A Moldavian Fairy Tale - Castle Of The Immortals

 Castle Of The Immortals

The young prince was as restless as the wind. Nobody could control him. He ran and romped about and giggled or laughed always. Once, running along a lonely road with his catapult, he saw an old woman passing by with a pitcher on her head. The prince shot a stone at the pitcher and the water poured down. "You naughty chap! You can't live in peace even if you go to the kingdom of the immortals!" commented the woman. The kingdom of immortals! That stirred the prince's imagination He took some money, a change of clothes, a sword, and set out for the kingdom of immortals. He entered a forest and knocked on a hermit's hut. "Do you know the way to the kingdom of the immortals?" he asked the hermit as he opened the door. "I don't know, but that doesn't matter. Take this roll of golden thread. Go on rolling it. It would extend up to the kingdom which is your destination," said the hermit handing out the roll to him. "And be kind to every beast and bird you meet on your way if you wish to be safe." The prince thanked him and threw the golden roll. He ran behind it as it began to unfold. A lion roared at him, he greeted it with a smile. The lion smiled back and took its eyes off him. It happened with many other beasts.

The roll stopped near a rock. The prince was already tired. He sat down. "Will you please remove your hand? I may get crushed," a puny voice told him at his right side. The prince at once removed his hand and saw a tiny sprout coming out of a broken shell. "Thank you, young man, I was struggling to come out for the last three days, but was unable to break open the hard shell. As you pressed your hand, the shell broke. I'll grow into a big tree and, maybe, give you shade!." "Ha!" laughed the prince. "It will be a long time before you grow up sufficiently to give shade to anyone. I may not live till then. But I must be off now," he said. But he did not begin unrolling the golden thread ball before making the earth soft for the sprout and sprinkling a drop or two of water on it. He had walked for another day when he saw a huge eagle flapping its wings to rise from a hillock, but unable to do so as it was wounded. "Don't, don't come near me, don't harm me," shrieked the eagle. "I have no intention of harming you," said the prince. He went near the eagle and saw its wound and poured on it the sap of a medicinal plant. "You will get well soon," he said. "Thanks, And if you ever remember me, I'll be with you at once," said the eagle. The prince went on and on and soon he was near the sea. The tide had just receded. A large golden fish lay stuck in a pool of mud. As the prince stopped to look at the fish, it said, "Don't harm me. I'm the king of the fish world." "I would rather help you to go back into the water." The prince pushed the fish out of the mud.

Next moment a huge wave broke on it and carried it away. The fish raised its head on the crest of the wave and said, "I'll not forget your kindness. Remember me and I'll be with you." The prince rolled the thread ball once again. Once more it entered a forest. Soon the prince saw a butterfly caught in a spider's web. "Will you please release me from this? I'll serve you in future!" it said to the prince. The prince released it from the web with the tip of his sword and the butterfly fluttered by! Another throw of the thread ball and it unrolled and unrolled till it came to its end. Well, the end reached the gate of a charming castle. Behind the castle, the sea roared and splashed against its wall. The prince banged on the gate. "What do you want?" asked a big man. "I'm looking for the kingdom of the immortals!" answered the eager prince. "This is the kingdom and I'm the king. But how can you come in unless you agree to marry my daughter?" asked the king. "To be honest I don't mind marrying her if she is reasonably good looking!" said the prince. The king called out for his daughter. She emerged on the roof. She was very beautiful. "Now, young man, you cannot marry her unless you pass a test," said the king. "I can try, what is the test?" "You must hide. If you are found out, you shall die! I give you ten minutes." The king and the princess withdrew. The prince stood thoughtful for a moment. Suddenly he remembered the eagle. Out of the clouds it came and descended before him. The prince told his problem.

"Sit on my back," said the eagle. It then flew and shot up into the clouds. It threw the prince into a dense dark cloud and said, "Wait here till I take you back." Ten minutes later the king called out his daughter and said, "Find out and behead the prince!" The princess looked into the meadow and did not see the prince. She looked into the sea and did not see him. But as she looked up, she saw him. "Come down, you're found out!" shouted the king. The sad eagle brought the prince down. "Father, one failure does not suffice for his death," said the princess. "All right. We will try him again," said the king and he allowed another chance for the prince to hide. The prince remembered the kingfish. It emerged from the waters and took the prince away into the sea. The princess could see through the water just as she could see through the clouds. "Father, two failures do not earn him death!" said the princess pleadingly. "Very well, I'll give him one more chance," said the king. The prince remembered the butterfly. It came at once and whispered in his ears to come away into the garden. As soon as the prince did that, the butterfly circled around his head thrice and the prince turned into a butterfly himself. When the princess came out the prince, now a butterfly, sat down on the flowers adorning her look and she did not notice it. However keenly she looked here and there, she could not find him.

"Father, I fail to locate him," she said at last. Next moment the butterfly left her to look and turned into the prince he was and sprang up before her. The princess blushed and the king smiled. The princess was married to the prince, and the prince was ushered into the castle. The prince lived so happily that it will take a volume to describe his happiness. Days passed. Once in a while, the king repeated single advice, "Never go out of the gate through which you had entered the castle." One day the prince, while roaming in the garden, shot his arrow at a strange bird. The bird disappeared from his sight. In his eagerness to see what happened to it, he dashed out of the very gate through which he had entered. His eyes fell on the golden thread that had led him there. At once the memory of his parents and his palace and his native town overwhelmed him. Without looking back he ran along with it. When tired, he slowed down and walked. It took him days to reach the other end of the thread. But where was his palace? Where were his kinsfolk? Nothing seemed familiar to him. He saw a huge heap of stones covered by bushes and grass where he hoped to see his palace. "I came by the wrong way," he thought and then decided to return to the kingdom of the immortals. After two days of walking, he felt tired and he sat down under a huge tree. "Hello, how happy I am to give you shade!" said the tree. The prince also looked at it, astonished. "Don't you remember me?" asked the tree.

"Once you helped me come out of a little shell. That was two hundred years ago!" The prince now understood the mystery of his inability to locate his palace. Two hundred years had passed like two years when he lived in the kingdom of the immortals! He got up and began to walk. "So, I've got you at last!" shouted a dark but dignified figure. "I am death. You were to die long ago, but you were beyond my reach!" said the dark being and he extended his fearful hand to catch the prince. The prince ran and ran. The being of Death gave him a hot chase. At last, the prince was able to reach the castle of the kingdom of the immortals. As he banged the door, the king opened it. The being of Death had just reached him. The king took hold of the arms of the prince and the being of Death took hold of his legs. The princess came out and, by the help of the magic, turned her husband into a golden apple and, before the being of Death could interfere, hurled the apple into the sky. The king turned his daughter into another apple and hurled it into the sky too, telling her, "Find out your husband and return with him." Since then the prince is seen in the sky as the evening star and the princess as the morning star. They are yet to come together. In course of time, the king became a mountain. He keeps observing the morning star and the evening star. 

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