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Old Findings 1

  • Posted on April 15, 2016 at 1:16 pm

As part of my new life choices, I’ve been going through the storage unit that stores everything I own, and I’ve been deciding what to keep and what to throw away. Taking a minimalist approach, anything that I couldn’t think of a use for (minus sketchbooks and notebooks) was thrown away or donated. However, in so doing, I’ve come across a lot of things from my past. Including some things that I’ll be sharing with you guys here.

Specifically, I found several papers I wrote in highschool, and some speeches I wrote in college, that I’ll be transcribing up onto this blog so that you all can laugh at teeny-bopper me. Also, so that I can see how I’ve progressed since then.

Starting first with a paper entitled Journal 2, which contained the prompt, “Imagine if you were the sole Survivor, write your story.”

Before You Were Born

  • Posted on January 18, 2015 at 2:58 pm

((A writing prompt from Amanda Patterson‘s Tumblr, Amanda on Writing. The prompt is:

Writing Prompt

I’ll be filling it with two protagonists.))

Karabela felt a quickening in her belly, and smoothed her hand over the soft white cloth covering it. Since her pregnancy, Katar had been providing her with nicer things. Things that took him more time to earn, to hunt. She wasn’t sure how she felt about this. Especially since he was moving her from her home, from her tribe. She should have known marrying from one of the wandering tribes would end in her own wandering. But she’d seen the dark swirls around his eyes and his knuckles and the breadth of the darkness swirling on his back, and she had fallen in love.

‘Hush now, little one.’ She thought to the child in her belly. He would be a fierce warrior, she knew. A hunter, and a leader. She smiled, her thumb rubbing the swell of him there. She could not know if it would be a boy or a girl, but no matter what, the child would be a fierce warrior, a hunter, and a leader. The cart shuddered underneath her, and she lost her smile for a moment. Katar screamed at the poor beasts pulling it. Donkeys he’d purchased from a white-skinned trader. His shaved head shone like mud in the sun, and she glared at him, for the mistreatment of the animals. In the back, the crate of four chickens clucked nervously next to the grains he’d purchased as well.

He was serious about this, about their joining some strange pale-skin village, about living there, and seeing how they live. She did not like this, she really didn’t. What kind of life would their little one lead? What kind of home would he have, without cousins to play with, without girls to teach him kindness, without other hunters to teach him knots and bows and slings? He would be nothing but a farmer, and that was not what she wanted for her son. But her husband insisted, believed it would bring them closer. She didn’t laugh in his face out of respect for his passion.

The child within her swollen womb moved again, and as she comforted him, she comforted herself.

~*~*~*~*

Nikola stared, once again, at the putrid green herb sitting on her table, next to the lavender she grew for her skin, the tea tree for her husband’s callouses. She’d always loathed parsley, even in her food, but now… She grit her teeth, glaring at her useless lump of a husband. He lay, drunkenly passed out, in their bed. They’d just sold off Mendala, her apprenticeship putting them in enough money to actually survive for a few years, provided he doesn’t just drink it away. Now, he’d managed to get her with child again.

She turned, her green eyes staring out the window. The Oleanders were in bloom once again, and though she loved the smell, the children running through the petals outside just filled her with rage. She refused to acknowledge that her jealousy perhaps had something to do with it. She was jealous, yes, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was what to do next.

She touched the barely-there swell of her child. No. No she wouldn’t think of it that way. This was a nuisance. Just like all the other children before. A crying, shitting, useless pile of flesh that only became profitable once men started drooling. She looked once again at the parseley, but didn’t get up to make the tea. Might as well secure their future. The screaming would at least make Dane leave for awhile. She pushed back her freshly washed red hair, and plucked one of the oleanders growing beneath her window. Taking a deep breath, she smiled, and set it in her hair.

This child would be a burden. A useless creature whose life would only have worth with legs spread. It felt sort of poetic, actually. Her crimson lips curved into a sardonic smile, as she thought of all the humiliating things she can have this child do. She hoped it was a boy. Boys were easier to raise. Mendalla, Maka and Anna had all been absolutely horrid to raise, much less to sell. Her hand smoothed over her belly in an almost tender gesture, the same sort of soothing one gives a pig before you slaughter it.

Asexual Awareness Week

  • Posted on October 30, 2014 at 7:07 pm

For those of you who may not know, I am asexual. What this means, in short, is that I do not, and have not, ever enjoyed sex. I can feel pleasure, physically, I can even participate in such a way that it is pleasant. However, Sex is always uncomfortable. It’s roughly, to me, what doing the dishes might be to you, or perhaps cleaning out a toilet. It has to be done, but only when necessary.

According to the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN for short), an Asexual individual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. For the laymen in the audience, this is where you have to separate Sexuality from Romantic-orientation. They are two different things. It is entirely possible to feel Romantic attraction to someone, while simultaneously feeling no sexual attraction whatsoever. When the reverse happens, that’s usually when you find someone hot, but completely un-dateable.

There is an entire spectrum of Asexuality, ranging from Sex-repulsed, to gray-asexual, to Sex-positive individuals. The common ground here is this: A lack of sexual attraction. This does not mean that an asexy individual doesn’t have a libido. It is entirely possible that an ace individual will choose to masturbate frequently, or only once a month, or never! There is the possibility that an asexy person will choose to have sex as many times as their partner wants to, without hesitation, because they enjoy the closeness. For others, they might not be able to tolerate sexual contact at all, from the gentle brush of fingers down one’s arm to the touch of lips to lips. And then, there are some who even enjoy sexual contact!

For me, my asexual journey has been one of much discovery. When I was young, my mother was a very sexual individual. She had complete control of her sexuality, and was never ashamed of it, that I knew of. Not only that, but she made sure I knew the birds and the bees pretty early. I actually can’t remember when I got the ‘Talk’ so to speak, I just… always felt like I knew it. I feel my mother was amazing in that regard.

During my teen-hood, however, I had several fitful stops and starts with normal teen romances. My very first boyfriend I had for a week, and any time he touched me, I felt nauseous. Not nervous, nauseous, as if I was going to throw up if his hands were on me for more than a mere moment. He left me for my best friend, who would hold hands with him when he wanted. That was fine with me. It was more a relief.

In high school, I dated a very nice young man, who took me to homecoming and to the corn maze before Halloween. He was always very respectful, and when I held his hand, I felt nervous, not sick. So I thought maybe it was all a fluke. But even when he hugged me, I couldn’t let it last for too long. I felt like if I did, something bad would happen. I didn’t want to go beyond holding hands, and spending time together happily. A week after he asked me for our first kiss, and I gave it to him, I broke up with him. I claimed that it was because  my family was moving, and while we were, it didn’t change the fact that, once again, I was relieved not to have to satisfy those needs for more kisses and things that I didn’t like.

Now that isn’t to say I wasn’t normal in other regards. I discovered masturbation, and engaged in it almost nightly. I enjoyed role-playing online with those anonymous people who would, and it was through that that I discovered that I enjoy erotic literature. So I felt that perhaps, there was something wrong with me, because I didn’t want to actually engage in those acts with PEOPLE. I told myself that I was simply trying not to follow in my mother’s footsteps as a teen mom. That it was fear, and not something else.

When I was nineteen, I had my longest lasting relationship. Almost a full year, and it was an unhealthy thing. He was always frustrated, and I didn’t know what to do. I sought help from relationship sites, my friends, everyone. They all said the same thing. In a relationship, Love equals Sex. He thought I didn’t love him because I wouldn’t have sex with him. So, I did. To prove I loved him, I had sex with him, and while it wasn’t horrible, it was uncomfortable, and I was, again, glad that it was over. It didn’t happen again, luckily, because he dumped me a week or so afterwards.

I went back to thinking that perhaps something was wrong with me, and decided that I was better off without boys. Without relationships in general. But I always came back to loneliness, and needing that romantic relationship. I’ve always wanted a partner, to help me through the rough, to keep me steady and stable. I’ve always wanted the kind of marriages that last through decades. But I couldn’t seem to hold a relationship for more than a few months. One particular man, I even slept with every week, because I thought he would stay if I did, and it was no worse than any other chore, really. At least holding his hand didn’t make me feel sick again.

Here, I feel, I should clarify a few things. This sort of contact, holding hands, hugging, leaning against someone, falling asleep near someone, are triggers for this feeling of wrongness only when in a relationship context. I have never had an issue laying on, hugging on, cuddling with, or in general being touchy with my friends, and those that I am close to. It is only when there is this added romantic portion that I find myself sickened. It is that expectation of sex that taints the actions for me.

But then, after years of complaining and trying to explain to my best friends, a married couple who took me in in the later part of my teenager-hood, it finally came to a head. The husband, he’d watched a documentary on Asexuality, and while watching it, had noticed that a lot of what the main person in the documentary had spoken about experiencing, I had mentioned experiencing as well. So, he asked me to watch it too.

It was like, a revelation. I felt such an immense relief that I wasn’t the only one. That there were others like me, and WE WERE NOT BROKEN. There wasn’t something wrong with me that couldn’t be explained. I was just Asexual. That’s all there was to it! But of course, being who I am, I had to do research first, to find out if that was true, or not. So I found AVEN, and read through forum after forum. I gathered the courage and went on the chat-room, and talked to those around me, and it was like coming home.

Now, that isn’t saying that my troubles were over, upon discovering this. Because I’d also discovered the section of asexuals who ‘compromise’. What compromising means, in this instance, is dating an allosexual individual, or someone capable of sexual attraction, and having sex with, or performing sexual actions with them in order to keep the relationship healthy for both parties. I thought that I could handle this.

I fell into a relationship quickly, with a boy who said he thought he was asexual as well. However, as our relationship grew, it turned out he was demisexual, or rather, a person who only experiences sexual attraction and urges after an emotional connection is established. He asked me to compromise, and I agreed to try. But I just… After a while, it grew too stressful, too much, and I found myself in that situation where I felt sick when he touched me again. So, I broke up with him.

This last relationship has helped me realize that I am sexually-repulsed. Which means sex, and anything related to sex, is something that I cannot do. I am not broken, it’s simply the way I am. A homosexual won’t experience sexual feelings for a heterogendered individual. I can’t have sexual contact. It’s simple. And while I am still an avid masturbator and enjoyer of sex comics and pornographic fanfiction, this means I will never enjoy sex with another person. And that’s alright.

As a promise to myself, and a reminder to never compromise again, I wear the black ring on my left middle finger. This tradition started in 2005, when AVEN user Mega Mitosis posted this on the boards:

You know, a friend of mine wears a ring on her left middle finger. Her explanation being that: your right middle means “currently single”, the right ring means “currently taken” and since the left ring means “taken/married” in a permanent sense, then the next logical conclusion would be that left middle means “permanently single”.

And while I might not be permanently single, I do fully intend never to allow myself to fall into a situation where I feel sickened just by the touch of someone again. I am in control of my sexuality, just as my mother was, and while I am a different sexuality than she, I am no less important. So please, if you know someone you think might be asexual, don’t tell them there is something wrong with them. Don’t ask if they’ve gone to see a therapist. Instead, show them this article, and let them find out for themselves what they are or may be. And if you think that you are, in fact, asexual as well? Welcome to the club, we have cake.

Especially chocolate lava cake. Yum.

By the by, the colors there are the Asexual Flag. Pretty cool, huh?

Guest Post – A Chat With A Kitchen Witch

  • Posted on October 19, 2014 at 6:16 pm

For those of you who do not know, I’ve been invited to do a series of guest posts over on Mari Well’s Blog in commemoration of Halloween! As every good Halloween’r knows, Halloween starts LONG before the 31rst of October. Pretty much the entire month is dedicated to orange and black scariness, and it’s one of my favorite months! Along with pumpkin spice EVERYTHING and the chance to change out my wardrobe for sweaters and scarves, it gives me the new opportunity, in this case, of writing about my beliefs!

Now, if you wish to remain ignorant about my beliefs, that’s absolutely your right. I do not wish to force my religion upon anyone, nor would I want them to force theirs upon me! So please be aware that I will tag all posts with references to my personal beliefs as Personal and Paganism. If you don’t wish to know, you can definately avoid these tags! Thank you so much, however, if you do decide to expand your personal bubble, and read these blogposts I’ll be sharing!

The First in the series is A Chat With A Kitchen Witch where I explain what it is to be a Kitchen Witch, and how you too can create magic in your everyday life! As always, feel free to leave questions there, or here, in the comments! I’d love to hear your opinion on my words!

The next post will be on Karma, and will include a few cute spells to try out!

Weely Writing Update: 09/02/14

  • Posted on September 3, 2014 at 4:00 pm

So I meant to do this update two days ago, to kind of wrap up August, but I ended up working and basically emotionally drained entirely. Luckily, I have more energy now! I even managed almost 2500 words the other day, on a cute little story! The link is below, under Nightmares Waking. Please take a look!

Word Counts

Kurylian Saga: The Sorcerer and The Swordsman – Edit one – 11 pages

Kurylian Saga: The Prince and The Corpse – Rough Draft – WC: 1,348

Kaimi Rowe Series: Seeker Born – Rough Draft – Restarted – Outline phase

Unnamed Scifi short story – Idea stage – Minor research done

Blog Posts

Build Your Own Challenge

Breaking Down Nemesis: Part Four

Nightmares Waking

Books Read

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Goals

Seven chapters of Nemesis read/blogged

Finish Tithe by Holly Black

Finish Valiant by Holly Black

Write a 2500 word short story

At least four blogposts posted this week

Weekly Writing Update: 08/24/14

  • Posted on August 25, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Hello again! This week has been a ripsnorter of a week! I’m actually really surprised I survived it! <3 Honestly, after everything that’s happened, I feel a lot less accomplished than I should. So I decided to write this up, because somehow, that makes me feel better.

Word Counts

Kurylian Saga: The Sorcerer and The Swordsman – Edit one – 11 pages

Kurylian Saga: The Prince and The Corpse – Rough Draft – WC: 1,348

Kaimi Rowe Series: Seeker Born – Rough Draft – Restarted – Outline phase

Unnamed Scifi short story – Idea stage – Minor research done

Blog Posts

Politics of the Kurylian Saga

Breaking Down Nemesis: Part two

Breaking down Nemesis: Part Three

A Review of ‘Eat That Frog!’ by Brian Tracy

Books Read

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy

Goals

Finish Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Six total chapters of Nemesis reviewed/blogged

Finish Tithe by Holly Black

Write a 2000 word short story (this I’m going to post up here, so you guys can see it! <3)

Weekly Writing Update – 08/14/14

  • Posted on August 16, 2014 at 12:56 am

Another week has passed, and with a harrumph rather than any kind of music. As I am now biking to and from work, my legs have put out a hit on me, in an attempt to put me out of my misery. While dodging ninja assassin attacks, I’ve managed to write some! Not on traditional things, unfortunately, but I’ve also managed to READ some! Which is amazing.

You may not know this, but if you are in debt to your library for five or more dollars, they won’t let you check anything out. After paying fifty dollars plus in back fees, I’m finally back in good with the library! *tincan laughter* No, but seriously, I am ecstatic about this. Alright, but here you go:

Word Counts

Kurylian Saga: The Sorcerer and The Swordsman – Edit one – 11 pages

Kurylian Saga: The Prince and The Corpse – Rough Draft – WC: 1,348

Kaimi Rowe Series: Seeker Born – Rough Draft – Restarted – Outline phase

Blog Posts

Nine Ways to Fix Your Stereotyped Character: A guest blog by Cindy Grigg

Researching Mystery

The Day Robin Williams Died

A Breakup Letter from Me to WB

Breaking Down Nemesis: Part one

Books Read

Doll Bones by Holly Black 

Wordcount Goals

(Changed to just goals, because honestly, I haven’t really written anything other than blogposts in about… three weeks.)

Finished Kaimi Rowe Outline

Finish  Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Four chapters of Nemesis reviewed/blogged

Start Tithe by Holly Black

Researching Mystery

  • Posted on August 11, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Today, I have a guest blog published over on Cindy Grigg’s website. We’ve swapped guestblogs, and her post, 9 ways to fix your Stereotyped Character is informative and fun to read! Go take a look at it! Also, take a look at the article, Researching mystery which you can find here:

If you’re curious, here’s the first two paragraphs of the article, for your perusal.

To begin with, I’m not normally a mystery author. To be specific, when I was younger, I only ever wrote fantasy novels, or romance. Now, however, I’m trying my hand at mystery novels, which means quite a bit of strife. I have a natural instinct when it comes to fantasy, so I find it easy to fall into. With Romance, I have my years as a fanfiction writer and fandom roleplayer to fall back on, which can both enhance and detract from my writing. (No one likes reading author’s notes, I’ve since learned.)

I came to mystery as a genre because I love the tense atmosphere. Maybe it’s less mystery and more suspense that I enjoy. But recently, I’ve found that I want a challenge. And the best way to challenge yourself is to write something you’ve never in a million years written before. But how can you write something you’ve never written before? How can you make sure that you don’t slip back into writing what you know? And worst of all, how do you manage to make it a GOOD manuscript when you know nothing about your genre?

Read More

Recent Affairs

  • Posted on May 21, 2014 at 8:39 pm

I have been considering a change in genre. Although to be honest, I can’t help but feel like maybe I should write everything and anything. It makes me feel better to think that I can switch. However, the styles of writing and the rules of different genres requires consideration.

Such as with High Fantasy. Much is allowed, but you can’t do too much with it, or it becomes something else. Like Lord of the Rings. Change the horses to golems, and suddenly, it’s scifi, not fantasy. Okay, that was a bit of a stretch, but seriously, I worry about these things.

I’ve been considering the idea of taking my main characters from one of my books, and recreating them as characters in an urban fantasy environment, and while the story isn’t as… overarching, it seems like it would be fun to write. I’ve always liked urban fantasy. It’s always been a favorite of mine, the intertwining of things too unreal for reality into the every day lives of characters whom really have no purpose other than to live with our expectations.

But the thing about Urban Fantasy is, it can quickly become something annoying. I personally really hated some of Holly Black’s books, but her other books were amazing. And the only difference was the level of fantasy in her books. Then there are the novels that you really aren’t sure are urban fantasy at all. All sorts of writers do this, they tag it urban fantasy, but it’s not really all that… urban. Twilight, I suppose, counts. Not to open that can of worms again, however, as I rather loathe that entire series, after reading the first and half of the second books.

I wish this had a pathway, however. Something solid I could follow. I’m worried about failing, and having teens hate my work, and I’m also very worried about people thinking of me like the author of the Anita Blake series, who really jumped off the bandwagon. Ah well. I suppose I should consider myself lucky that I can write at all. I do love telling stories so, although I’m often afraid no one will want to read what I write. It’s difficult, judging what’s worth writing and what’s worth giving up.

Vassilissa the Fair

  • Posted on April 26, 2014 at 12:02 pm

There was once a fair young maiden, with hair like a river of gold. Her beauty was a gift passed down from mother to daughter. Plagued by illness, her mother had grown sicker, and sicker, until finally, only her deathbed await. With her father gone to seek a cure for her mother, Vassilissa, as the maiden was called, saw over her mother’s last words.

“Vassilissa, my sweet daughter, I am so sorry. I will not be here to aide you in your troubles. But do not fear.” Her mother breathed, and Vassilissa, sweet girl that she was, shook her head, begging her mother silent. But her mother continued to speak with the last of her strength. “Go to the cupboard. Inside, there is a doll. This doll will be your companion when I cannot. If you ever find yourself for loss of what to do, feed her a bit of food, and give her just a sip of water, and tell her your troubles.”

Vassilissa swore that she would, and held the doll close to her breast as her mother slipped from this world. And as all things must, her story continued. Her father returned, not with a cure, but with a new bride. Vassilissa tried not to let her heart harden against the man, but it was impossible not to when he left not three days after, leaving her alone with her new step mother and the woman’s daughter.

Her step-sister was not a dutiful girl, spending her time instead in town, flirting with the boys and pushing off the chores of the farm upon Vassilissa. Vassilissa’s step-mother grew angrier and angrier, but instead of punishing the step-sister, she blamed it on the golden haired girl. Vassilissa learned true cruelty at her step-mother’s hands.

 

The step-mother grew colder and more hateful each day, as she watched Vassilissa grow even more beautiful and dutiful and intelligent, while her own daughter grew lazy and spiteful and ignorant. One day, she just couldn’t take it any longer. Her husband had not sent enough money for all three of them to live comfortably, and she was not going to let her daughter starve for this wretch.

So she sent Vassilissa on an errand. In the dead of winter, with the wind howling and the snow falling, she sent the girl out into the woods surrounding their farm, to gather flowers. Fresh ones. Dutiful and sweet, Vassilissa could find no way to say no, to beg pardon from the awful cold outside. However, she was unable, and was sent into the cold. Her tears froze on her cheeks, and her hands trembled around the basket and the little doll she always carried.

At least she had a bit of bread and some cheese to have for a snack. Finding a small hollow beneath a great huge tree, she lifted the bread and the crumbs to her mouth. And then, as suddenly as a lightning bolt, she remembered her mother’s words. With shaking fingers, she fed the little doll instead. And then, she told it of her troubles.

To her surprise, she heard the doll speak. In a voice as cold as the ice around them, the doll told her to continue walking into the wind, and not to stop until she smelt a fire. This seemed a cruel thing, but she was used to cruelty now, and so, after chewing slowly her own respite meal, she did as she was bid.

Cold ate at her, and soon, she felt hope, for she smelt a fire. The light and warmth of it were desperately desired by Vassilissa, and it was only when she heard voices that she cautioned herself to stop. In the clearing there was no snow, there was no wind. There was a fire, and around it, twelve man sat. Three were boys, three were young men, three were men grown, and three were old men. She listened to them speak and tell stories for just a moment, before the cold drove her closer, and she stepped into the Field.

“Forgive me, good sirs, please pardon the intrusion, but might I share your fire, if only until the snow passes? I will be happy to share what little food I carry?” She offered, and waited while the men conferred. Eventually, one of the old men bid her sit, and they all asked her to tell her story, to explain why a girl so fair and young was out in such horrid weather.

“My step-mother sent me for flowers to weave into my step-sister’s hair.” She did not complain, did not whine, but explained truthfully. The men respected this, and when she was done, one of the young men stood, and went to the eldest man.

“January, my friend, might I borrow thy crown for but an hour, to lend this poor girl aid?” And the old man passed his crown to the young, and once it sat upon the young man’s head, the snow stopped, and melted away, trees turned leafy and grass turned green. Soon, flowers were blooming everywhere, and Vassilissa was beside herself with joy. She gathered up snowdrops and tulips, daffodils and wild daisies, and then thanked the two profusely. “Your thanks are not needed, but hurry, for I must return the crown to January in an hour. Run home, and stay where it is warm, sweet girl.”

Vassilissa did as she was bid, running home through the bright warm woods, and only minutes after she was inside, did January sweep April away like a tempest, the blizzard all the colder now for having been warm. Her step-mother and step-sister stared in awe at the basket of flowers, fresh and impossible in Vassilissa’s hand. The step-sister snatched an empty basket, and ran off, following Vassilissa’s story. When she returned she was an old woman, cursed by the twelve men in the little clearing for having demanded where Vassilissa had been given.

#

Again, the step-mother grew resentful and hateful towards the young and beautiful Vassilissa, this time for making an old maid of her daughter. This time, she demanded that Vassilissa seek out the help of the old witch who lives in the woods, that she go to her and get a cure for the curse that her step-sister was under. Being a good, sweet girl, Vassilissa did as she was bid and took a basket full of cheese and bread for the journey.

The wind was cold and the snow still falling as Vassilissa trailed through the woods. She knew stories of Baba Yaga, the old witch who lived in the wood, and she knew that she would not return alive. In her despair, she thought again of the little doll and fed it some cheese and some water melted from snow. The doll asked her her troubles, and she told it her errand.

“Be careful, fair Vassilissa. Drink nothing the old witch gives you. Eat nothing the old witch makes for you. And do not ever open your eyes after dark. She will eat them from your head, should you see her secrets.” The doll spoke in a voice black as the evening sky, which slowly filled with stars.

Vassilissa did as she was told, and when she found the old woman’s hut, her legs shook with the want to turn around. The hut stood upon chicken’s legs, surrounded by a fence made of bones and topped with skulls whose eyes burned with fire. She made her legs move forward, onto the green grass around the hut, and she lifted a hand to knock on the door.

An old woman answered, her eyes dark as night, and her teeth sharp as a cat’s. Vassilissa begged her to help her step-sister, and in the end Baba Yaga refused. Vassilissa pleaded with the old woman, and finally, Baba Yaga declared that if Vassilissa could serve her for three days, she would cure her sister. But if she failed even one chore, Vassilissa would be her meal.

She had no choice but to agree, for Vassilissa wouldn’t be welcome home without the cure.

The first day, her only test was to search out all of the mice in the old woman’s hut, and cook them into a stew. Vassilissa was terrified of this, as mice were biting little things and she did not wish to cook them. But after she fed the doll and gave it some water, the Doll told her to take the cheese from her basket and crumble it up. Scattering it like breadcrumbs, the mice came out of hiding in seconds starved as they were.

Then, Vassilissa caught them all up in a burlap sack, and it wriggled and it squeaked, and she dumped them all, fur and tail, into a pot. She covered it with a lid. Ignoring the terrified scratching, she lifted the pot and set it atop the fire. The shrieks of the mice haunted her dreams that night, and she had no trouble keeping her eyes closed while Baba Yaga bustled around her.

The second day was not nearly so easy. Baba Yaga set her to finding and feeding her chickens. The moment she saw one of these chickens, she knew she would be dinner tonight. Tears bubbled on her cheeks as she gazed upon the razor winged, lion-mawed creatures that had only the barest traces of feathers to call themselves chickens. She hid in a corner, near the hut’s chicken legs, and fed the doll some crumbs of bread, and the salty water of her tears. She begged it’s help and it told her to braid a rope of her long golden hair, and cut it off. Then she was to dip it into the mouse-soup she had made the night before. After this was done, the doll told her to tie it between two trees and to scatter the buckets of feed underneath it. She did as she was told and was startled to see the beasts racing for the rope, gnawing on it. And when her golden hair snapped and fell, the beasts began to eat their own breakfast as well.

When she returned to the hut, and laid down, the sounds of screaming kept her awake that night, and she flinched whenever she heard the drop of a metal cleaver. She only barely managed to keep her eyes closed through the night.

The next morning, Baba Yaga had an even harder task for her. “You must go into the depths of the underworld, and bring me three teeth of the ruler of that realm.”

The old witch took down a cloak of black feathers, and wrapped it around the girl’s shoulders. “This will let you pass unharmed through the gates of the underworld. Do not lose it girl, and bring it back to me.”

Once again, Vassilissa begged the little doll for help, after feeding it its fill.

“Walk towards the setting sun. As you walk, you will see three horsemen. Do not speak to the first or the second, do not even look at their faces. The third, you must ask him to take you home. He will take you to the bowels of hell. When you are there, you must find and pick the largest apple you can find. Give this to the king of the dead, and he will break his teeth upon it. Take the teeth, and run. Do not look back, do not fear, and do not stop running, even if the ground falls out from beneath your feet.”

#

The fair Vassilissa set foot to road, and walked. Dawn came, and with it, a rider upon a white horse. She didn’t dare look up to see his face, and past him without seeing more than the flick of his horse’s white tail, and the flying hem of his white cloak.

She walked, and walked, and walked. And then, when the sun was high in the sky and the world was warmer than she could remember it ever having been in winter before, a red rider came thundering down the pass, the hooves of his great beast running swiftly. She did not even see the flutter of his hem as he passed, and for that she was grateful. The goosepimples on her skin were tickled by the feathers of the cloak.

She walked, and walked, and walked again. Finally, as the sun set and the night sky filled with stars, she saw the black horse, as it stood, fidgeting, in the middle of her path. She swallowed, and looked up to his face. She was suddenly glad she did not look at the other two, for this creature had no true face, had only bones and burning red eyes that felt as if they pierced her heart.

She begged in a quiet voice that he take her home, and soon, found herself over the front of his saddle, and the horse careening like a creature possessed through the woods. The girl screamed, and squeezed her eyes closed, and then, as suddenly as her journey began, it was over. She was standing in a dark place, the ground beneath her glowing faintly blue. Twisted trees made of crystal and rock spiraled up around her.

Remembering the little doll’s words, she searched desperately for an apple. But all she found growing on the trees were rocks. Red rocks, blue rocks, green rocks. All oddly shaped and hanging from branches like fruit. Finally, she picked one, a green rock that was roughly the size of both of her fists put together.

“Who are you?” A voice called behind her, and she saw a woman, dressed in black and with long black hair that fell over one side of her face. “Where did you come from?”

Vassilissa couldn’t get words to come from her throat, and instead, held out what she hoped was the Apple. Vassilissa desperately hoped that perhaps Baba Yaga wouldn’t realize if she took this woman’s teeth instead. They were only teeth after all, how could one tell the difference between one person’s teeth and another? The woman took the fruit, and as if compelled, bit into it. Just as the doll had said, the ghostly woman’s teeth cracked and broke into the fruit, and the fair girl snatched the fruit and ran.

It was hard not to look back, it was hard not to stop when she heard the woman shriek, and felt the walls coming down around her and when it felt like she might die if she ran any longer. But eventually, she found herself back on the road. The road that lead to Baba Yaga’s house. She had succeeded. She had won.

She took the doll out of her pocket, hoping to share her success with it. She fed it a bit of the stone apple and a bit of the juice from it as well and the doll awoke. She told it of her success, and the doll told her not to return to Baba Yaga, to take the fruit and go back home and give her sister a single bite of the fruit, instead.

Vassilissa returned home, quick despite the slick snow melting between the trees. When she opened the door, her step-mother seemed not to recognize her. Vassilissa wondered how long she’d really been gone. Happily, upon giving her step-sister a single bite of the apple, she saw that it reversed whatever curse the men had cast. Her sister was once again young.

The three women lived in harmony for a bit, the rest of the apple hidden beneath Vassilissa’s bed along with the doll. In her happiness, Vassilissa fed the doll one last time, and it spoke to her.  ”All your troubles will be soon forgotten and one day I will leave you. I ask that you do not come to find me.” She didn’t know what to say, but agreed, weeping tears for her mother’s doll. 

It wasn’t until months later, in the month of April, that a handsome young man rode through their farm and Vassilissa caught his eye. She was instantly enamored with the handsome man as well, and when he returned with his father, the king, to ask for her hand in marriage she said yes.

Angry beyond all compare at being cheated out of such an opportunity, the step-sister, still lazy and mean-spirited and ignorant, stole the doll and the apple from beneath Vassilissa’s bed. She went into the forest to find and demand that Baba Yaga give her a spell to win the prince and make her better than Vassilissa. No one saw the step-sister again, and all throughout Vassilissa’s wedding, her step-mother cried bitter tears of grief for her lost daughter.

A new skull sat upon Baba Yaga’s fence, and she kept the helpful little doll sitting right next to the odd green rock with the wrong teeth in it. She wondered where that Vassilissa girl wandered off to, but was preparing for the next tale she would appear in. She had a broth to brew before they arrived, after all.  

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