Ilya Murometz laughed. “If I took gold from everyone I met, I would have a cellarful.
If I took good horses, a great herd would race behind
me. Brother bandits,
return to your homes, wives, and children. If you stay here, innocent blood will spill.”
Ilya turned and rode away.
He returned to the stone, removed the old inscription,
and wrote a new one: “I took the right road and wasn’t killed!”
slaughters the bandits with a wave of his hat.
A beguiling princess. “Well, now I'll take the
road that leads to marriage,” he decided. Illya rode three
versts to a forest glade. There stood a palace with golden
domes and silver gates. Twelve maidens ran up to him; one
was a beautiful princess.
“Welcome, bogatyr!” she greeted him. “Enter
my high tower, drink sweet wine and eat bread with salt
and baked swan!”
The princess led him to a table in the tower.
The maidens brought sweet honey, foreign wine, and baked
swan. After the sumptuous feast, they began to coax him.
“You are tired of traveling,” they said. “Lie down to rest
on the bed.”
While the princess led Ilya to the bedchamber, he thought,
“What does a princess want with a simple old Cossack! It is clear she is up to something.”
Ilya saw a golden bed along the wall but guessed that
it was a trap. He
grabbed the princess and tossed her onto it.
The bed turned over, throwing the princess down into
a stone cellar.
“You servants!” Ilya shouted angrily. “Bring me the keys to the cellar, or I’ll cut
off your heads!”
“We have never seen the keys,” they replied, “but we’ll
show you the entrance to the cellar.”