Once upon a time, in the faraway kingdom of Corona, lived a princess named Rapunzel and a peasant named Jack. Since his mother was a maid in the palace, Jack was allowed to partake in Rapunzel's schooling. He became her closest friend and dear playmate because of it. They liked to play in Rapunzel's little greenhouse where their days were filled with laughter and learning, that, is, until one year. Unbeknownst to them, there was an evil witch who lived in the sky and she delighted in bringing torment and pain to people around the world. That year, her cloud was traveling over Corona when she spotted Jack and Rapunzel playing in the greenhouse. With an evil grin, she picked her victim as the clouds began to darken. She sent a bolt of lightning and it struck Jack. Pieces of the lightning turned into glass, a piece getting stuck in his right eye and another becoming imbedded in his heart.
"Jack!" called out Rapunzel with worry as Jack yelped in pain. She rushed to his side. "Jack! Are you alright?"
Jack began rubbing at his eye. "I'm fine."
"Is there something in your eye?"
Jack pushed her away. "I'm fine!" Rapunzel stared at him in shock. "I'm going home."
"S-see, see you tomorrow?" Jack gave no reply as he stomped out of the greenhouse. Rapunzel had no clue what had happened and sat down in the greenhouse to process everything. They had been playing hide-and-seek when Jack cried out. Had he pricked his finger on a thorn again? He had always told her he was fine when she asked, but never as rudely as he did just now. Maybe a good night's sleep was what he needed. Rapunzel went into the castle, thinking it best not to worry, but there was a nagging at the back of her mind that told her she should be worried.
She went to check up on him the next day, but she found to her dismay that he wasn't there and his mother didn't know where he was. His mother didn't see him come home that night either. Rapunzel came back every day to check up on Jack, and his mother giving the same worried answer, though it had become evident that he would come back home after his mother was sound asleep. As soon as Rapunzel got the answer, she took to looking for him as quickly as she could before needing to get back to the castle. After two weeks of worry, her parents sent out guards to search for him, but Rapunzel kept up her own search in her free time. Finally, one day, she found him, and her heart sank. He was hanging out with the Stabbington twins, the most notorious and horrid people she had ever met. But all thought of them was pushed to the side when she saw Jack jumping into a lake. Since it was late autumn, the lake was very cold, and Rapunzel let out a scream as she rushed forward. He was going to freeze to death!
"Jack! Come out of that lake this instant!" she shouted. Jack swam to the shore and shot her a mischievous grin. There was something of an evil glint to his eyes that made Rapunzel shiver.
"Care to join me?" he said as he reached his hand out to Rapunzel.
Rapunzel snuck a glance at the Stabbington twins, they were getting closer. She turned back to Jack, and those blue eye, those eyes that had once been filled with love for her now seemed to be filled with hate. A rage filled her, and reached forward. Rapunzel grabbed his hand, but before he could pull her into the lake, she yanked him clear out of the lake and the two went sprawling onto the ground. The Stabbingtons took a few steps back as Rapunzel and Jack got up.
Jack growled as he glared at her. "So, you're stronger than you look. Won't help you again."
Rapunzel returned the glare. "Jack, you're coming home with me, right now!"
Jack laughed cruelly. "You can't make me. And I don't want to go back to your boring home!"
"Jack, please, you're going to get yourself killed!" She let out a gasp as little flurries fell to the ground. The four teens glanced up at the sky. "It's the first snow of the year," whispered Rapunzel. She glanced back at Jack. "You really have to come with me now." She grabbed his arms and began pulling him away from the lake. "It's getting colder." She turned and paused, the Stabbington brothers were standing in her way.
"You heard him, he doesn't want to go back to your boring home," taunted one as they stepped forward.
"He'd rather stay here with us," said the other. "And have some real fun."
"Real fun doesn't involve nearly killing yourselves," retorted Rapunzel. She let out a shriek as the twins grabbed her arms.
"Well then, you haven't had much fun, have you?" said one with a grin.
Rapunzel wrangled her arms free and turned, running into Jack. "Jack, let's go, please!" She grasped at his shirt, right as the Stabbingtons grabbed her arms again.
"I think a dunking will be good for you."
"Are you sure?" They glanced at Jack. "She is the princess after all. Do you really want to anger the king?"
"Just a quick dunk," said one twin.
"We won't let go of her, promise," said the other. They tried to drag her away, but she held onto Jack's shirt.
"No!" she cried out as all three boys tried to wrestle Jack's shirt out of her hands. There was a brief struggle, but the Stabbingtons yanked Jack's shirt out of Rapunzel's hands, the momentum sending Jack sprawling on the ground. This dislodged the piece of glass from his heart, for a little while. Jack yelped in pain, especially when the piece worked to get back into his heart. But he was in control of himself, if only for a little while. His head snapped up when Rapunzel screamed. The Stabbingtons had nearly dragged her all the way to the lake. He jumped up and ran towards them.
"Wait!" They paused and glanced at him, but Rapunzel knew she had her Jack back. "I think I should do the honors." Rapunzel's eyes widened, no.
The Stabbingtons grinned cruelly. "You have a point."
"Go for it."
Jack nodded before glancing at Rapunzel. His arms shot out, and the brothers found themselves flailing in the lake, while Rapunzel stood staring at Jack in surprise.
Jack grabbed her hand and pulled her away from the lake. But they only got a few feet before Jack began to double over in pain from the shard trying to take back control.
"Jack! Jack, what's wrong? What's going on?"
Jack grunted. "I, I don't know. But I know that, once this pain goes away, I'm going to hate you for no reason. That's not me Rapunzel. And, and I don't know how to stop it. I don't even know how I can be me right now. The last . . . ungh!" Jack paused as he gasped for breath, fighting the shard with everything he had , though he knew it would win eventually.
Jack put his hand to stop her from coming closer. "Just go, Rapunzel, please, go! I'll draw them away." He glanced at her. "You have to find a way to bring me back, you have to. I don't want to be like this forever."
"I'm going to kill you, Overland!"
Jack glanced back at the lake before turning and pushing Rapunzel forward. "Go!" He turned and ran in the opposite direction. He had a good head start before the Stabbingtons saw him and took off after him. Rapunzel, now determined more than ever, turned and dashed back to the village. She nearly ran into the royal guard on horseback, accompanied by her parents and Mrs. Overland.
"Rapunzel! Are you alright?" asked her father as he and her mother pulled her into the safety of their arms.
"I'm fine, but Jack's not! Something is dreadfully wrong with him, and, and the Stabbingtons are going to kill him!"
"Jack pushed them into the lake to keep them from harming me, but now they're chasing him!"
"Go! Find the boy and bring him to us!" ordered the king.
"Yes sir!" chorused the guards before climbing on their steeds and raced off towards the lake.
Rapunzel broke down, now understanding that something was keeping her Jack away from her. Her parents and Mrs. Overland asked her what was wrong, so she told them everything as they made their way back to the castle. When they reached the castle, they were silent.
The queen broke the silence. "I think I have heard of such a thing, happening before."
Rapunzel glanced up at her with hope. "Really?"
Her mother nodded. "Yes, my nursemaid told me tales of a witch living in the clouds who used thunderstorms as a cover to cause evil on the world. Not every thunderstorm hid her, but it was wise to be cautious, just in case."
Rapunzel gasped. "There was a thunderstorm when this started!"
Mrs. Overland gasped. "Oh no."
The queen sighed. "It is as I feared, she is real then. I had long believed that she wasn't, but now . . . come, we should check the library to see if there are any tales of people breaking her curse on them."
"Or if there is anyone out there who can help us find out," said the king. The queen nodded before leading the group into the library to look. The rest of the servants served them dinner and coffee in the library, so they could keep searching. Rapunzel, despite her best efforts, eventually fell asleep. But the adults kept searching all through the night.
Meanwhile, three figures returned to the lake, two of them dragging the third.
"Come on, guys, I don't know!" said Jack.
"Yeah, that's the problem," said one twin, keeping a tight grip on Jack's arm, "first you're all buddy-buddy with the princess."
"Then you start hanging out with us earlier this month," said the other.
"And today, you're all sweet on the princess again, and you knocked us into the lake." He paused as they reached the lake's shore. "Only right to return the favor."
"Yeah, well . . . agh!" The twins tossed Jack into the lake. The freezing temperature sent a shock through Jack's body, and he swam back to the surface as quickly as possible. He came up for a second for air, but was shoved back under by two pairs of arms. He fought them as best as he could, but his arms were becoming numb quickly, as well as his legs. There was a pain in his chest as the lake chilled him to the bone. The pain made him fight as hard as he could, but the Stabbingtons were just as insistent as keeping him under water. He knew he wouldn't last for long, his body was becoming numb quick.
"Let go of him," said a voice. The Stabbingtons glanced behind themselves and saw a lone figure dressed in a red and white uniform. Dark hair fell almost to his shoulders and his pale skin wasn't flushed red from the cold. His indigo eyes narrowed as he said threateningly, "Let go of him."
The Stabbingtons glanced at each other before letting go of Jack, and charging the guy. But the guy jumped high and cleared their heads. He landed behind them and quickly pulled Jack out of the freezing water. The Stabbingtons turned and tried to rush the guy again, but he was already on his feet and facing them. With two well-aimed, strong kicks, the Stabbingtons were sent sprawling across the ground. The guy turned back to Jack as he coughed up water.
"Is he alright?" asked a woman from the other side of the lake. She was standing beside a pure white sleigh with blue frosty designs that was pulled by two large wolves.
"He's alive, but barely."
The Stabbingtons stared in shock as the woman walked across the lake, the lake freezing to ice under her feet. She knelt by Jack, and kissed his forehead. Jack seemed to be able to breathe easier. "That should keep the shard from getting any further into his heart." She stood up and glanced across the lake. "Take him to the sleigh and bundle him up."
"Yes ma'am," said the guy as he picked up Jack gently and carried him across the frozen lake to the sleigh. The woman turned towards the Stabbingtons, and walked gracefully towards them. They could see her better now, and stared in awe. Her skin was as dark as wood, her hair looked as white and as fluffy as newly fallen snow, and her eyes were as blue as a clear, winter morning.
"Wow, you're beautiful," one twin finally said. The two yelped as two icicles grew quickly, aimed at their faces.
"And deadly," she said. "But don't worry, I'm not going to kill you. I need you to take a message to the princess."
"But, but, who are you?"
Her blue eyes seemed to flash as she answered, "The Snow Queen."
The next morning, the Stabbingtons were in an audience with the royal family and Mrs. Overland. The guards had found them in the wee hours of the morning and brought them immediately to the castle. The Stabbingtons quickly gave the message that the Snow Queen had Jack, that Rapunzel could find her castle in far north where the snow never melts, and that she was to come alone. Rapunzel was frightened by the idea of Jack being with the Snow Queen, but she was determined to help her friend, no matter what. There was a flurry of activity in the castle that day. Provisions were made, clothes were packed, goodbyes were said, and a horse was saddled. Rapunzel was thrilled that her parents were so supportive of her. A guard would travel with her through the forest a ways, but they would leave her at the border of the country. After that, she would be completely on her own.
Early the next morning, Rapunzel left the castle after some final farewells from her parents and Mrs. Overland. She and two guards rode on for several days, the guards eventually staying with her for a little longer. But soon, they had parted, and Rapunzel continued on alone. Things were going pretty well, until a freak storm scared her horse away. Rapunzel realized it had to have been the witch's doing, as the storm seemed to chase after her rather than her horse. Rapunzel began to panic, the witch was determined to stop her! Not only that, but it was the same lightning. Rapunzel hadn't noticed it before, but the lightning that hit Jack and the lightning that was chasing her now, had a purple hue to it. She screamed as she ran helter skelter, trying to keep the lightning from hitting her, until one came straight at her.
"Stay down!" A young man with a shield lept in between her and the lightning. The lightning bounced off the shield and cracked a tree in half. "Come on!" The young man grabbed her arm and, keeping the shield between them and the witch, the two ran all the way to a gate. The gate was opened by a lady in a green dress and long, brown hair.
"Hurry!" she called out to them. The two made a mad dash for the gates, and jumped in. The lady in green quickly closed the gates behind them, right as another bolt of lightning came screaming through the air towards them. The bolt hit the gates with a thunderous crash, but the gates held, and the assault seemed to stop.
"Why . . . why has she stopped?" asked Rapunzel, panting for breath.
"This is one of a few places that she can't touch," said the lady in green as she helped Rapunzel to her feet. "My power is protecting it."
"Um, OK . . . and you are?"
"The Summer Lady," she said with a smile. She held out her hand to the young man as he rose to stand next to her. "And this is my guard, and dearest friend, the Sun Prince."
Rapunzel curtsied as the Sun Prince bowed. "A pleasure to meet you, your highness."
"The pleasure is all mine," said the Sun Prince with a wink and a grin. Now that Rapunzel wasn't running for her life, she could get a better look at her two saviors. The Summer Lady had brown hair pulled back into a ponytail, brown eyes, was about the same height as Rapunzel, maybe a little shorter, and had a crown of flowers on her head. The Sun Prince had tan skin, brown hair, blue eyes, a lopsided grin, and was taller than both the Summer Lady and Rapunzel. He was wearing a blue and white guard uniform. Rapunzel began to tear up, he reminded her so much of Jack.
"Oh, um, what's wrong?" he asked.
"You remind me of Jack!" blurted Rapunzel before breaking down and sobbing.
The Summer Lady bent down and hugged Rapunzel. "Your friend Jack?"
"Is with the Snow Queen!"
"Oh yes, I know."
Rapunzel stopped crying and glanced at the Summer Lady in surprise. "You, you know? How?"
The Summer Lady smiled. "Oh, the Snow Queen and I are friends, actually, and we send messages by mice as often as possible. Don't worry about Jack right now, he's safe with her. Just like you're safe with us."
"But, I have to get to him, and save him!"
"I know, but I have to get you ready."
Rapunzel blinked. "Ready? Ready for what?"
"To enter into the Snow Queen's kingdom. There's no way you would be able to survive that harsh land without her or my help."
Rapunzel sniffed. "Then, how can I enter?"
The Summer Lady patted her shoulder. "I have a very special flower that not only will it keep you warm, it will also protect you from that witch. But, you must eat it first and wait a while for the flower to become a part of you."
"How, how will that work?"
The Summer Lady shrugged. "Guess we're going to have to wait and find out. You're the first person to do this."
"Is it safe?"
"Oh, perfectly. See, this flower has the power to heal and protect, so you'll be perfectly fine."
"Oh, um, alright. How long will it take?"
The Summer Lady and the Sun Prince glanced at each other. The Summer Lady glanced back at Rapunzel as she let out a sigh. "A few months, at least."
Rapunzel's eyes widened. "A few months? But what about Jack?" she exclaimed.
The Summer Lady placed a hand on Rapunzel's shoulder. 'He's in the safest place he can be at this moment. I can assure you the Snow Queen is taking good care of him until you arrive."
"Ugh," muttered Rapunzel, "why couldn't she have just brought him to me instead of me having to go to her?"
"Because through this journey, you will find the key to saving him."
"Wait, you mean, you don't know what it is?"
The Summer Lady shook her head. "No, you have it. You just need to pinpoint what it is within you that can save him. Only you can find the key to saving him."
Rapunzel let out a sigh. "Alright, let's get this over with."
The Summer Lady nodded as she took Rapunzel's hand and led her towards a quaint castle followed by the Sun Prince. The castle was small, smaller than Rapunzel's castle. "Yes, let's. The faster we can get you to Jack, the better. The Snow Queen will do everything she can, but there's only so much she can do." Rapunzel nodded as she followed her into the castle. She gasped when they entered the sitting room. There, sitting on the coffee table, was a glowing, golden flower in a pot.
"What, what kind of flower is this?" asked Rapunzel in awe as she stepped forward to inspect it.
"It's a drop of the sun," replied the Sun Prince as he approached the table. "It, unfortunately, was used by some people to keep them young and they kept it hidden from the rest of the world so they can keep using it for themselves. So, I brought it here, and we've been looking after it ever since," he said as he draped his arm around the Summer Lady, "waiting for the right person to give it to, and for the right reasons. Looks like it's you, Rapunzel."
"Me? But, but why?"
The Summer Lady took her hand. "Because you are not thinking about yourself, but your friend."
"And as long as you only use the flower's powers to help others," said the Sun Prince, "you will never lose its powers. But the instant you start using it for your own gain, the flower will revert back into a sundrop and return to me. Are we clear on that?"
Rapunzel nodded vigorously. "Yes sir."
The Sun Prince grinned. "Good." He turned to the Summer Lady. "Shall we prepare the tea?"
She nodded, smiling. "Yes." The Sun Prince picked the flower while the Summer Lady got a pot of water boiling.
"Um, do you need my help with anything?" asked Rapunzel.
The Summer Lady shook her head. "No, we're good. Why don't you go lay down and rest for a bit. We'll let you know when the tea is done."
"And we'll be having supper soon," said the Sun Prince with a grin.
"Are you sure?"
"We're good," said the Summer Lady and the Sun Prince in unison.
"Alright," said Rapunzel. She went to sit down on the sofa and watched the two practically dance around each other in the kitchen. She smiled as the Sun Prince began teasing the Summer Lady. It wasn't long before peals of laughter echoed through the house as the two continued to dance around each other in the kitchen. The Sun Prince then got into some hilarious antics, and Rapunzel wanted to laugh and cry. He really reminded her so much of Jack. If it weren't for the fact that the Sun Prince had darker skin than Jack, she would have thought they were twins. A few minutes later, when dinner was on the table, the three sat down almost out of breath. Rapunzel finally gave into her cheer and laughed as long and as hard as she could. But though she still worried about Jack, there was a smile on her face, and she was glad. Jack always liked to see her smile. The three chatted gaily over dinner and until Rapunzel finished her tea. They chatted for a little while longer before Rapunzel was sent off to bed. The next morning, the beginning of the effects of the flower could be seen, Rapunzel's hair had turned golden.
Rapunzel stayed with the Sun Prince and the Summer Lady until they were satisfied that Rapunzel's hair had the full effects of the flower. It took a good two years. During that time, the Sun Prince and the Summer Lady taught her many things about plants and how to use the powers that now resided in her hair. The Summer Lady would show her the science behind caring for different flowers, while the Sun Prince showed her the art of arranging the garden and bouquets. Also during that time, the Snow Queen would send them mail, telling them of Jack's condition. It kept Rapunzel steady, happy to know that he wasn't in any danger of being completely taken over by the shard of glass in his heart. The Snow Queen had managed to get the shard out of his eye, but it was up to Rapunzel to get the one out of his heart.
When Rapunzel left, it was a teary farewell. She had become quite close with the Sun Prince and the Summer Lady, and they with her. But she needed to continue on to save Jack, and so she left, with a bag of supplies and her now golden, magical hair. They did promise to help her whenever she called for them.
Rapunzel continued on north for several weeks without seeing anyone. Until the day two men stepped out from behind a pair of trees. She stopped in her tracks and glanced between the two, feeling quite uneasy. The two looked practically identical, except one had sideburns. There was something else, they looked oddly familiar.
"What do we have here?" said one. Rapunzel's eyes widened. She knew that voice. These were the Stabbington brothers! What were they doing all the way out here?
"What's a pretty little lady doing all alone in the forest?" said the other as the two circled her. They paused as they got a really good look at her. "Wait, do we know you?"
"Ugh, will you two quit it!"
Rapunzel let out a soft breath of relief as another young man, much better looking than the Stabbingtons, appeared on the scene. He paused when he saw Rapunzel.
"Well hello there."
Rapunzel gave a nervous smile and a shaky wave. "H-hi."
"What's a little lady like you doing all the way out here, and all alone?"
The Stabbingtons groaned. "We just asked her that, you idiot," said one.
"She was about to answer when you interrupted."
"Oh, well I'm sorry I couldn't hear your whispers ten feet away. But that's not why I'm here." The Stabbingtons glanced at the newcomer. "Nick wants everyone back at the base. He has new orders."
"What about her?" said one of the Stabbingtons as he pointed at Rapunzel.
"She's coming too." Rapunzel blinked in surprise. The guy sighed. "Come on blondie. The least we can do is give you a place to sleep tonight."
Rapunzel brightened. "If it's not too much trouble for you, that would be wonderful."
"Well then, come on, we don't have all evening." The four traipsed through the woods until they came upon a rather large campsite. There were dozens of men sitting around the campfire. Upon getting closer, Rapunzel could see that they were all ruffians. Go figure, this was the type of crowd the Stabbingtons liked. She glanced at the guy leading the way. But why would such a good-looking fellow be in with this crowd? Her concerns quickly shifted to the fact that several pairs of eyes were watching her intently. She felt the very sudden desire to disappear and tried to shrink as small as possible. But, if anything, that managed to draw more attention to herself.
"Who you got there, Flynn?" asked one ruffian as he stepped into the group's path.
"A girl we found wandering in the forest," said one of the Stabbingtons.
"Your name ain't Flynn," snapped the ruffian as he raised his hook and glared at the twins. The twins glared back. Rapunzel noticed this and wondered if the Stabbingtons really were as welcome there, and if this group of ruffians was really all that bad. Whatever the case, thinking that the ruffians might be willing to help her and that they didn't like the Stabbingtons made her feel a little more confident.
"But he is right," said Flynn with a shrug, "a girl wandering in the forest. Told her we'd set her up for the night."
"OK, as long as you said it, not them. You know what Nick said."
"Uh, yeah, that's the reason why I went out to find them. Didn't need another one of you starting a fight with them when Nick did say he wanted us all here for the new orders."
"Yes, speaking of, shouldn't you four get to the campfire?" said a woman as she joined the group. She had brown hair that flowed past her shoulders, a white fur-lined hat, and a fur lined coat. She glanced at Rapunzel. "You can't join them, but I can take you to my tent and get you settled for the night."
"That would be wonderful, thank you."
Flynn kissed the woman's cheek. "That would be perfect, Katherine, thank you."
Katherine smiled. "Of course! Just, be sure to come and get me if Nick wants me in on it."
"Will do, sweetheart," said Flynn with a wink before giving her another kiss. Katherine led Rapunzel towards the tents while Flynn led the ruffian and the Stabbingtons to the fire. Rapunzel let out a gasp when they entered the tent. It was decorated rather fancily for someone living in a tent. A little walkway that encircled the bed was made out of colorful stones. There was a dresser and a bookcase situated on the far side of the tent, the bookcase just about overflowing with books. As Rapunzel got closer, she could see that the bed frame, the dresser, and the bookcase all had little engravings of dragons fighting knights, dragons guarding treasures, wyverns guardings hordes of books, princesses looking out of tower windows, and lions fighting unicorns.
"Wow, these, these are amazing! And done very well," said Rapunzel as she tried to look at every carving.
"Thank you! Nick made them for me. He made all the furniture we have," said Katherine, a hint of pride in her voice as she surveyed the wooden pieces with a smile.
"Has he tried selling some of his work?" asked Rapunzel. Katherine glanced at her oddly. "These carvings are done so well, it would be a shame if such talent was hidden."
Katherine seemed to relax and smiled again. "He has, a few pieces. But each one takes so much time, and not everyone wants to wait."
Rapunzel nodded. "I understand that. Making art does take a lot of time."
"Do you carve too?"
Rapunzel shook her head. "Oh no, but I do paint!"
"I'm sure everyone who sees your art must enjoy it."
Rapunzel glanced down as she nodded sadly. "Yes, they do."
Rapunzel let out a sigh before telling her tale, including the part with the Stabbingtons. Katherine only interrupted her to say, "We knew we shouldn't trust them. Nobody likes them." But no other word came out of her mouth until Rapunzel finished her tale. Katherine stared at her in shock for a few minutes before speaking. "Rapunzel, that's . . . you're . . ."
"Please don't tell anyone, not yet, anyway. I wouldn't want the Stabbingtons to get any funny ideas."
Katherine nodded. "I understand that. Our men are completely trustworthy, but not all can be trusted with a secret, I'm afraid." She chuckled. "I'm afraid I found that out the hard way."
"Oh, what's your secret? If you don't mind me asking?"
"Well, your highness . . ."
"Oh please, Rapunzel, just Rapunzel, until I leave."
"Of course, Rapunzel. Well, my secret is, or was, now that everyone knows it, that I really like Flynn."
"Oh, and he likes you back!"
Katherine grinned. "Yes. I was afraid that Nick wouldn't like it. He's always acted like my brother, you see, and told me that only the best guy could ever become my husband. But, you know, I think I shouldn't have worried, Nick does think Flynn is one of the best guys out there."
"I'm glad to hear that."
Katherine glanced at Rapunzel with a hint of sadness in her eyes. "I do hope that you can get your friend Jack back."
Rapunzel smiled sadly. "I hope so too. But the Summer Lady did receive updates from the Snow Queen about him, so, there's a chance, I just have to get to him."
Katherine nodded before giving Rapunzel a hug. "Well, if there's any way I can help you on your journey, let me know."
Rapunzel smiled warmly as she returned the hug. "I will. You know, I've always read and heard tales about ruffians. I think your gang should be in more stories, you're the nicest ruffians! Except the Stabbingtons, of course."
Katherine chuckled. "Of course. Now, I suggest you get some sleep, you still have a long ways to go to get to the Snow Queen's palace."
Rapunzel nodded, right before she let out a yawn. The two chuckled. "I guess it is time for bed. Good night, Katherine. Thank you for everything."
"Oh, I didn't do much, just giving you a place to rest your head. Good night, Rapunzel. Pleasant dreams."
Rapunzel nodded as she let out a another yawn and laid her head down on the pillow. The next instant, she was sound asleep.
Rapunzel felt like it had only been a few minutes since she fell asleep when someone was shaking her awake. She slowly opened her eyes and the figures of Katherine and Flynn came into focus, a third figure standing behind them with his arms crossed.
"Five more minutes, please?" mumbled Rapunzel groggily before turning over in her bed. . "No, you can't stay here another minute," said Flynn rather sternly.
Rapunzel's head snapped up as she glanced at Katherine with concern. "Wh-what? Why not? What's going on?"
"The Stabbingtons, they, they figured out who you are!" blurted Katherine as she almost pounced on Rapunzel in the bed.
"They've gone to a rival gang with this information. We need to get you out of here, immediately," said the third man.
"Nick has one of our horses saddled up to take you," said Flynn, nodding at the third man.
Nick nodded. "And it would be best if you left now. I'm sorry to have to turn you out like this, but it's best that you aren't here when the Stabbingtons returned."
Rapunzel quickly got out of the bed and began putting on her shoes. "But what about you?"
Nick shot her a grin. "We know how to handle them, don't worry about us. You get to your friend and set him free from the witch's curse."
"How can I ever thank you for letting me stay the night?"
Nick rubbed his beard. "Well, you are a princess. I'll think about it and let you know once you've returned home."
Rapunzel nodded as she stood up. "Sounds fair. Just, don't get killed before then."
Nick burst out laughing. "I like you. So don't worry, we definitely won't get killed. But first, we must make sure you do not get killed. Come, quickly." Rapunzel followed the trio out of the tent. The rest of their gang were bustling about, breaking camp.
Rapunzel began to wring her hands. "Oh, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean for you to have to go through all this trouble!"
Katherine laid a gentle hand on Rapunzel's shoulder. "It's not your fault. You probably wouldn't have even come across the camp if the Stabbingtons hadn't stopped you and brought you here."
"But now we must get you out of here. Come, quickly!" Nick led the way through the camp towards the largest tent Rapunzel had ever seen. She wondered how she hadn't seen it when she entered the camp. But she put that thought aside when she saw what it held. There were several horses housed in the tent, looking quite warm and comfortable. Except for one grumpy-looking one. His whole demeanor changed when he saw Rapunzel.
"Max!" exclaimed Rapunzel as she rushed forward and wrapped her arms around the horse's neck.
"You know this horse?" asked Flynn.
"Yes! He was my horse! We got separated by the witch before the Sun Prince and the Summer Lady found me!"
"Then we shall let you have him again for the rest of your journey," said Nick as he quickly saddled Max. "He didn't really like anyone here."
"He did like us more than the Stabbingtons, though, which makes sense now," said Flynn as he jumped in to help. Within seconds, Max was ready to go. Flynn helped Rapunzel into the saddle. "You keep going north, go save your friend!"
Rapunzel nodded. "I will! And I expect to come back to find you all alive!"
Nick chuckled. "Your wish is our command, your highness. Farewell!" Max took off.
"Farewell, and good luck!" shouted Katherine with a wave.
"Farewell!" Rapunzel was able to wave back before she lost sight of them. Max understood the importance of their mission, which was why he was chosen to be her steed. He also seemed tireless, even now as he galloped through the forest, going at a speed Rapunzel didn't think was possible. But the trees were whizzing by them as they left the encampment far behind, their faces to the north. Max galloped all day, only breaking once for a midday break, and then again for the night. The power of the sundrop in Rapunzel's hair provided them both with enough warmth that they didn't have to worry about keeping a fire going through the night. They got up at dawn and ate a quick breakfast before Max galloped all day, stopping for a quick lunch, and going again until night when they had a quick dinner and slept until dawn. After two weeks of the same routine every day, they came across something different. When Rapunzel saw it, she knew the time drew nigh to her completing her search. Before them stood a magnificent castle that looked like it was made of ice. Five towers spiraled into the sky, the middle one being the tallest, and several points sparkled like diamonds in the waning sunlight. An unearthly blue glow seemed to radiate around the door and one of the towers.
Rapunzel let out a breath. "We're almost there Max!" Max neighed as if to agree. "Let's save Jack!" Max huffed before taking off. He seemed to speed up with every step closer, as eager as Rapunzel to get to their final destination. When they got close enough, Rapunzel realized that the blue glow around the door was from the inside, the door was open, meaning the Snow Queen was expecting her. Max slowed down as soon as they were inside. There were lanterns filled with a soft blue glow, but bright enough for Rapunzel to see the exterior. The front hall had a grand staircase in the center, but there was no furniture. "Hello? Snow Queen? It's Rapunzel! I'm here!" She heard nothing but a slight echo. "Hello?" No answer. "M-maybe they're in the throne room." Max nodded and they went off in search of the throne room. They found it, but there was no sign of the Snow Queen still. Yet something in the middle of the throne room caught Rapunzel's attention. "Wait, is that . . . Jack!" she tumbled off of Max and rushed to the figure lying on the floor. She rolled him over, panicking. He was cold and his hair had turned white. "Oh, Jack, please be alive." as if to answer her question, a puff of air escaped his mouth. She began to shake him. "Jack, Jack! Wake up! Oh please, wake up!" She only got another puff of air. Hot tears began to fall from her face. No, she couldn't lose him, she didn't want to lose him, she realized at that moment that she loved him. "Oh Jack! Please!" She pressed her sobbing face into his chest. "Please Jack, come back to me! I . . . I love you!" She sobbed for a minute before a cough interrupted her. She quickly looked up, scanning the room, but she didn't see anyone but Max standing in the doorway. He neighed and pointed at her, clearly excited. "What?" She turned, and gasped. Jack was waking up! He coughed a couple more times before letting out a groan as he sat up. "Jack! You're alright!"
"Rapunzel? What, what's going on? Where am I?" He glanced around the room before his eyes widened with recognition. "Oh wait, I do know." He turned to Rapunzel and pulled her into a tight hug. "I'm so sorry for everything I said and did to you! I . . ."
Rapunzel put a finger to his lips. "It wasn't you, I know. You were being controlled by that witch."
"Yes, and you just saved me!" He got up and helped Rapunzel up. Something fell off his jacket to the ground. Jack picked it up. It was a piece of glass. "Why I think this is . . ." A purple-hued face with yellow eyes and white hair appeared in the glass.
"You think you've seen the last of me?" Jack and Rapunzel screamed while he dropped the glass. They backed away from the glass, clinging to each other in fear.
"Um, Snow Queen? Snow Queen!"
The witch cackled. "You think she can defeat me?" With wide-eyed horror, Jack and Rapunzel watched as the glass morphed into a lightning bolt and the witch stepped out. "She can't even destroy my glass, only prolong the inevitable." She raised her hands and purple lighting shot out towards them.
"Jack!" A figure darted out between them, the lightning bouncing off his shield.
He turned to Jack and Rapunzel. "Are you two alright?" He was clearly in his thirties, but he had white hair, just like Jack had now.
"We are, thanks to you," replied Jack.
"You!" They looked at the witch. "Did she really think she could keep my glass from your heart?"
The man growled. "She's kept it from my heart for this long, I'm sure she can keep it away long enough to find my one true love!" The witch sent out another volley of lightning, but the three were safe behind the shield. The man turned to Jack and Rapunzel. "And thanks to you two, I can finally hope again that I will be free of her curse."
Rapunzel smiled. "You're welcome."
"Leave them alone!" A wall of ice sprung up between the three and the witch.
"Well well well, if it isn't the Snow Queen herself. Finally come to face me? You've avoided this for so long." Rapunzel gasped when she saw the Snow Queen walk elegantly in a blue, pink, and white dress.
"Wow, you're beautiful!"
The Snow Queen gave her a small smile. "Thank you, princess. But she is right." She turned to the witch with rage in her eyes. "I have avoided this for too long."
"You couldn't help it though," said a young man who looked to be around the Snow Queen's age. He was dressed in silver armor with a red bandanna. His violet eyes seemed to look upon the Snow Queen with love. "You were gathering information on how to stop her, she did cover her tracks well." He looked at the witch with the same rage. "But we have all the information we need now to stop you once and for all."
"Oh, is that so?" sneered the witch. "And what makes you think you have all the information?" The two looked at her, a worry starting to seep into their eyes. The witch cackled.
"Don't listen to her, Snow Queen, Wind Lord! She's just trying to weaken your resolve!"
"Thank you Captain," said the Snow Queen, "but please keep Jack and Rapunzel safe. Those are your orders."
The Captain nodded. "Yes ma'am."
The Snow Queen and the Wind Lord took a step towards the witch. She cackled. "You two can't defeat me!"
"That's why we're here," came a male voice. Rapunzel gasped as the Sun Prince and the Summer Lady stepped out from behind Max. Another man was with them. He was chubby and seemed bigger than the Sun Prince. He had the darkest skin of the group, brown hair, brown eyes, and was wearing an orange and yellow suit.
"The Sun Prince, the Summer Lady, and the Stone Lord!" exclaimed the Captain.
"How did you get here?" asked Rapunzel and the witch at the same time.
The Sun Prince grinned and pointed at the Stone Lord. "Travelling underground is pretty fast." He shot an apologetic look at Rapunzel. "I'm pretty sure you had the answer to saving Jack this entire time, but we needed you to know it. Otherwise, we would have used the Stone Lord's fast method of travel." He then turned to the Snow Queen and the Wind Lord and bowed. "We're here, let the party commence!"
Jack grinned. "I like you."
The Wind Lord groaned and rolled his eyes. "Just as I figured."
Rapunzel giggled. "I did too."
"Now's not the time," the Snow Queen ordered. "We have a witch to take care of. Get in position!" The witch realized that she was in trouble as the five surrounded her. She began to let loose volley after volley of lightning, but the Wind Lord and the Snow Queen used their powers to keep her bolts from hitting the other three while they got in position around her. The Captain began inching Jack and Rapunzel towards the door.
"You can't defeat me!" shouted the witch, but she looked worried as she glanced at the five surrounding her.
"Oh I think we can," said the Wind Lord with determination in his eyes and voice.
"Ready!" The five raised their hands at the Snow Queen's shout, their hands shrouded in a soft glow. "Aim!"
"No!" shouted the witch as she raised her own hands. A swirling, black cloud began to form above her head. Max got behind Jack and Rapunzel as the Captain raised his shield.
"Now!" Beams of light shot out from their hands, first yellow from the Stone Lord, then blue from the Snow Queen, Green from the Summer Lady, red from the Sun Prince, and finally a deep purple, almost black, from the Wind Lord. The Witch screamed as the beams of light hit her. Bolts of lightning burst from the cloud, hitting the five. They screamed, and their beams of light began to flicker.
"Stay strong!" shouted the Snow Queen after she got her scream out.
"We can do this! We have to stay together!" shouted the Wind Lord. They pushed harder, the light grew brighter. The Captain ushered Jack, Rapunzel and Max out of the room. They heard the five yell with determination and the witch screamed out in pain as the light grew even brighter.
"Close your eyes!' shouted the Captain. Jack pulled Rapunzel in tight while she held onto Max's reins, the three squeezing their eyes shut tight. The Captain raised his shield as high as he could before closing his own eyes shut. There were a few moments of silence before they heard the Snow Queen's voice.
"It's alright now, everything's over. We've defeated the witch!" There were hugs all around as they jumped and shouted for joy.
"Now, I think we should get Jack and Rapunzel back home!" said the Sun Prince. "I know their families are getting very worried."
The Stone Lord rolled up his sleeves and grinned broadly. "Alright, everyone, gather around! We're taking the Cave Express!"
"Wait, that's what you call it?" asked the Sun Prince incredulously.
The Stone Lord shrugged. "Eh, it works." He glanced at everyone. "Well come on, get a little closer to me, please." They got closer to him.
"Wait, why do we have to get close to you?" The Stone Lord grinned at Jack before tapping the ground with his right foot. A giant hole appeared beneath them.
"That's why." Everyone screamed as they fell through the hole, sliding this way and that. Rapunzel let out peals of laughter, but she hung on to Jack. A minute later, they fell out of the hole back onto solid ground. They took a moment before getting up.
"Whoa! How did you do that?" asked Jack.
"A little trick I learned from the pookas," said the Stone Lord.
The Wind Lord walked around slightly dizzy. "OK, I am never doing that again."
"Oh come on, it was fun!" said the Sun Prince.
"That's what you think."
"Alright, you two, knock it off," said the Captain, stepping between them. "Let's get these two home first, then you can argue as much as you want once we've left Corona."
Rapunzel gasped. "We're home! Oh, Jack, we're home!" The two hugged before dashing through the gates of Corona, Max right behind them. The sun was just rising over the horizon, and people were getting up and about. A murmur began softly as the group made their way towards the palace and grew until they realized the whole town was following them, talking excitedly. The king and queen came out to meet them.
"Mother, Father!" cried out Rapunzel as she ran into their arms.
"Oh Rapunzel, my dear Rapunzel, you're alright!"
"Mom!" After the happy reunion, the whole story was told several times, Rapunzel emphasizing the promise she had made to the bandits who were so kind to her. It was once they were finally all sitting down at the dining table that Jack let out a yelp.
"Rapunzel! Your hair! It's, it's brown again!"
Rapunzel looked at her hair. He was right! She gasped when she looked at him. "So is yours!"
The Sun Prince chuckled as he set the flower on the table. Everyone gasped as it bloomed. "If your majesties permit, I would like to present you with a drop of the sun. If any other threat should arise, this flower should protect you. If it can't, it will allow you to contact me and the Summer Lady for aid."
The Snow Queen then placed a round stone upon the table as well. "And I would like to give you this drop of the moon. Like the drop of the sun, it should protect you from most harm and grant you the ability to contact me should the need arise."
The king rose and bowed. "Why, why thank you! You are too kind! You have destroyed the evil witch and returned my daughter and her friend home safely. And now this? How can we ever repay you?"
The Snow Queen smiled. "Just be kind to others and help those in need."
"But if these tools were ever used for ill intent, they will return immediately to us," said the Wind Lord. The others nodded.
"Well, then, may I persuade you to stay for a party?" said the queen.
The Stone Lord raised his hand. "Can I help cook?"
The queen blinked. "Oh, but . . ."
The Sun Prince interrupted her. "Oh, you really should let him. He's one of the best cooks around!" His friends agreed.
The queen shrugged. "Oh, well, if you insist." The party was a blast, everyone had a fantastic time. Later, when it was over, Rapunzel took the sun drop flower into her greenhouse and planted it at the request of her parents. When she finished planting it, she found Jack's arms wrapped around her.
"So, I never got to reply," began Jack, nuzzling his face in her hair.
"Reply to what?" asked Rapunzel.
"You told me you love me, I didn't get a chance to reply."
Rapunzel turned and placed her arms around her neck. "So, what's your reply?"
Jack smiled. "I love you too." With the sun drop flower glowing at their feet and the moonlight streaming through the skylight, they shared their first kiss.
(Author's Note: Can you guess who plays the villain and the six powerful beings? I'll give you a couple of hints, they're from a pretty popular show on Netflix and that's the Castle of Lions. ;P Anyway, hope you liked reading this!)