Long ago, in a far away kingdom, there reigned a fortress no God could tear down. In this kingdom there lived a Prince who would soon inherit the throne. As his father’s time came to an end, the Prince gathered his loyal Knights for a stroll among the lands. Before he took the throne, the Prince longed for adventure; to conquer a nation. They mounted their horses, they galloped through the streets. The Prince and his Knights rode into the sunset as his future kingdom bid them a safe travel.
In the land of milk and honey the Prince and his Knights wandered, marveled at every turn. Miles of endless wonder stretched beyond the kingdom, as far as the eye could see. Puddles shimmered in the air, lakes replenished the wild. Blankets of hills colored the vastness. Clouds ate the mountain tops as they took new shapes, scattering along the blue sky. The Prince and his Knights pranced along a trail that lead them far, far away.
One day, the Prince and his Knights came across a forest where tall trees grow. Shadows loomed afar as they gazed inside. Night consumed the forest on a sunny day, they noted. “No man would dare enter this forest,” the first Knight began. “This forest is plagued with tales of dark malicious doom.” Their horses fell back for even they sensed trouble. The Prince snarled and laughed. Creatures echoed as birds resettled in the beyond.
“Prince,” continued the first Knight, “We must not. This is a forest with no trail. Many have entered, none have returned.” The other Knights contemplated as their horses stomped away. “I plea, young Prince, we must map a different route.”
“’Tis not but a forest,” the brave Prince laughed. “We can cut across and make our journey short.” The Prince drew his sword and entered the forest.
“Prince, it could be the end of us if we step inside the Forest of Forgotten Wonder.” The first Knight repeated, pleading to his master. “Our supply is limited, we carry a months journey. If we head towards the mountains we can trade in the market for more.” The Prince faded away, ignoring the warnings his Knight proclaimed. They struggled to convince their horses to enter the forest. Cold whispers blew in their necks, sending chills up their spine.
“If anyone should die,” spoke the Prince as he raised his sword to the sky, “It shall be I!” The Prince disappeared further into the forest, his Knights lagged behind.
Deep in the forest, creatures lingered in the unknown world. The Knights held their swords as light from the sun became dimmer and grimmer. Nothing but tall thick woods and an uneasy heaviness surrounded the Prince and his Knights. Echoes of distant animals sang in their ears. Their horses became fretful as danger whispered to the wind. The Prince and his Knights calmed their fears. They attempted to get the horses back in formation but they were too scared. Something frightened them at every turn, at every crack.
Off in the distance came a faint cry of terror only the horses could hear. The horses became wild. They kicked the air, attacking whatever invisible threat that stood before them. The Prince and his Knights fell to the ground as the horses jumped and kicked. The horses were gone in an instant, they disappeared into the depths of the forest. The Prince and his Knights continued their quest on foot. With their swords in hand, they began to walk the unmarked trail up ahead not aware of the danger that stood in their way.
The Prince paused as he listened closely. Over in the distance a pack of wolves stomping the ground neared. The prince turned to his Knights and encouraged them for a battle. The stomping became louder, their numbers multiplied as the sound of hungry wolves approached them. “Come alive men!” The Prince shouted valiantly. He swung his sword and glued his feet to the ground. “We will kill them all if we must!” The Prince proclaimed in hopes of inspiring his Knights.
The sound of wolves rattled behind a bush. The Prince and his Knights prepared themselves for blood when nothing but a gust of wind carrying the sound of wolves rushed before them. The cool refreshing burst of air blew dirt from the ground and into their eyes. They covered their faces as the dirt from the wind flew away, taking the stomping of wolves with it. They cleared their eyes as silence settled. They stood for a moment, dumbfounded, as they realized they were never in any danger.
As days became weeks, their next chapter through the forest became unsettling. Their food and water were becoming scarce. The Prince questioned every turn as his Knights glared from behind. His every decision brought resentment from his Knights. The less food they ate, the less water they consumed the more agitated the Prince and his Knights became. His Knights warning of passing through the forest haunted his every thought.
Up ahead, the sound of a waterfall broke the silence. They followed, not knowing if it were true. The pouring stream lead the Prince and his Knights to a massive statue spouting water into a lake. The Knights rejoiced as they ran towards its vibrant ocean. They cupped their hands and dipped them into the lake to revive their thirst. “Halt!” Came the warning of the first Knight. “We must not drink the waters.”
“And why not?” The second Knight protested.
“Because it comes from the forest,” the first Knight answered. The rest turned to the Prince for his approval.
“If we must not, we must not.” The Prince finished, defeated. They gathered their things and continued their journey.
When weeks turned to a month, the Prince and his Knights passing through the forest took a turn for the worst. His once loyal Knights began to doubt the Prince. The further they traveled, the deeper their regret resonated. They wondered, questioned if and when will they ever climb out of the forest, to feel the light of day once again. The tall thick trees began to take form as faces mocked the Prince and his Knights, frightened them deeper into the forest. Their eyes judged, their mouths laughed as the wind howled.
Slowly, they began to turn on one another for the remaining scraps of food and water. Order toppled down until one day the Knights had had enough. Their resentment towards the Prince turned to a grudge that overpowered the Knights. One Knight took his sword and challenged the Prince. As the Prince drew his sword, another challenged him as well. The Knights swung at the Prince, nearly decapitating his arm. The Prince fell to the ground as the rest surrounded their liege. The Prince looked them in the eye and saw possessed men.
The Prince managed to get on his feet with his sword in hand. He dodged a swinging sword and missed a punch. The Prince did all he could to keep his Knights from taking his life. He ran away but ended up cornered. The Knights approached the Prince with their swords aimed for his head. Out from the bushes emerged the first Knight. The Prince went to him for help, unfortunately the first Knight had turned on him as well. “Once upon a time, you had said if anyone should die, ‘Will be I.’” The first Knight reminded the Prince as he swung his sword. The Prince stood cornered to face death at the hands of his Knights.
Just as the first Knight swung to kill, the Prince blocked then ran. He ran as fast as he could, never looking back. With every sprint, the Prince could feel the edge of the Knight’s sword behind him. He jumped every fallen tree, ducked through every branch that stood in his way. Thorns cut his face all the while. Suddenly, the Prince fell down a hill. He rolled through the steep hill and into a small shallow pond. He lay on the ground as he gasped for air. The Prince managed to escape his Knights but ended up lost in the forest.
Up ahead, a sweet melody lured the Prince out of his entanglement. The Prince got to his feet and walked towards the hypnotic hum. He came across an old cottage hidden in the forest. Inside, a young beautiful maiden sang as she dusted the window frame unaware of the Prince. He was as surprised but happy to have found someone. The Prince approached the entrance and knocked. The maiden happily opened the door and welcomed the Prince inside.
“My, a Prince on my door step.” She sang, “Please, do come in.” She stood aside as the Prince made his way in. She gestured him to sit as they entered the open kitchen.
“Thank you,” said the Prince. “Would you happen to have any spare food or water?”
“Why yes,” replied the maiden, “Anything for a Prince.” She placed a small glass of water in front of him. “How did you ever come across this place?”
“My Knights and I are on a quest,” the Prince began, “Or so we were.” He noticed the cottage seemed ancient, “I lost my Knights and stumbled upon this place.” He looked around. There were spider webs and dust everywhere. “Do you live here?”
“Please, my lord, drink.” The maiden adored. “You must be thirsty.” The Prince raised the glass to his mouth then stopped.
“What well did you pull this water from?” The Prince questioned.
“Not a well but a nearby lake,” the maiden answered, gracefully.
The Prince tossed the glass onto the floor, got to his feet and aimed his sword to the maiden. “Who are you?” The Prince demanded to know.
“You are very observant, my liege.” The maiden said as she turned dark and evil.
Once again, the Prince was on the run; for his life. He left the old cottage and entered the forest as the evil maiden chased him. She hissed as she inched her way closer to the Prince. Her fingers grew long and sharp. Her once long beautiful blond hair turned wild and dark. Her mouth watered as she came closer in capturing the Prince. She was hungry for royalty, his pure breed was a rare delicacy she did not want to pass on. He ran as fast as he could but could not escape the evil maiden. She was faster than he.
Then, the Prince worst nightmare stood before him. He stopped in his tracks as he faced his Knights who were looking for him. The Knights ran towards the Prince, their swords hungry for his blood. With the maiden behind, the Prince leaped to one side as his Knights collided with the evil maiden. The maiden, stronger than the Prince’s Knights, ate the Knights to pieces. The Prince crawled away to a near by shrub for safety.
The maiden tore through the Knights as if they were paper. She tossed them in the air, threw them against each other while munching on their limbs. The Prince hid behind a tree as he witnessed his Knights scream for mercy. Once the evil maiden finished the Prince’s Knights, the Prince came from behind and jammed his sword right through the maiden’s wicked heart. He stood in a puddle of blood as the bodies of the evil maiden and his Knights lay on the ground.
The young Prince continued his journey through the forest, alone. Tales of the enchanted Forest of Wonders were all true, the Prince came to find as he voyaged through. He fought every eerie whisper that called to him, prophesying of pending dooms. Persevered the strange figures that haunted him at night. He alone bravely defeated anything that came his way. The Prince proved to the forest that he wasn’t afraid, he was alone but never afraid.
At long last, light from the sun off in the distance broke through the abyss. The Prince conquered the forest, bruised but alive. Gallantly, the Prince holstered his sword and climbed out of the forest thick trees. A breath of fresh air filled his lungs, light warmed his embrace as the heavens opened its doors to him. The horizon no longer loomed hopelessness but everlasting miracles. To his surprise, the horses stood by the forest splurging on grass. The Prince mounted his horse and continued his journey into the sunrise heading far, far away.