"Rapunzel...?" Nils repeated.
"It comes from a different language," Canas explained. "What may sound a little silly to us may sound like a beautiful name for someone who speaks that language."
"If I ever write a fairy tale, I think I'll make the heroine's name funny on purpose," Nils mused. "Like...Bobetta!"
"Well, it's good to have goals in life, I suppose!" Canas shrugged. "On with the tale!"
After Queen Sonia had flown away from those despicable girls and that annoying werewolf, she landed on the turret of an old, dilapidated tower. She knew not why it could have been standing in the middle of the forest for; perhaps it had once been part of a castle. Regardless, it was just the place she needed to be for the moment. The embarrassment of being afflicted by her own spell was too much.
"Damn those staff-slingers!" she growled. The Blondus Bimbous spell had since worn off during her journey, and her hair was back to its original obsidian black. "It's simply unforgivable! But I cannot go back now... And if I were to go blow off some steam by demolishing a town, I might just be interrupted by...laying an egg...! I would be a laughingstock! No evil villain organization would ever want me on their side!"
She cringed at her own words and started sobbing into her hands.
"That does it!" she screamed finally, stomping to her feet and squaring her shoulders. "I shall never leave this tower! But I can still do evil. Now that my perfection has been marred by this stupid curse, I will console myself through the suffering of others. The next well-meaning, pretty little thing that walks by is going to get it!"
Sonia stood concealed in the shadows of the tower, watching the path out of the forest closely. Someone was going to come walking out of that path sooner or later, and she would be ready when they did.
She cackled and rubbed her hands together conspiratorially when she saw a figure coming nearer from out of the forest. He was dressed in a clean white, billowing cotton shirt and form-fitting black pants. Sonia started to question her initial impression as she continued to watch. The long blonde hair, angelic face and slender figure made this person appear decidedly feminine, and she thought perhaps this was simply a woman in drag. However, Sonia was confident in her woman's intuition, and came to the conclusion that this person coming towards her was indeed just a very pretty man.
As he passed by the tower, Sonia stepped out of the shadows and sauntered forward. The man glanced over briefly as she leaned up against the tower sensually.
"Hello, handsome," she purred.
"Hello," the man chirped. He gave a friendly wave and continued on his way.
Sonia stared after him in disbelief. She could scarcely believe that any man could resist her charm! She was concerned for a moment as she watched his long blonde hair sway as he walked that he really was a woman, and that she had been wrong. But there was something decidedly masculine about his voice, so she assured herself that he was merely playing hard to get.
He never knew what hit him when a burlap sac was suddenly thrust over his head. He protested and struggled to free himself, but to no avail. Sonia flipped him upside down, pulled the ties of the bag shut and slung him over her shoulder.
"Where are you taking me?!" the man demanded.
"Back to my tower, where you will spend the rest of your days!"
"But why?!" the man pleaded.
Sonia paused and considered this. "Well, because I feel like it! What better reason do you need?!"
Lucius stood with his chin cupped in his hand, leaning on the windowsill. He began to wish he had been more careful and heeded the advice his caretakers had given him. He was not to speak to strangers, and especially never tell anyone his name. He had gone out on his own countless times before. He would always walk this path uneventfully, enjoying the sights and sounds of nature. This is the first time he had ever even heard of anyone inhabiting the old tower.
He looked down at the field below and sighed. All he'd said was "Hello," and now he had been kidnapped! At least he hadn't relinquished his name...
He turned and looked at the small round chamber he had been confined to. At the very least it was furnished, with a cot that looked like it was ready to fall over and a dresser full of spiders, dust, and various food stuffs rats and mice had collected and stashed within. Other than that, there was a lot of splintered chairs and other bric-a-brac lying on the floor.
"Too bad the bed has no sheets," Lucius mused to himself. "I could make a rope with them down to the ground, but that probably wouldn't work anyway... It's a long way down. If I jumped, I would probably die... Oh well, if I'm going to be staying here, I may as well clean this place up a little."
He spotted an old ribbon lying on the dresser. He brushed the dust off of it with his fingers, tied back his hair, and set to work on making the chamber look more presentable.
There was very little he could do to make the tower look very good, especially with the lack of a broom. He did manage to make an interesting sculpture out of the chair splinters for the top of the dresser. It would be a great conversation piece...if he could ever have a conversation with anyone.
Dreary spirits renewed, Lucius leaned on the windowsill again and stared out at the sky. To keep himself occupied, he began to sing a song.
"Here, here in this world. Where do we go, where can we turn, when we need some love it seems that love just can't be found. Where, where to do we stand, when love's supply don't meet love's demand?
"We've got enough stars to light the sky at night. Enough song to make the whole world bright. We've got more than enough, but there's just one thing there's not enough of..."
Raven was walking out of the forest and into a field, minding his own business when it happened. He was passing by the old dilapidated tower when he heard a heavenly voice singing above. He looked up, thinking for a moment that he was being visited by an angel. The notion was dispelled when he saw that the singing was coming from a window somewhere in the tower. Unless someone had decided that angels lived in towers while Raven wasn't looking, it was merely a woman crooning to no one in particular.
"Not enough love and understanding. We could use some love to ease these troubled times. Not enough love and understanding. Why, oh why?"
Raven started grooving to the recognizable tune down below. This woman was a wonderful singer, though her voice was a little deep. In fact, it seemed a little too deep to be a woman. Raven squinted up at the figure in the window. She was difficult to make out, but Raven could see long blonde hair up in a ponytail undulating in the breeze next to her face. She appeared to be wearing a simple, long-sleeved cotton dress.
The mercenary couldn't resist when the cue in the song came, and he belted, "We need some understanding! We need a little love! Some love and understandi—"
"You! Down there! Hello!"
Raven jumped and stopped singing. He whipped his head up to see that the woman had noticed him and was now waving down to him enthusiastically.
Raven cleared his throat, blushing slightly at having been caught. "Um, hello," he responded, waving in return.
"Do you think you could give me a hand?" she called down. "I'm trapped in this tower!"
"What's your name?" Raven called up.
"Lu—" The woman seemed to hesitate. "Um, Rapunzel...ucius."
Raven lifted an eyebrow. RapunzeLucius? That had to be the most ridiculous name he had ever heard. But that didn't matter. He simply couldn't leave some damsel in distress. Besides, he had nothing better to do.
"RapunzeLucius, RapunzeLucius!" Raven called up, unsure of why he felt he needed to say it twice. "Let down your hair!"
RapunzeLucius shrugged and pulled on an end of the ribbon in her hair. Her gorgeous flaxen hair was released from its bindings and cascaded over her shoulders, shimmering in the sunlight. While it was certainly long, it probably didn't go much further down her back than to her waist.
"Well, that was a dumb idea..." Raven muttered. He stroked his chin thoughtfully, trying to come up with another solution. He called up, "Give me a minute! I'm going to think of something else!"
He plunked himself down on a large rock and began pondering ways of getting a woman down from a tower with the equipment he had with him and without causing fatal injury.
Sonia had heard the annoying singing coming from the man's chamber, interrupting her beauty sleep (not that she needed it, of course, in her opinion.) She slowly creaked open the door to the chamber and peered in. The man had stopped singing, but was now staring down at the ground attentively.
It was just so perfect the way he was leaning over the windowsill. Just standing there, like a big target.
Sonia tiptoed over and bumped into him "accidentally" with her hip. He cried out and, flailing, went right over the windowsill and plummeted to the ground below.
Raven heard the cry and looked up sharply. RapunzeLucius had somehow lost her grip and fallen over the edge of the window! Raven practically flew off his rock and positioned himself beneath the screaming, plummeting woman. She collided with him, sending them both careening into the grass. Raven screwed his eyes shut and coughed at the sudden impact. He was basically uninjured, and RapunzeLucius seemed to be alright. She scrambled to raise herself up.
Raven heard an exclamation of "Dammit!" from above, but thought nothing of it.
RapunzeLucius supported herself by her arms on either side of Raven, and was looking down at him concernedly.
Raven opened his eyes and looked up into the crystalline blue ones of the woman. "Are you alright, young—"
He cut off when he noticed that the way RapunzeLucius was positioned, her shirt hung open at the collar to reveal...a completely flat chest. He also noticed that this "woman" was wearing pants.
"Yes, I'm fine," he replied, climbing off of Raven and rising to his feet. He offered Raven a hand. "Thank you for breaking my fall!"
"Uh, no problem..." Raven muttered. He took RapunzeLucius's hand and rose to his feet. What was once his damsel in distress had a lower voice than when they were speaking a moment ago. In Raven's experience, sometimes when a person was shouting over a long distance, their voice became higher. "How did you get locked in that tower?"
"There was a strange woman who seemed intent on kidnapping me for no good reason," RapunzeLucius responded. He paused thoughtfully. "Actually, her reason was that she felt like it. Frankly, I don't think that's a very good reason."
Raven placed his hands on his hips. "Well, RapunzeLucius...if that is your real name... That's not your real name, is it?"
RapunzeLucius paused. He lowered his head shamefully. "No..."
"What is it then?"
RapunzeLucius shook his head furiously, his hair dancing about his shoulders. "I can't tell you. I'm not even supposed to be talking to you. I'm terribly sorry. I really should be going now."
"Yes, you carry on to wherever you were off to when you got kidnapped," Raven answered, nodding once. He looked up at the tower. "We can't have some psycho in the middle of the forest kidnapping passers-by," Raven said, resolved. He drew his sword and stalked off towards the tower.
"Let me help you!" the RapunzeLucius called. "I really shouldn't, but she seemed dangerous. It's the least I can do after you helped me!"
"No," Raven answered adamantly. "Just go home, okay? I can handle this. I'm a professional."
RapunzeLucius looked like he was about to protest, but only turned away and ran back into the forest.
Raven continued into the tower. The rotted, barred wooden door at the base was no match for his mighty blade, and he stepped into the dank, dusty room beyond. He heard strange noises coming from somewhere up above, and he began his journey up the spiral staircase in the tower, following the sound.
He soon came to another rotted wooden door. The sound was at its loudest here. It was coming from just beyond this door. It had to be the woman RapunzeLucius had spoken of.
Raven thrust open the door, sword at the ready. His eyes swept the room and landed on the ultimate source of the noise.
He wished he hadn't.
There was a woman in a skimpy black dress, black gloves, with long black hair. She was hunched over, her hands in fists and the muscles in her arms twitching uncontrollably. Her face was contorted in pain and effort, her eyes wide and bloodshot.
"Stupid egg!" she screamed.
Raven felt the world go a little fuzzy, and thought for a moment he might collapse. There was a woman standing right in front of him, grunting and groaning, trying to lay an egg.
Raven ran fast and hard.
Back down the stairs.
Back out of the tower.
Back into the field.
...everything went blank...
Raven wandered blind through the forest. He kept his hands out in front of him, feeling around the trees and trying not to ram into anything. He wished that perhaps he'd escorted the young man home, and not tried to be a hero by going into the tower. Now he was paying for it. If only he could find RapunzeLucius... Perhaps he could help, or if he could not reverse his blindness, find him someone who could.
The forest was quiet, save for his footfalls, crunching the leaves and twigs below. But then, something else pierced through the silence. It was that voice...that voice he'd heard from before, up in the tower. That same lovely, melodious voice, singing that same upbeat tune.
"Spend all of our time building buildings up to the sky, reaching everywhere but where we need to reach the most. Hearts never can win in this race, this race that we're in. We've got..."
"...enough cars to drive around the world!" Raven joined in, calling out desperately to wherever RapunzeLucius was. "Enough planes to take us anywhere..."
"We've got more than enough." His voice was getting closer. "But there's one thing there's just not enough of!"
Raven reached out for a tree trunk to steady himself, but instead found his hand meet that of another.
"Not enough love and understanding!"
RapunzeLucius's voice was now right next to him.
"We could use some love to ease these troubled times!"
Much to Raven's shock, his eyes began to clear. The blank white before his eyes slowly faded into colour and shapes. Slowly at first, but soon he could see the forest spread out before him, the trees sharpening from a flat blanket of different shades of green to individual leaves. RapunzeLucius stood before him, swinging Raven's hands back and forth in time with the song enthusiastically.
"Not enough love and understanding! Why, oh whyyy!!!"
RapunzeLucius stopped and looked up, blushing slightly. He let go of Raven's hands. "Sorry, I get a little carried away sometimes when I sing..."
"RapunzeLucius," Raven said in awe. "I was just completely blind. Just now, as you were singing, I got my sight back. Did you do something to me?"
"Do something?" RapunzeLucius repeated, tilting his head. "No, I don't think so. But I'm glad that you're not blind anymore." He suddenly turned away. "But I haven't been home yet. I really have to get back, before they start to worry about me! Good-bye!"
"Can I at least have your name now?" Raven called after him.
"No!" RapunzeLucius shouted. "Sorry!"
Raven could not simply allow this RapunzeLucius to leave. He had been completely blind as of moments ago, but somehow, his singing had renewed his sight. There was something about him... He must have had some kind of...powers.
"Can we at least talk sometime?" Raven shouted. "Meet me later this evening!"
"Come to the cottage at the edge of the forest!" RapunzeLucius called over his shoulder before he disappeared into the brush.
Raven breathed a sigh of relief. Later that evening, he could at last find out more about this mysterious young man who called himself RapunzeLucius.
"You know," Canas said after finishing the story, "There is another story about a young woman with a beautiful voice."
"May I hear that one next, then?" Nils enthused. "It's almost as if it's a continuation on this one!"
"Er, yes, I suppose," Canas reluctantly agreed to Nils's theory. He flipped through the pages of the book. "Ah, here we are. The name of this next story is..."