A few miles later, the group is trekking through the swamp again followed by a multitude of podlings returning home.
Up ahead they see the villagers diligently rebuilding their simple dwellings. Soon shouts of joy are heard. The podlings returning home start running towards their families and loved ones who are rushing out to greet them.
There is laughter and tears as families are reunited.
"Now that is a beautiful sight." Eugene said to his friends, putting his arm around Rapunzel.
Kira was speaking to her foster mother, letting her know where they're headed and why.
Soon, the humans were on Maximus' back, Pascal took his place on Rapunzel's shoulder while the gelflings rode on landstriders.
"I can barely believe I'm going home." Rapunzel said as if thinking out loud.
"At this rate, we should make it to Corona a few hours before sundown." Kira instructed.
"Better brace yourselves." Eugene call up, "Might not be the welcome you're expecting."
Hours later they were in the familiar green woods of Corona.
Rapunzel was beginning to look more relaxed. Having returned to Corona, she was smiling more again. For Maximus and Eugene it was almost another more solemn story.
"Hey, Eugene, what's bothering you two?" Jen asked him after a while.
"Just thinking that's all." The ex-thief explained with a sigh, "Dunno if that dream fasting session back in the swamp gave any indication, but the last time I was in Corona… Max here and group of thugs had busted me out of prison. Suffice it to say I only ended up there in the first place no thanks to the Stabbington brothers otherwise I wouldn't have gotten caught."
Oh that's right. The group shared concerned looks.
"If they try anything they'll have to get through me." Jen said quietly but firmly.
"You're a brave little guy, Jen. I guess that adventure helped you do some growing up." Rapunzel speculated.
"They also must listen to our story as well." Kira added. Surely the sight of gelflings after so many years would lead to questioning.
At last, they reached the bridge leading to Corona, the landstriders that were taking the gelflings had long since returned with the rider's consent. Now it only Rapunzel, Kira and Pascal on Maximus lead by Eugene.
So far there were no guards rushing on all sides towards them. They could only take it as a good sign. However the presence of two gelflings in the area was causing quite the dumbfounded effect on the people.
After all it was believed that the race had been destroyed during the Garthim wars.
"It feels a little odd to have so many staring at us." Jen whispered to them all.
"Yeah and the fact that you're with a wanted criminal has nothing to do it." Eugene joked with a weak chuckle before gulping.
Eugene put up his hands, so did Rapunzel. The gelfling pair did also albeit unsurely.
"Oh no. And here I thought the hard part was over." The young woman murmured.
Fizzgig had begun to growl. Kira shushes him gently.
"Don't shoot please." Jen spoke up, "We come in peace from Thra."
"No one has come from there in peace for a thousand years." the captain of the guard said, slightly surprised.
"We do." Kira tried explaining, "We've come bearing great news of our realm."
"What sort of news?" was the question asked.
"The crystal is healed, the Skeksis are gone."
"They are? Their Majesties need to know about this at once." a soldier said, excitedly.
"Our friends and us have bared witness to it." added Jen with a confirming nod.
"It's true. We all saw it happen." Rapunzel promised.
"You're saying the thief responsible for stealing the crown of the lost princess is your friend?!" The captain of the guards demanded.
"He is, just as much the lost princess of Corona." Kira answered sternly, presenting Rapunzel.
"That girl? The lost princess? That cannot be. The princess was born with blond hair." the captain said, skeptically.
"I can answer him." Rapunzel reassured her friend, before turning her eyes to the guards, "It WAS blonde but it turned brown when Kira cut it to save me from remaining a prisoner of the skeksis."
"Cross our hearts." Eugene chimed in.
"You'll still need to be tested." The captain said darkly, "There have already too many girls and women claiming to be the princess in these past years." He moved his hands forwards in direction of the castle so that the guards would escort the group there.
"Maximus! Where have you been?" the captain suddenly exclaimed in surprise.
"He's been with Eugene. I had him promise not to get Eugene in trouble on account of it being my birthday. Which was the same day as that lantern festival." Rapunzel quickly explained.
"Is this true?" The captain asked the horse.
Maximus nuzzled Rapunzel with a confident nod.
While one group of guards took a reluctant Maximus to the stables, the captain lead the four adventurers into the palace.
Now, Rapunzel felt a little nervous. Would they believe her?
The test would be administrated by the palace majordomo. Hearing the story was merely a procedure as are many rites of protocol.
For the true test was a clipping of the claimant's hair and comparing it to the very same lock of hair found in the princess' crib the night she was taken.
Eugene, Jen, and Kira could only offer moral support. Hopefully, the majordomo would see that she was the right girl.
Now, the majordomo himself had served the king and queen loyally for many years and knew of what they had gone through when the princess had been kidnapped or when several maidens claiming to be the princess came a calling.
He listened to the group's story patiently though many of it seemed incredibly unbelievable. Yet the gazes the two different couples shared with each other was genuine true love just like the clear friendship among the small group.
As for the two gelflings accompanying the girl and Rider, much like the rest of the kingdom, he'd heard and learned of the old tales involving Thra. The old legends and stories that told of 'strange stars', of those that first encountered the cruel-eyed skeksis and the serene UrRu, and of the Garthim wars.
Perhaps there was some truth in their tale. The group seemed too sincere. What did they have to lose by trusting this tale?
For further evidence the gelflings offered to dream-fast, so that he may look into the memories and see the truth for himself. It was tempting - he'd only heard of such an ability in the old stories back when the Gelfling were plentiful.
After some thought, he agreed to the idea. It was both out of curiosity and his duty to be absolutely sure.
Tentatively, the majordomo placed his right hand in the male's, his left hand in the females' right while the female gelfling's other hand took the maiden's right.
It felt like a quick jolt then the memories came pouring through. He saw snippets of childhood; those belonging to him, of the two gelflings and the girls'. Each one was an extraordinary sight to behold - he could see the mysterious Mystics of the old stories, the world of Thra and lo! There it was. A memory of a child who being taken from her cradle by an old woman. The woman paused at the window to look back, before she jumped with the sweep of her cloak.
It continued many of the memories that matched the details of the four individual's story.
When it was all over, the majordomo pulled away, gasping for air as though he'd just broke the surface of a watery area. He was pale, shaking, looking very much like he'd seen a ghost.
For a few shocked minutes the man was so stunned he could hardly speak.
Rapunzel could only assume he was in shock. But was that good or bad?
"W-welcome home your highness." The majordomo said shakily to Rapunzel before yelling at the flabbergasted guards. "Quickly! Tell them - the plaza balcony! And spread the news: the Skeksis have been defeated and that Gelflings have returned to the land!"
"Does this mean I'll get to see the king and queen?" Rapunzel asked him.
"Yes, yes!" the majordomo answered choked up, "Follow me please, all of you."
At the same time, the guard ran to the royal's sitting room, where the King and Queen were looking out the window. After the eclipse had passed, they noticed something sparkling in the far distance but the telescope could not show them what it was.
It was at that moment that a palace guard came rushing into the room. He had a look of complete amazement on his face; like he had just seen something unbelievable.
The royals of Corona stared back. The guard gave a single nod.
In minutes, the king and queen came as fast as they could. Was this what they had waited for so long? Had their daughter come back at last?
They stopped at a pair of doors that lead to the plaza balcony which overlooks the city. The King and Queen exchanged meaningful glances before pushing them open.
Standing at the balcony was the thief, Flynn Rider, except he wasn't alone. Standing there with him were two gelflings, one boy and one girl. But it was the young woman with them who really captured the monarchs' attention.
For the queen it was looking into a mirror. They had the same large green eyes, the same slightly bucked teeth and the same brown hair…
She approached first, touching the young woman's cheek carefully as if afraid that it would be just an illusion.
Rapunzel smiled at her, a little tearfully. She was finally getting to meet her true mother for the first time. It wasn't long before the queen smiled back, a sense of relief and joy coming over her.
She placed her arms around the younger woman in a hug. Mother and child were reunited at long last. Rapunzel looked up from her mother's arms to look meet the King's gaze.
The king looked just as overjoyed as his queen, if not more so. He came to join his family in the embrace, sinking to the floor together with emotion. The three of them were finally together as a family, after so many years.
The Queen then raised her eyes to Eugene, Jen and Kira. She silently extended her hand to them in gratitude. Jen and Kira didn't hesitate to accept her hand. It took a little more encouragement to get Eugene to join them. But by then, the three of them had joined in the hug.
After that, they stood up, with the royals inviting them into the sitting room for tea and snacks to hear their story.
It had to be told by turns between the four on the events leading up to the Great conjunction that had occurred during the eclipse. The story took over almost two hours to tell. Even shared between the four of them. The King and Queen were good listeners, they gasped, smiled and even looked mournful at all the right parts.
By the time the story came to an end, they had gone through two cups of tea each.
Now all was needed to spread the good news: The Lost princess had returned and the Skeksis have been defeated and the UrSkeks have finally achieved their long sought goal.
Word spread through Corona quickly. The citizens started to rejoice.
Jen and Kira stayed in the kingdom long enough to re-establish the alliance of Thra with Corona and set off with a warm good-bye but promised to return in time for Rapunzel's coronation as princess.
Rapunzel and Eugene were sad to say goodbye. But they knew it wasn't going to be forever. The couple would look forward to seeing them again.
Naturally, shortly afterwards there was a celebration in honor of the Lost princess' return. The gelflings, the podlings and Aughra herself were invited. It was a happy reunion for all of them. They were glad to be attending such a grand occasion.
Many dreams have come true. Thanks to Maximus, crime in the kingdom disappeared almost overnight… as did most of the apples. Pascal and Fizzgig–never changed. The two kingdoms helped rebuild what the Skeksis nearly destroyed - it's even better than before, you know, 'cause now it has a very large indoor swimming pool. Even better for Jen and Kira, turns out there was a whole colony of Gelflings that escaped in the far northern borders. Those two, incidentally, are thinking of starting a family. You know, just a few kids, maybe three or two to begin with.
And Rapunzel, she was the princess the kingdom had longed for. As for Eugene, he started going by his real name again.
Kylie is heard speaking voice over, "But I suppose the question you're all asking is did those couples ever marry?"
"Yeah! Did they get married?" T.K. asked her.
"Suffice it to say that after years of asking and courting, the ladies finally said yes. And as with many fairy tales..."
"We know," Matt said with a nod, "they lived happily ever after."
"Wow. That was quite a story." Joe said in awe.
"Thrilling. Alot better than the old sleeping pill." Mandy remarks. Hopefully the story did the trick
"I liked it." Mimi admitted, "Even if some parts were a little creepy."
"How about you, Billy?" Beth asked, "Billy?"
They noticed that he was finally asleep on his sleeping bag.
"I guess that story did it." Tai commented.
Good," said Beth, "Next time I suggest we just knock him out with a frying pan."
"Overall, at least you all got to hear a good story," Kylie remarks, "Now let's all get some sleep before the staff wonder what we're doing up past curfew."
"I second that." Zaira agreed.
She turned out the light as everyone got into their sleeping bags.
"Kylie, you think there's some stories that talk about the second great conjunction and anyone who saw it?" Kari's voice asked.
"Why do you ask?" Kylie inquired.
"Just curious, it sounds like they'd be interesting to hear or read."
Kylie thought for a moment then said, "They would but I suppose they're meant for another occasion sometime soon."
That part was true there were tales of that event before and afterwards, but those were of course other stories that will be told soon enough. For now, they had to rest up for another day.