Friday, August 04, 2006

" A PRINCESS TALE " Part Seven

A week before the wedding, the Neder Prince returned from his trip to the lands across the waters. In his wanderings he had stopped in many towns, offering reward for any information about Siegfried.

Although his fame as a mighty warrior was known far and wide, very little was known of Siegfried`s personal life or heritage. However his informants generally agreed on one fact; the Prince must travel further east until he reached the banks of a mighty river. It was in this land where the tales of Siegfried`s heroic exploits had first originated.

The Neder Prince traveled another four days before reaching the banks of a majestic river. It was early evening and exhausted, the Prince fell asleep next to the water. Some time in the darkest night he was awakened by the sweetest song. At first he thought he must be dreaming as the roaring of the river would drown any human voices. However, as his eyes adjusted to the dark, the Neder Prince saw a glowing in the river. Within the light were the figures of three women staring at him and softly singing.

“We are the Rhinemaidens, owners of the magic ring. That which has been taken from us. Have you been sent to help us reclaim our future?”

The Prince was enchanted by the beauty of their voices and confessed “I may have knowledge of such a ring. Could it be in the possession of the hero Siegfried?”

“The Rhinemaidens sang in reply, “We have heard the tale of Siegfried`s slaying of the dragon Fafner and of his taking ownership of the ring and of the magic helmet Tarnhelm. Oh Prince, do you know where Siegfried can be found? Can you help us regain our ring?”

“I will do all I can to see that you once again possess the ring but first, tell me more of the magic helmet.”

“Tarnhelm has the power to permit the wearer to assume the figure of any human, the better to hide from his enemies.”

The Neder Prince smiled and asked, “And are there tales of Siegfried`s strengths and weaknesses?”

The Rhinemaidens seemed to confer, though no words were spoken. “You will help us? You will return the ring?”

“I give you my word as Johann, Prince of Neder. With your assistance I will defeat Siegfried and gain the hand of the Princess who is wearing your ring. The ring will then be returned to you.”

Replying, the Rhinemaidens sang, “The hero`s greatest strength and weakness are like hand in glove. He is able to wield the great sword Nothung because he knows no fear, a gift granted to him by his grandfather, the God Wotan. To balance this endowment Wotan left him with but one weakness; since a man who knows no fear will never retreat, the only way he can be harmed is by direct injury to his back.”

“Thank you, ladies of the Rhine. I will return with the magical ring.” Feeling energized and refreshed, Johann bowed to the Rhinemaidens and turned to mount his steed. As he was preparing to begin his journey home he heard their final song.

“Heed this, oh Prince. If you are approached by a Wanderer with a broken spear or a small man named Alberich, continue on your way. In either of their hands, the golden ring could cause the end of the world.”