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Dobrynya Nikitich:Dobrynya, Dobrinya, Dobrinia

A highly renowned hero was Dobrynya, handsome and fearless. One hot summer's day he decided to take a bath in the river. His mother warned him: The first wave of the river belches fire, the second wave brings sparks and the third issues steam. But Dobrynya mounted his horse and rode for hours. At last he reached the river and, being scorched by the sun, forgot his mother's words, took off his armor and clothes, and jumped into the water. As he swam he remembered the the warning and wondered: the river was as calm as a pond. But one instant later the sky turned black as night without a cloud being seen. Then flew down Gorynytch, a three-headed dragon with seven tails. Flames poured out of his mouth and heavy smoke billowed from his ears. He had iron claws, and the air around him was saturated with sulfur. "An old prophecy foretells that one day Dobrynya would slay me," he roared, "but this proves it wrong--the hero now is my victim!" Dobrynya dived to the shore to fetch his weapons, but his horse and with it his armor were gone. Nearer and nearer came the dragon. Dobrynya already felt the fiery breath upon his skin when suddenly he saw his helmet in front of him. He filled it with sand and hurled it so fiercely at the dragon that one head was shorn off! The hero soon overwhelmed his foe. But before he could chop off the other heads, Gorynytch started to plead for his life and the lives of his hatchlings. Being good at heart, the hero took pity on the beast. Believing the foul words of peace Dobrynya let him go. The dragon, however, had no other plans than to fly to Kiev and abduct Duke Vladimir's lovely niece. Dobrynya saw him carrying his prey back to the mountains. In spite of his mother's warning he rode to Kiev. There he found the duke's family and friends mourning the loss of the virgin. But no one dared to ride after the monster and try to rescue the damsel. One of the guests had seen Dobrynya and Gorynytch earlier at the river, but only the final stage of their meeting when the dragon called a truce. Believing that Dobrynya was on good terms with the dragon, he thus proposed that none but the hero could rescue the lovely maiden. Without discussion Dobrynya was sent out at once. Wretched and dismal Dobrynya rode back home. There he told his mother what had happened. That night while he was sleeping his mother prepared a seven-fold silky whip. The next morning she advised him to get his grandfather's horse, which had been neglected for years, and ride to the dragon's cave. He would find it unguarded and would be able to ride in safely. To kill the dragon's hatchlings, he was instructed to give his horse a lash with the whip, and it will trample the entire brood. Dobrynya did as his mother had told him. Luckily, he had just slain the hatchlings and was about to enter the cave when Gorynytch rushed in. Seeing his dead children he cursed the hero for "breaking their oath." Three days the fight between the two deadly enemies lasted. Then suddenly Dobrynya remembered his mother's words. He grasped the whip and flogged the dragon who was soon overwhelmed. This time he had no pity at all and hewed off the three dragon heads. Three days and nights he bathed in the blood of his foe. At last, when he was nearly killed by its venom, he again used his whip, and the blood disappeared. He washed and refreshed himself and went to rescue the damsel. He broke open cave after cave and freed hundreds of victims, but he could not find the maiden after eleven caves. She was imprisoned in the twelfth cave, where he found her at last tied to the damp rocky walls with golden chains. He soon got her out of that foul prison. After a night's rest he brought her back safely to Kiev. As a reward, he was granted permission to marry the Duke's niece, since the two had fallen in love during the trek back to Kiev. They lived happily until the end of their days as Dobrynya continued to protect his homeland against all forms of evil.