One day the king went out hunting, and said to his son-in-law, "Remain here in the palace, and take these nine keys, and keep them carefully. If you wish, however," added he, "you can open three or four rooms, wherein you will see plenty of gold and silver, and other precious things. Indeed, if you much wish to do so, you can open eight of the rooms, but let nothing in the world tempt you to open the ninth. If you open that, woe to you!"
The king went away, leaving his son-in-law in the palace, who immediately began to open one room after another, till he had opened the whole eight, and he saw in all masses of all sorts of precious things. When he stood before the door of the ninth room, he said to himself, "I have passed luckily through all kinds of adventures, and now I must not dare to open this door!" thereupon he opened it. And what did he see? In the room was a man, whose legs were bound in iron up to the knees, and his arms to the elbows; in the four corners of the chamber there were four columns, and from each an iron chain, and all the chains met in a ring round the man's neck. So fast was he bound that he could not move at all any way. In the front of him was a reservoir, and from it water was streaming through a golden pipe into a golden basin, just before him.
Near him stood, also, a golden mug, all covered with precious stones. The man looked at the water and longed to drink, but he could not move to reach the cup. When the king's son saw that, he was greatly surprised, and stepped back; but the man cried, "Come in, I conjure you in the name of the living God!" Then the prince again approached, and the man said, "Do a good deed for the sake of the life hereafter. Give me a cup of water to drink, and be assured you will receive, as a recompense from me, another life." The king's son thought, "It is well, after all, to have two lives," so he took the mug and filled it, and gave it to the man, who emptied it at once. Then the prince asked him, "Now tell me, what is your name?" And the man answered, "My name is True Steel." The king's son moved to go away, but the man begged again, "Give me yet one cup of water, and I will give you in addition a second life." The prince said to himself, "One life is mine already, and he offers to give me another - that is, indeed, wonderful!" So he took the mug and gave it to him, and the man drank it up. The prince began already to fasten the door, while the man called to him, "Oh, my brave one, come back a moment! You have done two good deeds, do yet a third one and I will give you a third life. Take the mug, fill it with water, and pour the water on my head, and for that I will give you a third life." When the king's son heard that, he turned, filled the beaker with water, and poured it over the man's head. The moment the water met his head all the fastenings around the man's neck broke, all the iron chains burst asunder. True Steel jumped up like lightning, spread his wings, and started to fly, taking with him the king's daughter, the wife of his deliverer, with whom he disappeared. What was to be done now? The prince was afraid of the king's anger.
When the king returned from the chase, his son-in-law told him all that had happened, and the king was very sorry and said to him, "Why did you do this? I told you not to open the ninth room!" The king's son answered, "Don't be angry with me! I will go and find True Steel and bring my wife back!" Then the king attempted to persuade him not to go away: "Do not go, for anything in the world!" he said; "you do not know True Steel. It cost me very many soldiers and much money to catch him! Better remain here, and I will find you some other maiden for a wife; do not fear, for I love you as my own son, notwithstanding all that has happened!" The prince, however, would not hear of remaining there, so taking some money for his journey he saddled and bridled his horse, and started on his travels in search of True Steel.
After travelling a long time, he one day entered a strange city, and, as he was looking about, a girl called to him from a kiosk, "O son of the king, dismount from your horse and come into the forecourt." When he entered the courtyard the girl met him, and on looking at her he recognised his eldest sister. They greeted each other, and the sister said to him, "Come, my brother - come with me into the kiosk".
When they came into the kiosk, he asked her who her husband was, and she answered, "I am married to the King of Dragons, who is also a dragon. I must hide you well, my dear brother, for my husband has often said that he would kill his brothers-in-law if he could only meet them. I will try him first, and if he will promise not to injure you, I will tell him you are here." So she hid her brother and his horse as well as she could. At night, supper was prepared in readiness for her husband, and at last he came. When he came flying into the courtyard, the whole palace shone. The moment he came in, he called his wife and said, "Wife, there is a smell of human bones here! Tell me directly what it is!"
"There is no one here!" said she. But he exclaimed, "That is not true!"
Then his wife said, "My dear, will you answer me truly what I am going to ask you? Would you do any harm to my brothers, if one of them came here to see me?" And the dragon answered, "Your eldest and your second brother I would kill and roast, but I would do no harm to the youngest." Then his wife said, "Well, then, I will tell you that my youngest brother, and your brother-in-law, is here." When the Dragon King heard that he said, "Let him come to me! "So the sister led the brother before the king, her husband, and he embraced him. They kissed each other, and the king exclaimed: "Welcome, brother-in-law!" "I hope I find you well?" returned the prince courteously, and he told the Dragon King all his adventures from the beginning to the end.
Then the Dragon King cried out, "And where are you going, my poor fellow? The day before yesterday True Steel passed here carrying away your wife. I assailed him with seven thousand dragons, yet could do him no harm. Leave the devil in peace; I will give you as much money as you like and then you may go home quietly." But the king's son would not hear of going back, and proposed next morning to continue his journey. When the Dragon King saw that he could not change his intention, he took one of his feathers, and gave it into his hand, saying, "Remember what I now say to you. Here you have one of my feathers, and if you find True Steel and are greatly pressed, burn this feather, and I will come in an instant to your help with all my forces." The king's son took the feather and continued his journey.