Saturday, September 19, 2015

Story Saturday: The king that breathes fire, and other badasses (Exploring the Dietrich cycle, V.)

Now that I have been all over Dwarves and mountains, it feels like it is time to introduce some of the human heroes of the Dietrich cycle - specifically, the ones that will make an appearance in the storytelling show.
There is quite a few of them, so for today, I am focusing on the first three in order of appearance:

King Dietrich of Bern

Since he is less well known than Arthur, here is the gist: Dietrich is described as a tall and strong man (naturally), with fair hair that falls to his shoulders in "heavy curls." He is not exceedingly handsome, but he does have the redeeming quality of being able to breathe fire when angry (who wouldn't want that in a man). His shield shows a golden lion in a read field, reaching up towards a golden crown. He has two excellent, Dwarf-made swords, the first one (which he gives away) is called Nagelring, the second one (which he wins in an epic blind fight) is called Eckesachs (Ekkisax). Dietrich is heroic, brave, just, boisterous, generous, and all those other things a king needs to be. Sometimes he makes mistakes.

Fun fact: At one point early in his adventures, Dietrich is thrown into a pit full of venomous snakes. By the time Hildebrand comes to rescue him, young Dietrich has already eaten some of the adders.
(Take that, Ragnar Lodbrok)


If we are drawing comparisons, Hildebrand is Dietrich's Merlin - with no magic, and infinitely more badassery. Think Ser Barristan Selmy. He is a famous swordsman who is hired to be Dietrich's mentor when the boy is only five years old - so begins a life of friendship and shared adventures. From the very first quest of Dietrich (where they kill two giants), master and pupil fight side by side, and Hildebrand holds his own very well against multiple enemies, even when he is past his 100th birthday. Despite his prowess in battle (and literally being named "battle sword"), Hildebrand is the wiser and more level-headed of the two, often helping Dietrich with diplomatic advice, and jumping in front of him when he is about to do something stupid.
Hildebrand has a beloved and wise wife (the Lady Ute) and a brave son, Hadubrand. He is the lord of Castle Garden, and as such, his device is a white castle and golden flowers on a red field.

Fun fact: Hildebrand gets his own story (called the Hildebrandslied) in which he returns home from 32 years of exile, and has to fight his own son who doesn't recognize him. In earlier versions of the story, he ends up killing Hadubrand; in later versions, they recognize each other in time. People love a happy ending.


Doubtless my favorite knight of the bunch, Sistram is really no one special - and yet endlessly entertaining. He makes a memorable entrance into the epic: Dietrich pulls him out of a dragon's mouth (Sistram keeps yelling instructions to the king while danging from the dragon's jaws). To commemorate the event, Sistram wears green armor adorned with a green and a brown dragon. He is described as tall and lean, fair, with light blond, curly hair and bright eyes. He enjoys play and games, drinking, eating, and other forms of merriment.

Essentially, he is the guy at the party that makes good use of the story that starts with "No shit, there I was, half swallowed by a dragon..."

Fun fact: Sistram doesn't actually appear in the legend of Virginal. There is another knight that gets fished out of a dragon's mouth, but since he is not nearly as interesting as Sistram, I merged the two episodes, and the two knights, into one.

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