All that Glitters is not Gold

In a faraway place, very unlike our own, lies the medieval Kingdom of Miscelane, on the outskirts of the forest Cetera. Deep within the forest, it is foretold that therein lies a great treasure, a treasure with the power to feed to hungry, save those in peril, and create peace in the midst of chaos. A treasure in the form of a pure gold dagger

In a castle situated on the very edge of the forest lives a young prince, Prince Narcis. On a cold winter's day, he decided to set off to claim the Dagger for himself. This in itself would not have been a problem, a blessing in fact, but for the face that the prince is entirely self-centred and quite narcissistic. This is made even worse by the legend of the Dagger, which states that it cannot be claimed by anyone who wishes to use it for selfish means. But the prince was also pigheaded, and though to himself, that can't possibly happen to me! Oh, how wrong he was.

As Narcis set off, he had to cross over a ravine. The only way across was through a little village set next to the castle. He ordered his grooms to prepare his horse and a day's worth of food. Surely the trip wouldn't take that long! When he arrived at the village, he came across a peasant.

"Hail!" he said

"Hail Prince Narcis," replied the peasant.

"Pray tell me, good peasant, which way is it to the bridge that crosses the ravine?"

"Tis north sir, but sir! Surely you are not going into forests Cetera? Why, they say that Death himself lives there, riding around on his black stallion, passing judgement on all who cross his path!"

"Come now, a mere wife's tale!"

"Then what be your business there?"

"I seek the dagger!" the prince exclaimed with flourish.

"You do? Oh sir! This is wonderful news! Even now the crops are failing, the well runs dry; the village is in chaos!"

"Oh, of course, the village. Mmm. Yes! That is exactly the reason I am seeking it. Not for myself of course. Oh no. indeed."

"I hope you speak the truth good sir, for those who seek the dagger with only themselves in mind are doomed!"

"...Doomed you say? Oh...well...yes...ah! But surely that is as false as Death himself living in the forest? Yes. Just a wife's tale." He said, more to himself that the peasant.

"If you say so, sire. Fare-thee-well, and may your journey be fruitful!"

The peasant left, and Prince Narcis was on his way to the bridge.

He overrode the toll keeper, saying that he had no right to request money from a prince, and crossed over. His horse gave an apprehensive whinny, but he ignored it and pressed onwards.

He wandered through the woods for hours, coming across nothing that gave him even the slightest clue as to where he had to go. He kept heading north, hoping that the Dagger would be in the black heart of forest Cetera.

Yet another few hours later, he thought he sighted a light in the distance. He eagerly rode towards it, paying no heed to his horse's neighing protestations. The source of the light was a torch on a pole imbedded in the ground. Standing next to it was a tall man with dark hair mounted on a huge black stallion, with pitch black hooves and red eyes.

"Hail, Prince Narcis." He greeted the prince with a nod

"Hail, stranger. I say, what odd eyes your horse has. Must be a trick of the light."

"Mmm. I hear you seek the Dagger?"

"I do! You are very well informed, sir."

"Indeed I am. In fact, I have a message for you. A message I give all who seek the dagger."

"Really? Well, sir, let's hear it then!"

The man drew a breath and recited thus:

"All that glitters is not gold.

Often have you heard it told.

Many a man his life hath sold

But my outside to behold."

The prince frowned.

"Well. Um, thank you, I guess."

"Heed my words, Prince, your life may depend on it," the stranger said ominously.

"Right. Well... I should be off."

Narcis rode off into the gloom. After a half-our, he came to a cave. Surely this must be it! He urged his horse towards it, but it wouldn't budge.

"Fine then!" he exclaimed. "Stay here."

He jumped down and strode inside, hand on his sword's pommel.

After about a hundred meters, the tunnel opened up into a small room. There was a stone tale in the middle of the room, with three daggers resting on its surface. The prince took a closer look.

The first dagger was pure gold, the second bronze, and the third of steel. As he came even closer, Narcis saw that an inscription was carved on the blade of each dagger.

The gold one read:

"Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire."

On the bronze blade:

"Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves"

And on the steel:

"Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath."

He was clearly supposed to choose one. Now, to understand what happens next, it must be said that Prince Narcis was not the sharpest sword in the armoury. He said to himself, Well, this is a mummer's farce! The Golden Dagger? Surely, it is the one made of gold! He picked up the dagger made of gold and, to his disappointment, it disintegrated into a fine dust.

"I say!" he cried, "What's this then?"

All of a sudden everything went black and he was back sitting next to the stranger on the black stallion. The stranger laughed.

"Well, I did warn you didn't I? Would you like to hear the rest of the poem?

'Gilded tombs do worms enfold.

Had you been as wise as bold,

Young in limbs, in judgement old,

Your answer had not been inscrolled.

Fare you well, your suit is cold.'"

"Cold indeed! And labour lost. I am truly sorry that I did not choose wisely. I see now that is does not do to be selfish. My people truly need aid. I shall have to find other methods of helping them." The prince stood up and whistled for his horse.

"Fare-thee-well, good prince," said the stranger. "But before you go, a gift."

He handed Narcis a package wrapped in brown paper.

"What is it?"

"You'll see, but promise that you will not open it until you return home."

"I promise," vowed the prince.

"Good. Now, you must e off. Don't worry, we shall see each other again, but not until it is your time."

"My time?" asked Narcis.

The stranger merely smiled and rode off into the shadows, his horse's eyes glowing like coals against its black coat.

What a nice man, thought Narcis. He got onto his horse and rode off home

Some hours later, when Narcis had arrived at the castle, he took out the package and opened it. Inside was a steel dagger. As he took hold of it, he felt a rush course though his body, and he knew, at that moment, that this was the fabled 'Golden" Dagger. And from then on his kingdom was prosperous, and his people would never go hungry again.

(Some quotes from The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare)