I found a huge, coiled snake in the most remote room of an enchanted castle. The snake spoke and said, “Have you come, oh, my deliverer?”
She was a maiden, rejoicing to see me. “I have waited twelve years for you,” she said. “My kingdom is bewitched, and you must set it free.”
“How can I do that?” I asked.
“Tonight, twelve men in chains will come, and they will ask you what you are doing here. Do not speak to them! They will beat you and stab you, but say nothing, and at twelve o’clock, they will go away. On the second night, twelve more will come, and on the third night, twenty-four, and they will cut off your head. But at twelve o’clock, their power will be over, and if you have endured it all without saying the slightest word, I will be released. I will come to you with the water of life, and I will rub it on you. You will come to life again and be as healthy as before.”
“I will gladly set you free,” I said.
King of the Golden Mountain in King of the Golden Mountain, Grimms. Painting by Odilon Redon.