Tzarevnas of the Underground Kingdom
must be a trap, and he'll let me drop
any minute now!' were the thoughts rushing
through Ivan's head as he swung wildly
around the shaft.
He shut his eyes tightly,
covered his face with his arms and tried
to imagine he was at home in bed. It
didn't work very well, but he began
to feel a little calmer. He
wondered whether the dragon was still
standing there holding the ropes.
'But he must be, or I would be falling
at a much faster rate than this.' Soon
the air became difficult to breathe.
He felt his eyelids growing heavier.
'I must keep awake, 'he
thought, 'it must be a bottomless pit
He gradually drifted into unconsciousness.
When he came to, he was lying on some
cold rocks in semi- darkness. There
was a faint greenish glow from the sides
of the shaft. He realized he still was
wearing the harness and unbuckled the
thick leather straps.
The air seemed breathable once more,
or perhaps he had just become used to
it. He looked around, wondereing how
he would find his way to the Underground
Kingdom. When his eyes had become used
to the semi-darkness, he saw
several passageways leading off from
of the passages appeared to have a reddish
light at the end of it. He decided to
walk towards the glow. As he approached
the light he realised that it was a
copper colour. After a while the passage
came to an end and he seemed to be outside
again. He found himself walking through
a wood of copper beech. He looked up
at the sky but could not see the sun.
Clouds hung heavily in the thin air
and a dull mist wafted over the trees.
he came out of the wood, the first thing
he saw was a
palace made of copper. The door of the
palace opened and a beautiful Tsarevna
came down the steps towards him. Everything
in the kingdom seemed to be made of
copper. Even the clothes the Tsarevna
wore were of thin copper and made a
curious metallic sound as she came towards
him. Her long hair was also a copper
shade. She welcomed him warmly:
'Welcome to the Copper Kingdom! Come
into the palace and tell me where you
come from and where you are going.'
lady,' said Ivan as he bowed low before
her, feeling suddenly faint from the
glare from the copper light that seemed
be turning even his own clothes and
skin to copper, 'you are asking me so
many questions and you haven't offered
me anything to eat or drink yet.'
She brought him something to eat and
drink. Although it was strange to eat
food that was such a peculiar copper
shade, it tasted as good as anything
he had ever tasted. Perhaps it's all
just a trick of the light he thought.
if she had guessed what he was thinking
the Tsarevna smiled and said: 'Don't
be fooled into thinking it's a trick
of the light: many have made that mistake
and tried to swim in our waters - not
a good idea! Everything in this kingdom
is made of copper - even you yourself
are of copper now!
Ivan touched his face and shuddered
- she was right: his skin had become
hard and cold!
I don't want to be a man of metal!'
he cried, leaping to his feet. It seemed
to him that even his voice had a curious
'But that's just what you are!' she
laughed. Suddenly realising that he
was not exactly elated at the prospect
of being turned into metal she said
worry, Ivan - it's only while you are
here that this change will take place
- it's all part of the enchantment.
As soon as we go back to the upper world
- we will become normal people again.
So now please sit down and tell me all
about yourself, I need to know if you're
the one who is to free me from here.'
'How long have you been here?' he asked
cannot remember any other place,' she
replied. 'I can only remember vaguely
something called a sun and a moon -
but that was a long time ago - there's
nothing like that here ,' she said sadly.
began to tell the Tsarevna everything
about himself and all about his encounter
with the dragon. He also mentioned that
he had come to look for a wife and would
be quite happy to marry her if she would
'No,' answered the princess, 'that is
not to be, for I can only leave here
after the Golden Tsarevna has been freed.
You must go back through the beech wood,
then continue along the dark tunnel
and you will eventually come to the
Silver Kingdom, there you will find
a Tsarevna who is even more beautiful
he left she gave him a copper ring for
protection. Ivan thanked her and went