Yasen the SkomorokhLong, 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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