Self-aware. Self conscious. Self induced.

Telling Tales 234



Brimming with Ideas

“How can she refuse?” asked Ipiktokiyakovik, who was searching the world for a wife and for love. This was not how it was supposed to go, in his opinion.

“She can’t refuse!” said Scrobarnach Armtha at the same time. She wasn’t particularly interested in husbands  and longing for love never kept her up at night, but she thought she had a rather good understanding of comradeship. This was not how it was supposed to go, in her opinion.

“I don’t understand how she can refuse,” said Ivan, who loved Vasilisa so much he understood that they didn’t belong together as husband and wife. He did have a grasp on love, however, and this was not how it was supposed to go.

Of course, all three of them spoke at the same time, and although no one could understand their actual words, their shock was apparent to all.

Kou Ke said nothing at all.

Alexander maintained his typical silence.

Entendtout, however, was listening.

Juleidah held up her hand to call the others to silence and because they knew that she was more patient than the rest of them, they let their voices fall. “Haraka is explaining about the giant?” she asked.

“He is relating the story of how Prince Ivan and Princess Vasilisa picked him up in a flying ship. How he met the rest of us and what our stories were. How we met Kou Ke.” He paused. “Pardon. I have to adjust my hearing when one of them stops speaking and the other begins. Yi-Min believes that the path of our flying ship was used by the curse to deliver Kou Ke farther from her, though she does not blame any of us, rather, she marks this as an observation.”

“She is very astute,” noted Juleidah.

“Monsieur Haraka is agreeing that this is a possibility. Now he is explaining our trials against the Tsar Pyotr.”

“You can call him wicked,” said Scrobarnach Armtha. “The wicked Tsar Pyotr.”

“That’s right, since Vasilisa is no longer among our company,” added Ivan, who had always been sensitive about discussing the tsar’s more malevolent qualities in front of his daughter. “The very wicked Tsar Pyotr.”

“I never liked him,” said Ipiktokiyakovik by way of support.

“Did he tell her about the giant?” asked Juleidah.

Entendtout nodded an affirmative. “He has now returned to the theme a second time, how we arrived to the place where we sit now. He is explaining that Kou Ke’s life may be at stake, but that Kou Ke does not believe his life is purely his own to offer up.” He paused again. The rest of the company was becoming accustomed to what he looked like when he switched listening between speakers. “She is undoubtedly pleased by this information as it signifies his love for her, but she would not stand in the way of his honor.”

“Did she just give you permission?” asked Scrobarnach Armtha.

“I believe so?” wondered Kou Ke. “But I do not understand. If she loves me, why would she not come with Haraka to be by my side after all this time?”

“She is explaining that now,” said Entendtout. “She has only worn through three pairs of boots and she believes that you are so far away that it will takes seven pairs find you. Should she not wear all seven out, she would not properly demonstrate her determination.”

“That is quite romantic,” said Juleidah.

“Spare me,” said Scrobarnach Armtha.

“A moment,” said Entendtout. “Monsieur Haraka has an idea.”

“As do I!” said Prince Ivan.

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