Taking Hearts

I had a bit of trouble sleeping last night, so I decided to do a bit of work on Memories. With the maps mostly built, I really need to work on everything else in the game (characters, plot, etc). I want the game to have a sort of fairy tale feel, because I think it is literally going to involve people losing their hearts (what I’ve been calling “heart magic”). So I went researching fairy tales a bit on my tablet and came across this story:

I’m sure this must be a fairy tale but I haven’t been able to find it – saw it as a puppet show, complete with a beating flying heart, when I was a child and still remember it quite well to this day. It was called The Heartless Princess and I’m recounting it to the best of my four-years-old-little-girl-memory:

There once was a princess who, when she was born, was gifted with beauty and many other desirable attributes. In exchange for these gifts her parents were only asked to give the witch one thing: the princess’ heart “for safe keeping”. The princess’ parents, just delighted to at last have a daughter, foolishly acepted the terms and the witch quickly departed with the baby’s beating heart locked securely in a magic box.

The princess grew to be just as promised but was a cold and cruel girl. Her parents could not find any prince or nobleman she would accept as a suitor so desperately issued a challenge that whoever was accepted by her, whether low born or high, would have her hand in marriage. A young man (I think it was actually a prince from a far away land, in the show I saw) discovered the secret that where her heart should be beating was instead silence. He knew then that she could never be won until her heart was returned to her.

The young man set out on a perilous jorney to hunt down the witch who had taken her heart. After a perilous journey and many trials the young man found the witch’s lair and the magic box. A fierce battle caused him to be severly wounded but not before he broke the lock on the magic box which held her heart. As he collapsed the last thing he saw was the beating heart, finally free and flying it’s way swiftly back to the princess where it belonged.

The princess was suddenly overcome with fear for the young man and sent out a party of soldiers to his aid to bring him safely back to the castle. He arrived deathly cold and with barely a heartbeat but she cried warm tears on him and his heart responded with a strong rhythm. He regained his health and the princess remained faithfully and lovingly at his side from that time on.

I want to say she was no longer as beautiful on the outside but that it didn’t matter but that may be my 4 year old self remembering it incorrectly. I’m also not sure about the absence of a heartbeat in the young man after his trial but I like to remember it that way.

If anyone knows this tale’s origin I’d love to find out.

From vague memory (I’m away from my resources at present) there are quite a few stories of a heart being kept safe and other variations. Kay’s heart in The Snow Queen also needed to be melted by the warmth of Gerda’s tears so he could be freed. Although it wasn’t taken from him, he was heartless for a while.

-InkGypsy from SurLaLuneFairyTales.com, specifically the Taking Hearts thread from August 2006

I have never heard of that story before, but it sounds phenomenal! Does anyone know where it originated from?  Is it a fairy tale?


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