The second act. Read the entire thing if you want a better understanding.
Scene Three: Blazing Hopes
Curtain: The Turquoise Salamanders (minus JULIET) stand outside of a burning warehouse, looking terrified/angry/tearful. LEXIE clutches a teddy bear. GEB is trying to calm everyone down. DIEGO is making snide remarks. JAZ is shifting from foot to foot, looking nervous.
Geb: Shhh. Lexie, it’ll be alright. Mr. Cuddles and I will take care of you.
Lexie: I know, but where will we stay? Our home is gone, and Juliet isn’t even here to help me. Matt’s gone too.
Jaz: It’ll be fine, Lexie. We can always find somewhere else to go. You know we always make it through, no matter what.
Diego: But what if we don’t?
*Lexie begins to cry*
Geb: Don’t say that. Everything. Will. Be. Just. Fine. I’m certain of it—and Juliet will be here soon. You’ll be more optimistic then.
Diego: *sigh* I still don’t believe you, but you are the leader-man for a reason, I suppose… even if you are wrong most of the time.
Geb: Well, Diego, I’m right on this. Deal with it. I know you are jealous.
Lexis: *sniffles* I still want Julie to be here. She’d tell us stories about magical faeries and rainbows that come out of the land of storms.
Jaz: Well, Juliet isn’t here, so I’ll tell you a story.
Lexie: Really? Geb: Oh, bother
Jaz: Really, really. Once upon a time there were three ostriches. One was a pirate, the other was a ninja, and the third was just interesting in making a living. Naturally, the pirate and ninja ostriches were fighting—
Lexie: I like Juliet’s stories better. *cries harder*
Jaz: Sorry. It isn’t my fault I’m telling you about ostriches instead of invisible pink unicorns. Anyway, while the great pirate/ninja/ostrich battle was going on—
Juliet: The invisible pink unicorns lived happily ever after.
Juliet: What’s going on? Why is our warehouse burning?
Geb: We don’t know. I came home and it was like this.
Jaz: I heard footsteps from the bottom of the building and went downstairs to check it out, but I smelt smoke—
Lexie: Then she yelled at us to all come down because Matthew was missing, and she thought he might have started—
Jaz: But then I saw a tall tophatted figure, and I saw Matthew, and he was screaming, and it was horrible—
Geb: What do you mean! You never told me!
Jaz: I never told Lexie either. I didn’t want to frighten anybody. *cries*
Geb: It’s OK Jaz…. But next time tell us what’s going on.
Jaz: Fine. I will.
Geb: Good. Did you see anyone else, or was the smoke too thick?
Jaz: The smoke wasn’t too thick, but I was so scared that I ran back up and tried to get everyone out.
Geb: Even better. Are we all here?
Juliet: *head count* Yes—I made sure. Except for Matthew – he is still missing.
Jaz: Will we have to leave him?
Geb: I don’t know. Will we, Jules?
Juliet: No. I’ll go in and get him. There’s an address on Sterling Street that we can go to if we—
Geb: Is it abandoned?
Juliet: No—go to Cyra Alabaster’s Soup Parlor and say that Juliet of the New Moon Society sent you and that you are the Turquoise Salamanders—
Diego: Wait. Won’t they turn us in?
Juliet: No. I trust Cyra.
Jaz: She better be as accepting as you say she is….
Juliet: Look, trust me or not, but Matthew is still stuck in the burning building, and I need to go and get him. Also, the longer we stay here, the more likely it is that we’ll be discovered. Go! Run!
*everyone but Juliet exits, stage right*
*Juliet throws her hand in front of her face and opens the door to the building*
*enter Gregory, stage left—he is carrying the body of Matthew*
Juliet: You—you coward! You killed Matthew!
Gregory: No, my dear, the boy is simply injured—and not fatally at that. I plan on collecting my fifteen Aurums with the boy intact, or nearly so.
Juliet: But—why? I thought you were against the Council!
Gregory: Ah, I am, but I’ll do whatever pays.
Juliet: You—monster! *attempts to snatch away Matthew*
*Gregory dodges, pulls out a knife and presses it to Matt’s throat*
Gregory: No, I’m afraid I need my paycheck, and it will be cashed dead or living.
Juliet: *backs off* Why did you come here? How did you know?
Gregory: The how is simple—I tracked the Petras Clairesse gave to you—
Gregory: Don’t argue, little one. Clairesse meant no harm. She simply wished to perform an act of charity, innocent as she was. I am the sole conspirator behind this plot.
Juliet: What caused you to place the tracking spell in the first place?
Gregory: For other, undisclosed reasons…. or rather I had some suspicions that she was smuggling in her fur coats from illegal sources, and I wanted to turn her in as well. However, the spell proved useful in other instances…. such as this.
Juliet: Please, Gregory, let Matthew go. I’m worth more than he is.
Gregory: Don’t you want your other question answered.
Juliet: What ‘other question’?
Juliet: Very well, I’ll humor you. Why?
Gregory: Thank you. Well, frankly, I was once a very rich man. I had connections, money, and jewels, anything one could want. I had everything, and yet nothing.
Juliet: Do not speak to me of nothing. I have lost more than you suppose a mortal soul could, and have recovered each time. How dare you moan of your own troubles while you wreak havoc on the lives of others less fortunate than your own—?
Gregory: Quiet, girl, or I’ll kill the child.
Gregory: Very well, I shall proceed. See, I was a wealthy man, who had everything, and yet did not appreciate the virtues of life. My life was a hollow shell, filled only with empty promises and bloody money—
Juliet: See, you keep contradicting yourself completely! How can you discuss the woes and terrors of currency and then turn around and hurt children for the same thrice accursed item?
Gregory: *slits Matthew’s throat* Do I have your attention now, darling? Now there, don’t scream, or you’ll be next.
Juliet: *shaking* You—you—a—a—
Gregory: Yes. Say it. I’ve killed many people. Just, please, don’t scream. It would be quite unnecessary and displeasing.
Juliet: You killed Matthew. He was only five. For that, I wish you to burn for eternity, condemned for your hideous crimes against life itself. I shall insure your suffering, if I have to, but vengeance will, come, make no mistake.
Gregory: I don’t doubt it. In fact, I’d appreciate the pain that you would bring.
*shocked silence from Juliet*
Gregory: It’s true. Nothing you could do to me could ever match what I have already endured.
Juliet: You… you sound like me!
Gregory: *smiles* How… unexpected. You, too, have had a surfeit of killing as well?
Juliet: No! I’ve never harmed a person in my life, let alone a defenseless child!
Gregory: Listen to yourself! You, Juliet, are a child, at an age where one should not be involved in political scandals and rebellions. Go back to your orphanage. Have a normal life. There is no need for you to continue living in this tragedy.
Juliet: I refuse to let my self flourish while those around me suffer.
Gregory: Ah! Now you sound like me.
Juliet: Then why have so many fallen at your hands?
Gregory: And, in that, lies the fundamental difference between good and evil. I kill to watch things die; to feel the rush and power that comes with my victim’s death, to taste their life force flowing from their frames, to experience the power of death. That is why I commit my crimes.
Juliet: And you believe this is a justifiable reason?
Gregory: No, not in the least. *smiles* But that is irrelevant. We come back to your question of why. I am here because I discovered the power of the Council. They taught me what it felt like to reign over all—and not with the usual methods either. With Pain. I rule with the Pain of others, and, more importantly, your own. Pain is the key to everything—Pain and Suffering. Dear Pain—the sweet touch of the knife as it breaks your fragile shell—mentally and physically—and sends down a glorious cascade of scarlet blood. And then, other’s screams as they thrash and moan, their life force ebbing from their broken frames. Pain—it drives the world, pressing on between Desire and Loss, bringing kings to their knees and paupers to the throne. However—don’t try it, little one. Never hurt yourself like that. Never commit yourself to such darkness—stay in your light!
Juliet: What—What do you mean?
Gregory: I mean that what is about to transpire is by no means your fault, and that you should not hold yourself responsible for my crimes. I beg you not to follow in my footsteps, and wish to inform you that I do not begrudge your doings. Live your life fully, Juliet, and never waste it by inflicting such sadness as I have. *stabs self in the heart* I shall be remembered….
*Juliet screams loudly and prolongedly*
Juliet: No, no, you can’t be dead, either of you! *touches hit of knife buried in Gregory’s chest* No, you have to live…. even a horrific …. grawlix….. like you has the right to live! And Matthew, sweet Matthew! How could you have perished so callously? And at the hands of one so troubled? Alas? What does this world have left to give? Save me… please…. save me…
Cyra: By the night’s eyes! Juliet, what happened?
Juliet: It was horrible…. Gregory… he killed Matthew… he set fire to my home…. And then he died. Even he deserved to live! Can’t we help him?
Cyra: No, Juliet. We must leave the traitor to his decision. Come let us leave this thrice-accursed place!
Juliet: No! There has to be something we can do… Take him to a medical center…. Pray for his deliverance…. Something.
Cyra: No, darling; it would be a dishonor to the suicidal man. The best we can do is let him die in peace.
Juliet: But what of Matthew?
Cyra: Leave him, darling, he will have an awesome funeral pyre and will awake with the angels. Juliet, there is nothing we can do now. Come; let us leave this place of burning fire and blistering night.
Juliet: Oh, very well. *tears resume* *exit Juliet and Cyra, stage right* *pause*
Eithne: Useless pawn. At the first sign of guilt he just shrivels up and dies…. I guess they just don’t make henchmen like they used to.
Gregory: You! I’ve given everything to you! How can you sit back and let me….
Eithne: Like that, Gregory. Like that. *laughs* I suppose I should leave now. There is nothing else for me here. *yanks dagger out of Gregory’s chest* *exit Eithne*
Scene Four: Simple Realizations
Curtain: Same set as scene two, save the Turquoise Salamanders sit around the counter, eating fresh bread, while Cyra and Juliet sit behind the counter. Juliet is still crying. Geb sits on a stool, attempting to comfort Lexie and Juliet.
Geb: It couldn’t have been that bad, could it? I mean… Matthew might have gotten out…
Juliet: NO! I saw him, bloody and dead. He was definitely gone when I got there. And the worst part is, the killer…. *sobs*
Lexie: *wails* I’m not happy until I see Matt again!
Cyra: Shhh, Lexie, Matthew is happier now. He is with Our Lady in Paradise and is fine. In fact, he is better off than us. But, frankly, you won’t be seeing him for a while. So, think, what would he like for you to do to remember him?
Lexie: He’d… he’d want me to draw a picture for him so I could always remember what he looked like.
Cyra: *hands paper and crayons* That is a good thought, Alexandra. Let us do that.
Juliet: But they’re still dead! And it’s all my fault. We have to do something to help!
Diego: Who’s ‘they’? Did someone else die, aside from Matt? If so, who?
Geb: Yeah—but don’t blame yourself Julie.
Diego: Unless you were the one who threw them both in the fire.
Cyra: Diego! Juliet is in obvious distress right now. There is no reason for you to add to that.
Diego: What? She said it was her fault.
Cyra: Well, it isn’t true.
Diego: Honestly, how would you know?
*Juliet begins to cry involuntarily louder*
Geb: Look, now you’ve set her off again. You need to be nicer.
Juliet: I’m fine. Stop arguing—it only makes things worse.
Cyra: She’s right. You should all go upstairs to my attic and take a break. I’ll discuss things with Juliet.
Jaz: I need to stay with my friend.
Cyra: I’m sorry, Jasmine, but I think it would be better for me to talk to just Juliet right now.
Jaz: *sigh* OK, Mrs. Alabaster, I’ll go.
Diego: Hey, sorry about that, Jules. Didn’t mean to make you upset.
Juliet: It’s OK. *wipes back tears*
Cyra: You’ll be fine, honey, you’ll be fine.
Juliet: I know. It’s the now that I can’t handle. I’ll get through; I’ll get through; I’ll get through; I know I will.
Cyra: Good. Just keep repeating that.
Juliet: I will… It was just so horrible when he died! He was just there and then…. He was dead. He killed himself. How could anyone, no matter how dimwitted, choose to do that? How could he come to terms with himself enough to do that? Didn’t he have some brave purpose in life?
Cyra: Perhaps that was the scum’s purpose—to die.
Juliet: Don’t say that! Everyone has a destiny to be fulfilled—his might have been solely to betray us to the Council, but he had to have a destiny. Death is too mundane for such a thing. Trust me Cyra. That isn’t the way things are.
Cyra: You are correct. I am probably wrong to question the ways of life… However, I refuse to deny that I’m rejoicing the worm’s death.
Juliet: That’s almost as bad as the murder itself!
Cyra: No, it isn’t! He would have forsaken our civilization, just to get in with the Council; I don’t see what’s wrong with celebrating the passing of one so corrupt. I have spent my life striving for the ethics of culture and enlightenment. It verily pains me to notice how one could demolish my life’s work on a simple whim. I live for summer evenings under the starlight, and the whisper of autumn through barren trees. If the Council takes that away, what have I to do?
Juliet: Even the Council is incapable of rendering useless the power of the natural world. No matter what tragedy claims us, the Light will be sure to guide us back to where we were meant to be.
Cyra: It pleases me to see that you have such a deep faith, Juliet. You will go far in life—
Juliet: Cyra, can I go with you on the Summer Solstice to help retrieve the documents? Now that I have witnessed the awful power of the Council firsthand, I wish now, more than ever, to stop it. They made Gregory believe he deserved to die, and not a person in the world should feel that way. Not even a low-life creep like him.
Cyra: Of course Juliet! I’d be happy to let you accompany us. You will be an invaluable addition to what will transpire. I sincerely thank you for coming.
Juliet: Well, I’m happy to have shed one hopeful light on this downtrodden situation. What exactly is the plan?
Cyra: Well, in a nut shell, we sneak in, grab the files, and get out. You’ll probably serve to distract the guard and/or aristocrats with your “little girl lost” routine.
Juliet: What exactly are you looking for?
Cyra: Oh, not much-- just all their files on us and their plans for the next year or two. Like, I said, nothing big.
Juliet: One more question—Why the Fire Lord? Why not someone who’s reputed to be nicer, like Cresselda or Eithne?
Cyra: The Fire Lord is more bark than bite, frankly, and, while he does have some rather scary legends surrounding him, in my dealings with him I’m found him to be far less cruel than other Council members.
Juliet: True. Eithne is snobby, malicious, and vain, while Cresselda is enigmatic and frightening.
Cyra: Yes, but keep in mind that the Fire Lord is still quite dangerous and evil. You’ll need to be on your guard, Juliet. I worry about you.
Juliet: Well, thank you; I will. What are our chances of survival?
Cyra: To be honest…. we’re going to have to be very careful. The New Moon Society will prevail, because the world wills it. Life could not have been created to suffer as we have under the iron grip of the Council. We may not survive, but our mission will be accomplished.
Juliet: Yes. Our cause is greater than our oppressors. The obvious need for freedom shall not remain silenced. The Council will fall, be it through our doings, or those of another.
Cyra: Yet again, I state that I admire your faith, Juliet. It is rare for the beliefs of one so young to be so overpowering.
Juliet: Well, I don’t suppose I would have made it this far without such metaphysical dabblings. I mean—how many homicides and mass-murders have there been in the past year? The light knows me as a disciple, and treats me gentler because of such. I do not suggest that I live a charmed life, or anything of that—I have seen and lost more than the average person-- but I have a deeply embedded fate, and to ignore such would be to rend asunder the entire fabric of this world. I will fulfill my place in this universe, unpleasant though it may be at times.
Cyra: I’m touched. Plaudits and praise to you, Miss Rhodes!
Juliet: Oh, I’m nothing-- just a lot of vocabulary and emptiness.
Cyra: Don’t be so depressed—you’ll go far in life. There is much sustenance to your words, other wise you would not waste your time devoting yourself to them.
Juliet: Thank you, your words give me the strength and courage to carry on, day by day. I verily thank you for the encouragement.
*loud crashing noise*
Geb: OUCH! Diego: I didn’t to it! Alexis: Mr. Cuddles! Jaz: Ugh.
Cyra: I suppose I should go check that out. There’s some soup in the kettle if you get hungry.
Juliet: Thanks, I probably should eat something.
Cyra: Yes, you should. Then get some rest, Juliet.
Juliet: I will, I promise.
Cyra: Good. I’ll see you soon.
Juliet: *yawn* I’m exhausted…. *dim out*
Scene Five: Pall Bearing Confessions
Curtain: Same as in Scene One, except for character placement. A group of pallbearers lug Gregory’s coffin down the street, while Clairesse, Victoria, and Eithne follow. Victoria is wailing; Clairesse looks dazed; Eithne is attempting to conceal a superior smile.
Victoria: It’s horrible! He’s gone! My only true love!
Clairesse: One half-drunk confession that you were hot does not exactly amount to a heartfelt declaration of love, Victoria. Besides, there are plenty of other people out there for you. Third—stop complaining of you woes and focus on Gregory a bit. What could have driven him so such an awful state? You, Eithne—stop grinning! There is nothing to smile of today.
Eithne: But there is! There are plenty of boys out there, Victoria, and they love a tragic heroine!
Clairesse: You’re just as bad as Victoria! You only care about your stupid, shallow, little lives, and can’t emerge long enough simply to care for a dead man! That is sick—simply, simply sick.
Victoria: Oh, come, Clairesse, you ruin all the fun! Gregory wouldn’t want us to be sad forever…
Clairesse: Yes, but he would like for us to remember him fondly, and not to spend the day of his funeral in dalliance! Gregory is—was—a good man and deserves to be remembered! You shouldn’t squander such sacred times with simple talk of deranged nonsense!
Eithne: Oh, don’t spoil it. We’re remembering dead Gregory while we play, aren’t we, Victoria?
Victoria: Oh, yes. Nothing is closer to my heart than the tragic circumstances of his death. I can bear no longer the thought of his deceasement and passing.
Eithne: Oh, yes, we mourn in deepest reflection, dressed in the garbs of traditional sadness—the veils of grey and black, while you wear—white is it? Or ivory?
Clairesse: In Eastern tradition, white is the main color of mourning. Gregory was always fascinated by the philosophies of that area, so I wear pure white in his memory.
Victoria: It still seems so stupid to me.
Eithne: Yes, and besides, the Easterners are barbaric. We are more civilized, so you should not go around adopting their traditions.
Clairesse: I’ll do as I please, thank you. IN fact, I believe I’ll wear some form of white until Victoria finds another ‘one true love.’ I shouldn’t have to wait long.
Victoria: How can you say that! Gregory was the one for me!
Eithne: As if. He obviously liked me better.
Victoria: You’re joking.
Eithne: Verily, I am not.
Victoria: You—you—What did you do to him?
Eithne: That is where the rating changes.
Victoria: You horrific… *runs off crying*
Eithne: She is a bit over-dramatic, isn’t she?
Clairesse: No more than you are scandalous, dear Councilor. I hope the Salamanders steal your hair. That ought to teach you a lesson.
Eithne: My hair….
Clairesse: It is nice, isn’t it? A bit to yellow, but very nice, all the same. I hope it all gets hacked off. *exits, dignified*
Eithne: You awful twerp! My hair is not to yellow! *storms off, opposite from Clairesse*
Scene Six: Secrets of Treason
Curtain: A lovely looking park at night. Trees blossom under the mid summer moonlight, and flowers bloom under the stars. JULIET, CYRA, and the rest of the NEW MOON SOCIETY creep just off stage. An ominous building looms nearby. There is a quaint wooden and black metal bench.
Cyra: We’re all here?
Robert: *head count* Yes.
Cyra: Good. How’s everybody?
Robert: We’re fine. What’s the plan?
Cyra: All of us, exempting Juliet, go inside the Fire Lord’s complex and search for the documents containing references to us, and replace them with our own, false, information. I have a map of the building here. If we disable the booby traps as we run across them, we should make it out in one piece. There aren’t very many. I don’t think they expected anyone to be to be so stupid as to enter their lair.
Miranda: Question: Are we stupid?
Cyra: No- we’re absolutely brilliant. As we could not take magical devices within the boundary walls, I have found mundane things to counter the effects of the traps. A bit crude, perhaps, but simply marvelous, if you ask me.
Juliet: What am I supposed to do? Shouldn’t I be with you guys in case something happens?
Cyra: No. You’re out here in order to keep other people from entering the—
Juliet: No, Cyra. I don’t want to be left behind again. I need to come with you on your mission.
Cyra: Listen. You’re more high risk than any of us. Most of these people have connections, and those with cash get off more easily in the Council’s book. Besides, if we don’t come out be one o’ clock, you have to come in and save us. Sound fair?
Juliet: Yes. Miranda: No
Juliet: Come on! I want to see the action!
Miranda: Reality check: You’re ten. You don’t need to be involved in these conspiracies and miseries. I’ll take you in. You can be my ‘long lost cousin’ and we can forget this ever happened.
Juliet: No. I need to stay with the Salamanders so they can get by. Some one needs to steal them stuff, and, frankly, they just don’t make all too talented thieves.
Miranda: Darling, you can’t save them all. Just work on keeping yourself safe right now. Come home with me. I’ll make things better.
Cyra: Miranda’s right, honey. I shouldn’t have let you come along, strong though you are. You’re in more danger than any of us because you’ve already escaped them once. You know the dangers more than we do.
Juliet: Yes! And that is why I am evermore the ready to stop these tragedies. You! None of you know exactly what awful deeds the Council is capable of. Robert, Miranda, you’re only a few years older than I. Why are you here? For political rebellion? No. You are here to spite your parents; gain freedom; and to set yourself apart from the crowd. While that is all fine and good, it is no reason to take part in a rebellion. You speak of my safety—but what of your own? I am aware of the dangers, knowledgeable of the Council’s deeds. Ergo, I am, more than anyone else, qualified to join a revolt against their massive power. None of you know, as well as I, their deadly extremes, and supreme lack of emotion.
*Robert kneels next to Juliet*
Robert: Yes, but you are, by far, the youngest. I’m not claiming to be ancient or anything, but I’ve been around the block a little more than you have and, let me tell you, you have acquired more potential then I ever did. You could get a scholarship, go to college, and get out of this city! Don’t waste yourself.
Juliet: I’m sorry, but I won’t be uplifted while those around me suffer.
Robert: Very well, you are wise indeed—
Cyra: But you still have to stay outside. You have triumphed on one point though—you get to come in after us at one.
Juliet: OK. Just don’t expect me to like it.
Cyra: Again, we wouldn’t dream of it.
Juliet: Fair enough. Go before they catch you!
*NEW MOON SOCIETY runs into the nearby building*
Juliet: And here I am, all alone… *sigh* *walks over to bench*
*Thirty second pause where Juliet does Juliet-ish things*
*enter CHRISTOPHER MOLDOV*
*Christopher wanders around randomly for about a minute, holding a notebook and a quill, before he notices Juliet*
Christopher: Hello! You aren’t lost, are you? *sits down on bench, next to Juliet*
Juliet: No, I’m fine. *smiles, cutesy*
Christopher: Well then… what are you doing here?
Juliet: Just waiting around….
Christopher: On whom do you wait?
Juliet: My grandmother.
Christopher: And who is she?
Juliet: I’ve been told not to talk to strangers.
Christopher: I don’t doubt you. You look quite thin. Could I perhaps get you something to eat?
Juliet: YES! err…. Yes?
Christopher: *laughs* Of course. Wait a second. *goes off stage* *returns with two full mugs of tea, and a plate of cookies*
*Juliet grabs cookie like she’s going to swallow it whole, but then breaks off a piece and eats it, little by little*
Christopher: You know, I think you’re lying.
Christopher: You aren’t waiting for your grandmother. You’re a homeless child, hoping to seek refuge under the protection of the Council. That is the one and only reason you would be so excited about stale cookies, under these circumstances.
Juliet: Oh no, not in the least. I’m just waiting for my grandmamma.
Christopher: What’s your name?
Juliet: Annaa. Annaa Graham. *hand shake*
Christopher: Well, that’s an interesting pun. Your parents must’ve been quite witty.
Juliet: Mhm. They were.
Christopher: So, do you have any favorite toys? Or are you too old for toys?
Juliet: When I was little I had a mobile that swung around and played an instrumental Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.” I loved it. I if it hadn’t broken when I was five, I would still be listening to it now.
Christopher: So, you like music?
Juliet: Yes, it has always fascinated me, but I’ve never been given the chance to play.
Christopher: Really? I play the clarinet myself. I’m quite good at it, though I have no wish to brag.
Juliet: I’m sure you don’t. What are you doing here?
Christopher: I live here. I’m a mage, working for the Fire Lord in exchange for food and a place to stay. I’m learning lots of magic, and that, among my other lessons, is simply delightful. Do you—
Juliet: I get the feeling that you’re testing me.
Christopher: For what?
Juliet: To see how much I know.
Christopher: Verily, I’m not. I’m just making a gauche attempt to be polite.
Juliet: Very well. Might I enquire as to your name?
Christopher: Yes. I’m Christopher Moldov.
Juliet: That is a memorable name.
Christopher: Not so much as Annaa Graham, I’ll point out.
Juliet: Oh, be quiet. *sips tea* Do you like it here?
Christopher: You mean here, tonight, or here, at the compound? I’m quite happy as of the moment, and living as a mage-in-training is grand as well. There are fabulous banquets, wonderful books, and pretty much anything I could want. You get this amazingly tingly power when you exercise your magical abilities, and that is something we are quite encouraged to do. You should try casting spells every once in a while.
Juliet: Really? But I don’t know how…
Christopher: You mean you don’t know the most basic principles of magic? I learned those before I could walk! Well, here they are
#1-Never cast a spell that is greater than your physical limit
#2-Harm no innocent creature
#3-Be wary of the reasoning behind your runes
#4-Protect your honor, and that of the Council, at all costs
#5-No gluttonous magic
Juliet: Those sound like good rules to live by…except for the part about…. never mind.
Christopher: What? Tell me.
Christopher: Fine, then.
Juliet: Which rule is the hardest to follow?
Christopher: Well, the first is easy if you know how to work around it…. stopping something’s heart is easier than bashing it to death with a rock, for example—and far more humane. I’m proud to say that my dabblings in the arcane have not hurt anyone, whether they deserved it or not. Three is probably the trickiest—it is sometimes hard to judge your motives behind the spell, and all the hidden symbolism can be difficult. I protect my honor anyway, so four isn’t an issue, and I’m not lazy, so I do most things by hand, therefore complying with the last rule. How’s that for a long winded rant?
Juliet: *giggles* Very nice. You mean to say that you have no difficulties with the moral implications of these rules?
Christopher: Yes. My own beliefs are far stricter, or so I like to fancy. People tell me that I am a rather honest person, and I like to believe that they are correct. I guess I really didn’t explain about magic, just the rules around it.
Juliet: You could say that, but I got the positive message that you had to be pure of heart to cast spells.
Christopher: I wish. There are lots of stupid kids who don’t follow the codes, and just use magic to prank others. Some get really dangerous. The teachers don’t seem to mind, though, which is pretty sick.
Juliet: Yep. Typical Council behavior.
Christopher: I don’t know what you mean. The Council is fair and good.
Juliet: Then how come… never mind.
Christopher: Come on—tell me.
Juliet: I said, never mind!
Christopher: Fine, I’ll recover. Do you want more tea?
Juliet: Yes. With sugar, please.
Christopher: Absolutely. *refills cup & adds sugar*
Juliet: You know, there’s something I just don’t understand.
Christopher. Yeah. What?
Juliet: Why you ended up here in the first place.
Christopher: Well, I’m out past curfew because it’s my turn for the graveyard guarding shift…. Did any one come in while I was late?
Juliet: *quickly* No, not in the least.
Christopher: Good. I don’t want to get in trouble.
Juliet: You didn’t really answer my question.
Christopher: Oh, you meant why I was a mage in the first place… Well, when I was little, my parents owed the Council a lot of money because they had skimped on their taxes, and the debt had grown so big that a life was the only way to satisfy it. So, they gave me to the Council.
Juliet: Doesn’t that ever bother you?
Christopher: No. I’ve been told that my parents were bad people because they disobeyed the Council, and that I should be happy that I’m here. And…. I’m quite grateful for the kindness that they’ve shown.
Juliet: Kindness! Kindness…. to you and who else?
Christopher: Well, to every one else here…
Juliet: Then you’re quite lucky. The Council isn’t so forgiving to those who live outside these high, gated walls.
Juliet: Out in the city, the Council isn’t so kind. They are quite powerful, but rather unkind…
Christopher: But…. I can’t imagine the Fire Lord doing anything unjust! Or Eithne…. She truly lives up to the moral standards of the Council.
Juliet: You really don’t get out much, do you?
Christopher: No, I’ve lived in the compound all my life. How did you know?
Juliet: You’re just so trusting…. so naïve. It is funny, because of how much older you are, at least from me.
Christopher: How old are you, anyway?
Juliet: I’m ten. My birthday is two days from now.
Christopher: Wow. You’ve been around much more than I have. I’m thirteen, and at the top of my class.
Juliet: I can imagine…. with your obedience…
Christopher: *sigh* You are quite rebellious. You wouldn’t last long here. What I can’t decide, though, is whether that is good or bad…..
Juliet: It’s good. Very good, at that.
Christopher: I’m glad you think that. *pause* Shouldn’t your grandmother be here by now? What is she like?
Juliet: Oh, she’s cool. Far more ‘rebellious’ than I am, though. She gets into trouble a lot. She runs a Soup Parlor down on Sterling.
Juliet: It’s a well known street, but never mind….
Christopher: Do you live there?
Juliet: I don’t live—oh, stop asking questions!
Christopher: I’ll stop. I’m sorry.
Juliet: Oh, no problem, you’re just curious. Have you heard of the Turquoise Salamanders, or do you live under a rock?
Christopher: That is something I know about!
Juliet: *nervous* What do you know?
Christopher: Oh, just that they’ve been terrorizing the citizens of Textoverdi. We’re assigned to capture certain members of the group to question them of their whereabouts and doings. They sent one of Eithne’s students—Gregory I believe he was—and he never came back. We think the Turquoise Salamanders killed him. In fact, you look like one of the members….
*enter CYRA and NEW MOON SOCIETY*
Juliet: Look, there’s my grandmother! Got to go!
Christopher: Wait Annaa! Annaa’s grandmother and friends! That’s a restricted area! I don’t want to report you. Oh, darkness.
Juliet: I’m sorry Christopher. *smothers with handkerchief*
*Christopher falls down, unconscious*
*exit JULIET, CYRA, and NEW MOON SOCIETY*
*thirty seconds later Christopher gets up*
Christopher: Did I fall asleep on duty? Who was that Annaa Graham girl? What do I need to remember? Oh, well, I don’t want anyone to know about my failure, so I’ll just pretend this never happened.
Scene Seven: Kool-Aid Time
Curtain: Cyra’s shop at night. CYRA and the NEW MOON SOCIETY stand around the store celebrating, drinking a strange pale green liquid. JULIET sits on the counter, looking glum.
Miranda: Cheer up, Jules! Are you mad because you missed all of the action? We didn’t do that much. We just disarmed the traps and switched out the papers. It wasn’t anything big.
Juliet: No, I’m fine. I couldn’t be better. *forced smile*
Robert: Yeah, Juliet. Be happy. After all of this goes over with the Council, we’re free! We have all their plans for the next three years. Listen, Juliet, everything’s going to be just fine, and if the world’s problems are soon to be completely settled, what’s got you down?
Juliet: Just… I met this guard while you were inside.
Cyra: Oh no! Are you hurt? What did he do, dear?
Juliet: Nothing. We just talked. He was quite nice, but unbearably brainwashed. He believed the Council was kind, and completely in the right… and he convinced me, even for just a second, that he was correct, and that we were all doing the wrong thing, that my life would be better if I simply gave up the fight, and just went back to Eithne. It just felt so wrong to be there, knowing that I was working to undermine his every aspiration and desire. It was the worst thing that I had ever experienced.
Cyra: *shoos away Robert and Miranda* Darling, you are absolutely fine. What this shows to me is that you are more dedicated than ever to our cause, because you are willing to bend and listen to another’s beliefs. You constantly over-think your motives, and in that you achieve a state of mind that many aspire to, but few reach. Juliet, you are so sympathetic and compassionate that it is almost inhuman, and yet you are modest enough to call your virtues a vice. Everything is all right. You’ll come back completely to our cause, perhaps you already have, and with the strength and determination to complete this rebellion, and make a new life for yourself. The world is on your side, Juliet Rhodes.
Juliet: *wipes away tears* Thank you, Cyra. You have no clue how much this means to me.
*enter Turquoise Salamanders*
Geb: Who’s having the party? And why didn’t they invite me?
Diego: It’s a pagan worship festival—
Geb: Who’s having the party? And why didn’t they invite me?
Juliet: OK. Who put the leader-man on auto-pilot? You know he needs someone to feed him his lines.
Geb: Who’s having the party? And why didn’t they invite me?
Miranda: Déjà vu, wouldn’t you say?
Geb: Who’s having the par—OK, I’ll stop. But, really, answer my questions.
Cyra: It’s an anti-Council party, and, as you were asleep when it started, we didn’t think to invite you.
Diego: An anti-Council party? Isn’t that illegal?
Cyra: Of course—
Robert: Mind if I ask, but just who are these kids?
Cyra: They are Juliet’s friends, the Turquoise Salamanders. Gregory burnt down their hideout, so they’re staying with me.
Robert: Cool. How are you, Turquoise Salamanders?
Lexie: I’m great, and so is Mr. Cuddles. *hand shake with teddy bear* What are you doing in the Soup Parlor? Are you going to report us?
Miranda: No, sweetie, we’re all anti-Council here. In fact, I’d say most of us are honored to meet you…. and Mr. Cuddles.
Jaz: It’s an honor to be honored.
Robert: There you go! I like this kid.
Cyra: Go! Hide!
*Turquoise Salamanders hide behind the counter*
*enter Victoria and Clairesse*
Victoria: Well, hello! We didn’t think this pub would be open at this hour. I guess I’m pleasantly surprised!
Cyra: This isn’t a ‘pub’ as you so nonchalantly put it. This is a Soup Parlor.
Clairesse: What I think Victoria meant was that it wasn’t logical for such a respectable diner to be open at three o’ clock in the morning.
Robert: Well, if that was unexpected, what can I say of you two fine ladies’ presence?
Clairesse: Oh, she’s here to get drunk so she won’t have to remember the death of her one-date relationship. And, literally, the guy died. I’m here to make sure she doesn’t make too much of a fool of herself.
Robert: Very well. What would the two of you like?
Victoria: I’d like Gregory alive again, thank you.
Robert: I’m afraid I can’t do that. *pours a glass of green drink* Here you go.
Clairesse: What is it?
Robert: Kool-aid. Nectar of the Gods.
Miranda: And, no, it wasn’t electric!