The Maid--devouring Giant--Hildebrand slays Orkise--Dietrich and the Giants--Night Battle--The Black Horseman--Slaughter of Monsters--Castle Muter--Prince taken Prisoner--The Rescue--Janibas surrounds Virginal's Castle--Magic Tablet--The Avalanches--A Peerless Queen--Dietrich wins his Bride.
TIDINGS came unto Dietrich at Bern that Virginal, Queen of the Mountains, was in sore distress because that a giant wasted her land and had perforce to obtain as tribute, at each new moon, a fair maiden, whom he did devour.
The prince set forth with old Hildebrand to give aid to the queen, who had great beauty, and ruled over those dwarfs and giants in the Tyrolese mountains that never sought to do injury unto mankind. Her oppressor was named Orkise, whose son was Janibas, an evil magician.
As the two heroes rode through the forest there came unto them a dwarf whose name was Bibung. He guided them towards Jeraspunt, where the queen had her dwelling, but when night came he vanished. Snow fell next morning, and the knights were parted one from another. Ere long Hildebrand heard bitter cries, and he beheld a fair maiden who had been taken to the forest so that the giant might obtain her for tribute. Fairest was she of Queen Virginal's maidens. The knight proffered his protection and vowed to rescue her, whereat her heart was filled with gratitude and her eyes with joy tears.
Soon the forest was shaken with dread clamour, for the giant was coming nigh with his dogs to possess himself of his prey. Hildebrand drew his sword; not slow was he to enter the conflict, and ere long he slew the giant and put to flight his evil son Janibas.
The maiden returned with glad heart unto the queen, and gave tidings of how the giant Orkise had been slain. There was great rejoicing in the castle, and eagerly did Virginal and all her people await the coming of the heroes.
Meanwhile Dietrich fought with many of the giant's followers. The clamour of battle resounded far and near, and when Hildebrand hastened to his aid the horde was overcome; many were slain and many made escape.
Together did they then go upon their way towards the palace of Jeraspunt. Darkness came on, and they rode to the gate of the castle of Orkise, deeming it theirs by right of conquest. But small hospitality were they shown. No sooner did they demand entrance than fierce giants issued forth against them. Heavy clubs they bore, and they smote fiercely, but soon they were overcome by the valorous heroes. Then appeared a black horseman. He spake in a strange tongue, and giants sprang up out of the earth to continue the fight. As they were cut down others took their place, and when all the giants were slain, hissing snakes and nameless reptiles issued forth against Dietrich and Hildebrand, so that they had to fight constantly throughout the night. The black horseman entered not the fray, and when dawn broke he vanished from sight. Then did the heroes enter the castle and set at liberty three of Queen Virginal's maidens whom they found there.
Now, during the night the heroes slew a fierce
dragon. It carried in its jaws a brave knight whose name was Rentwin, and with him did Dietrich and Hildebrand journey towards his father's castle. There did they remain until their wounds were healed.
Thereafter the prince and his veteran companion set forth with Rentwin and his sire towards Jeraspunt. Eager was Dietrich to behold the fair maiden queen Virginal. He spurred his steed; he rode in front, and ere long he was lost to his fellow knights. 'Twas ill for him that he waited not for them, because the way was strange and wild, and he wandered from the straight path. So it chanced that he came unto the castle of Duke Nitger, called Muter.
Now the duke had many giants, and when one of them issued forth, Dietrich asked of him to be guided unto the palace of Queen Virginal. Answer was given him according to his desire; but when he turned to ride away the giant smote the hero with his club so that he fell from his horse. Then was brave Dietrich seized and bound and thrown into a dark dungeon. The duke's sister treated him with kindness. But for her protection the prince would have been put to death.
When Hildebrand reached the palace of Virginal he received tidings that the prince had been taken captive. So he hastened back unto Bern, and rode forth with many brave knights, among whom were Wolfhart and Witege and Heime. They laid siege to Castle Muter and fought against twelve giants. While the battle waged fiercely, Dietrich made escape and entered the fray. Victory was then with the heroes of Bern, and all the giants were slain.
The knights sought to put Duke Nitger to death, but his sister pleaded for him, and his life was spared by Dietrich.
Then did they all set forth towards Jeraspunt, On their way they beheld a dwarf riding towards them. Unto Dietrich spake the little man, and he told that fierce Janibas had surrounded the palace of Queen Virginal with a great army, an made demand of all her maidens and the magic jewel in her crown which gave her power to rule over all her subjects.
So the heroes pressed onward. They climbed the mountains over ice and snow, and soon they heard the fierce clamour of battle. The howling of the great black dogs of Janibas was like the howling of wintry tempests; strange monsters fought there, and the queen's defenders were in sore straits. The voices of the giants were loud as thunder peals.
In the midst of the battle Dietrich saw the black horseman. He knew him to be Janibas. An iron tablet he held in his hand and wrought spells upon it. The prince sprang upon him. His sword flashed fire. He broke in pieces the iron tablet and slew the dread worker of evil. Then pealed the loud thunder amidst the Tyrolese mountains; the glaciers were sundered, and avalanches fell upon the evil army of Janibas, which suddenly vanished from sight. Soon was there silence and peace, and an end to that dread conflict.
Queen Virginal sat alone, high throned in her mountain palace, unmoved and beautiful; brightly gleamed the jewel in her crown. A glistening silver veil was drawn round her body, and her maidens crouched trembling at her feet.
When the battle was ended, Dietrich made approach, and she called him "hero", and greeted him with love.
"No longer can I reign here in Elfland," she spake. "Thy great deeds have I beheld, and for thy sake I shall leave my home and my kingdom, and henceforth live
among men; for I shall be thy bride, and love thee so long as life may last."
Then were Dietrich and Queen Virginal wedded there with pomp and ceremony, and elves and heroes feasted within the mountain palace, and drank wine and made merry. Ere long Dietrich and his bride and the brave knights journeyed together to Bern, where they were received with acclamations by the people.
Dietrich and Queen Virginal lived happily together, and when King Dietmar died, the prince reigned in his place. Then was there peace within the kingdom; but evil was being wrought in another land, and it was fated that King Dietrich must become a fugitive among men ere he could triumph completely over his evil foemen.