell them! She’s going to poke us, you fool!
Sophie: Give me the answer, and gimme it quick!
No? Then, my friend, prepare to eat stick!
[Sophie quickly jabs both of the heads with her stick, taking great pleasure in doing so.]
Hissi Head One [spoken]: Ouch! Man, that really hurt. Go that way. [points left]
Hissi Head Two [spoken]: What are you talking about? It didn’t hurt at all! Go that way! [points right]
Sophie [spoken]: I think we have our answer. [The trio heads down the left path, leaving the Hissi, which nurses its wounds and bickers with itself. Scene change: a deeper, darker part of the woods. A painted backdrop shows a cliff’s edge. Sophie, Bruno, and Gilly enter, and look off the cliff’s edge.]
Bruno: The trail goes right off. How will we descend?
Did we take the right path? Is this a dead end?
Sophie: If only we had a ladder or rope...
Gilly: My vines will come in handy, I hope.
[Gilly weaves her vines into a rope and throws it off the cliff. Before she goes down, she sticks her tongue out at Sophie.]
Gilly [spoken, to Sophie]: And you made fun of my vines.
[The lights go down as the three of them mime climbing down the vines. Scene change: the heart of the forest. Barely any light makes it through the tangled branches, but there is a small clearing with seven white circles on the ground.]
Sophie: The path ends right here; what do we do?
Gilly [pointing at the ground]: These marks on the ground; could they be a clue?
[Suddenly, seven ghost Meepits run in from stage right, stand on the marks on the ground, and begin to dance wildly.]
Meepits: Meep meep meep, meepity meep.
Meep meepmeep meep meep?
Meep meepit meep meep.
Meep, meep meep meep;
Meepity meep. Meep meep
Meep meepity. Meepmeep!
[Just as suddenly as they entered, the Meepits run off, leaving Bruno, Sophie, and Gilly with stunned expressions on their faces.]
Sophie [spoken]: That was just unsettling.
[Green smoke fills the stage; when it clears, Ilere is standing at the center of the glade. She appears slightly older than she did in Act II, but has the same soft spot for Sophie.]
Ilere: Why have you returned to me?
What is it that you wish?
I broke my vow by helping Sophie,
I trained her as a witch.
And now I go back to the shadows,
My interference done.
I can do nothing, as Sophie knows:
Meddling I shun.
You’ve angered me by coming here,
Asking for what I can’t give.
The consequences shall be severe:
You’ll be lucky if you live.
[Ilere emits a dark green blast from her outstretched hands. But before it can reach anyone, Sophie quickly raises her staff and sends a light blue bolt of energy towards the Earth Faerie, who drops to her knee, the breath knocked out of her.]
Sophie: You trained me better than you thought, and I have grown quite strong.
Now tell me what I need to know, it won’t take very long.
The spirit who cast his spell on my town – who is he? What’s his name?
I need to know to summon him. Now tell us, no more games.
Ilere: I wish I could help, but I do not know.
The name died with him, long ago.
The Spirit of Slumber is what he’s called now,
But his true name is lost, that I avow.
You need someone older and smarter than I.
I cannot aid you. And now, goodbye.
[Ilere vanishes in a puff of her trademark green smoke.]
Gilly: She wasn’t much help. Where should we go?
Bruno: Maybe the Brain Tree? He ought to know.
Sophie: No, not the Brain Tree! We can’t do that.
He and I had a little... spat.
Bruno: Come on, Sophie, he’s our only hope.
Sophie: I won’t come with you, you big blue dope!
[Bruno and Gilly drag Sophie off left. Sophie protests the entire way. Once they are gone and Sophie’s voice has died out, Ilere emerges from behind a tree and sings to the audience, looking off after Sophie. The faerie almost has tears in her eyes, but manages to hold them back.]
Ilere: Goodbye, Sophie. While I taught her
To live on her own, she became like a daughter.
I cared for her, I showed her spells,
And now she’s grown and by herself.
I wish that I could help her more,
For she’s still the child that I adore.
But taking her in was departure enough
From my noninterference; although it is tough
For me now to deny her, it must be done:
My story is over, and hers has begun.
You hate me now, Sophie, and that breaks my heart.
But believe me, my dear, you’re cunning and smart.
You can figure this out and save your whole town.
Be brave, my dear Sophie, don’t let me down!
So farewell, my daughter, farewell, my friend.
Your task is beginning, but mine’s at its end.
[Ilere slumps to the ground and lies there motionless. The stage remains like this for several seconds before the lights go down. Scene change: a different part of the haunted woods, with the Caretaker’s Hut nestled in the trees on stage right. Our trio of heroes enters stage left.]
Gilly: Well, that was a bust; the Brain Tree couldn’t aid us,
And the Esophagor was equally useless.
It seems that all the answers evade us,
I’m afraid we’ll never make any progress.
Sophie: I told you those two would be dead ends,
And now there’s just one option left:
To take a path which transcends
Mere vandalism or theft.
Bruno [spoken]: What do you mean?
Sophie [spoken]: The only logical thing to do is to dig up every single grave in the Haunted Woods.
[Her companions stare at her skeptically.]
Sophie [spoken]: Come on, it won’t take that long.
[The skeptical glares intensify.]
Sophie [spoken]: OK, fine, it’ll take forever. But we have to do it!
[sung] I can make a potion out of stones
To identify the Spirit’s bones.
Gilly [to Bruno, whispered]: How do you make a potion out of stones?
Bruno [to Gilly, whispered]: I don’t know. It’s probably the only word that rhymes with “bones” that she could think of.
Sophie: We’d better get started, no time to waste.
You two start digging. Quickly, make haste!
We should be done before too long,
[to Gilly] And, if you must, you can sing a song.
Bruno: This will take forever, don’t you see?
Sophie: How many graves could there possibly be?
[a backdrop showing innumerable rows upon rows of graves descends onstage.]
Sophie [spoken]: Oh.
To be continued...