Self-aware. Self conscious. Self induced.

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.

Character: Taregh

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.

He wrote.

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!

Previous installment.


26 responses

  1. I love your dialog! Captivating and fast paced. Can’t wait to see what’s next!! (yes I am late coming to week 2 and 3, but off I go!)

    October 19, 2011 at 11:34 am

  2. “You are not a horse” – inspired. Great dialogue skills too.

    October 18, 2011 at 1:51 am

  3. This is great! I love the Russian folklore and Rhe horse that isn’t and the wolf. It banks on history and yet is so unique. Very nice.

    October 16, 2011 at 6:47 pm

  4. Looking forward to week three.

    Tale Spinning

    October 15, 2011 at 7:02 pm

  5. Sorry I’m late – last week I worked my way from end of list to beginning, this week from first to last.

    Enjoyed the not-horse and the dialogue, as well as the imagery :-)

    October 15, 2011 at 5:31 pm

  6. Aha – so the horse is something different, and can also take the shape of a wolf! Thanks for writing.

    October 15, 2011 at 4:05 pm

  7. Interesting… curious to see what’s going to happen next. :-)

    October 15, 2011 at 7:46 am

    • Total chaos.

      October 15, 2011 at 11:27 am

  8. I enjoyed your take on Prince Ivan and the firebird….I loved the original Russian folktale and talking horses that turn into the grey wolf, eastern innovators…can things get more magical. Will Vassilisa turn out to be what she is not?

    October 15, 2011 at 2:01 am

  9. The mayor – or something like a mayor…the horse/female/wolf…they speak languages that surprise even themselves…All so interesting, luring me deeper into your story.
    Hmmm. I usually can figure out where a story is leading, at least in a general sense. You’ve got me completely stumped! Guess I’ll have to wait for next week.

    October 14, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    • Next week should lead right up to the edge of the climactic action but no farther. Still editing!

      October 15, 2011 at 11:28 am

  10. Love the back and forth going. Can’t wait for next week!

    October 14, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    • Er, I mean “going on”

      October 14, 2011 at 3:06 pm

  11. Whoa, Taregh has a superb name! Great second installment. Can feel the fantasy ooze out of the words just as in the previous one. Want to know more about the firebird :)

    October 14, 2011 at 8:54 am

    • He’s actually a real historical person – built a giant observatory in Samarkand in the 15th century. Which means I can’t take personal credit for his name, which is too bad.

      More about the simurgh-not-firebird next Wednesday! She amps up the action a bit.

      October 14, 2011 at 10:41 am

  12. Who’s on first?

    Wow, talk about a crazy mess. Curious to see where this is going.

    October 13, 2011 at 10:27 pm

  13. Been by to have a read – sorry I can’t say too much while judging!


    October 12, 2011 at 5:47 pm

  14. This is one rollicking adventure. :)

    Love your entry!

    October 12, 2011 at 4:33 pm

  15. This is getting quite interesting. Ready for more.

    October 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

  16. Hilarious! So, the horse is now female – I think if anything it made the whole story better. I love how your characters interact with each other.
    My new chapter is online, too.

    October 12, 2011 at 2:55 pm

  17. That was as much fun as the first. I had suspicions the horse was not a horse. The wolf was a nice touch :)

    Can’t help with the “wah wah” sound. Well, maybe a hand saw, wobbling in the air?


    October 12, 2011 at 2:53 pm

  18. Oh my gosh, what a wonderful mess! The changing points of view are a work out but wonderful fun. Definitely engaging storytelling, I’m breathless for the rest.

    October 12, 2011 at 2:46 pm

  19. Heh heh. I love the dialogue. The egg stuff, the bossy horse, the mistaken identities–great. And funny! :D

    October 12, 2011 at 2:14 pm

  20. ooh, things are getting very complicated. What exactly IS itself, as everything seems to be NOT? Great job leaving us with questions … looking forward to next week for a few answers. (maybe? or not?)

    October 12, 2011 at 12:06 pm

  21. I once rode a horse that was not a horse. It was a bucking nightmare! Great tension and mystery. I enjoyed it. Roland

    October 12, 2011 at 11:39 am

    • I need something to make the “wah wah” pun sound effect…

      October 12, 2011 at 11:45 am

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