The legend of King Laurin and his rose garden
Laurin’s pride and joy was a magnificent garden in front of the gateway to his fortress within the rock. Countless red roses flowered there the whole year round and they were encompassed by a golden thread of silk. Woe betide anybody who dared to break the thread and pick even a single rose! Laurin threatened to chop off their left hand and right foot.
One day, Laurin caught sight of the beautiful blond Princess Simhild in a neighbouring castle. He fell in love with the human child and abducted her with the help of his magic hood. From then on, Simhild lived in Laurin’s mountain kingdom surrounded by gold, silver and precious gems, served and guarded by dainty maids of honour and dwarf knights. However, Simhild was still sad because she was homesick for the flower-filled meadows of her home.
At her brother Dietlieb’s castle, grief and horror reigned. While searching for his sister, Dietlieb met Dietrich of Bern, King of the Goths. With him and some other knights, Dietrich set off for King Laurin’s realm. Dietrich marvelled at the luxuriant roses enclosed by a golden thread, but his companions broke the thread and trampled on the roses. The furious Laurin charged at them on his white pony, demanding the offender’s hand and foot. An unequal fight ensued. Initially, Laurin was able to protect himself with his magic hood, but when it was torn from his head, he lay helpless on the ground and pleaded for his life. In chains, he was forced to lead the victors into his kingdom, where Simhild was set free. Laurin invited Dietrich and his retinue to a banquet. But when all had eaten and drunk their fill, a thousand dwarfs suddenly fell upon Dietrich and his men, who were shackled and locked up in the darkest part of the kingdom.
Dietrich was so angry at this insidious deed that, summoning superhuman strength, he burst out of his chains and freed his men. Then they broke open all the locks and doors and fell upon Laurin’s unsuspecting dwarfs. Finally they succeeded in capturing the dwarf king. The glory days of the dwarf kingdom had come to an end. With a curse, the captured king destroyed his rose garden for ever: neither the bright day nor the dark night should ever again see the magnificence of the roses. Only barren, pale rocks should remain. However, Laurin forgot to include the twilight between day and night in his curse. And so sometimes, just before sunset, the pale mountains are illuminated with a blaze of red light.