The Tangled Dooms

Chapter 13


The Snuggly Duckling was known for receiving the worst criminals from the entire kingdom of Corona with open arms. Cassandra was therefore only half surprised when she was told that the most wanted criminal of the moment was there. She would have believed he was already on the other side of the frontier. In the end, she was delighted to have been wrong. Her father had asked her to warn the surrounding villages of the danger and give the to the inhabitants instructions to ensure their safety, but if she could bring Flynn Rider and the stolen crown with her, she was certain to prove that the king had been right to entrust her with this new responsibilities, and also to make her father proud. She had only survived her fight against the forest's monsters. Now she wanted to show that she was not just lucky. The discovery and capture on the way of the Stabbington brothers had been a great surprise, but had been made by other guards earlier, without her intervention. When a bandit came to warn her and her troop that they had Rider, she practically saw this as fate. She intended to bring back with her the whole gang that had humiliated the royal guards and thus come back with her head held high.

As she finished entering the inn with an imperious looks, her target quickly returned to hide under the counter. He didn't know who this ebony-haired woman was, but her identity was less important than the visible authority she had over the guards or the presence of his former partners. He and Rapunzel had to find a way to escape as quickly as possible. As soon as she would see that the clients of the Snuggly Duckling had nothing for her, she would request her mens to search for him without delay. He was not afraid of a fight, especially since his encounter with the creatures earlier, but there, he did not felt in a position of strength. His tension jumped when he felt metal press against his shoulder. Lifting his gaze, he discovered the hooked man who was staring at him, before orienting his eyes in a clearly indicative purpose.

With a discreet gesture of his last hand, the big-hearted bandit activated a lever disguised as a beer tap to open a hatch leading to a hidden tunnel under the floor. Flynn and Rapunzel were astonished by this secret exit as the bandit, with a proud voice, told them.

"Go. Find her and live your dream. "

"I will ..." replied Rider with relief.

"Your dream stinks," corrected their savior. "I was talking to her."

Although a little annoyed, Flynn wasted no time and launched himself into the underground gallery. Rapunzel thanked the nice criminal from the bottom of her heart and placed a light kiss on his cheek. Full of a new energy and courage, she followed her guide in the tunnel, Pascal on her shoulder and all her metal gears on her back. The empathy of these brave bandits had fanned the flame of her dream and she was determined to take advantage of being outside the tower to ask her mother to go see the lanterns tomorrow. She had waited far too long.

While the two fugitives were advancing in the dark, Cassandra asked the clients where her future prisoner was. They only presented her a short guy who clearly was not Flynn Rider. She avoided erupting with fury only thanks to her perfect self-control. She took a second to take a deep breath before addressing the criminals with a cold and controlled anger.

"Is it some kind of joke? The royal guard is too busy for this, but I guess we haven't tell you yet that monsters were officially reported in this woods. "

The announcement intrigued the entire assembly. Some customers seemed worried while others were on the verge of laughter. The stern face of the warrior woman, with her wrist wrapped in a chain, deterred them as she accomplished her original mission.

"This unknown bloodthirsty creatures are more dangerous than any other wild beast out there. So, for your own safety, stay as much as possible inside and don't travel alone until the Crown has more information about this threat… and stop wasting our time. "

Each of the robbers at the inn understood how serious Cassandra was and many puzzled looks were exchanged. As she turned her back on them, muffled noises from outside rose in volume before making way for the crash of the front door. In the doorway stood a large, breathless white horse.

"Maximus?" said Cassandra, quite surprised.

The horse recognized the captain's daughter and hastened to join her and the guards, with the relief of finally being among his folks.

"I'm glad you're okay. The captain was wondering where you were? You were looking for Rider, isn't it? Did you find him? "

Maximus remembered that indeed, before fleeing for his life, he had a mission. Shame hung over him and made him drop his ears. His sorry look was a clear answer that saddened the warrior a bit.

"It's okay," she reassured. "We thought he was there for a moment but…"

The instant she said those words, the stallion's military reflexes awoke. His developed sense of smell was slapped by an acrid hint which he recognized immediately. He had wandered among the trees for hours to find a trace of it, smelling nothing but the scent of flowers and the lingering odour of blood, and suddenly, Rider's trail was there. Without waiting, under the disoriented looks of the guards and thieves, Maximus plunged his muzzle to the ground and sniffed everywhere, pushing aside all those on his way. He was sure about it and Cassandra, at first intrigued, understood what was happening. She had known Maximus for years and understood what involved his behavior.

"Wait… He's actually here?"

Cassandra glared at the inn's clients but didn't have time to express her anger. Maximus drew her attention to a beer tap decorated with a duck. The warrior quickly joined him and discovered a similar motif on the ground. Immediately making the link, she used the wooden lever and triggered the opening of the secret opening. If frustration and discipline hadn't stop her, she would have sported a broad smile.

"A passage!" she announced before giving her orders. "Come on, let's go. And you, make sure the Stabbington don't get away! "

The soldier to whom she had ordered this, the last one, grabbed his halberd with determination and made sure to have the prisoners close to him. Except that, in an excess of prudence, he had placed himself far too close. The moment the last of his comrades disappeared in the tunnel, when the soldier stared at one of the brothers, the other took the opportunity to knock him out with a strong headbutt. Using the guard's weapon, the Stabbington Brothers broke their chains under the disoriented looks of the other bandits. Each of them knew their reputation and preferred to avoid being on their way. What they wanted didn't concern them and they had no reason to think that it was related to their little protege. They also let them disappear in the underground gallery, realizing that they had probably made a mistake.

This scene had worried Mother Gothel, who had observed everything from a broken window. Strangely, she felt some deja vu when she discovered the young black haired woman who was leading the guards. She couldn't remember where she had seen her before. Maybe she had met her in a village a long time ago, during one of her patrols. She was not sure of anything. Besides, she couldn't see her clearly. As soon as the men in armor arrived, she stood as discreet as possible, hiding behind one of the horses tied to the outside and lifting her hood. The guards, busy looking for their target, had not paid attention to her. But now, things got complicated. She wasn't the only one looking for that Flynn Rider, and where he was, also was Rapunzel. She had to find out where the tunnel lead and find a way to find her daughter before a disaster happened. Luckily, a source of answers, in the form of a drunk little man, left the inn and stopped near her. Her hand wasted no time in grasping her knife.


Meanwhile, the golden haired girl and Corona's most wanted man were walking through a real underground maze. Each turn offered its share of cobwebs and skeletons with shadows exaggerated by Flynn's lantern. Nothing here could scare the two fugitives. Rider however led the way with caution to not meet any unpleasant surprise and guide Rapunzel to the exit. She was walking near him with an upright posture and a precise gait illuminated by a broad smile.

"Well, I've got to say, admitted Flynn, I knew from experience you could be impressive, but that was… unexpected."

"I know, answered with an embarrassed laugh Rapunzel, and I'm glad it ended well. Truth is I didn't want to hurt them. I… I don't like being violent."

Flynn wanted to make a sarcastic remark, but he stopped when he saw the girl displaying a look between remorse and relief. He saw her continually going from one extreme to the other, from aggressiveness to pure innocence, with somewhat disturbing speed. However, it brought him more curiosity than fear now. He understood that this zest for life was her true nature actually. He simply did not understand how such a bright light could coexist with such a dark and dangerous side. As they continued on their way, Rapunzel decided to feed her curiosity to get out of her melancholy.

"So… Flynn, where are you from?"

The thief did not like to talk about him. However, this time, he hesitated, thinking back to the last time Rapunzel had questioned him. He was not tied to a chair this time. On the other hand, she had more deadly equipments. He couldn't help but look worriedly at her, hesitating to answer. The girl still had a radiant smile, but it started to disappear when she realized that he was afraid of her reaction. She tried to hold it, but could not hide the fact that this situation placed a veil of sadness on her childish face which she turned away, unable to face him.

"I won't hurt you if you don't want to answer me."

To his own surprise, Flynn's anxiety dissipated when he discovered how dull she became. He even felt a little guilty for having broken her regained joy so quickly, which the chameleon approved with a frown. He then began to stutter a little in a rush to correct this.

"I know I know. I just... don't do backstory. However, I am becoming very interested in yours."

The enthusiasm he put in his curiosity, just as sincere as Rapunzel's, seemed to intrigue the girl and gave her a little happiness back.

"Now, I know I'm not supposed to mentioned the hair..."

"No," she confirmed, while Pascal was giving him a suspicious look.

"Or the mother…"

"Except if it can help us."

"Frankly I'm too scared to ask about the frog..."

"Chameleon."

"Nuance. Here's my question though: if you want to see the lanterns so badly, why haven't you gone before?"

This question caught Rapunzel off guard. She knew what she could answer: that she never had a good opportunity, that she was too young before ... but she wasn't sure she wanted to say it. All this now sounded like excuses.

"I guess…" she hesitated before answering. "I guess I was scared."

This particular response surprised Rider after all he had seen.

"Of what?"

"Of my mother's answer. I thought she would say no and didn't want to hear that."

"What about now? I mean, you've done half of the way to the city and if you find her, you could ask. Don't you think? "

Rapunzel almost stopped on the spot hearing these words and plunged into an intense reflection. What Flynn said to her was not wrong. She had been planning for weeks to ask her mother to take her see the lantern anyway. Why not try now that she was there? With her staying silent, Rider asked innocently.

"Are you still scared?"

Rapunzel thought again. She was about to give him her answer when a small stone fell on her head. Rider and her turned their intrigued glances towards this one and discovered it trembling on the ground with others, as if an earthquake occurred. A terrible roar echoed behind them in the underground gallery and they discovered a light that was approaching very quickly. A few seconds later, a human tide led by the black-haired warrior began to surge towards them, accompanied by a large white horse. Without wasting a moment, Flynn took Rapunzel's hand and drew her into the tunnel, the royal guards on their heels.

Very quickly, they got out. However, rather than the forest, they discovered a canyon drained by a dam which overhangs them. The fugitives were now standing on the edge of a lithic platform beneath which a dangerous void lay. There was a ladder, even if it didn't seem entirely new, and another tunnel further down below. Flynn saw there a potential escape route. Except that next to it, wood boards condemning another one exploded to reveal two red-haired bandits with angry faces when they spotted the thief and the young girl.

"Who's that?" asked Rapunzel.

"They don't like me." anwered Flynn.

They then turned to the gallery they had just left to discover the guard group and their leader, the warrior with a wrist wrapped in a chain, who had drawn his sword and was ready to attack.

"Who's that?"

"Don't know her, but I'm sure she doesn't like me either."

The powerful stallion with white coat springs up from the cave, his flaming gaze pointed at the thief.

"Who's that ?!" insisted the girl, a little overwhelmed.

"Let's just assume for the moment that everyone in here doesn't like me!"

Rapunzel was starting to boil in frustration again. She clenched her fists and teeth so tight that Flynn wondered if his statement also included her. Refusing to let herself be arrested, and above all to use her weapons against other humans, plus a horse, the girl in pink entrusted her pan to the thief with a sudden gesture. Now that she knew he was a bit armed, she could act as she wanted. She unfolded her bundle of hair and threw it with incredible precision to grab a high wooden beam. When she was certain to be attached, she threw herself into the void, carried by the weight of the impossible weapon in her back, and swayed to the next platform under the half-amused half-admiring gaze of her guide. The latter quickly remembered who was still behind him and faced the iron wall which had targeted him. In particular the warrior woman with short black hair who was seeing him as a chance to prove herself once and for all.

"I've waited all my life for this," she said.

Rider replied with a mocking smile, the frying pan firmly seized.

"Always happy to meet a fan."

Cassandra frowned and ordered the three men under her command to arrest him. They threw themselves, weapon in hand, on Rider, without him worrying the least. He knew how to hold the pan, what its balance was and what strength to use. A guard came within range. Flynn took a quick step to the side to dodge his blade and threw his cast-iron weapon at lightning speed toward his face. One guard down. The second saw his sword deflected by a flexible movement of the wrist before the improvised weapon broke his face. Another one down. The third guard acted quickly. His blade hissed at Flynn, but he bent down. The thief swung a metallic uppercut that smashed the guard's chin. All three down.

"I'm getting quite good with that," proudly declared Flynn.

He did not have time to enjoy this moment because, in a saving reflex, he parried the sharp blade of Cassandra who had started to attack him, screaming in rage. Rider deflected a second attack and took a large step backwards from it. Cassandra attempted a hit which Flynn narrowly dodged, followed directly by a thrust which he only avoided at the cost of his balance. The iron lady used this opportunity to attack him again and the thief only avoided being injured by parrying with his pan and letting himself be pushed by the force of the blow, this in order to make a roll from which he cleverly got up to end up on his two feet. He didn't know who this woman was, but he had to admit she knew how to fight. However, he was completely flabbergasted when a second sword was pointed at him by the big white horse that held it between his teeth. Maximus and Cassandra then began to jointly attack the bandit who only managed to survive by focusing on dodging and parrying from time to time. Under Rapunzel's worried gaze, Flynn couldn't help but cry out to her.

"You should know that this is the strangest thing I've ever done!"

The girl in pink had a racing heart beat. Her guide was facing his adversaries with courage and skill, but he could not hold on indefinitely. The stallion was fighting better than they imagined and the iron lady, with undeniable talent. Rapunzel thought she had to help him, but she didn't know how. In a reflex which worried her, she drew her pistol and pointed it in the direction of the fight. She had practiced a lot and knew she could be precise. Perhaps she could disarm one of her guide's opponents. Except that there, if she missed her shot from a single millimeter, she risked not to injure, but kill someone. Her hand began to tremble as Cassandra managed to scratch Flynn's shirt and Maximus, to push him towards the edge of the platform. Her brain was blocked.

Flynn continued to dodge, parry, and deflect assaults with all his energy. But even for an outlaw with years of experience like him, a two-on-one fight was not a good situation. He dodged a thrust from Cassandra, then an attack from Maximus, deflected an assault from the Iron Lady, a hit from Maximus then Cassandra succeeded, with a clever gesture of the wrist, to make the pan fly out of his hand and seninto into the void. The scene stood in dead silence. Flynn discovered the two blades of his enemies pointed at his throat. Fear strangled him. Only an attempt to joke managed to get out of it.

"How about two out of three?"

A sly smile appeared on Cassandra's face as a hiss began to resonate.

"Good work, Max. Now you'll come with… What's that sound?"

There was not a cloud in the sky and yet thunder broke out and cast a brief red glow on the canyon. Rapunzel, Flynn, Maximus, Cassandra and the Stabbington Brothers, still below, were at first all disconcerted by this lightning then began to widen their eyes when a mountain of flesh and metal rose on two legs like old trees' trunks, including one made of pure steel. From his half-open rib cage hung some bright orange guts. There were sharp claws on the big fingers of his right arm and a shapeless metallic mass replaced the other one. The thing turned its head with huge horns, bright eyes and sharp like spears fangs. When his blank gaze fell on the three fighters, each of them had his blood turned to ice, until the monster yelled at them in a titanic voice.

First paralyzed with fear, everyone reacted in their own way. The first were the Stabbington Brothers. After seeing this disgusting giant coming out of a scarlet flash, they exchanged a disoriented look, before running away in the tunnel they had just left. Flynn was paralyzed with dread. Cassandra took her sword with both hands and faced the thing, even if her gaze betrayed her terror and her ignorance of how to kill this colossal creature. Maximus remained half frozen in place, torn between his survival instinct asking to flee and his flouted honor which refused once again to turn its back on one of these monsters. As for Rapunzel, she was the most terrified of all. All the demons she had fought until now had been on a human scale. Discovering such a giant, such an awful monster, drowned her in a new kind of terror. Its shadow covered her entirely like a volcano on the verge of exploding. She felt smaller than ever. She then reacted as her body had become used to in this kind of situation: as soon as helplessness was felt, pure rage arose from the depths of herself.

The Tyrant raised his hand to the three frightened warriors in front of him, his big fingers ready to crush them. Maximus and Flynn were about to flee, unlike Cassandra, who seemed ready to fight. Suddenly, a deluge of sparks attacked the creature's face, piercing its skin with dozens of blood-vomiting holes, while thunderclaps invaded the area. The creature raised its clumsy steel arm to protect itself from this deadly rain and turned back to its origin, like its three previous targets. From her platform, Rapunzel was shooting the beast with the Heavy Assault Rifle that his protector had given her.

This incredible and incomprehensible weapon made Maximus and Cassandra froze in amazement, trapped in this tornado of impossibilities. Flynn then heard the girl in pink calling her. He only got time to turn toward her and he saw her throwing something at him. His hands grasped it and his eyes lit up in amazement when he discovered that he was now holding Rapunzel's pistol. When she understood that her friend was well armed now, she raised her disproportionate weapon and squeezed the trigger to throw a maximum of bullets against the Tyrant. However, the creature didn't seem to be bothered so much by that. Some of them rebounded against the metal and the injuries didn't seem to hurt him that much. The giant pointed his steel arm at her and four beams of light pointed out at the girl, again immobilized by fear and misunderstanding.

"That can't be good ..." she suspected.

The monster was however attacked by another type of projectile. Balls of green light flew up to his face and destabilized him enough for him to stop aiming at Rapunzel and redirect his gaze to the new shooter. Flynn, carried away in his new surge of power and quickly accustomed to this new weapon, shoot without stopping at the creature. Rapunzel took the opportunity to shoot again, while Maximus and Cassandra continued to remain frozen in incomprehension. Annoyed by these two shooters as by two mosquitoes, the Tyrant raised his right arm and made appear from it a huge blade of energy which terrorized his attackers. The monster then made a big gesture which pushed everyone to plunge on the ground to avoid this strange blade which cut up to the stone of the canyon's walls and a part of the dam.

To Maximus' dismay, the attack had made collapse the entrance to the tunnel behind him, but also a beam supporting the dam which now bridged his platform from to Rapunzel's one. As for Cassandra, this saving dodge had the merit of waking her up. She had no intention of being fooled once again by one of these monsters. She heard the voice of the girl in pink who called Rider and discovered her grabbing the hand of the bandit with her disproportionate hair to allow him to throw himself and swing in the void. She didn't want to lose Rider, but there was a much more important problem for now.

"Max! Get them! " she yelled.

The horse's mind reconnected to his military habits and crossed the beam which joined the next platform. Meanwhile, while Rapunzel finished helping the thief to swing, and eventually crashing into a wooden structure, Cassandra focused on the nightmarish giant. He was not paying attention to her for the moment, he was about to attack with his metallic arm the girl with the magic weapon. With her nimble fingers, despite her thick leather gloves, she untied the hook of the chain hanging from her left wrist and it became a hungry steel snake.

Cassandra rushed without hesitation to the edge of the platform. She was afraid but refused it. She had sworn to not tremble any more in front of these creatures. Without slowing down, she threw herself into the void. With a large gesture of the arm, she made her chain fly towards the titan. The hook was planted in the monster's cheek. The weight of the iron lady pulled it and caught its attention. The young woman swung, sword in hand, until she reached the back of the giant in which her weapon was planted. This bite caused the Tyrant to growl, after that, he tried to catch her with his large pasty hand while pivoting on himself. However, Cassandra had placed herself right between its shoulder blades. He couldn't reach her. The young woman climbed it with great agility thanks to her long years of training. She found herself on his shoulder and, with perfectly executed acrobatics, ended up on its head, her blade taken in both hands and raised high. Like a raptor swooping on its prey, she plunged her blade between the two eyes of the demon who bellowed in pain.

However, this jubilant suffering did not leave her time to raise her blade again. The creature moved with so much force that Cassandra lose her balance and avoided a deadly fall only by clinging firmly to her weapon. Facing the beastly face of the Tyrant, the young woman was seized with a new wave of dread. Just like the creatures she had faced before, there was nothing in its eyes. It was just two sickly yellow globes sweating with bloodlust. She spotted the monster's hand rushing towards her in time and put her foot on its jaw. She propelled herself back, weapon in hand, avoiding being caught. With a spin, she launched her chain towards the monster and clung it to its forearm. The trajectory of her swing allowed her to reach the ground without much damage. Except that when she looked up, she discovered the giant ready to crush her under the huge column of steel that was its leg.

His trampling was nonetheless redirected by a new burst of sparks which swept over its face, giving to Cassandra the possibility to dodge it. When she was safe again, she discovered in the distance, finally arrived on the ground, the girl in pink and her impossible weapon. Rapunzel seemed surprised when the machine stopped firing and when Flynn grabbed her arm to pull her after him, he stopped with a worried face. Cassandra looked up too and discovered the giant raising its metallic arm to the sky. The monster howled and whistling columns gushed from its arm at full speed. None of the fighters needed to think to understand that it was not a good sign. Just like the terrible wooden crack that echoed throughout the canyon.

Rapunzel and Flynn, who had gave back the pistol to her on the way, started to run again as fast as possible from the beast, just like Cassandra. Then a rain of fire began to fall on them. The Tyrant's missiles exploded everywhere, constellating the canyon with craters and making its targets run amidst the dust, flames and shock waves that made their bones shake and burn their skin. As the dam collapsed under the weight of the water it was holding, one of the missiles crashed into a stone pillar. Each of the humans widened their eyes when they discovered behind them the tsunami which poured out on the monster and would soon take them away. For Flynn and Rapunzel, it was the rock pillar beginning to fall on them that worried them the most. Despite the weight of the Assault Rifle behind her, the young girl arrived with her guide to a cave in which they sheltered. Flynn, hands laden with golden hair, picked up the frying pan before the huge rock blocked the entrance to the cave.

Rapunzel, Flynn and Pascal were therefore trapped in the small and dark cave which was filling with water at an alarming speed. Without an immediate exit, drowning was assured. Flynn plunged into the liquid darkness and sought a way out, while Rapunzel attacked the walls with her pan. None succeed. Flynn tried, in desperation, to throw himself against the walls and tear off the stones. He only managed to get a cut on his palm. The water was reaching their waist and still no way out. Despite the pain, Flynn dived into the water one last time but was only more disappointed.

"It's no use, he explained, I can't see anything."

Rapunzel refused this situation. Filled with despair, she plunged in turn but Flynn stopped her.

"Hey, there's no point. It's pitch-black down there. "

The girl's eyes widened as the rage rose inside her. She had almost died because of the monsters several times. She had just escaped from a giant. Yet she found herself once again in danger and unable to act, completely helpless. Rapunzel grabbed her frying pan and struck the stone wall, uttering a terrible scream, before decomposing under the sorry eyes of Pascal and her guide, understanding the sad truth.

"This is all my fault..." she murmured with sorrow. "You were right, I never should have done this."

She wanted to save her mother, when she wouldn't have wanted to put her daughter in danger. She had forced someone to be part of her adventure. She believed she could stand up to these vile creatures. The only result she had in the end was her death and that of her friends. Her heart was suffocating. Tears began to stream from her eyes.

"I'm so sorry, Flynn."

When the thief looked at the girl's face twisted by sadness, he felt confused and remorseful. This unlikely warrior sincerely resented having dragged him into this situation. He didn't want to die with a lie on his conscience. Not with someone who really regretted hurting him.

"Eugene."

"What?" asked Rapunzel, confused.

"My real name is Eugene Fitzherbert. Someone might as well know. "

Rapunzel, at first surprised, was overcome by a wave of gratitude. Rather than yelling at her, Eugene had shared one of his secrets with her. She was all the more angry for having endangered him and felt the duty to share her own.

"I have magic hair that glows when I sing."

Despite all the oddities that happened to him today, the thief's eyes widened in amazement.

"What?"

The memory of this peculiarity tickled the mind of Rapunzel, who mechanically repeated what she had just said when she felt hope reborn.

"I have magic hair that glows when I sing!"

The water continued to rise. Coming at their throat. Rapunzel began to sing quickly.

"Flower gleam and glow, let your power shine…"

The water interrupted the song, but that was enough to change the girl's hair into solar strings who filled the cave with a blinding light. Eugene almost lost all the oxygen in his lungs when he saw this miracle, but his survival instinct managed to preserve enough for him to notice a light stream that drew the strands of light toward a small opening. With the energy of despair, the bandit seizes and spreads all the stones in his way which were blocking the exit. He and Rapunzel were then thrown outside into a young river born from the destruction of the dam.

The two fugitives and their reptilian companion jumped out of the water to absorb as much oxygen as possible, before collapsing from exhaustion on the shore. Under the weight of his equipment, Rapunzel felt almost ready to let herself pass out on the spot.

"We made it." she said, unable to believe it.

"Her hair glows..." said Eugene with even more disbelief.

"I'm alive... I'm alive!" pursued Rapunzel, while getting out of the river.

"First monsters, now her hair glows. What a world we live in…" muttered the bandit to a very understanding Pascal.

He finally heard the girl calling him as she finished pulling her hair out of the water.

"It doesn't just glow." she added.

Flynn, holding his injured hand, discovered the chameleon with a broad smile.

"Why is he smiling at me?"

With all of her hair in hand, Rapunzel told Eugene to follow her with a nod of her head. The bandit also came out of the water and followed her right away. His steps were interrupted when he heard a gurgling noise unusual for a river. An aquatic explosion occurred and the trio backed off as a disgusting mass crashed onto the shore. When the water finished dripping from it, Rapunzel and Eugene discovered the giant monster howling at them despite its ripped flesh and a broken horn. Both dismayed and exhausted, Eugene could not get up to flee. He was partly brought back to reality by Rapunzel who took from the improvised backpack that she had entrusted to him one of the boxes offered by the steel giant. She dropped the one attached to her gigantic weapon, replaced it with the new one and made the Rifle click before pointing it at the creature's head and press the trigger.

A continuous rain of projectiles hit the face of the monster as Rapunzel screamed as if to accompany and become one with her attack. Her mad scream echoed through the woods. All the surrounding animals fled. A lock of hair wriggled. The monster could no longer react. Eugene backed away in terror. Pascal too. When the Heavy Assault Rifle stopped spitting fire, Rapunzel stopped screaming, out of breath and eyes wide open. From the crushed skull of the monster, only its broken horns remained with a cascade of blood and brains reduced to a pulp.

The creature's carcass finally remained motionless on the shore, ready to serve as a feast for the scavengers. Rapunzel finished catching her breath before approaching with an imposing step to her friends. Without giving them a look, she got rid of the empty cartridge clip of her Rifle, retrieved a new one from the backpack and reloaded the weapon. Slowed down by exhaustion, the girl put her weapon on her back and resumed her walk towards the forest darkened by the coming night.

"Let's go guys..." she sighed, her foot heavy.

Eugene and Pascal exchanged worried looks before following her. The thief couldn't help but take one last look at the colossal corpse before saying, like a prayer.

"Please tell me this one is the biggest of all of them..."


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