To the heart that is honest, even stones will open themselves.
Aron pressed the energy sphere against his still anxious heart. Just then, in the interior of the island, right where Ozelot had been sitting on his throne, erupted a twenty-five-foot high water jet in glorious colors that put out the fire of hatred. Aron's gaze was fixed on the fountain with fascination. Suddenly he spotted two goldfish dancing high on top of the water sprays. Night seemed to be turning into light as his heart began to jump with joy. It was filled with restless foreboding and anticipation. Aron was unable to explain his excitement. He was still rooted to the spot like a pillar of salt, his energy sphere pressed against his heart. His hands were cold. As he was watching the two goldfish, the energy sphere not only warmed his hands but his heart as well. Mesmerized, the prince stared at the goldfish who abruptly crashed and sank into the fountain. In the process he got real frog's eyes and all simply because he believed to perceived a familiar silhouette. Two figures detached themselves from the water jet and his heart almost burst with joy. A beloved voice called out: "ARON!" At this moment, nothing could hold him back anymore. He jumped into the water and waded toward his parents for the water reached only to his knees. Now his parents stepped out of the fountain hand in hand and Aron lay in both their arms.
"My mommy, my daddy. I thought I'd never see you again," was all Aron was able to say.
"Solino, my little sun, my one and only. Your love set us free." The queen fidgeted with her eye, claiming that an insect kept her from seeing.
"My precious boy. As father it is my duty to look after you," the king reproached himself severely. "But fate turned everything upside down. Now you are our rescuer," the father admitted, "even though we should have protected you. It was the first time in our life that we were unable to hold you and keep you. A difficult trial for us." The king hunched his shoulders.
"We love you very much," Aron's mother stammered overwhelmed.
"I you too." Aron almost burst with happiness. He felt wrapped in his parents' love as in a cover, warm and light. At long last light, just as he had always longed for. His hope of being reunited with his parents had been fulfilled.
"You are the best thing we own," the king stated with pride.
"Help! Help!" they heard a desperate call. All three of them were still standing in the water, unable to let go of each other. They embraced again and again. When they finally looked toward the shore, they discovered Aron's cat running restlessly back and forth. Miss Monti felt the need to be a part of the royal family's happiness. She too wanted to celebrate the great moment. But, then again, her joy wasn't quite great enough to make her go into the water for it.
"Miss Monti wants to greet you. She has been my loyal travel companion," Aron told his parents.
They waded together through the water back to the shore. Monti bowed before the royal pair and then she scolded: "This caterwauling woke me. Did these eerie songs come from the shadow spirits? I was looking for you, Master. What I found was an opening in the wall and a staircase down into the underworld. It's a good thing my energy sphere provided light. Where are we anyway?" asked Miss Monti, holding the light in one paw and the other against her hip. "And how did the king and queen get here? Does it perhaps have something to do with the life elixir? And where is Ozelot? Why do the most important things have to take place when I'm asleep," the cat said annoyed. "Now, I undertook a long, dangerous journey with you and in the end I slept through it. I just can't believe it." Miss Monti behaved as huffy as the wind.
"But at least you've carried the light into the darkness. Your wish has been fulfilled," the prince calmed the cat. The king and queen bent down and patted Monti. "I hope she doesn't get ill. Maybe all this was a bit much for her," the queen said concerned.
Aron took the little cat into arms and pushed his parents to leave the rocky grotto and the black castle.
"Let's leave this murky place as quickly as possible behind us, now that I've finally found you again," Aron urged his parents on.
"By all means let's get away from here," babbled Miss Monti. "I'm freezing! Besides I don't like this terrible silence. Just to be lying in the sun again soon!" moaned Monti. She recalled a sunny day with Aron at the castle pond as the swan family was rocking by and Aron imprinted his gold dust on the canvas for the wish official to encapsulate it in an energy sphere. These hours of leisure and warmth, Monti longed to recapture as soon as possible. Since the king and queen had now been liberated, there should be no further obstacles in the way of her wish to go home. They all climbed the stairs. At the top, the prince used all the strength of his will power to remember the way. He ran along the cellar vault, the nagging cat in his arm, and followed by his parents, until they reached the room in which Ozelot had stored the elixir.
"Don't touch anything. This is Ozelot's poison cabinet," the prince warned. The cat let out a shrill scream.
"Calm down. Ozelot doesn't exist anymore."
But the cat pointed upward. There, at the cabinet's end, sat the demon Kofur with his two heads. Malice looked from his six eyes down on them. To none of them was the demon a stranger. But fortunately, the wicked eagle too had turned to stone. He was no longer able to make mischief. And that was good so. They continued on their way until the prince found the stairs from the cellar directly out into the open.
A miracle had taken place for the sun received them with light and warmth. The cat placed a paw over her eyes. She first had to get used to the brightness. Then she stored her energy sphere in her knapsack. The little light had been of good service.
The cat looked around surprised. Not a trace of the black castle, no more darkness, no coldness, no shadow spirits, even the throne room with the dragon throne was gone. Again the king and queen embraced their son.
"How I missed you, every day, every hour," the prince confessed to his parents and nestled against them.
"At last sun. How I missed you," Miss Monti mimicked her master. With an impish smile toward her master, she spread out her forepaws as if to embrace the sun.
At this marvelously perfect moment, the prince noticed something. As if robbed of his senses, he dashed back down the cellar stairs and into the black cellar vault. He just heard behind him his mother's voice: "Please stay here! It's too dangerous."
But the prince didn't heed the warning. He had to rescue his ballerina. The toy clock had slipped from his pocket without him noticing it. Meanwhile the vaulting cavern began to rattle, cracks appeared, and it was on the verge of collapse. With crazed eyes, Aron searched the ground. But she was nowhere to be found. So he had no choice but to descend once more into the rocky grotto. He ran as fast as his legs would carry him until he spotted his ballerina at the edge of the underground lake. And one thought rushed through his mind. It hadn't been Miss Monti who had cried for help when he stood in the water with his parents. No, it was his dancer to whom no one had paid attention since the sun prince believed she was safely with him.
"Forgive me, my beauty. I wouldn't let you rot in this murky cavern. You're my joy, you're the only one who knows how to dance on the sun's rays so airy and tender."
The prince's heart opened up. It was love that made his heart light up in the deepest darkness. With the tip of his fingers, the prince stroked gently the ballerina's tiny hand. He was so engrossed that he was unaware of the crumbling cellar vault around him. He was still kneeling at the edge of the lake, adoring his dancer when suddenly the earth began to shift under him. At this moment, Aron awoke from his enchantment. He grasped the figure and ran for his life. He ran to reach the earth's surface before the collapsing cellar would bury him and his ballerina. His short legs barely managed two steps at a time. But he had to make it for the stairway was already breaking up behind him. Above ground, his mother and father were kneeling down, extending their hands toward him and calling out: "Faster, faster, you'll make it!"
Miss Monti shrieked hysterically: "I'll miss you even more than the sun. You're my friend!" She already saw him crashing into the black abyss of the cellar. Then she shrieked further: " Be brave, hold out! I'll call your angel even if he doesn't listen to me!" Miss Monti folded her paws together and sent a miserable glance heavenward. "I'm calling the prince's angel. May he hold him and guard him wherever he goes. Wherever, do you hear? Especially on the stairway."
Nevertheless, the last rungs gave way under Aron's feet and he tumbled inexorably into the deep. His father and mother, who were still holding out their hands, issued a horrific scream. Just then, something was lifting the prince up and they all deemed to perceive the fluttering of wings. Aron heard his angel: "I am guarding you with my wings."
"Thanks to the heavens and to my angel that I can be with you safe and sound." Aron was lifting his hand to his forehead when he noticed that he was holding his ballerina with an iron grip. He was shocked. "She is so delicate. I shouldn't squeeze her too hard."
"All this because of her. You're crazy," stated Miss Monti in her catty way. "After all, it's only a toy."
"It's my ballerina. She is so fragile and she has a soul. I would never have left her behind," Aron defended the death-defying rescue of his toy clock.
"You're a good child," said the queen.
"I'm proud of you," the king agreed with his wife.
The wind spirits danced with joy to see the sun prince again safe and sound.
"You airy one," Aron greeted his loyal friend. "Long time no see."
"Important business has kept me in the gray world between."
"What might that have been?" Aron made fun of the wind.
"You don't believe in me," the wind puffed himself up insulted, "you never believe in me."
"Don't be so sore again," Aron calmed him. "Tell me what happened."
"The terror birds are no more. The gray world between is safe. The gray counts were able to return to their land which they had lost to the terror birds," the wind blurted out the news. Aron could well imagine who might have defeated the debauched gluttons and he was not a little astonished. "Go on, I'm on pins and needles," Aron encouraged the wind who readied to take a rest again.
"It was very taxing," the wind pitied himself. "Well, okay. I'm sure you remember that the terror birds in their excesses had actually forgotten to stop drinking. They completely emptied out the helpless sea. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11)
The earth's soul cried out when it had to stand by and watch the terrible disaster without being able to do anything. All the terror birds did was laugh, but after some time they got terribly thirsty. All they were able to find was water without taste. But what they needed for their own survival was salt water from the sea. Recognizing their stupidity, they ran to the sea shore and begged the sea to come back. In their own defense, they claimed to have acted out of ignorance, without considering the consequences. But the sea could never come back. Even though their large size would allow them to live without water for a good while, they could not escape their fate. In the end, not even the salt of their tears which they licked off each other's cheeks could help them. One by one they died of thirst. The terror birds brought about their own downfall. There where the earth had been drenched with their tears, the former ocean bay is now lined with salt shrubs." And enraged, the weary wind added: "The terror birds just didn't get it. They took themselves to be something better when in reality they were part of the a whole, part of a truth. And this truth says: all creatures belong together because we live in one world. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) We all dangle from one and the same thread. That's why they got what they deserved!"
Prince Aron suggested while thoughtfully furrowing his brow: "Superbia's villainous face gazed too deeply into their soul and made them believe that they would be able to get along without respect for nature. But it wasn't arrogance alone. It was their own immoderateness that was their undoing. One might say that they siphoned off their own water supply. At any rate, they shattered on their own greed. Avaritia saw to it that they never had their fill, never gorged themselves enough. It was their greediness that killed them. They were giants in body, but dwarfs in mind."
"Better small, but smart," said the wind. He let the air out of his spirits, made himself scarce and looked for a pair of spare legs in the absence of the lilies' stems. He tried it with Miss Monti's feet who didn't quite know what to make of it. After all she was not in the mood to buzz around the air like a balloon in case the wind forgot his manners once again.
"And how is the lion?" asked Aron.
"He's gradually regaining his strength like all the animals and plants. I had to whip up the rain clouds and get the sun to return," the wind explained the reason for his fatigue.
"You really accomplished a great feat," the prince praised the wind. The air spirits began to dance joyfully in a circle. Aron squeezed his ballerina and the cat flew with one leap to the side. She protested: "I knew it. Clever, my foot. One never knows what to make of you. You'd better get away from me and bed down someplace else."
The wind made a long face: "What is it I did wrong this time, Purri?" he asked innocently.
"Either you are faking it or you really don't know why you always get into a fix," Monti kept on griping. "Besides, I must have misunderstood or do you really want to make an ordinary alley cat out of me? It seems you don't know with whom you are dealing here." Monti raised herself up onto her hind paws, threw he head back quite stylishly, and proffered her right paw. A gesture which could make the wind only laugh for he had never kissed anybody's hand before. Not even those of the virtues whom he really admired.
"Why don't you just get along," said Aron sternly and praised the wind in the hope that he would forget about his fatigue and get immediately on the way to the sunland.
"What would we be without you, the one who blows all news over mountains and into valleys, from valleys into squares."
The wind was greatly impressed by the sun prince's praise which he took this time for himself alone. He now said quickly good-bye and hurried to reach Nubia in advance of the prince and his family in order to spread the good tidings of their return. He no longer felt like resting. The road was long.
The ballerina almost flew from Aron's hand. "That the wind always has to be so stormy," he said to her and sought refuge under a tree. "She will now recuperate and warm herself in the sun. How afraid she must have been when we left her behind in the cellar vault all alone." Deeply concerned, Aron patted her hair over and over again. "Be calm. You were so preoccupied with the thought of helping that you were willing to risk your life. But it all ended well this time. You saved your ballerina from disaster and eternal darkness" Miss Monti soothed her master. next