Once upon a time, in a far away land, there was a panda. Unlike most pandas who stay in their high mountain forests, this one had traveled far and wide during his life. He saw many marvelous and sometimes terrible things. Over time, the sights he had seen made him world weary and shy and suspicious of other people. Life had made the panda exhausted and he had just about given up on finding a happy place.
In a distant land, that was neither too far, nor too close, was a magical princess. She too had seen many marvelous and sometimes terrible things; and they too made her wary and cautious, but she remained hopeful that one day, she would find her prince. With her magical powers, she looked into her scrying mirror, but never found what she wanted or needed.
One day, when the princess was scrying in her magical mirror, she spied the panda, doing his normal panda things. You see, despite how bad the panda hurt, he liked helping people. And the princess saw his sadness and watched him for a while, unsure if he could be trusted. After all, pandas are still bears, even if they are cute and cuddly.
And so the princess watched, and the panda was unaware. As he went about his day, he stepped on the most prickly of thorns. It was nasty and barbed and it pierced the panda deeply. No matter how he tried, he couldn’t get the mean thorn out of his paw.
The princess, saddened to see the panda wounded, rushed around her tower and grabbed her magic potions and wands. She had to help the panda. She couldn’t watch him suffer. So she flew to the mirror, said her magic words, and whisked herself to the panda.
The panda was shocked when she arrived. A silvery flash of light and where there was no princess before stood the prettiest princess the panda had ever seen. She even had his favorite color in her hair. The panda was scared though, for not all princesses are nice he had learned, and he growled a low, guttural growl at her, warning her to stay away. The princess, of course, saw through his bluster and tsked at him. She gently reached out and took his hurt paw in her hands, examining the barbed thorn.
“This simply won’t do,” she said.
And she reached for a vial of sparkly, golden light and poured onto the panda’s paw and drew the throne from the wound. The panda looked at her in amazement and then back at his paw. The wound was gone! No sign of infection and not even a scab! The panda licked her face in appreciation and nuzzled her cheek. She laughter was like slow chimes on a windy day to his ears.
“It’s okay, panda,” she laughed. “It may hurt for a while still, but it will bother you no more.”
The princess looked around. The portal back to her tower had closed. “I’ve seemed to have lost the way back to my castle, my panda. How will we find our way back?”
The panda stooped low and the princess climbed onto his back. The panda looked around, sniffed the air and growled his growl and plodded forward. He smiled to himself. This was going to be an adventure.
What adventures await the princess and the panda? Who knows? I’m sure they’ll have lots of adventures to be sure, but those are a story for another day.