The Dragon Scale of Wisdom
Once upon a time, in the middle of a clearing on the edge of the northernmost forests in the ancient land of Ethris, lived a poor woman with her three sons. The eldest was a strong boy and looked after the farm. The middle one was quite clever and took care of taxes and errands. But the youngest son left the house in the morning, went into the forest to visit his sweetheart and only came back in the late afternoon. One day the king's knights were passing through the forest, stopping in the clearing and bringing the news that the king was looking for a bridegroom for his two daughters. All the sons of the country are invited to marry the two princesses. So the three brothers picked out their best clothes, packed some travel provisions and made their way to the castle of the king of Ethris. They ran and ran until they came to a fork in the road that led in three directions. However, there was no sign to be seen, so they did not know which way to go. Then they discovered a small house high in the trees in the middle of the branches. They called up and a young witch stuck her head out the window. The brothers asked her the right way and she answered: "The first way leads to power and strength. The second way leads to unlimited knowledge. But the third way leads to destruction." Since the witch winked at the youngest brother on her first reply, they chose this route and thanked the witch for her help.
When night fell, they set up a small camp. The eldest of the brothers went hunting. He was just about to kill a grass hare when it said: "Let me live, brother of my love, make me a little nest of moss and batmúne and I will help you." The second went to a stream to fetch water and caught a bluescale fish. As he was about to kill him, the fish growled: "Let me live, brother of my love, hollow out a Lúna fruit for me and I will help you." Meanwhile, the youngest took care of the camp and sang a happy song, so that a little red feathered bird was attracted and sat on his shoulder. When he tried to catch it, it chirped: "Let me live love, build me a cage of sticks and grass and I will help you. At daybreak, the three brothers set off again with their animal companions. When the sun was already high in the sky, they reached the gate of the castle. Like many before them, they were admitted and escorted through a long portico with whimsical statues into the throne room. Before the three could enter, another statue was brought out of the room and placed in line with the others. In the throne room the princesses sat sadly beside their father and wept bitterly. When the brothers stood in front of them, they stopped and the elder sister said, "I want to put you to the test. The one of you who solves the task shall become my husband! But whoever fails will become a heartless fellow. Now rest."
In the morning, the princess first set the eldest of the brothers a task. He should go to the night goblins and steal the scepter of eternal darkness for the sisters. So he set off with the grass hare and traveled a day and a night until he stood in front of the entrance cave of the night goblins. He climbed in, but got stuck in a narrow spot. So he took the grass hare out of its nest and asked him to fetch the scepter of darkness for him. The rabbit succeeded and asked the eldest to release him. The brother thanked the hare and made his way back. However, when he stood in front of the princesses and was about to hand them the scepter, the scepter was gone. The two princesses turned their heads and two horrible toads crawled out from under their golden hair. They hissed loudly and suddenly the brother was turned to stone. The next day, the princess put the second brother to the test. He should go to the Icefins and steal the Ring of Perpetual Frost from them. Together with the blue scale fish he set off and traveled two days and two nights until he came to an icy lake, in the depths of which he had to dive. So he took the fish out of its container and let it slide into the water. The fish stole the ring and when it swam back to the surface it begged the second eldest to release it. The brother thanked the fish and ran back to the castle. But again the same thing happened. The ring was gone and the toads under the princesses' hair turned the brother into a statue.
The next day the youngest of the brothers was to be given a task. The princess demanded that a wisdoms´s scale of a dragon be brought to them. And so the third brother set out together with the little red feathered bird and they traveled three days and three nights until they reached the highest peak of the dragon mountains and found a dragon's hoard. They snuck in and came across a white and gold sleeping dragon. But whenever the youngest brother wanted to approach the dragon to remove the scales on his head, the dragon moved as if he wanted to wake up. So the little red feather sat on his ear and sang something into it. Since dragons speak all the languages of the world, he understood exactly what the red feather said: "I dreamed of two princesses and everyone who asked for their hand in marriage was never seen again." "Well...", the white and golden one answered: "...there are two devils sitting under her hair." At that moment, the brother pulled on the scales for the first time, but nothing moved. So the little bird sang again: "I dreamed of a castle and everywhere there were stones like statues in the corridors." "Once they were flesh and blood." said the dragon and when he said this, the youngest tugged the scales a second time. This time the scale moved a little. That's why the red plumage chirped again: "I dreamed of a bride, but how will she be mine?" The dragon replied, "Kill the devils with a ruse and it will happen." At that moment the brother pulled the head a third time and released the scale of wisdom. Since the dragon was now missing the most important thing, he vanished into thin air and was never seen again.
When the youngest brother was back in the throne room in front of the king and his two daughters and was about to hand over the scales, the little red feather jumped onto his shoulder and whispered something in his ear. The princesses were curious, so the brother said: "The scale will be yours, but you have to look deep into it. This is the only way you can fathom its wisdom." He presented the scales to the princesses and two toads crawled out from under their hair and enlarged their eyes. Suddenly the scale shone with a bright light and the toads began to groan and screech. They fluffed up more and more until they finally burst. Now the princesses were free and a loud murmur of voices could be heard in the corridor.
The doors opened and all the statues were alive again. The brothers hugged and the two eldest ones proposed to the princesses. The youngest brother, however, took his little red plumage, said goodbye to his brothers and ran back into the forest. When he was back at the fork in the road under the small house, the little red feather changed back into the little witch who had once given the three brothers the way. The youngest brother kissed the witch and if they didn't die they still kiss today.