Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Although the Princess remained alarmed at the spoken words of the black butterfly, Siegfried drew her attention to a treasure he took from his pocket. Opening the drawstrings of a small leather purse, he withdrew the most captivating golden ring. The ring seemed to draw the dawn`s rays directly into itself, its glimmering making it seem almost alive.

Siegfried took Elaina`s left hand and slipped the ring on her finger. “This ring, along with my magical helmet, are the only spoils I allowed myself after slaying the dragon Fafner. As long as you wear it, our souls will never be apart.”

As the couple embraced there was a knocking on the door, followed by the laughing voice of Elaina`s father. “Come, come, you lovebirds. The sun is risen and you have been together since the cock`s crow. May I announce to the Kingdom that we have a marriage?”

Elaina ran to the door, opening it and falling into the King`s arms. “Oh father, please tell the world of our love and allow our union as soon as possible.”

The King beckoned Siegfried to his side and led them both to the gates of the castle. Three horses awaited, including Elaina`s beloved Sebastien, and surrounded by guards the royal party rode to the King`s castle. At the morning audience of his Royal Court the King announced his daughter`s marriage to the foreign Prince, to be celebrated in two month`s time.

Amid the jubilation there was one man who seemed more subdued. The Prince of Nader felt foolish and envious. “That should be me by the Princess` side”, he thought. “This man hardly knows her and is a foreigner to our lands. I swear to God that this marriage will not take place, in sixty days or ever. Two months time will allow me to travel across the waters and learn all that is needed to know to defeat this Prince. Siegfried is but a man and every man has a weakness. His secret will lead to his death and my marriage to the Princess. This I pledge to all that is Sacred.”

The next two months found the entire Kingdom in a whirl of preparation for the long anticipated day. The King issued a Royal proclamation officially announcing the marriage and inviting the Royal Houses of all the known Kingdoms to join them in the celebration. Princess Elaina was very busy planning the festivities with her entourage and Siegfried filled his days with hunting in the forests of the kingdom.

The first few days he found it impossible to be alone as wherever he rode he could feel eyes upon him, the savior of the Royal line of the kingdom. In order to gain anonymity and some time to himself, Siegfried began wearing Tarnhelm, the magic helmet he had taken from the dragon Fafner`s plunder. While wearing Tarnhelm he could assume the identity of any man and he found the freedom it allowed him invigorating.

About a month before the wedding he was spending the morning trailing the spoor of a wild boar in the deep forest when he was forced to give up the hunt by a thick bramble of blackthorn bush. Siegfried bowed to the ending of the trail, acknowledging the boar`s cunning and he sat beneath a giant oak tree to have his lunch. After eating he leaned against the oak tree and closed his eyes, thinking of his love, her visage now his constant companion.

He was awakened from his reverie by the chirping of a woodbird. “Coo coo” it said and came to rest on the blackthorn. Siegfried smiled as he recognized the bird that he had met twice before. “Good morning, little one. How did you know it was me?”

The little bird seemed to smile. “Hail, oh Prince, you must remember. I was with you when you slew Fafner the dragon and first put on Tarnhelm. Its mysteries cannot disguise you from me. And I must congratulate you on your engagement. Princess Elaina wears the magical ring proudly!”

Siegfried smiled at the little woodbird. “The ring of the Niebelung holds no magic for me, gentle one. Only my Grandfather Wotan can unleash its powers. Its only enchantment to me is the happiness it brings to my love`s eyes.” Siegfried sat upright, staring at the woodbird intently. “Gentle one, will you now tell me of the meaning of the second part of the omen, the words ‘and laughing death’?”

“This much I can tell you, oh Prince. On the day of your wedding someone will die. The last thing this person will hear before expiring is the killer`s laughter.”

It took all of Siegfried`s control to remain sitting as he asked the little bird “Is there some threat to the Princess? Will someone try to harm her?”

The woodbird replied “Coo coo” and flew over the blackthorn, disappearing down the boar`s trail.