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Main > Norway folktales > Fairy tale "The Epic of Siegfried"

The Epic of Siegfried

Elves and fairies hid in every leafy tree and behind every blade of grass, and cunning dwarfs lurked under every rock and in every crevice. But Siegfried rode straightforward until he came to the steep side of a shadowy mountain. There at the mouth of a cavern, a strange sight met his eyes. Two young men, dressed in princes' clothing, sat upon the ground. Their features were all haggard and gaunt and pinched with hunger, and their eyes wild with wakefulness and fear. All around them were heaps of gold and precious stones - more than what a hundred wagons could carry. And neither of the two princes would leave the shining hoard for food or close his eyes in sleep, lest the other might seize and hide some part of the treasure. Thus they had watched and hungered through many long days and sleepless nights, each hoping that the other would die, and that the whole inheritance might be entirely his.

When they saw Siegfried riding near, they called out to him. "Noble stranger, stop a moment! Come and help us divide this treasure."

"Who are you?" asked Siegfried, "and what treasure is it that lies there?"

"We are the sons of King Nibelung, who until lately was king of this Mist Land, known as Nibelungen," faintly answered the princes. "Our names are Gunnlaug and Schilburng."

"What are you doing here with this gold and these glittering stones?"

"This is the great Hoard of Nibelungen, which our father, King Niblung, not long ago brought from the Southland. It's not clear just how he obtained it. Nor does it matter, as our father is now dead. We brought the hoard out of the cavern where he had hidden it so we could share it between us equally. But we cannot agree and we beg you to help us divide it."

Siegfried dismounted from his horse Greyfell and approached the two princes.

"I will gladly do as you ask," said he, "but first I must know more about your father - who he was and how did he come upon this treasure?

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