Rule of 3 (part 4 of 4)
This is the last installment for the Rule of 3, which I have enjoyed tremendously. I think I’ll be re-tackling this idea (short weekly folktale) starting next week and taking this version of the story of Prince Ivan from the beginning.
- Prince Ivan, the Gray Wolf, and the Firebird
- A Marvelous Box, a Quill, and a Sundial Made of Bones
- The Water of Death, the Air of Life, and Something Like a Mayor
In Which Three Stories Go Their Separate Ways
Prince Ivan wept bitter tears.
“It’s too soon,” said the wolf.
“You do not belong here. You do not belong in one place,” said Taregh to the mayor.
A rumble erupted from the ground beneath their feet. “We are not alone,” declared the mayor, who was starting to look like he might be an emir. “The land is with us. Renaissance is with us.”
“It is my nest,” growled the simurgh, twice as big as a horse, her dog’s teeth glinting cruelly in the sun, her threat clear.
“Three,” counted the mayor, and in the distance the Roundeli Mountains seemed to stand up.
“Prince!” snapped Taregh, his cool breaking at last, and Prince Ivan swung his sword.
The gray wolf’s mighty head struck the ground with a sound that was altogether not as important as her life had been. The hide and body of the wolf fell away from a disheveled young woman who looked at Prince Ivan with great sorrow.
“It’s too soon,” she said again. “Now I won’t be able to save you.” She held a small crystal flask and a small leather bag.
“Who are you?” he gasped.
Taregh held up the sundial made of bone and caressed its edge with the feather of his quill. It was no larger than the span of his fingers, yet the shadow it cast from the sun crossed the length of the square, covering the town and townspeople in shadow.
“No!” cried the voices of three hundred and thirty-three people as one from the shade.
“Open the bag,” said Taregh, and the young woman did so, and the wind that surrounded Renaissance became a gale. The air of life gave the creature of wind and water strength.
“Break the flask,” he said, and the young woman did so, and with a roar, the creature of wind and water was freed in an explosion of a thousand thousand grains of sand.
The town itself screamed its agony and its rage. “It doesn’t hurt here!” shouted one voice. “We cannot bear another Tragedy!”
“If you stay here on this nest, you cannot share in stories” said Taregh in quiet empathy to the woman who had been an emir and who was now a queen or a president. “Renaissance is Re-Birth. You will bear it. You must. You are always Re-Telling. Now you must continue another story in another place and another time.” The quill spun the sundial’s shadow.
“But it hurts!” wept a man.
“Birth is pain,” said the young woman with the soft voice of experience.
“Who are you?” whispered Prince Ivan.
To the vanishing town and mountains, river, forest and desert, Taregh called out, “You have a marvelous secret,” and then they were gone.
“Where is the simurgh?” asked the young woman, alone on a steppe with Prince Ivan and the not-wizard.
“These are yours,” he answered, handing her a bag, a flask, and an egg. “They belong in your story. Not mine. Not that of Renaissance, which is shared elsewhere and by others.”
And then he, too, was gone.
“Where shall we go?” she asked.
“To seek Koschey the Deathless!” declared Prince Ivan from where he sat upon the white horse with the golden bridle, the cunning disguise of his friend the gray wolf.
“As you say,” she said, and with strides beyond that of any horse she devoured the distance. “I will save him when the time comes,” she thought.
“And yet,” Prince Ivan said to himself, “something about you is not what it seems,” and he wrapped his hands in her mane, trusting nevertheless.
Word Count: 597
Prompt: Relationships mend/ are torn asunder.