A very long time ago – way before you and I were born (maybe die Uroma and her cow Linde weren’t even born yet, but no one knows for sure) – there was a dwarf king and his name was Laurin. He lived in the Dolomites – a mountain range in what is now north-eastern Italy – and ruled over a thriving race of dwarfs who lived up in the mountains and mined them for jewels and valuable ores. Anna, Bowser and I spent last weekend in the Italian autonomous province Südtirol and learned more about this fascinating dwarf king. Well, Anna and I did at least. I’m not sure if Bowser was really learning a lot about him, but he seemed to enjoy himself. That should be enough for now. He is a baby, after all.
King Laurin lived in an underground crystal palace and possessed an invisibility cloak. He was rich, incredibly rich. Voll rich, Anna would say. And all this wealth he took for granted: his special pride and joy was neither his palace, nor all the jewels that surrounded him. No, what he valued most was his rose garden at the entranceway to his home, where Laurin liked to go for a stroll when he felt lonely.
Countless red roses flowered the whole year round and their scent was so enchanting that it was hard to resist touching them. If you did actually pluck one of the flowers, however, and king Laurin found out… well, you’d be in a lot of trouble: he would hunt you down and have your left hand and right foot chopped off. A hard punishment? Maybe. But to be fair: they were his roses, not yours to take.
One day, king Laurin fell in love with the beautiful princess Similde, who – frankly – did not feel the same way about him. So, what to do then? Right, the dwarf king used his invisibility cloak to capture her without being seen by her guards. He took her to his palace and was a happy king. Her family was a bit worried, though. They figured it must have been Laurin with his magic cloak who kidnapped Similde and sent her brother Dietlieb on a quest to get her back. Dietlieb met some knight called Dietrich on the way and together with a bunch of other knights they marched off to king Laurin’s realm.
When they arrived, Dietrich’s men broke into Laurin’s garden and trampled on the roses. When the dwarf king saw this, he charged at them furiously on his white pony…
Wait, what? A white pony? Yes, the marvellous king Laurin, with his invisibility cloak and his palace made of sparkling minerals, also had a pony. And why not? What would you ride if you were a dwarf?
Anyway… he came up to Dietrich and asked him: “What the heck do you think your knight-boys are doing here? I will have their hands and feet chopped off!”
Dietrich didn’t think so and what followed was a lot of fighting. Laurin’s opponents were with too many, but the dwarf king managed to trick them by making use of his invisibility cloak. However, after a while the knights could tell by the movement of the roses where Laurin was. They pulled off the cloak and overpowered him.
“Okay, okay,” Laurin said, looking at Dietrich in disgust, “you’ve won.”
Dietrich nodded proudly and said: “You know it.”
Laurin set Similde free and invited everyone for dinner in his palace. Dietrich and his men were hungry and tired of all the fighting, so they accepted the invitation. But barely inside, a thousand dwarfs attacked them and they were all thrown in the dungeons of the palace. Dietrich didn’t think this was funny and got so angry that he summoned inhuman powers to break open the irons of the shackles around his wrists and ankles. Afterwards, he freed all his men and together they assailed the dwarfs in their sleep and captured king Laurin. This time, they didn’t let him off the hook so easily.
The dwarf king was imprisoned and the glory of his kingdom came to an end. Laurin felt betrayed by his beloved roses for giving away his location when he was wearing the invisibility cloak and cursed his rose garden: no one was to glimpse the beauty and magnificence of it ever again, neither by day, nor by night. Only barren rocks should remain. He forgot about the twilight between day and night, though. Therefore, every day at dusk, when the last bit of sunshine reaches the mountains which we now call the Rosengarten Group, you can see a glowing red shade covering the otherwise pale rocks and you know: king Laurin’s rose garden blooms again.
The picture above this article shows part of the Dolomites, which we could see from the Austrian side when we visited die Uroma in Osttirol. These are, however, not the mountains of the Rosengarten Group. We planned to go and actually see them last weekend. We also wanted to visit Bozen, the capital of Südtirol, where king Laurin is immortalized in the form of a statue. Due to the bad weather we did neither. Instead, we stayed in the lovely town of Brixen, where we visited our friends Gitti and Ivan, who live in a tower above one of the old gates to the historic town centre. Very cool! More about that in our next blog entry…