I’m happy to announce that I just finished writing the first draft of the latest installment of the Shadow Enforcer series. This is the fifth book of the series, and the fourth book I’ve completed this year. It is also the twelfth book I’ve written that is set in the Fire Salamander magical universe.
Now that the manuscript is in my editor’s capable hands, I can take my time and talk about Gods and Monsters of the Fire Salamander World. Today, I wanted to introduce you to the Dvoedushnik—one of the most complex and dark monsters of Slavic mythology.
Those of you who follow the events of the Shadow Enforcer, urban fantasy series, have already met one of the representatives of this rare and mysterious magical being.
So, what is the Dvoedushnik?
The actual name, Dvoedushnik, in Old Russian means “Double Soul”, and that pretty much explains the nature of this Slavic mythological character.
Darkness and light. Kindness and cruelty. Docility and defiance. Innocent person by day and demon by night, the Dvoedushnik has two souls in a single body, and two heartbeats in one chest. This is not a demonic possession as the Dvoedushnik is born like this.
In Slavic mythology, the number two has a special context, and it isn’t a good one. Representing the duality of life, this number always carried the shades of supernatural darkness, danger, and impurity, symbolizing death. I wonder if that is where the oldest Russian tradition of taking two flowers to a cemetery originated from…
Besides that, the number two symbolizes mystical and magical powers, and the Dvoedushnik represents all that and more. It can be a man or a woman who has two souls in one body—a pure human soul and a demonic one. Besides having all the demonic powers, the Dvoedushnik can also wield some of the elements: wind, rain, thunderstorm, hail…
Double soul, double trouble.
It’s not easy to recognize a Dvoedushnik. During the day, it looks like a normal person, living an ordinary life, going through their day-to-day routines. However, at sundown, this person falls asleep—
Of course, reading that, you’re probably saying to yourself, “So what? Everyone falls asleep at night, including me, and I’m sure I’m not a Dvoedushnik.”
And you are absolutely right—most likely you’re not a Dvoedushnik. ;-) But here is what makes the Dvoedushnik different. When the Dvoedushnik falls asleep, it’s practically impossible to wake them up. Their demonic essence (dark soul) leaves their body and travels the world, free of the constraints of the human body and soul. If that is not enough, the demonic instance of the Dvoedushnik can take any shape, including the form of its human counterpart.
For example, a male-Dvoedushnik can take the shape of a horse, a dog, or even a rabbit. A female-Dvoedushnik can turn into a cat, a bat, a mouse, or even an inanimate object like a wheel or a poker…
In the morning, the demonic essence always returns to their body, and that wakes up the Dvoedushnik. Except for some strange dreams, the human part of the Dvoedushnik has no idea what their demonic soul had been doing at night. So, no matter how evil the demonic soul is, the human part of the Dvoedushnik is always innocent.
How can you wake up a Dvoedushnik at night?
First of all, if you suspect that someone is a Dvoedushnik, stay away and don’t try to wake them up when they are asleep. With their demonic powers and ability to control the elements, they can easily destroy anyone who troubles them. If you ever come across the demonic part of a Dvoedushnik at night—a wandering cat or dog, or a lurking in the dark rabbit—RUN and don’t look back!
But if you feel adventurous and still want to wake up the sleeping human part of a Dvoedushnik, it’s not as complicated as you think (if you know what to do, that is). Here is the secret… All you have to do is change the position of the sleeping Dvoedushnik in bed. Turn the body around, so the legs are resting on the pillow where the head used to be. That’s all you need to do.
I know it’s strange, but Slavic lore has a perfectly good explanation for that. According to legends, when the demonic soul returns to its body, it turns into a mosquito or a fly and slips inside the human body through its mouth. So, if you change the position of the body, the demon can’t find the entrance (Hmm… I’m not sure why the demon can’t just look around for a bit, but it is what it is…)
Before you do something as crazy as this, however, keep in mind that wakening up a Dvoedushnik is dangerous not only for you but for the Dvoedushnik as well. They can get severely ill for a prolonged period of time, or even die.
A long time ago, people believed that after death, the human soul of a Dvoedushnik went to Heaven, but its demonic essence turned into a deadly demon or an upir, and it could cause great and deadly calamities.
How can you recognize a Dvoedushnik?
There are a few ways to spot a Dvoedushnik.
1. They say that the Dvoedushnik is born with teeth. I find this one a little strange because quite a few babies are born with teeth, but it doesn’t make them a Dvoedushnik.
2. The Dvoedushnik talks to themselves… Oh, my… Now that I think about it, probably every writer out there has this symptom… 😉
3. According to Slavic lore, the Dvoedushnik may (or may not) have a red neck… Um… I don’t even know what to say to that one.
In Poland, for example, people suffering from somnambulism (sleepwalking) were considered a type of Dvoedushnik. In the Carpathians, people with an “evil eye” were also treated as Dvoedushniks.
If you’re adventurous enough and would like to meet a Dvoedushnik, read The Shadow Storm, the fourth book of the Shadow Enforcer series, and see how Damian and Cole fared against this rare and deadly magical character of Slavic mythology.