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Gods and Monsters of the Fire Salamander World: Cat Bayun.

You haven’t met him in the Salamanderverse yet, but that is about to change and very soon. So, I want you to be ready, for Cat Bayun is one of those characters of Slavic lore and fairy tales who can’t be placed easily on the side of Light or on the side of Darkness. He is both. Or maybe he’s neither?

Let’s try to figure out who this not-so-cute-and-cuddly kitty is.

The Fire Salamander World | N.M. Thorn

Who is Cat Bayun and What is So Special About Him?

The name “Bayun” (Баюн), in translation from Old Russian, means storyteller or talker. Everything about Cat Bayun is contradictory—his appearance, his magical gifts, and even his affiliations in the World of Magic.

Slavic fairy tales depict Cat Bayun as a giant feline who sits on a tall iron pillar with a gold chain wrapped around it. The pillar is located on the border between the realm of Death and the world of the living, and according to some Slavic legends, Cat Bayun is a guide between these two worlds.

The cat can walk up and down the golden chain while singing and purring. His magical voice can be heard from seven miles away, and with his purr, he can put any person into an enchanted sleep.

Sounds dangerous, doesn’t it? Wait until you hear this…

Cat Bayun. Illustration by K. Kuznetsov.

According to Slavic fairy tales, once Cat Bayun puts his victims into a deep slumber, he eats them alive—no regrets, no remorse. So, it sounds like this kitty-cat is a ruthless, merciless man-eater.

However—and here is where the first duplicity of this character comes to life—a person who is able to catch Cat Bayun and subdue him, will turn him into a panacea for all ills, because the voice and tales of Cat Bayun have healing properties.

But here is my favorite… In some fairy tales, parents invite Cat Bayun to lull their children to sleep. (Hmmm… I’m sure there must be a safer way to soothe your kids than inviting a giant, magical man-eating feline into your house?)

How Does Cat Bayun Look?

As I mentioned above, Cat Bayun is described as a giant feline. Usually, when I think of this character, I imagine a large, furry Maine Coon, sitting on an oak tree, telling tales. Logically thinking, though, most likely Cat Bayun was an ancestor of famous predators—the lynx or Siberian wild cat. Anyway, zoology aside, when Slavic fairy tales say “giant”, they mean the size of a panther, tiger or a mountain lion.

But wait… Here is one more contradiction about this character…

A few Slavic fairy tales mentioned that the heroes (like Ivan Tsarevich or Andrei Strelok) fought Cat Bayun and captured him, carrying him back to their tsardom in a regular cage. That could mean only one thing. The size of Cat Bayun was greatly exaggerated.

So, who is Cat Bayun?

A giant killer-cat or a wise cat-storyteller? Does he use his magical voice to enchant his victims and kill them, or does he use it to heal people and help children to sleep?

That’s for you to decide…


The Salamanderverse

Enter the Salamanderverse, where magic and ancient myths are real, and things are not what they appear to be. If you haven't done it yet, you can download "The Burns Path”, a prequel to the Fire Salamander Chronicles Urban Fantasy series, for FREE on my website. The events of this 49,000-word novella occur before the Burns Fire, and it can be read as a standalone book.


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