Yasen the Skomorokh

Long, long time ago in the lands of the Slav­ic king­doms, there was a group of wan­der­ing jesters bet­ter known as the Sko­morokhs. They trav­elled from one vil­lage to an­oth­er and earned their bread by show­ing their skills at ac­ro­bat­ics, jug­gling, il­lu­sion and an­i­mal-tam­ing. Lucky was a home­less child or a youth in need who'd met the Sko­morokhs on the road, for he'd be fed and wel­come to join them.

Of course, none of the Sko­morokhs, young or old, had an easy life. Every­body worked and trained very hard to be able to do things amaz­ing enough to at­tract peo­ple's at­ten­tion but with ef­fort­less­ness and a smile to en­sure peo­ple won't be ter­ri­fied and run away, would watch the whole show AND pay. Learn­ing to snap your back in half back­wards while bal­anc­ing on a shak­ing piece of wood took years of prac­tice, but learn­ing to do all that with a fool­ish smile took even longer.
One day when this group of wan­der­ing clowns was cross­ing a large for­est, they sud­den­ly found a cry­ba­by left un­der an Ash tree. They took care of it and named the child Yasen, which sim­ply meant "Ash tree" in the Slav­ic lan­guage. He was al­most a new­born, left in the for­est for dy­ing but he had the health enough for five chil­dren and sur­vived there for long hours, if not days.

The Sko­morokhs were re­al­ly amazed to find such a young child. Chil­dren joined them quite of­ten, but at a much old­er age. The thought that this one could be trained since his very in­fan­cy was so promis­ing, but what kind of skills should they teach him?..

Six­teen long years passed. It was a big fes­ti­val and of course the Sko­morokhs were a huge part of the cel­e­bra­tions. Af­ter the an­i­mals and jug­glers there came clowns who brought a scare­crown on a stake, took it off and be­gan to twist and bend the straw-stuffed doll in every pos­si­ble way. The doll seemed very firm­ly stuffed, one could say it had the firm­ness and weight of a re­al hu­man, but the way it was fold­ed, turned, squished and tied in such so­phis­ti­cat­ed knots... The crowd on­ly laughed, think­ing the clowns are fool­ing around with the doll way too much and look a lot like big and cru­el chil­dren who'd do every­thing with the doll ex­cept maybe rip­ping off its limbs.
Af­ter fold­ing and pack­ing the doll in­to the tight­est knot, the clowns sat on top of it and fi­nal­ly re­laxed, pre­tend­ing to have fall­en asleep, when the doll's arms sud­den­ly came to life and the doll slapped the clowns ass­es so hard they jumped high in the air in sur­prise! The crowd laughed like crazy, most peo­ple still didn't re­al­ize what just hap­pened when the doll be­gan to move on its own, it stood up and start­ed run­ning away from the clowns, do­ing cart­wheels, som­er­saults and rolling on the ground in the most in­cred­i­bly flex­i­ble ways.

The clowns fi­nal­ly man­aged to cap­ture the doll and start­ed pulling its two legs each in his own di­rec­tion when the doll sud­den­ly threw off the gloves and took off the mask to re­veal the hand­some face of a teen boy who grinned at the crowd, spread­ing his arms in the air while hang­ing in the split be­tween the two clowns who lift­ed the bendy boy in the air for every­body to see him bet­ter. The crowd sighed and stood there with all their eyes popped out while the clowns let the boy's feet land on the ground and he per­formed a play­ful dance to show he's not on­ly not in­jured, but not even slight­ly tired af­ter all the bend­ings, and could eas­i­ly go for ten more rounds of stretch­ing and twist­ing!

The in­tro­duc­tion part was over and now Yasen could fi­nal­ly show off his skills to the fullest. He did sev­er­al cart­wheels around un­til he stopped by an im­pro­vised prop con­sist­ing of two wood­en logs placed on top of each oth­er. The boy be­gan by do­ing a hand­stand up­on the top log and bent him­self un­til his body fold­ed and his feet land­ed up­on the log right next to his hands. He moved the bal­ance on his feet and climbed his hands up­ward by the an­kles un­til he man­aged to grab his legs above the knees. Af­ter get­ting sta­ble he pulled on the knees and tight­ened his fold to the max, then smiled cheer­ful­ly at the crowd, wait­ing for his well de­served ap­plauds.

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