"For every star, a story there is."
- Master Yoda
Every story has an ending, but for every ending, there is a beginning.
Since the first spark of creation, in the blinding darkness of the ancient and distant past, there was only chaos.
Forces of great and unfathomable power raged across the world; incomprehensible in scope and apocalyptic in their destruction. It was nothing less than a never-ending series of calamities, lasting longer than a living soul could remember. Though back and forth the tides went, no end was in sight. Nothing but madness and desolation. Any mortal that might witness such unthinkable devastation could only describe it as if it were a war between gods, lost in an endless red fog of blood, smoke and wrath. Screams, fire, blood and death. Never was there anything else. Even when the world was young and mankind barely learned its first words, it seemed that the end of times had come early to end our brief existence.
Mighty and terrifying prehistoric creatures roamed the world unchecked. Plains shattered. Oceans burned. Mountains melted. Forests froze. Skies turned black. Lands far and wide were ravaged beyond recognition. Screams, fire, blood and death—never was there anything else. Unspeakable actions and atrocities committed and countless lives lost every day. Mankind and their mortal comrades could only watch helplessly from the sidelines in horror as the chaos reigned supreme with no sign of ever slowing. For generations, every newborn child's first memory was of their home on fire.
It felt like there was no hope. No escape and no end. But one day, it finally did end. Even then amongst the chaotic ruin wrought by such devastation, it was not too late for our world. Fate and fortune had not forsaken mankind. For the earth lies between the Heavens and the Pit. And neither could anticipate what would come to protect it.
It was said that drawn to the devastation were the ancient gods, celestial beings and cosmic entities bound by olden and ageless laws to preserve order and balance. Fearing the destruction of the world and its innocent inhabitants would result if things continued, the ancient gods finally acted. The events that unfolded after were beyond any mortal's ability to describe or chronicle.
A titanic force of elemental power descended upon the world, swift and overwhelming. Like a sudden tidal wave washing across the land, the devastation was swiftly ended. Like a meteor obliterating a passing cloud, the apocalyptic forces were chased away to never be heard from again. Thus a dark age of calamity was brought to an end within mortal time. At long last, the long night had finally ended.
However, while the time of cataclysm had ended, the scars remained. The world was left with gaping wounds and harsh scars upon its peoples. Lands were desolate and tainted beyond hope of providing food, water or home. Angry storms raged over the great oceans, creating terrible turbulence unfit for life above or below the waves. Rivers and lakes were polluted. Animals were rabid and wild, monsters of all shape, size and prowess now spread among them. Worst of all, dozens upon dozens of races had been lost or doomed to a lingering decline into extinction. Mankind was still scattered and lost, aimless and hurt, angry and violent as they poised for their own wars to start. The world was poised to descend back into chaos.
But the ancient gods had not abandoned the world to its fate. The magic of nature always provided for itself. All that lived under the sun was always cared for, and thus the sun itself would provide their salvation. Precious drops of pure sunlight fell from the sky, falling to the desecrated lands where needed most. Where these drops fell magical Golden Flowers grew in their place. These mystical flowers possessed among the purest and most benevolent forms of all magic, harmoniously attuned to the still beating heart of the world. With the ability to cure the sick, heal the injured, and breathe new life and hope into the ruined and razed, the Golden Flowers had the power to mend the world. To make the clock reverse, heal what had been hurt, change the fate's design and save what had been lost.
As their magic seeped outwards, life slowly returned to the land. The blackened earth turned green with grass. Trees grew tall from the ash as flowers opened their petals to the sun. Rain washed the oil and blood away, the rivers and waterfalls flowing blue and clear once more. Once unfruitful land now bore crops, and animals thrived as new children of the mortal races were born. Souls were soothed, wounds healed, tears dried and smiles were made once more. Spirit and energy was restored as villages rose where once there were none, turning into cities and then into kingdoms. People danced, sang and laughed together under the rejuvenating magic of the Golden Flowers. All who knew of the plants' powers knew they must be protected and cherished. If any new Golden Flower was ever found, its blessing was to be shared in honor of the life it gave back to the world. Where a flower was found, prosperity was soon to follow. Thus the peoples would always be content, healthy and safe in the presence of the flowers' divine light.
Even the oceans recovered, for the Golden Flowers were not limited to the land and air alone. Beneath the waves they bloomed, ridding the waters of the contamination washed down by the rains and calming the storms above. The once churning waters became calm once more, the currents moving with serenity once more in the fathoms below. Fish and all manner of sea life returned as coral and sea plant bloomed in an explosion of life. The secretive but joyful merfolk, one of the few surviving tribes of the Aquarion race, built their own beautiful kingdoms under the sea. One such kingdom was founded by a young merman named Atlantus, who discovered an ancient weapon at the bottom of the sea. It was the Trident, a weapon of terrible and mighty command over the waters, winter and lightning, but in his hands its destructive ability was turned towards constructive potential, bringing the flourishing kingdom of Atlantica into being. Under the careful direction of the Atlantican kings and queens the trident's powers were repurposed for life rather than death, leading Atlantica to grow with vitality equal to any kingdom on shore. Thus did the people of the sea flourish once more, the trident hidden away where the hands of man could not grasp it.
However, not all was reborn in gladness and light. Far to the east emerged a collection of fearful human nations. While others of the world embraced the magic of the Golden Flowers, they rejected it. They considered any form of magic, no matter how pure or benign, to be unnatural and blasphemous. They branded these miraculous plants as such, and so destroyed every Golden Flower they came across. Only a few of these precious flowers survived, creating a scant number of oases as the rest of the east festered and deteriorated. The land grew sick and contaminated, and its inhabitants turned foul, selfish and cruel. Horizon after horizon was cleared of Golden Flowers, until the easterners found themselves isolated from the bountiful west by a savage and merciless desert. Thus was born the Devil's Steppe, and the eastern and western kingdoms were forever separated from each other by its endless blistering sands.
Though mankind was divided on their beliefs towards the flowers, their value was nonetheless indispensable to the world. They were a gift of nature, one of the scarce few forms of magic as pure as an angel's smile. Though small and frail they healed the world to its un-ravaged state, making its inhabitants happy and prosperous. The world was finally theirs now to enjoy and nurture, as it was always meant to be.
In the passing tens of millennia the memory of the dark time of chaos faded into obscurity, and with it went the Golden Flowers. Their purpose done, they gave their last magic to the earth and disappeared. Even so, the one Golden Flower born from the very first drop of sunlight remained should its life-giving magic ever be needed again. All else eventually became lost, ancient unknown relics of an old and frightening bad dream scarcely found in any text or tale. Only the most ancient and wisest of beings still knew of the era that came to be called the Lost Age, a period for which no definitive history existed. These beings became the Eternals, existences far above the reach of mortals yet never descending to within their grasp or divulging the truth of the forgotten past. Any inkling the mortal world may have remembered of this era was only found in the oldest of books and records, forgotten in the deepest corners of libraries and archives to do nothing but collect dust as they slowly crumbled to join it.
Sadly, the magic of the last Golden Flower was not forgotten. It fell into the hands of one of humanity's more ignoble members. An old woman named Gothel stumbled across the last flower purely by accident. Recognizing the magic from the old tales, she remembered the song claimed to make the Golden Flower work its miraculous magic. On a whim she sang, marveling mere moments later at her restored vitality and youth. Delighted at her rejuvenated life, she reveled at distancing herself from what had been her close approaching end.
But the Golden Flowers were meant to save life, never extend it. To Gothel's shock she discovered the flower's magic could only keep her young for so long, requiring her to continually visit and replenish herself. Fearing what would happen should the flower be discovered, Gothel kept its existence and blessed power secret instead of sharing its blessed gift with those around her. She greedily used it to keep herself forever young and beautiful as her fellow humans aged and passed on. In subtle ways, the Old Religion of the Lost Age sneered and growled at this greedy act of sacrilege. The Golden Flower was amongst the purest and most benevolent of magics, meant only to soothe suffering and heal pain. There were people and families across the realm that needed the magic for far greater causes than the youth and vanity of one covetous egoistic woman.
Since time immemorial, there had been and always would be only two types of killers. Those who killed with hand, sword, arrows, cannons, armies or whatever weapon they saw fit for taking lives, shedding blood and sowing destruction. And then there were those who killed through influence, the rippling consequences of their actions causing subtle damage that never shed a single drop of blood but no less lethal. The man with water is king in a drought, but the man who refuses a sip to those so parched is no less a murderer than those holding a bloodied knife. Of these two types of killers, Gothel was certainly the latter. Throughout the years she moved, untouched by the ravages of time or illness, thinking herself to be above the needs of others. The starving, the feeble, the weak, the dying—and never once did she lift a finger for them. The flower was HERS, and hers alone. It was to serve her purposes and no one else's. Gothel rarely ever soiled a blade with blood, but her hands were stained red from those she allowed to fall and perish before her eyes. She felt no pity for those who suffered or remorse as she watched them fade away, despite knowing full well she had the capability to avert their fates. Nor did any judgment or punishment ever come down upon her from mortals or deities. For year after year she continued on as those around her were born, lived and died. She continued this way for centuries, drinking from the Golden Flower's power for herself alone as she sang.
"Flower gleam and glow,
Let your power shine,
Make the clock reverse,
Bring back what once was mine,
Heal what has been hurt,
Change the fate's design,
Save what has been lost,
Bring back what once was mine,
What once was mine."
Thus, for more than five centuries Gothel, sustaining her life, beauty, and conceited pride, abused the gift of the sun. The forgotten ways of the Old Religion cried out at such a wondrous blessing being secreted from those who needed it, only healing a single woman's blackening heart and fueling her narcissism.
Though Gothel remained outside the flow of time, the rest of the world continued to grow with it. Not far from the Golden Flower, a small town blossomed into a magnificent kingdom. Small yet prosperous, it was a thriving society best known to many other kingdoms as an agricultural paradise. The farmland was lush and fertile, abundantly rich in its bountiful harvests. Succulent fruits, lush vegetables and thick wheat sprouted from the ground in waving oceans of gold. Grocers sold their freshly grown produce along the cobblestone streets as far as the eye could see, the radiant sun and earth providing harvests almost year round. Apples, oranges and peaches large as cannonballs and sweeter than candy, ripe tomatoes taut with flavor, celery and potatoes and other vegetables were sought out by people from near and far. The harvested wheat from the fields made exceptional breads fit for a king, and the smell of bakeries at work was rarely absent from the air.
The name of this kingdom was Corona.
Corona single-handedly produced more high-quality food than any other land, making them well sought for trade and never leaving Corona wanting for gold and wealth. When many perceptive merchants and traders tried to find out what Corona's secret ingredient or technique was to grow such great food, they were surprised when the Corona citizens freely opened their doors and showed that there was no secret method involved. The land was simply so fertile that even the most novice of farmers could grow food deserving of the tables of lords and counts. Of course, the imagination of the curious was never satisfied, and some outside rumors had it that magic fairies from a land in the stars came in the night to nourish and tend to the fields of Corona. How else could a nation produce such perfect crops in such marvelous abundance?
They would be shocked to learn there was more truth to their rumors of the supernatural than they believed. Although Gothel's selfish desires kept the Golden Flower's more direct and potent properties hidden from the world, its life-giving presence had not diminished with the millennia. Its proximity to Corona was more than enough to spread its magic to them, still seeping into the land as well as the spirits and happiness of the kingdom's people.
As the first monarchs came and went, Corona became more prosperous than ever. Friendly to all outsiders and bustling with commerce, the kingdom was close to many other nations and monarchies. Some of the most prominent stood out as the Alliance of Four Kingdoms, both the Southern and Western Isles, and even Weaseltown—ahem, Weselton. One of their closest partners in particular was the northern kingdom of Arendelle. The 'Jewel of the North' was the only domain that surpassed even Corona in trade, although Corona was still the better when it came to culinary exports. Having been friends for many generations, their relationship grew ever stronger when the Crown Prince Frederic of Corona and the Princess Arianna of Arendelle fell deeply in love. After their engagement was blessed by King Adgar, himself intending to marry a lovely noble named Iduna from another land, Corona soon had a new beloved queen and the trade relations between Corona and Arendelle ascended to a new degree of trade and booming fortune that had not been seen for decades. Both kingdoms, bound together through both market and marriage, experienced a flourishing golden age of prosperity.
For years, all in Corona blossomed under the kindness and wisdom of their King Frederic and Queen Arianna. But the kingdom's fate became imperiled when they began to try for a baby. A year passed with no child. Then another. And then another. Six years came and went, yet no child came of it. New rumors spread that the new queen was barren. But the king and queen never lost heart. While they were indeed concerned for their kingdom's future, they still loved each other and wanted a child of their own more than anything else in the world, be it a daughter or son. And so they kept trying, but the fates did not see fit to grant them their heartfelt desire. Then, just as their hope began to wane, their patience and faith was rewarded. Queen Arianna became pregnant with a child. Naturally the entire kingdom rejoiced at the news, and the celebration lasted for days.
But happiness was to remain elusive. A mere month away before the baby was due, Queen Arianna fell deathly ill. Her skin turned bone pale, an unnatural sight for someone so tanned in the sunny kingdom. Her vitality began to slip, her breathing shallow and the simple act of opening her eyes required great effort, to say nothing of the strain it caused her just to eat and drink. All she could do was hold weakly to her beloved husband's hand, the warmth giving her some small comfort as her impending end grew close. They had been so close to having their child, only for their chance at a family to be snatched from them.
But King Frederic refused to allow it. He was the ruler of one of the most successful and thriving kingdoms in the Western Lands. He would move mountains with his bare hands if he had to if it meant saving his wife and their unborn child. He sent for the best healers in the kingdom and beyond, offering fortunes upon fortunes for anyone who could save his family. Doctors and physicians came from across the lands, answering the call for help from far and wide. They tried everything they could, from new treatments and the best medicine known to man to olden remedies seldom remembered. Even the strange and unknown "elixirs" sent from King Eric and Queen Ariel of Seahaven, who claimed to have received them from the queen's mysteriously unknown father, had no effect. Whatever illness possessed the queen, it seemed there was no cure.
With each day King Frederic turned more depressed and desperate than ever in his life. He could not bear the sight much less the thought of his wife and unborn child wasting away before him. Even with the crown atop his head, he was powerless. His prayers went unanswered and his pleas to the gods ignored.
One fateful night, King Frederic had found himself all but ransacking the royal archives, frantically searching every book for a solution to his wife's illness in the chance something that had been overlooked. Books were strewn everywhere. Stacks of them teetered on the floor and on the table. Throughout the room, various volumes lay open—whether to mark a particular passage or simple carelessness, it was impossible to say. But after what seemed like weeks, he came across an old leather-bound book covered with dust in the furthest recesses of the archives, an old storybook. Upon opening it and coming to a particular entry, he suddenly felt more awake than he had in weeks. The story told of a magical flower with golden petals that could heal any injury and cure any illness. He immediately knew that if there was anything in the world that could help, it was this mysterious flower. Though he realized it was likely the errand of a foolish and desperate man clutching at fictional fairy tales for answers, he had to try. The best doctors said that his wife had only three days. There was no doubt that the only thing that could save his wife and child was a miracle.
A massive search was organized, where all guards and staff were to search the vast forest for any trace of the mysterious magic Golden Flower. To King Frederic's surprise, dozens and dozens of volunteers from the citizens stepped forward to aid in the search to save their beloved queen, and they were not turned away. Boats delivered everyone across the forest in the dead of night, for not a single precious hour could be wasted. No effort was spared, every tree was shaken and no stone was left unturned.
Whether by destiny, fortune or some mysterious force watching from afar, just when the people were about to abandon any hope of ever retrieving the object of their queen's salvation and declare it a fool's errand, a cry suddenly echoed from one of the search parties that changed the future of Corona forever.
"We found it!"
They had done the impossible. Down on a tiny crevice by the shoreline among several bushes laid the Golden Flower. A glorious hope and excitement filled the people as they immediately seized the magical flower, an excitement only felt when having accomplished the impossible.
The cry went out and the precious flower was rushed back to the palace. No time was wasted as the petals of the last Golden Flower on the earth were stirred and mixed into a thick broth, which King Frederic gave to his dying wife without hesitation. The effect was immediate. A warm wave of radiant gold was seen washing under the queen's skin from her lips across her body down to the tips of her toes. King Frederic and company may indeed have been expecting a miracle to take effect, but the speed of the queen's recovery from deathly pale to perfect health within seconds was nonetheless extraordinary. Her skin returned to its natural hue and life rushed back into her green eyes. Arianna smiled again at her husband, but then gasped in surprise when she felt something in her stomach. The baby had kicked. Their child was alright! With tears in their eyes, the king and queen embraced each other in their arms tightly, and the joyous news spread across the kingdom faster than a racing horse.
Then the kingdom received another surprise the following night when the queen suddenly went into labor, even though the baby wasn't due for another few weeks. Though they were concerned at first, the delivery went perfectly and the baby, revealed to be a girl, was born in perfect health. Their only surprise was that the girl was not crying, but instead… laughing with joy, as she looked at the world all around her. When the king and queen looked into her doleful green eyes, her smile only grew wider, and they could not help but smile back in return as they placed her in the cradle they had fashioned for her months ago. After so many years, they finally had a child.
However, Frederic and Arianna received yet another surprise the next morning when they looked into their daughter's cradle. Somehow, over the course of the night, their newborn daughter had completely grown a full gown of golden hair! But how was it even possible? Infants rarely grew any hair on their heads until at least a month or two after birth. While it wasn't exactly unusual for some to start growing hair early, it was certainly unheard of for the baby to grow hair overnight that already completely went down the length of her entire little body, from head to toe! It only concerned them more when they realized that the lush golden color of hair was not a natural trait that they, the dark-haired parents, possessed.
But before they could worry themselves further, their baby girl sleepily opened her green eyes and their worries vanished. Like their eyes were opened, the connections clicked together perfectly as they remembered the stories. The Golden Flower was said to be born from the golden essence of the sun itself. And now here before them was breathing proof that the legends were true. The Golden Flower had healed the mother and delivered a perfectly healthy child who only smiled and laughed with joy and happiness. And now the blossoming golden locks of hair were actually the mark left by the flower, a mark that symbolized the miracle that had saved her and given her new life. Truly, the gods had blessed them and given them a beautiful child.
The child looked up to behold the spinning insignia of the golden Corona sun above her, before looking over to the sight of two tall, well-dressed, dark haired people looking upon her with the deepest affections of pure and cherished love.
The parents chuckled with loving adoration as Arianna reached into the cradle to scoop up her daughter and hold her closely. The king himself brought out a small crown that they knew their new daughter would one day wear with pride, and gently placed it upon her small head. The child squealed with laughter as it slipped down over the side of head, the crown being only slightly too large for her. One day though, they hoped she would fit the crown perfectly.
Sharing one last smile with one another, Frederic and Arianna carried their child out onto the palace balcony, where the people of Corona waited with anticipation.
"Good people of Corona!" the king proclaimed. "The gods have blessed us! On this day, we are proud to present to you our newborn daughter and princess of Corona, who we have chosen to name in honor of the miracle golden flower that delivered her to us all… RAPUNZEL!"
The entire kingdom erupted in explosive cheers and applause at the news. At long last, the throne had an heir!
"Gods be praised!"
"Bless our souls!"
"The gods truly smile upon us!"
"Long live Corona!"
"Long live the princess!"
"LONG LIVE THE PRINCESS OF CORONA!"
After the surge of cheers and applause had stilled, the king and queen still had one last act to perform to celebrate their daughter's birth. To further honor the legend of the Golden Flower dropped from the sun for all it had given them, they took a candle and lit a flying paper lantern and lifted into the sky towards both the heavens and the sun.
For seven days and seven nights, everywhere that one could look there was the enchanting spirit of joy surrounding everything that made one want to laugh with cheer. As songs filled the air, there was life in everyone's eyes and joy in their smiles as they danced to angelic music. The people of Corona put their overabundance of food to exemplary use. All of the streets were filled with the most wonderful smells. Rich peppermint hot cocoa, creamy cinnamon rolls, ripe custard pie and milky chocolate truffles imported from Arendelle filled with salty caramel. There was simply no other sensation in the world like that which allows one to experience happiness through all five senses. For an entire week, there was no kingdom in the world happier than Corona.
But none in the kingdom were happier than the king and queen as they cuddled their new daughter, Rapunzel. For the entire week, everything was perfect and everyone was happy.
Except for one.
Gothel was not happy at all—she was infuriated beyond words. How dare they steal her flower! Her flower! She was the one who found it all those centuries ago! It was meant for her and no one else! Its magic was her property! Curse them all to the deepest circles of the Pit where the demons would chew on their bones!
But there was nothing Gothel could do against dozens of palace guards as she watched them take her flower. But she had also assumed that the king and queen would try to use its magic in the same method she always had, and her anger was replaced by terror when she heard they had made it into a broth! Whether it was because the queen's condition was that desperate or they simply did not know the magical song, it did not matter. Her flower had not just been taken—it was DESTROYED! They had ruined her!
To Gothel's horror, she felt her youth and beauty already fading away, even though she had taken a fresh "dose" less than an hour before her flower was stolen. It had to be because the source of the magic keeping her alive was gone. At the rate her hair was turning grey and her skin was becoming wrinkled, she had no more than a few days before she would be wasted to dust.
However, she remembered one other lesson from what she had read about the Lost Age. Magic is a constant and vital part of the world, thus it can never be created or destroyed, only transformed. If magic was constant that would mean only the flower had been destroyed. The power itself must have gone somewhere!
And when Gothel heard that the newborn princess had somehow been born with lush golden hair, she knew exactly where it had gone.
Sneaking into the kingdom and taking advantage of the lax nature of palace guards, who had not been involved in a single war since the kingdom's founding, as well as those still inebriated from the festival's activities, she infiltrated the palace with ease and located the royal bedroom. The king and queen were still fast asleep, equally exhausted from the joys of the festival. Then she espied the cradle and peered inside at the helpless sleeping child.
"Flower gleam and glow… "
Gothel could not suppress a wickedly excited grin as the infant princess' hair began to shine with a familiar golden light that held the warmth of the sun. The laws of magic had held true against her fears. Even with the flower gone its gift lived on in the child. Her flower's gift.
"Let your power shine…"
She grasped a single lock of hair, eyes alight with greed as she felt the familiar rush of golden magic flow into her and wash away the years. Her skin lost its wrinkles. Her hair regained its black hue. Angular bony protrusions were replaced by feminine curves. She raised a pair of scissors, opening the blades around the luminous strands. This would do perfectly. Just one lock of hair and she would have her immortality back, forever free from the flowing waters of time. And this time no one—NO ONE would steal her magic ever again!
"Make the clock reverse… bring back—AH!?"
Gothel's glee ended with the snip of her scissors. The very instant the golden lock of hair had been cut, it suddenly lost its magical light and color before her eyes, withering to a dark brown. Gothel looked at her hand as she felt the magic flowing out of her, the fair fingers turning bony as her skin wrinkled and paled. She felt her skin drawing against her bones, her body atrophying with age. As Gothel looked in shock, she also watched as the rest of the strands of hair on the babe's head she had cut also turned plain brown.
Gothel scowled angrily at the still sleeping baby, the scissors shaking in her hand. She opened her mouth to sing once more, hoping a second attempt would garner a more permanent reaction for her to harvest. But intelligence stopped her voice before she could utter a word. Of course the magic would not remain. If you plucked a petal from a flower it would eventually wither and die. Pluck that flower from the earth and it would only linger. This girl was no different. It was clear that simply cutting a lock of hair to take with her was not going to work.
She would have to take the child itself.
The unthinkable immorality of stealing an innocent helpless babe from the warm cradle of its family never once occurred to Gothel. The only hesitation she had at first was the knowledge of what would come. The kingdom would not take this idly. They would bear their full effort in hunting for their princess, and bringing the kidnapper to justice. No doubt the king and queen would ensure it with the fury of parents defending their family. But all it took was a single glance at her aging, decrepit skin and that was enough for Gothel to banish such fears. They would never find her. No one had for centuries.
She stowed her scissors, craggy hands reaching into the cradle. She would still leave with her fountain of youth. She just would not be leaving alone.
Few sounds can galvanize a parent to action more than the cry of their child in distress. And for King Frederic and Queen Arianna of Corona, barely into their new lives as mother and father, would be haunted for years when they were awoken by the terrified cries of their baby. That and the sight of their daughter clutched in the hands of a gnarled old woman garbed in a cloak of midnight black, two bulging hateful eyes glaring at them before she dropped off the balcony and into the night.
The peace of Corona's night had never been broken so dramatically or abruptly as the palace bells sent up a clamor that roused every soul within the kingdom. The flower's miracle had been stolen!
The news spread like wildfire, the light from lit windows growing like a blaze in dry grass. With the newfound passion and wrath of a mother bear protecting her cub, the king and queen raced to the stables for their horses, yelling that no effort to be spared in the hunt. They had tried for a family for so long, and their efforts had dangled them over the brink of tragedy before the flower had pulled them back and blessed them with happiness. And now, just when fate had answered their prayers, this vile woman had come and taken it from them! Distraught they were, but despondent they were not. They would ride alone into the fiery depths of the Pit if it meant retrieving their daughter.
Fortunately for the royals, they were not alone in the sentiment. Every knight, soldier, servant, noble, peasant and child was awoken and galvanized to action at the distressing news. Just as with the flower, countless dressed in only their nightgowns and slippers fervently stepped forward to help search for the vile child thief. Horses were saddled and sent speeding across the kingdom, the gates locked firmly behind the search parties as they poured out in a swarm of torches and lanterns. As the countryside was combed the palace and town were swept from the highest rafter to the lowest sewer. No shadow was left unlit, no alley unexplored, and no trail untrod. Their search was as tireless as it was vast, trekking to the very edges of the kingdom with incredible speed and thoroughness.
But for all their passion and desire to see the princess returned to her parents, it was not enough. Even with the gates barred, the bridges watched, the boats tethered, the stables locked and both guards and citizens keeping vigilant watch as the town and countryside were turned upside down, the thief managed to slip through their fingers. The princess and her captor vanished into the night without so much as a footprint.
When the sun rose the next morning, it brought no light of hope to the land it so blessedly shone upon. For the first time in generations a thick somber fog rolled in from the seas, settling over Corona like a dense damp blanket of despair. Colors were dulled, the air thick and the people less amicable or hospitable than they always were. Everyone moved slowly as they went about their daily lives without spirit or vigor. Conversation was held in hushed whispers and fires and lanterns burned with mute warmth and light. The animals were silent. Food had no taste and there was no light to be found in anyone's eyes.
None were more heartbroken than the king and queen. Nothing could hurt a parent more than to have their child taken away from them, but for them it had come in its cruelest form. In some ways it might have been less wrenching if they never had their child. They tried for so many years to be blessed with a baby but to no avail. Still, as despairing as the thought of never having a family was to them, they had slowly become more and more accepting of their fate as many couples had forced to concede to as well. At least then their heartbreak would have gone no further. Instead they did have a child and their hopes were lifted to dizzying heights. A child whose happy green eyes they had looked into and seen joy beyond measure. A child who laugh reached their ears like the finest of music. A child they had held in their arms with more love than they ever knew was possible. Even after the magical flower that blessed them with this small miracle, they had held their greatest form of happiness in their hands only for it to be taken from them. Losing a child is an unspeakable experience that no parent should ever live through.
The search for Rapunzel and the old woman marched on, neither the rulers nor common folk of Corona willing to concede defeat. But as days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months, the fires that once burned so brightly in their hearts waned and then died with their hope. No matter how far or carefully they searched, no trace of Rapunzel or the thief emerged. Though no one dared utter the truth, it was well known to all. They had lost.
A year came and went, every day laden with the sadness of that single night. On the night of what would have been the princess' first birthday the king and queen released a single paper lantern into the heavens, just as they had done on that once joyous day. Once again, the kingdom showed their deepest and heartfelt support by releasing lanterns of their own into the starry night sky along with their monarchs. Everyone offered their prayers and dreams into the lanterns in the hopes that the gods would hear their appeals and light the way for the Lost Princess to find her way home.
A shadow of sorrow fell over Corona. For years the kingdom followed its sacred tradition of releasing lanterns into the sky on the night of the princess' birthday. But as the years passed like drifting sand the king and queen fell further into their despair, for every year the lanterns failed to guide their daughter home. Their fragile hearts weighed heavy with their sadness, not able to bear their sorrow much longer. Their desire to rule atrophied, more and more of their duties falling to advisors and nobility who did their best to fill in. None had the heart, courage or words to attempt to revitalize their leaders.
But as if fate was not done with them, it soon became apparent that the Golden Flower had done more than give their kingdom a child. The kingdom's need of an heir went beyond the ache in their hearts. The magical plant had once been a source of life and happiness, blessing the kingdom with a radiant light that raised spirits and crops in turn. But with the kidnapping of the princess and with her the magic of the golden flower, that light began to flicker. The crops grew with less vigor and yield. Commerce slowed. The kingdom began creeping towards collapse. It was so slow as to be near imperceptible, but the decline was there. If left on its path Corona would come to the verge of ruin—not from war or famine or plague, but a dearth of spirit and trade. Above commerce and leadership, above strength and conquest, what Corona needed most was hope. Therein lay their salvation.
Or perhaps salvation is in the simpler things that mankind had long forgotten. Things that would be found in the most unlikely sources, when hope can emerge from where you would never expect it. The tragic shadow of sorrow and misfortune that had befallen the beloved kingdom of Corona would not see their salvation brought by the sword of a proud knight in shining armor, the wise knowledge of a powerful sorcerer, or the gallant efforts of a commoner thrust into extraordinary circumstance.
Instead, the promise of deliverance would come from a legendary thief.
Author's Note: Greetings, one and all! I welcome you to my story, and hope you enjoy every word.
The brand new Tangled Tv Series, and 'Before Ever After' has me so excited and invigorated! Although at the same time, it forced me to move up my timetable for publishing this story.
Disney is entering a new age, and Frozen is but one example. That story has many more to tell, but I was saddened that there are not as many for it's sister film Tangled. As I became revitalized by the magic of Disney and learned to see all the marvelous wonders in life, I looked at Tangled in a whole new way. I wondered what mysteries there were to Rapunzel's magic and a deeper mystery behind the origin of the Golden Flower. Furthermore, I felt that Flynn/Eugene's character is slightly underrated, and as a fan of Han Solo and Captain Jack Sparrow, I understand his full potential. Through my inspiration, I decided to step up to the plate to answer those questions and tell the story of Tangled at it's full potential. A whole new level of depth and insight into the characters of Flynn and Rapunzel! Therefore, I have endeavored to write the BEST Tangled novelization ever made on Fanfiction, and it is a promise I intend to uphold to the best of my ability. I offer you nothing less!
One more thing. I offer my deepest thanks and appreciation to my close friend, DarkDragonFires12. I enjoyed your own works and our wonderful discussions so much that I was inspired to do the same. None of what comes next would be possible without you, my friend. And now, after over a year of musing and preparation, I have written my own story as well to stand beside yours. That's right everyone, this story of Tangled will run in tandem, of the same 'story-verse', with the works of DarkDragonFires12's Little Mermaid story of "Darkest Tide." Don't worry everyone, it only runs in parallel and 90% of this story is based entirely on Tangled.
And so the story of Tangled begins once more! Fortunes to be had, an adventure to live, new horizons to explore and true love to be found! Tangled awaits!
Disclaimer: I do not own the Disney franchise, nor the Tangled films or the TV series. Everything original you will see, however, is mine.