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.

The Five Trials of Peru: Trial 1 Part 2

Peru’s heart swelled at the thought of what little time remained separating him from the girl he loved. True, that little time was measured in months, but every breath he took shortened those months to moments; he could only view the coming days as a time he would look back on as a split second in his life.

With the sky clear and the wind at their backs the crew worked the ship in a pleasant mood. None would admit it, but secretly they were all hopeless romantics. Leaving their homes and families behind felt burdensome, but to see such a strong desire in the prince to gain what they already had left them feeling eager to see his heart fulfill its greatest desire.   

A few days into the journey dark clouds gathered on the horizon and a storm swept the seas in a turbulent riot. The men fought hard to steady the ship but with one great gust the boat overturned and all were cast into the sea. The storm raged on for many more hours and only those God saw fit survived, catching hold of debris to cling to for survival. Peru was one so lucky, and save two more all others perished. Staying close to each other the men drifted at sea for many days, hunger and thirst biting at their throats.

“We are all going to die,” one man called to the two others, seated on a plank of wood from the ship. “We will perish and it is because of the young prince and his foolish whimsies.”

“Bite your tongue.” The other man said. “The cause of our demise is the sea and nothing more. Do not blame a hapless boy for fate.”

“Because of you,” the sailor said to the prince. “I will never see my wife and children again. I will die and they will become beggars on the streets eating rats from the gutters to survive!” He continued  raving until all sense fled him and he fell into the sea in a fit, drowning.

The remaining crew member floated hopelessly across from the prince, who felt the sailor’s words deeply and could not shake the debt he felt he now owed. Impossibly the picture of Florette survived the wreck but was smudged by dampness. Peru took it from his pocket to dry and swore by her to honor the men who had perished and their families should he survive.

The next morning the pair washed ashore an island, green and wild.    

Beauty and the Beast

We ran through the woods like bats out of Hell. I guess, really, that’s what we were. I held her hand as she pushed larger branches out of our path; we were covered in scrapes and bruises regardless. Dogs howled in the distance and we ran faster. We had to make it to the wall. I heard her cuss under her breath and move faster, nearly pulling me off my feet. She had always slowed to my pace when we walked, but now it was life and death and the pace needed to move faster.

I met Malery on the streets, literally. Down a small side-street, I headed home one dreary night and found her lying unconscious in the gutter. One of her feet had actually disappeared down a storm drain. Carrying her to my apartment I attempted to care for the stranger, but she recovered on her own by sundown only to frantically claw at the walls like a caged animal. Eventually she calmed down enough to believe I meant her no harm. Only then did she tell me who and what she was. Only then did I realize I loved her.

Light broke through the treetops as we reached our destination: The Wall. Built long before my birth I knew not what lay beyond. But I knew the unknown could never compare to what lay behind – the cruelty of man, only seen when facing something new and unknown. Something like Malery.

With one leap she closed the distance and climbed the brick monument effortlessly. Reaching the top she turned and looked down. I wished we could stay like that forever and I would never fear forgetting her face. I held back stiff tears as I looked from her eyes to the trail of blood from her mouth down her neck. I couldn’t believe she lost control and hurt someone. But the sirens outside my apartment early that morning left little room for doubt.

Trying to sound strong I looked up at her fearlessly. “You’ll come back, right? You said you wouldn’t die for me, but I won’t rot in prison for you.”

Smiling her small smile she nodded. “You won’t have to.” With one last filthy look back at the city we fled she silently disappeared over the wall.

I breathed a sigh of relief. I heard crashing from behind and knew the police were near. Tackled to the ground and arrested, I began my patient wait to be rescued by what had come to be known as The Beast.

Magic Love

“I am ready to be married.” She cooed to her Love.

 

They had only known each other for two months, but were already so deeply and irrevocably in love that God himself could not tear them apart. They were perfect for one another. The Princess, soon to be Queen, had grown up dreaming of a man such as her fiancé. The same could be said of him. The moment they saw each other they knew. It was that sort of love. 

 

The date was set and all the preparations were made; the whole land had been invited to participate in the ceremony one way or another, for the prince loved his people only second to his bride. A week was left to slowly tickle away, teasing the lovers worse than they did themselves.

 

The princess, with nothing much to do until after the wedding, had taken to walking through the grounds in the early afternoon just after lunch. On one such afternoon she walked along the border gazing off dreamily into shadows the tops of the trees threw below their branches. She blinked once and saw nothing. She blinked twice and a man appeared, standing just within the reach of the shade.

 

Startled, the Princess asked his name. He told her, and then bid her never to repeat it. “Come into the forest with me,” The man said, holding out a hand. “Walk with me for a time.”    

 

The Princess had never encountered anything but kind-heartedness in her time, and being the young girl she was, took the man’s hand and walked with him through the forest without a second thought. There they talked of many things. The Princess told the man of her Love, and of her eagerness for marriage. The man smiled and told her of his loveless life, for he lived in the forest and led a cold existence. The Princess listened to the man’s story, emotions, thoughts and words, she felt her heart moved in a way it never had. 

 

As time wore on the Princess returned to the castle, welcomed back by her Love with open arms and a pure smile. She embraced him warmly, but a thought or two still stayed with the dark man in the forest.

 

She walked the next day by the forest and the man appeared again. It soon fell into habit that the Princess spent her afternoons with the man. It gradually came to pass that the Princess packed up her lunch and shared it with the Forest Man before their walks. Every evening, when he escorted her out of the forest, the man would remind her to never mention him. She promised, and never broke it.

 

A change occurred, and it was so drastic of a change that the Princess could not ignore it. She looked forward not to her afternoon walks, but of spending time with her Forest Man. She regretted every night when she left him and returned to her Love. Her Love; he did not fascinate her as he once had.  

 

The afternoon before the wedding the Princess confessed this to the mysterious man. He kissed her shortly after, rough with desire. In that moment the Princess’s heart shifted. She no longer loved the Prince, but a mysterious man who lived in the forest. She fell so deeply she swore, why, he must have cast a magic spell over her with that kiss. 

 

As time wore on, she did not return to the castle. The man took her back to his home where they lived quite happily together for a time. But as day’s passed the Princess could not bar her residual emotions.

 

She did love the Prince, but she also loved the Forest Man. Her conflicting emotions sent shivers down her spin. She loved both, but the magic man enveloped her in ways her charming prince never could. She hated herself for that, leaving the pure good behind for isolation.

 

“What do you think of me? What do you think of your life now?” The man asked one day, holding her so closely she felt the very warmth of his heart against her cheek.

 

She bit back a tear as she spoke the truth. “I wish I’d never met you. In fact, I curse the day I first laid eyes on you.” She looked up into his eyes. “I hate that I love you more than anything. So much so that I left my life and future behind for you alone.”

 

“I’m sorry,” He breathed into her ear.

 

“I know.” The Princess whispered, yielding completely to the man she now lived for. Her Prince of the Forest.  

To Have Loved and Lost

“This is so romantic.” He thought to himself. Watching his woman of choice slowly sip on a fruit drink of her choice, he couldn’t help but wonder why she’d felt the need to lounge on the bar top while sipping said drink, but he hadn’t complained. Now, however, he grew impatient. Touching her elbow, she paused, swallowed, and looked down at him.

He motioned to the bar stool next to him with an inviting smile. Without expression, she slithered off the counter. Once again he was struck by her grace and beauty. Once facing each other they hit it off instantly, laughing the night away over trivial topics of young love.

Time to time, he would inch closer to her preparing to make his all important, life changing move. Slowly, he reached out and touched her leg, feeling her warmth curl around his fingers and pool in his palm. Her hands rested in her lap, and he cupped them in his own. Looking deep within her eyes he leaned in close and whispered in a deep, husky voice.

“Wanna go see a movie?” Leaning back, he smiled and awaited her assured response.

She blinked and smiled, then raised her perfect angelic hand and flipped him the bird. With that, she grabbed her drink and walked away, leaving him feeling very hurt and very confused.

“What did I say?”

*Note: Jaehyo’s teaser inspired me (Jaehyo is a member of the Korean group Block B fyi). If you haven’t seen it yet check it out! It’s pretty funny.