Story of how people with their greed,
hate and endless bloodshed wake up ancient evil forces.  

Hungry wolf will come and devour the sun
The light will fade
Bones will whiten in swamps
Snake will slither out

Just a frozen moon will shine in the skies
Snake will spit venom – and spew curses

Her evil eye sees all!

The black rider will ride
Bringing with him
Werewolves, evil spirits

They will writhe, crawl
Fill up the Earth
They will tear and rip

War, plague, famine
Will be the rider’s names
Long awaited, for centuries collected
Curse of the witch

The evil eye sees all, views everything
No one will hide, everyone will be seen
The vicious mouth has said – a poisonous word
In the black book of magic written long ago

Each other’s throats
People will gnaw
For goods and gold

More and ever more
Desire will drive them
They become a nation of slaves

Deaf ears
Deaf ears will hear words of lies
Not that long
Soon enough…

Hungry wolf will come and devour the sun
The light will fade
Bones will whiten in swamps
Snake will slither out



This song explains the birth of Kurbads…

On a mountain top
By a clear wellspring
Laima * weaves fate
Plaiting the thread
A golden spinning-wheel runs under her feet

Who will live and who will die
Where joy will be heard and where tears will be shed
One thread is long, the other is short
As she decides, so shall she weave

A cuckoo calls from a tree
Behind the window a young lady is weeping:
–  “If only Laima would give me a son
I would nurse and fondle him as best as I could!”

Don’t cry young lady – Laima already knows
She weaves fate, plaiting the thread
For soon there will be time for a hero to come
For a hero to come and start his story

In your dream you will see what must be done
Catch a pike-fish, gut it and boil it
She who will eat that pike
Will soon become pregnant

Half man, half beast – the mare will bear a son
Like flint, like steel – undefeatable!

But everything will happen as Laima has decreed
There will be three who eat that pike
A son born from a lady, another from a maidservant
But loudest cried third one in the white mare’s stable

Half man, half beast – the mare will bear a son
Like flint, like steel – undefeatable!

They will become like brothers
But one will be above them all
Not by years, but by days he will grow
Kurbads – son of the mare he will be called

No work will be too hard for him
On the third year they send him to hunt
On the seventh he boldly lifts his sword
He will roll boulders like they were peas
He’s Kurbads – son of the mare

* Laima – the goddess of fate and destiny



Kurbads goes to cleanse the new barn from evil spirits and finds out that only by defeating three ogres, who will ride across the bridge at night, can he succeed. On the first night, he fights the Three-headed ogre and kills him. On the second night, he kills the Six-headed. Finally, he stands against the Nine-headed. Kurbads reminds his brothers not to sleep and watch over the jug of water. If blood starts to flow from it, let them call for the mare, because this means the fight is not going well for Kurbads…

The evening casts long shadows
Red sun is setting beyond the forest
Kurbads is going to guard the bridge
Where the swift blood river runs

It’s midnight and the ground starts to shake
The Nine-headed ogre is heading here
Look, Kurbads, that’s a lot of heads there!
Stopping by the bridge, ogre shouts:

–  “Kurbads, you bastard, let me pass
Your life is drawing to an end!”
–  “You better come and fight me here
Because I have something for you”:

Strong hands and a brave heart
Three stars which shine on my sword!

Now hero strikes as hard as he can
A few heads fall down
Three new ones grow in place where the others fell
Ogre is going to ram him into the ground

–  “Your life ends here, you bastard!”
–  “Wait, give me a break to rest my hands
That’s the way true warriors fight
For even rain and wind must sometime cease”

From the jug, blood already overflows
But brothers don’t care, they sleep tight
Kurbads hurls a mace to awaken them
Let them hurry with the news for his mother

Where Kurbads hacked, his mother kicked
Now it’s working
Now it can be done
Like a rotten trunk
The Nine-headed falls

Strong hands and a brave heart
Three stars which shine on my sword
Strong hands and a friend’s shoulder – the sun is rising!



Kurbads decides to go and seek his fortune across the world and do greater deeds. But on the night before he leaves, he hears little bugs speaking and finds out that the three ogres were the husbands of three witches, who have sworn vengeance and with their dark magic seek to kill him and his brothers… 

Let loose the wildfires
Call forth the storm
Lay sheets of dusk
Wrap the forest in darkness
Cover the tracks

Turn yourself into a springhead
Let them feel thirst
And when they hungrily drink
Death of the Three-headed ogre will be avenged

I slash my sword crosswise over the spring
Those who come here to drink – they will die!

Conjure evil signs
Boil the poison
Prick the needle of bone
Weave cobwebs across the road

Turn yourself into a meadow on fringe of the forest
Let them feel fatigued
And when they fall asleep
Death of the Six-headed ogre will be avenged

I slash my sword crosswise over the meadow
Those who come here – they will die!

–  “What can witches do to me?
Two already lie in their own blood!”

You’ve killed two, but the third is undefeatable
For no one has escaped her claws with their lives

Shortly the Snake Witch comes across the sky
Flapping her wings and spitting poison

–  “No monster like this can frighten me
Three fistfuls of sparks I will hurl down her throat!”



Ancient Latvian folksong

In a yard of the father’s son
There are three devils hiding under stone
I have steed of the Thundergod
He kicked all the devils

What devils can do to me
What to me steed
I can trample down them all
Under legs of my steed



The Snake Witch flees to the seaside to drink water there and cool down her throat. Meanwhile, Kurbads arrives at the smithy where the Sky Forger is working. He spends some time there helping the blacksmith. In return, the blacksmith promises to forge a sword for Kurbads…

Bellows blow, the anvil pounds
Sword of the hero will soon be born

I was the first who gained control
Subdued by my will
The spirit of fire
Drove it into furnace
And taught the people
How to forge weapons, swing the hammer
Blow the bellows, cool and grind metal

Hey, blacksmith, forge a sword for me
As heavy as only few can lift it

Bellows blow, the anvil pounds
Sword of the hero will soon be born

Weighing as much as three heavy iron bars
Will it be heavy enough?
Not yet
My sword must be heavier

Forge, blacksmith, a sword for me
As heavy as only few heroes can lift it

Iron and fire, who dares to lift me up?
Son of the mare!
What will you call me?
The Devilslayer!

Forge roars, the furnace burns, bellows blow day and night
Hammer strikes, the anvil pounds
Sword of the hero will soon be born

Three more iron bars are forged!
Can you lift it?
Yes, now it is the proper size
And a proper weight for me!

I forged a sword for you, Kurbads
A sword which only you can lift!



Kurbads arrives in the kingdom where the king’s daughter has been kidnapped and promises to rescue her. In the bathhouse, where the king’s daughter was last seen, he catches a devil, who tells him about a tremendous stone in the middle of a swamp. If someone rolls aside the stone, a black hole will be seen. It is deep down to the Underworld. There, he must search for the king’s daughter. Thus, Kurbads goes to swamp, looking for the huge stone…

Beneath grey skies
Where the ravens croak and circle
Between the crooked swamp birches
Lies ancient burial ground

The sun never shines there
Every day fine rain drizzles
Only a few among the living know
How to find the path there

Across the morass dank mist drifts
Through grass and wet soil Kurbads is wading

Everything there seems dreadful and gloomy
Woeful moans resound in the mist
Red eyes flash in the dusk
Ghostly figures twist and sway

Like an isle in the sea
Covered with green moss
There in the middle of the swamp
Sleeps a giant…

Menacing and grim in the bog stands the Stone Sentinel
And there’s nowhere further to go
Menacing and grim in the bog stands the Stone Sentinel
It keeps gates to the Underworld closed

If you can lift and roll it aside
A black passage will be seen
Only those who are fearless enough
Dare to descend down below

– “What’s up, Kurbads, has your heart sunk into your boots yet?”
– “To hell with it, I am climbing down!”

Be warned, devils
Kurbads is coming
Soon, heads will roll
As the Devilslayer starts to work



After a long time, Kurbads finally arrives home. People ask him to tell them where he had went and what he had done. Kurbads tells them about how he climbed down into the Underworld and freed the king’s daughter, who is now his wife, from the clutches of devils, how the Snake Witch bit the rope after he pulled up his new wife, and what he passed through to find his way out from the Underworld…

Tell us, Kurbads, where have you been
In the foreign lands what you have seen?
People have long sung songs about you
Of devils and monsters you have fought

I have been in the Underworld
Can anyone believe that?
I chopped down three devils there
And saved the king’s daughter

Tell us, Kurbads, say the truth
How did you descend into the Underworld?
Did it really go easy for you?
And how did you ever return back home?

It was hard down there
But I had powerful words with me *
They helped and protected me
Even Laima herself paved my way

The Snake Witch bit my rope in two
I fell back
And was forced to go and find another way out

The monstrous werewolf
I overcame
I helped a blind man
Regain his eyesight
The nestling of a great eagle
I saved from the hail
For such deeds
Eagle repaid me greatly

Great eagle carried me
Out to the surface
Then I arrived home at last
That’s how it was
That’s what happened to me in the Underworld

* Powerful words:         I was born a child of iron
A mother of steel gave me life
I put on a jacket of iron
A coat made of steel

They struck at me, stabbed at me
Like a block of oak
They couldn’t hit or stab me
Like to a chunk of steel



For some time, Kurbads lives in peace, but the Snake Witch cannot forget what Kurbads had done to her and seeks revenge. She instigates nine kings from nine kingdoms to go battle against Kurbads. The great army is lead by an invincible ogre, called Black Rider…

Whatever, whenever, soon it will come
Smile from your lips will fade away

For everything you will pay
When the bloody dawn breaks
Starved wolves will feed upon carrion
Hark! Earth is pounding under footsteps of iron

I break bones like splinters
Crush my enemies underfoot
There is no one yet born
To stand against me – he would fail miserably

Black rider, the merciless killer
Bone breaker, cutthroat
Black rider, the blood drinker
Head cutter, man eater

Bloody footprints trail behind me
Wherever I go, I spread misery and pain
I’m a curse for all the living
War, plague, famine – those are my names

Four mothers gave birth to me
In the black cave of a monstrous beast –
Envy, Avarice
Lust and Greed were their names

A thousand ears hear my every word
Blindly follow all my commands
It is you yourselves who called me
You yourselves showed me the way here
Yes Master, yes Master – they obey me!
Yes Master, yes Master – they call me!



The Black Rider invades Kurbads’ land and decisive battle begins, where Kurbads finally meets his two archenemies eye to eye!

Northern winds blow ever stronger
Black storm clouds gather on the horizon
Nothing will remain as it was
Time has changed everything
Nothing will be as it was before
Time has changed everything

Hero’s name will vanish in depths of time
The story itself will be changed
Those who died will be forgotten
New grass will sprout from their bones

But still it is not the end
The battle rages on
There Kurbads stands
And fiercely fights

He will stop the sun in the sky
Turn the river against the stream if needed

Neither curses, nor afflictions can affect him
No black magic can do him harm
With courage he has survived it all
But now Black Rider stands before him

Kurbads lift his sword up high
Splits the ogre’s skull in two
Black Rider falls from his horse
That job is done at last!

And enemies run
As Earth burns beneath their feet
A new dawn approaches
Woven in golden rays
Black storm clouds scatter
And the sky is blue once again!

But the evil eye does not sleep, it sees all
Where the deep wound splits the shoulder
Snake still manages to spit her venom
Just before the hero kills her

Kurbads lifts his left hand and crushes the Snake Witch
Raises his right hand and cleaves ogre’s skull
And only then, killed by the Snake’s deadly venom
Falls down upon his sword and dies…


11. KURBADS (Bonus track)

Cover version of the old song from Latvian hard rock band OPUS PRO, 1986

Here you can read Lithtuanian translation