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.
THERE was once a poor man, and he had three sons. When the poor man was on his deathbed, he called his three sons, and this was his word and speech to them: "My dear sons, if I do not tell, still mayhap ye know why our kingdom is in mourning, in unbroken darkness, such that a spoon might stand up in it; but if ye know not, then I will tell. My sons, this unbroken darkness is here because they have stolen the sun and the moon from our bright heavens. But I will tell one thing, and two will come of it; a wizard foretold that among my three sons was one (which one I with firm trust cannot say) who would bring back the sun and the moon. Therefore, my sons, I leave you this: that after my death ye will go out to seek the sun and the moon, and not come home till ye bring back the sources of light".
With that the poor man turned to the wall, wandered forth from this world of shadows, and was buried with honor.
But here, my lord's son, what comes of the affair or what does not, I saw it as I see now; I was in the place where they were talking. The report ran through the whole kingdom of what the poor man had left in his will to his three sons, so that even the king heard it, and he summoned straightway to his presence the three brothers. And when the three brothers appeared before the king, he said: "My dear young men, I hear that your father - may God give him rest - on his death-bed left this to you: that after his death ye would go out into the wide, great world to look for the sun and the moon. Therefore, my sons, this is my word and speech to you: that whoso brings back the sun and the moon will be king after my death, and whoso will assist him in everything, this one I will make viceroy. Now go to my stable and to my armory and choose for yourselves horses and swords; I will give in a sealed letter to you the order that wherever ye go men shall give you in all places, hay, oats, food, and drink free of cost".
Here the three young men entered the king's stable, and the two elder chose the most beautiful golden-haired steeds; but the youngest, somewhere off by the wall in a hidden corner, among cobwebs and dirt, picked out for himself a wretched, shaggy haired, plucked colt. The two elder brothers laughed at the youngest because he intended to go on that ragged, nasty colt that was hardly able to stand on its feet; but the youngest brother thought nothing of this, and did not give ear to the talk of his brothers.
Now they went to the king's armory, where the elder brothers chose for themselves two beautiful gold-mounted swords; but the youngest brother, who had more wit, picked out a rusty steel sword. This rusty sword now jumped out of the sheath, now sprang in again, - played unceasingly. The two elder brothers laughed at the youngest again, but he put this as well as their former ridicule quietly in his pocket, thinking to himself that he laughs truly who laughs last; for the nasty colt, as surely as I live and as ye live - I was present where they were talking, I saw as I do now, and I was looking as I am now - was a magic six-legged steed, conceived of the Wind, and eating live coals; and the rusty sword had this kind of virtue that a man had only to say, "Cut, my dear sword," and it cut down whatever he wished. But the two elder brothers knew nothing of all this, for they did not understand wood-work.
Now the three brothers moved on their way through the kingdom, to look for the sun and the moon. They travelled and journeyed over forty-nine kingdoms, beyond the Operentsia Sea, beyond the glass mountains, and beyond that, to where the little short-tailed pig roots, and farther than that, and still farther, till they came to the silver bridge. When they came to the silver bridge the youngest brother, speaking a word, said to his two brothers: "My dear brothers, let us go under the bridge, for soon the steed of the moon will be here, and the twelve-headed dragon, from whose saddle-bow the bright moon is dangling".
Now, the two brothers had barely hidden when the steed of the moon was on the bridge, and on the steed the twelve-headed dragon, from whose saddle-bow the bright moon was dangling. The milk-white steed of the moon stumbled on the bridge. Then the twelve-headed dragon was enraged, and said this to the steed of the moon, -
"Ah, may the crow eat thy eye, may the dog eat thy flesh, may the earth drink thy blood! From forest to forest I have ridden thee, from mountain to mountain I have sprung with thee, and thou hast never stumbled, but now on the even road thou hast stumbled. Well, in my world-beautiful life I have always heard the fame of Kiss Miklos; if he were here now, I would like to have a struggle with him".
At this word our Kiss Miklos - for let it be said, meanwhile, this was the name of the youngest brother - sprang out from beneath to the silver bridge on his golden-haired magic steed, and closed with the twelve-headed dragon. Long did they struggle, the one with the other, but Kiss Miklos said to the rusty sword: "Cut, my dear sword!' and with that it cut three heads off the dragon, and in the same order till all the twelve heads were hewn off, so that the twelve-headed dragon drew his shortest breath. Then Kiss Miklos took by the halter the milk-white haired, black-maned steed of the moon, on whose saddle-bow was dangling the bright moon, and gave him to the care of his second brother. Then they passed over the silver bridge, which sounded like most beautiful music from the golden shoes of the magic steed.
They travelled and journeyed then through forty-nine kingdoms, beyond the Operentsia Sea and the glass mountains, beyond that, where the little short-tailed pig roots, beyond that, and farther, till they came to the golden bridge.
Then Kiss Miklos spoke, and said this to his two brothers, speaking speech: "My dear brothers, let us hide under the bridge, for soon will the steed of the sun be here, and on him the twenty-four-headed dragon, from whose saddle-bow the shining sun is dangling. He will call me out at once to the keen sword, and I will measure with him strength with strength. He will not be able to conquer me, nor I him; then he and I will turn into flames. He will be a red and I a blue flame, but even then we shall not be able to conquer one the other, for we shall be of equal strength. But here is a sulphur stone; when the red flame springs highest toward the sky to press down the blue flame, that is me, strike the sulphur stone on the red flame".