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The Tale of Tsarevich Ivan,

Alexander The Great



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  The Firebird and Grey Wolf

They were nearing Tsar Afron's tsardom when Tsarevich Ivan again grew sad and woebegone.   "What makes you so sad, Tsarevich Ivan?" Grey Wolf asked.  "How can I help it!  I have little wish to exchange the Horse with the Golden Mane for the FireBird.  But if I don't, Tsar Afron will spread ill fame of me far and wide."   "Take heart, Tsarevich Ivan.  I have sworn to serve you faithfully and I won't go back on my word.  I shall take the shape of the Horse with the Golden Mane, and you lead me to the Tsar."  They hid Yelena the Beautiful and the Horse with the Golden Mane in the forest, and Grey Wolf rolled over on the ground and took the horse's shape.  Tsarevich Ivan got on his back and rode to Tsar Afron's palace.   The Tsar welcomed him warmly and invited him to partake of food and drink, but Tsarevich Ivan declined, and the Tsar gave him the FireBird and the golden cage, too, and let him go.
Tsarevich Ivan went back to the forest, he and Yelena the Beautiful got on Golden Mane's back, and, taking the FireBird, set off homewards.  On the next day Tsar Afron decided to break in his new horse.   Accompanied by his huntsmen, he rode to the forest when lo! a fox crossed their path.  They gave chase after it but it ran so swiftly that after a time all fell back and only Tsar Afron on his new horse could keep up with it.  All of a sudden, Tsar Afron's horse stumbled and fell and Grey wolf appeared in it's place, and, throwing Tsar Afron to the ground, took to his heels.  The huntsmen came running and helped up the Tsar but before they could start in pursuit of Grey Wolf he had vanished.
Tsarevich Ivan and Yelena The Beautiful Ride
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 Grey wolf soon caught up with Tsarevich Ivan, and Tsarevich Ivan got off Golden Mane's back and climbed on his.  They rode on, but by and by Grey Wolf stopped and said:  "This is the spot where I killed your horse, Tsarevich Ivan, and it is here we must part."  Tsarevich Ivan bowed low to Grey Wolf, thrice he bowed to him, brushing the ground with his hand.  "Do not bow so low, for we may not be parting for ever," said Grey Wolf.  "Who knows but you may have need of me yet."  Tsarevich Ivan and Yelena the Beautiful got on Golden Mane's back, and, taking the FireBird, rode homewards.
Whether they rode a long time or a little time none can say, but by and by they were sorely tired.   They got off the horse, and, stretching themselves out on the grass, dropped off to sleep. 
Just then Tsarevich Ivan's brothers came riding up.  They had journeyed far and wide in search of the FireBird and were now returning home with nothing to show for it.  Said they, seeing their brother lying there asleep with Yelena the Beautiful, Golden Mane, and the FireBird beside him:  "Look at that!  Tsarevich Ivan has put us to shame again.   Well, this is the last time.  And baring their swords, they cut off Tsarevich Ivan's head.
Yelena the Beautiful woke, and when she saw him lying there dead, the tears poured from her eyes.  Tsarevich Pyotr put the tip of his sword to her breast and said:  "You are in our hands now.  We'll take you home, and if you tell our father that it was not we who captured you and the FireBird and the Horse with the Golden Mane we will kill you!"  Yelena the Beautiful was frightened and vowed that she would do as they bade.  They put her on Golden Mane's back, and, taking the FireBird, rode homewards.
Click Image to Enlarge
 There lay Tsarevich Ivan, dead, and the ravens came flying and circling over his head when as if out of nowhere Grey Wolf appeared.  He hid behind a bush and waited for the ravens to come down lower.  When they did, he crept up and seized one of the fledglings.  The mother raven began begging him to let the fledgling go, and Grey Wolf said:  "That I will if you fly beyond the Thrice Nine Lands, to the Thrice Ten Tsardom and bring me the water of death and the water of life."  Off flew the raven and by and by she came flying back with two vials containing the water of death and the water of life.  Grey Wolf put Tsarevich Ivan's head to his body and sprinkled the water of death over him, and the head grew back on to his body;  he sprinkled him with the water of life, and Tsarevich Ivan came back to life. 
The Wedding
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"Oh, what a long sleep I have had!"  said he.  "But for me you would never have awakened," said Grey wolf.  "Your brothers killed you and they took away Yelena the Beautiful, Golden Mane, and the FireBird.  So let us go after them before Tsarevich Pyotr marries your bride."
Tsarevich Ivan got on Grey wolf's back and the sped homewards.  They reached the Tsar's own city, and, bowing low to each other, parted, for good this time.  Tsarevich Ivan made his way to the palace.  As he walked along he saw that people were all decked out in their holiday best and asked why this was.  Tsarevich Pyotr is marrying Yelena the Beautiful today!"  came the reply.  Tsarevich Ivan quickened his steps and soon came to the palace.  His elder brother saw him and grew numb with fear.   But Yelena the Beautiful was overjoyed!  She came up to Tsarevich Ivan, and taking him by the hand, said:  "Here is my true bridegroom!"  And she told the Tsar all about everything.  The Tsar was very angry with his elder sons, he drove them out and then and there gave half of his tsardom to Tsarevich Ivan.   Tsarevich Ivan Yelena the Beautiful and were married, and they lived in peace for many a year and never had cause to shed a tear.
- Russian Folk Tale
2018 Damon Hyldreth
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