Without looking back, the gelfling and two human women raced across the bridge as fast as they could.
Just then Rapunzel gave a yelp. "Cassandra! Jen! My hair!"
The two stopped and spun around to see Rapunzel was tugging at her own hair, for the near end of it stuck to one part of the bridge!
Both woman and gelfling were at her side tugging and pulling at the blonde locks to pry it loose.
"It's stuck tightly!" Jen grunted.
The rocks kept approaching and they reached the bridge. There was a booming impact which sent part of the bridge flying in a vertical position for a few seconds before it fell back down.
Except it was starting to fall apart along with Rapunzel's hair still stuck to it! Poor Rapunzel as was starting to be pulled back, Jen held her fast while Cassandra ran to the end of her hair intending to cut it only to pull out her broken sword.
No other choice she rushed back just in time before both Rapunzel and Jen were almost pulled to their doom!
Seeing them in trouble, Maximus galloped across the crumbling bridge then slammed his hooves into the section holding Rapunzel's hair. This broke it loose, sending Rapunzel, Jen and Cassandra backwards.
However the portion of the bridge they were on has started to fall apart and the rocks were getting closer. Maximus ran back across the bridge and made a flying jump to the edge.
Knowing they would fall to their end if they stayed, the trio leaped for the horse. Rapunzel landed, Cassandra got a brief grip before slipping and grasping at the edge of the cliff.
Fortunately Fidella pulled her up by the shirt. Cassandra remembered. "Jen!"
Rapunzel started pulling her hair back up. "Hang on, I got him."
As she pulled, it revealed the gelfling had held on to Rapunzel's locks as a safety rope. "Or rather, I've got her." He commented.
Behind them, the bridge finally collapsed. Looks like no one will be using that bridge anytime soon.
Cassandra brushed herself off. "See? Told you I'd get you in and out without anyone knowing. Piece of cake."
Rapunzel turned to her in exasperation. "Piece of cake!? Piece of cake? Uh, did you see the 70 feet of my-father's-going-to-kill-me growing from my head!?"
Cassandra blinked. "One problem at a time please." she said even as her mind raced. They all rode back to Corona just as the sun was rising, except there was one little oversight. Because of the coronation, they've doubled security at the gates. Which left them having to use Rapunzel's hair to climb right into her bedroom through the window. Fortunately Maximus covered for them by temporarily dismissing the guards to another post.
"There you are!" Kira gasped rushing to them as they climbed in through the window. "I was so worr—oh! When did THIS happen?!" She'd stopped short when she saw Rapunzel's hair.
Fizzgig let out a sound of shock. As expected Kira was flummoxed. After all the last time she'd seen her first female human friend with hair this long, they'd been surrounded by nine angry skeksis.
"Long night, but we need to cut it!" Rapunzel replied then pointed to her sewing kit. "Quick, hand me the scissors!"
"So what do we wanna do here? Maybe a bob, how about some layers?" Cassandra wondered, holding up the scissors.
"Just cut it!" Rapunzel turned around
Cassandra took one strand of hair but as she closed the blade around it, the scissors broke!
Even Maximus leaned in curiously.
"Uh-oh? Why 'uh oh'? There shouldn't be any 'uh ohs'." Rapunzel turned and sees the broken scissors. "Uh oh."
"Was your hair always this strong?" Cassandra asked.
Kira shook her head dumbfounded. "No, I was able to cut it with the dagger back in the castle!"
"Try again." Rapunzel told them.
This time Cassandra pulled out a blade. But when she tried, it only bent leaving them all dumbfounded.
"We're gonna need a plan B." Rapunzel said worriedly.
Over the next hour, Cassandra and the two gelflings tried almost every blade they could get their hands on to cut Rapunzel's hair, but it was impossible.
"Forget it." Cassandra groaned. "It's just like those stupid rocks. It's unbreakable."
"We can't forget it! Today is my coronation." Rapunzel said worriedly.
"But how are we going to hide this from everyone else without them noticing?" Jen expressed.
There came a knock on door. "Hey, sunshine, are you in there?"
Cassandra stopped Rapunzel from opening the door. "You can't let Eugene see you."
"He can't know anything about last night. I told you, Rapunzel. If it gets out that I took you outside Corona, I'm done for."
"But I trust Eugene." Rapunzel replied.
"Same as us." Kira added.
"Well, I don't." Cassandra said worriedly. "My dad will have me taken off princess detail. We'll never see each other again."
Eugene's voice called. "Oh come on, we've been looking for you all night."
Of course they couldn't keep it a secret from him. The moment he heard Rapunzel yelp as part of it was still on the blade and nearly pulled her back, he burst in.
"Stand back! Are you ok- Holy hair!" He exclaimed the moment he got a good look. Pascal's jaw dropped in delight.
Rapunzel laughed nervously. "Surprise!"
To say Eugene was flabbergasted was the understatement of the century. To the point he started rambling as he fidgeted. "Okay. This is new, I mean, no! Not new. Right? Because we've seen this, obviously. That whole magic thing is involved again. It was magic right? Actually, you know what? You don't need to tell me. I'm just going to go ahead and say your hair magically grew back. I'm not going to ask how. Obviously you don't want to tell me or else you wouldn't have to tried to hide it from me. So, I won't ask how it grew back, but tell me please, how did it grow back? Don't answer that. The important thing is you're okay. You're okay, right? Because as long as you're okay, I don't care what happened. But I mean, I care, obviously I care, but I'm sure there is a reasonable explanation. Where is the war? That you'll share… when you're ready."
Rapunzel smiled softly. "Thank you for understanding."
"Oh, come on, really? I thought we trusted each other, Rapunzel."
"We do! I do, it's just…"
"Fine, fine, fine. You know what? I can't make you tell me what happened, but obviously you're keeping something from me. But whatever it is, I just want you to know you should never feel like you have to hide anything from me. You don't hide things from the people you love. Ever." Eugene tried to sound supportive even as he was dying to know what brought it on.
There came another knock. "Rapunzel, honey." Queen Arianna's voice called.
"Hide your hair, woman! You gotta hide your hair." Eugene looked panicked.
They all knew that Rapunzel's parents cannot know about it. In order to hide it, Rapunzel wears an oversized wig as she has breakfast with her parents. There in the gazebo, King Frederic revealed that after discussing with Arianna, he admits his methods regarding Rapunzel's freedom have been rather unfair. He confesses his trouble of balancing his role as both King and her father but promises to reconsider his methods. He also explains of Rapunzel's future as Queen, revealing she will gain many responsibilities, such as protecting Corona from dangers both outside and inside the kingdom.
What none of them knew was that as they spoke, several delinquents are committing crimes throughout Corona, but they are soon captured and taken to the dungeons at the castle. Except they seemed rather calm and unphased.
A little later before the ceremony, Queen Ariana paid her daughter a visit.
"You left so quickly after breakfast I-I didn't have a chance to give this to you." She said holding out a mid-sized wooden box. "I know it's a little early for a coronation gift but I thought you might like to see it now."
Rapunzel opened the box to find two journals inside. She took out the first and began to read one of the entries aloud. "18th of July. We embarked on a safari to the most remote plains of the third continent." She flicked to another page. "21st of May. Had to take shelter in a hidden cave to escape the fury of a violent storm."
Her mother looked over warmly as Rapunzel continued to read with excitement. "12th of April. Helped villagers rebuild their war torn homes… Mom, is this yours? Did you actually do all this?"
Queen Ariana said to her. "Rapunzel, before I met your father, I was so much like you. I had no idea what I was supposed to do in this world. So I went out and found my own way."
Rapunzel took out the second journal then opened it to see that it was blank. She looked at her mother questioningly.
"Your father is right about one thing, you will be queen someday, but only you get to decide what kind of queen you'll be. And no one can tell you the best way to make that decision."
"But how can I if, wait - are you suggesting that I should –"
"Honey find a way to fill those pages. I only ask that you be safe, be smart, and above all be true to yourself."
Rapunzel turned one page and saw words written on the cover. "Plus est en vous?"
Queen Ariana smiled and said the words in French. "Plus est en vous." She then explained. It means, 'There is more in you.'"
Rapunzel hugged her mother, thankful for the gift.
Now the coronation was underway, Aughra from Thra had arrived just in time to attend. Jen was already standing next to Eugene both of them in formal wear, waiting for Kira and Rapunzel.
Behind the doors, Cassandra and Kira were helping Rapunzel out with the finishing touches. The handmaiden was back in her blue dress and head dress while the female gelfling was wearing a little red velvet dress and an ivory colored bodice. Her wings were folded neatly behind her.
"This would have been so much easier with the other girls helping, but they're such gossips, half the kingdom would know about your hair by now." Cassandra remarked.
"This will have to do until then." Kira said as she helped tucking the rest of the blonde locks into the wig.
"Are you sure you can't see it?"
Casandra pulled up the back of the neckline. "Positive. Are you sure you can pull this off?"
Rapunzel opened the door and looked out briefly before closing it. "I have to."
"Just be careful you don't trip on this." Cassandra snarked. Under the dress, Rapunzel was wearing a hoop skirt and a new pair of shoes.
"It's not the dress I'm worried about." Rapunzel replied. "How do people walk in these things? Whoa!"
"I agree. I think mine a size too small at the tip." Kira replied, she lifted part of her skirt to reveal she was also wearing shoes.
"Just relax. This is going to be fine." Casandra reassured them.
Finally, the doors opened. Kira, took a quick path to join Eugene, Jen and Aughra holding Fizzgig. They all turned around to see Rapunzel begin walking up the path. Except with the entire weight of her hair, it was difficult to keep the wig balanced.
The Duchess of Quintonia leaned in to whisper derisively. "How embarrassing for her. This is going to take forever!" And she moved away.
Aughra and the two gelflings glared at the woman's back.
"Bitter contrarian!" Aughra grumbled about the Duchess. "Best keep on your toes around that one!"
Finally Rapunzel made up to where her parents were standing as the bishop was speaking.
"The wearer of this crown is a shining example of the promise that is Corona, an ambassador of goodwill to those visiting from afar, and an inspiration to those fortunate enough to live within her borders."
Rapunzel turned to give Eugene and the others the thumbs up which they returned. Cassandra began walking up to join them to watch, as Pascal peeked out from Cassandra's headdress. But there was something off about the guard that just emerged from the doors. Why was he holding them closed with that axe?
Glancing at Cassandra, Kira and Fizzgig noticed too. Why were the guards starting to block off the exits? Fizzgig made a soft little growl, to which Kira tried to calm.
"But above all, the chief responsibility of the crown is to keep the people of Corona safe from dangers, near and far. And there are many. This mandate is not to be taken lightly." The Bishop was saying.
Pascal tapped Cassandra's neck with his tail. The woman took a quick glance around her. As the daughter of the Captain of the Guard, and a royal handmaiden, she's familiar with EVERYONE who works in the castle. And those guards that are starting to show up, she didn't recognize any of them.
She stopped close to the gelflings then whispered to Pascal. "Go find Max."
The chameleon did as he was told. Cassandra then looked to Eugene, Jen and Aughra then motioned with her eyes to look at the guards. Their expressions became tense. What was going on?
"There will come a day when the walls that surround Corona are threatened by malfeasance. A day-"
The doors opened allowing a group of thugs to infiltrate the chapel. They were led by a familiar-looking woman with magenta lips, wavy auburn hair with a red streak, brown eyes, skull and roses tattoo on the left arm.
Eugene blinked. "Lady Caine?"
Of course, the guests panicked and began to scatter but many of them were caught by the thugs
"Release my guests immediately."
The woman, Lady Caine turned to scoff at the king. "What's the matter, Fred? Am I ruining your little girl's perfect day?"
Rapunzel recognized her face. "The Duchess?"
Lady Cain: "Oh honey, I am no duchess."
"Huh! I'm not even surprised." Aughra quipped.
Rapunzel was confused. "I don't understand."
"Of course you wouldn't, Rapunzel. But try to follow along." Lady Caine said darkly then leaned into the other young woman's ear, "This is all your fault!"
"You see, after your untimely disappearance, your father locked every criminal in the kingdom, including a simple petty thief- My father! I saw him thrown into a cage and hauled off like some animal, never to be seen again. So I thought I'd come back and return the favor."
At that moment more of the criminals brought up a prison wagon.
"Load 'em up, boys." Lady Caine ordered.
One by one the guests were herded into the prison wagon
"Your turn, Your Majesty." Lady Caine sneered. "Oh come now, you didn't think we'd leave our prized pig in the pen, did you?"
Two thugs took King Frederic by the arms and began leading him to the prison cart.
"Dad?" Rapunzel looked to her father worriedly.
"Rapunzel, stay back."
"No. There's nothing you can do. As your father and your king, I command you to stay put." The King told his daughter even as the closed.
Scowling, Eugene attempted to take a step forward only to find a sword pointed in his direction.
"Don't be a hero, pretty boy." One of the thugs taunted.
"And you three pecks stay right where you are!" Another one snapped.
Jen and Kira both glared, Fizzgig gave short little barks. Aughra merely rolled her eye as though she were unimpressed with the delinquent's threat.
However, they and Eugene exchanged determined glances with Rapunzel before doing the same with Cassandra, who tensed up.
Rapunzel sighed. "Sorry, Dad. I can't stay put." She kicked off her shoes and began to remove the wig.
"Rapunzel!" King Fredric then gaped.
Rapunzel had let her seventy feet long blonde hair flow all over.
Eugene whispered proudly under his breath, "That's my girl."
"Let...them go!" Rapunzel ordered.
Queen Ariana was momentarily stunned but then she beamed proudly.
Lady Caine looked barely phased. "Heh. It's amazing what you can hide under those wigs isn't it, Princess? Come on! Let's move out!"
The wagon began to roll out but Rapunzel whipped her hair forward. It caught onto the handle of the wagon door before it was ripped right open. The resulting action made the wagon driver stop.
Lady Caine growled. "Now you're just making me angry!"
Rapunzel snapped back defiantly. "Good 'cause I'm just getting started!"
"Get those people back here, now!"
The guests took the opportunity to get out of the wagon with King Frederic helping one step out.
King Fredric rushed to his daughter in shock. "Rapunzel! Your hair!"
Rapunzel nods. "I know! We'll talk about it later! Please get somewhere safe, and take care of Mom!"
"That's my cue!" Eugene grinned. He bashed the criminals' heads together and leapfrogged over them before catching one of the blades. "Yeah!"
Cassandra shrugged, "Well, my last day on princess duty. Might as well go down fighting." She took one of the candelabra and twirled it like a fighting pole.
Back with those of Thra, a few feet away, the gelflings and Aughra exchanged grim nods. Kira and Fizzgig then hurled themselves at one of the thugs' legs in a tackle. The sudden movement almost caught the man off balance, allowing Jen to jump on the criminal's shoulders. While Aughra herself knocked the other one off his feet with a quick sweep of her cane.
"Respect your elders!" she snapped.
While our heroes were fighting the intruders, Pascal had warned Maximus, who warned the Captain of the guard.
"Get that door open now!" The Captain shouted.
A battalion of soldiers were using a battering ram to try and break down the door.
Back in the chapel, using her hair, Rapunzel swings down and knocks two goons aside. When she lands, another goon grabs her hair and starts to drag her back.
Momentarily, Rapunzel struggles, until she notices a frying pan on the wagon. Using a strand of her hair, she grabs the frying pan and flings it at the goon.
Eugene lost the blade he was using, fortunately Rapunzel tossed him the frying pan with her hair, giving him a fighting chance.
Jen tumbles through one of the goon's legs to avoid getting struck with a sword, Fizzgig latches on one of the goon's legs. Then Kira leaps down from one of the decorations with a flower vase and slams it on the criminal's head, knocking him out.
One of the grunts attempted to punch Aughra, only for the latter to calmly hold up a fallen helmet, causing the grunt to yell out.
Meanwhile Cassandra had been dueling with Lady Caine herself, then defeated the bitter young woman with a candelabra.
Cassandra demanded. "Stay down."
Rapunzel leaped down to join Cassandra and glared at Lady Caine.
"You have no idea who you're dealing with." The other woman snarled.
Rapunzel scowled. "Believe me, I've dealt with much worse."
Jen and Kira stepped over sternly. "Compared to the skeksis, you're not that much trouble." Jen remarked, folding his arms.
Lady Caine slipped free and back flips away towards the doors. "You think this is over? Ha! I promise you, I'll be back!"
Only for the guards with Maximus and Pascal to break down the door on top of her. As the stunned delinquent tried to get up, Aughra hit her on the head with her cane giving the guard enough time to detain Lady Caine. "Mind your manners!"
Eugene tsked mockingly. "Oh, Lady Caine, Aughra's got a point. It's impolite to leave in the middle of a party."
Cassandra smirked. "You think you'd know that."
As the group went to Maximus, the guests had begun to cheer and applaud the group for their bravery. They stared at first before actually smiling. Rapunzel grinned sheepishly, Eugene and Cassandra looked proud of themselves, Jen and Kira were astonished then smiled shyly while Aughra remain stoic and nodded once in acknowledgement.
Finally the guards led the criminals away in chains. Rapunzel ran to hug her mother in relief only to see her father's stern disposition.
That night, despite proving her worth, Frederic feels more insecure about Rapunzel's safety than ever before.
King Fredric was saying, "So I'm trying to understand this. You snuck out last night, went beyond the walls of Corona where you touched a mysterious rock that somehow caused your hair to return?"
Rapunzel confirmed. "Yes."
"And you acted alone?"
"Look, I know you're angry. But can't you see? I'm okay. I'm more than okay…I."
King Fredric stood up. "Rapunzel...There's something I need to tell you: I love you. The night you were taken, a part of me died; the best part of me. For eighteen long, agonizing years I swore that if somehow, someway by some miracle, the Fates decided to show mercy and return you to me, I would never let anything happen to you again. And now that this has returned, the very reason you were snatched away from me in the first place… why you were very nearly used in a nefarious plot of those responsible for the near genocide of the gelfling race…I'm afraid I'm left with no choice, Sweetheart. As of tonight I am forced to exercise my martial right as king to forbid you from leaving the walls of this kingdom without my consent."
"Father!" Rapunzel protested.
"And know this: This is the last we will speak of mystical rocks or magic of any kind to anyone. Is that clear!?"
Rapunzel was in tears, "There is so much more to me than you think."
She ran out of the throne room, passing Queen Arianna and Aughra, the two had been listening behind the closed doors. The Queen looked at her husband, who dropped his gaze.
"You know we can't keep her locked up forever." Queen Arianna shook her head sadly.
"This hurts me much more than it hurts her," King Frederic confided.
"Her hair grew back only after she merely touched one of the rocks…" Aughra pondered. "The sundrop flower's essence remains dormant, however it does not explain them growing in the further areas of the kingdom."
"For the safety of my daughter, it's best these remain as they are: a secret."
Aughra hmphed in annoyance. "No one can keep such a thing a secret for long, they always have a way coming out sooner or later. Take it from someone who knows."
A little later, the two gelflings had helped Eugene and suggested he talk to Rapunzel.
"She'll need someone to listen to her, to offer her solace." Jen explained.
Kira added, "Most all now with everything that's happened."
Fizzgig barks in agreement.
Eugene nods with acknowledgement, "Thanks, you two. You sure you don't wanna come in?"
They shook their heads. "This is something you'd best talk over between yourselves for the moment." Jen expressed.
"Alright then." Eugene took a deep breath then knocked on Rapunzel's bedroom door.
"Come in." Rapunzel beckoned.
Eugene stepped inside, holding up a plate with a little cupcake and a napkin on his right arm like a waiter. "I believe someone ordered room service?"
Rapunzel smiled somberly. "Eugene? How did you know?"
"I had a feeling." Eugene replied then he looked morose. "Look, I just wanted to clear some stuff up. I didn't have a chance to apologize for putting you on the spot with that proposal earlier."
"Looking back, storming out of the room probably wasn't the best reaction. I'm sorry."
Eugene put his hands up. "No. No, don't apologize. Look, I'll admit I still don't quite understand why you said no." He then touched her hand gently. "But I promise to do everything I can until I do."
Rapunzel held his hands. "Thanks, Eugene."
"In the meantime, we'll stay right here and take things slowly." He strokes her long blonde hair gently. "I missed this."
Rapunzel looked up at him. "Hey, promise me one thing."
"That you'll be patient with me."
Eugene nods with a warm smile. "Absolutely." They lean in and kissed chastely. "Good night, Rapunzel."
"Good night, Eugene."
She watched him leave and open the door, allowing the gelflings to wave goodnight to her which she returned.
And now it feels as though she's trapped within walls once again even with loved ones offering her their support. Then she glanced down and noticed the pages of the journal her mother had given her being moved by the breeze until it stopped on the cover with the words: Plus est en vous.
This filled Rapunzel with a more hopeful resolve. There's still so much left for her to see and do, starting with the mysterious return of her long hair.