According to legend, Ivan was the youngest son of a werewolf Tsar named Vyslav. Like his two elder brothers Dimitri and Vasily, he never went through the First Change despite of their ancestry. Their father Vyslav had an incredible garden blessed by Gaia herself, that held many beauties. The King's favorite plant in the entire garden was the apple tree that bore golden apples. After some time though, the apples began to be mysteriously stolen. The guards reported that the Firebird, totem of the Silver Pack, had flew into the garden and took as many apples as he whished.
The Tsar told his sons that he who caught the bird would receive half his kingdom and be his heir to the other half. The eldest son Dimitri tried to catch the bird during the night but failed, in the second night his brother Vasily also tried and also failed, both had fell asleep; the pair tried to claim the Firebird had not come, but it had stolen more apples. Finally Ivan Tsarevich, the youngest son, asked to try; his father was reluctant because of his youth but consented. Ivan remained awake the entire time, and upon seeing the bird, tried to catch it by the tail. Unfortunately, Ivan only managed to grasp one luminous feather. The Firebird did not return, but the king longed to have the creature in his palace and commanded his sons to find it and bring him back.
The older brothers set out. Ivan could not be persuaded to stay and so his father yielded and gave his blessing. He rode until he came to a tall pillar in the middle of a field that said "whoever took the road straight ahead will know hunger and cold"; "whoever took the road on the right will be safe, though his horse will be killed; and "whoever took the road to the left will himself be killed, though his horse will live". Ivan took the road on the right and, true to the sign, a giant Gray Wolf appeared, ate his horse and ran.
Ivan wept for his horse and continued the journey on foot. He walked until he was exhausted, and when he was about to rest the Gray Wolf returned, having recognized Ivan's noble ancestry he offered to carry Ivan on his back. The wolf brought him to the garden of Tsar Dolmat where the Firebird was. The Gray Wolf told him to take the bird out without touching its golden cage. The prince went in, but thought it was a great stupidity not to take the cage, since he would have nowhere to keep the bird.
However, when Ivan touched it, bells rang waking everyone in the palace, and he was captured. He told his story to Tsar Dolmat, and the monarch replied that Ivar could have had the bird merely by asking for it, but now that he had come as a thief in the covering of night, the King would only spare him if he could make amends. Ivar agreed and received the challenge to bring Tsar Dolmat the horse with the Golden Mane from the kingdom of Tsar Afron.
Ivan met the Gray Wolf and admitted to his disobedience. The wolf berated him, but carried Ivan to the kingdom where were the stables they could get the horse, but warned him against touching the golden bridle. The bridle's beauty tempted him, and he touched it, and instruments of brass sounded. He was captured once again, and Tsar Afron told him that if he had come with honor and explained his plight, he could have given him the horse, but now he would be spared only if he brought him princess Elena the Fair to be his wife.
Ivan met the Gray Wolf again and admitted to his disobedience. Again the wolf berated him for not listening, but finally agreed to take Ivan to where he whished to go. Reaching the golden fence of the palace of Elena, the Gray Wolf told Ivan to sit down that he alone would do the job. The wolf snatched the princess, jumped over the fence and returned to Ivan. Tsarevich Ivan joined Elena in the back of the gray wolf who then darted away back to Tsar Afron's kingdom. No matter how fast the guards chased them, they were no match for the speed of the wolf.
During the long ride back Elena and Ivan fell madly in love. When the time came to deliver the princess, they could not bring themselves to do it. The wolf then turned itself into the form of the princess and had Ivan exchange it for the Horse with the Golden Mane. Ivan and Elena rode off on the horse, the Gray Wolf eventually escaped Afron and reunited with them. Ivan asked the wolf to become like the horse and let him exchange it for the Firebird, so that he could keep the horse as well. The wolf agreed, the exchange was done, and Ivan returned to his own kingdom with Elena, the horse, and the Firebird.
The wolf eventually escaped from Tsar Dolmat and reached Ivan. When they returned to the place where the Gray Wolf had eaten Ivan's horse, it said his service was done and left. Ivan and Elena dismounted, set camp and slept. His older brothers were returning empty-handed but found them. They killed Ivan, sliced his body to pieces, and told Elena that they would kill her if she would not say that they had fairly won the horse, the firebird, and her. They brought them to their father, and the second son Vasily received half the kingdom, while Dimitri was to marry Elena.
The Grey Wolf found Ivan's body and caught two fledgling crows that would have eaten it. Their mother pleaded for them, and the wolf sent her to fetch the water of death, which restored the body, and the water of life, which revived him. The Gray Wolf carried him to the wedding in time to stop it; Elena finally was able to tell the entire truth before the royal court. The older brothers were slain by their father in Crinos form in the frenzy that ensued.
Returning to his homid form, Tsar Vyslav declared that the Gray Wolf was to be no longer an outcast from the tribes. As for Tsarevich Ivan and Elena, they lived happily ever after. One of their children bred true and became one of the greatest heroes of the Silver Fangs.
- For the real Russian fairy tale, you might also check: Tsarevitch Ivan, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf.
- The Firebird Feather was a fetish used by the Tvarivich Twins to destroy the Great Zmei known as Sharkala the Cruel.