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Maria Morevna

maria-morevna.jpg Once upon a time there was Tsar and Tsarina who riled one of the Russian kingdom and had four beautiful children. They were blessed by one son Ivan and tree daughters Maria, Olga, and Anna. The time passed, the Tsar grew old and got more and more sick. Laying on his deathbed he instructed his elder son Ivan to take a good care of his three younger sisters. The old Tsar died and Ivan inherited his kingdom and became a fair and an honest ruler whom his people were admiring.

One beautiful sunny day, the new Tsar Ivan was walking with his sisters in a royal garden. Suddenly a black cloud appeared covering the entire sky out of nowhere. As soon as it happened, Ivan instructed his sisters to hide inside of the palace for safety. As soon as they all stepped inside the palace lighting flashed across the blue sky, thunder rattled the land, and a heavy rain fell upon the Ivan’s kingdom. Suddenly a falcon appeared out of nowhere and as soon as it landed the bird turned into a handsome young man. He saw the Ivan’s eldest sister Maria from the air and fell in love with this lovely maid. The handsome stranger asked Ivan’s permission to merry his sister. Maria accepted his proposal and Ivan blessed them both. They had a beautiful wedding and shortly after the new-weds moved to the falcon’s land.

About one year later, Ivan, Olga and Anna were walking through the garden again. Just as it did happen the previous year a storm appeared out of nowhere and an eagle appeared in the sky. As soon as it landed it turned into a handsome young Tsarevich. He saw Ivan’s second eldest sister Olga and fell in love with this beautiful princess. He asked Ivan for his permission to marry Olga and was approved by both the tsar Ivan and by the princess Olga herself. The new-weds then moved to the eagle’s kingdom. And shortly after, a black raven showed up in the sky above the tsar Ivan’s kingdom. As soon as the bird landed it turned into a handsome young prince who fell in love with the princess Anna. The stranger did not hesitate to ask for Ivan’s blessings to marry his youngest sister. And as soon as they got married, Anna moved to her husband’s kingdom. Shortly after, the tsar Ivan heard some news that his kingdom is about to be attacked by an unknown enemy. The brave young man did not wait for the enemy army to approach his kingdom. Instead he gathered his own army and decided to face the enemy first.

He mounted his horse and rode off. He rode up to a field where he saw the great army of countless soldiers. That countless army was led by Marya Morevna, who currently was taking a rest in her tent near the forest. Ivan decided to meet Marya face-to-face trying to explain that he came with peace and was not interested to start a war. The tsarina was impressed by the courage of this brave man and invited him to stay in her tent for supper. Soon after that both rulers realized that they fell in love with each other and set a date for a wedding in Marya's kingdom. For years they lived in harmony and love.

One day, Marya told her husband Ivan that she had to go to a battle with an enemy who is threatening her authority. Before she took off with her army, Marya provided Ivan with the instruction on how to take care of her kingdom. She also said, “Ivan, just remember one thing that is very important: do not enter the darkest chamber under the ground. “ Shortly after, tsarina Marya left, Ivan started missing her and did not know how to occupy his thoughts. He started wandering around the kingdom until he found a mysterious chamber under the ground with a heavy oak door. Ivan opened that door and saw the dark chamber with a big bonny man being braced to the wall with heavy chains and iron locks.

The giant cried to Ivan that he had no food nor drink in ten years. The kind and naive Ivan felt sorry for that man and brought a whole bucket of water for him, which the giant drank in one gulp. He asked for two additional buckets and as soon as he finished the last one he stood up and broke all of his chains. It was no ordinary man, it was the Koschei the Deathless. Koschei told Ivan that he would never see his wife again and like a blizzard flew out of the open window. Koschei flew across the land and as soon as he spotted Marya who was returning home from the battle, grabbed her and carried away to his kingdom. Ivan was depressed and devastated over the loss of his beloved Marya. But soon he realized that his tears will not help Marya to escape from the Koschei’s captivity. He started packing up for a long journey since he was determined to rescue his wife.

He rode on his horse for three days until he saw a beautiful castle in front of him. This castle belonged to his eldest sister Maria and her husband. Maria and prince falcon were overjoyed to have Ivan as their guest. Ivan told them the whole story , thanked them for their warm welcome and moved on. Before he departed, young tsar left his magic silver spoon with them so they would know the exact time when Ivan is in trouble. He rode his horse for days until another magnificent castle grew in front of him. This castle was a house of his second eldest sister Olga and her husband Eagle, who was very delighted to see Ivan as their guest. However, Ivan could not stay long since he was on a mission. He thanked his sister and his brother-in-law and jump on the back of his horse. Before he took off, young tsar left his magic silver fork with them so they would know too the exact time when Ivan is in trouble.

After three more days Ivan came upon another beautiful castle. This beautiful kingdom was the one where his youngest sister Anna and her husband Raven lived in harmony and piece. Anna was very happy to see her brother again and wanted him to stay longer. But Ivan could not stay long. He left his silver tobacco box that had a magic power to notify others when Ivan is in trouble. The tsar Ivan traveled for days before he reached the dark kingdom of Koschei the Deathless. Ivan bravely walked inside of his palace and found Marya Morevna in one of the rooms. She warned Ivan that Koschei should be back any minute. Ivan and Marya could not have lost a single second. They jumped on Ivan’s horse and rode off the dark kingdom.

After Koschei returned back to his palace and found that Marya was missing, he galloped after them in a fury. He caught up with them, grabbed Marya, sliced Ivan into many small pieces, and put those into an oak barrel, which was sealed and thrown into the depth of the blue sea. At the exact moment when those things were happening, the silver spoon, the fork, and the tobacco box all turned black. The brothers-in-law immediately realized that Ivan is in trouble and needs their help. The eagle flew to the sea, spotted the barrel and carried it to the shore. The falcon flew off to obtain the living water and the raven flew to get the dead water. When all three Ivan’s brothers-in-law gathered together on the shore, they managed to broke the barrel and put the Ivan's body back together piece by piece. The raven poured the dead water on Ivan’s body pieces and they all joined together. Then the falcon poured the living water on the body and Ivan came back to life. Ivan thanked his brothers-in-law for saving him and walked right back to Koschei's palace. Next time when Koschei went for a walk, Ivan snuck inside and instructed Marya to find out where Koschei obtained his magical superfast horses. When Koschei , Marya found out that he got the horses from Baba Yaga who lived on the other side of the Fire stream. The only way to cross that stream though is to use Koschei’s magic scarf. When Koschei fell asleep, Marya took his magic scarf and secretly handled it to her husband Ivan and explained how to use it and where to get the magical horses.

Ivan thanked his wife and soon enough he was on the shore of Fire stream. The young man tossed the magic scarf up in the air and a crystal bridge grew right in front of his eyes. Ivan crossed the bridge safely, but before meeting Baba Yaga, he felt hungry and was looking for a quick snack. He came upon a mother bird whose baby fell of the nest. He thought of having it for a snack, but the mother bird cried to him, “Please do not harm my boy, Ivan. You may find us very useful in the future.” Ivan put the baby bird back to its nest and went on. Next, Ivan saw a beehive and thought, “What a great luck goes right into my hands: a beehive full of sweet honey.” But the queen bee asked him not to touch its honey, “Maybe you will find me very useful soon, Ivan.” Not having a single dry piece of bread for three days, Ivan was exhausted and starving. Not that far from him, he spotted a mother bear and a bear cub. The young hungry man wanted to fire his arrow and kill the cub for a meal but the mother bear begged him, “Ivan, do not harm my cub. Who knows, maybe I will serve you one day.” Ivan felt sorry killing the bear cub and kept walking straight to Baba Yaga’s hut. The brave Ivan walked inside the Baba Yaga’s hut and introduced himself. He asked her to hire him as a servant. She told him that he would tend her stables and if even one horse escaped she would cut Ivan’s head off and put it on her fence next to many others. However, if Ivan manages to do his job well for three days, Baba Yaga would reward him in the end. The old witch let Ivan eat, drink and sleep, but he must start his work in the morning. In the morning before waking Ivan up, the wicked old woman told warned all of her horses to run away from Ivan once they got in the meadow.

As soon as Ivan woke up, he started his work as instructed by Baba Yaga. After they arrived to the meadow, all the horses ran off in the opposite directions leaving Ivan on his own. Then the same birds that Ivan spared swooped out of the sky forcing all the horses back to their stables. Baba Yaga was angry and disappointed with her horses. She asked them why they didn’t heed her instructions. They told her that they had no other choice because the birds would have plucked their eyes out. She instructed them next time to scatter into the deepness of the forest. Next morning, the horses ran in the opposite directions into the depth of the forest. The same mother bear, her cub and a whole lot of other bears successfully chased the horses back to their stables. Baba Yaga was once again angry at her horses since they were back in their stables in the morning. This time she told them to hide in the blue sea once Ivan took them out.

Next morning Ivan again took the horses out and they ran off into the blue sea just as their owner told them. Then a swarm of bees flew at the horses that were standing in the sea and stung them until each and every one of them safely returned home. The queen bee flew to Ivan and told him to go back to Baba Yaga's house and hide from her in the stables. The bee also instructed him to find a mangy looking colt and to make his way out Baba Yaga’s residence at night. Ivan did as he was told and rode off on the ugly colt towards the River of Fire. He reached the River of Fire, tossed his magic scarf in the air and crossed the crystal bridge that appeared from out of nowhere. The next morning Baba Yaga found out that Ivan disappeared with one of her colts and she rode after him. When she reached to the River of Fire she failed to cross it and fell right in. As soon as they left the Baba Yaga’s land, Ivan’s ugly looking colt turned into a strong and beautiful horse. Once the young man reached the palace of Koschei he found Marya Morevna and they both rode off. Soon Koschei found out from one of his magic horses that Ivan had come back and took Marya. Furious, Koschei immediately rode after them.

When Koschei finely managed to catch up with a couple, Ivan’s horse struck Koschei and killed him. Marya mounted Koschei's horse and they proceeded on their safe journey back home. On the way they stopped to feast and rest at each of three brothers-in-law’s castles.

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