The Crystal Ball
(An Adaptation of the Grimm’s Fairy Tale)
Once upon a time there was a witch who gave birth to three sons, whom she loved very much. While the children were young, they were a happy family. However, as the children grew up, their mother began to distrust and fear them. Her heart became cold because she thought they wanted to steal her power from her, so she decided that she had to do something to stop them. She cast a spell and changed the eldest son into an eagle. He flew away and was often seen flying in big circles in the sky near the mountains. Next, she cast another spell and changed the middle son into a whale. He lived in the deep sea, and the only time he was seen was when he sometimes blew a jet of water into the air.
The third son saw what happened to his two elder brothers and became afraid that she would change him into a wild bear or a wolf, so he decided to sneak away from home. What was he to do? He had heard a story about a beautiful princess who had been bewitched and imprisoned in the Castle of the Golden Sun, and was waiting for someone to rescue her. Twenty-three young men had already risked their lives to try to free her, but all of them had died miserably and only one more man would have the chance to save her before she would be trapped forever. The young man was not afraid of anything and decided to search for the Castle of the Golden Sun. He wandered all across the land, looking for it, asking the local people if they knew where it was, but nobody could help him.
After travelling far, he one day entered by chance a great forest, and couldn’t find a way out. Then, he heard some voices faint voices. “It’s mine!” “No, it’s mine!” “No, it’s not. It’s mine!” On and on, he heard the same words being spoken. Walking towards the voices, he saw in the distance two giants, who beckoned him with their hands. When he came up to them they said, “We are quarrelling about a cap, and to which of us it belongs. Because we are equally strong, neither of us can beat the other. You small men are cleverer than we are, so we will leave the decision to you.”
“It’s just an old cap. Why are you arguing about that?” asked the young man.
“You don’t know what a special cap it is!” said one of the giants.
“It is a wishing cap,” said the other. “Whoever puts it on, can make a wish to go wherever he likes, and in an instant he will be there.”
“Give me the cap,” said the young man. “I will walk a short distance over there. When I call you, you must run a race, and the cap will belong to the one who gets to me first.” The simple giants agreed. The young man put the cap on and walked away. He thought of the beautiful princess, forgot the giants, and after a while he sighed from the very bottom of his heart. “Ah, if only I were at the Castle of the Golden Sun” he cried.
In an instant he was standing on a high mountain before the gate of the castle. He entered and went through all the rooms, but couldn’t find her. There was one more room to look inside, so he opened the door. There was the figure of a woman in the far corner, standing with her back turned towards him. “Princess….?” he asked.
The figure turned around.
How shocked he was when he saw her! Her face was grey and full of wrinkles and her hair was red and stuck out wildly from her head。
“Are you the King’s daughter, who is famous for her beauty?” he asked incredulously.
“Ah, this is not my true form” she answered sadly. “Human eyes can only see me in this ugly state. But if you look at my reflection in a mirror, you will see my true face. A mirror cannot be deceived.”
She gave him a mirror, which he held in his hand and looked at carefully. When he saw her refection, he was moved beyond words. In the mirror, he saw the image of the most beautiful girl on earth. He also saw that tears were running down her cheeks from grief.
“How can I set you free?” he asked. “I fear no danger.”
So she told him what to do.
“You need to get hold of the crystal ball and hold it in front of the wizard who cast a spell on me. If you do that, you will destroy his power and I will resume my true form.”
The she sighed. “So many have already died trying to free me, and you are so young….. It is so dangerous.”
“Nothing can stop me from doing it” he said. “Tell me what I must do.”
“Then I will tell you everything,” said the princess.
“First, leave the castle and go down the mountain. When you reach a spring, there will be a wild bull standing there, which you must kill. If you are lucky enough to kill it, a phoenix will spring out of it and fly away. Inside the phoenix’s body is a burning egg, and the crystal ball is inside the yolk of the burning egg. The bird will not let the egg fall unless you force it to, however. And if the egg falls on the ground, it will cause a fire and everything nearby will burn, including the crystal ball, and all your trouble will have been in vain.”
“I understand,” said the young man and he left the castle. He went down the slop and came to the spring, where he saw the bull. It made a horrible sound and steam came out of its nose. The young man drew his sword and they fought. After a long struggle he plunged his sword into the animal’s body, and it fell down dead. Instantly a fiery bird rose from it, and was about to fly away. The young man tried to catch it, …but he missed!
“Oh, no!” he cried.
The phoenix flew away, up into the clouds. Just then, however, another bird appeared. It was an eagle. It was the young man’s eldest brother! The eagle attacked the phoenix with its beak and pushed it away, so that it flew towards the sea. When the eagle hit the phoenix on its head with a heavy blow, the phoenix let the egg fall. The young man saw the burning egg fall towards the ground and ran towards it, trying to catch it. The egg dropped too far away, however, and landed on a fisherman’s hut, which stood near the shore. Instantly, the hut began to smoke and was about to burst into flames.
Just then, however, a huge wave came rushing towards the land, higher than a tall building. The other brother, the whale, was jumping out of the water and creating big waves! The waves covered the fisherman’s hut and extinguished the fire.
The young man rushed to the ruins of the hut and looked for the egg. He was overjoyed when he found it and saw that it had not yet melted. The shell had been broken by being so suddenly cooled with the water, so he put his fingers inside, and pulled the undamaged crystal ball out of the yolk.
He rushed back to the castle as fast as he could. In the great hall, he saw the wizard and he held out the crystal ball in front of him. The wizard was shocked but said, “My power is destroyed, and from now on you are the King of the Castle of the Golden Sun. As you are now king, you can give back to your brothers their human form.”
Then the young man rushed upstairs to find the princess. When he entered the room, he saw her figure in the far corner, with her back turned towards him. Slowly, she turned around. The young man gasped. In front of him was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. They both smiled and they joyfully exchanged rings, and lived together happily as husband and wife for the rest of their days.