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You can listen to it on libsyn or iTunes! You can also read the story in its original form, sans questionable British accent, here.

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Story 38, part five 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, part three, and four first. The last two installments are written; I just have to do the illustrations for them. I refuse to speculate how long those will take, as clearly every time I give myself a deadline I refuse to meet it. So!

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


He went out from the tower,
The ancient and ruined place,
Where once humans had ruled
And now the beast slept.
The beast, with whom he had kept
Good and gentle company,
Brought him a bramble in her teeth:
The thorns as long as claws,
Sharp as death in winter.
“Wear thee this, on thy wrist,”
Said the voice in the trees.
“When its teeth have gone dull,
Know that the beast has died
Heartbroken, for want of thee.”

***

Khirkara got a ride from an old man in an ancient board-sided livestock truck, well after the sun had set. He wasn’t the only passenger; another young man with a shaved head sat in the center of the bench seat. A thin boy was asleep in the space under the dashboard. No one spoke except for the wind and the sheep crammed in the bed of the truck, who baaed fervently.

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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

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. 34. Yay! I’m glad to be back!

If you’d like a print of this story’s illustration, you can find it here on my Society6 shop.

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


monster movie small

Black screen. LOW SINGING is heard in a young man’s voice, in strong dialect. The sound of wind rises and gradually overpowers his words with a LONG, HIGH WHISTLING.

Fade up. A SHEPHERD sits alone in a clearing in the middle of a deep forest, surrounded by dense trees covered in vines. This is not a natural forest, but one where strange creatures and nightmares live. The shepherd is young but looks exhausted. The ground is covered in patchy snow. His head is bowed over the wet, still body of a wolf, or something that could be a wolf if not looked at too closely. It has too many legs and too many eyes. His shirt hangs over a nearby branch, and his bare chest is splattered with dark liquid.

Cut to his face in profile. He breathes deeply, and his breath makes steam in the frigid air.

We pan down his body to see a knife, a plain blade with a re-wrapped hilt, lying on his thigh. It drips onto the snow.

We cut to his face again; he presses his lips together and leans forward, and we hear the sound of the KNIFE CUTTING INTO FLESH as he starts to skin the wolf.

***

Khirkara profoundly regretted taking this job. He had a degree. He had spent five years and untold sleepless nights for that damn piece of paper, and for what? So he could play some sort of historical yes-man to a megalomaniac making a psychedelic movie rendition of a fairy tale?

He ought to be studying for a professorship. He ought to be a visiting scholar at some foreign university, or at the very least Caillon. (Hell, he wasn’t proud. If the history department at Eilarao would have taken him, he’d have gone. At least it was far away.)

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