Oh wow, so I came across this piece of work a little while ago. The assingment was to write a story in the style of a Grimm's Fairytale. I wrote this several years ago, and thought you might be interested in reading some of my *ahem* earlier work!
Oh, and by the way, I'm almost finished writing part one of The Mark of the King. Once it's finished, I can finally get to typing it up, editing it, and posting it here for you!!
Once upon a time, there lived a just king and a beautiful queen who lived in a marble castle on a hill. At the bottom of the hill lay a little village, and in that village lived a young man, who was often disobedient. Now the king and queen had only two children, a spoiled prince and a kind princess. One day, the prince, having returned from a hunt, said to his father:
“Oh Father, may you live forever! Please grant me one request!”
The king, who always wished to please his son, answered, “What is your request, my son, and how shall I grant it?”
“Oh Father, while away, I happened to stray from the party I was riding with. As I wandered throughout the woods in search of my companions, I came across a cave, and entering it, I was dazzled by the profuse amount of gold stored there. Father that is my request, that I may own the gold!”
Very well, my son, if you can find the gold again and bring it here, it shall be yours.”
“Many thanks to you, Father!” said the prince as he joyfully exited the throne room; quite sure he was the richest man in the entire kingdom.
Later, the king, having forgotten about the cave, was seated at his table, and was about to eat when his son, who did not trust his father, burst through the door, his sword drawn. Before the king could speak, the prince, red-faced, screamed:
“Where is it? Where is the gold in the cave?”
The prince’s outcry worried the queen and princess, and they hastened to calm the prince, and aid the king.
After hearing her brother’s story, the wise princess said, “Father, if it pleases my brother, I suggest you hold a contest.”
“Of what sort?” snapped her brother.
“It shall be a contest where all men, women, and children may compete against each other to find the gold. Whoever does and brings it to you, my brother, will receive one-fourth of the gold.”
The prince, though reluctant to part with any of his fortune, agreed to the challenge, and the following day, issued it to the entire village.
Hundreds of people, including the youth mentioned earlier, flocked to the castle to accept the challenge. Once all were listed, they were gathered, both young and old, to the square in the village, and the hunt began.
Soon after they dispersed to search for the gold, the princess disappeared. While the king, queen, and guards were looking for her, she was stealthily following the young man, for she had seen him from her window and recognized him as the boy who had stolen her horse the previous week.
The youth, unaware that he was being followed, casually checked under every fallen tree and around every rock in search of the missing gold. Presently, he came across two caves. As he was about to enter one, a great, golden eagle swooped out of the sky and landed on the youth’s outstretched arm. The princess watched from her hiding place in amazement as the bird said, “Do not enter the cave on the left, for if you do, you will never come out on your own.”
“What am I to do then?” the startled youth stammered. “I am lost and without hope of finding the gold and earning the reward! I am certain I saw a glint of something gold in the left cave and the right is filled with water!”
“Do what you wish, but do not enter the cave on the left,” with those words, the eagle flapped her mighty winds and took to the air.
“Stupid creature,” grumbled the young man, and he entered the forbidden cave.
The princess, not wishing even he that stole her horse to be injured, leapt from her hiding place, and followed the youth into the cave. She only walked a few feet when she stopped in her tracks. Scattered about the floor were bones of many kinds. Some animals and some even the bones of unfortunate humans. Before she could turn and run out of the cave, there came an enormous crash as rocks toppled from the mouth of the cave and blocked the exit. The frightened princess slumped onto the cold stone floor and began to weep. Suddenly, she felt a strong hand on her shoulder, and she was yanked to her feet.
A voice out of the darkness said, “Stop your tricks, beast, or I swear I’ll kill you!”
“Please,” wailed the princess. “Please don’t hurt me!”
“What kind of devilish trick is this?” the youth asked, for it was he who had mistaken the princess for the monster inhabiting the cave. “Why, you’re only a girl. Probably looking for the gold, I reckon,” he dropped her roughly, and then said haughtily, “Be on your way before the beast devours you!”
The youth stumbled blindly in the cave until he saw a glint of an eye in the darkness. Drawing his sword, he said shakily, “If you are the beast, please kill me quickly, and if not, I pray you, help me escape this place!”
“You were foolish, my son, but I will help you, even though you disobeyed my warning,” croaked the eagle softly. “Climb on my back, and together we will fly out of this dangerous cavern.”
“Wait!” said the youth, suddenly remembering the princess. “A girl followed me into this cave. She weeps near the entrance.”
The youth climbed on the eagle’s back and they flew to the mouth of the cave. The monster towered over the terrified princess, but before the beast could strike, the youth grabbed the princess and all three flew to safety.
After narrowly escaping the clutches of the monster, the eagle landed in a clearing in the woods.
“I hope you’ve learned your lesson about obedience,” the eagle said to the youth.
“Yes,” he said reluctantly.
“Heed warnings, boy,” then turning to the princess, the eagle said, “Just because he did something foolish does not mean you have to follow.”
As the eagle flew away, the princess said while glaring at the youth, “I hope you’ll be wiser next time!”
“Be on your way!” the youth commanded before he stumbled into the woods.
The princess, anxious to find her horse, followed the youth again. Several hours later, they came to two towns. One was lively, and the other drab and dull.
The princess watched in awe as the eagle, once again, landed on the youth’s arm, and said, “Do not enter the lively town. If you do, you will never come out without having paid a painful price.”
“What am I to do then?” the youth asked. “For I am lost and without hope of ever finding the gold and earning the reward! The lively town looks like the place one could find an inn, and besides, the other town reminds me too much of my past,” the youth shifted nervously.
“Do what you wish, but do not enter the lively town,” with those words, the eagle flapped her mighty winds and took to the air.
“Stupid creature,” said the young man, and he entered the forbidden town.
The princess, on the other hand, wisely heeded the eagle’s words, and entered the duller town. She was cared for by a motherly innkeeper, fed, and given shelter for the night.
The youth, however, did not receive the treatment the princess did. Soon after entering the town, he was met by a large group of men. Upon asking for an inn, the men led him to a broken down shack in a dark alley.
“This is the place,” sneered one of the men. Before the youth could protest, another gave him a blow to the back of the head, and the youth sank to the ground.
When he awoke, his shoes and the little money he had owned were gone; stolen by the merciless men. Sorely, the youth groaned as he lifted his bruised body off the ground, and limped out of the treacherous town. Before he could get very far, he collapsed, exhausted, onto the dirt path outside the town.
Before long, the princess, having recently left the quiet inn, found the youth, beaten and bruised, near the side of the road. She carefully carried him to the duller town, and to the very inn where she had received kindness and care. The youth was soon healed, thanks to the kind innkeeper, and wished continued the search for the missing gold.
After the princess paid the motherly woman, she and the youth left the town. The golden eagle, once again, flew down to earth to speak with the youth.
“I hope you have learned your lesson about obedience,” she said.
“Yes,” replied the youth.
“Heed warnings, boy,” said the eagle before she flew away.
“I hope you’ll be wiser next time,” the princess snapped.
“So do I,” answered the youth.
They walked for several hours along the rocky path before it forked.
“Which way should we go?” the youth asked his companion.
“I don’t know,” answered the princess.
Once again, the eagle landed on the youth’s arm and said, “Do not follow the path to the east. It leads to a palace ruled by an evil wizard, but if you follow the path to the west, you will come across a half-burned castle. If you have truly learned obedience, you will do as I say. Go to the west.”
“As you wish,” said the youth as he grabbed the princess’s hand and led her along the western path. They walked for several hours before they came across the charred remains of a castle.
“This is the place,” the youth said.
“Wait,” warned the princess. “What is that creature chained among the ruins?”
The youth looked, and then gasped. He took several steps closer to the castle, and then whispered something the princess couldn’t hear. Then, he ran towards the creature crying louder this time, “The eagle!”
The princess watched as he ran faster to the ruins, then he stumbled and fell onto the grass. To the princess, it appeared he had been struck from behind, but there was no one there. Suddenly, the youth disappeared as a hole opened in the earth below him.
The princess, careful to avoid the hole, hurried to help the eagle, then stopped short. Turning, she saw a tall man, dressed in black, standing at the edge of the woods. Slowly, he approached.
“Stay where you are and no harm will come to you,” the wizard said in a cold tone.
“Why have you chained and imprisoned that eagle, and what have you done with my friend?” the princess boldly asked.
“I chained the eagle because of the help she provided you on your journey,” he snarled. “If her boy had found the gold, all would be lost. That is why I hid it from your brother. Once I saw you and that ignorant boy were on the right path to find it, I tried to set up obstacles to discourage you and keep you from getting here,” the wizard paused, laughed, then continued. “’Tis a shame no one will ever hear of what became of their princess and her brother’s gold!”
“You mean this gold?”
The wizard turned around to see the youth, standing at the entrance of a hidden cave filled with gold.
“No!” the wizard screamed before he vanished into a cloud of white smoke. The chains on the eagle also turned to smoke. Then, to the young people’s amazement, the eagle shook her wings, and was transformed into a woman.
The youth, overjoyed to see the woman, ran into her outstretched arms, crying joyfully, “Mother! Oh, Mother!”
After that happy reunion, the youth collected the gold, then he, his mother, and the princess journeyed to their homes.
The youth returned the princess’s horse, and presented the gold to the prince. The prince, as agreed, offered the youth the promised one-forth of the gold, but the youth refused.
“The only thing I ask, Your Highness,” he said, turning to the king, “is the hand of your daughter in marriage.”
After receiving the king’s approval and blessing, the youth and the princess were wed, and they all lived happily ever after.