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Stilzel

by Jan Pohunek
Stilzel is a legendary being from Sumava/Böhmerwald forest between Bohemia and Bavaria. He was found by a local miller and poacher -- who had some sort of treaty with the devil -- in a stork's nest. The boy soon turned as evil as the miller was. One day he was caught by local villagers who employed him as a horse herder. The devil promised him to keep an eye on his horses, but when Stilzel had to sign the treaty, he wrote three crosses on the devil's back, because he did not know the alphabet, and so banished him. One day, when Stilzel found out that one of his horses was lost, he hung himself using a whip. He had forgotten to count the horse he was sitting on.

After his death, Stilzel turned to be much more wild and evil than before. He liked to ride lone wanderers until they ran to a village and irritated local people by harsh jokes. Sometimes he helped local people, not because of philantrophy, but because it was fun. One time, he punished two murderers. He was also very popular among smugglers, because he lured the custom officers patroling the forests away from where the smugglers where by making strange sounds.

Stilzel was defeated by a strong local farmer, who, when Stilzel jumped on his back, carried him to a church and bathed him in holy water. Others believe that Stilzel was cursed to inhabit a small glass bottle in the property of the Bishop of Regensburg or that he has been banished to Tyrols.

Stilzel may return if all the horses of Sumava will run around Schwarzau, the forest where he was herding horses, for three times in a row.

Watzlik Hans, Stilzel skret sumavsky, Dauphin: Prague 1997


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