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|This a compilation of three short excerpts from my Nanowrimo novel of last year. These are short tales the characters tell each other to pass time, and give some background about the world.||
The Tale of the Greyladkluf
"Don't you know the history about the Greiladkluf?" Wraclaw asked. Kaljarn and Lodwas shook their heads. They knew many tales, but not this one. One couldn't know everything.
"The old sergeant who showed us the complex told us. We were coming over the same way that you were using, had the same view that you have had. He had pointed and said: 'This is the Greiladkluf. Since you live here and going to guard it, you must know its legend'.
Once upon a time there was a giant, his name was Greven. He had herded the sheep in the mountainous land beyond the gorge and wandered around with the animals. One day he had come to a lake, a beautiful blue lake amidst the hills and mountains. He sat down, stared into the water, pondering about the beauty of the land was and about his own loneliness. Suddenly a face emerged out of the water, the face of a beautiful woman. Her wet golden hair curled around her head, her face was just perfect. The elegant nose, the sharp chin, teh sensual lips. Only her eyes were big and sad and she was close to tears.
'Why is a lady who lives in the fresh water and is as beautiful as you so sad?' the giant asked. He just couldn't imagine the reason, if he was in the cool water instead of in the warm sun, and if he were as beautiful as this creature, he would definitely be happy.
"Ah, sir, how could my beauty and the fresh water help me? It is my fate that makes me sad, the fate that makes me a prisoner in this lake,' the girl said and started to cry.
'Don't cry, beautiful lady, tell me, who is imprisoning you? I will do anything to make you happy again,' the giant Greven pondered.
'Please, sir, don't make a promise that you cannot hold. For my prisoner is the evil dragon Heimsmog. You are lucky that he is asleep at the moment. Every day at noon he sleeps for exact one hour, but he will awake soon. I won't dare to think what he will do to you when he sees you here on the border of his lake, for this is his territory. So run now, while you can,' said the nymf, because that is what she was, and disappeared in the depths of the lake. Greven waited for a moment if she returned, but then he thought of the warning for the dragon and decided to disappear. Just in time. When he turned around on the top of a hill, he saw how a huge and disgusting grey creature came towards the lake. It had shrouded himself in a cloud of smoke, through which his yellow eyes pierced.
'Go away,' the dragon hissed, 'you have no business here, and if I ever see you again on the border of my territory, I will roast you.' Greven quickly ran away. However, he couldn't set the beautiful nympf out of his head, and every day at noon he went back to the lake, where they chatted and made plans for her escape. Every day Greven made sure that he was gone before the dragon Heimsmog woke up. The rest of the day he pondered alone, while he absently herded his sheep. Finally he got an idea. He went to the Harm the blacksmith, who felled a large pine and forged a shovel with a blade that was two feet tall and a pick axe of the same size. Then Greven took to work. Day and night he worked. He hacked a gully in the hard grey rock of the hill south of the lake, so that the water could flow out of the lake and the water nymf had a free passageway to the lake. He hacked and shoveled for a whole year, when the gully was nearly complete. Only a small wall remained between him and the lake. He rested for a moment, because he waited for the noon. He didn't want the dragon around at the moment of escape. Then he heard a thundering sound. Quickly Greven looked up if the dragon was approaching, but he saw something else instead. The remaining stone wall was moving towards him and broke apart under the pressure of the water. With a violent rush, as if the water itself had been captured and could finally brek free, the water poured down through Greven's gully and washed him away. Just before he drowned he felt the arms of the nymf around his body who tried to drag him up, but it was of no use, the Giant was too heavy.
It is said that the giant Greven has washed upon a sandbank before the coast and it turned into one of the rocky islands there. Every day at noon, the rock is visited by a water nimf, where she shed some tears for her brave savior, it is said."
The ghost of the hills
Towards the evening the weather changed. The past two weeks the weather had been fair, but as they setup a camp for the night, the rain set in.
"Bah, Suwin has a bad timing. He could have waited two days more, then I would have been at my nephew's and not somewhere out in the hills. Fortunately we had taken the hay in before I left, so that is done. The timing could have been worse, too," the old man complained. Lodwas and Kaljarn weren't amused either, since from now on it would probably rain every day. The summer was over, the autumn rains had begun. The next day they were all grumpy and wet and didn't say a word anymore. They moved hill up, hill down along the small path on which the old man lead them. For a while they followed a small stream, occasionally they had to hack their way through the thick undergrowth, then they were on the open hills again. It didn't make any differences, the first shelter they would find was probably the village of Andas' nephew. However, on the second evening they came across a few abandoned huts. They were built of crude stones and looked as if they could collapse any moment, the roof was leaking at some places, but it was better than outside in the open. To their delight they even found some firewood in one of the huts.
"Does anyone live here?" Kaljarn asked Andas.
"No, but sometimes shepherds or travellers camp here for the night. Some say that ghosts live here; they prefer to spent the night in the open and let themselves rain wet," the old man said and shrugged. "I have never seen a ghost here in all my live. And I have travelled along this road often enough."
"A ghost?" Kaljarn asked and stroked his chin. "I have never seen a ghost before either and I have travelled a lot. But sometimes one has to take these stories seriously." Kaljarn thought of Zestros the destroyer, and of the mine monster. Not everyone had believed in either, until it was too late. Zestros had been real and was dead now, however, nobody had proven the existence of the mine monster yet.
"Oh well, I can just as well tell you the story," the old man said and sat down next to the fire. "This huts once belonged to a shepherd and a family."
"Did he live here alone? Only with his family? This seems to be a pretty remote place," Lodwas asked.
"Yes, it is remote place, it also was at that time. But there is a reason he lived here. When he was young, he lived in the village where now my nephew lives, about a day's march away. He wandered with his father's sheep through the hills. He was rather carefree and didn't return home every day, only when he had no more food and was hungry and wet. However, the sheep he had to herd did remarkebly well. One day he came with his herd close to another village. Now it isn't very nice to graze the grass of another village, as you can imagine."
Kaljarn nodded. On several occasions he had to interfere between neighbours twists about graslands for their animals, although in his own district Veyderlai most pastures were marked by their owners, and the animals that grazed their were cows. He could imagine that here in the open hills there were some rules as to which village could herd their sheep where.
He was found by a girl who was seeking herbs. Well, they started to talk until the evening. The darkness set in, and a serach party from the village came searching fro the girl. They knew where she wanted to go, so they had found her quite soon and the young shepherd. They drove the shepherd away, in the dark and took the girl home with them. However, the girl had fallen in love with the young shepherd and she run away the next day."
Lodwas nodded. "Yes, these are the foolish things young people do." Kaljarn looked strange at his king. Was he talking out of experience? That wouldn't be good behavior for a king. Suddenly Kaljarn realized that he didn't know why his king had never marriaged.
"Anyway, she travelled with the young shepherd back to his village. Soon after, a group of men from the girl's village who had followed the traces of the sheep up to Flinbag. Conflict arose and the strangers threatened to burn the whole village down when they didn't hand the girl back. Alltogether a nasty situation."
"Nasty indeed. How did they solve it?" Kaljarn asked.
"They talked the whole night, and finally they sorted out that they would get the girl back and that the boy would be punished, in Flinbach. In the mean time the two lovers had run away, though, and fled to this place. Here they built these houses. They lived from small animals they could hunt down and from the berries they could find."
"And how was the conflict solved?" Lodwas asked.
"They had searched every house, but the girl wasn't there anymore, obviously. The other village got ten sheep and a few good tools as compensation," the old man said.
"And where does the ghost part appear?" Kaljarn asked.
"Patience, young friend, the tale is not yet finished. Soon after, sheep started to mysteriously disappear in the surrounding villages. Of course, everyone accused the young shepherd who had disappeared, but nobody had seen him near any village. No traces were found, except that from a sheep running away. The people guarded their sheep, but they kept disappearing. Finally a search party was formed to track the couple down and retrieve the lost sheep. They found them at night, here in these huts. Together with a herd of sheep," the old man said.
"Their sheep?" Kaljarn asked.
"Nobody knows, but it didn't matter to them, here they were, the two scape goats, together with a herd of sheep. So they were dragged out of their huts and killed. In that time people often took the rights in their own hands, especially here in the hills."
"And?" Lodwas asked.
"Then the strange things began to start. Although people avoided this much as possible, sheep seemed to be attracted by it. And when they came close, they started to get accidents. They fell down from a steep cliff, they got attacked by a bear. They got mysterious illnesses. Still later, a mysterious herd of sheep was reported, strange sheep, that looked ghastly unreal, with large, black, unsheepish eyes. They were herded by a guy and a girl that had much similarities with the young shepherd and his love qho had built these huts. When someone tried to speak to them, they just disappeared. If I have to believe the stories, they disappeared in thin air, together with the sheep. People say it's better to avoid this place. But why should I? I haven't done them any harm, I just use their huts. They should be happy with it that they are still used, that their effort hasn't been futile. Look at me, I have been here, oh, often enough. And I still got old. If you don't mean any harm, this place is harmless for you."
"This may or may not be true," Kaljarn said. "You never know with ghosts and they can have strange grudges against people. Sometimes they have to fulfill a certain condition, then they disappear forever. Others stay around and haunt the innocent until the end of time. I have encountered many strange tales and stories on my travels, although I have never seen any ghosts myself."
"I think it's time to sleep," Lodwas said.
"Yes, it is," Kaljarn said. "Let's keep watch one by one. You never know what else is running at night through the hills."
Gauld the Giant
"It was long ago, when giants ruled the earth. Yes, always giants. Did we become smaller or did they become bigger in our memory? Anyway, giants ruled the earth. One of the mightiest of them was Gauld. He marched over the fields and hills, his hair shone bright in the afternoon sun, his chest was broad, his arms were strong. His self-confidence was as big as Mt. Snogothorn. He liked to held contests, with everyone who came across him. Every time he won, and every time he tied his newest trophy to his belt. His belt was full of jewelry, embroidery, horns, the left ear of a hare, a hair curl of the maiden of the Barfot Lake. Then there was no-one left to take challenges from. He asked and pleaded, he insulted and humiliated, but nobody would come to contest him. Finally he climbed the Snogothorn, lifted his belt up in the air and proclaimed 'Look at this belt. I am the legitimate ruler of the world. I won a contest of everyone, nobody can stand up to me. If you don't agree, challenge me now or be silence forever. I will wait here for three days, and if nobody comes by, then you will all obey me and do what I say, for I am the ruler of the world!'
His words drifted far and wide over the lands, to its farthest edge. No one showed up that day and neither that night. He waited for another whole day and the whole night, and last one. As he wanted to claim down and celebrate his victory with lots of heavy beer, an old men appeared in front of him. He stood just five foot tall, was bent and walked with a stick. He was out of breath and had a red face from the climbing.
'Nice spot you have chosen up here. It's a good view. I think I would like this spot,' he said.
'What are you doing here, old men? This spot is mine and shall be forever mine, for here I have proclaimed my lordship over the world. I gave the world three days to compete with me and nobody showed up, so I am the true leader of the world now.'
'Ah yes, that little competition. I heard your proclamation and I always like contests. '
'You?' the Giant said and laughed so loud that he nearly fell down the mountain.
'Yes, me,' the man said. 'What is wrong with that? Sorry that it took me so long to get here, but you see, Ispan is far away, my dragon became hungry halfway and I helped Waven the sea creature to retrieve his lost egg.'
For the first time, the giant felt a bit uneasy. He looked at the old man who leaned confidently on his stick and waited. Ispan, that was at the other end of the world. And he rode a dragon? A hungry dragon? And the egg of Waven the sea creature was held captive by a terrible snake that had hidden it deep inside the earth in a safe with seven ingenious slots. And this old man claimed to have retrieved the egg in at most a day? He was certainly bluffing.
'Well, you want to challenge me. In what competition,' the Giant asked. He didn't care, he could compete with that man in any competition.
'I have thought about this thoroughly. Since I am small and weak and you are big and strong, it will be difficult to find a fair competition. But I found something. Do you know the caves system that runs under this mountain?' the man said.
'My competition is this: we run through the caves, and he who reaches the other side first has won,' the man said.
'That sounds fair enough. We have a deal, ' the giant said. Although he had never been in the caves and didn't know the way, he thought that he could at least ten times faster, so he could get lost ten times as much as that old man and still win.
They descended the mountain, and there the dark opening of the cave system was.
'Ready? Go!' the man said. The giant started running into the caves, slowly followed by the old man. The man was only ten foot in, when he heard the giant disappear in the distance. The man turned around and worked slowly on the entrance of the cave. With a sly grin on his face, he took a pickaxe from his belt and started to hack here and there at the cave entrance. Then he quickly went outside, and from a safe distance he noticed how the cave entrance collapsed.
To the first person he encountered, he said:
'The world has swallowed his ruler Gauld is safe.' For the man knew that the cave system had only had one entrance, so now there was none. But the giant is still running in the caves, frantically searching for its exit. His footsteps make the earth thunder, and when he hits his head, the earth shakes."
|The Great Giver - Last part||Wizard's Lament (poem)|
|Hear the voices!||A dragon's life|
|We gather at the stones|