The Sacrifice of the Poet

dostoevskyI cannot see as we tread through the dark passage. The knight grumbles as we go.

“I just wanted to show you a nice night, you know. It gets so lonely here.”

I ignore him. I am soaked in sweat. We stop.

“Well?” I demand. The knight sighs. My hand is lifted up and a slot in the wall is pulled aside. I look through. It is the Baba Yaga exhibit. There is a crowd of babushkas gathered along one wall. In the center of the room is a young man; he is a bit younger than me. He is crying. He has a long waxed mustache catching his tears, his cardigan is pulled open revealing a compass tattooed to his chest. The Babushkas are chanting something. I can’t understand.

“Do you speak Russian?” I whisper.

“I speak many languages,” he says something in Russian I don’t gather.

“See,” he says, “that was Russian.”

He says something again, soft and round and lyrical. “That was Spanish.”

He coughs in my ear. I cringe. “And that was fren—“

“Got it!” I snap, cutting him off. “What are they saying?”

“I can just tell you. They do this often. The Babushkas are getting their revenge.”

I frown at the young man in the floor.

“What did he do to them?”

“Oh not him, Dostoevsky.”


“Dostoevsky, wrote a book called Crime and Punishment.”

“Yeah, I know it.”

“Well, it wasn’t just a story. Dostoevsky was responsible for killing the two older sisters of the Baba Yaga. He wrote the book first as a way to work himself up to actually committing a crime of his own. And, when he did, it was flawless. But, the Babushkas knew, the Baba Yaga knew. They managed to rid themselves of Dostoevsky, eventually, and have worked to kill any potential great writers before they can become a threat.”

I watched as I listened. The Babushkas have stopped chanting. They approach the man in the middle of the floor. They raise their cold fists. He moans. The slit in the wall slides shut.

“I can’t watch,” The Knight murmurs. The other side of the wall screams. My insides shake. I jerk my hand up. The suit of armor goes with it. I slide the small window open.

“Hey!” The Knight calls into my ear. I look out, the young man is motionless on the floor. My whole body tenses.

“Stop that.” The Knight says, a hint of fear in his voice. I struggle and manage to move one arm, then the next. I tilt my head to the right, then left. I take a breath and look at my armored hands.

“This is no fair. Give me back my body,” The Knight whines.

I look through the window. There is movement coming from the far side. A pair of babushkas walk through. Between them, a smaller, more human figure. It’s L. They lead her into the center of the room. She stands. They begin chanting.

In my ear the Knight whines “please, let me take you to see something cool. I can show you the Davinci!”

I grab onto the edge of the small window.

“You seem nice,” I say, “but please, shut up.”

I tear through the wall.


The Fool’s Parting from The Damsel


For Part I, click here.

L skips up to the glass case.

“Hut, hut! Turn your back to the forest and your fron—“

I run up behind her and clasp a hand over her mouth.

She jerks away and stares at me, wide eyed.

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

I look at the hut. Then at a babushka guarding the door. The Babushka is smiling. I feel a sick sinking feeling in my stomach. I’ve never seen a babushka smile. I want to vomit.

“Just, please, trust me,” I manage.

L turns and walks off to the wall to read the plaque below the phantom hand. I step up behind her. I read the plaque:

In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga is a supernatural being (or one of a trio of sisters of the same name) who appears as a deformed and/or ferocious-looking witch. Baba Yaga flies around in a mortar, wields a pestle, and dwells deep in the forest in a hut usually described as standing on chicken legs.

L frowns at the plaque.

“That sounds like it’s copied straight from Wikipedia,” she says.

I nod, unaware of what I am agreeing to.

“Can we get out of this room?”

L sighs, “sure, scared-y-cat.”

She walks off through a door. I follow. I take a breath of fresh air, feeling the fear subside a little.

L turns. “Okay, emperors or other stuff?”

“I don’t care,” I think.

“Other stuff?”

L nods, “right, this way.”

I follow her, not looking back. We past a whole slew of various classic paintings. I don’t recognize them, but occasionally L will stop at one and tell me some of its history. The Babushkas are less ubiquitous the further we get and even a few of them are sleeping. I begin to feel more calm. I even begin enjoying myself.

We find ourselves in a room connecting halls of paintings. This room is decked out in case after case of various medieval armor and weapons. In the center of the room, five nights on horses are frozen in mid-gallop. Three gray, one white and one red. They look fierce.

L points to the toes.

“You can tell how prestigious a family they came from based on how wide their toes are,” she says, pointing at the different boots.

I look.

“See, here, this guy wasn’t very well respected.”

I look at the toes, they are thick, wide, fat.

“But these,” she motions to the knight in black armor. I look at his toes. They come to a sickening point.

“He must have been from a royal family.”

I look up at the knight. I look down at its foot. It twitches, ever so slightly. I jump away.

“You alright?” L asks. I nod, moving around the blood that has recently returned to my face.

“I’m going to find a bathroom, will you wait here?”

“What?” I turn. She is already walking away. I look back up at the black knight. I back away slowly toward the knight with big flat poor-man’s feet. I hear a scraping of metal behind me. I turn in time to see the suit of poor-man’s armor open wide and suck me in.

Everything is dark.

“Hey there,” a cold voice whispers in my ear. I pass out.