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Ilya the Knight of Murom

ilya-of-the-town-of-murom.jpg Many, many years ago a new baby boy was born in a family of a poor Russian peasant. He was born in the old town called Murom and his parents named him Ilya. A few years after Ilya was born, his parents tragically discovered that their boy could not walk since his legs were too weak to support the strong body. Therefore, Ilya spent his days and nights laying on his back while the rest of his family was working in the fields until he turned 30 years old.

One day, when Ilya was home alone, three wise men dressed in old rags knocked on his door. "Greetings to you, Ilya, son of Murom and its bravest knight,” said oldest wise man. Ilya replied to them gloomily: "Do you call me, a cripple, the knight of Murom? You should be ashamed of making fun of the sick. Can’t you see, old men that I cannot walk." The men persuaded him to stand up, by saying: " Your legs were very week indeed, but you are fine now. Get up, fill your hart heart with joy and belief, straighten up your strong shoulders, and walk!" Suddenly Ilya became joyful and tried to stand up. And a miracle did happen to the young man legs. He could not only stand up now, but also walk and even run. The old men pass Ilya a jug of fresh cold water and asked him to take a sip. “What do you feel, Ilya the son of Murom?” – Asked wise men. “I feel a non-human strength,” answered the young man. “Drink more of this water now,” said wise man. Ilya finished drinking and said, “I feel so strong that if a ring has to be driven in the middle of the earth, I would grab that ring and could turn the earth upside down.” “Listen to us very careful now, Ilya and always remember what we have told you now: You shell not use your strength for anything but for things that would please your father and mother. Harm no one, but do good for all!”

Meanwhile his elderly parents were trying to pull out heavy tree roots out of the field in order to clear the ground for the new planting season. They worked very hard together but did not have enough strength to finish that. Suddenly they saw their son Ilya who walked very quickly towards them in order to help. He pulled out all of the tree roots out of the field so fast that his parents did not believe their eyes, "Is it you, Ilya, our dear son? Who gave you this strength of seven warriors and healed you?" He replied: "My dear parents, three wise men visited me today and granted me the power beyond belief." Ilya chose a strong horse and said to him, "You are chosen to be a knight's horse and your job will not be easy." Several local blacksmiths were hammered arms and armor for the Russian knight Ilya. After Ilya was ready he was on his way to Kiev. On the way, he stopped at the old town of Chernigov. Tatars were besieging the city. Ilya attacked them and victoriously crushed the enemy’s army. The people of Chernigov opened the gates and welcomed Ilya the knight of Murom with bread and wine. They asked him to lead their army and stay in Chernigov. The son of Murom thanked the local residents for such an honor, but explained them that he must go on to liberate major town of Kiev.

There was not a single human left who would dare taking a direct route on Kiev, since it was blocked by a monster called Nightingale the Robber who slew all who tried to pass near him: not a bird could fly, not a beast could run, not a single Russian soul could ride past him. But Ilya the knight of Murom did not take a detour, instead chose the road that led straight to the town of Kiev. When Nightingale the Robber heard the horse's hoof beats he hid on the top of the tree getting ready to attack. He whistled more fearfully than a wolf's howl or a bear's roar and so horribly that the leaves on the trees withered. The brave Russian warrior Ilya raised his heavy bow and fired an arrow that hit the whistling monster right in the forehead. He fell from the top of his tree down to the knight’s feet. Ilya put Nightingale across his horse and went straight to Kiev. The knight Ilya arrived in the afternoon, when Tsar Vladimir was hosting a great feast for his warriors and all his true knights. Tsar Vladimir asked the stranger where he was from and how he made it to Kiev. Ilya answered, "I am Ilya of Murom, the son of a peasant. In the city of Chernigov I went to matins, then I was forced to listen to a whistle." Everybody at the table started laughing, and Tsar Vladimir asked his next question, "Do you understand your own words, young brave knight? Chernigov is occupied by Tatars and the journey here is only possible via detour. Direct road is blocked by Nightingale the Robber: beasts like wolves and bears avoid that place because of the terrible monster. Whoever and whatever hears his whistle falls dead on the spot." Ilya led them all to the courtyard where the injured Nightingale the Robber was tied to Ilya's saddle. Tsar Vladimir decided to test him: "Well, whistle now! Bark and roar as a beast so I and all can witness!" Solovey whistled so loud that the leaves blew from the trees and a great storm started taking over the blue skies. Only brave warrior Ilya managed to stop this horrible whistle.

The wicked Nightingale the Robber was executed by the Tsar Vladimir's order. Tsar Vladimir was so impressed by the strength of the Russian knight of Murom that he offered Ilya to lead his army and become one of his greatest knights. Ilya became the greatest defender of Russian land against its enemies. Later, he got married with Tsar’s beautiful daughter Vasilisa and they lived happily in peace.

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