This section is from the book "Fairy Tales Of The Slav Peasants And Herdsmen", by Aleksander Borejko Chodzko, Emily J. Harding.. Also available from Amazon: Fairy Tales of the Slav Peasants and Herdsmen (Illustrated Edition).
"I am quite willing," answered the king. Then, having placed his prisoner in charge of his guards, he made Niezguinek general, and placed him at the head of a division of his army; the eleven brothers were given the rank of officers.
When Niezguinek appeared in uniform, and with sabre in hand mounted his splendid charger, he looked so handsome and conducted the manoeuvres so well that he surpassed all the other chiefs in the country, thus causing much jealousy, even among his own brothers, for they were vexed that the youngest should outshine them, and so determined to ruin him.
In order to accomplish this they imitated his handwriting, and placed such a note before the king's door while Niezguinek was engaged elsewhere. When the king went out he found the letter, and calling Niezguinek to him, said, "I should very much like to have the phonic guzla you mention in your letter".
"But, sire, I have not written anything about a guzla," said he.
"Read the note then. Is it not in your handwriting?"
"In a certain country, within the house of old Yaga, is a marvellous guzla: if the king wish I will fetch it for him.
"It is true," said he, "that this writing resembles mine, but it is a forgery, for I never wrote it".
"Never mind," said the king, "as you were able to take my enemy prisoner you will certainly be able to succeed in getting old Yaga's guzla: go then, and do not return without it, or you will be executed".
Niezguinek bowed and went out. He went straight to the stable, where he found his charger looking very sad and thin, his head drooping before the trough, the hay untouched.
"What is the matter with you, my good steed? What grieves you? "
"I grieve for us both, for I foresee a long and perilous journey".
"You are right, old fellow, but we have to go. And what is more, we have to take away and bring here old Yaga's guzla; and how shall we do it, seeing that she knows us?"
" We shall certainly succeed if you do as I tell you".
Then the horse gave him certain instructions, and when Niezguinek had led him out of the stable and mounted he said:
"Marvel of strength and of beauty so white,
Horse of my heart, do not wait on the road ;
Rise in the air, like a bird take thy flight,
Haste to the wicked old Yaga's abode".
The horse arose in the air as if he heard some one calling to him from the clouds, and flitting rapidly along passed over several kingdoms within a few hours, thus reaching old Yaga's dwelling before midnight. Niezguinek threw the leaves of Sleep in at the window, and by means of another wonderful herb caused all the doors of the house to open. On entering he found old Yaga fast asleep, with her trough and iron crutches beside her, while above her head hung the magic sword and guzla.
While the old witch lay snoring with all her might, Niezguinek took the guzla and leapt on his horse, crying:
"Marvel of strength and of beauty so white, Horse of my heart, while I sing, Rise in the air, like a bird take thy flight, Haste to the court of my king".
Just as if the horse had seen something in the clouds, he rose swift as an arrow, and flew through the air, above the fogs. The same day about noon he neighed before his own manger in the royal stable, and Niezguinek went in to the king and presented him with the guzla. On pronouncing the two words, "Guzla, play," strains of music so gay and inspiriting were heard that all the courtiers began dancing with one another. The sick who listened were cured of their diseases, those who were in trouble and grief forgot their sorrows, and all living creatures were thrilled with a gladness such as they had never felt before. The king was beside himself with joy ; he loaded Niezguinek with honours and presents, and, in order to have him always at court, raised him to a higher rank in the army. In this new post he had many under him, and he showed much exactitude in drill and other matters, punishing somewhat severely when necessary. He made, too, no difference in the treatment of his brothers, which angered them greatly, and caused them to be still more jealous and to plot against him. So they again imitated his handwriting and composed another letter, which they left at the king's door. When his majesty had read it he called Niezguinek to him and said, "I should much like to have the marvellous sword you speak of in your letter".
"Sire, I have not written anything about a sword," said Niezguinek.
"Well, read it for yourself." And he read:
"In a certain country within the house of old Yaga is a sword that strikes of its own accord: if the king would like to have it, I will engage to bring it him.
"Certainly," said Niezguinek, "this writing resembles mine, but I never wrote those words".
"Never mind, as you succeeded in bringing me the guzla you will find no difficulty in obtaining the sword. Start without delay, and do not return without it at your peril".
Niezguinek bowed and went to the stable, where he found his horse looking very thin and miserable, with his head drooping.
"What is the matter, my horse? Do you want anything?"
"I am unhappy because I foresee a long and dangerous journey".
"You are right, for we are ordered to return to Yaga's house for the sword: but how can we get hold of it? doubtless she guards it as the apple of her eye".
The horse answered, "Do as I tell you and all will be right." And he gave him certain instructions. Niezguinek came out of the stable, saddled his friend, and mounting him said:
"Marvel of strength and of beauty so white ; Horse of my heart, do not wait on the road ; Rise in the air, like a bird take thy flight, Haste to the wicked old witch's abode".
The horse rose immediately as if he had been beckoned to by some one in the clouds, and passing swiftly through the air, crossed rivers and mountains, till at midnight he stopped before old Yaga's house.