Tragic Prince Kullervo

The story of Kullervo, sole survivor of the dead tribe of Kalervo, god-chief of Karja. This is his story of loss, struggle, and tragedy. The original tale is in the finnish epic Kalevala, of which this story rests between Runes XXXI to XXXVI.

With a firm shove, the drugged and sleepy Kullervo was thrown against the side of a cart bearing heavy and worn metal working tools which clattered as his bound arm connected. He blew his blond hair out from his face and cursed his guardian, Untamo, with his eyes. The artisan king pulled a rough, impoverished cloak about his fine linen attire, only in part to block the north wind. Throngs of common folk walked all about them, like a river around stubborn earth. Occassionally, some of the throng would recognize the dreaming king, Untamo, and salute. At other times, some of them looked upon Kullervo with disgust and spew curses at him.

"Idiot!"

"Lout!"

"Child-killer!"

Untamo, radiant and powerful, brought his fine hands to his brown hair and looked to the unkempt peoples of the Karjala, walking past and around the cart, seeking out bargains along the riverside market. Untamo, the dreaming king, looked with listless eyes at his young charge, Kullervo.

 “Listen, you clever idiot, in the cart of Ilmarinen, blacksmith in the land of Ehstland. You will give him your attention. He will be your new caretaker.“ Untamo directed the bound Kullervo into the back of the cart. Silently the blond boy sat among the tools and regarded Ilmarinen who was just now arriving back from the market with some empty sacks.

“This I see, my friend Untamo. How have you been these few years past?” Untamo also bore the brown head of the older Finn. They seemed to share the same aura, an air of greatness that exceeded their earthly selves.

“Better soon I think, Ilmarinen.”

“Untamo, this the man you spoke of?” The blacksmith inquired, shoving the empty bags into the back of his cart.

 “He looks strong, enough. Can he read?”

“We have not given him lessons, but he can say and scribe his name.”

“What is your name, boy, do speak up?” Kullervo sluggishly stretched legs and uttered his name, and a shadow fell across Ilmarinen’s rugged face. He turned to Untamo and his face grew to a fury. “The man you bring is a nuisance! I have heard the tales of your land.” Ilmarinen smacked the side of his cart and cursed. “I can not train him, Untamo. Get this mule from out of my cart.”

“Ilmarinen, do speak closer. I did not mean to undersell you.” Untamo lifted an arm over the blacksmith’s broad shoulder. Kullervo could hear their exchange just the same and looked at his boots.

“Murderer and destroyer, both. Untamo, he can not be trained. You have told me from your own mouth.” Ilmarinen glanced over his shoulder at Kullervo and added, “ Untamo, I know your motives. We are not our own friends, Dreamer.”

“I have sought to keep him employed. Take his mind off vengeful concepts. He knows I took them, slew his people. But, by us gods, he cannot die. I only seek to make him better. You, my blacksmith, can make him best. All rigid metals you can shape .”

Ilmarinen sighed and then walked over to the cart, taking out some tools. “Well, Kullervo, I am convinced, I’ll take you in and keep you tasked. Come, Untamo, take my old tools, I can not fit them all in here.”

And so, for a cartful of old tools did Untamo, the Dreaming King, god-chief of Pohjala, trade Kullervo to the eternal blacksmith, Ilmarinen, wishing to be free of the curse of the dead king Kalervo.

The End

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