With a pure heart one can reach everywhere.
The unicorn gleamed silvery in the bright light of the moon. They floated all night: the king, the queen, the prince, the ballerina come to life, and the graceful Miss Monti. After a long while, the colors of the sky began to change. “The sun is rising,” Monti ripped her paws enthusiastically upward. The prince too waved greetings at the sun. “It's good that she always rises again,” he murmured and pulled his ballerina closer toward him. He never wanted to lose them again, neither his ballerina, nor the sun.
Aron rubbed his eyes as he looked down. He believed to recognize the colors of the rainbow for the earth was blazing ember red, then golden yellow. But when a blue carpet appeared below, he called out: “Bluebells, we'll be home soon!” And true enough, at long, long last, they saw the golden roofs of Aurum and the three towers of the sun palace. Dreamland Nubia, thought Aron, but this time he knew for sure that he was not dreaming. Filled with anticipation, Aron looked forward feverishly to seeing his officials, his beloved lilies, and, yes indeed, also the wind who had promised to spread the news of the return of the ruling pair. What a triumphal reception it was! The air spirits had done a good job. All of Nubia seemed beside itself. From every nook and cranny, the sunlanders stormed toward the palace. They waved sun banners and motioned wildly with the radiant wreath of the sun which they carried on a pole. The wind blew mightily to make the banners flutter. What a sea of flags!
“Didn't I tell you,” he laughed with his low voice at the prince. It seems that an entire country has been awaiting your return. They all know that Prince Aron is the rescuer of his parents and of all sunlanders. It was an honor for me to blow the good tidings through the entire land.”
At this moment, the unicorn stopped swaying for the wind had abated. With every step that brought them closer to the sun palace their excitement increased. The tower trumpeters sounded their horns as the unicorn landed on the sun ornament in the courtyard. Miss Monti jumped with a daring leap off the prince's protective arms and scurried past the line-up of officials directly toward a tree. Buoyed up by high spirits, she was hanging within a moment on the trunk at a dizzying height. Cautiously the cat looked down. The way down seemed hopeless. In her daring-do, she had gone up too high. (1) (2) Monti sank her claws deep into the bark of the tree to keep from falling. Then she ventured two steps downward before she jumped off at a reckless height. Cats always fall on their feet. They have seven lives.
“Finally at home,” she meowed making nice with the official for roast pigeons. The thought of a meal of stinking fish heads stuck in her head and she begged: “Tasty fish heads, please.”
But the officials were putting their heads together again and spoke softly: “A boy who has endured as many adventures as Prince Aron becomes a different person. So the venomous little devil has turned into a veritably lucky devil,” the official for roast pigeons couldn't hold back a little side jab at the former life of the prince. Then he laughed benevolently until his fat stomach started to jumped and the official for good thoughts smilingly agreed with him.
“Did I not make myself clear enough?” Miss Monti was annoyed over being pretty much ignored. “I'm hungry as a wolf,” the cat buttonholed the official.
“Why didn't you say so right away? Off with you into the kitchen. We have fish today, your favorite dish.”
“Well then, works after all,” grumbled the cat and disappeared in a single bound.
Now the king and queen too, with the prince and the ballerina, set foot on the soil of their homeland. The return to the security of their golden city had been pulled off. Of course, everybody was eager to see the little prince who had become the guardian of Nubia. That's why the officials' gold hats shone bright for the ruling family to see from afar. They saw them putting their heads together and walking with lively tread. Splendid and mysterious these hats. The entire officialdom was quite surprised when they stood opposite the prince who had grown so tall. A satisfied smile appeared on Aron's face. He was now able to look them straight in the eyes as he reviewed the line-up of officials whom the little prince had plagued with his incessant tantrums and demands. Before the officials were able to bow down to him, he took the hand of each one with thanks for his patience. He first took the hand of the benevolent official for roast pigeons on whom he had played many a nasty trick; then the one of the official for velvet and silk. When the pursed lips were about to scold him for his incorrect attire, Aron glanced at himself and had to admit that he looked like a little bum. The treasurer extended his little hand with the two amber rings toward the prince. “Somehow he looks relaxed,” it occurred to Aron. “Well, the third tower is resting so his gold thaler worries can rest too.”
Then the prince approached the wish official with special warmth. He knew how much he owed to him and he looked for a long time into his eyes. The outline of dark shadows seemed to have vanished. And then there was the official of good thoughts, the good soul of the palace, who had governed the land in the absence of the ruling family. The official pressed the prince's hand until Aron's heart opened up. And they both understood why. The reign of good thoughts had carried the day.
The king and queen assumed their son's generous gesture and extended their hand to the officials. In the end, the officials took off their mysterious gold hats and bowed their heads so deeply before the rescued royal pair and the crown prince, they almost touched the dust. But when they lifted their eyes, their gaze became fixated on the unknown beauty whose arm was holding the unicorn's neck embraced.
“Your Majesties,” said the minister for good thoughts, “we welcome you from the bottom of our hearts. We were all deeply concerned. But if you would, please step out on the balcony now. Your subjects are besides themselves with joy.” So the king and queen forgot to introduce Papillon and her presence remained a mystery.
Aron ran back once more to the unicorn and caressed its neck: “We thank you for your loyal services and hope to see you again someday, you beautiful silver moon.” Aron said good-bye and gave the unicorn a light pat so it would run toward the wish official. Suddenly the wind made himself felt, creating a slight whirl that sucked up the unicorn. Before you knew it, it disappeared inside the wish official's sleeve.
As the official of good thoughts was about to return to the palace to accompany the ruling family to the balcony, the prince took him aside and asked with muted voice: “Were the peacocks able to uncover the riddle of the golden hats?”
”Yes and no, “ was the answer. “Solving the riddle requires long drawn-out research. The peacocks repeatedly compared the number sequences on the four hats. After much back and forth, they came to the conclusion that it must be the matter of a calendar (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) which depicts the various reigns of the sun kings.”
“How wonderful! But why does the hat grow?” the prince couldn't hold back his curiosity.
“The ‘why' is still in the stars. But at least we know now when the hats grow. Namely always when the time of a sun ruler, and with it that of his officials, has run its course. This can be determined by the notches in the cones that interrupt the number sequences. In growth period, the golden cone shows no ornamentation at all. The calendar begins counting again only with the new ruler. No wonder that after nine sun rulers, the hats are unusually long. Somehow their aim is set high into the sky, but whereto and for what purpose is still hidden behind the symbols which twine around the hats. So say the peacocks who have put much effort into decoding the letters and numbers. Giving it much thought, the scholars also have come to the opinion that the underside of each hat may display a name. They are working feverishly to uncover the secret of the gold hat.”
“That's a pity. I should have thought the peacocks had made more progress by now,” said the prince disappointed.
“Well,” the official of good thoughts said haltingly. “ There's a certain idea which the peacocks are pursuing. Some of them think that the growing of the hats may be connected to a certain event. This event they say lies in the future. But the scholars want to first find proof for their premise before broadcasting it to the world as fact. That's why they keep quiet about it while they continue their investigation.”
“That all sounds rather mysterious,” commented Prince Aron, whose eyes wandered off in search of Papillon in order to accompany her to the palace. The gold hats weren't all that important. And who knows, perhaps they were just ordinary head coverings without endowing their owners with special powers.
From the balcony the ruling couple, an unknown beauty at their side, greeted the sunlanders. And what they saw made their hearts flow over. It wasn't hundreds, but thousands of people who had gathered around the palace, carrying sun banners, wreaths of sunrays, simple golden discs, celebrating the blessings of the divine sun, palm leaves, and olive branches. The children only listened to the nickname “rainbow children” and, in honor of the virtues and the victory over evil, they wore seven capes in the colors of the rainbow. In between it all were more and more energy spheres flitting up into the sky with the people's good wishes for the ruling family. The wind got himself together once again especially for this event even though he was suffering a severe lack of energy. In days past he had worked himself too hard. Now he set his air spirit in motion for the last time to give good speed to the good wishes and carry the messages aloft with each flutter of the flags.
“See there, the good wishes of our people are ascending into the sky,” the king pointed at the energy spheres flitting by before he placed his arm around the queen's shoulders. “Happiness, health, a long life, wisdom, and goodness,” the queen squinted toward the sun so as to read the wishes.
“Our thanks to Aron!” was the inscription on one beautiful red energy sphere. Then again “Aron, the Invincible,” “Aron, the Courageous,” also “Aron, the Incorruptible” or “Aron, the Honorable,” and even “Aron, the Great,” the inscriptions gleamed at the prince in royal blue. Another sphere read: “Long live Nubia!” and “Sol invictus” —invincible sun.
The ruling family was overwhelmed. “We thank all Nubians for this moving reception and we thank the official who maintained the rule of good thoughts during our absence,” the king opened his speech. “To show our gratitude and good cheer over our happy return home and the victory of virtue over the realm of darkness, all native sunlanders will receive a light (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) ..thaler. (1) The coin will show a candle and the imprint of the declaration: ALIIS INSERVIENDO CONSUMOR —in service of others I am consumed—just as the light in the candelabrum consumes the candle. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) This declaration means nothing but that the crown prince places himself in the service to his people. Prince Aron of Nubia deserves gratitude and honor. He is the savior of our golden land.”
The prince felt a warm sensation rise in his body and his face turned glowing red. Now the jubilation was not only for the sake of his name, but because now he was a hero who enjoyed the people's unconditional affection. The king added: “The gates of the palace are open to all today on this light-thaler thanksgivings feast. Bring your children. The children are our true treasure. They are the greatest.” Hearing this, the sunlanders could no longer be reined in. They danced with joy and cheered the ruling pair and Prince Aron over and over again. A sea of golden discs gleamed toward the ruling family.
Following the reception, the wish official accompanied Papillon to her chambers which he had completely renovated to her taste. She shouldn't lack anything and her every wish was to be anticipated; so the king had decreed. As for their son, the king and queen requested his presence in the throne room. The crown prince went quickly to his chambers to place the crown on his head. He paused for a moment for it was a sacred act. As he beheld the crown, he saw its beauty for the first time. And what do you know, the despised crown was as light as gold dust. Rather than weighing on him, it gave his thoughts wings. All he had to do was let his heart play with the crown. All parents give their children something to take along, no matter how much they resist it, the thought suddenly crossed the prince's mind. And be it a crown, he derided himself. All of a sudden he loved the sense of responsibility that, with the crown, took hold of his entire being. He looked forward to being able to fulfill his duty. And thus the crown was no longer heavy as lead, but landed with a light hand on his head. Aron knew now: his role as crown prince would never be too great. All he had to do was grow into it. Behind him appeared suddenly Miss Monti and disappeared again just as quickly, but not without uttering the words: “Your Highness has earned the laurels fair and square.” Bowing to him, she bounced away with exuberance. The cat was just as excited as her master. The joy of being at long last safe and sound back home again almost robbed her of all reason. Seemingly out of her mind, she gamboled through the palace chambers, swept down the corridors with ears tucked back, clicked her heels like a rabbit, and made fun of whoever she just happened to run into. Life was wonderful, especially in Aurum, the golden city.
The radiant sun over the portal to the grand throne room laughed at Aron already from afar, for she liked the crowned prince very much. When he opened the door, which wasn't easy for him, he saw his parents were sitting on the throne chairs, just as if nothing had ever happened. The water pyramids displayed the most gorgeous fish. The rose pyramid dispensed its sweet aroma. The birds and butterflies flew in and out of the open roof cupola. Behind the king and queen, the golden ivory fountain was just awaking with the glockenspiel, and the virtues embellished the flowery waterfall with a rainbow. The prince crossed the red carpet and saw all the familiar things with fresh eyes.
“What wonderful splendor,” he thought at the sight of so much beauty. “I was living in paradise, but didn't see its beauty.” Since Aron had found out that one can feel miserable in life and that even to survive requires effort, he felt richly blessed and secretly thanked his angel.