Modern Fae, Chapter 4: Tengu, Tengu, Tengu Very Much SCENE 1 [Porch of Diya’s house] (Sounds of windchimes, a gentle breeze, and then the crunching of grass/leaves as Aoife approaches) DIYA Thanks for coming over, Aoife. Y’know, we never had stars like these in Denver, not unless you went far into the mountains. And even then, the lights from the city, and the smog…well, we were lucky to see the moon, some nights. AOIFE (She’s nervous, not sure what this is about) That...sounds awful, if I’m being honest. But something tells me you didn’t just want to discuss starsDIYA We’d go camping sometimes, when my brother and I were kids, but it’s been awhile. And the stars...they’ve always seemed so fantastical to me. It makes sense that so many people throughout human history have attributed magical occurrences to them. (Uncomfortable sounds from Aoife) Great burning balls of hydrogen and helium? So massive that we can barely conceive of their size? I mean, that’s a fundamentally ridiculous thing, right? And that’s what makes me think that it isn’t ridiculous that so many ancient people saw monsters and gods up there. Because if the reality defies comprehension, then the impossible could be real. (She laughs, mostly to herself) That’s what I’m telling myself, anyway. I’ve been doing some reading, Aoife. Lots of reading. Stuff about sirens, and Sumerian deities, and changelings… (More uncomfortable noises from Aoife) And, as it happens, Tochmarc Emire.
AOIFE (Deep sigh) Well. Your pronunciation is off, but I take your point. This was always a matter of time, clever girl like you. I imagine that that’s what drew you here in the first place. Why Enki hired you. DIYA (Slightly flustered by the compliment) So...I’m right? You’re the Aoife? You fought-AOIFE (Abruptly) Don’t. Don’t say their names. Please. DIYA Okay, I’m sorry. But...everyone in this place, they’re...like you? Clio, Enki, Isi...all gods and legends and, and, and, I don’t know, magic?? AOIFE That’s the sum of it, yeah. DIYA (Breathing a little more heavily, she’s only kind of panicking) I...wow. Okay. I’m right? I’m not...seeing things? AOIFE Not anything that isn’t real, anyway! Look it’s a lot, I know. Humans take some time to adjust. DIYA But aren’t..you? Human, I mean? AOIFE (Another sigh) It’s complicated. I used to be. My story...well, it turned me into something more than I was. That’s why I’m still around, if you take my meaning. People telling my story, adding their own take to it...it all adds up DIYA But how--?
AOIFE Look, Dee, I’m probably not the best person to ask that. Your employer is better equipped to answer. I just live here. (They both laugh, even though it’s not that funny) (Aoife continues, a bit awkwardly) I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you about all of this, before. When I realized you were...not like us, it just seemed best not to dump a paradigm shift on you all at once, y’know? DIYA I like to think I would’ve taken all of it in stride, but you’re probably right...though, a warning about the twins might’ve been nice… (More awkward laughter) AOIFE Yeah, they’re-(As if summoned by their mention, there is a snap of twigs and branches, and Tok falls out of the tree at the edge of Diya’s yard, followed by Tik) DIYA JEEz--Oh. Should’ve known. How’s it going, changelings? TIK So, like, you know now. Does that mean I can have your name? DIYA Nope. TOK Does this mean that you and Aoife can finally get to-AOIFE TOK. It’s past both of your bedtimes, kids. TIK You’re not our mom.
TOK Yeah, we can do what we want and no one can, like, stop us. DIYA (In her sweetest, calmest voice) You might not have parents, kids, but you know what you do have? TIK and TOK (Only a tiny bit tremulously) W-what. DIYA (Her voice gets even sweeter) A neighbor who works in the service industry, who just started her first weekend off in weeks and found out that her entire world was a lie. TOK Upon further reflection, I, like, think we’re both tired and would like to sleep now. Okay, thanks, bye, C’MON TIK. TIK You don’t scare me, I can-(There are some more cracking twigs, and both twins, take in breath, and begin scampering away) TIK (Over their shoulder) THIS ISN’T OVER, DEE. AOIFE Nicely handled! DIYA (Somewhat concerned) I don’t think I’m what scared them away… AOIFE Oh, that was probably just a chupacabra, nothing to worry about.
DIYA ...Aren’t those dangerous? AOIFE Eh, depends. It’s getting late, though, I should get back home. G’night, Dee. DIYA ‘Night, Aoife. We should… (Takes the plunge) We should hang out again. If you want. AOIFE (Surprised, tries to hide her pleasure) Oh! Yes, I’d love to. (Sounds of Aoife walking off, Diya closing her back door. A few seconds silence, then some more cracking twigs and shuffling of leaves) SCENE 2 [Diya’s house, road, park] (Sounds of Diya running/panting, over the techno track that she’s listening to. Sound of cars going by) DIYA (Coming to a halt, panting) Flat for miles around, but there just happens to be a couple of hills on the random route I chose today? You’ve got to be kidding me. And this heat. (Sound of wood/swords clashing. Enter MR. KARASU and MR. WASHI)
MR. KARASU I’m afraid it never gets better. The heat and humidity are part of the charm of this locale! (Grunt as he smacks at Mr. Washi) Just like my companion here will never learn to defend his legs.
MR. WASHI Speak for yourself, Karasu, at least I don’t rely on unrelenting aggression. MR. KARASU Oh, please. DIYA Um, sorry, I didn’t mean to start anything… MR. WASHI Oh, don’t worry, it’s nothing you did! And my apologies, we haven’t properly introduced ourselves: I’m Mr. Washi, and that cantankerous fool is Mr. Karasu. DIYA I’m Di--I’m Dee, I mean. MR. KARASU Nice catch there. One can never be too careful, though I assure you, neither of us would betray a new friend’s trust in that way! DIYA ...Thanks? MR. WASHI Do you have a minute, Dee? We’re in need of, ah, a moderator of sorts. If you are interested. DIYA Uh, we literally just met…
MR. KARASU It’s nothing taxing, I assure you! We simply need you to settle a bet that we’ve made. MR. WASHI No strings, no nefarious intentions, just a good old-fashioned test of will and skill! MR. KARASU
And just to sweeten the pot, we’d be happy to answer a question in return. Not that someone who works at The Fount has many questions, I’m sure!
(Okay, this is that’s going
Word really wasn’t really
DIYA weird, but is it really any weirder than anything else on. I just learned that Aoife is 1000 years old, for fuck’s sake!) (Sigh) spreads fast around here, doesn’t it. Yeah, sure. I gonna finish this run, anyway. Let’s see what you’ve both got! MR. WASHI and MR. KARASU Excellent!
MR. WASHI You caught us in the middle of our match earlier, so we shall begin again. (More sounds of weapons clashing, grunts from both men, and heavy movements of feet) MR. WASHI Ah, clever, but not quick enough, Karasu! MR. KARASU Merely testing the waters, my friend. DIYA I do not understand your dynamic. MR. WASHI and MR. KARASU No distractions, please! (More weapons sounds, and grunts, until a particularly large “clash” and Mr. Karasu’s weapon goes flying away, landing with a THUNK) MR. WASHI Ah ha! DIYA
(Clapping) That was amazing! Mr. Washi is the winner, so I think that settles the bet! MR. KARASU Does it, now? Open your eyes! MR. WASHI Indeed. DIYA You had a dagger, a second weapon all this time, Mr. Karasu? Why not use it earlier? MR. KARASU I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t need it until now. In any case, this was a draw. MR. WASHI As much as I appreciate being declared the winner, I agree. Until next time! (The two men start walking away, in opposite directions) DIYA Hey, what about the question you were going to answer for me? MR. KARASU (Distantly, over his shoulder) Once a winner is declared, then you may ask your question! Meet us here at the same time, in a week! DIYA Great. SCENE 3 [Downtown Encrucijada] AOIFE (On the phone) ...just worried, is all. Please call back at your convenience. (She hangs up, notices Mustardseed hanging up flyers)
Mustardseed! It’s been a minute-how fares the most intrepid barista in town? MUSTARDSEED Hi, Eve...things have been better, to be honest. I haven’t seen ‘Cissus in weeks, and no one else has heard anything, so I figured I’d try to spread the word more. (She rustles the flyers) I just wish I was better with photoshop. And you’d think there would be some better pictures of ‘Cissus around, but his selfies are all terrible. (She sniffs) AOIFE (Sharply) Narcissus is missing too? MUSTARDSEED Yeah. What, are you missing someone, too? AOIFE You could say that. Several of my tenants have gone completely incommunicado, and evidently Icharus, y’know, Daedalus’ boy, has also disappeared… MUSTARDSEED That’s...bad. I figured that ‘Cissus had just wandered off again, like he does, but what if, what if... AOIFE You can say it. What if the Courts got him? I’ve been afraid something like this would happen, ever since they got organized. Without humans to mess with, who knows what they’ve gotten up to. MUSTARDSEED Maybe, but whether or not they had anything to do with it, they might at least know something. AOIFE
You can’t trust them, can you?! They cast you-MUSTARDSEED I know what they did. And I haven’t forgiven them for it. But what else can we do? They know everything that goes on in this place. AOIFE And nothing they say can be trusted! I’m going to keep looking into this, and I could use your help. You’ve got a good head on your shoulders. MUSTARDSEED (through gritted teeth) Eve, you might be willing to throw yourself into danger, or whatever this is. But I...can’t. I just can’t. AOIFE Fine. Take care of yourself. SCENE 4 [The Fount] NORNA Now, I know I’m just an old lady, but, really, dears, set your sights a little higher! Go out and seize your respective days! I’m never wrong about these things. ISIMUD That sounds like it would take a lot of work and also might not end well. CLIO Hey, I’m all about seizing the day, I don’t know why you’re talking to me about this. NORNA (Shrewdly) Have you asked out that barista yet? CLIO ...I don’t see how that’s relevant.
NORNA Fancy that. Well, I’ve got to be on my way. Enjoy the tea, Enki, dear. MR. ENKI Much obliged! (Sound of door opening) NORNA Ah, the new one! Dee, you have the air of someone on a mission! I hope it goes your way! DIYA Thanks...Norna. (Door closes) MR. ENKI Is it really so hard to be polite to her, you two? ISIMUD Look, the first hundred pieces of advice were one thing, but this is getting ridiculous. CLIO Besides, I’m just waiting for the right moment to ask Mustardseed out! DIYA If you guys have a minute...can we talk? ISIMUD We haven’t played any bookstore games in weeks, I swear! Any property damage was Clio! CLIO HEY. Okay, you’re right, but still-DIYA (Cutting over their bickering) This whole town is magic and you guys are all ancient gods and myths, aren’t you?
(Beat) Right? CLIO Busted… MR. ENKI I knew there was a reason I hired you, my dear. You are, of course, correct. ISIMUD (muttering) I told you there was no point in hiding it. DIYA Well. Thanks for at least answering honestly. I gotta say, there’s a lot about you guys in some of the books in the back. CLIO Researching us, huh? Go figures, that’s par for the course-MR. ENKI CLIO. DIYA (suspicious) Is this about the last manager? ENKI and CLIO (simultaneously) CLIO Yes. MR. ENKI NO. DIYA ...Right. CLIO Screw you, man. She deserves to know. At least the basics.
MR. ENKI But-ISIMUD She’s right. I don’t want to see another person get pulled under. MR. ENKI Well. Neither do I, but surely we know better now, and can protect her? CLIO She deserves better-DIYA I’m right here. Please stop talking about me like I’m not. What the hell is going on? CLIO Okay. You know who I am, now, right? Who I really am? DIYA Muse of history, yeah? CLIO Yes. So, that being the case, we need to go back a little ways. Cover the SparkNotes version. DIYA Okay… CLIO (Speaking rapid-fire) As you’ve figured out, pretty much everyone who lives here is some sort of god or being or whatever that you humans have told stories about. That power, the way humans tell stories, it’s what keeps us going, literally. All of your creativity and passion, faith and inquisitiveness, your ability to tell permutations on myriad tales, that’s what fuels us and our power. Without y’all, we’d be practically nothing. And, well, it’s hard to explain, but...the Fount is kinda the conduit for all of that. It channels all of your collective human-ness and amplifies it.
ISIMUD It’s why the back room is so...extensive. It literally holds the entirety of the collective knowledge of this planet. DIYA (Entirely unsure of what to make of that information) ...Ah. And what does this have to do with your last manager? ISIMUD The long and short of it? He became the official guardian of all of this. Part-way between humans and...us. And he. Well, he decided to take some things into his own hands. The what isn’t important, really. He pissed off the wrong people, and they killed him. DIYA I...He was murdered?? CLIO He jumped in too fast, Dee. That’s why we were...reticent with you. We didn’t want you to feel, I don’t know, pressured to do what he did, or anything. DIYA Okay, I can--I can appreciate that. But if there are people in this town who have it out for me, I would’ve liked to know… MR. ENKI I assure you, you’re not in any danger! Collin was reckless, and you have already proven yourself to be anything but! CLIO (under her breath) I don’t know if I would say that… (Louder) Look, we’re not asking you to...take over from where Collin was, or anything. He chose to be the guardian, but you don’t have to. DIYA I...still don’t know what that even means???
ISIMUD And you don’t need to, at least not right now. The point is, you know now, and you know why you need to be cautious. Just...keep doing what you’re doing, okay? DIYA (She thought this was all going to help her make sense of things. It did not) Oh...kayyy. Yeah, yeah. Uh, I can do that. Um. I need to process. I know I had a shift today but-MR. ENKI Of course, of course. Take the time you need. DIYA (hurrying out the door, door opens as she says it) Thanks. SCENE 5 [The park] (More of Diya’s techno running music, Diya huffing as she runs) DIYA Just...a few...more...steps...Yes! (More deep breathing) MR. WASHI Ah, Dee, you made it! MR. KARASU Good, good. MR. WASHI How was your week? DIYA Oh, you know. It was fine. MR. KARASU Enough with the pleasantries, on with the contest! MR. WASHI (To Diya)
I apologize about him. DIYA It’s fine… MR. KARASU I will make no apologies! MR. WASHI Then perhaps it is time that I finally beat you. (Sparring sounds, it is even more grandiose than last time, Diya oooh and ahhhs. The two men grunt and huff) MR. WASHI Oh, stop being childish, Karasu. MR. KARASU Only if you stop with this ridiculous façade of never attacking first! MR. WASHI Ha! It’s no façade. You think not attacking first means I won’t give as good as I get? MR. KARASU Of course. But what does our judge think? DIYA UmmmMR. WASHI Not relevant in this moment! All that matters is which of us wins the day. MR. KARASU Oh, I suppose… (Renewed sparring noises, getting stronger and harder until both weapons snap. Diya gasps) MR. KARASU (Spitting) Back to basics, then?
MR. WASHI Flesh against fleshDIYA TAKE it easy, you two!! That’s enough! (Pause) MR. WASHI You’re right, you’re right. MR. KARASU (Breathing heavily) Yes, yes. Quite correct DIYA So that was another draw. The answer is that you are equally matched by each other. MR. KARASU Far from it! We may have lost our weapons, but the fight wasn’t over! You stopped it, and you were right to do so. We both...lost control. MR. WASHI Indeed, indeed, dear Karasu. DIYA (Slightly frustrated) I..guess. MR. WASHI Same time next week, then! See you then, Dee! And do try to keep everything under control! DIYA (muttered, walking away) Sure thing. (Outside sounds, walking. She stops, sound of paper ripping)
DIYA I keep seeing these flyers. That’s-that’s the guy who was working in the coffeeshop. ‘Cissus, Mustardseed said. Wait. Narcissus. Of course, he couldn’t take his eyes off his reflection...But missing? What does that even mean, here? How does a millenia-surviving being of legend go missing? (She starts walking again. Sound of Aoife taking the trash out) AOIFE Oh! Hey, Dee! DIYA (Mildly startled) H-hi! Hi Aoife. Wait-is this your house? AOIFE (Slightly bashful) Um, yeah, yeah it is. I like being near the park. DIYA (A little bit teasing) I was beginning to think that you just popped up whereever you’re needed most, like you just exist everywhere. AOIFE (Awkward laugh) Sometimes it feels like it. What’re you up to? DIYA Oh, just finishing up a run. AOIFE Ah. Well, hope it goes well… (Brief pause, Diya stays put) DIYA ...But? AOIFE It’s just...there are some...bad things going on.
DIYA Disappearances? Yeah, I just saw the missing poster for Narcissus. AOIFE Yes. And he’s not the only one. Just...careful okay? Um. I could. I could go running with you, if you want? (Hastily) Or not! I know other trustworthy people I could get you in contact with, too! DIYA (She’s blushing a bit, tries to hide the affection in her voice) No, I’d like that, I would. Next weekend? AOIFE It’s a date! (Realizes what she just said) I mean, it’s, it’s just-yes, that works! See you around, Dee. (Under her breath) Get it together, Aoife! DIYA (Giggling) See you later, Aoife! SCENE 6 [The Fount] (Diya, Clio, and Isi discussing the reports of missing people) CLIO Honestly, I’m not worried too much. A lot of the people who’re gone, well, they don’t exactly have a reputation for sticking around in one place for very long. ISIMUD Still, though. I’m not gonna risk it. I’m going to sleep here from now on. Get all my meals at Bean There. Seems safest.
CLIO Hey, you do you, but if this place starts smelling like your apartment, there will be a reckoning. DIYA I’m sure it’s not that big a deal, right? You’re all magical and ancient and, like, powerful! ISIMUD If only… CLIO I mean, yeah, Dee, but so is everyone else. And some people are more...ruthless than others. (Door opens and closes and the twins walk in, in the middle of a conversation) TOK -been ahead for, like, 500 years. The amulets have never stopped working, we’re gonna be okay, dude! TIK I dunno. I’m not going back, Tok. Never. DIYA Hello, kids. What brings you here? Where are you never going back? My house, I hope. TIK We’re looking for books, Dee. Unless your...name happens to be lying around here somewhere? DIYA Slim chance. TOK We’re not doing anything, like, wrong. Just wanted to come in and say hello. CLIO What’s up, twins. It’s been a spell.
TOK Oh, hello, Clio. How’s Mustardseed? CLIO (Muttered) None of your business. (Door opens again, slow, measured, almost too loud and precise footsteps come in. This is NEAL WATSON, a human assassin employed by the Courts. Isi, Clio, and the twins all draw sharp breath) DIYA (Oblivious to everyone’s reactions) Hello! Do you need any help with finding something today? NEAL WATSON (In a silky voice) Good day. And yes, I was hoping you could direct me to any copies of...Gray’s Anatomy that you might have? DIYA Oh! I think we’ve got a few copies in the back, just a second. NEAL WATSON Take all the time you need. (Footsteps and door opening and closing) DIYA Hey, Fount! Got a copy of Gray’s Anatomy? (Two thumps) Ah, thank-Oh, very clever. “Guide to someone who has everything.” You’re a riot. At least you gave me the thing I asked for, too. (THUMP) I’m not gonna pick that up, you know. (Footsteps as she leaves and door opening and closing)
NEAL WATSON -to come with me. TIK (Hissing) Never, we’re never going to. TOK STAY. AWAY. ISIMUD Get out, man. DIYA I’ve got the-What’s going on? NEAL WATSON (Smoothly) Nothing. Just a small misunderstanding. CLIO (Snorts) Everything is...fine. DIYA Oh-kay...I have a copy of Gray’s. Cash or credit? NEAL WATSON Credit, please DIYA Okay, that’s $55. (Sound of card swiping, receipt printing) There you go, have a nice day. NEAL WATSON And you.
(More sharp footsteps and door opening and closing) DIYA Okay, what was that? ISIMUD Trust me, the less you interact or know about him, the better. (Tik is panting, almost hyperventillating) DIYA I-Tik! Are you okay?? TIK (Falsely positive) I’m okay! I’m totally, like, fine! TOK Nice seeing you, Dee, see ya! (The run to the door. Door opens and closes) DIYA What’s going on?? Guys, c’mon, I’ve had time to process, who was that? CLIO He’s an...enforcer. For the Courts. DIYA The Courts? Like, the town courthouse? They have enforcers? ISIMUD No, the Courts are Fae. They didn’t used to be involved in government. DIYA So...they’re dangerous? CLIO Just stay away from them. Just don’t cross them. It’s not worth it. Trust us, Dee, please. You don’t want to get involved with them.
DIYA ButCLIO Please, Dee. DIYA (Pause) Okay. Okay. SCENE 7 [Outside the Fount] (Diya is looking up at the sky again, click of recorder) DIYA I thought things would make more sense when I figured out what the deal was with this place. But I guess it really is like the stars. The closer I get the more complicated and incomprehensible it gets. Courts, people disappearing...whatever the hell is going on with those two guys at the park… (She takes a deep breath, opens the door of the Fount, and walks to the back room) But okay. That’s a lot of stuff, but I know what to do now. Just...focus on researching. I’m bound to find something. Hey! Fount! What’s up, buddy. Can you tell me anything about old men who like fighting and cryptic speaking? (THUMP) Thanks, bud. Well. That lays it out rather nicely, doesn’t it. All there in the title. I think it’s time to pay Misters Washi and Karasu another visit… (Click of the recorder turning off, beeps as Diya dials Aoife) Hi! It’s Dee-wanna go for a run tomorrow morning? SCENE 8 [Outside in Encrucijada/the park] (More techno music. This time, both Diya and Aoife are running. Grunts and huffing and hard breathing)
DIYA We’ll...stop...at...the park. There’s...someting I need...to do. AOIFE Okay...What kind of business? DIYA You’ll see. (More huffing and puffing, heavy footsteps as they mount the hills and find Mr. Washi and Mr. Karasu circling each other) DIYA Good morning, friends. AOIFE Oh...these guys. Dee-MR. WASHI It hasn’t been a week yet! MR. KARASU Come back at our agreed-on time. DIYA I don’t think so...I know what’s going on. MR. WASHI Oh? DIYA You are both tengu. You protect these two hills, right? MR. KARASU I see. So, you are further along in your education than we thought. MR. WASHI Interesting. DIYA And your fight has been going on for a while, I think. I was just a-a distraction.
MR. WASHI Quite right, I’m sorry to say. Your kind are so fun to examine!
DIYA your real goal, here?
MR. KARASU Oh, we still want to know which of us is better. Which hill is better. As the only hills in the area, this is an important thing to know. MR. WASHI Our agreement still stands, by the way. Tell us which is the better hill, and we will answer a question for you. DIYA (Pause) Well, that’s simple. Both are equally good and important, for the very reason you mentioned. MR. WASHI Go on. DIYA Look, South Texas is one of the flattest places around. Any bit of topography is a blessing, and as a Rocky Mountain girl at heart, I can tell you that both of your hills are a breath of fresh air. They’re both good, they both provide beauty and differentiation to this place, and that’s worth a whole hell of a lot. To me, anyway. (Pause) So. Does that pass muster? MR. KARASU Hmph. I...suppose. MR. WASHI Yes, most excellent! I wholeheartedly agree! Excellent work, Ms. Greenberg. DIYA
How did you--? MR. WASHI Unimportant, unimportant! Now, to fulfill our agreement: you may ask us one question. AOIFE Careful, Dee. These guys work in riddles, you might not get the answer you want or are looking for… DIYA I know. I know. But there’s so much...Okay, let’s make this really simple. What happened to the last manager of the Fount? (Gasp from Aoife) MR. KARASU You are sure that this is the question you wish to have answered? DIYA Yes. MR. WASHI Very well. (Magicky sounds, whooshing of wind, beating of immense wings(?)) MR. WASHI This is your answer. DIYA It’s...a book. It’s always a book, isn’t it. MR. KARASU It is more than a book. DIYA “Journal of Collin Devereaux: a New Eternal Database.” This belonged to the former manager. MR. KARASU Quite so.
MR. WASHI Take care and be well, Ms. Greenberg. It is easy to spin out of control from here on out, stay the course. (More wind, and beating of wings, and they are gone) DIYA Well, that was fun. AOIFE ...I think we have different definitions of fun. SCENE 9 [Outside Diya’s house] (Diya wearily walking up to her door, intercepted by the twins) TOK Well, well, well, if it isn’t the manager Clio was gushing over earlier. TIK Practically flooding our ears with compliments, wasn’t she? DIYA Good night, kids. Let’s hope that that enforcer guy doesn’t show up, huh? (The twins are immediately furious) TIK DON’T JOKE ABOUT THAT. TOK If you knew, like, you wouldn’t say things like that! TIK We thought you were better than this. DIYA Okay, okay! I’m sorry, that was uncalled for on my part. TOK It, like, totally was, but I forgive you.
TIK Can I have your name as an apology? DIYA Nope. (She opens the door, and a rush of water bursts out over her lower legs. The twins cackle and run away) Y’know, I should’ve seen this coming. END CHAPTER 4