Szafir knelt at the edge of the world, sorting her visions.  They coiled around her ankles; they danced on her shoulders; they tousled her hair.  For forty-eight hours Szafir fought – trembling – coaxing her visions into neat piles –

– yet two visions would not cooperate. 

Behind her, Łajdak emerged from the darkness – his black horse foaming and staggering.  Before her, Leśnik rose on wings of green silk – swinging his axe and laughing.  Rioting, bellowing, they circled in battle – while Szafir knelt in the darkness.

Szafir lifted her arms into the sky – pleading “More time! More time!” – but as the words rose into the night she cursed them.  Forty-eight hours? Forty-eight weeks?  It made no difference.  

Hearts want what they want.

And as she stood, silence fell over the land and the sky.  The rioters approached her in silence.  A faint smile curled in the corner of Łajdak’s mouth – then twisted into a shriek. 

Szafir fell at Leśnik’s feet, and she did not flinch before the axe fell.

Ivan Bilibin.  Vasilisa the Beautiful, 1900. WikiArt.

Ivan Bilibin. Vasilisa the Beautiful, 1900. WikiArt.

Linked to the Fairy Tale Prompt – “Time” at MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie.



28 thoughts on “The Woodsman and the Rogue (prose)

  1. Phew you hit a bit of a ‘purple patch’, prose-wise, around this time at BIOLI, hey? This is wonderfully vivid and allusive, from start to finish. Not only that, but it hints at a far larger story (even though I know you won’t exactly jump at the chance of writing such a thing) 😉


  2. Pingback: The Nazar of Bahari (Prose / Landay) | Blog It or Lose It!

  3. You had me from, ‘the edge of the world, sorting her visions.’ Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. When I was a kid and we had ‘library time’ in school, I could always be found in the fables and fairy tale aisles and these were the kinds I gravitated towards….horses, axes, visions, shrieking, hearts wanting what they want….you have delivered me back to childhood bliss 🙂


    • Yay! Kindred spirits, then! None of this “princesses in pretty shoes” business for either one of us, then!
      And you know what? The scary ones stuck with me the most. You too, I’m sure.

      So glad you enjoyed this! 😀
      Thank you 🙂


      • Ugh, definitely no princess ones. Gag 😛 The scarier or creepier the better!! Oh, and I listened to that music WHILE reading your post and it was really cool too. Forgot to mention that in the first comment, but, yes, really enjoyed the whole entire thing!!


        • Oh, good —normally I put the music at the end of the post, but this time I really *wanted* people to experience the two together. I’m so glad you enjoyed that too —

          Princesses. Gack! 😉


  4. When I was younger my folks used to get me the ‘color’ fairy tale books. I think I might still have one or two. And this piece would fit right in.

    Not all tales have happy endings. One can only hope some how even with and ending there is a beginning.

    Thanks for visiting my shadorma series.
    Interesting to see where it has gone from where I thought it was going. To a better place than my intentions that is for certain.


  5. I read your post several times Jen and realised there are a few levels on which this tale can be read. The literal and the metaphorical. You write with such vivid imagery, it is easy to see the visual images your words conjure. Beautifully done.


    • Thanks Michael 🙂
      This is another experiment – so I really appreciate your time and your encouragement! It’s great that you caught those levels – that was the aim 🙂
      [Phew — breathing a sigh of relief!]

      All the best to you —


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