Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Metamorphosis

In the Kingdom of Oth in the far-east, there once ruled the proud yet benevolent King- King Ogzan. The people of the kingdom fondly called him King Oggy. As with all kings whose stories got told, King Oggy too had a daughter called Princess Reeyan and just as all princesses whose stories get told, she too had come of age and was ready for marriage. Princess Reeyan had grown up to be a breathtakingly beautiful young lady and stories of her beauty had quickly travelled far beyond the borders of Oth.

There were many who sought the beautiful Princess Reeyan’s hand in marriage – there were mighty kings and handsome princes, but they all returned disappointed as none could impress the haughty princess. This had left King Oggy very worried as he was getting old and he wanted to leave his kingdom and his daughter Reeyan in safe hands before death found him.

So one day King Oggy called his trusted minister Bukdar and said, “Bukdar, my friend, you need to help me. I am getting old and weak and I still do not have an heir who is worthy enough to marry Reeyan and rule this kingdom.”

On hearing this, Bukdar calmly replied,” Your Highness!  Despair not. If your heir does not come to us, we will go to him! I will forthwith set out in search for the man who will be worthy of marrying Reeyan and also worthy of being the King of Oth.  Worry you not, O’king – we will journey across the seven seas if we have to, but we will not return empty handed”.

Saying thus, Bukdar, along with Princess Reeyan and a few trusted soldiers, set out on their search disguised as a wealthy merchant and his daughter. They visited several kingdoms and met several kings and princes and noble men – but none made the cut. They were too proud and didn’t care for others, or too ill mannered, or too greedy for wealth, or too weak, or given to too much drinking or plain old ugly.

So Bukdar and Reeyan carried on with their search, traveling many a mile into far flung lands in search of the perfect prince!

One stormy night, as they made their way through a dense forest on the way to the kingdom of Zanchuqua, their company was attacked by a large group of dacoits. Bukdar’s men were quickly outnumbered and the dacoits looted everything that they could take and burnt what they could not. The leader of the dacoits was completely taken in by Reeyan’s beauty and he decided to make her his bride. He hefted Reeyan with one hand on to his horse and sped away with the rest of his gang in tow.  Reeyan cried for help but it was of no avail. Bukdar and his men were completely helpless and lay wasted on the forest floor unable to do anything.

Princess Reeyan quickly gave up all hope of being rescued and resigned herself to her fate. The dacoits finally stopped at an opening among the dense trees to rest for the night. They left Reeyan resting against a tree with her hands tied behind her back. They lit a fire and they ate and they drank and they made bawdy jokes. The dacoit leader threw lusty glances at her every now and then with his beady eyes. After some time, he got up and walked slowly up to her with purpose, but he didn’t make it. He fell forward without a sound with a single arrow pierced through his forehead between his eyes.  Others were too drunk to notice what happened or to react even if they noticed. Before Reeyan could make sense of what was happening, the dark bushes behind her parted like the doors to hell and out jumped a large black horse with a man riding it. The man quickly pulled Reeyan up onto the horse and they sped away through the trees into the inky darkness leaving behind the drunk and dazed dacoits.

They rode fast and steady for several hours. Princess Reeyan was too scared to utter a word. Being hefted up roughly on to a horse from the ground two times in a night was something that she was not used to as a princess. Her mind was too pre-occupied trying to decide if this was a savior or yet another villain wanting her for himself. Finally, she felt the horse slowing down and they came to a halt. The man got down and helped her down gently. It was only then that she got a good look at her new captor. He was a tall, young man and when she got a closer look, to her distress, she found herself instantly attracted to his kind but handsome face.   She dismissed this as being some manifestation of the Stockholm Syndrome.

He saw her looking at him and smiled at her even as she quickly averted her eyes and said , “ Are you ok?”
“Yes, I am ok”, she whispered. “But who are you?”

“I am Zong, the ex-Prince of Argaman. I was passing through the forest when I happened to hear your cries for help. And the rest is history”, he said with a smile and twinkle in his eye

To cut a rather long story short let me tell you that they found Bukdar and his men walking slowly through the forest, and then Prince Zong and Princess Reeyan fell in love and decided to get married and so  together they all returned to the Kingdom of Oth, Bukdar having fulfilled his promise to King Oggie.

The wedding was a splendid affair. The high priest finally pronounced Zong, the ex-prince of Argaman and Reeyan, the princess of Oth as man and wife and willed them to kiss. The crowd surged forward to get a better look as Zong took Reeyan into his arms. Princess Reeyan closed her eyes and Zong bent down and kissed her on her lips. And then the air was rent with the collective gasp of the thousands that had come to watch them wed – common people, nobles, kings, rich merchants and more and Bukdar swooned,  Princess Reeyan screamed and King Oggie breathed his last. 

There, next to princess Reeyan where prince Zong had earlier stood, squatted on the ground, a rather large ugly looking frog.  The frog croaked twice and hopped away into the bushes.

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