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.
Ivan rolled the ball; wherever it went he followed. Whether it was long or short, he saw a golden castle gleaming like fire; at the gate was a crowd of terrible serpents fastened to golden chains, and right there a well, at the well a golden bucket on a golden chain. Ivan Tsarevich drew water, and gave the serpents to drink; they lay down and were soothed. He entered the palace; Yelena the Beautiful met him.
"Who art thou, gallant youth?"
"I am Ivan Tsarevich".
"How hast thou come hither, - of thy own will, or against thy will?"
"I came of my own will; I am in search of my mother, Nastasya, Golden Tress. Knowest thou not where to find her?"
"Why should n't I know? She lives not far from here, Whirlwind flies to her once a week, and to me once a month. Here is a golden ball for thee: throw it ahead and follow, - it will lead thee to thy mother. And take besides this golden ring; in this ring is the whole Golden Kingdom. And be careful when thou hast conquered Whirlwind. Forget me not, poor woman; take me with thee to the free world".
"I will take thee," said he.
Ivan Tsarevich rolled the ball and followed after; he went and went till he came to such a palace that, Lord save us! it was just blazing with diamonds and precious stones. At the gate six-headed serpents were hissing. Ivan Tsarevich gave them to drink; the serpents were soothed, and let him pass to the castle. He went through the great chambers, and in the most distant found his own mother. She was sitting on a lofty throne arrayed in Tsaritsa's robes and crowned with a costly crown. She looked at the stranger and cried: "Ah! is that thou, my dear son? How hast thou come hither?"
"So and so," said Ivan; "I have come for thee".
"Well, dear son, 't will be hard for thee. Here in these mountains reigns Whirlwind, the evil and mighty, all spirits obey him; he is the one that bore me away. Thou wilt have to fight him; come quickly to the cellar".
They went to the cellar; there were two tubs of water, one on the right, the other on the left hand. "Drink," said the Tsaritsa, "from the right-hand tub".
"Well, what strength is in thee?"
"I am so strong that I could turn the whole castle over with one hand".
"Then drink more".
Ivan drank again.
"What strength is in thee now?"
"If I wished, I could turn the whole world over".
"That is very great strength. Move these tubs from one place to the other: put that on the right to the left, that on the left take to the right".
Ivan interchanged the tubs.
"Thou seest, my dear son, in one tub is water of strength, in the other water of weakness. Whoso drinks from the first will be a strong, mighty hero; whoso drinks from the second will grow weak altogether. Whirlwind always drinks the water of strength and puts it on the right side; so we must deceive him, or thou canst never overcome him".
They returned to the castle.
"Soon Whirlwind will fly home," said the Tsaritsa to Ivan Tsarevich. "Sit under my purple robe, so that he may not see thee; and when he comes and runs to embrace and kiss me, do thou seize his club. He will rise high, high; he will bear thee over seas, over precipices: but see to it, let not the club go out of thy hand. Whirlwind will grow tired, will want to drink the water of strength, will come down to the cellar and rush to the tub placed on the right hand; but do thou drink from the tub on the left. Then he will grow weak; wrest his sword from him, and with one blow hew off his head. When his head is off, that moment there will be voices behind thee crying, 'Strike again, strike again.' Strike not, my son; but say in answer, 'A hero's hand strikes not twice, but always once.' "
Ivan Tsarevich had barely hidden under the robe when the court grew dark and everything trembled. Whirlwind flew home, struck the earth, became a brave hero, and entered the castle, in his hands a club.
"Tfu, tfu, tfu! somehow it smells of Russia here. Was any one visiting?"
"I don't know why it seems so to thee," said the Tsaritsa.
Whirlwind rushed to embrace her; but Ivan that moment seized the club.
"I 'll eat thee!" shouted Whirlwind.
"Well, grandmother spoke double; either thou wilt eat, or thou wilt not".
Whirlwind tore out through the window and up to the sky; he bore Ivan Tsarevich away. Over mountains he said, "I will smash thee; ' over seas he said, "I will drown thee." But Ivan did not let the club out of his hands. Whirlwind flew over the whole world, wearied himself out, and began to sink. He came down straight into the cellar, rushed to the tub on the right hand, and fell to drinking the water of weakness; but Ivan ran to the left, drank his fill of the water of strength, and became the first mighty hero in the whole world. He saw that Whirlwind had become utterly weak, wrested the sharp sword from him, and cut off his head with a blow. Voices cried behind, "Strike again, strike again, or he will come to life!" "No," said Ivan; "a hero's hand strikes not twice, but always finishes at a blow".
Straightway he made a fire, burned the body and the head, scattered the ashes to the wind.
The mother of Ivan Tsarevich was glad. "Now, my dear son," said she, "let us rejoice. We will eat; and then for home with all speed, for it is wearisome here, - there are no people".
"But who serves thee?"
"Thou wilt see directly".
They had barely thought of eating, when a table set itself, and various meats and wines appeared on the table of themselves. The Tsaritsa and the Tsarevich dined. Meanwhile unseen musicians played wonderful songs for them. They ate and drank, and when they had rested, Ivan said, -
"Let us go, mother, it is time; for under the mountains my brothers are waiting. And on the road I must save three Tsaritsas who are living in Whirlwind's castles".
They took everything needful and set out on the journey. They went first to the Tsaritsa of the Golden Kingdom, then to her sisters of the Silver and Copper Kingdoms. They took them, and brought linen and all kinds of stuffs. In a short time they reached the place where they had to go down the mountain.