Site Overlay

Ep301 Recap

Undead Rise and a Witch on the Hunt

Gravers Dig begins with a short prequel film establishing the events to come in Series 3.

Brigthwyna, Orddu Fab, Master, and Teulyddog

Brigthwyna (Satine Phoenix), the Celt demigoddess owner/operator of Gravers Dig, and her high priest Teulyddog (Jamison Stone) travel to the Dbu Wold necropolis by way of divine teleportation.  They arrive at Somarria’s vast cemetery city to meet her ogre lieutenant and surly lapdog, Master (David Baxter), Gravers Dig’s notorious “Dogs” merchant.

The ogre and his best canine buddy, Unrooly, are tasked with keeping a watchful eye on someone.

But on whom…and to what end?

Brigthwyna is dealing with unintended imperial pressures due to her recent hunting event, as seen in the last episode of Series 1 “The Wild Hunt.”

So, let’s recap:

Brigthwyna’s Wild Hunt began with a divine summoning spell.  Blasting loudly across the continent, she blew the fabled Carnyx Horn, calling forth every wild dog, canine brute, and pack hound in Somarria to her aid.  Surrounded by thousands of yapping and howling hounds, she riled up the citizens of Gravers Dig with a grand orator’s speech, calling everyone to the chase. Finally, when both hounds and citizens were worked up into a full-throated, frothing frenzy, Brigthwyna led the assembled host on a bloody mass-killing rampage. First, they sacked the sister city of Sheol and then moved like a plague of locusts upon other unsuspecting settlements that eventually culminated with Kor-goor (an orc stronghold), taken by storm.

The whole endeavor was less a gentrified fox hunt and more a semblance of war.

In hindsight, it’s hardly shocking, then, that news of Brigthwyna’s destructive hunt and the brazen murder of so many ultimately found its way into the imperial senate halls of Saratof. And just as likely, it became news that set government officials’ colic nerves on edge—especially with the advent of the new criterion system of news delivery, the titular Kordavan Informant newspaper. Its busy bee staff traveled the world, turning over stones, searching for the next breaking news story to frighten and mesmerize main-street Chaldea.

For forty years, Emperor Kordaava reigned with the Spear of Set in his ruling fist—the principal symbol of his empire—and an army of drasildar at his back.  He had maintained strict peace through unwavering edict and confrontational deadly force.

As part of Kordaava’s peace initiative, immortal beings were banished far from Chaldea.

And for her part, Brigthwyna—a well-known demigoddess and mischief maker—was summarily tossed out on her ear, banished off-world to who knew where.  Many believe she was given a leave or die ultimatum, as were a handful of other minor deities, dragons, and semi-divine celebrities. Those who wouldn’t or couldn’t leave Chaldea, the emperor positioned a drasildar on their chest, if not figuratively then literally.

Chaldea belonged to Marcosta Kordaava.

Now the emperor is dead. The indomitable Spear of Set buried, useless, in his corpse’s chest.  Drasildar the world over have abandoned their guardianship posts. And peace across Chaldea remains fragile, leaving a vacuous power void for any immortals to return.

Enter the return of Brigthwyna.

One would surmise the blood had not yet dried on the throne before Brigthwyna caught wind of Kordaava’s demise and hurried to get her divine posterior back to Chaldea and to her home—Gravers Dig.

And none can say how many other previously banished individuals also returned, eager to fill the power void that assassination left behind.

The Senate—the advisory council to the emperor, the foundation and backbone of the empire and its one-hundred-twelve living laws—has a grip on the empire that grows increasingly tenuous. It struggles to keep kingdoms from going rogue as insurrectionists in rat form nibble at the hems of civilization.

Nabu Pabu, the Anumian scholar, once predicted, “When you see Saratof surrounded by armies, you will know that her desolation is near.”

Kordaava dead. The Senate in disarray. Set’s one-world religion resisted by every pantheon ever worshipped by any mortal.  Brigthwyna and her ilk free to do as they please.

Stay tuned.

A thrilling recipe for disaster is coming to a theatre near you.

More than just hounds answered Brigthwyna’s Carnyx Horn klaxon call, it would seem. Ominous reverberations echo across Somarria and perhaps around the world, prodding, ruffling feathers, possibly even waking and summoning the wrong individuals?

It's excruciatingly difficult to unring such a bell or to ask people awakened to nightmares to go back to sleep.

What did Brigthwyna mean when she said, “Kordaava was just the curtain that hid the performers”?

The not-so-dumb mensa ogre understood with his own idiom:  “There is always a bigger alpha dog.”

In Dbu Wold, Brigthwyna is on a mission. Her normal clubbable laissez-faire leadership style has gone to be replaced with a driven anxious concern. She didn’t come to Somarria’s city of the dead for tea and crumpets. Oh, no.

She has a task for Orddu Fab (Susanna Burney), a Celt Dynion Mwyn witch she imprisoned in Dbu Wold two-hundred years ago.

Orddu Fab (“Orthee Vab,” for those interested in the nuisance of Celt pronunciation) is slightly unhinged if not completely insane.  Was she always a few seeds short of a garden or was her long spiral into the dark pit of madness the result of centuries’ long imprisonment with no one except the dead for companionship?

When we’re introduced to Orddu Fab, she’s in the midst of an intense interrogation and would appear by any rational thinking individual to be on the verge of a psychotic break.  One after another, she puts hard-probing questions to skeletal corpses that have no possibility of answering.

Or do they?

Brigthwyna seems to relish having a crazy witch on the payroll, as she almost gleefully exclaims, “When you combine crazed and witch, you can get some pretty spellbinding results.”

What results might she be insinuating?

Orddu Fab is on the hunt for her long-dead son, Brenhinol Brân.

Brigthwyna intends to raise an army and means for Brân to give it to her.  We’re left to speculate who or what Brân might be: a noble, a military general, perhaps one with Brân-new allies.

We could speculate till the corpses shamble home what she intends to do with such an army. Is it for offense or defense? Is she an arms dealer, hoping to sell mercenaries?

For two-hundred years, Orddu Fab has toiled, searching, spiraling into recklessness as she is driven to find her son’s bones.  A seemingly impossible task. The proverbial needle in a stack of needles.

To assist in this endeavor, Brigthwyna returns Orddu Fab’s Spell Focus—her staff, an icon of witchcraft. And she commands the witch to summon the dead to aid in the search: “Many hands make light work.” Which she does in a state of grand ecstasy.

Finally, Brigthwyna provides Orddu Fab with a vile of precious white lotus to resurrect Brân, but before it will function properly, all the jigsawn pieces of the skeletal puzzle need to be rounded up, ensuring that all of Orddu Fab’s zombies and skeletons can put the broken bones of Brân together again.

Brigthwyna takes her leave, and the prologue ends with thousands of undead answering Orddu Fab’s summons.


The Dearly Nearly Departed

At the beginning of Episode 1, Orddu Fab is filthy drunk with arcane ecstasy acquired by her recently returned Spell Focus staff and basks in the glowing adulation of the host that push closer to pay respect and undying, undead fealty.

She gives a quick and heartwarming General Mayhem speech to her troops.

In a nearby tree, an inconspicuous owl takes in the proceedings.  More on this foul fowl later.

In the prologue, when Orddu Fab was interrogating the bone pile, we understood she was searching for her son, “scattered all over hell,” as she exclaimed with frustration.

Now her instructions are more specific. “Find my son’s wondrous head.”

Not at all creepy.

The tribe of undead immediately moves to obey their mistress, and they shuffle off to perform the great head hunt.

All except…

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong…

Four newfound zombies.  Recently deceased. More recently unceased. With slight decay around the edges and just the tiniest whiff of cadaverine perfume, they hold their position dazed and confused, unaffected by the witch’s command presence.

We’re introduced to the Nearly Departed:

ARCHIBALD ASHTOOTH (Andy Dopieralski), a Pert warlock; BAHATI (Maleah Woodley), a Targonian druid; CASS (Dylan Smith), a Rooshen bard; and SAOIRSE (Anne Carlton), a Celt warrior.

Cass, Bahati, Archibald, and Saoirse

These are not your ordinary garden-variety zombies and they quickly pepper the witch with qualifying questions, probing for descriptive details pertaining to the wondrous head.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail, business-minded folk are quick to point out.  Oddly enough, these four Nearly Departed understand this notion as well in death as they might have in life. To fulfill the dread task given to them, they need more information for better planning.

Orddu Fab is only momentarily intrigued by the odd self-aware talking zombies; however, she quickly tires of their impertinent questions.

“Search,” she commands again and goes on her merry way, leaving the four to ponder their existence and grapple with the auspicious realization: they’d recently bit the bucket, took a dirt nap, and are now unliving proof of life.

Bahati asks what everyone is thinking: “Anyone remember how we got here?”

To which Saoirse responds, “I think we died.”

Brain synapses dulling with rigor mortis, they are unaware of how they came to be dead or how they ended up in Dbu Wold.

Before they can discuss the matter any further, the thrum of bongo drums catches their attention and lure them to a nearby amphitheater, where they run afoul of the Billy Club, a goblin thieves’ guild run by Bongo Billie (Izabella Alvarez), a blind goblin matron and guild leader.  Her sidekick—a human child, one Billy the Kid (Benjamin McAteer)—energetically waves an obnoxious orange flag.  A telltale sign that they are an official hunting party out of Gravers Dig.

Our four zombie heroes are undead monsters—or so it would seem—and have no such orange flag. They are not the hunters; they are the hunted.

Hidden around the amphitheater stage are four goblins lying in wait, eager to put the zombies back in the ground. The goblins quickly attack… and quickly die… and the quick fight is seemingly over before it hardly even began, the foolish goblins being quickly overpowered by our Super Zombie Friends.

Bongo Billie takes the defeat in stride.

If the Billy Club wants the four Nearly Departed to be dead—or perhaps more dead—she doesn’t seem to care anymore. So, the goblins take no further action against the zombies.

The skirmish seemed to be a test of some kind.  Bongo Billy admits as much when she says, “Your fighting skills are much improved, your transformation complete.”

Out of the mouths of bongos and billies.

Before the odd comment can be further clarified, proof that the Billy Club is an active participant of the Somarrian Hunt is verified with the appearance of Wilhelm (Markus Maes)—a hunt referee assigned to the goblins.

Normally, referees are neutral observers—standoffish, remaining invisible and strictly out of the action. Wilhelm, however, showing up and talking to the Nearly Departed is odd and not at all typical.

And with his appearance, a logjam of memories is released to our Nearly Departed. They, too, were hunters with orange flags and referees not too long ago. When they died, their flags were likely returned with the referees back to Gravers Dig to be assigned to another party.

Acquiring another orange flag suddenly seems quite prudent—especially since so many active hunting parties are constantly ranging the Somarrian pride lands. Cass acts, going for the goblins’ flag. But Wilhelm intervenes, claiming Cass will first have to defeat Wilhelm in a duel if he wants the flag.

Again, this is abnormal and a strict breach of the hunting code of conduct.

As it stands, two hunting parties displaying orange flags may not engage in hostilities. The Nearly Departed used to have an orange flag—of this they are certain now—though they lost it in death.  And thereby they are technically no longer under its protection, leaving them open to attack from the Billy Club or other hunting parties.

Something reeks of rot in the state of Gravers Dig, one might say. Strange days.

Bongo Billie suddenly declares, “My performance is over.”

She and Billy the Kid depart as Wilhelm protects their retreat.

Strange days, indeed.

Recall that owl that was watching the earlier proceedings.  After Wilhelm and the Billy Club depart, the owl swoops down and makes introductions—cracking open a whoody-who line of dialogue.

The owl (which, like everything in Dbu Wold , ain’t what it seems) turns out to be Sally, a crafty goblin familiar of a grand powerful mage…or so she boasts. Those paying attention from Series 1 will recognize Sally (played to great affect by Anne Carlton), who is indeed a familiar to one Sagacious, an enigmatic Wizard of Celt fey origin and a bitter rival of Brigthwyna.

Sally was sent to fetch the four and quickly convinces them to follow her.

We next catch up with the Nearly Departed on the perimeter of Dbu Wold. Sally leads the four zombies outside the Necropolis walls.

In Series 1, the Ballbarians had dealings with Sagacious, and he was concerned, if not afraid, to enter the Necropolis or get anywhere near the Holy Ground of Arawn lest he attract the wrong attention, Arawn being the Celt god of death and Brigthwyna’s patron.

Now Sagacious appears to the Nearly Departed  in the guise of Tenacious (Jesse Keeter), Sally’s titular grand mage. Sagacious or Tenacious, or whoever he really is, is fond of roleplaying and costumes and disguises, taking no chances at being identified by his archrival Brigthwyna. In Series 1, he and Sally together form the mysterious Somarrian Hunt party, “Team Invisible.”  Sally’s patron practically exudes obfuscation and subterfuge.

Tenacious has an offer for the Nearly Departed, one they can’t—and don’t—refuse.

His owl spy Sally infiltrated Dbu Wold on a fact-finding mission and understands Orddu Fab (and by extension, Brigthwyna), is searching for the head of Brân.

Can someone please tell us who this flake Brân is? The four zombies are starving for information, and Tenacious obliges.

“Brân is an evil Celtic deity.  He will raise an undead army and make war upon the living,” Tenacious explains.

There is that reference to the army Brigthwyna desires. Pieces of this puzzle are coming together. No flake is that Brân.

The plan that follows is simple: Tenacious hopes to avoid disaster by preventing Orddu Fab from finding the skull.  The four Nearly Departed, being as they are dead can move about Dbu Wold undetected, are instructed to find the skull and return it directly to Tenacious. If they do so, he will return them to life.

The zombies like the sound of being alive. Alive always sounds better than dead. Or undead. Or unalive.

Their first task is to return to Dbu Wold and infiltrate Orddu Fab’s lair. The witch has been collecting the bones of her dead son and piecing them together. Tenacious needs to know how close she is to completion—is the skull the final piece to her morbid puzzle?

As his final act, he casts illusionary armor on the four. “Those who look upon you will see what they expect to see. The living will see you alive, as you once were. The dead—and more importantly, Orddu Fab—will see you as dead.”

With the promise of being returned to life, the Nearly Departed agree.

But does Tenacious actually have the power to return life?

In the Series 1 finale, poor Sally was dead in the Celt underworld where her soul would remain throughout eternity.  Yet in a post-credits scene, we see Sagacious summon her soul and return her to life.

So, there you have it. We’ve seen him perform this miracle before; will he do it again?

No battle plan survives contact with the enemy, eh? Our Super Zombie Friends are likely to run into roadblocks and side quests on their way to finding Brân’s skull.

Stick around for Series 3, “Gravers Dig,” and find out if the Nearly Departed can regain their lives or die trying.