The Five Trials of Peru: Trial 5 Part 3

The next day marked the wedding. Festivities began with the rising sun and continued until the noontide meal. Peru expected to see Florette during the celebrations; after all they were for him just as much as for her. But she remained absent, instead to his right sat Lothar and to the left the mistress. She abounded in talk and laughter, seemingly the happiest of all, while his captain remained silent.

The ceremony followed the meal and proceeded without a hitch. Soft music played and the living proof of all his dreams appeared before Peru’s eyes. At long last the prince stood across from Florette, concealed by a veil and a long dress so that nothing of her skin showed. “I have dreamed of this day for many years,” he whispered, wanting nothing more than to hear her voice in response. The figure simply nodded and spoke not.  

The leader of the church stood at the head of the alter, a steady stream of chants and blessings issuing from his lips until the final moments. Just as the prince reached out to his moments-away wife to seal the ring around her finger he felt a strong pair of hands pull him away.

Stepping forward Lothar spoke to the prince but loud enough for the whole of the room to hear. “This wedding is a miserable scheme. This woman is Florette, but she is not the one you seek.” Pulling the veil from the bride’s head a hideously deformed face revealed itself. The figure fell back in shame and fear as a gasp issued from the very room they stood in. “The drawing you fell in love with is of another,” Lothar looked to the side of the room. Following his gaze Peru turned to see the girl, the slave, he had so easily dismissed, standing calmly a few feet away with an air of certainty he had never seen in another and a smile to calm even the sun’s flames. It was then he saw her for who she really was and not who others pretended her to be.   

Silence settled over the room. Prince Peru slowly approached the woman, whom he once believed to be nothing to him, and wept. Throwing himself to his knees he raised his face to hers. “I am sorry. I was a fool to believe lies when truth stood obviously before me. I am unworthy to stand by your side.”

“Many men have come seeking the nobleman’s daughter,” the girl said, kneeling next to the prince. “All these I have left to their own devices, caring for them not. But with you… I think there is hope.”

Rising to their feet the two embraced and felt true love before a rending screech ended the moment. The mistress, Florette’s mother, stood in the isle eyes ablaze. “How dare you!” She accused the girl still in Peru’s arms. “I should have killed you the moment that fool of a painter portrayed you on paper!”

A loud popping noise accompanied this curse. A woman screamed as the king of the jinn and all his men appeared at the head of the church, sending the clergyman stumbling out of the way in awkward fear. “Dear prince Peru,” the king spread his arms out wide, encompassing the whole assembly in warm benevolence. “I am pleased to see you overcome this puzzle. Ederin is the true one you seek, not Florette. The mistress, that wretch of a woman, cursed her daughter to be born undesirable by any man due to her wicked deeds throughout life. After the death of her husband she knew her extravagant lifestyle could only be maintained through the marriage of her only child to a prince. But none would consent to marry such a creature; seeing this she took the lovely Ederin and played her as heir. Once suitors came they could only see the supposed beauty they courted on the day of the wedding. But once seeing whom they truly married all called for divorce straight away. Sworn to secrecy concerning the truth word did not spread of the scheme.” The king smiled down fondly at Ederin. “Dear, sweet Ederin is a distant relative of mine who under unfortunate circumstances was kidnapped and sold, forced to serve the noble’s wife. When you landed on my island I knew you were seeking her, the picture in your pocket confirmed it. I decided to test you in worthiness to judge if you were even fit to stand before her, let alone marry. I was pleased then and I am all the more pleased now to see Ederin has decided she likes you as well. So what more is there to discuss? May the two of you find pleasure and happiness with each other as long as each shall live.” With that the Jinn king smote the mistress where she stood, riding the world of her. Peru and Ederin, along with the captain and the rest of his men, all rode on the backs of jinn to their island where a proper wedding took place without a hitch or lie.

The party flew back to Peru’s homeland, which he had not seen in over ten years. In an act of kindness the Prince and his new bride brought the poor Florette back as well. Shunned and locked in the attic since birth she was innocent in her mother’s schemes. She led the rest of her life happily, spending most of her time outside in the gardens making up for lost time.

True to his word Peru opened his treasury and served each family of the men lost on the journey with everything they would need to lead a comfortable life for many generations to come, hoping to make amends and receive a pardon from the surviving family members. Pleased with the act no one begrudged him.

The tale of Peru’s quest soon spread throughout the kingdom and he became a hero to the people. They also regarded Ederin fondly, her rise from slavery endearing her to their hearts.

With his heir back in the country safe and sound Peru’s father died a few months later, elevating the prince to king and Ederin to queen. Lothar, Peru’s truest and most reliable friend, stayed in the kingdom as the king’s advisor, serving faithfully all the years he ruled. They were visited often by the Jinn king, who loved to tell anyone who would listen the wild stories of a young boy beneath a pear tree who fell in love with a painting.

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