The Great Hawk
A long time ago, in a far away land, on the side of a mountain, there lived a Great Hawk. The people of the Mountain Kingdom near where the Hawk lived would look up when he flew over and marvel at his size. For he was 20 times the size of a regular hawk! No one knew where he came from as he had been there for as long as anyone could remember. At times when the Kingdom’s safety had been threatened, the Great Hawk had acted as its protector, and so the people loved him. He would fly over the city from time to time, keeping watch on all the lands around. The Great Hawk provided for his own food and care, asking nothing from the Mountain Kingdom. The people were safe while under his watch, but they never knew why.
There was another kingdom nearby, in the valley. The King of this kingdom was distrustful and jealous. His heart was dark. He hated the Mountain Kingdom and their Great Hawk. It was rumored that the Mountain Kingdom was full of gold and jewels and they employed the Great Hawk to keep it all safe for them. None of that was true of course, but it’s what the Valley King believed.
And so as the Valley King’s heart grew darker, he began to make plans to steal the gold and jewels he believed were in the Mountain Kingdom. He needed a plan to get rid of the Great Hawk and once that was done, his warriors could easily overrun the city. In the Valley Kingdom there was a wise old woman. The Valley King went to her sometimes for advice. So he told her of his plan to get rid of the hawk and steal all the gold and jewels he knew the Mountain Kingdom contained.
“There are no jewels and gold in the Mountain Kingdom,” she told him.
“Yes there is!” he yelled. “I’ve known it for a long time! I want it all and you’re going to help me get it! You must tell me how to get rid of the hawk.”
The wise old woman was not scared of the Valley King and yet he could throw her in the dungeon if he wanted, so she needed to figure out what to do.
“I will need some time to think on this,” she said. “Come back in one week and I will have an answer for you.”
The wise old woman did not want to help the king get rid of the hawk but she knew she would be punished if she didn’t. She thought about this problem for a long time and finally came up with a solution. After a week had passed, the King sent for her. “Have you come up with a plan,” he asked?
“I have your Majesty. You must make a net to catch the hawk in. It must be large enough to trap the hawk and keep him from flying. It must be made from Hemmel vine.”
“But Hemmel vine is weak and will break easily!” the King shouted. “Hemmel vine cannot be used for anything! Are you trying to trick me, old woman?”
“No, no,” she said calmly. “There is something about the hawk you do not understand.”
“I am the King,” he yelled. “I understand everything! What are you trying to do?”
“Nothing, nothing at all,” she said. “But sometimes you come to me for advice, so whether or not you know everything, well….”
The King sat down hard on his throne. He did go to her for advice, so maybe…..
“Fine,” he said. “Tell me what you know.”
“The Hawk is allergic to Hemmel vine. Have you ever seen him eat it? Well I can say you haven’t because it will make him sick. He would not touch it. He will be weak and unable to move.”
The King thought about this. “Hemmel vine hmm? It will make him sick, and weak? That’s just what I need.” In his lust for gold and jewels, the King didn’t ask the wise woman how she knew this. And that’s just what she had hoped for.
The King sent the old woman away and ordered his guards to start making a net of Hemmel vine. When they started to question the Hemmel vine he yelled at them and threatened them all with the dungeon if they didn’t obey. And so the plan began. The wise woman had told him to send out some of his guards to find the Hawk. The net was to be placed at the lowest point of the valley. The guards would throw spears at the Hawk and when he chased them they would ride their horses under the net but the Hawk would be too big to fly under and would get caught in it. With the Hawk trapped in the net, The Valley King could lay siege to the Mountain Kingdom.
The Valley Kingdom was very busy for the next couple of weeks. Some were making the net, and some were making catapults and giant spear throwing machines, engines of war. They sharpened their swords and spears and made new arrows. Finally, they were ready. Now hawks have really good eyesight, but even they can’t see very well on the darkest night. So the net was hung on a night with no moon and the warriors set out to find the hawk. They searched all day along the side of the mountain and finally discovered the hawk perched on a great rock. They threw their spears which alarmed the hawk and as he rose into the air to give chase, the warriors rode off in the direction of the net. As the Great Hawk grew closer to the warriors, he flew down close to the ground. Suddenly, there was the net! The warrior’s horses ran right under it but the hawk, being as large as he was, flew right into it and was caught!
As soon as news of the Hawks capture reached the King, he sent out his warriors. All were wearing their battle armor and carried spears and swords. The King sent for the wise old woman to ask her for some last minute advice but was told she wasn’t to be found. In fact, no one had seen her for days. As the king had many other more important things to think about, he didn’t worry much about not finding her. Soon the gold and jewels of the Mountain Kingdom would be his.
The Valley Warriors raced up the mountainside to the Kingdom , shouting loud and making their presence known. When they reached the Mountain Kingdom they expected to see the people but there was no one there. The warriors rode into the city but the streets were empty. They searched everywhere but found no one at all. And also found no gold and jewels. Just when they were about to give up and go back to tell the King what they had found they heard a great wind begin. They looked up to see where this sound was coming from and saw a great dark shape fly from the sky. It was the Great Hawk! As he flew down upon them he was very angry that they had tried to trap him. The Great Hawk couldn’t understand why they would make a net out of such weak material as Hemmel vine, which he tore through easily. And it made him all the madder. He came down on them and had no mercy. Grabbing the warriors off their horses he flung them down the mountain. Catching their spears in his talons, he snapped them like twigs. Over and over he flew back and forth until the warriors and their horses ran away in utter fear.
Meanwhile, the people of the Mountain Kingdom were hiding in the forest behind the city. The wise old woman from the Valley Kingdom came to them earlier and told their king what was about to happen. She didn’t want to see the Mountain People harmed and knowing they had no gold or jewels to steal, the Valley King would be furious if he found them. She also told the Mountain King about the net and the lie she told the Valley King about Hemmel vine. The Great Hawk was not allergic to Hemmel vine and broke free of the net easily. As soon as he was free the Hawk flew back to save his people. The Mountain King felt it would be better not to be found by the invading warriors and hid the people in the forest.
As the people came back to the city, The Great Hawk flew down to meet the King. “Oh Great Hawk,” the King said, I don’t know if you understand our language, but we are forever in your debt for saving us.”
“It is I,” said the hawk, in the people’s language, “Who am indebted to you. A long time ago, when I was just young, I fell from my nest. Your great grandfather found me helpless on the ground and returned me to my parents. My Mother and Father made a promise to always protect the Mountain Kingdom in return for your great grandfather’s kindness. It is for this reason that I have protected you all these years, and always will.” All the people shouted, “Thank you, Great Hawk.”
“And now,” the Great Hawk said, “I will deal with the Valley King.”
“Please don’t be too hard on him,” the Mountain King asked.
“Don’t worry, I will leave him alive but I assure you, He will never bother you again.”
How the Great Hawk convinced the Valley King to leave the Mountain Kingdom alone, no one knows. And maybe, that’s just as well. The wise old woman was given a home in the Mountain Kingdom and after some years of silence the two Kingdoms started to speak and eventually became friendly. And it is said, that the Great Hawk watches over the Mountain Kingdom to this very day.