Part 3: The Truth
Prince Hunter awoke the next morning still feeling the chill from his encounter with Janus the night before, even under the thin blanket draped over him.
Granted, the blanket did have holes in it. What made him sleep here again?
Sighing, he tossed the blanket aside and got out of the rickety bed, feeling much more energetic now that he had rested. As he got dressed and prepared for the day, the memories of the day before filled his mind. Right…his kiss had not broken the spell on Princess Emerald. The journey to consult with the fairies would continue that day, and he was anxious for answers.
Once he was ready to face the day and the long treck back to Mackshire, he stood at the door, though his hand hesitated to turn the knob. Was he ready to face Janus should he still be lurking around the tavern?
Chiding himself in his head, he opened the door. If he could defeat the witch, he could defeat Janus. He stepped out into the hall, glanced down both ends once, then sighed with relief when there was no one to be found. Janus was nowhere in the hall upstairs, and upon further investigation, neither was he downstairs. In fact, no one was down there, save for a bartender – a different one than the night before.
“Heading out?” the older man asked in a gruff voice. He tilted his head, and nearly his whole body. Hunter figured he was trying to catch a peek under his hood. The feeling of insecurity made him pull his hood down further.
“Yes, sir,” he said with a slight nod, then he said nothing more as he left the tavern, glad to leave such a filthy place behind.
The wind was howling outside so much that Hunter had to hold onto his hood to keep it from blowing down. His cloak whirled around him as he made his way to his horse, which was still tied to the post he had left her at. Surely it wouldn’t storm?
Much to his dismay, it did. Halfway down the path, rain began to drizzle down, and it soon turned into a downpour. Of course…
Shaking his head as his cloak and the clothes underneath it began to soak through, he continued onward. A little rain wouldn’t stop him. Emerald needed him.
All through the storm he ventured through unknown forests, having to stop under trees to get a good view of his map. The thick branches provided some shelter from the rain, though more than a few drops still managed to make their way onto the map, smearing some of the lines and words.
By the time he had reached Mackshire Forest, his man was completely destroyed. The rain had smudged it so much that nothing could be made out, and the paper itself was beginning to tear. But nevermind that, he could always get a new one. Perhaps the fairies would be kind enough to lend him one if they had one on hand.
The rain let up as he went through the forest, and the clouds departed, finally allowing rays of sunshine to break through the trees and provide warmth. Hunter was glad for it as his whole body shivered and his teeth chattered. This trip had better been worth it.
He found the little cottage Emerald had grown up in tucked neatly within the shade of a few oak trees, so well hidden that only someone who had ever been there would know where to find it. Hunter had only been there once before, and he had committed the route to memory.
Quite certain that no one had followed him, he left his horse tied up next to a tree, and took his wet, shivering self up to the door, which had clearly just been painted a bright green color. Somehow, it didn’t go well with the rest of the house, painted mostly a dull gray, but he supposed the fairies had rather odd tastes, and he wasn’t one to judge…Oh, wait…yes, he was, he hated to admit. But he wouldn’t bring it up with the fairies. He had far more important matters at hand than bright green paint.
He went to knock, but had to quickly back away to avoid being smacked in the face by the door, and ended up falling over backwards.
“You always think you know everything!” a light, airy voice screamed. Hunter looked up in surprise as a woman in a blue dress walked out of the cottage, and a second later a pillow flew out after her and hit her back.
“Look who’s talking!” another voice screamed.
The woman in the blue dress whirled around and looked like she would scream something back, but then noticed Hunter sitting there with a stunned look on his face. She yelped in surprise and rushed back into the cottage.
Hunter snapped out of his stupor and jumped to his feet. There must be the fairies. “Please, ladies! I must speak to you!” He got up to the door just as it slammed shut. “Please! Don’t you realize who I am?!” He knocked on the door. For a moment, only silence answered him, and the door remained shut. He could make out muffled voices coming from inside. He pressed his ear to the door in an attempt to hear what they were saying, but it was of no use.
After another moment passed, and the voices had gone away, he attempted another knock. This time the door opened, but only a crack.
“Your Highness…” A different voice from the two others he had heard earlier spoke. “I deeply apologize for my sisters’ behavior. You simply frightened them.” The door opened wider, revealing an older lady in a green. “Please, do come in.”
Hunter sighed. “Thank you, ma’am. This will not take long, I hope.” He came into the cottage to find that it was just the same as it had been when he visited as a child. Cozy, warm, and perfectly spotless.
The two other fairies were siting in little wooden chairs at a table, staring at him as if they might still be frightened.
“I take it this is about the princess…?” The fairy in the green dress asked. For the life of him, Hunter could not remember their names.
“Yes, ma’am…I have just come from defeating the witch and seeing Her Highness asleep in the tower…and the instructions you gave me did not apply to me…”
The three fairies looked at the floor, and Hunter realized that they already knew. And if they already knew he wasn’t Emerald’s true love…they must know who was.
“Please, ladies…if you know who is Princess Emerald’s true love, I want to know,” he said, standing taller and masking his disappointment.
“We apologize for letting you believe it was you,” said the one in red, rubbing her arms as if she was cold. “But…we knew of no one else who could defeat the witch, and we knew for sure the true love could not…”
Hunter took a deep breath. So they had used him? “Don’t apologize, just tell me who it really is. That will be apology enough.”
The fairies glanced at each other, as if telepathically communicating about what they should do. For all Hunter knew, that was what they were actually doing.
“Well…you won’t like it…,” said the fairy in blue.
“You won’t like it at all,” said the one in green.
“We were quite shocked ourselves when the truth hit us,” said the one in red.
“Just tell me!” Hunter said, wringing his hands. Who could it possibly be?!
The fairies glanced at each other once more, then with a collective sigh they turned back to Hunter.
“We know him as Gehennam…,” the blue fairy started. “But…you would know him as Janus.”
Hunter’s eyes widened. “What…?” How was that possible?!
“It is true,” said the one in green. “Janus is Princess Emerald’s true love…”
~ <♥> ~
Hey guys! So sorry for this being late! WordPress changed the way everything looks and I really, really hate it and it’s making blogging harder for me, so it took forever to write this! Also, I’m getting college under control so I hope to be blogging a lot more often than I have been! I hope you liked this part even though it’s a little short! God bless and have a wonderful holiday weekend!