Gods and Monsters of the Fire Salamander World: Zlydzens.

(Image Credit: Zlyndi, watercolor illustration by a wonderful Belarusian artist Valery Slauk)


While writing the third book of the Fire Salamander Chronicles, The Burns Defiance, I discussed the story with my brother. During one of those discussions, he thought for a moment and said, "Have Gunz and Slavik met a Zlydzen yet? Could be fun..."


And I thought, yeah... why not? 😜 Could be fun for me to write, and hopefully, for readers to read. Not so much for Gunz and Slavik, though...


So, what are Zlydzens?


Illustration by Valery Slauk

One of the evil house spirits of Belarusian and Ukrainian mythology, Zlydzen is a small creature that lives in a house behind a fireplace. The people who live in the home possessed by these little monsters can expect nothing good since all sorts of trouble befall them. Zlydzens bring bad luck, sorrow, devastation and illness into their homes, and they don’t stop until the household is destroyed, and the owner is destitute on the street. While Zlydzens are invisible to the human eye, it’s easy to guess if you have new roommates who are up to no good. When you notice that everything that could go wrong goes wrong in the worst possible way, you know the true reason—you have Zlydzens in your house.


Despite their invisibility, the description of their appearance is available in Slavic lore. Some legends say they look like a terrifying, sickly, old hag dressed in rags. Some say Zlydzens look like a cross-bread between a cat and a dog that walks on hind legs and wears nothing except boots and a hat with long earflaps.


Some legends have it that Zlydzens work with One-eyed Likho (Likho Odnoglazoe), which makes them even more dangerous.


What can you do to get rid of Zlydzens?


Well… What can I say? If you have Zlydzens in your house, you are shit out of luck, no pun intended. Zlydzens usually travel in packs of twelve, and it’s very hard to get rid of them. Nevertheless, your situation is not hopeless. As a matter of fact, there are a few things you can do.


1. Cleaning time! When you sweep the floor of your house, you must sweep toward the threshold. If you are lucky (hmmm, I don’t know how you can have any luck with Zlydzens around), you might sweep the evil spirits out of your home.

2. Get smart… or smarter than Zlydzens, at least. The more reliable but harder way to get rid of Zlydzens is to trick them to hop inside a chest or a barrel. If you succeed in doing that, you should dispose of said chest/barrel as soon as possible. The best thing to do would be to take it to a crossroads and leave it there. And if some unfortunate soul would free Zlydzens out of pity, greed or pure ignorance, Zlydzens will become their problem.

3. A wooden stake, anybody? One more way to defeat Zlydzens is described in some stories of Ukrainian lore. Like most demonic spirits, Zlydzen can be killed by a wooden stake and thrown into a swamp. But if someone pulls the stake out, Zlydzen will come back to life, and it is not going to be happy.

 

Read The Burns Defiance, book three of the Fire Salamander Chronicles, to find out what Zane Burns had to do to get rid of this nasty house spirit.


Just to give you a taste, here is a short excerpt from The Burns Defiance.

 

“What the hell happened here?” asked Gunz, turning to Lord Miller. “The war of the worlds?”


“You tell me,” the Lord replied. “Can you cleanse my house from this evil or not?”


As soon as he said the word “cleanse”, a gust of cold wind rushed through the house. Something lifted a piece of wood in the air and forcefully propelled it at Lord Miller. The old man yelped and hopped aside with amazing speed and agility for a man his age.


Gunz couldn’t see anything, but his Salamander senses were on the highest alert. Yaroslav peeked at the Darling Lily device and pointed at the bright red apple on the back of it. Gunz opened his magical sight and took in a sharp breath.


“Holy mother of pearls,” he exhaled. Then he pointed at the entrance door and shouted, “Everybody, out! Now!”


Pieces of furniture and debris rose, flying like spears through the air. Avoiding a piece of a chair, Gunz rushed to the exit door and held it open, allowing everyone to exit. As Yaroslav was nearing the doorway, something invisible hit him on his back. The impact wasn’t strong, but the vampire coughed, clutching his chest, and staggered over the threshold, almost falling. Gunz slammed the door shut and leaned his back against it, breathing hard.


“Did you see what it was?” Yaroslav’s voice sounded in his mind.


Gunz gave him a tiny nod and turned to the Lord of the town. “Lord Miller, would you mind giving my partner and me a moment?”


The Lord frowned but didn’t object. He leaned heavily on the hand of his servant for support and walked off, halting a few feet away. Siv decided not to get involved, keeping an equal distance from the house and the owner.


“What was it?” Yaroslav asked quietly.


“Hell if I know,” replied Gunz. “It looked like an oversized dog, all covered in long fur. But unlike dogs, this thing was walking on its hind legs, wearing boots and hurtling heavy objects at us like they were feathers.” He scratched his head. “Oh, yeah, it was also hunching. A hunchback dog in boots. Have you ever seen anything like that?”


For a moment, Yaroslav stared at him without blinking and then burst out laughing. “I’m sorry,” he managed to say through the laughter. “It’s really not funny. I’m probably having a nervous breakdown and this laugh is hysterical.” He pressed his hand over his mouth, trying to suppress his laughter.


“Come on, Slavik,” muttered Gunz. “The Lord is watching us. What the hell is this thing, and how can we get rid of it?”


“It’s a Zlydzen,” explained Yaroslav, finally serious. “Someone must really hate this old man to curse him with an evil house spirit, especially this one.”


 

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