Chapter 53 - The Gods' Playground
Biggy gets lost in the woods looking to make it back to the Strelok Lodge. Having wandered far afield, he grows tired of looking, and decides to rest before continuing his search. The morning is wiser than the evening.
* * *Biggy's companions crossed the Brus'nia independently of him - Sasha together with Plamen, who has taken the form of a huge eagle, and Vasilisa Priamovna with Chonkorchuk. The eagle Plamen flies around, trying to locate the rest of his companions. Vasilisa catches sight of him, and soon, all the Yokels except Biggy are reunited. Sasha summons her yurt, and as the group settles down, Chonkorchuk looks into the past, to see if the cat had communicated to any gods within the last seven days. He sees that Bayun sang a song to Koshchei the Deathless within that time - the same song he sang to the Yokels as he was trying to kill them. The following day dawns - another late-summer scorcher. The extreme heat has persisted for over a week now. Sasha wakes after having seen disturbed dreams of the cat tearing out her heart. After rising, Vasilisa attepts to sense the presence of Biggy's horse, and finds the beast nearby, then leading her companions to him. Plamen speaks to the beast, and asks if he knows where his master happens to be. The huge destrier answers no, he does not, and in any event, he fled from him, because sometimes, Biggy gets enraged, and goes on a rampage (though he always calms down at the end). He explains that if he wants, Biggy can always call him, and the horse will be able to find him quickly no matter how far away he is. The Yokels toy with the idea of putting one of their number on the horse in case Biggy happens to call, so the rest can find them later. Chonkorchuk prefers more orthodox methods, and the matter is closed until later. Plamen attempts to find the volot again, but to no avail - perhaps he has wandered too far, perhaps he is hidden by the forest. The Yokels decide to head toward the river crossing, and on the way, Vasilisa picks up his tracks. She leads her companions in following Biggy, but soon, they all feel the forest growing hotter, and soon, smell burning wood up ahead. Plamen changes shape again, and finds a huge fire up ahead. Fortunately, there is virtually no wind, and it is not spreading very fast. The volot's tracks seem to lead into the fire, and the Yokels begin to wonder if the Biggy may perhaps have been consumed by the conflagration. Plamen summons owls, and changes into an eagle again, flying over and around the fire, and looking for any sign of their oversized companion. Finally, their luck changes, and they locate the giant near the river, but many versts to the west of the area where they crossed the river. The Yokels traverse the area, fortunate in that the fire is not moving in that direction. Finally, they locate Biggy, who has indeed calmed down since yesterday's encounter with Bayun, and after getting lost, decided to wait near the river. After having divined that the fire will reach the lodge before the night is out, the companions strain themselves to make it, arriving just before dark. The rangers, led by Snezhana, are apparently aware of the approaching fire, and are making every effort to collect necessities, and flee to Bobchinskoye or Sobolevo. As they pack, they ask the Yokels about their encounter with Bauyn, and though the latter were unable to conquer the cat, the rangers are impressed that they were able to return without losses. Together with the rangers, the Yokels return to Sobolevo, and begin to warn the locals of the approaching fire. Chonkorchuk asks the rangers if they think the fire is natural, and they reply that given the cat's presence nearby, this seems unlikely. The travelers rest for the night, after having drunk their fill of water. This night, it is Plamen who sees dreams of the cat, though he seems to handle them better than Sasha. But the next day, Chonkorchuk and Biggy lead the efforts to clear as much forest on the village outskirts as possible, so the fire does not consume the village. Sasha informs Gennadii of their encounter with the cat. After the day's work is done, Chonkorchuk tries to determine who started the fire, and sees that it was the god Svarozhich - brother of Stribog, and lord of fire and the sun. His role in the ongoing drama is unclear - he has not been much heard from since the conversion, though he and Sasha believe that long ago, he aided his brother's rule. The fate of the village is opaque to the hermit - he sees Baba Yaga hanging pieces of tangled wool on a large tree. A divine drama, drawing in many of the old gods, seems to be playing out beyond the borders of Nor'. Perhaps the cat's presence nearby marks the edge of their playground.
- Biggy is located
Character(s) interacted with
- Strelok Lodge rangers
- Gennadii Bobchinsky
03 Apr 2021
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