The messenger delivered the letter, and at once the Boyars came to the Tsaritsa and told her the cruel decree. They pitied her and wept with her, but there was nothing to be done, since the Tsar‘s will was law, and the same day, with the babe still hidden in her sleeve, she was put into a chest bound with iron, and it was thrown into the wide sea-ocean.
Soon after, the Tsar returned, ready, so great was his love, to forgive his wife a third time. But it was then too late, and, thinking that the Tsaritsa was drowned, he at length married the elder of the two sisters, and brought them both to live in his Palace.
Whether the chest floated a long time or a short time in the sea-ocean, on smooth water or rough water, the little Guidon, who had been hidden in the Tsaritsa’s sleeve, was growing like wheat-flour when new yeast is added to it, not by days but by hours, until at length he began to speak.
“Little mother,” he said, “I have not room enough. Let me stretch myself!”
“Nay, little soul,” she answered. “I hear no sound of the waves lapping on the sand. The water is deep beneath us. If thou dost stretch we shall be drowned.”
The chest floated on and on, and at length its bottom began to scratch against hard pebbles. Then the little boy said: “We touch something, little mother. May I stretch myself?”
She gave him permission, and he began to stretch himself, and so strong and sturdy was he that the iron bands broke asunder and the chest fell to pieces. Looking about them, they saw that they were on an island, which had a high hill, sloping down to a green field, surrounded by a forest. The mother and her son crossed the field and entered the forest, searching for a path that should lead them to some habitation. They found none, however, and were about to return wearied to the meadow, when Tsarevitch Guidon came upon a purse lying on the ground.
Opening it, they found a flint and steel, and were glad, thinking that with a fire they could protect themselves against cold and wild beasts. Tsarevitch Guidon struck the flint and steel together, when instantly there appeared a sharp ax and a huge hammer.
“Here we are, Master,” said the ax and hammer. “By God‘s blessing, by the Order of the Pike, what command wilt thou be pleased to lay upon us?”
“Build us a Palace to live in,” answered Guidon, “and fetch us food and drink.”
At once the ax flew at the trees and began to chop, square, and sharpen them, and the hammer to pound them into the earth for a foundation; and while the Tsaritsa and the Tsarevitch watched, there began to rise on the edge of the forest a Palace of white stone, with battlemented walls, more splendid than has ever been seen in any Tsardom, richer than can be guessed or imagined, whose like can neither be told in a tale nor written with a pen. They entered it, and found therein whatever the soul could ask.
Ivan Bilibin’s art:
During a time of civil war, Karasu Hinata is born the son of a powerful warlord. When he is still a child, his family castle is taken by a rival clan. His father and mother are murdered right before his eyes.
Barely escaping with his life, he is spirited away by the king of the tengu. The shape-shifting raven leads him to the hidden mountain retreat of a sect of mystic warriors. Mountain priests who practice the magic of Shugendo.
Ten years have passed. The time has come for Karasu to leave the mystic’s protective lair and face his demons in the world beyond. But the fiend that haunts his nightmares is also the one that shattered his life. More than a bad dream, it wants him dead.
In Legend of the Tengu Prince, nothing is as it seems. Shape-shifting creatures, both good and evil, populate the magical world of feudal Japan. And a young man will pay the ultima
te price for a deadly rival spawned in the mists time. This riveting first volume of a epic fantasy adventure will leave you stunned and begging for more.