< SWITCH ME >

Someone once called the medieval times ”The Dark Ages”, and he was right. Almost. Medieval people didn’t have electricity to light up their lives with warmth and entertainment. But they had something more: their passion, values and faith which made them do things we wouldn’t be able to do today. In every part of the Roman catholic West they fought for the same ideals, and in times when a trip from Poland to France took more than a few weeks, they often understood each other better than we do nowadays! The Story of Valter and Helgunda was written in 13th century Poland. It begins and finishes there, but our hero wanders across the continent to find the most important things in life. And what does he find? You’d be surprised how many things in our culture have never changed...

"Till sword do us part..."

Based on “Kronika wielkopolska”

PART I.

It was a very early, very cold morning. Valter stood beside the river Rhine, just as the first rays of the rising sun touched his back. Everything was perfect! Almost. The west wind was tugging at his dark hair and brand new cloak, his old and devoted horse was silently neighing and his sword – the best companion all his prior adventures – was gently pinching his left thigh. If he only weren’t so sleepy! He was a typical night owl and loved to get up late, so it was his biggest misfortune that none of the knight’s adventures, written in the old legends, began in the afternoon or in the evening. Life!!! But he was a Real Knight! He had learned how to fight the enemy, how to protect women, children, christian faith and honour. He knew how to dance and sing at the feasts and he spent hours listening to those fascinating stories about his idols – king Arthur and Roland.

Heading west

They were the ones who taught him how to overcome weakness! And this time he had a special motivation to use his knowledge! He didn’t leave his own town in Polish Lands only to search for adventures. Oh, no! This expedition was supposed to change his life! Some time ago Valter had finally noticed that the sand-glass of his heart showed the time when the very brave knight, like him, ought to be expected at home by someone who will give him a warm dinner, tenderly polish his armour and hold him tight in the long, cold western European nights... Oh, it was high time to fill his apartments with the sound of many little feet! And that was why he decided to fall in love...

There were of course plenty of beautiful ladies in his home land, but unfortunately most of them were dancing round his neighbour, Vislav, who was rich and charming, but less courageous and romantic than Valter’s horse! And he surely wasn’t someone to fight with for any smooth white hand! So Valter decided to fall in love with a foreigner.

Things happened just as he'd expected! Almost. He first saw her at a feast given by her father – a Frankish duke – on the occasion of his daughter’s engagement to an Alemanian prince, Ratpert. One couldn’t call her a real beauty. She looked rather bored and didn’t pay any attention to this pale young boy who was doing his best to fulfill her every wish. Only when she heard the first sounds of a troubadour’s song did something astonishing happen! Her blue eyes began to shine with marvellous light, her face changed and her soul seemed to fly away with the song to those places where Real Knights were fighting with dangerous dragons and rescuing princesses from very, very high towers. Valter felt he was lost. He drowned in Helgunda’s eyes.

He thought all night and finally created a perfect plan. Almost perfect. The next day he bribed the watchman and when the first stars appeared, he flitted along the wall and climbed a tree whose branches nearly touched Helgunda’s window. He started to sing... The beginning of his song was frivolous and amusing, but then it changed: awakened and fascinated, Helgunda heard the sounds of some distant fight and glorious victory. In the final part of Valter’s song, one could recognize sadness and yearning, but the last notes – Helgunda was sure – were speaking about the hope for happiness... The girl immediately guessed that it couldn’t be Ratpert. He didn’t enjoy music at all. It had to be someone who really deserved to win her heart... Valter repeated everything on the following night and the night after that. Finally, Helgunda made a move. She was transported with joy and excitement, so she threatened to have the watchman’s head chopped off and found out who “the bird” was! When she remembered his attractive blue eyes and engaging smile she almost lost her breath! Why on earth had she been so blind! Before the sun showed noon, Helgunda sent Valter a letter – she was ready to run away with him, even to that distant country behind the Rhine! At once!

Valter was entranced and ecstatic! Almost. Everything was prepared in secret for him to escape with Helgunda, but there was one very serious obstacle: Ratpert, who seemed to have noticed what was going on! But when Valter was thinking about challenging him to fight, the Alemanian prince suddenly dissapeared! He couldn’t bear this humiliating situation. His hurt pride made him go back to his land and prepare himself for the day of the revenge. It was obvious that sooner or later – with or without Helgunda – Valter would have to cross the Rhine again. And Ratpert wasn’t wrong...

END OF PART I.

Written by K.Bock
Illustrated by T.Großmann

Helgunda he...
Helgunda hears song Helgunda hears song
Kati Bock
Kati Bock Kati Bock
Valter on h...
Valter on horse Valter on horse
Valter clim...
Valter climbs Valter climbs
Ratpert on ...
Ratpert on hourse Ratpert on hourse

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