12

姫宮

Once upon a time, many years ago, there was a little princess, and she was very sad, for her mother and father had died. Before the princess appeared a travelling prince riding upon a white horse. He had a regal bearing and a kind smile.

The prince wrapped the princess in a soot-scented embrace and gently wiped the tears from her eyes. “Little one,” he said, “growing up alone in such deep sorrow… Nobody should go through anything like your torment.”

The princess was taken aback – not by the prince’s words, but by the earnestness with which he said them. This was something he was willing to fight for, and something he thought he could change.

“Please come,” he continued. “I would be honoured if I could show you something.”

She followed him to a balcony, and he gestured at a mountain-silhouette, barely visible in the distance. “Just below the peak of that mountain, there is a shallow cave. At its end, legends say, there is an enchanted jewel called Sanwa’s Opal which will lead you to loved ones whom you have lost.”

The princess took a shaky step forward. “Then I…”

“Then you…?”

“I’ll go.” She hesitated. “That’s what you’re saying, right? That I should find the opal.”

“Yes,” said the prince, bowing. “I am deeply sorry, but I cannot assist you, for I have other obligations. I sought merely to advise you.”

“No, it’s fine,” she said, hope returning to her voice. “I can handle it. I can handle it!”

“Then I wish you the best of luck, little one.”

The princess was practically skipping out the door, but at this she stopped and turned. “Luck? Mother and Father don’t believe in luck.”

“Well–” the prince chuckled “–perhaps they are right.” The princess nodded and left just as eagerly as she had been a moment before. “Then again,” muttered the prince under his breath, but he did not continue. He simply vanished into the air from whence he had arrived.

It is most likely obvious to you now that, despite his laudable conduct and impeccable manner, the man was not a prince. Perhaps he was a king? He certainly knew much more than the princess did about the nature of what she, and most mortals, named “luck”. Many cultures have considered their kings to be incarnations of deities, and among those which have gods governing particular concept-spheres, luck is quite common. If this one was no monarch at all, how could he lay claim to such a lofty myth? Then again…