Chapter 1: Prologue
This is the story of how I died…
Don’t you worry, this is actually a really fun story. And you want to know something? This story isn’t even mine. It’s about a boy with magic hair named Jesse.
So, one day, a single drop of sunlight fell from the heavens into a spring. And from this drop of sunlight, grew a magic, golden flower. This flower had the ability to heal the sick and injured. However, no one knows where it’s located except this creepy old man- Wait, I shouldn’t be bringing that jerk into the story yet. Keep him in mind, though.
Anyway, years later a kingdom was formed. This kingdom was ruled by a king who’s rather lazy, but with a good heart, and a queen, who I’m giving the title of “mother of the year”. Oh, and they have this kid named Miles. He’s not the focus of this story, but who knows. Dude’s bound to have some kinda story of his own. Everything was fine for this small little family. Hell, the queen was about to have a child! But… the queen got sick. When I say sick, I mean… really sick.
She was running out of time, and, desperate to not lose the love of his life, the king decided to start a search for some kind of miracle, in this case a magical golden flower, unfortunately, someone already beat them to finding it- And yes, it’s the creepy old man.
Let’s call this old creep the man in the yellow suit, we don’t know his real name, and we never plan to find out. Instead of sharing the flower’s gift, he hoards it to keep himself young forever, and all he had to was sing a special song.
Flower, gleam and glow..
Let your power shine.
Make the clock reverse,
bring back what once was mine...
What once was mine.
Just like that, he’s young. I don’t know about you, but I find that creepy as hell.
Back to the search for the flower, the guards succeeded in finding it and brought it to the king. Thankfully, the magic golden flower was able to heal the queen. As a result…
We got a beautiful, healthy baby boy, with shining golden hair! I’ll give you a hint: That’s Jesse.
To celebrate his birth, The king and queen released lanterns into the sky, while they stood on their balcony watching the lanterns, the queen pulled out a music box the king had given her the day he proposed, and played it to their new son.
For that moment, everything was perfect. Until that damn snake ruined it all. That moment all started when he sneaked into the castle and found his way into the room Jesse was sleeping in. The crazy old man was so desperate to be as young as he could be, that he wanted to cut at least one strand of Jesse’s hair. Unfortunately for him, that strand of hair turned darker and lost it’s power once he cut it off while singing the song from before. Without a moment’s hesitation, he took Jesse, and just like that, gone. Jesse let out a loud cry as he was being taken away, which awakened both the king and queen as well as their older son. They rushed as fast as they could, but it was too late, the man escaped, with Jesse in his hands.
The kingdom searched and searched, but they could not find the prince. But deep within the forest, in a hidden tower, the man raised Jesse as his own child.
Save what has been lost,
bring back what once was mine…
What once was mine.
The man found his new magic flower. This time, however, he was more determined than ever to keep him hidden and away from the outside world.
“Pa? Why can’t I go outside?”
“The outside world is a horrible place filled with greedy people. You must stay here, where you are safe with me. Do you understand, my flower?”
Well, the tower can’t always hide everything. For every year, on Jesse’s birthday, he would always sneak out of bed, just to look outside his window. What always appeared are thousands of lanterns in the sky, and he swears he hears a tune playing somewhere. The lanterns were released by the king and queen, in hopes that one day, the lost prince would return to them. Now, I know what you are all thinking: ‘Does Jesse ever return to his family?’
Well, only one way to find out.
“Hmm, I guess Toad’s not hiding out here.”
A toad was currently hiding behind a flower pot near the tower’s window. He let out a small croak as he thinks Jesse has started to look into another place, only for a strand of golden hair to be caught on him. Toad was quickly brought up, only to catch a glimpse of Jesse’s face again, he had that mischievous little grin he always has.
“Ok, so that’s 22 for me. How about 23 out of 45?” Jesse asked, as he drops his feet to the ground. Toad simply frowns in response. “Okay… What do you want to do, then?” Jesse asks, now skipping towards the balcony to sit. As a reply, Toad pointed towards outside.
“Oh come on, Toad! I wanna go outside too! But, I like it in here, and so do you. ” All Toad did was croak in annoyance. “C’mon, Toad, It’s not so bad in here.” Jesse soon jumped over to his room, now about to begin his daily routine.
7 AM, the usual morning lineup:
Start on the chores and sweep 'til the floor's all clean,
Jesse was up, quickly getting to work, his faithful friend and companion on his shoulder. He had.. a lot of cleaning to do. He made a huge mess the last time “on a dare from Toad”, and he didn’t want his father to come home with it like this.
Polish and wax, do laundry, and mop and shine up.
Sweep again, and by then It's like 7:15.
But he’s fast, so it’s not too much of a problem. He swears Toad is taunting him as he sweeps, but who knows at this point? Certainly not Jesse.
And so I'll read a book or maybe two or three.
I'll add a few new paintings to my gallery..!
Over the years, he’s definitely picked up a skill in painting. His favorite thing to paint is this beautiful forest he sees in his dreams; trees so high you can’t see the sky, and tucked away almost out of view is an ash tree that shelters a beautiful crystal clear spring..
I'll play guitar and knit, and cook and basically..
Just wonder when will my life begin?
Guitar and knitting, however, were not Jesse’s strong suits, but hey, what can you do? Jesse, thankfully, otherwise the tower would probably be nothing but ash, was decent at cooking, happily making himself a plate of waffles.
Then after lunch it's puzzles and darts, and baking.
Paper mache, a bit of ballet, and chess!
After eating, he does more things to entertain himself, like solving puzzles. Maybe practicing on throwing darts, even if sometimes they end up drastically in the wrong direction. After that.. more baking, but this time it’s a batch of chocolate-chip cookies. After that, there’s paper mache, a bit of ballet, chess with Toad, pottery, ventriloquy, candle-making-
Then I'll stretch, maybe sketch, take a climb-
Sew a dress!
Jesse does exercise every now and then, but he seems to climb most of the time, it’s his favorite hobby. After that, he usually sketches whatever is on his mind or stretch to relax his muscles. Or perhaps just sew a dress for Toad to try on. His sole reason for doing that is to annoy Toad.
And I'll reread the books if I have time to spare.
I'll paint the walls some more, I'm sure there's room somewhere.
Jesse’s scanning the tower for the perfect place to paint, eventually finding a perfect spot above the mantle, he begins painting a canopy of trees, a spring seen just barely in view.
And then I'll brush and brush, and brush and brush my hair,
stuck in the same place I've always been.
Jesse has. a lot. of hair. It’s so much to manage, it’s amazing it doesn’t get tangled. But, he manages, so it’s fine.
And I'll keep wonderin' and wonderin', and wonderin', and wonderin'
When will my life begin?
Jesse slowly walks to his window, looking out at the surroundings beyond, longingly. The world outside seemed so big.. so perfect to explore. He desperately wanted to explore.
Tomorrow night the lights will appear.
Just like they do.. on my birthday each year.
Jesse solemnly began painting himself onto the canopy, looking beyond at the floating lights. God, he just wants to see them, see what they are.
What is it like out there where they glow..?
Now that I'm older, Pa might just.. let me go.
It's Jack Kelly.
At first, the guards thought this would be like every ordinary day. Securing the castle, a town, a unused crown, and much more. However, what they didn’t know was that this wasn’t gonna be an ordinary day, for a group of three thieves were going to turn their day upside down.
One of them happened to be none other than the legendary thief who nicknames himself Cowboy. His real name is unknown, but he prefers to keep it that way.
Cowboy and his partners were jumping from one place to another, only stopping once they spotted a small door. While Cowboy’s partners, twin brothers named Oscar and Morris, were taking out the rope, Cowboy took a moment to observe the view around him. At that moment, he was in awe. “I could get used to a view like this…” Cowboy told himself. “Hey! Come on!” Morris whispered, clearly showing signs of being impatient.
Cowboy signaled Morris to be silent. "Shut up, and take a moment.. Yep, I’m used to it. Guys, I want a castle.” Cowboy declared with a grin. Both Oscar and Morris ended up rolling their eyes at his statement.
“Look here, Jackass. We do this job, you can buy your own castle.” Oscar retorted as he quickly dragged Cowboy towards the door. At that point, Cowboy was preparing himself to steal the crown, and off to steal a crown he goes. So far, none of the guards have noticed Cowboy lowering down further and further. For guards who were assigned to look after the crown, he thinks they aren’t doing a very good job. They aren’t even looking at it! Seconds later, one of the guards sneezed.
“Ugh, Hay fever?” Cowboy said, already having the crown in his hands by now. “Yeah.” The guard replied, only taking a few good seconds to realize that the crown just got stolen. Guards quickly gathered around, watching as Cowboy quickly closed the door and ran away with the other thieves. As of now, the three thieves were on the run while numerous guards started chasing after them.
During the chase, Cowboy couldn’t help but blurt out to his partners how excited he is.
“Can’t you guys picture me in a castle of my own? Because I certainly can! The things we’ve seen and it’s only 8 in the morning!”
Cowboy, Oscar, and Morris stopped near a tree in order to catch their breaths. Cowboy’s eyes darted over to the posters that were taped to trees. Once he carefully observed one of them, he quickly snatched the poster away and formed a look of panic.
“Shit shit shit, This is bad, this is really bad…” Cowboy muttered, with his hands slightly shaking. Oscar and Morris held their heads up, both sharing puzzled looks. And so Cowboy turns the poster over to show his partners.
“They just can’t get my damn nose right!” Cowboy cried, his finger directly pointing to where his nose is.
“Does it look like we care?” Morris grunted out of annoyance. “Easy for you to say! You guys look great!” Cowboy pouted, as his eyes directed towards the second poster, which included both Morris and Oscar. Unfortunately for the big talk thief, their noses were both correct. Just then, they all heard guards and a few horses making their way towards them. As soon as they saw them, they immediately sprinted away.
The run didn’t last very long, as the trio were stopped by a tall cliff in front of them. Cowboy eventually turned over to his partners. “Ok, I’m gonna need a boost. Help me up, I’ll help you up too.” Morris and Oscar looked at one another, leaving Oscar to offer his hand. “Give us the satchel first.” Cowboy held the strap of the satchel in response, pouting.
“Really? After everything we’ve been through, you still won’t trust me?” Cowboy exclaimed, showing an expression of surprise. Morris and Oscar, on the other hand, wouldn’t take him seriously with that statement.
“Ouch.” Cowboy mumbled, handing over the satchel to his partners. With that, he started to climb up, using Morris and Oscar as his ladder. Little did they know..
“Ok, pretty boy. Help us up.” Oscar said, extending his hand over.
“Sorry, fellas..” Cowboy said, wearing a sad look at first. Soon enough, his expression was quickly replaced with a grin as he revealed that he took the satchel in secret. “My hands are full.” With that, he sped off.
The last thing he heard was his name being shouted in anger from the distance.
Jesse just wants to go out and explore but his father (possibly quite literally) dances around the issue.
“Alright Toad. Today’s the day. I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna ask him!”
Jesse was waiting for his father to arrive, so that he would get the chance to ask if he could see the floating lights, as he thinks that’s what they are called. Speak of the devil..
“It’s time!!” Jesse squealed, trying to contain his excitement. Toad quickly jumped towards the furniture to hide as it was best for Jesse’s father to not find the little toad.
“Jesse! I’m not getting any younger down here!”
Jesse quickly rushed over to the balcony, threw some of his hair on to a hook, and finally let his hair fall down. He waited until his father took hold of his long, golden hair. Once he did, Jesse started to pull up his hair, making sure his father would be able to reach the balcony.
"Hi! Welcome home, pa." Jesse greeted, as his father hopped on to the balcony and fixed his hair.
"Jesse, how can you manage to do that every single day without fail? It looks absolutely exhausting."
"Oh... it's nothing."
“Then I don't know why it took so long!" His father teased, booping Jesse's nose with his finger. Soon, he let out a laugh. "Don't worry, I'm just teasing!" Jesse nervously laughed along, though it died off rather quickly.
“All right...so, pa, as you know tomorrow is a very big day-” “Jesse look at that mirror. you know what I see? I see a strong, confident, handsome young man! Oh look, you're here too.” Jesse frowned. “I'm just teasing, stop taking everything so seriously!”
Jesse smiled sheepishly, and nodded. “Okay so, pa, I was thinking tomorrow-” “Flower, Pa’s feeling a little run down.. will you sing for me lad? Then we’ll talk.” Jesse was a little taken aback, but he nodded. “Of course, pa!” Jesse then opened his mouth and began to sing very fast.
“Flower gleam and glow, let your powers shine.
Make the clock reverse, bring back what once was mine.”
“Heal what has been hurt, change the fate's design.
Save what has been lost, bring back what once was mine.”
“Jesse!” his father yelled, quite distressed and a little angry. “So, pa, earlier I asked if tomorrow was a pretty big day, and you didn’t answer. So I’m just gonna say: it’s my birthday! Tada!” Father rolls his eyes playfully, and thinkingly puts a hand to his chin. “No, no. No, can’t be. Your birthday was last year.” Jesse laughs nervously, “That’s the thing pa, they’re kind of a annual thing..” then he looks his father in the eyes, giving a pleading look.
“Pa, I’m turning 17. And I wanted to ask what I want for this birthday.. Actually, what I want for every birthday..- ” His father frowned at him, “Jesse please, stop with the mumbling! You know how I feel about the mumbling.” he makes a obnoxious speaking gesture with his hand. “Blah, blah, blah, blah.. It's very annoying.”
Jesse frowned, hands fidgeting a bit, “I'm just teasing, you're adorable. I love you so much, darling.” Jesse smiled, and hugged him. “Oh! Pa, I want to see the floating lights.”
“What?” Jesse smiled more nervously this time, “Oh.. Well, I was hoping you’d take me to see the floating lights.” his father laughed in response. “Oh, you mean the stars!” Jesse frowned, and walked over to where he kept his star charts, “That’s the thing, I’ve charted stars, and they’re always constant.” he pulls the charts down to prove his point.
“But these, they appear every year on my birthday, pa. Only, on my birthday.” Jesse gave his father a even more pleading look. “And I can't help but feel that they're, they're meant for me..! I need to see them, pa.. and not just from my window, in person. I have to know what they are..!”
“You want to go outside? Why, Jesse…”
Jesse frowned, he knew where this was going.. He just wants his father to trust him enough to take him outside, he even offered for them to go together so he wouldn’t be alone!
“Look at you, as fragile as a flower! Still a little sapling, just a sprout!”
Jesse sighed, wrapping his arms around himself. Jokes or not, his father knew how to hit all his insecurities, and it hurt.
“You know why we stay up in this tower..”
“I know, but-”
His father spun around him, obnoxiously bright yellow suit twirling as he did. He really oughta tell him that colors other than yellow existed.
“That’s right! To keep you safe and sound, dear.
Guess I always knew this day was coming,
knew that soon you’d want to leave the nest!”
Jesse distressingly grabbed his father’s arm, “Pa-” His father reaches for a switch.
“Soon, but not yet!”
“Sh.. trust me pet. Father.. knows..”
The lights go out and they are plunged into darkness.
Jesse scrambled to his feet, grabbing a candle. “Pa? Where are you?” Oh god. This was not gonna be fun. Especially with this hair.
“Father knows best, listen to your father.
It’s a scary world out there.”
Jesse spun around, looking for where his father’s voice was coming from. You’d think a suit like his would be glowing in here!
“Father knows best, one way or another..
Something will go wrong, I swear!”
Where is he..? Oh god- His father jumps out of nowhere, scaring the living hell out of him.
“Ruffians, thugs! Poison ivy, quicksand!
Cannibals and snakes-”
His father disappears, but when he sees a glowing light he runs to it, only to realize afterwards it’s green. Not like, soft or vibrant green. Ominous, murky green.
Jesse was spun around onto the floor, where a mural of some kind of arachnid was drawn.
“Also large bugs, men with pointy teeth, and-”
Then he was pushed to a mural of a man with large sharp teeth. He shrieks and jumps back.
“Stop, no more, you’ll just upset me!”
His father pulled him close, patronizingly patting his head. Jesse whimpered, wishing the teasing would stop.
“Father’s right here, father will protect you!
Darling here’s what I suggest:
“Pa..?” Jesse looked around and his father was gone, just a mannequin with his outer suit on it. He turns and sees him descending down the stairs that were now lined with candles.
Skip the drama, stay with papa~!
Father knows best!”
Then he spun, and all the candles went out, leaving him in darkness again. Jesse went around, trying to light the candles.
“Father knows best, take it from your father,
His father was putting out the candles right behind him. Of course. He always has to win.
on your own, you won’t survive!”
His father grabbed him and put him in front of a mirror, proceeding to point out every flaw.
Please, they’ll eat you up alive!”
Soon Jesse found himself wrapped up in a rug and being rolled away. Then the rug was unfurled from him leaving him very very dizzy.
“Gullible, naive, positively grubby-
Ditzy and a bit, well, hmm vague!”
Jesse sighed, all this just because he wanted to go outside once.
“Plus, I believe, gettin' kinda chubby..
I'm just saying cus I wuv you!”
His father disappeared into the darkness again, and his fear flared back up.
Father’s here to help you!”
“Pa..?” Jesse stammered, just wanting this to end already....
“All I have is one request!”
When Jesse saw his father, he sped to him, burying himself in his arms.
“Jesse?” his father asked softly, a gentle smile on his face, “Yes pa..?” Jesse answered nervously. His father’s expression darkened. “Don’t ever ask to leave this tower again.” Jesse frowned, and nodded. “Yes pa..” he sniffled, trying to not cry. His father ruffled his hair and pulled out of the hug, giving him a comforting smile. “I love you very much, dear.” Jesse smiled back, wiping his own tears. “I love you more.” His father kissed the top of his head. “I love you most.”
“Don’t forget it! You’ll regret it..”
“Father.. knows best!”
“Jesse, I’ll see you in a bit, my flower.” His father tells him with a smile, Jesse smiles nervously, still a little upset. “I’ll be here.”
And then his father leaves, leaving Jesse feeling alone in more way than one.
Meanwhile, a group of guards were chasing after the fabled Cowboy, who was booking it through the forest. The lead guard yelled, addressing the group, “Retrieve that satchel with any force!” he then leaned in and whispered to his horse. “We got him now, Maximus, go!” and, in the heat of the pursuit, Maximus’ rider was separated from him, so now Maximus alone was chasing after Cowboy.
They found themselves on a tiny branch, trying to get to the satchel, only for the branch to break beneath them. Cowboy made a false trail, took the satchel, and then found a hidden path behind some foliage, with it a tower. He went and climbed it, looking over his reward. “Ah, alone at last..”
Jesse panickedly grabbed the man after whacking him with a frying pan and shoved him into his closet. “Okay, okay, I got a person in the closet.” A pause. “I got a person in the closet.. I got a person in my closet!” Jesse squealed excitedly, grinning at himself in the mirror. “Too weak to handle myself out there, huh pa? Well, tell that to my pan here-” “Jesse! Let down your hair!” Oh. “Just a moment, pa!
Jesse ran to the window, throwing out his long golden hair. “I have a big surprise!” His father called, Jesse smiled nervously as he pulled his hair up. “Uh, I do too!” His father laughed, “I bet my surprise is bigger!” Jesse rolled his eyes and muttered softly. “I don’t think so..” Soon enough, his father was up and in. “Jesse! I found my parsnips. I can make hazelnut soup for dinner, your favorite! Surprise!” Jesse smiled softly, he did enjoy hazelnut soup, but he wouldn’t be distracted.
“Well, pa, there’s something I want to tell you.” His father ruffled his hair and turned away. “Oh Jesse, you know I hate leaving you after a fight. Especially when I've done absolutely nothing wrong!” Jesse rolled his eyes. “Okay, I’ve been thinking about what you said earlier.” His father paused what he was doing, suspicious. “I hope you're not still talking about the stars.” Jesse frowned, “Before you answer, yes, but I’m leading up to that!”
His father smiled patronizingly, “Because I really thought we dropped the issue, sweetheart.” Jesse tried to smile reassuringly, “No pa, I'm just saying, you think I'm not strong enough to handle myself out there.” his father only laughed in response. “Oh darling, I know you’re not strong enough to handle yourself out there.”
”But if you just..”
”Jesse, we're done talking about this.”
”But trust me, I..”
“..know what I'm..”
”Oh, come on!”
His father slammed the book shut and stormed over to him, absolutely fuming. “Enough with the lights, Jesse! You are not leaving this tower. EVER!" Jesse looked like he was about to cry, turning away. His father sat down, letting out a exasperated sigh in annoyance. “Oh great, now I’m the bad guy.” Jesse looked back to his father, still looking like a kicked puppy. “All I was gonna say, pa, is that.. I know what I want for my birthday now.”
His father didn’t look up when he responded with “And what is that?” Jesse smiled nervously, “New paint. That paint made from the white shells you once brought me.” he went quiet, waiting for his father to respond. He did look up this time. “Well that is a very long trip, Jesse. Almost three day's time.” Jesse nodded, silently pleading with him. “I just thought it was a better idea than.. stars. ”
His father sat up, gently placing a hand on Jesse’s cheek. “You sure you'll be alright, on your own?” Jesse smiled brightly and nodded. “I know I'm safe, as long as I'm here.” His father smiled, and grabbed his travel equipment, and Jesse let down his hair for him to go.
“I'll be back in three days time.
I love you very much, dear.”
“I love you more.”
“I love you most.”
Jesse knew what he had to do now.
Something’s tongue in his ear woke Cowboy up, screaming as he did. Then he looked around and saw he was in quite the situation, tied up and- ..wait a second, “What..?” he blinked as he stared at what had him bound to the chair. ”Is this.. hair?” Then, a figure emerged from the shadows, the hair lead into it, out from the shadows came a extremely pretty boy with the longest golden hair Cowboy had ever seen, freckles dotted his face, and he had shining brown eyes.
“Struggling.. struggling is pointless. I know why you’re here, and I’m not afraid of you. ” Cowboy just stared deadpan at him, confused. “What?” The boy, Cowboy noticed, tightly gripped a frying pan, probably what knocked him out. “Who are you, and how did you find me?” Cowboy laughed nervously, this boy seriously thought he knew him? “I said. Who are you, and how did you find me?”
Cowboy sighed in defeat, clearing his throat before answering, “I know not who you are, nor how I came to find you..but may I just say..” he looked up at the boy, giving him the flirtiest look he can do with a matching voice. “Hi. How ya doin? My name’s Cowboy. How’s it going huh?” The boy looked flustered, but more confused than anything else. “Who else knows my location, Cowboy? ” He decides he loves his name even more when this boy says it. “Alright, Blondie-” “Jesse.”
“Gesundheit, here’s the thing,” Cowboy sighed, trying to hold back a smile as the boy- Jesse, watched him. “I was in a situation, gallivanting through the forest. I came across your tower and..” A pause. He’s just realized something. “Ho, ho no. Where’s my satchel?” Jesse grinned, and god, fuck, Cowboy hated how cute he was. “I hid it, somewhere you'll never find it.” He looked around, before gesturing to a stray pot, “It's in that pot, isn't it.” he has just enough time to see Jesse’s eyes go wide before he swings the frying pan, knocking him out again. Sometime later, he’s woken up by a toad sticking it’s tongue in his ear again. “Would you stop that?!” Jesse coughed, and he looked back to him.
“Now it's hidden where you'll never find it. So, what do you want. with my hair? To cut it?” “What?” “Sell it?” “NO!” Jesse looked surprised and confused. He sighed again, “Listen, the only thing I want to do with your hair, is to get out of it. Literally.” “Wait, you.. don’t want my hair..? Jesse was just, blanking out after he asked, like he really thought he wanted his hair. He may be really pretty, but he’s also really odd, pretty odd even. “Why on earth would I want your hair? Look, I was being chased, I saw a tower, I climbed it, end of story.” “You’re telling the truth?” “Yes!”
“Hmm..” the toad, now on Jesse’s shoulder, croaked deeply, almost looking suspicious of him. “I know, but he's someone that can take me. I think he's telling the truth.” More croaking. “Nothing, I think, but what choice do I have?” Cowboy coughed, getting both of their attention. Jesse walked to him. “Uh, okay, Cowboy. I’m prepared to offer you a deal.” Cowboy raised a eyebrow questioningly, “Deal?” Jesse pointed up to a painting he had done of the lights. “Look this way. Do you know what these are?” “You mean the lanterns they do for the prince?” Jesse seemed.. almost excited by his answer, muttering “Lanterns.. I knew they weren’t stars!” softly.
Then he looked back to Cowboy. “Well, tomorrow evening they will light the night sky, with these.. ‘lanterns.’ You will act as my guide, take me to these lanterns, and return me home safely. Then, and only then, will I return your satchel to you. That is my deal.” Cowboy groaned and rolled his eyes. “Yeah, no can do. Unfortunately, the kingdom and I are not exactly, ‘simpatico’ at the moment. So I won't be taking you anywhere.” Jesse frowned, and got closer to him, his eyes shined with something, determination perhaps.
“Something brought you here, Cowboy. Call it what you will, fate, destiny-” “A horse.” Jesse shushed him and continued, “So I have made the decision to trust you.” “A horrible decision, really.” Jesse glared, and he stayed quiet. “But trust me, when I tell you this. You can tear this tower apart, brick by brick, but without my help, you will never find your precious satchel.”
Cowboy shrugged at him, “Let me just get this straight: I take you to see the lanterns, bring you back home, and you'll give me back my satchel?” Jesse nodded. “I promise .”
Then Jesse pulled his hair back, causing the chair to lean over so they were face to face. “And when I promise something, I never ever break that promise. Ever !”
“All right, listen, I didn't want to have to want to do this, but you leave me no choice. Here comes the 'smolder'.” He gives Jesse a.. oddly flirtatious (seducing?) look. Jesse just stared at him confused, he looked to the toad which shrugged, somehow. “This is kind of an off day for me. This doesn't normally happen.” A sigh. “Fine, I'll take you to see the lanterns.” Jesse looks ecstatic, “Really?!” accidentally releasing his hair, sending Cowboy falling to the floor.
“You broke my smolder.”
Cowboy had climbed down the tower the same way he climbed up, and stood at the bottom, waiting for Jesse. “You coming, Blondie?”
“Look at the world, so close, and I'm halfway to it.
“Look at it all, so big, do I even dare?”
Jesse stood at the window, fidgeting nervously as he looks out. Toad sat on his shoulder, looking at him, as supportive as a toad can.
“Look at me, here at last! I just have to.. do it.
Should I? No.. Here I go!”
Jesse’s long hair comes flying out of the tower, and he’s sliding down. He paused before he hits the grass, nervously standing onto it slowly. Then his eyes light up as he starts walking barefoot through it, before flopping onto his back and just laying in it.
“Just smell the grass, the dirt!
Just like I dreamed they’d be!”
A breeze blows by, flowing through Jesse’s hair as he stands up.
“Just feel that summer breeze.
The way it's calling me..!”
He runs ahead, and ends up stepping into a creek, giggling slightly, splashing water about.
“For like the first time.. ever!
I’m completely free!”
He’s walking, then running, through the creek, through more fields of grass. Into the forest beyond him.
“I could go running, and racing, and dancing..
and chasing, and leaping, and bounding.”
“Hair flying, heart pounding!
Splashing, and reeling, and finally feeling..”
“Now’s when my life.. begins!”
If Cowboy had realized what he had gotten himself into, he might’ve just said no.
“I can't believe I did this.” Jesse says excitedly, standing up high on a tree branch.
“I can’t believe I did this..” Jesse sulks, now under said tree.
“I CAN’T BELIEVE I DID THIS!” Jesse yells excitedly, rolling in the leaves
“Pa will be so furious!” Jesse says softly with a gasp. “That’s okay, what he doesn’t know won’t kill him, right?” Jesse says with a giggle, talking to some fish and birds.
“Oh my god, this will kill him!”
“THIS IS SO FUN!”
“I am a horrible person, I'm going back.”
“I am never going baaacckkk!” Jesse yelled, cartwheeling down a hill.
“I am a despicable person.”
“Best! Day! Ever!” he was spinning around a tree like a carousel, while Cowboy watched with his arms crossed unamused.
When Jesse started crying again, Cowboy stepped up. “You know, I can’t help but notice you seem a little at war with yourself, here.” Jesse looked up at him slowly, “Really?” he stammers. Cowboy nods, “Yeah, all day. Bits and pieces. Sort of protective father, forbidden roadtrip-” Jesse sniffles, wiping his tears as he listens. “This is serious stuff. But let me ease your conscious, this is part of growing up. A little rebellion, a little adventure- That’s good, healthy even.”
Jesse laughs a little at that, “You think?” Cowboy nods at him. “I know. You’re way over-thinking this, trust me. Does your father deserve it? No. Would this break his heart and crush his soul? Of course. But you just got to do it.” Jesse froze. “Break his heart?” “In half.” “Crush his soul..?” “Like a grape.” Jesse wrapped his arms around himself. “He would be heartbroken, you’re right..” Cowboy smirked a little. “I am, aren’t I? Oh bother. Alright, I can’t believe i’m saying this, but i’m letting you out of the deal.”
Jesse’s eyes go wide, and Cowboy thinks, though he won’t admit it, he feels a little guilty. “What?” “That’s right. But don’t thank me. Let’s just turn around and get you home, find your pan, and your frog-” “Toad.” “Tomato tomahto, I get back my satchel, you get back a father-son relationship based on mutual trust and voila! We part ways as unlikely friends.” Jesse glares, “No! I am seeing those lanterns!” Cowboy throws his arms up in annoyance. “Oh come on! What is it going to take to get my satchel back?” Jesse’s holding his frying pan and gripping it tightly. “I will use this.”
The two paused when they heard some rustling in nearby brushes. Jesse practically leaps onto Cowboy’s back in fear, pointing his frying pan defensively at said brushes, “Is it ruffans? Thugs? Have they come for me?” only for a rabbit to pop out. “Stay calm, it can probably smell fear.” Cowboy says sarcastically and Jesse sighs in relief and slides off his back. “Guess i’m just a little bit.. jumpy .” “Probably best to avoid ruffians and thugs, though.” Cowboy points out, and Jesse nods. “Uh-huh, that’d probably be best.”
Cowboy perks up, grin on his face,“Say, are you hungry? Because I know a great place for lunch!” “Oh.. where?” Jesse asks in response. “Don’t worry, you’ll know it when you smell it.”
Meanwhile, Maximus is in hot pursuit looking for Cowboy, only to crash into Jesse’s father. “Huh?!” The man yells in alarm, Maximus huffs in annoyance. “A palace horse, huh? Where’s your rider-” Realization hits, “Jesse.” and he’s turning around booking it, much to Maximus’ confusion. “JESSE!”
He’s run all the way back to the tower. “Jesse, let down your hair!” Silence. “Jesse?” He’s climbing through the hidden stairway to the tower. “Jesse??” He’s going through everything in the tower in search for his son. “JESSE!” And then he finds it, under a slab in the floor, he finds Cowboy’s satchel, containing a crown and his missing poster. He angrily pulls a knife from his pocket. He was going to get his flower back.
“I know it’s around here somewhere..” Cowboy says, before perking up. “Ah! There it is, the Snuggly Duckling. Don’t worry, very quaint place, perfect for you. Don’t want you scaring and giving up on this whole endeavour now do we?” Jesse beams. “Well, I do like ducklings!”
“Jacobi, your finest table please!” He smirks, though it does drop a little as he sees Jesse’s fear, but this has gotta work. “You smell that? Take a deep breath through the nose. Really let that seep in.” Jesse crinkles his nose in disgust. “What are you getting? Because to me, that’s part man-smell, and the other part is really bad part man-smell. I don’t know why, but overall..” He sees Toad duck into Jesse’s hair. Go figure. “It smells like the color brown, your thoughts?”
Jesse backs away, nearly tripping on his hair. One of the boys in there, with brown curly hair, is taking his hair in with absolute surprise. “That’s.. a lot of hair.” Cowboy rolls his eyes, “he’s growing it out- Hey, look at this! Is that blood in your moustache? Goldie, look at this. Look at all the blood in his moustache. That, sir, that’s a lot of blood-” Cowboy’s laughing, and Jesse wishes he could just peace the heck out of there. “Hey, you don’t look so good, blondie. Maybe we should get you a home. Call it a day. Probably be better off. This is a five star joint after all, and if you can’t handle this place, well, maybe you should be back in your tower.”
A tall boy with dark features and glasses points at a poster, “Hey, is this you?” Cowboy groans as he moves his finger from the poster to see that they yet again have gotten his nose wrong. “Now they’re just being mean.” A boy with a eyepatch grins, not a good thing. “Oh boy, it’s him all right. Hey, Hotshot, go find some guards! That reward’s going to buy me a new eyepatch.” Another boy perks up, “No, York! I want it! I could use the money!” a short boy with a red tank top and suspenders groans in response. “What about me? I’m broke.”
And soon enough all the people in there are fighting over Cowboy for the reward money, and Jesse is Freaking Out™ . “Please stop!” He cries, and Cowboy is trying to reason with them, to no avail. “Leave him alone, please! Give me back my guide!” he shouts as they’re pulling on his nose. “Put him down!”
Eyepatch boy, York, Jesse thinks is what he was called, stops, and walks to him, and Jesse starts backing up worriedly, gripping his frying pan even tighter. “Whoa, okay, uh.. I don’t know where I am, and I need him to take me to see the lanterns because I’ve been dreaming about them my entire life! Find your humanity! Haven’t any of you ever had a dream?”
York gets real close to him, but then pauses. “I.. had a dream once.” He points at a boy with a cigar, who gets the cue and begins playing harmonica.
“I’m malicious, mean and scary. My sneer could curdle dairy.
And violence-wise, my hands are not the cleanest..
But despite my evil guise, and my temper and my eye!
I’ve always yearned to be a theatre actor!”
York then proceeds to climb onto the stage and do amazing dances and poses while singing, Jesse’s eyes shine with delight, admiring his skills.
“Can’tcha see me on the stage performin’ Broadway?
Singing show tunes for the crowds?"
"Yep, I’d rather be called deadly for my killer show-tune choreography!
'Cause way down deep inside I’ve got a dream!”
Cowboy sighs, he’s hanging on a hook by his shirt. But Jesse’s enjoying this and even if he refuses to acknowledge his soft spot, he’s glad he’s having fun.
"He’s got a dream! He’s got a dream!"
“See, I ain’t as cruel and vicious as I seem!
Though I do like breaking femurs, you can count me with the dreamers!
Like everybody else, I’ve got a dream!”
Meanwhile, a certain yellow suited man had heard the singing and approached the establishment, with a questioning look.
A younger boy perks up, flirting with Jesse before grinning brightly as he shares his dream to the crowd, Cowboy jokingly calls him Romeo only to find out that’s actually his name.
“I’ve got scars and lumps and bruises, plus something here amuses-
And let’s not even mention my complexion!”
The glasses boy, Specs, smirks as he watches Romeo, Cowboy swears his gaydar is going off. There’s a connection of some kind there.
“But despite my short-stack height- and I swear that I won’t bite!
I really want to make a love connection!”
Romeo and harmonica cigar boy, Race, are in a boat, “rowing” across the floor. Jesse smirks watching it.
“Can’t you see me with a special little somebody?
Rowing in a rowboat down the stream?
Though I’m one disgusting blighter, I’m a lover, not a fighter!
‘Cause way down deep inside I’ve got a dream!”
“I’ve got a dream!”
“He’s got a dream!”
Jesse can’t help but sing along to the chorus of their little song, smiling brightly as he did.
“I’ve got a dream!”
“He’s got a dream!”
Romeo jumps up onto a table, excitedly throwing his hands into the air. Specs is behind him, with his hand on his shoulder.
“And I know one day romance will reign supreme!
Though my flirts leaves people screaming, there’s a child behind it dreaming!
Like everybody else, I’ve got a dream!”
And then one by one, the group all went over their dreams.
“Mush would like to quit and be a florist.”
“Elmer does interior design.”
Specs wants to be a professional dancer.
Race, unsurprisingly, wants to become a top-tier horse racer.
“Mike and Ike are mimes.”
“Henry’s pastrami is sublime!”
Albert wants to work in some kind of design, similar to Elmer.
“Tommy Boy knits, Buttons sews, Finch does little puppet shows.”
Race grins, and wraps his arm around Spot and points upwards as he sings:
“And Spot Conlon collects ceramic unicorns!”
The group all gather around Cowboy, giving him a look. “So, what’s your dream?” Cowboy laughs. “Sorry gang, I don’t sing.” Shing. Ah, well. He’d rather not get cut today.
“I have dreams, like you, no, really! Just much.. less touchy-feely!
They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny!
In a city on my own, tanned and rested and alone.
Surrounded by enormous piles of money!”
They roll their eyes, and throw him aside, Jesse jumps up onto the table, a gleam in his eyes
“I’ve got a dream!”
“He’s got a dream!”
“I’ve got a dream!”
“He’s got a dream!”
Cowboy watches it all from the thankfully safe back of the room. Toad stares at him with no emotion.
“I just wanna see those floating lanterns gleam!
And with every passing hour-”
His father spots him from the window, eyes going wide with a glare. He’s plotting..
“I’m so glad I left my tower!
Like all you lovely folks I’ve got a dream!”
Cowboy gives a ‘aw, shucks.’ kinda smile as he watches Jesse sing and dance with the group. This could be fine, actually.
“He’s got a dream! He’s got a dream!”
“They’ve got a dream! We’ve got a dream!”
They had all paired up into groups, dancing together, Jesse offered Jack to dance with him, but he refuses, so Jesse lets him be.
“So our diff’rences ain’t really that extreme-we’re one big team!”
“Call us brutal, sick! Sadistic!”
"And grotesquely optimistic!
“‘Cause way down deep inside we’ve got a dream!”
“I’ve got a dream! I’ve got a dream!”
"I’ve got a dream! I’ve got a dream! I’ve got a dream!”
"I’ve got a dream!"
“Yes way down deep inside, I’ve got a dream!”
They had alot of fun, but, unfortunately, “I found the guards!” Hotshot came back, and wasn’t alone.
The captain of the guard follows him in, and he’s not alone either. Cowboy’s eyes go wide when he sees the Delancey brothers behind him. But he’s cut off as York ushers them down a passage. “Hey, go live your dream.” He whispers, smiling. “Thank you.” Cowboy replies, only for York to glare. “Your dream stinks, I was talking to him.” Jesse smiles, and hugs York, “Thanks for everything.” and then they were off.
Spot smirks, gesturing to Race as he speaks, “I believe this is the man you’re looking for?” and Race sighs dramatically. “You got me!” They were caught off guard by a neigh outside, and in comes Maximus. “Max? What are you doing?” Maximus makes a annoyed noise, and pulls a lever, revealing the passage. The captain’s eyes go wide, and he instructs his men to come with him, telling one of them to stay and make sure they don’t get away.. only for Oscar to effortlessly hit him to the ground, he nods to his brother as they follow the guards.
Race, meanwhile, had wandered outside, singing to himself. “I got a dreaaam, I got a dreaaam..- Oooh, and who’s this handsome man?” The man clad in yellow groans. “Shut it, you idiot.” “Mmm, whatever happened ta romance?-” Shing. “Where’s that tunnel lead?”
“Well, I gotta say, that was pretty impressive. I didn’t think you had it in you!” Jesse laughs softly, smiling. “Hah.. yeah.. Hey, so, Cowboy, where are you from?” Cowboy looks surprised and shakes his head. “Nooo-nope, sorry blondie, I don’t do backstory. However, I am becoming very interested in yours.” Jesse raises a eyebrow. “Now I, I know I’m not supposed to mention the hair.” “Nope.” “Or the father.” “Yep.” “Frankly i’m too afraid to ask about the frog.” “Toad.” “Nuance, here’s my question though: if you want to see the lanterns so badly, why haven’t you gone before?”
Just as they had gotten into the open of some kind of canyon and Jesse was about to answer, by some divine happenstance, here comes their pursuers. “Cowboy!” His eyes go wide, and he grabs Jesse’s arm and runs..only to see the Delancey brothers arrived as well. “Who are they?” “They don’t like me!” Then the guards come into view, Jesse’s even more confused. “Who are they? ” “They don’t like me either.” Neiiigh. “Who is that?!” “Let’s just assume for the moment that everyone in here doesn’t like me!” Jesse gets an idea, and swings to the other end of the canyon, “Here!” he yells, throwing his frying pan to Cowboy.
“I’ve waited a long time for this, Cowboy!” And, to the surprise of everyone involved (except Jesse, as it’s his weapon of choice.), Cowboy is winning the fight with the frying pan. “Oh mama, I have got to get me one of these!” Here comes Maximus, with a sword in his mouth, sword-fighting horse, and they duel. “Ha! You should know this is the strangest thing i’ve ever done!” Unfortunately for Cowboy, the horse actually knows how to sword-fight, and the frying pan is knocked away. “Uh.. how about two out of three?”
“Cowboy!” Jesse calls, using his hair as a lasso to pull Cowboy over, Maximus hits a plank on a dam to collapse it, and a huge wave of water comes through. and then they’re jumping down and out, straight into a cave. The water’s followed them in and soon enough they’re closed in by the rocks, at the farthest part of the cave with no exit, and it’s dark. Cowboy dives several times to look, to no avail, wincing as he cut his hand on a rock. Jesse tries to dive, but Cowboy pulls him up immediately after. “It’s no use Jesse, it’s pitch-dark down there.”
Jesse starts crying and shaking, and Cowboy feels awful for letting this happen. “This is all my fault.. I never should’ve done this.. I’m so sorry Cowboy..”
“My real name is Jack Kelly, figured someone might as well know.” Jesse sniffles, smiling a little and rubbing his eyes. “I have magic hair that glows when I sing.” Jack stares shocked, but then Jesse’s eyes go wide as he realizes. “I have magic hair that glows when I sing!” The water rises, and Jesse quickly starts singing. “Flower gleam and glow, let your powers shine!” And just like that, they’re underwater, Jack coughs from gasping at Jesse’s glowing hair. The two swim to remove the rocks and escape.
The two cough after surfacing, and pulling themselves up. “We made it. ” Jesse says, ecstatic, meanwhile, Jack’s in hysterics. “His hair glows.” Jesse’s spinning around happily, “I’m alive! I’m alive and free!” Jack’s shaking back and forth. “His hair actually glows !” “Jack.” “Why does his hair glow?” “Jack!” Jack looks up at Jesse, who’s smiling. “It doesn’t just glow.” Toad croaks, and Jack’s losing his mind. “Why is he smiling at me?”
Oscar was soaking wet, and pissed, “I’ll kill ‘im. I’ll kill that Cowboy!” Morris shushed him. “We’ll cut him off at the kingdom, and get back the crown. C’mon!” “Boys!” The two stop to stare at the yellow suited man, who has a.. unpleasant grin on his face. “Perhaps you want to stop acting like wild dogs chasing their tails and think for a moment.” He waves the satchel, and the two draw their swords. “Oh-ho, please, there’s no need for that.”
He then throws the satchel to them,
“Well, if that’s all that you desire then be on your way. I was going to offer you something worth one thousand crowns, would have made you rich beyond belief and that wasn’t even the best part, hoho, oh well, c’est la vie. Enjoy your crown.” Oscar speaks up, a little intrigued. “What’s the best part?” He grins, visibly a little.. not there in the head. “It comes with revenge on the Cowboy.”
“So you’re being strangely cryptic as you wrap your magic hair around my injured hand.” Jack says, a little alarmed. He lets out a loud groan in pain, and Jesse soothes him the best he can. “Sorry.. just, don’t freak out, okay?” Jesse sighed softly, and began to sing.
“Flower, gleam and glow.. Let your power shine..
Make the clock reverse, bring back what once was mine.”
Jack’s eyes go wide as Jesse’s hair begins to glow again, Toad watches knowingly. The glowing light spreads through Jesse’s hair as he sings.
“Heal what has been hurt, change the fate’s design.
Save what has been lost, bring back what once was mine.”
Toad nudges Jack’s hand, signalling him to look at it, he does so and much to his surprise, it’s fully healed.
“..What once was mine..”
Just as Jack is about to open his mouth Jesse yells, “Pleasedon’tfreakout!” Jack could only sit there, wide eyed. “I’m not freaking out are you freaking out no I’m just very interested in your hair and the magical qualities that it possesses how long has it been doing that exactly?” Jesse smiles fondly, “Uh, forever.. I guess? Pa says, when I was a baby, people tried to cut it.” he sighs a little, glancing away.
“They wanted to take it for themselves. But, once it’s cut,” he pauses his sentence to pull his hair out of the way, showing the singular cut strand. “..it turns darker colored and loses its power. A gift like that, it has to be protected. That’s why pa never let me.. That’s why I never left the-” Jesse goes quiet, sniffling a little, “..You never left that tower.” Jack says, starting to calm down. “And you still wanna go back..?” “No! Yes- Ugh, it’s complicated. I dunno.”
Jesse pouts in annoyance, but then smiles a little, looking back to Jack. “So.. Jack Kelly huh?” Jack groans and rolls his eyes. “Uh, yeah. Well. I’ll spare you the sob story of poor orphan Jack Kelly, it’s a little bit of a… that’s a little bit of a downer.” Jesse inches closer to Jack on the log, silently asking him to tell the story.
“Okay, okay, fine. There was this book, a book I used to read every night to all the younger kids- ‘The Tales of Santa Fe’s Cowboy’. Famous, richest man alive, not bad with the ladies, either. Not that he would brag about it, of course.” Jesse perked up, curiosity in his eyes. “Was he a thief too?” Jack shook his head and smiled sadly. “Uh… well, no. Actually, he had enough money to do anything that he wanted to do. He could go anywhere that he wanted to go. And, and, and for a kid with nothing, I don’t know, I… Just seemed like a better option.”
Jesse’s mouth made a ‘o’ shape in response. “Listen, you can’t tell anyone about this though, it’d ruin my reputation.” Jack says, a little uneasy, Jesse smiles and laughs though, evidently lifting his spirits. “Ah, we wouldn’t want that, would we?” Jack grins and ruffles Jesse’s hair, “I’m gonna uh.. get some firewood.” “Hey.” Jack paused and turned back to Jesse, “Yeah?” Jesse beams. “For the record, I like Jack Kelly much more than Cowboy.” “Well then you’d be the first.. but thank you.” and with that he was off.
“Good grief, I thought he’d never leave!” A frighteningly familiar voice called. “Pa!” His father smiles as he emerges from the shadows. “Hello, dear.” Jesse stammered, struggling to believe what he was seeing. “But I-I- I don’t, uh.. How did you find me?” His father smirks. “Oh, it was easy really. I just listened to the sound of complete and utter betrayal and followed that.” Jesse whimpered, wrapping his arms around himself. “We’re going home. Now. ” Jesse perked up, frowning. “You- you don’t understand! I’ve been on this incredible journey and I’ve seen and learned so much. I even met someone!”
“Yes, the wanted thief, I’m so proud. Come on, Jesse.” Jesse shakes his head in response, tugging his father’s sleeve. “Pa, wait! I think he likes me.”
“Likes you? Please, Jesse, that’s demented.”
“But pa, I-”
His father glared menacingly, and that was enough to shut Jesse up.
“This is why you never should’ve left!
Dear, this whole ‘romance’ that you’ve invented just proves..
..you’re too naive to be here.”
Jesse shook his head and whimpered. His father was wrong.
“Why would he like you? Come on now really!
Look at you! You think that he’s impressed?”
His father had grabbed his hair and shown it off as he said that, as if to say it was worthless. As if to say he was worthless.
“Don’t be a dummy! Come with daddy!
Jesse wasn’t taking this. He refused to. He refused to-
“No? Oh.. I see how it is.”
He’d forgotten how scary his father was when he’s mad.
“Jesse knows best! Jesse’s so mature now!
Such a clever grown up lad.”
Jesse retreated on himself, backing away from his father, fear in his eyes.
“Jesse knows best, fine if you’re so sure now..
Go ahead and give him THIS!”
His father had the satchel. His father had the satchel.
“How did you?!-”
“*This* is why he’s here! Don’t let him deceive you!
Give it to him, watch, you’ll see!”
His father threw the crown to him, Jesse scrambled to catch it. Jack couldn’t be like this.. he couldn’t. His father was lying.
“Trust me, my dear.
*That’s* how fast he’ll leave you! I won’t say I TOLD YOU SO!”
“Now Jesse knows best! So if he’s such a dreamboat,
go and put him to the test!”
“If he’s lying don’t come crying!
Father knows best!”
Jesse held the crown and whimpered, “Hey uh… can I ask you something?” only to shoot up immediately after when he heard Jack. “Is there any chance that I’m gonna get super strength in my hand? Because I’m not gonna lie. That would be stupendous.” He paused, taking in the sight of Jesse all shaken up. “Hey, you okay..?” Jesse gave the most convincing smile he could. “Yeah! I’m fine. Just.. lost in thought is all.” Jack seemed to believe him, and went back to rambling. “I mean, because here’s the thing. Superhuman good looks, I’ve always had them- born with it, but superhuman strength? Can you imagine the possibilities of this..?”
The Delancey brothers were aching to go at Jack, but Jesse’s father held them back. “Patience boys, good things come to those who wait. ”
Zzzzzz.. Drip. Drip.
Jack wakes up, only to see a certain horse- Maximus, standing over him. “Well I hope you’re here to apologize.” Maximus grabs Jack by the collar and begins dragging him away as he screams. “No-no! put me down! Let me go!” In comes his knight in shining golden locks. “Release him!” Maximus turns and confronts Jesse, who attempts to calm him, “Whoa.. Woah.. woah.. Easy boy, easy.. Settle down..” and Maximus begrudgingly stops.
“There, that’s it.” A pause. “Now sit.” Maximus begins to sit down like a dog, and Jack is infinitely confused. “What?” Jesse continues, “Now, drop the boot.” then Maximus stops, staring at Jesse, who looks him in the eyes. “Drop it.” Maximus reluctantly does as is told, and Jesse beams. “Aww, you’re such a good boy! Yes you are!”
Maximus wags his tail like a dog, and Jesse smiles, petting him and babytalking him. “You all tired chasing the bad man all over the place??” Maximus nods, and Jack gives a offended gasp. “Excuse me?” Jesse ignores him, playfully petting Maximus’ nose, “Nobody appreciates you, do they? Do they?” Maximus grunts sadly in response. Jack lets out a exasperated sigh. “He’s a bad horse!” Jesse sticks his tongue out at Jack, then turns back to Maximus. “Oh he’s nothing but a big sweetheart! Isn’t that right..” He pauses, to read the name on Maximus’ armor. “Maximus.”
“You’ve gotta be kidding me.” Maximus hits Jack, and Jesse sighs and steps between them. “Look. Today is kinda the biggest day of my life, and the thing is, I need you to not get him arrested.” Maximus lets out a angry grunt in response, and Jesse calmly replies. “Just for twenty-four hours, and then you can chase each other to your heart’s content, okay?” Jack holds his hand out for a handshake, and Maximus turns away defiantly, Jesse nudges him and adds: “And it’s also my birthday. Just so you know.” and Maximus reluctantly agrees. The trio (or I suppose quad if you include Toad.) hear bells in the distance, and Jesse excitedly ran off.
Jesse lets out a excited gasp walking into the town, but ends up bumping into everything because of his hair. Jack begins collecting it up and brings Jesse to a group of girls, who all too excitedly tie it up in one big braid for him. “Thank you!” He says with a smile, beaming. Then he sees a mosaic on the wall, of a King, Queen, their eldest son, and a baby boy. The lost prince. A little girl leaves a flower there. “It’s for the lost prince!” Jesse stares at the mosaic questioningly, the baby boy looked alot like him..
Meanwhile, a taller, older, solemn boy walks through the town, a sense of loneliness fills him. Out of the corner of his eye he spots a boy with long golden hair tied in a braid, dancing with another boy. The blonde laughs as he dances with his partner, and he reminds him alot of his missing brother. He walks up to the pair, and gives them a tired smile as he hands them fabrics of the flag patterned with the kingdom’s emblem.
Jack and Jesse slowly enter a rowboat, but Jack stops, “Hey, Max!” throwing a bag of apples to Maximus, who eyes them suspiciously. “What? I bought them.” Max shrugs and eats a couple, “..Most of them.” only to stop after. “Where are we going Jack?” Jack smiles sincerely, “Well, best day of your life, I figured you should have a decent seat.” Jesse smiles back, but doesn’t look too convinced.
“Are you okay?” “I’m terrified.” “..Why?” Jesse let out a small worried sigh. “I’ve been looking out a window for 17 years, dreaming about what’ll happen when I see the lights up close. What if it’s not what I dreamed it would be?” Jack gives him a huge grin. “It will be.” “And what if it is? What do I do then?” “..Well, that’s the fun part. You get to find a new dream.”
Miles, Mae, and Angus walk to the balcony. Mae sniffles, and Miles holds his mother’s arm comfortingly as they release their own specific lantern for their lost prince.
“All those days.. watching from the windows.
All those years, outside looking in.”
“All that time, never really knowing
..just how blind i’ve been.”
“Now I’m here, blinking in the starlight, now I’m here, suddenly I see-”
“Standing here, it’s all so clear.. ..I’m where I’m meant to be!”
Jesse looks onward, at all of the lanterns. They’re.. they’re beautiful!
“And at last I see the light.. and it’s like the fog has lifted.
And at last I see the light.. and it’s like the sky is new!”
“And it’s warm and real and bright,
and the world has somehow shifted..!”
“All at once everything looks different..
..now that I see you..”
Jack pulls out two lanterns, and hands one to Jesse with a smile. Jesse smiles back, but then pauses, “I.. have something for you too.” Jesse then pulls out his satchel. “I should have given it to you before, but I was just scared. And the thing is, I’m not scared anymore. You know what I mean?” Jack smiles, and doesn’t take the satchel. “I’m starting to.”
“All those days.. chasing down a daydream.
All those years.. living in a blur.”
“All that time never truly seeing
..things the way they were.”
“Now he’s here, shining in the starlight.. Now he’s here, suddenly I know.”
“If he’s here, it’s crystal clear.. I’m where I meant to go!”
The two of them hold hands, smiling at each other, and the two sing together.
“And at last, I see the light!"
"And it’s like the fog has lifted..”
“And at last, I see the light!”
“And it’s like the sky is new!”
“And it’s warm and real and bright..
and the world has somehow shifted.”
“All at once, everything is different,
now that I see you.”
“Now that I.. see you..”
Just as Jack is about to kiss Jesse, he pulls away when he sees something. The Delancey brothers. Jesse smiles at him, comfortingly, “Is everything okay?” Jack snaps back to reality and nods. “Huh? Oh, yes, I just.. I’m sorry, everything is fine. There’s just something I have to take care of. I’ll be right back.” Toad looks at Jesse worryingly as Jack leaves with the satchel, to which Jesse softly replies..
“It’s alright, Toad.”
“Ah, there you are! Huh. I’ve been searching everywhere for you guys since we got separated. Hey, the sideburns just coming in nice, huh? Gotta be excited about that.” Jack gives them a nervous smile. “Hmm-mm. Anyhow, just wanted to say, I shouldn’t have split, the crown is all yours, I’ll miss ya, but I think it’s for the… best.” The Delanceys look between each other and give Jack a menacing look. “Holding out on us again, Cowboy?” “What?” “We heard you found somethin’. Somethin’ much more valuable than a crown. We want him, instead.”
Jesse sees a shadow approach and smiles nervously, “Uh. I was starting to think you ran off with the crown and left me.” then the shadow splits into two. “He did.” Jesse goes wide eyed, shaking his head. “What? No. He wouldn't.” “See for yourself.” Oscar sneers as he points to a boat, Jack is on it, “Jack.” sailing away. “Jack!” Oscar grins. “Fair trade, a crown for the boy with the magic hair?” Jesse starts backing away, terrified, Morris smirks at him. “How much do you think someone would pay to stay young and healthy forever?” Jesse screams, running away, but his hair gets caught on a log. “No, please-no! No!”
The sound of a knife, “Jesse!” Jesse looked up in shock. “Pa?” Jesse gets himself free and runs to him. “Oh, my precious boy.” “Pa..” His father gently places his hand on his face. “Are you all right? Are you hurt?” “Pa, how did you- “I was so worried about you dear. So I followed you. And I saw them attack you and-”
Guards were heard in the distance. “Oh my, let’s go, let’s go before they come too.” Jesse looks back, seeing Jack in the distance and sniffling. His father opens his arms and Jesse runs into them. “You were right, Pa. You were right about everything. ” “I know, darling, I know.”
The boat Jack was on hits the pier, startling Jack awake. “ Look! The crown.” A guard shouts, and now Jack is even more alarmed. “Jesse. Jesse!” The guards come to apprehend him and he’s stammering trying to explain. “No, no, no, no, wait, wait, wait, guys, guys!” Maximus sees him from afar, and sees him calling for Jesse, and a foggy shore on the other side.
“Let’s get this over with Cowboy.” Jack looks to the guard in confusion, “Where are we going?” the guard doesn’t answer, just giving him a stern look. Jack puts his hand to his neck. “Oh..”
His father’s undone the braid, plucking flowers out of his hair. “There. It never happened. Now, wash up for dinner. I’m making hazelnut soup.” Jesse stayed quiet, head low. “Huh. I really did try, Jesse. I tried to warn you what was out there. The world is dark and selfish and cruel. If it finds even the slightest ray of sunshine, it destroys it.”
His father leaves the room, leaving Jesse alone to his thoughts, he’s holding that flag he got, and then he realizes. The exact emblem on the flag.. is everywhere in his drawings. Childhood memories flash through his mind and he stumbles back, knocking his dresser over.
As Jack is being escorted by two guards, he knocks them down and runs to the jail cell holding the Delanceys. “How did you know about him? Tell me, now!” “It wasn’t us. It was the old man.”
Jack pauses at that, thinking, but then is apprehended by guards again “Agh! Wait! No! Wait! You don’t understand, “he’s in trouble! Wait!”
“Jesse? Jesse are you alright?” His father calls.. or should he say his ‘father’. “I’m the lost prince..” He laughs, not hearing him, “Oh, please speak up, Jesse. You know how I hate the mumbling.” Jesse glares, visibly angry. “I am the lost prince! Aren’t I? Did I mumble, Pa? Or should I even call you that? "
“Oh Jesse, did you even hear yourself? Why would you ask such a ridiculous question?” “It was you. It was all you!” ‘His father’ raises his arms in defense, “Everything that I did was to protect.. you.” Jesse pushes him aside and storms down the stairs. “Jesse!” “I’ve spent my entire life hiding from people who would use me for my power..” Jesse’s hands bunched into fists at his sides. “..but I should have been hiding.. from you!”
“Where will you go? He won’t be there for you.” Jesse’s eyes went wide in fear. “What did you do to him?” “That criminal is to be hanged for his crimes.” “No!” The man smiled insincerely. “Now, Now. It’s all right. Listen to me. Everything is as it should be.” He reaches to pat Jesse’s hair, but he smacks his hand away “No! You were wrong about the world.. and you were wrong about me. And I will never let you use my hair again!” Jesse turns to leave.
“You want me to be the bad guy? Fine. Now I’m the bad guy..”
Meanwhile, the guards were escorting Jack, but the door in front of them was locked and not opening. “What is this? Open up!” A certain cigar boy opened the door window on the other end, smirking. “What’s the password?” Jack’s eyes went wide in recognition, while the guard was just confused. “What?” “Nope.” The guard captain was getting increasingly mad. “Open the door!” “Not even close!” “Enough games, you have three seconds! One,” the guard on the left is pulled away, “two,” then the guard on the right. “three..” Henry showed up, then proceeded to knock out the captain with a frying pan and Jack smirks. “Frying pans! Who knew, right?”
A chase begins, Mike and Ike mime to mislead one group of guards, while Spot scares the other guards away. York shows up to lead him somewhere. “Aight, Cowboy. Heads down.” “Heads down.” “Arms in.” “Arms in.” “Knees apart.” “Knees apart- wait- knees apart?” and up up and away he went, before landing on Maximus’ back, “Oh.” Maximus lets out a proud neigh. “Wait- Max.. you brought them here? ..Thank you.” Maximus motions to go, “No really. Thank you. Uh. I feel maybe this whole time we’ve just been misunderstanding one another, and we’re really just-” Maximus make a frustrated noise. “Yeah, you’re right, we should go.”
“Jesse? Jesse! Let down your hair!” When he didn’t answer, he started climbing it himself. But then his hair came flying out, so Jack climbed up it. “Jesse, I thought I’d never see you again. Huh?” Much to his horror, Jesse was chained up and gagged. “Mm-mm, mm-mm!” Jesse lets out a muffled scream as Jack gets stabbed, the yellow man lets out a sigh. “Now look what you’ve done, Jesse.” Jesse whimpers as he sees Jack struggle. “Oh, don’t worry, dear. Our secret will die with him.” Jesse was pulling away, crying. “And as for us, hmm! We are going where no one would ever find you again!”
Jesse managed to shake the cloth gagging him off, breathing heavily. “Jesse really! Enough already! Stop fighting me!” Jesse turned and glared at him, shaking on the floor. “No! I won’t stop. For every minute of the rest of my life I will fight! I will never stop trying to get away from you!” He paused to breathe, pushing himself up. “But, if you let me save him, I will go with you.” “No! No.. Jesse..!”
“I’ll never run, I’ll never try to escape. Just let me heal him, and you and I will be together. Forever, just like you want. Everything will be the way it was. I promise. Just like you want. Just let me heal him.” He begrudgingly agrees, chaining Jack, “In case you get any ideas about following us.” then he got up, leaving the two of them.
“Jack..” Jack coughs violently as Jesse lifts his shirt up, seeing a huge wound, his eyes widen in horror. “Oh, I’m so sorry. Everything is gonna be okay-” “No, Jesse.” Jesse gives him a sad smile. “I promise you. You have to trust me.” “No-” Jesse starts crying again, “Come on. Just breathe.” “I can’t let you do this.” “But I can’t let you die.” Jack coughs again. “But, Jesse.. if you do this.. you will die..” Jesse smiles, “Hey. It’s gonna be alright.” and Jack nods.
Just as Jesse is about to sing the incantation, “Jesse, wait..” Jack lifts his hand, and cuts Jesse’s hair with a broken mirror shard, Jesse’s hair goes from golden to a more darker dirty blonde. “Jack.. what?” The yellow suited man shrieks in horror, “No!” as the long cut hair quickly loses its power and decolors. “No! No! No!” He begins to rapidly age. “What have you done? What have you done?! What have you-” Toad pulls part of what used to be Jesse’s hair, tripping the man, who goes tumbling out of the tower to the ground below.
Jesse’s breathing heavily and shaking. “No.. nononono.. Jack.” Jack coughs, and Jesse holds him up, crying. “Oh. Look at me, look at me, I’m right here, don’t go, stay with me, Jack.. Flower gleam and glow, let your power shine, make the clock reverse, bring back what once was mine- ” “Jesse.” “..What?” “You were.. my new dream..” Jesse sobs, holding him closer, “And you were mine..” Jack’s chest heaves one last time, and Jesse starts crying even more. “ Heal what has been hurt.. change the fate’s design.. Save what has been lost, bring back what once was mine.. what once was mine. ” Jesse sobs again, a stray tear lands on Jack’s cheek, which begins to glow, reviving him.
“Jesse..” Jesse gasps and cries softly as a smile forms on his face. “Jack.. Jack!” He pulls him close and the two kiss.
There’s only one thing left for them to do now.
Chapter 14: Epilogue
Mae and Angus were sitting together in silence, when the door opened, and a guard as well as Miles were standing there. “What is it?” Angus asks, softly. “They found him, Pa.” Miles says, and Mae gasps, tearing pricking her eyes.
When the three head to the balcony of the castle, they see him. He’s standing with another boy, who they thought they knew as the wanted thief, but if they brought their prince home, who were they to stay mad? Miles and Jesse locked eyes, recognizing each other instantly from the square. The family of four embraced into a tight hug, and Jack watched from afar, smiling, but then Angus stood up and pulled him into the hug as well.
“Well, you could imagine what happened next. The kingdom rejoiced, for the lost prince had now returned. The party lasted an entire week, and honestly I don’t remember most of it.”
“Thanks to Maximus, crime in the kingdom disappeared almost overnight..as did most of the apples.”
“At last, Jesse was home, and he finally had a real family. Beloved by all, he led his kingdom with all the grace and wisdom that his parents did before him.”
“And as for me, well, I started going by Jack again. Stopped thieving and basically turned it all around, but I know what the big question is, hah. Did Jesse and I ever get married? Well I am pleased to tell you that after years and years of asking, and asking, and asking, I finally said yes.”
“Alright, I asked him.”
“And we’re living happily ever after.”
“Yes we are.”