Walls

A long time ago, there lived a princess. She was a princess like any other, living luxuriously, commanding servants and being admired by young men. However, unlike other princesses, she lived a bit off from the king’s castle. Her residence was a large tower from which she was not to be released until she had found a suiting husband. So, in order to find such a man, the king had commanded to build walls around the tower. Right after the birth of the princess, the constructions had begun and after eighteen years, the tower was surrounded by three sturdy walls. Every wall formed a circle, so if one had looked at the tower from above, it would have looked like the rings that form around a stone that’s been thrown in the water.
After the constructions had ended, the king proclaimed that whichever young gentleman could make it past these walls in any way would get to marry his daughter.
There had only been one who had been able to make it past every single one of the walls. All the others before him had either tried to climb and then fallen down because of exhaustion or wanted to use ladders and ropes that weren’t long enough. This one man though, a young knight by the name of Leonard, approached the problem differently. He didn’t try hard to get over the walls. He didn’t try to surmount or break them. He used a carrier pigeon to send letters directly to the princess. He conversed with her in this way for a month. In the mean time she pleaded with her father to let Leonard into her tower. The king kept saying “No, he has not passed a single wall.” And the princess would always be at a loss of words. But one day, after almost two months of pleading, she had her father come to the tower again and said: “He himself has not passed the walls, no, but his heart has.” To that, the king, who loved his daughter very dearly, could only say: “Alright, I shall allow him in. After all, I have said
in any way.” The young woman was overcome with joy to finally getting to see the man who had sent her so many loving words. She started crying tears of happiness and hugged her father in the most loving way. She heard his deep, rough voice speak once again “If…”, the king pushed his daughter away and looked at her sternly. “If he manages to send you a letter every day for half a year, I shall allow him to see you.” Upon this challenge, the lady’s tears turned from happy into sad. What man in his right mind would want to waste half a year of his life sending letters to a princess he has never seen in his whole life?
Nevertheless, she informed Leonard of the challenge and his answer stoked the fire of hope that had started burning inside her heart ever since she had first received a letter:
“My love,
I gladly accept the challenge and shall not disappoint you.”

And so he did. He proved himself to be a patient man and after the given time period was over, Leonard was led to the tower through a hidden tunnel underground. When he and the princess beheld each other for the first time, they stood face to face for a very long time, meticulously scrutinizing one another. Then they ran into each other’s arms and kissed. Leonard was indeed a very handsome man. He didn’t have broad shoulders or an overall muscular body but his face was that of an angel. Furthermore, he was a man of words, not of strength. Even though the princess was very much pleased with these qualities, the king disliked that Leonard wasn’t strong. For he had wished that his daughter would marry someone who could produce a powerful heir. So he decided to challenge the young knight once again. He told Leonard that he would have one and a half years to prove himself worthy of marrying the deserving woman. Leonard accepted the challenge for he was very much in love with the princess.

He trained day in, day out. He ran mile after mile and wouldn’t stop even if his legs felt like they were on fire. He trained with the sword for hours on end and would not once give his arms a rest even if they felt like they couldn’t even lift a feather. His body grew strong, very strong. He devoted every single minute of his life to the challenge.
But then, a day before the agreed upon end of the challenge, Leonard encountered the princess of another land. She was daughter to the king of a much vaster and richer kingdom. She seemed to like the handsome young man a lot and so she invited him to her castle. Leonard was tempted by that offer, however he wanted to refuse since he had invested so much time in the challenges of the other king. But the long days of training had rendered his mind dull. He went with his instinct and accepted the invitation. When they arrived at the castle, the king conversed with Leonard’s new acquaintance for a while. Then he approached the knight and hugged him with his strong arms. „You shall make a fine husband for my daughter. If you accept, I shall arrange a wedding in a fortnight,“ he said. Leonard’s mind was racing. His heart commanded him to decline the offer and marry the other princess, whom he loved. But its voice drowned in the thoughts of all the luxury and power he would gain from this new opportunity. So Leonard accepted.

Back in the tower, the princess was growing very excited for the next day, for she would marry a man she truly loved and whom her father now accepted. She barely slept during the night and when the hour of leaving was finally upon her, she started crying hot tears of joy. The princess and the king were taken to the venue of the wedding. There they were greeted by a large group of people who had been invited but one was missing. The bridegroom was missing his own wedding. They waited an hour, then two, then three. People started leaving and the king was furious but the princess did not dare to give up her hope. When the sun had set and there were only few people left, she finally let loose. She cried and cried until there were no more tears to cry. The king ordered his soldiers to look for Leonard and kill him on sight but he was never found.
The poor princess was locked back into her tower. However, this did not bother her. In fact, she asked her father to have even more walls built for she wanted the man who would marry her to be absolutely convinced of his choice. Seven more walls were built. A few brave men tried to overcome them but every single one failed. One young gentleman managed to make it over five walls. He was stuck there for almost half a year, living off his provisions at first and then slowly starving when one day another gentleman appeared who offered to help him make it over the remaining walls. However, the other man declined for he had realized that a woman was not worth the effort of surmounting ten walls. He died there, stuck between two enormous stone constructions.
The princess lived a very unhappy life and died unmarried at the age of forty.
From then on, the tower had served as a prison for adulterers until it was destroyed in a war.

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