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The Tower

Doreen flew on eager wings, carrying a small bag of gold coins. The sun was warm and there was a refreshing crispness in the fall air. As she neared the village of Rysan, Doreen began to look for the place King Arnon had shown her in the magic mirror. It did not take her long to find the tiny, shabby cottage tucked in among the trees at the edge of the forest.

As Doreen approached, a grey-haired widow stepped outside. The woman sighed as she looked at her scraggly garden. "I wonít have much to eat this winter," she said to herself. "The rabbits and deer have eaten more than their share." She sighed again and began tending the few rows of plants.

Taking care not to be seen, Doreen flew over the womanís head toward the open window. She ducked inside, heading for a small wooden table in the center of the single room. She smiled as she set the bag of coins on the table. King Arnonís gift would provide food for the widow; she would not go hungry.

Just then, there was a creak as the widow pushed the door open. "I must be losing my mind," she muttered. "Canít tend my garden without the watering jug."

As the widow entered the room, Doreen darted out through the window. She perched on the dilapidated shutter and peered inside. Would the widow find the bag of coins?

"Where did I put that watering jug?" the widow said aloud as she looked around the tiny room. Then her eyes caught sight of the bag. "What could that be?"

Curious, she stepped forward and picked up the bag. She gasped as a clinking sound reached her ears. Her fingers trembled as she opened the bag, dumping the contents onto the table. "Gold!" she cried. "Enough to last the winter. Iíll even be able to buy some new blankets." She closed her eyes and whispered, "Thank you, King Arnon. Thank you so much."

Doreen smiled to herself as she watched the widow. Then she spread her wings and flew into the forest, heading home to the hidden valley where the Ursa fairies lived.

As she flew through the trees, Doreen hummed happily. She always enjoyed carrying out King Arnonís orders. There was something deeply satisfying in seeing how the King helped those in need. It never ceased to amaze her that King Arnon could find so many different ways to show his love and concern for his people.

Just then, Doreenís ears caught a lovely melody floating on the breeze. She hovered in the air, listening carefully. She closed her eyes, concentrating on the beautiful song. "I think itís coming from over there," she said and began flying through the trees.

Moments later, she flew into a sunlit clearing. Doreen saw a tall tower made of grey stone. There, by an open window high in the tower, a beautiful young woman was sitting. As she drew nearer, Doreen could hear the words that went with the beautiful melody.

"I have been promised, one day he will come,

I have been promised, my love, my true one."

Doreen flew to the window and settled on the sill. The woman held a small crystal sphere in her hand and she gazed into it as she sang. Pale blue light came from the sphere, bathing the womanís face with shifting colors.

When she had finished her song, the young woman set the sphere down with a sigh. She gazed out the window, searching the trees.

"What are you looking for?" Doreen asked.

"Who said that?" the young woman asked, looking all around. "Who are you?"

Doreen fluttered to where the woman could see her. "My name is Doreen and Iím an Ursa fairy."

"An Ursa fairy?" the young woman asked. She held out her hand for Doreen, then studied the Ursa fairy carefully. At last she said, "My name is Kayla."

"It is nice to meet you, Kayla," Doreen said. "Do you live here alone?"

Kayla sighed. "I have been alone for a long time. My parents died when I was young but a man named Shakar built this tower for me so I would have a place to live. He told me I would not always be alone. One day soon my true love will find me and take me away with him."

"Who is Shakar?" Doreen asked.

"He lived in our village and was my fatherís friend," Kayla answered. "He told me my future had been foretold in the stars. He gave me this crystal." She held up the sphere. "This crystal provides the food and drink I need each day. In it, I can see my true loveís face. When I sing, the crystal carries my song to my loveís heart."

"But how will he find you?" Doreen asked. "Does he know you live in this tower?"

"He has heard tales of a maiden who lives in a stone tower deep in the forest," Kayla said. "He is searching for the maiden who has the longest, most beautiful hair in all of Kyr."

"The longest, most beautiful hair in Kyr?" Doreen asked. She flew from Kaylaís hand and studied the young woman carefully. She certainly had lovely golden hair. It seemed to shimmer, filling the tower room with a soft, golden glow. Kaylaís hair was pulled away from her face with two interlocking bands of pearls. The golden waves fell down over her shoulders, past her waist and tumbled onto the stone floor. But it did not stop there. Her hair wound its way across the floor, gathered into pearl bands every few feet, as it carpeted the floor with gold. As Doreen studied the room, she noticed there was only the one window and no door or stair leading down.

"Your hair really is long!" Doreen said in amazement. "It is very beautiful, too."

At this, Kayla sighed. Tears filled her eyes. Doreen fluttered into Kaylaís lap. "Whatís wrong?" she asked, peering up into the sorrowful blue eyes.

"My hair may be long and beautiful, but it is so hard to take care of it," she said. "It gathers cobwebs and dust because it drags on the floor. It gets tangled so easily. I spend most of my time combing it and cleaning it."

"Why donít you cut it?" Doreen asked.

"But I canít!" Kayla gasped. "If I cut my hair, my true love wonít know me. Shakar told me I could never cut my hair until my love comes."

Doreen frowned thoughtfully. "I need to ask King Arnon about this," she said. "He will know what to do." She closed her eyes, speaking to King Arnon within her heart.

Just then, a cheerful cry caught her attention. "Doreen! Doreen! Where are you?"

Doreen looked around for the owner of the voice. She gave a cry of joy when a traveler with a familiar face came into the clearing. "King Arnon!" she called, leaving the tower and flying to his outstretched hand.

"Greetings, Doreen," he said. "I came as quickly as I could. I have come to help Kayla."

"Will you help her true love find her?" Doreen asked.

King Arnon shook his head sadly. "She is waiting in vain. The promise she has been given is false, a lie from Kazab."

"Kazab?" Doreen asked. "But Kayla said an old man named Shakar built this tower for her and provided a crystal sphere to take care of her needs while she waits."

"It would not be the first time Kazab has tricked someone by using a disguise," King Arnon said. "Kayla has believed a lie. The tower that Kazab built for her and the sphere he gave her hold her captive."

"What can we do?" Doreen asked.

King Arnon drew a pair of golden scissors from the pouch at his side. "Take these to Kayla. She must first destroy the crystal sphere. Then she must allow me to cut her hair or she will never be able to leave the tower."

Doreen took the scissors and flew back up to the tower. She landed on the sill. Kayla looked at her curiously. "What are those for?" Kayla asked, looking at the scissors.

"King Arnon says you must allow him to cut your hair or you will never leave this tower," Doreen said.

"But, Shakar told me Ė "

"Shakar lied to you," Doreen insisted. "He is not a friend. His real name is Kazab and he is an evil wizard."

"Kazab?" Kayla asked. "I have heard of him. But, he was a friend of my fatherís. Why would he lie to me?"

"He seems to enjoy making people his slaves and pretending to be something he is not," Doreen answered. "He once pretended to be our friend, then tricked and enslaved all the Ursa fairies. King Arnon set us free, giving his life for us."

Kayla slowly took the scissors from Doreen. She studied them thoughtfully. "I have been alone a long time. I have waited for the promise, but it has not come true."

"Kazabís promises are lies," Doreen said. "But King Arnon always tells the truth. And he says you must first destroy the crystal sphere gave you. Then let King Arnon cut your hair. That is the only way youíll be free."

Kayla looked at Doreen, then out the window to where King Arnon stood looking up at her. As she studied his face, her eyes met his. She saw great love and acceptance in his eyes, reaching out and embracing her. Then she picked up the crystal sphere, studying it thoughtfully.

Several long moments went by. Then Kayla gave a cry and threw the crystal out the window. It shattered on the ground at the foot of the tower. Kayla pulled the pearl bands from her hair, letting it fall free. She leaned out the window, looking down at King Arnon. "Please, King Arnon. Please, set me free! I donít want to live in this tower any longer!"

At this, King Arnon gave a cry of joy. He ran to the base of the tower and began climbing the stones. He moved as steadily and confidently as a mountain goat on a high ridge. Moments later, he stood at the window, balancing carefully on the grey stones.

"Do you truly wish to be free?" he asked.

Kaylaís eyes filled with tears. "I have longed for love, but it has not come. I was told I had to wait in this tower and never cut my hair or the promise would not be fulfilled."

"You will find a greater love than anything you have dreamed about," King Arnon said, reaching through the window to touch Kaylaís face. "Those who come to me find their deepest longings satisfied by my love."

Once again, Kayla felt the love in King Arnonís eyes reaching out to caress her spirit. She told a deep breath and said, "You may cut my hair."

King Arnon swung himself over the windowsill. He took the gold scissors from Kayla. She closed her eyes and held her breath as King Arnon began cutting. As the scissors did their work, blue light filled the room.

Soon, Kaylaís hair hung in waves about her shoulders. The coils of hair left on the floor shimmered for a moment and then vanished. "You are now free," King Arnon said gently.

Kayla slowly opened her eyes. She looked at the room, now empty of hair. Suddenly, she gasped. "A door! That wasnít there before!"

"Come, my dear," King Arnon said, taking Kaylaís hand. "You no longer are confined to this tower and its false promises." Kayla took his hand and they left the tower together, while Doreen fluttered happily overhead.

And so, the Ursa fairies learned that false promises and vain hopes can become a trap, while King Arnonís words of Truth bring freedom and a love that fulfills the deepest longings of the soul.

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