9: Forces at Work

Welcome back!  Here’s Chapter One if you missed it.

Abundant thanks for all your likes and follows.

You have no idea how much they mean to me.


EXT.  DOLINA.  NIGHT.

A road.  Sasha walks until she’s weary, then sinks under a roadside tree.  

 

SASHA

All right, Siny.  (a sigh)  The next new moon’s in three weeks.

 

EXT./ INT. DOLINA. CONTINUOUS

THE ROAD – MONTAGE

Sasha walks the road near a river, hesitates as friendly boatmen offer a ride, is surprised by their easy manner.

At an inn, she plays for coins to buy bread.  The moon’s at three-quarters.  

The sun shines.  She walks tiredly down a new road.  Sasha scratches a new beard, but plays more confidently now.  A ride on a cart to a fork in the road. 

The moon’s a gibbous.  She plays at an inn by a hearth, blushes at a pair of flirting women.

The moon is nearly full.  Clouds move in.

 

INT.  AN INN.  NIGHT.

A ROOM

Sasha sits practicing her music from Sonya.  

Red light glows across the paper.  She stops playing.  It stops shining.  

She plays again.  More light.  She looks down, plays, sees the Stone shine.

 

SASHA

What are you up to?

 

A few more notes.  A red glow.

 

SASHA (CONT’D)

(pleased) Does that mean I got it right?

 

She looks down at the page, sees an odd scrawl by the final chords.

 

SASHA (CONT’D)

What happens when it ends…?

 

A knock on the door.  She tucks the stone away and stands.

 

SASHA (CONT’D)

Yes?

 

INNKEEPER (O.S.)

You awake, Mr. Harper?

 

SASHA

Yes, ma’am!

 

She crosses the room, tugging her beard.

 

SASHA (CONT’D)

(muttering) How can they stand the itching?

 

She stands and opens the door. The bubbly INNKEEPER, 50s, enters, carrying a tray of soup, schi, and bread.

 

INNKEEPER

I thought you might like some supper.

 

SASHA

You’re kind to think on me.

 

She takes the tray and hurriedly places it on the dresser, then gathers the music. The innkeeper looks around.

 

INNKEEPER

All kinds of folks coming and going as of late.

 

SASHA

It seems that way.

 

INNKEEPER

Where’re you planning on heading after this, might I ask?

 

SASHA

I just follow the road.

 

The innkeeper dawdles towards the door.

 

INNKEEPER

I wouldn’t follow it northward, I mean, on account of the edict.

 

SASHA

“Edict”?

 

INNKEEPER

Lord Nikolai’s made it in the Old King’s name.  No harpers to enter Skomorokh Forest.

 

SASHA

Strange thing for an edict.  Only a fool would go there.

 

INNKEEPER

Well said, harper, but Lord Nikolai knows the will of the Old King.

 

SASHA

(twitch) Well, thank you for supper.

 

The innkeeper leaves.  Sasha shuts off her smile, locks the door.

 

SASHA (CONT’D)

Liev is the new king — am I the only one who remembers?

 

She picks up the soup, puts it down, shuts her eyes and swallows tears.

Later.  We leave Sasha sitting on her bed, head back, eyes closed, playing her song for Liev, trying not to cry too loudly.

 

INT.  TISHINA CASTLE.  NIGHT.

THE DUNGEON

A roar of thunder drowns out everything.  Rain outside a window.  Liev sits quiet, shivers a little.

A door opens O.S. with an iron squeal and footsteps:  Andrei, carrying a blanket.

 

ANDREI

It gets frightfully damp here in the rain, your majesty.

 

He stops and offers it.

 

LIEV

I’m quite well.

 

Thunder volunteers itself.  They both look up.

 

ANDREI

It’ll get worse before it gets better.

 

LIEV

(heated) My friend, Pavel, he’s still in your forest, in that rain.

 

ANDREI

And Galen still seeks him, sire.  Please…

 

The blanket goes unaccepted.

 

LIEV

I’m not interested in what your father has to say.

 

ANDREI

I didn’t ask that.

 

LIEV

(coldly) You were going to ask it.  You always do.

 

ANDREI

How’s your hand?

 

Liev flexes his wrist grudgingly.  The bandage is gone.

 

ANDREI (CONT’D)

My father thinks well of you, you know.  He thinks you’ve been deceived.

 

LIEV

I’m not the liar here.

 

ANDREI (CONT’D)

He wants you to know the truth.

 

LIEV

Anyone can tell a story.

 

ANDREI

Will you talk to me then?

 

LIEV

(turning the ring) No.

 

Andrei frowns at the ring, then turns away, takes a step…

Stops.  Turns.

 

ANDREI

Why not?

 

Liev harumphs, stands, walks to the bars.

 

LIEV

You only know what you’re told.

 

ANDREI

As do you.

 

A beat.

 

ANDREI (CONT’D)

Sire, if you know how my mother was cursed…

 

LIEV

Perhaps she’s sick with grief.  It’s what my father died of.

 

ANDREI

We really have no choice then.

 

LIEV

Don’t you? (scoff) This is why my father wants nothing but war with you.

 

ANDREI

“Wants”? (shaking his head) War won’t help her.  You say he loved her.

 

Liev struggles with this.

 

ANDREI (CONT’D)

What do you want, sire?

 

LIEV

I want my father’s soul to be at rest.

 

ANDREI

And for that, war?

 

Liev wavers.

 

ANDREI (CONT’D)

What kind of soul is soothed by that?

 

Liev sits back down.

 

LIEV

Anyone can tell a story.

 

ANDREI

Anyone, even a king.

 

He sets the blanket down within reach.  

 

ANDREI (CONT’D)

Even to himself.

 

Liev watches him, curious.

 

ANDREI (CONT’D)

I’ll let you think on it.

 

He leaves by the passage door.  It squeals shut.  

 

LIEV

(scoffs) Stories…

 

Thunder.

Liev looks at the blanket, glances at the rain.  He picks the blanket up.  He lays it out, puts the ring on the chair by the bed, sits and stares out the window like his father.

 

EXT. TISHINA CASTLE. NIGHT.

THE GARDEN COURTYARD

Andrei meets Galen in the keep doorway.

 

ANDREI

You were right.

 

GALEN

That he’s a fool?

 

ANDREI

That the rings match.   What does it mean?

 

Galen bows his head.  The rain hammers down on everything.

 

GALEN
It means there’s nothing more I can do.

He touches Andrei’s shoulder.

 

GALEN (CONT’D)
We must trust the gods.

 

He turns up his hood and turns away, to hide his doubt.

 

EXT. / INT.  CHERNAYA RIVERSIDE. NIGHT.

THE BLACK CAT INN

Another night and a courtyard.  Sasha plays under a full moon.  She watches a few dancers, but occasionally eyes two lounging KNIGHTS.  

A messenger bird arrives at the aviary.  A man takes its note and reads it, signals a knight as the music ends.

Sasha takes coins for her work and wraps her harp in its sling.  She heads inside.  

Two young women look her way and giggle.  Sasha blushes, trades nods with a few patrons, and heads upstairs.

She rounds a corner but doubles back.  Slowly, she peeks around it.  

The knights question the innkeeper.  She ducks back as they look.

 

KNIGHT

…in the name of King Viktor…

 

Sasha stiffens, then quickly heads back down the creaking steps and out, shouldering her harp’s sling.  She ducks into a shadow.  

 

SASHA

“Viktor”?

 

She listens to snatches of words.

 

KNIGHT

…any harpers heading for Skomorokh?

 

She hurries to a back door, to…

 

EXT.  CHERNAYA RIVERSIDE.  NIGHT.

Hurrying through shadows to shore, Sasha arrives at the rushing river.  The forest looms.

Sasha glances backward, then up at the wood.

 

SASHA

(to the river) If you please, good river, I need a bridge and I’m sure such a good river as you can provide.

 

With wooden soundsthe bridge rises.

 

SASHA (CONT’D)

(to the river) Thank you.

 

Away at the inn, the knights step outside and shout. 

Sasha looks back at the rattle of chain armor and swords, runs across the bridge.  The knights run after, shouting.  

She leaps the shore and stumbles.  They try to follow.  

The bridge moans angrily and unravels, dumping the knights into the shallows with a splash.  

Ahead of Sasha, wood groans.  The trees are opening.  She ducks through.  The trees close behind her…


 

Questions for the week:

  1. Do you follow so far?  Yes?  No?  A little?
  2. Big Important Question:  As a visual medium, Sasha’s experiences (and frustrations), like trouble shaving and feeling awkward with flirting women, are fun, sure, but I’d like to portray some serious stuff too, even if it’s in passing.  Any suggestions?  Please link and comment below.

Other Notes for the Week:

  1. Craving schi?  Here’s a basic recipe.
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