Wednesday, 25 December 2013

A Christmas Riddle

A man and his wife lived happily in a small cottage in the midst of an enormous rose garden, eeking out a humble living, distilling rose oil perfume to fill the delicate glass flagons which they crafted in their glass blowing workshop. 

Those, they traded in the market during the winter, and, in the summer, they sold the most beautiful cut roses.

One Christmas morning, an apprentice wizard visited their stall and purchased a small flagon of pure rose oil in the shape of an exquisitely blown red Welsh dragon.

The wizard carefully carried the fragile vessel home, lit his fire, petted his frog familiar and then perused an ancient spell book to study an incantation that would enable him to travel into the past.

The King of the realm had died a short while ago and war was looming --- all because the wizard's kitten had startled the huge battle horse of the King into rearing up in fright.  The hapless cat was instantly trampled to death by the hooves, and alas, the King perished in the fall.

The wizard's plan was to travel back in time and lock his unlucky kitten up that day, and to make the disaster unhappen that way.

But alas, the one and only immutable rule of the universe is that the present is the present from the future to the past, and once it has been gifted, it can never be returned, by anyone, for whatever reason, not even with magic.

The spell thus went awry and reality asserted itself and redirected the magical energy onto the creator of the ingredient used to cast the incantation -- the rose oil.

In the time-space chaos that ensued in the wizard's attempt to create a void in history, the destiny of the wife of the rose garden became entangled with the dead king's current reality.

The wife was cast into Limbo and trapped between future and past:  each morning she turned into a ray of sunshine, which shone into the realm of the dead, to be transformed into a rose that the king held in his cold, dead hands; whilst he was praying for the burning viking boat to appear which would carry him across the river of time, once the rose had completed it's bloom and dropped it's last petal.

Every day (and many pitch-dark nights), she was thus in solemn attendance to the dead King, until every moonlit night at midnight, when she would return to the the cottage in the rose garden as a moonbeam, to coalesce into human shape for a few hours, to be with her beloved husband.

Many long years passed in this strange way, and she herself had lost the gift of speech ever since that fateful Christmas day. 

But one summer morning, just before her transformation, which always would occur as soon as the first rays of the sun lit the sky, she spoke to her husband:

"My lord the King, has left the purgatory of Silence last night and sailed away aflame for a new beginning.  My own path will be swifter than his for I have already completed my wait by the river side. 

Thus, when the sun rises, it's rays will carry me away to be transformed into one of the roses in our garden.

When this rose wilts, I will follow whence our tragic King has gone, unless you can find me and cut the stem, as the very first rose you pick from that moment onwards.  Be wise how you chose, my love, or this goodbye will be forever. "

Scarcely had she finished her words, when the sun rose and her shape faded into the first rays of the morning,  before her husband could embrace her to kiss her goodbye.

Without a moment of hesitation, her husband ran out into the rose garden, and, amongst the thousands of perfect, beautiful roses of every color and blooming stage, he picked the one and only true rose that was his wife, who with a flash became her former self in flesh and blood, and they lived happily ever after.

How did the husband know which rose to choose?


(The solution to this riddle will be posted on New Year's morning.  It is not a trick question.)