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Iron Sandals

We’re a tough pair! We are made of iron and forged in fire. We have been made to slog through every kind of terrain. We have been scoured by desert sand and scraped by mountains of flint. We have been frozen on ice and scorched in the lava flows. We were worn by...

Ivan Who is Cut to Pieces

He can’t take her from me! I don’t care if he’s Koschei the Deathless! He can cut me to pieces, I don’t care. I will come back for Marya Morevna. I can’t live without her! As it happened, he did chop me to pieces. He put the pieces of me...

Hyacinthia Who is Trapped in the Underworld

I am one of thirty young women who have been trapped underground by my father who is a powerful magician. He allows us to surface and play in the water as ducks, but then we must put on our white robes and return through the portal of the willow tree that stands by...

Kindly Old Robber Woman

You won’t believe me when I tell you this, but here’s how I got free of them robbers. Two men came to the door lookin’ for food, an’ I said, I says: “You can’t come in here, there’s robbers living here and they’ll be...

Discharged Soldier Who is Carefree

I hadn’t learned a trade, so when I got discharged, I wandered. Begged alms. Kept the rain off my back with an old coat, and sloshed through the muck in a pair of buffalo-leather riding boots. I met up with a huntsman one day who seemed to have gotten himself...

Maid of Maleen

My mistress Maleen, didn’t want to marry her father’s choice of a man. She loved a neighboring king’s son, and he loved her. His father was all for it, but not Maleen’s. He was too mighty. He had to have the last word. Maleen refused to marry...

Mother Who Escapes With Her Son

My son Hans and I had been held by robbers from the time he was small, and I was so proud of Hans when he stood up to them. He was only ten years old, but he had a strong club and the robbers were drunk. The captain punched him so hard he fell to the floor, but then...

Husband of a Woman Who Doesn’t Want to Spin

I wanted my wife to do what the other women do: spin, but she wouldn’t. Whatever I gave her to spin, she never finished, and whatever she spun, she didn’t wind, but left it tangled on the bobbin. One day when I had gone into the forest to chop some wood to make her a...

Iron John with a Golden Ball

One day when I was eight years old, I was playing in the courtyard with my golden ball when it rolled away from me and into the cage of the wild man. I asked him to give it back, but he wouldn’t, not until I had unlocked his prison door. I refused at first, but when...

Princess Who Cooks

Because I would not marry a hideous, foul-mouthed, one-eyed captain, my father ordered me to put on peasants’ clothes and leave the castle. He sent me to a potter who taught me to make pots. I sold them in the market. As soon as I set up my stall, my...