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Ilia Muromec Of Russia

Source: Myths And Legends Of All Nations.

When we think of Russia we think of a great dark country--a country of
long winters and abundant snow and ice. It was here, long ago, in the
city of Kiev, that the hero Ilia Muromec was born.

There was at that time a great castle in the city, and this was well
protected by Ilia Muromec and his twelve armed knights. For thirty
long years had they kept watch at their post and no stranger had ever
passed by them.

But one morning Dobrnja, the knight after Ilia Muromec most powerful,
perceived on the ground the imprint of a horse's hoof. Then he said to
the knights:

"Now is the mighty Zidovin in the neighborhood of our castle. What is
your will?"

The knights with one accord agreed that Dobrnja should ride out
against the stranger. So Dobrnja mounted his war-horse and galloped
forth to meet Zidovin, calling to him in a deep, gruff voice:

"Here, my insolent sir, you have come all the way to our castle and
have omitted to send greeting to our captain Ilia Muromec, or to
inform him of your approach."

When Zidovin heard these words he turned quickly and rode toward
Dobrnja with such force that springs and lakes appeared wherever the
hoofs of his black horse touched the ground. And the trembling of the
earth caused great waves to rise on the sea.

Dobrnja was so frightened that he jerked his horse about and with the
swiftness of a cyclone galloped back to the castle. When he entered,
almost exhausted, he told in great excitement of his encounter.

Immediately Ilia decided to go forth himself against the enemy, and
all the entreaties of his knights could not restrain him. So he rode
out to a high point where he could see Zidovin, watch him as he threw
his hundred-weight club up into the clouds, caught it with one hand,
and swung it around in the air as if it had been a feather.

Then Ilia spurred his horse and rode toward Zidovin. A horrible fight
ensued. Swords clashed and deep fissures were made in the earth, but
neither knight fell. It seemed as if both heroes had grown fast to
their saddles, so unshakeable were they.

At last they jumped from their horses and fought hand to hand with
lances. All day long and all night long they struggled, until Ilia
finally fell wounded to the ground. Zidovin kneeled on his breast,
drew out his sharp knife, and was about to cut off the head of his

Ilia meantime was thinking, "Surely the holy fathers did not lie to me
when they said that I should not lose my life in battle."

Then suddenly he felt his strength redoubled, and he hurled Zidovin
from him with such force that his body touched the clouds before it
fell again in the moist earth at his feet. Cutting off the warrior's
head, he mounted his horse and rode back to the castle. To his knights
he said:

"Thirty years have I ridden in the field and thirty years have I
fought with heroes and tested my strength; but such a mighty man as
Zidovin have I in all that time never met."

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