Self-aware. Self conscious. Self induced.

Rule of Three Blogfest (1 of 4)

The Rule of Three is a shared-world blogfest. Here’s the basic outline (follow the link for the details on the town itself):

The Rule of Three is a month-long fiction blogfest, where we’ve created a ‘world’, the town of Renaissance, and challenged you to create a story within it. The story will feature 3 characters of your creation, who will be showcased on your blog on 3 different Wednesdays, following the Rule of Three. The 4th Wednesday, we’ll have the culminating scene.

There are 69 participants in this one (as opposed to the nearly 300 (?) ) in Rachael Harrie’s Campaign Builder. But the word count is twice as high for the writing. At the link above, you can see the list of everyone who’s writing here and check out some of the other stories.

All of my folks look like they’re going to be outsiders to the town. The story takes place in the second decade of the 15th century.

Prince Ivan, the Grey Wolf, and the Firebird

“Where is he?” asked Prince Ivan.

“You should whisper,” neighed the horse beneath him. “Stop talking as though you are in court.”

“But I am a prince,” declared Prince Ivan.

“You have no kingdom. You have nothing but three death sentences upon your head.”

“That is not true, for I have you.”

The horse eyed its rider with kindness. “That is true. And if you listen to me and do as I say, we may retrieve the firebird and satisfy the first king.”

“I will do as you say,” pronounced the prince with great humility.

“You always say you will, and you never do.”

“I didn’t understand how we could travel with the firebird without its golden cage!” he protested.

“And the golden bridle?”

“I didn’t know how I would lead the horse!”

“And the golden dress?”

“My Vasilisa should wear nothing less magnificent!” he proclaimed.

“Stop talking as though you are in court,” the horse said.

It would not have mattered if Prince Ivan had heeded his steed’s admonition, for he cut an unlikely figure in the small town of Renaissance. Artisans lived here, that was certain, for the old wood and stone houses showed signs of marked and excellent repair. It was nothing compared to home, but Prince Ivan was a generous man and gave the people here their due. The flagstone and earth streets were wide enough for incoming caravans, one of which was arriving at the south side of the town if the cloud of dust was anything to judge by. No building rose beyond a second floor, though many of them were crowned with cisterns to capture the rain. Ivan scanned the blue skies.

From the shops lining the street, the townspeople scanned Ivan. The dirt and filth of travel could not conceal the cut of his clothes nor his regal bearing. Unlike him, the horse was beyond clean, her hide so white it was almost blinding. The golden bridle around her neck attracted nearly as much attention as did the fact that the horse and rider were stopped in the middle of the street.

“Make way,” called a merchant behind them. He sat at the front of a cart laden with goods. He spoke Russian as well as they did, but with an accent that was beyond Ivan or the horse. When Ivan’s steed examined the merchant’s two horses, they flattened their ears and whickered in concern.

“Can you direct me to lodging, good sir?” asked Ivan.

“The square at the center of town. You will find food and lodging alike. You will see me there later tonight. There is a fierce wind that encircles Renaissance, and I, too, will need to rest.”

“Thank you,” and Ivan bowed his head. He knew he was better than everyone here, but he was raised to be polite and to thank those who did him a kindness.

Without word or motion from his rider, the horse turned toward the center of the town. The townsfolk watched them ride farther in. They had no use for nobility, but a trade was a trade in the end.

“There he is,” swore Ivan. At the center of the square sat a man by a fountain. He was writing in a broad book with a quill. At his feet sat a golden cage in which sat the golden firebird. Ivan alit from the horse and took out the egg in which was contained the life of the wizard Koschey who sat before them. “This ends now.”

“Wait,” said the horse, but Ivan was already running.

In keeping with related practice on other posts: word count is 594; prompt is “there is an argument”; main character #1 is Prince Ivan.

Also, in case it matters, between the first and second posts I edited this installment to make the horse female.


33 responses

  1. 3 death sentences? This prince has been busy getting into trouble apparently. =)

    October 24, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    • He really needs to listen to his horse.

      October 24, 2011 at 7:12 pm

  2. Pingback: Rule of Three Blogfest: Part 3 |

  3. Yes, I loved the arrogant prince, and the helpful talking horse, (and I’m wondering if he was some other species transformed magically into a horse.)

    I want to know more about: Vasilia, the bridle, and the wizard! Thanks for coming to Renaissance with us.

    October 15, 2011 at 4:03 pm

  4. I love the talking horse. Curious about the firebird too!

    October 11, 2011 at 4:17 pm

  5. I like the talking horse! And I’m intrigued by the firebird–why is it so important?

    Great entry. :)

    October 11, 2011 at 1:21 pm

  6. Nice suspense until Wednesday next. The wizard’s life in an egg?? A trade? A prince with three death sentences on his head? A talking horse? Okay…I’m in :) ~ Nadja

    October 11, 2011 at 5:02 am

  7. I love that you’re basing this on that fairy tale! It’s like I get a backstage look at the story. You definitely have the style down and your characters are great, the story full of suspense. I’ll be back on Wednesday for more!

    October 9, 2011 at 10:48 pm

  8. This really feels like an old Russian fairytale, you hit the voice perfectly! I watched a Russian cartoon as a child about a boy called Ivan and his horse ( and your story made me want to watch it again :) If you haven’t seen it, you should, it’s beautiful, I think it can be found on youtube.

    October 9, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    • I’ve been reading up to get the style down. Thanks so much! I don’t know that cartoon – Ivan and the horse are staple characters (not always together) – but I’ll be sure to check it out!

      October 9, 2011 at 11:53 pm

      • I have to shift gears this coming week, obviously, and I know where I want to go with the story, but I have to wait and see how the prompts shake out.

        October 9, 2011 at 11:54 pm

  9. Oh my; what an arrogant character the prince is. I love him for it. You’ve woven in lots of intrigue about the townspeople who watch him, the artist, the firebird, the magician and of course, the importance of the trader.

    Loads of potential here :)


    October 9, 2011 at 1:58 pm

  10. Nice piece, love the talking horse. Looking forward to week 2!

    October 9, 2011 at 2:01 am

  11. Love horse. Can’t wait to see what mess the prince gets himself into.

    October 8, 2011 at 7:18 pm

  12. cfox

    Okay… it’s been three days. Part two? ;-)

    October 8, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    • You get it on Wednesday!

      October 8, 2011 at 3:21 pm

  13. this is great! Is this what happens after you’ve already written tens of thousands of words, you just naturally dash off a high quality piece forever after, no matter the length?

    I feel a real connection to the characters; I can see their world and feel their personalities. I care about them already, in only 600 words. :)

    October 8, 2011 at 8:18 am

    • Aw, thanks! But I didn’t really dash this off – in fact, it’s my second chapter. I had to write another one to give myself a bit of a running start (the horse and Ivan outside Renaissance meet a hare). Also, I re-read a bunch of Russian folktales to get the style in my head. Then I wrote, then I edited. Getting it down under the outside upper limit of 600 words was a feat!

      October 8, 2011 at 10:32 am

  14. mel

    I love the idea of a horse mentor! I always thought horses needed to play a more prominent role in such fantasy stories where they are the main mode of transport and you have implemented this very nicely indeed :)

    October 7, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    • Uh oh. Hope you’re not disappointed by part two!

      October 8, 2011 at 3:22 pm

  15. Stopping by on my way through the REN3 entries :-) Thanks for joining us, looks like you’re off to a good start! (As one of the hosts/judges, I’m trying to limit my comments so as not to unduly influence any opinions.) As a side note, I always wanted a talking horse when I was kid…I was devoted to the old show “Mr. Ed”!

    October 7, 2011 at 7:31 pm

  16. Firstly, I love the royal theme with prince’s and kings’s. The horse is so fascinating and the element of magic really captured my fancy. Plus, the firebird and golden cage transported me to a whole new world.

    A very fresh take on Renaissance. Wonderful! Looking forward to the next piece :)

    October 7, 2011 at 9:15 am

  17. I love the horse! :)
    And Prince Ivan is entertaining in his very own way, too.

    October 6, 2011 at 4:17 pm

  18. Very entertaining, nice voice. We shall see if Ivan grows from his experience or his poor horse must simply endure! References, such as the man writing in the book, lend a subtle texture to the story. I love the gentle humor.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:50 am

  19. He’s not going to listen to his horse, is he?

    October 6, 2011 at 11:47 am

    • He never has so far. Maybe he’ll learn, though.

      October 6, 2011 at 12:25 pm

  20. Your writing style fits the genre well, and the story has an intriguing plot. Can’t wait to see where it goes.

    October 6, 2011 at 9:27 am

  21. This is a note to say that I’ve been by to read your entry. As one of the judges, I don’t want to make any specific comments that could betray my judgement — keeps you guys in suspense for longer! :) Suffice it to say that I’m truly enjoying all the different and creative takes on Renaissance and the Rule of 3!


    P.S.: You have a firebird too! Snap! :)

    October 6, 2011 at 4:21 am

  22. Your writing is great! Good job.

    October 5, 2011 at 6:56 pm

  23. Good storyline and characters – pulled me right in.
    Ivans direction at the end I assume is toward the Wiz.
    I await more hungrily.

    October 5, 2011 at 4:53 pm

  24. Interesting situation that you’ve created.

    I’m curious to see why the horse wanted Ivan to wait. He seems to be the more sensible one. ;-)

    October 5, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    • If nothing else, the prince is always sincere.

      October 5, 2011 at 4:57 pm

  25. I like this very much. Suspense, a wizard, a firebird, and talking horse. Great installment.

    October 5, 2011 at 9:07 am

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