Returning to the town, there was a great garden at the centre where pious people used to go and pray. However, a witch had crafted several statues and placed them all about the garden. These statues were enchanted and whispered to everyone who entered the garden things they did not wish to hear. The garden that had once been the spring rejuvenating the spirits of the people was now no longer visited, even by the gardeners. The garden had become over grown and full of weeds.
Shaylen took his party into the gardens and he ordered them to help him to pull the statues down and removed them from the garden. But soon the statues started whispering to him and his companions saying spiteful sounding words they did not want to hear.
“You are unworthy of your rank!”
“Your father has always been disappointed in you; he will never be pleased with you!”
“You are hideously ugly, and although you say you do not care, you actually do!”
“You are a party to the queen’s cruelty, an accomplice to all her crimes!”
“You’re a filthy whore with no standards! You are so pathetic that you have slept with a homeless man for but a crust of bread!”
“Your husband has been cheating on you for years; he does not love you anymore!”
“You are an idiot and don’t know what’s good for you!”
“You are weak and lack the will to be a better person and so you drink too much because you are too lazy to sort out your real problems!”
“You are only fat because you won’t control how much you eat!”
On and on the statues whispered into the ears of his companions until they could not stand it any longer. Distressed and demoralised they started deserting the prince one by one. Eventually only Shaylen was left behind to endure the whispering off all the statues.
“Your mother loves the crown more than she loves you!”
“Your father did nothing wrong, yet you cursed his name!”
“You allowed your dignity to rot in your gilded prison for years!”
“Lady Bellandria finds your weakness revolting!”
“You failed most of your exams, yet you gladly accepted the flattery of your teachers!”
“You are unfit to be the king and the men of the land laugh at you for your weak and womanly ways!”
Shaylen wept and cried in anguish as the whispers tumbled into his ears one after the other. Sobbing he started crawling out of the gardens just all his servants had done before him. Then he heard another statue whisper:
“You are giving up because you are too weak to hear the truth.”
Aghast Shaylen realised what kind of enchantment these statues had.
“Why am I running from these statues when they speak only the truth? Truths that we ignore because we fear the unpleasant sensations that come with their realisation! The witch who enchanted these statues was not a villain, but an unwitting saint!”
Turning back Shaylen strode to the middle of the garden and prayed. He listened to each and every voice and meditated on what it had to say until he could accept it. On and on the statues whispered into his ears and truth after unpleasant truth he endured. At times his eyes gushed with anguish, his limbs shivered with fear, or his nostrils flared with rage, but after a time all these feelings passed and with them the whispering of the statues until the garden was silent once more.
The third witch’s curse had been destroyed.
At last Shaylen made his way to the building blocking the pathway to the temple of Klara. The locals called this place the Panopticon. The building was round and had no decorations at all on the outside, yet on the inside, the walls were covered from floor to ceiling with pictures of animals, shapes, colours, buildings, idioms, people, deeds, bodies of water, and many other things. All the colours were aligned in one column and next to them all the animals aligned in another column. In the middle of the room was an empty platform of stone and on the other side from the entrance was a steel gate that was locked firmly in place.
When Shaylen entered, an enchantment prevented anyone else from entering the Panopticon with him. In the middle of the room, a faint shadow of a person appeared on the central platform. Shaylen examined the shadow-like apparition and decided that it looked like Bellandria, although she looked forlorn and closed off to him. He examined the pictures on the walls trying to decipher their meaning. Touching a frame coloured blue, it moved under his touch and slid back into the wall. At first Shaylen hadn’t noticed any change, but then he thought the apparition of Bellandria looked slightly more solid and he wondered if it had even moved a little.
He tried pushing the green frame and the blue one popped back out from the wall as soon as then green frame slid into the wall. Looking back to the apparition it had faded back to its original state. Pushing the blue frame once more, the green frame popped back out and the apparition moved ever so slightly. Shaylen then moved around the room pushing a single picture in each column. Sometimes the apparition glowed and moved a little, mostly it just faded and looked more miserable and distant.
“I cannot discover a person’s nature purely by pushing these portraits! I must discover the real person!”
Shaylen left the Panopticon and met with Bellandria for supper. There he questioned her about her favourite colour.
“Why it is blue, why do you ask?”
“I ask because I realised that I don’t know anything about you except for what you look like from the outside. I have never been inside the chamber of your mind and heart.”
Through the evening Shaylen asked her many questions, “What is your favourite building? What animal is your totem spirit? What is your favourite action? Which fairy tale moves you the most? Which body of water do you find most pleasant to sit by?”
The more he asked her about herself, the more he was intrigued by her. Soon he was asking his own questions and the conversation ran until late into the night. The following morning Shaylen returned to the Panopticon and selected the correct answers:
“Her favourite colour is blue, the weather she enjoys most is the rain in Spring, the second revelation moves her heart the most, she admires the shape of the circle, her totem animal is the panther, her preferred place to pray is by a deep pond, her most adored Goddess is Klara, the storyteller she finds most inspiring is Aesop…”
He pushed each picture in turn as he moved around the room from column to column. The array of pictures had scope enough to describe every particular of a person’s soul. Each correct answer he selected nourished the apparition until it was radiant with life and joy. When he selected the final answer, the apparition of Bellandria cried out and sang a ballad of love. When she had finished, Shaylen heard the steel gate sliding away, when he turned back the apparition of Bellandria was gone. The way to the shrine of Klara had been restored.
The last witch’s curse had been destroyed.
With the destruction of the final witch’s curse, a great bird flew down from the heavens and carried him away to the top of the highest peak in the land. There stood the forgotten temple of Hayn and the four witches standing on each side of the great stone altar. On the altar sat the crown of his father. Shaylen watched as in turn each witch blessed the crown.
“I, the witch of the Earth, have tested Shaylen and found him able to endure hardships without promises of rewards. I will imbue this crown with gold to symbolise his incorruptibility!”
The crown turned to gold.
“I, the witch of the fires, have tested Shaylen and found him courageous enough to face suffering and pain. I will imbue this crown with thorns to remind him of the day he conquered himself.”
The crown grew sharp metal thorns.
“I, the witch of the waters, have tested Shaylen and found him compassionate enough to love and accept himself. I will imbue this crown with the softness overcomes the hardened heart.”
The crown grew a soft majestic felt lining the inside of it.
“I, the witch of the air, have tested Shaylen and found him curious enough to learn from and appreciate others. I will imbue this crown with wisdom.”
Each symbol of the twelve revelations appeared about the crown.
Then all at once the four witches pronounced, “We pronounce you King Shaylen, may your reign be long and your days full of glory!”
The crown hovered up into the sky and then descended upon on Shaylen’s brow. The great bird motioned for Shaylen to climb onto its back where it carried him back to the queen’s palace.
The courtiers and nobles saw the crown on Shaylen’s head and at once recognised that he was the king. They saw that he had come of age and wore a crown worthy of his manhood, they rightfully obeyed his commands, and the queen was exiled from the kingdom. King Shaylen worked hard to repair the excesses of his mother and restore the honour and prestige of the land. When his people were liberated of the oppression of the queen, he sought out Bellandria and asked her for her hand in marriage. The Lady Bellandria, upon seeing the change in Shaylen, welcomed his advances and they were soon married.
Shaylen and Bellandria went on to rule the kingdom with wisdom and justice ever after.
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