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.
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.
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“I will miss you, o jewel of my heart,” Kwaku said to his wife, Ezichi, as they lay in bed next to each other.
Ezichi was glad for the bedchamber’s darkness as she rolled her eyes. As far as husbands went, Kwaku wasn’t a bad man. He was always polite to her, never laid a hand on anyone in his house, and, more importantly, he’d taken her as a wife and not a concubine. But he was also dull, while prone to dramatic language, and he had a short attention span. Ezichi was sure she was his current favorite wife only because she was his newest, and she had no doubts that she would be set aside whenever he could afford the next one.
“Don’t you want to know why I will miss you?” Kwaku asked with a tinge of petulance in his voice.
“Are you going on a trip?” she asked him, knowing full well this was the case.
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And the rest of this scene:
He traveled frequently, arranging trade deals to buy and sell gold and salt among the southern tribes, And she’d heard his first wife, Yaba, talking about it earlier today.
“As much as it pains me to leave your side, I must travel to Duguba. The monsoons will come while I’m gone, so it will be many moons before I return.”
“I will miss you too, pride of my soul.” She barely managed to keep a straight face at that endearment, but Kwaku didn’t seem to notice.
“I know that you are still adapting to my household.” He stroked her arm. If he noticed that she tensed at this reminder of her loss of freedom, he didn’t say anything. “Yaba will teach you everything you need to know. She’s a good woman. You would do well to learn from her.”
Not for the first time, and probably not for the last either, Ezichi wondered how a man as successful as Kwaku could be so blind as to what went on in his own home, and as to the true nature of his own wives.
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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.
This household sounds pretty dysfunctional.
A look behind the curtain of marriage. :) Whether it is multiple wives or one…
Even if you’re in a happy marriage, sometimes you appreciate the darkness so that your spouse doesn’t truly know how mad you are…. Nice snippet.
Absolutely intriguing – can’t wait for more.
Clearly he has an interesting set of wives. I’ve read the original fairy tale and liked Vasilisa.
You really captured Ezichi here. Well done.
Interesting dynamic between husband and wife. I wonder why she married him in the first place? Position, perhaps? Certainly not affection it seems. Great snippet!
She has a lot of understandable animosity. Curious to know if his own naiveté will work against him in the end.
I have a feeling first wife Yaba isn’t exactly welcoming. And things will get worse with the “master” of the house gone. Great setup.
Intriguing snippet and I can imagine the kinds of trouble ahead oh so clearly (and which will be fun to read).
Sounds like Ezichi has him pretty well figured out. :-)
Dang! You write these retellings so well!
This is about to get interesting. :-)
Fascinating look inside a marriage with multiple wives. I love her reaction to his over-the-top endearments. LOL
I can sense things are about to get interesting with him being gone with the other ‘wife’.
I like this woman too. I’m glad you didn’t kill her off.
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