Once there was a beautiful princess who lived in a palace with her loving family.  She had no cares and was very happy.  One morning she awoke, but could find no trace of her family.  She searched the entire palace, but could not find her father, her mother, or even her little brothers and sisters.  She thought that perhaps they were playing a joke on her, but once her tummy began to growl from lack of breakfast, she did not find it funny anymore.

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She looked out the window and saw Brother Raven finishing the last scraps of his breakfast.

 

“Brother Raven,” the young princess called “have you seen where my family has gone?”

 

Brother Raven answered: “I am sorry princess, last night  Death came and took your family away.”

 

“How bothersome!” huffed the beautiful young princess. “Brother Raven, will you help me find this Death, so he will show me where he has taken my family?”

 

“Of course I will,” Brother Raven said, gulping down the last of his breakfast, “You have beautiful eyes.”

 

 

The princess and Brother Raven traveled together for a bit until they came upon the Noble Beasts of the Forest.  Brother Raven was frightened, but the young princess was very brave and spoke boldly to the animals.

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“Noble Beasts of the Forest, I wish to meet Death, for he has taken my family from me”, spoke the princess.

 

The Noble Beasts chuckled to themselves until one amongst them called Alpha spoke.

 

“We meet out death often in the forest, princess.  But, if you truly seek him, seek him amongst men.”

 

The young princess thanked them and was about to ask the Noble Beasts of the Forest for some food, as she was still very hungry.  But the Beasts looked hungry enough themselves, and so a little insisting from Brother Raven was enough to set them on their way.

 

 

They walked on a bit more until they came upon a mighty city.  The streets were bustling with crowds of people.  Even though she was a princess, no one paid her notice when she asked them questions.  Eventually, they came across an old wise man sitting on the side of the street.  He was very ugly, and the princess thought he smelled funny, but her father had taught her to heed the words of wisemen and soothsayers, for often there, truth is found.

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“Wiseman” the young princess said politely “I am looking for Death, for he has taken my family from me.  Do you know where he is?”

 

The wiseman coughed and looked up at her a little surprised.  “Little one, you are too young and beautiful to be looking for Death. I know, for I too am waiting for him.  If you sit at my side, hold my hand, and wait with me, he will be along shortly.”

 

“I have no time for waiting!” snapped the young princess.  She whirled around on her petite little feet and stormed away.

 

“We should have waited with him,” said Brother Raven.  “I should have so liked to have eaten his eyes.”

 

 

Later that day, still very hungry, the young princess came across an officer of the law standing atop a great high platform.  He was busy tying a rope hanging from a board into knots.  The young princess thought it quite a strange job for an officer of the law to be doing.

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“Excuse me, sir,” the princess said, smiling sweetly and giving a polite little bow.  “But, you did not happen to notice if Death passed by this way today, did you?”

 

“Death?” asked the grinning officer of the law.  “I’m sorry little one, but you just missed him.”

 

The beautiful young princess huffed again – more frustrated than ever before.  She overcame her irritation for a moment and asked the officer:  “You don’t happen to know which way he went?  It’s very important that I find him.”

 

The officer grinned again and said:  “Little one, for most men I meet, Death is never more than thirteen steps away.”

 

The young princess found this a very queer thing to say indeed, but decided that perhaps she should try it.

 

 

The beautiful young princess took thirteen steps and looked around, but she did not see Death.  Thinking that perhaps she had miscounted she decided to start over again, but after thirteen more steps she still did not see him.  After trying this over and over, thirteen steps and thirteen more, she grew very, very tired.  She looked around and found herself beyond the city, in very unfamiliar surroundings indeed.  Eventually, a handsome knight came across the young princess and Brother Raven.

 

“Good sir,” said the young princess, managing a little curtsey.  “I am looking for Death.  Have you seen him?”

 

“We have been looking for some time.” added Brother Raven.

 

The handsome knight seemed taken aback by their questions.  After a few moments he said only:  “If you seek Death, seek him on the battlefield.”

 

The young princess and Brother Raven went on their way.

 

 

After a while the two of them came upon the battlefield.  There were many people there as well as many other ravens.  The young princess asked all the people there if they had seen Death.

 

The people there answered: “Death has just passed this way.”

 

“Please, good people,” the young princess pleaded.  “Tell me where he has gone, for he has taken my father, my mother, and even my little brothers and sisters from me, and I must find them.”

 

“Ask the spirits of the mountains and sky, for they know many of the hidden secrets of the world”, they spoke.

 

Brother Raven was reluctant to leave, for he wished to linger with the others of his kind, but the young princess grabbed him by the beak and pulled him along with her.

 

 

The tired and hungry pair traveled back through the forests and then to the top of the tallest mountain in the countryside.  There the princess and Brother Raven encountered the spirits of the mountains and sky.  The spirits were engaged in some sort of game, but stopped when they saw the two of them.

 

“Please good spirits, please!” gasped the beautiful young princess.  “Please tell me where to find Death.”

 

The spirit of the mountain spoke.  His voice was mighty and the earth shook at the sound of his words.

 

“YOU ARE VERY FOOLISH TO BE SEEKING DEATH, PRINCESS!”

 

“Please good spirits, I am tired and hungry, but I must find Death.  He has taken my family from me.”  The princess was near to begging.

 

“VERY WELL!” spoke the spirit of the sky.  His voice was like the North Wind and the clouds rumbled at the sound of his words.

 

“IF YOU TRULY SEEK DEATH, YOU WILL FIND HIM IN THE VALLEY OF SHADOW BEYOND THESE MOUNTAINS!”

 

The princess thanked them and left.

 

 

The princess and Brother Raven walked on until they came to the Valley of Shadow.  By this time the two of them were very tired and very, very hungry.  The Valley too, was frightening and filled with living shadows.  The princess’s bravery began to waver.

 

After a time it began to snow.  It snowed so hard that very soon the entire Valley became covered in a blanket of white.  The princess, who had walked all day and was very cold and hungry, collapsed in the snow as the last of her strength left her.

 

As the snow began to creep up over her feet to her knees the beautiful young princess began to cry.

 

“Now I will never find Death!” she sobbed.  “Brother Raven, whatever shall we do?”

 

“I should think that I shall pluck your eyes from their sockets.” said Brother Raven.

 

 

 

Just before the snow had crept up to cover her nose and the young princess had lost all hope, Death came and stood before her.

 

“Death,” she asked.  “Where is my family?  Where have you taken my father, and my mother, and my little brothers and sisters?”

 

Come with me.” spoke Death.  “I will take you to them.

 

 

 

***the last image is of the princess lying dead in the snow and Brother Raven eating her eyes***