Trusty John

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far away, an old king was lying on his deathbed. He knew his time had come, and his only concern was for his young son. In his last moments, he called for his most trusted and faithful servant, Trusty John. The king tasked him with the critical responsibility of teaching his son everything he needed to know. The loyal servant promised to serve the young prince with fidelity, even if it meant risking his own life. But that wasn't all - the king had one more request. He warned Trusty John not to show the prince a certain picture of a princess in the castle, for fear that he would fall madly in love with her and put himself in danger. With the promise made, the old king passed away, leaving behind a kingdom in mourning and a young prince with a devoted caretaker.

The death of the old king brought great sorrow and apprehension to the young king. Trusty John, determined to keep his promise to his late master, made a solemn vow to be faithful and loyal to the young King, no matter what the cost. As time passed, Trusty John felt that it was time for the new King to see his inheritance. He took him around the magnificent palace, showing him all the riches and grandeur. However, there was one room that he did not open, and the young King began to grow curious. The forbidden room contained a painting of the princess of the Golden Dwelling, so beautifully done that it seemed to be alive. Trusty John knew the danger of the painting and tried to dissuade the King, but the young king was determined to see it. He demanded that the door be opened or Trusty John would be arrested and thrown into the dungeon.  If Trusty John was imprisoned in the dungeon, he knew that the young king would enter the room and would be forced to withstand whatever detriments developed from seeing the painting of the princess.  Trusty John was torn between keeping his promise and risking everything to save the young King from his own recklessness.  Trusty John acquiesced to the young king’s demand.  

As Trusty John reluctantly unlocked the door to the forbidden room, he knew that he was about to unleash a chain of events that would change the young king's life forever. Despite his efforts to shield the portrait from the king's gaze, the young ruler caught a glimpse of the magnificent maiden and fell to the ground and it seemed that his chest failed to assume the rise and fall pattern of breathing life. As he lay there, Trusty John realized that their fate was now in the hands of God, and he could only hope that He would be merciful. Trusty John knelt beside his king, ran his fingers through the young king's hair, and began to cry, for he had failed to protect his king.  But the king’s eyes abruptly opened, he wasn’t seldom awake but was vividly breathing, full of vibrant life.  The young king was filled with a fierce determination to win the heart of the princess of the Golden Dwelling, no matter what the cost. With a steadfast, courageous conviction, he turned to his loyal servant and said, "I will do anything to make her mine, and I know that you, my faithful friend, will stand by my side until the very end."

Trusty John pondered for what seemed like an eternity on how to approach the daunting task ahead, as getting a mere glimpse of the princess was no easy feat. But, after much contemplation, a clever idea dawned upon him. He proposed to the king, "Your highness, every possession the princess owns is made of the most precious of metal, gold. And within your treasury lies an abundance of it - five tons to be exact. Why not have one of the most skilled goldsmiths in the Kingdom craft an array of exquisite items, from tables and chairs to bowls and household utensils, even creating fantastical creatures such as wild beasts and other unique animals, that are sure to capture her fancy? We can then present them to her and see what luck may befall us." The king was so impressed by Trusty John’s idea that he ordered all the kingdom's goldsmiths to work tirelessly day and night, until they produced the most dazzling creations imaginable. Once the ship was fully loaded with these treasures, Trusty John donned the disguise of a merchant, and along with the king. Together, they set sail across the sea, braving all manner of dangers and hardships, until they finally reached the princess's golden abode.

Trusty John’s plan was still forming as they pulled into port.  He instructed the young king to stay behind on the ship while he ventured forth on his mission. "I will convince the princess to come aboard to view the golden items," he told the King, "so make sure everything is in order. Have the golden vessels set out and the entire ship decorated to make it as grand as possible." With that, he collected an array of glittering gold items in his apron and marched toward the royal palace. As Trsuty John entered the palace's courtyard, he spotted a stunning young woman standing by the well, holding two buckets made of gold. She was drawing water from the well, and as she turned around to leave when she spotted the stranger and asked who he was. "I am a merchant," he replied, opening his apron to reveal his treasures. The girl was immediately entranced by the stunning gold items and insisted that the princess should see them too, as she was fond of anything made of gold. She took Trusty John by the hand and led him upstairs, revealing herself as the waiting-maid. The princess was beyond thrilled when she saw the exquisite wares and expressed her desire to purchase them all. But Trusty John had an even grander surprise in store. "I am only a servant of a rich merchant," he explained, "and these items are nothing compared to what my master has on his ship. They are the most magnificent and valuable gold items ever crafted." The princess was intrigued, and her curiosity was piqued even further when Trusty John explained that there were so many items that it would take days to bring them all to the palace. Finally, she exclaimed, "Take me to the ship. I must see the treasures of your master with my own eyes."

With the beautiful princess on board, Trusty John instructed the pilot to push the ship off.  As the ship departed his heart filled with anticipation for the King's success. When the king finally showed the princess all the golden vessels and strange animals, she was so entranced by their beauty that she lost track of time, and failed to notice that they were sailing far away from the land. It was only when she came to the side of the ship that she realized she had been deceived and was now at the mercy of a merchant. The fear in her voice was palpable, but the king reassured her, confessing his great love for her and the overwhelming effect her portrait had on him. His words melted her heart, and she willingly agreed to be his wife, much to the relief and joy of Trusty John.

As they sailed on the deep sea, Trusty John, who was playing music on the front of the ship, saw three ravens flying towards them. He stopped playing and listened to their conversation as he understood their language. The ravens talked about the king carrying the princess of the Golden Dwelling, and how if he mounted a chestnut horse on their arrival on land, the horse would run away with him and he would lose his bride. The only way to save the king would be to shoot the horse dead with a pistol, but whoever knows this and tells the king would be turned to stone. The ravens also warned about a bridal garment woven with gold and silver that was actually made of sulfur and pitch and would burn the king to the bone and marrow if he wore it. The only way to save him would be to burn the garment, but whoever tells the king would turn to stone. Lastly, the ravens talked about how the princess would suddenly turn pale and fall down as if dead during the wedding dance, and the only way to save her would be to draw three drops of blood from her right breast and spit them out. However, whoever knows this and tells the king would turn to stone. Trusty John knew that he had to save his master, but he would be risking his own life to take such drastic measures.  Would his king have the confidence in his servant, Trusty John while taking audacious actions against his king?

As the king and his entourage approached the shore, they could hear the loud cawing of ravens in the distance. Sure enough, as they stepped onto the sand, a magnificent chestnut horse emerged from the trees, just as the birds had foretold. The king was eager to mount the horse and ride it to his palace, but Trusty John, always one step ahead, jumped onto the horse first, drew his pistol, and shot it dead. The other attendants were outraged at the senseless killing of such a beautiful animal, but the king stood firm in his faith in Trusty John, who he knew was the most loyal and faithful of all his subjects.

As they entered the palace, they were greeted by a stunning sight: a dish containing a bridal garment that shimmered like gold and silver. The young King was drawn towards it, but Trusty John, once again acting quickly, snatched it away and burned it in the fire. The other attendants grumbled about his strange behavior, but the king knew that there was always a method to Trusty John's madness.

The wedding ceremony proceeded as planned, but as the bride joined the dance, Trusty John noticed something strange on her face. Suddenly, she collapsed, seemingly lifeless. Without hesitation, he rushed to her side, lifted her up, and sucked three drops of blood from her right breast. Miraculously, she revived, but the young king, ignorant of Trusty John's actions, ordered him to be thrown into a dungeon.

Trusty John was eventually led to the gallows, where he was given one last chance to speak. He passionately proclaimed his innocence and recounted his actions, including overhearing the ravens and saving the king's life multiple times. The king, overcome with guilt and remorse, begged for his forgiveness, but it was too late. Trusty John had already fallen lifeless to the ground, having transformed into a stone as a result of his undying loyalty to his master. 

As the stone figure of Trusty John stands lifeless in the king's bedroom, the monarch's grief consumes him. He longs for his loyal servant to be brought back to life, but what could be dearer to him than the faithful John? The ravens sat at the king’s window sill.  They told the king that the answer is nothing less than the lives of his two beloved sons. The king is faced with an impossible choice but knew in his heart that Trusty John would not allow him to live in misery. He took his sword, with tears streaming down his face, with an intent to sacrifice his children. Just then, he heard the voice of Trusty John, “My king, do not lay a hand on those children.  Your imperishable love for me made broke the stone in which I’ve been imprisoned. The power of loyalty and sacrifice is at the heart of this unforgettable tale.