Several days have gone by since the Eight Chosen children were told the tale of the Great Division, the Dark Crystal and of Rapunzel's journey.
Now once more they've settled in one of the guestrooms Kibou Manor, intent on hearing more of the stories.
"Well, the translation of the records detailing the Age of resistance are still the works…" Beth informed. "But from the look of it there's a whole collection of adventures on what happens to Rapunzel, Eugene, Jen and Kira that lead up to marriage and bringing back more gelflings."
"Really?!" Mimi gasped. "There's gelflings that the Skeksis didn't destroy?"
"More adventures?" Sora questioned.
"Here's the story on how it begins…" Kylie opened the book of secrets once more.
"This is the story of how I died… and went to heaven! Okay, so the Kingdom of Corona, to be exact, but hey, let's not get hung up on semantics.
Once upon a time, a single drop of sunlight fell from the heavens. You know what? I'm just gonna give you the rapid-fire shorthand here. The sundrop created a golden flower with healing powers, creepy, old, Mother Gothel sang a song to said flower to regain her youth. Yada, yada, yada, and the queen got sick, flower healed queen, queen gave birth to Rapunzel, who was born with the flower's magical healing powers, and everything was all flying lanterns and cheering subjects, until Gothel stole the princess and kept her locked in a tower for 18 long years. Then the princess was rescued by a dashing, steely-eyed, suave, smoldering, devilishly charming rogue. So, the beautiful young maiden and the handsome rogue made a deal.
"We followed some lanterns, Gothel led you into Thra and you two got dragged into the creepy buzzard's politics while the chill Mystics explained the prophecy to gelfling Jen and me. We run into Kira, head for the castle, you saved her from death, and then you got arguably the world's most overly dramatic haircut."
"And then, I was reunited with my long-lost family."
But that is where the new story began. Six months had passed, Rapunzel was loving life inside the Kingdom of Corona, and her coronation to officially become princess was drawing closer.
Of course the question the young ones are asking was if they ever married?
Yes, Eugene and Rapunzel did marry. But make no mistake, getting to the wedding day and the happily ever after would be the biggest adventure they and their gelfling friends would ever face.
Now Rapunzel had made another friend among the castle staff: Cassandra, the fearless adoptive daughter to the Captain of the Guard and her new lady in waiting. A fiery young woman with pale skin, black hair and olive green eyes. She had been given the task to care for Rapunzel and help her fit in.
It was two days before Rapunzel's coronation, she and her parents were welcoming the guests that would be attending. However, there were two faces Rapunzel and Eugene were hoping to see among the new arrivals. To be precise, the two gelflings they've befriended in Thra before returning to Corona.
"I present the Duchess of Quintonia." The herald announced.
A woman in an elaborate salmon gown and an ornate peruke, holding a fan demurely stepped out.
Rapunzel smiled. "Wow, can I just say, I love your hair. I used to have really long hair too, but-"
The duchess replied haughtily. "This is a handwoven coiffure weft from the finest silk and Vacuna fabrics. It designates high social status. You think you'd know that."
"Uh, still. Nice to meet you."
The Duchess looked down at Rapunzel's bare feet. "Sadly not nice enough to wear shoes, I'm afraid." She laughed derisively before walking away. Really."
Pascal rolled his eyes. That woman was very rude.
Rapunzel dropped her gaze even as her mother place a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"Sorry." she whispered to her father.
"Oop, incoming!" Eugene grinned from his spot in the crowd.
King Frederic looked to the entrance and with a warm smile, gestured to the guards to let the arriving newcomers in. For these ones were the VIP guests his daughter had been expecting.
People yelped and moved away as two landstriders rushed into the courtyard, much to Rapunzel and Eugene's delight. Riding atop were two gelflings a dark haired male and a blonde female holding a fizzgig.
Eugene whispers into the Herald's ear then moved away.
"The gelfling heroes of Thra! Jen and Kira!"
Forgetting entirely what she'd been told about saving bear hugs for another time, in her excitement, Rapunzel rushed to greet her and Eugene's friends from Thra.
"I'm happy to see you two again!" Rapunzel threw her arms around the two gelflings.
They were surprised at how much strength their human friend had – enough to lift the three of them off the ground!
"So are we." Jen smiled.
Rapunzel then glanced around, "Where's Aughra, she didn't want to come?"
"She said she'll here before the ceremony tomorrow." Kira explained gently. "So we were told to go on ahead to Corona to see you and Eugene."
"Great! I believe I still owe you two a tour of the kingdom."
While Rapunzel is happy to be reunited with her family, she struggled to adjust to her new life as a princess. She is unable to go out into town without being heavily escorted by the Royal Guards, she does not know how to properly greet noble people who have come for her royal coronation and lacks at wearing shoes. She tries her best, and despite having a loving family and a supportive circle of friends, Rapunzel feels overwhelmed with the amount of responsibility that comes with being a princess.
The day of the royal banquet, Rapunzel was mildly disappointed the day out she'd intended with her gelfling friends to show them Corona hadn't gone as she'd hoped. Because of her father's fear of losing her again, he denies her desire to explore the world.
So in her bedroom that afternoon with Kira and Cassandra, the handmaiden offered Rapunzel a suggestion that caught her interest.
"Uh, you mean sneak me out?" Rapunzel questioned.
"Exactly. What you do when no one's looking is your business."
"Can you do that? And with so many of the guards?" Kira inquired, looking at the doors.
Casandra smirked. "Is water wet?"
There was then a knock. "The royal banquet is ready to receive the princess now." one of the maids announced.
"Cheer up, Raps. Hey, maybe your dad got someone to chew your food for you." Casandra snarked.
At the banquet it was quite an event, except for a few details. While Jen and Kira (feeling a little out of place in small formal wear) were given a separate table like the other nobles. Poor Eugene was seated at the children's table.
"I don't understand why you are so upset, sweetheart. I said you could do whatever you wanted. That's exactly what you did." King Frederic was saying to Rapunzel.
"Hmm, you didn't say anything about a battalion tagging along." Rapunzel replied wryly.
"Why would I need to? You're royalty, making a public appearance." King Frederic said pointedly.
"But, Dad –"
It was at this point that Eugene clears throat. "Ladies and gentlemen, Dukes and Duchesses, Barons and Baronesses, Marquis and, you know, the female version of those, may I share a moment of history with you." He then looked to Rapunzel, "Princess, would you join me up here? Tonight, we celebrate our love for the princess.
I, for one, can think of no better way to celebrate the love I have for this woman than this."
Eugene the held Rapunzel's hands and got down on one knee. Said gesture made Frederic's jaw drop. And Cassandra's and Pascal's.
However not knowing what it meant, Jen and Kira were confused. "What is it?"
"What's going on?" Kira whispered to Cassandra.
"He's proposing." The handmaiden replied.
"Proposing what?" Jen questioned.
"As in: he's going to ask Rapunzel to marry him." Cassandra emphasized.
Understanding dawned ton the two gelfling. "Oh!" This got their full attention, even Fizzgig looked up in interest.
Eugene had produced the little box with the ring and begun his speech, "Rapunzel, from the moment I first met you and you knocked me out with that frying pan, I knew it was love. You're my light, you're my best friend and I want to be your partner in all things."
Rapunzel gasps in delight, unable to speak momentarily.
"I can't wait to laugh with you and share with you. I see us raising our children here, and our children's children, and celebrating banquets of our own in this very hall for many, many, many, many years to come."
But as Eugene's words start to sink in, Rapunzel's mind had begun to race… there was so much she wanted to see and to do out there (she barely got to see most of Thra the last time she and Eugene were there).
"I want to ride our horses out to the Corona wall together each and every morning until we're both very, very old and gray. I love you, Rapunzel, and I want to spend the rest of our lives here together."
"Here? In this castle… forever?"
"I mean, unless you want to rent, but I hardly see how we're going to top this."
And I want to spend the rest of my life with you here, and it doesn't get any better than this, this castle
Princesses need to be protected at all times.
Rapunzel is naturally shocked and delighted, but despite her deep love for him, she does not feel ready to marry him. Instead, she wants to live the life she has been longing for.
"I've Wow! I love you, Eugene, but- but I can't! Just not, not now. Um, I need some air." She runs off, almost as though the Garthim were on her heels.
The guests gasped and started to murmur. Jen and Kira looked concerned, Cassandra shot Eugene a dirty look.
That same evening, the gelflings joined Rapunzel and Cassandra (they were somewhat fortunate that Cassandra barely deemed them a threat) as open ears to listen to her worries.
"Oh, I feel horrible about Eugene. I-I do love him, and I wanna marry him someday but not like this!"
Jen was thoughtful himself. "I'm not so sure what to tell you."
"I suppose it's the thought that counts perhaps he was rushing into things." Kira shrugged.
The gelflings too, had some concerns of their own. True, they loved each other as many couples deeply in love, but they didn't want to just be together to replenish the gelfling race. They wanted to be together because they want to be.
"Ugh! I need to get out and clear my head WITHOUT a fleet of guards tailing me." Rapunzel declared firmly.
"That's makes more than two of us." Jen added.
Cassandra stood up. "Say no more."
The next thing they knew, Cassandra led them to a closet full of every weapon imaginable.
"Whoa! Where's the war?" Rapunzel gaped in astonishment.
"Well, when your dad is captain of the guards, you tend to collect stuff." Cassandra responded proudly.
Soon enough the handmaiden changed out of her dress and headdress. Revealing her black hair to be bob-cut layered hair with gray highlights. She now sported a grayish-brown shirt, black leather gloves, a dark brown belt with a purse and a dagger on it, dark brown-and-red striped leggings and brown boots.
"I have a feeling this is going to be fun." Rapunzel had donned a black cloak. "Pascal, I need you to stay here and make sure no one knows I'm gone."
The little chameleon did a salute.
"But are all these blades necessary?" Jen wondered. "We're merely stepping out into the forest."
"The only true question, gumshoes is: Are you in or out?" Cassandra asked him and Kira.
Kira had intended to join them but had to stay behind to help Pascal and Fizzgig as Eugene walked in attempting to speak to Rapunzel. Needless to say it was a rather awkward situation.
In the King and Queen's bedchambers, King Frederic looked a little down in the mouth.
"Oh honey, stop beating yourself up. Rapunzel just needs some space. Nobody said dealing with teenagers would be easy." Queen Ariana reassured him.
King Frederic looked to his wife. "Teenager or not, Ariana, she will be queen one day." He then turned back to the window. "I have to prepare her for that."
He gazed at the outside view, memories flashed back. Right back to that terrible day.
His infant daughter crying. And his helpless shouts "Guards, guards! My child- Rapunzel!"
And the thought of those vile things – the Skeksis- having gotten their twisted claws into his daughter, and Lord knows what horrible plan they'd intended to use her against him and Ariana was terrifying scenario.
"I just want to protect her."
Cassandra, Rapunzel and Jen had a taken a small boat with the horses. As Cassandra promised, they were getting further from Corona and able to enjoy their night out in the forest.
Rapunzel let down her hood to feel the wind going through her hair. Cassandra keeping watch and Jen climbing up a tree too look at the view. Next, Rapunzel crossed a stream in her bare feet then raced the fishes with Jen doing the same in playful competition.
They reached a fork in the forest path. Rapunzel immediately took the darker path where they nearly ran into a wolf that had been stalking a rabbit. The animal growled at them menacingly. Jen tensed up, Cassandra pulled out her sword. But the two were utterly dumbfounded when Rapunzel merely approached the wolf and was rubbing its belly as one would a dog. With the wolf clearly enjoying it.
Nearby was a pond with fireflies, the two human women and male gelfling exchanged delighted glances before getting closer to the long grass. Cassandra pushed it aside but as Rapunzel and Jen pushed aside some cattails, the entire section lit up by fireflies much to their amazement.
Eventually they reach the Corona wall as they'd followed the fireflies.
Rapunzel briefly took one uncertain glance at Corona in the distance before hopping down to the other side of the wall.
They soon reached an old bridge, Cassandra takes the princess to the former location of the healing flower that saved Rapunzel and her mother when the latter fell ill during her pregnancy.
"So, what did you want to show me?"
"Believe me, it's better if you see it for yourself."
"They're beautiful. What are they?"
Jen touched one with his small palm. "And where did they come from?"
"That's the thing: nobody knows. They just sprouted up here about a year ago." Casandra responded, pulling out her sword. "And watch this. Uh, you two might wanna stand back for this."
She uses her sword on the rock spikes, which breaks with ease and the thorn-like rocks remained intact.
Rapunzel and Jen were completely stunned.
"They're unbreakable." Casandra concluded. "Wanna know the weirdest part?"
She turned to look at something. Rapunzel and Jen followed her gaze towards the cliff where a stone slab containing an engraving stood nearly surrounded by the majority of the black rocks.
"This is where they found the miracle flower that saved your mom." Cassandra explained.
Rapunzel approached the stone engraving, wiping off the dust. "And me."
Then the rocks started to glow a faint blue as Rapunzel moved her hand close to one, catching Jen and Cassandra off guard. But the moment her index finger touched the rock, it glowed a blinding bluish light and Rapunzel was thrown backwards towards her two friends by an unseen force!
Once they started to get their bearings, Jen was the first to sit up and looked around. He saw that Cassandra was alright but when he looked to Rapunzel, his jaw dropped.
Rapunzel blinked at him. "What's wrong?" She noticed the cause as she ran her hand through her hair and was stunned to find a long blonde glowing bang.
As if that shocking enough, one of the sharp looking rocks burst out of the ground just a few feet from them. Then another. And another. Until an entire lining of rocks began rapidly sprouting towards them!
Naturally that sent the three of them running.
"Wait! What is-" Rapunzel yelped.
"You two get to the horses as fast as you can and don't look back." Cassandra ordered.
The two did as they were told, running straight into the forest. But as they fled, Jen noticed something extraordinary happening to Rapunzel.
Her once short brown hair was starting to glow a brilliant gold and growing longer and longer by the second. It glowed even brighter, and as she makes it out of the woods with Jen, her hair had once again seventy feet long and the same golden blonde color as the day she'd first met her friends.
Jen actually stopped in his tracks to stare. Rapunzel looked at her own once more long locks in shock. "Uhm, Cassandra…?" She called out uncertainly.
Cassandra dashed right out of the woods. "We need to get -Whoa! What? What happened?" She was as perplexed as they were when she got a look at what happened with Rapunzel's hair.
Jen shakily pointed. "I-it just grew back! But I don't understand!"
Rapunzel shook her head. "I have no idea either, but we'll have to deal with it later."
Quickly she took both Cassandra and Jen's hands and ran for the old bridge for the rocks were still headed their way.
To be continued…
Author's note: Yeah, this one was long overdue. Thought I'd get started on it before I introduce my eventual other fic before the third season of the Tangled series.