This the story of a wizard elk - Rauten, as people called him. He was a human being in animal guise. The story begins in Ré Valley, which lies like a yawning gap between mountains, long and flat with borders of forests so dark that they look as though part of the blackness of night lingered in them. A river moves sluggishly along the bottom of the valley, making its way slowly and carefully between stretches of light-red sand. It runs northwards, a rare thing in Norway.