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Srebrna, Skald Arkadii (and thoughts on writing)

Archive for May 2017

Splinters 21: What she cooks like

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“So, I was thinking, do you have time tomorrow evening?”

“You’ll do it?” his voice sounded rather hopeful.

She snorted.

“Not so sure. But we are considering it. However, we won’t go in without, well. Intel. So, if you have time tomorrow, we could sit together and discuss the next steps. Because, well” Elena made a rude noise “I’m not letting my sister get herself made into some hero out of legend without proper preparation. We’re going nowhere until we get as much info as we can.”

He could only agree.

Henry was properly asleep by the time August arrived, so they quietly sat around the kitchen table and sipped tea, as August prepared himself for the coming barrage of questions.

“Tell us all you know. Just, everything. You can skip the obvious parts, but we need to know what are the specific differences between ‘our’ fairy tales and the actual magical world. Like, does every tale have their own universe?”

“Or what exactly is the structure of government.”

“Or who are the most likely allies and how do we recognise them.”

He swallowed his tea and put the cup away very carefully.

“Well, you’ve read all these fairy tales, and I suppose you’ve watched a bunch of Disney and other cartoons. Basically, well. They match, here and there. Partially. But…” he sighed “You can’t rely on them. I will tell you what I know, but that might not be all that you’re going to need.”

“Engaged to King Midas’ daughter?”

“She hit him?”

“Hatch? Out of eggs?”

“Hey, I’m made out of a fireplace log.”

“A real, life-sized dragon?”

“I have no idea, I’ve never seen one. Especially being exterminated…”

“So, our step-grandmother is the evil queen and our mother is the good bright princess…”

“Well, the queen now.”

“OK. So, do we have a complex family situation or what.”

“And she cursed everyone, wholesale? Nobody was left in the old world?”

August shrugged.

“No idea, I’m afraid. She might have just taken the kingdom, or several around it, or whole reality. But she wouldn’t have been able to fit the whole reality in one small town, so I’m leaning more towards ‘everyone around who annoyed her at some point’. Seems more like her. She would be able then to control everything that happens to everyone she hates.”

“And these other kingdoms would be what?”

“Related to the Disney or fairy tales, I’ve been able to identify Sleeping Beauty’s kingdom. Doesn’t really have its own name, at least not one I know. And there is the land of the fairies, where they have the dwarfs harvest the fairy dust. It’s not a kingdom in itself, but it is like a little independent piece of land. And there is the kingdom of king George, where your father came from. She probably reached at least that far. There were a lot of people that annoyed her there.”

Emma leaned back on the sofa and rubbed her stomach.

“I’m calling a technical break. Anyone hungry?”

Elsa shrugged noncommittally, but Elena immediately perked up.

“Sure! That new Asian place has fabulous spring rolls!”

August made a face.

“Don’t you have some acceptable pizza spot around here?”

They froze for just a second.

“We never order pizza.”

“Not anymore.”

“Chinese, definitely Chinese.”

He looked at each in turn and finally shrugged.

“Ok, fine with me. Something spicy with lots of noodles for me, please.”

They chewed in silence, passing the sauce containers around and pouring the drinks quietly, both to avoid waking Henry and to give everyone a chance to think through the new information.

Finally Elena put her empty box back on the table and looked at August expectantly.

“Can you tell us what they look like?”

He blinked.


“Our parents, of course. I’d like to be able to recognise my mother when I see her, you know. It would make the whole thing much easier.”

He pursed his lips.

“Your mother – and now I’m speaking as someone who knew her long ago, and was a rather attention-starved little boy – was the loveliest woman I’ve seen. There were many pretty ladies at the court, but Snow White is the fairest of them all, no question. She’s not as insipid as the one in the movie, and I’ve never seen her bake anything, but she shoots her bow very well, and she’s good with her sword. She’s… Black hair, that’s of course the part that’s correct in the tale. Don’t know about the milk and the roses – or blood – part, she always seemed generally, well, human-pinkish to me. Caucasian, we’d say in police speak. Her hair was long, maybe down to her waist, a mass of curls. I always admired it, and she wore it in different ways, but there was always a lot of it.”

He sipped his soda in silence for a moment.

“She smiled, a lot. With dimples. And she loved children and small animals. When I was at the Palace, with my father, she always had something prepared for me – a toy, or some piece of clothing that she thought my Papa wouldn’t think of. After all, I spent so much time as a puppet, he kind of forgot sometimes I was a real person now.”

“And our father?” Emma leaned forward, looking at him intently.

“I worshipped him” August sighed. “He… He was a real hero. A warrior, but not like the soldiers, who get paid and just do what they are told, but, well. Real actual hero, who defeated a dragon, and saved a kingdom. Big thing. And he taught me how to fence. Of course, we used wooden swords, and from the perspective of twenty-plus years I see he was just humouring my need to play at grownup things, but he did spend time with me, even though he was an actual king. I don’t think many rulers would do something like this. He was tall. Definitely taller than your mother – but well, that is more or less a common thing, women are shorter in more primitive civilisations. Blond, so I think you inherited your colouring from him. I remember watching him, in his military uniform, he looked like a historical figure from some portrait” he trailed off. “I wish I could draw, you could take the pictures and check against them.”

Elena patted his arm.

“No worries. It’s still much more than we had.”

“And what about the others? The Evil Queen, court members?”

He grimaced.

“Some of them didn’t look like humans – or not much, anyway – so I’d be guessing they either aren’t in the town or they are turned human, somehow. So I don’t see a way to identify fairies or Jiminy Cricket based on their old look. But the Evil Queen… She’s very, well… Straight. I mean, she holds herself very stiffly. She has black hair, which she mostly wore in very complicated hairdos, and I mean, like, fantasy bad-guy fancy. The only thing I can think of is… she has this tiny little scar, on her lip. No idea what caused it, but it’s there. Visible, unless she covers it with like an inch of makeup.”

The girls looked at each other.

“Well, so the Evil Queen is either a woman with a small scar on her lip, or the local mime?”

He snorted and nodded, grinning.

For a moment, they all sipped their drinks, deep in thought.

Suddenly, when it seemed there was nothing else to say, Elsa leaned towards August and asked quietly “What does your father look like?”

His eyes filled with tears.

Written by Srebrna

2017/05/10 at 22:53

Posted in Splinters