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How Khorya And Borya Nicked A Domovoy

22 min

Anecdotic Adventures Of Khorya And Borya, Part II

Dear wanderer,

This story today is an ongoing collaboration between Ilia and me. This is the second part in the series, and we’re thinking of turning it into a book when we have enough of them. We’ll call it Anecdotic Adventures of Khorya and Borya or something like that.

You can find the first story here:

How Khorya And Borya Smuggled A Chort
‘For fuck’s sake… bastards…’ mumbled Khariton, a stocky, shaggy and bearded ginger bloke with a long bestial scar across his face. Dangling his feet, chewing a straw, with a flask, a dagger and a loaded shotgun beside him, he sat in the horse-drawn cart stuck in the traffic jam on the serpentine road bending around the mountain. Khariton peeked over the…

It’s advised to read it because the second (this) one refers to the first one sometimes, and they have a vague common plot, but you should be able to understand the story regardless, don’t worry.

As it has been so far, Ilia wrote the first draft and made artworks (you’ll encounter two of them); I finished, adapted it from Russian, and edited it. There are more stories coming which are written this way, and I’ll write a few myself when I finish my current big project.

We hope you enjoy it!

P.S. Substack says it’s “near the e-mail length limit”, so I suggest reading it on the website.

A heavy, iron grid below a bent roof imbued a checkered pattern onto the glittering night sky. Through it, the winds of freedom swept into the drunk tank, rustling the peeling walls and stirring the soul of those within. On the far side of the room, where the chill luminescence failed to reach, was a heavy ebon gate. In the middle of the room, upon a lengthy bench, four sotted boozehounds reclined, their hides battered. Amongst them, taking up a tip-top place in the midst, sat Kharitón and Borís. Oftentimes, the former sought to tame his tousling mane, which continuously tickled a long scar upon his cheek. Meanwhile, the latter, his azure eyes glinting in the lunar light, gazed at the agile vermin darting between the legs of his cellmates. With a straw, he tended to his teeth, donning a silly smirk while he fiddled with his whimsical whiskers that imparted him a look of an iniquitous imp. In the corner, cross-legged and leaning against the sullied, gloomy walls, sat the fifth fellow, another woebegone, inebriated wretch. With tender touches, he spun the wooden bowl of pottage upon the cold slab floor, murmuring mantras to the chort knows whom.

— ...Uncle... Antosha... shall you be kind...

With a sudden stomp, Borís squashed a cockroach trying to scuttle between his colossal boots. After a brief pause, he erupted into a clamorous yell, silencing the symphony of rustling plaster, scurrying rats, creaking doors, and bellowing bellies of his cellmates.

— Who's that bastard "Uncle Antosha"? Sling us some bloody nosh, will tha? Me belly's scraight screamin' fer a bit o' grub, inside out and outside in, — said Borís.

The fifth fellow continued to coil his cold concoction, casting a condemning nod. Borís swallowed and averted his eyes from the window, the vermin, the cockroaches, and the fifth fellow (greedy bastard), to his comrade whose thinning, greying strands he nervously twirled. Somewhere in the hallway, a door opened, boots banged, and a breeze sneaked in, wafting a wonderful whiff of culinary delights. Borís breathed in, relishing the rich aroma of the food, and without pause, he gulped.

— Commander! Oi! When t'grub gets going?!

Now, the lavvy's scent wafted into the drunk tank.

— Bas-fucking-tard!—Borís coughed and rubbed his nose with the back of his wrist.

This commander, one of the local serpentine's Zmeis—hefty,  toothy, green, menacing, but sober, stopped.

— Rright, lads! The gingerr lad here's hungrry! "When the grrub gets going?" Ha!

The clatter of boots ebbed away somewhither in the corridor, along with the militia's laughter. Borís's belly bellowed. Someone swallowed. The third fellow, sitting next to Kharitón, took a rusk out of his bowl and put it in his mouth.

— Dawn, — said the rhird, crunching his rusk. — They serve food here with the dawn.

— Dawn?

— Dawn, yup. It would be worse if they gave us no food at all.

— Nowt wi' th' dawn even?

— Nothing at all, aye...

— Aye, it'd be worse. Bastards...

The rusk crunched. Borís's belly bellowed. The vermin scurried. The fifth fellow, a Chude, apparently, knocked the rat on its head and grabbed it with his big, disproportional hands. Two sober souls, one drunk, all stared at the fifth in shock. Something crunched — not the rusk. The fifth fellow handed the dead rat to Borís. He shook his head reluctantly.

— Dawn. 'Ama waiting fer t'dawn.

— Dawn, — nodded the fifth.

The fifth kept the rat to himself and continued spinning his bowl without touching the pottage. The second neighbour, the fourth, twitched in his sleep and fell with his filthy head on Borís's lap, touching his belt, where the coins jingled. Borís shoved him off to the other side, muttering grudgingly.

—Whoops! Back off...

Borís grasped the bag sticking out from under his trousers. Kharitón leaned over to Borís and whispered:

—Thy said thy had no lucres, but in thysef got coins hidden up thy arse and grinning now, aren't thy, bastard?

Borís patted his left palm on his belt, jiggling the coins.

— Tha and me, we had a tiff, had a laugh, made peace, went to this drunk tank together, and tha's still sulking, Khorya. Comraderie afore lucres, remember, eh? Tha babbled, now I am — the circle of life, innit? From t'soil to heaven, from infinity to eternity — that story of ours is done, a new un's just begun, it's not about feuding! That's reyt, innit?

— Feuding, huh?

— A-huh.

Kharitón pouted and poked Borís in the waist with his fist.

— Thy better tell me how much thy's got out there, bastard!

Borís moved closer to Kharitón and played with his eyebrows.

— Tell me how much does tha need to be happy?

— Playin' a fool, int thy?

— Am I?

—Thy are. I am t' fool here, for havin' any deeds with thy bastard!

—T'truth is t'truth.

—Tell me how much you've hideen there, you coot!

—Half for the chort. As it should be. Fifty lucres.

Kharitón's eyes popped.


—A hunderd divided by two...

—Wheere thy get it?

—Get wot?

—Lucres, tha bastard.

—Ah, lucres, t' client gave me. Fer t' courier service. Lucre afore business, reyt?


—Wot if they chuff off? Kharitón, it's like it's tha first job!

Kharitón stared at Borís with utter flummox.

—Bad we's gotta give it back to him.


—I'm an honest lad, tha knows.

—Are thy?

—I am.

Kharitón flinched, gulped, sneezed. The third burped. The fifth blubbered something.  The lavvy's scent wafted in again. Stomping from above sprinkled the plaster from the drunk tank's ceiling. The fifth stopped twisting his bowl. The rat crunched. Its blood dripped in the bowl. Drip-drip. The third saw it, moved away to the corner.

—I hopes nowt's gone t'left. T'client'll be fretting. Just think about it. No lucres, no chort, no nowt. Gonna have t'refund 'im fer sure!

Kharitón grimaced and lashed out at Borís. The fourth woke up. A couple of coins bounced and rattled and rolled across the floor, straight into the hands of the third and fifth.

—Thy bastard!—Kharitón yelled and punched Borís in his face, then grabbed the rolling coin.—Gie it back! That's me half, thy knows! I've done me work, I've handed o'er t'chest to thy!

Kharitón punched again, Borís bounced to the side, kicked Kharitón in the back.

—Ow...— He coughed, spat.—"T' client gave me" What a fuckin' twist, Borya!

Kharitón hit Borís again, the latter slipped on his wooden bowl and fell on the sleeping fourth. The fourth burped and reluctantly got up, towering over Borís and Kharitón!

They heard boots stomping somewhere in the darkness of the corridor behind the iron door. Stomp-stomp. The clang of coins. The third crawled across the floor in search of coins. The visor windoiw in the door opened, red eyes flashed. In the urge of gold rush, the fourth hit Borya—he fell.

The guards fussed. The door opened with a rattling and creaking sound. Inside, hunched over, a Zmei, the commander, a huge fucking lizard by human standards, leaned in. He was menacing, toothy, green, sober, scalecovered, with a gun and a pair of human guards behind his back. They all wore leather and armour, swords and shotguns as befits honourable sentinels of the law. All were silent. The commander roared.

—Stop the mess! Seize the intruder!

Deftly, not by Zmei's standards, the commander swooped back through the doorway and disappeared into the shadows of the corridor. The two guards led the fourth out of the cage at gunpoint. Something rustled. Boots stompted. The dead rat reeked. Someone sneezing. Someone burped. The lavvy stenched. Borís's belly bellowed. The door slammed. The plaster crumbled, the boots stompig faded into the back of the corridor. Everybody fell silent.

The fifth put a coin in a bowl, tossed the rat into it, muttered his mantra again. The door creaked open. The wind whistled. The plaster crumbled. The lavvy scent was hardly a surprise anymore.

The latch kindly selfopened.

—...Should you be so kind... My home is your home...— muttered the Fifth.

The bowl emptied, and the door opened quietly. The wind abated.

—Thank you, Uncle. Let's go!—said the fifth.

— ..the wicked bastard... - mumbled the third with popped eyes.

He, with a blissful smile and tears in his milky, alabaster eyes, jumped up like a child and quickly slipped through the open door. The third, without thinking long, followed him. Borís picked up a few coins, hid them behind his belt, groaned, rubbed his arse, groaned again, looked at the door, at the lavvy, at Kharitón.

—Well, off shall we go, aye?—said Borís to him.

Kharitón stared at the emptied bowl the fifth left behind, rubbed his nose, picked up a curl, picked up a coin and hurried to the exit.

News flew fleetly. The militia patrols prowled among the musty manses. Windows winked, doors dinged, and shutters shushed. Borís, beguiled by the bountiful smells of beer and bangers, bolted to the traktir, belly-growling.

— Eh, thy daft, Borya? They'll bust thy fer sure!

— It's a fair bit till mornin', Khorya. An' me belly's empty!

— Thy noggin's empty, mate! Wot morning, eh? If they bust thy, they'll clap thy up fer ages, an' thy'll've an empty belly every day.

Ignoring Kharión's concern, Borís brushed through the bushes, crawling closer to the traktir's window. Kharitón lightly tapped him on his head.

— Eh, thy daft, Borya?

Borya's belly bellowed.

— Daft or not, me belly still barks for a bit. — said Borís and patted his belly.

In the distance, a few hundred yards away, past all the old houses and along the damp, dirty road, the Fifth fellow rushed by.

— Shh, look 'ere! — hissed Kharitón.

— Where am I meant to be lookin'?

Kharitón twisted Borís's temple toward the Fifth fellow furtively flitting.

— Aye, that's what it is! It's a rat-eater twat, cunning bastard!

The fifth turned around, and Kharitón and Borís hid amid the hedges. Somewhere around, the militia clattered, the wolves wailed, the crickets creaked.

— Let's creep up on 'im.

The bushes rustled, and the men inched closer to the Fifth fellow. Slowly, hedge by hedge, stride by stride.

— Thy knows...

— Wot?

— Once, I lived reyt good and peaceful in Tooloobaika.

— In Tooloobaika?

— Aye. Had a garden, carrots, cabbage...

— Tomatoes?

— An' tomatoes too. Daytime in me garden, night time wit' lads playin' cards or wit' lasses. If I needed more lucres, I went t'work sumwheres else where there were more of 'em.

— Lasses?

— Not lasses. Lucres. Ther were less lasses in t' end.

— Aye, get tha.

— No, thy don't! Then I met Maria, and thy, thy bloody bastard! And my life went dark, thy knows? Like 'em roses in autumn.

— Get tha.

Kharitón cuffed Borís on the cranium.

—Whatcha get!

Sordid, soggy, through the serpentine thoroughfare amidst the the aged, placid homes, the Third fellow galloped. Khorya and Borya went mum in the bushes.

—I get tha in t'most fashionable tendencies!


The Third fellow stumbled, panted, skidded in the slime, and stuck in a puddle. With a ruckus, the Zmei zipped from a murky alley, clattering dirt underfoot.

—Perpetrator! Seize him!

He nabbed the Third fellow and hauled him back to the drunk tank. From there, a pair of militiamen strutted away. Jingling their armor, creaking the leather, the venerable guardians of law and order headed towards the houses further down the winding, dirty road. Kharitón and Borís were sitten quiet in the bushes, surveying — no soul around. On they moved.

— By t'way, I didn't walk 'ere, I rode 'ere! — said Borís.

— Who'd trust a daft bugger like thy wi' a 'orse?

— 'Orse-'orse! On a by-ci-cle!

— On a wot?

— On a bycicle. Tha sits on't, pedals, an' off tha goes. Zoomin' off fast as a shire. Needn't to feed it nowt like an 'orse. Tha only feeds thasen, pedals, an' off tha goes. Zoom zoom.

— So wher's thy bloody bycicle, fibber?

— 'Em buggers nicked it at t'serpentine. That bugger Zmei.

— But it's still at t'drunk tank, reyt?

— Aye, reyt tha are. What's 'e need bycicle fer? How's t'tailedtwat gonna ride that?

— Let's go fetch it then, shall we?

Whimsical winds whirred, screeching shutters squeaked, savoury öçpoçmaqs scented the air, the militia guard's armor clattered. Kharitón and Borís trotted along the lane. Suddenly, the fifth fella fled from a house nearby, gazed, and vanished behind the corner. Bright light beamed in his house, shutters ajar, someone scurried inside in the dining room. The stove spewed a puff of smoke and quelled. The mysterious silhouette dashed to and fro across the kitchen. The comrades scrutinised and spotted a horned, grey-bearded, grubby geezer with a besom in his hairy hands — in other words a domovoy, a house spirit, or as some folks preferred — a demon. The comrades frazzled the bushes. The domovoy hastened and briskly bolted to the window. Kharitón stooped. The geezer swiveled his head, dusted the window with his besom, spat on the pane, wiped it with a white rag that appeared from nowehere, and glided away to the dining room. The pots and pans started clanking.

—Ey up! Look thy there,—grumbled Kharitón.—Look: a domovoy!

—Reyt, it's 'im, bastard!

—T’cunning rat-eater! 'E keeps a demon fer 'imsen.

—Probly t' demon even tekken him out of t'drunk tank, t' bloody rascal.

—Let's finish us quest then?

—What's tha on about?

—Ey up! We'll get lucres for that lousy job, get some booze! What thy thinks of t'plan, Borya?

—Wot sort of plan?

—Thy's a reyt damn fool, Borya! Tell me summat, does t' client care whether it's a chort or a domovoy? By 'eck, they're both horned demons onnyway! T’client’s too smart to tell t' difference!

—I don't want nowt to do wit' demons no more!

Borís boldly bounded beyond the bushes, bereft of any briefings.

—'Ang on a minute!—Kharitón tugged on Borís' sleeve, halting his escape.—Let's nab t' demon and divvy up t' lucres. Then thy'll stuff thysen wit' öçpoçmaqs, honestly earned!

—'Ow do tha reckon we're gonna nab 'im then?”

The savory scent of succulent lamb öçpoçmaqs with onions and butter softly swept and stirred Borís’s stomach. The shrubs subtly shuffled.

—Reyt, t'plan is as simple as a boiled egg. We get a big bloody bag. Sneak up on 'im slowly. Be as quiet as a mouse n' all that stealthy shite. Then toss t'bag o'er 'im n' tie it up reyt tight. Done. Grand plan, eh?

Kharitón pulled out a burlap bag and presented it to the proximate bush, for Borís had bolted already — he was gone. Kharitón looked around — pervading peace and silence, there were only the crickets and distant sounds. The shrubs shook. Nearby, Borís’s belly bellowed. The wind whistled, and the bouquet of baked öçpoçmaqs wafted.

— 'Ey up, I'm reyt back. Who were tha natterin' to?

— Shh!

— Wot tha up to?

— I'm lyin' in ambush, thy twat.

Borís bade a brief behold to the bustling inside the house's kitchen. There, the domovoy scrambled, whistling a happy melody .

— Want an öçpoçmaq? — Borís handed an öçpoçmaq to Kharitón.

—Want or not?

Kharitón's noggin shook in disapprobation. Borís burped a booming belch after devouring the doughy delicacy. His stomach growled with appreciation. Quickly, in a squatting position, Borís hastened through the bushes.

—Oi, where d'ya think thy're goin'?—asked Kharión.

—What tha mean? I'm off to powder me nose, do a bit of a jobby

—T'domovoy's already 'ere, walkin' around in all its creepy glory: bearded, horned, sweepin' t'ouse with 'is besom. Don't thy reckon it's not the right time to start a bloody turd factory?

—But it's just t'bushes, who's gonna see me?

—Who does a turd in an ambush, Borís?

—Well, who else? I do. Tha blind or summat?

Borís broke the bounds of obedience and bumbled through the bushes. The wind whistled, bearing the bouquet of barn and balmy brazier. Borís bumbled on his buttocks, backtracking to Kharitón. Both blokes sat in the same bush, Borís brushed off the lamb grease from his lips, his belly bellowed, the bush rustled, Kharitón huffed with a hearty heave—the air was fresh, cold, nocturnal. The shabby scent of the outdoor lavvy occupied the air, tickled Kharitón's nostrils, and he sneezed.

—Bloody ‘ell, t'bastard spat on me again!

The fifth one flitted fast betwixt the houses and vanished into the nightly veil. Borís looked at the Fifth fellow, at Kharitón, at the domovoy. Borís’s belly bellowed. The shrub shook. The wind whistled. The domovoy hobbled 'round the hall, and the hearth hurled out murky, mellow smoke circles into the air above the house. The aroma of albino bread propagated around.

—Our plan's a flop, ain't it? It's not workin', damn it. 'E's makin' everything fancy-shmancy'n'posh in t'house,—whinged Borís.

—An' what d'thy suggest?—asked Kharitón.

—Infiltration wi' burglary,—said Borís.

—Plan B?

—What’s plan B?

—Thine, Borís, Plan “Borís”, infiltration wi' burglary.

—A good plan, then?

Kharitón sighed, handsignaled and hurried to the house, hunching. Borís held the bag.

—Drop it, t'bugger won't fit in it.—said Kharitón.

Borís shrugged, briskly brushed off the bag on the bush and banished the lamb fat from his lively lips with his lanky wrist and smiled—delicious! Then he followed Kharitón to the door, where begun to pull the handle towards him, but the door stubbornly stayed put.

—’E locked it, bastard!

Borís tugged again, but the door wouldn't budge. Kharitón looked around, peered through a window to the right of the door — the domovoy was wandering, waving his besom, flashing his fiendish eyes, and almost hitting the ceiling with his horns. Kharitón nudged Borís, then grasped the door handle and gently pushed it outwards - the door opened. Borís moaned in relief.

—'Em doors are a reyt pain in me arse!

—Shurrup! Thy'll spoil us plan. We need to be stealthy.

—Aye, stealthy.

—An' we need to catch him by surprise.

—Aye, surprise. Wait, what were t'first bit again?

—Stealthy and surprise.

—Reyt, reyr. Got it.

The comrades covertly crept, vainly endeavoring to evade the creaking floorboards. In the foyer, nary a whisper; in the dining room, the besom brushed and the domovoy whistled. Swish-swash. Borís bravely barged in, right into the dining room, and poked his head in, his azure orbs agleam and his mischievous mustache prancing. Tapers flickered: the dining room not too dim, not too bright — sufficient to sidestep stumbling in the shadows. The domovoy padded barefoot, soundlessly. The besom rustled. Wax dripped onto the table. Plip-plop. The floorboards creaked.

Borís's belly barked.

—Oh! Bloody öçpoçmaq!.. By 'eck! Me belly's turnin' like a whirligig!..

Kharitón approached Borís and pulled him away from the dining room.

The domovoy glanced at Borís's bulky boots and jumped in front of them, bewildering his visitors.

—And hark! Good morrow, fine sirs, harmonious homies!

With nimble steps and negligible noise, the demon scampered towards the comrades, stomped with his left foot, stomped with his right foot—no sound. The narrator is quite aware is not how stomping works, so were the comrades, but it was what it was. Without a blink, the demon started at them with bulging, slanted orbs: one orb on Khorya, the other orb on Borya, then bent down with all his massive mass to Borís's feet and fondled his footwear.

—Hark thee well, me homie, let’s barter! I shall grant thee a wondrous broom, and thou shalt grant me thy boots! Oye!

The domovoy swoop the broom against Borís's boots, and they immediately became like new. The scent of lavvy filled the air. The domovoy frowned and rustled the broom against Kharitón's boots—they again became like new. Borís’s belly growled, and both comrades retreated towards the doorway.

—Nay, owd lad...—Kharitón knelled.

—Plan B?

—Plan B’s buggered!—hollered Kharitón.—Plan E—escape, Borya!

—Where’s C and D?

—Fuck ‘em! Off we skedaddle!

The comrades were about to bolt out of the house but the domovoy briskly babbled.

—Hark, hark, homie! An thou giveth me thy boots, I shall invite thee to dine!

Right away, in the hands of the domovoy, appeared another öçpoçmaq, he broke it in half, releasing the bustling bouquet of bready, buttery and meaty smells—freshly baked. Yum!

—It's a con, Borya, leg it, I'm telling thy!

Borís boggled, bag of coins bouncing, dropping one. The domovoy's orbs dazzled, he dumped a piece of öçpoçmaq in Borís's hands.

—Don't scoff it! Don't trust the bastard!

Disturbing the dining table, the domovoy dashed towards the stove, grabbed a tablecloth from atop there and thrusted it onto the table. The sight of a stack of spirited vodka, savoury snacks, succulent sides, and sizzling roasted beef with potatoes, buckweat honey, and basil suddenly surfaced on the table. Borís swallowed.

—Hark, homie, should thou stayest and givest me thine coins and thine boots, feel thou free to partake in feast, and I shall bid thee farewell with graciousness at the door.

Kharitón cringed, cleared the aisle, and commenced to converse covertly with Borís:

—Nah, fergit abaht it, Borís! That’s chuffin' impossible - t'unclean creature's messin’ wi’ thy napper! They're all t'same!

The domovoy straightened up, sprang onto the stove, and settled in there, hunching under the ceiling, and started swaying his sockless soles like a cheerful child. Benumbed, Kharitón gazed at him. Meanwhile Borís gazed at the juicy beef, glimpsed at the stack of vodka, licked his lips, his belly bellowed—his desire for dishes was dire indeed. He looked at Kharitón imploringly.

—Eh, it's a fair deal, ryet?—Borís said uncertainly. —The uncle's not pullin' a fast one, is 'e?

—T’uncle? Are thy nuts?

Kharitón's orbs fell upon the composed domovoy, who was still swaying on his bare, begrimed feet, busy playing with a tiny spider by the stove pipe, right above the his shaggy grey head, where the said pipe passed through the ceiling. Kharitón's hand reached over to Borís's lug, as he continued his hushed whispers, while yanking him by the waist.

—Stop it!

Kharitón then grabbed the öçpoçmaq, placing it on the nearby nightstand, picked up the coin and concealed it in his shirt pocket.

—Reyt, let's stick to plan B: we can tak' on this shite together, come on! We'll seize t' owd twat, yank 'im out t' door — 'n probly then 'e'll stop messin' wi’ us.

The domovoy, in the meantime, put the spider atop his horn, stroked his beard, played with his bare toes, glanced at Borís’s boots and the coin.

—Us comrades! I forgive thy me matey.

A foolish grin played once more on Borís's unremarkable face.


—Aye, I swear by our shared kinship — forgiven!

Borís jumped up with joy, shouting:


And he charged at the domovoy throughout the dining room, hit the table, gasped, almost stumbled, glanced at the vodka, at the domovoy. The latter’s orbs lit: the wind whipped, the vodka gone, the öçpoçmaqs gone, the beefs and starters and afters gone, too. The tapers quenched. Drip-drip. Wax dripped on the table from the ceiling.

—’E’s got a reyt sense of humour, owd rogue!

Kharitón, hushed by the sudden shift, hovered in place and hurried across the hall, to the opposite end of the table, to the unclean demon residing by the stove. The wind whistled again, the tablecloth whisked away from the table and wrapped around Kharitón. Borís bolted, grabbed the domovoy by the bare foot, pulled him off the stove. The demon gasped, fell on his buttocks, and groaned. The shutters shook open, clattering, the floorboards creaked. Fast as the wind, the domovoy jumped across the table, sat on the stool. Kharitón threw the tablecloth off himself, sneezed, assumed a battle stance with his fists clenched, and so did Borís.

—What shall we do with thee, me homies?

Borya and Khorya, brisk and bold, charged towards the demon with balled-up fists. Thump, thud. Two more steps,  the domovoy glanced at Borís' boots and then at Kharitón.

—Stay thou with me and me master. Thy life, homies, is not one to be envied: thou sittest in prison, thou art beaten, and back to prison! Glorious thou art — glorious!

The domovoy scratched his horn, bristled his beard, wiggled his fingers, soared his long arm to the ceiling and put the spider there, then looked at the comrades: at one, at the other — they both stepped rhythmically, tippety-tap, creaking the floorboards. Their eyes sparkled. Borís’s belly bellowed. Kharitón sneezed. The wind whispered. The windows closed shut. Kharitón wiped his nose.

—Apologies for the draught, my homies.

The domovoy's orbs danced, tapers ignited, the wax trickled on the table. Drip-drip.

—Desire I to make thee rich? Or mayhap vodka thou dost crave? I have here some cranberry vodka, exquisite.

A glass emerged on the table, and a floating flask above it, from which  drop by drop the cranberry vodka poured. Drip-drip.

—Doth thou desire to be made happy?

—Will happiness flood us, thy wicked bastard?—inquired Kharitón.

—It shall flood upon thee, flood! Deluge! Of all I am capable!

Domovoy snapped his fingers: click, the oven blazed, puffed with fresh bread. The house grew warmer, a variety of dishes appeared on the table again, roasted beef with potatoes, buckweat honey and basil. The tablecloth slipped under the plates, neatly shedding its lace corners down from the table's edges.

—More flood to come! Everything's here, everything's in our hut. Stay, my homies!

The domovoy looked at Borís, who took another step, hesitantly. Thud, the floorboard creaked. A wooden mug with fragrant rye beverage appeared in the creature's hand. He sipped a couple times.

—Doth thou desireth kváss? Mayhaps some spirits medicinal and pure? Or öçpoçmaqs? Wouldst thou have some öçpoçmaqs?

Something bellowed in Borís’s stomach. Something clanged, kitchen utensils clattered.

—I shall doth all, I shall giveth all — just stayeth, my homies! Fancieth chai? From a samovar?

A perfectly posh porcelain chai set and a brass samovar with beautiful blue patterns along each item appeared on the table. Borís swallowed. The ordeal was getting tough on him, isn’t it? Kharitón shook his head disapprovingly.

—Thy’now, we've got everything, owd lad... Mebbe cheerio then?

Borís beamed a buffoonish grin, brandished his bushy bristles, and charged at the domovoy, gave him a great big hug and headed out of the house. Kharitón hammered the domovoy on the head, hitting a sharp horn and hurting himself. The shutters swung open, someone scurried through the yard. Drip-drip. The tapers dripped. The light went out, the stove closed, the dishes fell on the table with a clang, the chai set disappeared. Poof! The bottle of vodka flew at Kharitón, shattered hitting the wall near him. He staggered, striking the domovoy again.  Borís panted, nearly stumbled, but stood strong, attempting to schlepp the domovoy through the door, slamming his horned head against the jamb.

—Eyy, owd lad!

—Loose me! It won't endeth well! I shall not alloweth thee to depart the house!

Kharitón hit the domovoy in the back. Something cracked, the wind whistled. The floor creaked. Stomp-stomp. The door slammed.

—One toim I let go o’ one horned bugger!—yelled Borís.

Kharitón gave another whack, Borya wobbled under the weight of the domovoy, spat out his grey hair that had gotten into his mouth.

—Borya is a studious bloke, 'e doesn't make t'same mistake twice!

—Studious, aye… Not like it matters, reyt?

—C'mon, it’s goin' well! Drag that bastard out!

The fifth fellow flew into the house, frightened, fuming, all at once. He was as tall as Borís's belly but brawny, having beefy fists with which he belted the domovoy's kidnapper's knees. Borís groaned, buckled. The wind whistled, the flatboards creaked, the domovoy yelled.

—You bearded cunt! You aren’t taking Antosha from me and you aren’t going anywhere! —blasted the fifth fellow.

Then he swiftly, sans second thought, attacked Kharitón, smacking him down. Again, and again. The domovoy grew taller and broader, blotting the entire room with his gargantuan paws. His hoary hair grew betwix the floorboards, into the cupboards, into Borís's mouth, into his boots. The domovoy's eyes glinted, the house groaned and grumbled — as though the whole building was growling.

Kharitón clobbered the fifth fellow on the neck, and on the nape, hurling the Chude to the side — he writhed in woe.

—Chude cunts!—sweared Kharitón.

—Plan B?

Kharitón hastened out of the hut, hollering:

—Run, Borya! Run!

He had hopped the hedges, the hurdle, and stepped with his boots onto the dirty devious road. In the distance: quiet wooden houses, a traktir puffing smoke from its chimney, snarking militia, a cold, coiling path, and snowtopped obsidian mountains behind the fog. A sudden realisation struck Kharitón.

—Bloody 'ell, if we don't call ‘im, 'e won't come. T’damn bastard!

Kharitón hastened here and there, but Borya was nowhere to be seen. He ran up to the fence, squinted at the unlocked door and window, where grey hair, creaking wood, and the sardonic laughter of the evil spirit could be heard. And there was Borís, holding onto the wicked brute by his dirty bare foot and trying to drag him out of the hut.

—Ey up, I'll show tha how me studious, tha mucky sperrit! Tha won’t get me, bastard!—yelled Borís in desperation.

Kharitón’s eyes widened, he grabbed his head, turned around, stomped in the mud, looked at the quiet houses in the distance, a traktir puffing smoke from its chimney, snarking militia, a cold, coiling path, and snowtopped obsidian mountains that glimmered in the gloom far away. He rubbed his yet another fresh scar left by the flying bottle of vodka, wiped the blood off his collar, rubbed his horn-wounded hand, clenched his fists, spat, cursed.

—Ugh! Damn it!

And raced back to the ominous, now greyhaired, house with his fists ready. Borís, all scratched and bruised, pulled hard on the huge domovoy’s bare foot, inch by inch, moving it closer and closer to the house’s entrance.

Hesitating at the house's threshold, Kharitón's heart hammered hard, horrified by the domovoy’s demonicly guigantesque proportions.

—Wa' t' bloody fuck, Borya?! Plan E! Escape!

—Escape? I messed up, mate!

—I fucking see that, mate!

Borís released the domovoy’s foot, turned to his comrade, was going to step out but the Fifth fellow appeared again and kicked his legs. Beat after beat, Borís bowed down, receiving new swift strikes.

Tearing off his mane, Kharitón looked at the serpentine road, quiet houses, the traktir puffing smoke from its chimney, snarking militia, and snowtopped obsidian mountains, sneezed, cursed.

—Bless you!—said Borís.

—Damn it!—yelled Kharitón and fled into the house.

The door slammed, and the house spirit chuckled sardonically. Borís gasped under the thousand blows of the white-eyed halfling’s fast fists. Good fighters they were, Chudes.

Kharitón grabbed a stool, first hit the domovoy's extending paw, and then hurled it at the his huge grey head. The demon groaned.

—Come hither, thy bastard!

Borís barely pushed away the Fifth fellow clinging to him. Kharitón kicked the door, dragged the Chude away from the house. The domovoy groaned, grunted, and shrank back to its usual size.

—Homies! I shan’t let thou go!

The kitchenware rattled, tapers lit again, the smell of warm mint chai with thyme and chamomile, roasted beef with potatoes, buckweat honey and basil, fragrant öçpoçmaqs straight from the oven filled the air. The domovoy squeezed a mellow smile but received a punch in the face from Borís and a stoolstrike from Kharitón, and howled. Kharitón rushed to the threshold.

—Plan B?

—Thy stubborn swine, Borya!

Borís grabbed the suffering domovoy, took several steps closer to the threshold, Kharitón hit the domovoy with a stool again. His horn cracked, and he howled. His grey hair thinned and went almost white.

—Plan B! Borya bags t' bastard!

—Bag t' bastard!

The domovoy kept squealing. Borís and Kharitón stepped over the threshold. The domovoy shrank in size. The house creaked and collapsed, leaving only a pile of planks and a broken samovar.

Pushing the bicycle forward, with a wild witty grimace, Borís worked the pedals, his whiskers waggling in the wind, while Kharitón, the knavish knave, sat behind, holding the bag with the feeble, flailing fiend. Someone sneezed, someone burped, and their bellies bellowed in the boisterous symphony. Beyond them: a beguiling bend, busy, bustling guards, the Zmei’s drunk tank, fuming chimneys, a cozy, comforting traktir, and the bright, beaming, burnished mountains glowing in the sunrise.



Look At The Horizon


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