… Several days passed after that and still both the king’s sons did not returned home.
By this time, the whole palace was brimming with anxiety over the disappearance of the two princes.
And so it fell upon the youngest brother to seek the missing princes and to find out what had befallen them.
The young Prince had no sooner left the city walls when he encountered the same rabbit. He went at once after the rabbit. But when the rabbit fled into the cave, the young Prince did not follow. He turned around and proceeded to continue with the search for his brothers.
After many fruitless hours spent in the woods, the young Prince found himself near the vicinity of the cave again.
This time, the Prince entered the cave. To his surprise, he found an Old Woman cleaning the cave.
The Prince greeted the Old Woman politely and the Old Woman replied in kind.
He then asked the Old Woman if she had notice a rabbit entering the cave.
The Old Woman answered sadly that she did and informed him that it was not an ordinary rabbit but a dragon in its true form. She told him that the Dragon often transformed itself into a rabbit to lure people into his cave.
Many had fallen to the Dragon’s clutches in this very same way and so she mournfully advised the young Prince to be on his way.
The Prince explained that he was looking for his brothers and that he would not leave without knowing what had befallen to his brethren.
Observing the Old Woman’s bleak countenance, he surmised aloud that she was held against her will to serve the Dragon.
The Old Woman acknowledged woefully that she was indeed taken at an early age from her family to serve the Dragon and had been enslaved to serve the Dragon ever since.
The Prince persuasively told the Old Woman that they could defeat the dragon but only if she would help him. The plan of how to destroy the Dragon would include ferreting out the information of where the Dragon would be most vulnerable, that is, the location where it hid its strength.
When the Dragon had entrusted its great secret with her, the Old Woman was to show her elation by embracing the very spot and kiss it. The Prince said that he will return to find out what happened and thereafter he took his leave.
Soon the sun sets and the Dragon returned to the cave. After the Dragon finished its great repast, it settled down to rest.
In a solicitous manner, the Old Woman asked if the Dragon was very tired and wondered if it was because it had to travel many distances.
Much aggrieved, she lamented that the Dragon never told her his daily activities and that she was just concerned and feeling curious.
She continued to wonder aloud in admiration at its mighty strength and professed loudly that should the Dragon reveal to her where it kept its strength, she would certainly embrace and kiss it.
The Dragon told her that its strength lay in the fireplace.
Upon these words, the Old Woman threw herself before the fireplace. She then hugged it as tightly as she could and kissed it fervently.
The Dragon couldn’t help but be tickled a this funny spectacle. Still chuckling, he told her that his strength is not hidden in the fireplace but in the tree which stood in front of the cave.
Immediately, the Old Woman rushed out of the cave to embrace and kiss the tree profusely.
At this silly sight, the Dragon rolled onto the ground and roared with laughter.
Feeling flattered at the Old Woman’s obvious homage to its mighty strength, the Dragon told the Old Woman patronizingly that its strength was not in the tree but lay in yonder faraway kingdom.
In the kingdom, there was a large lake situated next to the castle, submerged in the lake lay a dragon and in the bowels of the dragon was a wild boar, and within the wild boar sleeps a rabbit, inside the rabbit nestled a pigeon and concealed in the pigeon rested a sparrow, and enclosed within the sparrow, therein lay its strength.
The Old Woman sighed noisily in great disappointment and agreed with the Dragon that it would be indeed too far away for her to access its source of strength.
The next day, as promised, the young Prince arrived just as the Dragon left and the Old Woman imparted to him all that had transpired in the evening before.
The young Prince thanked her and returned to his castle at once. He dressed up in the guise of a shepherd and in this manner; he journeyed to the remote kingdom as had been described.
- End of Chapter II –