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Uncertain fantasy

Story 37, part four in my retelling of Beauty and the Beast. If you are just finding my blog now, you probably want to read part one, part two, and part three first. Two more installments to go after this one! The story should finish up by Thanksgiving. 

If you’d like a print of this story’s illustration, you can find that here

If you want to support me or this project, I have a Patreon


From the translation monograph of Nazar Alibek:

“The reader is given very different, often conflicting, descriptions of the beast throughout the manuscript, which again may reflect sources of differing origin and age. Late in the poem, the horse-familiar tells the shepherd that the beast was of noble birth, the daughter of a great sorcerer princess, who was transformed in this beastly aspect by a jealous rival of her mother’s. This version of the beast is described as profoundly erudite, precise and dignified in comportment, and swift and merciless in battle—all qualities one might expect to read in a standard commissioned extollment for a princess of the era. Yet earlier in the poem, the voice in the trees warns the shepherd that the beast has been imprisoned in her monstrous body for her crimes of savagery, that her exterior might better reflect the character of her soul.

The narrator also refers several times to the beast as “queen in the forest,” a phrase that shows striking similarity to the Elasim myth of “rajkath in the trees” and by extension the Mukari “rejgad,” or the Shadow Knight. While this creature is recovered from oral folklore many centuries younger than the Harbin manuscript, she is an intriguing parallel to the idea of a beast occupying the deep woods. The Shadow Knight is a gaunt woman with elongated limbs and needle-like teeth. She haunts the wildest parts of the landscape, whether forest or steppe, hunting lost travelers and children.

Whether the beast is meant to be an essentially human entity who is rescued from monstrosity, or a fundamentally monstrous one transfigured into humanity, is a subject for debate.”

***

Atzgar had turned his chair away from the fire so that he could watch what Khirkara was doing. The agreement that had been settled on, with considerable protest from the old man, was that he could examine the catalog at his leisure, but if he wanted to look at a specific book, he would need to get confirmation from his host before taking it off the shelf. Read More

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Story 36, part three in my retelling of Beauty and the Beast. If you are just finding my blog now, you probably want to read part one and part two first. At this point I am expecting this story to take two or three more installments to finish up, so I guess it’s more of a novella?

If you’d like a print of this story’s illustration, you can find that here

If you want to support me or this project, I have a Patreon


treeee web

Now the beast led Heleth’s son,

This time to the very heart of the wood.

To a castle, once goodly and fair,

Now knocked one stone from another

Until only a single tower stood.

The trees wrapped its stones in their embrace,

The vines sought the warmth of its hearth.

This was the home of the beast.

They walked on a path made between

The white flowers of the snow,

For the beast’s only gentle acquaintance

Was with the green-growing things.

“Beast, will you not speak to me?”

asked Heleth’s son.

“I have done all you have asked me to do.

Why do you not speak?”

The trees rumbled and cracked,

Voices came from deep within.

“Do you not know that the Beast has no words?”

“They have been taken from her.”

***

Khirkara wasn’t sure if he’d really been walking in the wrong direction, or if the old man was leading him in a bizarre, looping route to confuse him about the actual location of the house and its occupant. Or maybe his mother had covered far more distance than he had thought possible in her semi-delirious state. It was impossible to say, and it didn’t seem like a good time to question the rigid shoulders rapidly moving away from him.

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Story no. 35, part two in my retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I’ve recently had some life changes (preparing for a move and then making it, as well the death of a family friend and an impending nephew,) but I should be able to focus on writing for a little while!

If you’d like a print of this story’s illustration in black and white, you can find it here on my Society6 shop. EDIT: The color version is here.

If you’d like to support me or this project, you can subscribe to my Patreon.


wolfie color web

From the translation monograph of Nazar Alibek on the Harbin manuscript:

The beast of the poem is peculiar, among animal-bridegroom type stories, for being remarkably unsympathetic. Some have suggested that the beast’s behavior may reflect the depredations of an actual human-hunting wolf pack local to the story’s originators, particularly the lines describing dismemberment and disembowelment. While intriguing, this seems somewhat unlikely, as real wolves tend to hunt children or otherwise weak individuals. This mythical beast’s victims include knights and an armored princess with her “death-hooked spear” (probably a halberd of some sort,) seized from the midst of her hunt. Likely this reflects discomfort and resistance on the part of tale-teller to the contemporary shift from clan-based governance to feudal hierarchical structures.

This theory is further supported by the fact that our hero, presented as a deeply virtuous youth, does not hunt the beast until his own flock is attacked.”

***

Anasi had done a few runs of dried foods into Rathskun from Elasar province. It was not a profitable route—lots of small company stores, few of which sold branded products, and some homestead compounds which each ordered a hundred sacks of flour and milled pulses. Still, the territory was technically covered by the Northwestern Freight Syndicate. Their mother had been driving at night, hoping to avoid any other trucks who might notice that she didn’t have a union license taped to her windshield.

Khirkara watched his brothers while she explained this. Khirlaion’s face became stiller and stiller, until he might have been made of wood; Khirhebek’s went whiter and whiter, until he might have been carved from wax.

She didn’t really know what had happened, the night that she had gone off the road. She might have hit an unseen patch of ice, or she might have fallen asleep for a minute. Maybe the fan belt she had been expecting to break had finally done so, stalling something in the engine just long enough for her to lose control.
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Story no. 33. 


The jewel thing sounds pretty stupid when you first hear about it. Like something that should be in a comic book or on a trading card.

I did a sort of internship in San Francisco, on the Blue Earth, running logistics for a couple high-profile exiled Fae, which is how I know about comic books and other human storytelling-things. If you can hide magic on the BE, you can do it anywhere, or at least that’s how the industry line goes.

I like to say that San Francisco is where I got my cynicism from. I read a lot of mangas and ate a lot of carry-out Chinese that year, and my office was underneath the staircase of a burnt-out row house in the Haight. Admittedly, it’s hard to avoid cynicism when your world is an afterthought, jammed between two bigger and more believable realities. Lathustra doesn’t even have a coherent physics. The Blue Earth has got gravity, and strong nuclear forces, and ee equals em cee squared, to keep things running more or less consistently. What’s true in one place is more or less true in another. Read More

Story no. 31. Hey, I was in Ireland, cut me a break.


Ifrid felt in her bones the moment God-of-Judgment set foot into her stepfather’s hall. The men-at-arms felt it; she saw fear and awe and hunger in their faces as she sprinted past them. There was no question if Eren felt it. Ifrid was a fast runner, but the other girl outpaced her like an eagle soaring over a deer.

They had been up in the Glen, a crevasse in the mountain which rose over the keep. It had been sheer extravagance for Lord Jaoth, the father of Lord Veath, to build the defensive walls right up around the Glen with no more motivation than a murmured wish of his wife’s, so that she might go walking in the little wood and look up at the waterfall that danced down onto the rocks night or day.

But it made a fine place to hide from Veath while she was practicing her archery, Ifrid thought, and if she needed to come back in a hurry she needed only rush up the steps and run along the walltop.

The noise from the town below had gone utterly still – no carts rattling, no men shouting, no women shrieking, no stone crashing on stone as they levered rocks one onto one another for the new trade hall. What was left was the sound of a man whistling, if a single man’s whistle could echo over miles of forest and rock. Below the whistle rustled whispering, the patter of footsteps, a child’s laugh. Read More

Story no. 29. Some of my friends are doing a 30/30 poem-a-day challenge for April. As I am not a poet, I am going to try to update this blog every day for this month.


I. Now

Clunk. Clunk clunk clunk. Splash. Clunk.

Tamarla peeked out of the third-story window of the crag house built on the stone in the middle of the river. A dark figure stood on the bank at the end of the chain bridge. It paced back and forth over the dirty quay, pulling bricks and stones loose from the wall to hurl across the river at his door.

“Tamarla, come out,” a voice like honey and the view from a lion’s stomach called. “I want to talk to you. I need you to make me a vest.”

Tamarla the tailor eased the window open a finger’s-width. “Come over the bridge, and I’ll measure you,” he said over the water. Another stone arched through the air before chocking against the wood of the door below him.

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Story no. 16.


Bet you thought I was dead, didn’t you? How’d you think I was telling this story to you, exactly? Orks don’t come back as ghosts. If we leave unfinished business, it stays unfinished.

But I’ll admit that for a while I assumed I had to be dead. Everything was dark and I couldn’t really move my limbs. It did strike me as peculiar that if oblivion were all that awaited me after death I should be aware of it.

As time passed, I became increasingly uncomfortable. My head burned and there was a weight on my chest and my arms. The place where the Fey’s glaive had gone into me, just under my left shoulder blade and certainly puncturing a lung, hurt so much the pain had become an unfamiliar, bizarre sensation: like having surgery done with an icicle while I was flying through the air at top speed. Read More