Saturday, 11 February 2012

Eldvind and the iron steeple

Long, long ago the city of Stockholm wasn’t as big as it is today. In fact, it was comprised only of two small islands surrounded by sea on one side and a lake on the other. One of the islands, known today as Gamla Stan, where the city people lived and worked. On the other island, known as Riddarholmen, there was a monestry and a church, with a large iron steeple.

Now, the people of Gamla Stan had a problem. Every day, from the southern forests, a large dragon called Eldvind would come flying and swooping over them. He would screech and breathe fire and, if you were unlucky, he would grasp you in his mouth and swallow you up. Eldvind the dragon always circulated over Gamla Stan a few times before he landed on the steeple of the church on Riddarholmen. Then, perched up high, he would breath fire on the steeple until the iron melted. Opening his jaws, he would take a huge bite and swallow a bit of iron in a loud gulp. And then, with a screech, he would take off and fly away over the water to the southern forests.

This went on day after day, week after week.

But after a while, the people of Gamla Stan started to notice something odd. Eldvind seemed to be flying lower in the sky like he was heavier. He seemed to be slower and more tired. Could the iron he was eating be making him heavier? Yet still Eldvind would continue perch on the church, melt some iron, eat a big piece and then disappear across the water.

Time went on and soon the church steeple had hardly any iron left on it.

One day, it was in early spring, Eldvind appeared again. He flew so low that he skirted the top of the water, he couldn’t lift any higher. He landed at the bottom of the church, too heavy to climb to the roof. Blowing fire upwards, he melted the remaining iron and opened his mouth to catch the last drops as they fell to the ground.

Heavy stomached, Eldvind turned to fly back over the water. With great effort, he lifted and flew in the direction of Gamla Stan. Huffing and puffing, he tried and hard as he could to reach the forests but the iron he had eaten had made him too heavy and he sunk lower and lower until he crash- landed on his stomach in the middle of the town. The townspeople watched with amazement as the dragon tried to get to his feet and fly away, but he couldn’t.

Suddenly, a knight on horseback came riding through the town to slaughter the injured dragon. He raised his sword. But then he stopped. He watched as Eldvind's feet turned to iron. Then his legs, his body, his tail, his wings and finally his head and jaws stiffened and became iron.

If you look over the water at Riddarholmen you can still see the church with the curious steeple there today. It looks like a skeleton, but once upon a time, it was covered in iron. Until the dragon devoured it.

And if you walk through Gamla Stan you can still see Eldvind.

Most people think that it’s a statue of St George fighting a dragon - but it’s not. It is really Elvind - the frozen dragon that terrorized the people of Stockholm long, long ago.

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