The defeated prince, injured and crest-fallen dragged himself home.
Along the way he met many. Many who cheered and congratulated him back in his victorious days. But now, all they did was jeering. With those mocking expressions pasted all across their faces. People who sincerely felt sorry for him were actually rare.
All of a sudden - instead of flowers that they use to toss at him for all these times - they started throwing stones at the prince. Stones that came flying from all directions.
The King and the Queen both wise and noble tended to his wounds and helped him prepare for a rematch. After all, whether triumphant or not he still was their son.
Having learnt his lesson from the previous failure, the prince trained and trained and trained as hard as he could. And finally, on one day in the following Spring he defeated all four of the A’Warriors.
By defeating all four warriors the prince earned a place in the ‘Journey to Knighthood’. A journey that many princes and princesses dreamt of taking but very few succeeded in doing so.
The destination of this journey was the ‘Summit’ which was situated on a tall and isolated mountain top. Ones who succeeded in reaching the Summit were awarded the title of ‘Knight’ (I told you that before. Didn't I?) However there was only one safe passage to reach the Summit and it was guarded by a gatekeeper. This gatekeeper was a stubborn Giant, who sat in front of the entrance of that passage.
Oh! I almost forgot…
When one win the battle of A’Warriors he (or she) is gifted with a ‘Magical Golden Coin’ by the Institution of Test. To gain passage to the Summit one has to offer this ‘Magical Golden Coin’ to the gatekeeper; which he will swallow; and then stand aside from the entrance so that the owner of the coin may pass.
So our prince, with his ‘Magical Golden Coin’ tucked in his back pocket, went to meet the gatekeeper. But only when he gets there - to his utmost horror - he finds out that his ‘Magical Golden Coin’ was missing! Somewhere along the way it had fallen off his pocket!
Without the ‘Magical Golden Coin’ the gatekeeper refused him entrance. Poor prince! He searched and searched for his ‘Magical Golden Coin’ and never found it. Finally he had no choice but to return home, empty handed.
Along the way back home he met many. Those same people who cheered in his victories and later who jeered in his failures. He wasn't surprised at all when he was greeted by them with another shower of stones. But there was another surprise that the prince never expected. Not even from them!
This time they pulled daggers of different shapes and sizes out of their mouths. Daggers covered with the poison of hatred and jealousy. And they drove them deep in to the prince’s heart. They did this with much satisfaction; as nothing else on earth would contempt them more than to beat up an already beaten up person.
If it wasn't for the wise King and the Queen the prince would've lost his heart back then. He would've easily turned in to a cold-hearted person. Who will not care about anything or anyone evermore.
The King and the Queen too were sad of the misfortune that came upon their son. But what has happened has happened. And they never pushed the matter beyond that. They never plunged a dagger through his heart. To that the prince is grateful to them to this very day.
From that day afterward the prince lost his honor. His single misfortunate failure cast an eerie shadow over all of his previous victories. He was marked as a ‘Failed One’, an ‘Unworthy One’, and a ‘ Couldn't-Do-A-Simple-Damn-Thing-Right One’!!! And the world (yes the world!) never let him forget that.
In time the prince managed to pull all of those daggers out from his heart. All but one; which was stuck in the very center of his heart and was bearing these words on its hilt.
“YOU’RE A USELESS FAILURE!”
He tried and tried as hard as he could to pull it out of his heart. But instead of coming out, the dagger shifted painfully inside the gash it had created. The prince understood why. He will not be able to pull it out until he restores his honor; until he becomes a Knight.
There were rumors of another path to Summit. A narrow winding path up on to the mountain. A harsh, dry road in the steepest slope; where thorny bushes grew around each and every curve. This rumor however, lit a flame of hope in the princes’ heart. If he could find the road, then he will have a chance at regaining his honor. But first he had to find the entrance to that path.
So the prince said good bye to his parents and left home on his own quest to find that narrow winding path. Before he left, he promised himself that he would not return until he become a Knight. Until he become a man that his parents would be proud of.
He went from place to place in search of this entrance. He didn't care about the sun, the wind or the rain. Didn't care whether it was Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter. And even didn't care whether he was hungry or not. Only now he realized that how much he was angry with himself for failing. And that anger has somehow made him numb to everything other than his quest.
He met many on the way. Some knew nothing of the path or the entrance. Some jealously kept all information secret from him. And some simply sneered and said…
“You know, you truly are a useless failure… Aren't you…? And you most definitely should be ashamed of your self… Don’t you think…?”
And yet, on and on he went.
To Be Continued…