Into the Woods
Story by C.G. Salamander | Art by Rajiv Eipe
Russian Forest Rangers
Russian forest rangers like Anya are tasked with protecting forests, national parks, and local parklands. Living a basic life often in the remotest, coldest parts of the country, they are constantly under threat from poachers, the wild, as well as large corporations and governments.
Slavic Mythological Creatures
The Slavs were the ancestors of the modern-day Russians. They were pagans who worshipped nature and looked to spirits and fairies for advice. The Slavs also believed that their forests were full of supernatural beings – spirits that protected their homes, beings that brought them fortune, and creatures whose sole purpose it was to cause them harm. But since the original Slavic myths went unrecorded, our introduction to them is mostly through the eyes of the outsiders and invaders of the region.
Baba Yaga: Baba Yaga is a cannibalistic witch from Russian folklore. She lives in the most nocturnal parts of the forest and gets around by flying on a fiery mortar. The fence around her hut is made of the bones of children, the gates are held together using human legs and arms instead of bolts, and her hut sits on chicken legs which can move around like a top.
Bes: Bes is an eastern European demon whose name translates to anger. Bes is known to possess both humans and animals, and fill them with uncontrollable anger and rage. As a demon, Bes takes on many forms and may appear meek or beastly, and is known to come for those who spit on fire.
Gamayun: According to Slavic folklore, Gamayun is a divine spirit with the head of a human and the body of a bird. Gamayun sees all and knows all, and is famous for warning and imparting wisdom to those who can hear her.
Leshii: Despite their towering height and their hideous appearance, Leshii are kind and gentle creatures who protect the forest and its animals. But they are, however, known to lash out at humans when intruded upon. Leshii can transform from the size of a blade of grass to the tallest trees, and are known to confuse humans by sending them down the wrong paths in the forest.
Osenya: Osenya are spirits who take on the appearance of beautiful women and lure men into the forest. Stricken by their beauty, men follow them for days, sometimes months, until finally they die of exhaustion, thirst, and hunger.
Drekavac: Drekavac are demons born from the death of unbaptised toddlers. They’re depicted as small hairless creatures, with sharp claws and screams so loud that they could cause deafness in anyone who hears them.