Stories About Spies. Story 1. Through the Pecheneg Camp


Malomyr was looking at this picture from the  hill and planning his way through the enemy's camp. He understood the Pecheneg language and could more or less speak it. When he was a  little  boy, he and his mother who originated from the tribe of Polanians, were captured by Pechenegs and taken to their lands. Malomyr grew up in the strange environment, constantly had to endure abuse, humiliation, bullying. But the inner freedom-loving nature did not allow him to put up with it. Resistance grew in his heart and the strong character of the future warrior was formed. He absorbed all the best from his mother and at the same time learnt from the Pechenegs the skill of archery and riding a horse.

At the right opportunity, he fled, taking with him a long sharp knife, a bow and arrows and a small supply of food. He made his way to his land mostly at night, and during the day he hid in ravines and bushes. Once, beyond the River Psol, he was spotted by a guard detachment of the Kyivan Prince's guard, which nearly killed him on the spot, having taken him for a Pecheneg spy, because he was dressed like a Pecheneg. But the boy's looking exhausted and  his story, albeit sprinkled with unfamiliar foreign words,  made them believe him.

Over time, Malomyr's hardened nature thawed, and he took a prominent place in the Prince's reconnaissance guard. And nobody could  equal him  in the hunting field. He could quietly sneak up on game, skillfully disguise himself, and in general was unsurpassed in accuracy of aim.

Now he faced a difficult task: to reconnoiter the enemy's camp, to get through it to the Dnieper, to reach the other bank, to find the support, if they really were princely warriors, and to call on them to go the aide of Kyivites as soon as possible.

Malomyr descended in the dark from the walls of Kyiv, made his way through the ditch, hid for a moment, looked around and went along the stream, slipping on  a steep clay slope and with both hands holding on to the prickly bozthorn twigs. From time to time  he stopped and listened to the surrounding sounds. Against the background of the starry sky above Podil, on Lysa (Bald) Mountain, was towering the Greek deity of St. Elijah, erected by order of Princess Olga, who brought with her from Constantinople Greek monks in black cloaks and black hoods.

Behind Kyivska Mountain and Shchekavytsya, the Pochayna's wide lake was gleaming. The Dnieper was hiding somewhere in the distance. Huts of dressers of rawhides and potters were lining in the ravines on both sides of Pretychiv Didynets(Court) and Shchekavytsya. Previously, there was usually a commotion and smoke billowing from potteries there. But now all the working people went up the hill and hid behind the walls of Kyiv. Malomyr knew this place well.

The Pecheneg camp was still roaring and echoing with neighing of horses, human many-voiced noise, distant shouts, crackling of campfires. Having braced himself up, Malomyr jumped out of his hiding place and slowly headed towards the Dnieper. In his hands he was holding a bridle taken in advance and was asking everyone in Pecheneg if anyone had seen his horse. He kept a sharp knife in his sleeve. His hand was firmly gripping the bone block. He would never fall alive into the hands of the Pechenegs. He knew what would be done to him if he was found out.

He almost reached the bank. A few more steps… Suddenly he heard a shout behind him:

”Stop him! He's an enemy!”

He had no doubts. It was about him. Procrastination could mean death. He rushed to the saving river. Towards him, from the bank, was running a Pecheneg soldier in battle armor. Malomyr made a false movement to the left, and then jumped sharply in the other direction. At that moment, an arrow aimed at his back hit the Pecheneg. He jerked and awkwardly fell to the ground. And Malomyr took off his clothes with one sweep, jumped over the wounded man, made a few more steps and dived into the depths of the Dnieper.

As he came to the surface to take a breath of fresh air, he heard shouts behind him. But he did not look back. Only forward! To the other bank! On his right  and slightly in front of him, the water was being pierced by arrows, as if fish were jumping. The arrows were singing and throwing up water. He was already in the middle of the Dnieper. The arrows were still flying, but, fortunately, did not hit him. It is difficult to aim in the dark.

And he was swimming with all his might getting farther and farther with each passing second. Another movement - and he'll get to the saving bank. But he got too tired. And at that moment someone grabbed him tightly. Instinctively he tried to get free. But in vain. He was already dragged to the boat.

”Don't resist! Calm down! - He heard his native language and softened.

”My people!” - flashed in his brain.

In the camp, Malomyr learned that he had been pulled out of the water by the men of Voivode (warboss) Pretych.  He stood with a small group on the left bank of the Dnieper and did not dare to go to Kyiv, because the Pecheneg army was times larger.

The heroic deed of the young Kyivite during the siege of Kyiv by the Pechenegs in 968. Pic. by Andriy Ivanov


”If you do not approach the city tomorrow morning” the young man warned the Voivode of Princess Olga, “the people will surrender to the Pechenegs”.

Pretych then said to his warriors:

- Let's approach tomorrow in boats and, having taken the Princess and Princes, we will rush to this bank. If we don't do this, Svyatoslav will kill us.

And when the morning dawned, they boarded the boats, blew their trumpets loudly, and the people of Kyiv, in turn, shouted. The Pechenegs thought that Prince Svyatoslav had come, and ran away from the city.