Welcome to Hereabouts!

“You think there’s more to the story?”

“The story? No. Stories are always simple. The truth, that takes work.”


Welcome to Hereabouts, home to Westfall, A Queen’s Ransom, and Ivan the Brave.

Long Reads

Westfall – Ever have one of those dreams you can’t get out of your head?  Ever have an immortal faerie king take over your free nation?  18-year-old Rose doesn’t believe in rhetorical questions.  (Warnings: violence and violent deaths, some sexual references and language, politics)

Scripts & Screenplays

A Queen’s Ransom Princess Sasha plans to pay her fiance’s ransom with a song, but are the gods really on her side? (Warnings: fantasy violence, some adult themes, death)

Ivan the Brave – Can a simple but kindly prince defeat an immortal sorcerer?  (Warnings: fantasy violence, death)

The Midnight Dance (WIP) – A conspiracy of cobblers, or something more sinister?  This new spin an the original skazka sends familiar but unconventional detectives to a far off land to find out.

Quick Looks

Shorts Shorter works with rhythm, rhyme, and occasionally reason. (TV-PG)

Poems & Songs – Verse and rhyme, written for both fiction and memoir.  (TV-G, mostly)

The Real Life Personal journals on writing and life. (TV-G)

Short Stories – (pieces up for submission elsewhere have been removed and will be replaced with external links or re-posted later.)

 

Other Musings

Thereabouts – Cabin fever, but stuck wandering the web?  Check out my writer’s blog on Weebly.

 


Images by Pixabay.

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6: Smalltalk

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EXT. / INT. STOLIST PALACE – NIGHT

A CORRIDOR – SOON AFTER

A water clock bobs the tenth hour. 

Pavel watches the room from a doorway, tugs at his tight collar, then fights his hands not to.  He fidgets, pulls out a worn deck of cards.  His eyes slide back and forth:  Princesses.  Boyars.  Princesses…  Musicians, servants, attendants… 

Note:  No women servants.

He sighs.

Skipping steps rush past in bright blue:  The princess from the mountain tucks her doll behind her back and turns, smiling unafraid.  

 

PRINCESS

(sweetly) Keep up, Captain!

 

A breathless clatter: Then two SOLDIERS, plus FOUR (ND).

 

BLUE CAPTAIN

Princess, you mustn’t outstrip your guards.

 

PRINCESS

Captain Walsh, surely I must enjoy my father’s ball, being a princess and all.

 

BLUE CAPTAIN / WALSH

Apologies, milord…

 

PAVEL

Not at all, captain.  We haven’t met, princess…?

 

PRINCESS

Melina.

 

She sticks out a dainty hand.

 

PRINCESS / MELINA (CONT’D)

Will you kiss it?

 

PAVEL

Should I?

 

WALSH

If you’ll suffer her highness…

 

MELINA

Oh, I do hope you don’t suffer for me.

 

PAVEL

I’m the ambassador from Dolina, your highness, Lord Pavel Ilmenov.

 

Pavel bows and kisses her hand, and she grins.

 

MELINA

May I call you “Pasha”?

 

PAVEL

That’s rather familiar, isn’t it?

 

MELINA

I’m only asking. (re: the cards) What are those?

 

PAVEL

Tricks.

 

MELINA

I thought you were an ambassador, not a Fool.

 

PAVEL

As you like, your highness.

 

MELINA

I like a Fool then!

 

Pavel laughs.

 

MELINA (CONT’D)

I want a story.

 

He cuts the cards and draws one: Queen of Diamonds.

 

PAVEL

You know who this is?

 

MELINA

Zorya.  I’ll bet I can find Nevesta…

 

She plucks out the Queen of Hearts.  Pavel laughs, impressed.

 

MELINA (CONT’D)

Most Fools do this one next, to say, “Follow love, not treasure.”  But I like the Queen of Clubs…

 

She plucks it out and spins it.  Pavel grins, impressed.

 

MELINA (CONT’D)

Annamatka:  She’s a clever friend, the Earth, very wise.

 

She leans in.

 

MELINA (CONT’D)

(mock whisper) Don’t draw Spades. That’s Baba Yaga.

 

PAVEL

Who taught you that?

 

MELINA

My mother.

 

PAVEL

(bemused) Mine too.

 

MELINA

She gave me my doll too, for protection.

 

She shamelessly pulls a string necklace from his collar: a flat, triangle pendant dangles; the top two corners have extended lines.

 

MELINA (CONT’D)

That’s the God of Souls, Baba Yaga’s brother.  He’s good against her.  Family’s the best protection.

 

PAVEL

Thank you for your reassurance, princess.

 

MELINA

Oh, I don’t approve of being called “princess.”

 

WALSH

Your highness…

 

MELINA

(firm) On account of all my sisters, captain.  It makes me feel lonely.  My father calls me “Melinka.”

 

PAVEL

Being an ambassador’s a very formal duty, princess.

 

MELINA

I like you as a Fool.  Now you just have to make my eleven sisters like you. In only three nights, even.

 

PAVEL

You know about that?

 

MELINA

(innocently) Were you staying longer than the three-day Jubilee?

 

She skips off; the guards catch up rattling.  Pavel smiles a little, perplexed, looks across to the garden doorway —

He frowns at a vanishing tail of white.

 

EXT. THE PALACE GARDEN – CONTINUOUS

Up on the wall, soldiers watch the night.

Pavel takes a shadowy path near topiaries, hanging flowers, climbing ivy, a well.  He glances up at a window, tests the ivy with a satisfied tug:  Sturdy.

He finds a gate with an iron latch, leans back on it, twitches.

Clank.  He walks on; the latch loose behind him.

At a trellis of hanging flowers, he rests in shadow, tugs his collar.

 

PAVEL

(to himself) I’m sorry.

 

HELGA (O.S.)

I told you, no.

 

Pavel ducks behind a hedge, looks to —

A fountain and garden patch.  In criss-crossed shadow, Beliya stands with the young man from the gate.  Helga uproots pinkish white flowers, annoyed.

 

BELIYA

There is a chance he’d be suitable…

 

HELGA

I don’t like to repeat myself.

 

She rises, whips out a kerchief, wraps the plant stems in a practiced way.

 

YOUNG MAN

Helga…

 

HELGA

(angrily) Don’t be so familiar.  Stolist is a golden dung heap.  It attracts vermin. (composing herself) You ever talk to me again and you’ll be sure the king will know.

 

A clamor:  Medved and company rush the garden.  Pavel throws himself flat. 

 A GUARD grabs Beliya’s arm.  Another holds a spear between Helga and the young man.

 

MEDVED

Princess, when did you slip off?

 

HELGA

Sometime you were guarding the wine casket, captain.  I needed air, and flowers for the antechamber.

 

She takes up her place in formation.

 

HELGA

I’ll be going inside.

 

MEDVED

(to Beliya) You know the king’s rules, Lord Beliya.  We won’t warn you nicely again.

 

HELGA

I said, I’ll be going inside, captain.

 

MEDVED

You know your father’s orders.

 

HELGA

Yes.  I do.  Now follow them.

 

She sweeps back inside, forcing them to follow.  The boyar grabs the young man by the arm and drags him limping after.

 Pavel frowns.

 

PAVEL

And that’s something.

photo


Last Chapter               Story Notes                 Next Chapter

 

Images by Pixabay & Unsplash

 

Character Notes: Foils

  • Foils—not just for recycling anymore!   In traditional and modern storytelling alike, foils contrast the main character’s values or outlook with those of others; as opposed to animae / animi, who embody values characters need to develop for themselves.  Of course, the two categories can overlap.  The difference is that one emphasizes difference while the other motivates change.
  • It’s also possible to have characters who share the starring role act as foils for one another—a typical tool for buddy road-trip movies and even a few romances where the relationship isn’t the main goal.  The characters don’t necessarily have to be in conflict with one another, but they should be approaching the same problem in a different way.

Story Notes: The Fools

  • Playing cards were, I’ve mentioned in another post, not invented as we know them until around the 15th or 16th Centuries, but I like the thought of Fools deliberately notching their decks so they can tell stories via archetypes. (A small tribute to Slavic mythology and also C.G. Jung.)
  • My Fools are based loosely off the Skomorokh, a persecuted group of masked festival clowns and puppeteers in Russia in and likely before the 11th Century.  While Christian leadership chronicled them as the devil’s servants for snubbing order and authority, they survived for centuries as a necessary safety valve to let off social steam at festivals.
  • At first, I took the word Skomorokh in A Queen’s Ransom to name my enchanted forest. The idea was that it was so dangerous, only a “Fool” would venture in because they were neutral parties and wouldn’t be attacked.  However, the idea has since grown into its own culture in this fairy tale world.  I hope to explore them more in depth in future stories.

The End

 


We all want to know how the story ends, but we don’t ever want to reach the ending.  But until we accept that it ends, we’ll never be willing to let go and let other stories go forward without us.  And we need them to, we humans.  We need to see more than our own future, because that future is finite.  We need to believe in more futures than our own, in a future for everyone, even those we’ll never meet, if we’re ever to touch the eternal.


photo

5: The Interviews

Last Chapter                          Story Notes                             Next Chapter


EXT./INT. STOLIST PALACE – NIGHT

THE GREAT HALL

An opulent feast.  Lords and ladies and tradesmen crowd tables and socialize. 

THE PALACE WALLS

Along a wall-walk, grim-faced SOLDIERS pace on lookout.

THE MAIN GATE

Lords and merchants enter.  Beggars crowd the high road, fall back as GATEKEEPERS brandish spears.

 

GALEN (O.S.)

(singing) “I’ve no treasure in this world / as golden as the Dawn…”

 

Galen stands back, watching.

 

GALEN (CONT’D)

(singing) “…and She is gold for all, / even the pauper’s son.”

 

A BEGGAR

Alms, sirs?

 

A few merchants sneer.  Some BOYARS in tall hats dig in pockets. 

 One pale-haired, white-capped YOUNG MAN watches Galen.

 

GALEN

(singing) “To all your fields and gardens, / good, sirs, She prays true…

 

The young man tosses a silver coin —

 

GALEN (CONT’D)

(catching; spoken) Thank you, good sir.

 

— and limps inside.

 

GALEN (CONT’D)

(singing) To her Father, the Thunder, / and her lover the Dew.”

 

INSERT: The coin:  A raised image of Bald Mountain.

 THE GREAT HALL

Color-coordinated sets of soldiers (CAPTAINS and GUARDS (ND)) attend Helga and TEN other PRINCESSES.  Smiles are rare and polite.

Opposite, BOYARS and LADIES dance, feast, and socialize.  Lone lords glower through beards, and pairs whisper.  ATTENDANTS float trays of wine here and there, interrupting.

Pavel crosses the room, watching everything.  He plucks a glass off one tray, sets it down on another.

 

INTERCUT – PRINCESSES

Interviews:  Guards noticeable throughout:

–Twins, ILYA AND INNA (15), in green, share dessert.

 

PAVEL

Do you sleep well here?

 

ILYA

Like a log.

 

INNA

If a log snored.

 

ILYA

Like a log being sawed at.

 

INNA

That’s a good one.

 

ILYA

(to Pavel) It’s a creepy question, you know.

 

–ANNA (19), in red, sits wringing a folding fan:

 

ANNA

Oh, I don’t like dancing.  I get… dizzy.  I don’t like talking much either.  I really don’t like parties.  I just…  Ahem.

 

She falls quiet.

–EKATERINA (16), in black, turns a page of poetry:

 

EKATERINA

I imagine a dozen or so people here hate my father.  But you can’t control people. (beat) To be honest, maybe two dozen.

 

PAVEL

Your book is upside-down.

 

EKATERINA

I know.

 

–DINARA (18), in yellow, skins grapes with a dangerous fingernail:

 

DINARA

Oh, they’re the king’s guards, not mine.  Why don’t you have any, ambassador?

 

–ETNA (17) and ILYA (18) dance indifferently:

 

ETNA

What do you care about our sleeping arrangements, your lordship?

 

PAVEL

I’m not…

 

ENYA

(to Etna) Let’s have at the servants for gossiping.

 

ETNA

Let’s.

 

They flounce off to where three siblings (MINT, 22; PEACH, 21; and LILAC, 20) politely socialize.  All cluster and whisper with pointedly looks.

 

PAVEL

Well, that’s that.

 

 

ACROSS THE ROOM

Helga dances with the king.

 

HELGA

The rest were dogs.  I don’t see why he wouldn’t be.

 

TUGARIN

But I like this one.

 

HELGA

Then don’t kill him and maybe we can be friends.

 

TUGARIN

You could just tell me why your shoes are wearing out overnight.

 

HELGA

I told you, I don’t know.

 

Tugarin catches Pavel’s eye, nods towards a knot of boyars.  Pavel bows in acknowledgement.

 

INTERCUT – BOYARS

All between 30 and 60, in Technicolor.  We won’t see most again, but they’re clothes are just-noticeably worn:

–GREEN (30s), picks at cold cuts:

 

PAVEL (O.S.)

You specialize in…?

 

GREEN

Leather.  It’s the drought.

 

PAVEL

Pardon?

 

GREEN

(around a bite) Used to be cattle.

 

–MALEN ZNAKOV (40s), in blue, towels his hands on a tablecloth:

 

ZNAKOV (30s)

(shameless) Well, they’re mine anyway.  I’m in the dyeing business, you see.

 

PAVEL

You’re an… undertaker, Lord Znakov?

 

Znakov laughs.

 

ZNAKOV

Dyeing, Lord Ilmenov.

 

He shows blue fingertips.

 

ZNAKOV (CONT’D)

A bit of black humor, is all.  It’s how I cope.  Things have been rather horrid, haven’t they, what with the…?

 

–RED (40s), nervous:

 

RED

…drought?  It’s catching up to our borders, I think.

 

He fingers a fraying sleeve.

 

PAVEL

I imagine the tariffs are a bit high these days?

 

RED

Not at all.  Me and mine are more worried by the…

 

–YELLOW (late 50s), death glare, spearing raisins on a pick:

 

YELLOW

…war, to be honest.  Be glad you don’t have one.

 

PAVEL

You’re at war?

 

YELLOW

Tsar Xing, our eastern neighbor.  Thousands of your young men out there — My son, too, in fact.

 

PAVEL

How long has that been?

 

YELLOW

Some, well…

 

–VIOLET (40s) and PINK (40s), brothers, take turns:

 

VIOLET

…nine years…

 

PINK

Nine, it is…

 

VIOLET

…next month to the day.

 

PAVEL

Nine years?

 

VIOLET

Our boys work one province back from the front line at the carpentry —

 

PINK

Siegeworks, that is.

 

VIOLET

— and mine’s got a wife now.

 

PINK

We send care packages.

 

VIOLET

Books, herbs, blankets, and…

 

–LORD BELIYA (50s), stone-faced.

 

BELIYA

…shoes.

 

He’s white-trimmed, somehow sober.

 

PAVEL

Shoes, Lord Beliya?

 

Beliya empties his wine glass.

 

BELIYA

Good shoes make all the difference for a soldier up to his knees in corpses and mud.

 

He trades glasses from a fresh tray.

 

PAVEL

If you don’t mind my asking, milord, how did the war start?

 

BELIYA

It was almost an alliance.  But our Helga — (pained, angry) the crown princess — she was thirteen.  The Tsar of Xing has no sons and too many wives.  You don’t need me to finish?

 

Another glass.

 

PAVEL

No.

 

BELIYA

Good man.  Not that she wasn’t unwilling.  She’s selfless, our Helga.  Any of your own?

 

PAVEL

I’m sorry, milord?

 

BELIYA

Children?

 

PAVEL

No, I’m not married.  It’s the work.

 

BELIYA

Find time.  And don’t lose a minute.

 

He drops off the emptied glass and walks straight towards the gardens exit.

 

PAVEL

Now that is interesting.

photo by Luke Besley


Last Chapter               Story Notes                 Next Chapter

 

Images by Pixabay & Unsplash

 

Character Notes:

  • Fun fact: As readers of A Queen’s Ransom might recall, Galen wasn’t always a good singer—not that he’d admit it.

Story Notes:

  • So that’s most of our suspects, but the party’s not over yet! Some adaptations of this fairy tale cut down the number of princesses for simplicity’s sake, but, imho, nothing spoils a whodunit like cutting the cast and giving one person male pattern baldness.  I’d add a link at this point, but it’d have to be to pretty much all movie posters… ever.
  • On that note, the war with Xing (a proto-China vagarity) is my addition. In many stories, an added mystery is that the princesses all sleep ‘til noon, which always seemed odd to me given the supernatural nature of that situation.  In most versions, either the eldest or youngest daughter is a cut above the rest for good or ill, so Helga’s an early bird.

Shrink

It is said the brain shrinks during depression.

I suppose it’s her mind’s way of curling up in a corner,

especially when the rest of her body can’t.

For this week’s recession, she’s spent the hours

in the space behind dry eyes that frame the world like window panes;

feeling useless at her work, she fights the void.

The freedom to expand and push these limits

only comes when the weekend wingnut unwinds her mind’s lead clamp.

She hides herself, so her mind can finally breathe.


Notes:

You can read Medical Daily’s 2014 article on these brain-shrinking and -healing proteins here.

3: The Golden City

Last Chapter                          Chapters & Story Notes                             Next Chapter


 

EXT. STOLIST – DAY

The city is a gold bauble between green fields and the looming mountain, flowing with fountains, lush with greenery, fine tile roofs, and very, very imposing walls.

THE MAIN GATE

Even the GATEKEEPERS and PAGES (ND) glitter — and bristle.

 

PAVEL (O.S.)

You want to what?

 

Galen carries a straw pack on his back.

They funnel with the crowd towards stern-faced gatekeepers.  More ragged visitors are turned away, some forcefully. 

Creaking carts come and go.  Finer ones enter empty and leave laden.

A cart creaks past; water sloshes inside wobbling barrels.

 

PAVEL

Explain why you’re abandoning me, and don’t say it’s the hugs. The gods know you need more hugs.

 

GALEN

(over) There are two of us.  All the previous suitors did was fall asleep at their post three nights in a row, then lose their heads.  You don’t think that’s a bit strange?

 

A trickleIn a gutter, a staggering stream runs.  Some travelers dash excitedly down to it.

 Galen hangs back and Pavel presents a sealed scroll to the gatekeeper, who bows low.

 

GATEKEEPER

Ambassador Ilmenov.  You’re expected.  No company?

 

PAVEL

(wryly) I’ve notified my next-of-kin.

 

The gatekeeper beckons a PAGE, passes the scroll.

 

GATEKEEPER

See his majesty’s informed.

 

PAGE

Sir.

 

The boy runs off.  Galen slips in as Pavel enters.

 

THE BUSTLING MAIN STREET – CONTINUOUS

Dragon motifs are carved on walls, bridges, doorways…

Pavel and Galen cross a bridge over rushing water.

 

PAVEL

We could stay in town.

 

INSERT: Inn signs — lots of them — all with three-digit prices. 

 

GALEN

We can’t afford it.

 

They pass a money changer’s booth where gold coins trade for silver.

 

PAVEL

Just promise me you’re not doing this ‘cause you’re afraid.

 

GALEN

Pavel, I was once the most feared sorcerer in all Tishina.

 

PAVEL

I was there.  It was very impressive.

 

GALEN

Very few things frighten me.

 

PAVEL

Are any of them inside this city?

 

GALEN

I’m not afraid.  You trust me?

 

PAVEL

Yes.  Alright.  Okay, there’s bound to be a back gate somewhere.  I’ll put a sign under my window You know the one.  Check in an hour or so before midnight.

 

GALEN

Done.

 

PAVEL

And be careful.

 

He glances back at the gate.  A beggar’s practically thrown from the road.

 

PAVEL (CONT’D)

I don’t think you’ll win them with singing.

 

EXT./INT. STOLIST PALACE – DAY

THE TOWER

In a dressing room, at a mirror, the pale-haired woman ties off a white cloth over her hair.  She wears a white smock and apron, picks up a bag of bread and straw sandals.

She’s barefoot.

 

WOMAN

Captain?

 

MEDVED (20s) is one of a six-man guard at the door.  He’s serious about his job, and impatient.

 

MEDVED

Princess.

 

WOMAN

I’m going out to give alms.

 

MEDVED

You seem rather tired today, princess.  Why not stay in?

 

WOMAN

You seem rather hard of hearing, captain.  Why not listen properly?

 

A guard of SIX takes up rank as she steps into the hall.  She twitches irritably, composes herself, and they set out.

THE OUTER COURT

Florists bind garlands and lay them in water trays, chefs sample produce, tailors haggle with weavers.  Festive red hangings are going up.

A flower tray jostles.  Water splashes carelessly on the ground, and seeps unnoticed.

 

PAVEL (O.S.)

Your majesty.

 

MAN (O.S.)

Today, you only meet a worried father, ambassador.

We catch Pavel holding his bow, staring at the puddle, his next line thrown off its cue.

 

PAVEL

Even so, my father taught me to mind my manners.

 

He’s straightened his smile by the time he stands.

PAVEL

Even so, my father taught me to mind my manners.

 

KING TURAGIN KOROLOV (50s) is a handsome man in fine clothes.  He has notably black hair and a golden crown.  Charismatic is an understatement.  He keeps a charming smile cocked and ready. 

He and Pavel set off through the crowd towards the inner court, already in step.  Pavel’s cautious, but an undefined tension between them suggests he’s also impressed.

 

MAN / TUGARIN

Your king both honors me and bereaves himself, sending such a close friend.

 

PAVEL

Water’s worth more than gold in Dolina right now, sire.  I volunteered.

 

TUGARIN

You seem a good man.  Does your father have any others?

 

Pavel fails a laugh, but warms to him.

 

PAVEL

I wouldn’t bereave my king if it could be helped…

 

TUGARIN

You imply my edict. (a sigh) I have no choice.  A man of my station can’t be taken advantage of.  If you’d met some of the brutes that come after my daughters…

 

A COBBLER stooped under a bulging sack approaches, bows lower.  His clothes are simple but fine. He rises, looks left, right.

 

COBBLER #1

(quietly) Sire, tonight’s delivery…

 

TUGARIN

The usual place, Delonic, thank you.

 

COBBLER #1

Y’Sire.

 

Another bow and he heads off.  The king catches Pavel’s curious look.

 

TUGARIN

(quietly) It’s what you think.

 

PAVEL

Perhaps the cobblers’ guild is behind your majesty’s troubles?

 

TUGARIN

You know, I’ve actually wondered.

 

They laugh and he pats Pavel’s shoulder amiably, then sighs again.  They walk on, closer now.

 

TUGARIN (CONT’D)

I pay extra to hide the matter.  I can afford it.

 

PAVEL

The people don’t know?

 

 

THE INNER COURT – CONTINUOUS

A PAGE stops, proffers a writing board and letter.  Tugarin reads it, pulls a signet ring off we don’t clearly see, stamps a lob of wax, shoos him away and slides the ring back on.

 

TUGARIN

Even the servants don’t. (in confidence) The trouble is I don’t know who I can trust, outside of my soldiers.  I’ve known them since we were boys.  For now, we tell all others the visitors are suitors.

 

PAVEL

How long has your debt to the cobblers been growing, sire?

 

TUGARIN

Since Spring Thaw, through First Planting.  My daughters and I’ve agreed:  They’re locked in each night to prove their denials but the shoes say otherwise.

 

PAVEL

Have you tried locking the shoes up?

 

The king laughs aloud.

 

TUGARIN

I keep hoping they remember something, my girls that is.  They say they don’t.  I’ve fired the maidservants I don’t know how many times.

 

PAVEL

What did they say?

 

TUGARIN

Nothing.  They all fall asleep.

 

A worried, walking beat.

 

PAVEL

Do you have any enemies?

 

TUGARIN

A rich man always does.  But within my own walls?

 

PAVEL

It’s not impossible.

 

TUGARIN

You’ll begin to question what’s impossible soon enough. (a beat) Your cover, ambassador, is that you are a dignitary at our millennial celebration.  I hope you brought a suit and collar.

 

Pavel grimaces briefly.

 

TUGARIN (CONT’D)

I’ll have you stay in the antechamber tonight, as the rest have, (a smile) and I’ll let my daughters know you’re unmarried.

 

Pavel fights a grimace.

 

PAVEL

I understand.

 

THE GREAT HALL – CONTINUOUS

Daylight streams in from high windows.  Servants hang gold and red draperies, set out crystal, polish fixtures…

INSERT: A great heavy banner hangs to the floor behind a golden throne, a few inches from the wall:  A shining golden knight on horseback against a field of red.  One hand raises a chalice.  The other stabs a spear at a writhing dragon.

On a ceremonious looking table below stands a similar chalice with a book and ladle.

 

PAVEL (CONT’D)

(re: the banner) Your likeness?

 

TUGARIN

(proudly) My ancestor.  This land used to be plagued by a terrible dragon.  Its fire stripped the mountaintop bare.

 

PAVEL

I’ve heard say dragons were once sorcerers.

 

TUGARIN

Never did find his horde, but you wouldn’t know it.

He laughs again.

 

TUGARIN (CONT’D)

(serious) No, that dragon is long dead.  My forebears have reigned on this mountain for centuries.  You’ll get to know my daughters tonight, unless we…  Ah, Helga, dearest.

 

The young woman, HELGA, in sandals, approaches with her guard.  She stops and looks resentful.

 

TUGARIN (CONT’D)

(leading Pavel) Lord Ilmenov, this is Princess Helga, heir to my throne.  Daughter, this is Lord Pavel Nikolaevich Ilmenov.  He’s come to us from Dolina on their king’s behalf.

 

YOUNG WOMAN / HELGA

(coldly) Welcome, your lordship.

 

PAVEL

(a bow) Does a princess so lovely need only six guards?

 

HELGA

What I have no need of is compliments, lordship.  Father, I go to give alms.

 

TUGARIN

(warmly) I’ll see you tonight?

 

HELGA

Of course, sire.

 

TUGARIN

Gods go with you then.  (coldly) Captain Medved, if she comes back with so much as a scratch, I’ll have your neck and the rest of your appendages on separate pikes.

 

MEDVED

Yes, sire.

 

TURGARIN

Very good.

 

He smiles warmly again for a worried Pavel as Medved gestures to his men.  They bow and quick march as Helga sweeps out.

 

TUGARIN (CONT’D)

Pious, like her mother.

 

PAVEL

(sincere) Charming too.

 

Tugarin pats his shoulder amiably.

 

TUGARIN

You’re too well-mannered.  And here I promised myself I wouldn’t like you.

 

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Images by Pixabay.

 

World Building Notes: 

  • In the past, I’ve based my world building mainly on Slavic religion, however since my characters are crossing part of a continent, this time I wanted to use similar names but show different practices.  So here we have royalty that lives in a trade city rather than among its farmers and sea traders.
  • Given Stolist’s prosperity, I pictured a place proud of its high status (physical and economical) with impressive walls to cater to an “in-crowd.”  Architecture is somewhat impractical (read, “gold-plated”) with motifs far detached from  those of folk religion in the Three Kingdoms to the West.  Imagery and décor would be focused on epic things like dragons rather than on the practical things like seasons, agriculture, and daily life.

Screenwriting Notes:

  • over:
    • The use of (over) beside text or as a parenthetical implies one speaker interrupting by speaking over the previous one.
  • re:
    • The abbreviation “re:” inside a parenthetical means “regarding,” that is, the character is speaking about some person or thing in the scene.