Part 9: The Knights of Dusk
“So…he wanted to be a knight, then? Is that it?” Hunter asked once Loti’s story was finished. “If I can get him into the Knights of Dusk, he will help us?”
“There is a chance,” said Loti, nodding and stroking an imaginary beard. “This was a very long time ago, and there is a chance he has deserted the dream. But, of course, right now anything is worth looking into if it can save Princess Emerald.”
Hunter huffed a sigh and drank the last of his tea before standing. “Well, than you for telling me all you know, Loti.”
“Anything for you, Prince Hunter,” Loti said with a wink. She stood as well, frowning. “I just can’t get myself to believe that Janus of all people is the princess’ true love!” She put her hands on her hips and shook her head. “Poor girl. Well, at least all Janus has to do is kiss her. They don’t necessarily have to be married or anything.”
That was the last bit of hope Hunter had been holding onto. Janus could never love her, and would never want to love her, let alone marry her. There was still the chance that he could marry her like he had wanted to since the moment he met her. “I believe I’ll go speak to the head of the Knights of Dusk, now,” he said with a bow.
Loti bowed in return, then winked again. “Go get your girl, Hunter. I always wanted you two to get together.”
Hunter felt his cheeks grow warm, and he quickly excused himself.
On the way to see the Knights of Dusk, he mentally chided himself. Yes, there was the chance that Emerald would choose to marry him instead, but she was a sweet girl. She always gave everyone a chance…always saw the good in everyone. If anyone could ever love Janus, it would be her. Her kindness to the witch was what got her in this mess in the first place.
Maybe this would teach her not to be so trusting.
At any rate, Hunter wouldn’t let anything like this happen again. He would show her that marrying him was the best idea, and he would keep her safe from the evil around her. She was much too innocent and naïve to marry someone like Janus, who would surely take advantage of her.
The northern wing of the palace was one completely dedicated to the Knights of Dusk. There, they slept, ate, and trained. No one held more authority than them, save for the king and the princes and princesses. As a child, Hunter had wanted to become one of them, but even he was no match for their strength. Still, they had allowed him to train with them as a boy, and he was a better swordsman because of it.
He climbed up a staircase and through a red-carpeted hall towards where he knew the head of the knights would be doing his evening study time. Whatever it was he was studying, he didn’t know. Something about ancient weaponry.
He knocked on the small door he came to at the end of the hall, and when the occupant inside the room asked who was there, he replied, “It’s Hunter. I need to talk to you.”
A few second later the door opened, and an older man in the uniform of the Knights of Dusk was standing there. “Your Highness!” he said, his eyes wide. “I thought you had gone to get the princess?”
“That’s why I’m here, actually, Thomas,” Hunter said. “I’ll explain everything if you let me in.”
The man, Thomas, realized he was blocking the doorway, and with a quiet gasp he opened the door wider and stepped aside. “Is there something I can help you with?”
Hunter stepped into the tidy office, nodding. “There is.” He sat down in the window seat as Thomas returned to the chair at his desk. Scrolls were laying around alongside weathered books and charts. Besides the desk, everything else about the room was sparkling. The books on the shelves lining the walls were organized, and the place had just recently been dusted. Thomas hated messes.
“Well,” Hunter began, though he wasn’t sure how to bring Janus into a conversation easily. “I just…want to make it clear that this is for Princess Emerald’s welfare.”
Thomas clasped his hands and rested them on the desk, his head turned to Hunter. “Has something gone wrong? Is the spell not broken?”
“Not exactly…,” said Hunter. He found himself fidgeting with his cape. “There’s nothing wrong with the spell, it can be broken in the way I was told, just…not by me…”
Thomas shrugged. “If not by you, then who in the world else could it be?”
He was getting tired of repeating who Emerald’s true love really was. “You won’t believe me, but…it’s Janus.”
For a moment Thomas simply stared at him with a blank expression, then he narrowed his eyes. “Hunter, that’s not funny. Janus is dangerous and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the princess!”
Hunter sighed. “I agree, yet it’s the truth, unfortunately.” He stood to pace the floor. “Anyways, I paid him a visit, and he refused to help break the spell. I told him I would make a deal with him, but he claimed there was no deal that could make him help us. I even threatened him with the blade of my sword to his neck and he flat out refused!” He put his hands on Thomas’ desk, locking eyes with the man. “But I found out that there might be one thing he would be willing to make a deal on. If this doesn’t work, truly nothing will.”
Thomas cocked an eyebrow. “And that is…?”
“According to Loti, I heard he once came to you to become a Knight of Dusk,” said Hunter. “I have a feeling he would be a lot more cooperative if we made that happen.”
“Absolutely not!” Thomas cried, standing to his feet. “Hunter, that man is not to be trusted!”
“Technically, he never did anything wrong,” Hunter said in a calm voice. “We are prejudiced against him because of his family. And I dislike him as much as anyone else in this kingdom, but something must be done or else Princess Emerald will remain asleep forever. Now is that what you want?”
Thomas groaned as he sat back down and ran his fingers through his hair, causing it to stick up in different directions. “Your Highness, just think of the disasters that could come upon the Knights of Dusk! And he might not even make it through the training and the tests! You know we don’t even let regular people in if they can’t do that!”
“Well at least give him a chance, Thomas!” Hunter said, throwing his hands up in annoyance. “The princess’ life might depend on this!” He took a deep breath to calm himself down. “If you allow him to at least go through the training and try the tests, I will watch over him myself and make sure he doesn’t cause trouble. Besides, I’m your future king and I can demand it of you if I wish.”
Thomas sighed as if the weight of the world was on his shoulders, and hung his head. “Well, when you put it like that, I can’t deny you, Your Highness,” he said in a defeated tone. “I’ll try. But if he doesn’t cut it in the tests then I can’t make him a Knight of Dusk.”
“Thank you,” Hunter said, smiling. “Now, I’m going to tell Janus about this, and hopefully he’ll be willing to help us then.” He bowed. “Good day, Sir Thomas.”
“Good day, Your Highness. And good luck,” Thomas replied, still sounding weary.
Hunter left the room much happier than he had when he had first come in, but was still angry at the fact that Janus was the key to rescuing the princess. Even more frustrating was the fact that though he could make Janus’ dreams come true, there was no hope of granting his own wishes.
~ <♥> ~
Hey guys! I’m getting excited now that we’re heading towards the second half of this short story! What do you guys think Janus will do once Hunter tells him that he can try and join the Knights of Dusk? I’m really hoping he gets cooperative then, because Princess Emerald is out of luck if he doesn’t! I hope you guys liked this part! Be sure to leave me some feedback in the comments, I’d love to hear from you! As always. God bless y’all and have a wonderful weekend!