In the kingdom of Berne, it came to past that the only daughter of the noble King Iomair came of age to claim her birthright. Preparations were made while the father and his daughter, who had locks of gold, met in secret to discuss the trials that lay ahead of her.
“This trial will not be easy my child.” Stated the king cautiously. “Not even I can know the details of the perils that await you. It is decided by the people who have placed their trust for you to rule as their future queen. In this way, you will have an unwavering faith from those you have sworn to protect. That does not mean that they will go easy on you. I have been told that they even enlisted the help of some of our high priests to ensure that you are thoroughly tested. Take heart my dear Goldilocks and know that I support you from afar.”
“I will my father and I will make you proud. There is nothing that will deter me from achieving that which I have trained for all my life. No more words for now, let me go forth to prove my worth to the people that will follow me.” Eagerly responded Goldilocks.
The man moved to the side as he followed his confident daughter out the door, feeling nothing but pride. They were met with cheers as the royal duo paraded down the streets to a great maze. The two looked at wonder at the greenery that stood before them. Not even the night before did this stand where it grew now. It was clear to the royalty that the people wanted to ensure their future.
As they stood flabbergasted, a priestess dressed in a white dress approached them. Upon her head she wore a ring of flowers and a golden belt carved with knots that sat around her waist. Across her skin were painted marks that faintly glowed.
She addressed them, “Hail King Iomair and his daughter Princess Goldilocks. I sincerely hope that you succeed today your highness. Allow me to explain the rules of this trial. You can bring within the maze a sword, shield, flint, hammer, wrappings, and a pot. There are three trials you must overcome before seeing the end. Only then will you be allowed to exit the maze, otherwise the vines will keep you closed in. Here are you supplies, now venture forth and may you find victory!”
Goldilocks nodded before raising her fist to her people. A cry of support came from them as they watched their princess cross the threshold and into her trial. As the priestess said, the vines closed the entrance behind her while the warrior shrugged at the mist that creeped and darkened her view. She feared not what lie ahead of her. Carefully, she followed the winding ways until coming to a clearing. To her surprise, she found stuck on top of a high tower a full size adult bear. It growled and snarled at the intruder but had no means to reach her. Vainly, it pawed at her from the edge of its platform before reeling back in fear of falling from such a height. The princess smirked at the ferocious creature before passing the tower. She only stopped when she heard a whining coming from behind her. Hopelessness was beset in the creature’s eyes as she felt a pang of pity hit her heart. Looking around, she found rubbles of wood and nails scattered about. One nail after another she constructed a great staircase to reach the beast. At first, the princess put her shield up and sword pointed at the bear. She was certain the creature would attack her at first sight, but she was soon surprised as the bruin walked gently towards her and nuzzled into her neck. Patting the great animal on the head she continued her journey, followed closely by the male bear.
Together the duo moved ever down past what seemed like miles of vine until again they came to a clearing. This time their lay in the middle of the plain a female bear. It slowly began to arise only to fall in a faint. A growl emanated from the creature but not from its mouth. The poor bear had been starved to the point of exhaustion. In her mind, the princess ridiculed the treatment her people had given the creatures as she pulled out her pot. Growing close by were stalks of wheat of which Goldilocks broke down to grains. Next, she went to a nearby pool of water and filled the pot. A mixture began to brew as she threw the grain in with the boiling water and spurtled the meal. To finish, she picked from her armor bits of sea salt that had fallen off the salted pork she had eaten earlier in the day. Once the food was ready, she placed the pot in front of the great female. With what seemed like gratitude, the bear gobbled down the meal spilling it everywhere. It was only mere moments before it got back on its feet and cuddled into the male bear. A sweet sight even for the abrasive princess. The creature duo began crying out into the open ear and then listened. Curious, Goldilocks listened too as she could hear a faint cry. It seemed the bear couple had heard it too for they barreled through the walls of the maze. Closely following behind, the warrior could hardly keep up. Finally, the two in front of her stopped and gave a sad sound. There in a bed was a cub with two of its legs broken by human hands. The parents watched over snuggled into their cub as they tried to comfort their offspring. An anger whirled inside the warrior, someone was going to pay for this when the trial had ended. Grabbing the bandages and ripping two legs from the bed, she made a support cast for the young creature. It seemed to help as it stumbled onto its feet and leaned on its parents. The warrior smiled seeing the three together as she continued onward, followed closely by her three new friends.
Only an oak tree lay in front of the groups escape toward beams of light. They made their way toward the exit before the land began to shake. The tree came to life as it swatted its limbs at the intruders. Fearing for the cub, the warrior caused her new friends to retreat behind a nearby wall of the maze. Over and over in her head she tried to think of a way to get around the creature but could not find an option. At last she cried to the gods to help her against this new foe. Her prayer was answered as a beam of light shone in front of her. The bears bowed at her coming as the goddess Artio stood before them. Quickly, the princess followed suit but was brought to her feet by the deity.
“Arise my child. You have not faltered yet in this trial; so why should you start now? I have chosen you to teach a lesson to the mortals of this realm to respect nature; something they sorely lack. This I know you can achieve for you are my daughter through the King Iomair, who kept it secret to protect you from harm and prodigious. With these, you will not only be able to communicate with these great creatures, but instantly heal any of their injuries. These are called the Wheat of Leigheas and any leftover you will be able to grow more of, but only by your own hands. Now go, claim your birthright so that you may impart my will against these mortals.”
Quickly, the warrior gave some wheat to each of the bears as each was strengthened and healed of any affliction. The adult male talked for the three as he looked toward the princess.
“My thanks from myself and my family for helping us in our time of need. Those vile humans know not of natures true intention; only how to warp it for their own plans. For now, let us focus at the task at hand. Our bite can easily break that tree to bits if we do so in the correct locations.”
Goldilocks thought for a moment before answering, “If we take out its roots it will have no life to continue upon. Follow my lead and we will attain freedom only together.”
The creatures nodded as the princess led them into the fray. Limbs and branches swatted at the group as they ducked the onslaught. One such swing almost took out the warrior if it were not for the youngest bear breaking the limb in two. Goldilocks used this to jump up from its back and strike the tree at its core. Of course, the creature seemed almost unfazed until it came toppling down from the two parents that had torn off the roots from the trunk. The battle being won, the new friends set forth towards the exit. A rain of cheers came from the crowd before it came to terrified screams. No one had expected her to return with those beasts, they wanted her to let them die.
Loudly, Goldilocks screamed, “Who is responsible for this?! Who dare disrespects these magnificent creatures?! Speak now and I may just spare you.”
No one dared to utter even a whisper. It was only broken when shocked murmurs spread once they heard bear noises erupt from their own princess. The murmurs turned to screams as thirteen men were dragged to the stage by the great bears. With a single slash of her blade, Goldilocks beheaded the disgraceful men. Then she looked toward the crowd and shouted.
“Let them be an example of what happens when one decides to disrespect nature itself. Under my rule we will attain peace with the land around us, healing it from the wounds we have inflicted upon it. For I, Goldilocks, Daughter of King Iomair and the goddess Artio, will not stand for anything less. Go now and release any wild animals you chose to tease in your homes and help saplings grow to mighty trees.”
Both scared and admired at the strength of their new queen, the villagers did as they were told. Next the warrior turned onto the priestess who stopped her with her words.
“Hold great queen. I am not your enemy in this cause, for I too serve the gods, more specifically the god Gwydion. You see, it was I that set the final obstacle, unbeknownst to the villagers that now lay dead at your feet. My lord wanted me to test you to see if you could live up to the name of your mother, the great goddess Artio. This you have succeeded and more for you could have only gotten past the mighty oak with the help of all three. I look forward to seeing how you transform this kingdom.”
With that the priestess of the trickster god vanished in a puff of mist, cackling before fading away. King Iomair was delighted at his daughter’s success and bestowed upon her his crown. The next few years were a form of transition as the human town soon grew side by side with nature. Bears were not uncommon to see walking beside the citizens and helping them with their day to day activities. All the while Goldilocks remained upon the thrown knowing that some day that her and the alliance of the bears, would be put to the test.