This section is from the book "Myths And Folk-Tales Of The Russians, Western Slavs, And Magyars", by Jeremiah Curtin. Also available from Amazon: Myths and Folk-Tales of the Russians, Western Slavs, and the Magyars.
Our Kiss Miklos had barely finished his speech when the steed of the sun was on the bridge, bearing the twenty-four-headed dragon and the shining sun. The steed of the sun stumbled on the golden bridge. The twenty-four-headed dragon was enraged at him, and said, -
"Ah, may the crow eat thy eye, may the dog eat thy flesh, may the earth drink thy blood! I have ridden from forest to forest on thee, I have leaped thee from mountain to mountain, and never hast thou stumbled; but now on the even road thou hast stumbled. In my world-beautiful life I have heard always the fame of Kiss Miklos - may the dog devour him! - and if he were here now I would like to have a struggle with him".
At this word our Kiss Miklos sprang out on to the golden bridge, and closed with the twenty-four-headed dragon. But Kiss Miklos commanded, saying: "Cut, my dear sword!" and that instant it cut the twenty-four heads off the dragon; but, wonder of the world! when all the twenty-four heads were off, in the twinkle of an eye new ones grew out which the leaping sword could not cut. In vain Kiss Miklos said: "Cut, my dear sword!" for it could not cut these heads. Well, Kiss Miklos took the sword in his hand and whirled it like lightning; but he did nothing with it, for the dragon had power of the same kind as he.
When the dragon saw that he could not succeed against Kiss Miklos, he spoke in this way: "Listen to me, Kiss Miklos! I wish thou hadst perished with thy mother, for I see that I can do nothing with thee, nor thou with me. Let us make one trial. Turn thou into a blue flame, and I will turn into a red one, and whichever can put the other out, his will be the steed of the sun and the shining sun upon him".
That is what was done. Kiss Miklos turned to a blue flame, and the tvventy-four-headed dragon to a red one. The two flames fought the one with the other, but neither was able to put out the other. Happily the two brothers threw the sulphur stone on the red flame, and then the blue flame put out the red one; and when it was quenched altogether, the twenty-four-headed dragon ceased to live.
Kiss Miklos gave the steed of the sun to his elder brother, and told his two brothers to go home quietly, for he had work of his own; and with that he took farewell of them. Miklos then shook himself, turned into a little gray cat, ran along the highroad, and all at once sprang into a cabin. In the cabin was the mother of the dragons and their two wives.
The younger dragon's wife saw the little gray cat; she took it on her lap, stroked it, and found this to say to the mother of the dragons: "Well, if I knew that that cursed Kiss Miklos had killed my lord, I would turn into such a spring of water that if he and his two brothers were to drink not more than one drop of it, they would die a fearful death on the spot".
With this the little gray cat sprang from the lap of the younger dragon's wife, and rubbed up to the skirt of the wife of the elder dragon, who took it on to her lap, stroked it, and found this to say: "Ah! if I knew that that cursed Kiss Miklos had killed my lord, I would change into such a pear-tree that if he and his two brothers were to eat no more than one morsel of a pear of mine, they would die a fearful death".
With this the little gray cat sprang from the lap of the elder dragon's wife, and rubbed on the skirt of the old woman, who took it on her lap, fondled it, and found this to say to her two daughters-in-law: "My dear girls, just prop up my two eyes with that iron bar, which weighs twelve hundred pounds, so that I mav look around".
Her two daughters-in-law then took the twelve-hundred-pound iron bar and opened the old woman's eyes; then she spoke thuswise: "If that cursed Kiss Miklos has killed my two sons, I will turn into a mouth, one jaw of which will be on the earth and the other I will throw to the sky, so as to catch that cursed villain and his two brothers, and grind them as mill-stones grind wheat".
When the little gray cat had heard all this exactly, it shot away in a flash out of the cabin, sprang along, and never stopped till it came to the good magic steed. The old woman threw the twelve-hundred-pound bar after the cat, but she failed in her cast, for that moment her eyelids fell; she was not able to keep them open unless they were propped, for she was old. So Kiss Miklos escaped the twclve-hundred-pound bar, - certain death. I say that he escaped, for he came to his good magic steed, shook'himself, and from a little gray cat became a young man as before. Then he sat on the good steed, which sprang once, jumped twice, and straightway Miklos was with his two brothers; then they fared homeward in quiet comfort.
The second brother grew thirsty, and found this to say: "Oh, but I am dry! My throat is burning!"
"If that is thy only trouble," said Miklos, "I will soon bring thee water. Out there a spring is bubbling up".
With that Kiss Miklos put spurs to his good magic steed, which sprang once, jumped twice, and was at the spring; but here, instead of filling the gourd that hung at his side, he drew his sharp sword, and thrust it three times into the bubbling water. In a moment from the spring blood gushed forth, and a word of bitter pain was heard. That was the blood of the younger dragon's wife, and the word of pain was her death-groan. The blood made all the water red, and when the two brothers came up they had no wish to drink a drop from the spring.
Well, they travelled and journeyed till the elder brother said: "Oh, but I am hungry!"
"If that is thy trouble," said Kiss Miklos, "we can easily cure it, for there near the dam is a pear-tree, and on it so much ripe fruit that the limbs are breaking. Wait, I will bring thee a pear directly; but lead thou the steed of the sun there".
Here Kiss Miklos put spurs to his steed, which sprang once, jumped twice, and stood before the pear-tree. Miklos drew his sharp sword and stabbed the pear-tree in the trunk three times; from the trunk blood gushed forth, and a bitter word of pain was heard. The red blood was the blood of the elder dragon's wife, and the bitter word of pain was her death-groan. With that the pears fell, so that when the two elder brothers reached the tree, not only would they not eat the pears, but the desire of eating had gone from them.