Part 10: Hunter Makes a Deal
Prince Hunter found himself standing outside of the Wastelands yet again. With a sigh, he tapped his boots against the sides of his horse to move forward into the sandy expanse. “If this doesn’t work, then I’m dragging him to the tower myself,” he said to himself. Otherwise…Emerald would sleep forever. She would be as good as dead. The thought made him shiver.
With the map Cally had given him, it was easy to find Janus’ tower again. When he got close, he could see it looming on the horizon. Except…it wasn’t the dark, gloomy tower that Emerald had been locked in. It was the complete opposite of the witch’s tower, with white stone walls and deep green vines and even flowers climbing up to the windows. The only ominous thing about it were the iron gates surrounding it. That, and the fact that it was out in the middle of the desert. And it was a bit creepy that luscious grass was growing inside the gates and nowhere else. It could have been a result of magic, but Hunter doubted it. As far as he understood, Janus wasn’t powerful like that.
“Well look who it is!” a familiar voice called to him, and he turned to see Cally walking alongside a little camel. Upon seeing her, Hunter waved.
“Ah, it’s you,” he said with a small smile on his face.
Cally frowned. “You’re not still out here wandering around trying to find a way out, are you?” She counted off her fingers under her breath. “Wait, how many days has it been since I last saw you… How are you even still alive if you’ve been here all along with no-“
“I haven’t,” Hunter said with a chuckle. “I left, and now I’ve returned to see Janus.”
Cally stared at him, pausing to process his words, then she narrowed her eyes and put her hands on her hips. “So you’re going against my advice. Got it.”
Hunter frowned. “Cally, it’s very important that Janus comes with me,” he said. “His sister put a spell on Princess Emerald, and only a true love’s kiss can break that spell. And, as it turns out, Janus is her true love.”
Cally looked like she wanted to burst out laughing, but she skillfully held it back, and only looked up at him with an amused smile. “You’re pulling my leg,” she said. “Janus doesn’t love anyone.”
“I know,” Hunter said, nodding. “But I don’t care if he loves her or not, he’s breaking this spell if it kills him.”
“It very well might!” Cally said with a laugh. She patted her camel’s side. “All right, now I want to come with you. I want to see his face.”
“He already knows since I pestered him about it yesterday morning,” Hunter said. He spurred his horse into action, it walking along unevenly in the sand compared to Cally’s camel. “I suppose he might be in a sour mood if he sees me again. Especially once I bring up Emerald again.”
“He’s always in a sour mood when someone comes to see him. And I doubt anyone’s ever requested anything of him, so it’ll be double now!”
“Right,” Hunter said, sighing heavily as they approached the tower.
The cloudy sky made the tower somewhat ominous, but Hunter was more nervous that Janus would refuse again than anything else. For some reason, having Cally there made him feel a bit more at ease.
When they reached the gates, Hunter climbed down from his horse and grabbed the string to ring the bell hanging on the entrance. Yet, when he rang it, no sound came from it.
“What in–” He turned the bell up to find there was only a string in it and nothing else.
Cally burst out laughing. “Either it’s broken, or Janus took the hammer out on purpose!”
Hunter let go of the bell with a huff. “Well how are we supposed to get his attention?”
“Simple!” Cally said. She bent down and stuck her arm through the iron bars to take a rock from the yard. Then, she stood and gave the rock a hard toss at the tower, Hunter giving a quiet gasp when she did so.
The rock soared over the gates and hit one of the windows, crashing through the glass and disappearing within the tower.
Cally’s dark skin turned pale. “Oh heck, I didn’t meant to do that,” she said said, her eyes wide as saucers.
Hunter wasn’t sure he felt more at ease with her being there after all.
A moment later, Janus was standing at the broken window. He was staring at the floor, most likely at the rock, then looked out, scowling when he saw them. “You again?!” he called down. “And you! Did you throw that rock?”
Cally put her hands up, feigning innocence. “Oh no, that was totally my friend here!”
“Hey!” Hunter cried, backing away. “It wasn’t me, it was her!”
Cally huffed in annoyance as she put her hands on her hips. “Gee, thanks for helping a lady out!”
Hunter crossed his arms. “I will not be blamed for your actions!”
They began to bicker, and after a moment, Janus’ voice said, “Excuse me!”
They both turned to see him at the gates, him having come down out of the tower while they argued.
“Janus, I’m deeply sorry for my friend’s actions, but please allow me to speak with you,” Hunter said, giving a bow.
“No, because I know what it’s going to be about,” Janus said, the scowl still on his face. “Get away from here, both of you, before I do something all of us will regret later.”
Cally looked at Hunter. “We should go…” She gasped when Hunter suddenly reached through the bars and grabbed the collar of Janus’ shirt, pulling him against the gate.
“Listen here!” Hunter said. His voice like ice, yet fire danced in his eyes. “You are going to make a deal with me. If you help break the spell on Princess Emerald, then I will allow you to have the chance to join the Knights of Dusk.”
Janus wrenched himself from his grasp. “Liar,” he said as he straightened his black coat. “I know your kind, Little Prince. I know as soon as I help you, you’ll turn your back to me again.”
“I’m not lying!” Hunter cried, shouting in frustration and kicking the gate. He grabbed the bars of the gate and peered through them. “Janus, I beg of you! Emerald will be as good as dead if you don’t help her, and I know you don’t care, but couldn’t you prove you aren’t like your sister by agreeing to awaken her? And trust me, I have spoken with the head of the Knights of Dusk and he agreed to let you go through the training and tests!”
Janus simply stared at him, expressionless, not saying a word.
Cally put her hand on Hunter’s shoulder. “Come on, he’s not going to listen. He’s from a family of villains, and they can never be anything else.”
Hunter noticed Janus wincing slightly at her words. He held his gaze. “I guess you’re right,” he said coldly, then he turned to go back to his horse. Perhaps there was another way to wake Emerald, but…deep down inside he knew that wasn’t true. The spell’s criteria for being broken had been utterly exact. Only a kiss from her true love would do. So if Janus refused…
“Do you promise I’ll get to train with the knights?” Janus’ voice made him turn. A note of curiosity was in his tone. “I’ll get to become one of them?”
Hunter chose his words carefully. “You can train with them, but it’s up to your skill to see whether or not you are worthy of becoming a true Knight of Dusk. Your skill, and your character. If you pass all the tests, then you are in.”
Janus was staring down at the grass within the gate for a long moment, perhaps thinking over the deal.
Hunter thought for sure that he would once again deny helping Emerald, but then Janus looked up with a hopeful glint in his eyes.
“You swear it? I break the spell, and I get to train with the knights?”
Hunter nodded. “Yes, I swear it. Like I said, the head knight himself said so.”
The slightest hint of a smile was on Janus’ face as he took a key out of his pocket and unlocked the gate. It opened with a loud creak.
Hunter and Cally took a few steps back when Janus walked out, his smile growing.
“All right,” he said with a dramatic sigh. “Bring me to the princess.”
~ <♥> ~
Sorry for the sudden hiatus last week, but I decided to take a break for Easter. But hey! Janus is finally agreeing to help Hunter wake Emerald, and I’m super excited to write what comes next! I honestly thought all hope was going to be lost since Janus is so stubborn, but he could never turn down the chance to become a knight!
I hope you all liked this part! Tell me your thoughts in the comments! God bless y’all and have a wonderful weekend!