For the next month or two, I’m moving on to the next standalone short story in my Heartsbane Saga series of fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings. “Ezichi the Beautiful” is a retelling of the Russian fairy tale Vasilisa the Beautiful, about a girl who gets help from the witch Baba Yaga to complete tasks set by her evil stepmother. It’ll be out in the next week or two.
This week’s snippet is from the beginning of the story. Ezichi is the sister of one of the main characters, and she was supposed to be killed off but my beta readers liked her too much so I’m sticking her in this side story. This part continues from last week.
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Within a week, Kwaku had left his household for the distant city of Duguba. Ezichi was on her best behavior when it came to interacting with his other wives: doing all the chores Yaba assigned to her—which in her opinion seemed to be most of them, biting her tongue from saying what she really thought of them, and finally just avoiding them when she could. This last part proved difficult, however, as Kwaku, like most Aghlabidi men, encouraged his wives to stay confined to the home, and while the women’s quarters were big, they weren’t big enough for two large personalities like Ezichi and Yaba.
One particular afternoon, when she was trying to hide from Yaba’s shrill demands, Ezichi found herself thinking about her life before marrying Kwaku. She tried not to let herself do this too often; she wasn’t the type of person to wallow in self-pity. But she missed that life. Her father had given her the freedom to do whatever she wanted: visit the university libraries and the markets, choose and reject her own suitors, nearly everything her twin brother had been able to do. But by a twist of events she still didn’t fully understand, she’d woken one day to find herself hundreds or maybe thousands of leagues from home, with no way back. So when the marriage offer had come from Kwaku, she’d accepted it and resigned herself to make the best of her situation. But that didn’t mean she didn’t want to go home.
“So why don’t you?” asked a little voice beside her.
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Heartsbane Saga – fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings!
Book .5: “The Maiden in the Tower” – Carys has resigned herself to a life of servitude, locked away in a tower, until a chance encounter with a stranger leaves her daring to hope for more.
Book 1: Captive and the Cursed – When Nyah’s sister is kidnapped by barbarians, Nyah offers herself in her place. But she soon learns the barbarians aren’t what she expected, especially their cursed leader.
Book 1.5: “The Brave Little Thrall” – Fahim Al Rasheed has spent his life studying foreign cultures, but he never thought he’d actually have the chance to visit them. When his journey of a lifetime leaves him and a young barbarian king marooned in a hostile country, he’ll have to rely on more than book learning to make it back home alive.
Book 2: Sleeping Shaman – Nyah and her friends travel halfway across the world seeking a cure for a barbarian curse, only to discover that the man they’re seeking has gone missing. Nyah must navigate dangerous rivalries and conflicting cultures before time runs out.
It will be interesting to see how you reconcile these two strong personalities.
What an intriguing last line!
Oh, now I’m curious who that last line came from.
I will echo the other commenters. The last line really sucks you in, makes you wonder who’s speaking. And what it will mean.
I like the mystery behind her current situation. Makes me suspect the hand of the evil stepmother.
Intriguing. She certainly does seem like a very strong character so I can’t wait to see what she does next. And who the voice belongs to!
Oho — what or who is speaking to her?
Like the others, that last line intrigued me.
Someone is watching? Or she is nudging herself into questioning who and where she is. Very intriguing.
Nice little cliffhanger… pun intended…
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