In ancient times, before the age of Illyrian, long before Ottoman Empire decided to pass by, when people still believed in dragons and fairies, there lived a mighty fierce dragon in the area that we came to now know as Blagaj. This area was full of mountains and rivers and the dragon had chosen the mountain which had a few caves at the top of this area .
To prevent people from reaching his lair, the crafty dragon first sliced the mountain side to make it sharply inclined. Secondly, he dug out a spring from the bottom cave. The water, gushing out furiously from the bottom cave combined with the steep surface, virtually made it impossible for anyone to approach the mountain. The highest cave at the top of the other caves was made his home.
For many years, the dragon destroyed and scourged many villages in the realm. Many villagers lived in abject fear of the beast and none knew the whereabouts of his lair.
In order to alleviate the sufferings and terror of his people, the ruler of the land then, a Duke, had no other means but to make an agreement with the terrible dragon. The most prettiest maiden in the land would be given as a sacrifice to the dragon every year. In return for this boon, the dragon would let the people live in peace.
300 peaceful years passed by without any disturbances from the dragon as the whole of this tiny kingdom dutifully abide by the agreement made since.
Till it came to pass ….,
a ruler by the name of Stjepan, who already had 3 sons, have the most beautiful baby daughter. For fear he would have to give up his daughter to the dragon, he decided to hide her until she is of an age to marry. He built a tunnel under his castle and through to the opening of the nearest hillside and created a small terrace. This terrace became her favourite place to read or other some such pastimes, where she could be hidden and yet still feel the warmth of the sun.
As time passed, the princess grew in beauty and grace….
One day, there was much excitement as a circus had come into the kingdom. Many people could not wait to see the circus and were thrilled that one of the attractions was a show featuring a couple of dancing bears. When the princess heard this, she begged her father prettily to see the dancing bears. The duke who did not have it in his heart to refuse his daughter, agreed reluctantly.
Dressed very simply, she mingled among the commoners on the grounds where the circus was set. However, her simple attire only made her beauty stood out even more. Attracting many admirations, she also caught the unwanted attention of a number of jealous women.
Envious, one woman decided to try to find out as much as she could about the beautiful maiden so that she could create havoc. Upon discovering that the beautiful damsel was in actual fact a princess, she loudly spread the news far and wide, in the hope that the dragon would soon find out about this. True enough, as soon as the dragon heard, he snatched the beautiful princess from her terrace hideout in fury and flew away, clutching the terrified maiden.
The duke immediately ordered his three sons to seek out the dragon in order to save and return their sister ….
The three princes searched far and wide until they came to the area of Blagaj. Noticing that the area was full of mountains and perceiving one with caves, they correctly surmised that they have found the dragon’s lair. The three brothers stopped at the bottom edge of the mountain. They thought and discussed at length about ways of reaching and defeating the dragon. [ It was way before the Ottoman Empire, otherwise they would most probably have some coffee during these discussions! 😉 ]
The youngest son came up with a plan to make a rope using the hide of one of the horses they were riding on. The other older brothers were not willing to sacrifice their horses so the youngest prince decided to sacrifice his. He skinned off the hide of the animal into thin strips and made these into a long strong rope. With the arrow tied to the rope, he shot it through to reach the highest cave and anchored it firmly onto the ledge of the cave.
None of the two older brothers dared to climb and enter the dragon’s lair. Again the young prince bravely volunteered. He climbed and clambered into the dragon’s lair quietly.
The dragon was laying asleep with its huge head on the ravishing princess’s lap. The princess widen her eyes in surprise and gladness to see her brother. She quickly motioned to the brother where to attack the dragon.
After the valiant prince killed the dragon, he showed his sister the rope at the edge opening of the cave so she could get out of the cave.
The two older brothers while waiting, full of fear, envy and shame, decided to plot against their brother, should he succeed in killing the dragon. They waited for their sister to climb down the rope before dislodging the rope from its anchor, thus leaving the young prince stranded.
They then threatened their sister not to speak to anyone about the truth. With that, the two older princes went with their sister back to their father and claimed that they had saved their sister and that the youngest prince was killed.
However, the ingenious prince managed to escape the cave. This time by stripping the dragon’s hide and making it into a long and strong rope.
Reaching the castle, the young prince told the duke what had happened. The princess, upon seeing the prince, ran to hug her brother tearfully and joyously.
The duke banished his two older sons from the land and crowned the youngest prince as his heir.
Like all fairy tales, all’s well that ends well …..