Once upon a time, in a land called Phon, where the sun was always shining and the centaurs galloped over the beautiful green grass, an old king was getting ready to decide who will take over his throne. His three sons, Vasilis, the oldest and the laziest; Egan, the handsomest but obsessed with cheating; and Ajax, a quiet but strong young man. Ajax was stuck in the shadow of his brothers, and his father thought he was a waste of time, but he was by far the kindest and determined to prove he was most fit for the crown.
"My three sons," the king bellowed, "it is now time for me to pick which of you will look after Phon and be crowned king. This is an incredibly hard decision and I have decided to send you all out on a quest, to find who is worthy to be king. Your task is to find a golden apple. You may not go to further then the Cyclops' cave and you may find the apple in the most unusual places. When you have found it, bring it to me with your chosen wife to become queen. Now, begin your quest." The princes bowed and headed out to find the treasured, golden apple.
Vasilis and Egan ran to the village houses, hoping for beautiful, unmarried women to beg them to marry; but Ajax got straight to work. He looked as high as the wise dragon's nest. He looked as low as the underworld's guard dog's, Cerberus, den. Alas, he had no luck. He settled down by a lily pond and cried,
"I give up. I'll never be as good as my strong brothers. They are fit for the crown whilst I will never be."
"That doesn't sound like the determined Prince Ajax I have seen," came a small voice from under a lily pad. Ajax was surprised and looked around.
"Prince Ajax would never give up. Phon will be destroyed under the laws of your selfish brothers and you know it!" Looking down, Ajax saw a lily pad ripple.
"Please show yourself." Ajax knelt down and whispered to the pond. A small, delicate frog swam out and spoke in the sweetest voice,
"I can help you." Ajax was a bit shocked. He'd never met a talking frog before. Usually they were as silent as the night stars. But, Ajax needed help finding the golden apple, so he accepted the frog's aid without hesitance. Suddenly, the frog dropped down under the murky water and disappeared from sight.
"Please don't leave," cried Ajax, but the frog popped its head out again, this time, with a strange seed in its petite, gentle hand.
"Prince Ajax, My name is Aqua and I know the secret you have been searching for. I know you are patient and wise and will make a powerful, but thoughtful, king. You deserve to succeed in your father's quest. Plant this seed in the secret grass near the centaurs' forest and wait for the tree to grow. Its blossom is the rare golden apple."
"Thank you. I am very grateful for your assistance. You must be rewarded. I shall shower you in riches and bring you to splash about in the golden fountain water in the pala-"
"Please, I need no riches. Just take me to your father and tell him of my good deed. This is all I wish, thank you" interrupted Aqua.
"Are you sure? Well, whatever you wish," Price Ajax bowed low. Aqua jumped back into the murky depths of the pond and disappeared. Quickly, Ajax ran to the centaurs' forest and planted the sacred seed deep in the soil.
Many days and nights passed, and the seed still didn't sprout. Vasilis and Egan had wives now and were finally turning to the real quest. Vasilis' wife, Calla, was the most beautiful, young girl in all of Phon. However, she was known to be greedy, vain and very, very selfish. It was most likely Vasilis would become king because of he's the oldest and he already owns many riches and land, so she thought Vasilis was perfect. Jola, Egan's wife, was also very beautiful but, like Calla, she was very, very greedy. Egan loved beauty, but didn't want to be tied down to one woman all his life. Jola only cared for riches, so Egan could see as many women as he liked. Ajax had to be especially careful now, sneaking out to see whether his sacred, golden apple tree had grown, otherwise, his brothers may find his secret.
Finally, one stunning, star lit night, Ajax's patience paid off. Ajax was walking to the centaurs' forest when a glint in the moon light caught his eye. A tiny, but breathtakingly beautiful, fruit shone off the branch of a gigantic tree, Ajax had never seen before. It was in the place where he had planted Aqua's seed many nights ago. He went closer to investigate and, to his astonishment, a perfectly spherical apple tangled silently from the lowest branch. He jumped with joy, grabbed it and ran to Aqua's pond, to tell her the delightful news.
"Well done!" Aqua smiled, "I knew you will be a powerful and worthy king."
"I only won because of you and I always keep my promises." Ajax stooped down and held Aqua in his hand. To his surprise, she wasn't as slimy as other frogs nor as warty. Ajax ran to the scrambled through the gardens to the castle; tumbling with happiness; tightly holding Aqua and the precious golden apple.
"Congratulations my son!" the king beamed with excitement as he grasped his hands the golden apple, "I must admit that I am surprised you found it Ajax. I believed your brothers would get the throne, but, obviously, they were too simpleminded and lazy to become king." He shot a disappointed look at the brothers, who stood sheepishly in the corner, hanging their heads. "Unfortunately, you can't become king without a queen…but, who is this creature?" the king stared at Ajax's hand.
"This, father, is Aqua. She is very intelligent and remarkable frog and without her, I would never have found the golden apple." Ajax laid Aqua on the floor. Suddenly, there was a puff of smoke and Aqua was gone.
"What's going on?" Bellowed the king, but he stopped silent as a beautiful figure took shape in the smoke. As the smoke cleared, an elegant, angelic young woman stood in Aqua's place. She had pale white skin, bright green eyes and wore a flowing, leaf, green dress. She curtsied to Ajax and the king.
"Your highness. My name is Aqua. When I was a young girl, I played a trick on an old woman in our village. She was a witch and put a curse on me and turned me into a frog, in which I would remain until I did a good deed. Thanks to Ajax my spell is broken." She smiled and her soft, chestnut curls jumped on her shoulders.
"Thank you for your generosity my dear. Tomorrow, you and Ajax will marry and rule Phon splendidly and happily." He bowed before his new king and queen. Ajax and Aqua looked deeply into each others eyes and kissed.
The next day, the wedding bells were ringing throughout Phon. Ajax wore the traditional Phon wedding outfit, a dark green suit embroidered with golden thread. Aqua's graceful dress was the same dark green and tumbled down the long, castle staircase. Egan went to live in the nearby land of Krelu where he got a job as a pig farmer, never to see another woman, and Vasilis disappeared mysteriously with Calla, vowing revenge. No-one knew what happened to them next. The king died peacefully in his sleep, knowing that his kingdom was in the safe hands of his son. The sun was shining in the crystal clear sky and Ajax and Aqua lived happily ever after.