"I bet I can run faster than you!" said one boy playfully
to his younger brother, Ignotus,
"Not with your short legs, you can't!" Ignotus taunted,
"Then race you to the tree beside that hill." As soon Devoveo had
said that, he started running,
"No, WAIT! That cliff is too steep, you could fall off!" Ignotus
told him, but with no result; his brother kept running, and he
had to do the same. Devoveo reached the edge with barely a
centimeter to spare from falling to his death. His brother,
unfortunately, was running too fast to stop in such a short
distance, and bumped into his brother, causing him to fall off
the side. His brother caught in time the protruding branches that
came out of the side of the cliff, obviously belonging to the
"Ignotus, help me!" cried the young boy in fear,
"What can I do?" he was just as terrified and scared for his
"Pull me up! I can't hold on much longer!" tears were running
down his cheeks,
"I can't reach you, my arms are too short! "
Suddenly the branch broke, and Ignotus watched in shock as his
brother fell down to the river and was swept away by the water.
He sat on the side of the cliff no knowing what to do, he thought
about jumping after his brother, but luckily didn't do it. He
thought about what his father and mother, royal sovereigns to
this kingdom, do when they find out that they had snuck out of
the castle and that he had killed his brother.
Suddenly he saw a young beautiful girl standing in the field,
looking at him. He run towards her.
"I know what you did." She told him, "You killed your brother,"
"It was an accident, I didn't mean to do it," Prince Ignotus
tried desperately to convince himself and the girl.
"Here, take this," she offered him a necklace with a symbol of a
heart, "Good bye."
"Wait! Who are you? What's your name?"
"Con Fidere." Then she disappeared into the field.
The prince went home to find the king and queen in agony of not
finding two of their sons in bed, and if the mood wasn't bad
enough, he had to tell them the truth.
Night came, the King, Queen and Prince sat round the fireplace.
The Queen was holding a handkerchief to dry her tears, the King
was pondering into the fireplace, and the Prince watched them
Suddenly the doors swung with a bellowing wind, and an eerie
bone-chilling laugh. And there at the threshold appeared an evil
witch with dark skin and yellow eyes. Prince Ignotus clutched the
side of his chair and stared in horror at the witch; she looked
directly at him, and addressed only him:
"Well, well, well. A prince murdering his own brother?" She
mocked in derisiveness, then her tone turned portentous, "You,
Prince Ignotus from the kingdom of Pax Cor, shall be cursed for
your deed in return. You will not be able to see your reflection
until you balance one rescued with one lost." Then she
disappeared into nothingness, leaving only her ominous laugh
echoing in his ear. He looked at the king and Queen; they sat in
complete quiescence, and made no indication of noticing the
intrusion. He never talked about it with them.
Years passed, and the prince still had the innate vulnerability.
Prince Ignotus was next in line for the crown, therefore, ever
since his childhood, his father has been setting him up to take
the thrown. Prince Ignotus felt immensely pressured to be the
perfect king, so he learned, among other things, how to fight on
horseback, how to duel with swords, and how to use a bow and
arrow-though he never found a worthy opponent-, all to fulfill
the military obligation he owed to his kingdom. He was also
educated at the finest schools along with other royal students
from far kingdoms, which offered no competition, because he was
the finest student there, and received honorary badges for every
year he spent at school. All this while living in utmost opulence
and luxury; as all princes do, and being the envy of others. But
despite all this, it never felt quite enough. For the curse
deeply troubled him. He knew it seemed insignificant, but it
still rocked the base of his confidence. What was most unnerving
is that his parents can see his reflection normally.
On Prince Ignotus's 21st birthday, the king ordered
his servants to summon him to his royal chamber. He entered and
kneeled before his father and mother; she was by his side.
The king, lying in bed, ordered the servants to leave the room,
and motioned for his son to come closer. Prince Ignotus sat in an
arm chair by his father for, which he will soon find out, the
last time. As he looked at his father, he saw the terrible
inflictions of diseases and maladies on his father's face and in
his eyes, and something heavy fell like bricks in his stomach.
The king coughed wearily. Prince Ignotus looked at his mother as
she dried her tears with a handkerchief and reached out for her
husband's hands, she had wrinkles on her face that weren't there
until recently, and her eyes were red and bloated and seemed
desperate to lunge out of their sockets.
"My son…" the king started, his voice was grouchy and filled with
fatigue, and every now and then he paused to take his breath,
"The king is old, and … [cough]… cannot fulfill his duties … as
he ought to… [cough]… you will have to take my place."
Prince Ignotus' eyes began to swell with tears. Though he did not
wish to admit it, the time has finally come, and he, from his own
personal view, was ill-prepared.
"Don't say that father, your kingdom loves you, and your family
loves you. You have to get well for them."
"My son…I'm tired and old… [Cough] … and I have dedicated…my life
for the kingdom…. It's now up to you to do the same." The king
reached for his son's hand, "It's important … [Cough] … to not
let your faults hinder your stride for… greatness…. I know you
can…you are my son…"
Suddenly the king's hand felt heavy in his, and the world started
spinning, he looked at his father in shock, his face was peaceful
and his eyes were shut, and he himself became oblivious to the
world around him, and to his mother who was crying vehemently and
shouting "NO! NO! NO!" in disbelief. He came to awareness when
the servants and guards entered, to whom he asked reproachfully
what there were doing in there, and, when no reply came, ordered
them in shouts to get out immediately and leave them alone.
Days, along with the coronation, passed. The new king locked
himself in his Royal Chamber, and never got out. He didn't eat,
didn't sleep, and didn't so much as lift a finger to rule his
kingdom. He felt he fell inadequate of ruling his kingdom.
The kingdom was quickly falling apart, so his mother arranged for
him to marry a beautiful princess with ties to his own family,
and she was so beautiful inside and out, that it was said that
Aphrodite envied her, and that even Helen of Troy was no match to
her. He didn't mind the marriage, nor did he welcome it.
On the day of her arrival, dismal news came to the Royal Palace.
The king heard some disturbance coming from the gate, so normally
he went to see what was the cause of it. He saw guards preventing
a poor old man with torn dirty clothes from entering, he
immediately told them to let him through. The man hurried to talk
to the king without even bowing,
"Your majesty, I'm afraid I carry bad news. I am the Royal
Princess's carriage driver, and the witch has kidnapped her and
taken her to her castle." Then showed him a royal letter
addressed to the prince himself that was from the Princess's
Royal parents, and a torn piece from the princess's dress that
was ripped off when the witch snatched her. "I tried to stop her,
but she lit the carriage on fire with her wand." The king fell
silent, then addressed the man, "Thank you kind sir, I will make
sure that you get rewarded for your gallantry and loyalty." He
turned and addressed the maids, "Make sure he gets a bath and
clean clothes, and serve him whatever he wishes from the royal
kitchen. Then tell my mother I've gone to save the Princess."
But before setting off, he went to get his shiny armor and blade,
not to forget his noble steed. Now all he had to do was brave the
storm that had just broke, not to mention the hard obstacles that
will soon meet his way. Galloping through the night, it never
occurred to him how he had known where the witch lived; all he
cared was that he did. Twenty minutes passed under the raging
storm, suddenly he saw the back of a dark hooded figure standing
in front of him which was not there before, and it was dimly
silhouetted for a split-second by lightening. The horse came to a
halting stop, and reared on its hind legs; a sign of
"Excuse me, noble man, why are you standing beneath the rain?"
The dark figure did not stir. The prince dismounted the horse and
approached the figure tentatively, carefully.
"Are you alright?"
The figure turned around, and what the prince saw next he could
not believe. It was his father.
"My son, you don't know what you're getting yourself into. Turn
around and go home."
"This is devil's work. It can't be! My father is dead."
He grabbed the prince, and neared his face to his, and the prince
looked into his eyes, there was something wicked in them."
"You must go back! The witch is furious tonight."
"How do you know if the witch is furious?!"
Suddenly his father turned into a horrid creature, with black
skin and yellow eyes, and a high-pitched screech had irrupted
from its mouth. The prince was knocked aback, and saw his horse
running away. When he looked back and saw that the creature had
disappeared. He got up and took a few steps forward, when the
entire world turned pitch black. He could not see his hand if
held upright in front of his face. Determined, he pressed on. A
few kilometers forward, He could hear ominous and nefarious
sounds around him, like sharks around a prey, plotting how to
catch it. He thought he heard something behind him, he stopped
and strained his ear trying to listen, but it must have been his
imagination. He started walking again, slowly, when he heard the
sound again, this time louder and right behind him. With one
swift move, he pulled his sword and swung it behind him, the
result was hearing an agonizing sound of something in torture.
What it was, he did not know, but he hoped it had no friends. The
prince summoned his courage and continued forward. At last he
came out of the blinding darkness to find himself in front of the
witch's castle's doors. Strangely it had not been shut tight. He
entered into a large hall, lit by a fire place and torches that
hung on the wall. He saw one table in the middle, and beyond it,
a strong metal gate. He approached the table and examined what
lay upon it; a scroll, and five keys, each one different in
material; iron, bronze, silver, gold and diamond. He unbound the
scroll and opened it. It read:
"Surrender your heart
To the always-hungry monster, that sets you and your clue
"'The always-hungry monster', but what could that be?" he thought
to himself, "Of course, FIRE!"
He walked over to the fireplace, and took out the necklace the
young mysterious girl had given him from his pouch, considered
his actions, then threw it in the fire. The fire roared loudly
and turned flamboyant blue, then was suddenly put off. The prince
crouched by the fireplace and looked inside, he could vaguely
make out a word etched in the stone wall. "Aurum…" he
mouthed, "That means gold," He stepped in front of the table and
picked up the golden key. Instantaneously, all the other keys
turned into dust. With determination, he walked over to door and
inserted the key, the lock clicked.
Suddenly the door swung forward, throwing dust all over the
place, and revealing a stairwell. He climbed up the stairs
hastily, taking two at a time. He reached the top room, and found
the Princess unconscious on a bed, with the witch standing over
"You've come too late…" she said in an eerie voice,
"It's never too late."
The witch gave a bone-chilling screech and reached under her
cloak. The prince saw this and at once and lunged forward while
pulling a dagger from his side and throwing it at the witch. It
hit her heart squarely, but even this didn't kill her; it merely
made her fall on her knees. The prince walked over to her and
said: "I'm not afraid of you, not anymore." Which was of even
bigger effect to the witch than the dagger, and she dissolved
into a pool of dark water there and seeped through the stone. At
the same time, the Princess woke up with a sudden draw of breath.
The King sat down beside her and held her hands. He looked into
her eyes and saw himself looking back.
"Is it over?"
"Yes, it's over."
"Then you better wake up."
He found himself resting his head on his father's death bed, and
his mother waking him up.
He got up, not at all shocked by what happened, and looked at
himself in the mirror,
"Mother, I'm ready to rule this kingdom."