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The Princess and the Labyrinth

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There was once a princess who lived in an ancient kingdom. The princess was the youngest of seven sisters. The sisters grew up together in the palace and had many adventures throughout the land. One by one, the sisters got married and left the palace, until only the youngest sister remained. The princess became a strategic advisor to her mother, advising both in matters of state and matters of war. 

One day, the queen and the princess were walking the palace grounds when the queen broached the matter of marriage with her daughter. 

“Daughter, I don’t want to rush you, but I am regularly contacted by suitors,” said the Queen. “I am glad to have you by my side, but I’m not sure how it will look for you to still be here once your eldest sister becomes Queen.”

“You are in very good health mother, so I doubt that will be an immediate concern any time soon,” said the princess. “But, I have been thinking about this for some time, and I have devised a plan.” 

In the following months, the princess oversaw the construction of a complex labyrinth. When it was completed she sent a herald throughout the region announcing that any suitor who wanted her hand in marriage would have to submit to the test of the labyrinth. The test was to find the centre of the labyrinth; whoever could get to the centre would have be deemed worthy of her hand. Hundreds of men arrived to enter the labyrinth. The men knew that the princess was a great strategist so they devised various strategies to beat the labyrinth. Some tied string along their route into the labyrinth to help them find their way, some sought to map the labyrinth, some consulted sages seeking the secret of the labyrinth. One after another, they came out, each one failing to find the centre. 

Soon, the numbers of men arriving daily began to dwindle. The princess carried on with her royal duties. One day a prince from a far away land arrived. The princess no longer met those who sought the labyrinth, so one of her attendants showed the prince to the entrance. 

“What is your plan?” asked the attendant. 

“To find the centre,” said the prince.

“But what’s your plan, your strategy?” pressed the attendant. “Do you have any devices or any means of overcoming the labyrinth?”

“I have nothing, but my head and my heart,” said the prince, and then he went in.

After three days, the prince had not emerged. All previous entrants had emerged two days, most emerged before a day had elapsed. By the seventh day, the palace was buzzing with reports that the prince might be injured, or worse. It was at that point that the princess disappeared. Her attendants searched for her, but she could not be found. Some hours later, the princess and the prince emerged from the labyrinth, hand in hand.

“Prepare the marriage feast,” said the princess.

“So he found the centre,” said the princess’ attendant.

“Finding the centre was never the true test of the labyrinth,” said the princess. “The true test of the labyrinth is this: in order to find love, you must enter in without pretence or a scheme, you must be willing to be lose yourself to find it.”

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