Part 4: The Wastelands
Prince Hunter stood gawking before the three fairies. This must be some trick…yes, the fairies did have a playful side. There was no way such an evil man could be the true love of such a kind and gentle princess. He laughed then, deciding that it was indeed a joke.
But when the fairies did not join in his laughter, and only stared at him as if he had lost his mind, he stopped, and his smile slowly faded.
“It is…not a prank?” he asked as it dawned on him that the fairies were being serious. “Janus is Princess Emerald’s true love?”
The fairies all nodded at once, as if in sync with each other.
“I am afraid so, Your Highness,” the blue fairy said. “It was revealed to us not long after you went after the witch.”
“So you used me to dispose of the witch because you thought Janus could not?!” Hunter shouted, his hands curling into fists. The fairies back away.
“Well, yes…,” said the red fairy. At least they were honest. Hunter held his beath for a few seconds, then let it out.
“Just, nevermind. I’m going to go find Janus and drag him to the tower to wake Princess Emerald, and then I will dispose him. Then I will bring Emerald back to the palace with me and everything will be as it should.”
“Tsk, tsk,” said the blue fairy. “You young folks are always in such a rush to find true love and get married, but it doesn’t work like that.”
“I don’t have the faintest idea what you are talking about,” said Hunter, crossing his arms and glancing at each fairy. “I have known Princess Emerald ever since I was a boy and I knew then that I wanted to marry her. Do not tell me that fifteen years is rushed!”
“No, no, Prince Hunter, you must understand,” said the blue fairy, coming forward to take his hands. “You must accept that Princess Emerald is not the one for you.”
“She only sees you as her brother,” said the green fairy. “Oh, she would always become so fretful when she would tell us how she thought you had feelings for her. You are family to her.”
Hunter’s heart sank. So…all this time his feelings were unrequited? He pulled his hands away from the blue fairy and dropped them at his sides. “Well…thank you for letting me know,” he said dryly. He turned to start out the door.
“Oh, please don’t be so upset, Your Highness!” the red fairy cried, going after him. “There is another for you!”
Hunter looked at the three of them over his shoulder. “What makes you think I want another?” And with that, he left their presence, wishing he never even came in the first place. What was he to do now? Travel to Janus’ tower? He never wanted to look upon the man’s face ever again, much less be within a mile of him. And letting him near Emerald? Well, there wasn’t a chance of that happening!
But…if he never went to go Janus, and didn’t bring him to Emerald, then she would surely sleep for eternity, and longer than that quite possibly. Even if he could never have her as his wife, he would hate to live without his dearest friend. His only friend, at that. It would be a terribly selfish deed to leave her sleeping all because he refused to belive that Janus was her true love. As bizarre as the match would make, it would have to be done in order to wake up the sleeping princess.
He returned to his horse, stopping to pet it’s long mane. “Well…,” he said in a quiet voice. “I suppose it’s off to find Janus with us.” He mounted the horse and spurred it into action, wondering where he should look first. While he had seen Janus at the little tavern, that meant nothing. Janus could travel anywhere he pleased in a matter of seconds. With no other lead, the best possibilty was his tower in the Wastelands. It would take days to get there, but it was worth a try. So he started off in that direction, thinking of how he would get Janus to kiss Emerald.
~ ~ ~
It took three days to reach the Wastelands, and another day of wandering to find Janus’ tower. The Wastelands were just vast plains of absolutely nothing, and it would be too easy to get lost. Men who had gotten lost there never returned, and some could be driven mad by the endless wandering. But that wouldn’t happen to a skilled man like Hunter. He smiled when he spotted the tower from afar, proud of himself for finding it so soon. However, when he approached it, he suddenly wanted to turn back.
It was a small tower, with tall steeples and a little clock tower. It was by no means a castle, but it couldn’t be called a mansion either. A gate guarded against trespassers, with two stone gargoyles keeping watch at the front. Hunter felt the hair on his arms stand on end as he came up to the gate as both statues seemed to watch him with their beady stone eyes. Trying to ignore them, he gripped the iron bars of the gate and attempted to open them. However, it would not budge. It was locked tight.
“Hmph.” Hunter crossed his arms as he tried to think of another way in. While he stood there, a chill went through him, just as it had the night at the tavern; like the temperature had dropped below freezing. He felt a presence behind him, so he slowly turned to see what it was.
“May I ask what you are doing in my Wastelands?” When Hunter turned around, Janus was standing there, looking completely unamused. He was dressed in the same outfit he had been wearing at the tavern, and now that it was daytime (thought the sun was going down), Hunter could see him much better. But that didn’t make him any less frightening.
“Looking for you,” Hunter said, his voice coming out small. Blast it, he probably sounded as if he were afraid. “I need you. Or rather, Princess Emerald needs you.”
Janus’ eyes widened, and he stood taller. “You need me? Preposterous. Nobody ever needs me.”
“Well, I suppose there is a first for everything,” said Hunter, crossing his arms again. “Now will you come to the tower your sister put her in?”
Janus stared down at him with wary eyes, then he seemed disgusted. “Wait, wait…she needs me to wake her up…as in she needs me to KISS HER?” Hunter flinched when his voice boomed.
“That is correct. It turns out that you are her true love, according to the good faries.” Hunter waved his hand. “Trust me, I’m just as disgusted as you are.”
Janus’ brow furrowed. “The good fairies are playing a bad prank on you, Your Highness. Or on me. I don’t know which, but it isn’t funny in the slightest. Please, get out of my sight and never ask me to kiss a girl ever again.” He brushed past him to open the gate, but Hunter was far from finished.
“I will reward you if you do it, and then you won’t have to have anything to do with her ever again,” Hunter hurried in through the gate before Janus could shut it.
“Please leave,” Janus said, sighing at the fact that he hadn’t shut the gate fast enough.
“No!” Hunter shouted. “You’re coming back with me to wake Princess Emerald!”
Janus shook his head as he headed towards his tower. “Um, little prince, do you not know the meaning of ‘no’?”
“I don’t care!” Hunter ran to stand in front of the door that would lead into the tower. “Don’t you dare go in there!”
Janus’ face reddened. “So now you’re just going to keep me from going in my house? What’s wrong with you?!” He huffed another sigh as he slumped over. “You know what? Forget it. I’ll sleep out here tonight.” He went over to a grassier part of the front yard and sat down, using a large stone as a pillow to lean on.
“Are you really that stubborn?” Hunter said with a humorless laugh. “You would turn down a reward just because you have to kiss a girl?”
“What can you give me that would be a good enough reward to make me do it?” Janus asked from his spot on the floor.
“Anything you ask,” Hunter said, spreading his arms. “Gold, a new tower? Just ask!”
Janus sat up and stared at him with his mouth open. “You really think that’s what I want? Riches? How about you people leaving me alone for a change? I can’t even go out in public without someone throwing insults at me! Why can’t I be treated as a human being?” He shrugged. “You could never give me what I want, Prince Hunter, so just forget it!” He laid back down on the dusty ground then.
Hunter sighed. This was going exactly the way he imagined it. But if Janus could be stubborn, then he could too. He wouldn’t leave unless Janus came with him. He sat in front of the door, intent on not letting Janus go inside. Who knew what contraptions and traps would go off if he followed the witch down there.
The sun had nearly disappeared behind the hills in the distance, so Hunter settled in for a long, long night.
~ <♥> ~
Hey guys! This part was kinda hard to write, and I was NOT expecting Janus to be this stubborn about this, haha! I’m just going to say “poor Hunter”, because it’s going to take forever to talk Janus into kissing Emerald. I’m hoping I have the stuff to write it, because if I’m being honest, I’m not looking forward to it! Stubborn characters can be a nightmare to deal with!
How did you like this part? Looking forward to part 5? Let me know in the comments below! God bless y’all and have a good weekend!