One day Perún, the thunder god, detected that all of his cattle had been stolen. Soon he detected the guilty one, too: It had to be his old adversary Veles.
He was the god of the underworld, but of cattle as well, so he thought that all farm animals belonged to him.
„We can’t have that behavior!“ Perún grumbled. He stretched a bit on his high seat on the World Mountain and searched for the thief. „Wait until I catch you…“
It didn’t take long for him to see Veles along with his herd on a lovely meadow. As soon as he saw him he cast a lightning to punish the thief.
But Veles wasn’t stupid. He knew all to well that Perún wouldn’t simply let him go. When he realized he had been detected he shape-shifted into another cow. The lightning shot past him into the ground.
Perún was angry. Missed! He took aim again.
Meanwhile Veles had hidden behind a high stone standing in the middle of the meadow. Perún’s lightning made the stone explode and change into a heap of pebbles. The flock of cows ran away.
Perún sighed. Not only had he missed Veles, he would have to search his cows again!
Veles had escaped into a nearby forest. It was dark and full of shadows down there under those high trees. The thunder god would have difficulties to see him there, he hoped.
Perún only saw some movement between the tree trunks. He aimed – but Veles had already shape-shifted into a big bear with black fur, and his lightning missed by far and frightened a few squirrels.
Just to be sure the god of the underworld decided to search for another hideout. Just behind the forest was a little farm. Surely Perún wouldn’t shoot on a farm! Think of the poor people living there!
Quickly he went under way.
Meanwhile Perún had apologized to the squirrels and searched for his adversary again. Finally he saw him, when Veles just showed up behind the farmhouse.
And Perún knew something Veles didn’t know: The farm had stood empty for quite some time by now! No need to hold back, Perún thought.
The lightning hit the farmhouse and tore down the roof. It landed a few hundred meters away in a tree.
But Veles got away again. Perún had shot a second too early.
The god of the underworld shape-shifted into a borzoi, and he left the farm as fast as his dog legs would carry him.
Perún shook his head. This was becoming ridiculous! He wouldn’t make a fool of himself anymore. It was time to use some tricks.
By now Veles had reached a lake. He went a few steps into the water and drank thirsty from all this running. Occasionally he looked around: No Perún near and far! Was it really possible he got away?
To be on the safe side he would stay in his dog shape for a while. Veles searches for a nice warm spot on the sandy beach and made himself comfortable, but even so kept an eye on possible intruders.
Perún had taken his chariot in the meantime and had driven down to the earth. After his arrival he took the form of a young wanderer. Equipped with a backpack and a staff he followed Veles’ s traces down to the lake.
Soon he detected the shape-shifting god, but he didn’t reveal his own person. Instead he sat down at the beach, took a picnic out of his backpack and started a hearty dinner.
Veles had seen the unknown guest, of course – and smelled! That one over there had sausages, delicious sausages! Veles might have been a god, but right now he was a dog as well. And in his dog shape he was thinking mainly with his stomach and nose. Carefully he rose and leered at the wanderer.
Perún had seemed to take no notice of the dog the whole time. But now he talked to him:
„Now there’s a fine dog! Look what I might have for you! Do you like a piece of sausage?“
Veles was still skeptical. But – sausage!!! Slowly he neared, the delicious smell in his nose.
The wanderer presented him with half a salami. Finally Veles couldn’t restrain himself any longer. He snapped for the sausage and started chewing.
At the same moment Perún let down his camouflage.
He grabbed the distracted dog, held him above his head and threw him as far as possible into the lake. And he could throw far!
Were he really a dog, Veles might have drowned, but -what a luck- he could shape-shift into a water snake. In that form he dived down to the lake’s ground. From here he could change into his own realm, the underworld. An Perún wouldn’t be able to follow him there!
Perún stood on the beach and grinned triumphantly for his success.
„Now stay where you are! And keep away from my cattle, Veles!“, he yelled after the underworld’s ruler, and finally went to search his cows again.