Once upon a time, there was a Prince who lived in a castle.
One day, as he was walking through the forest near his home, hunting with his falcon, a Cat came to him and put its paw on his arm. Though the Cat’s lips did not move, the Prince seemed to hear it speak in his thoughts. This is how the Prince knew that there was magic involved.
The Magical Cat seemed to say, “Come with me on a mystical Quest. Your reward will be greater than you can imagine.”
The Prince was a bold youth and he undertook to follow the Cat’s Quest. Calling his pet falcon to his arm, he attached a message to its leg telling the king and queen he was embarking on a Quest with a magical Cat and would return with his reward as soon as he could.
He bade them not to worry, that he would remain pure in all things and that his Quest would be a noble one. As soon as the falcon was dispatched, the Prince bade the Magical Cat lead on.
The Magical Cat led the Prince boldly on through the forest until they reached a river. The stream was swift and deadly, and the Prince despaired of crossing to the other side safely.
The Cat said, “Fear not! My magic will see us safely across. Have faith. Close your eyes and begin to cross.”
The Prince closed his eyes and stepped into the river.
It was like a miracle! His feet did not touch the wet raging water of the river, but tapped into the wooded deck of a small dragon-boat. The Magical Cat jumped in lightly after him.
They shoved off to the opposite shore. Unbeknownst to them, however, their progress did not go unobserved!
Nearby, a Wizard lived in a cave. The cave was dark and dank and cobwebs hung from the ceiling. Mushrooms of large size and weird color grew in the cave.
The Wizard was able to watch the Cat and the Prince on their Quest by means of a powerful crystal ball. As he watched, he mumbled to himself, saying eerie spells and incantations.
As the dragon-boat neared the shore, suddenly, it sprung a leak! The Cat and the Prince were thrown into the water and were swept downstream in the rapid current. Try though they might, they could not reach the shore.
Just when it seemed that they were lost forever, a Dwarf appeared in the shore and called out, “If I save you, what will be my reward?”
The Cat replied, “Your reward will be more than you can imagine!”
Suddenly, above their heads there appeared a ladder, leading into the air. “Grab the ladder,” said the Dwarf. “It will be your salvation. And then you can bestow on me the reward beyond my imagining.”
The Prince grabbed the ladder and helped the Cat to reach it. They climbed out of the torrent and found themselves on a magic flying carpet!
The Dwarf, fearing they would fly off without bestowing his reward, began leaping and hopping and called out, “Do not leave me without the great treasure beyond imagining!!”
And the Magical Cat replied, “I will grant you a companion who will amuse you, keep you company and, best of all, you will never have to crane your neck to gaze into his face.”
And *poof* there appeared before the Dwarf a friendly little monkey, who would become a lifelong friend. And so it is until this very day.
The heroes continued on the flying carpet, unaware that their progress was being watched by the Wizard in his cave.
As he watched, he turned to his large cauldron and threw in some of the mushrooms, and, chanting softly, he worked his spell.
And the friends found their carpet suddenly without its magic and falling out of the sky!! The ground seemed to hurtle at them with amazing speed!
Just when it seemed that they would crash into the road below, the Prince cried out in terror
And *poof* a Fairy appeared and, with her wand, sprouted wings on the two heroes! They were then able to check their downward tumble and continue to fly on their way.
Between flapping his wings and watching the ground slipping beneath him, the Prince began to wonder at the nature of the Quest that the Magical Cat was leading him on.
“Where are we headed?” he ventured to ask, as he followed the flying Cat.
“All will be revealed,” the Cat seemed to say inside the Prince’s head.
Meanwhile, in his cave, the Wizard was brewing and mumbling, as he watched the pair soar within his crystal ball.
Suddenly, the air was filled with the sound of beating leather wings and the Cat and the Prince were confronted with a Dragon flying straight for them!!
It blew fire and billowed smoke; our heroes were hard-pressed to fly fast enough to get away!
But then, ahead of them, they saw another forest. The Cat called out in the Prince’s head, “Fly down among the trees! The Dragon is too large to fly between the trees and we can hide!”
And that is what they did. The Dragon, in his haste, was unable to halt and crashed mightily into the forest, setting the trees afire!
The Cat and the Prince shed their wings and ran from the fire.
They ran, and ran, at last spying a cottage within the woods.
They ran up to the door and knocked. The Prince cried out, “Whoever dwells within these walls, get you out!! A forest fire rages this way! Come with us and we will save you!”
An ancient quavering voice came from within, saying, “Come in, come in. Calm yourselves. I am the Witch, Bellisyl, the Witch of this forest. The fire dares not burn me.”
And, lo! As the fire burned toward the cottage, it stopped abruptly, though no water nor wind touched its progress.
The Prince was exhausted by his adventures, and when the Witch offered the pair food, drink and shelter, he gratefully accepted.
As he drifted into a fitful slumber, tossing and turning, dreams came to him.
He saw an ornate mirror, imaged in which was a beautiful Princess. She seemed to cry out to him to save her, but he did not know how.
“How can I save you, my lady?” he entreated.
Softly, she told him of an enchanted lyre, which, when the proper chord was struck, would shatter the mirror and set her free.
“But where will I find the lyre?” he pleaded.
But all the enchanted mirror showed was the Magical Cat.
The next morning, the Cat and the Prince awoke early and bade the Witch farewell.
The Prince asked the Cat to reward the Witch for her hospitality and *poof* before the Witch appeared a large mole.
The Cat said kindly, “Here is a companion for you. Though you have been shunned by humankind because of your looks, here is one who will behold you for the goodness of your soul.”
And it was so, because moles cannot see.
The Magical Cat and the Prince pressed forth into the forest, their every step shadowed by the Wizard’s crystal ball.
The Wizard rubbed his evil lamp and the smoke that issued forth found its way into the Prince’s eyes. The Prince began to tire and his attention wandered.
Before he realized what was happening, he had lagged behind and lost sight of the Cat!
He called and searched the forest but he could not find the Cat! But as he searched, he chanced upon a frog sitting on a tree stump.
“Well met, young Prince.” said the frog. “Give up your Quest and you shall have riches beyond the dreams of avarice.”
And in front of the Prince, appeared a bag of gold.
“Nay!” quoth the Prince. “Gold has naught to do with my Quest! I seek to rescue the Princess from the enchanted mirror!”
The Wizard in his cave rubbed furiously on the evil lamp and the smoke again flowed into the Prince’s eyes.
“If you will not have gold, then the pure beauty of the Unicorn shall be yours!” said the frog.
He jumped down from the stump and from it leapt forth a glorious Unicorn.
The Prince, in a haze, looked upon the Unicorn. “Never have I seen such beauty,” he mused. “Not even when I gazed into the enchanted mirror in my dreams.”
Just as he reached out to embrace the Unicorn, the Magical Cat leapt from the forest and laid its paw against the Prince’s arm.
Suddenly, his vision cleared and he cried out, “What am I doing?!? O, thank you, Magical Cat for saving me from grave error! Let us proceed to find the enchanted mirror!”
And as he was so saying, the Unicorn *poof*,
the bag of gold *poof*
and the frog *poof* disappeared,
revealing within the stump, the lyre of the Prince’s dream!!
And beyond, lay the entrance to the Wizard’s cave.
Drawing his sword, the Prince admonished the Cat to fall behind him.
“I will be your protection this time, worthy Cat. Please bring the lyre and guard it, should I fall,” he said boldly.
The Magical Cat followed the Prince through the cobwebs of the cavern, past the mushrooms, until they came upon the dark, dank main chamber.
There hung the enchanted mirror!
The Prince rushed forward to see the Princess within the mirror, but she cried out, “Oh, look to your back!”
And the Prince whirled around to face the mighty Wizard, who rushed at him with the evil lamp, its spout billowing smoke.
But the prince was ready and his sword swiftly knocked the lamp aside, so that the smoke blew into the Wizard’s face.
The Wizard shrieked and bellowed, but gradually his cries turned into the croaks of the frog he had appeared as outside the cave!
And he hopped out of the cave. He has never been seen again to this very day.
The Prince sheathed his sword and took the lyre from the Cat.
“O Princess,” he asked, “where are the chords that will set you free?”
“I cannot tell you, o Prince.” She answered sadly.
“Then I will stay here striking chords until I free you, death takes me or the world end!” he swore, and began to play.
He played and played until his head began to droop and he fell into a troubled sleep.
In his dreams, the Magical Cat came to him and whispered in his ear, “The chords you must play are those of the heart. Only true love will free the Princess.”
And suddenly he awoke to hear the Princess in the enchanted mirror singing softly and her words were those of longing to be free.
The Prince was so saddened by her plight that he cried out from his heart, “O Princess in the enchanted mirror, how I love you and do long to marry you!!
“My parents, the King and Queen would be honored to have you as my wife.”
And, as he spoke, the lyre began to thrum in harmony with his words,
and, with the thrumming, the enchanted mirror began to quiver,
and, with the quivering, the enchanted mirror suddenly shattered!!
The Princess stood free of the enchanted mirror!
The Prince rushed to embrace her and the Magic Cat mewed with pleasure.
“O, you have saved my mistress from the dread Wizard of the cave! Forevermore, I will serve you with my magic.
“That is the reward beyond your imagining, which I promised you when we began the Quest!”
“Ah no, most honored Cat,” spoke the Prince. “The Princess’s freedom is that reward beyond my imagining, whether she marries me or no….
“But I hope she will.” he added with a smile.
The Princess placed her hand in his and promised to be his wife and helpmate in all things.
The Cat caused the dragon-boat to appear before them and, bidding the happy couple to embark, caused the dragon boat to rise in the air.
Flying swiftly, the three passed over the forest of the Witch, where they waved to Bellisyl and her mole;
over the raging river, where they greeted the Dwarf and his monkey;
and home to the castle, where the Prince’s falcon circled, waiting for them.
The King and Queen rejoiced to see their son again, and were honored to accept the Princess as their daughter.
If you wish to hear the story that the Prince told his parents, you must start this book all over again.
But rest assured, they all lived happily ever after.