The prince of Stilland had problems with everyone. He could not tolerate any distraction and blamed everything and everyone around all the time. He got infuriated instantly for trifling matters and showed no empathy. The soldiers and staff of the palace were extremely scared of his mad rage and its consequences.
Apart from this, he was known to be a skilled warrior and when in the right mood, a compassionate person. But everyone was scared of him, for they didn’t know when he would turn sour and unleash himself upon them. He also detested all the aspects of administration and political affairs.
“…why would a warrior king need these father? I would like to focus on what would make me powerful on my own. These softer aspects are for weaker people and distract me from my real training”, he would tell the King.
“You must pay attention Egar! Your rage and demanding nature is quite popular within the royal chambers and now gaining fame across the kingdom, you must control it. Without the knowledge and exposure to the subjects and royal affairs you will be easily cheated and cannot rule efficiently. You must practice these as seriously as you train with your weapons”, the King would firmly say and Egar would oblige sometimes. However, he interacted with the ministers and other counselors in a disinterested manner and always longed to get out. And so did they, for they could not tolerate his attitude and behavior.
Egar also didn’t show much interest in meeting with the subjects and understanding the problems of the kingdom. “Let us appoint wise men who would take care of them father, our prime minister is an intelligent man, he will solve the problems, why should I be bothered with these?”, he remarked.
“If you do not understand your people and empathize with their problems, what kind of King you will be?”, the King thumped his fist on the table. “But these are stupid distractions to me. I would like to be free. I would like to be the best warrior there ever was and for that I need to train harder and do nothing else”, Egar would argue. “Then you would have earned your place as a soldier in the army, a great one no doubt, but no more than that”, the King replied. The prince didn’t much care as he knew that his father will never let him be a solider, he was to be the future king of Stilland.
Egar yearned for freedom from the impositions of the palace. Most of the responsibilities and obligations did not make sense to him. He believed in his sword and his bow and nothing else. On the other hand, the King was very worried. He was getting old and it will be soon time to announce his successor. His son was not ready and he knew that silently, the royal staff and the people of Stilland also dreaded the moment of his son being announced as the future King. He had to do something very quickly.
One day the King called Egar to his chambers. “I would like you to send you to a friend of mine. He is a wizard by name Cigam and is a very powerful one. If you manage to impress him with your dedication to the task he would assign to you, he may teach you the secrets of his magic! This will make you a very powerful warrior as you so desire to be”, said the King. Egar was very excited. This was the opportunity he longed for – to get away from the monotony of the palace and learn something that will make him unbeatable. He set out to meet this wizard the very next day. “Remember, he is known to be even more outrageous than you, do not make the mistake of not meeting his expectations, he may curse you”, warned his father. “There is no task that I cannot accomplish, if I am not distracted”, Egar replied and took off on his horse.
After a long journey that lasted a month, through a difficult and most extraordinary terrain, Egar reached the base of the hill on the top of which lived the wizard in a strange-looking house. There was another hill right next to his house which appeared to be alive from a distance. It looked scary and monstrous in the moonlit night. Egar’s horse was scared of something. It refused to move forward from that point onward and Egar moved to the wizard’s house on foot. As Egar approached the house he saw that the house was leaning on the base of the hill as if it was almost part of it. And the hill seemed to change color as he approached it, turning bright red. “I must be tired”, he thought.
Cigam’s house was filled with strange-looking items which Egar never saw before. Huge stacks of old manuscripts adorned the walls on one side and the other side had piles of herbs and exotic plants stacked in rows of old wooden cupboards. Egar could hear whispering voices in the house as he entered.
“You have courage making it this far and entering my house”, Cigam sounded cold. He appeared to be leaning onto something that he was working on and spoke without looking at Egar. “You want to gain power from me, but that comes with great effort, are you willing to risk it?”, he demanded the prince. “I have come all the way to attain something that will make me mighty. I am willing to take up any task as long as I can work on it without distractions”, he humbly replied. “We shall see to that”, Cigam continued to work. Climb up that winding staircase, you will find your room. Be ready early tomorrow morning, and you shall receive your task.
“Do you see the waterfall down the hill on the other side?”, asked Cigam the next morning. “Yes I see now, I did not notice it yesterday although I could hear the splash of water last night”, Egar replied. “This red-hill is magical and thirsts for the water from that fall. When someone fetches enough water from the waterfall and pours it on the hill, it will melt down and grants a wish. You have to make a pot out of the clay surrounding the waterfall, fetch the water and pour it on the hill, until the hill shrinks and disappears. If you do not pour quickly enough, the hill will grow back!”, Cigam explained the task to the horrified prince. “But this is impossible, I am not a potter and certainly not a lowly slave, what kind of mean task this is!”, he was beginning to get angry when he saw Cigam’s eyes turn red and he remembered his father’s caution. “My apologies, I have never done this before”, he replied with a calmer tone. “to achieve what you desire, this is the task, go with it or I will curse you to be my slave for life!”, threatened Cigam.
Egar had no choice. He regretted coming out from the safety of his palace. But he was also determined to try. If he could succeed with this task, who knows what unimaginable power he could gain! He saw the bright red hill that shone brilliantly in the sun light. He hopped down the hill and quickly paced towards the waterfall. As Cigam stated there was a lot of sticky mud close by and he tried to recollect from his tutors the art of making pots. With each failed attempt he cursed his kingdom, his parents and Cigam for having put him through this ordeal. Nevertheless he persisted and could make what looked like a crooked container. He smashed into the ground with anger and headed back to Cigam’s house as it was nearly dark. “How many pots of water did you carry today?”, demanded Cigam. Egar remembered how a group of servants rushed to take care of him whenever he entered the palace and deep down felt resentful of his behavior with them. “I did not carry any, I had too many distractions, the noise of the waterfall is unbearable…”, he complained. “You will finish the task or you will not leave this place. Eat the bread that I have reserved for you and get on with the task tomorrow”, replied Cigam. Egar kept trying each day, but only returned more frustrated. This seemed to be an impossible errand and he cursed himself for signing up for something so foolish and time-consuming. He imagined that the hill grew bigger than what it was when he saw it for the first time. “this horrible place is having affecting my mind”, he thought.
After what seemed like ages, he succeeded to make a pot decent enough to hold water, but the pot needed to dry to carry water at all. The place near the waterfall was too humid, so he decided to make multiple pots which he could dry in the sun. Once the pots were ready, he finally set out to take a potful of water to the hill. As he poured the water on the walls of the hill, it boomed “more!!!”, like a voice that came from the middle of the hill. And the water vanished as if he poured it on raging fire. “What a monstrous hill!”, he thought fuming with anger. “More!!!”, the hill boomed again. Egar repeated the drill several times in the day but the hill responded with a demand for more water. He could see no signs of the hill melting down. He decided to question the wizard that night. “Cigam! please tell me if this is an arrangement by my father to keep me hostage to this place? I am working on an errand that no man can accomplish. I am not afraid of your curse, but I want to know the truth”, he asked. “Your father is a noble king, do not dare doubt his intent”, Cigam replied. Egar grew more restless hearing this.
As he continued his painful walk up and down the hill carrying pots of water to the demanding hill, Egar also reflected on the problems of his people that he paid half attention to. He decided to get more involved in resolving their issues if and when he ever got back. “More!!!”, demanded the hill as it showed no signs of shrinking down. “I will conquer you!”, Egar yelled back with determination and not as much with anger this time. He saw that a small tip of the hill chip away as a strong gust of wind blew fiercely. “I will conquer you”, he replied camly and marched to the waterfall with his pots.
As he poured pot after pot of water day after day, he started to gain more composure in the errand. He started early, paced himself through the day and tried to move more water every day than he did the day before. He spent the nights trying to reconcile with himself and the life he spent so far. “How demanding have I been with everyone around!”, he thought. After few more days, he completely lost himself in the errand so much so that he lost sense of the surroundings and the external distractions. His only purpose was to keep moving and conquering the demanding hill. Whenever he heard “more!!!” from the hill, it reminded him of his demanding self and how he behaved with all around him. He so wanted to kill it completely.
After what appeared to be more than several months of persistent effort, Egar felt that the voice softened, it did not sound demanding like before although it still said “more” with each pot of water being emptied. Egar also felt that he was assisting the hill to melt down and free it from its misery of the demand. It felt strange but peaceful to think this way. He felt more energized and that day he poured more water than he ever did before and by the end of the day, he could see that the red hill was starting to shrink. Overjoyed with what he saw, Egar emptied some more pots of water all through the night and by the next day lay at the foot of the flattened hill completely exhausted but contented.
Cigam rushed out of the house to assist the prince. “You have accomplished the task Egar, you have overcome the redhill!”, he exclaimed in joy. “And I feel fulfilled too, I do not need any powers, I would like to get back to my father and my people and correct the wrongs I have done”, Egar humbly replied. “But you have gained immense power Egar. The red hill was but a reflection of the demanding hill within you. The waterfall represented precious stream of life – of yourself and your people – which you were demanding so much of without melting down. This errand was a means to conquer the red hill in yourself and appreciate all that is around you. The redhill was magical indeed – you are now truly unconquerable since you have conquered yourself & your distractions in the bargain and discovered your true strength”, replied Cigam. Egar bowed in response and prepared to leave for his kingdom.