by Kandinsky

The Tzarevnas of the Underground Kingdom

Page 9

It took the tall sorcerer several minutes to clear his throat before he addressed Ivan in a high-pitched voice:

'No one told Russian bones to come - they came by themselves.'

Ivan waited to see if he would say anything else but he didn't. Unfortunately, a large cloud of hair obscured the sorcerer's head for several minutes, so Ivan could not tell what his expression was. He thought it best to try to humour the sorcerer. Craning his neck to look up at him, in between coughs, he agreed:

'Yes, they came by themselves!'

The tall sorcerer said nothing to this, but seemed preoccupied with combing his beard again, so Ivan went on:

'O powerful sorcerer, can you please tell me how to get back to the damp earth of Mother Russia?'

Again the tall sorcerer began to clean his comb, once more blowing a miniature avalanche of hairs around the room, more of which floated out through the tiny window. Again several minutes went by before he cleared his throat and the high-pitched voice began again:

'To get back to the damp earth of Mother Russia you must go right around thirty deep lakes. On the far side stands a hut on a chicken's legs, and in that hut lives the old witch Baba Yaga. Before you enter the hut you must first utter the incantation. The old one has an eagle which can carry you to Mother Russia.'

Ivan asked: 'But I don't understand - what is the incantation?'

'You will know it!' came back the voice from above. He began to clear his throat again for several minutes and Ivan waited eagerly.

To his disappointment all the sorcerer said was: 'It's draughty up here, you know.'

His own throat beginning to tickle unbearably, Ivan managed to splutter out that 'indeed it must be,' thanked the sorcerer and rushed out of the hut, gasping for fresh air.

He wondered what the sorcerer had meant about the incantation. He must have been mistaken of course! How was he supposed to know something like that?

He saw a cluster of lakes in the distance and and began to wander around them. It took him several days of retracing his steps and counting just to make sure they were thirty, for in the distance he could see several other lakes. He was not altogether sure that he had counted quite accurately, but sure enough, there was the little hut on chicken's legs right at the edge of the thirtieth lake.

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