Prologue 1:  Hagen of Baljan*

Once upon a time, in Ireland, the mighty King Siegeband and his beautiful Queen Ute ruled over their subject from their castle, Baljan.  It was Springtime, flags waved from the towers, and a joust with all the accompanying festivities was in progress.
One day, during a mighty storm, they almost believed themselves to be rescued when a ship appeared, but it smashed on the rocks, drowing all aboard.  From the bodies and debris washed ashore, Hagen gathered  weapons and armor.

He could now take his revenge upon the eagle.

It was a mighty battle, first the male eagle, then the female getting quite irrate, but in the end, neither they nor their brood were a match for Hagen.  He hung their heads from his belt and the young women were quite relieved not to have to fear another attack from above.  There was another attack ... from a huge animal resembling a dragon.  Hagen slew the beast, drank his blood, and fashioned an armour out of the hide.

Years passed.  The young people had just about given up hope to ever be able to leave their island prison when one day, a ship appeared, set out a boat and brought them aboard.

Their happiness was short-lived.  The ship's owner, a Sea Baron, was feuding with King Siegeband and decided to hold Hagen as a hostage and the Ladies, well, they would make a welcome addition to his kitchen staff.

This, of course, did not at all go down well with Hagen.  They tried to put him in irons but before they could relieve him of his weapons, they found themselves hard put to keep up with the young warrior.  It is said that more than 30 of the Sea Baron's men went to sleep with the fishes that day.  The Baron soon gave up on this hostage idea and took Hagen home to Baljan instead.

Queen Ute recognised her son by a gold cross he had worn since birth.  The feud with the Baron forgotten, there was much feasting and merrymaking, and the Baron soon went on his way, laden with gifts from the grateful king.

Two of the princesses, one from Portugal, the other from India, were also soon on their way to their homes.  Hilde, however, stayed at Baljan, to be married to Hagen. 

Their daughter, also named Hilde, grew into a beautiful young woman.  Hagen swore to give her only to a man who could best him in battle and therefore be worthy of his daughter.

Great is the number of knights and warriors who lost their lives in the quest for the hand of the beautiful Hilde.
Hagen of Baljan, not to be confused with Hagen of Tronje, another mighty hero who pops up in some other epic stories.
Until, on the tenth day, tragedy struck.

A mighty eagle appeared in the air.  So huge was he, his shadow fell like a cloud upon the castle grounds.  Before anyone knew what was happening, he had the boy, Hagen, in his mighty talons and flew off with him.

The festive mood was broken, the king and queen were in a state of great upset, the guests soon left for their own homes.
Meanwhile, the eagle flew and flew and flew until he reached a far-off island where he had his aerie.  There he dropped to boy into his nest, fodder for his young.  Young Hagen was no match for the razor-sharp talons and strong beaks of the eaglets.  Even though he fought them valiantly, the outcome might have been bleak had not one of the greedy eaglets, the strongest, carried him off to another tree.  Alas, the tree-limb gave away under the weight and the boy was free.  Scratched, bruised, but otherwise unharmed.

For a long time he wandered through the forest, hoping to come upon a human settlement, even a lone cottage, but there was nothing but trees, and more trees.  He was hungry, tired, and he really missed the company of another human being.  He might even have cried a bit had he not come upon a cave.  And in the entrance, he saw a beautiful young girl wearing a dress woven out of grass and moss.  Was she human?  Was she of the fae?

It soon turned out that the girl, Hilde, and her two companions, were princesses from far-away lands, also kidnapped by the eagle.  They had sustained themselves with roots and berries and no, they hadn't seen another human being in all the time they were here.  How long?  They had at first counted the days by the setting and rising of the sun, but after a while grew discouraged and gave it up.

Time passed.  Hagen was soon fashioning weapons and supplemented their diet with the meat of birds and other small animals and fish from the ocean.  Idyllic, yes, but they all were terribly homesick for their families and their friends and the life that they remembered.
On the coast of the North Sea, young King Hettel's rule reached over many lands.  He was a mighty warrior and his Knights carried his fame far beyond the borders of his kingdom.  His mightiest swordsman was old Wate of Stormland, but Irold of Morung wasn't far behind, Frute of Denmark was known to be quite wiley, and Horand of Denmark had the voice of an angel.

These were the men that King Hettel assigned to ask King Hagen for the hand of his daughter Hilde.  Not an easy task, one that required a lot of forethought ... Frute won the day by convincing everyone that only artfulness would win the princess.

The men set sail to the shores of King Hagen disguised as traders.

Tall, handsome men walked off the ship in King Hettel's harbour, and asked for an audience with the king.  They told him that they were from the land of the Hegelingen, subjects of King Hettel, but had incurred his wrath and were banned from their home shores.  Their ship was loaded with wares, and could they obtain the king's permission to peddle their wares in the harbour?

This went over quite well, their wares were of high quality, their prices reasonable.  They often were guests at the castle and while everyone was enjoying the feasting and dancing, old Wate wasn't at all impressed.  King Hagen baited him by teasing that the sound of swords crossed in battle be more pleasing to his ears than the sound of merrymaking.  Soon, Wate and Hagen were sparring, and even though Hagen was a mighty warrior, he soon found he was no match for Wate.

Was it fate when he remarked that he almost wished that someday, he could meet Wate in real battle?
Prologue 2:  King Hettel
Hagen, the king's 7-year old son, watched the goings-on with growing interest, living for the day when he himself would be wearing a shiny armor and be a mighty swordsman.  Every-one was having a great time ....
Hilde, however, much preferred the sound of the lute and singing to the sounds of battle.

This, Horand used this to his advantage, and when she one day whistfully remarked that she'd like to have him sing for her every morning and every night of her life, he informed her that the fulfillment of this wish was well within her own power.  He confessed the real reason for their being at Castle Baljan.  And was finally able to convince Hilde to come away with them, to the land of the Hegelingen, as the bride of King Hettel.

Finally, the time had come for the "traders" to leave the hospitality of King Hagen.  King and Queen and quite an entourage had gathered in the harbor to bid the traders farewell.  But as the anker had been lifted and the ship was sailing out of the harbour, the mighty voice of Wate could be heard as he shouted "Hail King Hettel of the Hegelingen, and Hail, Hilde, His Betrothed" ....

Handsome King Hettel immediately found favour in the eyes of the beautiful Hilde upon their return home; her only wish, that there could be peace between her future husband and her father.

It wasn't long before Hagen's ships arrived at the shore of Hegelingenland.  But to make a long bloody battle short, Hagen got his wish to battle Wate, and there might have been moments when he regretted his statement.  As it went, the men impressed each other to no end with their bravery and might in battle.  In the end, Hagen welcomed Hettel as his son-in-law.

Needless to say, the wedding was a grand affair indeed.

Hilde and Hettel's union was blessed with a son, Ortwin, and a daughter, whom they named Gudrun.

                    (continued on next page ... see link below)
This page created September 2000 by Valkyrie.
Illustrations by Kurt Schmischke, all rights reserved.
Translation and page design by Val Grant