The Legend Of The Zlatković

    A long time ago, in a distant world...

    A white wolf howled.
    The hot breath from the beast's mouth formed a thick, white cloud in the cold air. The creature was looking for a meal for more than four days, but the snow-covered woods offered nothing worth attention. Its eyes betrayed exhaustion, but still woke fear in whoever might face them. Even if at the end of its strength, the white wolf was still lethal to its foe and even though his mind was simple, he knew he must eat soon or he would become too weak for the hunt and that would mean his end. He turned his head slowly and gave the last glance to the setting sun, as if admiring the great red globe which hovers above the horizont, surrounded by the cold air. The polar sunset revealed a powerful image of harshness and ice, but the white wolf knew only one thing: Soon the night would come and the night was the best time for the hunt.
    The Warleader blew into the faint flame, as he set the fire to the thin wood pieces beside his feet. Another day is over and like every evening, his warriors and hunters would come to sit around the fire, saying goodbye to the sun. It was a harsh day, but it was not unusual in his homeland. He turned to glance towards the village and saw the first heads approaching over the snow. He waved them a greeting and put his heavy blade to rest on the ground near the place where he was about to sit for the evening. He blew his hot breath between his hands, as to warm them and glanced the other direction, to the sun. Every day was difficult here, he thought. The land he ruled was an ancient place far north, where the ice never melts, where one day and one night dure a whole year and the sun moves slowly across the sky, never rising far above the south horizont. It was a distant land, cold and white, ruled by the eternal snow. During the day, one could not tell where the land ends and the sky begins, for the colour of the snow which covered the woods and the mountains matched the colour of the often cloudy sky completely. Sometimes a faint sunshine would fall upon the ice, causing it to reflect the light in many colours but never bearing enough strength to melt it. It was a place with most beautiful nights, icy earth glowing with a ghosty whiteness under the light of the moon and a thousand stars, and such a night was about to come.
    Three hunters and a warrior reached Warleader's position and he glanced at them, forming a friendly smile on his lips. His kin were dark-haired, gray-skinned people, skilled hunters and powerful warriors. Each their day was like any other, they hunted to survive and built houses of ice to live in. They believed in their gods and held their honour in their hearts, isolated in their homeland and their dreams. The hunters carried five rabbits and a deer, hunted down just a few hours ago and allready prepared for the fire. Soon others would come carrying fish, roots, some vegetables and the most important: babalunda. They sat down and started talking about the one theme which was occupying all of them recently. The One of Gold.
    Not long before, a birth was given to an unique child. Its hair was like the gold and its eyes were like the sea. The child has been the first one of his kind, not even the eldest whose memories reached far into the past could tell of something similar. He was given a name 'Zlatkov', which means 'The One of Gold' in their ancient tongue, for he was as rare as the gold was in these gloomy lands.

    Zlatkov glanced at the traces in the snow. The bear which was threatening his village was close and the golden warrior knew he must hunt it down now. A hungry polar bear left near the village in the night meant only death to at least one of his men before another chance to kill it would be offered. He motioned for the company of hunters behind him to follow and quickly moved forward, following the traces. He gave the sky a short glance, as to estimate the weather for the next few hours and turned to follow his victim.
    Nothing in Zlatkov's world was like him. While everything around him was white, grey and pale, ice crystals glooming, reflecting whatever the light fell upon them, he was the colour of the sun, bright and shining. He grew up like any other child, learning how to survive in the ice, but he never stopped watching the sun on the south horizont, seeing himself in it. Just like him, the sun was a faint trace of colour in the white void. He felt close to the sun and more than once he desired to reach for it and explore the distant lands underneath, beyond the southern mountains. He knew, as the time passed, he would grow older and many things would change, but his desire for travel wouldn't.
    The group passed across the small hill, following the traces into nearby woods. Tree for tree they ran forward until the groan of rage stopped their movements and they faced a great polar bear, standing on its rear legs and watching his followers with killing wrath in his eyes. The beast groaned again, mouth open wide as it faced the sky, just like if it was saying to the gods and the world that it claims these woods and has the power to take and hold them. The bear faced his followers again and they knew it would run for them any moment. Zlatkov pulled his blade and the hunters prepared their longbows. Another moment passed, in which the beast and the man observed each other trying to recognize anything of advantage and then Zlatkov let his war cry be heard. The hunt has begun.

    Zlatkov observed the sunset. The time to say goodbye to the sun has come again and the day was almost gone. Nothing was there from the great golden globe which had occupied the sky above the south horizont for past half a year. It was now but a thin, red arch hiding behind the mountains and there wasn't much left of the daylight. The great fire was glooming behing him and villagers sat around it, preparing food on the fire, drinking hot babalunda and telling each other their brave stories.
    An old and experienced warrior saw Zlatkov standing away and knew he would not miss a single second of the sunset. Every year he was standing there and watching until the light was completely gone. He came to stand next to him and offered him a large mug filled with hot babalunda. Zlatkov took the mug, took a sip from it and nooded thanks to his elder.
   "You are a man who has let his desires make him unhappy, Golden One."
   "I cannot help it, my friend. My desires have always been stronger than I was and I feel as if my soul would find no rest until I reveal the places behind that horizont.", he pointed to the setting sun with his head. The old warrior turned to face the faint arch which was falling behind the distant hill.
   "You know a man's desire cannot travel to the unknown, golden warrior. It would remain if you would go to explore whatever is behind the farthest mountains."
    Zlatkov looked thoughtfully for a moment, but then he revealed a smile, taking another sip from his mug. He turned and came to the fire, joining the others. His decision has fallen. He would travel south at the first light.

    Zlatkov covered his eyes with his hand, protecting his vision from the bright sunlight. After having travelled far south, passing great distances, he reached a land of green fields, rich woods and stony mountains. He noticed within the year the days were short and many, as were the nights, and the sun stood high in the sky. He had seen many things on his travel, had met many tribes and whereever he came, he was accepted and loved, just as if he had always been there. This green land woke in him more than any other place he had seen so far and he settled down. He had built a house, found a woman's love and soon she gave a birth to their son. The child carried the unique mark of The One of Gold. It had a hair coloured gold and his eyes were blue like the mountain lake in the morning. The son was given the name 'Zlatković', which means 'The Son of Zlatkov' in his mother's tongue.
    As Zlatković grew up, he resembled his father in everything. He grew, he learned and he desired. Being unable to resist his travellers nature, he left home as soon as he felt strong enough and travelled vast distances, meeting more nations, settling down and bearing children, who in turn had their children and all of them travelled further, spreading across the world.
    Many of them don't know about the others any more. They roam and travel, always searching for the sun and never finding it.

    If you look around carefully, you may see them. The blood of many nations flows within their venes and they speak many tongues, but their hair is always the colour of the gold under the sun and their eyes are like the blue sky in the summer dusk. They are everyone's friends and they can tell many stories which would keep one listening near the fire in the night, but they are never around for long. They hear and they answer the travel cry of The Golden One and they always keep moving, in their eternal seek for the sun.

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The Anglo-Saxon Barbarians II, no more nights without fire
Rainwalk, is there anyone out there?
The Room, life after death, or just a fantasy?
© 2000-2007 Igor Zlatković. All rights reserved. Last modification: Mon, 10 Sep 2007 21:12:32 GMT+02:00
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