On a hot day, a young Prince lost track of his attendants while hunting in the woods. Feeling hungry, he sat down to eat some cakes he had on him. When he split the first piece of cake, he found some ants feeding on it along with their Ant King. The Prince asked the ants to have the cake and went to sleep on an empty stomach.

The Ant King whispered thanks to the Prince and asked what he and his ants could do for the Prince.

The Prince answered that he was tired of everything. The ant-king advised him to go look for Princess Lalun. He added that she was as charming as a cool morning, and that the Prince would never feel tired of her.

Next morning, when the Prince woke up from his sleep, he decided to find where the mysterious Princess lived. He started riding through the jungle and reached a pool in the evening. A roaring tiger stood near the pool with a thorn stuck in its foot. The Prince jumped down from his horse and gently pulled the thorn out. He even applied some herbal paste on the wound and tied it with the cloth torn from his turban. Relieved of its excruciating pain, the tiger expressed its gratitude to the Prince.

Just as the Prince got on his horse, a tigress came pouncing upon him. The tiger, however, growled and chased her back into the forest. The Prince then asked the tiger to show him the shortest way to get to the country where Princess Lalun lived. The tiger informed the Prince that he needed to travel across seven jungles and three hills to make it to her palace.

The tiger also told the Prince about the Fakir who lived in the nearby jungle. It said that the Fakir owned a magic bed, a bag, and a stone bowl. If he could lend those three things to the Prince, they would help him find the Princess more easily.

The Prince met the Fakir and requested him to lend the magic bed, bag and stone bowl. The Fakir trusted the Prince and acceded to his request. Now, the Prince stretched himself on the magic bed and it transported him to the country where Princess Lalun lived.

The Prince knocked the cottage door of an old woman and requested her to provide him with shelter for a night. However, the old lady refused, saying that King Afzal prohibited strangers seeking night shelter. The Prince told her about the Fakir and reminded her that turning away the Fakir’s magic bed, bag and stone bowl may invite his curse. He then served the old woman with the delicious food from theย  bag and water from the stone bowl.

The entire country plunged into darkness the following evening. No one lit a lamp in their house. And then, all of a sudden, a bright light swept across the entire country. Princess Lalun, with her dress made of silver gauze, spread light everywhere as she sat on the roof of the palace. At midnight, she left for her palace to sleep.

The Prince then used his magic bed to visit the sleeping Princess. He requested the bag to provide him with a beautiful shawl embroidered in gold. The Prince paid her a visit the following day as well and asked the bag to offer him a ring set in rubies. When he slipped the ring on her slender finger, she woke up from her sleep.

Next morning, Princess Lalun informed her parents about the Prince. King Afzal invited the Prince to their palace and assigned him three tasks. For the first task, the Prince needed to crush oil out of eighty pounds of mustard seeds before dawn. The Prince requested the Ant King and his army of ants to pull this off for him. Before he woke up, they had crushed oil out of the mustard seeds.

King Afzal then assigned him the second task. The Prince was required to kill the two demons that the King had caught in the hills. The tigers came to his rescue here. They killed those demons and helped the Prince complete this task.

The King finally proceeded to give him the third task. The Prince was supposed to beat the kettle drum that floated up in the sky. The Prince flew on the magic bed and beat the kettle drum loudly with his hunting knife. King Afzal was quite pleased with the Prince. He married the Prince to Princess Lalun during a spectacular ceremony. The Prince remained indebted to the Fakir for his three boons – the magic bed, the bag, and the stone bowl.

โ€ฆnow that youโ€™re here

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Kalai Selvi, Folk Tale writer at Ameya
Kalai

Kalai is passionate about reading and reinterpreting folk tales from all over the country. You can get in touch with her at kalai.muse@gmail.com if you would like to know more about her.

Folk tale adopted and abridged from fairytalez.