Holy Sword of Justice

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OF JUSTICE Illustrated by Matija Cipurić

Ljubljana, Izola, 2020

Illustrated by Matija Cipurić

Somewhere in these places and amongst our people, nobody knows exactly where, lies a mysterious cave. Once upon a time, when the Earth was desolate and cold, without a single living creature, the god of the Heaven and the goddess of the Earth joined in the cave. The Earth shook and a rainbow, the symbol of pure love connecting the Heaven and the Earth, appeared in the skies. The gods laid a boy and a girl into the cave. Ever since, the humankind has spread throughout the earth. As a sign of their gratitude, our ancestors turned the cave into a place of worship. Every summer, on the longest day, they presented the god of the Heaven and the goddess of the Earth with their most prized possessions. 2

Priests and priestesses took refuge in the cave to feel its spiritual power, and decorated the walls with the images of deer, bears, boars, and other game animals. They built a defensive wall around the cave, and another wall surrounding it. Within these walls, far from the cruel outside world, they built their homes and created the first settlement. They called it Castellier. Both Creators were proud of the creatures they had created. True to form, however, man brought calamity upon himself.

Many centuries ago, twin boys were born in Castellier. From their early age, their parents taught them to be rivals. All residents of the settlement were so preoccupied with their constant squabbles that they forgot to present their offerings in the holy cave when summer came. They forgot just how safe and happy they were; they forgot to give thanks to the gods for giving them life. In doing so, they incurred the terrible wrath of the god of Heaven. He summoned the twins’ parents and thundered: “I will destroy everything I have ever bestowed upon you, you ingrates! I will grind the settlement into dust and bury your walls, but the cave will remain to serve as a reminder. But since I did create you after all, I will find a sliver of compassion for you in my heart. Your sons will be given their own settlement each. The first one will be called Deer Castellier, and the second one will bear the name of Bear Castellier. Just like the people living in their settlements, the boys will forever live a life filled with hate, and they will never lay eyes upon each other again.

Henceforth, the holy cave shall be known as the Snake Cave. Keep your prized possessions and all your gifts, but I dare you to enter the cave once more! The holy sword of justice will be there, waiting for whoever enters the cave, to judge them as I see fit! Day and night, the sword will be guarded by my snake messenger.� Ever since that day, the Snake Cave belonged to nobody, and no-one dared set foot inside. For centuries, Deer Castellier and Bear Castellier stood next to one another in hate, carelessness, and silence. The dwellers did not know each other personally, but they always knew that their neighbours were also their enemies. 5

One day, the only child of the big chief Magapl and his noble wife Oplika, their heir Aviko, saw the light of day in Bear Castellier. But Aviko was not an ordinary boy. When he was born, chief Magapl proudly announced to his community: “We shall celebrate the arrival of our heir for three days and three nights. Our ancestors have instructed us to call him Aviko, since the boy was born with one superhuman eye: its lower half is brown, and its upper half shines in various colours, much like if a rainbow was drawn over one half of the eye of a brown-eyed boy. Rainbow stands for divine mercy and is a promise of peace.� Bear Castellier celebrated that night: the dancing, singing, tunes of the lyre and rhythm of the drums continued well into the morning hours, while the mouthwatering feast was the crown jewel of the evening. Ceramic plates were first filled with a fragrant stew, followed by spelt porridge and roast lamb. For dessert, the guests savoured honey-poached quinces from the southern regions.

The merrymaking and joy seemed never-ending. On the following morning, however, a disaster struck when the dwellers least expected it. 7

“Gather round, we are going hunting,” said the proud father Magapl, eager to replenish the supply of meat for a new feast. Reaching the very edge of their mighty territory, they were tired of riding when they suddenly encountered none other than Fervalok, the chief of the neighbouring Deer Castellier. The skinny chief with jet-black hair was not particularly clever nor strong, but was willing to give up his life for the power he yielded in his settlement. Since he was also not particularly popular, he was constantly trying to find a way to prove himself to his people, thus justifying his headship. Long ago, Fervalok formed an alliance with the traitor Volto. In exchange for Volto’s help, Fervalok promised him the hand of his young daughter Dita in marriage. On that day, Magapl and Fervalok happened to meet right next to the Snake Cave that, for centuries, nobody dared claim as their own. Rumour had it that a snake was guarding the bronze sword of the irate god of the Heaven. Fervalok stood there for a moment, lost in thought. “Why should we all avoid the cave? The sword of the irate god of the Heaven is, after all, just a sword. How could it hurt us? If I were to claim the property of the cave, I would also be able to control more land. As for the sword ... If I can get hold of it, I will simply chop off the snake’s head and finally prove my might to everyone. Deer Castellier will really be mine, and I will make the dwellers proud.” Suddenly, a thought overcame him, and he blurted out: “Magapl, hear me out!”


Everyone in the audience secretly rolled their eyes, but Fervalok’s next statement sobered them up in an instant: “I challenge you to a duel. We will fight, man to man. With a sword. The winner gets the Snake Cave. To battle!” “Slow down! You cannot be serious? The Snake Cave belongs to no-one,” firmly stated Magapl. “That’s the point. Isn't that a shame?” smirked the chief. “How can you even think that? Imagine the wrath of God that would befall us!” “I’m not scared. These are old wives’ tales. Nobody believes that anymore. Come to think of it ... I think you are too scared to enter the cave. Let us say it is mine now, shall we?” These words added fuel to fire for Magapl who could no longer contain his anger: “This cave will never belong to you!” He lost his temper. Without being aware of his actions, he reached for his sword. Eager to fight, Fervalok did not hesitate for an instant. He pulled out his own sword, and just like that, they were locked in a life-and-death struggle.

Fervalok attacked bravely and valiantly, but could not measure up to Magapl’s strength and skills. The chief of Deer Castellier had a secret weapon up his sleeve, however: Volto. He showed Fervalok that he was ready to pull his trick, and then hid behind a nearby rock. Fervalok knew that they had to approach Volto, and started withdrawing towards the rock. Skilfully brandishing his sword, Magapl quickly pushed Fervalok up against the rock. It seemed that Fervalok had nowhere else to go. From afar, it almost seemed as if they were dancing, as they could only move in circles during the fight. Fervalok could barely keep up, and was fearfully awaiting Volto to come to his aid. Sounds of sharp blades quickly impacting with each other stroke fear into the hearts of the crowd but could not get to Volto. Finally, Magapl and Fervalok placed themselves next to the rock, hiding it from the view of the crowd. Volto deftly made use of the opportunity: leaping from behind the rock, he stabbed Magapl in the back and quickly retrieved his long dagger so that nobody except Fervalok could see it. Magapl bent over. Fervalok, who had seemed completely lost in the battle just moments before, resolutely attacked him.

Magapl’s friends held their breath. Magapl no longer moved. “He is down,” shouted Fervalok triumphantly. “The Snake Cave is ours!” As Fervalok started walking towards the cave, the skies suddenly became darker, and a lightning strike hit the ground just in front of Fervalok with a force yet unseen by humans. Fervalok recoiled: “We are leaving, all of us! To Deer Castellier!” He rode off as fast as he could, and his crowd followed him. “We will avenge him!” thundered one of Magapl’s friends as they were leaving the battlefield. Horrified, they gathered around their dying chief, lifted him up together, and took him back to Bear Castellier. With his last breath, Magapl gathered the last ounces of his strength and moaned, in agonising pain: “This was a trick. One of their devious deceivers stabbed me in the back.”

But who had murdered the chief no longer mattered. The neighbouring communities were now indisputably involved in a war, and the inhabitants of Bear Castellier patiently awaited the day when the new chief Aviko would grow up and avenge the death of his father. After the death of her husband, Oplika was plunged into eternal mourning, but life went on, and in no time, Aviko was running swiftly through the meadows.



One warm summer morning, little Aviko was awoken by the pleasant warmth of a sunbeam that had found its way through the front doors. While rubbing his rainbow brown eyes, he was surprised to see his mother standing at the door.

“Shall we?� she said with a smile, indicating the faraway hills where remote settlements stood proudly. The boy did not have to be asked twice. He ran towards his mother and tugged at her skirt. The morning light was casting long shadows of the high inner walls, shielding Bear Castellier in a semicircle. Whoever wanted to walk around the defensive wall had to take at least a thousand huge bear steps. On both ends, the defensive wall ended right next to a precipice, making the settlement safe from beasts, robbers, and other enemies. 14

The large gates, one of the two passages leading through the wall, were guarded by two alert and strong young men. “Good morning, Miss and young master,” said one of them in a deep voice, opening the creaking massive gates made of logs. “Good morning,” they replied in unison, following along the field of wheat ornamented with bright red poppy flowers until they reached the external wall, extending along the inner walls and leading farther towards the forest. A friendly guard opened the external gates for them, and they stepped into the forest, each of them searching for their own resources: the son focussed on strawberries and blackberries, while the mother was gathering gentiana roots, eggs, and juniper berries.

The late summer morning turned into afternoon. After spending several hours searching for fruits, leaves, and roots, little Aviko and his widowed mother Oplika reached the very edge of the settlement territory, for the first time in Aviko’s life, and sat down to rest. “You know, Aviko,” said his mother after a short silence, indicating a spot in the distance with her index finger, “halfway between the largest oak tree and the half-recumbent pine tree hides the entrance to the Snake Cave. My dear Aviko, this is where your father, the mighty chief Magapl, gave up his life valiantly fighting for Bear Castellier. Look ... this is all I have left of him,” she whispered into her son’s ear, hanging the amulet in the form of a canine around his neck. “Fervalok, the chief of Deer Castellier, had won the possession of the Snake Cave in an unfair fight. But as far as I know, nobody from their settlement had yet dared enter the cave to this day. You, Aviko, will be the chief that the entire settlement will count on. You will avenge the death of your father once the snake invites you to join her in the cave.” Little Aviko listened to his mother’s words but did not understand much.


On that day, he was not particularly lucky in his gathering efforts. His basket, reaching way below his knees, only contained a couple lonely quail eggs he had managed to pluck from nests along the way. On their way back home, Aviko found it hard to ignore his rumbling stomach. And suddenly, they were finally there ... Strawberries! The first strawberries of that summer. They were so sweet and there were so many of them! He ate until he was full. With red stains around his mouth, he lifted his head and suddenly saw a huge wild boar standing in front of him. “Mother!” he screamed. Terrified at the prospect of imminent danger, he remained rooted to the spot. Oplika immediately turned towards her son, and ardently put her body between the boy and the beast. “Run, Aviko, run!” Aviko did not have to be told twice. Frightened, he ran into the vast forest.

Crying loudly, he kept on running in a huge circle around the forest as fast as he could, until evening came. Desperate, he saw the cave again. He took refuge in the cave and held tight to the amulet in the form of a canine that his mother had given him. If she were there, she would surely warm him up and sing him a lullaby. But she was far away. Shaking throughout the night, he finally fell asleep on a cold stone. Watching the innocent boy, the snake did not move but merely curled up, keeping an eye on him.

On the following morning, Aviko was not awoken by sunbeams: instead, cheerful singing interrupted his sleep. “Mother!” he shouted joyfully. But it was not his mother. In front of the cave, he saw a dark-haired girl. “Who are you?” “Iko,” said the boy. Seeing as he was just over two years old, he could not yet say his name. “Where are you from?” He shrugged his shoulders. “Can you talk?” His jaw dropped. She was only two years older than him, and already she knew all the paths in the forest. “I am Dita.” Her twinkling smile immediately charmed Aviko. She held his hand and took him home with her. For a long time, they were walking around the dark forest. Suddenly, trees became sparse. Just a little bit more ... and they emerged from the grip of the forest cover. Fascinated, the boy stopped. On a luxuriant green hill slope in front of them flourished a settlement surrounded by two defensive walls where a herd of sheep and goats was grazing. Aviko was never so far without his mother, and yet, he immediately felt like home. “You see, Iko, this is my home. This is Deer Castellier,” Dita told him.

Dita’s mother Galga was weaving wool when not one, but two children showed up at her doorstep. “What is going on, Dita?” “I found him in the forest. His name is Iko. He barely says a word.” “Oh, you poor little boy. He must have gotten lost. You will stay with us, Iko!” Galga’s heart went out to the boy. Immediately, she scooped a full ladle of porridge made from a mixture of legumes, grains, and fresh herbs. With a full bowl of tasty porridge, accompanied by Dita’s warm smiles, Iko's unusual anxiety soon evaporated and was replaced by a feeling of safety. It almost felt like home.

As years went by, Aviko grew into an affectionate, generous, yet unwavering, brave, resourceful, and independent young man. His tall and broad stature, shiny chestnut curls and rainbow brown eyes attracted the attention of young girls, and even though he was not the most handsome young man, he was considered the bravest. Add to it his refined sense of humour and empathy, and understandably, everybody in the settlement loved him. Everybody but Dita’s father Fervalok. Yes, Dita’s father was no other than the man who caused the death of Aviko's father right after the boy was born. At first, Aviko was yearning for Fervalok’s attention but Fervalok despised him, as if he knew who the boy was.


His demeaning behaviour towards the boy made Dita suffer. Even though she loved her father, she always picked her friend’s side in a dispute between the two. Her sympathy towards her father finally disappeared one afternoon when he announced: “Today is your lucky day, my daughter. Years ago, I promised your hand in marriage to my most faithful companion Volto. Today, you are old enough to know just how lucky you are!” Thinking about the stingy old man that she would be forced to live with until the end of her life, Dita felt a lump in her throat. After that, her life became a living hell. She found her only moments of solace in the company of her friend Iko who would be going through a collective rite of passage in the settlement on that evening, along with his peers.

The entire community convened at the centre of the settlement. Aviko was standing on one side of the crowd, and the priest of the settlement on the other. He was wearing colourful ceremonial robes, and his face was painted red. Loud singing and music accompanied Aviko along the path winding through the crowd. With his head held high, Aviko passed all his trials with ease: walking on coals, plunging his head into the water and, finally, throwing the javelin, thus entering the world of adults. He was bestowed with a duty to protect his settlement, and received an authorisation to trade with the neighbouring and distant settlements as well as to ride horses and mules.


Ever since, he left for the sea every few days. There, he sold animal skin, eggs, honey, meat, herbs, and other goods that he was able to grow and produce on his own. In time, trade in goods made it possible for him to buy some precious salt at the seaside. At home, he exchanged it for earthenware, some wool skirts, and bronze hoes. He proudly showed his treasures to Dita: “Tomorrow, I’ll be leaving for the seaside at dawn. There, I’ll exchange the lot for twice as much salt.” “Can I go with you?” asked Dita without hesitation. “If they ask, I will say I am going to gather gentiana roots.” “There is an abundance of gentian growing alongside the path leading towards the sea. You will be able to gather some, and nobody will suspect you were with me,” agreed Aviko, enthused. Dita’s wish had made his heart skip a beat.

Before dawn, they left for the unknown. The dark path made them cling to each other tightly. Every single sound could be announcing a dangerous beast; together, they were stronger than ever. After a few hours walk, they saw the seaside in the far distance, and a mighty settlement with three defensive walls right next to it. Dita’s eyes were getting accustomed to small spots moving in line with one another. As it soon turned out, these spots were bearers, carrying baskets full to the brim of salt from the nearby sea, where huge bronze cauldrons were used to heat salt water, thus obtaining salt. “I have never laid my eyes upon something quite like that,� said Dita, amazed. They swiftly entered the settlement past the guards who already knew Aviko.

As the last gates opened, so did a whole new world for Dita. At the top of the settlement, she saw a mighty oak tree, struck and burned by lightning, but still alive. The branches of the oak tree were decorated with blackened lynx skulls. A huge necklace made of variegated seagull beaks, wrapped around the tree trunk, was used to attach huge decorated sea turtle shells to the tree. They had reached Turtle Castellier. The colourful market in the middle of the settlement was buckling under the weight of delicacies and valuables that Dita could not have dreamed about at home. She was overwhelmed at the sight of carefully tailored and precisely sewn gowns of all colours and artfully painted vases, and finally stopped at the vast selection of bronze jewellery. She could hardly cease to marvel at the brooches, clips, and clasps on display, but was particularly taken aback by a clasp in the form of a three-horse carriage. From afar, Aviko saw her amazement. Since he was a good merchant, he quickly sold everything he had for two dozen pearls. He spent half of the pearls to buy his very own mule and, discreetly, also paid for the clasp formed as a three-horse carriage. He planned to surprise the girl for whom his heart was secretly aching.


They passed the Snake Cave on their way back home. “It’s always so beautiful here. Let us stop for a while,” suggested Aviko. Summer temperatures were pleasant enough that they could lie down in the grass in front of the cave. Exhausted, they were silently staring at the starry skies. Holding on to each other, they had nearly fallen asleep when the mule suddenly brayed. They heard unfamiliar voices coming from the forest.

“We will spend the night here,” said the leader of the riders with a resolute, hoarse voice. “No! Why wait? Let us attack them immediately, while they sleep!” objected one of his accomplices. “Here is what I heard. There are two paths leading from the Snake Cave. One of them follows the North Star towards Deer Castellier, and the other turns at a right angle, leading towards Bear Castellier. There is not enough of us yet to attack them now. We will wait until morning. And then, we will conquer one settlement, replenish ourselves, and attack the other at night!” “Let it be as you said, Hosti.” For a few moments, Dita and Aviko dared not breathe. “They will attack our settlement as well!” “We have to let the dwellers know,” decided Aviko. They waited in silence until the unknown riders fell into a deep sleep, and then quietly sneaked off towards home. 29

In the settlement, they raised a hue and cry. In mere minutes, the entire community was on its feet. Everybody but Fervalok, who chose to ignore the boy’s “juvenile game”, opting instead to sleep without a care in the world. Therefore, Aviko’s courage was seeping through the words of a natural-born leader even more: “Fellow dwellers, crude riders are sleeping in front of the cave. In the early morning, they will attack us. Such is their plan. A plan that we will thwart. But we cannot do so alone. These greedy brutes do not only wish to wipe us off the face of the earth, but also want to do the same to our neighbours in Bear Castellier.” “To our enemies?” The crowd stirred up. “Yes, to our enemies. But we cannot make it without them. We can only defeat the bloodthirsty Hosti and his overnumbered crowd together.” A man shook his head. Another seemed lost in thought, and a third was shivering. “There is no other way. If they attack us, they will destroy us. There is not enough of us. Are you with me?” “Yes!” “Right! Then so be it! I will leave immediately and relay the news to the dwellers of Bear Castellier. Along the way, I will also stop to see if the robbers are heavily armed.”

As soon as Aviko reached the Snake Cave, the moon appeared from behind a cloud at the bottom of the horizon. The glow of the moon found its way to the sword, and a tiny white beam suddenly shone from the cave. Observant as he was, Aviko could not ignore the beam. Summoning his courage, he entered the cave. The moonlight shone from the cave paintings depicted on humid walls. In the middle of the cave, Aviko saw a mighty bronze sword, with a snake as white as the moonlight wrapped around it. The god of the Heaven closely followed the situation. Having found no malice or anger in Aviko’s soul, he decided to give him a chance, and ordered the snake to retreat. This time, he could simply not get angry.


With the sword in his hand, Aviko skilfully found his way to Bear Castellier. Nobody was awake. He quickly found the chief’s cottage. Overlooking the settlement, it was the most luxurious dwelling of them all. Right next to the cottage, moonlight clearly illuminated a tall hornbeam tree decorated with a blackened bear skull and wrapped in a plait made of snakeskin.

To his astonishment, there was no chief in the cottage he had entered. A female chief was standing before him with a sword in her hand, and a black bandage covering half of her face. “I heard the door creaking. Who are you?” she asked him, slightly frightened but not hesitating. “I come from Deer Castellier. Soon, robbers will attack both our settlements. There is too many of them. The only way to fight them is together. The moonlight showed me the path leading to the bronze sword from the Snake Cave. The sword will help us; we will be invincible.” “Why should I believe you? My husband is dead because of the greediness of your chief. For as long as I live, we will never be allies, or my name is not Oplika! I would rather die and have the entire settlement die with me, than look in the eye of Magapl’s murderer!”


Wasting no time, Oplika charged into Aviko: “Murderers!” She grabbed him by the throat and immediately froze. An amulet shone in her hands. An amulet in the form of a canine. The amulet of her husband. The amulet she had given to her son. Suddenly, the whole story flashed before her eyes. “Stop!” Lighting a torch, she searched his face. A rainbow lit up in his eye. “Aviko! My Aviko!” Oplika could not hide her joy. “Aviko?” “Listen to me. Twelve years ago, my son and I ran into a wild boar in the forest. I sacrificed myself for my son, and even though the beast eviscerated half of my face, I was able to defeat it. When I got back to the settlement, I narrowly escaped a near-certain death. Without the anointing of our healers and the help of the ghosts of our ancestors, I would not be standing here before you now. That was when the village recognised me as a heroine and named me as their chief. But my sorrow could not be healed. My son escaped from the beast and never came back. He was wearing this amulet, and a rainbow was shining in his eye. You never came back. Until now.” Aviko felt his eyes sting with tears. Time erased the memories of his childhood, but nothing could ever change what was in his heart. He knew that the woman standing before him was his mother. He fell into her arms and asked for her help.


Oplika immediately gathered her people, and they rode towards Deer Castellier together. Both settlements joined their forces. Suddenly, the stars seemed to align. They rode to battle. Skilfully and silently, they tiptoed towards the sleeping group of riders to evaluate the situation, with the mother and son leading them into battle.

Armed with axes, spears, daggers, bats, and slings, they waited for Aviko’s signal and boldly attacked the robbers. Sleeping and outnumbered, they had no chance to resist. Right before dawn, all of them were lying motionless, as Oplika and Aviko swung the sword of justice together. “Victory!” they cried out.


Instead of an echo, a voice spoke to them from the heavens. “Oplika, noble heroine, and Aviko, valiant young man, hear me, the god of the Heaven! Today, you have made me happy. You managed to reconcile the hostile settlements, and in doing so, you have eased my centuries-old anger. Aviko, keep my sword. You have earned it for having reconciled the settlements. It shall bring you peace and love, and will protect your settlements from enemies and wild beasts.” Their eyes met, and Oplika decided: “Aviko, go back to Deer Castellier. You will run the settlement with the sword of justice. Know that the traitor who murdered your father lives in Deer Castellier. Since you are Magapl’s son, you will also become the chief of Bear Castellier. The settlement expected you to seek revenge, but you will grant them something even better: justice, and peace and love will reign.”

Before Fervalok could turn in his sleep for the first time, the crowd led by Aviko was already at the gates. “Fervalok! Come out!” yelled the dwellers. “Who dares to wake me?!” thundered the chief in a sleepy, broken voice. “Fervalok, we do not want you anymore!” answered a man’s voice. “We want Iko!” “Aviko. My real name is Aviko.” “We want Aviko!”

Aviko waved his hand and the crowd fell silent. “Fervalok, no-one wants you to be their chief. You have let your people down. They want me to become their chief. But I came to know that my father Magapl had to die because of you. If I am to rule this settlement, I do not wish to see you here. What do you have to say in your defence?” “Nothing you have said is true. The only two people who know the truth are me and ... Volto!” said Fervalok, pointing his finger at his accomplice.


“Though I am not inclined to believe you, Fervalok, I have learned the truth in Bear Castellier. I know that it was not you who killed my father, like they thought in Deer Castellier. Volto murdered him with a trick for Dita to be given to him in marriage. You are both guilty of my father’s death. Therefore, you shall both be banished immediately!” Upon hearing these words, Fervalok threw himself on his knees: “Aviko, no! Please, do not do this to me! Please, I am begging you, forgive me! Henceforth, I shall give all excess crop from my land into our common reserve. I swear!” After taking a moment to think, Aviko declared: “Be it as you say, Fervalok. If hard times come, I will distribute your excess crop among the needy. Until no hardship befalls our settlement, I will be using it for trading. So be it. In doing so, you will contribute to the well-being of our community, and atone for your actions. Bring me some water,” Aviko ordered the guards.


“Thank you, my chief,” said Fervalok, relieved, and bowed his head. The priest poured a flagon of water onto his head, cleansing him of his evil, and Volto did not hesitate for a second. Falling on his knees before the chief, he opened his mouth to speak, but Aviko immediately stopped him: “Do not even think about it! We have seen enough mercy for today. Off you go, throw him out!” Volto tried with all his might to escape the firm grip of the guards, but could not escape his fate. The chief had made his final decision.

Aviko’s story spread around Deer Castellier like wildfire. The people gave their chief the most luxurious animal skins, the softest wool, the best Greek wine, and the strongest cattle. The biggest surprise for Aviko, however, was kept for last. Galga, who was the first to welcome Aviko to their community, spoke up decisively. All those years, she had been afraid of her husband, but now she knew that the people were on her side: “Aviko, as a thank you for saving our clan from damnation and reuniting our settlements, I would like to offer you Dita's hand in marriage, if she agrees with it, of course.” With a resolute smile on her face, Dita shyly nodded in agreement. When night fell, Aviko waited for Dita in front of her cottage and took her around the corner. From his pocket, he pulled the clasp in the form of a threehorse carriage: “This is my gift to you. The clasp will bring us prosperity, power, and progenies. I swear that I will make us happy, and will make sure that both our settlements live in peace.”

Their long-awaited day of bliss finally arrived. It could not be said whether the skies were bluer or the sun yellower, but once the young couple have said their “I dos�, there was no doubt: a rainbow was shining high in the skies above. The wedding ceremony lasted for seven days and seven nights.


They not only celebrated Dita and Aviko’s wedding but also the truce between the two settlements. In a ceremonial rite, the two sides that were once sworn enemies destroyed each their sword, offering it up into a mound in front of the Snake Cave, thus marking their alliance and the peace between the settlements. One sword, however, stayed above ground forever: the holy sword of justice.

The names of the heroes were already used by people who lived in the area of what is today known as Istria, in the Bronze Age. Their meanings are evidenced in the book “Roman Names in Istria” (Rimska imena u Istri), written by Mate Križman in 1991: (Zagreb: Biblioteka Latina et Graeca, 1991): Aviko = the Desired One, the Loved One. The Istrian variant of the name Avitus, the name was found in Roč. The stem Avi is short for ávih, meaning “favourable”; similarly in verbs such Greek a(ω)ítas meaning “beloved”. Dita = the Seeing One. Derived from the name Ditica. Dit- is a common Illyrian-Messapic stem from Indo-European dheya-/dhi- “to see, to watch“. The spelling Ditica is found in Buzet and is probably an Illyrian name. Magapl = the Large One, the Strong One. A Venetian-Istrian name, it is composed of mag- meaning “very“ (Illyrian mega-, Greek mag) and apl- meaning “strength” (Old Norse afl-). Oplika = the Strong One. The name is derived from the Venetian or Istrian name Oplus, in turn derived from the Indo-European *apelo meaning “strength“. The feminine form Oplica (Oplika) is found on the island of Cres. Fervalok = the Flaming One, the Seething One. The Venetian-Illyrian name, which was found e.g. in Buzet, is derived from the Latin stem ferv- meaning “to seethe, to flame“. Galga = the Deeply Thinking One. This Illyrian name is found e.g. in Pula, derived from the name Galgestes, which in turn is derived from the Indo-European *ghalgh- meaning “to ponder“. Volto = the Wanting One. Found in Buzet and Labin, the name is probably derived from the Illyrian name Voltimesis, which is derived from the Indo-European *wel- meaning “to want“. Hosti = the Foreigner, the Enemy. The name is derived from the Indo-European *ghostis meaning »stranger«, Latin hostis meaning “enemy“. Names involving the stem host- are common Celtic-Illyrian names found e.g. in Labin, Obrovac and Pula.



Picture book »Holy Sword of Justice«, by the author Tina Rožac, was created within the project KAŠTELIR – Prehistoric Hill Forts and Ethnobotany for Sustainable Tourism and Rural Development – from Karst (via Brkini, Čičarija and Istria) to Kvarner, co-financed within the Cooperation Programme of European Union Interreg V-A Slovenia – Croatia. The content of this publication is the sole responsibility of the Publisher and Co-publishers and in no way expresses the views of the European Union.

Tina Rožac Holy Sword of Justice Illustrated and co-designed by Matija Cipurić © 2020, Buča Editor: Darko Darovec Traslation: Jaša Pipan Consulted experts: Žiga Oman, Maša Sakara, Darko Darovec Graphic design: Žiga Valetič Print: Nonparel d. o. o. Published by: Buča, d. o. o. Kolarjeva ulica 47, 1000 Ljubljana Publisher represented by Samo Vadnov

Commissioned by: Municipality of Izola Co-publishers, © partners of the project KAŠTELIR: Municipality of Komen – lead partner, Municipality of Izola, University of Maribor, Institute IRRIS for Research, Development and Strategies of Society, Culture and Environment, County of Istria, Municipality of Lanišće, Municipality of Mošćenička Draga, Public institution »Učka Nature Park« First e-edition. The publication is freely available via website: www.buca.si Ljubljana, Izola, 2020 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the publisher or co-publishers.

Kataložni zapis o publikaciji (CIP) pripravili v Narodni in univerzitetni knjižnici v Ljubljani COBISS.SI-ID=48451331 ISBN 978-961-7114-09-6 (pdf)

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