The garden was filled with late-blooming flowers and fruit trees. She followed the path up to the terrace, and there she saw a cage made of either white crystal or diamond with a small songbird inside. It sang a beautiful song which made her think of sun and stars and an infinite blue sky, and it kept singing even though it looked quite worn out, singing and singing and singing, and she felt the longing in that song, and the desperation, and she felt the life slipping out through the bars, and before she had even thought about it, she had opened the cage and the bird flew away into the sky.
From the terrace there was a pair of large double doors into the mansion. She knocked and they swung open with the sound of a gathering autumn storm. When she had stepped through they slammed shut behind her. She was in a hall where the ceiling was very far away and the floor was covered in red and yellow leaves. At the end of the hall sat a tall, slender man on a throne. On his head he wore a crown of golden leaved and small red apples.
‘There was a deer in my forest, you untied him,’ said the King, ‘why?’
‘Because he was sad,’ she said, ‘and I followed my heart.’
‘So you have a gentle heart,’ the King nodded, ‘outside my gate, there was a hound, you loosed him, why?’
‘Because I wanted to get in,’ she said, ‘so I used my head.’
‘So your head is not empty,’ the King nodded, ‘on my terrace, there was a songbird, but you opened the cage, why?’
‘It sang a song,’ she said, ‘and my soul knew what it needed.’
‘So you have an empathetic soul,’ the King nodded and was silent for a while.
‘But,’ he said with his chin in his hand, ‘now I have no deer to hunt, no hound to guard my gate and no songbird to entertain me. The only solution I see is that you become all three.’ The King stepped down from his throne, punched his hand into her chest and tore out her heart.
‘A gentle heart for a gentle creature,’ he said and she saw him wrap her heart in a deer skin which at once became alive. Then he smashed her skull and pulled out her brain.
‘A brain for my guard,’ he said and wrapped it in a dog skin which came alive.
Then he ripped the very soul from her.
‘The music of the soul is by far the most beautiful,’ he said as he trapped her soul in feathers and she felt her soul sing out its longing and desperation as he locked the diamond door of the cage.