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The Book of Destiny

I am a lying open on a large table in a locked room. The table is laid with a gorgeous cloth, made with care by many hands. My pages contain the destinies of the King’s three daughters. They have just come into the room. The eldest princess steps forward and dares to...

Letter to the Dragon King

She wrote upon me in great sorrow. How I felt for the daughter of the Dragon King of Dungting Lake! Her father had married her to a faithless, philandering Dragon who had sent her out to pasture to look after his sheep. I am to be taken to her father, and my contents...

Child Who Came From An Egg

On my tenth birthday, my nurse showed me a little basket that was hidden between the sheets of my cradle. It had egg shells in it. She said that my mother wanted me to know a secret. I didn’t remember my mother. She died when I was only two. The old nurse told me a...

King’s Son Raised by Peasants

My parents were peasants, and though we lived roughly, they were good people. We never went without. When I was old enough to understand where I came from, my parents told me that I was the son of a king. My peasant parents had given their daughter to the king in...

Flute that Plays a Secret

I am made from an elder tree, a tree that grew out of a hole that contained a secret. The secret was spoken into the hole by a young man who could no longer keep it in his heart. The shepherds have been making flutes from my elder, and we all play the same tune. It...

Barber’s Apprentice

No barber in the kingdom would cut the hair of the emperor Trojan. He had the ears of a goat and any barber who remarked on his ears was put to death. I was just an apprentice, but I went to cut the hair of the emperor because my master had taken ill. I began my work...

Boy in a Haunted Temple

I set off into the world in search of an adventure. I didn’t want to return until I had done some great deed that made my name famous. For a long time, I met nothing but a wild mountain, half-covered in dense forest. I made my way over huge rocks, and crossed wide,...

Princess Who Wears a Magic Ring

I was walking with my attendants in the rose garden when a gold ring fell at my feet. “Why, here is a ring!” I cried. “Where could it have come from?” I picked it up and put it on my finger. It fit me as though it had been made for me. Just at that moment my father...

Old Witch in the Tower

Of course, I know where the Bird of Truth can be found. It’s locked up in a castle that is guarded by a fierce giant. You want to know the name of that castle? It’s called Come-and-Never-Go. I will only tell you the way to the castle if you promise to...

Queen Who Keeps the Wild Man

My husband and I were amazed to see the wild man that the huntsman caught. His body was red-brown like rusty iron, and his hair hung down over his face and down to his knees. My husband put him in a cage in the courtyard. He gave me the key and I kept it under my...