Chapter 1: The Nature of Horses: How the Horse Runs in Freedom and Understands All Wild Things
In times of old a king went to war and he was gone nine years. He left behind a young wife and his one-year old son. The king loved this son dearly. When he took leave from his wife, he made her pledge to care for this dear child with the greatest diligence and utmost prudence. The mother promised to do this. She alone would feed him and place him in his cradle. She would not allow another living person to even take him in arm. And so, the boy grew quickly like a radish.
In his fifth year, he was as big as a ten year old and had good sense and understanding. When he was eight, the young prince had already grown into a strapping young fellow, whose sole yearning and longing was to brandish a sword. He said: “Dear little mother, there is nothing for me to do at home, I want to go into the world and look for father.” “Good, good my dear son. Prepare yourself and go into the world. I also want to see father again.”
In the early morning hour, before the cock had crowed, the prince was on his way. Toward evening he reached a large wood and directly at the edge of this wood, he saw a man’s head. It was as large as a haystack and below the head lay a sword. He wanted to remove the sword but the head spoke: “Dear son, if instead you undertake to kill the magician who struck off my head with this sword, the sword will be yours, otherwise not.”
“Well and good Dear Head, I will help you. But can you not tell me where my father is?” “Dear son, when you have slain the magician and have returned to me, I will tell you where your father is. But listen well! The magician lives in a rocky cliff. Do not go to him as you are, but instead put on my armor and mount my steed. In the hollow of the that tree you will find armor and steed. And one more thing: stagger him a single blow, do not strike him twice. Otherwise, the miscreant will come back to life.”
The prince mounted the swift-hooved steed and flew like the wind to the rocky cliff. He suffered the magician such a severe blow, that his head dropped to his shoulders but did not fall off entirely. The magician said: “Have pity on me and strike off my head completely, so I suffer no pain.” But the prince replied: “A true warrior hews only once. I will not hew a second time.”
“Then I must die at once for your are my superior,” the magician replied and drew his last breath. Prince and steed flew back to the Head, which said: “Be joyful for you have released me from the spell. I will help you in the future in every way you have helped me. Take my horse, for the horse runs in freedom and has the understanding of all wild things. In times of dire distress, beseech the horse three times and he will give you wise counsel. Now return home, for your father will also be on his way and will meet you there.” The prince turned his horse and in one leap he found himself home.
As the sun set behind the hills, the father's figure could be seen on the horizon. The mother was exceedingly happy. She embraced her husband. She embraced her son. Her joy found no bound or limit. And so they lived in peace and contentment for some time. But after a while the son said: “Father, let me go out into the world to seek my fortune and test my strength.” Good, the father was satisfied. He gave his son the swift-footed steed and escorted them to the border of his kingdom.
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