She could hear nothing but the hum inside her head.

A strange, unnerving sound, that buzzed in her ears, slowly driving her crazy and yet not powerful enough to make her fight it with anything but her useless, weakened will.

She had no idea what had just happened, nor did she understand what was going on at the present. She did know that she was lying on the ground, although at this point, even the type of surface remained a mystery to her – for to determine that fact, that tiny, obvious detail, she would have had to at least move enough to slide her hand against it, burying her fingers in the soft grass or scratching them against the stone, depending on what the ground really was made of.

And she was too limp to even open her eyes.

It was then as she thought of it that she realized she had been remaining in the same uncomfortable position for a very long time, her numb arms and aching back being the best proof of that. As for her legs, she simply couldn't feel them at all. Not metaphorically – given the stiffness she now felt, she had every right to start considering the possibility of losing her control over them for real.

As if all that hadn't been enough, her head began to pound, pulsating with pain that made it seem to explode at any minute. Or maybe she'd just begun to notice it now?

She could hardly breathe at all; there was no chance she could stand up.

Understanding that she wouldn't be able to make her limbs work the way she wanted them to, she focused on a different task. Less… physically engaging. She tried to gather her wits, tried to understand the causes of her current situation. The questions whirled in her mind, some of them summoned by her intentionally, other appearing on their own account, invading her thoughts with no regard for the desires her consciousness held.

Where was she? What happened to her? When did she get here and for how long had she been there lying unconscious?

But more importantly: why was she there?

With all her might, she tried to recall all that. Recall and remember. No way.

It was then that her senses finally started to come round and made her able to notice some other details. Those she felt first did not seem much at the beginning: a few grains of sand, splattered against her lip, an icy-cold waft that came out of nowhere. The latter caused her to tremble when the wet cloth of her dress adhered to her skin, chilling her, all of those followed by a soft murmur of the sea, coming from the same direction as the unpleasant sea blast.

Once again, she tried to open her eyes; she could be much more satisfied with the result this time. Encouraged by this latest triumph, she propped herself on her elbows and attempted to sit up, ignoring her own insecurity whispering it was nothing but a waste of strength and time – and having her endeavours rewarded as she realised they ended in another small success of her own.

This victory was soon shadowed when her eyelids, lifted up with such a trouble just a moment earlier, closed immediately as she looked up at the sand surrounding her. It was more than just bright, more than vibrant or light-some, or fair.

It was sparkling, reflecting the beams of the rising sun in a way no mirror could ever reflect it.

With some effort, she managed to sit a little straighter, breathing in the fresh, salty air, all in hope of calming her threadbare nerves a little. She cracked her eyes open, looking around her through the slit between her lids and opening them fully as soon as they got used to the glare.

What she saw around her only proved her guess had been a correct one from the start.

She was at a seashore, on a clean, fair beach. It was sunrise, and a very beautiful one; so much so that she felt even that word did not make it justice. It was breathtaking.

And yet, it did not please her at all.

What it did, was confirm all of her concerns, removing all of her doubts, and all that in the matter of seconds. The beach was not familiar. She just knew it wasn't; for even though she couldn't recall any of those familiar beaches, either, she was quite sure she would've recognized each and every one of them without trouble. And not only because none of the seashores she'd ever visited was so awfully cold.

With a weary sigh that rang with disappointment, she looked around, willing to at least learn something of the place she'd found herself in, timidly hoping to find someone who could help her out in distress.

She was to be severely disappointed in that regard as well.

There was no sign of life in the sight – no people, no animals. Even the vegetation was difficult to find. Determined not to give up without a fight, she turned around, her back turned to the sea now. In front of her, there was a steep, rocky cliff, separated from the great water by nothing but the narrow strip of sand on which she herself was sitting. She couldn't see any kind of lowering of the cliff, neither on her right nor left – and even the best professional wouldn't climb that high.

Again, she sighed, at last realising that walking was her only chance; and well aware that such a solution was of no use for her right now. She was still too weak to even think about it – in no way was she ready to actually try such a stunt.

She pricked up her ears, listening to the ambiance, in the last hopeless attempt to hear some form of life and call out for help. As might have been expected, she was answered by silence.

And the calm, steady sound of waves that crashed against the shore.

Every moment, she seemed to get worse, her headache joined by a terrible dizziness and a most unwelcome wave of nausea. The most vivid images appeared in her mind; all of them familiar and yet, not familiar enough for her to fully recognize any of them. They twirled before her eyes like the coloured shards of glass of a kaleidoscope, disappearing from her vision before she could even tell what it was they reminded her of.

A palace. A great, white palace, situated on an island and floodlit with sunbeams.

A market. A place so full with life and music, filled with people of thousand occupations and pulsing with energy she herself was lacking so much.

A portrait. A huge mosaic, showing figures she knew she should know – but which for the life of her, she could not recall.

And then… A light. A lot of light. The stars that fell and swirled around her, dancing in silence, instead of staying on the horizon when they obviously belonged. She saw them bounce on the surface of the water gracefully, only to be swept by a breeze and pulled up to the sky as she watched.

Eventually, she heard a voice. Strong and warm, a voice of a man, calling her by name she didn't know and yet somehow – instinctivelyshe knew it was hers.


She blinked a couple of times, trying to understand. She knew this voice, she knew it better than any other voice. But… How?

You are my dream, Rapunzel. You always have been. And you always will be.

"Eugene…" she whispered hoarsely, feeling the dizziness take over her again, and yet, paying it no mind any more.

She tried to rise up frantically but had to admit her defeat almost immediately, as her legs gave way and her vision went blurry. Her whole body, no longer able to cope with the stress and shock of the entire situation, gave out.

The princess of Corona toppled on the cold, salty sand.

She was unconscious.