Chronicles of 'Team B' - Chapter 34 - Wedding in Vladykino
Just outside the village, the revelers wonder what is transpiring - the groom, along with his companions has suddenly left, and run into the village. Svetlana is left to converse with Agapia and Nil at the makeshift altar, where he introduces them to another dishelved hermit named Vorobei, whom he summoned to the village to attend to Yuri Barolov. Nil weaves wreaths out of flowers, and hands them to the bride. After a while, the groom returns, along with [Lokan and Zorina. They are wheeling the bound and unconscious Kolovul on a cart, not wishing to let him out of their sight. Svetlana, who was characteristically starting to get skeptical, is happy to get on with the ceremony. Agapia mounts a barrel, and proceeds with her speech, citing examples from her own life to serve as homilies to the newlyweds. When the impatient villagers press her to conclude, Yuri produces a silver owl brooch, and pins it on Svetlana, in lieu of a ring. Agapia pronounces the two married, and the long-awaited merriment begins. Svetlana's relatives, along with other villagers, present the newlyweds with gifts also - some wooden ladles, an axe, and 70 kopecks in all, in light of having no time to prepare anything better. After several hours, Kolovul awakes and demands to be served drink, since he finds himself at a wedding. The laws of hospitality demand that he be satisfied, and a barrel is placed above him, where he can access the spigot easily with his mouth. The companions question him before they become too drunk themselves. He repeats Grey Wolf's narrative about exacting revenge against humans, and rejects Lokan's contentions that his side has no chance of winning without making peace or persuading their erstwhile enemies, calling him a weakling and a traitor. He also rejects Vorobei's drunken entreaties about Dazhbog, and recognizing that the power of the sun god and of Gaal are one. He does say that he regards Yuri as a man of honor, and looks forward to their next bout - hopefully, a fair one. He also cryptically says that he might come in useful to the cossack. Having no further use for him, Yuri suggests letting him go. Agapia tosses her magic die, in order to divine whether this is a good idea. After tossing it repeatedly, the outcome seems to be the same - the welfare of the companions won't be differently impacted one way or the other. Having no further use for him, they decide to release him. After Vorobei and Lokan pass out, Kolovul is unbound, and leaves Vladykino, unfortunately without his sword, which Lokan refused to return to him. The morning after, the newlyweds emerge from the compound given to them for the night, and Yuri immediately begins to harangue the villagers about going back upstream to move the boulder. Having won a reprieve on the day of the wedding, they no longer have any excuses, and being packing the carts, and making ready to depart. Soon, Lokan and Vorobei emerge, nursing violent hangovers. Zorina, rejecting calls to slaughter her hurt horse, stashes it in an empty barn, hoping that it will get a chance to recover. The entire current population of the village proceeds to the boulder in front of the waterfall, where with the aid of ropes, carts, horses, and brute force, the huge boulder is pushed aside, revealing a tunnel behind it. The party is formed: Yuri, Lokan, Zorina, and Agapia will proceed inside. Nil asks if they mind having Vorobei accompany them, to guide Yuri, and though the cossack is a bit suspicious, he allows the hermit to come along. He also asks if Svetlana would like to proceed, and after waiting for her wedding for so long, she agrees as well. Vorobei soon proves his worth. As the tunnel is dark, his bright visage gives them a light to follow. In a short while, they find themselves before a rock marking a three way intersection, with a slightly ascending path to the right, a slightly descending one - to the left, and a level one going straight. They decide to proceed straight, and after just under an hour of travel in the dark, see an opening up ahead. The chamber seems to be glowing with some sort of dim light. Lokan stealthily approaches, and sees a large cave, with narrow ledges on either side of him, and a depression filled with bones at the center. A rickety wooden rope bridge spans the depression, and disappears off into the darkness. Agapia approaches, and attempts to use her refined senses to ascertain whether the character of the chamber. She determines that there is great evil beneath the bones, and the party chooses to retreat rather than facing it immediately. After returning to intersection, they decide to take the right tunnel, which proves to be significantly shorter than the middle path, though it does slope up. It also leads up to a chamber, somewhat smaller than the one covered in bones. Here, Vorobei transforms himself into a hawk, and flies in. In the middle of the cave is a burning ring of fire, and as he flies around, the hawk sees another tunnel on the opposite side. He also hears faint, haunting signing coming from inside the ring of fire. Again, the party retreats, and heads back to the intersection. As they approach the boulder, Yuri asks his companions what this place may be, and what the rock at the intersection may signify. Vorobei, who has been living in the woods for a long time, cannot recall, but Agapia suddenly remembers stories about a bogatyr coming to a rock that has an inscription, promising him a wife if he goes left, a horse if he goes right, and death if he heads straight. It's not clear why the flat face of this rock is bare, but the rest of the story seems to fit. Agapia tells Yuri that a true bogatyr is supposed to head straight to face his death, which is inevitable in any case, but Yuri is not certain he is quite ready to do this yet, or that he is a bogatyr at all. Going left seems to be beside the point, as he is already married, but at the very least, the left path should be explored first. As the group heads right, Yuri gives a whistle, to see what will happen. In a short while, hoofbeats are heard, and a huge, magnificent roan with a golden mane trots toward them and pauses in front of Yuri. As he inspects it, howling is heard in the distance, and soon, six pairs of yellow eyes race toward them through the darkness...
- Wooden ladles, an axe, and 70 kopecks (for the newlyweds)
- Yuri and Svetlana are married (if not entirely legally)
- A tunnel behind the boulder next to the waterfall is discovered
- A bogatyr's horse is summoned
Character(s) interacted with
- Villagers and builders in Vladykino