The Brothers Lionheart
..and then he saw Katla. She floated up out of the depths and was suddenly in the middle of the whirlpools, and the serpent threw himself headlong at her and coiled himself around her. She spurted her death-dealing fire at him, but he squeezed so hard that the fire went out in her breast. Then she snapped at him and he snapped back. They snapped and bit, both of them wanting to kill. I suppose they had longed for this since ancient times. Yes, they snapped and bit like two raging creatures, hurling their terrible bodies at each other in the swirling water, Katla screaming between bites, Karm snapping quite silently, black dragon blood and green serpent blood floating out into the white foam, coloring it dark and sickly.
How long did it go on? It seemed to me as if I had stood there on that path for a thousand years and had never seen anything else but those two raging monsters in their ultimate battle.
It was a long and terrible battle, but it came to an end at last. A piercing shriek came from Katla, her death cry, and then she was silent. Karm had no head left by then, but his body did not let her go and they sank together, closely intertwined, down into the depths. And then there was no Katla and no Karm; they were gone as if they had never existed. The foam was white again, and the poisonous monster blood was rinsed away by the mighty waters of Karma Falls. Everything was as before, as it had been since ancient times.
We stood gasping there on the path, although it was all over. We could not speak for a long while, but at last Jonathan said:
“We must leave! Quickly! It’ll be dark soon and I don’t want night to fall on us in Karmanyaka.”
Poor Grim and Fyalar. I don’t know how we got them to their feet or how we got away. They were so tired they could hardly life their legs.
But we left Karmanyaka and rode for the last time across the bridge. Then the horses could no take another step. As soon as we reached the other side of the bridge, they sunk down and just lay there, as if they were thinking, now that we’ve helped you into Nangiyala, that’ll have to do.
The Story of Tremsin, the Bird Zhar, and Nastasia, the Lovely Maid of the Sea
Category: Ukrainian folktales
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