AN: Hi everyone! This is hopefully what will turn out to become the beginning of my next multi-chapter story. Please tell me what you all think about it so I can know if I'm going to continue it or not. Thank you. Hope you all like it! :)
Disclaimer: I do not own Tangled. Disney does.
Far from Corona, nestled between the claws of the northern mountains, a black castle rose from the depths of the earth. Forever encased in ice, the sun rarely graced the palace with its light, instead preferring to turn away its mighty eye, forsaking the little kingdom to a world of perpetual twilight.
The sun had no love for the users of dark magic.
Nearing the gates that enclosed the frozen grounds, the guard couldn't help the familiar sinking of his heart at the sight of his homeland. For years he had been faithfully serving his king, living among the swine that inhabited the pigsty that dared call itself a kingdom, amongst those sun love cretins that dared to hope, to believe, to dream. It was a sickening job, pretending day in and day out to be one of them, pretending to serve their sad excuse of a ruler, who had not only allowed his only child to be stolen from him right under his nose, but had done next to nothing to regain her. Instead, he and that peasant they called 'Queen' had sent off a lantern, praying to their worthless sun for her safe return.
He was still shocked that it had worked for the pathetic fools.
Nodding to the guards at the castle gates, he watched as they sent off a messenger to the King, his keen eyes examining his surroundings and the men that were before him, their hands hovering over their swords as if they wanted to kill him right then and there, with or without their King's say so. And seeing as how he had grown up with all of them, had attended the same training classes with them when they were just children, he was sure that was exactly what they wanted to do. Just as the frozen wasteland of the kingdom had failed to change in the past twenty years since he had last reported in, so had the shriveled hearts of the people remained the same.
It was good to be home.
Smirking as the messenger beckoned him in, he slid off the horse he had stolen to bring him home and threw the reigns at the boy, his long legs proudly taking him past the guards that had once been his friends, smug in the fact that they couldn't do a single thing to him, lest they risk their King's wrath. He had just made it through the doors when the child's voice stopped him, the disgust apparent in the lad's tone making him feel even more proud.
"What am I suppose to do with this thing?" Glancing behind him, the former Coronian guard examined the horse that had brought him all this way, loyally staying by his side despite the dangers that had constantly surrounded them on their journey, lurking just out of sight, the monsters just waiting for the chance to feast on their tender flesh. He was a beautiful stallion, the first born son of the famous Maximus, the head of security in Corona. He had been the kingdom's best hunting horse, obtaining his father's legendary tracking skills, despite how much of a failure his mother had been. With such a lineage, he was a horse to be proud of.
"Kill 'im. He'll make a fine stew for his Highness." Smiling at the boy's eager expression, he continued on his way down the hall, a chuckle leaping from his lips as the horse's panicked screams were suddenly cut short, quickly followed by the guards' hoots of approval. No, nothing at all had changed, despite all the years that had passed.
Reaching the end of the hall, he paused for a moment to ruffle his hair, musing his appearance to meet his leader. Finally, deciding that he was enough of a mess, he pushed open the doors to the throne room, striding in as if he owned the place, a sneer taking its place on his face as he gave a mocking bow to the decrepit man before him. No one bothered with formality here, the King's magic forcing everyone to speak the truth making diplomacy useless. If you were asked what you thought of the King, and you hated him, even with the blade of the ax pressing against your neck, you wouldn't be able to lie to save your life.
The honesty was refreshing after so many years of sucking up to those above him.
For a while he just stood there, watching as the King struggled to breath, his face slack enough to allow a trail of drool to cross his withered chin onto his cloak, leaving a dark stain against the soiled red velvet. Just as he was about to start wondering if the old man was finally going to kick it, a young girl, barley more then a child, entered the room, her entire body shaking as she carried a wrapped parcel to the King. Kneeling before him, she gently unwrapped it, revealing a bowl filled with something pulsing and red, sliced into cubes yet still somehow alive. Lifting one of the pieces, shuddering as the blood colored liquid stained her fingers, the maid quickly began stuffing them into the King's mouth, waiting only long enough for the piece before to disappear down his gullet before forcing the next one in. By the time the bowl had emptied, the King had obviously been revived from the brink of death, his eyes once more glowing with a cruel light as he whipped the spit from his chin. Waving the girl away, ignoring the tears that soaked her face, the King examined him for a moment before speaking, his voice soft and deceptively calming, the same voice one would use to calm a frighten child, though the effect was ruined by his red-stained teeth and the words that he spoke.
"Maiden hearts are so hard to come by these days, we've had to start stealing them from the villages near the border. The one that just left will be tomorrow's meal. Her sister was today's. But as you can see, the black magic that has kept me alive for the past three hundred years is weakening. It use to be that a single heart would allow me to live for another decade! Now, one a day is barely enough to keep my old enemy Death out of my house. Tell me, what is it that you have learned. Have you found the flower I sent you for? Or better yet, have you found the girl?" Giving an indifferent shrug, the man took a moment to collect his thoughts, his nonchalance only a mask to hide his fear at his King's reaction to his final report.
"Yes and no sire. The flower was destroyed when that woman drank it in a tea to save her pitiful life, but the girl has been found. However, during the events of her rescue, her hair was cut, and she used the last of her magic to revive the thief that was saving her. There is no magic left in that girl, not even in her heart. Even if she was pure, she would be useless to you, my lord."
"Even if?" For the first time that night, the King's eyes light up, a slight smile gracing his lips as a plan started to form. Nodding, the man continued on, hope beginning to rise within him at the fact that he was pleasing his leader.
"It is no secret amongst the guards and servants that the girl has not slept in her own bed since a few weeks after she returned home. Many believe that she originally started seeking comfort in the thief's bed because of nightmares, but that was almost a year ago. And even if that was her original intent, the man she is with is none other then Flynn Rider, otherwise known as Eugene Fitzherbert. With his track record with women, there are many that are surprised he hasn't been claimed as a father yet. As I said my lord, the girl is not suitable."
For a long few moments, the King just sat there, his eyes closed as he pondered the information he had just been presented. When he finally opened them, they were unfocused, as if he was gazing into the depths of the universe and reading the end of his fate in her twisted tapestry.
"Do you know anything about genetics? Of course you don't, you moron. Well, if you had been here these past twenty years, you would have known that, in one of my cells, there resides a particular...guest of mine that I find quite interesting. He did experiments with pea plants and found that, no matter how you mix them, there will always be traits in the children that the parents exhibited. The fellow believes that the same is true for humans, that we pass things like eye color and hair length down to our children and grandchildren when they are born." His eyes coming into focus, the King narrowed his brown orbs at the man, a sneer crossing his face as he looked at him. "In your case, any child you had would be lazy and late!"
The man watched in horror as the King muttered under his breath, a black fog rising from the stones beneath him to obscure the King from sight. As if from far away, the man could hear the King talking, his voice growing dimmer with each moment that passed. He tried to run, to flee, to save his life, but it was no use. The only thing he could do was scream as the fog began to condense, forming the blurred shape of a man in a large cloak, his skeletal hands wrapped tightly around the butcher knife that was raised above his head. All he could do was watch as the knife began to fall.
"The Collector wants a soul my boy, and today it just happens to be you!" With a final cackle, the King waved away the smoke, revealing the bloodied pile of flesh that had just a few moments ago been one of his most trusted spies, one who had for the twenty years faithfully served him in his search of eternal life in Corona. He was a spy one could have been proud of.
"Get in here a clean this up," the king hollered, watching as a team of servants entered to do his every bidding. "Don't you dare let that meat go to waste; it'll make a fine stew for dinner."
Watching as the servants carefully handled his supper, cleaning up the excess blood from his floors, the King's mind swirled with thoughts as his plans, based on the information he had just obtained, began to grow into life. Perhaps the girl was useless to him now, but she had been born with magic in her blood, magic that was still there even if she couldn't access it. Any child she would have would hold the possibility of having that same magic, the magic he needed to live. All he needed was her child.
Seeing that the floors were clean, the meat for tonight's stew carefully taken away, the King dismissed the servants, returning to the solitude that he craved. Leaning his head back so he was staring at the ceiling, the King's smile began to widen as it became clear just how easy living forever was going to become.
"And who knows. Maybe my son has already done most of the work for me."