Copyright © 2015 by Sergiu Timuș
A CENTURY HAS PASSED since nobody saw any witches. They were all gone, hiding somewhere far away from people. Nobody was interested how they left anymore: on foot, on their broom or in a carriage. The important thing was that the problems were gone with them.
However, things were good just until yesterday, in the afternoon. The sun was still up in the sky, sending warm rays to the people in the fields, who were not so happy about it. They were hoping that some clouds would appear, maybe even some slight breath of wind.
There were no clouds, nor wind. They saw something else though, something that scared them. They saw an old witch flying on her broom, like it was the most normal thing in the world to do. She wasn’t in a hurry, and she didn’t look scared at all. She didn’t seem to even care that people saw her.
“She felt at home!” a braver man said.
“She was flying, but, you know, not very straight,” an old lady whispered, like she was afraid that someone could hear her.
It’s so obvious: her face, her eyes, she looked like the witch.
“She was dressed all in black!” a little boy with tangled hair said.
“I was so drunk!” a strange man from the tavern said.
“What was she?” asked a half-deaf peasant.
“She was a witch!” they answered all together.
˜ ˜ ˜
The bravest knights gathered at the Castle, ready to fight.[* *]They were wearing iron armors, sharp swords; they had bows and arrows. The King was happy.
“The one who catches the witch,” the King started his speech, “will get as much gold as he can carry, as much land as his eyes can see, and my daughter as wife!”
“Yes, my dear Queen.”
“We don’t have a daughter.”
“That’s a pity.”
“And we don’t have so many lands as well.”
“Well, let’s hope their eyes can’t see that far,” the King said.
He looked across the horizon. You could see only fields all around.
“The one catching her will get as much gold as I give him!” the King corrected himself. “You swore to be faithful and fight every enemy that threatens our people…”
One of the knights sadly scratched the back of his neck. He didn’t remember such things.
“You swore to protect me with your own lives…”
“…protect our people,” the Queen corrected him.
“And the people swore…”
“You know what, Queen, stop correcting me! Go and sew something!”
He looked at the knights, forgetting what he wanted to say.
“Go and catch the witch and stop staring at me! Come on, go already!”
˜ ˜ ˜
The King was on a hurry to have lunch, like he had a rough day at work. It’s not an easy job to reign over a kingdom. You get hungry and thirsty!
The wooden table was full of goodies: poultry, pork, lamb, fruits, vegetables… You could eat them in peace and enjoy your living!
“Who dares to bother me when I’m at the table?!”
The servant apologized: “I just wanted to let you know, that the Prince is here!”
“Did he bring the Princess too?”
“What a misfortune!” the King said, while eating a piece of meat. “What are you waiting for? Go and invite him to lunch! Am I the only one who has to solve everything around here?”
“Absolutely,” the Queen said.
The Prince walked through the wooden door leading to the dining room. He seemed thin and exhausted.
“I would look like you if I walked around the woods for no reason. How many times I told you: The Princess is locked in a Tower! And the Tower is up in the mountains, you fool!”
“I ask for forgiveness, my King. I thought I was heading to the mountains,” the Prince answered.
“How can you believe you’re heading to the mountains if you keep descending to the woods? Oh son…”
“One more time, I apologize.”
“I forgive you. But you know that you can’t stay in the Castle for a long time.”
“Haven’t you heard? There’s a witch flying on her broom right above us!”
“Did she hurt someone?”
“Are you stupid?! The witches are evil! They have to get caught! And you are one Prince without a wife. It’s your duty to go after the witch and show people your courage!”
“Don’t even think of turning it down! You can hit the road right now!”
THE PRINCESS WAS BORED.
She was waiting for someone to save her. She was locked in her room, up in a Tower made of wood and stone. She had nothing to do but stay by the window and wait for a Prince to come. She didn’t really like it. Why did she have to be locked up? She couldn’t get married like that, not without being rescued?
The dragon was bored too.
It was a year full of bad luck, he used to say. He saw only a few knights passing by, and they were too tired to fight. One of them even died at the entry, without having the chance to pull his sword off the scabbard.
He had the flu…
It was nobody’s fault but his own, the dragon thought. What was on his mind when he chose to come to this Tower from up in the mountains? It’s cold, it snows all the time and, by the time the knights arrive, a few years could pass. He even heard that the Prince got lost in the woods. The dragon had the impulse to go and look for him…
And the Princess?!
She’s absolutely thick-skinned!
Instead of crying, screaming, being afraid of him, she’s raising big smokes! He gets nagged for the fact that he doesn’t blow enough, that he doesn’t have enough flames coming out of his nostrils. She even tells him to blow into the stove. Where did you ever see a dragon humiliated like that?
It was time to do something. He went upstairs, in the last room of the Tower where the Princess was locked.
“I’m leaving,” the dragon said. “I have something to do.”
“You’re leaving?!” asked the Princess. “Are you leaving me here alone?!”
“It will not take too long.”
“What is that supposed to mean?!” she asked. “And how can you even leave, just like that? What if a Prince comes over?”
“Listen, Princess! I’m tired of explaining everything to you! Now I don’t blow enough fire through my nostrils, now I snore too loudly when I sleep, now I leave the Tower too often… What’s wrong with you? Is this how a Princess should behave?”
“I’m sorry if I offended you in any way.”
“In the end, I’m a dragon,” he insisted.
“Yes, I know…”
“A scary dragon!”
“You scare me…”
“I’m the fear of the Princesses and knights!”
“When people see me, they… they hide in fear!”
“And you, you are unbearable!”
˜ ˜ ˜
The dragon felt better.
It’s different when you get to show who you are. The Princess should know that he’s not in the mood for jokes.
He was flying East. He was in a hurry to get to the land of the witches. Talk to them, get some advice and see what else he can do. People got too obedient. They don’t leave their houses that often, they mind their own business. He heard from his little brother, a becoming dragon, that people don’t hunt them anymore. With all that sorrow, his father threw himself from the mountain.
“Hello, young dragon.”
A witch, flying not far from him, started the conversation.
“Hello to you too, old witch,” the dragon answered.
“Where are you headed?”
“To your land…”
“What do you want from us?”
“I would like to talk to you about people and see what can we do”, he said. “They became too lazy.”
“That is true.”
“They don’t look for us anymore, they don’t hunt us.”
“I can’t agree more!”
“They don’t even need a Princess anymore!”
“That’s terrible”, the witch agreed.
“I guard this Princess for ten years now, and I barely saw a few knights. And she’s very hard to bear. She talks all the time and makes fun of our misery!”
“That’s true. If she even knew how much time I spent to kidnap her, how hard it was to bring her to the mountains!”
“She has no respect at all…”
˜ ˜ ˜
“I might have an idea,” the witch said.
“I’m all ears!”
“I can fly to the people’s Castle. Wake them up a little. Remind them about the old times!”
“And after that, I’m going to hide at the West Castle for a while.”
“That’s crazy, calling it West Castle when it’s located South.”
“What can we do, the King is a little bit strange”, the witch said.
“And when I will find out that the Prince is headed to the West Castle, I will go and meet him someplace where there aren’t so many people.”
“And after that, I will kidnap him and bring him to the mountains, to you.”
“To show the road to that stupid Prince. To go and find the Princess”, the witch answered.
“And that’s not all. The King will send more people to look for his son!”
“That would be brilliant!”
“You don’t say! You will protect the Princess, and I will hide from the other knights that will try to catch me!”
“Just like in old good times!”
˜ ˜ ˜
The dragon was full of joy.
He couldn’t wait to go to the tower and share the good news with the Princess!
He was flying over the mountains, through the snow storm and wind. He didn’t care. When he will arrive to the Tower, he will warm up. He will set a big fire, to keep the Princess warm too. For the only reason that she raises a big smoke when she’s cold.
“Princess, I have some good news for you!”
“Princess, guess who is coming to your rescue!”
“Princess, why you’re not answering? I hope you’re not totally frozen…”
And since he didn’t receive any answer, the dragon rushed to the room upstairs.
The door was open. The room was empty. There was only a letter on her bed.
The dragon was surprised. He reached the bed with his neck so he could read the letter. He was too big to fit into the room.
I’m sorry I teased you all these years. I messed with you and I made fun of your twisted teeth. I scared you when you were asleep…
I painted your tail.
I put snow in the stove, so that it would make a lot of steam, and you coughed for two days. I played tricks saying that I saw some knights, so you stayed up all night, hidden behind the Tower.
I made you a tiny crown of flowers…
I was a bad Princess!
[_I hope that you will forgive me someday for everything that I did to you. I hope that you will also forgive me for leaving you alone in that big Tower. But there comes a time when you realize that your Fate doesn’t know everything. There comes a time when you have to choose: turning into an old lady in this Tower, or going after the Prince by yourself. _]
When I will find him, I will show him how to look for a Princess!
Love, the Princess.”
THE KNIGHTS BARELY GOT TO THE WEST CASTLE when they found out that the witch has gone to the mountains. And that she took the Prince with her.
The trouble couldn’t be that big, but they were knights and they couldn’t leave their Prince alone, and neither could they ignore the King’s order. So they went to the Tower from the mountains, where the Princess was locked not so long ago.
“She must be so brave, to run from a place like that,” one of the knights said.
“When you grow up a little, you will find out that it’s not courage you need in order to do that,” said an older knight.
“What if the dragon catches her?”
“Well, I think the dragon was happy to get rid of her.”
“I told you, young man. You will grow up a little and you will understand why. It’s not an easy job to spend a few years in a cold empty tower, with a bored woman.”
“Still, it’s better than looking for a witch,” another knight said.
“Even looking for ten witches would be better, trust me.”
“By the way,” said the younger knight. “How do we catch the witch?”
“Good question,” another knight said. “We haven’t done it in a long time.”
“This witch job is very difficult,” the older knight said. “It’s hard to find them, hard to catch them. And the whole trick is to never get caught yourself!”
“And how do we do that?”
“Everything in its own time, young man.”
˜ ˜ ˜
The Prince looked very calm on the broom next to the witch. But the truth was that he was very cold. The witch was flying fast, through the snow storm, and his hair turned white from the snowflakes. He never had such an experience, and he never thought it could happen. Where did you ever see a Prince flying on a broom next to a witch? His father will not be proud, and the people will laugh ironically. He will be the first Prince kidnapped by a witch!
The witch was in the mood for talking.
“Say something, Prince. Are you alive?”
“Oh, you have such a weak heart, my hero!”
She began to laugh. Some time ago, she didn’t know what to do. Now, she was flying next to the Prince.
“You kidnapped him!” the dragon said, approaching them.
“It wasn’t that difficult,” the witch said.
“In exchange, I have some very bad news.”
“I heard it from the people. The Princess escaped.”
“Poor thing… Through such a snow storm!”
“Don’t tell me you feel sorry for her after all that she did to you!”
“Yes, she was very mean, I admit it. But now that she’s gone, I miss her a little bit.”
“This world is going down,” the witch said. “Where did you ever see a whining dragon?”
“I’m not whining. I was just saying…”
“You better stop talking!”
THE PRINCESS HAD A GUILTY CONSCIENCE.
How could she leave like that, without saying a word?
The dragon was well behaved, pleased her, forgave all her mean deeds. He deserved more than a letter written in haste!
What a snow storm!
What was she thinking when she left the Tower? And where was the road to the Castle? Stupid Prince! He was the one responsible for everything!
Mountains of snow.
Dark cloudy sky.
Storm and wind.
And there were wolves howling somewhere in the woods…
She would return back to the Tower! It was warm in there, and the dragon was nicer than a pack of wolves.
If she only found the way…
“Are you lost, my dear Princess?”
“Who is this?”
“The Fate Fairy,” answered a strange woman, who was hidden under an old tree.
“What do you want from me?” the Princess asked.
“I want to lead you on the good way.”
“The good way? Do you really think that being locked up in a tower is the good way?!”
“OK, enough! You don’t get to talk about fate.”
“How dare you?!”
“I do that all the time. It’s what I’m used to do,” the woman said. “ But let’s not waste our precious time and talk about my work. You must go back to the tower!”
“Because it’s the only way for you to become a Queen! It has been like that since forever. The Princess is locked up in the Tower, the Prince looks for her, finds her, kills the dragon, saves the Princess, blah, blah, and then they get married and have a lot of children, meant to be successors, fighting each other over the throne…”
“He kills the dragon?!”
“But I don’t want him to die,” the Princess said.
“Here we go again. It’s not about what you want, or what you think is better. It’s just the way it is! And it’s already happening! However, there are some unexpected changes.”
“What is happening? What changes?”
“The Prince is already in that tower that you escaped. He’s about to fight the dragon. Although, the way he got there is supposed to remain secret.”
“Oh my god, he will kill the dragon?!” asked the Princess, who was really scared at this time.[* *]“You’re right,” she said. “We have to go back as soon as possible!”
˜ ˜ ˜
The Fate Fairy was walking ahead, mumbling something about destiny.
The Princess was after her, hoping to get to the Tower as soon as possible. She didn’t care about fate at all. She had to rescue the dragon!
“Where are you going?! In the name of the King, I command you…”
“Oh, shut up Robin!” the bored fairy interrupted an old knight, approaching them. “I’m the Fate Fairy, and this is the disobedient Princess who escaped from the Tower. We are going back now, to fix the mistake she made.”
“You are going with us,” the knight said. “That way, you will be safe…”
“I very much doubt that!”
“What do you mean?!”
“I’m the Fate Fairy, remember? I know your destiny, so you better stay away from us.”
“So you are saying…”
“Farewell! This is what I’m saying!”
The Fate Fairy took the young Princess by the hand and they disappeared in the woods.
“Will those knights die too?” the Princess asked.
“Yes. The witch will take care of it.”
“You’re such a rude woman!”
“I heard the same thing about you,” the woman answered.
“Why are you doing this?”
“Why do you want these knights and the dragon to…”
“Listen, Princess! Don’t make me change your destiny too!”
“I would slow down with the threats,” they heard another voice, somewhere from above.
The Princess looked up and she saw a few witches spinning around above their heads.
“The witches!” the Fate Fairy gnashed her teeth.
“The Fate Fairy!!!” “Catch that woman!!!” “Don’t let her escape!!!”
The witches were calling her a lot of names while trying to catch her. Full of fear, the Fate Fairy was trying to run away. It was something that she didn’t see coming.
“We have such a hard life because of you!” “You predestined me to be a witch!” “You are the reason I’m not young and beautiful anymore!” “It’s only your fault…”
The witches blamed her for everything. When they caught her, they tied her and covered her face with a black bag.
“What are you planning to do with her?” the Princess asked.
“We will do to her what she did to us, to you, to everyone else. We will decide her future!”
“We will imprison her in a cave underground. And she will stay there until an Ogre will find her.”
“…and save her, ha-ha!”
“…yeah, sure! Save her, ha-ha!”
The witches took their flight together with the Fate Fairy. The Princess was left alone in the woods. She could hear the knights behind her.
˜ ˜ ˜
“Here we meet again, Princess” the old knight said.
“What do you mean?”
“I have to inform you that the Fate Fairy changed your destiny. If you try to catch the witch, you will all die!”
“We are aware of that,” he answered. This is why we let the witches know where they could find the fairy. It seems that they don’t like her very much.”
“And now what?”
“Now we are on our way to kill the dragon! And catch the witch…”
“I’m not saying anything about the witch, but please, let the dragon alive,” the Princess begged him.
“And why would we do that?”
“Because you have no choice. You are too few. And you have a lot to do: save the Prince, kill the dragon, catch the witch…”
“That’s true. You know, nobody understands how difficult it is for us…”
“Oh, stop complaining. I had a different point!”
“To convince the dragon to fight on our side!”
“You are really crazy,” the knight said.
“Not at all. I will talk to the dragon. And you take care of the witch!”
˜ ˜ ˜
The knights didn’t hesitate at all.
They weren’t very happy about the idea of fighting the dragon, so they might as well let him live. Or the other way around!
The Princess was thinking of what she had to do and how to convince the dragon to fight on their side. She had to get into the Tower for that. But the witch is there. She needed a plan!
“Do you know how you can catch a witch?” she asked.
“We will fight, we are knights!”
“Forget about that! Not only we have to be strong, we have to be smart too. Why die on the battle field?”
“This is an honor,” the knights answered.
“Being dead is a tragedy, not honor. The greatest things are done by the people who live!”
“So what are you suggesting?”
“I suggest to catch the witch without a fight,” the Princess said.
“It’s not possible.”
“If the dragon helps us, it’s possible.”
“Here goes the dragon again…”
“He’s nicer than you think! He is the only one who took care of me!”
“What a day! I was thinking about opening a farm until yesterday in the afternoon,” a knight said. “And now, I make alliances with dragons and get ready to play tricks on a witch!”
“Stop complaining,” the Princess said. “I have a plan. If you do like I say, nobody gets hurt…”
THE KNIGHTS SURROUNDED THE TOWER.
They got their bows prepared, they were ready to fight!
“In the name of the King…” one of the knights yelled.
“Is it really necessary to mention the King?” another knight whispered. “What if the witch gets mad?”
The knight who was about to say the order stopped. He was afraid of the witch, not even to mention the dragon.
“In the name of the King,” he continued, “We ask you…To surrender!”
“Ha-ha!” they heard the voice of the witch. “If you are asking us so nicely, who knows, maybe we will surrender! We’ll do anything for you, just don’t start crying!”
“We don’t want to harm you!” the knight yelled again.
“What is wrong with them?” the witch said.
“Surrender and you won’t be hurt!”
“They are more frightened than I thought,” the witch said. “All right, I’m going out to surrender!”
“Are you crazy?”
“OK, come out, but leave your broom!”
“Right,” she whispered.
The witch came out of the Tower, with an evil smile on her face. After she saw that nobody is throwing any arrows, she climbed the broom immediately and flew to the gray clouds.
The Princess caught the moment and entered the Tower. There she saw the Prince, with the sword in his hand, ready to fight.
The dragon looked bored and not scared at all.
“You’re alive!” the Princess screamed.
“Princess, I appreciate the concern, but it’s better for you to wait outside!” the Prince said, with a serious voice.
“Not you, you fool! The dragon! He’s alive!”
“Not for long,” the Prince said.
The dragon brightened up. He smiled happily, showing his twisted teeth.
“Princess, you’re back!”
“I’m sorry I left you alone,” she said, running towards the dragon.
“This is a nightmare,” the Prince said. “This is a very, very bad dream! Princess, stay away from the dragon! I have to kill him!”
“Listen, Prince,” the dragon said. “It’s enough for me to spit in your direction that…”
“No, don’t do that,” the Princess said. “We have some other problems right now.”
˜ ˜ ˜
The witch was heading towards the knights with an evil smile on her face.
She was very happy. Finally, she was about to fulfill her thirst for fighting.
The knights were shooting arrows at her, from all over. However, she managed to avoid them.
She was approaching one knight by one, lifted them up and let them fall on the ground. Two of them fell on a tree, but they stayed alive. The witch seemed to have no problems. Her intention was to play with them before killing.
“ In the name of the King… It seems like you had something on the tip of your tongue,” said a knight to the one who ordered the witch to come out of the tower.
“I said it because I had to. This is how things work.”
“And the Princess has to love the Prince! But in exchange, she is worried about the health of the dragon.”
“Well, if the Prince wasn’t so stupid, we wouldn’t be in this situation,” the other knight answered, while he was keeping out the witch. He tried to hit her with the sword, but he failed.
“Where would the Princess be?” a knight asked.
“What can I say; it’s a good plan!” another one said.
“Just be patient,” the elder knight responded.
˜ ˜ ˜
“Hey, witch!” the dragon yelled.
“Not now!” she answered. “Don’t you see that I’m busy?”
“You’ll be busier if you get in the Tower.”
“The Tower, the Prince and the Princess are your problems. I have the knights!”
“You will not be sorry!”
“Oh, I hope it’s worth the trouble,” the witch said and entered the Tower.
“What do you want?” she asked.
The dragon didn’t say a word. He turned around and hit her with the tail. The witch screamed with pain and anger and flew outside, only this time without the broom and without even opening the door.
She found herself covered in snow. And before she realized, a few knights jumped on her and tied up her hands and legs. The witched was blinded with rage.
“Damn dragon! It’s not fair! The dragons don’t help people catch the witches!”
“Listen, crazy woman… There are no laws about how to catch a witch. You catch them in any way you want, that’s the secret.”
“What are you talking about?” the surprised witch asked.
“I don’t know yet,” the dragon said. “But the Princess asked me how the witches are caught. And I just showed her the way it’s done.”
“You crazy! What’s wrong with you all?! Who’s the stupid author of this story?!”
“Hmm, who knows…” the dragon answered.
˜ ˜ ˜
The witch had a very cruel, merciless punishment. They took her broom away. She was left among the people, forced to work in an honest way for the rest of her life.
The Prince married a country girl. His father, the King, didn’t say a word. He wasn’t surprised. He even saw this happening…
“Absolutely,” the Queen said.
The Princess stayed in the Tower. She made a deal with the witches. They could live peacefully in the mountains, but they were not allowed to make fun of the dragon. He turned out to be too sensitive when it came to mean jokes.
The knights stayed in the mountains too. They couldn’t go back to the Castle without the Princess. The youngest of them married her. After ten years, he remembered the words of the old knight…
˜ ˜ ˜
“Stay away from me, stupid ogre!” The Fate Fairy screamed.
The Princess is locked in the tower, where she is giving the dragon a hard time. The Prince goes to her rescue, but gets lost. The King is confused and doesn't care too much about what's happening. The dragon has a paternal love for the Princess. And there is also an old witch, trying to make the things right, in memory of the old good times.