Of Thorns and Scorn, a historical black comedy from the Kingdom of Kymer.
Of Thorns and Scorn is a historical black comedy written by Agyter Pointe, Abijungya's most famous playwright, towards the end of the Kingdom of Kymer's second dynasty in 668 FC. It was written about the transition of power from the first king of Kymer, Thevenyn Houdretus, to the first queen of Kymer, his niece, Jyuneh Houdretus. The first dynasty of the Kingdom of Kymer had no formal rules in place for succession to the throne other than declaring the position hereditary. Most monarchs of this dynasty would name an heir before they died, however none of their named heirs ever ascended to the throne. Typically the monarch's successor would be the last surviving member of their family, as the periods shortly before or after the monarch's death would usually result in anyone with a legitimate claim to the throne trying to kill everyone else with a legitimate claim of their own. The Wild Roses, a secret society of elite assassins, first rose to prominence during this era since they were frequently hired by royals to off other royals during these transitional periods.
This was the first of only four plays written by Agyter Pointe. It was first performed on the streets of Kymeroi with Pointe's traveling troupe. It was an instant hit and word of the play reached King Orivan Etynotio Auberver who demanded Pointe and his troupe perform a private performance in his castle. He loved the play so much that he immediately ordered the construction of a theater in the city of Kymeroi and gave Pointe essentially full control of the Kymeroi theater. He continued putting on shows of his own plays and many others until he was executed in 721 for writing a play that was "disparaging to the Kingdom of Kymer, its king, and all of its people."
This play is well regarded within the Kingdom of Kymer for its historical accuracy and entertainment value, however the play is still considered a work of historical fiction. The Wild Roses are an incredibly secretive society and so the inner workings of the organization and its members were totally unknown to everyone, including Pointe. It is not even fully known whether all of Thevenyn Houdretus's children were all killed by the Wild Roses, or various assassin groups, though the Wild Roses claim it was all them. Because so little was known about the Wild Roses, Pointe took some artistic liberties with their portrayal. One notable idea created by Point is the fact that in his play the Wild Roses referred to their weapons as "thorns." The popularity of the play led to not only the Wild Roses adopting this terminology for real, but "thorn" became a popular slang term for a bladed weapon all throughout the Kingdom of Kymer and other parts of Abijungya.
Without any further ado, I present to you:
Of Thorns and Scorn
by Agyter Pointe
Narrator: A Faerie.
Iberis - An elvish assassin. Member of the Wild Roses.
Muscari - A human assassin. Member of the Wild Roses.
Marigold - A human assassin. Member of the Wild Roses.
Thevenyn Houdretus - First ruler of the Kingdom of Kymer. Very old, sick, and on his death bed.
Unhyret Houdretus - First born son of Thevenyn Houdretus, chosen to be his successor.
Sauvgyr Houdretus - Second son of Thevenyn Houdretus.
Troysym Houdretus - Third son of Thevenyn Houdretus.
Jyuneh Houdretus - Daughter of Vysavysa Houdretus.
Royal Advisor - An advisor to the Kymeroi monarch.
Guards - Two guards tasked with protecting a member of the royal family.
THEVENYN HOUDRETUS is lying in a bed. UNHYRET HOUDRETUS is kneeling at his bedside. They are both motionless, like statues. NARRATOR addresses the audience.
NARRATOR: In the past we set the stage, to tell the story of a long-passed age. Long before this kingdom great, A single city awaits its fate. Our first king, in bed he lies, a few short days before he dies. He summoned his first born and to him he said...
Exit NARRATOR. As NARRATOR Exits, THEVENYN and UNHYRET stop being motionless. UNHYRET is weeping.
THEVENYN: You will become king once I am dead.
UNHYRET: (Still weeping) Don't say that! You can pull through! I've searched all across Candarion for the finest doctors and potions money can-
THEVENYN: My condition is getting worse with each passing day, I fear I don't have much time left.
UNHYRET: If you just drink your potions-
THEVENYN: I have been drinking nothing but potions for weeks, but it seems they're only delaying the inevitable...
UNHYRET: (Wiping away tears) We will delay it as long as we can!
UNHYRET leaves the master bedroom and closes the door behind him. As he does, his expression immediately changes from intense anguish to complete apathy. He turns his gaze to a bottle with a pink liquid in it sitting on a table. He picks up the bottle and pours the liquid out of a window. He refills the bottle with water and then pulls out a small vial from under his shirt. He taps the vial and a red powdery substance falls into the bottle. He then shakes it up, making the water appear as pink as the liquid that was in the bottle before. UNHYRET stands in front of the door to the master bedroom and gives himself a moment to force out some more tears, and then bursts back into the room.
UNHYRET: I came as quickly as I could, father!
THEVENYN: Thank you Unhyret. Kymeroi will be in good hands once I'm gone, I know I can always count on you.
UNHYRET: Always and forever...
Outdoors, dusk. IBERIS, an elf wearing a black cloak, is riding his horse on a trail when suddenly a man wearing a similar cloak blows past IBERIS riding his horse in the opposite direction.
IBERIS: Wait... Muscari is that you?
The man on the horse stops and turns around.
MUSCARI: Well I'll be. Iberis! How are you? I don't think I've seen you since-
IBERIS: Last Ice's Reign! It's been too long! How are you?
MUSCARI: Oh, you know, up until recently business has been really slow, but I just finished this one job that’s been a really big break for me.
IBERIS: Ah, how did that go?
MUSCARI: Oh you know, same old same old. Pretty standard stuff: poison this, stab that... You know how it is... but it's nice when I get to travel for work.
IBERIS: I hear that, I'm actually off to the East Woods right now to meet a perspective client.
MUSCARI: Nice!... Well anyway I'd love to chat but I actually have some more contracts I still need to get to. After all, people aren't just going to murder themselves, am I right?
IBERIS: I mean... technically they could.
MUSCARI: Well, it's not something you can really count on... Anyway I really have to go, I guess the guy I killed was pretty important. It was hard to get away and he had a funny name. (struggling to pronounce it) Un-hi-er Hodo-re-something.
IBERIS: Wait... you just killed Unhyret Houdretus?!
MUSCARI: Yeah, that was it! I knew it was something goofy sounding like that.
IBERIS: As in Prince Unhyret Houdretus?!
MUSCARI: He was a prince?!?! (he sounds shocked, but the shock dissipates quickly) Actually, that kinda makes sense… Anyway, seeing as he was so important and all I should probably get going before the city guard catches up with me. We should grab drinks together sometime, though!
IBERIS: Yeah, absolutely. Catch you later!
MUSCARI: Unlikely, I'm never caught (winks).
Exeunt IBERIS and MUSCARI, in opposite directions.
IBERIS enters a dilapidated shack. Inside he finds a wealthy-looking man sitting in an ornate chair surrounded by guards.
TROYSYM: (Interrupting IBERIS and yelling uncomfortably loudly) I am Prince Troysym Houdretus the first! Third son of Thevenyn Houdretus! State! Your! Business!
IBERIS: Well… Murdering mostly.
THE GUARDS draw their weapons. IBERIS pulls a letter from his pack.
IBERIS: (Nervously) This is the “random run down shack in the north-eastern corner of the east woods” that was looking for an assassin right?…
TROYSYM: Guards! Bring that to me!
One of the GUARDS snatches the letter from IBERIS’s hand and hands it to TROYSYM. TROYSYM looks at it and quickly recognizes it as a letter he had sent himself.
TROYSYM: So you’re one of the “Wild Roses” hm? I didn’t expect them to send an… (disgusted) elf.
IBERIS: (offended, but trying hard not to show it) What’s that supposed to mean?
TROYSYM: Nothing. I suppose you people are good at... murdering... But you don't look like a killer.
IBERIS: Well, every rose has its thorns.
IBERIS takes an ornate looking dagger out of a sheath and brandishes it. He pulls another dagger out of his boot, one from his cloak, and two from the his pack.
IBERIS: Each is coated with a different poison, each guaranteed to kill a different one of the major races in Abijungya within seconds. We Roses are the best at what we do.
TROYSYM: You better be, sparkles. This job is more important than everything you’ve ever done combined. My brother is a tyrant and a fiend. Kymeroi will fall into ruin if he becomes king. We cannot let this happen.
IBERIS: So you want me to kill-
TROYSYM: Prince Sauvgyr Houdretus the first! Second son of Thevenyn Houdret-
IBERIS: Why do you keep saying “the first.” None of you have any children.
TROYSYM: (Angrily yelling) Get your pointy ears out of my murder shack! And don’t come back until Sauvgyr is dead!
Exit IBERIS, with haste.
IBERIS is standing in front of a door with his dagger drawn. SAUVGYR is sitting on a chair on the other side of the door speaking with a cloaked figure. They are both motionless. NARRATOR addresses the audience.
NARRATOR: This Wild Rose has a prince to kill, a test requiring all his skill. Spent so long on his plan devising, but what he found was quite surprising. Reaching Sauvgur was not that hard, he didn’t have but one guard. Iberis is now outside the room, ready to send a prince to his doom.
Exit NARRATOR. As NARRATOR Exits, IBERIS and SAUVGYR and the cloaked figure stop being motionless. IBERIS kicks down the door.
SAUVGYR: (to the cloaked figure) My brother is a tyrant and a fiend. Kymeroi will fall into ruin if he becomes king. We cannot let this happen. (Turns to see IBERIS approaching him) Ah good another, you didn't have to kick my door down, I was just telling your... associate here about the job I have for you.
The cloaked figure turns around to look at IBERIS. It is MUSCARI, they both look surprised.
MUSCARI: (trying not to look or sound surprised to see IBERIS there) oh… um… ah… you made it… good…
Long awkward pause
MUSCARI: Can I talk to you for a minute
MUSCARI grabs IBERIS by the arm and walks him outside of the room.
MUSCARI: (furiously whispering) What are you doing here?!
IBERIS: (also whispering) What do you think I’m doing? Murder.
MUSCARI: You’re going to murder Prince Sauvgur?!
IBERIS: Yeah, is that a problem.
MUSCARI: Yeah it’s a problem! He just hired me to kill Prince Troysym!
IBERIS: Well… has he paid you yet?
MUSCARI: Yeah, he paid upfront (he pulls a comically large bar of gold from his pack, it was clearly the only thing in there) in solid gold.
IBERIS: So what I’m hearing is that it would be ok if I killed him.
MUSCARI: Don’t you think that would reflect poorly on our organization? If we took his money and then murdered him?
IBERIS: Wouldn’t it reflect poorly on our organization if I didn’t kill him like I was hired to do?
IBERIS: Look, I’ll go in there and kill Sauvgyr and then we’ll go see Troysym so I can get paid for this job and then you can kill him too. That way we both get paid and finish our contracts, plus Troysym was kind of a dick anyway.
MUSCARI: (shrugs) Works for me.
IBERIS walks into the room Sauvgyr is in. Crashes and screams can be heard coming from inside the room. MUSCARI is looking through the door and winces a bit at each sound. The sounds stop and IBERIS casually walks out of the room, spattered in blood.
IBERIS: Alrighty, one prince down one to go.
MUSCARI: Two down actually, I killed Unhyret too, remember.
IBERIS: Oh yeah, kinda crazy how we just got away with killing two Princes and are about to kill another.
MUSCARI: hm. (sounding only mildly impressed)
Exeunt MUSCARI and IBERIS.
TROYSYM is sitting in his chair in his remote shack surrounded by guards. Enter IBERIS and MUSCARI, they are both covered in jewels head to toe and are wearing much fancier (but still black) cloaks.
TROYSYM: You’re back. And who is this?
The GUARDS draw their weapons.
IBERIS: He’s an... associate... I guess.
TROYSYM: Ah good, I knew the wild roses were smart enough not leave this job up to an elf alone.
IBERIS: (visibly annoyed) actually, I did it myself.
TROYSYM: Whatever, at least I don’t have to pay you both now. Not that it looks like either of you need it.
TROYSYM tosses a sack at IBERIS, he catches it but it’s heavy and knocks the wind out of him just a bit.
TROYSYM: I’m sure you’ll find this payment more than adequate, it’s probably more money than you’ve ever seen in your lives. 1000 Fire Coins, genuine Kryizon Auros. Why, even a small fraction of this sum could make the poorest man very very rich.
MUSCARI looks at IBERIS and his sack of coins, and then he looks at the guards on either side of TROYSYM. He opens the sack and then starts counting out some coins.
MUSCARI: (Looking up towards the guards) So how much is he paying you?
GUARD 1: Huh?
MUSCARI: to guard him?
GUARD 2: Uh...
MUSCARI stops counting out the coins and just grabs two handfuls and drops them in front of the two guards.
MUSCARI: Alright, here’s your cut.
GUARD 1: What?
GUARD 2: What?
MUSCARI stabs TROYSYM in the chest.
TROYSYM: Oh, I am slain! (Dies)
The GUARDS are completely frozen and totally shocked. They look at each other, then back down at their respective stacks of coins.
IBERIS: We thank you for your cooperation
Exeunt IBERIS and MUSCARI. The GUARDS look at each other and their respective piles of money and shrug. Exeunt the GUARDS. TROYSYM’s body slumps over in the chair.
NARRATOR: So as the king lied in bed, the princes ended up all dead. Assassins revel in their riches earned, and to the earth the king has returned. The royal family had not planned, who would come to rule this land. Thevenyn’s sister would be next in line, but only if she’s alive and fine.
Enter IBERIS and MUSCARI, both riding horses and both covered in more jewels and wearing even fancier clothes than last time. Coming the opposite direction is a woman on horseback also covered in jewels.
MARIGOLD: (from a distance) Iberis? Muscari? Is that you? It’s me Marigold!
MUSCARI and IBERIS: Mari!
MUSCARI, IBERIS, and MARIGOLD all excitedly meet up together center stage.
MARIGOLD: I feel like I never see you guys at the hideout anymore, but you both look like you’re doing well for yourselves. I just got done with the craziest job, you wouldn’t believe it.
MUSCARI: Oh man, you’re not going to believe what we just got done doing, it’s nuts!
MARIGOLD: Get this, I get hired by this girl right, she’s probably no older than 12 years old but it turns out she’s just flooded with cash. Apparently she is the daughter of the late king’s sister, but that’s not the craziest part. The crazy part is that she hired me to kill HER OWN MOTHER so that she could become queen of Kymeroi! Isn’t that insane?
MUSCSARI: Holy shit
MARIGOLD: Anyway, enough about me. You guys said you also just did something crazy, what was that all about.
IBERIS: Well… we just got hired by two brothers… and uh they both got us to kill each other… but they were also, like, princes too.
MARIGOLD: (There is a slight pause, MARIGOLD sounds unimpressed) Yeah… I guess that’s pretty crazy…
MUSCARI: You should have let us tell our story first...
MARIGOLD: Yeah… probably. Well anyway I have a ton of money I don’t know what to do with, so I’m going to see if I can get my horse plated in solid gold. Later!
IBERIS: Uh, goodbye!
MUSCARI: That’s not such a bad idea.
IBERIS: What isn’t?
MUSCARI: Solid gold horse.
Exeunt IBERIS and MUSCARI.
A Throne sits in the middle of the room. Coronation music can be heard. Enter JYUNEH HOUDRETUS: a child wearing a crown, holding a scepter, and dragging a cape twice the length of her body across the floor. She sits on the throne.
ADVISOR: Your majesty, now that you are-
JYUNEH: Call me that again.
ADVISOR: Your majesty… Now that you are queen of Kymeroi we should really draft some new laws for succession to avoid future ugliness.
JYUNEH: What’s that?
ADVISOR: Laws that dictate who becomes ruler after your… passing. We can decide which of your children-
JYUNEH: I don’t have any children!
ADVISOR: Yes of course, but these are things we should really be thinking about for the fut-
JYUNEH: We can worry about that later. There are more important things to worry about right now… Like earlier today, I saw a sold gold horse. I WANT one.
ADVISOR: (visibly annoyed) Your wish is my command, your majesty…
Exit ADVISOR, Enter NARRATOR. As the NARRATOR enters, JYUNEH freezes in place.
NARRATOR: A child without experience was the only royal around, and so the second ruler of Kymeroi was crowned. She ruled for many years and was adored, but those who live by the sword, die by the sword. New succession laws were never made, and killing royals kept the Roses paid. So the whole dynasty, the people would morn, when rulers were killed in whirlwinds of thorns and scorn.