INT. A DILAPIDATED SHACK - THE DEAD OF NIGHT ALDRICH EVERGREEN sits in a chair, sweeping through a book. He has intent on his face, if it were bright enough for one to see his face.
ALDRICH: I found it, this is what we needed, right Havok?
HAVOK is in ALDRICH’S head, and only ALDRICH can hear him, although it wouldn’t be that way for much longer.
HAVOK (V. O.), concerned: That’s right, but remember what I said Al, there’s no telling what this could do to you when you use it. ALDRICH: Relax man, we’ve been training me for over a decade, just for this. I’ll be fine. I just recite these words right? HAVOK (V. O.): Right, best we take the whole book with us so you don’t forget the lyrics. ALDRICH: Don’t you worry about that. I already… ALDRICH tears a page from the book and puts it in his pocket. ALDRICH (CONT’D): …have a plan in mind. With this my friend, we’re ready. HAVOK (V. O.): Ready? You don’t mean… ALDRICH: That’s right Havok, we’re…
ALDRICH shuts the book and stands up.
ALDRICH (CONT’D): …going back to Gardnia!
EXT. THE CITY OF GOLDEN GROVES - DAY THE MAIN SQUARE A young lady, FELICIA RYDER, is heading towards the acropolis in the center of the city of Golden Groves, concealing her face with a cloak.
FELICIA (V. O.): That’s the philosopher H.Q. in this town. Oh this is great! I’ll go in, take my exam to get my title of Philosopher, and then I can start working! Oh I can’t wait!
A GUARD of the acropolis walks towards FELICIA as she nears the entrance.
GUARD OF ACROPOLIS #1: Excuse me Miss? FELICIA: Is there something wrong sir? GUARD OF ACROPOLIS #1: You are not allowed to conceal your face when heading into the acropolis. FELICIA: Well I’ll only be in for a moment so-- GUARD OF ACROPOLIS #1: I’m afraid rules are rules ma’am. You’ll have to lower the hood. FELICIA: Well see I would, but I have to… FELICIA takes off past the guard at an inhuman speed towards the entrance of the acropolis. FELICIA (CONT’D): go!
FELICIA runs through the entrance and into the main chamber of the acropolis and trips over her feet suddenly. INT. ACROPOLIS MAIN ROOM - DAY
FELICIA, worried: What’s going on? My fate isn’t working all of a sudden! C’mon work! Work!
Behind FELICIA, two GUARDS notice her and begin to pursue her. FELICIA takes off down a hall of the acropolis main room.
GUARD OF ACROPOLIS #2: You! Halt! GUARD OF ACROPOLIS #3: You can’t escape! FELICIA: I’m not trying to escape! All I wanted to do was take the damn philosopher entrance exam and you guys are chasing me down like I’m a…
FELICIA gets to the end of the hallway with no unlocked doors. She turns back and sees the two guards closing in on her.
FELICIA (CONT’D): …criminal. GUARD OF ACROPOLIS #3: Nowhere to run now girl, now cover your mouth with one hand and put the other one straight up into the air.
FELICIA begins to comply when a man steps out from one of the doors that was locked. He waves his right hand down, as if to tell the men to be at ease.
GUARD OF ACROPOLIS #2, surprised: Master Veidrick! VEIDRICK: She is with me gents, I apologize for the inconvenience. GUARD OF ACROPOLIS #3: No, not at all sir. Not an inconvenience in the least.
The two GUARDS head back to their stationed positions.
VEIDRICK: My humblest of apologies Miss? FELICIA: Umm…Felicia, Felicia Ryder. VEIDRICK: Ah, Miss Ryder. Is there anything I can help you with? FELICIA: Well I’m just looking to take my philosopher entrance exam. I’m scheduled to take it today and…
FELICIA jolts upright and starts running back down the hall.
FELICIA (CONT’D): I’m late, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late! Old man, which way to the test site?! VEIDRICK: Old? Why, I’m only fifty-two! FELICIA (O. S.): The test site! VEIDRICK: Straight down the hallway opposite of this one from the main room. First door on your right. FELICIA (O. S.): Thanks Old man! VEIDRICK: Old. Hmph! Why, I never. No matter, I’d best be on my way as well.
INT. TEST SITE - DAY
Two INSTRUCTORS are sitting behind a large desk made for three, with an empty chair next to the second INSTRUCTOR.
LENIENT INSTRUCTOR: It appears our next would-be philosopher is running a tad late. HARSH INSTRUCTOR: It matters not. We have other tests to perform. If Felicia Ryder couldn’t afford to be on time for her exam then-- FELICIA (O. S.) WAIT!!!
FELICIA busts into the room in a huff. She’s winded.
FELICIA, exhausted: I’m here! HARSH INSTRUCTOR: Yes…quite. Well Ryder, you were four minutes late, and I will deduct the time from my over all score accordingly. FELICIA: I understand sir.
Felicia puts her bag down beside her and takes her seat in the lone chair across the room from the instructors.
FELICIA (V. O.): What a jerk, it’s not easy showing up to a place in a city you’ve never even been to! LENIENT INSTRUCTOR: Oh come now, it’s not such a big deal, after all Master Veidrick hasn’t even graced us with his presence yet.
VEIRDRICK stumbles in from the door behind the instructors, much to FELICIA’S surprise.
FELICIA: Old man! You’re the master of this acropolis? VEIDRICK: Again with that old comment. HARSH INSTRUCTOR: He is Master Veidrick of the Golden Groves acropolis, the most esteemed acropolis in all of Gardnia, and you are to address him as such madam! And another thing-- VEIDRICK, cutting him off: Now, now, enough of all this. Let’s just let the test…
VEIDRICK takes his seat with the other two instructors.
VEIDRICK (CONT’D): …commence.
The three INSTRUCTORS all stand and bow to FELICIA, reciting a speech before sitting back down.
VEIDRICK, AND THE OTHER TWO INSTRUCTORS: You who are about to undergo a series of challenges marked by the footsteps of the worthy and the tears of the valiant, we bow to you. It is every acropolis’ mission to ensure the safety and professionalism that is entailed in a Country Approved Philosopher exam. Without further ado, the first portion shall now commence. LENIENT INSTRUCTOR: Would you follow me please Miss Felicia? FELICIA: Oh, of course.
The INSTRUCTOR takes FELICIA to a personal portion of the test room and sits down across from her.
LENIENT INSTRUCTOR: I hope you’re ready Felicia, the test has already begun. But relax, it’s the instructor’s job to make sure you are safe throughout the whole thing after all. My name is Mary Weathers, I hope you pass. FELICIA: Thank you. MARY: Alrighty, now my portion of the exam is an oral test. Answer these questions to the best of your ability. FELICIA: Yes ma’am. MARY: Question number one: How long was the Grand Age War? FELICIA, thinking for a moment: No one knows for sure, since during the war all electronic data that recorded the events of the war was lost. The general idea is somewhere around fifty years though. MARY: Good, good. Alright, now what does the title of philosopher give you? FELICIA: The title of Philosopher comes with a couple of privileges and responsibilities. First and foremost, philosophers also must uphold the laws of whatever countries they represent. They are also soldiers of their country, to be drafted in times of war, and peace keepers in times of peace. Philosophers must keep a journal of all they explore and catalogue it in said journal. Being a philosopher gives you the honor of doing all of these things, puts your family under the direct protection of their local acropolis, and (most importantly) gives you the right to practice the artes of the fates. MARY: Amazing! Okay, next question.
The other INSTRUCTOR and VEIDRICK talk while MARY administers the first portion of FELICIA’S test.
HARSH INSTRUCTOR: It’s like she memorized the book. VEIDRICK: Nothing in the rules says that you can’t. HARSH INSTRUCTOR: And her face is concealed, she’s not allowed to do that here. VEIRDRICK: I allowed it, after all, isn’t it obvious why it’s hidden like that? HARSH INSTRUCTOR: You betting she’s a crimson eyes sir? VEIDRICK: It’s more of an educated guess, but yes. HARSH INSTRUCTOR: That’s gutsy, Gardnia and Reddenon aren’t exactly on good terms. VEIDRICK: And it’s reasons such as those why I am proud to see citizens such as her wanting to join the ranks of Gardnia’s fine philosophers. MARY: Alright, we’re done here. You passed, flying colors I might add. FELICIA, trying to conceal her excitement: Really?! Ahem…thank you ma’am. MARY: I was glad to.
MARY walks FELICIA back to the main part of the test site and sits back at her original spot.
HARSH INSTRUCTOR: Alright kid, it’s time for the second test. Follow me through that door if you want to be a philosopher. Exit through the one behind you if you want to stay safe, you can’t have both anymore. FELICIA: I won’t give up here. HARSH INSTRUCTOR, offended slightly: Tch! Fine. Follow me.
The INSTRUCTOR leads FELICIA through the door out to a large wooded area covered by a dome.
INT. TEST SITE 2 - DAY
HARSH INSTRUCTOR: Alright kid, from this moment on you’re in my boot camp. Until you prove otherwise you’re nothing more than dirt that sticks to the heel of my shoe. Your job is to use your fate to impress me. My name is Commander Avid, and I do NOT impress easy. FELICIA (V. O.): Bring it on, no one’s turning me away. AVID: Alright kid, what’s your fate? FELICIA: I do speed artes. AVID: Hmm, alright. Well let’s see just how fast you really are.
A light flashes and FELICIA feels light on her feet for the first time since she entered the acropolis.
FELICIA (V. O.): Oh I see, the acropolis must somehow shut off your fate when you enter it. That’s why I pretty much busted my butt when I ran inside. AVID: It’s only fair to warn you, I use fire artes, and I aim for injury. With five minutes on the clock you are to avoid my attacks. Go!
AVID attacks FELICIA for five minutes, FELICIA dodges all of his fiery attacks, some with ease, some being close calls. All the while she attempts to keep her cloak from burning up.
FELICIA (V. O.): It’s like he’s aiming at my cloak! AVID (V. O.): Damn, she’s a lucky one. It’s not about not getting hit, it’s about using your artes to survive the attack, she’s just dismissing it. FELICIA: Has it been five minutes sir? Because this feels like it sure is taking awhile. AVID: We’ll see how you deal with this one. With the power of fire and the heat in my heart…
Red aura begins to circle AVID, warding FELICIA off.
AVID (CONT’D): …I call upon this arte!
A giant firestorm begins to erupt over the small forest, FELICIA takes off, looking for an exit before she is consumed.
FELICIA (V. O.): Blocked off. Blocked off. Blocked off! What am I going to do? There’s nowhere to go! Am I going to die here?
Suddenly the fire and trees all disappear, leaving nothing but a white room.
VEIDRICK (O. S.): That’s more than enough Commander, wouldn’t you agree? AVID, embarrassed: Of course sir. AVID takes FELICIA back to the main room and sits back down in his spot.
INT. TEST SITE - DAY
VEIDRICK: There is only one more test Miss Ryder. But before we get there I have a request of you madam. FELICIA, nervous: Yes sir? VEIDRICK: How about you drop the hood and grace us with your face? FELICIA: Well sir I have this skin condition and-- VEIDRICK: You hail from Reddenon correct? FELICIA: How did you know? VEIDRICK: A lucky guess Miss Ryder. I must say, Gardnia has always been known for its open arms to any and all immigrants, but Reddonians aren’t exactly an every day find here. Nevertheless, we do not discriminate. So please, drop your hood and let’s end this exam.
FELICIA slowly drops the hood of her cloak to her back, showing her red eyes and black hair.
MARY: You’re so pretty. FELICIA, embarrassed: Thank you ma’am. AVID (V. O.): Damned Reddonians, taking Gardnia more every day. I’ve got to do something about this. VEIDRICK: Well now Miss Ryder, all I need from you now is to answer this last question. What is it that drives you? FELICIA: What drives me? VEIDRICK: That’s right, this is the last part of the exam, we measure your intentions. Why do you want to be a philosopher? FELICIA: For…
Everyone leans forward, awaiting her response.
They all lean a littler closer.
FELICIA, with a peace sign: For money!
An exaggerated anime response follows.
VEIDRICK, attempting to regain his composure: I see, well…very well. We’ll all be back in a moment to give you your results. FELICIA: Yes sir.
FELICIA waits in the test site room for what feels like a long time before the three instructors return.
VEIDRICK: Miss Felicia Ryder? FELICIA: Yes sir? VEIDRICK: It is with great pride that we here at the Golden Groves acropolis welcome you into the family of philosophy!
FELICIA is stunned for a moment, as if she didn’t expect to pass.
FELICIA: I got in?
FELICIA looks around, as if expecting some sort of person to let her know that this was all a joke.
FELICIA: I got in! I’m finally a philosopher! VEIDRICK, handing her license to her: That’s right! Class C!
An exaggerated anime response follows once more, this time on FELICIA’S part.
FELICIA: Class C? That’s the lowest class! VEIDRICK: Fret not my dear, only in extremely rare cases does an individual pass the test and begin as a class above C. From a small seedling, a mighty oak is grown.
FELICIA nods with assurance on her face. CUT TO: INT. THE GOLDEN GRAILS BAR - NIGHT FELICIA is sitting on a stool looking at her license, admiring it while sipping from her drink.
FELICIA (V. O.): Felicia Ryder, a Gardnia Philosopher huh? My dad wouldn’t believe this. I really did it, I really did it.
Little does she know that she’s being watched from afar by AVID, sitting in a booth across the bar.
AVID (V. O.): That little girl made a fool of me, and there’s no way I’m letting her be a philosopher of Gardnia. I’ve already got two of my pupils on it. This’ll be taken care of tonight.
AVID sloshes his grog into his mouth as two young men walk up to FELICIA. FELICIA puts her license in her pocket and looks up at them.
PUPIL #1: Hello Miss, you wouldn’t happen to be Felicia Ryder would you? FELICIA: Who’s asking? PUPIL #1: Dreadfully sorry, that was terribly rude of me. I’m Asdar, and this is Rehnog. We’re philosophers you see. FELICIA: Oh, pleased to meet you. ASDAR: We’d heard that you had acquired your own title today and we wanted to congratulate you. If you don’t mind, could we buy you a drink? FELICIA: Oh no, I’m fine. Mine is still pretty much full, I appreciate it though. RHENOG: Then how about a game? FELICIA, put-off: Game? ASDAR: Merely a sporting event between philosophers of course. I’m sure you’ve heard of an Angle Battle? FELICIA: Angle Battle? ASDAR: It’s a competition between two or more scholars. Each competitor, or each team in some situations, is to put an item of value up for betting into the pot. The object of the game is to incapacitate your opponents, the winner gets the pot. For instance, you could bet your license, and we’d bet some money. This is what makes a being a philosopher fun. FELICIA: No thanks, I’m not interested. ASDAR: Well hold on dear, you haven’t even seen what we’re willing to bet yet. How does fifty sound? FELICIA: I’m not interested in fifty silver pieces. Not enough to risk my license. ASDAR: Ah, but who ever mentioned silver? We’re talking gold. FELICIA, eyes lit up: Fifty gold pieces? RHENOG: Each. FELICIA: You’re on. ASDAR: Excellent. Now we’ll need a licensed instructor to oversee the game, but oh what luck, I believe I spy Commander Avid across the bar. FELICIA: Avid? ASDAR: You just wait one moment dear, I’ll go see if he’s interested in refereeing. FELICIA (V. O.): That fire guy again? Something’s up. I don’t think I’m going to stick around for this. RHENOG grabs FELICIA’S arm as she turns away, attempting to leave. RHENOG: Where do you think you’re going? FELICIA: I changed my mind, I don’t want to participate. RHENOG: You already said you would. What is a philosopher worth if they don’t keep their word?
FELICIA looks worried as AVID and ASDAR stride across the bar.
AVID: So day one and you’re already looking for an Angle Battle eh? You sure are a gutsy brat. Fine, the lot behind the bar will do just fine.
The four walk out as a mysterious hooded ALDRICH slams his empty grail on the counter top.
ALDRICH: I agree Havok, she's going to need some help.
EXT. THE EMPTY LOT BEHIND THE GOLDEN GRAILS BAR - NIGHT
AVID: These boys already fill you in with the rules I take it? FELICIA, nervous: Yeah. AVID: Good. Are all bets in the pot? ASDAR: Yes sir. AVID: Good. Then without further delay, let the Angle Battle…
AVID fires off a fireball into the air, like a starting gun shot.
AVID (CONT’D): …begin!
The three battle it out for awhile exchanging fierce blows, but it becomes clear that this triple threat is really two on one.
FELICIA: What’s going on? You two haven’t hit each other yet. ASDAR: Nothing in the rules states that we can’t form alliances in the middle of the match. FELICIA (V. O.): Alliance my ass, it’s clear what this is. And I walked right into it.
FELICIA spends some time dodging RHENOG’S physical attacks and ASDAR’S water-based artes before RHENOG gets his hands on her. In no time at all he brings her to the ground and bends back her left arm in a generous position.
RHENOG: Surrender. FELICIA: No! RHENOG: Surrender or I break it. FELICIA: No! RHENOG, annoyed: You’re trying my patience. FELICIA: Being a philosopher is all I’ve ever wanted to be. So I won’t give up, even if you break my arm, I won’t give up! RHENOG, sighing: Cheap theatrics.
As RHENOG goes to break FELICIA’S arm, the ground begins to shake, he trips and falls flat on his face.
ASDAR: Who in the?
ALDRICH steps into the moonlight that glitters through the lot.
RHENOG steps back a few feet and stares on at the mysterious figure
RHENOG: Who the hell are you? ALDRICH: Just a philosopher like yourself, looking to jump in on this Angle Battle. ASDAR: Afraid we’re full mate, come back later. ALDRICH: I’ve been away for awhile, but if memory serves, you need only the consent of the majority of the competitors involved to join the Angle Battle. I’ll also put up fifty gold coins as well. That right ref? AVID, annoyed: Yeah, yeah that’s right. ALDRICH: So what do you say to a little friendly competition? ASDAR: No thanks. RHENOG: Bring it on. ASDAR: Rhenog, what in blazes are you doing? RHENOG: If you’re so scared Asdar, I’ll fight him. But this is going to happen. ASDAR: Not without one more vote it won’t. All eyes fall on FELICIA, still on the floor. ALDRICH: What do you say? FELICIA: Okay? ALDRICH, grinning: Good. Fight back on?
ASDAR AND RHENOG jump backward and prepare a strategy as ALDRICH picks
FELICIA up off the floor.
FELICIA: Who are you? ALDRICH: A philosopher just like you. Those two are planning to steal your license from you, it wasn’t wise to come out here with them. FELICIA: You’re telling me. ALDRICH: Anyway, Havok and I thought it best to come out and help you. FELICIA: Havok? ALDRICH: My best friend. I’m Aldrich by the way, Aldrich Evergreen.
ALDRICH shakes FELICIA’S hand energetically as a wave of water comes their way. Suddenly ALDRICH throws his cloak at the wave and slams his foot on the ground, sending a rock into the cloak, extinguishing the wave.
ALDRICH: Stand back, I’ll handle this. HAVOK (V. O.): You sure you can do this Al? It’ll be your first real battle. ALDRICH: I’ve got this Havok, it’s about time for a test flight anyway.
ALDRICH takes off towards ASDAR and RHENOG, fighting them off with his ground artes. While this goes on, FELICIA merely watches at the spectacle before her.
FELICIA (V. O.): He’s handling them both on his own! For a weirdo who talks to himself, he’s impressive. ASDAR: You can’t stop us! No one has ever stopped the combined power of Asdar and Rhenog!
ALDRICH: Well how many have tried?
They all stop fighting for a moment and look at ALDRICH.
ALDRICH: I’m guess this ‘dynamic duo’ thing started up overnight huh?
ASDAR steps back and summons up a large wave, large enough to flood out the district.
FELICIA: He’ll destroy the city! RHENOG: Asdar you idiot! You’ll take me with him! ASDAR: This is all your fault in the first place Rhenog. DEAL WITH IT! AVID: What are you doing boy?! Flooding Golden Groves was not discussed! ASDAR: I won’t lose to a buffoon like him! I won’t!
ASDAR laughs maniacally as the wave nears ALDRICH.
FELICIA: Hey weirdo, get out of the way!
ALDRICH stands still and a black aura begins to wash over his body before the wave takes him. FELICIA is the only one who sees his silver hair turn jet black as the wave draws nearer.
FELICIA (V. O.): His hair, it changed.
The wave disperses entirely out of nowhere, as the mist clears, ALDRICH’S hair is silver again.
FELICIA (V. O.): Was I just seeing things? Either way, that was incredible. ALDRICH: I’m going to take a bet and say that your magic energy has to be just about out there water boy. And since you took down your friend for me, this is what I suggest. How about we call it a draw and we all walk away. ASDAR, dizzy: Sounds fair.
ALDRICH walks over to the bag where all the bets were put in and takes his small purse and FELICIA’S license out of it.
AVID (V. O.): Damn it! Who the hell was that kid? My two best students looked like trash! I’ll have both of their licenses, I swear it!
ALDRICH walks over to FELICIA and is about to hand her license to her, but before she can grab it he snatches it back.
FELICIA: What? ALDRICH: Don’t ever toy with this again. Your license is who you are. Without it you’re only a philosopher in name, and acquiring another one doesn’t come without consequences. FELICIA: I understand.
FELICIA takes her license from ALDRICH and they both start walking away from the lot.
ALDRICH: Do you have a place to stay? FELICIA: Not exactly. ALDRICH: I know a nice little inn that offers free stays to philosophers. I’ll take you there. FELICIA: Thanks. ALDRICH, smiling: No problem. FELICIA (V. O.): This guy may be weird, but he saved me. I owe him. I can’t let money have me make a bad decision--
FELICIA looks at ALDRICH angrily.
ALDRICH: What’s wrong? FELICIA: Wait a minute. You just cost me one hundred gold pieces back there! Do you have any idea what I could’ve done with that much money?!
ALDRICH begins running ahead of FELICIA as she starts chasing after him angrily.
ALDRICH: Are you serious? I saved you back there! FELICIA: My money! ALDRICH: You’re crazy! FELICIA: I’m crazy?!