Many years ago, there lived an old man and woman on a small farm. The two had known each other since they were young, had married, and lived together for many years. It did not matter to either that they lived in poverty, owned very little, or were old and wrinkled, as long as they had each other. When the old couple went into town, onlookers would gaze at them and see only the love and patience the two had for each other. Everything was seemingly perfect.
One midsummer day, a storm encircled their small farm. Torrents of rain and crashes of thunder shook the foundations of their humble house, but the soaked wood and glass stood their ground. The old man and woman were inside, preparing their simple dinner of soup. All of a sudden, there was a rapping at their door. The old man walked over and opened the door. There stood a beautiful young woman in the door-frame. Her cascading blonde hair spilled out of the hooded brown cloak she had drawn over herself to protect her from the tempest. Her simple red dress was utterly soaked through. At her side was a rucksack, stretched to capacity.
I’m sorry to bother you, but may I stay in your home until the storm subsides?” she asked, droplets of water falling from her cheeks, a sense of longing apparent in her green eyes.
The old man welcomed her inside and gestured her to sit at one of the rough wooden chairs by their table. The young woman dropped her cloak and sack by the door and sat down at the table. The old woman brought her a bowl of warm soup, even though it meant that both she and her husband would have less to eat. The young woman quickly consumed the food, but began to shiver due to her cold and wet dress. The old woman offered her one of her own dresses, one of pale blue, and their only downy mattress to sleep upon. The young woman changed into the kind gift and slept through the night. The old man and woman slept on their couch, the squall quaking above.
The following morning, not a single cloud was held in the sky. The rain had subsided completely. The old man and woman began to prepare breakfast for themselves and their unexpected guest, who had awoken, changed into her own dress, and begun to leave. Though the old couple tried to convince her to say, she resisted their attempts.
“I really must go,” she said shyly, “but before I do, allow me to give you a gift in exchange for your kind deeds.”
She grabbed her sack by the door, opened it, and removed a small mirror. The mirror itself did not appear extraordinary. It had small cracks and scratches, the reflections were faded and dull, and the intricate gold filigree was pale with age.
“This mirror will grant you three wishes, should you desire to keep it,” she spoke softly, gazing towards her own worn reflection. “All you must do is hold the mirror and wish for what you want.” She turned her eyes towards the old couple, and for a moment, there seemed to be a spark of malicious intent that flashed in her green eyes that neither the man nor woman could explain. “The mirror will then grant you your hearts true desire.”
And with that, she grabbed her cloak and rushed out the door before the old man or woman could say a word.
The old man sat down across from his wife, trying to make sense of the young woman’s token. After a few minutes of silence, the old woman gazed into the mirror, holding it with one hand. She frowned at her wrinkles and ran a hand through her rough, gray hair.
“I wish I were young again,” she said longingly before her husband could stop her.
All of a sudden, the face of a young lovely maiden stared back at her. No longer was there sagging skin or aged hair, but a soft complexion and bright auburn locks. A bright smile beamed across her now attractive face.
The old man, his eyes wrinkled in fury, angrily grabbed the mirror from her hands, yelling, “You’re so selfish! You could have given youth to us both!”
His wife turned to him and shouted, “You’re always thinking about yourself, never me! I wish you weren’t so stupid!”
At once, the man was brilliant beyond measure. Concepts lost in the deep recesses of his mind that once seemed foreign and impossible now were simple. He looked towards his wife, and she now saw that she had never loved him. She had only tolerated him because his age and ignorance made her own seem less by comparison.
Furious now, the man grabbed for the mirror. Both of them grasped it angrily, and at the same time, they shrieked, “I hate you! I wish that you get exactly what you deserve!” With that, the woman aged instantly into her old self, and her husband became ignorant once more. The old man and woman were back together, both old and ugly, but now they both knew exactly how much contempt they had for each other.
Inspired by “The Demon’s Gift” in Dragon Age II