Sunday, September 20, 2015
1st 5 Pages September Workshop - Pohl Revision 2 + Pitch
Tatiana Koscheiovna’s existence revolves around the prophecies spoken at her birth – she would be feared and eventually become a killer, a destiny she desperately wants to avoid.
When she is summoned to attend her sister’s engagement tournament, Tatiana sees no choice but to go back to Koschei’s palace, where she obviously doesn’t belong. During the tournament she meets one of her sister’s suitors, Ivan Tsarevich – a charming and handsome prince, who believes Tatiana is more than her destiny – and falls madly in love with him. They plan their escape together, knowing they belong in each other’s arms. On the night of the escape, however, Tatiana has a prophetic dream and comes back home to find her father gone and her kingdom burned to ashes.
Helpless and alone, Tatiana begins on a new path to find a way to stop her father’s death and rescue him and her captured sisters from the clutches of her enemies. Time is running out – if Koschei is not back on the throne of the Dead, the entire world will shatter and life will cease to exist.
From the palaces of Imperial Russia to the hut of Baba Yaga, Tatiana chases the legendary Firebird, the key to restoring her kingdom, knowing that finding it may cost her her life. With betrayal lurking at every corner, Tatiana must decide whether she will lead the mortal life she has always wanted to – or save her father and the kingdom she loves.
The body lay sprawled on the floor, the blood creating a pool around her that stained the wood a deep red.
It was a woman and she had been stabbed multiple times. I tiptoed my way around the room, avoiding where the blood had touched. After all this years, I had learned not to stain my clothes. I held my breath as I faced her, only a pale reflection of what she once had been. Her life was slipping away, as she struggled on the floor, the knife plunged into her chest.
I did not know this woman's name.
But she knew mine.
"Tatiana Koscheiovna" she said, with her last will. Her final words.Daughter of bones, daughter of blood, daughter of death. These were her last moments. I had seen too many like it to care anymore."Have you come for me?"
There was no relief on her voice, like there wasn't in any of the others when they saw me. She knew she was as good as dead. Her body lay violated and broken in her own house, having suffered the most violent of deaths. My appearance only confirmed what she already knew.
"Yes" I answered. "I have come for you."
I stood outside with the knife in hand, my braid slashing in the wind like a coiling whip. The smell of the blood didn't seem to vanish from my nostrils, grounding me to the world that wasn't accustomed to my presence.
The Mortal Realm. Something I thought I'd never see in person, and yet, here I was.
The wind sent shivers down my spine, but the sensation was relishing. New. Like my body was telling me that I belonged here, and not the drab and cold castles on the Other Realm. Telling the daughter of Mariya Morevna and Koschei the Deathless that she had stood in the wrong place. Like always.
At the same time, the scene of death had never felt more real. At least, in the dreams, the blood hadn't smelled so strongly. The woman didn't matter -- like none of the others had. Ever since the day I was born and my role was made clear into the world as the daughter of the Tsar of Death. Three daughters of death, with three different roles as spirits of death. My sisters appeared for those who had died honorably or reached old age. I was the one who had to appear to all of those who had been murdered.
Not ferry them into the next realm exactly -- but remind them that death didn't forget, even when life had. When life had abandoned them, death was there to welcome them home. Every time I closed my eyes to sleep, the dreams would be a mixture of mortals' violent deaths -- be it murder, fire, poison or punishment. At least by now I'd gotten used to it, and their features weren't more than a blur in my head.
This had been one of the first time I had done this presently, and not my powers acting and splitting me into a thousand different fragments to appear at every mortal who died and waited for me to appear. My name played on their lips like echoes of bones, but it got them nowhere. It was no use praying to the spirit of violent death.
I slid my hands back into my fur coat, one of them still gripping the bloodied knife while I waited. I wished my godmother would hurry herself.
"Did you find it?" Morena's voice echoed in the clearing, as if my thoughts had summoned her.
In a moment, the raven materialized into shadows and then into the goddess of nightmares. Her appearance never failed to take my breath away and a chill climbed up my spine, as if my nightmares had come alive. She stood with her dark clothes and dark skin against the bleak setting of the dying woods, a vision among mortals. Her crow pendant hung from her neck, bright silver, the only thing that gave her any color.
She walked forward and I handed her the bloodied dagger, still wet from the body that wasn't so cold inside the cabin. An anonymous cadaver. Morena caught it, turning it in her hands and evaluated it. Her eyes turned to appraise me, dark and mysterious, a pitch of endless black.
"How did it happen?"
Morena knew very well, but still she wanted to evaluate me. Test my knowledge.
"Multiple stabs" I answered, my voice barely a whisper. The blood didn't stain my fingers, but if I looked close enough, it was almost like they were tinged with red. "By a man. He missed the first strike and went for the second, which hit close. The third was only to make sure she died."
Morena didn't question me any further. By touching the dagger, she could probably tell this and much more from the victim. The dead woman who knew my name like every child in Russia feared it. The last face anyone who died violently would ever see before they really left this world.
I stood in the middle of the clearing, shifting my weight as Morena took the dagger and slid it inside her cloak.
"Walk with me" Morena ordered, turning around to walk in the woods. I followed her, having to take double steps for every single she took. She's several feet taller than me, her eyes and cheekbones set perfectly in her aristocratic face. She's a true goddess, while I'm the shadowy copy of what to be one. Of what could be but never was. "Tatiana." The way she said my name sent shivers through my spine, as if she could break through all of my fears and nightmares and expose them until I had lost my mind to darkness. "Do you ever wonder why I train you like this?"
Morena's training was grounded on making sure I knew what I was doing in the Mortal Realms. She had taught me spells and how to read the bones of a man when he falls, or how to listen to the whisper of the wind when death was knocking at your door. She had taught me how to use my magic and when not to use it, how to wield my sword and any weapons, and how to survive the coldest of winter snows without food. I knew what shadows and nightmares looked like and how to walk in a way that would make a man's spine stretch and what patterns crows would fly if a man's death was near. I knew how to look at a man's face and tell what his death was, and whether it was bound to his bones. I had still two years left of my training, but not one one single time had she mentioned why she did it.
Not that I needed much training. When it came to frightening people, I had somehow become a legend without even a contest for the crown. The thoughts made my mouth turn sour.
So I tried my next best guess.
"So I can't run from my destiny?"
Her voice was firm when she answered, "So you can fulfill it. No one escapes destiny, Tatiana."
My destiny -- the one no one ever talked about, and still everyone seemed to be conscious of it, that started when the Zoryas had come down from the Heavens in the Other Realm and made the prophecies by my crib. Promising me a future of endless death, of being feared and despised. A future of not belonging.
"Yes" I answered through gritted teeth, unwilling to go further into the subject that seemed to shape my life and upbringing. That beat me into obeying, that molded me into something I did not wish to be. "I know, godmother."