They say eyes are gateways to the soul. It’s an accurate statement, and if you are like me, which I highly doubt, you’ll appreciate the saying more. Sorry, that sounded pretentious, didn’t it? I’m not the best conversationalist with mortals. I shouldn’t assume things, though really, nobody should. Maybe you are like me, though it is highly unlikely since we are dying species. I could die any minute. Ever since they discovered us, they have tortured and killed us. I should probably explain, it’s a long story but I’m sure you can follow.
The crisp Portland wind whipped my hair back and out of my face. It almost looked like it could start pouring any minute, though I didn’t mind. I never had a problem with the rain, I found it refreshing. People passed me on the sidewalk, some scampering along with their tiny teacup dogs, some too distracted to make any form of friendly gesture, headed toward their lofts. The impending northern downpour created a sense of urgency throughout the public.
A twenty-something-year-old man walked in front of me, keeping a decent pace. His no longer white converse dragged on the pavement. I stared at the path before us, creating a cloud of fog opaque enough to get lost in. The man avoided the fog by turning into an alleyway that would eventually lead him to a graffiti ridden brick wall. My pace picked up as I caught up to the man. I tapped him lightly on the shoulder and he turned to me.
"Yes?"He spoke frightened at first, then calming down once getting a good look at me.
I stared into his blue eyes and surrounding the perimeter of the pupil was a ring of gold that my kind was only able to see. It was the color of his soul. It didn’t really mean anything special, everyone had a color, and some colors were more common than others. Gold was a fairly common color, and as I said, it really didn’t matter for the most part. I got close enough to him to do what I needed to do. My eyes kept him still, paralyzing him, though he was well aware of his surroundings. My voice acted like a security blanket.
“ Thank you.” My voice captivated him as I slowly placed my hand on his sternum, putting my sharp thumbnail on the fleshy area just below the stump of the neck. My nail punctured the skin, though no blood surfaced. No, only a gold mist exited his tiny wound. That my friend, was his soul.
I pursed my lips together and sucked in the air, and soon enough his soul. A white mist chased the gold. That was his spirit. A spirit contained memories and emotions. That isn’t necessary to take in, though separating a spirit from a soul is excruciating for the victim. When you take in a spirit, though, you take in memories for a short while, and you experience their life in a matter of seconds. Some people can’t handle that, so they resort to the separation. The man’s eyes rolled to the back of his head after the gold ring faded away. His knees dropped to the ground of the alley and suddenly it hit me.
Images of faces I didn’t recognize flashed before me; people I expected were his family and friends. Two people that were shown the most were a blonde girl around his age, and an infant. I saw scenes of the man I killed and the blonde girl(whose names somehow made their way into my mind), Andrew and Gabriela, kissing and spending time with the infant. A small, happy family.
That was the part that bothered me the most. Seeing the people I indirectly affected. I guess you could say I was a guilt-ridden immortal. As I returned to reality, I was greeted by rain pounding on my skin, along with roaring thunder. My eyes glanced down at Andrew one last time before disappearing into the storm, back into the forest.
Now, I’m sure you have millions of questions, but they will all be answered as time goes on.
What was I you ask? I was a myth Russian parents told their children to scare them. I was a Koschei. Say it with me, ko- shay-i. Why were we called Koschei? Well, that translates to ‘bone’ in Russian, and our original maker described himself as skin and bone whenever he hadn’t eaten in a while in his writings.
We weren’t that popular around the world. We were a Slavic myth that didn’t have the luxury of being written about and turned into a Hollywood production, full of false information. Unlike the Vampires in the world, we didn’t advertise ourselves. We stayed on the down low and stayed in small numbers. We Koschei don’t draw attention to ourselves, our kills didn’t leave a mess. In fact, the holes we make with our nails close immediately after the victim dies.
We did live forever; in fact, that exact desire was how we were created. Long ago, a warlock named Liridon created a spell to make him immortal. This caused him to remove his own soul. He had to keep it in a safe place so nobody would use it against him. Many times, Koschei will hide them in tiny objects. When your soul dies you die, and vice versa. The logic behind Liridon was that if he didn’t have a soul in his body, he couldn’t die.
The only way to kill him was if his soul entered his body and somebody was to kill him or if the object that embodied the soul were destroyed. When you put your soul back into your body, you become human again, so if you were to have a heart attack, be murdered, or even have your soul eaten, you’d die for good.
Liridon became extremely weak and bony as time went on. He contacted the deceased witches from his family through a spell, asking them what was wrong with him. They answered him and said, “You’ve upset the balance of life and death, so as punishment you must feed off of others souls.”
Liridon was taken back by the absurdity of the answer, though he was in no position to argue. Soon he began feeding off of human souls. He figured out how to eat them by creating another spell. The entirety of the Koschei race is rooted from magic.
His spell "Izlaz tijelo" ,which means to exit the body in Croatian, combined with him pricking the trachea of a human, allowed the soul to leave the body. Though, a problem struck. Whenever he’d consume a soul, he’d also consume an essence that showed him memories and emotions of the victim. Some more painful than others. This was driving him mad, and he couldn’t handle it, so he called upon the ancestors for help.
They replied saying, " The only way to rid your guilt was to separate the spirit with magic. Say the word, ′odvojene', (which means separate in Croatian) though you will be inflicting an immense amount of pain."
Liridon felt remorse, but he couldn’t handle guilt, created by the separation, on his own conscience, so he started to separate. Once again, another problem struck, everyone was dying; everyone he’d ever known and loved was growing old and dying. Nobody knew of Liridon’s condition, they just questioned how he maintained his age. He couldn’t tell a soul which forced him to move often. So Liridon called upon his ancestors once more, asking how to change others into what he’d become. The ancestors answered with, “Do as you’ve done to yourself."
Liridon knew what he must do. He had to take a soul out of the person and keep it safe while making sure to separate the spirit. Liridon met a beautiful woman named Marya and they instantly fell in love. He exposed himself to her and offered to change her. Liridon chanted the spell that he created and used on himself, "Izlaz tijelo", which caused souls to leave the body. He captured Marya’s soul and placed it in a jewel, securing and hiding it. Separating the soul from the spirit was necessary for memories to stay in tact, so Liridon did so and inflicted pain on his lover.
Their whirlwind romance seemed perfect but after a while things began to change. Liridon fell out of love with her and became violent. The power had gone to his head, and Marya had no choice but to protect herself by locking him up with the help of a longtime friend of hers. Together they stopped Liridon and Marya and her friend fell in love. Nobody knows their whereabouts, though Liridon is said to be locked in a pitch black cave miles and miles long and Liridon wonders the caverns longing to wreak his havoc on Marya, her lover, and the rest of the world.
With this story, you have to keep in mind that everything must have balance.
Sorry, I realized I told you a lot and that you may need some time to absorb it all. And I never did properly introduced myself, did I? I’m Kalina, though, I’d refer to myself as Lena. I reside thiry minutes outside the popular, hipster-infested town of Portland, Oregon. I live with my Aunt Vera and Uncle Ivan in their mansion which is used as an Lyceum for Koschei looking for a home. It is built on the Multnomah falls, hidden by a cloaking spell.
My clan was pretty big, and we grew as time went on. Full of blondes, brunettes and anything else you could imagine, my family’s house echoed with footsteps and loud voices all day long. My Aunt Vera and Uncle Ivan were the rightful owners of our massive dwelling, and the three of us were the only ones that shared blood. Everyone else was of our kind. We took in any young passing by Koschei and allowed them the option to stay with us.
There were very few of us that we knew of, so when we came across anyone jumped on the opportunity. Ivan was all about family; all he cared about was keeping us together and surrounding himself with friends and positive energy.
Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, before I was born, and before I was what I am, my parents decided to put their souls back into their bodies. It was the only way to have children. So, they both put them back in and kept them in until I was born. Without a soul, it was impossible to bore children, and once with a child, you have to keep it in or else the child will die. My father, wanting to support my mother, kept his in too so they’d be the same. The day after I was born, May 18, 1901, my mother passed away due to childbirth. Soon after my father took his own life to be with my mother. My Aunt and Uncle took it upon themselves to raise me and change me at the age of seventeen.
Vera thought of the bright idea to start a boarding school for us to learn about the world, how to protect ourselves, and electives without having the distraction of humans reffered to as the Lyceum. Vera and Ivan are really great people, they truly care about every one of us, though I find it utterly annoying to have new people living with us every few months. Currently there are 60 of us, I know it’s a lot.
Humans. That’s something I really never have had any interaction with other than when feeding. For now.