“Tell us another story of the gods Priestess Anya!” the children asked.
“Very well children, let me share with you the story of when Kalio’s first adventure before he was a god.”
Kalio was a giant of a man. As a child, he ate as much as five ordinary men could in one sitting and, by the time he was ten years old, he was already six feet tall!
Kalio was well known for having supernatural strength but boy, was he lazy. He wasn’t that smart either – until one day, when he came face to face with the Ogre of the Smeeth.
“Kalio, Kalio,” yelled the old lady. “Get your lazy self out of there. I need some straw fetching.” Reluctantly, the young man hauled himself out of his favourite spot in the chimney corner, and, bent nearly double, he crawled out of the cottage. “Look at the size of you,” his mother scolded up at him as he stretched, towering above her, “yet all you do is laze around in there, whilst I am out here, trying to make a few coppers to keep your enormous bulk in food!”
“What do you want me to do?” he stood, staring vacantly around him.
“Can’t you remember what I said, you great oaf? I need some straw fetching – for the animals.”
“Where do I get that?” Kalio looked bewildered.
“Try farmer Walton, at the end of the lane. He usually has plenty to spare. Here, take this rope with you to tie it together.”
“I wish you’d been granted brains as well as brawn,” she muttered as she watched the young giant lumber away. “I worry what’s going to become of you.”
“Hey, Mister Walton, my mam wants some straw,” Kalio called.
“Plenty here, lad,” the farmer replied. “Just take her what you can carry.”
Kalio gathered and roped some straw bales into a huge pile.
“’e must ’ave more than 20 hundredweight there!” commented one amazed farmhand.
The farmer laughed and called Kalio a fool. “Do you really think you can carry such a heavy load?” he jeered.
Kalio flung the load over his shoulder, as if it was as light as a feather. The farmer and his men stood by, speechless.
Once his incredible strength became known, Kalio’s lazy days were over. No more could he sit in the chimney corner doing as little as possible, as everyone wanted to hire him for work. Kalio soon found that work brought its own reward and he became very merry, taking delight in company, going to fairs and most of all dances.
Kalio‘s fame soon spread to a wealthy brewer at Highwater. Wanting a good strong man to carry his beer to Wisbech, he hired Kalio. The brewer was very careful to tell Kalio the route he must take around the Smeeth, an area of boggy marshland between the two towns, for a fearsome and terrible Ogre lived in a cave there.
Ogres in general are not very pleasant and this one was worse than most. He had a monstrous appetite for eating passers-by!
Unfortunately, avoiding the Ogre meant taking the long route – over twenty miles – around the great common, which belonged to the seven villages of the marshland; a very long detour for one so naturally lazy.
It was a scorching hot summer’s day, as Kalio wearily hauled his cart of beer barrels along the winding path. Weary of the long trek and the wearing tread of his shoes, he foolishly decided to take a short cut through the Smeeth – into the Ogre’s territory.
The first sign that this was a mistake was the sight of human skulls hanging from every tree along his path. The second sign was even more obvious, the Ogre stood silently on the path before him!
If you thought Kalio was big, you should have seen the Ogre! He was twelve feet tall and six feet around the waist, a large Ogre indeed.
“Who gave you authority to come this way?” he roared. “I’ll make an example of you – see how many heads hang on yonder tree? Yours shall hang higher than all the rest.”
Suddenly, Kalio realised he had no weapon! For once in his life, Kalio thought quickly and, without hesitation, he ripped an axle and a wheel off his cart. He bravely faced the slavering Ogre with these for sword and shield.
The fight was long and terrible, the sound of the mighty blows echoed across the marshland. The Ogre was strong and rained down heavy blows on Kalio, but Kalio danced away from the blows gaving far better than he got. As he danced he became quicker, more cunning and all fear left him. A well-aimed blow to the side of the Ogre’s head sent him reeling.
Knowing that he was weakening, the Ogre tried a trick and asked Kalio for a drink. Kalio would have none of it; his dim days were behind him, at least while he danced.
“Oh no,” he said, “my mother taught me better than that; who’d be a fool then?”
Using all his strength, Kalio felled the Ogre with one last crushing blow. The severed head rolled and stopped at Kalio’s feet. The Ogre was dead.
Exhausted, Kalio rested on a rock and looked around. Nearby, he spotted a cave. The ogre’s? He rose, curious, and cautiously looked inside.
Imagine his amazement as a glittering hoard of treasure met his gaze. Piles of gold and silver coins and glittering jewels lay everywhere! Dazzling crowns, ruby necklaces, diamonds as large as his fist sparkled in the gloom. But what drew Kalio’s eyes most was a pair of large dancing boots. Putting them on his footsteps felt light as a feather and infact he floated on air. Not only that, but he felt even stronger than ever before. “I shall call these boots Mighty Flighty!” Kalio declared to himself. Eventually, he pulled himself away from experimenting with his new boots, rapidly repaired his cart and hurried home.
The next day, Kalio took the brewer and some villagers to see the Ogre’s head and the treasure.
The news of the Ogre’s death spread quickly. The local people leapt for joy and lit bonfires, for the Ogre was an enemy to all.
Kalio had earned the respect of the people and they decided he should have the land and treasure. Kalio was rich for life and he built a great house on the site of the cave. He gave half the Ogre’s marshland to the poor, for their common land, and farmed the rest to keep himself and his mother.
He took, as his family crest, a circle with a line over it, symbolising the axle and wheel that he had used to defeat the ogre. He was no longer plain Kalio, but Kalio, Hero of HighWater, the one person smart enough to defeat the dreaded Ogre.