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Gods and Monsters of the Fire Salamander World: Cossacks-Sorcerers.

Usually, in the “Gods and Monsters of the Salamanderverse” blogs, we discuss Slavic pantheon or monsters from Slavic lore and fairy tales. But the characters I’m going to talk about today are not gods, and they’re not monsters. They are people. Extraordinary, magical even, but still—people.


As I mentioned on a few occasions, I’m not a scholar of Slavic lore, and I’m definitely not a historian. I’m a fantasy writer. So as you read the story below don’t take everything as gospel truth. Besides, sometimes real historical events entwine so tightly with legends and lore that it’s hard to say what’s real and what’s a myth.

But as Michael Scott said, “At the heart of every legend, there is a grain of truth.”

Gods and Monsters of the Salamanderverse

Cossack-Sorcerers, also known as Kharacterniks. Who are they?

You all heard the stories of Japanese Ninjas or Chinese Shaolin fighters. Their combat skills were tightly entwined with mystical powers. But have you heard of mystical warriors from the Ukraine? Probably not. They were the Cossacks-Sorcerers, a.k.a. Kharacterniks, and their story is based on Ukrainian history and mythology.

A quick history check…

"Rear guard of Zaporozhians" by Józef Brandt (oil on canvas; 72 × 112 cm, National Museum in Warsaw)

The first mention of their existence dates back to the 15th century. At that time, a powerful organization—Zaporizhian Army—was created in the territory of modern Southern Ukraine. Its headquarters were located on the Dnipro River in a fortress called Zaporizhian Sich.

The lifestyle and situation at that time period weren’t easy or safe. So, to survive, Cossacks needed to have excellent physical form as well as exceptional military training and fighting skills.

All Zaporizhian Cossacks were brave and skilled warriors, but rumor had it some of them had also supernatural abilities.

And this is where history ends, and the myths begin…

What kind of supernatural abilities are we talking about?

Some legends say Cossacks-Kharacterniks were powerful mages. They could stop any bleeding, enchant bullets and catch them with bare hands, walk on water and fire, and become invisible if they had to. Besides that, they could survive without food and water for a long time. During wars, they used their enchanted mirrors to observe their enemies from miles away and had the ability to entrance them. Needless to say, with magical abilities like that in combination with outstanding combat skills, Kharacterniks presented a force to be reckoned with.

Some legends have it that Cossack-Sorcerers inherited their magical powers from Volhvs, who shared with them their secret Vedic knowledge. With the adoption of Christianity, Volhvs were forced to hide, creating a secret order, which still existed at the time of Cossacks-Kharacterniks. Supposedly, they opened military schools, where they taught not only combat skills but also spell-casting and enchantments that could be used in combat situations.

But wait, there is more…

The Power to Find Any Hidden Treasures.

Gods and Monsters of the Salamanderverse

One of the most fascinating and prominent supernatural powers the lore gifted Cossacks- Kharacterniks with was the ability to discover any treasure. Using stars and fire, they could create a marked path that led toward the hidden treasure.

But here is the best part!

That particular magic worked both ways. Not only could Cossacks-Sorcerers find any riches, but they could also hide their own treasures in a way that no one would be able to see them, even if they were in plain sight.

Healing Powers.

Cossacks-Sorcerers were known as powerful healers. According to legends, they could stop any bleeding and heal any wound received in battle. To do that, they used herbs, living fire and iron water. But of course, all that was used in combination with spells and magic.


Some stories and legends gifted Cossacks-Sorcerers with powers similar to that of shapeshifters and vampires. People believed that Kharacterniks could take the shape of animals, in most cases the form of a wolf or a bear, and to kill them, one had to use a silver bullet. Sounds familiar, right?

People also believed that some Cossacks-Sorcerers could rise after death, just like vampires, and that’s why they were buried face-down.

Cossacks-Sorcerers are just a small part of rich Ukrainian history, and there are quite a few of such heroes in Ukrainian folklore. So, what is true and what is fantasy? It’s for you to decide.  

If you’re keeping an eye on the Chronicles of Storm series, you may ( or may not 😉 ) meet Cossacks-Sorcerers in the next installment.




the salamanderverse

Enter the Fire Salamander World, 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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