The witches of the Rhineland forests were breathtakingly beautiful and the stuff of nightmares alike, and because they were supernatural beings forced to live in the world of humans, their existences transpired restless and unfulfilled, with nothing to give them any form of satisfaction except for one thing, and one thing only, and even then, it was for a short time: gold—lots and lots of glittering gold. The lustrous yellow metal made the witches feel so special, that they demanded it from the local kings in exchange for their lives: one million pounds of gold, paid out every year, on the first day of Spring, forever, or be destroyed. The kings complied.
One year, Ansgar, the king of Hunsrück, defaulted on his payment. He had exhausted every gold mine helping his people rebuild their homes after a firebreathing dragon decimated the kingdom, killing thousands, including the queen, his wife. When Spring came, Ansgar begged the witches for more time to find gold and pay off his debt; but, like most who are born supernatural, the witches were callous creatures, impatient and unforgiving, so they killed and ate the king.
Left an orphan, Ansgar's baby daughter Ava was so bubbly, rosy-cheeked, and beautiful, it made the witches not want to eat her for dessert, but to love her instead. So they bundled baby Ava in a soft warm blanket and flew her to the forest, where they raised the child as their own. When the girl got big enough to understand explanations, the witches told her she had been abandoned in the woods by young and selfish parents; but the child didn't grow sour, and forgave those parents in her heart. As the seasons came and went in the forest, Ava grew into a strong and beautiful huntress, making the witches proud. So proud, that on the girl's eighteenth birthday, they gifted her with the most precious of all their supernatural secrets: the Supercharm. A girl who possessed it could command anything in the natural world she desired: wind, rain, clouds, birds, insects, wild animals, even the hearts of men—especially, the hearts of men; but, the powers of the Supercharm did not stop there, because by saying the words "Supercharm, reverse!", a girl could repel all forms of earthly energies and become invisible, create shields around herself, defy the pull of gravity, and fly!
"You're almost one of us," said the witches. "Now, to complete your transformation, fly to Saarland and find prince Danr, urgently. Today the cauldron has foretold this man will cause our death."
"But how?" exclaimed the girl. "And when?"
"The cauldron doesn't say, but it's never lied before. So go tonight, and kill prince Danr while he sleeps. Our deaths you'll trade for his, and avert our tragic end."
"Mothers, I do not know this Danr prince of Saarland, but already I despise him—because no man alive will ever harm my moms. Tonight I hunt this wicked prince, and claim his life."
"The apple of our eye you are!"
Forming a circle around the girl, the witches took off Ava's hunting clothes and dressed her up in a beautiful dark gossamer gown, braided her hair with flowers and ribbons, and gave her a sacrificial knife. Ava sheathed the knife, and rising into the air, announced: "I'll be back by morn!" and saying this, flew off.
As Ava climbed higher into the sky and journeyed to Saarland, she used the power of the Supercharm to shield herself from the rushing air and freezing temperatures. At midnight she saw the castle in the distance, descended, and alighted on the roof of the watchtower without making a sound. Then, moving stealthily, the girl slipped past the armed guards, and into the palace, finding her way in the darkness to the second floor, where she found prince Danr in his bedroom peacefully asleep. Ava drew out the knife, and as she moved in closer to stab him, the moon shone brightly through the open window revealing to her how handsome and kind-looking the young man was. Her heart skipped a beat... and the knife fell from her hand hitting the floor loudly.
"Who's there!" said Danr, jumping out of the bed, ready to fight the intruder. "Who's there, I say!" he yelled, grabbing and raising his sword. But then his eyes caught sight of Ava, bathed by the moon's cool clear light, wearing that beautiful dark gossamer gown, with the ribbons and flowers in her hair, and he fell ... he fell ... how he fell! ...oh, he fell alright ... genuinely, irrevocably, passionately, profoundly, unconditionally, unconventionally, fabulously, and forever ...for this girl.
He said: "What vision you are, Supercharming one. Who are you? Have I died? Are you taking me to Heaven tonight?"
"If you must know, I'm Ava, a huntress from afar. And no, you're not mistaken, prince Danr, I've come to take your life."
"But sweetest of misses, most marvelous of maidens, how have I wronged you or broken your heart? For our paths have never crossed prior to this lonesome night."
"Cruelest of princes, meanest of men, you haven't wronged me yet...but you will!"
"By causing my mothers to die."
"Your mothers? Who are they?"
"The witches of the Rhineland forest."
"Those gold-loving despots?"
"They're supernatural, and misunderstood."
"And their daughter is you??"
"Adopted daughter, 'tis true."
"Who's now accusing me of causing their deaths?"
"Yes. And for these despicable deeds of yours, prince Danr, I despise you. Die you must, tonight!"
"Beautiful huntress, I've never been to The Rhinelands. So you can't judge me for crimes I haven't done."
"Witches see timelessly. We can!"
"Then fine. End my life if that pleases you. For I have fallen in love with a Supercharming wonder, and from her strawberry lips have heard her confess she despises me. Why go on living, I ask, knowing she would never accept me for her man? So do me one first and last kindness, sweet Ava, and end my life now."
Ava raised the knife. But she couldn't bring herself to killing Danr. So she slapped him.
"Hey! What was that for?" he yelled.
"That's for making me change my mind!"
"You changed your mind?"
She slapped him again. "And that's for making me like you!"
"Shut up. Now pay attention." She warned him: "Stay away from me and the witches, you hear me? Or else."
"Good night, sir."
"Can I just say something--"
"I said GOOD NIGHT!"
The girl jumped out the window and flew away, leaving the prince heartbroken.
Overcome by sadness, Danr barely touched food and he refused to sleep at nights in hopes that his sweetheart would show up once more. But Ava never did. The prince longed for the girl the way a man adrift in the open ocean hopelessly thirsts for water which is sweet, but that cannot be found for miles around. Weeks passed, and realizing that his soul would never know peace again without Ava, Danr saddled his horse and galloped off to the Rhinelands in search of her.
For three days he fought off hunger, cold weather, and wild animals, calling her name in the woods: "AVA ... AVA ... AAAAA-VA!" Until a change in the winds carried his cries into the deepest part of the forest and into the witches' den.
"Daughter, who calls your name in the distance in manner so woeful?"
"N- no one," said Ava. "You must be mistaken."
"We're not. It sounds like the voice of a man who's forlorn."
"Oh no, no, no. Those are the cries of... a wounded wolf!"
"Wolf! Yes! A wounded wolf!"
"Be a good girl then and go put it down. Return by suppertime."
"I'm on my way right now."
"You leave your knife."
"How forgetful of me, oh my!"
Ava flew into the forest and spotted Danr on his horse.
Waving, the prince greeted her: "Loved one, I've risked everything to find you, but it was worth it. How are you?"
Hovering above him, she said: "You shouldn't have come. My mothers have heard you calling me. Now I have no choice..." She unsheathed the knife. "...but to silence you forever."
"Ava, can't you see why I persist?"
"Because you're stubborn, and dumb, like a man."
"Woman, see the light."
"I see it. My eyesight's fine."
"A wondrous thing has come about."
"That, I do not see. What wondrous thing?"
"'Tis love. True love."
"True love? Between us??"
The girl floated down until she was at eye level with Danr. "EXPLAIN YOURSELF!" she yelled.
Danr gently brought the girl into his arms and kissed her. "Now do you understand?" he said. Ava nodded and let Danr kiss her again.
Meanwhile, the witches were worried sick thinking the wolf might have eaten their daughter, so they hurried off into the forest in hopes of finding her alive. When they found her, they sighed with relief. "Oh Ava! Why do you want to scare your mothers to death? Are you alright, dear? And who is this foreign man who holds your hand?"
"He is no foreign man. He's Danr, the prince of Saarland. And I love him with all my heart."
"You love this man? The one foretold to end our lives?"
"He's kind, this man. He means no harm to you, or anyone."
"Clearly, he has clouded your mind, this devil in disguise."
"No. My prince has shown me love. 'Tis the greatest prize."
"Silly girl, can't you see? If your prince lives, we die. A witch's cauldron never lies."
"What if we leave the forest now?"
"Moving out won't help."
"Then I give you my word that Danr and I will never return."
"Child, know this: fate can't be escaped. If Danr lives, we disappear. He needs to be destroyed so we avert our tragic end. Now get out of the way."
"Mothers, please, I beg you not!"
"Ava, begging like your father, Ansgar the king, won't save your prince."
"You knew my father??"
"We ate your father."
"Oh what horror ... My life has been a lie and a fable!"
"Well, now that our secret is out, it's time for you turtledoves to die! GEWITTERWOLKE!!!" the witches cried.
The sky rumbled.
And a deathly dark cloud of lighting began to form.
Knowing that the end was near, Ava did the only thing she could. She said: "Supercharm, reverse!" and created a shield around Danr, the horse, and herself, and waited for death to arrive. When the girl saw that the cloud was fully formed and ready to discharge, she hugged Danr tightly and closed her eyes.
There was a white flash.
Followed by a ghastly bolt of electricity that shot down from the cloud, exploded on the shield, and incinerated the witches.
"Danr, we're still alive!" Ava said. Crying tears of joy she kissed him.
At sunrise, Ava and Danr rode out of the forest and went on to live happily ever after.
Merci pour la lecture!
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