Have you ever seen a bird that has more than one head? Well, neither have we, but long back in the time there was a princess who was abducted by a nine-headed bird. Yes! You read that right. There is a myth that a nine-headed bird used to abduct maidens from the nearby kingdoms, by setting up a storm and it never returned them. So one day, the bird took a princess in the storm. Now let us read this myth short story and find out if she could escape from the dangerous dragon’s cave ever.
Once upon a time, in the land of China, there lived a king and his queen. The king and the queen named their beautiful daughter, Liling, the sound of white jasmine. They loved her dearly. The princess was very pretty and had thick long brown hair. She had a sweet voice and was often heard singing beautifully in her royal garden. She was fond of dressing her hair up with white jasmine and royal hairpins.
One sunny day, the princess went to the garden to fetch some nice jasmine flowers for her hair. She sat down and laid her white silken handkerchief upon the green velvety grass. She picked the flowers that smelled fresh and placed them on her handkerchief. Just when she was about to tie the ends of her handkerchief to carry the flowers back to her room, the dark clouds covered the sky, and a roaring wind approached. Liling stood up at once, but the storm flew her away from the garden. It was so abrupt that she could only hold on to one end of her handkerchief and had shut her eyes tight.
The storm had landed her in a dark cave. She opened her eyes and looked around. When she turned around, she saw a huge bird with nine heads. She could see that the bird had a bleeding wound. When she inquired, the bird told her that the hounds of Heaven had bitten off its tenth head. The bird had the princess as its captive and did not let her leave the cave.
The Bird with Nine Heads
Meanwhile back at the king’s palace, the king and the queen were worried about their daughter. Everyone in the king’s service was appointed to look for the princess. When the princess was nowhere to be found, the king and queen thought that their men must have missed out on the place where the princess was stuck. They knew their daughter was in danger. So they decided to make an announcement: “The brave man who will bring our darling Princess Liling back to the palace may have her as his bride!”.
After a couple of days, a young man named Guang came to the king’s court. With the king’s permission and the queen’s blessings, he set out to find princess Liling. He had heard of the nine-headed bird from his grandmother. He walked miles after miles, days after days, to find the cave of the bird with nine heads. Finally, when he found the cave, he could not find the way to enter. The cave was in the middle of a sky-high rock. One could only enter the cave if one had wings. Just as it should be for a bird who wanted to hide the inhabitants of the cave from the world.
Guang walked back to the closest village and tried to find help. There he saw a man with a sturdy build, who was carrying logs of wood on his shoulder. He went up to this man and asked for help. The man listened to the story that Guang told and he had an idea. He made a basket with bamboo shoots and got some tough ropes. He went along with Guang to rescue the princess. They climbed up the hill that was right beside the cave entry. Guang was skinny enough to fit in the basket and the man lowered the basket to the cave. Guang jumped off the basket and entered the cave.
He saw the princess sitting inside the cave. The bird with nine heads lay in front of her and she was cleaning its wound. Guang hid behind a rock in the dark cave and waited for the princess to be alone. After some time, the bird fell asleep and the princess was sitting on her own. Guang went ahead and told her that he was there to rescue her. Liling was overjoyed with the feeling that she would go home. Guang chopped off all the nine heads of the bird and was ready to leave with the princess. They came near the entrance of the cave and Guang asked Liling to get into the basket.
However, she thought for a while and then took her royal gold hairpin off her hair. She broke it off into two halves and handed over one half to Guang. Next, she took out her handkerchief from the pocket of her dress and tore it into two. She gave one of the pieces to Guang and kept the other back in her pocket. She told him to keep her gifts safely till they met again. And she jumped into the basket. The man lifted the basket up and the princess was on safe land. However, he did not lower the basket for Guang and left him to perish in the cave.
He took the princess to her palace and was ready to marry her. The king and the queen were delighted to meet their beloved daughter. They hugged her tight and thanked the man for bringing her back safely. When it was the king’s turn to keep his word, he was about to announce their betrothal. However, the princess refused to get engaged to that man. She told her parents that he was not the one who saved her from the bird with nine heads.
On the other hand, Guang walked through the cave to find another exit. He could spot the scarfs that only the maidens of their kingdom used to wear. He realised that the beastly bird had brought many other maidens to its cave and let them perish without food or water. When he walked through the cave he found a fish stuck on the cave wall. When he touched it, it turned into a charming young boy.
To his luck, he had also found some magic pearls enclosed in shells, which the bird with nine heads used to guard. He flung a magic pearl into the ocean and the water parted into two and Guang could walk through it. However, he encountered a dragon, who lived beneath the sea. He befriended the dragon and received a magic gourd flask that can conjure up anything, as a gift from it.
Thereafter, Guang used his magic pearls and gourd flask to conjure up food whenever he was hungry, water whenever he felt thirsty, and several other things that served him as his means of transport to arrive at the king’s palace. Back there, the princess had already explained to her father that the man who saved her must furnish the gifts that she had given him while partying. When Guang reached the king’s court, he showed the piece of gold hairpin and the silken handkerchief that belonged to the princess. The king recognized Guang and called for the princess.
When the princess walked into the court, she caught the glimpse of Guang from afar. She squealed with delight. He punished the man who falsely claimed to be the rescuer of Princess Liling. The royal wedding of Guang and Liling took place the very next day. The bird with nine heads was hence dead and no more maidens went missing from the kingdom.
The myth short story on the bird with nine heads thus has a happy ending. The story teaches us how bravery can help us find the best opportunities in the most adverse situations. The way Guang, the protagonist, won over the princess with the help of some magic, tells us to believe in ourselves and the magic we can create. Therefore, this myth short story - ‘The Bird with Nine Heads’ is a potentially good read for kids as they will learn the impact of resilience, courage, and self-belief from it.
1. What did the princess give Guang?
The princess gifted half of her gold hairpin and a part of her silken handkerchief to Guang before she left the cave. She told him to keep those things safely with him.
2. Why couldn’t Guang leave the cave with the princess?
The man who came for Guang’s help turned out to be a traitor in the end. He helped Guang reach the cave in a basket tied with ropes, but when he got the princess, he did not help Guang escape and left with the princess. Hence, Guang was stuck in the caves for a long time before he could finally find a way to escape.