26: Reversal

We made it to the last chapter!

~~~ Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! ~~~

I mentioned at the start of this that I’d be working without a net.  We made it across the tightrope to the last chapter of a brand-new beta, which of course now needs some test reading and feedback.  Although it was a bumpy ride, your views, likes, and shares really encourage me to no end.  A huge thanks to you for keeping me going.

Now that the story’s coming to a close, I’d love to hear beta reader comments on:

  1. What worked and what didn’t.
  2. What felt superfluous or scant.  
  3. What seemed missing or perhaps too ubiquitous.

Please leave your thoughts, questions, and suggestions in a comment below!


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25: Peer Pressure

Chapter One here.


INT. A STABLE – NIGHT

A crowd of artisans and soldiers are cleaning up — stacking sawhorses, stabling work horses, hanging up tools.  Soldiers chat.  Martin leans over another list. 

Loren enters the doorway, a brace of bottles in one hand.  SERVANTS (ND) linger behind him as he pushes into the crowd. Continue reading

Names: Diana

This character is late coming in the game, but she’s part of a major revision.  I’ve already added her into previous posts and the upcoming Wednesday post this week.  More details soon.


 

DIANA

“heavenly, divine”

When westerners think of Russian names, they probably don’t think of “Diana.” Among Russian names, it’s pronounced “DEE-ana.”  This Latin name shares a root with zeus:  dyeus, which can also be tied to the Russian word dyen, for “day.”  Diana is almost always pictured or sculpted with a quiver and arrows, and she’s often accompanied by a deer.

In Roman Mythology, Diana is associated with the moon in the heavens, hunting among human beings, and forests in nature.   Her similarity to Artemis may also link her to wisdom and chastity.  She was seen as the caretaker of pregnant women.  According to one scholar’s theory, this may be be why she was also thought to guarantee the succession of kings.

On a personal note, when I hear Diana pronounced this way, I think of how the “D” stands taller than the rest of the word like a half-moon.  The second half, “Anna,” is associated with grace or favor.  To play with the words a bit, the name “Dyena” could be taken to mean day of grace, and have some subtle association with names like Ivan, which mean given by G-d.   The Western pronunciation of “DI-ana,” in turn, might imply a double blessing.

The name Diana brings to mind a person who might be:

  • a clever maiden
  • a wise matron
  • a doctor or service worker
  • a guardian or caretaker

21: Test of the Third Born

To quote a flamboyant Lucius Malfoy, “It’s not over yet!”

Click here for Chapter One.


INT. THE CAVE – CONTINUOUS

THE PILLAR

Ivan clutches the stone, swings a leg over.  He catches his breath on his hands and knees.

 

IVAN

Are you all right?

 

The raven lights on the box, sets the egg inside.  Ivan hurries to examine it.

RAVEN

Sorry, master, I couldn’t carry both.

 

IVAN

No, it’s…

 

He glances back at the cliff, then at the egg.  He pulls out the needle, turns it, throws it down.  It pings between vines and turns black. 

 

RAVEN

What do we do?

 

The leaves curl over it.

Ivan shuts the box, wipes at tears.

 

IVAN

I don’t know.  But we can’t leave yet.

 

BELOW

The sea rushes and the souls wail, clinging to the walls, rattling their weapons. 

A clawed pale hand lies on the last stone step, as white sea foam rushes by.  The wishing ring glints on its finger.

A broken red eggshell goes gray.  Its insides, then its shell, turn to powder.

Ivan stands on the cellar cliff, clutching the box.  He swallows hard, doesn’t look down yet.

 

IVAN (CONT’D)

Hello?

 

The souls look up.  The sea water swirls.

Feet on the stairs.  Ivan’s.  He stoops, picks up the sword. 

He hesitates, sets down the sword, soberly pries off the wishing ring. 

 

IVAN (CONT’D)

For Lisa.

 

A glint.  Martin’s dagger. 

The souls stare, stricken.

 

IVAN (CONT’D)

Oh… You poor things.  Did he keep you here?

 

They still stare.

Distantly:  an iron step.

 

IVAN (CONT’D)

You’re free to go, I think.  I mean, if you want, there’re some things that are yours up there…

 

They cringe back, cling to each other. 

 

IVAN (CONT’D)

I mean, I’m not in charge here…

 

Clank.

 

BABA YAGA

I should say not.

 

EXT. THE UNDERWORLD – DAWN

The white rider appears in a glimmer of light, gallops west.

THE COTTAGE

Morya opens cupboards, pantries.  She pulls out rolls, cakes, stale bread.

Back and forth, she walks from the paddock to the ravens on the shore, strewing broken bread.

One raven belches a caw.

 

MORYA

I hope you clever birds have learned to serve better masters now.

 

She looks at the island, worries.

 

INT. THE MOUNTAIN – SAME TIME

Ivan and the crone face off.  The dog at her heels whimpers.

 

BABA YAGA

You have some potential, son of Symon.

 

IVAN

You know me?

 

BABA YAGA

I know everyone, eventually.

 

IVAN

I’m very sorry to have bothered you.

 

He reaches for the iron sword —

 

BABA YAGA

You know, I gave that to him.

 

— stops.  The dagger still glints. 

She eyes the souls.

 

BABA YAGA (CONT’D)

So, you thought you all could hide from me?  You’re as proud as the fool you followed.

 

She lifts a hand.  The sea starts to rise.  The other hand.  Quicker now.

Ivan dives forward as the body slips.  He lands hard, grabs Martin’s dagger.

 

BABA YAGA (CONT’D)

(still to the souls) Everything moves towards the center, and I am it.

 

She puts her hands together.  The rock cracks.  Eggs tumble.  Empty shells drift away, sinking…

The iron sword drops into the water.

Ivan stands back, clutching the dagger.

 

IVAN

You’ll drown them!

 

BABA YAGA

They’re already dead.  They just don’t want to believe it.

 

She eyes the black sinking shadow.

 

BABA YAGA (CONT’D)

My brother has been waiting for a long time for that one, but I think I’ll let him wait a bit more, the way he made others wait.  I think that would be… fair.

 

Around them, the mountains shakes and shatters.

 

IVAN

(stunned) But you helped him.

 

She smiles cruelly.

 

BABA YAGA

Because I had eternity, and he thought he was better than the gods.

 

Ivan backs away, shocked.  She gestures with a hand.  Red fire flashes, cage in gnarled fingers.

 

BABA YAGA (CONT’D)

What about you, Ivanushka?  What do you think you are?

 

He shuffles.

 

IVAN

I’m just a…  I’m…

 

He stops.

 

IVAN (CONT’D)

…kind.

 

BABA YAGA

Oh?

 

IVAN

Thoughtful.  Strong.

 

She laughs.  He clamps down on his anger.

 

IVAN (CONT’D)

Brave.

 

BABA YAGA

And does anyone believe that of you?

 

He hesitates.

 

BABA YAGA (CONT’D)

Everyone believes sorcery when they see it.

 

Ivan swallows.  The mountain cracks like thunder.

 

BABA YAGA (CONT’D)

Would you like to be something people would believe in?

 

Ivan shakes his head, clutches the dagger.

 

IVAN

I’m enough.

 

She’s surprised.

Ivan runs back up the stairs.

The dog barks and yaps.

 

BABA YAGA

Where are you going, Ivanushka?  And what is in that box?

 

Ivan runs up another stairs.  The mountain, its shelves, its pillar, its stairways, are shattering around him.  One stair falls through another.  He leaps, lands on a ledge, hurries along it, ducking, hands raised. 

The raven hurries after him.  A glancing blow with a stone.  It falls.  Ivan catches, cradles it.  It flaps to his shoulder.  They dodge a falling stone.

On the ledge, Baba Yaga scoffs, but shrugs.  She waves a hand.  Fog threads between falling stones.

 

BABA YAGA (CONT’D)

We’ll meet again, of course.  But I think…

 

She vanishes.

 

BABA YAGA (CONT’D, V.O.)

…I shall be busy awhile.

 

EXT. THE UNDERWORLD – SAME TIME

THE SHORE

The ground shakes.  The ravens scatter.  Koschei’s horse pulls fearfully at its post.  Morya looks towards

THE BLUE ISLAND

Trees crash, avalanches roll.

THE SHORE

 

MORYA

Ivan…

 

THE FAR SHORE

Ivan hurries to the rowboat. 

The goblins chase after him, swooping, screeching, diving.

Morya throws down her basket and runs back up the hill, across the PADDOCK, into

THE COTTAGE

She climbs to the loft, grabs her bow, arrows.

OUTSIDE

The ravens swarm, flee, cawing miserably.  The horse bolts for the woods.

 

MORYA

Fly if you must—

 

She takes aim…

 

MORYA (CONT’D)

—but don’t get in my way.

 

fires.

 

A goblin’s pierced through and shrieks.  It falls like a red-tailed comet into

THE SEA

With a splash.  Ivan shouts in relief, dragging the oars.  He hurriedly rows to shore.

Morya fires again. 

In the distance, the blue mountain is crumbling, rocks crushing sapphire trees, sand scattering at the shore. 

The ravens flee east and west, a flock hurrying across the sky, towards the entrance of the Underworld.


 

Fun Facts of the Week: Snake Princesses, etc.

  1. What else can be said about Baba Yaga?  Well, something interesting can be said about snakes.  I recently came across another story of Koschei the Deathless, in which he turns a princess into a snake for refusing to marry him.  Through the ordeals of a Cossack, she is restored.  After several undertakings, during which he takes her advice, he marries her and gains a kingdom.  The relationship between the word yaga and snake, and the pattern of new generations (Ivan and a princess) replacing the old ones (Koschei and Baba Yaga) seems to support my theory that in these tales the new pair replaces the old in a mirror of the natural cycle.
  2. To Beta-Readers, this screenplay is clocking in at about 166 pages, 50 beyond the recommended length for scripts.  What cuts (or reductions) would you suggest, based on your reading?  Do you recommend any resources to aid in reducing information into a shorter but still comprehensible form?  Whatever your ideas, please comment below.

May 6th clocked in as my best day for likes!  Thank again for all your likes, re-presses, and follows!

20: The Kindness of Ravens

So, I’m looking to take another week break soon.  I’m running behind on this draft’s revisions and I’m not happy with it yet.  So next week I’ll post some more “deleted scenes” or other short extras.  Thanks for sticking with me so far!  Your likes and follows make a big difference.  If you like what you read, don’t forget to share!

Here’s the link to the Table of Contents.

And now on to the (first) climax…


A MOMENT LATER

The rose bush stands alone.

 

KOSCHEI (O.S.)

Ivan?

 

Koschei arrives as the blue roses curl in around the box. 

He crosses to the matted tendrils, shoos the briars, opens the lid…

shuts it.

Ivan holds his breath behind a pillar.

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