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The Green Bogatyr:Kartaus, Green Bogatyr, Koschei, Koschey

Beyond the valleys, beyond the mountains, beyond the wide seas, lived Tsar Kartaus, who put a cap on his head every day and took it off at night. The Tsar had a beautiful daughter, but she was kidnaped by an unknown force. With sorrow the Tsar made a proclamation: "Who will volunteer to find and rescue my daughter?" The Green Bogatyr heard the proclamation, and went to the tsar. "I will rescue your daughter!" he said to the Tsar, while not really knowing where to go, or where to look for her. So he went to seek advice from a fortune teller. "You will have to deal with the wizard Koschei the Deathless," she said. "But before you engage in battle, you must retrieve his death, and it is hidden away. A sword will not vanquish him. You must go beyond the three times ninth removed land to the three times ninth kingdom, which is Koschei's domain. The road is long, and you will encounter many difficulties. And you do not have a good steed. Your steed will not take you far. The bogatyr left his steed at the meadow and went on foot. He walked for a long time. He climbed a hill and saw a hut at the edge of a forest in the distance. He approached the hut and went in to find an old woman spinning. "Which way are you headed?" asked the old woman. The Green Bogatyr told her his story. "It will take you many years to walk to the land of Koschei," said the old woman. "If you want to complete the task you must listen to my advice. You need a steed that races faster than the wind. Even then it will take one year to reach your destination. A mountain nearby has a cave. Within the cave, behind twelve locked doors stands such a steed. He is bound by chains of iron. You will break in the first three doors. The steed will hear his rider and will break out through the rest of the doors. Your task is to get a hold of this steed, so you will be able to reach the Kingdom of Koschei. The Green Bogatyr climbed the mountain and found the cave entrance. Once the bogatyr began breaking in, the steed heard him, broke the chains, broke through the doors, and ran into the open like a beast. The Green Bogatyr noticed the steed's eagerness and great strength. What to do, how to catch it? The bogatyr gave a heavy blow on the steed's chest with his fist. The steed felt the bogatyr's might and sat down on all fours. The Green Bogatyr put a harness on the steed, climbed up and rode off. The bogatyr rode for a long time and arrived at a dense, dark forest. There he saw a lion tangled up in a net placed by bird catchers. The bogatyr came close and cut the net, freeing the lion. The lion thanked the bogatyr saying, "Remember me at a time of difficulty! I will then help you!" The Green Bogatyr went on. He arrived at another dense, dark forest. He saw a falcon tangled up in a net, so the bogatyr freed the falcon. The falcon thanked the bogatyr, saying, "Remember me at a time of difficulty! I will help you then!" The bogatyr rode to a sea shore, where he saw a pike caught up in a net. He freed the pike as well. The pike replied, "Remember me at a time of difficulty! I will help you then!" The bogatyr rode along the shore until he saw a hare caught up in a net. After freeing the hare, the hare began to thank the Bogatyr. "I promise to help you when you need it most!" After some time, the Green Bogatyr met an old man, and he asked him, "Tell me old man, is the kingdom of Koschei far?" "To reach the kingdom of Koschei you must sail across the sea. Once you reach that land, you must go along the sea shore. Far away stands a lone great oak tree. You will need to uproot the the tree to find a chest, within that chest there is a hare, within the hare a duck. The duck will have an egg, within that egg a needle, within the needle - Koschei's death. Break the needle and go to the castle, there you will find the Tsarevna - Tsar Kartaus's daughter. The bogatyr thanked the old man for this advice. He boarded a ship along with the steed and sailed away. Upon arriving at the land of Koschei he rode along the shore. He came across a run down hut which housed an old woman. The Green Bogatyr got off his horse and entered the hut. He asked, "Is the lone oak tree far from this place?" The old woman replied, "The oak tree is not far, but why do you seek it?" "I desperately need to topple the tree. Underneath the roots is a chest that keeps Koschei's death!" "Be careful, this is not an easy task!" the old woman warned the bogatyr. "At any moment Koschei may attack you from either land or air." She gave the Green bogatyr a shovel with a rotten handle and an ax with a rotten handle. The bogatyr thanked the old woman and rode on. He soon saw the great old oak tree. When he came close to it, he dismounted from the steed, took the shovel and began digging the root out. The handle broke the first time he tried to dig. So the bogatyr took the ax, but as soon as he touched the tree, the ax fell apart. "What will I use to dig and cut the roots of this oak tree?" thought to himself the Green Bogatyr. He remembered the lion, and the lion appeared to help topple the tree. The tree leaned and shivered. With all his might the bogatyr grabbed a lower branch and the lion leaned on the opposite side and together they toppled the tree. Underneath the roots they found a chest. As soon as the Green Bogatyr broke the lid open a hare ran out of the chest. The hare was so fast, it seemed impossible to catch. Then the bogatyr remembered the hare he had helped, and instantly that hare appeared, caught up with the fleeing hare and tore it to pieces. From within the hare a duck came out and flew high into the sky. The Green Bogatyr was taken aback by this - "How can one catch it?". He thought about the falcon he had saved. From out of now where the falcon appeared and raced up into the sky. The falcon caught up with the duck and pecked the duck's head so hard, an egg fell down from it into the sea. The Green Bogatyr then quickly thought about the pike. The pike came up from the depths with the egg in its mouth, and said, "Take the egg!" The bogatyr put the egg in his pocket, mounted his steed and rode into the Castle of Koschei. Koschei did not allow him to get far--he flew up to the bogatyr, grabbed him and carried him into the sky. The Green Bogatyr quickly came up with what to do. He took the egg out of his pocket and spoke to Koschei the Deathless. "If you do not let me free, I will break the egg, then break the needle and your death will come." But Koschei decided to fight the bogatyr, so the Green Bogatyr broke the egg, then broke the needle. Koschei felt his last moments closing in, and cast a spell on all the maidens being held captive in his castle, then fell dead to the ground. The Green Bogatyr approached the castle, but was ambushed by the guards of Koschei. The bogatyr struck once--three were dead! He struck again--he killed four more! A third time--the rest of the guards were down. The Green Bogatyr entered the castle only to see all the beautiful maidens lying dead. Saddened, the Green Bogatyr went to the garden, came close to a well with clear water, and saw a reflection of himself in this water. The bogatyr took some of this water and sprinkled it on the maidens, who all awoke from their spell. The Green Bogatyr began looking for the Tsar's daughter. "Do you remember your father?" he asked when he found her. "Yes!," she said. "Would you like to see him?" She answered that she would. "Have you forgotten your native tongue?" "Although we were kept here in captivity for a long time, how can I forget the place I was born?" Speaking to all the maidens, the Green Bogatyr said, "I give you all freedom!" "And where will we all go, weak and tired?" the maidens raised their voices together, and begged the bogatyr to take them along. "Although I was not given such an order, yet I see, that you have suffered enough. Get ready! I'm taking you all with us!" The Green Bogatyr took all the captive maidens on board the ship. After a long hard journey the ship returned home. The bogatyr brought the Tsarevna back to the King's court. The Tsar said to the Green Bogatyr, "I thank you for your courage, for your strength and your quick Russian thinking. I now give you my entire kingdom! Take my beloved daughter as your queen!" There followed a celebration unlike the world has ever seen. They sang songs and danced for the longest of time. The dancing ended only when the revelers were so tired they could no longer stand. And I was there, and toasted the bogatyr with honey malt--To your health!