4: Inversions

Just arrived?  Read from the beginning here. 


 

EXT. SINY WOOD / DOLINA CASTLE. CONTINUOUS.

THE CLEARING

Sasha’s fallen asleep.

Someone is humming.

Sasha wakes up, looks towards the trees, sees a flicker of motion, color, a red-cloak with silver hems:

Sonya, as an old man, gathers pine buds into a basket.

Sasha watches.

 

SONYA

(tenor, not looking up) Well…  What brings you to Siny Wood at this hour, milady?

 

SASHA

You know me?

 

Sonya nods to the harp.

 

SONYA

(tenor) Best not be playing that where others than I can see.  I understand, I do, but this is not a place to be found sleeping in.

 

SASHA

Your cloak…

 

SONYA

(tenor) Which part of the tale do you want first?

 

SASHA

What do you mean?

 

SONYA

(tenor) I would think that a harper such as yourself has been taught the difference between sorcery and magic?

 

SASHA

(curious) Magic belongs to the gods.

 

Sonya smiles.

 

SONYA

(tenor) Very good, your highness.  And you know why we must always be polite?

 

SASHA

(warily) Because any stranger might be a god in disguise.

 

SONYA

They don’t raise fools in Merya. (a nod) We should be getting back to the palace then.

 

SASHA

Back?

 

SONYA

Of course.

 

Now intrigued, Sasha follows Sonya…

…out of the wood… through CASTLE TOWN… up the PATH …and to THE GARDEN GATE.

 

SONYA

Here’s where it gets interesting.

 

SASHA

(fascinated) You mean it isn’t already?

 

They cross the threshold.  The stones glow.  Sonya turns back her hood as herself.

 

SASHA

(a laugh) I knew it!

 

She covers her mouth quickly as Sonya shushes her.

 

INT. THE WORKSHOP. NIGHT.

Sonya urges the fire up from the ashes like she’s calling a dog.  Sasha watches, fascinated.  Sonya puts on a kettle for tea.

 

SASHA

That’s incredible.

 

SONYA

I have a knack for fire.

 

SASHA

Why do you have that stone?

 

SONYA

(sitting) I was forbidden from leaving the castle after my husband vanished with King Ivan and Lady Irina.  But one day, going through his old things, I found this.

 

She passes the stone pendant to Sasha, who studies it.

 

SASHA

What is it?

 

SONYA

The Stone of Veles.

 

SASHA

It’s named for the god of souls?

 

SONYA

And of harpers. (a sigh) I wish I’d discovered it when I was younger.  I never found out what happened to my Soren, or our son, but it never felt right.

 

SASHA

You think there’s more to the story?

 

SONYA

The story?  No.  Stories are always simple.  The truth, now that’s complicated.  I wish our Liev would try to find out more, but Viktor was always a very persuasive storyteller.

 

SASHA

I noticed that.

 

As she passes the stone back, it flickers.

 

SASHA (CONT’D)

I wish I understood what’s changed him.

 

SONYA

We all forget who we are sometimes.  It takes loved ones to set us ‘round right.  Besides, father’s and sons are a complexity all their own.

 

Footsteps from the inner stairway.

Sasha grabs her harp and cloak.

 

SONYA

(pointing) The closet, there…

 

Sasha slips down the hall, into the closet.

Nikolai arrives, bedragged, clutching his chest.

 

NIKOLAI

You’re making tea already, good…

 

SONYA

I had a guess you wouldn’t sleep, old man.

 

She sets out cups.  Nikolai sighs and sits.  Sasha peeks out of the closet.

 

SONYA (CONT’D)

You caught me coming in.

 

NIKOLAI

Already, old woman?

 

His back’s to the hall.

 

SONYA

Scot’s pine won’t wait in its bud.  You’ll thank me…

 

She gestures out of his sight, at the back door.

 

SONYA (CONT’D)

…all that standing out in the rain today…

 

Sasha slips out the back door.

 

EXT. / INT.  DOLINA CASTLE.  MORNING.

LIEV’S ROOMS

THE BALCONY:

Despite funeral clothes, Pavel opens the balcony doors with enthusiasm.

INSIDE:

The sketch of the king fills Nikolai’s view.  We see Liev’s bandaged wrist as he sets out new tokens.  Nikolai stands beside the late king’s hollow armor, looking small in its shadow.

Note: The iron sword is with the armor.

 

LIEV (O.S.)

I’ve been thinking, Nikolai.

 

NIKOLAI

What do you mean, sire?

 

LIEV

“Liev,” please.  I mean, this is a personal grievance.  How can I make it otherwise?

 

NIKOLAI

I still don’t understand.

 

LIEV

I’ve decided to go to Skomorokh myself.


NIKOLAI

(shocked) What?  Sire…

 

Liev slips on the ring with the broken stone.  Nikolai looks between Liev and the armor worriedly.

 

LIEV

I’ll take my father’s sword and I’ll face the Silent King, as he would have.  I’m sure he goes with me.


NIKOLAI

Sire —


LIEV

“Liev.”


NIKOLAI

Sire, you can’t go alone.


PAVEL

Liev, are you sure that’s wise?


LIEV

What an unworthy son I would be if I let someone else do what I’ve promised?


PAVEL

(understanding) It’s foolish to go alone, friend.


NIKOLAI

There, you see…


PAVEL

You’ll have to take me with you.


NIKOLAI

Pavel!


LIEV

See, Nikolai, I won’t be alone.


PAVEL

I have to give him a hard time, after all.  (to Liev) But Ivan is yours, by right.

Liev smiles at him for the first time in days.  Nikolai’s distance from them both is pronounced.

 

EXT. / INT.  DOLINA CASTLE.  DAY.

THE COURTYARD

Preparations for departure.

A BEDROOM

Pavel gets dressed.  A sketch of him and both parents sits on his dresser.

THE COURTYARD

Getting ready to leave.

Liev carries his father’s sword.  He wears chainmail.

At a distance Pavel, in simpler livery, approaches with Nikolai.

 

PAVEL

Fear not, father, I’ll stand by the king in everything.


NIKOLAI

Take care, Pavel.  Don’t be rash.  You’re his only protection and my only son.

 

Pavel smiles and shuffles his cards.  

 

PAVEL

One more trick for the road, or I’ll miss bothering you.  (flipping cards) Look:  It’s the King of spades.  Now it’s the King of hearts…

 

Nikolai snatches the King of spades.

 

NIKOLAI

Pavel….

 

PAVEL

No, that won’t do.  Here — try the King of Hearts.

 

A paternal sigh.  Nikolai tucks both cards into his breast pocket.

 

NIKOLAI

Enough foolishness, Pavlik.*  (an embrace)  Be safe.

 

Note: They approach as Liev and Sasha speak.  

 

SASHA

Your majesty, are you sure about this?

 

The horse shies away from the iron sword.  

 

LIEV

(grabbing the reins) Surer than anything I’ve ever done, your highness.

 

SASHA

But why?

 

Liev secures the sword.

 

LIEV

I’ve already told you.  It’s my father.  I gave my word, in front of all the nobles, and I intend to keep it.

 

SASHA

I only mean, is this the best way to do it?

 

LIEV

If I don’t do this, he’ll never have peace.

 

She takes his hand.  

 

SASHA

(gently) If souls could find peace in this world, they’d never leave.

 

Liev shakes his head.

 

SASHA

(sigh) Liev, I’m sorry, but watching everyone, I think this is crazy, having you ride off for revenge your first week as king.  This isn’t like you.  You don’t even know the whole truth.

 

LIEV

I told you, this is different.  Sorcery is involved.

 

SASHA

It’s just, everyone is so caught up in this story, even Nikolai, and all for a king who never seemed to love anyone.

 

Liev takes his hand away.

 

LIEV

Even his son?

 

Sasha hesitates.  Nikolai and Pavel arrive.

 

LIEV (CONT’D)

(quiet) Maybe I’m unloveable?

 

SASHA

That’s not what I said at all!

 

He and Pavel saddle up.

 

SASHA (CONT’D)

I’m sorry…

 

PAVEL

(worried) Everything all right, Liev?

 

LIEV

Nikolai?

 

NIKOLAI

Your majesty?

 

LIEV

I leave all pressing matters in your care while I’m gone.  See that the princess is kept safe in my absence.  She’s not to leave the castle.

 

SASHA

What?  Why?

 

LIEV

(still to Nikolai) And see to my father’s memory in my absence.

 

NIKOLAI

It will be my honor, sire.

 

SASHA

Li — My Lord…

 

LIEV

Come on, Pavel.

 

PAVEL

(to Sasha) I’ll take care of him, your highness.  Don’t worry yourself.

 

He spurs his horse quickly to catch up.

 

SASHA

Liev!

 

She starts to follow, stops.  Nikolai blocks her path.

 

NIKOLAI

It’s not becoming of the future queen to run about shouting.


SASHA

(sharply) And to let your king ride off alone?


NIKOLAI

The king is not argued with.


SASHA

Then what are old friends for?

 

She turns her back on him and hurries into the castle.

Nikolai lets her go and looks after Pavel and Liev worriedly.

A STAIR

Sasha hurries down the steps to —

THE WORKSHOP

Sonya looks up from her work as Sasha enters crying.

 

SONYA

Your highness…?

 

Sasha sits and buries her face in her hands.

 

INT.  TISHINA CASTLE.  DAY.

A STAIR LANDING.  Andrei leads the nervous harper past a portrait he sees but we do not, to —

THE HIGHEST TOWER

A large bedroom, tidy.  A window looks towards Dolina.  A weathered harp leans against the table, but the strings have snapped.

LADY IRINA, late-50s, sleeps, thin with illness.  The harper hesitates at the door.  

 

HARPER

(breathless) Who is she?

 

ANDREI

The Lady Irina.

 

The harper’s eyes widen a little as Andrei enters.  He follows, watches Andrei gently take her hand, his face drawn with concern.

 

ANDREI

Can you play a song from the old days, harper?

 

HARPER

I… I could try, sire.

 

He sits on a small stool.  He begins to tune his harp.  

On the night table sits a silver ring with a broken blue stone.  


 

Questions of the Week:

  1. Any WIS moments?
  2. Doth the lady protest too much?
  3. How long did it take us to get here? 44 pages.  Time for an outline reassessment!
  4. My harper has no name yet.  Shall we call him…. Tim? No…

Notes:

  1. *Diminuative (shortened) forms of names are used by family or very close friends, often parents, usually in private.  For example, Sasha’s formal name is Aleksandra, but Sasha’s a common short name.  Pavel becomes “Pasha” or “Pavlik.”  Sonya is technically short for “Sofia,” but every knows her as such since she’s been around forever.  From what I’ve gleaned here, diminuitives have very specific forms.  There are further diminuatives for the short forms, but I’ll stop there today.
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