Ravan’s Tower

Once, and not so very long ago, there was a sorcerer named Ravan. He lived in a curious rock that protruded from the gently rolling hills of the forest, pointing straight up into the sky like a challenge to the heavens, with an octagonal structure at the summit. The building was made of gleaming white marble and had a steeply pointed roof that gave the entire rock a sharp, needle-like appearance. Some said Ravan had built it by magic, and others said he had made the entire rock to come out of the earth at his bidding and that was why it was at such odds with the surrounding landscape. Both could very well have been true, but nobody had ever dared ask Ravan himself. He did not leave his tower often, and even on the rare occasions that he ventured into the nearby village, the people were too frightened to speak to him. Many scurried into their houses and shut their windows when he approached, although careful not to draw his attention to themselves.

The one man in the village who did not react to his presence was the blacksmith, Gidon. He greeted the sorcerer as he would any other customer and did not hesitate to look him in the eye. Ravan usually had business with the blacksmith when he came to the village, and he would either give directions as to the peculiar contraptions he needed or would pick up the completed products. He always paid for his purchases in gold, which was rare in the village, but Gidon made jewelry out of it and traded it for clothes and food with the village women. His own wife had died long before, leaving him with a son, Edon, who now helped him in the smithy.

One day a shadow fell on the open door, and the dark-mantled sorcerer stepped in with a leather pouch in his hand. Gidon wiped his blackened hands on his apron and stood up. “I need for you to make me a mirror,” Ravan began while untying the straps of the pouch. “Not just a polished piece of metal, but a proper one with smooth glass on the surface. You will make it out of silver. It must be at least this big.” Edon watched from his corner as the sorcerer laid fragments of a shattered mirror on the table. “If you need more materials for the glass, I will provide it, as well as the silver.”

“This is a lady’s looking-glass,” Gidon grunted. “Do you want the new one engraved with these patterns, too?”

“Yes. I want your finest work. It is not for my use, as everything else I have had you make, but for my daughter. I would not have entrusted this to you, but she must have another as quickly as possible. You shall be paid less for every day you take to complete it, but if it is not done well you shall be paid nothing at all.”

Gidon only asked, “How much for five days?” and began negotiating the price. Edon had already stopped listening, for his mind was reeling from the revelation ‒ Ravan had a daughter! He knew the whole village would be shocked to hear this, for he fully intended to tell them the news as soon as Ravan’s figure had disappeared into the forest, past the last house in the village proper.

Edon was dazed with the discovery even after their customer had left, but Gidon resumed his work on the horseshoes for their previous customer. Soon after, however, Edon found a pretext to leave the smithy and headed to the well where the womenfolk were gathering.

Some of the women were still superstitiously making the sign to ward off evil, facing the way Ravan had left, as Edon approached the well. Their usually cheerful chatter had turned to hushed mutterings, and a few even cast dark looks at the smithy, though their expression quickly changed when they saw Edon.

“What did he want this time? More pots for brewing poisons?” spat one woman.

“No,” Edon replied slowly, “he wanted a mirror.”

“A mirror!” the women echoed, surprised. “What would he do with a mirror?” asked one.

“It’s not for him,” Edon said, then paused for effect. “It’s for his daughter.”

Hearing the outcry that ensued, some of the men in the village looked out of their shops, then were drawn into the group now excitedly plying Edon with questions. Nobody had ever heard of Ravan having a daughter; nobody had heard of his having a wife. A silver mirror was certainly an extravagant thing, they all agreed. Perhaps she was very vain, some said, and looked at her reflection all day. Perhaps she was very beautiful, others suggested. Amid the hubbub, nobody noticed Corrine, the oldest woman of the village, hobbling up to the well on her cane.

“How old is his daughter? She cannot be very old, for Ravan is not an old man,” one said.

“How do you know that?” Corrine asked, surprising them. “I was born in this village and have lived here all of my eighty-two years, but Ravan has not changed since the first time I saw him, when I was four.”

“Is he immortal?” gasped the butcher. Corrine shook her head.

“I do not know what magic he possesses,” she replied, “but I do remember hearing, when I was just a young girl, that he had stolen a beautiful maiden from a distant land and had hidden her away in his tower.”

“Did someone see her?” a farmer’s wife asked.

“It was a long time ago,” Corrine sighed, “but I think it was the woodcutter… yes, it was the woodcutter, Vorik, who happened to be near Ravan’s tower at dusk and caught a glimpse of the maiden. He saw a light in the tower, far too bright for a fire, and thought a star was falling to the earth. When it did not move, he looked closely ‒ for he had good eyes, Vorik did ‒ and saw a figure in a blue dress, with golden hair as long as she was tall. It was only a glimpse, mind you, for she soon turned and went back into the tower, but he swore to his dying day that the light had been coming from her.”

“Is it possible that Ravan had captured a star-spirit?” the weaver’s apprentice wondered.

“It is possible,” Corrine answered sagely, “but not long after that a traveling minstrel came to this village ‒ or rather, he stopped by on his way to town ‒ and told us rumors of a sorcerer that had stolen a maiden with long, golden hair, the daughter of a rich man who was spending everything he had to find her. Then someone ran to fetch Vorik, and when he told the minstrel what he had seen, everybody realized that the sorcerer was none other than Ravan! The minstrel promised to tell the maiden’s father and lead him here, but we never saw him again.”

“He must have been caught by Ravan and turned into stone!” cried the baker’s wife.

“He probably took the father’s reward and ran,” the butcher retorted.

“Her father never came here, but what could he have done if he had?” Corrine continued. “Perhaps he gave up when he realized she could not be delivered from so powerful a sorcerer. But doubtless, this maiden was the mother of Ravan’s daughter.”

Edon could not concentrate on his work the rest of the day, with thoughts about Ravan’s stolen wife and daughter swirling in his mind. His father seemed unruffled by the whole business, but after they had eaten their supper, Gidon went back to the workplace and told Edon to pile the wood high and pump the bellows. Late as it was, he started the work for Ravan’s mirror. By the time he set aside his tools for the night, Edon had been struggling to keep his eyes open for an hour.

The next day Gidon arose as early as he usually did and continued shaping the mirror. Edon stifled many yawns in the course of the day, then realized, to his dismay, that Gidon intended to work late into the night again. He slapped his face with cold water to stay awake that evening and no longer bothered to stifle his yawns.

By noon of the third day, most of the work was done. All that remained were the embellishments, which Gidon could do alone, so he told Edon to get some rest. No sooner had he fallen asleep, he thought, than Gidon was shaking him awake, but the sun was slanting to the west. “Get up,” his father ordered, “and pack our supper.”

“What?” Edon mumbled, rubbing his eyes.

“If we hurry, we can go to Ravan’s tower before the sun sets. I will go borrow the horses from the innkeeper. Hurry! He will pay us more if we deliver it to him today.”

Edon stumbled up and packed their bread and cheese in a pouch. His sleepiness was soon changed to excitement at the thought of going to Ravan’s tower. “Would the sorcerer let us in?” he wondered. “What amazing magical things he must keep in his tower! And maybe, we will be able to see his daughter!” Edon had last seen the tower when he was a child and had gone out with a group of curious children who, like him, were fascinated with the sorcerer.

They hurried along the darkening forest path, which was surprisingly clear of weeds and fallen branches despite its lack of habitual travelers. Gidon snatched bites of his bread as they rode, but Edon was too excited ‒ and far too uncomfortable on the jostling horse ‒ to eat. His thoughts raced as he watched Ravan’s tower grow closer, becoming less distinct in the dusk but still a looming black shadow against the rich indigo of the sky.

Just as the sun fell completely over the horizon and the colors around them grew several shades darker, they turned down the fork which led to the tower. Edon felt a prickling on the back of his neck, for he had never dared come this close to the sorcerer’s lair. Gidon slowed his horse as they approached, but Edon’s continued at a quick trot until it nearly collided with the rock wall, where it reared up and deposited Edon on the ground behind its rump. Winded, Edon tried to stand as Gidon drew up and lit a torch. In the wan light he saw that the path ran directly up to the rock pillar, as though it continued through it uninterrupted.

“Ravan!” Gidon called. “I have brought your mirror!”

Never one to waste words, Gidon then lapsed into silence. They did not have long to wait. No sooner had Edon grabbed the reins of his horse than the sorcerer appeared, walking through the rock like he would a dense fog.

“You are early. Show me the mirror,” Ravan demanded.

Gidon pulled it out of a leather bag, still wrapped in a clean cloth he had bought from the weaver, and handed it to Ravan, who critically inspected the smoothness of the glass and intricacy of the embellishments. Edon, who had not seen it finished, watched curiously. Had he been more experienced in his father’s craft, he would have realized that it was Gidon’s finest work ‒ the best to be made with the blacksmith’s limited tools.

Ravan pursed his lips as he repeatedly turned the mirror over in his hands.

“It will do,” he finally said. He reached into his robe and pulled out his money bag, then counted the gold coins into Gidon’s hand. Edon stared hard at the rock when the sorcerer turned and disappeared into it, then carefully stepped closer until he could touch it. It held firm, as any ordinary rock would.

“Come, it’s late,” his father grunted, kicking his mount into a canter with the torch held high.

Edon followed, but could not help glancing back at the tower now and again, when the trees were sparse enough to see through. Then, as the last hues of sunset faded from the sky, he thought he saw a light begin to glow at the top of Ravan’s tower. He turned around and squinted so often that he lagged behind Gidon, so far that he could barely make out the torch moving ahead, but in the absence of the firelight he could more easily see the growing light in the tower. As his horse ambled along the path, he came to a dense part of the forest where he could not see even the sky overhead, and before long he grew restless from being unable to observe the tower.

“I’ll just take a quick look from a vantage point,” he said to himself, hastily winding the reins on a branch. “Just to make certain that it’s coming from the tower, and isn’t a star.” He clambered up the tree with the thickest trunk, going as high as he dared on the progressively smaller limbs. When he turned to take stock of his view, he nearly lost his balance for dizziness, being higher than most of the treetops. Beyond the dark sea of trees, the sorcerer’s tower was a sharp fang thrust into the sky now filling with sparkling stars. Then, at its pinnacle, Edon saw a light burst forth in silvery splendor.

He watched, breathtaken, as the light slowly moved about. Even at this distance he could make out that it was a human form, and by its light he saw that the uppermost level of Ravan’s tower was an open porch, with no walls between the pillars. The maiden (for he was now sure that it was she) seemed to be looking at the emerging stars, starting with the early eastern constellations and moving to the west. When the last ones shone clearly in the westernmost sky, she disappeared. Edon was left in the utter darkness of a moonless night.

Saddened, he began his descent, groping blindly for footholds. He had not gone long, however, when his foot broke through a small branch and pulled the rest of his body along. He crashed through the tree, tearing his hands in desperate attempts to grab, being bruised by limbs rushing by, and losing all sense of direction except the principle one: down. Before he could brace himself, he landed on the ground with a hard thud. Vaguely, he heard the horse screaming and galloping away. He groaned in pain at the stars swirling before his eyes.

It was some time before he gingerly sat up to check himself over, relieved to find no broken bones. “I could have killed myself,” he pondered, shuddering. As he dragged himself to his feet, his hands encountered a soft, warm fuzz. Startled, he recoiled, then cautiously examined it. It was a large bird of some sort, still alive, but too frightened even to screech. He could feel it trembling. “Poor bird,” he sighed, “I must have fallen right through your nest.” He started on his long road home, but after a few steps he heard a tiny peep. He stopped, undecided, and heard another weak cry. “All right,” he muttered, returning to pick it up. “You’ll probably die anyway, but if you do, at least you can be our dinner.”

He continued to talk to the bird as he groped his way home, mostly to keep himself from falling asleep on his feet and stumbling, which he did several times anyhow. The bird did not struggle or respond to his grumblings. When Edon finally entered the village, he saw no trace of the horses or his father, but as he passed by the inn he heard sounds of revelry coming from within and guessed where at least part of Ravan’s gold was being spent. Too sleepy and tired to think of joining Gidon for a bite of supper, Edon dragged himself into the house and, still holding the bird, lay on his bed and was asleep instantly.

He was awakened by the pain of Gidon washing his cuts. No amount of protest could persuade him from desisting, so Edon resigned himself, amazed at the number of scratches and bruises that covered his body. They were now noticeably sore, having had ample time to scab and swell. Attempting to sit up, he found he was stiff as well.

“Stay here,” Gidon ordered and left after his simple treatment was complete. Edon realized that it was past noon and that he was ravenously hungry. His father surprised him by returning with a bowl of porridge and a large hunk of bread, which he ate with fervor.

“Where did you get that eaglet?” Gidon asked.

“What eaglet?” Edon asked back, his mouth half full.

“The eaglet you were sleeping with.”

Edon thought a moment before he understood. “Oh! I fell through its nest. I didn’t know it was an eaglet.”

“How did you fall through its nest? The horse couldn’t have thrown you that high.”

“I climbed a tree. I saw Ravan’s daughter! It was just as Corrine said, she was bright like a star, and she moved around the top of the tower for a while, then disappeared. I saw it with my own eyes, Father!”

Gidon regarded his son silently. “Sleep today,” he said, then went out.

Both Edon and the eaglet recovered in a few days under the care (such as it was) of Gidon. Edon was surprised that his father actually bought meat for the bird to eat, instead of butchering it for their own dinner. When asked, Gidon only grunted, “No good eating on a bird of prey.” He even constructed a large metal cage in which to keep it. When Edon was well enough to rejoin him in the smithy, they made a light, sturdy chain to tether the bird, so it was able to flop about outside while they worked. Miraculously, Edon had not broken any of the eaglet’s bones in dashing it to the ground, and within a few weeks it molted into a fine specimen of its kind. The village children often came to gaze at it, standing just out of reach of his chain; however, they need not have feared him, for after learning that these small humans brought offerings of dead mice, bits of lard, and the like, the eagle grew quite tame, inasmuch as he would flap to the limits of his chain, almost to their feet, and calmly secure every morsel. Yet there was nothing of the beggar about him ‒ no groveling for alms, no humble gratitude, could be detected in his demeanor. Rather, he accepted these gifts as a monarch would his subjects’ taxes, as a reasonable rendering of what was due him. Even the youngest of his admirers approached with reverence, hushed by the majesty of his erect head and piercing eye.

The intelligent bird understood quite well that Edon and Gidon were the primary sources of its food. It innately sensed that Gidon was a creature to be respected, as an equal. Edon spoke to it soothingly, with a fondness in his voice that communicated as clearly as words, and gradually the eagle condescended to let him stroke its feathers. Before long it would fly and perch on his arm when he whistled. Somewhere in the unfathomable depths of the bird’s mind, he acceded that Edon was his friend.

Before long the eagle learned to fly ‒ at first in short hops, then more boldly testing the limits of its wings and tether. At Edon’s request, Gidon added more length to the chain, so that the bird was capable not only of flying from one perch to another but also of entangling the chain around trees and whatever else chanced to be in its way. Every evening Edon found the bird impatiently waiting to be freed of the chain, which by then would have only a few spans of loose length, the rest being hopelessly wound and draped throughout the neighborhood. First he would shut the bird in its cage, then pull one end of the chain until it lay coiled neatly at his feet, ready for the next day.

Part of the problem lay in that the eagle, now more accustomed to life in the village, would swoop down upon any mice or rabbits in sight and procure itself a tasty snack. Such maneuvers, with an unbreakable cord in an area with many protuberances, were bound to end as they did. But thinking the eagle’s predisposition to hunt could be made useful, one day Gidon took it and his son and the eagle, with a newly-made addition to the chain, to an open meadow nearby. With Edon holding the end of the chain, which was coiled in a knot, they released the bird to the sky. It flew near the ground for a while, then, finding that it was not restricted (or much less so than usual), it soared.

Even the light chain, a fine example of Gidon’s workmanship, weighed a good amount with such considerable length; however, the eagle did not seem to notice it at all. Only when he flew to its highest limit, where the humans below squinted to see him, did he realize he was still their captive. His native wildness chafed at the clamp on his leg, and he screeched aloud at the indignity. He strained, he struggled ‒ and he rose even higher, dragging the leaden weight of Edon across the ground beneath.

Gidon watched with a calculating eye as the eagle lifted Edon a few feet. Edon held on to the chain with all the strength of his one hand, for it was looped around his other wrist and now pulled tight with the tension of his weight. The eagle flew on for some distance before tiring, then landed with an indignant glare at his ball and chain. Gidon walked up to Edon, whose wrist, where the chain had strangled it, was growing swollen and purple. Ignoring Edon’s cries for mercy, he moved it in all directions and nodded, saying only, “No broken bones.” He then went to the eagle. It squawked and beat its wings, warding him away, but was too tired to resist for long. Gidon pinned the wings down by straddling the creature, and examined its talons. “Hm,” he said, putting it back in its cage, and (after retrieving Edon) returned to the smithy.

He entered the house that night with a strange metal harness. Edon watched, his hand in a bucket of cold water, as his father put the harness on the eagle. The bird was still sulky, but did not fight him ‒ perhaps remembering the humiliation of being sat upon. When fitted, the harness resembled a hanging net of chains. “Sit there,” he ordered Edon. Edon realized that there was a rude seat fashioned out of metal, which the bird would (in theory) carry under it.

“If it could carry your weight on just one leg, it should be able to fly easily with this, since it distributes the weight over its back and legs. These chains here are for pulling its wings down, to direct it to go where you want it to. Of course, it will take some time for it to learn what you expect of it. You can attach a bag of meat here with which to reward it.”

Amazed, Edon asked, “Why did you make this?”

Gidon stroked the bird gently and started taking off the harness before answering.

“I always wanted to fly.”

For several weeks, the smithy was empty in the afternoons. Edon and Gidon took the eagle out to the meadow to train it. At first it was uncomfortable in the bulky harness and tried to shake it off, but the bird learned that those attempts only entangled the chains around its neck. When it grew accustomed enough to the hindrance that it was able to catch a rabbit, Gidon told his son to sit in the seat. By this time the eagle had grown even larger, but with Edon’s added weight, it could not get off the ground. Gidon then adjusted the harness so that Edon could run. The morning after the changes were made, they left early for the field and Gidon helped belt the two into the contraption. Even the eagle seemed to catch their excitement, and as Edon started running from one end of the field, it beat its wings and strained against the weight. When Edon could not go any faster, he kicked the earth with all his might, and they were airborne.

The sense of soaring brought a whoop of triumph from Edon, causing the eagle to fly higher. Gidon watched on in silence but with an unmistakable smile. He himself was too heavy for the bird, he knew, but it was his skill that had accomplished this. He returned to the smithy to resume his work, which had not gone neglected while he was absent in the afternoons, for he had worked in the evenings as well. Edon arrived much later, having exhausted the eagle to its limits and ready to give it his own portion of the noonday meal.

“Father, it was wonderful!” he rambled, “It was amazing to look down from so high!”

“Well,” Gidon interjected, “feed it as much as you like. It needs to be strong enough to pay for its own food.”

“What do you mean?”

“It can give rides to children. The fees we’ll charge will cover its cost.”

The novelty of flying brought most of the villagers out to watch and pay for their children’s turns. Some of the adults expressed their desire to ride as well, and those who were deemed light enough by Gidon were permitted, for a higher fee, with Edon limiting the number of larger passengers each day so that the eagle would not tire. The young girls of the village sewed loose pantaloons in order to run and fly with decorum. Among them, Edon soon became a favorite.

However, even their pretty smiles could not distract Edon’s thoughts from the shining maiden he had seen in Ravan’s tower. As he held the eagle’s tether, waiting for it to finish a course and return with the customer, he would gaze at the protruding peak of the sorcerer’s abode. After everyone qualified had ridden at least once, the crowds at the meadow diminished, until only children hoping for a free ride or wanting to watch the eagle gathered around it, leaving Edon ample time to wonder about the mysterious maiden. Gidon expected him to return to the smithy when the flying business was slow, but he often came home at dinnertime with empty pockets. Gidon knew that his son lacked the discipline to become a smith and had hoped this new venture would enable him to earn a living on his own. “Perhaps,” he suggested one day, “you should set up this business in town where there are more customers, and the people can better afford to spend money on entertainment.”

Edon’s hand with his spoon paused in mid-air. He swallowed. “Do you really think that’s necessary?”

“We’ve run out of customers here. Of course there are still some who come occasionally, but it’s a poor business that can’t even pay for the bird’s food. If you took it to town, you could charge more and have more customers. If you can teach it to do tricks, you could show performances for a fee and not tire the bird as much.”

“I-I’ll see what I can do,” Edon stammered.

Half-heartedly, Edon commenced teaching the bird tricks. He knew that once his father had a notion, he would not be dissuaded. Thoughts of leaving the village to work in the town, alone and as a man, did not appeal to Edon, so it was not long before his training of the bird lapsed into staring off as usual, more often as not at Ravan’s tower. The eagle, knowing that it had to accomplish some task before it would get another morsel from the feed bag, fluttered about Edon expectantly. Finally roused from his reverie about the maiden and having the presence of the bird juxtaposed on his thoughts, Edon had an idea. A wild idea, to be sure, but with no one to advise against it, Edon determined to carry out his plan. If he were to leave the village soon, he had little time to execute it.

That night, after Gidon’s snores began to echo through the house, Edon crept out with the eagle to the meadow. The bird was irritated at being disturbed, then confused at having the harness put on. With some difficulty Edon lashed himself into the seat and started running. Despite the darkness, in which the eagle was nearly blind, it obediently flew, and soon they were skimming over the forest. Edon carefully guided it towards the dim outline of the tower.

“If only I could have left earlier, at dusk, when she shone the last time,” Edon thought, wondering what he was going to do when he reached the tower. The eagle had grown strong from carrying customers every day, and Edon was confident that it could take him there. But what then? “I wish she would come out again,” he said aloud.

As though in answer, a light arose in the tower. He was close enough now to see that the shining maiden had ascended stairs in the middle of the floor to emerge on the roofed porch. She stepped to the edge of the tower nearest him, and he coaxed the eagle to rise to her level, his heart pounding.

Edon steered the eagle to fly between the pillars, but as they drew near it balked at the bright light of the maiden and swerved upwards to avoid her. Edon forced it to circle back and descend into the terrace. This time, the maiden retreated to the center of the room, and the roof kept the eagle from being blinded by her light until they were already inside. Edon hit the floor running, stumbled, and collapsed in a heap with the eagle. As he tried to extricate himself from the harness, he heard her footsteps approach.

“Who are you? Why have you come here?” she asked, in a voice like a myriad of bells.

“I wanted to see you,” Edon answered, breathlessly.

“You could have seen me from afar when I stand here.”

“I know. I did. But I wanted to see you close, to meet you.”

He had managed to crawl out of the chains and stand. He saw that she was wearing a white robe and that, indeed, the light was emanating from her body, piercing through her garment like water. He could not see her face for the light, but she seemed puzzled at his words.


“I-I don’t know. Just curious, I guess.” He swallowed, then blurted out, “Are you Ravan’s daughter?”

“Daughter? No, I’m his prisoner. He stole me from my father, many years ago, and cast a spell on me. He has trapped me here by enchanting me to become a reflection while the sun is in the sky.”

“A reflection?”

“Yes.” She sadly gestured with her hands. “I thought at first that the magic worked through the mirror he keeps me in during the day. Some time ago I found a chance to break the mirror, hoping to escape my prison, but I still turned into a reflection when the sun rose.” She sighed. “He kept me in quicksilver, but I grew weaker every day. He finally found another mirror like the one I had broken. See?” She indicated a mirror hanging from her sash. “He lets me keep it now, for he knows I will not try to break it again.”

“My father made that mirror,” Edon said, with some pride.

“Oh! Your father? Is he a sorcerer, too?”

“No, just a blacksmith. He made this harness for the eagle, so I could fly. I found the eagle when I climbed a tree to look at you.”

“Oh,” the maiden murmured, contemplatively. After a pause, she ventured, “Will it carry me?”

“Of course. We sell rides to people all the time. I don’t know if you can steer it, though, since it can’t see in the dark.”

“I was wondering,” she began slowly, “if it could carry both of us away from here. To let me escape. The outside of this tower is too steep to climb, and I cannot dissolve the rock at the bottom.”

“You really want to leave?”

“Oh, yes! Wouldn’t you?”

“I don’t know,” Edon replied. “I think it would be rather exciting to live with a sorcerer.”

The maiden shook her head. “Perhaps another sorcerer would be more interesting, but Ravan is dull company. He wants me to marry him, but I would rather jump off this cliff!”

“Oh!” Edon thought a moment. “I think the eagle will be able to carry us both, since we’ll just be going down to the ground. Even if we don’t reach the meadow, we can walk to the village.”

“Really? You would do this for me?” Edon nodded. “You realize that if Ravan found out, he would cast a spell on you, too?”

“I suppose so,” he answered, “but it’s worth the risk, to set you free ‒ since you don’t like being here. You can sit in the harness and I’ll hang onto these chains, and once we’re in the air, I’ll hook my feet there.”

With growing excitement, he helped her into the seat. Wrapping his arms securely around the chains and holding the eagle aloft in their usual position, he ran from one end of the terrace to the other, then kicked. They dipped as they left the tower, but the eagle managed to steady its flight by beating its wings faster. The maiden let out a shriek of joy and, turning back for a last look at the tower, shrieked again.

“He’s found us!”

Edon glanced back, too, and saw a lamp being dashed to the floor of the porch as a sinister shadow moved towards them. If it were Ravan, he knew that the sorcerer could not possibly miss them with the maiden shining as she did. Thinking (illogically) that her luminescence could be hidden by another layer of cloth, he struggled to remove his tunic and upset the eagle’s balance so that it jerked down to the left. The motion, however, saved their lives, as it caused them to narrowly miss a bolt of blue lightning. The streak of light crackled and burst in a small explosion. The eagle shied away from the sound and light, veering off course just as another bolt ripped through the air. Both Edon and the maiden clutched at the chains of the harness as they were jolted, one of which was for steering the eagle. As the bird dove again and a third bolt of blue streaked past, Edon caught a glimpse of the dark shadow behind them, blocking out a larger portion of the stars with its sweeping wings ‒ the sorcerer had turned himself into a bird and was drawing nearer.

The next thunderbolt did not miss. Edon felt himself wrapped in a bright, blue shock that completely blinded him for a minute. When it faded, he was panting for breath, trembling with fright. But the maiden gave such a piercing cry that his heart lurched even more.

“My mirror! My mirror!” she half-screamed, half-sobbed. “He’s destroyed my mirror!”

Edon could not see the mirror where it had hung from her sash, entangled as they were in the harness, so he looked back at their hunter instead. To his surprise, he saw the enormous bird that was the sorcerer floundering, flying erratically, and ‒ inexplicably ‒ smoking. “Look! What’s Ravan doing?” he asked, curious despite their predicament. The maiden turned around, still distracted over her mirror, but catching Edon’s wonderment as she saw the spectacle.

“He’s falling!”

“Oh! Look at his left wing ‒ it’s on fire!”

It was true. The cause of the smoke must have been a smoldering fire which, fanned by the motion of the wing, had now ignited. The fowl form of the sorcerer grew weaker as they watched, the wing-strokes slowing until they finally stopped and he plunged into the depths of the forest. They could hear the faint noises of him crashing through the branches, then all was still. Speechless from their ordeal, they glided on in silence to the meadow, where the eagle, exhausted, set them down. Edon unfastened himself and the maiden from the harness, then led the way back to the village.

“I wonder,” the girl started, after they had walked awhile.


“Why Ravan didn’t kill us. Actually, I think he meant to…”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, it was so odd, the way he fell… as though he’d been hurt. I know he couldn’t have used up all his magic powers with those lightning bolts. I’m wondering…”


“I think he meant to hit us, but not my mirror. He stopped so suddenly… Maybe, the lightning reflected off my mirror, back at Ravan. That would explain why he burst into flames.”

Edon thought a moment. “I suppose so. I wonder if he’s dead, or just hurt.”

“I hope he’s dead,” she sighed. “He was a terrible man. I hope he doesn’t come looking for me. He would do terrible things to you, too, for helping me escape.”

Though the thought unsettled Edon, he said nothing. When they reached the village, he quietly let her into his house. “You can sleep in my bed tonight,” he said. “I’ll sleep on the floor.”

She smiled. “Don’t worry. I never sleep at night any more. Go to bed, and I’ll stay down here.” Tired from the excitement and naturally thoughtless, Edon was easily persuaded. It never crossed his mind that the maiden would turn into a reflection in the morning ‒ or, lacking even a substitute mirror, that she might disappear altogether.

Not long after he had drifted off to sleep, however, both he and his father were startled awake by a sharp cry. Hurrying down, Gidon groped in the darkness for the tinderbox. When he had lit the lamp, he was shocked to see the maiden ‒ as was Edon. She was no longer shining.

“My light went out!” she cried.

Gidon demanded an explanation, and as Edon recounted the events of the night, the maiden gradually regained her composure. At the end of the tale, Gidon sat silently staring at her. Then she smiled at them both, with joy in her face as bright as any star. “I think,” she remarked, contentedly, “that my enchantment has been broken.” She walked to the entrance and threw the door open. The first rays of dawn shone in and touched the tears on her face.


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