"Once upon a time a princess lived deep inside a forest. She was always there, for she was a living statue carved from a magical tree. All of her but her right leg was whittled out of the tree. She was known as the Writing Princess for she was a great minstrel and scribe of stories.
Many visited her to seek her wisdom. In return she would ask for their tales. Each word whittled away at her leg, freeing it little by ever so little.
It caused her great pain, but she bore it, for she longed for the day she would be finally free. That day she would take her first step and go forth into the world.
One day a jester came seeking her. In return he told her his tales. His were of different sorts, for he spoke of many things while others spoke only of war.
He would often tell her of tragedies and humorous happenings as well as those that warmed her heart. In time she grew fond of the jester. The jester, she thought, returned her love, too.
On a certain day she could bear the pain from whittling no more and longed for rest. She found herself longing for the company of the jester. He did not come that day, of course, for there was no way for her to send for him. He was a traveling jester, with no particular place to call home, no particular destination. Still, she longed for his company for the relief from her painful labor he brought.
The jester always wore a mask and very odd clothes. At first she thought nothing of it; he was a jester after all. It is his occupation. Still, she wondered what lay beneath the mask. What feature did the face bear, that spoke with such gentleness and purity of heart?
When she asked him to reveal his face he would only answer "no, Majesty. My face would only frighten thee."
Month after month she waited for his return. He visited one night. When he finished telling her his stories he inquired of her melancholy.
"Majesty, thou art displeased with my tales?"
She cradled her shoulders and shook her head.
"I am not."
He took off his own garment and gently draped it over her. He asked her again.
"Why is thy heart heavy tonight? I had hoped the light of thy smile would light my way"
Her shoulders shook and she broke out in tears.
"My heart grows ever so lonely in thy absence. Take an axe and cut me free, for I long to walk with thee."
Quite taken by her words the jester remained silent for a long while. Then he finally spoke.
"Majesty, cutting thee free would certainly spell thy doom. No, this cannot be."
The princess implored him. He embraced her in his arms. She returned his embrace. Then he spoke once again.
"Majesty, thou must not dream of such folly. Instead, I shall visit thee twice as often if you so desire. Three time if you wish."
"I wish for thee to stay with me, then."
The jester again fell silent. After a long pondering he confessed.
"I cannot stay with thee, for I am a harbinger of ill fate. With my presence surely many a tragedy would follow. No, I cannot stay lest
a great calamity befall thee."
With those words the jester released the princess and bid her farewell. His words broke her heart, for she believed her love unrequited.
However the jester began to visit more often, and she learned she was mistaken. It was a long time before they spoke of it again.
He visited on a night bright with moonlight. His words whittled away at the wood that held her captive, and lo, it became but a sliver.
"Majesty, thou knowest my heart."
She nodded. He removed his mask.
"This is my face. Behold, I am a demon. I came to bid thee farewell, for I return whence I come tonight. Majesty shall soon be free. I wish thee happiness."
He beheld her face cupped in his hands. She wrapped hers around his. His countenance was as princely and beautiful as she always imagined. Then his image began to fade into the moonlight.
Alarmed, she forced her foot free from the wood with all her might. It broke away but grudgingly and bled. The jester was startled but vanished completely that moment.
The princess wept and wept. Her tears tricked down her arms and soaked into the soil. It caused the soil to capture her with roots and tendrils once again. The entirety of her form turned wooden, nevermore to be released." END
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