The Enchanted Deer and the


Dreams of the Fool

The Enchanted Deer and the
DREAMS OF THE FOOL


Something is brewing in the four kingdoms. Something is buzzing throughout the Empire. Change is in the air. The fairy gate remains closed, but for how long? A Fool is born in a village. A Princess is born in a palace. The Magic Deer waits in the dark forest.


On his quest for the Enchanted Deer, the Fool encounters all the archetypes from the Tarot in a spectacular and magical adventure epic.

 


Once in a cursed land devoid of beauty, a lost child lays eyes on a creature of legend.


Awed by a giant deer and its otherworldly allure, the child will remember the sighting, keeping it as close as treasure until life's hardships strip away its lustre. It's many years before a travelling bard will weave a song of the Enchanted Deer, a giant from the time the world was created, and revive the childhood wonder in the young Fool's heart.


The village in the Land of Old Wives is a quiet, desolate place, but when a witch threatens the peace, the Fool puts aside his quest and persuades a passing knight to aid him in vanquishing her. Together they engage her in a battle and believe the Witch to be conquered. With a metal of bravery in hand, the Fool announces that he will pursue The Enchanted Deer once more. When he sets out to chase his dreams, at last, the Fool discovers his fate is entwined with the last person he expected.


The Witch and the Fool plunge into an adventure like no other. Side by side, they search for answers and end up uncovering what neither realized their hearts were seeking—a place in the world where they can truly be themselves.

EXCERPT: CHAPTER 3


The knapsack


The tanner's son had made a FOOL of himself after hearing the Bard's Song of the Enchanted Deer, by declaring to the whole town that he, indeed, believes in Fairy Tales. The day after the incident, Mother finds the Bard has left her son a mysterious gift.

Mother knew everything had changed the moment she put her son to bed after his two friends brought him in.


“There's no harm in taking care of him as if he were sick,” she said to father Tanner, “when he's clearly not himself.”


The next morning, however, with the bucket for hauling water still in her hand, she found that things were not going to return to how they had once been because, unexpectedly, there lay a strange and weird knapsack in front of the door, blocking the way to the well.


As she stared at the strange thing, the first thought that came to her mind was that it was neither too large nor too small, and she noticed many rich colors in its fabric. Gold and silver thread glittered even in the timid light of early morning. Realizing this immediately sent a chill down her spine because this material had to have come from a faraway land.


She glanced at the town square in the distance. The Bard’s wagon had disappeared. Now she leaned forward, towards the knapsack, yet very slowly, meanwhile thinking of what dangers might be hidden inside. She grabbed it gently and lifted it off the sill. It jangled slightly as if it contained precious treasures. Quickly, she slipped it into the bucket she was still holding in her other hand to get water from the well upon hearing that the others in the house were also quietly waking up.


She walked to the well and hid herself behind the cold gray stones from her husband or children, who might at this time slowly begin to wake. With a deep sigh, she took the knapsack from the bucket, put it on her lap, and began to untie the knot oh so gently so it wouldn't tinkle or clink.


The sun was just beginning to peep over the horizon with a lovely orange glow, while at the same time, the moon was still shining its silver haze. So it was that Mother Tanner could see more clearly than ever that the treasures in the knapsack were nothing but enchanting beauty. All this treasure, she was sure, would lead my precious son down a path from which there is simply no return. These weren’t things she or her husband, or anyone in this village, could ever provide.


A silver cup richly decorated with intricate figures and symbols she had never before seen; A large gold coin; A knife with a wooden handle and a dangerously shiny blade; And finally, a twig that looked like a wand.


Any person would be happy to receive such treasures, but it was not the receiving that worried Mother. It was the taking away that scared her. And she didn't want to give up her son in any way. So she tied up the knapsack, and under the watchful eye of the morning sun and moon, she held the knapsack over the well like a bucket and dropped it down into the water, where it sank into the unknown depths.


Immediately after, she filled her bucket with the same clear and fresh water as if nothing had happened and went on her way back to the house.


Already turned away from the well, a little voice from inside seemed to say:

“... No one can reveal it ...”


Did I perhaps hear the sound of buds opening on the spring branches, Mother thought, surely it can’t be some misty voice from the cold depths of the well?


She waited a moment longer to listen, but there was only the gentle pitter-patter of water against the wet stones. As she shook her head and continued walking back with her bucket full of fresh water, once again she heard the tiny voice as clear as a bell:

“... No one can hide it ...”


Hearing it again, Mother rushed inside as fast as her feet could carry her. Not to raise any suspicion, she immediately started on the daily chores as usual. Every now and then and in between, she would sit at the bedside of her exhausted son for whom the Bard had left that awful gift. With a rag, carefully dipped in the cool water of the well, she wiped the beads of sweat from his forehead.


“Did I oversleep?” the tanner's son asked, neither awake nor asleep.


“Don't worry,” said Mother. “Work will wait until you feel like yourself again.”


The next day Mother once again took the bucket to bring in fresh water from the well. So as not to wake anyone, she gently opened the door and stepped out into the dark of early morning but almost tripped over something on the doorsill. To her horror, the same knapsack was laying there once again.


This time she unhesitatingly grabbed the knapsack with the gold and silver treasures tinkling and ringing in her bucket straight to the well and flung it down. However, when she came back inside, her foolish son was already sitting wide awake at the kitchen table.


“What was that strange sound?” he asked. “It sounded like you were rummaging through the cutlery. Strange noise, it sent a chill down my spine, and I instantly woke up.”


Immediately, Mother felt cold as ice but still managed to keep her face stern and strict.

“You must have imagined that,” she said calmly as she poured some water into a pot and piled some wood in the open hearth. Her method of continuing with the chores of the day worked like a charm for unwanted questions. So too, her son didn’t ask her anything about the noise that she made, running into the knapsack at the door.


Unfortunately, the rest of the day would turn out to be a very unlucky indeed for her, the lady of the Tanners' house; For that day, she would be reminded once again that things had indeed changed, despite her struggle against it.


Going out into the village on errands, she noticed the baker's wife looking at her with different eyes. And the butcher's wife seemed to stop talking to her customers as soon as Mother tanner entered the butcher's shop. Even the mayor merely smiled at her as he passed her by in the town square instead of making his usual polite conversation.


Finally, the Weaver’s wife said to her, “You know, it can happen to anyone. Not all sons and daughters can be the same. There’s always one that is going to be … off …. so to speak. Well, you know what I mean, don’t you? Don’t worry about it.”


Mother stared at her as she listened to these very unusual words for the Weaver’s wife.

“Are you saying this happened to happen to me?” she said, and like a sack of grain that had fallen from storage, her shoulders instantly slumped as much as her heart had sunk, supporting herself on the nearby loom her friend was working on.


“Yes,” said the Weaver's wife, who continued weaving and speaking loudly to drown out the noise. “Everyone who hasn't seen the incident for themselves has heard of it, poppet. But it isn’t the end of the world, now is it.”


“No,” said the Mother slowly, stunned.


“You’ll not hesitate any longer once you hear what I’m going through right now,” said the weaver's wife. “I can assure you that I haven't slept for nights.”


“Does it have to do with the Witch again?” asked Mother as she rubbed her eyes.


“The Witch, indeed!” said the weaver woman, “Trust me, if you had a witch after you, you too wouldn’t sleep a wink knowing she can come from anywhere! She can cast all kinds of witchcraft! It’s nerve-wracking looking around my shoulder the whole time.”

“But have you actually seen her?”


“Once, yes, I have. In a fleeting shadow,” she replied. “I knew it was her because I clearly heard her terrible cackling... the terrible never-ending cackle!”


She started to shiver from head to toe.


“Once you hear it, you can never forget it. It stays gently but surely in your mind a two-day-old burn. Simply horrible!”


“But why is she coming after you?” asked the tanner.


“I have the best tools, sizes, and patterns in all the Land of Old Wives. You know them, as has everyone. They have been in our family for hundreds of years. I would never, ever hand them over. Our carpets, our fabrics, our jackets, our dresses, nothing would be the same without my measurements, rulers, and triangles! And she, the terrible witch, dark and ugly as the night, lurks and watches every little move I make here in the weaving mill, thinking I may let my tools escape my sight for even a moment. Haha! Over my dead body.”

The tanner's wife shuddered.


“Never!” she continued. “I will never let my measurements and patterns leave the sight of these old eyes. They are my whole life. If I lose them, I can't call myself the same weaver woman anymore. I would be nothing, nothing at all.”


“Don't say that,” said  Mother tanner.


“Yes, it is so, and you know it all too well.”


Mother nodded understandingly.


“Meanwhile, the Witch's torments never stop. Meat turns rotten only one day after buying them at the Butcher’s. My milk turns sour the same afternoon. My bed, full of creepy crawlies... Me and my husband can't stand to live like this much longer.”


Her husband, the weaver, came in with a sheep and nodded briefly at the Mother tanner before he began shearing the animal.


He murmured, “I told you, woman; I tied the tools to my belt with the very same blessed cloth that I was wrapped when I was born, and so were all my brothers and sisters, my father and my grandfather and all their brothers and sisters as well. This is a blessed cloth no witch can touch. So she can try all she wants, but she shan’t take it off me.”

Mother tanner noticed deep dark circles under his eyes, as dark as their many sleepless nights.


“I'll fetch my pot of the good salt to draw a circle around your house,” she said to the weaver's wife. “It will protect against witchcraft.”


The weaver woman’s eyes widened with gratitude.


“You would do that?” she said.


“Of course,” said Mother tanner.


“Oh, thank you, thank you,” she cried. “You are an angel! The witch cannot break through two salt circles! She surely can’t!”


“A second salt circle,” Mother tanner asked, moving already towards the door.


“Yes,” said the weaver's wife. “You don't think I sit here unprotected, foolishly waiting for the witch to come in, do you? Every day I draw my circle of salt, steadily using up my entire supply.”


The tanner's wife looked at her sweetly and said in a low, reassuring voice:

“I'll go get my pot of salt.”


She rushed out the door back to her house, but without realizing it, she had stepped on the weaver woman's salt circle and broken it.


However, once she got home and rummaged in the back of the spice cabinet looking for her big pot of good salt, she heard a horrendous screech. Arriving with her large pot of salt at the weaver woman's house with her husband and her son, who was now known as the Fool, a crowd was already gathered around her door. There she lay on the ground, scratching around in the dirt with her fingers.


“I’m sure they were lying here!” the woman cried. “They were here! I'm sure of it! I only looked away for one moment, and now… they are gone. “


“What's gone?” Mother asked.


She looked up to the tanner's wife and her large pot of salt.


“It's you!” she said in a low grumbling voice and pointed to her. Immediately everyone moved away from the tanner, his wife, and the Fool as if she and her husband and son had the plague.


“You are too late bringing your salt here,” she said, “Or did you purposely stay out longer so the witch can take everything from me?”


“No! I…” the tanner's wife stuttered, “I've come as fast as I could!”


“I kept them within my sights. My husband asked me to as he was changing clothes for the sheering”, cried the weaver's wife, with a sound that cut through marrow, a sound the tanner's wife would hear for days after, whenever she tried to fall asleep, “He had wrapped them in his birth cloth so the witch could never touch it… He must have taken them back when I was looking away, and now…And then she came… For him…”


The villagers and the tanner family listened sharply.


“She didn't just take the tools and measurements. She took my whole husband!” She cried finally.


The villagers gasped and shook their heads. Others started cursing and swearing.


“It’s your fault!” cried she to the tanner's wife. “The witch was waiting for the right moment to strike. I told you she was skulking about and brooding in the shadows. And then you just had to carelessly go out and fetch your salt, breaking the salt circle I had so meticulously drawn! That's how she was able to break through, wasn’t it? You have singlehandedly rewarded her long wait! Now she's off with our measurements and tools, and my husband too!”


“But how did it happen,” asked father tanner, bored with her rambling.


“She bewitched three wild boars and sent them into the house, turned everything upside down. Look at this mess! I don’t have anything left anymore! My life is over!”


The weaver's wife fell sobbing to the floor and scratched about in the soil with her hands.

“Cursed family!” shouted the villagers.


“It was an accident!” said Mother.


“No! It’s that boy, that Fool,” they said. “He believes in fairy tales, doesn’t he. Maybe he believes in witchcraft too! Bringing bad tidings upon the village!”


“Yes! He believes in witchcraft,” it was said among them.


The villagers moved away from the tanner's family as if they had suddenly taken the plague.


“Please,” said the tanner's son, “the Enchanted Deer has nothing to do with what the witch took from her!”


“Cursed Fool!” cried the weaver's wife, salivating from the excessive sobbing. “Go away! And stay out!”


Thus, the tanner's son, Father, and Mother went home under the villagers' angry gaze. That night, the tanner's son felt horrible for what happened to the weaver’s wife. Refusing to lie about what he had experienced as a child has put his Mother and Father to shame.


“I don't just blindly believe in fairy tales. It’s the opposite. I believe in what I've seen. Sometimes those two things are the same,” he whispered to himself and fell asleep.


The next morning Mother opened the door, trembling. In the dark once again, to her horror, she saw the knapsack lying on the doorstep. A chill ran down her spine, and she froze up completely.


“Am I imagining everything the past few days? Is it all a dream, a horrible nightmare?” she wondered.


She slowly put the knapsack back in the bucket and walked to the well that made soft rippling noises, so serene and careless as if it cared not for the madness of the human world. The tanner's wife peered over the edge into the darkness. She couldn't see the bottom of it.


She held the knapsack over the well and whispered, “Please, well, don't bring this back. Let it sink. Let it rest on the bottom. Let it be found in hundreds of years when whosoever looked at it; is no longer alive. Don't bring the knapsack back to my door anymore, well, I beg you. Let things be back as they were.”


She dropped the knapsack, closed her eyes, and waited for the big fat splash. When it came, it sounded like music to her ears. With a big sigh, she filled her bucket with fresh water and walked back to the house. But again, she heard whispers over her shoulder coming from the well:


“…Precisely because things were as they were….”


The tanner's woman stopped and looked over her shoulder. But there was only silence, the orange mist of sunrise, and the awakening birds in their nests. It's okay, she told herself.


“… Things are as they are….”


When she returned, she saw her son, the Fool, already sitting at the table helping to prepare breakfast.


“Already awake?” she said, hiding the tremors from her shoulders and her hands.


“Yes,” said the Fool, “I want to help.”


“That's good,” said Mother.


The Fool put the cutlery on the table for her husband and all his brothers and sisters.


“I want to help the weaver's wife.”


Mother froze and said angrily: “And why would you help her after she saw you….”


She couldn't even finish her sentence because of the shame.


“After she chased us all away?” she finished her sentence.


The Fool moved closer to her and grabbed her shoulder softly.


“Because if she sees me helping her find what she has lost, even if we had nothing to do with it, then she will definitely want to make things right with us. With you. Then you two can be friends again.”


The tanner's wife looked proudly at her son and embraced him.


“That's a noble thought, son,” she said. “But how on earth are you going to find a witch that no one has ever seen?”


“That I don't know,” said the Fool.


At that moment, she heard the whispering voices over her shoulder again:


“… Precisely because things were as they were….”


With a jolt, she looked back over her shoulder and out the window. In the now proudly shining morning sun, she saw a commotion in the distance on the village square.


“What’s that all about?” said the Fool.


“It looks like…” the Mother whispered. “It looks like… a prince on a white horse?”


EXCERPT: CHAPTER 4


The Angry Witch


The Fool finds himself on the seemingly impossible errand- the only kind that interests him -  of retrieving a husband taken by the witch. With the help of the newly arrived and allegedly 'shining' Prince of Spears on his white horse, he sets off, hoping to restore the honor of the family. 

Proudly a young prince rode in with a big red blindfold on. A long white robe hung over his shiny armor, fastened with a belt from which his spear hung. Around his shoulders, he wore a thick gray pelerine. This was the custom of the knights of the Kingdom of the Spears, the land of the beaches and the chalk cliffs with great castles full of music and merriment.


The young prince announced in a booming voice:


“I am the Blindfolded Knight! I fight on the side of justice for those who cannot do it themselves. I protect the weak.”


The villagers who began to flock were very impressed by the young prince. They stared at him from head to toe. At the back of his saddle—the Fool noticed—in addition to a number of sacks, there were also two chests with pigeons. The young prince jumped from his horse, his armor tinkling as he hit the ground. The Fool could see that many of the villagers wanted to speak but were afraid to interrupt. For he moved so deliberately, so decidedly, so surely, that they dared not break the silence.


As if alone, the young prince took one of the doves, stroked her head briefly as he whispered, then tied a white bow around her leg and let her fly.


“Are you a prince?” the Fool asked suddenly.


“Fool!” the villagers yelled.


“Shut up and let the knight speak!”


The knight kept looking straight ahead, blindfolded as he was.


“Yes, I am a prince. I am the Prince of Spears.”


Nearly all the villagers swooned at the same time. A real royal prince, from a distant land, with a great spear. This was a man above all men. This was the one and only prince, like none before in the village. So different was he from the men of the village itself, simply because it could be clearly seen that he was better. And because he was better, they immediately loved him. After all, being better was the only kind of different they liked.


“But why are you wearing a blindfold?” asked the Fool.


“Shut your cursed mouth!” they yelled at him.


“Are you blind?” asked the Fool without listening to the difficult people around him.


The prince laughed with the Fool’s remarks, much to the relief of the villagers.


“I am not blind. I have put on this blindfold of my own free will because I want to learn to survive without my sight, whenever that should prove necessary.”


The Fool admired this like all the other villagers but still thought to himself: is it necessary now? The prince's words sounded so strange to him, with sounds that roll—as it were—far down the back of his throat.


“My quests have brought me here,” he said quietly, forcing people to prick up their ears, “and I’m truly surprised to find a village so far away in nowhere at all.”


“What were you looking for then?” asked the baker's son.


The Prince cleared his throat: “I was looking for the end of the world, to look over the edge.”


Again the villagers gasped, but the elders among them laughed.


“The end of the world is nowhere near here, Prince. The edge of the earth is still very far away. We don't know anyone who has ever seen the end of the world.”


The prince paused for a moment at their words. Then the Fool said:


“If you have come all the way from the Kingdom of Spears, did you by any chance come across the Enchanted Deer in the forest?”


With surprise, the Prince turned to the Fool. Everyone had burst out laughing and began to curse at the foolish tanner's son once again.


“No,” answered the Prince with a chuckle, and everyone fell silent again due to his deep, dreamy voice. “I have not met any enchanted deer.”


Too bad, the Fool thought to himself. But then he thought of something else and said:


“Have you met a witch?”


Everyone cursing at the Fool, angrily this time, but now the Prince took off his blindfold and looked the Fool in the eyes.


“What did you ask me?”


“If you had met a witch on your way,” said the Fool.


The prince merely stared at the tanner’s son with his curious eyes.


 “I am looking for a witch!”


“I have not met a witch,” answered the Prince coolly as a frog in fresh water, “but I will help you find it.”


***


The weaver's wife was still completely out of her mind. Once they entered her house, she cursed the Fool incessantly while the Prince searched the place for tracks.


“He was dragged out here,” said the Prince, “three big boars. And the witch…is angry.”


“Well, of course!” cried the weaver's wife. “Of course she is angry!”


The Prince looked at the weaver's wife coolly and said, “Your husband is no longer alive.”


The Weaver's wife looked at the Prince with sorrow and then asked softly, “How can you be so sure?”


“The cloth your husband has wrapped around the tools will have angered her so much that she cast a spell on him...”


The Prince pointed to a trail on the ground in the distance, where the plants had withered, and the earth was dry as dust. They moved towards it in silent anticipation.


“Is that human hair?” asked the Fool.


The Weaver’s wife looked on in horror.


“That's…” she said, falling to the ground, “that's his hair! All his hair!”


The Prince bowed down, and with his spear, he rooted in the dry earth.


“Lost nails,” he added. “Lost teeth.”


All the color had drained from her face. She grabbed a tooth, a nail, some hair. Not so long ago, they felt so familiar. Now all she felt was a cold sweat and shivering nausea.


“This witch is evil,” said the Prince. “I have not seen an aging spell so powerful in a long time. “


“An aging spell?” asked the Fool.


Meanwhile, the Prince had continued to follow the tracks of the three wild boars and saw that they were going very far.


“A mighty spell of words so bad and so horrible that a man grows a year older every instant.”


The Weaver’s wife frenziedly had started to cry again with the tufts of hair in one hand, the nails and teeth in the other. The Fool tried to calm her down, but this only made matters worse.


“I think he's aged here at least 30 years in one fell swoop because of the evil witch's magic words,” the Prince said, pointing to the traces of this incident.


“But…” the Weaver Woman said between sniffles, “maybe he's still alive? As an older man? Maybe you're not too late yet?”


The Prince whistled and jumped on his horse who came running, doing so he seized the Fool's arm, pulled him up with it, and said only this to the woman:


“If he's still alive, I'll bring him back. If he's dead, I'll tell you where to find him. But your tools, those I will definitely return to you, madam.”


And so the Fool and the Prince rode swiftly along the tracks of the three bewitched boars.


The last time I went this far outside the village was when I had come across the Enchanted Deer as a child, the Fool excitedly thought to himself. The Prince, meanwhile, never took his eyes off the tracks, and before they knew it, they came into an open field near the dark forest, where a great lonely apple tree stood as if it had been waiting there for them.


Soon they saw that they had arrived at exactly the right place, for three monstrous boars circled the apple tree. Under the apple tree lay a dry and broken body; hands still closed tightly around the tools and measurements wrapped in the cloth.


“Wait here,” said the Prince, setting the Fool down at a safe distance.


“Ha!” he cried suddenly and dug his spurs into his steed.


He rode around the apple tree in a big curve and, focused on one of the boars, threw his spear through the air with a firm force. In one blow, he felled the first of the three boars. The Fool cheered, but the Prince did not look back. He immediately headed for the apple tree to pull his spear from the carcass. The horse effortlessly dodged the boars as the prince retrieved his weapon and dashed away from the tree and the raging wild boars.


Again the knight made the same turn, keeping his eyes on the next boar. His spear he held with such measured strength and balance that at the same time, that seemed to be so effortless to the Fool, who was watching in full suspense from a distance. So engrossed was he that he didn't notice a dark shadow looming ever closer.


And so the Prince threw his spear a second time with a large battle cry. Now the second wild boar had been killed in one blow.


The third boar, however, did not sit quietly waiting by the tree for the knight. He was already stamping his paws in a frenzy such that apples began to fall from the tree. And in the twinkling of an eye, the wild boar rushed furiously towards the Prince! His white horse tried to run as fast as it could, but this monstrous boar was faster, and with a dull thud, the horse fell, landing on top of the knight of Spears.


The Fool would have to come to try and rescue the fallen knight, were it not that a hand with long fingers and brown nails suddenly clamped around his neck and mouth.


Meanwhile, the wild and drooling boar kept making dents in the armor of the knight, who still tried to drag himself from under his horse and frantically looked around to see where his spear had gone. Without it, there wasn’t much he could do against the cursed animal.


The witch clucked with pleasure into the trembling Fool's ear as the boar kept rushing into him again and again. The witch wiped a tear from cackling so heavily, allowing the Fool to call out.


“Take off your armor!” cried the Fool. “Take off your armor!”


The witch immediately covered his mouth and hissed, “Quiet you stupid little rat!”


But the Prince had already heard him, and in between the boar's relentless thrusts, he broke free from his armor with great difficulty until he could finally walk, sweating, to the dead boar’s carcass and pulled out his spear.


“Come on!” he cried to the final monstrous boar. “Come on!”


“Careful!” cried the witch, but her stubborn beast was already running full force. The knight waited frozen in place. His eyes fixed on the animal, his spear in perfect balance. At the very last moment, he thrust the spear effortlessly through its skull with a small jump and a big thrust.

The final boar was dead.


“Curses!” screeched the witch, and with a spell, she flew with the frightened Fool up into the apple tree, where the Prince could not see them. She snapped her fingers, making the Fool's lips clench shut, and the branches of the apple tree wrap around his arms like handcuffs.


At the trunk of the tree lay the weaver’s emaciated body that had become almost a skeleton. He cracked open the fingers carefully so that he could grasp the cloth containing only three tools. He looked around, looking for the Fool, but there was only an icy silence over the green field. He looked back at the cloth. Inside was a circle, a square, and a triangle-shaped tool.


At that moment, the witch jumped down and grabbed the tools from the knight's hands. In the blink of an eye, she pulled the spear from the boar and thrust it into the Prince's shoulder. And cackle she did!


“Without your armor, you are not worth much, o brave knight,” cried the witch.


“Why do you need these measuring tools so much, witch?” asked the knight, bleeding and falling to his knees.


The witch said, “Is it because I am an evil witch that I cannot have my reasons? A shameless accusation!”


She flew down until she came face to face with the Prince.


“I've been through things, knight! Not like you, having to seek out dangers so you can face them for a short while and then afterwards be hailed as a great hero. Medals rain on you with every step you take. No, for a witch, it is not so. I have never had to seek out dangers… They come to me naturally and constantly.”


She pulled the spear out of the Prince's shoulder with an ugly snatch, which was so painful that he instantly crumpled to the ground.


“Where are my medals?” the witch asked. “Where are they? Where is my statue? While I have also overcome many things: knights and bandits and thieves and priests, all deceivers, all profiteers, all of them sweet as long as they need something, all of them turned sour as soon as they have had it, all of them without compassion for a witch's real life. All of them in their graves….”


She squatted next to the Prince on the grass, where the tools had fallen from the cloth. She picked them up and tucked them away in her dress.


“Thank you for unwrapping these for me,” she continued. “Better than any medal. I've known for a long time that medals are perfect for tough knights because people like to be afraid of big tough knights. That's how they feel safe. It's different for a witch. People don't like to be afraid of a witch. We make them feel unsafe.”


And while the witch talked and talked, the knight had tied a rope from the cloth behind his back with his nimble fingers.


“And sometimes people wonder why witches are always so angry!”


The Fool saw the Prince tying a rope from the cloth and saw before him an apple dangling right above the witch's head. He looked intensely at the apple as if to let his thoughts speak and shook the branch that was wrapped around his arm. But the big fat apple wouldn’t budge.

“Why do you need those measurements, witch?” asked the Prince breathlessly. “Give it back to its rightful owners.”


The witch cackled when she heard this. And she kept on cackling with laughter. Her laughter loosened the spell that held the branches of the apple tree around the Fool's arms, and so he wriggled free, crawled carefully to the branch where the apple hung, picked the apple, and threw the apple as hard as he could on the witch's head!


He had thrown it so hard that the witch immediately collapsed and fainted. The Prince grabbed her, dragged her to the apple tree, and tied her to the tree trunk with his newly knotted rope.

When the witch finally woke up, she cried incessantly, for the blessed cloth burned her skin. The Fool took the tools from her robe, and when the witch was about to cast a curse, the Prince pushed an apple in her mouth. Yet the Fool saw in her teary eyes the same kind of sorrow that made him want to help the weaver's wife. For a moment, they looked deeply into each other's eyes until the Prince pulled him away.


Still bleeding from his shoulder, the Prince came closer and closer to fainting. He could barely climb the horse, leaving it to the Fool to ride back to the village. And the Fool, astonishing himself as he rode, did indeed do so. At his own house, he finally stopped.


Mother and Father immediately ran out at the sound of the heavy horsefeet at their door.


“Mother, Father, help him,” said the Fool. “He is wounded!”


They washed him and saw the life drain from him almost completely.


“Bring me the salt!” Mother cried to her son, who watched as the Prince broke out in a cold sweat. But as soon as Mother rubbed salt on his wound and rubbed it in, the wounded knight immediately sprang up, and it took Father tanner and all his sons to help him keep the prince on the table. After a moment, he finally fainted, and the sisters of the Fool entered with the herb lady who immediately pressed all kinds of green twigs into the wound, sprinkled flower petals over him, and sang a sweet melody.


The herb lady set fire to some more sage and coughed two or three more times over the Prince before she left.


“What happened?” asked Mother.


The Fool's entire family listened to every word that came out of his mouth as he told in minute detail what had happened. There was a silence, and the Fool could see that not everyone believed him. Then he took the three tools from his pocket: a circle, a square, and a triangle. All doubt immediately melted away like snow in the sun.


That same evening, Mother and the Fool went to the weaver's wife, who immediately embraced them with great tears of gratitude, seeing her husband's tools in their hands. It brought the fool much cheer to see that she had instantly forgiven him and his mother but thought back to the witch and the look in her eyes that he so recognized. She turned to him eventually and asked to tell the whole story, after which she thanked him from the bottom of her heart:


“You saved my life by bringing my tools back,” she added.


In bed, as everyone was sleeping, Mother thought of the words that had come so mysteriously from the well, and at the thought of it with a jolt, she woke up, feeling as if she had fallen from the sky into her bed. She got up, rubbed her eyes, and looked outside. The moon told her that the time had come to start the day slowly.


“Calm down,” thought Mother to herself.


When she came into the kitchen, she saw the Fool sleeping on a chair at the table where the Prince lay. She tried to shuffle past without waking them.


Would the knapsack be there again, she wondered to herself. But before she could reach the door, the Fool had been awakened by her shuffling and said to her:


“Mother. I was up all night. I don't know how I can ever repay the Prince for what he has done for us.”


At that moment, Mother felt a chill run down her spine as she realized what had happened, what was happening all the time.


“…just because things were as they were, things are as they are….”


“You can't escape today by going back to yesterday,” she said softly to herself, then closed her eyes and started to feel a little dizzy at the thought.


“What did you say?” asked the Fool in a sleepy tone.


Mother sighed deeply, leaned on the table as if out of breath, and took a good look at her son. She saw the helplessness in his eyes. At that moment, she felt a strong resolve within herself, a warm sense of conviction she hadn't felt in a long time.


She said, “Son, get me some water from the well first.”


He didn't quite understand why she was saying it so seriously and quietly took the wooden bucket from the corner of the kitchen. Mother sat down on the chair where the Fool used to sit and looked into the Prince's wound. It started to heal. Lost in thought, she rubbed the strong shoulder muscles as she heard the Fool open the door.


“Mother! There's something here!” cried the Fool and set the bucket down.


Mother knew very well what was there.


“What is this?” he asked.


“Take it,” she said, eyes closed and a tear wiped away. “It's all there… just what you need.”


She still heard the Fool pick up the knapsack. She would never forget the light tinkling and clattering sound at that moment.


It was the moment she had to let him go.