Lade Inhalt...

The Pricess and the Key

von David J. Greening (Autor:in)
69 Seiten


Every time Kura-Kura the turtle girl could not fall asleep, her father would tell her a story...Tales of the Sun and the Moon, the Korua Raksasa, the boy who fell in love with a star or the Mango’nui, the Great White Shark. … and of course the story of the Princess and the Key.



The Ring and the Dragon

Once, there were three brothers who lived together with their father at a lake. Their mother had died early, and so it had been their father who had raised them on his own. Gabha, whose name means ‘smith’ in our tongue, was a smith who could work magic into whatever he crafted. But he had always been wary of teaching his sons either his trade or his magic, as only Mhadra, his middle son, had turned out well, while his oldest, named Brí and his youngest, called Fáinne were deceitful and full of mischief. And so, only Mhadra had learned the trade from him. Still, though he was only too well aware of their shortcomings he loved them as they were the only family he had left.

One day, Gabha went into his smithy and decided to make something special.

“Sons,” he said to the three, “today I will make something I have never made before. I need the house and the smithy to myself to work my magic.”

At this, Mhadra, nodded and left to go fishing in the lake, but Brí and Fáinne grumbled and complained at having been asked to leave.

“Can I not stay?” Fáinne, whose name means ‘he-who-encircles’, asked lazily, but his father shook his head.

“Can I help thee, father?” Brí, whose name means ‘might’ in our tongue, asked cunningly.

“Thou only wishest to learn of my magic, so thou canst put it to thine own uses,” Gabha replied, shaking his head sadly, “So I must say no to thee also. And now both leave, for this is still my house.”

“Hopefully not much longer,” Fáinne mumbled, rising.

“Only while he lives,” Brí added, and the two of them grumpily went out of the house, leaving their father to his devices.

Gabha fired up his furnace and went to work. He worked the whole morning and the entire afternoon, ceaselessly and without tiring, steadily forging and crafting. When the sun set, he was still not finished, and through all of that night he endowed his creation with powerful magic of his own making.

When the sun finally rose the next day, his work was done. He thrust his creation into a vat of water, filled with hissing, boiling water, filling the smithy with steam. When at last the metal had cooled, he held the object he had made up into the light to scrutinise it: a ring. It was a masterpiece, and Gabha knew from that moment on that whatever he made from now one would be secondary to what he had crafted through one entire day and night. The ring was perfect. Smooth and golden, it shone as if the smith had managed to incorporate the light of the sun itself into it.

Gabha took it into his hand and weighed it. It was both light and heavy at once, a golden band, beautiful in its simplicity, and still complex from the magic he had worked into it. He tried it onto several different of his fingers, and each time it fit perfectly, as if it had been made precisely for that single digit. Tired, the smith left the ring on his finger, deciding he needed to rest from his labours, and laid himself to sleep in a cot he kept nearby for precisely that purpose. Little did he know he had been observed.

“It is beautiful,” Fáinne exclaimed.

“Indeed, it is a masterpiece,” Brí agreed, nodding.

This had not been the first time their father had asked them to leave when he went to work, and so, with time, they had crafted for themselves a look-out, from where they were easily capable of keeping watch on their father’s activities. And as they set eyes on the ring, both immediately knew they had to possess it.

“I must have it,” Fáinne said, “it is perfect.”

“Indeed,” Brí, who was both craftier and more deceitful than his brother, agreed, but only in fact wished to lay his own hands on the object. “But father will never give it to either thee or me. Not as long as he lives at least.”

“He is old,” Fáinne replied, grinning nastily, “and, after all, everything dies.”

His brother grinned back in understanding, saying:

“Then maybe we should help things along.”

And so, the two brothers agreed to murder their father, so that they could possess his magical ring. Over the next week they plotted and planned, but neither had the courage to do the deed. Until one day, when Mhadra had once again gone out, Fáinne could contain his greed no longer and said:

“I will take it from him now! Thou canst either help me or not, but I will wait no longer!”

“I will help thee, brother,” Brí replied, lifting his hands in a gesture of appeasement, for he had only waited that his brother perform the deed, not wanting to sully his own hands.

“So, we are agreed then,” Fáinne said, and led the way to the smithy.

They went inside, each grabbing one of the swords that their father had crafted, and approached Gabha, who, busy pounding on his anvil, had neither heard nor seen them. Without hesitation, the youngest brother struck down his father from behind, mortally wounding him, while the older of the two stood by. As the smith lay there dying, Brí quickly turned him over to get at the ring, but found every single one of his ten fingers bare.

“He does not have it,” he cried out, immediately glaring at his brother in distrust, “you took it!”

“I did not!” Fáinne spat back, taking a better grip on his sword, “that little sneak Mhadra must have somehow got it into his fingers!”

This was in fact not far from the truth. Knowing that nothing good would come of it if either Brí or Fáinne laid hands on the ring, the smith had given it to his middle son that morning, before going to work at his forge.

“Take it to our neighbour Cúramach,” the smith had said, “he is a versed in magical lore and will put good use to it.”

And so Mhadra had set out and taken the ring, without knowing that he was obeying his father’s last wish.

“This is an object of powerful magic,” Cúramach had said when Mhadra had presented him with the gift of his father. “I will accept it, but not as a gift. I will take it as a token of thy trust and good-will.” And then seeing the way the young man looked at his daughter, he added, “Thou hast given it to me freely, without thinking of keeping it. For this I shall give you the hand of my daughter, Feírín.”

And truly, Mhadra had long since been in love with the daughter of Cúramach, but had never possessed any gift worthy of the wizard’s daughter.

“Wilt thou have this son of Gabha, Feírín?” he asked his daughter, whose name means ‘gift’ in our tongue.

“I will, father, for I have long since loved Mhadra dearly,” his daughter replied.

“So thou art mine and I am thine,” the son of the smith said, smiling.

“And so, this ring wrought with dark magic may free the two of you from thy ties and bonds,” Cúramach, whose name means ‘the-careful-one’ in our tongue, said. “But you now must leave.”

“Will I accompany Mhadra home, father?” his daughter asked, but her father shook his head.

“Can we not remain here then?” the son of the smith asked, but his father-in-law shook his head again, saying:

“This ring is a harbinger of evil. And unbeknownst to either of thee, he who is in its possession shall meet an untimely end. But not thee,” he quickly added when Mhadra looked at him with a shocked face, “for thou hast only been its bearer, and never in its possession. And now: Begone!” he ordered.

At this, Mhadra and his betrothed Feírín all of a sudden found themselves blown away, out the door, through the valley of the lake and beyond, thanks to the magic of Cúramach, the ring forever lost to either of them. They would be happy and have many children, one of whom would take the ring in his hands a final time, but that is another tale.

Just as the two had been whirled away to safety, Brí and Fáinne appeared on the door step of Cúramach’s house.

“Give us the ring,” the younger of the two brothers said menacingly, “or thou wilt regret this day,” at which Brí nodded.

“I regret it already,” Cúramach replied and took the ring from his pocket, “for nothing good will come of it.”

As he held it up, the eyes of the two brothers began to gleam with greed and hate, with lust and murderous intent. Ever the cautious one, Brí held back, while his brother stormed forwards, drawing a long, cruelly curved dirk from his belt. Without hesitation, he plunged the blade into Cúramach’s chest, instantly killing him.

“Quick, secure the other treasure,” the older brother said, moving to Fáinne’s left to avoid the knife, “I will take the ring from his finger!”

“Thou thinkest me a fool such as thyself, Brí,” the younger brother replied, “but I am not!”

Moving forward before his brother could act, he took the ring out of Cúramach’s hand and put it on. Fáinne’s grin got broader and more ferocious, while his body lengthened and grew in size. And as Brí looked on, the ring transformed his brother into a dragon.

“It is I who did the killing, so it will be me who reaps the reward!” the dragon said, its transformation still not concluded, as skin turned to scale, tooth to fang and finger to claw. “And now: begone!” the monster roared, nearly knocking Brí off his feet.

With the other choice only being to die on the spot, the older brother ran off, saving only his life. He ran until he could run no more and then some, and then stopped to look back. Smoke issued from the wizard’s house near the lake and Brí vowed to return and take the ring off the beast his brother had become, but that is another tale.

Kura-Kura and the Korua Raksasa

Once there was a girl. Her people were called the Shardana, which means ‘Sea People’ in our tongue. They lived as fishers and traders on the Peaceful Ocean, far to the east. She had lost her parents to a storm and so she had become an orphan, but though she had been fostered by many families, she had never found a proper home. And so, the girl became silent and withdrawn and her proper name, which I will not tell you because that is another story, was forgotten. Soon, everyone called her Kura-Kura, and that means ‘turtle girl’ in our tongue.

Tawhito and Tua were an old couple and had never had any children. One day, Tawhito said to his wife:

“Kura-Kura is without parents, while we are without children. This cannot be good. We should adopt her, wife.”

“She is wild, she is,” Tua replied, “and has been so for very long. Can we truly ever tame such a girl?”

“True, true, wife,” Tawhito said, thoughtfully. “We shall simply say we do not intend to tame her, but will accept her as untamed as she is. For,” he continued, “if we would love her as our own, we must let her be the person she is.”

Tua agreed and so it was done. Kura-Kura was adopted by Tawhito and Tua and became Tamaiti, which means ‘child’ in our tongue. But after losing so much, she was often afraid at night, and so her new father told her stories. Tamaiti’s favourite was the tale of the Korua Raksasa.

“Can you not sleep, Tamaiti?” Tawhito would say to her.

“No, ayah,” she would answer. “Will you tell me a story?”

Her father would sigh, pretending to be busy, tired or both. But then he would always sit down beside her and begin telling her a story.

“At the beginning of time,” he would say, “there was only the sea, Kete-Tamaiti,” which meant ‘my little child’ in our tongue. “And the creatures of the sea were alone in the world, without a sky above them, or a sun to shine down and give them light.”

“Was there any dryland?” she asked, speaking the words as one, as land was of course invariably dry from the point of view of the Shardana.

“No,” Tawhito replied, “in the beginning there was not.”

“And were there people, were there Shardana, ayah?” she asked, and ayah means ‘father’.

“Not like us, Tamaiti, no. But there were other people, people who did not know about the sun or the sky. And they lived in the sea. Similar to us, but not like us,” he said, and Tamaiti would nod seriously. “And then, one day these people decided to kill the largest and most dangerous beast in the sea.”

“The Korua Raksasa,” Tamaiti would say, sinking deeper into her blanket.

“Exactly,” her father answered. “The Korua Raksasa.” And in our tongue, this means ‘ancestor of monsters’, or ‘leviathan’. “And so, they hunted him, for a whole month of days…”

“And a whole month of nights…” little Tamaiti would add.

“Until they finally found him,” he nodded. “The greatest being in the sea. And they struggled with their nets, but the Korua Raksasa, he merely laughed at their feeble attempts. ‘You cannot catch me, for I am the Korua Raksasa,’ he said, and he tore their nets and shattered the first third of their boats and killed the first third of the people. And then the harpooners tried to spear him with their mighty harpoons, made of the bones of his own sons and daughters.”

“But they couldn’t kill him, ayah,” Tamaiti said.

“No, they could not,” her father agreed, nodding once again. “And the korua raksasa said, ‘I am the Korua Raksasa and your barbs cannot harm me even if they were made from my sons’ and daughters’ bones and hides,’ and he laughed once more, breaking their harpoons and shattering the second third of their boats and killing the second third of the people.”

“And then came the shaman,” Tamaiti said, too excited to wait for her father to continue.

“And then came the shaman,” her father agreed. “And since the people had tried to catch the korua raksasa, and kill the korua raksasa, first with their nets made from the hides of his sons and daughters, then with harpoons made from his children’s bones, the shaman sang to him,” Tawhito said, smiling at his daughter.

“And which song did she sing, ayah?”

“Who knows, these were not our songs, as these were not our people. Many songs, every song there was, no-one knows. But the korua raksasa, he had never heard anybody sing to him before, for the creatures of the sea of course cannot sing, as everyone knows,” her father continued. “And so, instead of killing the remaining third of the people, who no longer had any nets or harpoons, he listened to the shaman’s song. And she sang for a whole month of days…”

“And a whole month of nights…” his daughter completed the sentence.

“Until the Korua Raksasa felt tired,” her father nodded. “And he said ‘I am tired, and I have never been tired before.’ ‘It is because you are old,’ the shaman replied. ‘And all that is old must tire in time and then die.’ ‘So your song, it has done what your people and your nets and your barbs could not?’ the korua raksasa asked the shaman. ‘No, Korua Raksasa, we cannot kill you. We can kill your sons and daughters, but not you. And we were wrong to try. But what I said is true.’ ‘I am tired and do not want to die, shaman,’ the Korua Raksasa said to her. ‘Then perhaps you could rest?’ the shaman said. ‘Yes, I will rest,’ the Korua Raksasa replied. And so he rested.”

“And what happened then, ayah?” Tamaiti asked, although of course she knew the answer. “Did the Korua Raksasa die?”

“No, Tamaiti,” Tawhito replied, stroking her hair gently. “Everyone knows he cannot die. He rested as he still rests, swimming on top of the waves of the ocean so he can breathe. And in time, trees and grass began growing on his back. And as he did, so also did the oldest of his sons and daughters as they rested, unwilling to die.”

“And that is how dryland came into existence?” she asked once again.

“Yes, Tamaiti. That is how dryland formed. It is the back, the head and the flippers of the Korua Raksasa and the greatest of his sons and daughters. When they tired, they did not die, but rested, turning to stone. But sometimes, old Korua Raksasa awakens and then the earth and the sea and the sky shake until he comes to rest again.”

“And where do the Shardana come from ayah?”

“Ah, Tamaiti, that is a story for another night,” her father said and he kissed his little daughter and pulled her blanket close.

And Tamaiti sighed contentedly, for now she could sleep.

The Unicorn and the Magpie

Once, in the Green Country far beyond the Blue Mountains there lived a herd of unicorns. I know people think of unicorns as all being shiny and white, but that is of course not true. For these were real unicorns, and so they came in all sorts of colours: There were black unicorns, whose coat was so dark it shimmered blue, dappled unicorns, bay, chestnut and sorrel unicorns, as well as brindle, dun and pinto unicorns. And they roamed the plains of the Green Country, wild and free.

One day, a mare by the name of Láir gave birth to a foal. Because the baby unicorn’s coat was chestnut in colour, the mother called her Rua, which means ‘red’ in our tongue. Rua was wild and free like her brothers and sisters, cousins, uncles and aunts, and roamed the plains with the other unicorns. Now when unicorns are born, they do not yet have a horn, so nobody thought it strange for Rua to have no horn on her forehead. But by the time she was one year old, all of her friends, siblings and cousins were already sprouting horns of various lengths from their heads: some long and proud, some dainty and delicate, some robust, some frail. But Rua’s forehead remained plain and empty.

At first nobody cared or even noticed, and Rua was just one unicorn of many. But then, one day, she heard one of the other foals, a colt named Capall, making fun of her.

“You’re no proper unicorn,” he teased her, “look at yourself!”

And he whinnied in delight at having ridiculed her, causing several of the others to join in.

“I am a proper unicorn!” Rua retorted.

“Then where is your horn?” one of the other colts named Beithíoch joined in. “you’re just a horse!” and at this most of the others joined in laughing, until Rua cantered off, shamed and with tears in her eyes.

Before long she came to a pond. Gazing into the water she took a closer look at her forehead: She was a unicorn, after all, there had to be something there! But she found nothing, no horn, not even a bump. Rua cried, and her tears splashed into the clear water below, disturbing the image of the horse staring back at her. That was all she was, a horse. When her tears ran out, Rua snorted and shook her head. What could she do? For what indeed was a unicorn without a horn?

And then, Rua noticed something touching her back, just above her shoulder. Irritated, she looked round only to find a bird had alighted on top of her. It was a magpie.

“Careful there,” the bird squawked, “you’re throwing me off!”

“Who are you?” Rua asked, momentarily distracted from her plight.

“Me? Why I’m Meaige, I’m a magpie,” came the reply, and Meaige means ‘magpie’ in our tongue. “And who are you then, my young equine friend?”

“I’m Rua. I’m a…” she began, but then looked down at the ground. “I’m a horse,” she finished sadly.

“You don’t look much like a horse, you know,” Meaige answered. “I mean horses are… well, big and burly. You look more like a unicorn to me, in fact,” the magpie continued, “but then I suppose you would have to have a horn! You’re a strange one, you are.”

“I am a unicorn. It’s just that I don’t have a horn,” Rua said.

“Well, that explains it then I would think,” Meaige replied, shrugging, “a unicorn without a horn. Though I must say, the unicorns I have seen so far all had one. A Horn, I mean,” he added. “What happened to your horn?”

“I just don’t have one,” she said. “Everyone else has one. It’s just me…,” she trailed off unhappily.

“Well, that won’t do!” Meaige exclaimed. “We must find it! Or get you one! Or we could get me one, too!” A magpicorn, now what about that!” the magpie said enthusiastically.

“What do you mean, find it?” Rua said, a slight glimmer of hope appearing in her heart all of a sudden.

“We ask around, of course! We’ll pester the lot of them until we get you your horn, come on!” and he broke into a cackling laughter, hopping up and down on Rua’s back.

And so, the magpie and the unicorn asked everyone in the Green Country if they knew anything about her missing horn, or maybe had a spare for Meaige. They asked Brádan, the wise old salmon who lived in Loch Gorm about the horn. But he knew not and told them to ask Gabhar, the king of the goats who roamed the hills.

“He knows his way with horns, he’s got two himself,” Brádan said helpfully, “If someone can aid you in your quest, it would be him.”

And so, they sought out Gabhar, but he knew not and told them to search for Fia Rua, the king of the deer in the forests beyond the hills.

“His horns are far bigger than mine,” Gabhar replied good-naturedly, “If anyone can help you with your search, it would be him.”

“These are no horns, they are antlers,” Fia Rua answered when they finally asked him about the unicorn’s missing horn. “I may be the biggest of all beasts here, but not the mightiest. You should go and find Símag Tíre, the queen of the wolves in the Blue Mountains. If anybody is able to assist you with what you seek, it would be her. But beware and only visit her in the daytime, for she is a wolf,” the mighty hart added.

Rua and Meaige travelled into the mountains, wandering here and there looking for the wolves. And then, all of a sudden, the sun had set, it was dark and they were in a clearing surrounded by trees. But not only trees.

“I can see eyes in the dark, Rua,” Meaige whispered anxiously, fluttering closer to his friend.

“I can see them too,” the unicorn-without-a-horn replied, shivering with fear. “These are the wolves Fia Rua warned us about!”

And so it was. Soon, the two of them found more and more eyes glinting in the light of Lady Moon, until they were surrounded on all sides. And then one wolf stepped forward.

“I am Símag Tíre and I hear you have been looking for me,” the mighty, grey-pelted beast said, showing her teeth.

Before Rua could answer, her feathered friend had already begun speaking:

“Good to find you, good to find you!” he squawked, fluttering about. “And so many of you too, that makes it all easier. We have a question, we have!”

“A question, interesting,” Símag Tíre exclaimed, “most people merely bring me something to eat,” and at this she smiled, showing both of them her teeth, causing the rest of her pack to chuckle and laugh. “So, ask then.”

“This unicorn here,” Meaige began, “has somehow lost her horn. Now we asked the Salmon of the Lake, the Goat of the Hills and the Hart of the Forest, and none of them were able to help us. They bow to your wisdom and were agreed that only Símag Tíre, the Queen of the Blue Mountains and sagest of all animals would know.”

“They said this?” Símag Tíre replied, astonished.

“Truly they did,” Meaige answered, winking at Rua not to correct him. “And they also said she loves a riddle and would never bother anyone who had a new riddle for her.

“And they too said this?” the queen asked, enthralled.

“In truth they did,” the magpie claimed. “So here it is: What of this one’s missing horn?”

Intrigued, Símag Tíre looked at Rua, unconsciously licking her lips.

“I know not,” the she-wolf finally said, shaking her head. “But it is as you say: I love a riddle. Maybe you would like to spend the rest of the evening with us, my two friends, so we can mull this problem over.”

“We would gladly accept, but as everyone knows, unicorns need the light of the moon. It is good for the sheen of their coat,” Meaige exclaimed, holding up his wings.

“Indeed, indeed,” Símag Tíre agreed, “that is well known. So, leave the forest that way so you can partake of the moonlight and come and see me tomorrow. I will solve your riddle for you then,” she said, and Rua imagined she could hear a rumbling stomach somewhere.

They said their goodbyes, promising to visit the mountains on the morrow and left the clearing. As soon as they had left the pack behind them, Rua ran and Meaige flew as fast as feet and feather could carry, until they were once again safe in the expanse of the hills.

“That was… uncomfortable,” Meaige said, out of breath, and Rua merely nodded, puffing and wheezing from the exertion. “But we are still no closer to solving the problem of our missing horns,” the magpie said, at which Rua merely nodded sadly. “Tomorrow, we will try again tomorrow!” he exclaimed loudly. “We have not sought out all of the animals in the Green Country yet and…,” but Rua, the unicorn-without-a-horn interrupted her friend:

“It is no use, I am simply a horse. There is no horn to be found and there never will be.”

And she cried once again, all hope lost, and Meaige could merely stand on her back silently. After some time, Rua, who was still a very young unicorn after all, had cried all the tears that were in her and felt tired. And so she lay down underneath a tree and went to sleep. But to Meaige, sleep did not come. He was tired, but also angry and frustrated at not having been able to help his new friend. He strutted around on the grass, having left his perch on her back so as not to wake her, wondering what to do, when all of a sudden, a giant shadow covered the light of Lady Moon above. In a swoop as quiet as a breath of wind a giant bird landed beside the two.

“I know you not! Go away and leave us alone!” Meaige squawked excitedly, “we have mighty friends, one call and Símag Tíre will descend from the mountains to tackle you, you…,” and he looked up at the bird, shaking his head. “What are you?” he asked incredulously, forgetting his tirade.

“I am Ulchabhán,” the bird replied. “There is a Salmon who is Master of the Lake, the Goat is the Ruler of the Hills, the Hart is King of the Forest and Símag Tíre is Queen of the Mountains. But their realms exist only at day. I am Ulchabhán,” which means ‘owl’ in our tongue, “and I rule all of the lands of the night.”

While Meaige had been fretful when the two of them had tricked the queen of the wolves, he always could have flown away. Now, he was afraid: Here was a bird, the most powerful, large and dangerous bird he had ever seen.

“I bow to you, then,” the magpie replied, inclining his head.

“As you should,” the owl said simply, nodding back. “But this is not why I am here. All of the tongues in the Green Country tell the tales of a strange fellowship of a hornless unicorn and a witless magpie on the quest to find a horn. Is this true?”

“It is,” Meaige agreed demurely, ignoring the sting at being called witless.

“Nobody can provide this one with a horn,” Ulchabhán stated.

“I had already feared so,” the magpie said, dispirited at this revelation.

“But I know of other magic and could maybe help,” the owl continued.


2020 (Juni)
Tales stories children book Märchen Sagen Legenden Kinderbuch


  • David J. Greening (Autor:in)

David J. Greening was born in Karachi in 1969 AD, briefly went to kindergarten in Malta and grew up in Germany. He studied Ancient History at Frankfurt University. Completing an MA in 2004 and a PhD in 2007 he currently works as a school teacher and part-time lecturer of ancient and medieval history. He lives in a small village in a house built shortly after the Thirty-Years War with his wife, two sons and two cats.

Titel: The Pricess and the Key