Baba Rougjia and the Babice (Baa-Beets-eh)

Libertine was lost in thought gnawing on two turnips and a nymph, when she heard a magnificently peculiar sound emanating from deep in the forest. With a full mouth she mumbled some version of What is that magnificently peculiar sound emanating from the forest?


Her gummed query drew the delicious nymph out of her own out-of-this-world experience and into awareness of a terrifying, wing-cracking wail in the not so distant distance. She bolted upright, a spot of hot lettuce in the summer. No nymph sticks around for what comes of that sound! The terrified flitty-nibblet snatched what was left of the turnips and disappeared into the verdant canopy, without so much as a ciao.


In the blink of a blue buzzard’s lashes Libertine’s lunch was gone and she was left consumed with curiosity. Ripe for adventure and with piqued attention, she followed this organic yet unearthly sound until it started to surround her. She became enveloped in its primal tune. Waves of grinding harmonic resonance, peppered with dissonant syncopations menacingly closed in. The mutable macabre music slowly became visible volatile voices, each connected to one of five circling forest women.


The handful of crooning crones had gnarled vines tangled about their limbs and long branchlike claws, possibly claw-like branches, protruding to provide finger function.


The handful of crooning crones were dressed in lichen with gnarled vines tangled about their limbs. Long branchlike claws, possibly claw-like branches, protruded to provide finger function. They had burly faces of rottey knots and knobbley bark contortions. Their breath, an aggressive breeze of loamy soil and leaf decay. Oh my they were grotesquely breathtaking and beautiful, or beautiful and breathtakingly grotesque.


And then there was this sound, this wretched, resplendent racket... this chant so powerful and filled with intention, it bordered on discord if not for the dulcet euphonics. This was the truest sound Libertine had heard southwest of the Tutu Nebula.

 

Libertine stood still centered in this brouhaha of a Baba ballad, receiving and seeming to enjoy, a cacophonic symphony of shrieks that would shatter the drums of most creatures not woodland in nature. The circle came to silence and all worlds seemed to take a deep breath of pause. At the silent invitation, Libertine launched into applause. Her shouts of Encore echoed through the trees and shocked the sphere of singers.


What had they done wrong? This song was written to drive terror into the hearts and bodies of fae and men. It was to boil the blood of one’s first born… seriously is it clapping right now?


Seriously, is it clapping right now? The tiniest of the brambled timbers interrupted the accolades with clear annoyance.


Libertine recognized the scrapping and gnawing of splinters for intelligible words and responded by gnashing her teeth and sawing her tongue with a new tasting timber.

Of course, Gorgeous! That was just spellbinding. I behold the majesty of this unnamable sound. I’ll name it Clamorous Gnashing Screech in B Minor.

First she cheers for more and doesn't even have the decency to be terrified. Then she eavesdrops on a private conversation between a sinister of sisters, in a vernacular she shouldn’t even be able to understand, let alone reproduce. Then to add insult to uninvited injury - this beast names our unnamable song? OUR song? I’ve had it.


The smallest of the forest furies lunges, and in an instant unwinds her vines. Using her overgrown twisting tendrils she binds Libertine’s limbs, then tosses her all battywats and upendey over one shoulder.


Alright Sisters, let’s eat!

Mmmmm, Let’s roast it.

With gall stones.

And putrid potatoes.

And wormy fig treacle glaze for the braising.


Each of the sisters tossed their favorite flavors into the talk of the upcoming feast. In her absentminded, recipe-reeling excitement Libertine yelled out, "Don't forget capers. I love capers." Oh this all sounded terribly delicious if only she were not the main dish to be glazed. As Libertine imagined how a sweet wormy fig would perfectly compliment her typically tartness, the noisy, gnashing crew bandied about their boodle, carting her off to an elaborate makeshift outdoor kitchen. Centered was a hag-forged cauldron-like stew pot with a spitfire by its side, surrounded by every conceivable flavor enhancement hung, strung, and stacked haphazardly on crooked shrub-like shelves.


Circling the kitchen area was an enchanted encampment; 5 rickety shacks, each balancing precariously on a different pair of bird feet - a chicken, a duck, a crane, a crow and a screech owl.

Circling the kitchen area was an enchanted encampment; 5 rickety shacks, each balancing on a different pair of bird feet - those of a chicken, a duck, a crane, a crow and a screech owl. Each abode clearly reflected one of the twisted forest creatures in style, stature, and personality right down the claws. Libertine tried to offer compliments on creativity and cloaking, but her voice was drowned out by the ravenous rants of the gnarled and irate.


Before Libertine could finish pondering how odd it was to have her voice be drowned out by any one, she found herself tied to a spit, being slathered with a fresh array of herbs and seasonings. The sisters set her aside so the savory could soak into what appeared to be a rather thick hide. The tallest and most rotted-out trunk of a beast sent the others back into the forest to gather tree fungus, belladonna, poison ivy, and buttercups. The only apparent items the over-stocked pantry clearly lacked.

 
Rougjia, she said once the others were safely out of range. I’m Baba Rougjia, of The Sisters Babice. Tell me the truth… did you really like our song?
 

Rougjia, she said once the others were safely out of range. I’m Baba Rougjia, of The Sisters Babice. Tell me the truth… did you really like our song?


Libertine, now given permission to profusely behold properly, began gushing. Baba Rougjia, I don’t possess an untrue sound. Believe me when I say, I loved your song. And this is precisely why! My superpular favorite part was that all your sounds were true. Hard for ear hearing, yeah, but so beautifully, brutifully true. I want to sing them too. Teach me.


With one humble request, Libertine earned her freedom. Baba Rougjia removed her binding vines and pointed Libertine to the nearest creek to wash off her marinade. Libertine politely declined, finding the mix of barks, moss, and boiled hunter bone broth to both compliment her complexion and help her feel more one with her former captor turned voice teacher. That, and she was anxious to get along with the lesson.

 

Baba Rougjia led Libertine through a series of splintered tongue trills with coordinate trunk thumps. The eager learner did her best. Libertine handled the lyrics rather adeptly given the supple nature of her skin sac's tongue, but her tones were not nearly as hollowed and haunting. The other babas heard echoes of choral catastrophe and turned toward home.


The sisters arrived to find tables had not only turned, but were toppled over and partially tossed down the hill. Libertine was hunched over some snacks, transcribing a loose translation of her Ode to Woebegone Wives for a rapt Baba Rougjia. It really was a masterpiece! Rougjia sprinkled in just the right level of wrought tension to complement the already wretched tune.


The littlest sister was the fastest to her tongue.
Rougjitsa, why are you singing with the meat?

The littlest sister was the fastest to her tongue.

Rougjitsa, why are you singing with the meat?


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