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Fables And Folktales: Prince Lindworm

There’s something very… modular about fairy 
tales. The individual building blocks are   firmly established and don’t tend to change – 
it’s just the way they’re arranged that makes   a story unique. You got dashing princes, 
beautiful princesses, questing knights,   benevolent kings and queens, evil magic 
people, good magic people, heroic peasants,   cruel step-parents, clever tricksters, talking 
animals, dragons, trolls, the works. Spin a   few wheels and out pops a fairy tale. The Frog 
Prince? A [dashing prince] is [cursed] by an [evil   witch] to become a [friendly talking animal] 
until he is saved by a [beautiful princess].   It’s pretty telling that most of these 
stories don’t even bother to name any of the   characters – the role they fill matters a lot 
more than their actual individual character.  But despite how basic these archetypes are, 
the stories they slot into can still be really   interesting – and while most of us have a passing 
knowledge of the big names like Red Riding Hood,   Hansel and Gretel, and anything Disney ever 
monetized, there’s a lot of really neat stuff   out there that doesn’t get the same kind of 
press. So today let’s talk about a bite-sized   Norwegian fairy tale with dashing princes, 
heroic peasants, and at least one dragon. Our story begins with a [benevolent king and 
queen] who are regrettably also pulling duty as a   [tragically childless couple]. The Queen is pretty 
bummed about that whole situation, and is out for   a walk sublimating her feelings about it when she 
stumbles on a [mysterious old woman] who happens   to be a [witch]. The lady asks her what’s wrong 
and when the queen fills her in on the No Kids,   Cradle Empty situation, she gives her some cryptic 
advice, telling the queen to take a two-handled   jug and put it upside down in the corner of 
her garden overnight. The next morning, two   roses will have grown under it, one red and one 
white – the queen should choose one rose to eat,   red if she wants a son, white for a daughter, 
but under no circumstances should she eat both.   The queen heads home and takes her advice, not 
really expecting all that much, but the next day   she finds that, surprisingly, the witch was right 
on the money and the roses have really grown!  She agonizes for a bit over which one to 
eat, reasoning that a son might eventually   need to go off to war but a daughter will 
have to marry some foreign lord and either   way she’ll lose the kid someday. Jeez, way to 
be a downer about this Magical Baby situation.   Anyway, after a few minutes of dithering she 
settles on the white one, but the rose turns   out to be super delicious and nutritious so 
she ignores the warning and eats the other   one too. Denying the explicit orders of a witch 
in a fairy tale? What could possibly go wrong?  Nine months pass, and while the king is out 
warring, the queen gives birth to twins – one   healthy baby boy and one lindworm, aka a dragon. 
Ah, those magical pre-ultrasound days where every   pregnancy was a surprise. Anyway, the lindworm 
skedaddles outta there real quick and the queen’s   like “Welp. Hope that was a hallucination.” 
and just… doesn’t bring it up ever. Neato.  So years pass and the [dashing prince] grows to 
be a very fine young man, and eventually he’s sent   off to find a suitably [beautiful princess] to be 
his bride. But when he tries to leave the kingdom,   the road is blocked by a massive lindworm that 
tells him “A bride for me before a bride for you!”  The prince heads back, thoroughly confused, 
and the queen confesses that the lindworm is   actually right on the money – technically he 
was born first, making him the older brother,   so he kind of has to get married first.
So the king starts contacting far-off   kingdoms to ask for a bride for his son – though 
he doesn’t say which son – and when the requisite   [beautiful princess] arrives, a lavish wedding 
is held and she’s married off to the Lindworm,   who promptly eats her. The Lindworm still demands 
a bride, since evidently devouring the bride   on the wedding night means the wedding doesn’t 
count, so the king writes to a different kingdom,   gets a second [beautiful princess] shipped 
over, and the exact same thing happens.  Now never let it be said that these [benevolent 
royals] can’t learn from their mistakes. The   king’s not too eager to make an enemy of a third 
kingdom, so instead he goes to his royal shepherd   and tells him his beloved and conveniently 
expendable daughter is going to marry the   lindworm whether she wants to or not. It’s always 
so lovely to see a ruler who really goes the extra   mile to connect to his people like that.
Now the [heroic peasant girl] obviously   doesn’t want to get eaten, so she does what 
any self-respecting protagonist would – she   goes for a walk in the spooky woods lamenting her 
doom until a [mysterious old woman] who happens   to be a [witch] pops out of the woodwork 
to ask her what’s wrong. The shepherdess   fills her in on the situation and the witch 
gives her some very specific instructions   on how she can survive her wedding night.
The wedding day arrives, lavish party, beautiful   bride, commendably scaly groom, etcetera etcetera 
– but that night, following the witch’s advice,   the shepherdess has the castle staff bring 
her a few things. She layers on ten dresses,   preps two basins of lye and milk, and gets 
ready for some fairy tale shenanigans.  When the Lindworm tells her to ditch the dress, 
she tells him to lose a skin. He’s a bit thrown by   this request, but agrees – but after he sheds the 
skin, surprise, she’s got another dress on! Guess   you’d better lose another skin if you want a piece 
of this! They repeat the process several times,   and by the time the shepherdess is down to her 
last dress, the lindworm is in pretty rough   shape. This is when the plan enters phase two. 
Following the witch’s instructions to the letter,   the shepherdess grabs a whip, which I 
guess the castle staff just assumed was   for totally kosher bedroom fun times, dips 
it in the lye and whacks the lindworm with   it. Then she dumps the milk over him, and then 
– possibly most surprisingly – she hugs him.  The next day the staff are shocked to discover 
that the shepherdess is not only alive, but   cuddling up to a very handsome [dashing prince]. 
With the lindworm officially freed from his cursed   existence by being quite literally whipped into 
shape, the kingdom is overjoyed and the wedding is   held all over again, this time with feeling. The 
prince and the shepherdess are happily married for   real this time and everyone lives happily ever 
after except for those two princesses who got   totally murdered. Sorry ladies, but someone’s 
gotta pay the price for the rule of three! [Bring Me To Life – Evanescence]
Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F24DV_Og5ug

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