Zoltin, Bringer of Life

Zoltin, Bringer of Life

A Story by Knight in Armor
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It's an attempt at a Magyar epic hero.

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Agoston was the leader of a mighty tribe, and his wife Aniko was a great woman. Aniko became pregnant. She wished to name her child Zoltin.

Zoltin’s birth was marked by a solar eclipse, causing his parents to abandon him. His father believed that the sun, the giver of life, leaving them while the child was born marked the boy as evil. They were forced to cast him into the forest.

A solar eclipse is a sign of old and mighty things ending, and new beginnings, and are said to affect men more heavily than women.

Zoltin’s father, being the leader of his people, would have feared his young son would surpass his accomplishments with his own dark deeds.

Zoltin was at the point of death in the cold forest when a she-wolf came upon the babe and, rather than attack, raised him as one of her own cubs. After 3 years, Zoltin’s wolf brothers left their mother to start their own families. Zoltin, however, was not yet mature enough to survive on his own and stayed with his mother. After twelve years of living with his wolf-mother, she was too old to run anymore and was killed by hunters from Zoltin’s former human tribe.

After his mother’s death, Zoltin began to observe the humans from the concealment of the forest, his heart broken and aching for revenge. As he watched the humans, he saw that most of them did not kill for fun any more than his wolf family. They killed to feed themselves, as he had    killed squirrels and foxes.  His heart softened, and he sought to rejoin his people.

Zoltin first began visiting the village at night, where he searched for clues to how the people lived. His years in the forest had taught him more of stealth than the most experienced hunters and trackers of the tribe, making him the only boy to be able to slip in and out of the small town without detection. As he silently studied his people, he learned much of their language and customs, even finding that the ruler was a man called Agoston, who had no children.

After a full year of silently observing the humans, he finally decided to announce his presence. One morning as the sun arose and the village awoke, Zoltin boldly marched into the village and presented himself before Agoston, saying only that his mother had died and he had no home. Agoston pitied the lost child, and allowed him to join his people, giving him the name intended for his own lost son, Zoltin.

As Zoltin had only minimal language, the tribe assumed him to be a foreigner, and as such he was treated as a very small child. All the people assumed he knew nothing of hunting, farming, or shepherding, and taught him from the beginning. He learned from boys much smaller than him how to plant seeds so they will not blow and how to guard animals against attack. To Zoltin, this seemed strange, as he and his mother had attacked cattle before. Now, he was being told to kill any animals that got too close, including wolves. When Zoltin refused to harm any wolves, they thought him soft and more suited for women’s jobs. The tribesmen did not take Zoltin hunting. However, Zoltin secretly followed them on the next hunt and revealed himself when they were too far from the village to turn back. Some of the men begrudgingly allowed him to join, but the rest were impressed that he had avoided detection and accepted him happily. While hunting, Zoltin proved himself to be more than capable of a man’s job, killing more foxes singlehandedly than many of the groups of adult men. Zoltin showed his stealth and cleverness, and was revered as a great hunter.

Zoltin continued to live in the village for half a year after the hunt in peace. After that, however, the peace was shattered when a messenger from a neighboring village brought news that their most exalted daughter, Viktoria, had disappeared into the night, and was feared stolen by a wild beast. All the most senior hunters and warriors began preparing to track her. Zoltin was alerted of the catastrophe by some of the men who had watched him hunt, and immediately set off to trace her alone, with none of the elaborate preparations of the other hunters. Again using the skills he had learned in his time in the forest with his wolf family, he searched the cold forest and found the young Viktoria as close to death as he had been when his mother adopted him. Shedding his own coat to cover her with, Zoltin struggled to lift the nearly lifeless girl onto his back to carry her back to her home. At last, he encountered one of the other groups of trackers and surrendered her weight to a group of fully grown men, who carried her the rest of the way to her family.

Viktoria’s father wept over her until she had recovered fully enough to gain consciousness, at which point she cursed Zoltin for rescuing her. She had tried to escape because, now that she was 13, it was time for her to be promised to the most worthy man in the land. She resented not being given a choice in her marriage, and wished for death rather than a husband she did not love. Her father, even as relieved as he was to have her back alive, maintained that she must be betrothed so as to allow the necessary five year engagement for a princess. She at last agreed to be engaged, but only if Zoltin was her betrothed.

Zoltin had, upon joining the village, fashioned himself a small and rather shoddy hut. After he proved himself so thoroughly, however, Agoston and Aniko took Zoltin into their own home. Aniko wept when she saw Zoltin, for she knew her own son would be the same age, and would likely have been a great hunter as well. She went to Agoston with the plea that they adopt the young boy as their own, having already given him the name of their son and space in their home. Agoston conferred with the Tatlos Priest and they sacrificed several cattle in a Magian bonfire. The Priest drank the blood of the cattle, then began convulsing and spoke as Napkiraly, the sun god, saying, “You did not consult the gods before abandoning your son. You now have the arrogance to ask for our help when we have been gracious enough to return him to you? Fools, I only left when the boy was born to grant him gifts. He will one day be a greater ruler than Agoston and will outshine all your accomplishments, but only with the benign powers we have given him!” Agoston recognized his errors and humbly went to his wife.

When Agoston returned with the truth to his wife, they both bemoaned their foolish error in casting Zoltin out and praised the gods for returning their son to them. The Tatlos priest ordered them to sacrifice many animals and much wealth to the gods to thank them for their forgiveness and have a feast in honor of the gods and their gifts to Zoltin. Preparation alone for the feast took a full day. Agoston sacrificed half his personal cattle and other animals, and threw several treasures in the river to show his reverence to the gods. He then slaughtered half the remaining cattle in preparation for a holiday in honor of Zoltin and the gods. The feast lasted a full fortnight, and none in the village of Zoltin went hungry for a moment.

The neighboring village also joined the feast, for Zoltin, being a prince, was worthy to marry Viktoria. Her father rejoiced and ordered preparations start immediately for the wedding, for his daughter must have only the best.

            The five years of the engagement of Zoltin and Viktoria passed with little incidence. At thirteen, Viktoria had been a headstrong and rather pampered girl, who was quite small for her age. Once she was eighteen, however, she had grown into a beautiful maiden, with flaming red hair that fell in waves to her waist and smooth, fair skin. She was still very small, but stood so serenely that one scarcely noticed, and had grown into a brilliant woman, though she still insisted she be treated as an equal to any man. Likewise, Zoltin had grown from a scrawny and savage loner into the most skilled hunter the tribe had seen. His broad chest and shoulders attracted many a girl, but he had eyes for none but his Viktoria. He also developed a few close friends, the closest of whom was Klement.

At last, when Zoltin was twenty and she was eighteen, the preparations for the wedding were complete. Her dress and underskirts were completed, with the most elaborate and beautiful embroidery anyone had ever seen, and a magnificent headdress was completed. It was time for them to be wed. Klement went to both villages and sang an invitation to the wedding to all the guests.

The whole village accompanied Viktoria in her colorful cart as a wedding procession from her home to the home of Zoltin, where Agoston and Aniko greeted her with wine and an egg, which she broke to ensure good health for her children. Zoltin joined her and they broke several plates into a pile of coins, and sorted the jagged edges out. The plates broke into an uncountable number of pieces, which guaranteed a happy marriage.

The celebration feast had the greatest variety of food ever seen, and the music and dancing lasted until the sun had set and risen again. Never before had there been such a magnificent and happy couple.

For ten years, all was well. The tribe of Zoltin and the tribe of Viktoria united together, and were prosperous. Zoltin continued to be a mighty hunter due to his superior tracking skills and extreme stealth. Viktoria gave birth to four children, all of whom were clever and strong. Zoltin, Viktoria, and their two sons and two daughters were healthy and well.

However, in the eleventh year after their marriage, the fathers of both Zoltin and Viktoria died. Both their fathers were very good men, and both would clearly pass on to the Other World instead of becoming trapped in the Under World. After they buried the men on the other side of the river facing east and dressed in white to celebrate the lives of the men, the question arose as to whether Zoltin or Viktoria was heir. Both were children of the rulers of the tribe, and both were great in their own respects. Viktoria and Zoltin both wanted to lead their people together, but many of the men wanted Zoltin to lead, since it was traditional for the leader to be a man. Zoltin and Viktoria decided to make no official decisions.

Whispers began reaching the village of Zoltin and Viktoria of a Sarkany attacking men. Zoltin decided to do nothing until the monster was closer to the home of Zoltin. All too soon, Zoltin’s own village was under attack. Zoltin went with several of his strongest fighters to attack the creature. Its seven heads swiveled around over the man-like shape of its body, and it rode atop a most wondrous horse. The creature dismounted at the sight of the warriors, and began hissing fire at them. All the men scattered except Zoltin, who again used his covertness to sneak as close as he could to the Sarkany. He was able to cut off three of its heads before it noticed he was there. It roared mightily, and threw Zoltin to the ground, where he writhed in pain and again slipped into the shadows. Encountered with Zoltin’s uncertainty, new heads sprouted from the severed necks. Zoltin realized then that he would likely die, and that his faithful wife would be a more capable leader than any man in the tribe. The newly reformed heads began to wither in light of Zoltin’s authoritativeness, and Zoltin easily slaughtered the beast.

Zoltin went back to Viktoria, and told her that he believed her to be more than capable of ruling by herself or with him. They led the people together happily until the end of their days, known as brilliant and merciful sovereigns. They extended the hand of friendship to any outcast who did not harm others, and the land flourished and overflowed with life and happiness. Monsters dared not enter the area because they knew of the cleverness of the warriors, and the steadfast hearts of the fighters would not allow a moment of weakness or cruelty to allow a beast to harm an innocent. Zoltin’s intense tracking, stealth, and equality to all led to him being remembered as a legendary hero of his people, and the best and brightest leader in their history, only equaled by his wondrous queen and children.

© 2012 Knight in Armor


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Added on October 20, 2011
Last Updated on March 22, 2012
Tags: Hungary, Magyar, Zoltin, Life, epic, hero

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Knight in Armor
Knight in Armor

Grand Rapids, MI



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A Story by Knight in Armor