Episode 20: King Fae
Jon's notes on his Episode 20 pitch:
We open on the flurry of panicked crows. We pan back to see that there are hundreds of crows all with a noose around their necks tied to a large dead tree. They screech madly as they vainly try to fly away. There is a hooded figure at the base of the tree, he lifts a white hand from the cloak and snaps his fingers. The tree and all the birds erupt in to flames and the noise is overwhelming as they panic and scream. Oddly shaped figures move shuffle around the tree in the shadows. The burning birds surround the dead tree like leaves in autumn against the dark sky. The ropes burn to ash and the birds are all released from the tree and scatter in to the night sky.
We cut to our main character; Josephine or Jo as she is usually called. She is a 19yr old woman taking a year out of University to help her ill mother. Her mother, Lorraine, is in the last stages of a terminal illness and although she gets NHS care it is not quite enough. So Jo returns to her childhood room in the Lake District to help as much as she can. Although she is clearly missing her university friends and lifestyle, Jo is trying her best in this difficult situation. Jo gets regular messages from her girlfriend Hannah, which visibly cheer her up but her mum’s health is deteriorating severely so these correspondences are clearly important to Jo as an escape if nothing else.
We go to another young adult in his room listening to music, it is night outside. We see an orange glow by their window, of which they are unawares. As it increases in intensity we see that it is a burning crow which starts to hammer against the window. The teenager sits up in shock and rips the headphones from his head. He shouts loudly in surprise at the apparition and go to the cracked window. Down on the street he can see a cloaked figure staring looking up at him. The burning crow slams against the window again, rattling the glass in its frame. The French teenager falls back then looks again through the damaged window and the figure is nowhere to be seen. After looking in vain for the figure, a low chuckle makes him turn to look back in to their room. The entire rear of the room is in utter darkness, darkness which seems to spread across the walls like mould. Out from the darkness steps the cloaked figure, as it walks forwards towards the terrified teenager. Its cloak falls away as if it attached to the spreading darkness. This reveals a tall black antlered skinless male figure, who’s taught muscles shine in the light. His flesh is the colour of a birch tree, white and ashen. He walks elegantly with arms that reach far below his waist. The teenager seems transfixed by the invader as he moves to embrace him. Its arms enwrapped the teenager and with a snarl. He holds him close as the teenager struggles but eventually succumbs the creature’s strength. As they embrace the skin from the teenager starts to discolour and go an odd clay colour and stretches unnaturally. Slowly they sink down in to the shadows of the floor, taking the darkness with them, leaving a well-lit empty room.
We catch up with Jo as she sits on her bed with her girlfriend Hannah who has come up from Manchester to see how she is. They awkwardly discuss how long Jo will be away as she misses her, but there is a clear tension in their relationship due to the new distance between them. Jo goes to kiss her girlfriend but Hannah shrugs her off and goes outside for a cigarette instead, leaving Jo slumped on her bed upset. Down the hall we can hear her ill mother coughing and spluttering.
Outside Hannah lights up, and sighs heavily looking at the sky, playing with an iron metal pendant round her neck. A flicking moving light above catches her eye. It darts across the sky but steadily gets closer. Calmly she watches it, taking long drags on her cigarette. Until eventually it slams in to the upstairs window and Hannah sees that it is a burning bird, fluttering and hitting the glass. She cries out to Jo to come down and see this, but getting no response she runs up to get her.
Hannah rushes in to the room to see the tall white skinless gentleman walking from darkness towards a dazed Jo. We see him clearer here as well as having short antlers; he is also crowned with woven thorns. Hannah screams her girlfriend’s name which rouses Jo who looks around frightened. Hannah throws a lamp at the invader, which shatters across his face. He looks towards Hannah, snarls and stretches out an elongated clawed hand. Hannah starts to move unwilling towards the monster. The clawed hand touches her chest but recoils in horror as it brushes her pendant, forcing the skinless man to retreat for a moment. Strange bestial hands reach out from the shadows around the man, grasping for the two girls. Jo grabs Hannah and they escape the house, running at full pelt down the street together. Jo screams and remembers that her mother is back there and immediately turns back, deaf to Hannah’s desperate protests. Together they head back to the house, while Hannah calls the police. They are told to wait but Jo grabs a loose brick and enters the house again. Reluctantly they creep upstairs together instead of waiting for the police, after slowly searching the house they find no one except a perfect wooden replica of Jo’s dying mother in her bed, with IV tubes and wires feeding in to the lifeless carving.
We get a montage from Jo’s POV of Hannah and the police talking to her to try and give them some idea what happened in that room. Hannah tries to convey how fucked up the guy looked who attacked them and presumably took Jo’s mother but it sounds ridiculous to the police who try their best to rationalise it. A couple of the detectives are very interested in the wooden carving left behind though and take it as evidence. Eventually they are left alone together in the house with some police officers stationed outside. Jo is still motionless as she tries to deal with what happened, Hannah is on the internet, researching and trying to find something that will shed some light on what’s happened to them. She discovers that there was a recent case involved a wooden replica of a missing teenager; this detail was not in the media reports. They only find out this detail from the father of the missing boy who has been posting on Reddit about some legend about a man who takes people and leaves carved effigies in their place. As Hannah relays this, Jo awakens from her stupor and they message the man immediately and arrange meeting him. It appears that other people have responded to this guy on the forum, all of whom has been similarly affected. Hannah says she will meet Jo there after she sorts out a couple of things first.
They meet the missing boy’s father Clive (Pertwee) and he is intense. He is an older man and slightly wrong footed by their relationship straight from the beginning. But soon he is rants about a ‘King Eveling’ who is said to hold dominion over Cumbria and invites people to his court. The women react confused at what he is trying to say as the creature they saw was a violent one who was obviously trying to hurt them. Clive gets up and leads them to his son’s empty untouched bedroom where he reveals a wooden statue of his son laying on the bed. Clive responds that his son Thomas (from earlier) and many others are alright as they are in King Eveling’s court, dancing and making merry. They shouldn’t worry because that’s where Jo’s mum is as well. The girls never told him about Jo’s mother so he has obviously been following such cases himself. He also tells him that he will help them and other people left behind to find King Eveling’s court and that they have to go by Hardknott’s pass as that is the only road there. It is clear that they aren’t the first people to contact him as he says that the burning birds don’t think about the people close to the ones they choose, but he helps them find their lost loved ones. Clive then becomes increasingly excitable, so much so that he even grabs Hannah’s arm and tells her that King Eveling may even help fix the two of them and maybe she would like Thomas once that was done, so he doesn’t get lonely. Hannah punches him and the two women rush out of there, with Clive, nursing a split lip, ranting as they leave.
They find Hardknott’s Pass in the national park and camp as close as they can. They make their way to the area, with backpacks and torches to go and rescue Lorraine. Hannah tries to broach the subject that the dying woman may not have survived being taken but Jo shuts her down and tells that she will go alone if Hannah doesn’t think this is worthwhile. Hannah, clearly hurt, says that she is committed to this and will follow Jo wherever it leads. Upon hearing this, they hold each other for a few moments before heading out.
They venture out in to dying light across the sparse landscape. Hardknott’s pass lies in a valley where a dense fog obscures their view. They turn on their torches which help to some extent, but they get an impression of animals moving around them as they go further in to the gloom. They keep walking and notice that there are large trees hanging overhead, blocking the sky. Hannah comments that Hardknott’s pass is just grassland and they must have walked too far, but their compasses and phones offer no further help. The fog thins out as they notice burning lanterns hanging above them. They notice that Hannah’s metal pendant is vibrating making it appear blurred. Ahead they see a deer with its head bowed low, Jo walks ahead to carefully approach it. As she gets closer it’s clear that the deer is furless and its skin is like that of a person, it slowly raises its head to reveal human eyes staring out of a deformed hybrid face, with tiny pin prick pupils staring out madly. It stares at Jo as tears run down its face. Hannah catches up and recoils in horror as Jo reaches out to comfort the deranged creature. As her fingers brush its twisted features it shrieks and bolts in to the strange forest.
Jo and Hannah scream and step back and swing their torches around to show that other deformed creatures have surrounded them. All of them are the same mockery of woodland creatures but with recognisable human features and skin. They all cry out and reach for the two women. As they get closer a deep mocking laugh rings out through the trees and the menagerie of deformities retreat in to the shadows but not too far. The voice now beckons them to show announce themselves to their king and his court and a line of hang lanterns flare with fire to show them the way. Jo grips her torch tightly, squares her backpack and takes Hannah’s hand and together to go to face King Eveling.
They find the mythical ruler sitting relaxed on a wooden throne with writhing sobbing humanoid figures at his feet.
“Welcome, welcome to the both of you. I am sure you would not want to offend your king by forgoing the customary curtsey, or has Albion changed so much that she raises daughters with so little respect?” He casually waves his had as them both “I will allow one of you to bow if that makes you feel more comfortable”, He says whilst grinning.
Jo steps forward, tells him to fuck off and demands her mother back. He says that Lorraine now has the honour of being part of his court in Jo’s absence, although he is happy that two such lovely girls have allowed their eagerness to compel them to bring themselves to him. He stands up, revealing his white ashen body and steps forward atop the writhing figures who moan in pain with each of his steps. Once again he demands that they show him the respect that his position demands, this time with creeping seriousness in his tone. Hannah looks around at the creeping monstrosities in the shadows and at his feet and asks the King what they are.
“Why, they are my court, my playthings. They have the duty to occupy and entertain their king”, he says smiling. “Their bodies are mine to sculpt and enjoy, as will yours be, my flower”. He beckons a
figure to his side. It’s human skin is pulled taut over a swine like body with a twisted spine and overly long limbs. It catches eyes with Hannah and mews in sobbing fear. King Eveling pulls his cloak around himself and grabs the creature’s face, he then stretches its neck and shortens its body so it more resembles some kind of giant weasel. The two women stare in horror for a moment before Jo calls him a sick fuck and swings for him with the torch. He flings the weasel creature away in to the shadows and grabs the torch, crushing it before smashing Jo backwards. She falls hard. Hannah moves forward but the Eveling grabs her throat and raises her up. He says that they have forever in his court and should not be so eager to madden their King. He carefully grips the pendant from Hannah’s neck which causes his skin to sizzle and smoke. He rips it from her and throws it in to the dark. He commands one of his courtiers deposes of that as iron is forbidden in his realm. He then throws her hard to the ground next to Jo.
“So shall we try this again girls, a curtsey or a bow will suffice”. The girls look to each other and Jo says that they will show him respect and that they also have a gift for the King. “Well shall we see what it is and then we can see if we can’t forget that little lapse just now”.
They stand, Jo spits blood from her mouth and they both curtsey before him. Eveling steps forward with his arms outstretch as if he is going to embrace them, smiling broadly. Then they unsling their backpacks and Hannah pulls out a vibrating iron arrow head and sinks it deep in to the King’s thigh. He howls in anger as Jo swings a steel wrench under his chin, forcing him back. The surrounding creatures advance in anticipation. Jo presses her attack and smashes him around the face with the wrench, making the King’s face hiss and rips with each blow. Hannah calls out that they need to know where Lorraine is but Jo ignores her and keeps smashing at his face. Some of the writhing figures turn from the floor to reveal featureless faces as they reach out blindly, grasping at Jo. This gives Eveling a moment to rally and he grabs her wrist and twists her skin and bones shattering her lower arm. The steel wrench falls to floor as Eveling snarls through his ruined face. Hannah moves forward but Eveling roars for everyone to bow to him immediately with such ferocity that everyone drops to their knees except Jo who is hanging by her destroyed arm from his hand.
Eveling pants in fury and looks around at his silent court, as the deer creature from before trots in to the clearing. It casts a look at the kneeing Hannah and through sad eyes reveals that she is in fact Lorraine. The king is speechless in surprise at one of his prisoners having the audacity to even approach him like this. The Lorraine deer nuzzles up against Jo’s dangling other hand. This distracts Eveling long enough for one of the other creatures to press Hannah’s pendant in to her hand. With this, she lungs forward and shoves the iron jewellery in to the wound on the King’s thigh. He drops Jo and howls in agony and starts frantically clawing at the hissing wound. Hannah grabs the badly wounded Jo and runs through the parting crowd of creatures. Around them the trees shake with Eveling’s pain and anger. She risks one look back as the Lorraine deer rears up and slams her hoofs down on the King and the other creatures surround him.
They escape together, but Jo’s arm is clearly beyond saving. We end on a shot of the two women holding each other as the sun comes up over the horizon. A burning crow sits on a branch watching them from a distance before flying off.