Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess, who had decided to go on a long journey. She had been told about what lay at the end of a long and winding path. It was all of the good things the princess had been wanting; happiness, joy, satisfaction, riches, success and the ability to cure the sick. The princess prepared for the trip for many years. She had heard of others who had made the long journey and asked them what it was like. She read books about the road she was to travel along and slowly she gathered everything she needed to make the trek. The princess knew that she was very lucky that the King and Queen were able to help her. For the path the princess chose had many trolls who lived under bridges who would demand payment for her to pass. Finally, the princess set on her way.

It was sunny and although the road was cobble stoned and bumpy, when she stumbled, she always managed to catch herself. There were many other princes and princesses walking with her. And this helped the princess to not feel so alone, for she would have certainly been afraid without them.

As the path wore on, she grew tired. Some of the princes and princesses that had started on the journey weren’t with her anymore. Some walked slower, some walked faster and some had taken different roads altogether. Along the way the princess was tested. Sometimes she had to stay up many nights in a row without sleeping. And other times she had to walk in the pouring rain and the blistering sun. She met all sorts of creatures along the way. Some were kind and tried to help her. They would say nice things to her and encourage her to keep going. But others were mean and made her feel afraid. Sometimes a strange beast wearing all blue robes and a mask, would test the princess by making her stand very still for hours without eating or drinking or moving. The princess hated this creature the most. But the princess kept walking. She walked uphill, and downhill. She walked on straight paths and narrow, twisted ones. Sometimes the path was paved with stone, and other times it was dirt. And sometimes it was mud.

One day, she came to a rope bridge lashed together between two high cliffs over a river. She wondered what would happen if she fell into the water. But she did not fall, for the other princes and princesses held her when she felt unsteady. Finally, the path was straight again. It was sunny and warm and the road was paved with golden bricks. “This is easy,” she thought. “I’m almost there.” But then the path broke into six equal parts. The princess didn’t know which one to take. She stood in the same spot for a year. She asked the birds of the sky what the paths looked like from above and the fish in the stream what they looked like from below. But the princess wasn’t sure. The paths all looked different, but one didn’t look any better or worse than the other.

After a year of waiting, and asking every passing creature, the princess picked one. She still wasn’t sure she picked the right one. But the path she chose became hers. And it lead her to many of the things she was hoping to find, like happiness and love and joy and the ability to cure the sick. The other princes and princesses chose their paths too. For some, their paths crossed a lot and some never did again. The journey made them older, and gave them more grey hairs and wrinkles. They were all less rich than they were before. And more tired. For they had faced monsters, and stayed up many nights in a row, and walked uphill and walked downhill, in the pouring rain and the blistering sun. But they found what they were looking for….and they all lived happily ever after.

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