1.9 The Man Comes Around

[BACK]

A PRODUCT OF THE WHISPERFORGE: SOUND AND STORY — BROUGHT TO LIFE.

[SFX: Scrying flame crackles.]

TAU ZAMAN: CARAVAN would not be possible without support from our Lords of Hell!

This week Lord Ponders spearheaded a fundraising effort to travel to various museums all around the country—ahem, Canyon. We wish our lord great success in this campaign.

Lord Bradley spent this week following a mysterious trail of clues in the Canyon, found everywhere from sand patterns in the desert to embedded maps in the scalps of Lord Bradley’s victims. When trying to make sense of this winding maze of clues, an old man wandering by admonished: The Maze Was Not Meant For You.

Lord Kim has been hecking shit up at the regular Lords of Hell meetings, having gone from freshman upstart to becoming the youngest demon lord ever chairing a committee on the demonic councils!

Lord Joe has spent the week flattening terrain along the winding roads of the Canyon, preparing them for what he says will be a phenomenon that will take all the circles by storm: Lord Joe’s Drag Race.

Lord Amara was asked by all the oracles and soothsayers of the Canyon what exactly was meant by their drawing of a long, blunted object in the sky made of clouds. Lord Amara simply answered, “it’s a Sky Penis, what, you’ve never seen one?”

Lord Milli spent this week compiling a long-awaited, very damning report on whether there was foreign collusion in the unanimous election of Lord Baal as prince of Hell, called The Milli report. When asked what the conclusions of Lord Milli’s investigation were, Lord Milli equivocated saying the report “neither indemnifies nor indicts” Lord Baal.

We’re so grateful to our Lords of Hell for their continued support, and, um, mercy, I guess.

[MUSIC: CARAVAN theme vamping.]

TAU ZAMAN: CARAVAN is created for adult audiences only. Our show notes contains content warnings and other helpful info. As an extra heads up, this episode reveals the death of a major character, so if you didn’t see this coming you may wanna be sitting down. We’d also be very grateful if you could keep sharing spoilers to a minimum until folks have had a chance to listen.

Welcome back to the Canyon — let’s jump right in.

PREVIOUSLY, ON CARAVAN:

MAMA: Without the caravans, Baal’s minions have been getting all mighty impolite lately—more and more keep flooding into the upper circles and I’m just one woman, goshdarnit!

DAKOTA: Sis I told you we don't have sheriffs around here! Caravans are busy keeping the peace! We don't have time for justice, too!

SAMIR: I feel like I want to show all this to Carlyle at some point...So I write about it all like a letter to him or something.

VIRGYL: I present to you: the first demonic caravan.

AZMODEUS: Who is this outsider?

VIRGYL: They call him the Lilac Knight.

[MUSIC: CARAVAN Theme.]

[SFX: Intense rain and thunder outside; the zipper to the tent opens and CARLYLE hurries inside, fumbles through his travel pack, and withdraws his cell phone. The buttons click as he dials CAMMY.]

CAMMY: [through phone.] Hello? Lyle?

CARLYLE: Cammy! Babe, listen, I don't know what to do. It's storming really bad right now and Samir fell into the Canyon!

CAMMY: How? Did he just slip? What happened?

CARLYLE: I dunno, there was this weird thing in the clouds and we were both looking at it and then he just...walked right off the ledge. Like he knew exactly what he was doing. Just like that. There's nobody here for miles, what the hell do I do?!

CAMMY: Okay, stay calm, aren't there emergency phones posted around the trail?

CARLYLE: We're way off the main trail; I haven't seen a phone in hours, and my battery's dying. Cammy, I'm freaking out.

CAMMY: You're gonna be okay, honey, just take a deep breath, okay?

CARLYLE: Okay. [He does so.]

CAMMY: Good. Just keep breathing. I'm here. We're gonna figure this out. I'll try to look up some numbers and get help, okay? You just stay put and stay dry, you hear me?

CARLYLE: Cammy, I told him about us.

[Pause.]

CAMMY: ...Lyle, he didn't walk off over that, he wouldn't.

CARLYLE: I don't know anymore. I think I fucked up, bad. I think he's hurt. I gotta find him, Cammy.

CAMMY: You will, just wait 'til I can call for —

[SFX: Cutting out with static.]

CARLYLE: I'm just gonna try to find him. I love you, okay? Cammy? Hello? Shit.

[SFX: He tosses the phone onto the sleeping bag, shuffles around a bit looking for something, then zips up the tent and goes back outside. Muddy footsteps pattering out to the cliff side, CARLYLE bends down and lies along the edge to peer over it.]

CARLYLE: Samir! Can you hear me! Are you okay?! ...Shit shit shit. Okay, the last phone we passed was...that way? Maybe?

[SFX: Running in the rain.]
[MUSIC: Foreboding night.]

CARLYLE: It was definitely this way, right? Am I losing my fucking mind? Okay, stay calm, what does an Eagle Scout do here — Woah!

[CARLYLE slips and falls a sizable distance, panting.]

CARLYLE: Ungh. Hello? Is there anybody out here?

PARK RANGER: Woah, woah, woah, what seems to be the matter, sonny?

CARLYLE: Oh, thank god. Hey mister, my friend slipped and fell off the cliff side a ways back, you gotta help him!

PARK RANGER: Settle down now, and speak slowly. Looks like you took a little tumble yourself. You said he slipped and fell?

CARLYLE: Yeah, I just said that man, c'mon!

PARK RANGER: Now that's no way to speak to someone who's just trying to help you.

CARLYLE: Well are you gonna help or not?!

PARK RANGER: [Slowly changing to VIRGYL'S shimmer.] Who can say? Get caught out here, all alone, with a park ranger who doesn't like you, and...bad things happen.

CARLYLE: Wh-who...are you...?

VIRGYL: The only one who can help you ever see your friend again. Especially given the condition you're in.

CARLYLE: Please, I'll be fine, but my friend, he could be really hurt. We have to get to him before...before something happens.

VIRGYL: Lots of things could happen down here. What exactly are you afraid of?

CARLYLE: Something's...different about him. The way he just walked off.. I don't know. But I know he needs me.

VIRGYL: My goodness, how dramatic! You must be really worried about him.

CARLYLE: Dude, come on, I already said that. You're fuckin’ creeping me out.

VIRGYL: Well I have good news and bad news.

CARLYLE: Good news first. Always.

VIRGYL: The good news is I can in fact reunite you with your friend.

CARLYLE: Then what the hell's the bad news?

VIRGYL: He is, without question: already dead.

CARLYLE: Fuck you, man! You have no idea if that's true.

VIRGYL: I'm afraid I can say with complete certainty that it is. I saw his corpse myself.

CARLYLE: [Chokes.] You're lying. There's no way.

VIRGYL: I've another bit of good news, however. I can bring him back.

CARLYLE: Which way is he? Why wouldn't you call for help?

VIRGYL: Tell me this: what would you do to ensure he lives?

CARLYLE: ...Anything. I'd do anything if it meant saving his life.

VIRGYL: Anything? You humans make promises so lightly. How can I know you're telling the truth?

CARLYLE: Us...humans? I mean it, dude! He's my best friend! I...I love him. I'll do whatever you want. Please.

[MUSIC: Trial by night.]

VIRGYL: You'll do whatever it takes to save his life? You swear it?

CARLYLE: I mean, sure! So he's not dead then, right?! What do I have to do? I can do it. I know I can.

VIRGYL: Then you'll pardon me for testing your resolve.

[SFX: Demonic whispers approach from the perimeter.]

CARLYLE: What...what the hell are these?

VIRGYL: Rest assured I am not without mercy. Tell me: armor or shield?

CARLYLE: For me? What if I gotta protect someone else? Shield!

[SFX: A shield materializes into existence from a demiplane. VIRGYL throws it to CARLYLE's feet, where it clangs on impact and then gets picked up. A hell-hound snarls at CARLYLE.]

CARLYLE: But how am I supposed to keep these things off me?

VIRGYL: Hammer, axe, or sword?

CARLYLE: Uh...

VIRGYL: Quickly, now!

[SFX: An ogre growls at CARLYLE.]

VIRGYL: An axe would make quick work of that hell-hound, but a hammer to the head would put that ogre right out...

CARLYLE: Fuck off. Sword, then!

VIRGYL: Typical. But granted.

[SFX: One appears from the same plane as the shield, which VIRGYL tosses to him. The tang of a sword hitting the ground near CARLYLE's feet. He grabs it.]

CARLYLE: What about you? Aren't these...things gonna come after us?

VIRGYL: Oh, my apologies, did you think I was going to help you? I just wanted a longer show.

CARLYLE: Is this what you did to Samir? If you did, I'm gonna fuck you up so bad, you hear me?

VIRGYL: Hardly. If you want to have any hope of saving your friend, you'll have to face far greater demons than these. Oh look, here one comes! Toodle-oo!

[SFX: VIRGYL begins walking away. The hell-hound growls again and leaps at CARLYLE, who shakes it off with the shield.]

CARLYLE: Woah, shit!

[SFX: The whoosh of an ogre's club, which meets CARLYLE'S sword as both swing down to the wet dirt.]

CARLYLE: Woah, you’re not playing around, are ya, big guy?

[SFX: The hell-hound pounces again, but this time CARLYLE sticks it with the blade. It yelps, before dissipating in a cloud of ash.]

CARLYLE: One down!

[SFX: The ogre grunts and winds up for another swing.]

CARLYLE: Oh, no you don't!

[SFX: CARLYLE bonks it on the head with his shield, then sticks the neck with his blade. After a satisfying squish, the ogre dissipates as well.]

CARLYLE: Get back here!

[SFX: Runs after VIRGYL to another cliff’s edge.]

CARLYLE: Did I pass your stupid test? What the hell were those things? And how the hell are you floating off the ledge?!

VIRGYL: Oh, do you wish to strike me down? You can, if you just...take a leap of faith.

CARLYLE: Are you gonna bring Samir back now? I dunno if you were watching, but I got rid of your crazy pets.

VIRGYL: Yes, you disposed of them most heroically. I'll admit, most outsiders die outright. That was actually...impressive.

CARLYLE: Stop hovering away like a little bitch and get over here! Fight me like a real man!

VIRGYL: Man? Hm. Your preoccupation with mere costumes for the soul amuse me.

CARLYLE: Wanna say that to my face, punk?!

VIRGYL: Humans, you really are something. You'll stare death straight in the mouth without blinking. It's almost like you've no will to live.

CARLYLE: Okay, now you're really pissing me off. Hyah!

[SFX: He runs toward the ledge and leaps. As he does, the sound of the rain slows way down, as the contact of each droplet makes a low, percussive drone.]

VIRGYL: Stay alive for me, will you?

[SFX: Time speeds up again and CARLYLE falls deep into the Canyon with a shout.]

[SFX: A crackling brazier. A rowdy crowd of demons carousing outside a tent. OSPREY enters, and pours some water for CARLYLE.]

CARLYLE: [Stirring awake.] Hmm?

OSPREY: Oy! He's awake! [She leans out of the tent again.] The pretty one, he's awake!

[SFX: A pair of footsteps and some wing beats as MALF and FEI rush into the tent.]

CARLYLE: I'm still dreaming, huh.

FEI: Mmm, doesn't he smell delicious?

MALF: Yuck, he smells like flowers!

OSPREY: Ya dumb twat, he landed in that field of lilacs outside! A knight from the heavens, imagine that!

MALF: A knight? He looks pretty busted to me.

OSPREY: He's got to be. He's got a sword and a shield.

CARLYLE: I can hear you, you know. Ow! My back.

FEI: Still hurting? I thought I'd fixed that already. Just turn over this way for a moment.

CARLYLE: I dunno about that...

FEI: Relax, if we were going to eat you...we would have done it already.

CARLYLE: How reassuring.

[SFX: A healing wave emanates from FEI'S hand.]

CARLYLE: Woah! That feels...nice, actually.

FEI: All better?

CARLYLE: Yeah, actually. Thanks. Damn, you've got Lay on Hands *and* a pair of wings?

OSPREY: That's Fei alright! Any idea how rare healers are in the Canyon? Most caravans would kill for one. I think.

FEI: It's a blessing to meet you.

MALF: Fei ain't just any ole faerie. She's the Faerie Queen. You're in the presence of royalty, mister!

CARLYLE: Oh, um, cool.

FEI: Don't mind them. These days it's a royal court of one.

OSPREY: But we're gonna change that! When the upper circles are safe, we're gonna move the faeries in through the portal! …Gosh, he's a quiet one!

CARLYLE: Sorry! Not usually. Just, uhm. Taking it all in. Upper circles? Faeries? Can someone gimme a primer?

MALF: Pardon our manners! Let's start with the basics.

OSPREY: I'm Osprey! I'm a cambion from Cambodli, the 8th Circle. We're in the 6th Circle right now, Themza Flat. Above us is the 5th, Faith Fatua, a no-man's land between the upper and lower circles. Above those are 4 and up! Those are the upper ones, if you haven't figured that out yet.

CARLYLE: And lemme guess: you've got nine circles.

MALF: Of hell! As most folks would call it. That's right. You're a smart guy! How'd you know?

CARLYLE: My friend and I grew up playing a lot of tabletop games. Plus I had to read The Divine Comedy for Italian.

MALF: Sweet deal! We've got some games down here! We could always use some more players for our Canyons & Caravans group, whadya say?

FEI: Malf.

MALF: Sorry. More importantly, I'm Malfeazant The Benevolent, an imp from 7th Circle, and the unanimously elected leader of this here caravan.

FEI: There was no election.

CARLYLE: Yeah I figured. So you're all, uh...monsters? No offense.

OSPREY: Demons! Well, the technical term is, uh...

FEI: Cthonic creatures. All of us belong to the lower circles, or underworld. Folks from the uppers would say we're demons, yes.

CARLYLE: Even faeries?

FEI: Even us.

OSPREY: Our home bases are all on the other side of the portal at the bottom. We're not "earthly" creatures, so we're mostly banned from going anywhere topside.

MALF: Psh, look at you, you're basically earth-passing. You'd be fine.

OSPREY: I'm...technically half demon. That's what he means. But if they knew, it could get ugly.

CARLYLE: Gotcha. Well, thanks for the cliff notes, but I gotta get going. Any of you seen a guy in a suit and tie?

OSPREY: Hold on a minute! We just nursed you back to health!

FEI: Well, actually I did. And I say he's free to go.

OSPREY: Well I found him at least!

MALF: And I'm the leader so I get the final say! A guy in a suit, huh?

CARLYLE: Well, he started as a park ranger but I guess he shapeshifted it really fast or something.

MALF: Let me see...did he have a really annoying voice?

CARLYLE: Yeah! And like, a face you just really wanna punch.

MALF, OSPREY, & FEI: Virgyl.

CARLYLE: Of course he's Virgyl.

OSPREY: Well, my Lilac Knight, he works out of the 5th Circle. We could take you there! It's just a few weeks' ride from here innit?

MALF: Hey Osprey, wanna swing by the Oasis real quick?

OSPREY: Huh? My waterskin's pretty full actually.

MALF: Maybe you should chug some for that unquenchable thirst! [Erupting in laughter at his own joke.]

OSPREY: Lay off, will ya? Don't tell me you wouldn't.

MALF: Mmmm, I could be persuaded...

CARLYLE: Oooookay. Anyway, no thanks, I don't have weeks to spare. Isn't there a way to call him up or something? He said he could bring my friend back.

FEI: Some of us can cover ground faster than others, but no one makes it in the Canyon alone. Your best bet is traveling with us.

CARLYLE: You guys headed that way?

MALF: We sure are! You're in luck my friend! I've decided you can be allowed into our humble caravan.

CARLYLE: A caravan of...three people?

OSPREY: Excuse me! We're not just any caravan of three people!

FEI: We are the Canyon's first demonic caravan.

OSPREY: And we're four people!

CARLYLE: Sorry, but my friend could really be hurt. I'm just gonna start looking for a way outta here—

OSPREY: Wait! There is another way...

FEI: Osprey.

MALF: We're not supposed to—

OSPREY: We can also fly!

CARLYLE: Like. With Fei's faerie wings?

OSPREY: No. Like. With spectral bulls, and chariots, the whole enchilada. Pretty fancy stuff.

CARLYLE: I...think I've seen it. Can we use that?

OSPREY: Well, Virgyl said to be super careful with it and I've kind of burned up all the power to summon it, but...I can charge it during the next rainstorm! Which are usually pretty rare around the Canyon, like decades apart, but lately we've been having a lot of them for some reason!

FEI: Virgyl said we're supposed to summon the Wild Caravan sparingly. If anyone knows it's us using it, bad things could happen. It's a mythical phenomenon the upper circles put a lot of faith in; Baal would be furious if he knew.

OSPREY: Well if we're on the road by the next storm, nobody will see us, right? And then we can fly straight to Faith Fatua, no problem.

MALF: Virgyl's gonna see us if we fly straight to his doorstep.

CARLYLE: Let him. I've got a bone to pick with that guy. Taking his shiny ride for a spin will be the least of his problems.

MALF: Ooh, did ya hear that? I think my dick just moved a bit at the sound o' that! Alright stud, off we go!

OSPREY: Listen, if you're an outsider, we should warn you: it gets mighty dangerous in the Canyon. The other demons give us a hard time, especially if they serve a different demon lord.

FEI: Technically we're all united under Baal's banner, but, when he isn't looking: they'll take every chance to thin our ranks. Think you can handle some demons? Ogres, hell-hounds, and the like?

CARLYLE: Oh, I think I can handle more than a few. Let's roll.

MALF: I like this guy! Have I said that already?

[SFX: Another rainstorm, weeks later.]

OSPREY: [Shivering.] Oi, you done getting that “fresh air?”

CARLYLE: I’ll be right in. Go back inside.

OSPREY: What’re you even looking for out here, woah! Your eyes turned green!

CARLYLE: Oh yeah? I thought I could see a lot better lately.

OSPREY: You must’ve gotten it from killing that beholder.

CARLYLE: Hah. It’s so weird to hear someone say that seriously.

OSPREY: So let me rephrase: what’re you looking for our here with that, uh green laser vision?

CARLYLE: I...I dunno. Samir loved the rain. Sometimes I just see any old ledge when it’s raining and picture him standing there. I’m still trying to make sense of why he...walked off like that.

[SFX: MALF emerging from a tent.]

MALF: Hey, can we start eating yet? Food’s getting cold!

CARLYLE: Start without me, alright!

MALF: [trotting up to Osprey.] What’s his deal now?

OSPREY: [Aside.] He doesn’t want anyone to see him crying, so he’s using the rain cover it up.

CARLYLE: Hey, I heard that.

OSPREY: Am I wrong?

CARLYLE: ...No. Just, I haven’t really let anyone else see me...ya know, cry. Besides my friend.

MALF: Fei! We’re gonna need a Calm Emotions casting over here!

CARLYLE: Oh come on, don’t make a whole thing out of it, please!

[SFX: FEI also emerges from the tent, wings beating and a fairy-like chime ringing.]

FEI: Does someone need soothing?

CARLYLE: I’m fine, seriously! This is embarrassing. I’d really rather be left alone.

OSPREY: Well that’s not gonna happen, sorry, handsome!

FEI: No, Osprey, that’s not how we do things. If you truly wish to be left alone, that’s fine. Can you at least get out of the rain so we don’t have to worry? For our sake.

CARLYLE: [Sniffling.] Yeah, yeah. Sorry.

MALF: [From a short distance away.] I’m way ahead of youse, get under here!

[SFX: The group hustles to a space below a rocky overhang.]

OSPREY: But you don’t really want to be alone, right? Come on, I know you too well for this!

CARLYLE: It’s only been a couple of weeks.

OSPREY: That’s enough for someone like me!

CARLYLE: Someone like what?

MALF: Someone who stares at your cute butt all day when you’re not looking.

OSPREY: Bugger off, Malf!

CARLYLE: Ha. [Playfully.] Watch it, I’m married, you know!

OSPREY: [Unfazed.] What’s that got to do with anything?

CARLYLE: Fair point. And...I meant...engaged, technically.

FEI: To this...friend you miss so much?

CARLYLE: Huh? No! He’s my best man, actually.

OSPREY: Outsiders are so strange! In what kind of world wouldn’t you marry the best man in your life?

CARLYLE: One like where I’m from, I guess. Ain’t that some shit.

MALF: Not to cut to the chase, but actually to do juuuust that: anything we can do to cheer ya up? This is really puttin’ a damper on things! Aaaand dinner’s getting cold...

CARLYLE: I’m really fine, guys. Or. I will be. You can leave me be.

MALF: Your face looks like the Styx, man! Talk about crying me a river.

CARLYLE: I just, uh, really can’t remember the last time I kinda just, gushed like this. [Nervous laugh as he tries to snort away some snot.] I mean, I guess I can, actually. It was, wow, way back.

OSPREY: Story time?

MALF: C’mon, guys, really?

FEI: Malf, with all respect: shut the hell up.

[MUSIC: Learning to love the rain.]

CARLYLE: Uhm. I’d just gotten dumped by my high-school girlfriend. We’d been together since middle school all the way up to senior prom. I’d saved up for a limo and this tux and this big bouquet for her and everything, and then right before prom, she dumped me, so. That was that. I wasn’t gonna go after all.

Samir was gonna go stag, and he basically dragged me to go with him anyway. “We’re gonna regret this for the rest of our lives if we don’t go!” He was so fuckin’ adamant about making it a “night we’d never forget.” He was always really big on that: ceremonies, special occasions, always marking them with something.

It’s funny, back then he hated the rain. He begged to still use the limo but I’d already canceled and lost the deposit on it. So he drove us to prom. Or tried to. The rain had him so spooked. I remember he was so nervous driving in it that night, his hands were so shaky on the wheel and he kept looking sideways at me like a worried mom or something. He was driving so slowly, so carefully. I think we were already like, three hours late. [Laughs.]

It was coming down pretty bad that night. A lot like right now, actually. And then it was dark, and we got lost, and the GPS on his phone was dead and god, we were a wreck. He was on the verge of a full blown panic attack and he started crying, and I was already a blubbery mess in the passenger seat, and I just said “Dude what the fuck are you crying for nobody dumped you!” and he just said “I wanted to make it a MEMORY for you, goddamnit!” like some wailing housewife or something. It’s funny now, but god, everything felt so raw then, you know?

We were just stopped in the middle of the road. No light or cars for miles, and just the highbeams in the rain for seeing. And the radio had that stupid fucking song playing about feelin’ bubbly in your toes or whatever, and that was me and my girlfriend’s song you know? So I just lose it, I’m sobbing super loud like a wuss and he’s just holding it all in but letting those quiet tears come out cause he thinks he’s let me down.

And then Samir just cranks the radio up loud, like, super loud, I jump in my seat. And he kicks his door open and I see him cross the highbeams over to my side of the car and he opens the door and he yanks me out. My body’s like lead but he keeps pulling and then he drags me to the front of his car. I think maybe I’ve been drinking already, ‘cause he keeps trying to keep me standing upright and I keep falling back onto the hood. He takes my hands and puts them around his back, and then he wraps his arms around my neck, and I think it’s just to lock me in such a way that I’m not gonna fall again, but then he...just starts dancing with me in the rain.

And it’s awkward and we’re both still sobbing and absolutely drenched in our awful rented tuxes — he’d picked this weird lime green tie and vest, and I went with this white pinstriped getup like a mob kingpin or something ‘cause my ex had wanted it to match with her dress. Our shoes are wet and we’re finally feeling bubbly in our toes along with the stupid radio song ‘cause we’re also ankle deep in mud, and somehow he starts laughing, and I do too, and...I don’t think we ever really made it to prom...Huh. I just realized.

I guess that’s when he stopped hating the rain.

[SFX: Back under the rainy rock overhang.]

MALF: ...Well shit dude, now I’m all misty about it.

FEI: I don’t think we have...whatever a radio song is. If it makes you feel better, I can create some...high...beams, though.

CARLYLE: Ha! Nah, I’m good, thanks. Wow. Sorry, that was a lot to dump on y’all.

OSPREY: But we can still dance, you know!

CARLYLE: No, no, I’m good thanks.

MALF: Ah, what the hell, dinner’s soggy by now anyway. Link arms, y’all!

FEI: It’s pretty much a faerie circle if I’m in it. We have to dance now, you know.

OSPREY: And, to the left! Aaand to the right! Swaaay!

CARLYLE: [Laughing now.] You really don’t have to do this guys. But...um. Thanks.

OSPREY: Now how does this bubbly song go? Who cares, I’m making it up!

When bubbles...get your toes
And...you crinkle your nose

FEI: That’s amore!

MALF: When you...swim in the crick
And an eel bites your dick
That’s...a moray!

CARLYLE: [Laughs.]

[MUSIC: CARYLYLE has leveled up.]

[SFX: Heavy rain and thunder. The Wild Caravan barrels to a halt in the 5th Circle. CARLYLE dismounts a wagon and marches up to a set of large double doors. They blast open from the wind—or perhaps the will of the caravan itself—and he strides deep into a cathedral that creates an echo. His voice is also different from weeks of traversing the Canyon, it has a dark shimmer to it.]

CARLYLE: Knock knock.

VIRGYL: My, my. Somebody's leveled up.

CARLYLE: You said to survive. I did. I'm here for my friend.

VIRGYL: Hm? Your friend? Sorry, I seem to have forgotten. Could you remind me?

CARLYLE: [Bellows.] SAMIR!

VIRGYL: Relax, I'm kidding. Yes, you've done most admirably. I didn't think you'd find me again in a matter of mere weeks. Even if you did cheat with the Wild Caravan.

CARLYLE: Hand him over now or I put this sword right through your skull. And you're not floating away from me this time.

VIRGYL: Oh, I don't doubt it. I don't remember that sword being on fire when I gave it to you. I like the new gear. It's handsome.

CARLYLE: Quit fucking playing with me man, I'm serious. I've been through LITERAL HELL fighting ACTUAL demons to save my friend and you promised you'd "reunite" me. So here I am and I'm not waiting any longer.

VIRGYL: Or what? You really think you could kill me? By yourself?

CARLYLE: I'm not alone.

[SFX: OSPREY, FEI, & MALF enter.]

OSPREY: Hey, boss.

VIRGYL: You're really going to take me on? I could vaporize you, you know.

FEI: Just give him back his friend, will you? I hate to do this.

MALF: Hey boss, just so ya know, this *totally* wasn't my idea! But uh, yeah, push comes to shove? The Lilac Knight had our back. We're gonna have his. Just go easy on us, okay?

VIRGYL: Demons. Traitors, all. I don't know why I expected any more from you.

CARLYLE: Those sound like fighting words.

[SFX: CARLYLE draws his blade; the flame on it crackles and sparks.]

VIRGYL: Alright, the jig is up. No, no battle today. You've more than exceeded my expectations. One day you'll all have to regale me with the tales of your adventures. I'm curious how an outsider inspired more loyalty in you than I ever did. For now, though, there's business to discuss. Walk with me. Yes, you too. You can all come. Quickly, now.

[SFX: They follow for a few moments, a new set of doors echo as they open to another chamber. Here, a series of large crystals emanate a light humming noise.]

MALF: Holy moley. I, uh...like what you've done with the place.

CARLYLE: Samir!

[SFX: He runs up to a crystal. Fists pounding against the glass casing.]

CARLYLE: Samir! Can you hear me!? Is he hurt? Is he asleep in there?

VIRGYL: Don't get too excited just yet. Try that one.

CARLYLE: Huh?

[SFX: Turns and runs up to another crystal.]

CARLYLE: This one looks like him too, but...a little different. Are there more?

OSPREY: [At a distance.] I just looked in these over here. This room is filled with them. Dozens of copies.

VIRGYL: You can search all the vessels if you like. Samir is inside all of them.

CARLYLE: So you're...cloning him?

VIRGYL: Not clones. Echoes. Surely you've seen some in the Canyon by now?

FEI: But echoes fade. And everybody gets only one.

VIRGYL: Not...your friend. For whatever reason The Engine keeps generating echoes from his body. I've done my best to track and contain them wherever I could. For as long as I keep them in these vessels, they won't fade.

CARLYLE: Echoes...so...he's really...

OSPREY: Lyle, I'm so sorry.

MALF: Man, that is not a happy ending.

FEI: There are no words, Lilac Knight. My regrets.

VIRGYL: Do not despair just yet.

CARLYLE: [Holding back a sob.] You said you'd bring him back.

VIRGYL: I will. Provided you...keep up your blazing trail of vengeance a little longer.

CARLYLE: HOW?

VIRGYL: These echoes are unlike any I've seen before. I've been able to imbue each of them with their own traits and abilities.But they’re unpredictable in how they appear sometimes. You can imagine my mortification when just the other day another echo of his appeared moments before a meeting with my Master, standing mere feet away from his own corpse, asking if I could hear him. Thankfully my Master did not see him on the other side of the flame. That particular echo is not in my possession. I shunted him away to the upper circles. That one still wanders about.

CARLYLE: But that's not the real thing. I want the real Samir.

VIRGYL: And the real one you may yet have. The echo that I sent away, the one that's still in the upper circles, he's joined up with a caravan. That caravan has somehow also come into the possession of a catastrophically powerful artifact. One with a recipe inside it to breathe life back into the dead.

CARLYLE: So we just get the artifact? That simple?

FEI: He's talking about the Book of Hours, my knight. Every demon's heard tales of it.

OSPREY: If it really exists, getting the Mancy out of it's gonna be a real pain.

VIRGYL: I know not yet what the recipe entails, but it almost assuredly requires an echo being rejoined with his body, which I've kept safe deep underground within the Engine. Not even Baal knows it's there.

MALF: You're-you're keeping this from the big man downstairs?!

VIRGYL: Please, indulge your already mutinous nature for a moment further. He knows not of these echoes. But so long as the Engine keeps creating them, and I can keep imbuing them with powers, I'll have—

CARLYLE: An infinite army of echoes. Made out of *my* friend's soul. An army of Samirs.

VIRGYL: That is correct.

MALF: Boss, you're really building an army under Baal's nose?!

VIRGYL: You know what the demon prince is planning, yes?

CARLYLE: Yeah, he's gonna let his legions take over the upper circles.

VIRGYL: Only until he wipes out anyone living there, all earthly creatures. Then, he'll have me lift the barrier so they can continue to take over the world, the one as you know it on the outside.

OSPREY: That’s not true! This land belongs to us! Baal said so!

VIRGYL: One could argue it is the demons', by right, yes. Surely one of you knows the origins of demons?

FEI: Leilath.

CARLYLE: Lilith?

FEI: Leilath was the first demon. Before Adam and Eve, there was Adam and Leilath. She was made from the same clay as Adam. The story goes she was supposed to be Adam's first bride. But she wouldn't lie under him, and so she was banished from Eden. And made into a demon.

OSPREY: What! That can't be right. If that's true, that would mean all demons are—

MALF: Humans?!

VIRGYL: Yes. All demons call other planes our home, but our true realm is here. We were all born of man. Or Woman, I should say. Baal knows this, and when the demons finish pouring through his portal, last to step out among them will be his mother, Leilath. And, to put it lightly, there will be hell to raise.

CARLYLE: Then I gotta get Samir out of here before that happens. Just tell me where he is and I'll get that artifact.

VIRGYL: Right now it sits in the hands of one of his echoes. There is one more thing...

CARLYLE: He doesn't know he's an echo.

VIRGYL: You are bright indeed. That's right. You may be able to use that to your advantage to get the book from him. It is your utmost priority. Get me that book, and my first order of business will be resurrecting your friend.

CARLYLE: How do I know I can trust you?

VIRGYL: You can't. I'm a demon after all. But I've just shown you my entire hand, one that would get me killed if the wrong people found out. And...these grunts who've become your friends, the ones I also entrusted to summon the Wild Caravan and inspire the upper circles to rebel again, they're privy to my plans now too: I have prostrated myself — figuratively, anyway — to your mercy.

FEI: Putting the Book of Hours in the hands of a djinn sounds like a terrible idea, no offense.

VIRGYL: Perhaps you'll accept one more token of trust. The Book of Hours also contains the mechanisms to destroy me. If you learn of them before handing me the book, surely you could guarantee I'll hold up my end of the bargain, no?

MALF: He's got a point there. Why us, though?

OSPREY: Yeah, if we're just grunts to you, why hand us The Wild Caravan? Why tell us all this?

VIRGYL: Let's just say I believe even the smallest among us have the capacity for greatness, if only given the opportunity.

CARLYLE: Yeah, right. We're all just pawns to you.

VIRGYL: You know what amazes me about humans?

CARLYLE: What's that?

VIRGYL: Think back to who you were only weeks ago. Would you say you are the same person as you were then?

CARLYLE: Fuck, no. I kinda had to take a crash course in demonology and demon-slaying and a few levels in badass, ya know?

VIRGYL: You were the simplest man when you fell into the Canyon. If only your eyes could perceive the wavelengths your spirit emanates from you now. They're so bright, I almost have to turn away. Creatures like me: we're born with power. But humans? Your mortality makes you...limitless. You'll throw away your lives in a moment for something greater. And when I look at Samir, when I look at the sheer multitudes his spirit can contain...I envy your kind sometimes.

CARLYLE: Ya know, it's funny. I look at him sometimes, and I feel the same way too.

VIRGYL: Do not get me started on my envy for your more foolish emotions. Now. My plans are laid bare: will you do as I ask?

CARLYLE: Guys. Can I ask for your help a little longer?

OSPREY: Hey, I'm not leaving 'til I've convinced you to leave that pretty girlfriend of yours for me.

CARLYLE: [Laughs.] Fiancée.

MALF: Buddy, you convinced me to stand up to a djinn in a fight so as far as I'm concerned: I'm on borrowed time. Anything else is all gravy from here.

FEI: If Leilath makes her way to the upper circles, her wrath will make this world uninhabitable. My kind need a home here. I'm coming with you to make sure we still have one.

CARLYLE: Thanks, guys.

VIRGYL: It's settled, then. Now if you’ll pardon my haste, we haven't much time; Baal's armies will be ascending to Faith Fatua any moment, and it would NOT be ideal for them to see you all here. Run on ahead and make sure you get me that book.

CARLYLE: What if the armies get to us before we can get the book?

VIRGYL: Samir's echo is powerful in its own right. Try to use that to gain leverage, if you can. And, while it would kill me to play this hand so early, you can call the echoes I've been maintaining here as reinforcements...using this.

[SFX: The jingle of a chain from an amulet.]

CARLYLE: I don't know if you've seen us, but we know how to cut down more than a handful of demon hordes. Juuuust in case though...How do I use it?

VIRGYL: Samir's echoes all long for you. Think of him and press your thumb over the gemstone's facet, and they will be summoned to you. But they're my ultimate weapon, so please: only use those as a last resort. Many—if not all—of them could die in the onslaught. Now off with you!

[SFX: Virgyl hurries the group out.]

MALF: Cheese 'n' rice, Virgyl. Whose side are you on, anyway?

VIRGYL: Me? Whichever side makes for the most interesting story, I suppose.

[MUSIC: We ride.]

OSPREY: Then we'd better make ours a good one.

FEI: So, it goes without saying that we can use the Wild Caravan for this, right?

VIRGYL: [Sigh.] Fine, just don't get any dents on it. And try to use it when it can make the maximum impact on morale, will you?

[SFX: The crew, sans VIRGYL, makes for the exit and begins mounting the Wild Caravan.]

MALF: That's a yes! Off we go! Ready to see your friend, Sir Lilac?

CARLYLE: An echo of him, anyway. But the real thing too.

[SFX: CARLYLE makes his way through the rain back to the CARAVAN and mountss up.]

CARLYLE: Let's roll.

OSPREY: Hey, you said that last time!

CARLYLE: What's wrong with 'let's roll?'

FEI: Try something sexier.

CARLYLE: Ahem. 'We Ride!'

MALF: Ooooooh yeeeaaaah I'm feeling it in my lower circles if ya know what I mean. I like that. Here we go!

CARLYLE: Samir, just a little longer now. I'm coming.

[SFX: The Wild Caravan departs.]

[MUSIC: CARAVAN theme.]

CARAVAN was created by me — Tau Zaman — and produced by Mischa Stanton and me. This episode was written and directed by yours truly, with performances by:

Briggon Snow as Carlyle, The Lilac Knight
Kristen DiMercurio as Cammy
Lucille Valentine as Osprey
Reyn Beeler as Malfeazant the Benevolent
Tina Huang as Fei
and me as Virgyl.

Sound editing by Julian Mundy. Sound design by Mischa Stanton and Anna Rodriguez. Our theme music is by Evan Cunningham. Episode music by Travis Reaves. Visual Art by Marina Vermilion. Press Kit by Kyle Boyce.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram @CARAVANRadio and send us your questions, reactions, thirst tweets, and fan art! If you send us something really memorable, funny, or just downright thirsty, we might even give it a read in the credits. This week our favorite tweet was from Matthew, who, in parodying the Friends theme song, wrote, Before the Canyon, Samir’s love life was DoA. If only Matthew had any idea, before listening to *this* episode, how LITERALLY true that is.

We are blown away by your love and support for us on Patreon! Thanks to your generosity we’re starting work on CARAVAN Season Two. You can help us keep making it even better by chipping in on patreon.com/caravanradio, where we’ll have an exciting new patronage goal posted soon. But don’t go away just yet, because we’ve got one more episode coming for you. The CARAVAN Season One Finale goes live in two weeks on June 14th. Thanks for riding with us. Y’all come back soon now. :)