Fairy Tale of Prince and Horse, Chapter 10
Part 1, Crystalball Gazing
“But back to practical matters,” Walpurga said kindly. “I have grace to see future things before they happen. The future cannot remain hidden from me! And doubt? I shall take it from you when we gaze into the crystal and clearly see your future, your destiny.”
She retreated to her cabinet and removed a basket containing her utensils: a silk-blue cloth impressed with wonderful images of dragons, snakes and other animals, a green-translucent bowl shimmering, and a crystal ball. Placing the crystal in the bowl, she then draped the silk over it before beginning.
Walpurga fell silent for several minutes. The prince leaned forward as she began to murmur, eyes closed. Then she removed the silk and asked the prince to gaze inside the crystal ball.
First he saw nothing. Then his bride appeared in beautiful costume, adorned for her wedding day. As lovely as she seemed there was also a trace of sadness in her countenance and while he gazed more intently he noticed her pallor and how she trembled. Her face was such a deathly white that you could not see her without feeling pity. Then her features convulsed into something horrible and cruel as a gallant approached. As if coming from a long trip he still wore boot and spur, but his gray mantle with golden buttons was covered in dust still plentiful. As he approached her he removed two shiny flashing pistols one in each hand from under his coat and then he pointed at her heart. The prince looked on in horror as the gunman placed the pistol on his bride’s breast, released the clasp and squeezed the trigger. Then he heard a dull far-off sound and shuddered. Who was this gallant brandishing a weapon? He peered more intently into the crystal ball and saw his own face.
The sheltering sump.
Walpurga placed the silk on the glass and trembled. “The future is harsh and we scarcely desire to know it.!”
“That isn’t so!” the prince gasped. Clutching her arm tightly he implored “You must show me more. My heart shall otherwise break in two.”
“As you wish,” the abbess closed her eyes and breathed deeply. Soon it seemed as if she panted, then croaked, then rasped and finally made no sound at all. Even though her eyes were closed, the lids trembled in their sockets and her lips tightened. All color had faded from her cheeks when the silk fell from the crystal ball once more.
Inside the glass tiny figures could be seen running through a forest. They ran and ran past mighty oaks. Down, down they ran into a swamp, through marsh and muck until finally, pushing forward they reached a mound on which more fat oaks stood. Now they pushed upward, up up through tall thick grasses following a well-trodden damp and dewy way. The prince gazed intently at the tiny figures fleeing and then noticed one, a maid. His maid! His intended one! Running through the mud and leading her trusted steed through the sheltering sump.
The maid spoke:
My home is the impenetrable elfmound where sump meets hillock. Once I pledged my heart to a prince but I was kidnapped by a king; my swain freed me from the king’s cruel advances only to abandon me soon after. Were it not for my horse or help from the fairy folk I would have been lost. But by and by I came to this place of moss and mold. I have put on the wings of the fairies as armor and here I shall live for all time forth. For in the muck every army sinks, every villain is swallowed, and love is unknown.
Walpurga explains the nature of fairy folk.
The elfmound faded from view within the crystal ball and Walpurga covered the glass once more with silk cloth. “Your intended one has gone to the fairies or the Night Folk as some call them. The Elf Queen lives in the bush and night is the fairies’ time of joy. That is when elf-throngs join in dance and sing boisterously. Only fairy rings in the dewy grass tell of their dancing. But woe to him who by chance happens upon them. He that speaks to them shall die! You must find your maid and remove her from the elfmound. Then she will lose her wings and return to you. But once you step inside the elfmound, you are under their spell and have no power to resist. You must then take on their winged armor and join the ethereal horde.”
The crystal ball will not be silenced.
The prince sat dejectedly at the table contemplating what to do. Walpurga, ball and silk in hand, shuffled toward the cabinet to return the crystal. Her hands gripped the slippery surface and moved in zig-zag fashion as she struggled to contain the sphere. The cloth slipped from its surface and new images could now be seen within. The prince rushed toward her and held up the crystal to the light. Within the glass sphere he could see a mobilized army of witches, werewolves and giants, dust hurling up, the ground shaking. “They are coming for you!” Walpurga rasped. You must quickly retreat to Heidenheim, where such evil is kept at bay. It is the only refuge secure against such treachery. A holy sanctuary. Flee! Flee!” The prince rushed to the door and looked for his trusted steed. He turned once more to Walpurga before rushing out. “Are all these things foretold true and inevitable? Can nothing be altered? Is there no balm for remorse?” But Walpurga only urged him forth. “Flee! Flee!” she repeated.