Abkhaz folk tales / Abskril
Abskril’s childhood was truly marvelous. He grew not by the day, but by the hour. In ten years, he had already become an adult. His mind matured just as quickly, his strength increased, and his dexterity developed.
In those days, the land of Apsny - the Country of the Soul - was often attacked by foreigners who ravaged it. Abskril gathered his brave fellows and defeated the enemies in fierce battles.
The raids stopped, and peace returned to the land of Apsny. Abskril's name alone struck fear into the hearts of enemies; they were afraid to draw their weapons, and their swords and daggers rusted in their sheaths. But the people loved their friend and protector, Abskril. A word about him spread from country to country, from region to region.
When the bandits and robbers disappeared, Abskril set about destroying the ferns that drained the life-giving juices from the earth. He cut down the thorny hold trees and pruned the vines that hung across the roads. As a result, the fields yielded unprecedented harvests, lush grass grew in the meadows, and the udders of cows and goats were full of milk.
Abskril was merciless towards oppressors and wicked people, but he also refused to make peace with god. He rode high in the sky on his warhorse, Arash, slashing clouds with his sword and striking lightning from them. If his path on earth was blocked by a tenacious vine stretching from tree to tree, he would cut it, so he wouldn't have to bend down, and people wouldn't think, "Look, Abskril bows his head to the god."
But Abskril had a rival in strength - an evil giant named Adaou. He lived on a high, impregnable mountain; from there, he stretched his long arms to the sea and whimsically drowned ships. When he got hungry, he would snatch fish from the depths, hold it up to the sun to cook, and eat it, bones and all.
One day, Abskril challenged Adaou. He approached the giant and called out to him:
"Hey, what are you doing here?"
"Can't you see? I'm eating fish."
"Is that all you're capable of?"
"Watch this - I'll jump into the sea and splash so much water that it will flood all the coastal dwellers and you along with them. Beware!" cried Adaou, preparing to jump.
But Abskril outsmarted the villain. He shot an arrow at him, which lodged in his leg, and Adaou fell to the ground. Blood gushed forth in such a torrent that it nearly swept Abskril into the sea. Adaou twitched his injured leg and toppled an ancient oak grove with his ankle.
Finally, the god could no longer endure Abskril's proud spirit. He called his servants and said:
"Go, seize this arrogant one, cast him into the abyss, and let him suffer there until he comes to his senses.
But Abskril chose the mountaintop of Erzakhu and the seashore as his refuges. As soon as the servants of God reached Erzakhu, Abskril mounted his faithful steed and swiftly rode to the seaside. There, Abskril rested in the shade of a cliff and when the servants of God descended to the shore, he mounted his horse again and galloped back to the summit of Erzakhu. In this way, Abskril eluded his enemies, and the servants of God were powerless to stop him. Eventually, they sought out an old witch who had once promised Abskril that she would renounce her wicked ways if he spared her life. Deep down, she despised Abskril.
"Save us!" pleaded the servants of God. "Without your help, we cannot defeat Abskril."
"Kill a herd of bulls and cows," the old witch replied. "Skin them, lay the hides with the fur side up at the summit of Erzakhu, and sprinkle them with chaff. When the steed steps on the hides, it will slip and fall. Then, you can capture Abskril."
The servants of God did as the witch instructed. Some of them went to the seashore where Abskril rested, while others lay in wait for him at the summit. As always, Abskril's vigilant horse warned him of the danger with a neigh. Abskril mounted his steed and in a flash, he was at the summit of Erzakhu. But the horse slipped on the hides, Abskril could not dismount in time, and both of them tumbled into a deep ravine. There, the servants of God seized and bound the hero.
God ordered his servants to chain Abskril and imprison him in the most impregnable cave. The old witch pointed out the Chlouskaya cave, where Abskril and his faithful steed were chained. The chains were fastened to an iron pole deeply embedded in the ground. God ordered the witch to guard the cave so that no one could penetrate it. Abskril was meant to die of starvation.