The fierce and warlike tribe, called the Huns, who had driven the Goths to seek new homes, came from Asia into Southeastern Europe and took possession of a large territory lying north of the River Danube.
During the first half of the fifth century the Huns had a famous king named Attila. He was only twenty-one years old when he became their king. But although he was young, he was very brave and ambitious, and he wanted to be a great and powerful king.
Not far from Attila's palace there was a great rocky cave in the mountains. In this cave lived a strange man called the "Hermit of the Rocks." No one knew his real name, or from what country he had come. He was very old, with wrinkled face and long gray hair and beard.
Many persons believed that he was a fortune-teller, so people often went to him to inquire what was to happen to them. One day, shortly after he became king, Attila went to the cave to get his fortune told.
"Wise man, " said he, "look into the future and tell me what is before me in the path of life."
The hermit thought for a few moments, and then said, "O King, I see you a famous conqueror, the master of many nations. I see you going from country to country, defeating armies and destroying cities until men call you the 'Fear of the World.' You heap up vast riches, but just after you have married the woman you love grim death strikes you down."
With a cry of horror Attila fled from the cave. For a time he thought of giving up his idea of becoming a great man. But he was young and full of spirit, and very soon he remembered only what had been said to him about his becoming a great and famous conqueror and began to prepare for war. He gathered together the best men from the various tribes of his people and trained them into a great army of good soldiers.