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Iron Sandals

We're a tough pair! We are made of iron and forged in fire. We have been made to slog through every kind of terrain. We have been scoured by desert sand and scraped by mountains of flint. We have been frozen on ice and scorched in the lava flows. We were worn by a...

Flying Horse

I would like to return home to my stable in the heavens. It's on top of a high mountain, and twelve flying horses live there, including my twin brother. They are guarded and cared for by an old woman. The horses are sleek and majestic, except for my twin. At first...

Discharged Soldier Who is Carefree

I hadn't learned a trade, so when I got discharged, I wandered. Begged alms. Kept the rain off my back with an old coat, and sloshed through the muck in a pair of buffalo-leather riding boots. I met up with a huntsman one day who seemed to have gotten himself lost in...

Maid of Maleen

My mistress Maleen didn't want to marry her father's choice of a man. She loved a neighboring king's son, and he loved her. His father was all for the marriage, but not Maleen’s father. He was a mighty king, and he had to have the last word. Maleen refused to marry...

Mother Who Escapes With Her Son

My son Hans and I had been held by robbers from the time he was small, and I was so proud of Hans when he stood up to them. He was only ten years old, but he had a strong club and the robbers were drunk. The captain punched him so hard he fell to the floor, but then...

Husband of a Woman Who Doesn’t Want to Spin

I wanted my wife to do what the other women do: spin, but she wouldn’t. Whatever I gave her to spin, she never finished, and whatever she spun, she didn’t wind, but left it tangled on the bobbin. One day when I had gone into the forest to chop some wood to make her a...

Iron John with a Golden Ball

One day when I was eight years old, I was playing in the courtyard with my golden ball when it rolled away from me and into the cage of the wild man. I asked him to give it back, but he wouldn’t, not until I had unlocked his prison door. I refused at first, but when...

Discharged Soldier Who Faces Peacetime

When I received my dismissal, my captain said I might go where I liked. I had no money, so I went to my brothers and asked them to take me in until war broke out again. "What can we do with you?" they said. "You are no use to us. Go make your own living." I slung my...

Discharged and Penniless Soldier

I had been discharged from the army without a penny to my name, and I wandered into the forest. After I'd walked for a little while, I met a little man who asked me why I looked so sad. I told him I was hungry, and I had no money. He said, "If you will hire yourself...

Gnomes’ Flute

I hang on the wall in a chamber deep underground. I've been watching a man pace back and forth for so long that he has made the surface of the ground quite smooth. Finally he stops and says, "Why do you hang here, flute? No one can be merry here." Indeed. This is the...

Blood-Red Flower

Joringel dreamed that he found me growing in a meadow with a large pearl at the center of my blossom. He picked me, carried me to an enchanted castle, and everything I touched was freed, including his true love. It is a good thing that Joringel listens to his dreams....

Man Made of Gold

My twin brother and I are both made of gold. When we decided to travel the world, and we arrived in town, we were so jeered by the villagers that my brother turned back home. I went forth to a great forest, and the people who lived near it said, "Don't go in there...

Mild-Mannered Queen

Our realm is not large. In fact, it is so small that you can easily walk round it in one day. We are a simple people and we listen to all our subjects, without exception. For that reason it is often difficult to decide on anything. Our son Petaldo is different. He...

Protected Prince

I wore a magic suit of mail armor, and I carried a sword of protection, so I went bravely into the wild forest. Right away, hordes of lions, tigers, bears, and wolves rushed at me all set to tear me to pieces. But when they saw the sword, they lay down on the ground...

Old Man Set Free from a Pit

For a long time, I lived in the bottom of a pit, outside a palace that had no doors. I had only a lantern to my name. I was sleeping one night when a king came along and scrambled down into the pit. He put his hand on my shoulder and woke me. "Are you a bird or snake...

Prince Enslaved by a Witch

I could never have done the witch's tasks without the help of the white dove. When she lit on my shoulder, I caressed her white feathers and kissed her little red beak. In that moment, a beautiful young woman stood before me. My kiss had freed her from the witch's...

Maiden with the Water of Life

I came down the mountain carrying my pitcher filled with the Water of Life. On my way, a few drops of the precious water slopped onto the stones underneath my feet. All at once, the stones changed into young men and women! They shouted with joy and crowded around me,...

Liberated Queen

I woke in the garden and I saw blood on my apron where my child had been. The king was standing over me, blocking the sun. He was convinced that I had deliberately allowed my baby to be taken by wild beasts. He walled me into a high tower. I have not seen the sun or...

Elf Maiden’s Husband

My elf wife and I were happy, but every now and then she would disappear. I asked her one day, "What can I do to keep you from vanishing into the other world?" "Dear husband, I am bound to go, even against my will, and there is only one way to stop me. Drive a nail...

Skull in the Window

After she had put her sisters' dismembered limbs back together, she prepared for her wedding to Fitcher, the evil sorcerer who had butchered them. She went out and invited all the wizard's friends, and when she came back to the house, she found me on the floor. I...

Retired Sweeping Girl

All my life, I've done the same thing. I've swept the house, and I've left the sweepings on the heap outside. Then, a few days ago, I found a letter on the heap. It was an invitation from the fairies to attend the christening of one of their own. You can’t ignore an...

Healing House in the Wild Wood

I can be found in a great, wild forest. Nothing can harm my occupants. They are under the protection of angels. Here, the devil's work is undone. If you are lost in the wild wood, look for the sign that reads: "All Here Dwell Free." Rest awhile, and heal. The Healing...

Martin in the Gloomy Wood

After a year's work, my employer rewarded me by giving me a choice between a sack of silver and a sack of sand. I took the bag of sand. I don't know why. I thought there must be some kind of magic to it. I went on my way and came into a gloomy wood. In the middle of...

Black Girl

From the time I was little, I did not accept my mother's instruction. She was always trying to force me to obey her will. I pretended to agree with her. I did everything she told me to do. I learned all her magic tricks, and then I used them to disappear. She still...

Princess Freed from Dragons

Nine draken kept me prisoner in my castle, but Janni has come, and his dogs have slain the dragons. I am free, along with all the other prisoners! I would marry this handsome youth who comes from nowhere, but Janni has put me off. He says, "For the kindness that I...

Dragon’s Book

I am the fiery dragon's most prized possession. I hold the names of all the men he has captured. It looks like he'll have to erase the last three entries, though. Those soldiers have learned the answers to his riddles, and they're about to become free men. I envy...

Gulliver

Six hundred little servants were appointed to me, and three hundred tailors, while six of his Majesty's greatest scholars set about to teach me the Lilliputian language. The first words I learned were to ask for my liberty, which I repeated every day, on my knees. I...