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Chapter 15

A Gray World Between

Sometimes one has to keep something within bounds, because we are just one perle in a chain.

The sun filled the land with warmth and light. Along both sides of the road masterfully laid out terraced fields grew toward steep heights where orange and lemon trees flourished.

"What a wonderful world, my angel," raved the sun prince. Just then the angel sent a glittering rainbow so that the Seven Treasures could wander over the bridge from this world to the next.

"We're now leaving the sun land and enter the gray world between," announced the unicorn as they flew into the rainbow. The prince was still astounded over the soaring unicorn, but his joy was soon to leave him. After only a short time, a fog cover spread over the landscape making it grayer and colder. He started to freeze.
"As soon as the sun is gone we begin to long for her," the cat vented her uneasiness. The prince opened the saddle bags and pulled out a blanket to protect himself and Miss Monti against the cold.

"See there," the cat wondered. "I've never seen so many fairies, hobgoblins, and nymphs all at once. Their faces have a frightened and deeply sad demeanor. They seem to be fleeing from something. They are coming toward us as if they were aiming for the sunland."

When they left the rainbow, the fog began to lift. Not a single breeze was felt. All around reigned complete silence, uncanny and menacing as if a ghostly hand had turned all animals to stone.

"Are you with us?" a miserable prince asked the wind who wanted to be sure of the support from such a powerful companion.

"I'm always with you," breathed the wind. "What you experience, I immediately blow into the sunland. So people, flowers, and animals tell each other the adventures of their prince who went forth to rescue his parents."

"It's good so," said the prince subdued but relieved at heart. He had never been in another country. Aron missed Nubia's gentle serenity. He missed "the land of gold and blossoms," as his mother lovingly called Nubia. He missed his parents and all that was familiar. He even missed his officials. From a distance he viewed his problems with different eyes.

All that had once moved him now lost its meaning. Everything was strange and unaccustomed. The prince felt unprotected and exposed. Beyond the borders he was ordinary, nothing elevated him. Only insecurity. He looked around with a timorous heart. He had never seen anything like this. The world around him was gray and dreary, the plants drooping and wilted, the trees bare. No bird sang. No leaf swayed. Misery wherever the eye wandered. The landscape was exhausted and washed out. It seemed as if this world had stopped breathing. Starved (1) (2) (3) (4) , emaciated creatures skulked past them with lowered gaze.


The condition of suffering animals in need aroused Miss Monti's attention. She discovered a young half-famished cat that had pushed its head carefully into the wide open mouth of a cat of prey to lick off some food remains.

"Look at this," whispered Miss Monti, holding her breath. "She could be eaten up any moment. Her head is already in the mouth of the other." Monti had to avert her gaze. "These are your kind. They bear a heavy lot," the prince whispered back. Surrounded by hopelessness and hunger, he looked as if he came from a different planet in his gold glittering beauty on his silver unicorn. Miss Monti in her striped ankle booties and the striped knapsack, she too resembled an exotic beauty who could only have fallen from the sky.

The cat jumped off the unicorn and crawled in crouched position through underbrush. Her fur stood on end with fear and yet she wanted to find out who or what caused this great suffering. Aron saw her back suddenly forming a huge hump and her hissing too was not a good sign of what was to come. It almost took his breath away when he saw his cat confronted with a lion. Admittedly a pretty bedraggled one, but nevertheless a lion.

"Please don't harm her. It's my cat," pleaded the prince. The mangy lion didn't dignify Miss Monti with a single glance. Due to her strange appearance, he didn't regard her as a cat. He didn't even look at her. He had other worries. Quickly, Monti jumped into the prince's arms before the lion began to speak. "The terror bird is our doom," the miserable lion lamented. "I was the king of the animals and we lived together in peace until one day the terror bird invaded our land. He's fifteen feet tall and nobody can stand up to him. The terror bird pursues ruthlessly all other kinds of animals. He brutally devours everything he can get. The animals of our land suffer. Once there was a divine plan, there was a balance because each animal was food for another (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11).


But then came the terror bird. He does not live with nature, but off nature," said the unkempt lion, who couldn't foresee what the terrible event that was yet to happen. "Since then we have been massacred, one after the other. Nobody puts any limits on the tyrant. Nobody is above him. Nobody devours him. When our Lord God distributed heart and reason, the terror bird must have been asleep. His only interest seems to be his craving. The terror bird knows no constraints or limits. He thinks only of himself. He is evil and underhanded. Taking from others, he thinks is his right. That's why this insatiable animal only waits for another animal to bring in a prey. Then this bloodsucker gets the roast without having put in any effort of his own. We are permitted to naw on the bones so that we know how good it tasted to him," the lion denounced the terror bird. The number of the terror birds is increasing more and more, and we become fewer and fewer," the lion continued his accusation.

"Strange," the prince worried, "the sunland too is losing more and more people to the realm of darkness."

Then the lion added: "We are living at the edge of the world. Here, with us, everything is between something: between light and shadow, between hunger and thirst, between hopelessness and misery, between life and death. But you are so beautiful like creatures from another planet. Where are you coming from and are you carrying something against hunger with you?" asked the king of animals.

"I am Prince Aron of Nubia, ruler over the sunland." That made the lion even sadder.

"The sun left us a long time ago. Her heart was so heavy and the sorrow made her weak and sick. She had to leave us to avoid falling from the sky due to weakness. Now even the nature spirits are leaving us. The all work in their own way for the continued existence of the earth and they protect nature," stated the lion who was close to starvation. "But there's nothing left to protect. A gray world makes for gray souls."

Aron came to realize something. The elves, gremlins, and nymphs fled because they had been deprived of their habitats in the plants, the earth, and the sea. His sympathy aroused, the prince whispered into the unicorn's ear and asked for something edible for the lion. Unicorns are said to possess all kinds of magic powers. Thus Aron had to try for he didn't carry any lion food in his saddle bags. But he couldn't just leave the lion with his hunger and despair. The unicorn moved a bit sideways behind a deplorable looking shrub. When it came back, it carried on its horn a big, meaty raw bone. Just the way lions like their meat best. The unicorn lowered its head and the lion greedily pulled down the meat. The sun prince was happy as a lark that he had been able to help the lion. next

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