Bogdan and Shulam
- an ancient Turanian story, a tale of two lokas. 

from Guardians of Darkness

This is a time of the past, before modern law, before judges and lawyers, before industry.  It is a tale set in the long ago when people lived simply. 

There were two boys that were born one day, though they weren't the only babies that were born that day.  Both of these boys came from similar families and had similar things.  They were equal in that way, as was everyone else in their little society:  equal situations, the same yurt-houses, the same pottery, fur and rug furniture, horses, etc. 

The two boys did not know each other, nor did their families know each other, except perhaps to see each other in passing. They were called Bogdan and Shulam.  They were both born on the same day and at around the same time. 

Life was fine for both boys in their homes with their families. 

Finally they were old enough to go to school to learn archery and horse riding and other lessons from the teacher, on how to make useful tools, make furs from animal skins, and things like that.

On the first day at school, for some unknown reason, Shulam saw Bogdan and immediately hated him.  He stared and stared at Bogdan and the hate boiled up.  He wanted to hurt Bogdan.  He did not want to hurt anyone else.  He only wanted to hurt Bogdan. 

Bogdan did not notice Shulam at all as he listened to the teacher and learned his lessons.  They were being taught how to make a bow (as in bow and arrow).  All the children set about to make their bows.  As Bogdan worked lovingly at his bow, he realized he liked to work with his hands and, as he worked, he watched the bow take shape.  He was entirely focused on his bow taking shape and enjoying the work. 

Shulam also made his bow and for him it was a chore, a school lesson. But he watched Bogdan and saw Bogdan's pleasure at making the bow. 

All the children completed the work and made very beautiful bows; and the next day would be the time to hand them in to the teacher. 

The day before the bows were to be handed in, Shulam decided to destroy the beautiful bow made by Bogdan.  Bogdan was not competition to Shulam and Shulam was not competing with Bogdan at all -  in fact, some other kids in the class actually made nicer bows than both Bogdan or Shulam.   But that's not what the issue was about. 

Bogdan got into trouble with the teacher because he had no bow to hand in. Bogdan's joy was also destroyed because the bow he loved making is destroyed.  He had no idea how it got destroyed, or if anyone destroyed it.  It could have been accidentally destroyed; a horse may have trampled on it.  He didn't know.

Shulam seemed to ignore the other children who got higher or lower scores.  He watched Bogdan get into trouble and smiled, but something was missing, it was not as great a pleasure as Shulam thought it would be. 

Bogdan didn't notice this at all, he just felt very sad that his work was destroyed and still had no idea how it got destroyed.  

Each of the children in this village had their own horse.  Both boys had a horse, their own personal favorite that both boys knew from birth as their own horse.  They learned to ride these horses properly in school.  Horses in this society weren't just regarded as pets or transportation; they were regarded as people.  The horse was like a best friend. 

Shulam, having watched Bogdan for so long, knew which horse was Bogdan's.  One day, Shulam poisoned Bogdan's horse. 

Bogdan knew the horse since he was a baby when the horse was a pony.  He heard his horse howled and neighed the whole night in pain, but no one knew what made the loving and faithful horse sick.   The horse had to be put out of its misery.

Bogdan had tears in his eyes and, for the first time in his very young life, he experiences a new kind of intense pain he couldn't even point a finger to.  He couldn't say, "Mom, dad, it hurts right here." He never knew this kind of pain.  Pain was being burned by fire by accident, or falling down and getting a bruise or scrape.  Pain was a sore throat or stomach ache.  There was always medicine for pain.  Mom and Dad could always fix that kind of pain, or the Boga (shaman) could fix it if it was serious.  But this new kind of pain was deeper and there was no medicine to fix it: Bogdan's heart was broken. 

Bogdan's parents took him to the Boga, and the Boga said it would simply pass by itself. There was no medicine for this.  The Boga told the young boy, "turn within."  Bogdan could get another horse. But we know it would not be the same. 

Shulam saw this and was filled with joy. 

As the years passed, and both boys grew a bit older, Bogdan became used to the feeling of losing things he loved.  One after the other, he lost things.  A beautiful toy that was popular, which the crafters made for all the children, was lost when Shulam snuck in and destroyed Bogdan's toy. He didn't steal it.  He destroyed it.  Shulam already had one of his own. These were toys that could not be replaced.  Nobody made them anymore. Other children offered Bogdan their own toys.  Bogdan declined and said they should keep their beautiful toys. 

The Boga, knowing all things that happen in the village, saw all this through the years, but said nothing to anyone.  He decided to make Bogdan a beautiful cloth saddle for his new horse, the horse that had replaced the one that was killed.  It was a beautiful saddle with colorful weaving on it, a gift from the Boga. 

Shulam didn't notice the colorful beauty of the cloth saddle, but he did see that this saddle eased the pain in Bogdan's heart over the lost toy.  He snuck into Bogdan's stable at night and burned the saddle. 

The next morning, Bogdan found the saddle on the ground, burned. He sighed in resignation. 

Bogdan learned to be content with his other meager belongings.  He never lost his capacity to love something new, however.

When the boys grew older, came of age, they were, along with all others that came of age that day, given a magical scrying bowl with magical waters, by the Boga.  When the Boga gave this to the boys, he told all of them that they would be able to "see," within the magical water, anything they WISHED to see, so long as they wished it in their true hearts, for the water showed you only what you wished for in your heart. 

Bogdan, scrying bowl in hand, wished to see his first, beloved horse, and he saw the horse in the magic waters.  His horse seemed happy and this made Bogdan happy.  Then Bogdan wished to see far off places and other lands.  He saw beautiful things and lands in there, other places and times. 

Shulam thought hard about what he'd like to see and didn't want to see anything in particular.  Shulam only wished to watch Bogdan and he watched Bogdan day and night, he watched Bogdan looking into the magic waters and seeing beautiful things that brought him joy!  Shulam watched Bogdan leave and then snuck in and put poison in the magical waters so that Bogdan could no longer see anything beautiful. 

This was a particularly painful event for Bogdan, since he loved to see the beautiful scenes.  So much had been lost to him, so many things he loved, and this magic bowl showed him things he could never see in his real life.  But he never lost his ability to move on and love something new.

As years passed, Bogdan suffered one loss after another and the things he lost were not things that could be replaced.  He resigned himself to the fact that such things are temporary and he continued to love new things.  He never knew about Shulam, he didn't even know that Shulam existed or lived nearby.

As time passed and parents aged, the parents of Bogdan died.  Bogdan accepted this and turned to himself and his knowledge that all things come to pass, eventually.  His love for his parents lived on in his heart.

Shulam's parents also grew old and died. Shulam was happy to inherit all their belongings for Shulam had no love in his heart for anything.  Shulam delighted only when he could make Bogdan lose something he loved. 

But even when Shulam got pleasure from seeing Bogdan's heart broken once again, the pleasure was temporary and passed quickly. 

But Bogdan was becoming more and more detached toward things, even if he did love them.  He understood the nature of things being temporary, no matter what they were. 

Bogdan was now a young man.  Shulam was also a young man.  Now they were not equals. 

Bogdan grew to be a beautiful man, beautiful face, beautiful body.  Shulam grew to be ugly and vicious looking, even twisted or deformed in some odd way.  The beauty of Bogdan and the ugliness of Shulam was only noticed by the Boga.  Everyone else saw two young men that, more or less, looked like anyone else. 

Bogdan had grown to be a solitary man, content with what little he had in life and content with his music.  For a musician he was, but no one knew this.  For hours he'd be at home content to sing quietly.  This was the one thing of particular joy that he had, and no one knew he had this ability.  Nothing could take his music and song from him - it was not an object that could break, he thought.

One day, a beautiful young woman moved into the village.  Her name was Harika. Bogdan saw her when he went into the market and she was all things to him the moment he saw her, joy, love, laughter and passion.  It inspired him to sing out loud, and he sang a beautiful song. 

For the first time, everyone in the village heard Bogdan sing and they were surprised and they smiled.  His singing made everyone happy. 

Harika heard this beautiful song and saw the beautiful Bogdan.  She felt love for Bogdan.

Harika and Bogdan didn't notice or see it, but Shulam saw the whole thing happen.  But Shulam did nothing.   He already knew Bogdan could sing.  He had seen him and heard him in the scrying water bowl for many years.

As weeks passed, Shulam tried to do things.  He tried to destroy a present Bogdan bought for Harika, he tried to sabotage the cart that came to pick up Harika, he tried various things - but nothing worked.  Some kind of good luck seemed to be around Harika and Bogdan.  He tried to run Bogdan over with his horse, but there was a snake on the ground in the way, which caused the horse to shy away.

As the weeks passed, the love between Harika and Bogdan blossomed and grew until they decided to be married. 

Shulam kept trying to do things to destroy what the couple had, but nothing worked.  It was as if the couple was blessed.  Their happiness was known throughout the village and the beautiful voice of Bogdan could be heard by everyone, singing songs of love and joy to Harika.  His singing put smiles on the faces of everyone - except Shulam. 

Everyone attended the wedding and everyone was made happy when they saw the happy couple.  And so things went on this way for a few months after they were married. 

One day Shulam went to a Kara Hamal Boga (Black Magician Shaman) from another village, and got this particular kind of drug that would hurt a person's vocal chords.  He managed to get this into the food that Bogdan ate and, slowly, day by day, from sore throat to hoarseness and worse, Bogdan lost his voice.  Gone was his beautiful voice. 

But Harika loved him and nothing could tear them apart.

And so the beautiful voice of Bogdan was heard no more, but the love between Bogdan and Harika still grew and she became pregnant with his child.  The villagers became aware of this and all were so happy for the couple.  They were also sad over the loss of the beautiful songs Bogdan used to sing, for Bogdan's singing brought everyone joy. 

Unknown to the happy couple, Shulam watched and seethed with the desire to destroy Bogdan, to destroy the love itself.  He didn't want to kill Bogdan. He wanted to destroy him somehow. 

One day, after long and hard thinking about this, Shulam went to the Kara Hamal Boga again and got a spell that would transform him into a demon that could fly and make him immune to all protective spells. 

Shulam waited for Bogdan to be gone, for a time when Harika would be alone.  He took the potion and, to his surprise, was transformed into a monster of horror with fangs and talons and claws.  He didn't care.  He flew out his window and landed in Harika's room, a horrible demon with talons and claws.  There he raped Harika and tore her up until she died, the unborn baby was torn from her womb and ripped apart.  Shulam looked at the mutilated and mangled body of Harika, he looked at the dead child, and he felt joy.  He flew back to his village, not even caring if he'd transform back into a human form or not. 

He did not transform back! 

When Bogdan came home, he found his beloved Harika mutilated, raped and dead.  And he saw his unborn child's remains.   It was too much for Bogdan. THIS was finally TOO MUCH.   He SCREAMED out to Tengri (Sky God), he wanted to know WHY, WHY did this happen?  He got no answer.   He was angry.  For the first time in his life, he was ANGRY.

But Bogdan's anger turned to grief, such grief as he never felt in his life.  And in time, even this wound, the worst wound, healed as he turned only to himself for silent solace. 

Meanwhile, Shulam, realizing that he was stuck with the monstrous demon body, had to keep hidden in his hut.  He could only go out at night, covered with blankets to hide his monstrous form. 

Bogdan became known in the village as a solitary man, with very little possessions.  No one dared speak of the horror that had happened to his wife and child.  The villagers were too shocked and terrified and wondered what could have done such a thing.  Bogdan could no longer speak, his voice remained gone.  They felt so sorry for Bogdan, they didn't know what they could say to him. 

One day, on a solitary walk, Bogdan took special note of sheep grazing and thought them to be such beautiful animals.  He sat down to watch them.  Their frolicking and mating, their innocent behavior, brought him joy to see.

The villagers all saw what happened next - it swooped into the sky from nowhere, a horrible demon.  The demon, unbeknownst to everyone else, was Shulam.  In a rage Shulam swooped down on Bogdan and tore out his eyes so he could not see the sheep.

The villagers became alarmed and wondered why a demon would do such a thing.  Was Bogdan planning, perhaps, to steal the sheep?  They whispered darkly about this.  Despite knowing Bogdan to be an honest man, their suspicions grew. 

Bogdan managed to find his way home.  As the months passed, he accustomed himself to living as a blind man.  He could be seen, daily, taking his long walks, smelling the scents around him, feeling the wind gently caressing his face, feeling the warmth of the sun.  He went on long strolls.  He loved the scents and the feel of the wind and sun.  His sense of touch became very acute and he loved the feel of the blades of grass on his bare feet. 

Shulam, seeing this joy in Bogdan, was enraged.  Once, while Bogdan was on a stroll, he swooped down and destroyed Bogdan's legs so he could walk no more.  The villagers, finding Bogdan broken, unable to walk, carried him home.  They were all afraid to stay with the unlucky man who had been attacked by a demon.  So there they left Bogdan, alone, blind, mute, and unable to walk. 

Bogdan knew he'd get over the pain and he knew he still had his hands and his other senses.  At least, up to this point he had these. 

With the eyes that can see all things, the Boga knew that he too, ultimately served the Dark God (Karabog), which stood at the crossroads of a person's life.  His Dark God called out to him and he had to obey. 

The Boga visited Bogdan.  There, he gave Bogdan a magical vision of the past, of everything that ever happened to him from the day he was 5 years old to the day Shulam transformed himself and murdered his beloved Harika and unborn child and did the other horrible things to Bogdan.  He showed Bogdan everything and more; he made Bogdan relive everything wrong done to him, but this time, with the FULL knowledge of WHO caused it and the full knowledge of what was in Shulam's heart!  He clearly understood that Shulam never wished to do such things, or did such things, to anyone else. 

Bogdan was able to see with the Eyes of the Dark God, what was in Shulam's heart.

Bogdan saw it all, and knew all, as he stared into the vision; he saw it all.  He stared as the knowledge came to him, as the realization came to him.  A lifetime of scars on his heart, a heart broken over and over, the murder of his wife and child, his own personal mutilation: all was relived.

When the vision was finished, Bogdan stared up at the Boga with a magical gaze, with magical sight, with very cold reserve and Knowing!  He understood fully.  He understood the inner state of existence that was Shulam. 

The Boga said to Bogdan:  "You are at a point in time where you must choose a road.  You must tell me what you wish.  I can grant any wish you have, no matter what that is, but I can not raise the dead or reverse time.  I can only aid you in whatever it is you wish to do.  What do you wish?

The Boga then stood before Bogdan, awaiting Bogdan's wish. 

You are Bogdan. What would you wish? 

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