Prince Jaron’s assignments completed back during Part 7, it’s back to the Enchantress to liberate Princess Terren and make his requests. But will all going according to plan? Find out in the much-anticipated serial finale of “Blood, Sweat, and Tears”!
Not surprisingly, Terren had lost all track of time. She could not tell if she had been awaiting the prince’s return for minutes or months or a millennium or what. Either way, she was pleased as punch when Jaron finally materialized in the cave in front of her.
“Ah, so you’ve returned,” said the Enchantress. “You made good time. Only…” – here she checked her watch – “…two days, seventeen hours, and twenty-five minutes.”
“Hey, wait ye just one stinking minute!” cried Terren. “Last I checked, wristwatches – and especially digital wristwatches – have yet to be invented!”
“Sometimes it seems as though nothing has yet been invented,” Jaron muttered.
The Enchantress shrugged. “Well, when you’re a powerful Enchantress, as I am, sometimes you get the prototypes for these things sooner than do others. But back to business. Prince Jaron, have you done as I have asked?”
“I have,” said Jaron. Proudly, he presented the bowl-shaped rock he himself had carved from the volcano. Looking around, he asked, “Have you a container durable enough to… well, contain this?”
“I do,” said the Enchantress, producing a small jar.
“Good.” Without ceremony, Jaron smashed the rock upon the cave wall and then held the largest piece over the Enchantress’s jar. Much of the lava collected had since cooled into rock, but more than a tablespoon of it had remained hot and liquid. This did Jaron pour into the jar.
“Behold,” said Jaron. “This lava did I take from the veins of the Fire Maiden. Lava, molten rock, was her life’s blood. And so I give you… blood from a stone.”
“Very good,” approved the Enchantress. “One payment received. What is your first request of me?”
“At an inn more than a day’s journey from here,” said Jaron, “I slew a drunk sitting by the side of the road. This man had done no wrong save take a sip too many, yet I killed him, for I had need of his clothes. My first request is that you bring him back to life, for the death dealt him was by no means a fair one.”
“I grant your request,” said the Enchantress. “Here, take this bottle of suspect fluid. When you leave the Forest on your way back to your kingdom, stop by the inn where this deed was done. Find the body, and pour the contents of this bottle upon it. Then he will be restored to life. Now, where is my second gift?”
Jaron showed her his vial. “Behold,” said he. “This sweat did I mop from the brow of Prince Osmar of Mayers. Ask any one of his peers and they will tell you truly of his decidedly porcine qualities. And so I give you… sweat from a pig.”
“Well done,” praised the Enchantress. “Two payments received. What is your second request of me?”
“The King and Queen of Liaralay and the Queen of Mayers have conspired to marry Prince Osmar and Princess Terren,” said Jaron. “Neither prince nor princess (nor Osmar’s previous betrothed) wishes this union to take place. My second request is that you change the minds of the king and queens, bringing them back to their original plan to marry Osmar to Princess Emmalyn of Caspion, and Terren to no one yet.”
“I grant your request,” said the Enchantress. “Here, take this pouch of mysterious powder. When you leave this Forest, go to the highest tower of the castle of Liaralay and sprinkle the powder into the wind. Then the minds of the rulers of Liaralay and Mayers will be as they were before. And lastly, what of my third gift?”
Jaron brought forth his other vial. “Behold,” he said. “These tears did I gather from the faces of many quote-unquote ‘damsels in distress’ by the sea. None of them were in real need of rescue, and all cried merely to gain something from a studly passerby like myself. Fake crying; crocodile tears. And so I give you… tears from a crocodile.”
“Bravo,” congratulated the Enchantress. “All three payments received. So, what will your final request be? Up ‘til now, they have been quite unselfish; restoration of life for someone else, happiness for others… Surely now you would like to ask for something for yourself? Like… the love of Princess Terren, for instance? That was your plan, was it not?”
Terren nearly choked on her royal spit. “Thou would do that to me?!” she shrieked.
“That was my plan,” Jaron nodded.
“Vile wretch! To make me fall in love with a son of a yet-to-be-invented gun like you…! Have you no sense of morality?!”
“I would think he does,” said the Enchantress. “Why else would he have done what he did that night at the inn?”
Terren narrowed her eyes. “Why? What did he do?”
“Nothing,” said the Enchantress. “That’s the point. What is your third request, young prince?”
“On my way to acquire the crocodile tears,” said Jaron, “I stopped by my castle. Turns out the rulers of Liaralay have decided to wage war upon my kingdom. Something about me running off with their princess. This war will no doubt mean countless lives thrown away – women and children left without husbands and brothers and fathers. Me, I care but little about this. But a soldier told me this war was created so that my father the King would have to pay for my misdeed. Well, guess what: He has already had to pay a hefty price for my own childish behavior of eleven years ago. He will continue to pay it for the rest of time. He should not have to pay again. And so my third and final request is that you cause the King and Queen of Liaralay to call off their war on my kingdom.”
“Are you sure?” said the Enchantress. “Because I could make Princess Terren fall in love with you, no problem.”
“Do not tempt him!” cried Terren, aghast and enraged.
“I am not tempted,” Jaron assured her. “True, if thou had caught me before I hit the seashore, things might have been different. But whilst I was collecting the tears of pathetic pretender girls, I was given the opportunity to rescue a maiden who actually needed rescuing – she was going to be sacrificed to an ogre, don’t you know – and darned if she is not more fair than art thou, Terren of Liaralay! I have decided to woo her instead. So it looks like you missed your chance with Prince Jaron the Cool, Terren, baby.”
Terren was undecided whether to whoop for joy that Jaron would now finally leave her alone, retch up her last meal over Jaron’s ego, or throw a tantrum because someone traversed the earth who was fairer than she. She was still mulling over the possibilities when the Enchantress dumped some sweet-smelling concoction over her head.
“HEY!” sputtered Terren.
“I grant your request,” the Enchantress said to Jaron. “Merely return Terren home and the war will cease. Now leave my cave! I haven’t had a moment alone since you two barged in through mine rainbow!”
Thus did the adventure end. Jaron and Terren made the uneventful journey home. They stopped by the inn on the way. The drunk was still in the bushes where Jaron had left him, looking none too good, as one would imagine. But a few drops from the Enchantress’s bottle and he looked as good as new – albeit in naught but his underwear, until Jaron returned his clothes.
The war was called off the instant Terren entered her castle, and then she and Jaron sprinkled the powder from the Enchantress’s pouch, causing the King and Queen of Liaralay and the Queen of Mayers to nix Terren’s engagement, and freeing Osmar to marry Emmalyn once more.
A few months later, Terren became betrothed again – this time to Prince Vincent. Everyone from the kingdoms of both Liaralay and Baylee were pleased with this match. And Jaron returned to the area by the sea, where the princess he had saved from the sacrifice had been pining for him ever since he’d gone. They were betrothed to each other before the sun went down on the day. It happened also that Jaron’s princess had a mighty good-looking mare who took quite an interest in Jaron’s horse/father/king.
And so, true to fairytale form, everybody lived happily ever after.
<<< THE END >>>