Once upon a time there was a king who was seriously ill. His three desperate children no longer knew what to do to cure him. One day, as they were strolling sadly through the palace garden, an old man with glassy eyes and a white beard approached them.
– I know you are concerned about your father’s health. Believe me when I tell you that the only thing that can heal him is the water of life. Go find her and have her drink if you want her to recover.
– And where can we get it? – They asked at the same time.
– I am sorry to tell you that it is very difficult to find, so much so that until now no one has managed to reach its whereabouts.
– Right now I’ll go find her! – Said the older brother thinking that if he healed his father, he would be the one who would inherit the crown.
He entered the stable, saddled his horse, and galloped into the forest. In the middle of the road, he ran into a pixie that made him stop short.
– Where are you going? – Said the strange being with a piping voice.
– What do you care? Get out of my way, you stupid dwarf!
The goblin was offended and cast a curse at him that caused the path to drift into the mountains. The king’s son became disoriented and was trapped in a gorge from which it was impossible to get out.
Seeing that his brother did not return, the middle of the children decided to go for the water of life, wishing to also become the future king. He followed the same route through the forest and was also surprised by the curious goblin.
– Where are you going? He asked in his characteristic high-pitched voice.
– I’m going to tell you, you little wondering dwarf! Get out there and leave me alone!
The goblin turned away and, annoyed, threw the same curse on him as on his brother: he diverted him into the deep gorge between the mountains, from where he could not escape.
The king’s youngest son was worried about his brothers. The days passed, neither of them had returned and his father’s health was deteriorating by the minute. He felt that he had to do something and set off with his horse to try his fortune. The forest elf crossed his path, of course.
– Where are you going? – He asked with a curious face.
– I’m going in search of the water of life to heal my father, the king, although the truth is that I don’t know where I should go.
The goblin was happy! At last they had treated him with politeness and kindness. She looked the young man in the eye and realized that he was a kind-hearted man.
– I’ll help you! I know the place where you can find the water of life. You have to go to the garden of the enchanted castle because there is the spring you are looking for.
– Oh thanks! But … How can I enter the castle, if as you say, it is enchanted?
The goblin reached into his pocket and produced two loaves and a magic wand.
– Here, this is for you. When you get to the castle door, tap your wand three times on the lock and it will open. If two lions appear, give them the bread and you can pass. But you must hurry to get the water from the spring, because at midnight the doors will close forever and, if you are still inside, you will never be able to leave.
The king’s son thanked the goblin for his help and they hugged each other goodbye. He left very animated and convinced that, sooner or later, he would find the water of life. He rode tirelessly for days and finally, he spotted the enchanted castle.
When he was in front of the door, he did what the goblin had told him to do. He tapped the doorway three times with his wand and the massive gate swung open. At that moment, two lions with sharp fangs and huge claws, ran towards him ready to attack him. With one swift movement, he took the buns from his pocket and tossed them into his mouth. The lions seized them and, meek as sheep, they sat placidly enjoying the bread.
He entered the castle and upon reaching the doors of the great hall, he broke them down. Sitting there, staring blankly, was a beautiful princess with sad eyes. The poor girl had long been imprisoned by an evil spell.
– Oh, thank you for setting me free! You are my savior! – She said kissing him on the lips – I imagine you come to look for the water of life … Run, you don’t have much time left! Go to the spring in the garden, next to the climbing rose. I will wait for you here. If you come back to find me before a year, I will be your wife.
The boy kissed her passionately and left there. He had fallen in love at first sight! He hurried through the garden and… Yes, there was the desired fountain! He filled a flask with the water of life and ran to the door, where his horse was waiting for him. It was seconds to twelve at night and just as he crossed the threshold, the gate closed behind him.
Back in the forest, the goblin appeared again before him. The young man returned to show his deep appreciation.
– Hi friend! Thanks to your advice I have found the spring of the water of life! I’m going to take it to my father.
– Great! I’m glad for you!
But suddenly, the young man lowered his head and his face clouded with sadness.
– My only regret now is knowing where my brothers are …
– I have given your brothers well deserved! They were rude and selfish. I hope you have learned your lesson. I condemned them to remain trapped in the mountains, but in the end I felt sorry for them and set them free. You will find them a few kilometers from here, but be careful, I don’t trust them!
– You are very generous… Thank you, friend! Until forever!
He resumed his journey and just as the goblin had told him, he found his brothers wandering through the forest. The three together, returned to the castle. There they found a very sad scene: his father, surrounded by servants, was dying in silence on his bed.
There was no time to lose! The little brother rushed to give him the water of life. As soon as he drank it, the king regained his happiness and health. She hugged her children and began to eat to regain strength. Seeing is believing! It even seemed like he had rejuvenated a few years!
That night the whole family gathered around the fireplace. The youngest of the brothers took advantage of the moment to relate everything that had happened to him. He told them the story of the goblin, the haunted castle, and how he had freed the princess from her enchantment. In the end, he told them that he had to come back for her, as she was waiting impatiently for him to become his wife.
His two older brothers were dying of envy. Thanks to him, his father was cured and on top of that he had won the love of a beautiful heiress. Each one on their own, decided to get ahead of their brother. They wanted to get to the castle as soon as possible and get the princess to marry them.
Meanwhile, she was nervously awaiting the king’s youngest son. He commanded his servants to lay a gold carpet from the forest to the entrance of the palace and warned the guards to only allow the knight to come riding through the center of the carpet.
The first to arrive was the older brother, who, seeing the gold carpet, stepped aside and made a detour so as not to spoil it. The soldiers forbade him to enter.
An hour later the middle brother arrived. Seeing the gold carpet, he feared to stain it with mud and preferred to access the palace by an alternative route. The soldiers did not let him pass either.
Finally, the little one appeared. From afar, he saw the princess at the window, and his emotion was so great that he sped across the golden carpet. He didn’t even look at the ground, all he wanted was to rescue her and take her with him. The soldiers opened the door as he passed and the princess received him with a long kiss of love.
And so ends the story of the brave, kind-hearted young man who, with the help of a forest pixie, healed his father, found the woman of his dreams, and became the new king.