Chapter 1: Act 1, Scene 1
In which our protagonist, Shakow, is introduced.
SCENE I. City of Nyx. A Street.
Enter SHAKOW, wearing his mask, also two LOWBLOODS.
Hark! Look, boy! That is Shakow, the Demon Jester!
Why, how queer. I've never seen such as this one before.
What strange dress, too! I only thought the Subjugglators wore such purple.
Oh, but he is one of those! And one quite dangerous.
They say he forgoes the elixir of his kin, and is a deadly fighter for it.
A poor choice of enemy, in other words.
I've looked through this market for hours!
Is there no-one who sells food here?
I thought trolls had come at least this far!
Enter a third lowblood. Actor must be green or close.
Oh, no worry, sir, I sell foods here.
The ripest in Nyx, fruits from across the empire.
Very good. And you take the coin of purples?
I take the coin of whoever I can.
Then I believe I shall sample your wares.
Hmm, this crabble is shaped odd.
Why, I- My Gog! This fruit is quite rotten!
I did say it was the ripest in the city. Ha ha!
But now that I've entertained you, here. Have my best.
Only the best for a highblood like yourself.
I think not.
SHAKOW stabs the merchant through the shoulder.
Augh! My arm!
You have two. Be thankful I left one.
I do not wish to waste coin on the trade of a clown.
Then why do you dress such, if you'll pardon my asking?
SHAKOW withdraws his dagger from the merchant.
I am no clown. I am a jester.
Far more dignity, and far less stupidity.
If I say you aren't funny, you aren't;
And I should think that your pun on overripeness was the unkindest of all.
I should think that a subjugglator would have a sense of humor!
Why bother to call yourself one, if you are so unhappily bent?
I decide what is funny.
And at my expense, I would reckon nothing so.
SHAKOW slits the merchant's throat, and leaves him to die. Exeunt SHAKOW, laughing.
I trust that you understand now.
Oh, I do.
If I ever saw a troll in dire need of a moirail,
He was that troll.
Is that a proposition I hear?
Ha, no, my friend.
I have not a shred of pity for such a creature.
I pray he finds one who has soon, or his kin may have to calm him.
And I would not wish that horrid "calming" on anyone.
Chapter 2: Act 1, Scene 2
In which Shakow reflects on his life, at the insistence of his doppelganger, Shacoe.
SCENE II. City of Nyx. SHAKOW'S hive.
I cannot say I miss the chaos of Nyx,
Which fails to pierce these walls.
No auspistices to meddle with, and no moirail to fret over.
No matesprit to resent, no kismesis to dread,
And no drone who'd dare trouble me. Why bother?
Enter SHACOE, in drab clothing.
Because you are lonely.
Bah, what would you know of my loneliness?
You never dare speak outside this hive, for fear I'd silence you.
What could you know of my affairs?
I know enough.
I know that you want someone you can call "friend,"
Or at the very least someone who does not dread your sight.
And I know that nowhere in Nyx could we find such a person.
So I say once again:
You are lonely.
So I am lonely.
Admitting that, how do you plan to act on it?
I thought you would be my better half,
And instead you are a frightened child.
Is it possible I could be both?
You certainly have not gone looking for a moirail,
And in one's absence, you must make do with your addled mind,
Which of course is the curse of all of our kin.
Moirails with myself? Now, that's just stupid.
But to this end, I've listened,
And heard things you've ignored.
Go east, worse half. You'll find your desire there.
And I shall not trouble you along the way.
What lies east? Tell me!
But that would spoil the joke.
I thought you loved jokes, other half.
And I find this one quite hilarious.
Exeunt SHACOE, laughing.
That's not funny!
Chapter 3: Act 1, Scene 3
In which Shakow sets out for the eastern wilderness, and meets the Blind Prophet.
SCENE III. City of Nyx. Outskirts.
Enter SHAKO and the BLIND PROPHET.
Hark, my good subjugglator. Where be ye off to this day?
East, fair prophet, on the advice of an acquaintance of mine.
Ah, your hallucinated brother. I see.
I did not say that.
You are of the Grand Highblood's line! Even I can discern as much;
And if you professed no trouble of the mind, you would be a liar.
Those of the violet humors are not abounding in friends,
And so the only one who could tell you to journey east would be yourself,
The part which listens rather than ignores.
Your words mean nothing to me, old man.
You babble, and in that babbling, you think yourself erudite.
Oh, am I babbling?
Or perhaps you will not allow yourself to understand.
My mind is quite unsullied by the sweeps I have lived.
And how tragic it is that yours is far more broken than mine will ever be.
Leave me, old wretch!
You take it upon yourself to irk me?
Then well done! I am irked;
But if you are trying to joke at my expense,
I can read your future myself:
Filled with equal parts violence and brevity.
No troll makes light of the Demon Jester.
Fair enough, good Jester,
But I was sent with a prophecy of my own.
You head east, correct? Then beware;
Your kinsmen threaten the treasure you seek.
If you will not stand against your brothers,
Your prize in the east is lost, and you with it.
I have no love for the subjugglators.
Let them appeal to our blood, and I shall spill it,
As I have done to all those who present themselves obstacles in my path.
So your prophecy is unneeded.
Goodbye, fair Prophet.
And so he left, with no heed to my warning.
And though he would find his dear prize well indeed,
He would have no inkling of how close he'd come,
Not just to missing, but destroying his gem.
It was this rage for which was writ my prophecy.
If he failed in this journey, the whole world would find him,
And in his blind fury, he'd run to his death.
Pay close attention, friends, to our boy Shakow.
When his gem finds him, all will be clear.
Chapter 4: Act 2, Scene 1
In which Julise is introduced, fleeing from a band of angered Subjugglators.
SCENE I. Wilderness. A Field.
Enter JULISE, young, and holding a Felixis lusus.
Marcki? Are you here?
Enter MARCKI, badly hurt.
Yes, Julise. I'm still alive.
Barely! We need to get you to the doctor!
No, Julise, I'm certain my time is through.
The subjugglators will arrive any minute,
And I must wrest every second I can for your escape.
Why are you protecting me? Is it love? Pity?
Or have you finally run out of things to live for?
Perhaps, my dear, it's a bit of all three.
Now, run! The highbloods approach!
There but for the Empress's grace go I, my friend.
Bubsi, you must leave as well.
JULISE sets down the Felixis, which runs away.
Whatever happens, you must be safe.
Seven sweeps was not enough for us,
But I cannot suffer another death on my hands.
Exeunt JULISE. Enter the PROPHET.
Our gem flees. Flees to the west, no doubt.
She has no plan. She aggrieved a highblood,
And with that aggravation, doomed herself.
She runs quickly, but her friend's sacrifice will only buy her so much time.
She must find her fated one in the wilds, before she herself is found.
If the subjugglators can catch her, they will kill her.
And indeed she will be caught by one. But which?
Chapter 5: Act 2, Scene 2
In which Shakow and Julise meet.
SCENE II. Wilderness. The Nyxian forests.
Enter JULISE and SHAKOW. SUBJUGGLATORS can be heard yelling off-stage.
Hark, little girl! Where run ye,
As if the legions of Heaven were loosed after thee?
I cannot stay and speak, good sir;
The Highbloods are after me, and I must make haste.
Nonsense. Sit a spell and talk to me,
I have been traveling many days, and I wish for some company.
I must decline, sir. I cannot stop for but a brief minute.
The legions of heaven are indeed upon me,
And if you wish to live as well, you will flee as I do!
Enter the SUBJUGGLATORS. One has a hand covered in red blood.
Oy! Where be the wench? She cost us much good paint, burning the bodies we took!
Those were my friends!
Ay, there she is.
I'd recognize ye anywhere, dirtblood.
Now come along with us, and we'll finish inking our masterwork.
Hoy there, brothers.
What business do you have with this girl?
Oh, look. The outcast.
Why venturest thou from the prison we put you in, brother?
Have you finally realized you lack that sense of humour we boast?
Or did you just become restless, like the rest of us never do?
Either way, it only proves what we have said of you.
I came on counsel from a blind Prophet,
Who said a great treasure be hidden in the easterly wastes of Nyx,
And that it were at risk of ruin by your hands.
So tell me, do you plan on defiling any tombs this fair evening?
Nay, fair Shakow.
All we aim on breaking today is yonder dirtblooded wretch.
So give her over, and we'll leave you be.
JULISE runs to SHAKOW, trying to shelter herself from the Subjugglators.
Please, sir! I beg you! Don't leave me to these barbarians!
Watch yourself, peasant.
You presume the favor of Shakow, the Demon Jester.
And presuming anything of me is a dreadful mistake.
Enough talk! Give her to us!
My other hand wants for color!
I beg of you, good sir!
Your brothers seek to spill the blood of an innocent!
Would you suffer them to rage across the wastes of Nyx,
As they have done for sweeps on end?
Have you no justice in you? No pity?
It's apparent you have never heard of me,
Nor my reputation as the Demon Jester.
I care nothing for anyone save myself.
And if you wish to appeal to my mercy, you are sorely mistaken.
Brothers, take her.
I am finished talking.
The Subjugglators begin to exit with JULISE in tow. Shakow begins exiting opposite them.
No! No! Please!
Take pity! I beg of you!
Don't leave me!
I changed my mind.
SHAKOW flings a card into the Third Subjugglator, downing him.
Leave her alone, brothers.
Shakow claims this one.
Be off, outcast!
We laid claim to her first!
Did you not hear me the first time?
I say unto you, this woman is under the protection of the Demon Jester!
Harm a fiber of her body, and vorpal sword and razor card shall be your doom!
Now unhand her!
The Subjugglators drop JULISE. Exeunt the second with the third's body.
You have made enemies afresh today, Shakow!
The Grand Highblood shall hear of your treachery!
I swear it!
Exit First Subjugglator.
Thank you, sir.
My pleasure, m'lady.
Come with me. I know of a safe haven.
Permit me one question,
Before I follow.
Why did you allow them to pull me so far,
Only to save me at the last moment?
It was funnier that way.
Exit SHAKOW, laughing. Exit JULISE.
Chapter 6: Act 2, Scene 3
In which Shakow and Julise introduce themselves to each other.
SCENE III. Wilderness. A forest clearing, with a long-empty fountain in the center.
Enter SHAKOW and JULISE.
Here we are, madame.
We may stop here in seclusion 'til nightfall.
And if a beast or two does find itself here,
Here it shall not stay for long.
And while we are camped here all day,
I take it introductions are due?
I do so wish to thank my rescuer properly.
Shakow climbs atop the fountain and clears his throat. He flourishes.
There walks a troll, clad in purple and black,
Colors of high blood, surely he lacks
Not a smidgen of food, nor company want,
He be Shakow the Jester, the master of taunts.
He, master of sword, and razor card both,
Recanter of sacred Subjugglator oath.
And on that sore subject, some late trolls quoth,
"He's surely doomed, blasphemer and oaf."
But not he, the madman, he walks high and proud!
He trumps his rebellion 'cross Nyx city, loud!
And gladly he romps, as none dare to stay
The dread Jester Shakow, or get in his way,
For his reputation echoes far and wide!
He strikes terror oft, and most flee and hide.
The forgiveness of highbloods is not cheap or swift,
"Does Shakow yet live? He must have a gift,
And such awesome skill must ne'er turn on me,
Do not worry, Shakow, I shan't trouble thee."
And such are the words spoke or thought all through town
While old, lonesome Shakow walks his daily rounds.
And never unwarranted, don't be deceived,
If you're just unfunny, there's no help from me.
And perhaps this opinion of mine is to blame
When I stab the dullards, as is now my fame.
Humor, of course is quite serious to me.
Tell a bomb to my face, don't expect my mercy.
But some people say I need someone to check,
Or counter my tendencies of slitting necks.
Certainly I do not see it that way.
But to sum it up, allow me to say,
That as the day stretches, and night's not drawn close,
And this string of words grows rather verbose,
And while all that 'fore now is dubiously true,
My name's indeed Shakow. I'm pleased to meet you.
SHAKOW dismounts the fountain. JULISE applauds.
And how much of that soliloquy is true?
Oh, about a half or so.
Which half, I've forgot.
A pause. SHAKOW laughs.
It is, every word, a true account.
Well, good Shakow, my name is Julise.
And until you saved me from your fellow highbloods,
My future was measured in minutes.
They sought vengeance for my unwitting ruination,
Of, of all things, their painting supplies.
I found their methods so brutalic,
I thought that certainly my friends had all been rent by great monsters.
Not, as was the case, a mad trio of Subjugglators.
Only one survived the attack, my matesprit.
And he died keeping the mad clowns at bay.
It was his blood which coated their leader's hand.
If you'll permit my asking,
What would his other hand have been,
Were I not there to keep it unsullied?
A tawny brown, leaning towards rust.
I am not a very prestigious individual, Shakow.
And I admit, I find the notion that you would risk yourself,
Saving me, quite ridiculous.
And therein lies the greatest joke of all!
Is life not simply a great absurdity, on which all our follies rest?
And does that not make all things ridiculous?
To this notion I say aye, and would drink, had I a glass.
Then pray tell, good jester.
Why were ye in the Nyxian forests at all?
Trolls only live in such places to escape,
Or worse yet, ignore, the rest of creation.
Why travelest here thou?
A Blind Prophet told me of a great treasure in the forests,
And with it, the key to my salvation from some horrible misfortune.
It was supposed to be under threat by my brothers.
But they only seemed to take interest in you and yours.
So it seems the Prophet was mistaken after all.
It would appear so.
I'm certainly no treasure.
Me, a brownblood, a treasure?
JULISE and SHAKOW laugh.
In any case, it is high time we retired for the day.
Tonight, we make for Nyx.
There, no Subjugglator will trouble you.
Exeunt. Enter the PROPHET.
And on went Shakow, heedless.
He and fair Julise would indeed return,
To Nyx, unmolested and unharmed.
But the highbloods are not so easily spurned,
And the troll, seeking his tawny ink,
Now seeks counsel of one far deadlier than he...
Chapter 7: Act 2, Scene 4
In which the foiled Subjugglators seek aid from a higher authority.
SCENE IV. Subjugglator's Lair. Throne of the Grand Highblood.
Enter the three SUBJUGGLATORS, and the GRAND HIGHBLOOD.
Hail, Grand Highblood. We seek audience with ye.
Well, you know, that's just awesome.
But you've gotta remember my terms, brah.
All these fancy audiences have to cost a joke I haven't heard yet.
Make with the funny, or I'm gonna have to get my exsanguination on.
Very well, Grand Highblood.
First SUBJUGGLATOR motions the Third towards the GRAND HIGHBLOOD. The Third steps forward.
How many rustbloods does it take to change a socket-based illumination device?
None. Rustbloods can't change anything.
Heard it before. Next!
The Third SUBJUGGLATOR steps back, as the Second steps forward.
If a red hive is made of red brick, and a blue hive is made of blue brick, what is a greenhive made of?
I hope you've got one better,
Or else ya'll will be getting an audience, for sure.
With the rest of the paint on my walls, that is.
The Second SUBJUGGLATOR retreats, as the First advances.
What is a Petticoat Seagrift's favorite element on the Periodic Table?
Never heard this one, but I'm pretty sure it's "ARR-gon".
So you lose, buddies. Let's make with th-.
It's gold, stupid.
A long pause. The GRAND HIGHBLOOD begins laughing, and the three SUBJUGGLATORS laugh with him.
I gotta remember that one!
That's the best joke I've heard in a long time, man.
You win that audience you were talking about.
Now what do you want?
You remember Shakow, of course.
Yeah, I remember him.
SUBJUGGLATORS walk with the GRAND HIGHBLOOD offstage.
It all started with a certain rustblooded apostate...