"Dare Christian folk come here?" she shouted. "But you'd certainly better go again, or else the Troll may kill you. A Troll with three heads lives here!" The boy said he wasn't going to move even if the Troll had seven. When the princess heard that, she wanted him to try to swing the big, rusty sword, which hung behind the door. But he couldn't swing it; he couldn't even lift it. "Well", said the princess, "if you can't manage it, you'll have to take a swig from that flask hanging beside it, for that's what the Troll does when he's going out to use it!"
The boy took a couple of swigs, and now he could swing the sword as though it were a pancake turner. All at once the Troll came rushing up. "Huh! I smell the smell of Christian flesh!" he shrieked. "So you do!" said the boy, "but you needn't snort so loud, you won't be bothered by that smell any longer", he said, and then he chopped off all his heads. The princess was as happy as though she had been given something fine. But after a while she began to pine; she longed for her sister, who had been carried off by a Troll with six heads, and now lived in a castle of gold which was three hundred miles beyond the world's end. The boy wasn't put out one bit. He could fetch both princess and castle, and so he took the sword and the flask, mounted the donkey, and asked the dragons to follow him, and to carry the meat and the spikes.
When they had journeyed a while, and traveled a long, long way over land and sea, the donkey said one day," Do you see anything?" "I see nothing but land, and water and sky," said the boy. So they traveled far, and farther than far. "Do you see anything now?" said the donkey. Yes, when he looked carefully ahead, he saw something far, far away; it shone like a tiny star, said the boy. "I dare say it'll get bigger," said the donkey. When they had journeyed a long way again, it asked," Do you see anything now?" "Now I see it shining like a moon," said the boy. When they had gone far, and farther than far, over land and sea, over hill and moor again, the donkey asked, "Do you see anything now?" "Now I think it's shining almost like the sun," said the boy. “Well, that's the golden castle we're going to," said the donkey, "but outside lies a serpent which bars the way and keeps watch." "I think I'll be afraid of it," said the boy. "Oh, not at all," said the donkey. "We'll have to have layers of twigs over it, and in between, rows of horseshoe nails, and set it on fire. Then we'll probably be rid of it."
At last they came to the castle, but the serpent lay stretched out in front of it and barred the way. Then the boy gave the dragons a good meal of ox and pig carcasses so they would help him, and then they spread over the serpent a layer of twigs and wood, and a layer of spikes and horseshoe nails, until they had used up the three hundred crates which they had. And when that was done, they set fire to it and burned the serpent alive. When they had finished one of the dragons flew underneath, and lifted the castle up, while the two others flew high up in the sky and loosened the chains from the hooks they were hanging on, and set it down on the ground. The boy went inside, and found everything was even more splendid than the silver castle, but he saw no one until he came into the innermost room. There on a golden bed lay the princess. She was sleeping as soundly as if she were dead; for she was as red and white as milk and blood. Just as the boy stood there looking at her, the Troll came rushing in. Hardly had he put his first head through the door before he started shrieking, "Huff`! I smell the smell of Christian flesh!" "Perhaps," said the boy. "But you needn't snort so load about it you won't be bothered by that smell for long!" he said, and then he chopped off all his heads as though they were set on cabbage sticks. Then the dragons put the golden castle on their backs, and flew home with it. They set it down beside the silver castle so that it shone both far and wide. When the princess from the silver castle came to the window in the morning and caught sight of t, she was so happy that she ran over to the golden castle that very minute. But when she saw her sister lying asleep as though she were dead, she told the boy that they couldn't bring her to life before they had fetched the Waters of Life and Death, which were kept in two wells on either side of the golden castle which hung in the air, nine hundred miles beyond the world's end. And there lived the third sister. Well, there was nothing else to do, he would have to fetch that too, and it wasn't long before he was on his way.
He traveled far, and farther than far, through many kingdoms through field and forest, and at last he came to the world's end. “Do you see anything?" said the donkey one-day. "I see nothing but heaven and earth," said the boy "Do you see anything now?” asked the donkey after some days. "Yes, now I think I can make out something high up and far away, just like a tiny star." "It's certainly not so tiny,” said the donkey. When they had gone a while again, it asked, "Do you see anything now?" "Yes now I think it's shining like a moon." "Oh, indeed?" said the donkey. So they traveled a few days more. "Do you see anything now?" said the donkey. "Yes, now it's shining like the sun," replied the boy. "That's where we're going," said the donkey. "That's the golden castle which hangs in the air. A princess lived there who has been carried off by a Troll with nine heads. But all the wild animals in the world lie on guard, and bar the way to it," said the donkey
"I almost think I'll be afraid now," said the boy. "Oh, not at all!" said the donkey. He said that there was no danger as long as he didn't stay there, but left as soon as he had filled his pitchers with the water. The castle could only be entered for one hour during the day, and that was at high noon. If he couldn't finish in that time, and get away, the wild animals would tear him into a thousand pieces.
At twelve o'clock they arrived. All the wild and wicked beasts were lying like a fence outside the gate and on both sides of the road. But they slept like logs, and there wasn't one, which so much as lifted a paw. The boy went between them, and took good care not to tread on any toes or tails, he filled his pitchers with the Waters of Life and Death, and while he did so, he looked at the castle which was made of purest gold. It was the finest he had even seen, and he thought it must be even finer inside. "Pooh! I have plenty of time," thought , "I can always look around for half an hour," and so he opened the door and went in. Inside it was finer than fine. He went from one magnificent room to another, and it was closely hung with gold and pearls, and all the costliest things there were. But no people were to be found. At last he came into a chamber, where a princess lay asleep on a golden bed as though she were dead. But she was as fine as the finest queen, and as red and white as blood and snow, and so beautiful that he had never seen anything as beautiful, save her picture for it was she who was painted there. The boy forgot both the water he was to fetch, and he thought he could never gaze his fill at her, but she slept like one dead, and he couldn't wake her.
Towards evening the Troll came rushing in, and crashed and banged all the gates and doors so that the whole castle rang. "Here I smell the smell of Christian flesh!" he said, and stuck his first head through the door.
"I dare say you do," said the boy, "but you needn't snort you won't be bothered by that smell for long," he said, and with that he chopped off all its heads. When he was finished, he was so tired that he couldn't keep his eyes open. So he lay down in the bed beside the princess. She slept both night and day as though she would never wake. But around midnight she woke for a moment, and then she told Askeladden that even though he had freed her, she must remain there for three years. If she didn't return to him then, he would have to come and fetch her. He didn't wake up until the clock had started on another day, and he heard the donkey braying and carrying on so that he thought is best to set out for home. Before leaving he clipped a piece out of the princess' gown to take with him. What with one thing or another, he had hung about there so long that the animals were stirring and beginning to wake up. By the time he had mounted the donkey, they were closing in around him so he sprinkled some drops of the Water of Death on them, and they all fell down on the spot and moved not a limb again.
On the way home the donkey said to the boy. "Mark my words, when you come into honor and glory, you'll forget me and what I've done for you, so I'll be down on my knees with hunger.” That would never happen, thought the boy.
When he came back to the princess with the Water of Life, she sprinkled a few drops on her sister so that she woke up, and then there was joy and rapture, as never before. Then they went home to the king, and he too was happy and glad to have them with him again. The king pined for the three years to be up, when his youngest daughter was to come home. He made the boy, who had fetched the two princesses, a mighty man, so that he was the first in the land next to the king. There were many that were jealous because he had become such an important fellow, and there was one who was called the Red Knight, who wanted to have the eldest princess. He got her to sprinkle a little of the Water of Death on the boy so that he fell asleep.
When the three years were up, and the fourth year was well begun, a foreign warship came sailing, and on it was the third sister, and she had with her a three-year-old child. She sent word to the king's manor that she wouldn't set foot on shore before they sent down the man who had come to the golden castle and freed her. So they sent down one of the highest persons at the king's court, and when he stepped on board the ship, he swept off his hat to the princess, and bowed. "Could that be your father, my son?" said the princess to the child, who was playing with a golden apple. "No, my father doesn't crawl like a cheese maggot!" said the boy. Then they sent another of the same sort, and that was the Red Knight. But he fared no better than the first and the princess sent word by him that if they didn't send the right one, it would go badly with them all. When they heard that, they had to wake up the boy with the Water of Life, and when they did he went down to the ship to see the princess. Askeladden didn’t bow. He only nodded and pulled out the piece he had clipped from her gown in the golden castle. "That's my father!" shouted the child, and gave him the golden apple he was playing with. Then there was great rejoicing over the whole kingdom, and the old king was the happiest of them all for his favorite child had returned. But when it came to light what the Red Knight and the eldest princess had done to the boy, the king wanted them each rolled into a spiked barrel. But Askeladden and the youngest princess pleaded for them, and so they were spared. One day, as they were getting ready to celebrate the wedding, Askeladden stood looking out of the window. It was getting on towards spring and they were letting out the horses and the cattle, and the last animal to leave the stable was the donkey. But it was so starved that it crawled through the stable door on its knees. Then he felt so ashamed at having forgotten it that he went down and didn't know what he could do to help. But the donkey said the best thing he could do was to chop off its head. This he was most unwilling to do, but the donkey begged so hard that at last he had to. At the same moment as the head fell, the Troll spell that had been cast over it was broken, and there stood the handsomest prince that anyone could wish to see. He got the second princess, and they celebrated a wedding that was the talk of seven kingdoms, and is still the talk today it would seem.
There you have it; you never know when or where a prince just might show up. Hope you have enjoyed my series on Norwegian Fairytales and Folklore.