Amazing Kids! Magazine

The Black Mountain, Chapter 1: The Stone Dwarfs

By Julia Melik, age 13, Prague

 

Many, many years ago there were two dwarf’s villages close to the Black Mountain: The dwarfs of the 1st village were red and of the second – blue. The red were very strong and quick, whilst the blue were wise and smart. Two kings ruled there: a decisive and vindictive Kronig of the red and the kind and fair Mar-Thoon of the blue. Kronig was tall and lean, with a mean and tenacious look from shaggy, bushy eyebrows and long black hair. Mar-Thoon loved to eat and proudly wore a long red cape, fully covering his big belly. His smoothly combed beard fell onto his stomach and shiny bald head reflected sunny beams and moon shine with the same strength.

The red dwarfs lived in a big wooden house with a gabled iron roof and the blue each lived in their own small and cozy cottage made of white stones, collected around the lake.

Kronig had just one daughter named  Clia, and Mar-Thoon only a son called Kreggs. The children were complete opposites of their parents: Clia – blue-eyed blonde, affectionate and cheerful, and Kreggs – a smart player with the ball and a successful hunter for rhinoceros beetles. He was the only one left to fight toxic mantis and once finished killing them after hours of fierce battle, he’d braided his blue-black hair in a thick tuft on his head.

The red and the blue have been at odds for a long time because of the Black Mountain (to whom it belongs to) and the Old Forest (who has the right to live in it). The blue and red believed that they originated from rocks, covered with moss, which periodically rolled down the mountain. None of them had yet been able to get to the top, whence came the stones. The brave Kronig had tried to make it several times but was always unsuccessful.

Before a stone became a dwarf, it had to lie in the Old Forest for 100 years, become completely overgrown with moss and warm up in the sun, before being braided with thick cobwebs and to be covered every morning with dew. Some of the stones, rolling down, disappeared forever in the Mysterious Lake, and nobody knew what happened next.

As the elderly tell, Mar-Thoon appeared many centuries ago from the huge smooth cobblestones, and Kronig from a fragment of a black hard rock. Mar-Thoon married the fairy mountain spring – a funny and naughty Khloe, while Kronig married the fairy magic meadow – a quiet and peaceful Flea.

Once in the morning, when blue and red dwarfs, as usual, came to the lake to get some water, Clia, scooping up the pail, tripped on a rock and dropped the pail into the lake.

“My pail!” cried out Clia. “Please help me to get it out!”

The water bubbled and two tentacles grabbed the princess’s pail and pulled it into the water. While everyone was screaming and running back from the lake, only Clia, lifting her skirt, went into the water, trying to grab her pail, but slipped as the bottom of the lake was clay and fell into the water.

The bucket was spitting back, and out of the water again appeared brown-green tentacles that were reaching out towards Clia.

“Hold on!” Kreggs cried out, rushing to her aid, but muscular Kronig was closer. In a huge leap he reached the lake and grabbed Clia’s hands, snatching her out of the water and throwing her away to the banks. The tentacles seized Kronig firmly, and pulled him into the depths.

“With the sword, hit him with the sword!” cried Mar-Thoon, rushing to the aid of his foe.

Kronig fought back, snatching the sword, trying to cut off the tentacles that were around him. One of the tentacles grabbed his throat and began strongly to squeeze like a python. Other tentacles continued to pull Kronig down in the deep of the Mysterious Lake.

“Ah,” Mar-Thoon gasped, having tripped on the root of the tree stump. His two-handed sword slipped from his hands, slowly sinking under the water.

Standing on the bank of the lake the dwarfs watched with horror at what was happening and almost hardened from fear. The tentacles belonged to Ramshtoore – the huge ancient monster that has lived in the lake for thousands of years. His body was likewise the spider with eight hairy legs plus four tentacles, which enabled him to catch the prey in the water. Almost every month someone became his victim.

The water bubbled and closed over the beast and his victim for today.

The only thing that the red and blue dwarfs had in common was fear of the monster. They could drink water only from the Mysterious Lake, and therefore had every morning  to come over for the water. The rest of the time they were at enmity between themselves, once even fought (when the red attacked the blue). The war ended only when the monster ate the father of the Konig – the old cunning Bellad. Red announced the mourning and then together they went to fetch water from which the red even began to brew the drink using one of the bitter herbs. Blue dwarfs were not big fans of this drink, but other than that, the blue and red used to eat and drink the same things: Honey, berries and baked pies with pine cones.

The death of the king had made a huge impression on the blue and red. All went downcast, with their heads down. Clia was constantly crying, while Kreggs and the others tried to console her.

Finally the red and blue decided to meet and discuss what to do. Further to leave everything as before was impossible. Without the lake they could not live a single day, but to have one of them become a prey of the beast each month was unacceptable.

All the dwarfs gathered on the magic meadow with large toadstools, as there are better thoughts sitting atop there. The mushrooms gathered in the center of the clearing, forming a shelter from the sun, where dwarfs hid, starting the discussion. They argued very long and hotly with a shout here and there, sometimes even calling each other fools or cowards. Finally, there was a break for lunch, however the dispute continued, in spite of the centuries-old tradition. In the end, the red and blue agreed and chose from each side by one a very strong and brave young man who will have to go down to the bottom of the lake and kill the monster. The red’s future hero became Klienthal, who was a cousin of Clia, and the blue’s was Kreggs. Clia very much wanted to go together with them, but it was not allowed, because the men were stronger, and the girl became very upset.

Before the evening they had to come together to sharpen weapons, collect stuff, and at night, to go for that special hunting of the monster. On the lake bank, hidden under the water lilies, for many years was a boat made of mica. All believed that it was built by the ancient dwarves – the ancestors of red and blue, which descended from the Black mountain top by themselves. The boat was made of mica from the Black Mountain and came out light and durable. The air in it was served on a thin, flexible tube connected to the furs. The dwarfs’ weapons included a long and very sharp basalt sword, processed in a special way and short spears or “killing darts”. These darts could shoot straight from the cannon, which was placed on the bow of the boat.

Also in the boat were bullish bubbles inflated by the air – it was possible to get out of the boat with them under water, wearing a special helmet with a transparent visor. For lighting, they took with them fireflies in a small glass box. All cracks in the helmet were sealed with a single hole for a thin tube from the bladder. Having collected all that, the heroes went for a rest a bit at night. Mar-Thoor would go with them to help in pushing the boat into the water while it was secret, and only the kings, their advisors and inner circle knew about it.

Clia dreamed of joining the men to avenge the death of her father and grandfather. Now, she was convinced they would not survive if  all she did was stay at home. She took a small dagger, which  her father presented her at birth, and decided to secretly get on the boat. About where the boat was – she knew well since her childhood.

In the night Kreggs and Klienthal, along with Mar-Thoor, stealthily approached the boat. A deadly silence crept around them, as the boys carefully climbed into the boat and clogged the sunroof. Mar-Thoor made a push and the boat began to slowly pull on the water. It stayed for a moment on the surface, and then abruptly went below the surface, forming broad circles on the Lake.

(To be continued in a future issue)