It’s been quite a busy week. I start a new job tomorrow, and I’ve been rushing around trying to wrap up those million little tasks that I put off until I ran out of time to wrap them up. That didn’t leave me much time to write this week, but my new job will be 3 12-hour shifts each week so hopefully I’ll be able to get back on track. Haha, who am I kidding – something else will come back.
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’s husband is out of town, and the first wife, Yaba, isn’t too fond of her. Last week Ezichi snuck off and was deep in thought when someone interrupted her. We pick up right after that.
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Ezichi nearly fell off the bench she was sitting on. A little girl, no older than seven or eight and dressed in a dirty, tattered tunic, perched beside her.
The girl giggled at Ezichi’s response, a sound that echoed around the empty courtyard.
“Why don’t I what?” Ezichi asked as she regained her composure.
“Whatever it was you were talking about.” The girl giggled again. “You talk to yourself an awful lot, lalla.”
“Do I?” Ezichi tried to remember if this was something she’d always done, or if it was something that had developed since she’d married Kwaku. Growing up, she and her brother had had their own secret language, but here, however, she had no one to share anything with.
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And the rest of that scene:
As if Yaba could read her mind too, the first wife’s shrill voice rang out. “Ezichi, you worthless girl, where are you hiding? Supper won’t cook itself!”
Ezichi sighed and went to do as Yaba requested.
The next day, she again stole away to the back courtyard when Yaba wasn’t looking. The first wife had kept her busy all day, this time scrubbing the mosaic floors throughout their house, and it seemed like no matter how hard Ezichi tried, she couldn’t get the grout clean enough for Yaba’s satisfaction.
Ezichi sat on the bench again, shaded by a large tree that hung over the compound wall into the alley on the other side. Or what she assumed was an alley; she hadn’t left the compound since she’d married, six months ago. She had just started eating a snack of dried dates she’d snuck from the kitchen when the tree branches rustled and the little girl dropped down beside her. That at least solved one mystery.
She was even grubbier than the day before, if that was possible. Ezichi didn’t know anything of her life, but her heart went out to her nonetheless. “Would you like some dates?” she asked.
The girl snatched them out of her hand and shoved them all into her mouth before Ezichi could even finish speaking, then wordlessly scampered up the tree, over the wall, and out of sight.
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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
Definitely curious as to who this little girl is.
Who is this mysterious girl?
Really enjoyed the snippet. Good luck with the new job, and new routine.
I think she just made herself a friend, but possibly a troublesome one ;)
Best wishes on the new job! Enjoyed the snippet, sounds like she and the little girl both need a friend pretty badly.
A hungry urchin with a large mouth . . . and mysterious ways. Quite interesting.
I’m already fascinated by this tale. I’ve never read the original.
I too am intrigued by this wandering girl. Will she be able to help Ezichi in some way?
I’m drawn into this vivid scene. Her situation seems dreadful as a second wife basically being used by the first wife and I suppose the husband. Just as I think she should run away, a urchin appears who is scrounging for food, proof things can get worse. Very realistic characters.
Poor starving child. I think her kind gesture to the girl will be rewarded.
Poor little girl
A new job. That’s exciting. I feel sorry for the hungry, dirty child. Maybe the two of them can be friends.
When I was a homecare nurse, I always preferred three twelve-hour shifts to five eights. Except for the time when my patient was a mostly normal infant who had a condition that was going to resolve. She was an easy patient, so I didn’t mind working five nights a week. With the agency I worked for, though, when I was working three twelves the shifts often became sixteen hours, or four or five days rather than three. It near to ended me.
I enjoyed the snippet. The little girl is an intriguing character.
I wonder if the little girl is more than what she appears to be?
Good luck on the new job! I’m curious about the little girl, who is she exactly?
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