In some kingdom there lived a Tsar with his Tsarina. They had an only daughter Marya the Beautiful, a long plait. People in the kingdom had been living happily till a great disaster came. The terrible Dragon with nine heads, nine trunks and nine tails fell upon the peaceful kingdom. The Dragon flew with his two sons, the older one had six heads and the younger one had three heads.
The Dragon told the following words:
- Listen to me, Tsar with Tsarina and all people! I will reduce you kingdom to ashes, I will pull out all forests, I will splash out all rivers and lakes, I will trample down all fields and meadows, I will kill all people of your kingdom! If you want to be alive, you must feed me and my sons to our death. Every day you should leave a young girl at the age of sixteen in the Buyan Mounteen and we will eat her.
All people cried bitterly but they had to submit to the Dragon and every day they took a girl at the age of sixteen, chained her to the centenary oak that grew in the Buyan Mounteen and left her there. The Dragons flew, ate the girl and threw her bones in the lake.
At that time there lived a grandmother with her beloved grandson Vanusha. Once Vanusha saw how Marya the Beautiful, a long plait was singing and dancing in a ring and fell in love with her. Suddenly he knew that it was Maryaís turn to go to the Buyan Mounteen and he decided to defend her from the Dragons. Vanusha said to his grandmother:
- Give me, grandmother, a clean linen shirt. I will go to fight the ferocious Dragons.
The grandmother began to cry. She ran to the kitchen garden, brought stinging nettle and began to braid the second shirt of it. Weeping bitterly she said to her grandson:
- Vanusha, put on this shirt. The Dragon will burn his tongues if he bites you.
- All right, - answered Vanusha.
Marya the Beautiful, a long plait was chained to the centenary oak that grew in the Buyan Mounteen. She saw Vanusha and began to weep:
- Why have you come here, a fine fellow? Soon the Dragon will fly. Go away, he may eat you!
- Donít be afraid, - answered Vanusha.
He tore the gold chain like a rotten rope, lay on the ground, put his head on Maryaís knees and said:
- I will sleep a little, wake me up if you catch sight of the Dragon.
Marya the Beautiful, a long plait woke up Vanusha, as soon as she saw the Dragon with his three heads.
- Pray to the God and say goodbye to the world, Ivan, I will eat you, Ė the Dragon threatened Vanusha.
- You wonít swallow me, damned Dragon. You will choke with me, - answered Ivan.
Vanusha snatched the sharp scythe, swung his arm and splayed all three heads of the Dragon. Then he cut the tongues out of the Dragonís heads, put them into his bag, hid the heads behind the big, gray stone and fell asleep.
Marya the Beautiful, a long plait sat on the sand and put Vanushaís head on her knees. Soon she noticed the second Dragon flying in the sky like a huge, gray storm cloud.
Marya was very frightened and began to wake up Vanusha.
Ivan sprang to his feet. The six headed Dragon saw him and exclaimed:
- You must be tasteless. I will swallow you without chewing.
- You will choke with me, damned Dragon, - answered Ivanushka.
Vanusha snatched his sharp scythe, swung his arm and splayed three heads of the Dragon and the other ones were breathing with fire and smoke. Marya took her long plait and began to whip the Dragon with it. The Dragon turned round to her and at that moment Ivan cut off the other three heads. After that he cut the tongues out of the Dragonís heads, put them into his bag, hid the heads behind the big, gray stone and fell asleep.
Marya the Beautiful, a long plait raised Ivanís head and put it on her knees. After a time she noticed the awful nine headed Dragon flying in the sky. She was terribly frightened and began to wake up Vanusha.
Ivan roused from his sleep and snatched his scythe.
- I will eat you together with your bones, - screamed the Dragon.
- You will choke with me, damned Dragon, - retorted Ivanushka boldly.
They began to fight. The ground trembled and the forest swayed with their battle. Ivan was able to cut seven heads of the Dragon but couldnít conquer the other two ones. The Dragon tried to gulp Vanusha but he wasnít successful in it because Vanushaís nettle shirt burnt his tongues.
Marya the beautiful grasped her long plait and began to flog the Dragon with it. The Dragon turned round to her and at that moment Ivan cut off the two last heads. Then he cut all tongues out of the Dragonís heads, put them into his bag and hid the heads behind the big, gray stone.
Marya the Beautiful, a long plait came to him and said:
- Thank you, Ivan, youíve saved me and the whole kingdom. I want to be your wife.
She took off a gold ring and gave it to Ivan. Vanusha was happy to take it and then he fell asleep again. A short time later the Tsarís Voevode appeared on the road. He grabbed Marya the Beautiful, a long plait and drove her to the thick forest.
- Tell your father that Iíve saved you and the whole kingdom from the Dragons instead of silly Ivan or I will kill you, - said the Voevode to Marya in the depths of the forest.
Marya the Beautiful, a long plait had to submit to him and they went to the palace. The Voevode showed the Tsar the Dragonsí heads and accepted an offer to marry Marya the Beautiful, a long plait.
At that time Vanusha woke up and went to the town. People told him about the wedding and he decided to go to the palace at once.
The wedding was at itís height. The bride was pale and tearful, she didnít want to marry the Voevode. Ivan took a gold bowl, dropped Maryaís gold ring into it, called a servant and said to him:
- Bow to Marya the Beautiful and ask her to drink this bowl.
Marya the Beautiful, a long plait drank the bowl and found her gold ring at the bottom of it. She was very happy and declared to all people:
- The Voevode hasnít saved my life. It was the other man who has done it. Come her, Ivanushka. Here is my bridegroom!
The Voevode began to justify himself:
- Iíve killed the Dragons and even showed their heads!
- If you find the defects in this heads I will agree that youíve killed the Dragons.
The Voevode couldnít say anything. Ivanushka raised the heads, opened the jaws and said.
- There arenít any tongues in the Dragonsí heads, these tongues are in my bag. Look!
Everybody understood that Vanusha was the winner of the Dragons. The Tsar was very angry with the Voevode and turned him out of the kingdom. And the same evening Vanusha and Marya the Beautiful, a long plait got married.