The Norgs had a lineage of kings for many, many generations. The kings were fountains of light and guardians of the Norg power. But once a long time ago, King Adelgar swerved from the ancient tradition that forbade him to marry a common Norg; he married the Norginnen commoner Hörele. All the rest of the royal stock died out and all the princes of the king's first marriage died away one after the other.
When Hörele at last came to die herself, there was only one left. This was Lareyn, the last of his race. King Adelgar looked around with tears, for there was no one left that he could marry his son to, and he feared there would be other, ill effects of departing from the ancient tradition as he himself had done. He wailed over his son: what good choices did he have? He had none, he found, and wailed.
But Lareyn hoped he had come upon a way out: he would go into the outer world and choose a wife among the daughters folks there, and bring her to reign over the mountain people and continue the royal line. The council of elders among the Norgs decided to approve what he proposed. But King Adelgar agreed only reluctantly, on the condition that Lareyn and his suite should wear disguise caps and see his bride in a far distant country where the Norgs were largely unknown and where no friend of the bride could think of coming to his palace to seek her among Norgs.
Lareyn promised his father to attend to follow his injunctions and gave orders to prepare gifts fit for human maidens, jewels and first-class goldsmith's works.
While all these things were made, King Adelgar died and Lareyn succeeded to the throne. As a king, he could barely venture so far away from his kingdom as his father had wanted and leave his kingdom without a fatherly king. Therefore he decided to search in the neighbourhood for a maiden that pleased him.
In the meantime he made use of his newly got power as a Norg king to prepare for her a place so dazzling that it could make her earlier home. His subjects at the same time found a crystal vault in a mountain. Lareyn rejoiced when he saw it, and gave orders to lots and lots of dwarfs to form it to a suitable living-space for his coming bride, whoever she might be.
The vault was divided into chambers with walls and columns encrusted with gold, the crystal was worked on to look even prettier than in its natural state. In this way the great Crystal Castle came to be, a glorious palace with a garden worthy of it, a garden with the choicest beds and bowers, all planted with roses, whose scent filled the air for miles around. Its sweet wafts reminded of King Lareyn's Rose Garden,
Ignaz von Zingerle says, "Whoever has once enjoyed the sight of the Dolomite peaks of the Schlern bathed in the rosy light of the evening glow cannot help fancying himself at once transported into the world of myths and . . . place the fragrant Rose-garden on its strangely jagged heights, studded by nature with violet amethysts and even now carpeted with the most exquisite mountain-flora of Tirol."
Busy with all the preparations, Lareyn forgot his prudence and moderation: to finish the castle and its lavish gardens quickly, he drafted all too many dwarfs. As a result the land was neglected and a famine threatened.
Lareyn then would go out and raid the crops of humans and take from them whatever his own people needed. With his supernatural strength and magic he had no retaliation to fear.
While he ravaged in this unwise way, he one day came upon the cornfield of a poor widow with only one son to support her. The golden grain had been gathered into her modest barn just as Lareyn and his marauders came by. Swiftly they seized the treasure. The widow sobbed and her stalwart son fought against them in vain. He refused to pay in gold and precious stones for what he had taken, and he passed on his way unheeding that the poor widow cursed him.
At last the Crystal Castle and its lush Rose Garden were complete. To protect his lovely castle and garden, he passed a law that said if anyone should trespass there, he or she should lose his left foot and right hand.
Lareyn looked round and was content. He had a place to make any daughter of humankind forget her own home and her father's people. He put on his camouflage cap and went forth with his followers marshalled behind him, all equally hidden from human sight.
He wandered from castle to castle, from palace to palace, but nowhere did he find a fit bride until he came to the place of the Duke of Styria. The duke's garden was almost as lovely as his own rose garden, he found a number of noble knights and their ladies gathered there. All looked well among the flowers.
The invisible Lareyn and his invisible attendants stayed for a long time. Each maiden looked perfect for him, but each was so guarded by her cavalier that King Lareyn saw no way of getting to any of them. At last, driven to despair, he sought the shade of a lonesome grove.
There, under a leafy linden-tree, he saw a still more beautiful woman than the ones in the duke's garden. Simild, the daughter of the duke of Styria, lay before him, seeking rest in the midday heat, draped only in white
Lareyn flung a camouflage cap over her as soon as the other women came for her. They searched for her and passed onm, for they did not notice her at all where she lay without snoring. Lareyn called for helpers, and soon a gang of dwarfs carried the princess off in a litter. Over hill and dale they carried her towards the Rose Garden.
They had got some way before Simild woke up. Lareyn rode by her side. The moment she opened her eyes a band of Norg musicians played a lovely tune.
Simild, enraptured with the new sights and sounds, gazed around, wondering, and concluded that by some mysterious means she had fallen into the power of a Norg and his retinue, although she could not understand how.
Lareyn now offered her presents and praised her looks. Simild was easily flattered, but the strange things that suddenly had happened to her roused so much fear in her that she told him that she could listen to nothing from him till he had restored her to her home.
King Larayn answered. "Whatever else you desire me to do shall be done; anything but that."
Then they journeyed on.
In the meantime the friends of Simild had got greatly alarmed and sought for her everywhere. Not finding her they feared to appear before her father and tell she was missing, but they soon felt they had to. No one knew what had become of her. The old duke shut himself up in the palace and refused to see anyone out of sorrow. He refused to be comforted until his daughter was brought to him.
But Simild's brother, a stout young prince, decided to ride to Gardenna on the Garda-See, to visit Hildebrand the Sage there, for Hildebrand was renowned for wisdom and prudence and useful counsel.
When Hildebrand the Sage saw him come riding yet a long way off, he said to those who stood beside him on the battlements, "See Simild's brother, how he rides! I guess someone has done him a great wrong and if so, we will stand by him and see him righted."
Hildebrand's wife and her daughters prepared a warm meal to welcome the prince with, as was due. Hildebrand helped him off with his armour, lifted off his helmet and laid by his good shield. Then they placed cellar wine before him and many dishes, for the prince was a worthy guest.
After the meal, Hildebrand invited his young guest to tell exactly what had brought him there, and what he told was so strange that Hildebrand wanted to ponder the matter more deeply, and they should seek the aid of one of his students, Theodoric of Verona, ruler of Italy.
The thought that Theodoric the Great was to be their leader filled them with high hopes of success.
As they journeyed along, they came to a broad heath. When they were about to pass over, a forlorn man sprang up, cried after Hildebrand and asked his aid.
Out of compassion, Hildebrand turned aside to ask what the man what had happened to him. The man proved to be the peasant – the widow's son – that Lareyn had wronged so badly. He asked them to help him against the oppressor of his mother, the Norg king. Some of the men laughed at his uncouth gestures. But Hildebrand the Sage took him apart and was soon told the whole story: The Norg-king from the heart of the mountains, had started to come out with his mighty little men and ravaged the country-side. It was all because his own labourers were engaged in preparing a wonderful palace to house a kovely woman from the human world. The little king wanted to make her his bride.
Hildebrand now sensed he knew what had happened to the duke's daughter. With the help of the poor countryman, the widow's son, maybe the could find the little king's retreat and set free the princess.
How to overcome the great might of the Norgs was something to think about for the rest of the journey. But he was awfully glad he had asked Theodoric the Great, for Theodoric had first-class miracle powers that might come in handy.
Theodoric received his aged teacher Hildebrand and his companions with hearty welcome and hospitable care and cheer. As they sat at table, almost all the visitors told that Theodoric was the bravest warrior around.
"No!" cried Hildebrand and sprang to his feet. "No, I say! There is one who is mightier than he and that he has not measured his strength with."
"Who? Name him!" shouted Theodoric, rising to his feet and glaring round him. He felt provoked and ready to prove his mettle, just as Hildebrand had intened.
"It is Lareyn, the dwarf-king who lives in the depths of the mountains of Tirol," answered Hildebrand assuredly.
"The dwarf-king!" exclaimed Theodoric, and sat down again.
Hildebrand: "He who overcomes this little one – him I will call a hero above all others!"
"If your dwarf-king is so formidable, Master Hildebrand," answered Theodoric, "you would have told me of him earlier, I should say. So why tell this now?"
"It is because he has become more disrespectful now. He has built a palace that outdoes any other. He calls it his Crystal Castle and has surrounded it with a lovely garden he calls his rose garden. There is just a silk girdle around it all, but whoever is caught crossing that boundary will lose the left foot and the right hand, he has decreed."
Theodoric responded to this: "I will dare to destroy the garden!"
With that he rose and called for his trusty sword Velsungen and started off without guide. However, Wittich the Wigand, his favourite companion, who loved to share his rash ventures and was familiar with his moods, could get on a horse and reach him before he was too far gone to be overtaken.
To Tirol the two rode by day and by night. Everywhere they rode, they tried to detect the smell of roses. At last, when they toiled up a mountainside, they caught sight of a white shining mountain where a turret and tower had been cut and formed out of the rock. Precious stones were windows and the dome was of pure gold and set with precious stones.
"We have to ride far yet to get there," said Wittich the Wigand, as he scanned the place and terrain. "And yet the perfume of the rose garden reaches even here," said Theodoric.
"Now we know we are on the right track," answered Wittich; so they rode forward again with good heart.
They had pushed on thus many a mile when the blooming rose garden itself with its beauty and odours came in sight.
"What was that?" asked Theodoric, who always rode ahead, as some light obstruction made his horse swerve for a moment.
"Why, you have burst the silk girdle around King Lareyn's rose garden!" said Wittich the Wigand. "Now the little man is going to revenge himself on us, we are told."
"Ah!" said Theodoric and gazed around, "let us not harm this pleasant place. In the fragrant hours of evening and of morning it must be well to be here: let us destroy nothing!"
"Hm!" said honest Wittich, "didn't we come here to destroy this garden and reduce the pride of the boasting and looting Norg-king?"
He got off his horse to do what they had come for, and Theodoric at once followed. After all, he did not want to shirk from what he had promised, or let it be said he feared the Norg-king. Then they hewed down and rooted up the rose plants till the garden was wasted. Afterwards they lay down on the grass to rest.
As they lay, someone in shining armour came at them at great speed. Wittich cried while the other still was at a distance: "See, Theodoric, a shining being is heading for us!"
Theodoric answered: "We may come to regret that we have loosed our helmets and shields, for it seems to me this fellow is not friendly as can be."
While they spoke the rider came nearer and nearer. He seemed well equipped. He had a fine helmet on his head, was clothed in an armour, held a sword in his hand. On his shield a big cat was painted. In his right hand was a spear with a small, red banner tied to it to signal he was ready for fight, and two swift greyhounds came running by his side. He looked determined, and yet he was not more than nine inches tall. It was King Lareyn of twelve-men's-strength.
Theodoric saw the fire in the dwarf's eyes and understood a fight was at hand, no matter how small the other was.
Lareyn let loose many angry words when he came up to the knights and saw what they had done; and said it would cost them their left foot and right hand.
Theodoric said: "We may pay for the damages with money, if you like."
"Money!" shouted the Norg. "I have more gold at my command than any three or four or five of you together. You call yourselves princes, but you have done no princely deed today; you have trespassed on my rose garden and wasted it. So no more words: hand over your horses, armour and clothing together with the left foot and right hand of each."
Wittich exclaimed: "Theodoric, I think such a punishment is too severe. If you ask me to, with one hand I will grasp him and his tiny horse by the leg, knock their heads against the stone wall and lay them to rest among the roses we have already strewn around!"
Theodoric answered: "This dwarf is awfully strong, we were told. If it comes to fighting, we will fight like men; but don't be rash, for I doubt if we will leave these mountains alive today."
Wittich exclaimed again: "Shall a knight shrink before a less than nine inches tall dwarf on a dwarf horse? Even weapon-less you could smite them down and hang them all on the trees!"
King Lareyn told them: "You say that one of you is more than a match for a thousand like me. Come on and try just one - me!"
Wittich sprang into the saddle and so did the little king. They came riding towards each other with their lances aimed at the other, and then clashed. Wittich hit Lareyn, but the spell that surrounded him protected him against the thrust, while his little lance struck Wittich's throat and sent him backwards off the saddle on to the ground with great force. He fell among clover. At once Lareyn was before him in the long grass, binding him, and lifted his sword to cut off the left foot and the right hand, At this point Theodoric interfered, saying: "I cannot stand by while my companion is made to pay a too hard price for wasting roses with me.
Lareyn cried: "You had better defend yourself, for you took part in destroying the garden too. You too will have to pay with your left foot and right hand. And I am a match for twelve such as you."
The words stung Theodoric. He got ready to fight.
"I think you are Theodoric," the dwarf said, recognising his helmet and shield. "I'll be glad when the great Theodoric too shall be defeated by a Norg!"
But before they started their fight, Hildebrand appeared with two more knights, after following the guidance of the injured widow's son.
Hastily Hildebrand said to Theodoric: "Don't fight him with the lance. Get off the horse and meet him on foot on the grass and heed what I further tell you.
Theodoric accepted the counsel of the sage and called to the Norg to meet him on the ground. Lareyn did not refuse, and their fight was on. With Hildebrand's counsel, Theodoric avoided getting trapped by the dwarf's magic, and hit him between the eyes so hard that the dwarf fainted a while. Meanwhile, Hildebrand set Wittich free.
When Lareyn came to after a while and did not find out how to win the fight otherwise, he drew his camouflage cap from his pocket and slipped it over his head. Afterwards, no one saw him and could only guess where he would be next, after he dealt blow on blow on Theodoric, and Theodoric missed the little, swift dwarf with his return blows. Now Theodoric's blow fell on the stone wall and now on a tree, while the Norg laughed mockingly at each mistake.
Hildebrand was distressed to see his prince so hard pressed and cried: "I see only one thing you can do - call to him to drop his sword and wrestle with you. In that way you reach him and at least know where he stands."
The hero ftook the counsel of his master, and the Norg did not say no. Theodoric now could feel his unseen foe at least, but he felt him to his cost, for he could not stand against his strength. It was it long before the dwarf forced Theodoric down on his knees in the grass.
Hildebrand cried to Theodoric again: "Wrench his girdle from him, for the girdle makes him as strong as twelve men!"
Theodoric was not long in finding the girdle with his hand. He lifted King Lareyn from the ground by it and dashed him down again till the girdle burst and fell beneath their feet. Hildebrand quickly caught it, so that the dwarf should not get it again. Lareyn gave a cry of despair. It might have been heard over mountain and forest three days' journey off. Then, with a mournful voice he said:
"Theodoric, be content now and set me free again. If you do I will be your tributary, and I have mighty gifts to offer you."
"No!" answered Theodoric; "We must have another trial. Your life seems worthless to me after this."
"I am not strong enough to fight another knight now," mused the Norg; "but I have the right to let a knight fight on my behalf. Dietlieb the Steieräre is after all by brother-in-law."
"I take it that you have confessed you have my disappeared sister!" answered Dietlieb. "That makes it impossible for me to refuse it, for our code of honour says so. If things get that far, I will fight and the result will be that either I deliver you or I die. But first there is room for an appeal on your behalf." With that he went to Theodoric and prayed him earnestly four times that he should spare Lareyn. He appealed by his regard for knightly honour, for woman's worth, for friendship and for virtue – four things that every knight bound himself to at receiving his sword.
But Theodoric could not to be moved. He would fight it out to the last. Lareyn had offended him too deeply, so the dwarf did not deserve to live, he said.
"Then I will have to fight on behalf of the dwarf," said the brother of the princess that had been stolen.
Theodoric was much unwilling to enter a feud of life and death with one of his own allies, but he was also too proud to refuse the challenge, Dietlieb, the brother of the princess, took the Norg and hid him away in safety in the long grass out of Theodoric's sight and then returned, ready to fight.
Theodoric called for his horse and bound on his helmet, took his shield in his hand and hung his sword to his girdle.
"Don't think I will spare you more than another, Theodoric, now that I have a knightly cause in my hands," cried Dietlieb. He would fight to the end.
Theodoric said nothing. Then they rode at each other and the lance of each hurled the other from his horse. They sprang up and drew their biting swords. The one struck and the other pierced, till the grass was sprinkled with red here and there. Their clashes could be heard a mile off.
Meantime, Hildebrand had been busy stirring up the other knights to part the two duellers. Two knights came up to Theodoric and seized him when he had gained the upper hand against the other. They dragged Theodoric by force off the field. Hildebrand suggested the two should stop fighting now that Theodoric had shown he was the best fighter. Hildebrand also advised him to make friends again with Dietlieb and to let Lareyn live and get free for Dietlieb's sake and only demand dutiful service and tribute of the dwarf king.
Dietlieb too agreed to the terms suggested, and they patched up their friendship again as best they could. Fom his hiding-place in the long grass, Lareyn agreed too, and promised to pay Theodoric a tribute.
Lareyn turned to the brave knight that had fought so well for him than the dwarf was alive and free: "There is one more thing . . . let us talk a little about your lovely sister, Simild. She has not yet agreed to be my wife – You would perhaps like to know how I carried her off?"
Then he told how he had found her under the linden-tree and had put a camouflage cap on her and carried her away to his Crystal Castle. His Norgdom of boundless wealth was hers with him as her husband - but if she would rather live on earth, he was rich enough to buy a vast kingdom for her.
At this point the dwarf king noticed that night would soon be coming on. They were far from shelter, so he bade them all welcome to his underground home, promising them good cheer and merry pastime. Dietlieb was anxious to see his dear sister again and accepted the offer first. The other knights agreed to follow him, although Hildebrand the Sage was reluctant and would have preferred camping in the open air, but Theodoric talked him into it. Still, Hildebrand thought that since he had made himself responsible for their lives by all the advice he had given so far, much prudence was still called for.
Without further talk they rode on as Lareyn's guided them. They rode through a thick forest and on a narrow mountain-path, until they came to a golden door in the rock. It opened when Lareyn got near it. The moment they had passed within they were surrounded by a light that was reflected in the shining stones that glittered around. Mountain birds warbled a sweet welcome. As they neared the hall, they heard soft, enchanting melodies of lutes and harps, Norgs in large numbers were ready to render any service the wayfarers might require. Refreshment was all ready. When the knights had eaten their fill, each was led each to his apartment to rest.
In the morning, Lareyn asked them to stay and enjoy the wonders of his kingdom and his hospitality. After discussing this offer and whether the dwarf seemed trustworthy, the knights accepted the offer. However, Wittich who had fought the dwarf first, was very reluctant.
Lareyn sought to remove their doubts and misgivings by telling them that all they saw was at their service – they had but to command.
With delight Lareyn then led them through heaps of gold, precious stones and elaborate handiwork. Theodoric's band often cried out in wonderment.
But what the Norgs could do was even more wonderful. Some lifted great stones bigger than themselves and threw them as far as they could see, and then ran so fast that they reached the place the stone was about to land before the stone. Others rooted up great pine-trees. So they showed of agility and strength.
Lareyn now called his guests in to dine. Many kinds of costly dishes were set before them, arranged with greater care and taste than Theodoric was used to in his own palace, while sweet-voiced minstrels sang and nimble Norgs danced.
In the middle of all this, Lareyn called for Simild. When she came into the hall, many choicely-robedNorginnen attended on her. She was well dressed and wore jewels and a crown. The moment she saw her brother she lighted up, and they embraced each other heartily.
During the embrace, Dietlieb anxiously asked: "Tell me, dear sister, is it of your own will that you are here, in this strange place within a mountain? Is this Lareyn dear to you? And do you want to live with him. He is a bit short, you know. Shall I get rid of him?"
"Brother, I need your help to decide this thing," whispered the maid. "Lareyn has heaped gift on gift on me. I am honoured here, and many of my wishes get speedily fulfilled. But for all that I long to be among people above the ground.">p class="i"> "Yes, Simild, I understand. I will set you free from the Norg-king's power," Dietlieb answered as Lareyn called them back to the fresh-dressed banquet.
"Come, new allies!" cried the dwarf, "come and let us be merry! Lay aside your heavy arms and armour, your swords and shields. Let us be free as brothers together."
As he spoke a large number of waiting-men appeared and helped the knights off with their armours, and brought them robes of rich stuffs and costly work. The guests were full of admiration at the banquet, the table, crystals of many forms. Then cool wine from cellars under earth was served them, many various dishes in in rapid succession. Then again sounded harmonious strings. And again and again wine and more wine.
At last the tables were drawn away. Simild and her maids withdrew. The guests remained sitting there while music and the singing went on to charm them. At last King Lareyn sent for a magician who lived in the heart of a high mountain. The magician came at his bidding and did as best he could, till at last the king said:
"Yes, you are doing well here. However, these jewels fixed in vault, walls and other places, weary one with their perpetual glare. Can you make them shine less brightly at night?"
"I have just recently learnt how. You will be the first to see the results of it."
"This is a good time," answered Lareyn, "for I have honoured guests that might love that kind of rest."
"Look," said the magician and threw some powder on to a fire that burnt on a black stone. A pale blue smoke arose with pleasing scent. As it curled through the hall, it extinguished the brilliant shining of every countless jewel on the walls and roof.
"Now, let us have light once more," said the dwarf king.
The magician dropped another powder on the flame. At once a wreathing fume of rainbow hues was sent up, and it carried back to every precious stone its lustre.
"Bravo," the visitors exclaimed.
"Now, let it be dark again," said the king; and the magician quenched the sparkling light as before.
"Now, light," the king cried; and so the light was switched on and off several times. But when it was dark the last time, Lareyn did not call for light. He did not speak either, and the silence lasted long. The knights grew anxious and Wittich turned to another of them, saying: "I don't like this. When we don't see anything the Norgs may fall upon us and destroy us."
But the other knight did not answer, for a stupor had fallen on him. The fumes had caused it. Wittich too suddenly felt he could not move and could not utter another word. It was the same with Hildebrand the Sage. Only Theodoric had time to answer, "Such treachery is not princely," and then sleep fell upon him as on the others.
Dietlieb had left the hall when it was dark there. He wanted to find his sister, but was met by a dwarf who led him to his apartment, so Dietlieb knew nothing of what had happened to the others.
Meanwhile, Lareyn sought out Simild and asked her advice: "Your people have have laid low my silken fence and golden gates and wasted my garden of roses. Good counsels from the sage Hildebrand made Theodoric triumph over me. Had it not been for your brother Dietlieb's knightly defence of my cause, Theodoric had even taken my life. So, can you tell me how to best end this whole thing?"
"If you would take my advice," answered Simild, "then don't be rash and don't use treachery. If you keep to the pact, the knights have no reason to go back on their plighted word. "Now, instead of the little girdle of twelve-men's-strength that they took from you, here is an equally powerful ring that your seven magicians welded for me. With that ring on, you will feel all your old strength and dignity. But, by all means, let the knights go away with honour!"
Lareyn saw her counsel was good and spoke as if he would follow it. But when he put on the ring and got strong again, he could not resist taking revenge for yesterday's defeat and dangers.
First, the king had dwarfs bold Dietlieb's door thoroughly, so that he could not get out and help the other knights. Then the king sent for one of the giants, a true ally to the dwarfs. The king entreated him to carry the heroes to a dungeon deep in a mountain. There they should be bound and shut out from the light of day and never again be able to do him harm.
The giant bound a cord round the waist of each of the sleeping knights and carried them to the dungeon. Lareyn led the way to it, now skipping, now dancing, now singing, now laughing in high glee, for having rid him of his foes. He seemed to have forgot Simild's advice and what he had promised her.
Nex morning the knights woke up. All was cold and dark around them. They soon found out they were no longer in the banquet hall because of the iron chains and the poles, the chill and mould and damp and slime. They had become prisoners in a dungeon under earth. Theodoric became red-hot angry, so much that the chains around his hands melted. But his feet were still fastened to a rock by chains of hard steel, and the links were as thick as a man's arm. Nonetheless, he was so angry that he beat them with the chains that had been around his arms, and did not rest until the foot chains yielded and fell apart.
When he had broken his own chains, he set to work and released the others. They were glad and thankful for it, but were still underground in a rocky place, and their armours and weapons were not with them. Another day they lay there in despair, and then another, for wise Hildebrand saw no way of passing through the rock.
Meantime Simild had grown uneasy at the silence in the Crystal Castle; there were no longer sounds of entertained guests, and Lareyn avoided her. Very worried about her brother, she found the right key to his apartment in the Crystal Castle. Then she covered the round and brightly glowing jewel in her crown, and moved quietly and cautiously along till she found him. On her way she overheard what had happened to the knights and which mountain they were deep inside.
"Sister!" exclaimed Dietlieb when she came to his bolted door. "Why am I kept inside this apartment by seven locks? Why don't I hear anything of my companions? Oh! If I but had my sword and shield I would free them from Lareyn and the Norgs. Otherwise I may not survive the shame of living while they in some dark dungeons without beds to lie on – at best."
"Dietlieb, do as I tell you," said his sister: "On my way here I heard they are chained in a dire dungeon. Lareyn betrayed their trust and got them there. You are in danger too. So put this ring on your hand, for no one can withstand the one who wears it on. Then go go and free your companions." With that she took him along to where his armour lay hidden. He quickly put it on. With the strength the ring gave him, Dietlieb could carry the arms and heavy armour of his four captured companions and used the ring to command a way in the rocks. It rumbled like an earthquake.
Lareyn heard the noise and got news from his castle. He quickly suspected that a tunnel was made underground, so he sounded on his horn a note that made vast numbers of dwarfs come to his aid from the lands of the Norgs. They came swarming over the country.
Lareyn cried out, as they drew near. "I and a giant bound several knights underground. I fear someone has used the ring I had made for my dear Simild to get an entrance to their dungeon and that they again have strong armours and weapons. If that is how it is, and they come out of the dungeon, they will avenge themselves on my folks and me. Therefore, find the tunnel-maker and destroy him before such a thing may happen!"
The dwarfs rushed about and found Dietlieb at the end of the tunnel he was making. Lareyn would not fight a knight who had fought bravely for him a few days earlier. The young and strong Dietlieb stood firm against a vault of the rock and as the dwarfs attacked him, he showered blows on blows on them and sent them sprawling until the dead and mangled were piled up knee-deep around him.
The heroes heard muffled sounds of the battle, but they found no means of breaking through the rock to reach him until Hildebrand came to think of the girdle that he had picked up after Theodoric tore it from the Norg king during their duel. This he now handed to the hero.
Theodoric took it and felt stronger, and tore down just a few rocks in the direction that the sounds came from. Dietlieb's ring had already got a little tunnel made before the dwarfs attacked. A little later the knights were at Dietlieb's side. Then Theodoric cast the girdle back to Hildebrand, trusting in his good sword.
"Treacherous dwarf!" he cried to Lareyn. "You have acted against your guests and allies as one who has no right to live! Come here and get what you have earned!"
Lareyn did not refuse; and the two fought with terrible fury to Then Hildebrand saw the ring of twelve-men's-strength on Lareyn's hand and knew it was a talisman, so he called to Theodoric and said:
"Theodoric, seize that ring on the Norg-king's hand! I suspect it gives him magic strength."
Theodoric struck the ring so that it broke; and the dwarf's power left him.
"Now it is time to suffer for your crimes. Now you are my prisoner, and I don't think anyone can deliver you."
The Norgs grieved that their king had lost, and trooped round Theodoric. They attacked him on every side; but he swung his sword around. At every sweep a hundred Norgs fell with patting steps at his feet.
Suddenly a little dwarf came running out from the mountain rock. He saw his brothers mown down like grass before the scythe. He seized Lareyn's horn and blew notes on it. Far-sounding notes of distress were heard through the nearest forest. Five giants lived in the forest. When they heard those notes they knew the Norgs were in great distress. With swift steps for giants they came; with, swords and steel pikes, ready to fight, and marching over hill and dale until they came to the mountain-side. Again the little dwarf sent out his appeal from within the mountain, and the giants burst their way through the mountain; but many thousands of Norgs were already killed before they got near the dungeon.
The five giants with steel clubs and swords came down on the knights, brandishing their clubs of steel. But they were defeated by the knights.
When the Norgs saw that their king was bound and their best fighting-men destroyed and the giants themselves lay lifeless, they fled for refuge to the mountains.
The heroes then, seeing no more left to slay, went through the tunnel into the banquet-hall, where only Simild stood, for all the Norgs had hidden themselves in fear.
"Welcome, brother and all of you!" she said to the knights. You have delivered all from a treacherous king and can ride away from here. Take me with you!"
The heroes piled up dwarf treasures on wagons, all they could carry. In triumph they made their way to the surface of the earth. Lareyn was with them. He was bound.
First they travelled to Styria and came to the spreading linden-tree that Simild had been lying under when she had been taken. There her father used to sit and grieved over having lost her, with attendants by his side
All became glad now that Simild was home again. They celebrated her home-coming for seven days with the knights. They had to tell many times what they had been through, and of the wonders of the mountain-world. Minstrels learnt the story and formed it into a song with many verses about the adventure while a drinking-bowl passed round and round.
At last Theodoric rose and thanked Simild's father for his hospitality, and Simild thanked him in return for having helped his son and saved his daughter. With that Theodoric took his leave. Along with him went Hildebrand the Sage, Wittich and King Lareyn, their prisoner.
King Lareyn and His Rose Garden is considered one of the most beautiful stories from the Tyrol area. It is an epos. Ignaz Zingerle has published a poetic version of it (1850). (Also: Wikipedia, "King Laurin".
The proud lass walks as if on eggshells. (Tyrolean Proverb)