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Zoulvisia - An Armenian Folk Tale

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  • Neal Robbins
    This folk tale comes from Armenia. The name of it is Zoulvisia . A very long time ago, there was a kingdom that was near a desert. On the other side of the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2007
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          This folk tale comes from Armenia. The name of it is "Zoulvisia".
          A very long time ago, there was a kingdom that was near a desert. On the other side of the desert was a high mountain. That mountain seemed like an attractive place. It had beautiful forests and waterfalls. Birds sang in the trees. But there was also something scary about the mountain. Many young men went up onto it and none of them ever returned.
          The king of the country on the other side of the desert had seven sons. Just before he died, he gave advice to his eldest son, who would soon inherit the throne. The old king counseled him about how a king should rule wisely. After the aged monarch passed away, the oldest prince became king. Shortly after ascending the throne, he stated that it was his intention to go to the high mountain on the opposite side of the desert. Many elderly men at the palace advised him against going to that sinister place. However, he did not listen to them. The new king took a number of men with him and rode across the desert to the mountain. He never returned and it was assumed that he was dead. So the next oldest prince became king. He made the same mistake as his brother. The same thing happened with four more of the princes after each came to the throne.
          The youngest prince became king and announced that he wished to go hunting on the mountain. Most people in the kingdom were opposed to the idea. They begged him not to go. He listened to their pleas and decided against making the trip.
          However, the king changed his mind a few years later. He took several young men with him and rode across the desert. At one point the group rode through a rocky valley. A deer crossed their path and the king went after it. The deer ran exceptionally fast and the king pursued it for a long distance. He finally broke off pursuit and suddenly realized that he had gotten far ahead of his companions. The king said, "I think they will be all right; I will explore this area for a while and link up with them near the end of the day."
          The king perceived tents and figured that the camp would be the place where he would meet his party. He rode through the forests of the mountain and enjoyed the scenery. It seemed like a very nice place.
          At sunset the king headed for the tents. He came within sight of them, but saw a sight that horrified him. His companions lay dead on the ground. There were no marks on their bodies, so the king surmised that the wine which they had drunk was poisoned.
          The king decided to spend the night in a nearby walnut tree. He climbed up onto it and stayed there all night. Shortly after sunrise, the king awoke and heard the sound of a horses's hooves. He gazed down and saw a mounted soldier approaching. The rider came up to the dead bodies and dismounted. Then the soldier dragged the corpses to a canyon and threw them into a lake. Then some servants arrived; they had followed the rider. The soldier ordered them to set up some tables and put food and wine on them. She also said, "Release the deer again; it will serve as bait."
          The soldier saw a beautiful horse and said, "Each of the dead men had a horse. But whose horse is that?"
          The king could no longer restrain himself. He called out, "It is my horse! You did a treacherous thing by poisoning my men!"
          The king came down out of the tree and said, "Go to your house now! I will fight you there!"
          The soldier stared at the king and said, "I will fight you. Follow me to my house and we will have combat."
          The king suddenly realized that the soldier was a woman. She said, "My name is Zoulvisia."
          Zoulvisia quickly mounted her horse and rode swiftly away. The king stood there for a while. He finally decided to go and see if he could find someone who knew the way to Zoulvisia's residence.
          After walking for a while, the king reached three huts. An old female fairy and her sons lived in them. They gave him some food and milk and asked what he was doing in that area. The king said, "I am looking for Zoulvisia. She killed my brothers and I want to kill her."
          They said, "Zouvisia passed our house two times today. We could have captured her."
          The king soon realized that although the fairies were kind, they were not brave. He noticed that they shook when hearing the name of Zouvisia. The fairies asked the king to stay with them, but he said that he had to continue looking for Zouvisia. Before leaving, the king gave the fairies a razor, a mirror, and a pair of scissors. He said, "You have shown good friendship to me. If blood appears on any of these items that I have given to you, then you will know that I am in a dangerous situation."
          "We will be sure to help you," the fairies said. The king mounted his horse and resumed his search for Zoulvisia.
          The king was riding at night, but there was a full moon, so he was able to see clearly. He came near a palace and rode around it. The palace did not seem to have an entrance. Just then, the king heard a loud noise. Someone was snoring. He looked down and saw an old man asleep next to the palace. A lantern was next to the man. The king walked over and awoke the sleeper. The old man looked up at the king and said, "Who are you? Are you a snake or a bird that you are able to get here?"
          "I am a king," the king said. "I am looking for Zoulvisia."
          "That accursed being?" the old man said. "She has killed thousands. I am the only one whom she did not kill. She has condemned me to a wretched life here."
          "I need your help," said the king. The elderly man said, "Zoulvisia puts on a pearl jacket each morning at dawn. She walks up the stairs of her watchtower, which is made of crystal. Zoulvisia can see anyone who comes onto the mountain. When she sees someone, she will cry out in a horrible way. Her cries have the power of killing those who hear them. There is a way that you can deprive Zoulvisia of her power. Hide in a cave and put a forked stick in front of it. She will think that the stick is a person and will cry out. After she has done that for the third time, you can come out of the cave. Zoulvisia will no longer have the ability to kill with her cries."
          The king followed the old man's instructions. He hid in the cave and put the forked stick near it. Zoulvisia perceived the stick and let out three loud cries. After she had done that, the king came out of the cave and came near the palace of Zoulvisia. She said, "You defeated me. You are the only man whom my voice has not killed. This means that you are worthy to be my husband."
          Zoulvisia let down a rope and the king climbed up into the tower. Then Zoulvisia escorted the king into the throne room. They became acquainted and spent much time together. Zoulvisia said that she would grant any wish that the king had. He asked her to set the old man free. She released the elderly man and he went back to his own country.
          The king and Zoulvisia soon got married. On their wedding day, Zoulvisia said, "It is now your responbility to take care of everything."
          Zoulvisia told her servants to bring the horses of fire. She presented one of them to the king and said to the horse, "This is your owner now. You will do well as a steed for him."
          The king was very much impressed with the horse. He decided to go for a ride. Zoulvisia gave the king a box of pearls. One of her hairs was in the container.
          The king went on the ride and saw a deer in the woods. He put an arrow to his crossbow and made a shot, but it only wounded the deer. The deer was able to get across a river. The king did not realize that the box of pearls had fallen in the water.
          The box floated downstream for a long distance. It ended up in another country. A water carrier from the royal palace found the box and took it to the king. The king looked at the box, the pearls, and the hair. He called in his chamberlain and said, "Find out the history of that box and its contents. If you fail at your mission, you will lose your head."
          The chamberlain had a turn of good luck. An old woman arrived at the palace. She said, "I will tell you the secret of that box if you will give me two handfuls of gold."
          The chamberlain was very glad to grant her wish. The old woman said, "The box and the hair belong to Zoulvisia."
          "If you will bring her to me, you will get much more gold," said the chamberlain.
          "I will bring her," the old woman said. She set on for the mountain where Zoulvisia lived. Before starting on her journey, she went to her hut; it was deep in a forest. She whistled and the leaves on the ground began moving. Several serpents appeared. The old woman gave them some milk and whistled again after they had finished drinking. She had two of the serpents wrap themselves around her neck. Then she transformed one into a cane and the other into a whip. The witch got a stick and turned it into a raft by the river. Thus she began her journey.
          After floating for a couple of days and a night, she reached Zoulvisia's garden. It was about sunset when she arrived. The king who was married to Zoulvisia came along. He was riding the horse of flame and had been hunting.
          "Who are you?" the king said. "Why did you come to this place?"
          The witch said, "I am a pilgrim. I got separated from the caravan. I found this raft and decided to travel on it. I ask you to give me some food to eat and a place to stay for the night."
          The king felt compassionate and said, "Certainly I will help you. You may ride with me on this horse."
          The horse was hesitant to let the witch mount it. It shied away a couple of times, which puzzled the king. After the witch had finally gotten on the horse, she rode behind the king and they soon came to the palace.
          Zoulvisia was perceptive; she suspected that the old woman was a witch. However, she allowed the old lady to stay at the palace. The witch and Zoulvisia began spending a considerable amount of time together. One day the witch said, "Has you husband not told you his secret?"
          "I do not think that he has a secret," said Zoulvisia.
          "Every man has a secret," the witch said. "If your husband has not told you his secret, it indicates that he may not love you."
          Zoulvisia became worried as a result of what the witch had told her. When she was alone with her husband, she started asking him what the secret of his strength was. He eventually said, "My sabre is the source of my strength. That is why I keep it next to me all the time. I want you to make an oath on this ring that you will never tell my secret to anyone."
          Zoulvisia made the promise, but broke it. She went to the witch and told her what the king had said. The witch went into the king's chamber while he was asleep that night. She picked up the sword and threw it out the window. The sabre fell into the river.
          Everyone sensed that something strange had happened when morning came. The servants wanted to know why the king had not risen and gone hunting. Zoulvisia appeared and opened the door. The king was lying in a state that seemed comatose. Foam was coming out of his mouth.
          The witch walked in with serpents wrapped around her neck, hair, and arms. The horrid snakes bit some of the maidens. The wtich glared at Zoulvisia and said, "If you do not come with me, my serpents will kill you."
          Zoulvisia was powerless. The witch dragged her out of the palace and down to the river. She made Zoulvisia get on the raft. Then she took Zoulvisia to the kingdom where the king wanted to know about the pearl box and the hair.
          Meanwhile, the fairies were at their hut. They noticed blood on the razor and scissors. The mirror was blurred. The sons of the fairies now knew that their friend the king was in trouble. So they headed for the palace. The servants told them that the sabre had disappeared; that was why the king was so ill.
          The fairy sons looked for the sword, but could not find it. They needed to eat and did some fishing at the river. After catching some fish, they ate and then pondered what to do next. The three fairies suddenly noticed a fish that was splashing in the water. It appeared to be writhing in pain. The three fairies looked and saw the fish jump up into the air. They notice a glitter and saw that the sabre was stuck in the fish's mouth. The fairies jumped into the river and pulled the sword out of the fish's mouth. They took the sword back to the palace and placed it under the pillow of the king. He suddenly sat up and was healthy now. The king said, "I wonder where Zoulvisia is."
          "We do not know where she is now," said the fairies. They informed the king that Zoulvisia had told the witch about his secret. The king went to the stable. His horse looked sick, but when it saw him, the horse jumped up and was in good condition.
          The king rode for a long distance. He moved along the stream and asked people about Zoulvisia. None of them knew about her. The king reached a cottage where an old woman lived. She gave him some milk and he told her about his problem. She said, "The king of this country will be married in five days. He is supposed to marry a beautiful woman. But she does not want to marry him. That woman has a cup of poison and has said that she will drink it rather than marry that king."
          "Is that woman's name Zoulvisia?" the king said.
          "Yes," said the old lady. "According to an old witch."
          "I will reward you if you help me," said the king. He handed the old woman some gold. Then the king said, "You will get more gold if you give me help."
          "Certainly," the old lady said.
          "Get dressed up in a formal way and go to the palace. Talk to Zoulvisia and show her this ring."
          The old woman bought a formal dress and wore it to the palace. She walked over to Zoulvisia and showed her the ring. Zoulvisia said, "We need to talk privately."
          The two women went into a room and had a private conversation. Zoulvisia said, "Grandmother, where is the person who owns this ring?"
          "He is staying at my cottage," said the elderly woman. "He wants to know what you want to do."
          "Please tell him to come here in three days. I will be walking by the garden."
          The people of the country were assembled near the palace on the day that their king was supposed to marry Zoulvisia. She was walking in the vicinity of the garden. Suddenly a horse appeared. It was running swiftly; the rider was Zoulvisia's husband. Zoulvisia climbed on the horse behind her husband. Then the steed galloped away at a high speed. Zoulvisia and her husband thus escaped. They went back to their palace and were very content.
      Neal Robbins
      Neal Robbins

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