Once upon a time, Emperor Hung Vuong the Eighteenth had a beautiful daughter, Princess Mi Nuong. Her beauty was so renowned that many suitors from foreign lands came to ask the Emperor for her hand. However, the Emperor did not believe that any one of them was good enough for his beautiful daughter. He wanted Mi Nuong to marry someone really distinguished and powerful. Her mother, the Empress was very much concerned for Mi Nuong’s future. The Empress looked at her daughter saying: “It is time you should get married, my darling. I hope your father will find a suitable man for you”.
The Princess could not hide her emotion and happiness, her beautiful eyes were blurred with tear. She said “Mother, thank you so much for your thoughtfulness. It is up to you and Father to decide for me. I understand that I have to get married and bear children like other women. I believe Father will choose a suitable person”.
One day, at the court there appeared two young men. One of them was Son Tinh, the Mountain Spirit, and the other one was Thuy Tinh, the Sea Spirit. Both of them were equally handsome, distinguished, and powerful. The difference in character between the two men was that while Son Tinh was gentle and quiet, Thuy Tinh had a fiery temper.
Son Tinh bowed his head and respectfully said to the Emperor: “My name is Son Tinh. My kingdom includes all mountains. I reign over all creatures living on the mountains. I own all the riches of the mountains including all the beautiful trees, plants, and flowers. I can summon lions and birds, I can make the mountains grow high to the sky. I want to marry the Princess and promise to bring her happiness and an eternal life”.
Thuy Tinh stepped forward, bowed his head and said: “My name is Thuy Tinh. I am the Spirit of the Seas. I reign over all creatures living in the water. I own all coral, pearls, and treasures under the sea. I can raise the level of the sea as high as the mountain top. I can make rain and gather storms. If the Princess marries me, she will become the Queen of the Sea. The most wonderful undersea world and the most magnificent undersea palace will be hers”.
The Emperor listened attentively to the suitors. He was reluctant in his choice because both suitors arrived at the same time and were equally handsome and powerful. Then he said to the suitors: “Tomorrow whoever brings the wedding gifts first, will have the hand of the Princess.” The suitors left the court and hurried back to their kingdoms in the hope of getting married with the Princess.
Thuy Tinh had all his men collect the best pearls and jewelry, and the most exquisite sea food and delicious seaweed. Son Tinh rushed back to the mountain. He ordered his men to collect the best diamonds and the most precious stones they could find. He also selected the most delicious fruit and most fragrant flowers on earth for the Emperor and the Empress.
The next morning, Son Tinh and a hundred attendants were the first who came to the court. He brought trays full of jewels and baskets full of mango, grapes, strawberries, roses, orchids, etc. The Emperor was delighted with all the gifts. He agreed to let Son Tinh marry his daughter. Mi Nuong bid farewell to the Emperor and the Empress. Then she stepped into the palaquin and followed Son Tinh to his Kingdom on the mountain.
After Son Tinh and Mi Nuong had just left the court, Thuy Tinh came with his men carrying trays of jewels, pearls, and baskets full of sea food. Thuy Tinh was so angry when he heard Mi Nuong had gone with Son Tinh just minutes before. He immediately ordered his men to pursue Son Tinh and to take Mi Nuong away. Thuy Tinh yelled at his men and flourished his magic sword. Then the creatures in the sea turned into thousands of soldiers. Heavy rains began to fall. Gusty winds began to blow. The water level rose higher and higher. The high waves and the flood washed down thousands of trees and houses.
Son Tinh had his own magic wand, too. He turned the animals on the mountain into thousands of soldiers to fight back. He turned the mountain higher as the water rose. The war between Son Tinh and Thuy Tinh lasted for days. No one won the war. Many lives were lost. Finally, Thuy Tinh and his men ceased and withdrew to the sea.
However, Thuy Tinh could not give up the idea of taking the Princess back for himself. So, every year Thuy Tinh raises the water and gathers storms up to the mountain top where Son Tinh and Mi Nuong are living. However, he never wins the war. Every year, when the war between the two spirits breaks out, people and animals suffer, crops and properties are destroyed.