The Glacier-Hearted Rani Gwashbrari
Once upon a time, in a world that was still finding its way, the mighty Westarwan stood as the King of all the mountains. His head soared high above the others, even when summer clouds embraced his broad shoulders, leaving him alone under the vast blue sky. His regal demeanour, however, left his fellow hills like Haramukh and Nanga Parbat feeling neglected and envious.
In this circle of hills, the beautiful Gwashbrari, adorned in her icy glaciers, stood out as the serene and self-satisfied one. She found contentment in her own beauty, unperturbed by the grumblings of the other hills. But there came a day when the clouds wrapped Westarwân from sight, and the discontent rose to a fierce uproar.
Gwashbrari, usually calm and collected, couldn't help but flash a contemptuous smile upon the rest, urging them to cease their bickering.
'What need to wrangle?' she said, in calm superiority. 'Great Westarwan is proud, but though the stars seem to crown his head, his feet are of the earth, earthy. He is made of the same stuff as we are; there is more of it, that is all.'
'The more reason to resent his pride!' retorted the grumblers. 'Who made him a King over us?'
Gwashbrari, with an evil smile, dismissed their concerns. 'O fools! poor fools and blind! giving him a majesty he has not in my sight. I tell you mighty Westarwan, for all his star-crowned loftiness, is no King to me. 'It is I who am his Queen!'
The mighty hills laughed at her audacity, for Gwâshbrâri was the lowliest among them all. 'Wait and see!' answered the cold, passionless voice. 'Before tomorrow's sunrise, great Westarwan shall be my slave!'
As the sun set, casting a rosy radiance over the world, Gwashbrari's pale face flushed to life, and her chill beauty glowed with passion. Noting the rosy radiance in the east, Westarwan turned his proud eyes towards it. The perfection of Gwashbrari's beauty struck upon his senses with a sharp, wistful wonder. The setting sun sank lower, reflecting a ruddier glow on Gwashbrari's face; it seemed as if she blushed beneath the great King's gaze. A mighty longing filled his soul, bursting from his lips in one passionate cry—'O Gwashbrari! kiss me, or I shall die!'
The sound echoed through the valleys, while the startled peaks stood round expectant.
Beneath her borrowed blush, Gwashbrari smiled triumphant, as she answered back, 'How can that be, great King, and I so lowly? Even if I would, how could I reach your star-crowned head?—I who on tip-toe cannot touch your cloud-robed shoulder?'
Yet again the passionate cry rang out - 'I love you! kiss me, or I it shall be the end of me!'
Then the glacier-hearted beauty whispered soft and low, the sweet music of her voice weaving a magical spell around the great Westarwan - "You love me? Know you not that those who love must stoop? Bend your proud head to my lips, and seek the kiss I cannot choose but give!'
Slowly, surely, as one under a charm, the monarch of the mountains stooped, nearer and nearer to her radiant beauty, forgetful of all else in earth or sky.
Soon, the sun set. The rosy blush faded from Gwâshbrâri's fair false face, leaving it cold as ice, pitiless as death. The stars began to gleam in the pale heavens, but the King lay at Gwashbrari's feet, dethroned forever!
And that is why great Westarwan stretches his long length across the valley of Kashmîr, resting his once lofty head upon the glacier heart of Queen Gwashbrari.
And every night the star crown hangs in the heavens as of yore, a reminder of the enchanting tale of love and pride among the mighty mountains,