to Greater Anthropology


The Apple Kingdom

by Eric Pettifor

ACT II

LIZARDAh, you came back. How nice, how gracious, how kind. Now, where did we leave off, where was I, let me see, ah, yes, yes indeed. The Princess. Lost in the forest, in the forest wandering wither we did not know. The forest was large in those days, large and mighty, a vast ocean of green on green and easy, so easy to be lost in. But during the day it was not a bad place, oh no, not bad, not during the day. We needed to find her before Night did, Night whose hooves are of polished lightening. But where to look? The forest is large.

 [Exit LIZARD. Lights up on CATHERINE in the forest. It is still day.]

CATHERINEHow can a forest be so big? How can it have so very many trees? I have walked for hours and hours and yet can find no way out, I walk in circles, I am lost. And alone.

VOICE(from offstage, a tiny voice) Help me!

CATHERINEWhat? Who's that?

VOICE(as before) Help me!

CATHERINEWho's there?

 [A DEER drags itself on stage. There is a terrible trap on its leg.]

DEERHelp me!

CATHERINEOh!

 [She runs to it and looks at the trap.]

 The Royal Huntsman's trap! He boasts that no animal has escaped it!

DEERHelp me!

 [She moves to try and pry off the trap but the DEER struggles.]

CATHERINEDear deer, if I'm to help you, you must hold still.

DEER(stops struggling) Help me?

CATHERINEI will try.

 [She struggles and struggles trying to pry open the trap, but to no avail.]

 It will not budge! Curse the Huntsman and his traps!

DEERHelp me?

CATHERINEMy ring! Please Ring, I wish this deer free!

 [The trap springs open.]

 It worked! And look, your leg is as good as new!

 [The DEER gets up and dances on its hind legs.]

DEERThank you!

CATHERINEYou're welcome, deer. Now go, and run, and step in no more traps.

DEERThank you! Thank you!

 [The DEER runs off.]

CATHERINEThank you, Ring.

 [The lights fade and shift from bright to blue and a voice is heard pronouncing in a reverberating whisper "Night, night." Owls hoot and eyes stare out from the dark. In the distance a deep bell tolls, eerie organ music plays and a voice intones the names of those who died today, "John Smith died today, lets say a prayer for him. Kathy Adams died today, lets say a prayer for her,..." etc. Other scary sounds emanate from all around, and around the edges of the light dart figures only half glimpsed. The sounds build in volume, the music, the voice, and the cries, and a fur covered creature with a huge head and huge facial features moves slowly into the light and toward CATHERINE. She screams and the creature sheds its fur and head. It is ALDRIC. He draws his sword. The lights grow a little brighter.]

ALDRICBegone thou twisted shadows! Begone you voices who whisper fearful things into the dreams of sleeping children! Tis I, Prince Aldric, descended from a long line of Aldric's sworn to destroy your wicked kind. Begone, or taste of my blade!

 [The sounds dissolve into mocking laughter.]

ALDRICBegone, I say!

 [The laughter fades to less sinister night noises of the forest.]

CATHERINEOh, Aldric, I am so very glad, I'm... hug me!

 [They hug.]

 Why did you scare me?

ALDRICMy disguise. Thinking me to be some relative of theirs the monsters even helped me find you.

CATHERINEYou spoke to monsters?

ALDRICI've no fear of them. I would have slain them, but for the information I needed to find you.

 [The sound of rain comes up.]

 Rain!

CATHERINEThis forest doesn't like us.

ALDRICLets hid under that big tree.

FORESTYyyesss.

CATHERINEWait! Not all trees are good trees in this forest. But we need only find one tree whose heart is not yet rotten.

 [They run through the forest looking for that tree. At last they find it.]

ALDRICThis tree.

CATHERINEBut it is so small!

ALDRICThere is room enough for you. I will... stand guard.

CATHERINEPerhaps if we run further...

ALDRICWe are lucky to find even one good tree.

CATHERINEBut it's not fair! I won't.

ALDRICCathy, our both being miserable does not make things better.

CATHERINEWait. Little Ring, let me once more impose upon your good graces. Let Aldric be dry as well.

ALDRICIt rains, but not on us!

 [An orange spot comes up before them.]

CATHERINEA fire!

ALDRICAnd, like us, no rain falls on it! A magic fire from the magic ring.

CATHERINEIt was a gift from my father.

ALDRICA gift of love. Cathy... I love you too.

 [Suddenly ZAMA KOR appears in a blinding flash of light.]

ZAMA KOR 'I love you too.' How sweet.

 [She raises her hand and there is thunder and lightening and a wild shrieking wind. The lovers watch their fire fade to nothing, as does the wind once the fire is gone.]

 Now I have you both. No thanks to this stupid useless forest!

FORESTWe are sorry, oh great and mighty Zama Kor,
We thought he was monster and nothing more.
Then his sword was terrible to behold,
'Twould make any forest thing something less than bold.

ZAMA KOR Silence! I will have no excuses! For your failure, you great and stupid forest, one hundred trees shall this moment die!

FORESTNooooo!

 [ZAMA KOR gestures and a section of the sky lights up in orange and bloody shades.]

ZAMA KOR Tis done! Fail me again and a thousand of your children shall burn! Think on it!

FORESTWe shall, mighty Zama Kor, we shall, we shall.

CATHERINEAunt Wilhelmina! You really are a witch!

ZAMA KOR You'd better believe it, Sunshine.

 [ALDRIC draws his sword.]

ALDRICPrepare to meet thy evil end, oh wickedest of witches. Behold and tremble, I hold the sword my people call 'Witch's Bane'. With this sword did King Aldric the Seventh slay 13 times 13 witches and cleansed all our land of their wicked magic! Thou shalt make it eight score and ten!

 [ZAMA KOR points at him and a high pitched whine starts up. ALDRIC's sword begins to shake and crack and finally falls to pieces.]

CATHERINERun, Aldric, run!

 [The two of them start to run off but ZAMA KOR gestures once again and ALDRIC and CATHERINE find themselves trapped in an invisible force-field. Whichever way they turn it stops them.]

ZAMA KOR Ah, how easily are these little mice caught! That is the penalty of power, it all becomes so easy. What can I not do?

ALDRICLove. It there was just one spark of love in your cold heart you could not be so cruel.

ZAMA KOR Oh? And tell me, what would you know of love, princeling?

ALDRICMore than you who never loved.

ZAMA KOR I loved once.

ALDRICAnd only once.

ZAMA KOR It was enough. More than enough, far more. And more than that, who knows of love better, who knows more of its warmth and belonging and sharing than those who have it not?

I walk the world round, and all seems like it's winter,
No seasonal changes thaw the cold.
I walk the world with feet a shade of weary blue
Watching lovers shed their teardrops in the snow.

A gatherer for frozen tears, the icy gems of love,
I put them in my mouth, but they won't melt.
I put them on a string and let them hang there on my breast,
Changelessly they burn like fire straight from hell.

What of those who want to be loved but are not?
What of those who want to love but cannot?
What about us who walk the frozen way?

I look into your eyes at your face with all its answers,
So clean and unblemished by any kind of time,
And you say with your eyes aglow that love's a changeless garden,
But to us beyond its walls love's a crime.

What of those who want to be loved but are not?
What of those who want to love but cannot?
What about us who walk the frozen way?

CATHERINEPerhaps if you were kinder, less cruel, you might find love.

ZAMA KOR Silence! Speak no more of it! 'Tis better left to the weak who need it for a crutch. I need it not, I want it not, for I am strong!

 [She gestures and the lights and sound change from that of the forest at night to the light and sounds of the witch's lair.]

 Aldric, you die first.

ALDRICI care not for my own life, take it, it is yours, but spare Catherine.

ZAMA KOR I think not. She is essential to a spell that shall restore to me my long lost beauty. But for your resemblance to Aldric you gain this much ~ a speedy death. A dagger to the heart and not just any dagger, no, this was to have been a gift to your ancestor, the match to his great sword, but alas, that sword bit me before I could match it to its mate, and now this dagger sleeps in a casket of living stone deep in a mountain's stomach. I must fetch it.

 [Exit ZAMA KOR]

CATHERINEWhat shall we do?

ALDRICI can think of nothing. I have failed.

CATHERINEThink harder.

ALDRICMy faith was in my sword, and now it is gone.

CATHERINEThere is one wish left by my ring.

ALDRICWish us free!

CATHERINEI fear to wish too much lest all be lost. It is but a Ring of Little Wishes. I will wish you free.

ALDRICNo, if only one may go then let it be you.

CATHERINEMy fate is sealed. It will find me wherever I am.

ALDRICThen let me die with you!

 [Enter ZAMA KOR with the dagger.]

ZAMA KOR Then die, Aldric!

 [She lunges at ALDRIC.]

CATHERINESend Aldric to safety!

 [Snap blackout except for a follow spot on ALDRIC. He spins and moves around. Lights up on the forest. The KING enters calling.]

KINGCatherine! Cathy!

ALDRICKing!

KINGPrince Aldric! Where is Cathy?

ALDRICShe is imprisoned in the lair of Zama Kor!

KINGQuickly, which is the way?

ALDRICI know not, for I am brought here by magic.

KINGWe could search this forest for a year and still not find it.

ALDRICWe must! Cathy!

CATHERINE(from offstage, lots of reverb, whispered) Aldric.

ALDRICDid you hear that?

KINGI heard nothing.

ALDRICMy heart's ear has heard her heart's voice. That direction! Run!

 [They begin running on the spot.]

ALDRICAnd so we ran.

KINGAnd we ran.

ALDRICAnd we ran.

KINGAnd we ran some more, but still we came not to the witch's lair.

ALDRICCathy!

CATHERINE(as before) Aldric.

ALDRICStill she is before us, but we have run almost to the edge of the forest.

KINGWe should have reached there by now. The witch knows we are coming and moves her lair by magic.

ALDRICWe cannot out run such power.

KINGI did overcome the witch's spell on me by pure force of will. Next to that sorcery this elusive lair is nothing. There is a way to defeat it.

ALDRICPerhaps. But I cannot think of it.

KINGI have it!

 [He draws the sword.]

 Sword, take us to your previous mistress, your one time scabbard, Zama Kor.

 [The sword shivers and makes terrible finger-nail-on-chalkboard sounds.]

 Defy me not, oh sword, for now it is I that command thee.

 [Lights down except for a follow spot on them. The move around and spin. Lights up on the lair.]

CATHERINEFather!

KINGCathy!

ALDRICCathy!

CATHERINEAldric!

 [They run to her and she tries to run to them but she is still imprisoned by the invisible force field. It is a barrier between them and her through which they cannot touch.]

CATHERINEI am still imprisoned.

KINGWould that we could all be together once more.

ZAMA KOR (offstage voice) Consider it done!

 [Suddenly they can all touch.]

KINGWe can touch! Has she set you free?

ALDRICWaste no words, lets leave while the opportunity is ours.

 [They try, but find that they are all imprisoned.]

KINGIt is not your freedom that brings us together, but all our bondage!

 [ZAMA KOR suddenly appears.]

ZAMA KOR So right, so very right. To keep you from my lair I tried to keep my lair from you. But what a clever king you are! Clever to the end.

KINGI am ready. And am right honoured that you do fear me so.

ZAMA KOR Fear you? I fear no one!

CATHERINEThen why do you keep us penned up?

ZAMA KOR Convenience!

KINGYou fear to do battle with me.

ZAMA KOR You are free!

 [The KING leaves CATHERINE and ALDRIC. They try and follow him, but they are still imprisoned by the force field. The KING draws his sword.]

KINGThis shall be the second time this sword has bit you. There will not be a third!

 [He lunges at her. She stops the blow with a power that emanates from her palms.]

ZAMA KOR Ha! I am much mightier than I was then, and you are not half the man that Aldric was.

KINGPrattle on, weary thy breath with words. For myself my sword shall speak!

 [He strikes again and again, and again and again ZAMA KOR blocks his blows with magical force.]

KINGBlow after blow I dealt to her.

ZAMA KOR And blow after blow I blocked with ease.

KINGUntil I was sore and tired and could strike no more.

 [He leans on the sword. ZAMA KOR too is tired and panting, but knows she is the victor.]

ZAMA KOR I win! You win the booby-prize and the booby-prize is death. But I am thirsty. I will imprison you whilst I take refreshment from a magic waterfall near here that flows with nothing but the finest imported beer.

 [The KING is once more with the others within the magic force field.]

CATHERINEWe must escape ere she returns!

ALDRICBut how?

KINGShe will be back soon.

 [Enter the LIZARD.]

 Lizard!

LIZARDKing.

ALDRICCan you get us out?

LIZARDI did serve a witch and serving her I watched. If I had not learned some lore at least I could not say I was too smart.

KINGAnd can you use your knowledge to help us?

LIZARDMy great knowledge tells me that there is nothing you can do. There is no magic that may free you, no magic but one, and that is scarce indeed, for they were made by ancient powers, powers older even than my erstwhile mistress Zama Kor, and the secret of their making passed with those great powers long, long ago.

ALDRICWhat were these things the ancient powers made?

LIZARDWish rings. The great rings are all hidden or used up, but even a minor ring would be enough to break this spell, tis not the power of the magic, but the kind. Tis odd, princess, but methinks I see just such a ring upon your finger. Can it be so?

CATHERINEAye, tis so, but it is depleted of its power, its wishes are all gone.

LIZARDBut it is still gold. Such rings do turn to lead when their power is no more.

CATHERINEBut I had three wishes of it, I know.

KINGWhat did you wish?

CATHERINEI wished a trapped deer free, I wished for Aldric to be dry when it rained and for him to be free when we were caught.

LIZARDThe selfless nature of your wishes are what causes your ring to still shine gold. You have been granted one more wish. A wish for you.

CATHERINECould I wish you all back to the castle?

LIZARDFor you, Catherine, yourself as well.

CATHERINEWould that not be too hard for it?

LIZARDYou can but try and see.

CATHERINELittle ring, with whatever you have left, please, let us all be safe back at the castle!

 [The lighting and sound switch from that of ZAMA KOR's lair to that of the castle.]

KINGGuards! Pull up tight the drawbridge! Secure the castle from attack! We'll lock ourselves in as tight as we can. It will take her some time to get at us now.

LIZARDYes. Perhaps all of thirty seconds. Thirty-five if she encounters a head wind.

ALDRICSpeak not so gloomily, we shall find a way to defeat this witch. We have until your birthday tomorrow to plan.

LIZARDWhat time is it?

KINGPast midnight I think.

LIZARDThen tis already the Princess's birthday. Tomorrow is today!

ALDRICWe need a plan.

KINGA mighty force. A great army! I could withdraw all my legions from around the world and mount a massive defense!

LIZARDOh King, no earthly power however great will ever defeat the power of Zama Kor.

ALDRICThere are other witches in the world, are there not?

LIZARDNone as great.

ALDRICPerhaps we could get a band of ten...

LIZARDNot enough.

ALDRICA hundred then, a hundred witch's all plying their power against her.

LIZARDFor the descendant of a king who hunted down and killed their kind? I think not.

ALDRICThey need not know about me. You have the connections, you yourself are weird in their way. You could find a hundred witches for us.

LIZARDI am flattered that you think I have such influence with the weird, but they do not work well together in groups, certainly not in groups larger than thirteen. Put a hundred witches in a room together and shortly thereafter all you would have would be one great black and smoking crater.

KINGThen what shall we do?

 [Lights down except for a spot on LIZARD, KING, and ALDRIC.]

LIZARDWe thought and we thought.

ALDRICAnd we thought and we thought.

KINGAnd we thought and we thought some more.

LIZARDBut for all our thinking there was but one thing we thought that we could do.

KINGWe gave the Princess Catherine a birthday party.

 [In the dark area sixteen flames burn. Lights up on the set revealing CATHERINE sitting behind a table on which sits a birthday cake with sixteen burning candles. They turn and sing to her slowly and sadly.]

K&J&L Happy Birthday, Catherine
Happy Birthday, Catherine
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday...

 [Suddenly we hear the unholy choir chanting.]

CHOIR Shillum illum killum, akabar roo,
Okus horus modious, scaborous droo,
Hilter kilter calander, gumpcious lie,
Pan piston, pan plato, pan portious pie.

 [Repeats again and again.]

CATHERINEShe's coming! She's coming! I can feel it in my heart! It is bursting from my body!

KINGNo, Cathy, no, it will not happen!

CATHERINEI can feel it father! She's coming!

KINGShe cannot take you! I will not let her!

 [He hugs CATHERINE and weeps. She pays no attention, she is transfixed by the chanting which grows louder and louder. The wind leaps up howling, there are the cries of soldiers and crashing metal, like giant chimes of war. ZAMA KOR appears, flying in ideally. The howling wind and the chanting go suddenly silent.]

ZAMA KOR So, mighty king, lord emperor of the world's greatest empire, tis time to pay the price!

KINGNo! You cannot! Please, take it all back, I don't want it anymore, take even my little Apple Kingdom, but leave me my daughter!

ZAMA KOR Such a ransom for one little girl! Has ever in all of history there been a woman bought for more? It is not enough. She is mine by force of contract, a contract governed by powers far greater than mortal law. She will spend her last moments as a bluebird!

Oho kalimar altkas gree,

Wagman transpan, holopsi bree!

 [ZAMA KOR gestures and CATHERINE is transformed. The force of the spell blows the KING away, or perhaps he is dragged off by two demons who help with the spell.]

ZAMA KOR Now! To work on my great spell! And then I will come back and finish all of you! Your last vision on this earth will be of my beautiful face, my beautiful form, and you shall know that thy daughter...

 [ZAMA KOR blows out the candles.]

 ... is dead.

 [She and CATHERINE fly off accompanied by light and sound effects. The KING goes back to sobbing pitifully.]

ALDRICWhat can I do? What can I do? There the mightiest monarch in all the world sits crying like an infant, powerless, how much more so me? We stand against an unbeatable foe, who wields such evil and power that there is nothing in the world that may stop her. Nothing.

LIZARDOne thing.

ALDRICWhat?

LIZARDLove.

ALDRICLizard, toss no words at me, we need something mighty, not words for poetry, not idealistic cloud fancies wielding vapor swords.

LIZARDDismiss it not so quickly, it is more than a word, it is a power in the world. True, we must give it form, we need a manifestation. Do you love Cathy?

ALDRICYes.

LIZARDAnd she you?

KINGYes, she did ask my permission to marry Aldric, but I could not give it.

LIZARDThen this is what you must do. You and Cathy must marry.

ALDRICHow?

LIZARDThere is no way to reverse the Witch's spell, but I do know that spell, the spell of the bluebird. I could turn you into a bluebird, and you could fly to her.

ALDRICFly? Like a bird?

LIZARDYou would be a bird.

One thing though.

ALDRICWhat?

LIZARDI'm terrified of magic. I've never done it before.

ALDRICNever?

LIZARDNever. And another thing.

ALDRICA good thing I hope?

LIZARDI could not change you back. Ever.

ALDRICIn my dreams I have soared above the world, above a single canvas without seams, and I laughed as the planet rolled beneath my wings, but that was only in my dreams.

LIZARDIn my dreams I have carved, with forces mighty, massive mountains flanked by chasms deep. Laughing, I've pulled wheat fields from the desert, but that was only in my sleep....

A & LWhen the time comes to make my dreams come true, when the time comes to do more than just cry, when the time comes to take a chance, to do it all for real...

LIZARDI'm afraid of magic.

ALDRICAnd I'm afraid to fly.

LIZARDSpells can twist your heart until you're heartless.

ALDRICThose who dare to fly must surely fear to fall.

LIZARDMagic moving mountains makes for a faithless world.

ALDRICFar safer on the ground, to run, to walk, to crawl.

LIZARDYet with magic I could help you find your joy.

ALDRICIf I could I'd fly to her right now.

LIZARDJust one bit of magic so much good could do.

ALDRICAnd most frightening of all, we know how. .

A & LWhen the time comes to make my dreams come true, when the time comes to do more than just cry, when the time comes to take a chance, to do it all for real...

LIZARDI'm afraid of magic.

ALDRICAnd I'm afraid to fly.

LIZARDI'm afraid of magic.

ALDRICAnd I'm afraid to fly.

KINGBut if you have the means then you must! You cannot let Cathy die at the hands of that sorceress. You can't! Think of Cathy!

LIZARDYes. I will find the courage. Prince, can you?

ALDRICI do not always think of the answers, I have no wish rings, no wisdom nor lore, I no longer even have my sword, but I can see what is right. And I can do what is right. Do it. I am ready.

LIZARDI can never change you back.

ALDRICI know.

LIZARDVery well. All my life I have seen magic used for evil and I have grown to fear it, but this once let magic be done for good, let your love aid the magic. Let it be done.

LIZARDOho Kalimar altkas gree,
Wagman transpan holopsi bree!

 [He performs the same gesture as the witch. A wind comes up, but there is no transformation.]

 (shouting over the wind) See her in your mind! See her in your heart! Think of her!

Oho Kalimar altkas gree,
Wagman transpan holopsi bree!

 [LIZARD performs the gesture again and ALDRIC is transformed.]

 Now fly! Fly! She may yet have a little time, but you must use all the speed your wings will give you! Fly!

 [ALDRIC flies off after ZAMA KOR and CATHERINE. The LIZARD goes to the KING.]

 Wipe your eyes. The day may yet be ours once night is done.

 [Lights down on the castle and up on the lair of ZAMA KOR. CATHERINE, still a bluebird, is imprisoned in a large cage. ZAMA KOR is hopping about, excited.]

ZAMA KOR It's simmering, it's simmering! Come morning it will be aboiling, a sticky precious goo in which I'll cook your heart, and then we shall make a beauty cream such as the world has never seen! I must tend the coals, for they are made from the heart of a living mountain and need watching lest they burn too hot. Come morning, come morning! Time has never passed so slowly!

 [ZAMA KOR exits dancing. ALDRIC enters.]

CATHERINEAldric! Have you been changed too? Has she caught you?

ALDRICNo, Cathy, I've been changed of mine own free will. I have not been caught.

 [ALDRIC opens the cage.]

 I have come to rescue you.

CATHERINEI am tied and the knot is cunning.

ALDRICLet me try.

 [ALDRIC enters the cage.]

CATHERINEAldric! Watch out!

 [The door of the cage slams shut. He struggles to open it.]

 It cannot be opened from the inside. Now you are trapped too, and because of me.

ALDRICCathy, listen, there is a way to defeat the witch.

CATHERINEWhat way?

ALDRICLove.

CATHERINEI have always believed so, but my faith has never been so tested.

ALDRICMarry me, Cathy. Do not wait upon your father's permission.

CATHERINEIt seems so long ago I asked him. His voice said 'no', but his heart was saying yes.

 [They hug.]

ALDRICCathy, when you have given your heart to me it will not be for the witch, and she will be defeated.

CATHERINEWho will marry us?

ALDRICThe fish of the sea, the animals of the land, the birds of the air, they need no priest to marry them.

CATHERINEIt's true. Yes.

 [They kiss. Fade discreetly to black. Lights up, same location, the lovers are asleep in each other's arms (wings). A rooster crows. ZAMA KOR enters.]

ZAMA KOR Tis time! Tis time! The rooster crows and the cauldron bubbles! Tis time!

What's this? Two bluebirds. Tis the Prince! NOOOO! All is ruined! All these years for naught! A married princess is no good to me! I need a maiden princess, a maiden princess! I have been cheated!

 [ZAMA KOR becomes calm and melancholy.]

 I am sickened. Perhaps I should just die, just die, once and finally. Life is so unkind and I have breathed so much of it. It has worn away my soul and left cancer, nothing more. What is left to do? Vengeance, I suppose. Simple, bloody, exterminating vengeance.

 [She opens the cage.]

 I am freeing you. Does that surprise you? Be not surprised. Fly back to the castle of the King. Tell him to prepare for the extermination of this world, my personal Armageddon. If I must die then all must die! Go!

 [CATHERINE and ALDRIC exit. ZAMA KOR puts her head in her hands. Lights up on the castle. The bluebirds and the KING sit in silence a moment.]

KINGShe cannot mean it.

 [LIZARD enters.]

 She has not the power.

LIZARDShe has, my lord. Zama Kor has lived for time measured in millenniums and every year has made her mightier. I fear she intends to wipe out all life on this world, all life but mine, I must forever live in this world after she has done, and I envy you your fate. She comes.

ALDRICBut we hear no thunder, see no angry clouds.

CATHERINEThere is no raging wind rolling boulders on the plains.

LIZARDNo, there is none of that. But the farmers cry out that their animals are dying, their children are sick, and their crops have withered and dried. The sun blazes and rivers are dry to their beds.

KINGThere has been sickness before, there have been droughts, why do you put Nature's tragedies to the credit of the witch?

LIZARDBecause, my lord, they spread like a black and bloody bulls-eye from the lair of Zama Kor.

ALDRICIs there nothing we can do?

 [LIZARD does not answer.]

 Lizard?

LIZARDProbably not. No. I don't think so.

ALDRIC'Probably' not? What do you mean?

LIZARDNot at all. Highly doubtful. All right, yes, there is a way, there is something I have long feared to do, a spell, a spell that could for a mere instant render Zama Kor powerless, a mere mortal.

KINGWhy have you not made this spell long before this great threat to us?

LIZARDIt is not a trifling magic. The power it demands is greater than that which I possess. It would have killed me.

CATHERINEThen we dare not do it.

LIZARDYes, Princess, we can, for now I cannot die. That fear is gone.

ALDRICThen let us do it!

LIZARDNo, let us not, for I could only make it last a moment. In that time she would have to be slain.

ALDRICThat is as it should be! Let her die as she should have died millenniums ago when the sword of my ancestor bit her flesh!

LIZARDYou forget, Prince, that she has fed me and taught me, she protected me from great birds that sought my flesh, she gave to me the gift of words, the power of speech. Is not my betrayal of her great desire enough? I will not betray her to death.

ALDRICIf you do not help us with your spell all the world will perish.

KINGIt would seem, gentle Lizard, that a terrible decision is thrust upon you. If you choose to spare your mistress you will condemn all the world to die.

LIZARDAh, were it not so! It is too much for a poor reptile. What do you think, Catherine? What should I do?

CATHERINEI cannot say. I do not want to die, but the decision is not mine, it is yours.

 [They wait and watch the LIZARD. At last he heaves a sigh of decision.]

LIZARDOnly to save a world. Only for that.

ALDRICThen you will do it?

LIZARDYes.

KINGCome, let us meet her then. To the garden from whence it all began so many years ago, beneath the Apple Tree.

 [Scene change to the garden. A faint wind blows. Eventually ZAMA KOR enters. She is barefoot and simply dressed. She looks as though she might indeed have once been beautiful.]

ZAMA KOR Good-bye. I have come to say that. Good-bye. That is all. It is finished.

CATHERINEYou cannot do this!

ZAMA KOR No? And yet it is so. It is going. Do not fly from it, Prince Bluebird, do not try. When you returned to earth as all flying things must, you would find no seed to feed upon, no blade of grass, no insects. You would not die of hunger. Long before that your little heart would shatter to see the desolation.

CATHERINENo!

ZAMA KOR The last thing to go will be this tree. I will wrap my arms around it, and it will cease to breath. It will fall, and I with it, never again to rise, or kill, or hate, or weep, or be alone.

KINGYou must not do this to the world! It should not be punished to appease your anger! It is unjust! It is unfair!

ZAMA KOR You would know, you who cheated me of the one thing I desired. You who robbed me of what was mine, given me of your own free will all those years ago. This is how it ends. This is the only way it could ever be. Endings are final.

LIZARDPlease, leave the world be. Go in peace.

ZAMA KOR You, Lizard, friend and betrayer, you always were a lover of the sunlight. You've escaped my night and become my enemy.

LIZARDWe are not your enemies. You have no enemies.

ZAMA KOR What you say will be true soon. Once vengeance is done.

KINGVengeance! Your vengeance is not important!

ZAMA KOR What is important, King? Do you know? Did a golden horn protrude from the bashed-in head of your last victim and proclaim to you the truth?

KINGYes. Something like.

ZAMA KOR What did it say? Tell me, I would like to hear.

KINGWe've got to stop the killing. We must cease the destruction and the senseless breaking of things. We must love one another and stop the hurting, end the pain, and simply be.

ZAMA KOR 'Be'? Be what?

KINGWe must be nice to each other!

 [The LIZARD points and quickly chants.]

LIZARDAtbar salamar yokah at!

 [The sound is something like all the air being sucked from a large auditorium in the space of two seconds.]

ZAMA KOR Aaahhhh!

ALDRICQuick! Slay her now while she is powerless!

ZAMA KOR What is happening!

 [The KING draws his sword but hesitates.]

ALDRICWhat are you waiting for! Hurry!

LIZARD(through his teeth) P... please, I... I can't hold this... I...

KINGNo.

ALDRICWhat!

KINGNo. The words I spoke were not empty. My time of killing is done.

 [The sword screams, only this time amidst its din we can make out the words.]

SWORDFEEEED MEEE! FEEED MEEEEEEEEEEE!

KINGThe time of blood is over, the time of killing done. You'll drink no more, my love, with your shining plunging tongue. Don't tell me what you gave me as you moved beneath my hand, spilling souls from the guts of men, with dying eyes they damned me.

Yes, I know, I loved you as you gave me what you wanted, and oh, how through thin air you sailed, my phantom bride. How brilliantly you struck like some avenging fury, and you whispered you were mine for all of time.

I didn't have to think, action came before decision. I thought I served myself, but I served your only mission. Now I see the light that shows your truth as lies, and my bloody soul is pierced by all our victims' cries.

SWORDFEEEED MEEE! FEEED MEEEEEEEEEEE!

KINGNO!

 [The KING plunges the sword into the tree where it is transformed into a branch complete with apple.]

LIZARDI... can't... I... I...

 [He snaps and falls in a heap to the ground. CATHERINE runs to him. ZAMA KOR pulls herself together.]

ZAMA KOR I was powerless, yet you did not kill me. You could have saved the world, and yet you did not. Why?

KINGIt would not have been a world to live in, a world whose future was so bought. No tree would grow straight, no stream would be pure.

ZAMA KOR Then Vengeance wins.

CATHERINEDid my father's words mean nothing to you? Did the language of his actions not speak to you with even stronger voice?

KINGIt is not something she is capable of understanding.

ZAMA KOR Isn't it? Because it's beyond my experience, perhaps? You've never been nice to me!

CATHERINEI have!

ZAMA KOR No, not to me, to who you thought I was, to Aunt Wilhelmina.

 [CATHERINE runs up to ZAMA KOR and hugs her.]

CATHERINEI don't care what you call yourself.

KINGI did not think you felt the common pain.

ZAMA KOR I cannot think of the last time somebody hugged me. Could it have been so very long ago?

KINGThen live with us. No one should have been so alone for so very long.

CATHERINEYes! You must!

ZAMA KOR You would let one as ugly as I amongst you? To live with you?

KINGYou are not as ugly as all that.

ZAMA KOR I am!

KINGIt doesn't matter.

 [The KING picks an apple from the tree and gives it to her. She takes it tentatively, and looks at it suspiciously. Finally she takes a determined bite. A look of surprise crosses her face as she chews and considers.]

ZAMA KOR It's an apple. It's just an apple. Was it never anything more?

KINGNo.

ZAMA KOR And yet, just an apple is... I could not make this.

KINGWe don't have to.

CATHERINEAunt, the land sickens and dies. Help it.

ZAMA KOR No. It's stopped. Shhhh... It's shrinking. That destruction came from my sick heart, but that's changing, mending. It will not be fast, it will not be easy, but this is strong. I had forgotten.

LIZARDCan you reverse the spell you placed on me?

ZAMA KOR Alas, no, I can only wish that your days are happy ones, and I can only ask that you remember me. And I cannot restore to life all those whom we have killed. The dead are forever dead, and nothing can rob them of their peace.

KINGThere seems little we can do, so we will do little yet accomplish much. We will make amends as best we can. But for this moment, let us banish sorrow, for today is a beginning. I have not been this happy since... since I was a boy.

LIZARDThere was music, there was laughter, there was light.

 [All characters but the LIZARD freeze in tableau.]

 There was such light in that place.

All the walls and indeed the castle itself were torn down and we lived in the garden by our apple tree. The people chose new leaders and danced old dances, but every now and again there was a new step and I had another tale to tell. My mistress Zama Kor did not extend her life by magical means, but died when her time came, and it came, it came for all of us but I. For centuries thereafter the tree was blessed by the children of Cathy and Aldric, the bluest and most songful bluebirds this world ever knew.

There are other stories I could have told you, other friends born, grown old, and died. And there will be more stories yet, and when people journey to the stars I will be with them and tell to them my tales so they will not forget, but the time of the bluebirds will be the time I remember best, the time I most cherish.

Once upon a time,

ALLa long time ago,
For that's the way these stories go,
Once upon a time, a sigh across the years,
Initials in a stone, a reflection in a tear.

LIZARDGoodnight.

END OF PLAY

1995 Eric Pettifor


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