Once there was a warrior. He was a mercenary - a hired sword. He had no position or any title of respect, but the people looked up to him for his courage and success.
The king of majesty called for the warrior. He hired him to slay a dragon. It was no ordinary enemy. The dragon was the size of 2 volcanoes... and as fierce and fiery as such.
"Count all that you have earned in your previous battles and you will receive a reward tenfold. And even own a land flowing with milk and honey and earn the title of a prince. This is your promised land."
Now the king knew the warrior was not ready. He gave his best soldiers to train with him in all aspects and styles of the bow and the sword. The king lent him machines of war. Ballistae, catapults and chariots. The warrior trained in the king's kingdom and courts.
In the king's courts lived the princess. She was the loveliest and the most adorable woman in her kingdom - a daughter of the most high King. She led the healers and the nurses of the kingdom, welcoming the sick, the needy, the oppressed and the poor into the kingdom courts. People looked up to her for her beauty and compassion.
She remained in their kingdom all her life. Although she was always summoned for service in most of the kingdom’s affairs, she still had a very few encounter with all the other dwellers of the kingdom.
She spent her early mornings up in the tallest tower of the castle, gazing at the perfect view far beyond the walls of the kingdom. There she began her days before she would do all her tasks.
One morning the princess heard a disturbance going on inside their courts. Men, young and old, were training. They were preparing themselves for a huge battle, maybe something very critical. She learned about the dragon threatening their kingdom.
As the princess spent that particular morning up in the tower, she watched the men train. What could a sheltered, helpless princess do? If only she were strong enough to go against the dragon herself.
She noticed one particular warrior who stood out in the training. From afar, he seemed very stern and focused on what he was doing. She had never seen anyone in their kingdom who trained with his bow and sword with great fervor. The princess knew that the king’s choice was perfect and she gained confidence that their kingdom was in good hands. Maybe she would meet the warrior face to face someday.
The princess learned to like him. Only once did the prince lose in one of his sparring with his men - it was when he first looked up into the palace court windows and his eyes met hers. A soldier knocked him to his knees. The princess chuckled.
Day by day, she would watch the warrior train. Day by day he would look up the palace courts. The warrior could not help but admire her beauty and stature. She was the loveliest woman he has ever seen. But seeing the princess, he would immediately look away.
He knew he was just a mercenary - no position or any title of respect. Day by day, he dreamed of slaying the dragon, owning the promised land, and becoming a prince that he would someday come with confidence to the princess.
That night while the princess was marveling the evening sky, she noticed how restless the mercenary was. The princess went to the royal kitchen and gathered all her servants.
"Come, cook with me. We will cook a most refreshing recipe that only I have known."
The princess walked across the kingdom into the warrior's chambers. Famished as he was, the princess was sure the mere scent of her food would wake the warrior up. She laughed at the thought of it. Little did she know, there was a trap in lay for her.
A big explosion was heard. Fire spread throughout the kingdom and the princess saw a gigantic reptile hand reaching for her. She tried to run, but it was too late. She was afraid.
In a blink of an eye, she found herself already off mid-air and before her was the most hideous face she had ever seen. She was taken captive by the dragon.
The princess heard everyone shouting, “The dragon is here! The dragon is here and it has captured the princess!” The princess was horrified that she didn’t have the strength to scream for help.
The warrior ran as fast as he could only to see the giant of a dragon miles away from the kingdom gates. As he gasped for air, a voice echoed across the walls: the voice of the dragon.
"I know your scent my warrior. I know your scent. And I know you are to become a prince and I envy you. Now, listen well my warrior. I will lock away your princess in the most complicated maze ever created. You have three choices."
number ONE: "Pursue her now in this maze. What is the probability that you will find her? What is the probability that you will not? Pursue her now and rescue her, but if you fail to find her in your first try, the princess will burn."
number TWO: "Or you can try to kill me now my warrior. Pursue me now and slay me. What is the probability that I will die? What is the probability that I will not? You have been training with an army, are you not? Slay me and the maze will disappear."
number THREE: "Lastly my dear warrior. You know the edict. It is in the law that whoever rescues a kidnapped princess will have her hand in marriage, is it not? If you wait and let anyone else pursue her, the princess will live and marry another. Princes from far away kingdoms will come, will they not? But the difference between you and them is this: they are not limited to their first chances. What is the probability that they will find her? What is the probability that they will not?"
"Oh, the look in your face my dear warrior. Vengeance is sweet, is it not? What will you choose my warrior?"
It all happened so fast. In just a moment, the princess was locked in a dark dungeon. She peeked through the small window and saw a maze in front of her. Fear was starting to wrap her in the darkness when she heard the echoing voice of the dragon.
The princess was deeply troubled. What did the warrior choose?
She may burn any moment if the warrior chose to rescue her now and fail. If he decided to pursue the dragon, he may get killed. She had been watching him train every day and no matter how intense his training was, the dragon remained a huge opponent.
Now, the warrior knew the first choice will get the princess killed. Serendipity does not belong here. He contemplated on pursuing the dragon, but he knew he was not ready. His men were not ready. If he wanted the princess to live, the third choice will be the best option. He tried his best to stop himself from weeping. He tried to be calm, but he did not know what to do. So he went back to the palace and asked the King.
He came before the throne and knelt down.
The king spoke, "I know. What is the wisest thing to do? You choose. Remember your promised land."
After hours of thinking and kneeling down before his king, the warrior made his decision."
He went out of the palace to train with his men. He knew that the only choice was to defeat the dragon. It was his duty. It was his calling from His king. But the time was not now. He knew that training even more would be his way of slowly and surely defeating the dragon.
Everyday he shouted out battle commands. Everyday, he taught his men on how to handle the bow and the sword. Everyday was painful for him as he hears that thousands of princes went to the maze to rescue the princess. Everyday, he would wake up and sing hymns with the lute and the lyre at the King's courts before training with his men.
Everyday, he would hear the voice of the dragon. But everyday, he would also remind himself of the voice of the King, "Remember the promised land."
He listened to the voice of the King. He focused. That was his choice.
Inside the dungeon, the princess realized she was not the only princess kidnapped, and worse, the others have met an ill fate. Some princesses were burned. Their princes failed their first attempts to figure out the maze. While some princesses grew old in that dark dungeon. Their princes fought the dragon and had failed.
All the princess could do was wait… wait for her warrior to rescue her, or for some other prince bold enough to find her.
Day by day, a rescuer would come by the dungeon, shouting her name. But the princess realized she didn’t want any other prince to save her. So she hid. She would let the older ones be rescued, but she herself would not go. Day by day, she would hear a prince calling her name and she would hide. Day by day was painful for her for she would be tempted to come out of her hiding and earn her freedom. She remembered the edict. She did not want to marry another. She would hide until the maze disappears. She was not sure where he is now, but she waited for the warrior.
She spent every day weeping for the fate that was in front of her. The warrior must find her.
While the princess was mourning, the image of her king appeared before her. “Why are you downcast, my princess? You know I can set you free right here, right now. But I won’t do that. Be patient, for you will be rescued.”
“How long shall I wait my King?” She asked. Her eyes welling up with tears.
“Have faith on me, my princess. You will be rescued. I shall never leave you.”
Worry started to dissolve as the princess remembered her king’s promise. The king has sent someone to do the master plan: to slay the dragon. And she will be freed.
And while she waited, she remembered how the world looked from the tallest tower of the castle. There’s a lot of work to be done in their kingdom. She imagined herself fulfilling her call as the king’s princess. She needed to be still. She ought to have hope.
She made a decision. And again, she waited.
The time came for the warrior to face his dragon. The battle formations were perfect. His army surrounded the now awaken dragon.The dragon deflected arrows, missiles, and great boulders of fire - some sank deep into its scales, some would be deflected into the maze she was in. It would flap its left wing and send chariots flying, its right wing and send archers sprawling. The battle was fierce and the night was a hurricane.
While the dragon was diverted into deflecting attacks, there were ten men climbing off its back. When finally four of them were aligned at its spine, five at its neck and one at the back of its head, the soldiers stopped. From the small window of her dungeon the princess peeked and realized the one at the top was the warrior. The warrior drew his sword and motioned his men to do the same. They raised their blades and they deflected the light of the moonlight and the stars all across the battlefield. With a fierce battle cry, the warrior thrusts deep with all his strength against the dragon's scales. His men followed - into its spine, neck, and skull. The dragon was stunned and fell down. The ground shook with a final violent shake. Everyone shouted for victory.
The dragon was paralyzed but his eyes were open and aware. He could see the warrior in front of him. The warrior said,
"Oh, the look in your face my dragon. Vengeance is bitter now, is it not? What will you do now,my dear dragon?"
The dragon laughed hysterically and looked into the warrior's face. But the warrior looked back at him and smirked. Behind him was the King laughing even more menacingly - with a laugh of derision. The warrior looked at his King as he gives his approval and with one final slash sent the dragon to the pits.
The warrior then looked at his men and shouted,
"For the King!"
The ground shook with so much violence. Arrows, missiles, and burning catapult bullets filled the air like a looming cloud. It is said that even stars fell out of the sky.
Finally, blood filled the field like flood.
Then it was all quiet.
The princess waited.
The door was opened. She was blinded by the light that penetrated the dungeon.
Finally, she saw her King. And with him was her warrior. For the first time he looked directly at her eyes without ever looking away. He was the prince after all.
Written by rjs with insights from peb