Kolya The Weak And The Swamp World
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Kolya The Weak And The Swamp World

A glimpse into a traditional Russian folktale.

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Kolya The Weak And The Swamp World

In a village in Russia, behind great mountains and thick forests, there stood a cabin- nestled perfectly within the outskirts of the village to the East and the swamp kingdom to the West. Inside the cabin lived the village merchant with his three sons, Kolya the Wise, Kolya the Strong, and Kolya the Weak. Kolya the Wise had all the knowledge in Russia. Kolya the Strong could lift ten horses at once. Kolya the Weak could do neither. Each morning, the merchant would send his sons out to the village nearby to seek a bride, and each morning all three sons would come back without success.

On one particularly gray morning, the merchant once again sent out his three sons to find brides, and this time, two of the sons returned home with a fair maiden. Kolya the Wise found a lovely maiden -the daughter of the village baker. Kolya the Strong found a lovely maiden -the daughter of the village blacksmith. Both brides as lovely as the great Russian winters. Kolya the Weak, unable to find a bride that morning, returned home empty-handed.

"What is wrong with you, child? Why is it that your two older brothers could find brides this morning, yet you stand here without a lovely maiden at your side?" questioned the merchant.

"I was not able to impress the baker or the blacksmith like my brothers," replied Kolya the Weak, "so they refused me a bride."

Kolya the Weak found himself praying to the spirits of the forest, the waters, and the wind to help him find a bride.

One day goes by, and nothing.

The second day goes by, and still, nothing.

On the third day, Kolya the Weak was sent down to the well by his father to fetch some water. Upon dropping the pail into the well, Kolya the Weak felt a tug on the pail, and before he could think of what it was, he found himself falling into the well.

Kolya the Weak opened his eyes to found himself in a swamp world. Before him, with a fish's tail and the body of a man, stood a Vodyanoy.

"I heard your prayer, it was carried to the swamp world through the waters running throughout Russia," began the Vodyanoy. "I am Vodyanoy, the king of the swamp world, and I have a lovely daughter whose hand I have yet to give to marriage."

"Kind Vodyanoy, I am Kolya the Weak, I was not capable of attaining a bride in the human world, I do not know how I will attain your daughter."

With this, King Vodyanoy told Kolya the Weak of three trials which will be given to Kolya by the three princes of the swamp world.

Prince of the Frogs challenged Kolya the Weak to get across the swamp by jumping on lily pads- a true marker of strength. Kolya the Weak succeeded, making his way across the swamp with little-to-no effort.

The second challenge came from the Prince of the Fish, who challenged Kolya the Weak to fight the largest catfish in the swamp. Once more, Kolya the Weak succeeded, proving his strength to Vodyanoy.

The third challenge came from the Prince of the Deep, who challenged Kolya the Weak to swim to the darkest, deepest point in the swamp and uncover a ring. Diving deep into the swamp, Kolya the Weak found the ring-buried beneath a layer of soil and mud.

With all three challenges completed, Kolya the Weak was once again met by Vodyanoy who then gave away his daughter, the Rusalka, to wed Kolya the Weak. With the tail of a fish and the body of a beautiful maiden, Kolya the Weak was welcomed into the embrace of his new bride, gifting her hand with the ring which he retrieved from the depth of the swamp.

"How do I return back from to Russia, to show my father and my brothers my beautiful bride?" asked Kolya.

"I will have my faithful servant, the giant catfish, carry you and your bride back into your world along the waters of this swamp," answered Vodyanoy.

With this, Vodyanoy swung his tail through the water and out swam a giant catfish, bigger than any creature Kolya has ever seen. The creature took up Kolya the Weak and the Rusalka up on its back and swam back to the other-world.

Kolya the Weak returned back to the village and showed his father and brothers the beautiful Rusalka he was to marry.

The two lived happily-ever-after. I was at their wedding and drank mead.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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