The Name of Yearning
The stars of happiness lie in ourselves.
In his sublime nobility, the king took his son aside and spoke: "On our return to the sunland, I shall give a grand fete only in your honor." The queen, at the side of her husband, beamed with happiness. "And I shall have a coin minted in celebration of our crown prince, the savior of Nubia."
The prince, in his modesty, lowered his gaze. "Isn't that a bit too much homage?" Aron asked his father. "And am I the savior of the sunland? I always wanted only one thing, save my family. That's why I gained my dear parents' freedom since I missed youso very much. That's all."
"That's exactly not all," said the king. "The stakes were about much more, my son, than just about us. It was a matter of the welfare of all our people, whose undoing Ozelot had schemed."
"I don't understand this. Of course, I had to pass many a test, but only so I wouldn't end up myself as a shadow spirit in Ozelot's realm. It never occurred to me that our country was at risk."
The prince's bewilderment increased even further.
"You do remember your ninth birthday, don't you?" the queen asked her son. Prince Aron nodded. "On that day your father and I had an argument about what should be done to prevent the loss of more sunlanders to the lord of darkness. But, as you know, we did not come up with a solution since Ozelot had already abducted us."
The king made a pained face, then he continued: "Our abduction was already part of his plan. Ozelot had designed this plan with utmost care, the way one designs the building of a house. Stone upon stone he fit together. First he sowed discord in our hearts and waited long enough until we had missed the chance for reconciliation. When our hearts were so blind with anger, they no longer wanted to have anything to do with each other, his time had come to get us. All Ozelot had to do then was to wait for you to embark on your search in order to send out the demon Kofur to meet you. Your soft heart would drive you into Ozelot's arms. In the land of clones and in the gray world between, he took possession of your thoughts to elicit the wrong decisions from you. But your will was strong, stronger than Ozelot's sinister plan. It drove him almost to the point of distraction. That's why he had to introduce the matter of your greatest desire, namely your wish to grow taller, in order to confront you again with a choice. This is how he constructed his plan for the conquest of the sunland. Us, he already had. If you had just once taken the wrong action, the ruling family would have been destroyed and the fall of the sunland would have been sealed. For a long time past, Ozelot had not been satisfied with just getting an individual sunlander here and there. His mind was set on bigger fish to fry. What he wanted was conquer the sunland in one fell swoop, not piece by piece. That was much too slow for him."
The prince was more than bewildered: "And how do you know all this?" he asked his parents. His mother looked at him: "Ozelot held us captive as goldfish in the stone gardens of the underground lake in the rocky grotto. Every day, at the same time, the lake was fed from the petrified waterfall with fresh water. At that time, the petrification dissolved and fresh water bubbled into our lake, creating beautiful water pearls. Every time the pearls sank into the water, we quickly swam toward them to concentrate on our question, for after all we were mute. The water pearls always revealed an answer to us. Only when Ozelot was nearby, we didn't dare to make contact with them. Thus we heard about your journey and Ozelot's plan."
The prince started to pace back and forth. The thoughts swirled about his head like an incensed flock of swallows. "In that case I bore the responsibility for our entire people?" the prince thought out loud.
"From the very first step on," the king confirmed his consideration.
"No, it is never as hard as one thinks. It only becomes hard if one takes it hard. Then it gets to be really hard. You carried the burden without knowing it, and it was easy. Had you had even the slightest notion of the grave responsibility resting on you, you might have been overwhelmed. As it was, it was quite natural for you to do every day what had to be done for the family and for our people," the king said to his son.
"It seems to me that it's up to me whether I take a matter hard or not," the prince presumed. And suddenly, it became easy for the prince to make a hard decision.
"So if a responsibility isn't a burden or I don't feel it as such, which had always been my greatest concern," said the prince," then I would like to serve our people loyally, (1) (2) (3) for what I learned on this journey is to help."
At last Aron was able to give the longing of his soul a name: to help. He finally knew for what he had been born. "Yes, I would like to serve my people. This is what speaks from my soul." When the prince was finally ready to embrace his destiny, his responsibility, and his country, he had become a different person.
At this moment, the king was faced with his successor: "Each of us has a destiny, a mission in life. You just found yours, my son. What good fortune. To serve mankind is a truly noble task in life, for the root of being a king is serving and you will be a truly royal servant," he said to his son who had accepted the challenge. "I see you as a wise and just man. A king must incorporate the highest values and that is why I shall prepare you for your great task in life."
Once again a place in the order of the universe had been filled. Just then the little prince heard the ringing of thousands of little bells. Gold dust rained down on him. He looked up toward the sky, seeking to recognize his angel, but the sun blinded his eyes with its golden rays. Aron couldn't see him. The angel was sitting on a sun ray and let gold stars rain down on the prince.
He spoke: "Every journey begins with the first step. Many steps along the way have made you wiser. Now you know: the way to light leads through darkness first. The danger of being seduced by evil is great. Often it is only a small step. But you fostered the good side (1) (2) (3) (4) in you.
Thus you discovered the sun in you, made it to shine, and gave the longing in your soul a name: serving. Those who want to rule must learn to serve. You served your family and your country. In the end you became the one who was in you. Now the time has come to fulfill your most ardent wish."
Aron felt for his knee because he was overcome by a great pain. In that magical moment, his parents retreated a step in astonishment. Prince Aron grew all by himself filling him with boundless happiness. His mind had grown with his experiences. Now his body was growing too. The little prince was finally big.
Aron was dizzy with joy. He had regained his family. He knew to whom he belonged.
"Yesterday a black fortress still stood here, the darkness concealed the stealing and cheating and I was an orphan. Now the sun is shining, the fortress is destroyed, and I have found my dear parents again. It's a miracle."
"This miracle we owe to you," said his father not without pride. "Your golden heart liberated us. You showed true greatness by not deviating from the path of righteousness. This one can do only with a good heart, my son."
"And you were brave and courageous enough to confront the uncertainty and the darkness," the queen chimed in. "You protected the High Order of the Nubians and you didn't doubt our love for you. With that the victory over Ozelot was assured and the realm of darkness destroyed."
All of a sudden it started to thunder. They all looked toward the sky but only Aron recognized Phantasos. For the last time, he held the magic mirror up to the prince. When Aron looked at it, the dream god said with resounding voice: "Your fate was determined from the beginning." It was only now that the sun prince understood the meaning of his dream image. Mounted on a high horse, (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) the reins firmly in hand, he was finally ready to take on the role of future king.
The journey was a mere preparation toward this great end. The decisions have led me toward following my destiny willingly and to assume the place that is rightfully mine, he thought.
"I understand!" Prince Aron called out to the dream god. "With enthusiasm shall I serve my people and accept my obligation," he promised from a pure heart. "I shall finally learn the art of horseback riding, for I am already adept in floating through the air," he added. The eyes of water and earth smiled. Then Phantasos scurried away, his crimson cape fluttering, amid foaming ocean waves and rustling tree branches.
"With whom are you talking?" asked the queen, who sensed an approaching thunderstorm.
"Did I say something?" Aron wondered. Again he didn't know whether it was his imagination or really the dream god whom he had seen riding through the sky. A bit absent-minded, he added: "I've just found myself."
"Why, did you get lost?" Monti asked about her master.
"I think so," answered the prince lost in thought. next