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Childe Horn


Once upon a time there was a king named Altof. He was a very rich, gentle and powerful king. He had a wife named Gotthild and a 15-year-old son called Horn. Horn was a very handsome and brave boy. He had two friends – Athulf and Figold.
One summer morning King Altof rode to the sea with two only other men. There in the sea he saw 15 Viking ships. The Vikings came from the north to plunder King Altof's kingdom. When the Vikings saw King Altof, they came ashore and attacked him, and after a short battle killed him and his two knights. Then they quickly became masters of the whole land.
The Viking leader kept Gotthild to be his servant, but he didn't want to keep Horn. First, he wanted to kill him, but then he thought of a better plan. He put him with his friends in a boat and let it sail out to sea. ”Sooner or later, they will die,” he thought.
The boys were afraid. The waves were high and the boys thought the death was near. But the next day, they could hear birds sing and soon, they could see a land. They jumped on the shore and went in the land.
Soon, they came to a city. They went to the king named Aylmer and Horn told him:
”We come from King Altof's kingdom. The Vikings killed him and many other knights and people. They put us on a boat and let us sail. By chance we came here, to your land.”
King Aylmer liked Horn, so he kept him and his friends at court. He told Athelbrus, the main servant, to teach them all the duties they will need to become servants. Horn was very clever and soon he learned more things than any of his friends.
King Aylmer had a daughter. Her name was Riminild. She liked Horn. She watched him through the window and one day, she told Athelbrus to bring Horn to her. But Athelbrus brought Horn's friend Athulf. It was the evening and Riminild didn't recognize him. She put her arms around him and said:
”Horn, I love you. I would like to marry you.”
”Wait!” whispered Athulf. ”I am not Horn. I am his friend.”
Riminild was angry and cried to the main servant:
”Athelbrus, you wicked man! I hate you! Go away and bring me Horn!”
So Athelbrus went away, but this time, instead of Horn, he called Figold, and told him:
”Come with me to the royal Princess. You must tell her, you are Horn.”
But the Princess knew that he was not Horn. She was very furious. Athelbrus was afraid of her anger, so he went to Horn and told him to go to see the Princess.
Horn went straight to the Princess and knelt before her.
”The main servant has sent me here, my lady,” said Horn.
Riminild stood up, her cheeks were red, and she told Horn about her love.
”My lady,” said Horn with his heart light and warm, ”I am just the King's servant. It would be against all rules to marry you.”
When Riminild heard these words, her heart hurt a lot. She fell on the floor. But Horn got an idea. He lifted the Princess up and told her, that he could marry her if he becomes a knight.
”Take my ring,” said Riminild happily, ”give it to Athelbrus and tell him to ask the King to make you a knight.”
The next day there was a festival. The King liked Horn and made him and his twelve friends knights. But now Horn still couldn't marry Riminild. He had to go and do brave things in her name. Riminild gave him a gold ring with her name on it. Then they kissed and Horn went away. He took his horse and weapons and rode off.
He came to the seashore where he met a band of pirates. Horn asked them, what they wanted there. ”To kill all the people and take all the treasure of this land. As we killed the kingdom of King Altof!”
When Horn heard this, he took his sword and killed the pirates. Some of them escaped. Then he thought of his father, dead King Altof, and his mother. He shouted at the pirates' ship:
”Go and tell your people that I, son of King Altof, is coming back to his own land avenge his father's death!”
The next day the King went hunting with Figold. Horn stayed at home. Figold also liked Princess Riminild, and he was very jealous because she loved Horn. So he told the King:
”I warn you, King Aylmer, Horn wants to marry your daughter and run away with her. Even now he is with her in her room.”
Then the King went home quickly. He came to her daughter's room and there, sure enough, he found Horn.
”Out of my land, bastard!” he cried.
Horn had to leave. He saddled his horse and took his weapons. Before leaving, he went to see Riminild for the last time. They embraced, kissed each other, Horn sat on his horse and went away. He went down to the sea, went on a ship and sailed to Ireland.
When he landed there, he went to King Thurstan, who was a good king. It was Christmas and he made a great feast. But in the middle of the feast, messenger rushed in and cried:
"Enemy from the North is going to attack us! Their leader wants to fight 3 of our knights or they will kill everybody. If the leader wins, he will become the ruler of this land!"
"I will fight him," said Horn.
In the morning, Horn went to the place where the enemy was. The leader was very big. He was a giant. Horn quickly attacked him with his sword. The giant was strong, but because he was big, he was very slow. Horn killed him immediately. When the other enemy soldiers saw that their leader died so quickly, they were afraid and ran back to their ships.
King Thurstan was very happy. He thanked Horn and asked him to stay in his kingdom. He needed such brave warriors. He had a daughter and he wanted Horn to marry her. Then after his death he could be the king. Horn decided to stay for some time. But he didn't marry the princess.
One day a messenger came to Horn from Riminild. Her father, King Altof, wanted to marry her to a king of another country. Horn still loved Riminild and now he decided to come back. King Thurstan was sad that Horn didn't want to marry his daughter. And he was also sad that Horn wanted to leave. But he gave him a thousand soldiers and fifty knights and said good-bye.
Now Horn came back to the land of King Altof. He left his small army in the wood and went to the royal city alone. On the way he met a beggar who told him, that Riminild was very sad. She stayed in her room and didn't want to see anybody. Only a waiter could come to her to bring her a cup of wine.
So Horn went to the royal kitchen and changed clothes with the waiter. He took a cup of wine and put his ring into it. Then he brought it to the princess. She drank it and found the ring. She called for the waiter.
"Where did you get this ring from?" she asked.
"A beautiful princess gave it to me and now I came back for her," answered Horn and took his cap off.
Riminild couldn't believe her eyes. She jumped off her chair, embraced him and kissed him.
"Now I have to go and finish my work. Then I will come back for you."
So Horn left her and went back to the forest, and gathered his army. Then he led it to the city. They attacked the city gates and after a short time, they broke into the city. Horn ran quickly to the King's hall.
"What are you doing here?" asked the King.
"I came back for my bride," answered Horn, "and if you don't give her to me, I will kill you all!"
"Never! I will never give her to you!" exclaimed the King and attacked Horn with his sword. He fought bravely, but Horn was younger than him, and very strong. Soon he cut the King's head off. It fell on the floor and rolled across the hall. Nobody else wanted to fight Horn now.
"The dance is over!" said Horn. He took Riminild's hand and they married the same day.
But Horn's work was not done. He had to go back to his father's land and fight the evil Vikings. The next day he took his army sailed to his father's land. The voyage took 4 days. They landed at midnight. First, Horn with his friend Athulf went inland together. They explored the area and saw that there were a lot of Vikings, but they were not ready to fight. Horn blew his horn. His army ran quickly to the city and fought the enemy. In the morning, all the Vikings were dead. Horn became the King of his father's land. He also met his mother, who was very glad to see him.
"I am glad to see you, too," said Horn, "but I want you to meet my wife, the beautiful Riminild. I have to come back for her now."
But Horn didn't know that the treacherous Figold revolted. He collected a great army. He also took Riminild and locked her up in a tall tower in the sea. When Horn landed, Figold's army attacked him. They were not very strong, but there were a lot of them. Horn lost a lot of his knights, but his army was stronger, so finally he won. He ran into Riminild's room, but she wasn't there. He looked for her everywhere, but he couldn't find her. Then he came to the tower in the sea.
It was very difficult to get there. There was no bridge. It was also too small to land with all his soldiers. Horn decided to go there alone. When he came to the tower gate, he realized it was impossible to get in. The gate was locked and very strong. He put his sword aside, took a rope and slowly climbed up the tower. It was very dangerous. The wall was wet and sometimes Horn almost fell down.
Finally, he got to the top. There was a small window. It was open. He got inside. The room was very cold and empty. He went downstairs to another room where he found Figold. He had a sword, but Horn didn't. Figold smiled and attacked Horn with his sword. However, Horn was a strong and brave warrior. He attacked Figold with his own empty hands. He avoided Figold's sword and hit his face with fists. Figold dropped his sword. He couldn't fight Horn any more.
Horn took Figold upstairs and threw him out of the tower. Then he started looking for Riminild. He found her in a small dark room downstairs. She was weak and hungry, but very glad to see Horn.
”Horn...” said Riminild. Then she fainted. Horn took her into his arms and climbed down the rope with her.
”Our voyage is over,” he said to his soldiers when he was back on the ship. ”Let's go home now.”
The soldiers were very happy. Some of them stayed in their country and chose Athulf their king. The knights and some other soldiers went back to Horn's country. There Horn married Riminild, and lived happily ever after.

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Created by J. Brandecky, September 6, 2008.