The Legend Of The Zlatković
A long time ago, in a distant world...
A white wolf howled.
The hot breath from the beast's mouth formed a thick, white cloud
in the cold air. The creature was looking for a meal for more than four days, but the
snow-covered woods offered nothing worth attention. Its eyes betrayed exhaustion, but
still woke fear in whoever might face them. Even if at the end of its strength, the white
wolf was still lethal to its foe and even though his mind was simple, he knew he must eat
soon or he would become too weak for the hunt and that would mean his end. He turned his
head slowly and gave the last glance to the setting sun, as if admiring the great red
globe which hovers above the horizont, surrounded by the cold air. The polar sunset
revealed a powerful image of harshness and ice, but the white wolf knew only one thing:
Soon the night would come and the night was the best time for the hunt.
The Warleader blew into the faint flame, as he set the fire to the
thin wood pieces beside his feet. Another day is over and like every evening, his warriors
and hunters would come to sit around the fire, saying goodbye to the sun. It was a harsh
day, but it was not unusual in his homeland. He turned to glance towards the village and
saw the first heads approaching over the snow. He waved them a greeting and put his heavy
blade to rest on the ground near the place where he was about to sit for the evening. He
blew his hot breath between his hands, as to warm them and glanced the other direction, to
the sun. Every day was difficult here, he thought. The land he ruled was an ancient place far
north, where the ice never melts, where one day and one night dure a whole year and the
sun moves slowly across the sky, never rising far above the south horizont. It was a
distant land, cold and white, ruled by the eternal snow. During the day, one could not
tell where the land ends and the sky begins, for the colour of the snow which covered the
woods and the mountains matched the colour of the often cloudy sky completely. Sometimes a
faint sunshine would fall upon the ice, causing it to reflect the light in many colours
but never bearing enough strength to melt it. It was a place with most beautiful nights,
icy earth glowing with a ghosty whiteness under the light of the moon and a thousand
stars, and such a night was about to come.
Three hunters and a warrior reached Warleader's position and he
glanced at them, forming a friendly smile on his lips. His kin were dark-haired, gray-skinned
people, skilled hunters and powerful warriors. Each their day was like any other,
they hunted to survive and built houses of ice to live in. They believed in their gods and
held their honour in their hearts, isolated in their homeland and their dreams. The
hunters carried five rabbits and a deer, hunted down just a few hours ago and allready
prepared for the fire. Soon others would come carrying fish, roots, some vegetables and
the most important: babalunda. They sat down and started talking about the one theme which
was occupying all of them recently. The One of Gold.
Not long before, a birth was given to an unique child. Its hair
was like the gold and its eyes were like the sea. The child has been the first one of his
kind, not even the eldest whose memories reached far into the past could tell of something
similar. He was given a name 'Zlatkov', which means 'The One of Gold' in their ancient
tongue, for he was as rare as the gold was in these gloomy lands.
Zlatkov glanced at the traces in the snow. The bear which was
threatening his village was close and the golden warrior knew he must hunt it down now. A
hungry polar bear left near the village in the night meant only death to at least one of
his men before another chance to kill it would be offered. He motioned for the company of
hunters behind him to follow and quickly moved forward, following the traces. He gave the
sky a short glance, as to estimate the weather for the next few hours and turned to follow
Nothing in Zlatkov's world was like him. While everything around
him was white, grey and pale, ice crystals glooming, reflecting whatever the light fell
upon them, he was the colour of the sun, bright and shining. He grew up like any other
child, learning how to survive in the ice, but he never stopped watching the sun on the
south horizont, seeing himself in it. Just like him, the sun was a faint trace of colour
in the white void. He felt close to the sun and more than once he desired to reach for it
and explore the distant lands underneath, beyond the southern mountains. He knew, as the
time passed, he would grow older and many things would change, but his desire for travel
The group passed across the small hill, following the traces into
nearby woods. Tree for tree they ran forward until the groan of rage stopped their
movements and they faced a great polar bear, standing on its rear legs and watching his
followers with killing wrath in his eyes. The beast groaned again, mouth open wide as it
faced the sky, just like if it was saying to the gods and the world that it claims these
woods and has the power to take and hold them. The bear faced his followers again and they
knew it would run for them any moment. Zlatkov pulled his blade and the hunters prepared
their longbows. Another moment passed, in which the beast and the man observed each other
trying to recognize anything of advantage and then Zlatkov let his war cry be heard. The
hunt has begun.
Zlatkov observed the sunset. The time to say goodbye to the sun
has come again and the day was almost gone. Nothing was there from the great golden globe
which had occupied the sky above the south horizont for past half a year. It was now but a
thin, red arch hiding behind the mountains and there wasn't much left of the daylight. The
great fire was glooming behing him and villagers sat around it, preparing food on the
fire, drinking hot babalunda and telling each other their brave stories.
An old and experienced warrior saw Zlatkov standing away and knew
he would not miss a single second of the sunset. Every year he was standing there and
watching until the light was completely gone. He came to stand next to him and offered him
a large mug filled with hot babalunda. Zlatkov took the mug, took a sip from it and nooded
thanks to his elder.
"You are a man who has let his desires make him unhappy,
"I cannot help it, my friend. My desires have always been
stronger than I was and I feel as if my soul would find no rest until I reveal the places
behind that horizont.", he pointed to the setting sun with his head.
The old warrior turned to face the faint arch which was falling behind the distant hill.
"You know a man's desire cannot travel to the unknown, golden
warrior. It would remain if you would go to explore whatever is behind the farthest
Zlatkov looked thoughtfully for a moment, but then he revealed a
smile, taking another sip from his mug. He turned and came to the fire, joining the
others. His decision has fallen. He would travel south at the first light.
Zlatkov covered his eyes with his hand, protecting his vision
from the bright sunlight. After having travelled far south, passing great distances, he
reached a land of green fields, rich woods and stony mountains. He noticed within the year
the days were short and many, as were the nights, and the sun stood high in the sky. He
had seen many things on his travel, had met many tribes and whereever he came, he was
accepted and loved, just as if he had always been there. This green land woke in him more
than any other place he had seen so far and he settled down. He had built a house, found a
woman's love and soon she gave a birth to their son. The child carried the unique mark of
The One of Gold. It had a hair coloured gold and his eyes were blue like the mountain lake
in the morning. The son was given the name 'Zlatković', which means 'The Son of Zlatkov'
in his mother's tongue.
As Zlatković grew up, he resembled his father in everything. He
grew, he learned and he desired. Being unable to resist his travellers nature, he left
home as soon as he felt strong enough and travelled vast distances, meeting more nations,
settling down and bearing children, who in turn had their children and all of them
travelled further, spreading across the world.
Many of them don't know about the others any more. They roam and
travel, always searching for the sun and never finding it.
If you look around carefully, you may see them. The blood of
many nations flows within their venes and they speak many tongues, but their hair is
always the colour of the gold under the sun and their eyes are like the blue sky in the
summer dusk. They are everyone's friends and they can tell many stories which would keep
one listening near the fire in the night, but they are never around for long. They hear
and they answer the travel cry of The Golden One and they always keep moving, in their
eternal seek for the sun.