22: Trouble Comes Home

Read Chapter One here.


 

EXT. THE CLEARING – DAY

Potolok smacks his lips sleepily.

The sound of cawing.  He coughs a raven, puckers uncomfortably.  His cheeks and eyes bulge. 

He spits out a cloud of ravens.  They swarm the clearing.

 

POTOLOK

Well now, what is this?

 

He hacks a feather.

 

EXT. THE UNDERWORLD – DAWN

Morya helps Ivan from the boat.  He shows her the egg.  She looks back at the cottage, the chickens.

A bag.  Food.  Clothes.  Morya’s gifts. 

The storybook.

 

EXT. THE UNDERWORLD – CONTINUOUS

They set out with luggage, across the meadows, forests, plains, to

The riders in white, red, and black cross forest and plain with the strange sun.

THE COPPER FOREST – THREE DAYS LATER

The trees animated.  They lean in, groaning to speak, comparing colored string.

 

MORYA

What on earth are they all doing?

 

One tree’s tied a bow.

Ivan grins.

 

IVAN

It looks like you’ve met Princess Lisa.

 

MORYA

She tamed the trees?

 

IVAN

She can do anything.  You should meet her too.

 

Ah.  Morya smiles warmly.

They arrive at the rope.  Ivan gives it a tug.  It’s taut, caught under Potolok, despite its frayed end. 

 

IVAN (CONT’D)

Martin!

 

No answer.

 

IVAN (CONT’D)

It’s too far.

 

They grab the end, start to climb, Ivan first.

…up and up…

The white stone of Potolok blocks the way.

 

IVAN

The door is shut.

 

Morya looks down.

It’s a long, long way to the ground.

 

IVAN (CONT’D)

Don’t worry.  I know what to do.

 

MORYA

Are you sure, Ivan?

 

IVAN

It’s easy.

 

EXT. THE CLEARING – SAME TIME

The abandoned camp.  Potolok’s back to snoring.  The ravens crowd every branch, waiting.

 

KOSCHEI (V.O.)

Potolok!

 

They scatter.  Potolok snorts, wakes. 

 

KOSCHEI (V.O., CONT’D)

I don’t have all day, you limestone lug-about!

 

Potolok squints through panicked wings.

 

POTOLOK

That you, your majesty?

 

BELOW

Ivan hangs just under the stone, grinning.

Morya clutches the rope, proud of her son, wary of the heights.

 

IVAN

(as Koschei) Who else would it be?  Why on earth have you closed?  Are those royal brats still up there?

 

Morya stifles a chuckle.

The rope creaks.

ABOVE

 

POTOLOK

No, they’ve gone.  A moment and I’ll clear the way, m’lord.

 

He heaves, stands, topples

The rope snaps free.

BELOW

Ivan and Morya scream, fall.

A thunder of iron hooves:  Vigla charges into the clearing. Horse and ravens dive into

THE UNDERWORLD

Racing like a meteor shower, faster and faster.

Ivan and Morya fall towards the forest.

THE RIVER

Baba Yaga peers up from her bridge at

THE SKY

Vigla gallops straight down as ravens fly, as Ivan falls, and swoops underneath him and Morya.  They land across the saddle.

Ivan pulls Morya up after him. 

Vigla arcs back into the sky.  The ravens follow, panicked cries excited now.  They rush to the entrance.

Baba Yaga squints.  Her dog whines at her heels.

 

BABA YAGA (CONT’D)

Well done, Ivanushka.

 

The specks of Vigla and her riders vanish through the hole.

 

EXT. / INT. TISHINA CASTLETOWN – LATE AFTERNOON

THE CASTLETOWN

Artisans move wood and stone to build siege works.  Nervous soldiers pace the walls.

THE CASTLE

Soldiers shout drills to a ramshackle militia.  Archers watch for birds from

THE WALL

CARPENTERS and MASONS come and go to consult a blueprint.

Loren eyes the sky, then the siege works. 

Diana comes up the steps with a basket.  She’s clearly struggling to keep calm. 

 

DIANA

Doesn’t seem much point when the horse flies, does it?

 

Loren tries to smile.

 

LOREN

It keeps people sane.

 

DIANA

Right… I brought you all lunch.

 

LOREN

You didn’t have to…

 

DIANA

Oh, I had to… just to be out of there.

 

They look out at the forest.  Loren glances at her then away.  She glances at him, then away.

 

LOREN

Martin still hasn’t said anything about Ivan?

 

DIANA

I’d prefer anything to what he is saying.

 

He looks puzzled.  She makes a few failed starts:

 

DIANA (CONT’D)

You know, I wouldn’t even mind.  We knew it might happen, but… if he’d just seemed a little broken up about it…

 

LOREN

It’s not easy for any of us.

 

DIANA

Not that.

 

She snaps a paper from the basket:  An official letter.  Loren takes, scans it.

 

LOREN

(reading) “…understanding it would be unseemly to receive with anything less than dignity this decision to…”  What is this?

 

DIANA

(near tears; angry) You tell me, your highness.  I don’t know.

 

Loren’s reading the letter, perplexed.

 

DIANA (CONT’D)

Tell me what he did—this sorcerer.  I don’t care.  I’ll do whatever I have to.

 

LOREN

I don’t know.  I don’t understand how Martin could…

 

An argument below:  A FARMER and the GUARD

 

FARMER

But I always bring vegetables this time of week.

 

GUARD

I’m sorry, but your name is on my list.

 

FARMER

List?  Since when is there a list?

 

LOREN

(re: the argument) Diana, will you excuse me a moment?

 

She nods shakily, glares out at the forest.

BELOW

Loren hurries downstairs.

 

GUARD

You could be kin of the king and it would make no diff…

 

LOREN

Let him in, guardsman.

 

FARMER

(a bow) Your highness.

 

LOREN

We’ve known Aleksey’s family for five generations, just let him in.

 

Diana looks on with a few locals.

 

GUARD

You know I can’t do that, your highness.  Your brother’s giving the orders now, what with your father…

 

LOREN

My father is alive and still king.  These are our citizens, not foreign soldiers—and we are not at war yet.

 

GUARD

He said we’re to take no risks.

 

LOREN

(re:  the farmer) Then you’re not taking his food.

 

FARMER

I don’t know what’s going on, your highness, but if this has something to do with defeating the wizard, maybe I should…

 

LOREN

Sorcerer.  And no, you shouldn’t.  I think I need to speak to my brother.  If you’ll excuse me a moment…

 

He storms up the street towards

EXT. / INT. THE CASTLE – CONTINUOUS

THE COURTYARD…

THE HALL…

THE THRONEROOM

Even the light is cold.

Martin stands watching a perspiring PAGE (ND) pen a list.  Beside him, Lisa sits in a wooden wheelchair, the kind with leg straps.

TAILORS (ND) come and go with fine gowns studded with gems.  One takes a dress down from a standing mannequin, another puts his up.

Lisa’s glance at each is cursory.

 

LISA

No.

 

Dress down.  Dress up.

 

LISA (CONT’D)

No.

 

Dress down.  Dress up.

 

MARTIN

(to Lisa) You’ve been at this all day.

 

LISA

All of one day.  No.

 

MARTIN

My father’s not getting any younger, princess.

 

LISA

Are you going to be in such a hurry when we’re married?

 

LOREN (O.S.)

Martin?

 

MARTIN

It depends if the armies march out the next morning.

 

He nods; the page stakes the list and retreats.  Loren storms in, letter still in hand.

 

LOREN

Martin, why are you turning away Farmer Aleksey at the gate?  And what is…?

 

Dress down.  Dress up.

LOREN (CONT’D)

What is going on here?

 

MARTIN

Her highness is being very particular about her dowry.

 

LISA

What I am is not particularly interested.

 

A shocked beat

 

LOREN

Martin, you’re not seriously…

 

Martin steals the letter.

 

MARTIN

I’ve fulfilled all formalities.  As for the list, I put a lot of thought into it, now that we know how sorcerers are born.  Princess, could you just…?

 

LOREN

What about Diana?

 

MARTIN

She still has secure employment.  I don’t see what she has to complain about.   You get along well enough without…

 

LOREN

(over) “Secure…”?

 

LISA

Is she that girl you sent off crying?

 

MARTIN

Your Highness, there’s a slight shortage of eligible princes at the moment.  You could at least attempt some gratitude — I’m inconveniencing myself for your sake.

 

LISA

I’m a little more concerned about someone else you’re “inconveniencing.”

 

LOREN

Martin, Father won’t approve of any of this…

 

MARTIN

And no one is going to worry him.  Go back to your books.

 

LOREN

I have been at my books.  Maybe I should have been looking up a bit more.

 

MARTIN

Did you find anything about Koschei?

 

LOREN

Yes, but…

 

STACIA

You’re highnesses?

 

Stacia’s at the door, a long wrapped bundle over one shoulder.

 

MARTIN

Well, if it isn’t the one who could have prevented all this…

 

STACIA

Well, if it isn’t the prince who wouldn’t heed an elder’s wisdom.  A little bird I ran into at the market tells me one of your highnesses is courting.

 

Martin crumples the letter. 

 

MARTIN

Your stitchery can’t be any worse than the rest.

 

Stacia hobbles to the dummy and regards the princess worriedly.  She gives a stiff curtsy. 

 

STACIA

Anastasia Petrov, your highness; but they all call me Baba Stacia. You must be Princess Lisa.

 

LISA

(surprised) Vasilisa, but how did you know?

 

Martin goes back to his list and Loren frets as Stacia rolls up her sleeves:

 

STACIA (CONT’D)

Let’s just see if I can’t cheer you up a little.

 

Jewels glitter warmly and Lisa’s exact bejeweled dress stands on the mannequin.

As Lisa stares, Stacia shrugs like it’s nothing. 

 

LOREN

Where in the world did you get a dress like that?

 

STACIA

It’s one of a kind, I believe.  I’ll have the shoes along by tomorrow.  I have only one apprentice, after all.

 

MARTIN

(agitated) You have an apprentice now?

 

STACIA

Son of a local.  You know how hard it is to find a trade for the youngest of three.  He helped me with finishing touches.

 

MARTIN

You could buy half the kingdom with a dress like that.

 

STACIA

That is the point of a dowry. (to Lisa) Now, rumor has it, princess, you’ve need of a gown, shoes, and…

 

LISA

A ring.

 

LOREN

Wait, what…?

 

STACIA

Why yes, of course.

 

She bows to them again.

 

STACIA (CONT’D)

So if this satisfies, I’ll see about those as well, if it would calm your fears.

 

LISA

I’ll admit, your apprentice seems unexpectedly talented.

 

MARTIN

It’s about time.

 

LISA

I’ll not give my word yet.

 

MARTIN

I don’t need your word, just your hand.  Unlike your last proprietor, time waits for none of us.

 

He turns on his heel and storms off.  Loren looks after him worriedly.

Stacia catches Lisa’s eye, smiles behind their backs, then curtsies again.

 

LOREN

I can’t believe it…

 

STACIA

Until tomorrow, your highnesses.

 


 

Attention Beta-Readers:  

The end is coming up and your feedback would be most appreciated.  Here we have the story of two pairs of siblings.  One has failed to mend.  What about the second?  I have my own ideas and a draft about them, but I’d love to hear how you feel it’s going, what it feels like, what you expect or what would disappoint you.

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