They answered: “O mighty Tsar Saltan! we have truly visited many countries and seen many strange things, but the most wonderful is this. When we were thy guests before, we told thee of an island on which, bare and uninhabited of old, we found a splendid Palace with a beautiful Tsaritsa and a brave Tsarevitch. On this sailing we passed again that way and put in at the island, and now beside the Palace of white stone there is a green garden with a mill that grinds and winnows of itself and casts the chaff a hundred versts away. Beside it is a golden column on which a cat climbs continually up and down, singing songs and telling tales. And there is a summer-house of crystal in which the cat lives. The Tsaritsa showed us these wonders and her son the Tsarevitch Guidon sends a greeting to thee.”
When Tsar Saltan heard this, again was he seized with a desire to see the island, but, as before, his evil wife and her sister sneered and the wife said:
“A rare thing in truth! Thinkest thou the mill and cat are so wonderful? What, indeed, are they beside a marvel of which I know?”
“What is that?” asked the Tsar.
She answered: “Across three times nine lands, in the thirtieth Tsardom, there is a wood and in the wood a fir tree. On the tree lives a squirrel, cracking nuts with his teeth. These are not ordinary nuts, for their shells are of gold and the kernels of emerald. He who owns this wonder is the richest Tsar in all the world, for his wealth never ceases to increase until it cannot be reckoned.”
And, deeming this an even greater marvel, Tsar Saltan again laid by his purpose to visit the island.
The merchants filled their ship with new merchandise and set sail for distant lands and, passing the island again, were welcomed by Tsaritsa Marfa and Tsarevitch Guidon, to whom they recounted their visit to Tsar Saltan. Nor did they fail to tell how he had purposed to sail thither until he had heard of the fir tree, the squirrel and the nuts of gold and emerald.
When they had departed, Tsarevitch Guidon struck together his flint and steel, and the ax and hammer, appearing, said: “Master, we are here! By God’s blessing, by the Order of the Pike, what wilt thou that we accomplish?”
“Plant me here,” said the Tsarevitch, “a fir tree. On it let there be a squirrel which cracks with its teeth nuts whose shells are of gold and their kernels of emerald.”
The ax and hammer disappeared and next day, when he arose, the Tsarevitch found all done as he had commanded. He bade them build a summer-house of crystal for the squirrel to live in, and the golden shells and emeralds he put into the Palace treasury till the wealth could not be reckoned.
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.