100% Cotton Hug

I needed a hug from home,

so I put on the t-shirt

I bought for myself

when last I was there,

and under my blanket

I shut my eyes

and tried

to summon home around me

from 10,000 kilometers away.

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Richie

Richie

Let’s not talk about that.

That was two thousand years ago

Let’s talk about something that happening now

Like the grass.

It’s everywhere.

Look at it.

Like hair, like the hair on my head.

 

The problems is people don’t talk about it.

They’ve got fear everywhere.

They run and they get themselves alone all the time.

Sorta like me.

I’d like to talk.

I’ve things to say,

But my family doesn’t talk, they don’t talk.

 

You know there’s times I wish I had a friend,

But nobody out there’s gonna be my friend.

All my girlfriends had boyfriends when I was with ‘em,

And they beat me up,

Then the girls leave me alone

Just like that,

That’s life and sometimes I get angry at it.

 

You know I don’t like to get angry.

My father was angry.  I want a daughter,

A little girl to look after, a kid, but no,

I’m forty-one.

I’ve still got hair.

My father was bald.

But who’s gonna look at a man who’s forty-one?

 

No job, no place to stay.  Over at the mission,

They teach me I gotta get a job.

I can’t get a job.  I got so mad, I tore all my papers up.

So there you go.

Here I am.

You can give me food,

But I’m concerned about what you’ll eat today.

 

If you hand me that juice or that sandwich, or lunch,

I’m gonna have to split it with you.

If you won’t take it back, I’ll split it.

Look at you,

You’re so thin,

Out here on the street,

Helping people.  Here’s a dollar.  Let me be able to help you back.

 

I never had a friend before.

No one ever listened to what I’d say.

And I wanna hear what other people say.

Go on, talk.

People don’t talk these days,

So talk, go on tell me.

I never had a friend before and you’re a nice person anyway.

 

                                    -4/14/07

8: Test of the Second-born

Another prince, another trial…

Start from Chapter One here.


EXT. THE UNDERWORLD – SAME TIME.

THE HOUSE

A clink.  Koschei chains his horse to an iron stall with a heavy chain.  It snuffs smoke from its nostrils, pulls at the chain.  The whole stall shakes.

THE KITCHEN

Koschei enters, humming.

Morya sits at the fire:  A pot of borscht hangs simmering.

Continue reading

7: Second Thoughts

Happy New Year!

I just realized last week it’s been over a year!  Thank you for all your likes and follows, and good luck in the year to come!

Looking for Chapter One?


EXT. / INT. TISHINA CASTLE – DAY

LIBRARY

A book is laid open, scrawled with Glagolitic text.  Loren shuts it, hefts it, and sticks it in a bag, one of two on the table.  The first is already full.  Continue reading

6: Perseverance

Chapter One

This is the last post before the New Year!  Next week, I’ll be traveling, but look for the next post the second week of January.


 

INT. THE GOLD AND CRYSTAL PALACE – SOON AFTER

THE READING ROOM

A sewing dummy in a scrappy skirt dangles from a rope.  The rope creaks and moves downward.

Lisa moves upward in a makeshift sling, a sturdy hammer in her teeth.  She pulls the rope; she moves farther up.

She arrives at the trapdoor, wraps the rope around one arm.  She hefts the hammer.

She beats on the iron lock once, twice.  A glance down at the floor.  She lifts the hammer again.

The rope slips.  She yelps and goes down as the dummy goes up.  She catches the rope, stops.

Her feet dangle just over the floor.

She sighs and swallows, starts to pull again.  She goes up, the dummy goes down.

 

KOSCHEI (O.S.)

Princess?

 

She scrambles into reverse, drops clumsily, picks up her crutches—

 

KOSCHEI (O.S.)

Princess Vasilisa?

 

— rights the dummy, bundles the rope, shoves it under a pile of scrap cloth.  

 A sewing basket sits on the tea table with used dishes.  She grabs it, pulls herself into a chair, sits primly, and the door opens.

 Koschei struts in.

 

KOSCHEI

Ah, princess.  Still trying to be domestic?

 

LISA

Not much else to do as a prisoner of war.

 

He eyes the dummy.

 

KOSCHEI

What exactly is it?

 

LISA

A dress.

 

His eyebrows rise.

 

LISA (CONT’D)

Sort of.  Not that sorcerers care for sewing.

 

KOSCHEI

(looking to impress) I might know more about it than you, princess.

 

Lisa spots the rope poking out from the cloth.  She grabs her crutches, hurriedly stands in front of it.

 

LISA

If you must…

 

Koschei makes a gesture.  The dress sprouts sleeves, billows layers.  

Finished, it glitters with gems.  Lisa’s jaw drops.

 

LISA (CONT’D)

It’s fake, right?  Just an illusion?

 

KOSCHEI

(proudly) There are three kinds of sorcery, princess.  Conjuring summons what is.  Transformation changes it into something it isn’t.  Obliteration makes it cease to exist.

 

Lisa glances at the tea table and the knife.  She hobbles around the dummy, inspecting.

 

LISA

So which did you use to make this dress?

 

KOSCHEI

All three.  That is why I’m a master.

 

LISA

And that’s how you keep a knife from hurting you?

 

KOSCHEI

Your curious now?

 

LISA

A little.

 

He smiles.  

 

KOSCHEI

I did nothing.

 

She prods the dress and feigns disinterest.

 

LISA

You’re lying.  Go away.

 

KOSCHEI

It’s true.  Everything that makes me immortal is already done.

 

LISA

Then how was it done?

 

KOSCHEI

Have you reconsidered my offer then?

 

He reaches for her hand.  She snatches it away, puts distance between them.  He lets her.

 

LISA

I haven’t.  I’m only curious.

 

He stares suspiciously.  She dons wide-eyed innocence.  He tolerates it.

 

KOSCHEI

Very well.  It took thirty years.

 

LISA

(startled) That’s a…

 

KOSCHEI

A lifetime.  But now, if I wanted to, I could do the same for you, in the blink of an eye, with very little preparation at all.

 

She’s nervous, but intrigued.

 

LISA

What would you do?

 

KOSCHEI

Perhaps we’ll speak more on it later.

 

The door opens and he exits.  She glances at the dress once, follows him into

A GRAND FOYER

Full of echoes.

 

LISA

Why not now?

 

Koschei smiles out of view, beckons his riding gloves and cloak from a hook.

 

KOSCHEI

I want to savor this moment.  You, showing an interest.

 

She stops and scoffs as he leaves her for

THE GARDEN

and heads for the blank wall.  

 

KOSCHEI

Open.

 

He walks through the portal.

OUTSIDE THE PALACE

 

KOSCHEI (CONT’D)

Close.

 

The wall irises shut.  

 

He mounts his restless horse, smiling a little.

 

KOSCHEI (CONT’D)

And where the mind goes, the heart will follow.

 

EXT. KHAZARIM – DAY

THE FOREST

Martin and his army pick their way down a slope towards a hollow.

The space opens up and they see the stone.

 

MARTIN

Well, that’s promising.  Let’s try and move it.

 

A raven lands to inspect them.

A SERIES OF SHOTS – CONTINUOUS

–Morning:  Soldiers try to push the stone together.  

–Day:  Horses and ropes try to pull the stone away.

–Dusk:  Soldiers try to break the stone with hammers. 

–Dusk:  An arrow flies past the raven.  Martin puts aside the bow and rejoins his men.

–Night:  Soldiers set up tents, light fires, pass flasks and food. 

–Morning:  Digging under the stone reveals more stone.

 

LATER

The digging continues.  Martin examines the hillside.

 

SOLDIER

My lord, we found something!

 

The stone’s base is surrounded by Glagolitic text.

 

SOLDIER (CONT’D)

It’s some kind of old language.  None of us can read it.

 

Martin grins.

 

MARTIN

I know someone who can.

 


 

Fun Facts about Glagolitic Text

Zografskiy Kodeks, Gospel of John, page 1

  1. Generally, wizards in the West are depicted as wearing all manner of runes on their clothing, but when I tried to think of a look for Koschei, that just didn’t work.  World-building is tricky that way.  I knew runes, such as those depicted as Dwarvish in Tolkien’s work, were a Norse thing.  While there are contesting theories about Norse influence on Rus’ culture, it seemed best to find something related to Cyrillic instead.
  2. I began looking for old writing styles of Cyrillic and, after a bit more research, by chance came upon Glagolitic Script, which seemed the perfect mysterious lettering for the purpose.  It is the first known Slavic writing system.
  3. The picture is an example of Glagolitic writing, scanned to Wikipedia from the Codex Zographensis.  The serifs and loops give it, in my opinion, an almost alien look.
  4. The Glagolitic alphabet (or azbuki) is thought to be the invention of Saint Cyril of Byzantine, who found the Slavic language too complex for Greek or Latin lettering.  Other theories credit Saint Jerome, which would place its origins as far back as the Fourth Century C.E.
  5. Cyrillic text (invented by Cyril’s students), became popular for everyday use because it was easier to write.  In my opinion, the fact that Glagolitic letters weren’t widely accepted by the common people makes it perfect to attribute to any writers who don’t want to be easily read.  (In fact, if you want, you can use Unicode to type in Glagolitic using this handy reference and its supplement.)
  6. Glagolitic script remained in use up until the Nineteenth Century, but only in liturgical writing.  The last of it was lost, unfortunately, to Italian fascism.
  7. Speaking strictly “in-world,” my gusliars don’t use an alphabet or an azbuki because their songs and stories predate any writing; I like the idea that sorcerers, by contrast, would depend on books, especially given how witch hunts in Russia tended to target bookworms (read “nerds”) of all people, rather than the poor and uneducated.

 

5: Test of the Firstborn

Chapter One

And now time of a little action.


 

EXT. KHAZARIM – DAY

A PLAIN

The king’s crest is an eagle over an oak.  It’s on Martin’s red cloak and the shield of every man in his ARMY.  They near the forest.  The skeleton of a burnt village is close by.  

Wingbeats overhead.  Martin looks up, sees one raven, then another. Continue reading

4: Home Again

Welcome back!

Chapter One

Index


INT. KHAZARIM – NIGHT

THE FOREST

The white stone is snoring.

 

INT. A RUN DOWN COTTAGE –  NIGHT [A DREAM]\

A LOFTED BEDROOM

A YOUNG WOMAN with dark hair wakes, fingering a quilt, to a rustling below.  There’s a familiar ring on her right finger.  She rises, climbs down to

A BAKER’S KITCHEN

and sees a YOUNG MAN who could be her twin.  He’s handsome, but has a few scars, and he’s packing a bag.

 

YOUNG WOMAN

Where are you going?

 

YOUNG MAN

(whispering) Nowhere if you don’t keep it down.

 

Note: They speak on in whispers.

 

YOUNG WOMAN

Father said not to go.

 

YOUNG MAN

Father says a lot of things.

 

YOUNG WOMAN

You weren’t going to tell me.

 

He picks up the bag.

 

YOUNG MAN

When were you going to tell me the prince asked for the hand of a baker’s daughter?

 

YOUNG WOMAN

That’s not fair.

 

He throws on a ragged cloak and picks up the bag.  He touches her face affectionately, then frowns.

 

YOUNG MAN

Remember who kept you pretty for him.

 

YOUNG WOMAN

(defensively) It’s not only that.

 

YOUNG MAN

Does it have to be?

 

She frowns worriedly.  He heads for the door.  She follows.

 

YOUNG WOMAN

Koschei, what could you possibly hope to find out there?

 

YOUNG MAN / KOSCHEI

When I find it, Morya, you’ll be the first to know.

 

He leaves and the door starts to fall closed… 

END OF DREAM

 

INT. THE UNDERWORLD – DAY

THE SAME BEDROOM

A door shuts.  Morya wakes, looks around, just as the young woman did.  

 

MORYA

(whispering) Koschei?

 

She sits up on worn, homespun quilts and blankets.  

Her hand falls on her gifts.  She looks perplexed, then tears up, quickly gathers them.  She sticks the loose flowers in the book and hugs it.  Breathes.  

She fingers a familiar quilt, then stands, tucks the book into her sash, slings on the quiver, hefts the bow, then climbs down a ladder into —

THE KITCHEN

Clean and homey now with a brick oven and breadboard, which Morya hurries past into

A PADDOCK

Walled in.  A cow grazes by a henhouse with black, brown, and red chickens.  Morya looks around, then up.  

The sun’s the wrong color.  

There’s a hole in the sky.

She’s left A COTTAGE by a garden.  Behind it lies a clear blue sea with scattered, wooded islands covered in blue spruce.

Morya turns back.  She lays a hand on the doorway.  Her finger traces notches on the frame, roughly spaced, labeled in several places, each with an “M,” or a “K” below it.

She looks at the sun again.

 

MORYA

Impossible.

 

KOSCHEI (O.S.)

Welcome home.

 

She turns, nocks an arrow.  Koschei smiles and spreads his arms.  She hesitates.

 

MORYA

You really did it?

 

KOSCHEI

I’ve no regrets.  You?

 

MORYA

None.

 

A beat.

 

KOSCHEI

Are you lying?

 

She fires.  Arrow to the heart.  

Koschei laughs.  He pulls the arrow free, twirls it in his fingers.  

 

KOSCHEI (CONT’D)

That never gets old.

 

Morya lowers her bow.  Her shock gets the better of her.

 

KOSCHEI (CONT’D)

The truth is, sister, I…  I need your help.

 

INSIDE – LATER

 

MORYA (O.S.)

Immortality.

 

She sits at the breadboard, unimpressed.  

 

MORYA (CONT’D)

Immortality, and the first thing you want to do is what you mocked me for.

 

KOSCHEI

You wouldn’t wish me the same happiness, sister?

 

MORYA

Happiness?  Like this?

 

KOSCHEI

In return, I’m offering you what I’ve gained.

 

MORYA

I know you, brother…

 

KOSCHEI

(scoff) Do you?

 

MORYA

What do you need her for?

 

KOSCHEI

I need nothing.

 

MORYA

What do you need a princess for?

 

KOSCHEI

(poker face) What did you want a prince for?

 

A beat.

 

MORYA

Koschei, give this up.  It’s not natural, not normal —

 

KOSCHEI

Normal?  Normal used to be cabbage and tears for supper, Morya.

 

She stands to walk away, but he grabs her hand.

 

KOSCHEI (CONT’D)

Have you forgotten?  How much of your “love” for your prince wasn’t desperation to escape?

 

MORYA

I could ask you the same thing about your sorcery.

 

KOSCHEI

I’ve succeeded.

 

MORYA

But your hand is shaking.

 

He breaks his grip instantly.

 

KOSCHEI

All mortals die, Morya.

 

MORYA

If you’re immortal, what are you afraid of?

 

At the windowsill, a raven’s fluttery landing interrupts.

 

RAVEN

Men above, milord.

 

KOSCHEI

(to Morya) A moment…

 

He pulls flour from a pantry.  Morya looks perplexed.  

 He digs out a handful, tosses it on the worktable, studies it.  

 It shifts, slides, spreads, takes shape: A landscape, the mountains, the lowlands, the plain, the forest — the ruins of Khazarim’s.

And a tiny army approaches the forest like a trail of ants.


 

Fun facts about Russian Houses

  1. To be honest, I have only the slightest idea of what a home would look like in Russian fairy tales, but my first hints where found here, in this book from the 19th Century.  This, added to what Russian versions of stories were available on YouTube here in Japan have aided in building some kind of picture I can work with.  Unlike writing novels, the trickier bit is to leave white space a production team could work their own creativity into rather than providing everything upfront.
  2. The general structure, so far as I understand it, is that a house of many rooms would be harder to heat, and so the poorer the house, the closer everything is to a single hearth, the beds usually being above the hearth in order to keep everyone warm.  As a baker, Morya’s father wouldn’t be too badly off, although much of his work would be made to be sold rather than eaten.  A single parent, he’d have to do all the work himself but for what his children could help with, and if Koschei’s own personality is any sign, he was not a patient man.

Since this is a Beta read, I’ve left in the oft-recommended-against dream sequence intact.  It’s best to show in the present rather than the past what has happened, to keep the viewer close to things, but since this story is an exploration of origins and childhood, it seemed alright to leave in for now.  As always, comments for feedback and constructive criticism are welcome.