The wall is covered with thorns, Sleeping Beauty's living thorns that resist a prince who shoves his right hand deep into them, intent on unlocking the legend-woman that is his purpose, his life's blood, his reason for being.

Sometimes he doesn't know why or even if he's here, it's been so long since he's seen another thinking being. At first he wandered from battle to battle, but as time went on—one year, three, years, five years—the battles grew fewer and fewer and villages more sparse. By the spring of his seventh year of quest, he hadn't seen another living soul since the winter before. But no matter how much his father's voice rung in his ears during the day, calling him a foolish, superstitious boy, irresponsible, dishonorable, and a disgrace, but night after night the legend-woman floated just in front of his eyes but out of his reach. He could see her surrounded by roses both white and red. Faintly, as he watched he could hear the stretching and unfurling of bushes as they tangled in, around, and over each other creating a nest around her mahogany bed.

He wonders to himself when he wakes from the dream that has become his only reality, "How do I know I'm real? How can I be sure? Is it enough that I think of water and my hand responds, that I strike with my sword and wolves and roses fall and die? But what if it's all a ruse, an elaborate fake to trick me into believing that I am? But doesn't that mean that I am?"

He picks up his sword once more and strikes at the thorns that tear through the armor on his arms and chest. He swings at the dragon that was once a loving godmother and pushes through the bramble, ignoring the heat of her flame. He pushes through the smoke and sulfur that burn his mouth and eyes. For now the thorns and the dragon give way and that is enough.