Episode 8: Songs of the Echowood

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CONTENT WARNING: Descriptions of a natural disaster, some dread, and character betrayal. 

With Grael away from the inn for the first time since they arrived, the Traveler is finds an unlikely friend in a wandering bard, who regales them with the story of the Echowood’s creation: the struggle against decay and destruction sung in the Lay of Nevermoor…

Starring Leslie Redman as Rowan Baumann/Sialvia Linwood, Tal Minear as The Traveler, and Sam Taylor as Grael, with original music and special music editing by Jesse Haugen. Written and produced by Trevor Van Winkle, with musical direction by Virginia Spotts. This episode was made possible by our supporters on Kickstarter, Patreon.com/homesteadcorner, and ko-fi.com/homesteadcorner. Executive produced by Axel Allcock.

For more information, additional content, and episode transcript, visit homesteadonthecorner.com/tote008

“Dark Emptiness” elements created by jalastram (https://freesound.org/people/jalastram/), Licensed under Creative Commons (CC 3.0 Unported: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

“Medieval City” element created by OGsoundFX (https://freesound.org/people/OGsoundFX/), Licensed under Creative Commons (CC 3.0 Unported: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

“Wind in basement” element created by jrosin (https://freesound.org/people/jrosin/), Licensed under Creative Commons (CC 3.0 Unported: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

“Breaking Ice” element created by dheming (https://freesound.org/people/dheming/), Licensed under Creative Commons (CC 3.0 Unported: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

Transcript

CONTENT WARNING: Depictions of burnout and depression, arachnophobia, fantasy violence, and vertigo.

[Quiet forest morning]

Narrator

Before we get started, this episode contains depictions of burnout and depression, arachnophobia, fantasy violence, and vertigo. Content warnings and a full transcript are available in the show notes.

[Grael’s wings flutter, then land]

[Grael takes a deep breath]

Grael

Let there be… Music.

[Music – single stringed instrument]

Grael

Let there be voices in the great between, rising against the dark; to sing, to speak, to tell the stories yet untold. Let there be voices.

[Music – voice singing]

Rowan

Let there be sound: the sounds of trees and animals and insects and wind and water and fire and earth. Let them fill the air with their being, and be heard. Let there be sound.

[Sounds of creaking trees, bugs, wind, flowing water, and crackling fire]

Grael

Let there be tales: tales to be told around the hearth and in the wild, tales of heroes and villains and fools, of victory and defeat and bitter longing. Let there be tales.

[Sounds of a quill scratching against paper]

Rowan

Let there be history: centuries stretching away into the distant past, millennia full of life and love and war and peace and death and rebirth.

Grael

Let there be change: a world ever-shifting, ever-moving, ever-growing into new and different forms.

[Low rumbling, earth shifting]

Rowan

Let there be order: foundations of earth and stone and time to hold all things as one.

[Sounds of a ticking clock]

Grael

Let there be doors: gates opening between the worlds so that all might share this place we’ve made.

[Echoing sound of a door opening]

ROWAN

Let there be witches, to tend and guard the green.

Grael

Let there be castles and kings and emperors and power…

[Sounds of marching feet]

Rowan

But let their rules be short, their conquests never complete.

Grael

Let there be oceans…

Rowan

Let there be shadows…

Grael

Let there be dragons…

[Distant roar]

Rowan

And let there be stars.

[Thunder crashes, then rumbles, then silence]

Grael

Let there be…

[Long pause]

Rowan

Echowood.

[Main theme]

Narrator

Homestead on the Corner presents: Tales of the Echowood

[Main theme ends]

[A quiet evening at the inn – crackling fire, faint wind from outside]

[The Traveler stands, then crosses the room]

[Pushes the grate aside and pokes at the fire, sending up sparks]

[The Traveler sighs, frustrated]

The Traveler

“I need to run to market,” he said, “I’ll be back later,” he said. Didn’t say how much later… Not that it makes much difference without a watch.

[Fiddles with a few random bottles, bored]

[Crosses to the back door, opens it to the outside]

The Traveler (whispering)

Maeven? Maeven, are you still out there?

[Silence]

[They close the door, then sigh]

The Traveler

Never when you want her. Not even when you have an answer for–

[Front door opens]

[Footsteps enter, boots and spurs]

[Door closes]

Silvia Linwood

Hail, innkeeper! Might I trouble you for an apple? My horse has traveled many miles and would do well to be rewarded.

The Traveler

Uh… Sorry, we’re all out of apples. And I’m not the innkeeper.

Silvia Linwood 

Ah – a fellow traveler. Do you know where the keeper is, perchance?

The Traveler

He left for the market a few hours ago… I don’t know when he’ll be back. Sorry.

Silvia Linwood

Oh.

[Silvia chuckles]

Silvia Linwood

I shouldn’t be surprised, I suppose. For a bard, I’ve always had very poor timing.

[Silvia pulls her lute off her shoulder, setting it down]

The Traveler

You play?

[Silvia sits]

Silvia Linwood

Aye: I play, I sing, I bring news from far off lands and distant places in song and rhyme and tale. I make myself welcome wherever I go, and the name of Silvia Linwood is loved in every tavern and inn, from the blue mountains to the floating isles. But I’m sure you must have heard it all before.

The Traveler

No, I – I haven’t. I’m… Kind of new here.

Silvia Linwood

Ah… Well, you know it now, and I’m sure you’ll know it better long ere we part. Where do you hail from, if you don’t mind the question?

The Traveler

I… I don’t really know.

Silvia Linwood

You don’t know?

[The Traveler nods]

Silvia Linwood

Come now – ‘tisn’t natural, to not know one’s home. Where did you come from? How did you get here?

The Traveler

It’s… Complicated.

Silvia Linwood

Surely you must know your name, at least?

The Traveler

It’s dangerous to give your name away.

[Silvia laughs]

Silvia Linwood

It is at that… You’re wise for a wand’ring stranger, that’s for certain. But fear not: I’m mortal flesh and mortal blood, same as you… No fae in disguise or specter haunting. And I’ve given you my name already. ‘tis only fair to return it.

The Traveler

I’m sorry, but… I don’t really know that either.

[Awkward silence]

Silvia Linwood

Now that… That is troubling. ‘tis one thing to forget your place and path in this ever-changing Echowood, but to lose one’s name… That is a curse most wicked to befall.

The Traveler

I don’t think it’s a curse, it’s just that everything from before I came through the arch is a little bit–

Silvia Linwood

Ah, you’re an outworlder! It’s been ages since I met one from beyond. I had no idea the archway still opened in this last and faded age.

The Traveler

Well… It did.

Silvia Linwood

Then well met, outworlder, and welcome to the Echowood. I am privileged to meet you, nameless though you be.

The Traveler

Yeah… Same to you.

[Silvia shifts in her seat, picking up her lute]

Silvia Linwood

Well, whilst we wait for our erstwhile host to return, what say you to a song or two to pass the time?

The Traveler

What kind of songs?

Silvia Linwood

Why, any kind at all! Ballads to stir the heart, ditties to tickle the mind, epics to rouse the spirt and tragedies to wring tears from the coldest eyes. Tell me of a half-remembered song, and ten-to-one I’ll know it by rote. There is no finer bard in all the worlds than Silvia Linwood, and that’s a fact.

The Traveler

Do you know any songs from other worlds? From where I came from?

Silvia Linwood

I… Cannot say I do. But, the Echowood endlessly reflects the worlds outside it, and sometimes songs get caught up in its web like flies to spiders. Here: is this familiar?

[Silvia strums, begins to sing]

Fair was the day, upon the green hill

When last I saw my dear love,

And the tale of our parting, our dearly departing

Is a tale that is endless retold.

The Traveler

Not really… Sorry.

Silvia Linwood

Nothing to be sorry about! There are many worlds on the borders of the wood… Perhaps…

[Silvia strums, begins to sing]

Did you hear the fire

That burned on Allaway fair?

Did you see the embers fly

As a world soon disappeared.

The Traveler

No, I don’t know that one either.

Silvia Linwood

Alright, alright – basics then. Children’s songs.

[Silvia strums, begins to sing]

Oh the barn, oh the barn, oh the little red barn

That sat on the small green hill!

Oh the barn, oh the barn, oh the bright red bar

Where the cow and the pig sit still!

(verse)

Oh when first I saw that little red barn-

The Traveler

No, no — I don’t know that one either.

[Silvia sets her lute down]

Silvia Linwood

Hmmm… Not as young as you look, then. At least, your tastes aren’t. Here: give me your hand. Let me get a better look at you.

[Movement, rustling]

The Traveler

What are you going to-

[Silvia chuckles]

Silvia Linwood

Relax, Traveler – I’m not going to hex you. I’m only a witch on my mother’s side, after all. I just want a better sense of my audience, and since you’re the only one here…

[Hesitation, then the Traveler steps up]

[Silvia takes her hand and begins to examine her palm]

Silvia Linwood 

Hmmm… Not the hands of a farmer or a fighter, but not a scholar either. The palm is smooth, but the fingers show signs of hardship and strain. A tightness in the joints as well…   some fresh hurt or other?

The Traveler

No… I mean, not any I can remember.

Silvia Linwood

Perhaps not in your mind, but your body remembers it well enough. And this line here – a hard upward between the middle fingers – speaks of a fate you did not choose… A dark fate, beyond your control.

The Traveler

I don’t believe in fate.

Silvia Linwood

I don’t mean fate the way children speak of it: prophecy and doom and all such. I mean the paths we choose, not knowing their ends. Though yours seems to terminate at the heart line… That’s something I’ve not seen before.

The Traveler

What does that mean? Is that… supposed to be bad?

Silvia Linwood 

I can’t say. Like I said, I’m less than half a witch, and there’s a reason I chose music over magic. If I had to guess… Well, were this a story, I’d say whatever calamity awaited you was somehow averted… Changed by your passage between worlds, perhaps?

The Traveler

You think so?

Silvia Linwood

If I was writing the song, then yes… But life rarely fits such patterns.

[Silvia picks up her lute and begins to tune]

But in any case – I think I have a better sense of my audience now, and there’s only one song you need to hear.

The Traveler

(slightly worried what that means)

What song?

Silvia Linwood

The oldest song I know – words and music as old as the Echowood, sung in the first moment of creation by the rivers and stones and trees themselves. A song that grows year by year and century by century, like the rings of a mighty oak: sad and proud and strong and weak in turn… Like the one I sing it for.

The Traveler

I’m not sad.

Silvia Linwood

Aren’t you? Right… All set. You may want to find a seat.

[The Traveler hesitates, then drags a chair over]

The Traveler

What’s it called?

Silvia Linwood

A song as old as this doesn’t have just one name, my friend. “The Hymn of dawn,” I’ve heard it called; “Creation’s Song,” “The great voices…” But I’ve always preferred “The Lay of Nevermoor.”

[Silvia strikes a chord, then begins to play – the inn fading away into the background]

Silvia Linwood 

In the dark and the silence before time began,

Before the first tree bore its leaves;

The shadows hung heavy o’er the empty between,

With no history, future, or end…

No history, future, or end.

In a place between dawn and the twilight of worlds,

‘tween the start and the end of all things;

A voice rose in chorus of creation’s song,

And another rose up in return…

Another rose up in return.

“Let there be music and let there be song,

Let there be tales yet untold!”

“Let there be dragons and witches and knaves,

And let there be heroes born bold.”

“And let there be heroes born bold.”

At their words came a forest that shone like the sun,

With trees that blazed bright as the sky;

The mountains rose up and the oceans sank low,

And the first living things came alive,

The first living things came alive.

A roar from the south and the east and the west

Met the first dawn and shattered the night,

All hearts stirred as one as they opened their eyes

And saw Echowood, shining and bright.

The Echowood, shining and bright.

“Let there be ruins and let there be light,

Let there be stars old as trees!”

“Let there be ages buried ‘neath rock and stone,

And let there be fires gone cold.”

“Let there be fires gone cold.”

Yet this world not quite born was still centuries old,

It’s bones aching under the strain,

Rivers worn deep in the skin of the earth,

With no memory of which way they flowed,

No memory of which way they flowed.

A god and a child from a place far beyond,

Sang a song that spun worlds into life,

And as form and design wove the cosmos above,

This world did shudder and crack.”

Silvia Linwood

And in that moment, all was undone. The world woven by the two voices, strong as they were, was not stronger than the weight of time unlived – for they sought to make a world rich with history and age, even when the smallest seconds had barely passed. The sun was aged long before it had turned a single day, the moon worn smooth by countless millennia. And as the two voices from beyond added and refined and imagined the world they had made – Time took its toll.

[Silvia strikes a darker chord, then begins to sing]

Silvia Linwood 

This world you have made is not meant to be made,

This world is a lie given life by your grief,

This world is cracked ‘neath the weight of your words,

This world has shattered —

And the earth fell away at the heart of the woods,

And the world collapsed into itself where it stood,

And time came unraveled from its birth to its death:

The first moment undone before it had begun,

And the shattering screams a world not quite born

Shook the heavens and scattered the stars to the dark

Of the space between worlds where no life can endure

And the chaos that birthed the world roared into flame,

And before any voice could cry out in dismay,

The child, the old god, or the lives they had made,

A void black and endless tore open in space,

Pulling all they had worked for to endless decay,

And the trees were uprooted and torn from their place,

The tall mountains crumbled, foundations unmade,

Cities and castles with thousands inside,

Fell to ruin and discord and tearing of eyes,

As the world ever-doomed clutched its heart as it cried,

Shattering to pieces as it endlessly died,

The streams without sources found their end in the void,

And with one final scream the child-maker cried out:

“Stop falling and hear my voice,

Know you were made for much more than an end,

Stop falling and heed my cry,

For this world was born to live.

This world was born to be healed.

“Stop falling and hear my words,

This is not an end, but a dawn yet to shine,

Stop falling and heed my call,

This world is not doomed to fall.

Stand up, and know you are strong.

“Stop falling and hear our song,

The love that has made you is stronger than death,

Stop falling and heed your heart…

And know — you are not — alone.”

Silvia Linwood 

And in that moment, all creation stood still. Time held back its hand at the beauty of the song, and even those dying found their hearts aflame as the void pulled back… Just for a moment, but a moment was all they needed. Hope had been reborn… And no shadow can endure where hope yet shines.

[Silvia strikes a melancholy chord, then begins to sing]

Silvia Linwood 

“When at first you found me,

I was broken, I was lost.

I didn’t know which way to turn

And the woods were deep and dark.

Then I heard a sound of wings alight

In the branches just beyond,

And I saw you there,

Waiting for me, still.

“Years I’d dreamed of so much more

Than a life alone and scared

And I knew that life had found me

When I saw you standing there.

And you offered me your hand and said,

‘Come away o human child.’

And I took it, willing…

‘Into the waters and the wild.’”

“Come away, o human child,

To the waters, to the wilds,

Take this faerie’s hand in hand

And for loss we’ll make amends.

From this world, that you have known,

Full of weeping, full of woe,

Fly away and know you’re free;

Come and make a brand new world with me.”

“There’s light beyond the shadows

More than I could ever dream,

And magic in my own heart

That I still can scarce believe —

But you showed me what this world can be

When our voices rise in song,

And I still believe

It can carry on.

“Sing we now together,

Your voice now join with mine,

If songs can make a world brand new,

They can save it from demise;

Bind the wounds that tear this world apart

And let it stand up tall,

We made it, us two…

Now let’s make it strong and true.”

“Come away, o human child,

To the waters, to the wilds,

Take this faerie’s hand in hand

And for loss we’ll make amends.

From this world, that you have made,

If in weeping you’re afraid,

Fly away and know you’re free;

Come and make a brand new world with me.”

“No, you’re not list’ning,

Hear my voice and heed my words:

I don’t want another world made

Not to last and not to hold.

Can’t you see the beauty in this place

Is worth saving on its own:

Can’t you see me here,

Waiting for you still?

“I know you’re scared and shaking,

And I know you’ve suffered loss,

But we’ll suffer it together

If we’re scared to pay the cost.

Let me hold my hand to you and say,

‘You don’t have to be alone:

Come on and take my hand…

And let’s face the dark as one!’”

“Come away, o faerie bold,

In this place, now take a hold.

Join my voice in one last song

And together right this wrong.

In this world, that we have made,

I’m not weeping, not afraid,

Still your wings and steel your fear

Let’s not let this world… disappear…

Silvia Linwood 

And the words of the maker-child stirred the heart of the old god… But he was still afraid. For time… age… decay and the fading of all things… That was what they faced, and that was a power beyond even the gods. He had seen countless worlds fall to dust across the years, witnessed the end of a million different realms. Better to let this one die now, he thought, than to prolong the inevitable. And yet… And yet…

[Silvia begins to strum, then sing[

Silvia Linwood 

It can’t be stopped —

Yet it must be tamed.

This world is dying —

But it’s not yet gone.

I’m not strong enough —

Yet you must be now.

It’s pointless to try —

See the look in her eyes.

I can’t —

I must.

I shan’t —

I will.

I’m scared —

I’m brave —

I’m not!

Two voices, tearing at my mind!

One says stay and one says go.

Two minds and a single choice!

I cannot serve them both!

Trapped between the devil and the sea,

Nowhere to run, nowhere to flee.

My heart is breaking, my soul’s afraid;

How do I fix what I have made?

I can’t stop this —

Yet you still must try.

I owe them nothing —

But you gave them their lives.

This world is nothing —

But to her, it is all.

What’s the point of trying —

Hear her words, and you’ll know.

I don’t —

I do.

I won’t —

I will.

I’m sure —

I’m lost —

I’m not!

Two voices, singing in the void!

One says die and one says live.

Two minds and a single choice!

We cannot serve them both!

Trapped between the hammer and the fire,

Nowhere to run, escape her ire.

My heart is breaking, my soul’s afraid;

How do I fix what I have made?

There is no answer —

Yet you know there is.

I cannot solve this —

Yet you know you will.

Can I find the way —

Oh you sweet foolish child.

The risk is too great —

But you know that’s a lie.

I can —

I will.

I shall —

I know.

I’m sure —

I’m sure —

I know!

Two voices, the answer there!

One a child and one in power.

Two minds and a single choice!

Raised in the final song!

Trapped no more in the test of will,

I shall not run, my fear I’ll kill.

My heart is sure, my soul’s alight;

Together set this world to right!

Silvia Linwood 

Two voices. There was the answer: one ancient and powerful enough to shape worlds and give them life – the other young and foolish enough to have no fear of death… of entropy… of the end of all things. And as this world rang out it’s death-knell at the moment between creation and oblivion – the old god began softly to sing.

[Silvia strums, then begins to sing]

Silvia Linwood 

You know who you are,

Before you’re even born.

You know the heart that made you,

A heart that can endure.

So live… Live…

You know what you are,

And why you were made.

You’re not a lie, we’re not afraid:

The truth that grief can make.

So wake… Wake… Up.

I know it’s hard to see the way,

To rise above the fear that claims you —

Still, I ask you: stay.

I know you cannot see the light,

That rises when your eyes are darkened —

Still, I ask you: hope.

Still, there’s always — hope.

And as the old god sang these quiet words, the child rose up in song, her voice matching his — fearless wonder against his fearful hope:

Live, live new world, live,

There’s so much to see,

So much yet unsaid.

Live, live new world, live,

Watch the sun shine upon you

With each new morning’s dawn.

Rise, awaken and rise,

Though the doom may seem certain,

The fear cheats your eyes.

Rise, stand up and rise,

For the dark is a liar,

And your fears are its lies.

Be everyday renewed into

New shapes and forms and ways of thinking:

Wake, Echowood, wake!

Fear not the darkness nor the death

That waits upon the edge of evening:

Live, Echowood — live!

And two voices rose above the roar of a world dying, and the chaos that claimed it shrieked in fear: for hope blazed bright in the heart of the old god once more, and his power swelled in song as he joined in with the child:

Live, Echowood, live!

Live and be not afraid!

For the darkness has no claim on you,

Not so long as the hope in your heart still survives!

Live, Echowood, live!

Cry life against death everyday!

For as long as you trust in yourself and your friend,

It’s a love beyond any that death can deny!

Live, live without fear!

Though some might claim fear to be wise!

Though alone in the dark there is naught but despair,

In the light of the new day let hope still arise!

Know your limits and your fears

But never let them shame and shape you:

Endure, beyond what you are.

Death will come in time, I know,

But now there’s only one thing for it:

Live, Echowood, live…

Rise, Echowood, rise…

Wake, Echowood – awake…

[Silvia begins strumming quietly]

Silvia Linwood 

And so it was: the hope of the child-maker and the old god and all the millions within the Echowood turned time and fate aside, and in that moment, the Echowood was truly born: it’s history stretching away into the distant past and its future safe and certain. The earth ceased to collapse into the center of all things, and in the place it had fallen, there came the great sea: still drawing all things to the heart of the deep, but no longer dragging the Echowood into oblivion. Yet as the old god and the maker-child descended for the first time to walk the world of their creation, they found something they did not expect… something they did not sing into being. The Nevermoor – known to some as the great fog-bog – now encircled the Echowood, binding it in space and time at the border between worlds. There, in that place of mist and mud and tar, all the death and decay of a world meant to die at the moment of its birth is contained and absorbed: a scar on the land, holding the chaos beyond the worlds at bay, as it waits for an end still to come. But the Echowood endures, ever-shifting, ever-changing, ever-growing, even as the centuries wear on. Yet we thank them still, the great creators who made and saved our world in a single day: the old-god and the maker-child, Rowan Little-Ash and the great sprite Gr-

[The front door swings open]

[Grael’s wings buzz as he enters]

Grael

Traveler, I’m home! Can you come help me with-

[Grael stops, frozen at the sight of Silvia]

Grael

Linwood. I told you that you and your ilk are not welcome here.

[Silvia stands up and begins collecting her things]

Silvia Linwood

I am so sorry m’lord… I did not realize this was your inn, or I would have never dared to enter.

Grael

It’s – It’s fine, please just… Leave, and I’ll be willing to overlook it.

[Silvia crosses the room]

Silvia Linwood

Of course. Thank you, m’lord. I bid thee and thy guest health and happiness, unto the ending of all things.

Grael

Just go!

[Silvia rushes for the front door – then stops, turning back]

Silvia Linwood

Wonderful talking with you, Traveler. Best of luck.

[The door swings shut behind them]

[A long silence]

Grael

What did she mean by that?

[The Traveler remains silent, terrified]

[Grael’s wings flutter as he moves towards them]

Grael 

What was she telling you? What lies was she filling your head with? Huh?

[The Traveler doesn’t answer]

[Grael snarls, slamming a fist into the table]

Grael

Answer, damn you!

[Wine drips to the floor where a toppled bottle smashed]

[Long silence, Grael catches his breath slightly]

Grael

Traveler, I…

[The Traveler jumps from their chair, knocking it over as they run]

Grael

Traveler? Traveler!

[The Traveler throws the back door open, running into the woods]

[The sounds of the Echowood envelope them]

Grael

Traveler! Traveler!!

[Only the echoes of his cries return]

[End Credits]

Narrator

Tales of the Echowood. Episode Eight: Songs of the Echowood. Starring Leslie Redman as Rowan Baumann and Silvia Linwood, Tal Minear as the Traveler, and Sam Taylor as Grael, with original music and special music editing by Jesse Haugen. Written and produced by Trevor Van Winkle, with musical direction by Virginia Spotts. This episode was made possible by our supporters on Kickstarter and Patreon.com/homesteadcorner. Our executive producer was Axel Allcock. To learn more about the series and listen to our other podcasts, visit Homesteadonthecorner.com. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, feel free to connect with us on Twitter and Instagram @echowoodpod, and leave a review on Apple Podcasts or the podcatcher of your choice. I’m Trevor Van Winkle, this is Homestead on the Corner, and you’re listening to: Tales of the Echowood.

[Main theme]


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