“Here,” told a prince. Men looked at a castle from which they were separated by a wide blue river. The palace of the mountain king shone in the sun with its wall sides from gemstones. The prince of Thanksland Sador and his friend and security guard Mehr were looking for this castle, by all rules of fairy tales – having visited on Month, Wind, Sun (where Mehr nearly stayed on service of Sun), Night and Day. And to the mountain king they went, of course, for a princess, the daughter of this king. And why is it necessary so in fairy tales? Because fairy tales are old stories, just action had taken place so long ago as the way, and the rules changed, and the reminiscence remained, acquired with opinions of story-tellers. So that is how a fairy tale turns out.
But Thanksland is alive and prosper, at all it has happened not long ago, you can visit this fantastic country where the regimen that in fairy tales familiar to you, and to look at everything. Well, of course, if you understand quantum physics well, and, having become conscious a multividual, will be able to walk at the conscious choice on the multiverse. So, I will tell you everything as was, unvarnished.
There went Sador for the princess not because heard about her beauty at all, and not because saw her portrait thrown by a raven and even not because the father king told that he needed to marry this particular princess. No, the Mountain Kingdom was magic, and his king – powerful and richest Dingir Kur-lugal — was a magician. Every Spring a Song of the Siren flew over the world, a sweet call which was sung by a mother of the mountain princess, the best men of the worlds responded on it and went to try to get the princess Mavis. And many of them didn’t return. Many, but not all. Those who had returned without the princess, said that the Mountain Kingdom was wild, and the princess there was a captive, they said it’s impossible to survive there. And they never heard the Call of the Siren anymore, only in other spring, for some reason tyrannized their kingdoms more than usually. Thanksland at first was a tiny kingdom, then the father of Sador was young and received the destroyed country from the grandfather. And it became a strong state, thanks to that, of course, that the father of Sador happily married, and the queen was such lovely and economic that in the country came calm, peace, equality and brotherhood.
So, Sador with the friend decided to learn what was going on in this kingdom. Because it was soon the time for Sador to be on the throne, and all best, most noble kings were disappearing and stayed only those whom you don’t want to deal with. Therefore, the princess is the princess, love isn’t trendy among princes, there are a lot of princesses, but just a few good neighbors. So, it was pure policy, of course. Though the Song of the Siren, of course, beautiful, and the princess Mavis – for sure was a beauty, she was a princess, in fairy tales they are, usually, beauties. And to be related to Kur-lugal was a good captive.
The mountain king, famous for the wealth and power, was unsociable, lived in the mountain kingdom, usually, attacked nobody, but protected mountains, but how domains may be without mountains? There are both ore, and jewellery. That’s why everyone swore to their eternal friendship. Notably, the mountain king was the convenient political friend – he had perfect soldiers, so, that nobody wanted to be at war with that side on which the mountain king was. Nevertheless, the king in political cases didn’t use the power, demanded nothing from no one, but accepted all gifts.
The castle of the king was hidden in the mountains and was shown to travellers, only if to know precisely from what party to watch it. Sador and Mehr also learned it from servants of Nature.
But now they were in place.
Sador looked at the castle. Mehr laid down under a tree, got a pipe and began to strum a simple motive. Horses were peacefully grazing.
“I again saw Mavis in the dream,” the high, stately prince fell on the grass near the friend.
“I know,” Mehr nodded.
“It is good. If you saw it too, so it was really. She called me and drove me along corridors of the castle,” – dark eyes of Sador thoughtfully directed afar.
“Aha, here is the map,” Mehr got the map sketched by him.
Nothing was surprising, Mehr did his work well and protected Sador even in dreams. Therefore, the friend had the dreams of the prince. When it was real dreams. When Sador just watched images of the consciousness, Mehr, of course, could also walk somewhere in his own dream.
“It seems to me, I already love her,” the prince told.
“It is, undoubtedly, good,” Mehr agreed, cast away a light forelock which was thrown to him on the face by wind, carried out a palm over a forehead, without touching it as if touching someone’s hand. “It’s better to marry the one whom you love, well, or with, at least, you want to fall in love. But do you remember and that the beauty in the dream can be not Mavis, but the siren?”
“Yes, Mehr, of course,” Sador agreed, but the friend saw that the prince thought differently. Of course, it was his princess. “Perhaps she has a sister or a friend, and you will find the happiness too, hm?”
The green look of Mehr became sharp.
“I’ve already found.”
“Yes?” Sador got happy. “And who is..?”
The prince came across Mehr’s look and stopped short, having remembered. Once long ago his friend had a beloved, Mehr went to another military campaign, and one of the kings who desired her poisoned her, with his own hands, he didn’t want to kill her, thought that this was a bewitching, and a bride of this king changed the purchased from the witch bewitching, to poison. Routine fairy-tale stuff. Mehr returned and learned that Shyleekh was dead. The King confessed, was ready to die; he didn’t spend a minute without pain after the death of the beauty. Mehr learned who was responsible for this but also took away a sword of the king who was distraught with grief from the bride murderer punishing. He told that revenge should be not like that. Revenge shall enter into the defeat of the one to whom you want to revenge. Death teaches nothing; murder teaches nothing. Become happy, – Mehr advised the king. – The best revenge for the one who wanted to steal your happiness.
Since then Mehr with all beauty from all worlds had been as gentle as a loving brother but didn’t want to be a husband to anybody.
Sador warmly smiled at the friend.
“So, what we gonna tell the mountain king?” he started talking about another.
“The truth,” Mehr shrugged his shoulders.
“Shouldn’t we think up an artful plan?” with doubt the prince looked at him.
“You know what a soldier I am, Sador.”
“I do an invincible one. Still, I don’t know why you decided to serve at my father, you could easily get any kingdom,” – beautiful, rapaciously Sador shrugged the shoulders.
“Why would I need a kingdom?” Mehr hemmed, extending on the grass.
“To nobody tell you what to do.”
“And nobody tells me,” Mehr grinned.
Friends looked like a dark and a light-gold lines, different, of course, but united by some purposes and one view of the world, they for everyone looked like brothers. It happens often. People feel only what others radiate. And if there is one idea, then people also are not distinguished. Especially, some also differ on the very small uniqueness – who will notice it from outside?
“It’s unclear to me, but I am lucky that you think so,” the prince brightly smiled.
“Perhaps,” lazily Mehr smiled, in green eyes, the sun laughed. “And so, I defeated the most artful opponents with the truth.”
“Lie is sometimes stronger,” Sador sighed.
“Never, my friend, never. For this reason, for a lie to live it’s constantly necessary joined ranks, it always needs turning defenders and followers. Because it’s weak and survives only by means of a deceived crowd. And the truth is self-sufficient and strong. It simply exists. Lie is an only temporary deviation from truth. The truth doesn’t disappear anywhere and lives under its laws. But lie disappears when the truth is cleaned. All vanity is directed to hide it, to distort from it, not to look at it. And, of course, to suffer.
“You could become a poet, my friend, or a preacher.”
“I was. A poet,” Mehr smiled, easily rose. “Well, we’ve had a rest. Go ahead?”
“Go ahead!” Sador rose.
A young beauty with blue as sapphires, eyes, light waves of hair in which beams of the sun got confused was sitting on a wide balcony and putting a mosaic from gemstones. The wind was playing with her dress, simple one, not similar to bright and embroidered dresses of queens and princesses. But, as I already told, at the mountain king guests happened infrequently, and inhabitants of the palace could do and wear whatever they wanted. Of course, it was Mavis.
The girl put the last stone, a beautiful bright bird on the shining cloth sparkled in the sun and flushed up. Mavis joyfully burst out laughing and jumped on the legs. The princesses had light boots with the thick and firm sole on her feet; in them it was so convenient to run on the mountains. To the balcony came a tall, thin man.
“Father, I succeeded again!” the girl rushed to him. It was Kur-lugal, the mountain king. The man smiled, and dark gold eyes smiled, but in them, there was a splinter of grief. Kur-lugal looked at the mosaic where the contour of the bird was empty.
“Well-done,” he stroked Mavis on her hair.
“Mother told that we’d have guests soon? Yes? Who? Elves? Gnomes? Harpies?”
“No, people,” Dingir burst out laughing.
“People? Will ask for stones again, huh? People love stones. Even more, than people. Ready to kill for them. Or it’s again for me?”
If you thought that Mavis was an innocent young creation as it was possible to believe at the first look, it was not so. She grew in severe mountains, communicated with hardworking and gloomy gnomes, with haughty and artful elves, with necromancers and magicians, with all mountain inhabitants. Even exiles from kingdoms and villages which came to mountains and, most often, either were employed as soldiers of Kur-lugal or if the rage prevented them from living, were absorbed by mountains, didn’t frighten her. She could stand for herself, Dingir and soldiers taught her to survive in severe mountains. And … oh, here she was… to the balcony went out a beautiful woman. Her marvellous eyes were sparkling as a river in which reflected the sun. Ryina, the siren. She taught Mavis to sing and to conjure. So, the princess could enjoy innocent pleasures, only discussing life with the teachers.
“No, these won’t ask for stones,” Dingir smiled, embracing the wife. “These are noble saviours.”
The siren smiled.
“These are very good people,” told Ryina.
“Then it’s time to welcome dear visitors,” Kur-lugal embraced the women for their shoulders and led to the castle.
Sador and Mehr found a ford and passed the river.
The castle seemed so nearby, but suddenly on friends flew a strange wind gust, heavy and strong as though friends were making the way through a hidden crowd.
The same strange wind pushed with whiffles like pushes, and branches of trees made such noise that the rustle was formed in some, it seemed, intelligent whisper.
“What is it, Mehr? Sorcery?” Sador was ready to battle against invisible monsters.
Faster, faster, come back faster – the strange wind rustled. – Me, me, take me! It will be I! I will go with you! No, I will!
“Yes, probably, some Valley of spirits. Let’s ask Kur-lugal,” Mehr told and suddenly sharply stopped the horse.
I am tired to be dead! Faster! I want to live! Mehr heard.
“Who are you?” Mehr loudly asked. But the rustle carried on the conversation with itself, ignoring the alive ones, but, obviously, seeing friends.
My turn, my! I’ve been waiting for long!
The rustle became louder, pushes of invisible beings became stronger and stronger, Mehr got the pipe and played. And in several seconds, the rustle sharply ceased. Mehr was playing until they approached the gates of the castle, then turned back on the valley, thoughtfully looking at the peace green view.
Nobody stopped them anymore though friends were ready for it.
Sador grinned. The gates in the castle were high and compound, built-in doors of the different size probably considered different guests, both giants, and gnomes. The door for people opened; Sador didn’t manage to knock.
The owner went out to welcome the guests himself.
“Good afternoon, travellers,” the mountain king greeted.
He looks like neither a deceiver, not a tyrant, Sador thought.
“Good afternoon, Kur-lugal. I am the prince Sador Thansklander. This is my friend — Mehr,” Sador introduced themselves. “We came to you, having heard the Song of the Siren.”
“I am glad to see you,” Kur-lugal smiled. “Well, come in, guests.”
As it’s necessary not only in fairy tales, the mountain king offered guests a lunch and a rest. And to the table there approached both women. Sador recognized at once that one who’d been coming in dreams to him. The mountain king introduces the women – Ryina and Mavis.
Mehr willingly talked to Kur-lugal, told about Thanksland. Sador politely answered questions but didn’t take eyes off the girl from his dreams.
And after the lunch, Mavis led guests to their rooms. Room. Mehr told that he was the security guard of the prince, and one place was enough.
“It is good that you arrived at us, I love guests from far away and their stories. And riddles,” started talking on the way Mavis.
“And wouldn’t you like to go far?” Mehr asked.
“Oh, no, I can get anywhere from here also,” Mavis burst out laughing.
“How is it?” Mehr asked.
“In the western tower there is the Door of the Worlds, and I can get in any place where I will want.”
Friends exchanged the glances. Mavis didn’t look a captive waiting for salvation.
“There is your room. If you need anything…” Mavis thought. “I will send somebody. We live without servants. Magic serves to us. But don’t be afraid. What will come to you will be neither alive nor dead. As an alive chair.”
“Means, Kur-lagul, is really a wizard?” Sador asked.
“A scientist, – the princess smiled and was going to leave, but Sador caught her by the hand.
“Tell me, do you remember that you came in dreams to me?”
Mavis slightly shuddered, looked at the prince, thought and shook the head.
“You came and sang!..” the prince said.
“That was not me,” burst out laughing the princess. “This was my mother, she is the siren, and she carries my image in the song. Therefore, people see me in dreams. So that noble guests would know whether it is worth going. We force nobody.”
“We will have a rest after the journey, and we will talk more,” the security guard said warmly. “The palace of the mountain king is difficult to be found.”
Mavis smiled to him, smiled to Sador also.
“It means, Dingir wanted you to came, as you’ve found our house.”
And the princess left.
“You said that we would tell the truth,” Sador looked at the friend.
“We will, to the reign. And don’t disturb Mavis so far. Here is something wrong. I don’t know what. Your princess doesn’t look like a captive.
Sador sat down on a bed and leaned back, having stared in the ceiling of the canopy.
“But it was she precisely who came in the dream.”
“Or someone in her image. Perhaps, Ryina.”
Sador sharply sat down, tenaciously looked at the friend.
“But the way how she behaved, how she smelled,” he thought, exhaled a bright smile, led the head. “How do you think, it will turn out to take away the princess? Huh?”
“Or we will take away Ryina?” Mehr burst out laughing.
“Aha, either one or another!” Sador cheered up.
To the room where princes were having a rest, accurately knocked. Mehr opened. Behind the door, there was a young man.
“I came to serve you,” he said.
Mehr attentively looked at the quiet young man. He was usually dressed, as a resident, a pleasant one. There was something strange in him; the face didn’t express anything. He looked straight in the face but did not meet the eyes.
“What is your name?” Mehr asked.
“Tenik,” – the young man answered.
“It means a doll in mountain language,” – Mehr said to Sador. The prince nodded, approached too, closer, to look at the golem created by magic.
“We don’t need anything now, when the king is ready to accept us, invite us,” Sador told.
Tenik nodded and remained to stand near a wall.
“A little terrifying,” the prince hemmed.
Mehr shrugged the shoulders.
“And I liked Mavis,” the prince said, smiling to himself. “We would get on. Though, of course, if she likes to live here, with Kur-lugal, I won’t interfere.”
“I think, everything will come to an end well, you’ll get your princess.” Mehr thought of something of his own.
“Kur-lugal is waiting for you,” – Tenik suddenly said.
At the dinner, Sador, at last, told why they came there. Or rather, said that he had heard a call of the siren, that had seen Mavis in dreams. Wanted to tell also about the gone princes, but Mehr interrupt him with some question to the king, and Sador didn’t begin this topic again.
Kur-lugal listened without interrupting. When the prince finished, the mountain king started talking.
“I always agree when kings wordly change people for stones. Nothing is more valuable than life. But to change a daughter for a kingdom…”
“I saw Mavis in dreams,” Sador confessed. “I fell in love with her in the dream.”
The prince smiled.
“I thought, of course, that she needs to be got out of the captivity of the father-tyrant, but Mavis looks happy here. But, maybe, then you will agree to give me the daughter?”
Kur-lugal shook the head.
“She is the only one I have. I cannot give her just to a prince. You say that you fell in love with her in the dream, but you saw her only in the castle. If you want my Mavis, you should remain here, to learn her.”
“Was it …”
“Ryina!” the mountain king told. “Yes, my wife, the siren, sings every spring about Mavis that the one who heard the call would come, and, maybe, fell in love with my daughter.” Told Kur-lugal. “You will stay here for a year, in the year, in the day when the Summer replaces Spring, I will arrange you a test. If you pass it – you will get Mavis if you aren’t – you will leave… without her.”
Mehr hardly considerably strained, now listening carefully to each word of the king.
“Of course, if during this year you want to leave – you will leave if during this year you fall in love with someone else – you will be free from our agreement. If during this year Mavis falls in love with someone, and it will be not you, – you will be free from our agreement.” Continued Kur-lugal.
“I agree!” Sador nodded.
Only his friend looked uneasy, and it was not clear – whether this nervousness was joyful or disturbing.
And so the friends stayed in the mountain kingdom. At first, Sador and Mehr were royal guests, but Mehr quickly was active to help with the castle, and the prince with him.
Mehr tried to extort from mountain inhabitants – what a test Kur-lugal prepared. But inhabitants became silent at the mention of the test. Sador carelessly treated the future; he considered that honesty and bravery would help to pass any examination. Princes are always more careless than their friends.
Sador saw each other every day with Mavis, every evening conducted conversations with Kur-lugal and tried to understand whether he loved this bright and happy girl and whether he would be able to make her happier in Thanksland, than she was, here, in the mountain kingdom.
Mehr day by day became more thoughtful as if to him also something was sung at night by the siren. He went on the mountain kingdom whole days, coming back only to conversations with Kur-lugal. And the king spoke about life, about patience, often said that one human being shall be more valuable than a kingdom and that the king shall always understand it. And what was important that the king was able to do so that this life became such, worthy the whole kingdom.
And here, once, Mehr, walking on the mountains, came to a plateau, he got used to beautiful views – not only here, Mehr long had been wandering about the world, had seen a variety of the worlds. Even came into other fairy tales. On the side there was a gentle slope and under it placed a settlement. No, not the settlement, there weren’t any houses there, but there were many people. All of them at the same time spoke and moved. It looked like some ceremony, and Mehr went down to them.
The closer he approached the people, the more disturbing and sadder it got at his heart. He felt the despair of these people.
Mehr approached them and saw a strange picture, a high number of men went, sat, and talked with Mavis; everyone had his own princess. Beauties were in plain identical blue dresses generally, some were in other dresses which somehow unnaturally sat on them. Girls answered inattentively, inattentively laughed. The man shrank. He began to understand what it was. And you, the reader, for sure, have guessed already. But Mehr decided to learn everything in detail; he approached the man who was sitting under a tree and combing the fair hair of Mavis.
“I am the guest of Kur-lugal, Mehr,” he named himself. “What a strange settlement of the princess Mavis it is?”
The handsome man is much more senior than Mehr, raised on him the tired, dark eyes.
“Kind you, it’s not a settlement, it’s the Mountain of Damned. And you see not the sisters of the princess, but production of the mind of Kur-lugal. All of us – the knights who responded on the call of the siren, kings and princes. Everyone fell in love with the princess in the dream. Kur-lugal gave all of us a year on recognizing the princess and to fall in love with her. And then … then there was a test. It was necessary to learn real Mavis among ghosts’ images. When you chose Mavis, Kur-lugal suggested to refuse the choice, said that he if you didn’t guess and chose the ghost, it would be gentle Mavis only in the mountains, and beyond the border, the image would become an easy target for evil spirits which could gain the heartless cover. And the spiteful spirit couldn’t be killed, it’s impossible to kill an image recovered by a soul, even by offended one, but it was possible to bring the being back into mountains where the spirit would be locked and powerless. And it could be brought up and trained to live among people. The mountain king asked – whether the best, most noble, man of science agreed to risk and to get either the princess or to spend, perhaps, the whole life for an angry spirit. Soon spirits found out about the fact that Kur-lugal gave them the chance to live and began to wait for persons interested to leave with the princess at the exit of the Mountain Kingdom. Perhaps, of course, he would get lucky and not a spiteful soul will come, but nobody was lucky yet. The strongest spirits, usually, the most spiteful.
Mehr remembered whisper in the Valley, heart painfully clenched.
“This whisper? These are spirits who are waiting?”
“Yes. Learn whether you chose correctly; it’s possible only outside the Kingdom. It’s known that Mavis still in the palace, and all of us here.”
“Why won’t you throw spirit here, and leave home alone?”
The man smiled.
“We are all knights of honour here. Others can’t live a year in the Mountain Kingdom.”
“But someone left from here?”
“People tell about such ones, I haven’t seen, perhaps, these are fairy tales for us not to lose hope,” the man shrugged the shoulders.
“And whom you got?” Mehr nodded on the girl.
“The drowned woman, she was deceived by some man, she was turned out, for dishonour, she was drowned and became a revenging spirit tempting and killing men. And then it decided to be installed in the flesh alive not to be tied to the lake. Even spirits have fairy tales,” the man grinned. Mehr recognized him; he was the disappeared king of the Southern lands – Urgus. The family mourned long ago the gone king who had gone to help Mavis out. And the people put fairy tales that the king would return and would judge offenders of simple people.
“She hears us?” Mehr asked, nodding on the girl, that looked in front of herself, with an unseeing look.
“Only if you address to her.”
Mehr touched Urgus’s shoulder.
“Why won’t you hide them in your kingdoms? Also, training, only at home?”
“Here nothing distracts. And here spirits behave quietly because they know if to throw them in the mountains, they won’t be able to leave. The image Mavis will dissipate, and they will become spirits outside the kingdom of Kur-lugal again. They need to be brought by the hand. There is such damnation.”
Mehr nodded and went further, among damned kings, who are peering at every Mavis.
Since then Mehr began to come here and watch, watch how kings treated the souls of spirits. He peered in ghosts, and in one day, suddenly understood that he saw, behind the image of the princess different beings – vampires, monsters, mermaids, different bogeys.
He ran to the friend at once. He was walking with Mavis and having another friendly, romantic chat.
“You never walk with us, Mehr,” the princess smiled. “Why? Is it absolutely uninteresting to you, being with me? You can take the test for me too.
Mehr sunny and politely smiled to Mavis in reply, looking in the shining blue eyes of the young witch. Of course, she knew about the test. Of course, she knew about the Mountain of Damned . But what for? Why Kur-lugal captivates kings with evil spirits?
“One test is not enough, it’s necessary to fall in love still mutually,” Mehr told. With each inhabitant of the Mountain of Damned , she had spent a year, in such friendly chats. And fell in love with nobody, didn’t tell at the last day that didn’t love anyone. “And what’s the test, Mavis?”
“To recognize me, Mehr, and that’s it. That’s what Sador is doing, huh?” gently she looked at the romantic prince in love, raised precious eyes on Mehr. “And you can.”
Mehr nodded, in the form it was fair, in fact, it was deception. Sador burst out laughing.
“I already know you,” Sador laughed again. “And Mehr sees all us through, you be beware of him, Mavis.”
“Will you recognize me if I arrive in an appearance of a bird to you, or I will come in a ray of sunlight?” Mavis laughed.
“I will”, Sador picked up the girl on hands and began to whirl. The princess laughed. Probably, not the first time they had this conversation, words sounded as spells, as vows given to each other.
Mehr stayed with the pair, listening to their cooing and thinking his own thoughts. And when Mavis left to herself, the friend took the prince to Mountain of Damned .
“And say to nobody what you know, neither Kur-lugal nor your Mavis,” Mehr told to Sador everything that knew.
Sador was silent long, thinking. Of course, in all fairy tales, princesses of foreign states were artful, all kings pursued their aims. What to tell, Sador went not for the sake of call of the siren, but for the sake of future political prosperity. But what to do now? How to get out prisoners of their own nobility? If they came back home, having left spirits in the mountain kingdom, they already would not be the best kings. Perhaps to get some teachers here, and to get out kings? But who would want to potter with the embittered dead? And what about Mavis? Was she paying compliments like this to everyone? And now left them at the Mountain? Or she went there and continued to coo with them? Perhaps it was better to leave this kingdom, to leave home? He knew the mystery of the Mountain kingdom now. Also, he can warn the others. But what about the captivated kings? And the princess? Blue eyes of Mavis already corroded Sador’s heart, but, probably, it could be repaired. There were many kings with the wounded hearts, but it didn’t prevent them from governing well.
“Listen, Sador, look attentively. You need to learn to see the essence behind the image of the princess,” Mehr whispered.
The friends came on Mountain of Damned at night; the kings were sleeping in their magic tents, that is why there were no houses here, magic created all necessary. Possibly, in the morning tents dissipated, and altogether looked after ghosts. And the ghosts organized the Sabbath, they didn’t need to talk, they rustled as in the Valley, they didn’t need the fire, their eyes burned, and now they had not blue eyes, as at the image of the princess, but different, everyone had their own. The show, of course, was terrible. Not all were here, some lay beside the sleeping people or in their embraces, flickering with the burning eyes, and having fixed the gaze to the dead world.
The ghosts looked at Sador and Mehr with interest but held off.
“You … bring me out!” suddenly one Lamia dared, having approached Mehr and taking him by hand. The palm of the ghost was cold and dry.
Sador shuddered and reached for the knife. Mehr stopped him.
“They cannot be killed,” he told the prince, smiled to the ghost. “And it’s not necessary. Where it to go to? Again to the Valley of Whisper?”
The vampire shivered with hatred, narrowing beautiful eyes of the princess, opened the mouth. Pretty Mavis’s face was distorted a spiteful grimace, that grimace which Lamia had.
“As soon as you get rid of the evil, you will be brought out. Unless you do not know that mountains absorb the evil? You are the captive of mountains because the rage and offence chained you to mountains.”
Lamia hissed, pulled out the hand and departed, hissing something.
“Swears,” Mehr grinned.
Sador shook the head.
“A godforsaken place.”
“Yes, Sador. And I don’t know whether there will be Mavis on the test. But you need to come here and to learn to see.”
And that’s how it went, Sador began to come on Mountain of Damned too. And Mehr started going to the Valley of Whisper now, and at the nights often came to the sabbath of ghosts, talking to them, and listening more.
The friends tried to understand why it was necessary for Kur-lugal, but somehow Mehr saw how queen Ryina went to the Valley of Whisper and rustled with the ghosts. And the siren had a gentle face, as of a loving mother. She consoled the dead, promising them soon new life. Mehr understood that enticed kings were there on purpose so that they nursed the wards of the siren.
Mehr began to watch the siren and somehow heard how she sang to the dead favourites, the siren was calling unpacified souls to the valley, telling about new life.
And then, somehow Mehr came to the Valley and began to strum the song of call of Ryina on the pipe. A little differently sounded the song of Mehr, but it was the same song.
Sador learned to see evil spirits behind image Mavis too. Now they sometimes together with Mehr went to the sabbaths of the ghosts.
Of course, he peered the princess too – in fairy tales never know who is in front of you. But Mavis was identical outside and in essence.
The day of the test came.
And here, in the evening, on the eve of the test, as usual, Kur-lugal called friends at the table.
“Well, Sador aren’t you bored at us?” the king asked.
“No, I am grateful that got to your kingdom, Dingir.”
“Still you want to take away my Mavis?” Kur-lugal squeezed the hand of the daughter.
“If she goes,” Sador smiled to the princess. Mavis smiled in reply and looked down. How many times did she do so?
“Well. Tomorrow is the test – the day of decisions. If you learned Mavis, then it will be easy for you to pass it.”
“And you will tell what test is?” Sador asked.
“I will,” having hesitated, the king answered. “On test two girls will look precisely as Mavis. One is Mavis; another is ghost incorporeal. You will need to choose where Mavis is. But if you choose and will begin to doubt – you will have still a choice, to refuse from Mavis and to leave alone. If you don’t refuse, then will take that choice and will leave. And only outside my kingdom you learn whether your choice is correct. Or you can leave today, alone.”
“What if I leave with a ghost?” Sador asked though he perfectly knew the answer.
“The ghost outside the kingdom can become the easy mark for spirits and maybe evil spirits. And neither a ghost nor a spirit can be killed. It will be possible to give the ghost back and to throw it in the mountains,” told Kur-lugal.
“And will it die? Will live in your kingdom?” the prince asked.
“Not live, but create the evil,” Kur-lugal smiled. “If you don’t remain with it and teach it to live with people.”
“I agree,” Sador nodded.
And in the evening Mavis came running to them to the room.
“Dear, Sador, refuse and leave. You are too young, you forever will remain in the mountains with the ghost,” the princess said.
“Why? Will your father deceive me? You won’t be the on the test?”
“No, I will be, but … how will you know? I wish I could give you a sign, but we then we’ll have such an unhappy life! I will always think that you would not recognize me,” the princess sighed.
“And to how many you came and told these words?” he didn’t sustain.
“Sador!..” Mehr interfered.
“Wait, Mehr, now is the time!”
Mavis turned pale.
“Yes? And all these people on Mountain of Damned? Didn’t you caress a year with everyone? So that the ghouls of your mother would find a flesh?” strictly the prince spoke.
Fantastic princes sometimes happen to be so.
Mavis burst into tears, reached hands to Sador.
“Yes, I know all these people, and none of them knew me, but you’re the first to whom I want to give a sign, Sador!”
We can trust the princess; fairy tales always talk about the last prince. The fairy tale is always already the decision. But it’s we who know that we are told something that will change the course of things. And Sador is a participant of the fairy tale; he doesn’t know that he is the last prince.
“I will participate in the test too,” Mehr interfered. “Two girls, we will leave with both. One I will choose, and you the other.”
“You?” Sador and Mavis were surprised in the chorus, having looked at Mehr.
“Yes. Also, I will choose the first.”
“But what for? I will choose Mavis, I am sure,” Sador told. “I have absolutely other torments. What to do with all captives of the Mountain of Damned? I came to release you, but also them. And, you don’t need it.”
“Ah, Sador,” the princess sat down in a chair. “My father is a powerful magician; he planned to make the world better. But he didn’t begin to get over it and cut it according to his drawings. In the world, there are poverty, and greed, and envy, and hostility. Strong kings cannot make friends with each other, all measure by benefit, allegedly, for a kingdom, but people live in these kingdoms poorly and unclear for whom this benefit is a benefit. How many times to my father they brought daughters and sons, selling them for stones from our caves. How many treacheries were here, when, so-called friends, tried to agree with my father, behind the backs of each other, about support, during an attack. Then he decided to select the best, these are those who could survive in the mountains a year, and to show them anew what is evil and good. All their time they spend here on an understanding of offences and the reasons for rage, they learn to help each other, learn to be friends. Those who had left with the well-mannered ghost – became the best kings. Father hopes that these kings will be able to build the new world.
“For now kingdoms in declines and villains govern there!” Sador told.
“Father says that when on the throne silly kings sit, there is no difference, between them and villains,” Mavis sighed.
“About something he is right, of course. But Mavis whether you would like to leave with me?”
The princess confusedly smiled, easily reddened.
“Yes, sweet Sador, I would like. And if you even stay here, in the mountains, with a ghost, I would come to you. Don’t be jealous, but I sometimes come on Mountain of Damned, to talk to those with whom I was connected with gentle friendship.”
“He won’t need this. He cannot stay here. Thanksland only sighed freely at his father; people need the king Sador,” Mehr interfered.
“Mehr, I don’t want to lose you; it’s necessary for me that you are near!” Sador told.
“And I, maybe, will also be near,” Mehr put the hand on the shoulder of the friend. “Remember, I am the first to choose.”
On the day of the test in the castle nothing changed. For this year there were holidays, magnificent, cheerful when doors were opened for all inhabitants of the Mountain Kingdom. But usually, every day, the table was set up simply, the powerful imperial family also dressed simply. So today also there was usual breakfast, Mavis was only excited more than usual.
“I once again suggest you to refuse the test, Sador. Go home; you can come to Mavis if you love her. But whenever you want to take her away, you’ll need to pass the test. And every year Ryina will sing, and Mavis will be free to fall in love with anyone,” offered Kur-lugal at the table.
“Mavis will always be free to fall in love with anyone,” Sador smiled. “No, I’ll take the test.”
“Well if so. After breakfast.”
“I want to fight for the princess too,” Mehr told.
“You?” the king was surprised.
Mehr shrugged his shoulders.
“I’ve lived a year here. Also knew her.”
“Cunning,” the king nodded, “it is noble. I shall add to the choice of one more ghost.”
Mavis involuntarily screamed.
“Of course,” Sador shrugged his shoulders.
“I will choose first,” Mehr said.
“Well, sure,” Kur-lugal agreed.
After breakfast, the king took Mavis away, asked the friends to wait. And later very few time, Ryina invited them in a hall.
In the room there were three girls, all identical, ghosts were neither paler, nor more dead. And all were stiffened as statues so that this Mavis wouldn’t give herself up involuntarily, Kur-lugal captivated the daughter too. In identical blue dresses, same that girls on Mountain of Damned dressed.
Mehr peered at the statues. The reader has already understood, of course, that Mehr chose a ghost, and Sador easily knew real Mavis. Behind the ghost there was no essence, and behind the princess, there was the princess. When I listened to this fairy tale myself, I thought that Mavis herself would also be a ghost. But no, it appeared, quite a living princess. Only, the daughter of the magician was much more, well, let’s say is slightly more senior, somewhat, than Sador. But it’s already not important at all, and not only in fairy tales.
Though, to you, readers, I can tell, Mavis isn’t the native daughter of Kur-lugal and Riyna, the siren in this world couldn’t have children, it was the first gift of greed to the mountain king, a daughter of one of the become impoverished king who had exchanged her for a chest with gemstones. But it’s unimportant; the daughter is the daughter. Kur-lugal and Ryina already also forgot that Mavis was brought to them and therefore never told about it. And the birth parents of Mavis died a very long time ago.
Kur-lugal seemed to be angry with Sador’s choice.
“You can refuse the choice,” the king said to Sador, looked at Mehr, “but you can’t.”
The friends smiled, equally and at the same time.
“No, we are happy with the choice.”
“But how you knew her? Accidentally?” the king didn’t sustain, falling off the throne.
“No, I saw where she was. I can know her from one thousand ghosts, however, I don’t have time for it. But you can create ten; I will know Mavis once again,” surely told the prince.
Kur-lugal rubbed his eyes.
“This is such old prophecy of love. I never thought that it would be fulfilled. Mavis is already old, just in my kingdom she does not get old absolutely, since the age of youth, or since she wants in your kingdom, she will grow old very slowly, people interested in taking away my daughter come here, I stopped to hope, that the condition of love will come true someday. I hoped, she would fall in love with somebody, here, at home, and then Ryina would cease to sing. Your choice is reckoned, Sador. But comply with my request, I want to know that it’s not an accident, choose her once again?”
“Yes, Dingir,” evidently responded the prince.
In the room there were still girls, the king mixed the statues. Sador peered into everyone until he reached Mavis yet and surely chose her.
“Once again?” Sador answered to the distrustful look of Kur-lugal.
“No, it will be unfair. Well, so this means we’ll have a real wedding. I’ve found the beloved one for my daughter, I, probably, am so glad that I cannot even understand it so far,” the king descended from the throne. “I want to make you a gift, and I will forgive the unsuccessful choice to your friend.”
Sador joyfully smiled.
“No,” Mehr interfered, “I want to take away what I’ve chosen.”
“But, Mehr?..” began Sador.
“Wait, young man, you do not understand all danger …” began the king. And Kur-lugal told them about Mountain of Damned in his kingdom.
“If you think that it’s good, then I’m nothing to feel pity for if you think that it is bad why you haven’t you felt pity for others? Or am I just insufficiently noble to bring up an evil spirit?” Mehr grinned.
The king was confused.
“Father, they knew about the Mountain, long ago,” Mavis who had regained consciousness from charms told.
“You are unusual people, but, probably, nobody else could become a husband of my Mavis,” moved his head Kur-lugal. “What now? Stay, we will celebrate the wedding here!”
“No, I want to see parents, to tell that everything is good with me. The wedding will be in Thanksland, I want to acquaint the bride with parents, and the country with the new queen, and you come to us,” Sador refused.
“What can present you with, brave young man?” the king turned to Mehr.
“I will think, Dingir,” the soldier smiled. “Just remember you word to present me something.”
Charges, farewells, at last, the friends left the castle. Mavis sat on Sador’s horse, in front of him, and though gifts and horses were enough, the prince didn’t want to part with the princess. Mehr carefully as some fragile figurine, carried in front of himself the ghost in the blue dress.
“Mehr, I thought, just let’s travel over the Valley of Whisper, huh?” Sador told. “And to your doll nobody will stick?”
“No, let’s make everything as it is necessary. Someone has been waiting for life for the whole year. And someone even longer …” refused Mehr.
Sador became silent; only the look of the dark eyes grew sad. Mountain of Damned took, bewitched the friend, he would receive a monster and wouldn’t take it, of course, in Thanksland, would remain here, in the mountains, with the damned kings. And it was painful, intolerable to live without whom you couldn’t live.
At the Valley Mehr got out the pipe and played. That melody which he composed, having heard the song of Ryina for the dead. The rustle became louder, Mavis nestled on the prince, the pushes of the dead, it was not wind, of course, the reader understands now, became stronger.
The ghost on Mehr’s horse twitched as some puppet as if ghosts fought for the body. The man slowly went on the Valley and played, looking at what he chose. Suddenly the ghost ceased to shiver, deeply sighed, blinked and looked at Mehr.
“M … Me … Mehr?” told the ghost.
The soldier ceased to play, looking at the ghost Mavis.
“I was dead, huh? I remember a usual day at home; I was waiting for you from the campaign. Then some dream, I flew and saw some countries, mountains, seas, but you were not anywhere. And then I heard your melody which you played to me and went to it. Where are we?”
Mehr removed the pipe, pressing the found darling to himself. He could not speak. The grief of the last years, the tormenting hope of the last year and the last victory as if in a flash took away all forces.
Sador burst out laughing, at last, having understood what Mehr conceived, having learned about Mountain of Damned.
“But why you did not tell me?!”
“I was afraid that wouldn’t turn out. And the hope would break off my heart. Shyleekh, I will tell everything to you. Then. We go home. And now I will never lose you.”
And having left the Mountain kingdom, Shyleekh became herself. However, when they came to the Mountain Kingdom, Shyleekh and Mavis looked very alike, but not identical, just like sisters. Sador and Mavis had children, and the most of the time they were brought up by Kur-lugal and Ryina. Mehr and magic Shyleekh could have no children, but they could raise other children – the dead wards of the siren, the sold to Kur-lugal children, the children of Sador.
And all their fantastic life, – and fantastic heroes live as long as the fairy tale lives, who hasn’t die in the fairy tale won’t die until the fairy tale dies, – friends never parted.
Kur-lugal had no more daughters, but they brought up daughters and sons of mountains sold to them for treasures. And Ryina also sang, only now more often because there were more children. To them also began to come those who had been undeceived in love that the prophecy of love would also be performed for them, both young, and old. And the siren sang and also called love for them.
And nevertheless, Mehr insisted on schools for the ghosts that not only kings would learn evil spirits to live without rage. But also someone would teach kings how to teach.
The fairy tale was told to me by Mehr, of course, not only a soldier but also a minstrel. He needed this fairy tale to return his Shyleekh and to lose nobody anymore in eternity.
I thought, I would tell you a fairy tale about a salvation from a villain, about cunning. But it turned out that the fairy tale absolutely without villains. Just about the choice. Which can become damnation and can become fairy tale.