SEASON 1/EPISODE 9: The Apple of My Eye

Content Warnings: Animal death, animal eating habits, animal mating habits, animal violence, fantasy violence, death, death by animal, body horror, body transformation, body dysmorphia, body modification

A farm. Stormy afternoon.


 

ADVENTUROUS MUSIC plays.

 

ADVENTUROUS MUSIC continues and DWINDLES into the sound

of a forest. 

 

SEBASTIAN

Alright, little guy. I have gone Wile. E. Coyote on you for way too long now. I will catch you and release you back into your natural habitat. Why? Because you are ruining these very nice gardens here.

 

SEBASTIAN finishes the trap.

 

SEBASTIAN

Alrighty. Done setting that up. I swear, this better be the last net trap I am making. I’m really hoping it’ll work. I’ve been coming out here to the Botanical Garden for days to track and catch this Barkfaced Gnome. That’s right. He is not a garden gnome. He is a silly, stupid,

annoyingly frustrating Barkfaced Gnome that wandered far  away from where he was supposed to be. The good news is, I’m getting better at making traps. The bad news is, this little guy is smart. This gnome has been terrorizing the New York Botanical Garden for the past three weeks. It’s been digging up flower beds, ripping through shrubbery, and damaging trees. At this point, I’m sure the Botanical Garden staff thinks I’m chasing after a gopher on crack. Normally, gnomes aren’t that much of an issue. They stick to forests and make dens that give a habitat to animals looking for a home, sometimes. Although… Maybe the best definition of their den would be a sett since it has multiple entrances and tunnels connecting them. Anyways, I’ve laid some traps out, but he is just so. Damn. Smart. 

 

SEBASTIAN moves LEAVES.

 

SEBASTIAN

Most fae, unlike animals, are capable of making highly intelligent and strategic choices, even if that species is incapable of speech or more animalistic in nature. It makes things more… complicated when handling them. Especially when they can’t or aren’t wanting to talk with you. The Barkfaced Gnome is a burrowing mammal that appears to be an offshoot of the Sciuridae family. I wish I could tell you more about the gnome that we are dealing with, but I can’t identify it until I see it. There are three species in North America that we know of according to the Nygard journal: the Barkfaced Gnome, the Mountain Gnome, and the Southern Gnome. 

 

SEBASTIAN begins to WALK away.

 

SEBASTIAN

Flynn is, well, he’s absolutely obsessed with that merperson art we were given a few months back. He’s noticed correlations between our species and theirs that he thinks he’ll be able to tag being influenced by some of our  cultures. Flynn has this cute habit of losing track of time when he gets hyper focused on things. He'll end up calling you at practically any point of the day. In this case, he’s been calling at like two or even three in the morning. It’s been messing with my sleep schedule, but it’s alright because it’s really nice seeing him be this excited about something…

(Beat.)

Um. As of right now, I only know of a few species that create art, but I’ll make sure to give it to Flynn whenever I manage to get my hands on something. Yeah… That’d be nice. 

(Beat.)

Oh. Right. Totally forgot to mention. Another one of the reasons why I’m here--well, more like something I tacked on just because I’m here-- is that I’ve been attempting to get a hold of a dryad. The weather’s getting pretty chilly up here, but in the best kind of way. I really love the cold. I love the fact that the air smells different and that you can wear whatever you want when you go outside. I mean, there’s also the fact that I just didn’t grow up with seasons like fall, spring, or winter. All I had back in Panama was the rainy season and the dry season. Anyways, Dryad are tree-dwelling nymphs that supposedly take on the characteristics of the trees in which they live in. In Nygard’s journal, he made several illustrations of Dryads of different species and wrote down information about them. I’ve had the sight all my life, but I’ve never managed to see or interact with one. I know that they’re there, because they knock for you… But seen one? Hasn’t happened yet. Dryads can supposedly live for tens or, even, hundreds of years. I can’t manage to gather enough information to confirm their lifespan just yet, but I have been given some information thanks to Dr. Warren’s search. She’s my main contact for historical documents regarding, well, magical beings. One document alluded to a dryad that has been in the New York Botanical for a century. The dryad is a Malus Meliades, according to descriptions from that document matching Nygard’s report. The name literally translates to apples of apples.

 

Then, you hear a tree creak as wind blows through it. SEBASTIAN crosses back onto the grass.

 

SEBASTIAN (CONT’D)

God. You guys would love this place. It’s beautiful. Picture this: there are about ten crabapples in this field alone, all of them sprouting fruit as red as blood. They’re smaller, much smaller than the apples we see in stores, about cranberry sized, which I didn’t expect, and they  are notably more sour, apparently. The… leaves are a fiery mix of orange and red. Like a sunset if it were a battlefield. A squirrel, an Eastern Grey, has begun to work on one of the fruits that has fallen down onto the ground. He’s really cute. Just enough fat and fur to make him look really squishy.

The tree creaking is stronger now,

 

GALA

Yes, it is quite cute.

 

SEBASTIAN 

Hello?

 

The sound of CRUNCHING bark, wood STRETCHING.

 

GALA

Over here, human. 

 

GALA eases out of the tree, the wood SPLINTERS and WITHERS away to let them out.

 

GALA

You’ve never seen a dryad before… Have you? I can tell by the look on your face.

 

SEBASTIAN

No, I haven’t. I’ve only ever heard the knocking dryads make when- when you’re in danger.. Do you... Do you mind if I describe you?

 

GALA

For the phone in your hand? Oh, don’t give me that look. Of course I know what a phone is. Although, it was a bit of a  shock to see it outside at first. What are you doing with it?

 

SEBASTIAN

I’m taking notes. For later study.

 

GALA

But who were you talking to?

 

SEBASTIAN

Oh. I don’t know. I guess I’ve always liked the idea that someone is listening on the other end. Someone other than me.

 

GALA

Someone listening to your legacy? The legacy of…

 

SEBASTIAN

Sebastian. My name is Sebastian.

 

GALA

My name is Gala, Sebastian. It’s a pleasure.

 

SEBASTIAN

Yes.

 

GALA

Believe me, I understand legacy. Go on. Describe me. 

 

SEBASTIAN

O-Okay. The Epimeliad is… approximately six feet tall  in height. They are a light brown in complexion, matching  the bark of the crabapple tree which they have just emerged from. Can I see your hands for a moment? 

 

GALA

Here you are.

 

SEBASTIAN

Thank you. Their hands are longer than my own, with fingers that end in claw-like points. Are they?

 

GALA

Yes.

 

SEBASTIAN

Their body… is a mass of constantly shifting branches  that is smoothing over now, almost like an octopus  changing its shape, texture… Is… Are you choosing  this form for an interaction with me or is this form natural to your species? 

 

GALA

We are of the blood of Ouranus. I presume we are of his image as well. 

 

SEBASTIAN

But it’s… it’s ever-shifting, isn’t it?

 

GALA

We have the capability to shift away from this form. Think of Daphne running from Apollon. 

 

SEBASTIAN

The hair, or what humans would call hair, is that purely decorative? A choice of your own.

 

GALA

Yes.

 

SEBASTIAN

It’s a splintering mass of branches with leaves intertwining within them. Are you able to shift the color of them as you--- Okay. Good to know. You can shapeshift freely using… I guess chromatophores? If that’s the case, do you feel your muscles tensing as they change color?

 

GALA

I don’t really notice, but, yes, I think.

 

SEBASTIAN

And can… you… So your species has the ability to become the tree you are a part of, rather than being born into traits. 

 

GALA

To an extent. This is more of my… normal appearance. 

 

The VINES SHIFT and TIGHTEN again

 

SEBASTIAN

They have taken a form closer to that of the Crabapple tree. So it is correct to label your species as different from those of other dryads?


 

GALA

My species, as you say, is Epimeliad. That is correct. I learned the term from the workers here. Species. Classification. Order. Humans do enjoy order don’t they?

 

SEBASTIAN

I guess so.

 

GALA

You strive so hard for straight lines, for the neat and the narrow. It’s interesting… studying humans like you study us.

 

SEBASTIAN

I think it’s important… to begin reintroducing the fae  back to the world. Maybe create an understanding.

 

GALA

We shifted away for a reason. Humans were the first to take shots and now they just take.

 

The VINES SHIFT AGAIN.

 

SEBASTIAN

I think there are ways for things to work out. 

GALA

How old are you?

 

SEBASTIAN

25.

 

GALA

So young.

 

SEBASTIAN

It’s not naive to hope we can understand each other. 

Learn from each other. 

 

GALA

It is naive to believe safety comes with understanding. Tell me, how long has humanity warred with each other? Captured their own? Put them in cages? Harmed their own? How on Gaia can you expect humanity to not war with our kind as they had for hundreds of years before?

 

SEBASTIAN

How do you know what happened hundreds of years ago? Your tree has only been here for a hundred.

 

GALA

A hundred and five years, seven months, and four days, actually… The fae communicate with one another. I’ve heard stories about what it was like before… Stories passed down for generations. When the gods walked with man. When the fae could walk with man… 

 

SEBASTIAN

Can you tell me one?

 

GALA

A story?

 

SEBASTIAN

Yeah.

 

SEBASTIAN sits down. GALA does the same.

 

GALA

A story… So many to choose from.

 

SEBASTIAN

Is… Is this something written?

 

GALA

Most definitely not in any language you would know… I am sure that the elves or dwarves kept a library somewhere. 

 

SEBASTIAN

Where did they go?

 

GALA

Hmm… I’m not sure. I don’t think anyone is really sure anymore.  

 

SEBASTIAN

They weren’t… wiped out… were they?

 

GALA

No. I don’t think so. The gods are gone, too. Maybe  they all went to the same place. Some kind of Tír na nÓg? Who knows… Oh. I know a story I can tell… 

 

The trees shift and move in the wind. The creaking of wood occurs and weird chitters.

 

SEBASTIAN

Where does it come from?

 

GALA

Us. Are you ready?

 

SEBASTIAN

Yeah.

 

GALA

In a land like our own… In a time unlike our own… There lived a Jealous Elf who had returned home after a decade long journey. When he arrived at his town, he was amused that so few people had recognized him. No longer was he the skinny, fragile boy people made fun of. Now, he was tall, broad, muscular, and his awkward features had grown into something handsome and alluring.

 

Of course, a little transformation magic had helped him along the way. 

 

The Jealous Elf arrived at his old home and saw that it looked very much the same, something his older self would have appreciated long ago. He was musing over all of the changes that would have to be made in order to make his old home feel like a home to him now. 

 

While pondering ideas for his home, there was a knock at the door. The Jealous Elf wandered over and opened the door. There, with his wide smile and cerulean blue eyes, was the man he loved, the Charming Elf. The Charming Elf pulled the Jealous Elf in for a hug and congratulated him on his return home. 

 

“I heard you came back today and I had to see for myself,” said the Charming Elf.

 

“I did,” said the Jealous Elf.

 

“What were your travels like?” asked the Charming Elf.

 

“I was able to see everything that I wanted,” said the Jealous Elf.

 

The Charming Elf smiled. “And you still came back?”

 

“I missed home,” said the Jealous Elf.

 

In fact, the Jealous Elf had not missed home at all. He had missed the Charming Elf. Despite trying as hard as he could, the Jealous Elf met no one who he loved as much as the Charming Elf and no one who loved him back.

 

“I’m glad you’re back,” the Charming Elf said. “I missed you being around.”

 

The Jealous Elf felt himself blush at this admission.

 

“I came over to let you know that the town is having a festival,” the Charming Elf said. “It’d be nice for you to come.”

 

The Jealous Elf bit down on the swelling hope he felt in his chest. He let darkness swallow that small ember.

 

“I will come,” the Jealous Elf said. 

 

And with a short goodbye and a kind smile, the Charming Elf left the Jealous Elf to get ready for the event.

 

The Jealous Elf put away his traveling clothes and traded them in for something he felt would be impressive in the eyes of others. The Jealous Elf stared into the looking glass, a family heirloom, and asked: “How do I look?”

 

A face formed in the glass and stared. “Quite well. You have improved since I saw you last.”

 

The Jealous Elf beamed with pride. “Well, I worked hard.”

 

The face frowned. “Get rid of the scarf. It does nothing for you.”

 

The Jealous Elf obeyed and, for the first time in a long time, had slipped the mirror into his robe and stepped out of his family home into the misty night.

You hear the sounds of a crowd with some music in the background.

 

When the Jealous Elf had arrived at the town festival, he was welcomed as a stranger. While some did not recognize him, the Jealous Elf took note of those that had recognized him and had said nothing to him. He tried not to let this make his spirit waver.

 

The festival had strung up lines upon lines of lights in celebration of Beltane. A band of elves played lively music as a crowd gathered in the middle to begin a dance. The Jealous Elf stared at the sights and kept his hands filled with food in an attempt to fill a void that could not be filled with mere material needs. Then, almost entirely out of nowhere, the Jealous Elf felt a hand place itself on his shoulder.

 

The Jealous Elf turned around and saw the Charming Elf standing there.

 

“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other,” said the Charming Elf. “Allow me to make it up to you. Care to dance?”

 

The Jealous Elf beamed. “I would like that very much.”

 

The two elves danced under a celestial sky as a full moon swayed up above them. As the music slowed, the Jealous Elf began to feel himself being pulled towards the Charming Elf, as if he were nothing more than a planet trapped in his orbit.

 

“There is something I have been wanting to tell you,” the Jealous Elf said.

 

“What is it?” asked the Charming Elf.

 

The Jealous Elf felt the words crawl up to his throat and just as he gained the courage to say what he was wanting to say. 

 

Suddenly, a Pretty Elf cried out, “There you are!”

 

The Jealous Elf turned around to see an Elven maiden with hair as fiery as amber and skin made of ivory.

 

The Charming Elf smiled at the Pretty Elf, released himself from the grip of the Jealous Elf and kissed the Pretty Elf.

 

“Friend,” The Charming Elf said to the Jealous Elf, “I will be back in about thirty minutes, but, please, stay and meet with me at the garden we knew as children. I have some exciting news I want to share with you.”

 

The Jealous Elf smiled and blinked back tears. He nodded and made his way out to the garden. The full force of his tears squeezed out of him, drops of gleaming silver plummeted down to the ground. The Jealous Elf cursed himself for losing control of his magic and tried to turn the tears back to water.

 

He found a fountain at the center of the garden and fell to its stony edge. The Jealous Elf saw his reflection in the water and imagined it smashing to pieces as his fist came crashing down. For how could he find love if he was not what they wanted?

 

The Jealous Elf pulled out the Looking Glass from his dress robes and asked “You have heard what has happened. What should I do?”

 

The Looking Glass said nothing.

 

The Jealous Elf shook the Looking Glass. “You have always had a comment about me, what do you have to say now?”

 

The Looking Glass said nothing.

 

“Well?!” yelled the Jealous Elf. “What should I do?”

 

The Looking Glass showed its solemn face and said, “I will say nothing because there is nothing to say. There is nothing you can do and nothing you will ever be able to do.”

 

The Jealous Elf gripped the mirror tighter. “I will break you if you do not tell me what to do.”

 

The mirror said nothing.

 

The Jealous Elf held the mirror and lifted it up above his head. “Fine,” said the Jealous Elf. “Have it your way.”

 

The Jealous Elf hoisted the mirror above his head and brought it crashing down.

 

“Wait!” screamed the Looking Glass. “I have knowledge of a spell, but I’m not sure if it will work!”

“What is the spell?” cried the Jealous Elf.

 

“You must ask Selene,” said the Looking Glass. “To change your appearance.” The Jealous Elf felt a surge of happiness. “Thank you,” said the Jealous Elf.

 

 

The Looking Glass said nothing in return. The Jealous Elf nodded and placed the mirror down on the ground.

 

“Selene, goddess of the moon. I call upon you and ask for your help. I am not enough and never will be enough.”

 

The Jealous Elf cried out for Selene, Aphrodite, Hekate, and Freya. He screamed out the words he had been taught by masters before him to transform himself into a being that the Charming Elf would accept and love.

 

The elf reached into his mind for a spell, any spell that would allow for him to transform into what his love would want. He spoke out the words, but his choking cries interrupted syllables and slurred his once perfect pronunciation.

 

The elf felt himself transform. His features thinned. His muscles vanished. His hair grew long, but as he kept mumbling the spell, he noticed something was wrong. The hair spread across his body, his limbs grew long and his fingers sprouted claws. He reached for his face and felt his nose had become a snout. Sharp and gnashing teeth pushed out the ones he had known for so long. He looked back at his reflection and howled in agony. The elf was no longer an elf, but a monster that was neither wolf nor man.

 

The elf’s tears seared at his skin and he tried to will his tears back to water to spare himself the pain. He gazed up at the moon as he clawed off what was left of his flesh. The elf landed down on all fours and heard the snapping of twigs up ahead.

 

The Charming Elf, his love, had wandered into the garden. The elf, once hungry for love, now felt a different hunger. A hunger for the flesh. The man cried out as the elf dug his claws into him and ripped out his throat. 

 

And so is the tale of the first werewolf.

 

The end.

 

SEBASTIAN

That’s… 

 

GALA

Dark? Even humans had dark tales once. Do you know what the lesson is? You have to accept yourself for who you are, faults and all. You cannot force yourself to become someone else. No one will love you if you aren’t yourself.


 

SEBASTIAN

That’s what I thought it was.

 

GALA

Faults and all… Sebastian Verwood.

 

SEBASTIAN

H-how do you know my name?

 

GALA

The fae spoke of you.

 

SEBASTIAN

Why? About the sight?

 

GALA

Not the sight.

 

SEBASTIAN

Then... 

 

GALA

About the friend of yours. The one who drowned.

 

SEBASTIAN

I don’t want to talk about that right now.

 

GALA

Life is not perfect, Sebastian. All creatures make mistakes.

 

SEBASTIAN

Yeah. Um. It was really nice meeting you. Truly.

 

SEBASTIAN begins to walk away.

 

GALA

Let me know if you would like to come back and hear more stories. Goodbye.

 

The sound of wind and shifting wood.

 

SEBASTIAN

That would be--

Silence.

 

SEBASTIAN (CONT’D)

They left. 

ADVENTUROUS MUSIC. FADES INTO OUTRO.

The Viridian Wild is created, written, and produced by Davis Walden with creative consulting by Nicole Miller. Our music is composed by Daryl Banner. This episode features the voice of Davis Walden as Sebastian and Georgia Mckenzie as Gala. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as The Viridian Wild or email us at theviridianwild@gmail.com. Learn more and find transcripts of this episode at theviridianwild.com. We would like to thank our first Adventurers joining us on this journey: Joe and Mandy Walden and Daniel Foytik. You can support Sebastian’s study of the magical world around us on our Patreon at www.patreon.com/theviridianwild and gain access to bonus material such as bloopers and book recommendations. The Viridian Wild is a product of Always in My Head Productions. Till next time, happy trails!