Once there was an ill girl named Zareen. All her life she had only ever lain in a bed by a window, longingly watching her brother play outside in the sun.
One day she could not bear it and she called her brother to her and said, “Dear brother, go and find me someone who can cure me. I yearn to walk and play under the sun.”
Well, the brother could not refuse his sister’s pleas and so he set off in search of a powerful sorcerer.
And no sooner was he gone and out of sight, then Zareen waved her hands in dark circles and leaped out of bed, shedding her disguise for she was really a witch and the real Zareen was tied up under the bed.
The evil witch went and killed both the parents and ate up their hearts to add to her power for, by eating their hearts, she could make herself look like them whenever she wanted. Then she went to where Zareen was for it was the ill girl’s heart that she really wanted. Zareen was really lovely. Her hair was the color of honey and it surrounded her pretty, pale face in tumbling locks. It was a pity she was so thin and pale but, even so, she could still charm every man for miles around. And the witch intended to eat every man’s heart in that disguise and then slowly eat the world.
But she found that the girl had freed herself and was gone!
She cannot have gone far in her state, the witch thought and she set off to find Zareen.
Zareen had been hiding at the bottom of the pond, holding her breath for as long as she could. When she popped up, the wicked witch was gone.
Zareen climbed out of the water and sat on the bank, wishing she could walk.
And then she remembered an evil spell that gave the power of strength to the person who cast it upon themselves that she had seen the witch use from in her mirror opposite the bed. But the heart of a bull was required to cast the spell.
Sadly, she dragged herself to the stable and went over to the bull
“Dear bull,” She said, “Will you give me your heart so that i can go and kill the evil witch and warn my brother?”
The bull was happy to give his heart to Zareen and so she killed him and ate his heart. Then she found that she could walk and ran down the road to find her brother.
Along the way she met many young men and they all followed her down the road, so enchanted by her beauty, many times enhanced by the fresh air and exercise, were they.
Zareen slipped past the witch and ran on down the road. But she could not find her brother.
She searched the forest and the fields and even went as far as the sea but still she found no beloved brother. Finally she turned to go home. She climbed to the other side of the mountain and there, down in a soft meadow, the spell wore off and poor Zareen fell down to the ground and lay there. A thorn pricked her and its magical poison put her to sleep.
Meanwhile, the brother, Neeraz, searched the forests and seas and mountains for a powerful sorcerer and it was all in vain for he found not one. In despair he sat down on a rock in a beautiful meadow at the base of a mountain and wept. And a thorn pricked him and its magical poison put him to sleep.
And it was there, in the soft meadow, that the evil witch found Zareen fast asleep and she cackled in glee and drew out her knife, “Now you are mine, girl!”
And she chopped out Zareen’s heart and ate it up. Then she went back to where all the charming men lived and approached one, wearing Zareen as a disguise and her sweetest smile.
But to her amazement and horror the young youth simply turned away form her and went on with his hunting.
The witch tried another man and another man and they all turned away.
Then she tried to kiss one and he slapped her hard and said, “How dare you, you ugly old crone! Get the likes of yourself away from here!”
very much puzzled, the witch left and went to where Zareen’s body lay, still chopped open. She inspected it and then a shadow was cast over her.
She looked up and saw Zareen and Neeraz standing over her. She turned to flee but Neeraz hit her neatly over the head with a tree limb and she crumpled to the ground, quite dead.
The witch had never known that the poison from the thorn took all the magical qualities out of Zareen’s heart or that a wizard had found the brother and sister fast asleep in the same meadow and rescued them form the spell. Then he had taken two lonely vultures and pricked them with the magical thorns. And then, while they slept, he turned them into two people that looked like Zareen and Neeraz. And then he had healed Zareen.
Now, the witch being dead, the brother and sister returned home where Zareen married a charming young man and Neeraz married his equally charming sister and lived quite happily until the end of their days.