Rule of 3 (2 of 4)
Second installment. Here’s a link to Damyanti’s blog (one of the hosts), and in the meantime, here is the relevant prompt I used this week:
One of the characters is revealed to be not who he or she seems to be.
Word count: 560.
Previous installment here.
A Marvelous Box, A Quill, a Sundial Made of Bone
The lid of the marvelous box, face carved with that of a snarling lion, arose of its own accord and the man reached inside to find his quill. A sundial made of fragile bones kept the parchment in the wide book from blowing up with the wind, faint here in the center of town.
I told the fisherman the secret of the wind and the rain, and he told me his story. I told the story of the fisherman to the blacksmith, and that man told me his story. I returned the blacksmith to his wife, and she told me I would not find the nest until rebirth, after seeking for ten times ten moons.
It was then, on the verge of his next thought, that the man was assaulted. “Death to you!” exhorted a travel-stained man of royal mien, and smashed an egg on the writer’s forehead. Yolk and white dripped into his eyes and onto his nose and parchment.
The bird in the cage at his feet gave a laugh, the envy of glass bells.
The man bowed his head to his power and his assailant froze in place. The man gave thanks, bowed his head again, and the egg vanished from his face and book. He looked up and into the face of a mighty horse, blinding white with a golden bridle, eyes wide and wild.
“Free him!” cried the horse.
“You are not a horse,” said the man, “And you both speak Chagatai, and while none of the folk in this town speak with an accent I know, yours is Russian. A moment.” He bowed his head to the horse and made a note with his quill in the book where the parchment peeked out from under the marvelous box and the bone sundial.
“Free him,” cried the horse that was not a horse once more.
“He will not strike me with another egg?” asked the man.
“You are not Koschey the Deathless,” said the horse that was nothing like a horse.
“My name is Mirza Mohammad Taregh bin Shahrokh, but until I am worthy of my title, my namesake, and my ancestors, I am your humble servant Taregh.”
The not-horse was satisfied, and Taregh bowed his head and Prince Ivan was able to move again. “How are you not Koschey? You have the firebird!”
“You took the wrong egg,” whispered his steed.
“She is a simurgh. We seek her nest,” said Taregh.
“We speak Chagatai?” asked the not-horse.
“We all speak Russian!” declared the Prince. “It looks like a firebird.”
“I speak Russian right now?” asked Taregh in Chagatai.
“Yes,” agreed the not-horse. “You are something like a wizard, sir, can you not tell us what magic happens here?”
“Forgive me, but I must correct you. I am no more magician than you are equine. I am a scientist, studying the secrets of the universe. Must you remain in that shape?”
The beast gave Ivan a worried look. He returned it a princely nod. It reared up and threw itself upon the ground. The moment its shoulder touched the cobblestones, it transformed into the large grey wolf. Ivan gave her a proud smile.
“Amazing,” bowed Taregh, “and yet you are neither horse nor wolf.”
“You’re not?” asked Ivan.
“You there!” called a peremptory voice.
“The mayor,” said Taregh. “Or something like a mayor.”
Next prompt will be Friday (head over to Damyanti’s to see what we’re tasked with), next installment will be in one week. Thanks for reading!